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Exclusive: Alison Brie Talks Making Somebody I Used to Know with Husband Dave Franco and Community Reunion

With Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, and Singles Awareness Day right around the corner, Somebody I Used to Know star and co-writer Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men, GLOW) says the film’s unconventional, but feel good, love story has something for everyone. Beyond the usual rom-com tropes, Brie shares that she and her husband, director and co-writer Dave Franco (The Rental), wanted every character to be emotionally complicated and made the third person in the love triangle (played by Kiersey Clemons), “really cool.”

Somebody I Used to Know follows workaholic TV producer Ally (Brie) back to the comfort of her hometown, reminiscing with her first love Sean (Jay Ellis) only to discover that he is getting married to Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons). It’s a film about three people who unexpectedly help each other re-discover who they really are, where they came from, and where they’re going.

Nicki Sun: I’m so honored to be in conversation with one of my personal favorite actresses and people on the planet. She is the star and co-writer of the upcoming film Somebody I Used to Know— how are you, Alison?

Alison Brie: I’m great, Nicki. What an introduction. Thank you so much.

Sun: And I just have to say, happy belated birthday to a fellow Capricorn baby! I know you just celebrated a milestone, and you’ve accomplished so much in your life, and now you’re working with your husband on a film and starring in it. If you were to write your younger self right now, about this moment, what would you say to her? And it’s been a long time since Toto— I believe that was your first role.

Brie: Thank you. You’ve really done your homework. Yeah, I mean, you know, probably the message would be just the classic like “Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all gonna work out… Stay true to yourself.” You know, they’re clichés for a reason. When I think about all of the jobs that I didn’t get that seemed like the end of the world, like to me, you know, it makes me laugh a little bit. It’s kind of like, it feels good to know that I’ve trusted my instincts and I feel proud to have kind of like leaned into trying things that scare me a bit. I think that’s also a through line of like continue to take risks cause you might surprise yourself.

Related: Exclusive: Dave Franco Talks Making Second Directorial Film Somebody I Used to Know with Wife Alison Brie

Sun: Thank you for that. And let’s talk about the film. So Somebody I Used to Know is truly an unconventional love story. It’s like a love triangle, but in a way you unexpectedly help each other rediscover who you are. During this process of filming or maybe even working with Dave, what have you rediscovered about yourself in the process?

Brie: I think Dave and I were both tapping into this aspect of our careers where we’re craving, kind of, letting go a little bit again, I guess. It’s like I, I feel like I started out working in this industry and it’s so exciting to get to do the thing I love as my job. Right? I’m incredibly lucky. Let’s get that out of the way. When I think back to the acting jobs I was doing when I was younger, anything was just the best, the most exciting. But like I, I would imagine with any industry, it can shift very quickly from like, “yes, I got the job” to like “gotta go to work.” You know, your dreams—when your dreams become your job, your job can become work. And then also as you start to get success in this industry, sometimes you start to then grip everything a little too tightly, start to take yourself a little too seriously, start to put weight on things like other people’s opinions of the work that you do that maybe shouldn’t be as important as like you feeling passionate about what you’re making, you feeling fulfilled by the work you’re doing artistically. And sometimes it’s easier said than done, but I think part of the process of even just writing films for myself, and Dave and I writing this, was about tapping back into the things that we’re really passionate about creatively.

Sun: I love that. And I just have to add, it’s not just luck. You are a person that is truly enjoying your craft, and you share that with the world, and you work hard at it. So I just wanna give you your props on that.

Brie: Thank you.

Sun: As you both co-wrote this film, what moments did you pull from your personal life? I did read that you had some nudist tendencies back in the day, and I did see that in the film.

Brie: That’s right. We can start there. Definitely, Ally’s nudist, storyline is ripped straight from my life, although hers are in slightly more extremes, I guess. I loved streaking in college, I loved streaking as an adult, and we wanted to weave that into the story. And it’s kind of a perfect metaphor for Ally’s journey. You know, even though the main storyline of the movie is not based on anything from our lives, sort of just like the vernacular of the movie is, you know, it’s really written in our sense of humor. The way that the characters joke around is like it’s our sensibilities. And then there’s a lot of little instances like my character’s experience with her cat Harry on a plane is based on my experience with our old cat Harry on a plane, or, you know, our friend’s experience walking in on his mom in a compromising position—that comes from a true story. So we’ve pulled a lot of things from our lives and our friends’ lives. Cassidy’s Band, with her friends Jules and Serena, is based on my old cover band the girls and I did with my friends, Jules and Serena. So there’s a lot of little Easter eggs for like people in our lives.

Sun: I found myself rooting for every single character. But I really loved how the third person in the love triangle, played by Kiersey Clemens—you made her a very lovable and likable character. It just goes beyond the trope of a normal romantic comedy.

Brie: Oh my God, yes. Absolutely. Thank you for bringing that up. Cassidy, the character played by Kiersey Clemens is Dave and I’s favorite character in the movie. And yes, we did set out to upend this trope. You know, in every wedding rom-com, there’s like the bride or groom, right, that you don’t want people to be with cause you want the two other characters to get together. And we kind of wanted to set up this challenge of like, well, what if that person was actually really cool? We didn’t wanna have any villains in this movie. We wanted every character to be emotionally complicated. They’re all going through it. And, and Cassidy’s character sort of single-handedly knocks the movie onto a new uh, trajectory. You know, you kind of think you know what movie you’re watching, and then it’s the bond that happens between my character and Kiersey Clemon’s character that kind of sends the movie in a whole different direction.

Sun: And speaking of characters, we cannot talk about this film without the Community reunion. Danny Pudi as your friend—what was that process like bringing your best friend, in real life actually, on to play your friend in this film?

Brie: It was so fun. Dave and I always like to have people in mind when we’re writing characters. You’re kind of picturing—sometimes it’s just like a person from our life that we know. Um, and sometimes that person from our life turns out to be an incredible actor. So we wrote that role for Danny, and then it was like mildly nerve-wracking being like, gosh, I hope Danny is interested and available. We don’t, you don’t wanna take anything for granted. But we were lucky enough that he said yes, and it was so fun to shoot. It was like, we didn’t skip a beat. I love Danny. We’ve remained incredibly close since shooting the show, and we had the best time. In a way, it felt like the preamble to the Community movie that we’ll hopefully get to shoot later this year.

Sun: I know! I’m so excited about that. Just to go a little bit further on Danny, what advice has he given you in your personal life that you still hold on to this day?

Brie: Oh, wow. I mean, Danny Pudi is the kindest like, most down-to-earth person you’ll ever meet. I would say if anything, I’m sure he’s talked me off of some ledges when I get very upset about something. Right. He’s the guy that’s gonna be like, “maybe take a beat, sleep on it, then decide tomorrow what you’re gonna do.” I’m like, “I gotta go tell them now!” He’s like, “I think sleep on it.” I think he’s just like so cool, calm and collected, and kind. So like I, oh, I would trust any advice from Danny cause he is such a good guy.

Related: Alison Brie and Danny Pudi Clear Their Schedules to Make Time for Community Film Extension



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