Josh Duhamel

Josh Duhamel Is Ready For His Rom-Com Return

The Shotgun Wedding star details working with “the force” that is Jennifer Lopez and having Jennifer Coolidge play his mother.

Josh Duhamel is currently mulling over which of his weddings was spectacularly worse: the time he married his now-wife Audra Mari or his disastrous nuptials with Jennifer Lopez in the action rom-com Shotgun Wedding

The night before his September 2022 wedding, Duhamel was letting loose at the rowdy fête that his rehearsal dinner became. There was a live band, a party pulsating with the energy of the wedding that was to come, and, as all debaucherous celebrations have, a party bus. Swept away by the adrenaline of his impending nuptials — perhaps neglecting to realize his body was not as nimble as a college student’s — he embraced the endless possibilities that come with a vehicle that often features a stripper pole, strobe lights, and a mini bar.

“I tried to hold onto one of those bars inside those buses and do a Russian gymnast and stick my feet straight out, and I did something to my lower back,” he recalls over Zoom, re-enacting the scene with his hands. “I literally couldn't move the next morning. I could not get out of bed.” 

So, on his wedding day, he landed in the emergency room, panicking for two reasons: one, because he was indeed getting married, but two, because he was 22 years his bride-to-be’s senior. 

They're already making fun of me, because I'm so much older than [Audra]. [Now,] I'm going to need a walker to go down the aisle? I'm going to need a wheelchair?” he says, panicked. Luckily, a shot of Toradol and pain meds did the trick. But the morning after the wedding, he was back at the hospital, this time in a wheelchair. “Imagine your first day [of marriage] you're having to wheel your husband into the hospital,” he adds, with a self-deprecating laugh. 

Duhamel’s on-screen wedding to Lopez in his latest film is also less than ideal, but for different reasons: His character, Tom, murders three or four people and battles pirates who take him and his wedding guests hostage. With the whole murder thing, he ultimately decides his on-screen wedding was “far more traumatic” than his real-life one.

Luckily, the 51-year-old actor is far removed from both of those wedding scenarios, dripping beads of sweat in a backward cap and gray T-shirt — not from blinding pain or evading a painful death by pirates — but from golf.

Josh Duhamel
Jeans and jacket: 7 for All Mankind, T-shirt: James Perse, boots: vintage.

Emily Malan

“I just golfed this morning trying to get ready for the AT&T golf tournament at the end of the month, which I haven't played any golf [to prepare], so I'm pretty terrible right now,” he says, out of breath before cracking open a bottle of water. He’s golfed since he was a kid. There was a time when he played a lot, then he didn’t. Now, he hasn’t for the last three or four years. “It's just golf,” he says, trying to downplay his passion for it. “I like to get out there just to be with nature anyway.” 

At the moment, he’s taking comfort in the fact that nature is currently the property of his home in Encino, California, and not the lush island backdrop where his Shotgun Wedding alter-ego was fighting for survival. 

But that doesn’t mean making the movie wasn’t a blast. He was in the Dominican Republic, after all. When Duhamel wasn’t filming, he’d often wind down at the stunning villa where his co-stars like Jennifer Coolidge, Lenny Kravitz, Cheech Marin, and D’Arcy Carden were staying. They’d have dinner and wine — Kravitz would bring over music — and sometimes Duhamel would play hoops at the indoor gym with co-star Desmond Borges.

“It felt like a family from the beginning and made for a very cohesive and collaborative environment,” he explains of their bonding time.

Directed by Pitch Perfect’s Jason Moore, Shotgun Wedding pays homage to the rom-com heyday of the early 2000s, with a melting pot of comic actors and a side of Die Hard. The allure of it wasn’t lost on Duhamel: “I haven't seen many movies like this recently where it's just sort of a big, broad, romantic action-comedy.” 

Shot largely in the Dominican Republic, the film follows Darcy (Lopez) and Tom (Duhamel) as they prepare to tie the knot at their dream destination wedding. What begins as vacation porn quickly turns into a chaotic nightmare. Tensions begin to rise between the couple mere minutes before the ceremony, but they end up treading through even graver dilemmas when their guests are all taken hostage (in a villa’s pool) and they find themselves trying to comically survive their wedding day.

