Fit for a princess

Kim McMurray

While the new feature film, “First Daughter,” which will be released nationwide this Friday, may look like just another boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-wins-girl-back romantic comedy, star Marc Blucas (alongside Katie Holmes) promises that it is more than that.

“I love that this movie has so many levels; all the characters are more than they appear,” Blucas said at a roundtable interview in Philadelphia. “I pretty much stalked the project.”

Though set in present day, democratic America, the basic synopsis of the movie is not far from the time-old story of the princess who is sick of her life in the limelight and just wants to be a normal teenager (think “Aladdin” and “The Prince and the Pauper”).

Samantha Mackenzie (Holmes), besides being the daughter of the president of the United States, is a college freshman who, like every freshman, is trying to find her place in a world away from her home. That’s a little harder to do when your home is the White House. But at last, Sam finds her place, and finds herself in love with her resident advisor, James (Blucas), who Sam thinks has the ability to look past her status to the real her. This movie veers from the usual fairy tale when Sam finds out that James has an agenda of his own.

Directed by Forest Whitaker, the movie should be applauded for its realistic version of falling in love and the chemistry that is apparent between Holmes and Blucas. “It is not easy to tell the story of love in an hour and a half,” Blucas said.

Before shooting began, Whitaker, Holmes and Blucas met for dinner to discuss how to make the main characters fall in love more naturally. Blucas said that because he graduated from college, Whitaker asked him what he remembered about love from his college days.

“I told him that this might sound boring but that it’s common in college to stay up ’til four in the morning with someone, just talking, and then realize that you want to pursue a relationship with that person,” Blucas said.

Whitaker loved the idea and asked Holmes and Blucas what they would discuss. “We just started improvising and a lot of our dialog ended up in the movie,” said Blucas.

Blucas remembers his college days fondly and enjoyed being in college again while shooting this movie. He attended Wake Forest University on a full basketball scholarship. “I was a square in college,” Blucas said, “I was a business major with a minor in communications; I was a perfectionist.”

After college, he played professional basketball in England for a year before deciding to go to law school. “I know all the fan websites say that I had this major epiphany the night before my LSATs, when I was watching “A Few Good Men,” that I wanted to be an actor, but it wasn’t as abrupt as that,” Blucas said. He said that the second beginning of his acting career came when he realized that he doesn’t “love the law.” The first beginning came with his role in his third-grade play, “Hansel and Gretel.” “Rave reviews,” he added.

Blucas always knew that he loved acting and he thought that it was a love that could replace basketball. “I never wanted to go at it half-heartedly,” Blucas said, and he never had the time to truly pursue acting until after he finished playing in England.

Through the years, Blucas has played a myriad of roles, from a one-line basketball player in “Eddie,” to Riley Finn in the television series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” to Animal in “Prey for Rock n Roll.” He said that like Harrison Ford and Richard Gere, he is usually cast as a nice, clean cut guy. “I don’t get cast as the serial killer,” said Blucas, “though it would be fun to play a role outside of the box. We all have a dark side.”

Blucas does not have anything coming up in the future but is looking forward to spending a few weeks with his family in Erie. Would he consider doing a “First Daughter II?” “If Katie and Forest are on board, I’ll be there in a second,” Blucas said.