Glen Powell first read the script for Set It Up 3 years ago, and he has been pining to make the romantic-comedy ever since.
Much has changed during this time, though. Powell and Emilia Clarke were originally supposed to be the two underpaid, overworked assistants that hatch a plan to match-make their two bosses so they can have some much-needed spare time.
Instead, Clarke was called off to a galaxy far, far away for Han Solo. But rather than fretting, Powell explained to me that he immediately knew who to turn to.
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“Zoey Deutch and I had worked on ‘Everybody Wants Some’ together. We’d really hit it off. We’d always talked about doing a rom-com together, because that was like the most no-brainer thing if you had seen the two of us in a room.”
“All of a sudden the opportunity came for her to join the party and she made it a party, which was great.”
Powell is well aware that even though he might have originally suggested her, Deutch’s charm, presence, comedic talent and patter was what really landed her the part of Harper.
“For any given role it always takes a village to make the movie. In no way am I responsible for getting Zoey this movie. She is extremely talented. I was very vocal definitely about her being the right choice.”
“Number 1 she was so perfect for the role. And number 2 I had worked with her before, and I knew the chemistry was going to be there, and in a romantic-comedy if the chemistry is not there you are dead in the water.”
The chemistry was so free-flowing and apparent that shooting “Set It Up” sometimes “felt like a documentary” for Powell.
“Because Zoey and I literally fight and banter exactly in real life like it is in the movie. If it looks effortless it is because it was effortless. We do fight like brother and sister in a great way. She is wonderful and I hope to do many more movies with her.”
“But that is the key to the movie. We never wanted it to feel like two actors doing big broad actorly stuff. We always wanted to ground it into reality.”
“We do all of the romantic comedy tropes, though, and that’s the joy of this. So when the characters don’t see it coming, the audience should be excited to see it coming.”
Powell was so aware of what Deutch was bringing to “Set It Up” that after noticing how fun and optimistic her portrayal was he decided to “play off of that,” making Charlie much more cynical and that he “operated out of fear and not making mistakes.”
Even though that’s a role he doesn’t usually play, he “thought it was very important for the movie.”
“We worked with Claire to massage the script. That was really less about changing any of the stuff that made it great. But more about when me and Zoey were in the room together making sure the dialogue plays to all of our strengths comedically and emotionally.”
“Zoey’s character was a little different on the page, so was mine, so it was about making sure that compass was pointing true north so that we were throwing fast balls as much as possible.”
You can see if Deutch and Powell achieve just that with “Set It Up” when it is released on Netflix on Friday June 15.