At my very first job in Hollywood, a co-star jokingly informed me, “You came here expecting to act opposite Oscar winners, but you’re going to end up sharing scenes with Dermot Mulroney.” At the time, I had no idea she would end up being so right.
Moving to Los Angeles provided endless opportunities to star alongside charming 40-something actors. My characters have dated men played by Jude Law, Matthew McConaughey, even Bobby Cannavale. Over many years in the business, I’ve optimistically begun two fictional relationships with men played by Dermot Mulroney, only to be left single and brokenhearted by the times the credits rolled.
I can say with certainty that I am tired of being Dermot Mulroney’s onscreen love interest.
At first glance, I fulfill the stereotypes of a rom-com heroine (RCH). I’m a successful actress who’s been nominated for at least three Golden Globes. I’m blonde (usually), have a glamorous apartment that belies my character’s ostensible profession, and can mix comedy with excellent, and very strong, dramatic work. Roger Ebert once said I was “luminous.” I don’t expect that every romantic comedy I appear in will have a happy ending. But if I’m not going to end up with the male lead, I want to know.
That’s what happened in my two onscreen relationships with men played by Dermot Mulroney. On one occasion, we traveled to celebrate the holidays with his family, only for his overbearing mother and sister to drive me out of the house after only a day. (I stayed at a local inn.) To make matters worse, his mother refused to hand over his grandmother’s ring to give me. When he talked to her about it, she said, “I’d hate to see you not find what you really want.” There were times when I worried he was going to propose, or accidentally thought I’d slept with his brother, but I told myself every relationship had its problems and these were relatively minor. In the end, though, we mutually agreed to break up, and he wound up marrying my sister. (I married his brother, so we’re even.)
The other time I pursued a relationship with a man played by Dermot Mulroney came after we promised each other we’d get married if we were still single at 28. The big day came, and he called me — to say that he was engaged to a college student played by Cameron Diaz. And not only that, I was going to be the maid of honor. I spent 104 minutes trying to steal him away from her with whatever tricks and lies I could think up. And he made me think I had a chance, sharing his doubts about his fiancée and telling me how jealous he was of my gay best friend who’d been posing as my boyfriend. We even kissed on the eve of his wedding! But in the end, he got back together with her, and when the credits rolled, I was still single.
The guy being played by Dermot Mulroney was not the official reason any of these relationships ended. There were other problems, too — quirky, yet relatable problems that I assumed would be wrapped up by the end of the romantic comedy we were starring in. But ultimately, both of these men were played by Dermot Mulroney, and I couldn’t help but wonder if this was not just a coincidence but a pattern I should pay attention to.
Living in Los Angeles and working in romantic comedies, I frequently meet male characters who are played by Dermot Mulroney. In almost every script I read, they approach me. As flattered as I am, I don’t welcome the complications and potential heartbreak I’ve experienced back into my life.
In the meantime, I’ll continue taking rom-com parts and meeting my friends, hopefully while sipping the cocktail I’m determined to create — a Guinness mixed with Harp lager, with a little bit of Murphy’s Irish Red. I’ll call it the Dylan McDermott.