Real-life couple Alison Brie and Dave Franco teamed for ‘Somebody I Used to Know’ — here’s their 1 con about working together
Unlike many showbiz twosomes, it wasn’t a film or TV series that brought Alison Brie and Dave Franco together. Instead, the prolific actors met in New Orleans during Mardi Gras in 2011.
They married in 2017, instantly becoming one of Hollywood’s most affable acting couples. And while they have since co-starred in the occasional project (see 2017’s The Little Hours and The Disaster Artist), now they’re creating movies together from the ground up.
After collaborating on the low-budget 2020 thriller The Rental (Franco co-wrote and directed, Brie starred), they mind-melded to write Somebody I Used to Know — again with Franco directing and Brie starring.
The crafty, amusing and introspective romantic comedy finds Brie as a Los Angeles reality-television producer who returns to her small Washington state hometown after her series Dessert Island is unceremoniously canceled. There, she rekindles a flame with the ex (Jay Ellis) she abandoned for Tinseltown, only to find out he’s only days away from marrying a musician (Kiersey Clemons).
Inspired by the rom-coms of the ’80s and ’90s (think When Harry Met Sally…, Sleepless in Seattle, My Best Friend’s Wedding, etc.), the pair dreamed up Somebody while quarantining during the early COVID lockdowns.
“Those are comfort movies that you go back to again and again,” says Brie, 40. “We were in that mode. We wanted to avoid the darkness as much as possible. … So we just wanted to make something like that had that same nostalgic feel for those movies that we know and love, and try to update the characters for now and kind of try to surprise people.”
“All we could stomach [at the time] was joyful movies,” Franco, 37, adds. “But we love romantic comedies so much, so we really used what we know about them to lead the audience down a certain path, and then really try to pull the rug out from them every step of the way and really try to subvert expectations and give you something that you haven’t seen before.”
Given their comedic and improv chops — Brie in favorites like Community and Happiest Season, Franco in Neighbors and The Afterparty — the couple are basically their own walking romantic comedy. And they clearly relish in working together.
“As actors we have spent so much of our lives apart, shooting jobs that are in different cities,” Brie says. “So part of this, I think, was just trying to be around each other a little bit more.”
Franco says their domestic partnership was particularly beneficial when he’d spend months in the editing bay working on the movie, and Brie was his “secret weapon” who would pop in every few weeks to give him feedback with fresh eyes.
Those are some of the pros. Any cons?
“Nope,” cracks Brie.
“The only con,” starts Franco (drawing a playful “Go on…” from Brie), “is that when you’re working on something, when you’re this enmeshed in something, it’s hard to talk about anything other than the project itself.”
“Sometimes the work becomes everything,” Brie agrees. “And it’s hard for us to pull ourselves back and take boundary breaks and kind of go like, ‘How was your day?’ Like, ‘What else is going on?’ Sometimes it gets a little insular, versus like leaving and going to work, then coming back and debriefing with one another.”
“And that’s it,” emphasizes Franco. “That’s it!” seconds Brie.
“I think that part of the reason why it also works is just that Dave and I have the same sensibilities,” Brie continues. “We have the same taste. We watch movies together almost every night of our lives. So we speak the same language in terms of the things that we’re referencing. … So there’s not a lot of disagreeing when it comes to the thing that we’re making.”
The people they made Somebody I Used to Know with — the ensemble cast includes Ellis, Clemons, Danny Pudi (Community reunion!), Haley Joel Osment, Julie Hagerty, Amy Sedaris and Sam Richardson and Zoe Chao (The Afterparty reunion!) — certainly loved spending time with the happily married couple.
“Nobody’s screaming and hollering at each other,” laughs Ellis (Insecure, Top Gun: Maverick), who noted he was a huge fan of both Brie and Franco as actors, and Franco as the director of The Rental. “Dave just really wanted to create a chill family vibe, with the crew, with the cast, with everyone. … It was great, it was fun. You know, it was weird to be doing a scene with your costar, and then she walks over and kisses the director. … You forget, ‘Oh yeah, they’re married.’”
“It makes for just more free-flowing and fun [set],” says Clemons (Dope, the upcoming The Flash). “I’ve been doing things lately that have been in this heightened world, so it was nice to be in the real world. And working with people who have so much charm.”
Ellis did have to share a kiss with Brie, which you think might be awkward given the man directing the shot is her real-life husband.
“Luckily, I didn’t have a lot of that in this movie,” Ellis cracks. “But nah. They’re professionals, man. They’re pros. They’ve done this so much. If there was any thought of weirdness, it immediately goes away when you see how professional they are, and so caring and protective of the process. There were no weird vibes on set at all.”
Somebody I Used to Know is now streaming on Prime Video.
Watch the trailer:
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