Dave Franco Talks Making Second Directorial Film Somebody I Used to Know with Wife Alison Brie
Feb 9, 2023
A couple that creates together, stays together—right? Dave Franco says it’s no coincidence that his second directorial feature film Somebody I Used to Know stars his wife and co-writer Alison Brie. Transitioning from his first horror feature The Rental (also starring Brie) to a romantic comedy, Franco discusses the inspiration behind the upcoming film, his love of filmmaking, and—dare I say—gushes over the creative partnership he and Brie share.
Somebody I Used to Know follows workaholic TV producer Ally (Brie) back to the comfort of her hometown, reminiscing with her first love Sean (Jay Ellis) only to discover that he is getting married to Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons). It’s a film about three people who unexpectedly help each other re-discover who they really are, where they came from, and where they’re going.
Dave Franco Chats with MovieWeb for an Exclusive Interview
Nicki Sun: I’m so excited to be in conversation with the director and co-writer of Somebody I Used to Know. Dave Franco, how are you today?
Dave Franco: I’m doing well. How you doing?
Sun: Fantastic. First of all, I loved the film, and I had to ask from a director’s perspective, what were you most excited about going from a horror film to directing a romantic comedy?
Franco: Yeah, it feels like a weird choice. They are two genres that I just have so much affection for. And, my wife and I wrote this one together, and we wrote it at the very, very beginning of Covid lockdown. And at the time, the movies that we were watching were very uplifting and positive, and optimistic, just cause that’s all we could really stomach during that time. And so we just thought to ourselves like, you know, let’s do our version of that and hopefully put out something positive into the world.
Dave Franco Shares Working with Wife Alison Brie Gave Him Confidence
Sun: And it’s about three people who really help each other rediscover who they are. How has working together with Alison in this dynamic help you rediscover who you are?
Franco: I think she’s just given me confidence, and it’s just amazing to have her there every step of the way where, you know, as a director, especially on the first movie I directed, there’s moments where you just get in your head, and you start to spin out. And she was there with me to be like, relax, everything’s going great. Like, don’t get in your head. I know you’re a perfectionist, but it’s all going well. And that was truly invaluable. And yeah, it just makes me honestly, like feel just invincible in a way where I’m like, if I’m doing something with Alison, like, because we’re doing it together, and we have each other to lean on, like worst case scenario—we’re in it together. And like, yes, we’ll comfort each other, and it’ll all be fine at the end of the day.
Related: Exclusive: Alison Brie Talks Making Somebody I Used to Know with Husband Dave Franco and Community Reunion
Sun: I love that so much. And as you both co-wrote this film, what moments did you pull from your personal life and insert it into this film?
Franco: There’s a lot of moments from our personal lives. The whole, the bigger concept of the film is not taken from our lives. We did not have to crash a wedding in order to be together, but—you know, without giving too much away, what can I say? I mean, you know, Alison’s character sings little, little ditties throughout the whole film, and that is something that happens in our household on a daily basis where I’ll hear Alison across the house singing to our cats, making up these little ditties. Um, what else? Alison is streaking throughout the movie, and there’s a lot of, uh—
Sun: I read that there were some streaking tendencies in her college days. I might have to ask her about that.
Franco: Yes. So she went to a progressive, liberal arts school called CalArts. And there was actually a rule at the time that clothing was optional everywhere except the cafeteria. And so she just kind of ran with that and, uh—
Franco & Sun: Literally.
Franco: Literally, figuratively, uh, and would just kind of streak across campus to make her friends laugh.
Dave Franco’s Creative Filmmaking Process and Third* Directorial with Alison Brie
Scott Patrick Green/Prime Video
Sun: Oh my gosh. And can you give insight to the audience as to your creative process? You are an actor, producer, director. You, you’re truly an artist who is passionate about their craft. I see that, and I just wanted to see if you could share your creative process and what do you do if you ever have writer’s block?
Franco: Writer’s block happens very often, more often than not. Like it’s actually very rare that I have an idea that I get so excited about that I’m like, you know what? I’m gonna invest years of my life into this thing. Um, but I don’t know, for me, I, I remember like when I was first starting out, and I felt so lucky and fortunate to be working, but I remember some of the earlier projects—they just weren’t really aligning with my sensibilities. So there were these jobs that I wasn’t necessarily proud of. I was happy to have the experience, but eventually, I was like, you know what? I’m gonna take things into my own hands a little bit. And so I paired up with one of my friends from childhood, who’s also a director, and we just started making these short films for the website, Funny or Die, which was a huge website at the time. And that was kind of our film school where we did everything. You know, we would write these shorts, we would act in them, direct them, edit them. And um, I think that’s kind of those silly little projects where are, are why I’m doing what I’m doing now.