It is everything a rom-com fan could want in a movie. Gorgeous co-leads with chemistry, a group sing-along to Edwin McCain's saccharine ballad "I'll Be,” Coolidge holding a shotgun, and a subverted take on the genre.

“I thought Jason Moore did a great job of balancing the heartfelt, earnest moments that the movie needs to have in order to be relatable, but also those big, ‘Hollywood popcorn’ moments that we needed,” says Duhamel, praising Moore for making the film so dynamic. “He always talked about squeezing a little lemon on that sugar and whenever anything got too sweet, he would do something that was humorous or added some edge.”

The aforementioned chemistry between Lopez and Duhamel is also undoubtedly what made the movie work so well. The duo had met about 15 years ago during New Year’s Eve in Miami “on some yacht somewhere” when Lopez was still with ex-Marc Anthony.

“We hit it off right away,” he recalls. Knowing they had already got along well was a huge draw for him. “You don't want to have to do a movie like this with somebody who you can't connect with, because if you can't do that, the movie's not going to work,” he says. 

Luckily, that was a non-issue. They goofed around, but he was in awe of how professional and kind she was. “That's really how I measure people,” he pauses. “It's how they treat everyone, not just people that can do something for them.” But Duhamel, like the rest of us, is human, and he, too, wasn’t immune to the fact that he was working with the Jennifer Lopez. It was a little intimidating. “Well, come on, she is still J-Lo,” he laughs. “She's a force.”

But Duhamel couldn’t let the fact that he was working with a literal icon distract him from embracing his role — he wouldn’t. Perhaps it would have earlier in his career, he admits, but he tried to remain fearless. After all, he was still the male lead in the movie. So to him, Lopez “was just ‘Jen.’” She had to be to make playing Tom work.

As Tom, a baseball player no longer fit for the big leagues, is set to marry Darcy, is steeped in insecurities surrounding his impending wedding — anxiously seeking approval from her father (played by Cheech Marin) and overly concerned about perfecting every detail that has to do with their nuptials — even showing up late to the rehearsal dinner because he can’t stop adorning their big day getaway boat. 

Josh Duhamel
Jeans: 7 for All Mankind, jacket: John Varvatos, T-shirt: James Perse.

Emily Malan

Duhamel found himself relating to Tom on several levels. Though not a pro athlete himself, Duhamel played a lot of baseball growing up and understood the pain of giving up a sport because of age (that hasn’t happened with golf yet, though.) The actor also intimately related to the relationship insecurities Tom faced ahead of the wedding day and the root of his perfectionist tendencies. He reasons, “[Tom] tries to overcompensate by making everything perfect and if you can make everything perfect at the wedding, you've got the perfect marriage.”

In a real “stars, they’re just like us” scenario, Duhamel found Tom’s reaction to seeing Kravitz, who plays Darcy’s ex, Sean, extremely relatable. Even he couldn’t help but compare himself to the ripped, tight leather pants-sporting rock star whose giant scarf and sex appeal have had people salivating over him for decades. 

“If I'm a guy who's marrying somebody like Jennifer Lopez, who is one guy that would really make me feel insecure? It's a guy like Lenny Kravitz. He is incredibly handsome, incredibly talented, super swaggy, he's got all the moves, and all the women want him. How do you not become intimidated by that?” he says, awestruck. Duhamel was admittedly more nervous about meeting Kravitz than anyone else. “I just wanted him to like me," he laughs nervously. 

Luckily for Duhamel, he was able to chill out when he discovered Kravitz is “a delightful human.” Though, as he recalls a zip-line scene with Kravitz, he struggles to keep his cool. “I was like, ‘Wow. What the hell happened in my life? How did I end up 20 feet in the air attached to Lenny Kravitz with a blue screen behind me?"

But Duhamel was surrounded by a pool of talent aside from Lopez and Kravitz. Like the rapidly expanding world of White Lotus fans, he can’t help but fawn over Coolidge, who plays his clueless, Midwestern mom, Carol. “She reminds me of an Andy Kaufman or a Bill Murray type personality where you never quite know what they're going to do,” he notes. “She's so good at making everybody feel beautifully awkward.” There was some inherent awkwardness, they acknowledged, too. Coolidge is just 11 years older than Duhamel, despite playing his mother. They joked around a lot about it. “It was like, ‘How are you my mom exactly?” he quips. 

