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After a nearly two-month pause, red carpets have returned to Los Angeles. Most premieres, awards shows and parties had been scrapped from the calendar since mid-December, when omicron variant COVID-19 cases started spiking in the U.S. But, as the numbers have gone down, Hollywood events have once again made their comeback.
Amazon rom-com I Want You Back is among the first of the 2022 carpets, which director Jason Orley says is on par with the rest of how the film has gone in its uncertainty.
“We’re the first ones, it’s crazy and I didn’t know if we were going to be here,” Orley told The Hollywood Reporter at Tuesday night’s premiere at The Row in downtown L.A. “Since making the movie, I didn’t know if we were going to make it, and then I didn’t know if we were going to get to screen it — and then I didn’t know if anyone would come.”
People did indeed come, watching drive-in style from their cars the film which stars Charlie Day and Jenny Slate as strangers who are broken up with on the same weekend, and team up to win their exes back by destroying their relationships with their new partners.
“I am a huge fan of rom-coms and I honestly think that, personally, it feels really good that somebody would choose me as the person who is the one we hope will find love,” joked Slate. “The leads of the rom-com are the people you hope will have success and that you believe can find special love, and that’s such an honor to play. It’s a little bit like being asked to play somebody who gets a gold medal. It’s like, ‘You think I look like that? You think I could be that person?’ Great.”
When it came to channeling her own rom-com leading lady performance, Slate said she looked to Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston for inspiration. “It’s really interesting to watch people tell terrible lies to really nice people and still be lovable; that’s a really, really special trick to be done and so I tried my best to emulate those ladies,” she added.
For Day’s part, he said he looked to “Mr. Tom Hanks. He’s the high watermark of how to act in a movie. I love his romantic comedies, they were both hilarious but also really grounded and real,” said the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star of fulfilling a career-long dream in tackling the romantic genre.
Gina Rodriguez and Scott Eastwood co-star as the duo’s exes, with Manny Jacinto and Clark Backo as their new partners; Jacinto said he was looking to “bring the bizarre” with his role.
“For me, the weirder the better — but grounded weird, because we all, especially during this time, find ourselves in these weird ass situations,” he said. “Bringing in moments that are awkward and weird, with a little bit of love and comedy, is always a good time.”
The film comes at a time when rom-coms are few and far between, with the genre not often greenlit by studios. As a result, Orley and writers Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker (who are also This Is Us co-showrunners and How I Met Your Father creators) took inspiration from ’80s and ’90s favorites while also commenting on 2022 culture.
“I wanted to nod to the old ones and make something that feels fresh — that combination of timeless classic movie and contemporary characters exploring modern dating. So, what’s universal and relatable and timeless about going through breakups,” says Orley.
And also, with Slate and Day at the helm, make something really funny.
“I think rom-coms sometimes get a bad rep for having the rom but not the com, and we really wanted it to have both,” said Berger, as well as the film being “a movie that men and women could love and watch it together or apart, and it would for everybody. That was how we hoped this movie would feel differently than maybe people have seen the last few years.”
I Want You Back starts streaming Friday on Amazon.
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