This Means War - Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon
Tuck (Tom Hardy) uses his formidable skills to woo Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) © 2012 Twentieth Century Fox

In the new action-comedy This Means War, directed by McG (Charlie’s Angels, Terminator: Salvation), Reese Witherspoon portrays Lauren Scott, a product evaluator, whose mundane love life is changed  forever when her girlfriend, Trish (Chelsea Handler), signs her up for an online dating service.  She ends up going out with two CIA agents, FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy), who keep their jobs and the fact that they know each other hidden from her.

Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde, How Do You Know, Water for Elephants) and British actor, Tom Hardy (Warrior, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises) spoke with journalists at the press day for the movie here in Los Angeles.

What’s it like to have two handsome stars fighting for your affection?

This Means War - Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon and Tom Hardy
Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) is caught between two secret agents, FDR (Chris Pine, left) and Tuck (Tom Hardy), who are waging war to win her love © 2012 Twentieth Century Fox

Reese: It’s every woman’s fantasy to have two unbelievably hot, sexy guys battling over you. Lauren doesn’t know that Tuck and FDR are secret agents for the CIA. This Means War is almost like two different movies. My character’s in a comedy and Chris’ and Tom’s are in a big action film.

Can you talk a little about Lauren?

Reese: At work, Lauren is the most decisive woman in the world, but in her personal life, she’s very indecisive. I think a lot of people can relate to her feeling of, ‘Am I picking the right guy for me?’

Tom, we don’t usually see you in comedies, is that one reason this movie interested you?

Tom: Comedy, in itself, is not an easy thing to do. I thought it was going to be a walk in the park, but it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’m very grateful for the experience. And working with Reese was like a master class in the comedy genre for me.

What kind of artistic stretch do you have to make to be a single girl in the movie?

This Means War - Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine
Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) resists the formidable charms of FDR (Chris Pine), who is unused to rejection from the opposite sex © 2012 Twentieth Century Fox

Reese: Well, I was a single girl when I made the movie. It wasn’t much of a stretch.

This wasn’t a hard jump to make. It was made very easy by McG’s enthusiasm, by having two amazing men in this movie who are very talented actors, very funny in their own right, and obviously being with Chelsea who is uncontrollable and a genius.

What’s you take on online dating?

Reese: For a girl, I think a lot of people Internet date. That’s what the commercials say, right? One in five people meet each other online or something?

Tom: I think online dating is a way of procuring people, you know what I mean? Like Facebook, My Space. It’s a way for people to connect out, and procure small children, and sometimes dodgy relationships. I don’t think it’s very healthy. Online dating is cool, but I think Facebook and My Space is a little off key.

Tom, you had great chemistry with Chris. Was that there from the very beginning or was it something you worked on in rehearsal?

This Means War - Tom Hardy, Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon
Despite the handshake and smiles, it’s all out war between best pals Tuck (Tom Hardy, left) and FDR (Chris Pine), who are battling over the woman (Reese Witherspoon), for whom they’ve both fallen © 2012 Twentieth Century Fox

Tom: No, that was just acting. I’m quite alpha, and he was the [star] of the film so I did my best to accommodate that. I was playing with him. He’s a good guy.

It was good fun to play with him. I wouldn’t want to work with him again, but for the period that we were working together, that was good! Just teasing.

Reese, out of all the dates your character goes on, which was the most fun to shoot and why?

Reese: I think Tom would agree, the trapeze scene. (she laughs) He practiced for that at least a month ahead of time.

Tom: I did.

Reese: He would sometimes wake up super early in the morning and he had a trapeze installed in his hotel room.

Tom: Yeah. I’ve got a little finger which was a bit broken from a problem I had as a kid. I had a chain trapeze at the time and I got it caught in the links, and I lost my grip and I fell. And it took a lot of guts for me to get back on the trapeze, so thank you.

Reese: And a bit of hypnosis. He did a great job.

Tom: I have McG to thank for that.

What was the paintball scene like that you did together?

This Means War - Chris Pine and Tom Hardy
Secret agents and best pals FDR (Chris Pine, left) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) wrap up another dangerous mission © 2012 Twentieth Century Fox

Reese: It was fun to shoot. Although it was hard as I didn’t know Tom very well. That was our first day of shooting and I had to shoot him in the crotch, which is a good ice breaker, it turns out.

Tom: The paintball in the nuts hurts.

Was the action something you wanted to do more of?

Reese: I wished I could have done more. I kept saying to McG, ‘Give me the gun. Think of a scene where I could use the guns.’

Did you have any injuries during your fight scene with Chris?

Tom: Fighting Chris was good fun. Chris is a good fighter. He has this kind of jazz-hands style, which is kind of scary. It’s like you’re going up against somebody from West Side Story. You’ve got to keep your eyes well-peeled because they can come at any angle.

I’m used to a different form of boxing. I had to look out for myself because he has fast hands. But it was safe.

Chris is better with a weapon than I am. If you look at him technically in the film, he’s actually great with pistol work and weapons. Truth be told, he’s a lot tougher than he looks, if that even matters, which it does.

This Means War Opens in theatres on Tuesday, Feb 14, 2012 (US, Canada and Australia). UK release is March 2, 2012.

Judy Sloane

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