New Year's Eve - Hilary Swank
New Year's Eve - Claire (Hilary Swank) © 2011 New Line Productions

After the success of his movie Valentine’s Day, Garry Marshall now celebrates New Year’s Eve, exploring dozens of characters and scenarios leading up to the big moment in New York City when the ball drops at midnight in Times Square.

Academy Award winning actress Hilary Swank plays Claire Morgan, the newly promoted Vice President of the Times Square Alliance, who’s responsible for keeping all the logistics of the ball drop in perfect order. But, of course, nothing goes as planned.

Lea Michele, who stars on TV’s popular series Glee, portrays Elise, a backup singing on her way to Times Square to sing with rock superstar Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi), when she becomes stuck in an elevator with her neighbor, Randy (Ashton Kutcher).

Both actors spoke of their roles and the how they’ll be spending New Year’s Eve.

Hilary, how did you come to this role?

New Year's Eve - Hank Elizondo and Hilary Swank
Kominsky (Hank Elizondo) and Claire (Hilary Swank) © 2011 Warner Bros

Hilary: Katherine (Fugte) and I were looking to produce this other project that we were doing. Katherine said, ‘I just finished writing New Year’s Eve and I wrote the role of Claire Morgan for you, I just see you in it.’

That’s such a honor to have a screenwriter say that, that they saw you when they were writing it. It’s so touching to be thought of in that way. And when I read it I fell in love with Claire and the idea of feeling like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

You can’t imagine New Year’s Eve without the ball drop, but the idea of this woman who really takes her job seriously and is responsible, I felt very in touch with that. I take a lot of things pretty seriously.

Lea, were you looking for a role where you could sing like you do in this film?

New Year's Eve - Lea Michele
New Year’s Eve – Backup singer Elise (Lea Michele) © 2011 New Line Productions

Lea: I didn’t really intend on doing a film where I sang. I sing so much on my show that I felt that maybe I would start looking into things that didn’t involve me singing.

But when I read the script, these songs were already in there, they didn’t add them for me, and I just felt that it was such a perfect part for me to play for my first film, just to transition from Glee into something, so I thought it was great, I had so much fun.

I got to be a backup singer for Jon Bon Jovi, which was awesome. I think that from now on I might start to try to look into other things without singing just to give my voice a little break. But when something as perfect as this comes along where it just makes sense and it fits, then it’s a no-brainer.

Another singing role you are connected to is Funny Girl. Now that they’re postponing it and reworking it will you still be interested in doing that?

New Year's Eve - Ashton Kutcher and Lea Michele
New Year’s Eve – Randy (Ashton Kutcher) and Elise (Lea Michele) © 2011 New Line Productions

Lea: Of course, I would do that show for an empty room by myself!

What was it like working with your scene partners in this?

Hilary: I do mostly dramas, I usually die in my movies. I don’t live to see the credits. So to be able to be working with Garry Marshall in a comedy [was wonderful]. And I got to work with Robert De Niro and for me he’s on the top of my ‘bucket list’ of the people I had to work with before it’s all said and done. So I got to check that off.

They’d already been working three weeks when I came in, and I’m thinking, ‘Gosh, what’s the set like, what’s the vibe?’ I got on to the set and it was the latter half of the day.

I walk in and Robert’s in the [hospital] bed laying there. He’s a method actor, and this is a comedy but he’s dying so he’s laying there and he closes his eyes, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, he’s giving it to me, we’re connected here.’ I start getting a little emotional getting into the mood of [the scene], and the next thing I know he says, ‘Anyone got that coffee?’

And I was like, ‘Oh my God, he was sleeping! I thought he was going deep for me!; The truth is he’d been in that bed all day and he took a nap. But getting the opportunity to work him was the absolute highlight for me.

New Year's Eve - Ashton Kutcher and Lea Michele
New Year’s Eve – Randy (Ashton Kutcher) and Elise (Lea Michele) © 2011 New Line Productions

Lea: I got to work with Ashton Kutcher, and be stuck in an elevator with him for two weeks, which was awesome. He’s hilarious and I got punked a couple of times. He’s also really smart and we’d talk about everything going on in the world. I had absolutely no idea half the stuff he was talking about.

So I would go home and Google everything and try to brush up on everything in our world to come in the next day and try to have a conversation. He was great, he made me feel really comfortable.

What did he do to punk you?

Lea: He opened the door with just a towel on, he was supposed to have all of this clothes on.

What’s your favorite way to spend New Year’s Eve and do you have any special plans this year?

New Year's Eve - Hilary Swank
New Year’s Eve – Claire (Hilary Swank) © 2011 New Line Productions

Hilary: I’m eating pie and drinking champagne.

I stopped trying to chase the perfect place to be and realized the perfect place is with your loved ones and with your closest friends around the dinner table over a good meal talking about the past year and the new year to come and things you want to change in your life and hearing their stories, and what you’d like to see happen in the world.

And I never make it to midnight … ever.

To hear where Lea Michele will probably be this New Year’s Eve, click below.

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Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.