Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks: Summer's stars on the other side of season

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Chris Pine and Alex Kurtzman

Actor Chris Pine (right) and director Alex Kurtzman from "People Like Us." (June 27, 2012)

But, Pine continued, Kurtzman allowed that openness, and much scene-by-scene analysis and improvisation ensued on the set. The director said the script's long gestation period, and the many changes it went through, made him less precious about his words anyway, so he was happy for his actors' input.

"Alex is a first-time director, and I think it's always a real discovery for directors when they realize they have actors who can improv and keep it real and keep it on point," Banks said.

The director and his two leads agreed that the final scene, which I won't spoil, was the most fraught, as Pine fought for Sam's point of view and Banks fought for Frankie's point of view, and Kurtzman tried to moderate.

"We really battled that moment," the actress, 38, said. "It was a really hard day. I made Chris work for it. I really did."

Less of an issue was dealing with audience expectations/dread over whether Frankie might try to strike up a romance with the man she doesn't realize is her half-brother.

"It wasn't really a concern of mine when I was doing it," Pine said. "Perhaps it was because I knew what the story was, and I was reading it from the point of view of a guy who's meeting his sister."

From the script development through the production, the movie was known as "Welcome to People," reflecting Sam's progression into the world of true human emotions. Then the studio tested the title and reported that audiences had trouble understanding it.

"It was a bit of a battle," Kurtzman said. "In the studio's defense, they really let it go for a long time, even knowing that we were having challenges with it in the testing, just with the title. And finally I think we want the same thing for the movie, all of us, which is for people to be excited and go see it."

"I think I was just as connected to that title as Alex was," Pine said. "Look, at the end of the day, Alex made his film. No one can touch his film. The film is his, completely, from back to front. They gave him all the freedom he wished. That never happens. So title-schmitle. I have issues with the poster (with Pine, Banks and D'Addario in a grinning pose). Poster-schmoster. People see the film or they don't. That's the payment. The film is all that matters."

mcaro@tribune.com

Twitter @MarkCaro

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