As with any film, Sex After Kids was a collaborative effort with the cast. From his initial story idea he engaged the actors to help in the creation of the storylines and characters. Discussions with the actors from the beginning were just part of the process, as Mary Krohnert explains, “Right from the first draft Jeremy was interested in what the actors had to say about their character. I definitely had a say in Larissa’s storyline. I think I was able to contribute only because he provided such a well-developed, interesting world to play in to begin with. His characters are so wonderfully human and delightfully flawed – it makes them easy to identify with and invest in as an actor.”
The characters are strong, yet flawed, and that’s what makes the story real and the arcs genuine and relatable. Jeremy captures the general thinking that from the outside everything on the inside looks good, perfect and enviable, but from the inside things can be falling apart, held together with threads of the past or the complete opposite of the image portrayed.
Like Kristin Booth’s character Bethany. Anyone looking at her would think she has it all – husband, family, happiness. But Bethany’s marriage is living a double life. She’s unhappy in her marriage but loves being a mom so makes that a priority. To find fun elsewhere, she has sex with other men. Of her character, Kristin says, “Some might say that Bethany is a woman with loose morals as she’s married with children but likes to get a little sex on the side. Obviously things with her husband are not great but they stay together for the kids so she finds her sexual gratification outside her marriage. In her mind, this is putting the children first, thereby making her a great mother.”
When writing, Jeremy doesn’t see the characters as male or female, he approaches the characters simply as people. He explains, “I’m aware that men and women differ in some areas, and so those always play into the character as well, but at their core they’re equally flawed. If I write characters well, it’s because I don’t let them off the hook. I let them be ugly and honest.” Jeremy also happens to use his observation skills well, “I happen to have a lot of female friends, and while I’m a good listener, I’m a better thief,” he says jokingly.
Mary Krohnert suggests that Larissa is a strong, smart woman who loves her family ferociously, but who sometimes loses sight of whether or not people want what she’s offering and that undermines her own need. This is something that Mary believes a lot of people will relate too, adding, “People can connect to wanting more out of their lives and relationship but being afraid to ask at the risk of losing what they already have.”
Zoie Palmer adopted an English accent to portray her character Lou to play opposite Paul Amos, who plays her brother Peyton. Zoie says, “The character I got to play was so much fun! I’m always drawn to characters that are just a bit not completely there, a bit off.” Lou is on a search for love, and as she mentions in the film, she has a hole in her life that needs filling. As a single gal who chose to have a baby on her own, she’s lonely, but underneath it all is really just trying to find herself. As Zoie puts it, “Lou is a person trying her best and making a million mistakes but she keeps trying and I love that about her. She has her baby who she loves to death, but she’s still searching. She’s searching for love, for lust, for the tools to be a good mom. Mostly, she’s searching for herself. She has a brother who seems to be on his own strange journey in life and as he has nowhere to live, he moves in with her.”
“Ben is the kind of guy I kinda wish I could be,” says Ennis Esmer of his character, “Or at least, Ben gave me the chance to imagine my life had I made some very different choices.” To Ennis, his character’s flaw is that he’s such a nice guy, almost accommodating to a fault, he says, “Even when his wife is berating him into maintaining his erection, he still tries to do right by her. What we see happen to Ben is that he lets his own needs go untended for too long and that makes his ‘nice guy’ thing become a pushover thing. And despite his attempt to have an enriching life, it just isn’t.”
Much like Ben, Shannon Beckner’s character Jules also tries to achieve some level of control on her life in an attempt to find her self again. She explains, “She’s lost since becoming a mom. By keeping her house clean and constantly trying to keep on top of the laundry she thinks she’ll be able to keep control of an uncontrollable situation. What she doesn’t realize is how this obsession is affecting her relationship with her husband, and of course, making her look a little crazy to everyone else.”