Au Pair, Kansas is a feature film about a recently widowed woman who hires a Norwegian soccer player to come to a small town in Kansas to be a male au pair and help her raise her two sons. Part drama, part comedy (a romantic dramedy), with shades of European magical realism, it deals with the recent personal loss of all four main characters and how a soccer ball can change sadness into laughter and create a big and sometimes happy family.
Written by JT O’Neal during his last semester in the prestigious MFA in screenwriting program at UCLA, Au Pair, Kansas was created specifically for and stars Håvard Lilleheie, a top young Norwegian film and TV star. JT met Havard at Cinequest, the San Jose Film festival, where Håvard starred in the opening night feature film, United, and another of JT’s feature scripts was a finalist in their screenplay competition. United would end up being the top grossing home-produced film in Norway in 2003. Totally amazed at Håvard’s incredible screen presence, JT vowed to create an English-speaking part for this phenomenally funny and charismatic actor.
The problem was how to find a story where Håvard could speak English. The solution was to make him a male au pair from Norway, and to bring him to a small town called Lindsborg, a Swedish community in the plains of Kansas! Thus begat Au Pair, Kansas. Add to the mix the grieving mom, Helen, the ghost of her dead husband, her two yodeling sons, a nudist piano teacher, a Latino drag queen, a horny football coach, his butch ex-wife sheriff, a high school hotty, an eighty year-old Swedish gnome, and you’ve got a soccer team. And toss in a herd of buffalo (Helen lives on a bison ranch).
Au Pair, Kansas was shot in and around Lindsborg, Kansas, using existing locations, and was shot on the incredible new Red One digital camera. The script for Au Pair, Kansas has been compared to the recent indie hit, Little Miss Sunshine (which won Academy Awards for both screenwriting and best supporting actor.) Both deal humorously with dysfunctional families, death, maturing, and coming together for a common goal. It’s also similar to Junebug (another recent indie hit that got an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress), a hilarious fish out of water story set in small town America.
Au Pair, Kansas is a funny, touching, and heart-felt story. It was shot in Kansas, with many Kansas cast and crew members, but also features a young Scandinavian star and thus has European appeal, and the lead actress is the amazing Traci Lords!