'Marry Me': Art Imitates Life on the Set of NBC's New Comedy

Marry Me Set Visit - H 2014
Elizabeth Weinberg

Marry Me Set Visit - H 2014

This story first appeared in a special awards issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Nobody would fault Casey Wilson for pausing before she decided whom to hug first: her TV fiance or her real-life husband. On Nov. 5, the 34-year-old Marry Me actress was filming a scene with co-star Ken Marino, who plays her onscreen love Jake, when series creator (and Wilson's spouse of six months) David Caspe made his way from the writers' offices to their Paramount Lot stage with an announcement: The NBC comedy, loosely inspired by Wilson and Caspe's own relationship, had received a full-season order from the network.

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The Sony Pictures Television production marks Caspe's follow-up to his first TV series, cult darling Happy Endings, a relationship comedy that also starred Wilson and is where the two met. "There are a lot of comparisons to Happy Endings, which is sort of obvious and flattering in a way, but it also creates this pressure of people wanting Marry Me to be a midseason-two show right now," says Caspe. "It takes a little while to figure everyone out in an ensemble. We're having so much fun doing this. Hopefully it will grow and find [viewers]."

The reunion extends beyond just Caspe and Wilson. Marry Me brought back writers, guest actors and dozens of crew from Happy Endings. "[Casey] goes over there with old scripts," says Marino, pointing to the old Happy Endings set, just a few hundred yards away. "I come, too. Sometimes I play Adam Pally, and sometimes I play Eliza Coupe." (Pally and Coupe co-starred on Happy.)

For Caspe and Wilson, living and working together brings some advantages -- at least for Caspe. "I tried to get David to do an acting exercise I learned about intimacy called the 'open-eyed cuddle,' " says Wilson. "You stare at someone, about one foot from their face, for 15 minutes. David refused to do it, but then wrote it in that Ken's character tries to do it with me."

Wilson and Marino are close, but in the end, it was her husband Wilson went for when they received the good news about the additional five-episode order -- a rarity for a freshman comedy this season. Not to be outdone, Marino quickly commandeered the hug for a three-way embrace.