Actor and Musican Harry Connick Jr talks about the new romatnic comedy “New in Town”

Harry Connick Jr is no stranger to romantic comedies. He’s starred in numerous tearjerkers from “Hope Floats” to the Irish based “P.S. I love you” – he even wrote and sung the soundtrack for the much beloved “When Harry Met Sally”. Now, he is joining up with Renee Zellweger for the latest chick flick “New In Town” -playing the good country boy who sticks it to the big city gal when she comes in to run the local factory.  Here the actor and music talks about the film, and what his wife thought of him kissing Renne Zellweger!

Q: Harry, we love seeing you in films, Why aren’t you in more of them?
HC: I think you have to be present in this community to really develop a full career – and I’ve got a day job! I go out and play music so I’m not here all the time and I think sometimes I might be off people’s radar. And people are concerned with the bottom line – especially in this economic climate and when you spend millions of dollars on a movie – so you have to have a pretty good sense that the people who are headlining it for you can fill the theaters. And if I’m off on the road eight months a year playing music, chances are I’m not going to be the person that comes to mind. But that’s a personal choice I’ve made.

Q: Which do you prefer working on? Movies or music?
HC: I love them both and fortunately I’ve been able to combine both which has made for an interesting life. But if I had to pick one, I’d pick music.

Q: How does your wife (Jill Goodacre) feel about your passionate kissing scenes with co-star Renee Zellweger in New In Town?
HC: Jill is the most secure person I‘ve ever met by far. She could care less. We‘re married and have three kids together so she don‘t care about all that. She’s impossibly not jealous. I’ve never met anybody like that. It drives me insane. If I could get her jealous it would be the greatest thing in the world. Even when I did a Broadway show where, night after night, I was doing this very intimate scene on stage. And I asked her what she thought and all she said was “That was hot!” I’m tired of trying to figure women out.

Q: Do you ever get jealous?
HC: Yeah, I can be jealous, sure. I’m fine with things now. I mean I have three children with her so I’m pretty sure she’s not going anywhere. But when I was younger I would get a bit jealous. But I still have a healthy degree of jealousy. It doesn’t impede my actions at all but, yeah, if she was doing love scenes with other men on film, I don’t know how happy I’d be with that.

Q: What’s the secret to your long and happy marriage to Jill?
HC: I don’t know if I have a secret. I just love her very much. I know she loves me. We have three wonderful children and it works. It’s very understandable why not all marriages work out, and then some marriages last forever and you don’t know how they could possibly work out. I think it’s basically because we love each other very much and respect each other.

Q: Being the only man in a house of four women, do you have any particular insight into the female mind?
HC: Nothing can give you an understanding into the female mind. I don’t get it and I never will! I don’t even try. There’s nothing I can do! Women are impossible to understand but I love every minute of it.

Q: You recently starred in the TV movie Living Proof, playing Denny Slamon, the man who invented the breast cancer drug, Herceptin. What drew you to such an unusual project?

HC: My mother died of [ovarian] cancer when I was 13. And when I got to the point in my life where I knew I could do something functional to try to help stop cancer, then I started to ge t involved by working with different charities and, now, with this role.

Q: Was this an emotional role given your background?
HC: In some ways yeah. It was hard and there were a lot of scenes where I had to tell women that there was nothing I could do for them and basically they had to go home and die because of the various rules imposed on these research doctors as far as how the experimental drugs were to be administered. Some of those scenes were tough to film.

Q: What has been the reaction to your playing this man who is considered a saviour among breast cancer victims?
HC: Its been incredible. And when I’m on the road, every single night I meet people who say ‘I’m here because of that drug . . .’ And people are asking me medical advice! People are asking me if I knew about drug interactions between Herceptin and other drugs! I have to say to them, ‘Do you know that I’m a jazz piano player?’ But the point of it is that lots of people became aware of Dr. Slamon and this drug. And so if it saves one woman’s life, then my job is done.

Q: Did you go to any research labs while you were making Living Proof?
HC: I was really lucky because I went to UCLA where Dr. Slamon did all the research – in the actual building where he did it. It was incredible to see this guy’s world. Hundreds of thousands of women have survived because of this little physics lab. The guy’s a real hero. Its incredible and its really overwhelming. I’ve never done anything of that much real social significance. I’ve played romantic comedies and I sing love songs but this actually gave information to women with breast cancer and saved their lives.

Q: Starring opposite Renee Zellweger in romantic comedy New In Town, what is your own personal experience of being new in town?

HC: When I moved to New York when I was 18, I was definitely new in town. I was coming from a much smaller place. And you have all of these dreams and you think you’re going to make this happen and that happen and then when you arrive in the big city – nobody cares. And so you have to really adjust how you think about things so I know that feeling pretty well.

Q: What prompted you to leave your home in New Orleans?
HC: I was extremely driven. I wanted to have a music career and had heard there was potentially a record contact for me at Columbia Records so I went up to New York and pursued it and eventually got signed. But that was where the music scene was; that’s were all the jazz clubs were and all the musicians and all the opportunities were. I’d wanted to be on the Columbia Records label my whole life and a year after I moved to New York, they signed me.

Q: Finally, what is next for Harry Connick Jnr?
HC: I think I’ll be back on Broadway at the beginning of fall or 2010. I’ve got some movie musical ideas that I’m working on and then I’ll be in the studio making another CD soon.

“New in Town” is in Irish cinemas from Friday, Feb 27th.