Simon Helberg, who plays Howard Wolowitz on “The Big Bang Theory,” will never be able to complain about press intrusion into his personal life. That’s because his new romantic comedy “We’ll Never Have Paris” is such a candid depiction of how he so very nearly totally and utterly screwed up his romantic relationship with Jocelyn Towne, now his wife of more than six years.
Helberg and Towne co-directed “Paris,” which Helberg wrote and also stars in with Melanie Lynskey playing the role of his girlfriend. The story follow his betrayal of her, her flight to Paris and their astonishment when the Helberg character chases after her to the French capital only to find that she has met a hunky local man.
Attending the American Film Market to tubthump the picture, Helberg comes across as a young Woody Allen: shy and painfully self-aware; fast-talking while simultaneously self-deprecating.
“It went beyond the point of tragic humiliation,” Helberg says of his ineptitude as a romantic suitor. And when Helberg says he was “somewhat aware” of the humor of the situation at the time he was digging himself deeper into a hole, Towne, also holed up at the Loews office of sales agent K5 Intl., cuts in: “It was not funny to me.”
They both describe the moment of Helberg’s arrival at Towne’s place in Paris, where she is entertaining her Gallic lover, as like the Edvard Munch painting “The Scream.” Appropriately, Helberg admits to “vomiting onto the page,” the first draft of the script.
Co-directing the movie from Helberg’s screenplay sounds like a bonding experience, albeit a trying one. Helberg is in front of camera and in nearly every scene, while Towne was behind the lens giving instructions by walkie talkie. “The walkie talkie always won,” Helberg deadpans.
Getting to the point where they could make the picture required some dexterous finessing with Helberg’s TV career as shooting “Big Bang Theory,” now in its seventh season, left a 3½-month window, which they missed one time before plunging in.
“After doing this movie, returning to TV and just having one thing to do was like a vacation,” Helberg says.
He tries to pinpoint the tone of the film, which is now in advanced post-production. “It is not a broad rom-com and it’s not a gritty story. It is truthful and outrageous,” he says. “And the sex scenes will make you cry.”