Co-star enjoyed role of supportive pal
Jay Baruchel as Kirk, left, and Nate Torrence as Devon are former high school buddies who work as TSA agents in the comedy "She's Out of My League."
Share with others:
When Nate Torrence read the character breakdown for "She's Out of My League," he thought, gee, that sounds familiar.
"It was basically, he's the only one of his friends who married his high school sweetheart and has two kids. And that's actually me. I married my high school sweetheart and I do have two kids," a 5-year-old son and a 21?2-year-old daughter.
In fact, Mr. Torrence met his wife in high school when both were appearing in "Fiddler on the Roof," and their parents live 15 minutes apart in the Canton-Akron, Ohio, area. Mr. Torrence arranged for his wife and children to visit periodically during the two-month shoot in Pittsburgh and everyone headed for Ohio at the end.
"I specifically had my son wear a Browns jersey on the streets of Pittsburgh while we were there. Well, you know, we're not a threat anymore," he said of the Cleveland Browns in a phone interview.
"To be honest, I've just become a Steelers fan. It's so sad, once Art [Modell] sold us to the Ravens, I lost a little piece of my soul. I still support them, but we've gotten to live through the Steelers."
In "She's Out of My League," opening Friday, he portrays a ticketing agent named Devon. He and three high school buddies, played by Jay Baruchel, T.J. Miller and Mike Vogel, work at Pittsburgh International Airport in various capacities, such as TSA agent and baggage handler.
"Our base camp was in the farthest corner of the [airport] parking lot," he said, near a gas station the foursome frequented. Once the cast and crew went through the actual airport screening system, they were there for the duration.
They filmed in a largely unused concourse at the airport, although Mr. Torrence joked, "I don't know that the TSA guys like that there's a movie being made about TSA guys. They definitely looked T.J. and Jay up and down," especially since they were wearing faux but look-alike badges.
"I think they just thought we were making fun of them," which they weren't. "It just happens the guy works as a TSA agent. It isn't 'Reno 911!' "
Devon is the one character who tries to convince Kirk that a pretty party planner is not out of his league. Although he knows that a seemingly mismatched couple in a mall - she's hot, he's not - might attract stares or commentary, there's more to compatibility than looks, he suggests.
"There has to be some physical attraction, but there's so much more to it. I think that's what the movie's really about. I love my character for that reason," he said. "I am the only one completely cheering Kirk on in this whole movie. 'No, you are good enough. You are good enough.' "
Mr. Torrence, a one-time Kent State University student who played a gadget geek in "Get Smart," is featured in perhaps the most infamous scene of the movie. Devon helps Kirk with some normally private grooming as he prepares for a possible romantic rendezvous.
"It was the most awkward day of my life," he said, although he worked with a body double wearing a codpiece. Mr. Torrence says he kept thinking, "How am I going to look my mom in the eye and warn her, and people are going to talk to her about it."
That scene and another gross-out moment involving Mr. Baruchel were late additions to the script.
"As actors, we were kind of - to be honest - bummed. We definitely wanted to make this more of a movie based in reality. We didn't want it to be an 'American Pie' or too far-out sex comedies."
But Mr. Torrence asked director Jim Field Smith if he could take the scene as written, awkward with some homoerotic undertones, and turn it into something a really good friend might do for another. And he did.
It's why he thinks the movie has heart. "It makes me smile, it makes me laugh. I like that it has heart," and that might not come through in the trailer.
Although Mr. Torrence spent occasional down time with his visiting family, he logged lots of hours at Dave & Buster's and the Improv at the Waterfront along with Primanti's, Heinz Field and The Andy Warhol Museum, which served as a location and DVD interview space.
Talking about Dave & Buster's, he said, "It was hilarious, not only how much we went there but how many tickets we won. We would all go there as a cast and hang out there sometimes on the weekends, and we would all load up and buy something to play with at the hotel."
Mr. Torrence, a former high school prom king and class president whose call was punctuated with enthusiasm and laughs, said that all too often Midwestern cities are made to look dreary on screen. "I just thought they did an amazing job, it looks just so hip," he said of Pittsburgh.
"Your city does have so much character. I think you guys did a couple of things that Cleveland could have. We obviously have factories lining the river. ... Every time I watch it, I'm just amazed by some of the big shots, that just looks beautiful."
First Published March 11, 2010 12:00 am