Alison Brie interview: ‘Somebody I Used to Know’

Alison Brie and Dave Franco first conceived the idea for their film “Somebody I Used to Know” on a walk from his high school to his mom’s house during a hometown visit. The couple, who’ve been married since 2017, had each written separate screenplays at that point and wanted to write something together. “[We were] just talking about going home and seeing people from your past and rom-coms and how we love things that are romantic. That was sort of where we started to crack the basic idea,” Brie tells Gold Derby (watch the exclusive video interview above). “I think we couldn’t get an Uber, so we just kept talking and talking as the walk continued. We got to his mom’s house and made a bunch of notes.”

This was at the end of 2019. When 2020 rolled around, the pair thought they’d have to put their idea on the backburner as Brie started production on the fourth season of “GLOW,” not knowing the world was about to grind to a halt. “I really remember us having these conversations like, ‘When are we gonna have time to write this?!’ because of the ‘GLOW’ season starting. Then, of course, the shutdown happened. For the first two weeks, like everybody, we just thought it was going to be two weeks, especially because I was in production on something,” the actress recalls. “That was kind of the company line. Nobody, obviously, knew the magnitude of what was going on, so we thought, ‘OK, we have two weeks’ — again, not realizing quite the devastating nature of what was at hand — we thought, ‘Oh, my God, this is great. We have two weeks. We will treat it like a writing clinic.’ We really hunkered down those two weeks and wrote every day and hammered out a first draft. And then, you know, we had a lot of time to do many more drafts.”

The result was their Amazon Prime Video film, which premiered on the streamer in February, that’s not your conventional rom-com. Directed by Franco, “Somebody I Used to Know” stars Brie as Ally, a workaholic reality TV producer who returns to her sleepy Washington state hometown after her show is canceled. She bumps into her ex-boyfriend, Sean (Jay Ellis), who is days away from marrying Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons). The film covers a lot of rom-com tropes — and quickly subverts them. The so-called love triangle and “My Best Friend’s Wedding”-esque “stop the wedding” shenanigans are upended once Ally gets to know Cassidy, a singer in a punk rock band who doesn’t want to give that up when she weds Sean.

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“I think we were excited not to have any villains in the movie, just to have three complicated people who were going through a tumultuous, emotional period in their lives. I think we also loved the idea of playing with the love triangle trope, which normally in a love triangle in a movie, it’s like one person deciding which person they’re going to be with. In this movie, it’s sort of like there’s any combination of these people who could end up together. That was sort of a fun place to be,” Brie says. “Even with Cassidy’s character, not villainizing her, really leaning into the idea that these women connect on a cellular level. And Ally, of course, sees a lot of herself in Cassidy and [is] inspired by her. And Cassidy, in a weird, roundabout way, is getting some good advice from Ally about her relationship.”

The two women also bond in a streaking scene on a golf course, inspired by Brie’s own fondness for streaking. The Golden Globe nominee streaked a lot in college (“I went to a very naked-friendly school”) but moved away from it as her acting career took off — until “GLOW.” “I feel like Ally at the start of the movie really kind of represents the way audiences have seen me play these really Type A parts and Ally at the end of the movie is more how I see myself in the world as more of a free person than people might know or realize,” she explains. “Working on ‘GLOW’ actually really reconnected me to how much I like being naked and embracing my body and nudity. Once we kinda tapped into that idea for Ally, then we also started to do research about naturism and the belief system there. It was so in line with the themes of what we wanted Ally to be reconnected with in herself, so it all felt really organic. … This is just a story about self-empowerment ultimately.”

“Somebody I Used to Know” also marks the second time Franco has directed his wife after 2020’s “The Rental,” and the couple “probably will” write another screenplay soon, especially while Brie waits for word on the long-gestating “Community” movie. Production is unlikely to start this summer, as has been speculated, but Brie assures it’s “definitely happening” at some point.

“Everybody’s been hinting at summer, but I feel like I would have more information if it we were really gonna go. We’re a little behind on updates, but we’re all still really excited about it. Definitely happening,” she shares. “I know the final piece of the puzzle, aside from a script — we haven’t yet read a script — I think it’s just gonna be figuring out everybody’s schedules. We’re all very lucky to be busy, which is good, but everybody is highly enthusiastic about it and about wanting to make it work.”

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UPLOADED Apr 14, 2023 8:30 am