Simpson says shooting Employee of the Month helped lighten her life

Credit: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Jessica Simpson says filming her new movie helped her get through a tough period – the aftermath of her split from husband Nick Lachey.

“I was going through a pretty rough time while making Employee of the Month,” she said at the film’s Los Angeles premiere on Tuesday, “so all these guys just really lightened my day. They made it bright.”

The film costars funnymen Dane Cook and Dax Shepard and filmed in New Mexico. “We all became such great friends: the whole crew, the cast,” Simpson said. “And being in Sante Fe, it’s so relaxing and so peaceful. It was a great getaway for me. A great time to just sit back and relax and laugh and enjoy myself, enjoy my friends and enjoy life.”

And she had her own way of giving back to her colleagues: “I made cupcakes here and there. I love to bake so I would bring stuff to set all the time.”

But even though filming was fun, Simpson was still nervous about what audiences would think. Luckily, reception at the premiere was positive. “I’m beaming right now,” she said after the screening. “I’m so glad that everybody was laughing and enjoying themselves and having a good time. I had butterflies. I thought I was going to throw up or pee in my pants. I didn’t know which one I was going to do. I was so nervous. I feel good now.”

Simpson feels good in general these days. “I couldn’t be in a better place,” she said. Of the single life, she said, “I’m learning a lot about guys and a lot about myself. The best relationship is when you know yourself and can give back.”

Her mom, Tina, agreed, telling PEOPLE that the only dating advice she gives her daughter is “to find herself. That’s it. That’s the best thing she can do for herself.” On whether she’d like Simpson to stay single for a while, Tina replied, “Yes! Yes. I’m the mother. Yes!”

Costar Cook, who attended the premiere with girlfriend Racquel Houghton, was linked to Simpson during filming, but told reporters of the gossip, “We laugh about it.”

Cook is in movies with the three hottest Jessicas out there: Besides Simpson, whom he says is a “breath of fresh air – I had no idea she was so funny,” he’ll appear in Good Luck Chuck with Jessica Alba (“a brilliant physical comedian”) and London with Jessica Biel (“amazing actress”).

Did he kiss them all? “I did not kiss Biel,” he said. “I kissed her ass in the movie. And then Simpson and Alba, very sweet. I’ll give them that. Two lips up.”