Alison Brie as Ally looking hopeful in Somebody I Used to Know

INTERVIEW: Alison Brie Talks Romantic Comedies and ‘Somebody I Used to Know’

Alison Brie knows how to play a character you find relatable even if you maybe don’t want to. She’s a beacon for those of us who consider ourselves to be a “Type A” personality and her new movie Somebody I Used to Know manages to balance the art of a Brie character with the breakdown of what we think a romantic comedy should be.

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Leading up to the release of the movie on Prime Video, I got to speak with Brie about it. She co-wrote the movie with her husband Dave Franco (who also directed the movie) and I talked about how the movie reminded me a lot of another Brie classic: Sleeping With Other People from writer/director Leslye Headland. Mainly in that the character of Ally in Somebody I Used to Know is a woman who “has her life together” but is a bit of a mess in reality. So I asked what draws Brie into these characters that seem put together but are, in reality, a mess.

“It’s probably a through line through a lot of the characters that I play who are a bit messy and chaotic, but they’re trying to prove that they’ve got it all together and then they actually don’t,” Brie said. “I just love the messiness. I always wanna play a character that’s complex and has a lot going on and I probably just also find it incredibly relatable. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s the way I ebb and flow through life, I feel like I go through periods where I’m like, I’ve got it all figured out and I know exactly who I am and my work is done here and, you know, two weeks, two months, a year later, I’m like, oh, why? You know, who am I? Nothing makes sense.”

She went on to talk about how it’s just the way you know you’re growing. “And I kind of feel like more and more I just don’t get stressed out about it. I’m like, oh, right, that’s what life is,” she said. “You kind of have to just, you’re gonna be learning lessons forever and I think that’s probably a sign that you are constantly growing and changing and learning new things about yourself and then you meet new people and that changes your perspective on something and you reevaluate something else about yourself. I actually think it’s very healthy. Not all of this character’s decisions are the healthiest, best about the way she’s trying to navigate that stuff, but I do think it’s incredibly relatable.”

But Brie also feels like she’s in a bit of a competition against that Type A quality that her characters have. “And I also feel like I’m in a constant rebellion against my Type A-ness,” she said. “I’m a Capricorn. I don’t even know as much about what that means as other people that I meet and they go, ‘oh that makes sense.’ And I play a lot of Type A characters, but I actually think at times I’m closer to the free spirit that Ally kind of is reconnecting with over the course of this movie. So a lot of that push and pull definitely exists within myself anyway, where I know I have Type A qualities and also I’m always trying to embrace my free side that I feel like is the essence of me.”

A working relationship

This movie has Franco and Brie working together as they have in the past but it is both of their work on a script with Franco behind the lens. So I asked Brie about working with Franco and if that is an easy working relationship. “Definitely,” she said going on to talk about how the two have a trust that works with their film and how they worked together on set.

“There is no self-consciousness when I’m working with Dave. He knows me better than anyone and we have such a trust with one another. On both sides. I think that goes both ways. I love being directed by Dave. I know he’s never gonna hang me out to dry. He’s right there with me. I think Dave loves working with me as an actor and especially on this having written it together by the time we’re on set together, we’ve had a million conversations about who this character is. We’ve had them about every character in the script and about the story in general. So we both are so honed in on what we are trying to make together that we’re really in sync on all of that stuff. There is seldom any butting heads at all. Dave and I actually also just work in a very similar way. We’ve discovered that over all of the toe dips that we’ve done, you know, we’ve acted together in a couple projects then I worked on The Rental that he directed, his directorial debut and I acted in that. And so this sort of felt like the next logical step.”

But Franco wasn’t the only person that Brie worked with again in this movie. She also had her Community co-star Danny Pudi playing one of Ally’s friends and told me that the role was written for Pudi specifically! “I mean we wrote the character for Danny Pudi,” she said. “We wanted his character to have that history with my character and that’s something that you can’t fake. I mean you can fake it, but it’s nice when you don’t have to. It’s the balance to it. The more and more as I work in this industry, I just wanna work with my friends. So part of that is even what’s at probably the heart of Dave and I working together we’re like, let’s just keep working together because we know we love each other and we wanna be around each other. But it’s equally as exciting to bring in fresh energy and explore that chemistry. Jay Ellis is such an incredible actor and such a kind, amazing person. So it was really fun to kind of find where our chemistry was gonna land and very easy.”

Brie went on to talk about her work with Kiersey Clemens (who plays Cassidy) and their relationship. “And Kiersey Clemens is such an exciting actress,” she said. “She’s so cool and fun and sort of unpredictable in the way that she approaches a character, which is so spot on for this character that she’s playing in this movie. And that is exciting. It all felt right for the roles that people were playing. Like in the scenes with Danny, we want us to have an easy rapport where we can finish each other’s sentences and make little jokes that are inside jokes but that everyone can kind of get. And with Kiersey you want our characters to have the electricity of the unknown kind of percolating the whole time. So it worked really nicely for this story.”


Somebody I Used to Know is on Prime Video now!

(Featured image: Prime Video)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.