15 Minutes with Alison Brie

The star of ”Glow” and ”Community” chats with LAMag about scripting the new rom-com ”Somebody I Used to Know” with her husband, Dave Franco

Alison Brie, the star of GLOW and Community sat down with LAMag ahead of the about writing a movie with her husband Dave Franco during Covid, her favorite L.A. date night, and her love of 1980s romantic comedies.

Brie and her partner, actor Dave Franco, had been wanting to write a movie together for a while, so when Covid-19 put the world in lockdown, the two actors used this unanticipated free time to do just that. Hilarious and heartfelt, Somebody I Used to Know is influenced by classic rom-coms. It follows workaholic TV producer Ally (Brie), who faces a major professional setback that sends her running to the comforts of her hometown. There, she spends a whirlwind evening reminiscing with her first love Sean (Jay Ellis) and starts to question everything about the person she’s become.

LAMag: What made you decide to take that leap and write a movie with Dave?
Brie: Dave and I have had this organic trajectory of working together. We worked on a couple of films as actors, The Disaster Artist and The Little Hours, and that went great. That was like the first check off the box that we can be on a set together, our personalities don’t change. Nothing bad was coming out of that and what we found was that it was actually really fun to be on set together. 

Working on The Rental with Dave directing and me acting just took it to another level. It was so wonderful. I think it gets me out of my head a little bit because I trust him so much so I know that I don’t have to worry about any of the other stuff. Also, we have this great emotional support system when we’re together on set and that goes both ways. On The Rental, because that was his directorial debut, I was very mindful of being there for Dave and I want to be easy as an actor, I don’t want to have any of that actor bullshit…I can’t fake anything in front of Dave, he knows me more than anyone. I think because that went so well for both of us and we both had been starting to work more as writers, writing our own work, it felt like the next logical step to write something together. 

What influenced the movie and the plot?
In terms of motivation, I think there were a few different things at play. We started with the genre, we love romantic comedies and we wanted to tap into that nostalgia from all of the rom-coms that we love from the 80s and 90s—When Harry Met Sally, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Pretty Woman, and then try to subvert it a little bit and update it with characters from today and tried to do something unexpected with that. 

A couple of other themes we were playing with were the idea of the one that got away. I think about a lot of women in my life, and myself in my younger days, having a lot of on-again-off-again relationships. I’ve watched it happen with a lot of women I know who the minute that they get lonely, they have this nostalgia for a person that they don’t like at all. Often, there are reasons that a relationship doesn’t work, but we forget those reasons the second that we kind of start to miss that person, the minute that we feel a little bit lonely.

So delving into that idea and also that idea of how do you know when you should be fighting for a relationship and when you shouldn’t? All three of our main characters are circling this idea in this movie.

Co-writing with your partner seems like it could be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you can brainstorm ideas any time but also how did you find the balance to switch off and separate work from your home life?

You’re exactly right. It’s a blessing and a curse. I would say for the most part, we loved it and we don’t even question it. It’s certainly an advantage to be in the same household… It felt good that we were using the time in a productive way and at the same time it can be difficult to turn it off. At the time. We really tried to set hard boundaries. We’ll write from noon to five and then we’ll stop writing, I’ll make dinner and we’ll talk about other stuff.

As the movie will be released in time for the biggest date night of the year, Valentine’s Day, what is your favorite date night spot in L.A.?

Oh, definitely Saffy’s Restaurant on the East Side! These are the people who have the restaurants Bestia and Bavel. This is their new spot Saffy’s and It’s Mediterranean food, it’s meat skewers and falafel and hummus. It’s my favorite type of food. It’s so good. They have excellent cocktails and Dave and I go there for date nights constantly, It’s our number one spot.

What was the most important element you took from these movies making this one?

When we went back and watched those movies, even though I’ve seen them 100 times, we were struck by the fact that they are shot like dramas—they look really beautiful. When you think about When Harry Met Sally or Sleepless in Seattle, the cinematography is gorgeous and they’re performed like dramas. They’re not flighty or silly or like any of these adjectives that people ascribe to the rom-com genre. They actually are these beautiful stories about people in complex emotional situations. So I think that was the main thing that we wanted to tap into.

The movie is about chasing your dreams creatively and not settling. Did you ever have people in your life that didn’t want you to chase that creative career?

I can relate to Ally in terms of hitting a point in my career where you start to hang on to things a little too tightly. I think with some success comes a little bit of fear and not wanting to take as many risks. I feel like there was a period where I was looking at jobs in terms of “what they meant for my career” versus “do I just love this material?’,” Do I think I’ll have a great time doing that?” You start to let in these voices that are like “well, you should do this kind of job because it will mean this for your career, and inevitably, all of that gets debunked through experience and you’re reminded that you have to stay true to yourself and work on the things that you love and feel passionate about.

SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW launches globally on Prime on February 10, 2023