At Midnight Star Diego Boneta and Director Jonah Feingold on Their Spirited New Rom-Com
Feb 10, 2023
What happens when an ambitious hotel manager meets a gorgeous movie star whose grown tired of entertainment politics? Sparks. True, the premise may not be entirely brand new, but it works in At Midnight, a new romantic comedy set in sunny Mexico that hearkens back to those engaging films from the 1940s and ’50s—and even the ’90s—when the guy and the girl kinda/sorta want to get together but have too many things working against them.
Monica Barbaro (Top Gun: Maverick) plays Sophie here, a celebrity on location with her bumbling costar, Adam (Anders Holm of Workaholics, The Mindy Project, and Inventing Anna) with whom she’s shared stardom and, apparently, couplehood—on screen and in the eyes of fans that is. Sophie can’t escape how fate keeps leading her to a dashing hotel manager Alejandro (Diego Boneta of Father of the Bride and Luis Miguel: The Series). All of it distracts her from her shooting schedule with Adam in a superhero movie dubbed Super Society 3. To temper things a bit, Alejandro and Sophie begin to secretly meet “at midnight.”
Directed by Jonah Feingold (Searching), who also co-wrote the script with Maria Hinojos and Giovanni M. Porta—Boneta is one of the producers—the film also stars Casey Thomas Brown (Father of the Bride) as Sophie’s spunky talent manager, Catherine Cohen (Catherine Cohen: The Twist … ? She’s Gorgeous), Fernando Carsa (Acapulco), Whitney Cummings (Good Mourning), and Maya Zapata (Selena’s Secret). Boneta and Feingold shared more about the film with MovieWeb.
Making the Perfect Throwback Rom-Com
“This film is an ode to classic rom-coms from the ’90s, which are some of my favorite films,” Boneta said of At Midnight. As one of the producers, he and the creative team had a singular vision in mind—to make a feel-good romance. Boneta et al started developing the film in 2018 after he started producing a TV show called Luis Miguel: The Series.
“I’ve always been a big fan of rom-coms, but the ones I’d seen recently didn’t have the magic that those ’90s rom-coms,” he added. “We wanted to develop a project that had that magic but with a fresh take. You know, showing Mexico for example. You’ve seen New York City and Los Angeles so many times in rom-coms, but I can’t think of a Hollywood rom-com that’s been shot in Mexico.”
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Soon enough, Boneta found what he calls, “the best of Hollywood and the best of Mexico” on the creative team and collectively, they set out to make a memorable tale.
“It really wasn’t until Jonah came in that the film was really taken to another level,” Boneta admitted. “We told Paramount what we wanted; the most important thing in these rom-coms is the chemistry between the two leads. So, Monica came in with such a fresh take. She was passionate about the project. She and I spent a lot of time dissecting the scenes and talking about the characters. There’s a main dance sequence in the film and that was something really important to her. Monica studied dancing and she’s an incredible dancer. She’s like, ‘I want to make a difference, so let’s throw in tango. Let’s so in salsa.’ And that made the dance sequence really magical.”
The Director’s Take
When asked what he found most intriguing about taking on At Midnight, and why he wanted to dive into the project, director Feingold was candid. “Some of the films that really inspired me were Roman Holiday and It Happened One Night, and anything in the Billy Wilder era,” he said. “My manager sent me this script and said, ‘Diego Boneta is producing this, and he’s attached to star, I think you’re gonna love him.’ It really was wish fulfillment. It’s a movie within a movie. It’s about forbidden love. When I read the script, I realized I would kill to direct it.”
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Feingold pitched the project against tough competition from other potential directors. “I went in there and said, ‘This is how I could do this and this is the only way I could do it—very optimistic, positive, and nostalgic. A homage to those films of yesteryear.”
On that note, it’s fitting to ask Feingold what it was about those 1940s films that really worked, and why audiences still love them. “I often wonder what makes those films so wonderful to watch,” he mused. “There’s a sense of nostalgia. Currently, as a generation, as a human race, we are very nostalgic. I guess we’ve always been. But there is something about the comforting nostalgic elements where you kind of know that everything’s gonna be okay. I think in those movies, no matter how bad it got, you know everything was going to be all right.”
“There’s something very warm about that,” he added. “And I believe the chemistry between Monica and Diego add to that in this rom-com.”
At Midnight premieres Feb. 10 exclusively on Paramount+.
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