Beyond its cast and buzz, Shotgun Wedding is significant to Duhamel for different reasons. It happens to be his first role as a leading man in a rom-com in roughly a decade and about 20 years since his first rom-com, Win a Date With Tad Hamilton. “I think I intentionally wanted to step away for a while because I didn't want to be that guy who just did romantic comedies,” he explains. “As much as I enjoyed doing them, I felt like I had a lot more to offer outside of that.” And he did. Duhamel starred in the fast-paced NBC drama Las Vegas, played one of the leading roles in four of the Transformers films and most recently in crime thrillers like Bandit and Blackout

Still, he believes his expansive resume wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for his first gig — as Leo du Pres on the ABC soap All My Children. “It was like boot camp for actors,” he explains. “Every day, all day, and you're memorizing lots of lines, and you're having to find your light.” He doesn’t take that time for granted. 

Josh Duhamel
Jacket: 7 for All Mankind; T-shirt: James Perse.

Emily Malan

Over the years, he’s had a rocky road with the fame that’s come from going from the small screen to blockbusters. As if on cue, he receives a call from his agent while beginning to dive into the tricky topic of fame. “Speaking of,” he trails off before answering and swiftly ending the call. “I'm not going to lie, there are a lot of pitfalls, a lot of traps in this business,” he continues. He’s almost fallen into them, believing the idea he was someone he’s not and being blinded by the special treatment that comes with the industry. But Duhamel has remained grounded by his friends, family — his 9-year-old son, Axl, who he shares with ex Fergie — and the process of making a film. “You really have to understand how much work it takes, especially to stay in the business,” he says. 

And he does. Now, more than 25 years into his career, he’s able to be more selective about his projects. That now includes directing and producing, which he says, is where he’s “happiest.” Duhamel refuses to take any of it for granted.

“For forever, I felt like I maybe didn't belong or I was fooling people into thinking I was an actor when I really was just some kid from North Dakota who grew up with a dream,” he admits. But he finally feels like he fits right in. He just wants to do the work — and rom-coms are no longer off-limits: “If it's the right story, and if it's fun and original, I'm down.” If Kravitz is involved, it’s an added bonus.

Josh Duhamel
Jacket: 7 for All Mankind; T-shirt: James Perse.

Emily Malan

Read on to find out all about Duhamel’s celebrity crush, favorite celebrity “Chris,” and the cheesiest pickup line he can think of.

Who is your celebrity crush?
My celebrity crush. I can't name [anyone]. I just got married. Who was the kid who played Elvis? Austin Butler, the other night when he was giving his speech, looked at Brad Pitt and said, "You're the reason I'm up here, man," or something like that. That really resonated with me because that was sort of my reason for getting into this business.

Who's your favorite villain?
John Malkovich. Or, Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

What's the first album you ever owned?
It was Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.

What's your favorite cheesy pickup line?
I don't know. “I love your outfit. It would look really good crumpled up in the corner of my bedroom.”

Name one place you've never been to, but always wanted to go.
Machu Picchu.

Is there an outfit you regret wearing?
Yes. Circa 1997, me and Ashton Kutcher were in this modeling contest in New York, and I got talked into wearing this super low-cut thing with these tight pants. That, and the leather pants and mohair turtlenecks that Leo used to wear.

Describe your first kiss.
It was Reva McLaughlin, seventh grade. She stuck her tongue in my mouth, and I couldn't believe it. That was the first time I'd ever touched tongues with another human, and I was like, “Whoa.” Seventh graders' French kissing is not a pretty thing. Not hot.

Who's your favorite Hollywood Chris?
I'm going to say Chris Pine. We have the same management. I know him. He's a really good dude. I know Chris Pratt, too. He is also a very good dude.

When was the last time you cried?
It would've been last weekend. I don't know why this made me cry, but my seventh-grade niece is playing varsity basketball. I looked at her, [and] I was so proud of her. I just started welling up.

What's your favorite bagel?
Cinnamon raisin.

What's the last thing you do before you fall asleep?
Usually, I watch Dateline.

If you were required to spend $1,000 today, what would you buy and why?
Well, there are some pots in the front of my house that have nothing in them. I have some company coming tonight, and I'd probably go spend a lot of it on landscaping the front of my house right now, because it looks a little barren.


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