Sun: And I noticed that your three director credits on IMDB have your wife, Alison, in them.
Franco: Third one? I’m curious.
Sun: It says your Funny or Die short.
Franco: Oh, sure. Okay.
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Dave Franco Says It’s No Coincidence that Alison Brie Stars in All His Films
Sun: Yeah. But you know, Alison is in all three of them. So, is it coincidence or not?
Franco: It is not a coincidence. I’ve always known what a great actress Alison is, but like since I’ve been in the position where I’m able to watch her intently for weeks and weeks at a time, I realize like she’s one of the best, truly. She makes my job so easy in that way, and we—you know if it was up to us, we’d continue to do this forever.
Sun: I love that. You know, I really found myself rooting for every single character in the film. It wasn’t like, yeah. And the way that you did it. Brilliant. And I especially love that you chose to make the third person in the love triangle also someone who was very lovable and likable. Can you speak to that almost female empowerment theme within the arc of a romantic comedy and why you chose to do that?
Dave Franco Debunks Common Romantic Comedy Tropes
Franco: Yeah. I think you’re referring to Kiersey Clemons’ character, who’s the bride-to-be. I think the romantic comedy tropes for that character would be kind of the naive blushing bride or kind of the shrew that everyone hates, and you want the groom to run as far away from her as possible. But like, we decided to come in at it from a different angle where she’s cool. She’s a good time. You can’t help but like her. And because of that, it makes Alison’s character’s journey much more complicated because she’s essentially there to break up this wedding, but now she really likes the bride-to-be as well, and it just creates this really messy love triangle. And like when you think about these movies that have love triangles, usually it’s two people going after the same person. But in this one, it’s all three of them kind of like going all different directions. They all kind of like each other in different ways, which makes it very messy, but hopefully, unexpected, and original.
Sun: Absolutely. And you know, this film is strategically releasing right before Valentine’s Day, SAD day, Galentine’s Day—however you celebrate. But what’s one piece of advice to keep it fresh when dating, so they don’t become ‘somebody you used to know?’
Franco: Um, I haven’t dated in a very long time. I’ve been with Alison for about 11 years now, so I don’t know if I’m the person to come to for dating advice, but, uh, what would I say? I guess the thing that we did from the very beginning was, um, there was no games. You know, we both were just like, let’s go for this. Let’s be vulnerable, let’s be honest, and just kind of like, tell each other how much we like each other and not try to skirt around it and play these little games. And so, yeah, if you like someone just, you know, go out on a limb, and it might not always work, but when it does, it’s really refreshing and, and feels great.
Sun: And what is something from the past that you’re still in love with?
Franco: I guess movies. I mean, the reason I even got into acting is, um, I just loved movies. My first job ever was at a mom-and-pop video store when I was 14—and it was actually illegal for me to be working there at that age—and so they essentially paid me by allowing me to take home as many movies as I wanted. And so that’s just how I started watching everything. And, you know, I had never, when, when I got to L.A., acting was not on my mind at all, but I kind of got into this acting class, and even though I didn’t like it for a long time because just cause I was so nervous, I had never performed like that before. Uh, in the back of my head I was like, this is a way into the movie business. And, and if I, let me just stick this out and see what happens. And you know, over time I really grew to love acting and have fun with it. But, um, being able to kind of now be behind the camera and do all these different jobs, it’s amazing. I feel really fortunate.
Dave Franco Tries to Decipher ‘Alison Drunk’ Voicemail
Sun: And you do an incredible job. And my last question is, you both released a pre-trailer to the trailer for Somebody I Used to Know in form of the voice recording, ‘Alison drunk’. I had to just ask—what do you think she was saying through all of that?
Franco: I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t tell you. This is one where the gibberish is very hard to, uh, determine exactly what she’s saying. But the truth is like, from when we first met, almost 11 years ago, I still have voice notes from her from that time that I just knew deep down I was like, I’m gonna want these one day. And so I have these—some are drunk, some are just very sweet and lovey. But it’s just nice to have these things to look back on and be like, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ve always really liked each other and it’s amazing that we still do.
Sun: Aw. Well, thank you so much for sharing. It’s been a joy watching one of my personal favorite Hollywood couples in the industry working together, and I’m so excited for audiences to catch your next directorial film, Somebody I Used to Know. So thank you for your time today, Dave.
Franco: No, really appreciate it. Appreciate all the kind comments.
Somebody I Used to Know is available on Prime Video on February 10.
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