Director Andy Fickman Dives into a Deep Emotional Well with One True Loves

Apr 7, 2023

Most people relish their one true love. But what if, by some twist of fate, you wound up having two? At the same time? That’s the compelling premise in director Andy Fickman’s new film One True Loves. Having brought character-based, sometimes romantic, sometimes comedic dramas to the stage (Reefer Madness!, Jewtopia, and Heathers: The Musical), film (Playing With Fire, Parental Guidance, Race, The Game Plan), and TV (Kevin Can Wait) before, Fickman was jazzed to take Taylor Jenkins Reid’s emotional bestseller, One True Loves, to the screen.

“Everybody has probably dealt with love unrequited love and loss,” said Fickman of the film’s themes. “What happens when we break up with someone? Do we feel like that was the only person we could have ever given our heart to? How do we mourn somebody emotionally and physically? I loved tapping into something that audiences can put themselves into.”

One True Loves, which Taylor Jenkins Reid and husband Alex J. Reid wrote for the screen, finds Emma (Phillipa Soo of Hamilton, Dopesick, and Tick, Tick…Boom!) relishing her engagement to her high school friend Sam (played by Simu Liu of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings and Kim’s Convenience). But when news arrives that her first husband, Jesse (Luke Bracey of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis and Little Fires Everywhere), who went missing years earlier after a helicopter crash, is actually alive, her entire life is upended. As she finally reunites with Jesse, she realizes she still has feelings for him. But she loves Sam, too. To make things even more complicated, the trio knew each other in high school.

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Michaela Conlin, who plays good pal Marie in the film, told MovieWeb that she hopes One True Loves makes audiences, “Think about the people they’re with and the decisions that they’ve made, and take a minute to see where their life has led them. And also laugh a little bit, and maybe shed some tears.” The film also stars Michael O’Keefe, Lauren Tom, and Tom Everett Scott. Director Andy Fickman dove deeper into the story with MovieWeb.

The Cast Made One True Loves Work

MW: Congratulations on the film. I heard you were very excited about this project, particularly the source material.

Andy Fickman: I started with the book that my producing partner, Betsy Salinger, handed me. She was a big fan of the author. I read the book and I flipped out. I was so touched by it, and I immediately wanted to bring it to life. I was also excited when Taylor and her husband, Alex, said they wanted to write the screenplay. So, from the very beginning of figuring out how to transfer all that story, a lot of it which is in the character of Emma’s head [in the book], into a working screenplay was a long process. But every step of the way has been a joy.

MW: Why do audiences appreciate stories like these?

Andy Fickman: For me, it’s just universal — having that unrequited love. Here, Emma’s journey takes you in. What would you do if you had a husband and a fiancé? What’s the right choice? Thinking you made all these choices before, given the information you had, what would you do with the new information? I hope people would wonder about that if they ever found themselves in a such a situation.

Related: Greatest Love Stories of All Time, According to the American Film Institute

MW: You’ve got a stellar cast. What was your experience collaborating with them?

Andy Fickman: It’s interesting, because when you’re reading a book, there’s always that image of seeing an actor in your head. I met every actor over Zoom. I met amazing actresses for the role of Emma, and the very last person was Phillipa, and I just knew. The same thing happened with Simu. And then, with Luke. I tried letting them bring so much of their personality to the story. We all talked about love and loss, and how personal it was to them. It made my job, in some ways, very easy.

We also had the source material, and they all went back and read the book. I told everyone, ‘Get Post-it notes and highlighters, and highlight what you want in the book. I was in London with Heathers, Luke was finishing up Elvis was in Australia, Simu was in Toronto, Phillipa was in New York, and Taylor and Alex, the writers, were in L.A., so we would do these weird Zooms at like 1 a.m. my time in London. We’d go page by page of the book, and someone would say, “Oh, I love this line,” and we just build those moments in those characters.

Finding Hope During Uncertainty

The Avenue

MW: Was there one particular sequence or scene that was more challenging to effectively execute than others?

Andy Fickman: Yeah. Without giving too much away, there’s the scene in which Jesse and Emma spend time together alone in a cabin. That was one of the most challenging because it was so much raw emotion—you can only imagine what any human being would do in that situation. And there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s life. It’s just the messiness of life. And so those scenes were very powerful and challenging.

MW: I’m curious about what inspired you to become a filmmaker, and why was it important for you to make this movie?

Andy Fickman: I’m a kid from West Texas. And my dad passed away when I was 16. My dad loved theater. All we had playing in our house 24/7 were showtunes. You name it. I heard it. I grew up thinking, “Wow, that’s spectacular.” My dad did amateur theater at the Midland Community Theater. So, my first memories were backstage, looking at him in the cast of Fiddler on the Roof and 1776. Then I’d sit in the audience and watch the audience laugh or applaud. Honestly, that was when I realized you can do something and have a connection the audiences appreciate.

Growing up, I just watched every movie, every television show, every piece of theater. I had the honor of doing development for Gene Wilder, so there I was, working with Willy Wonka and on Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. I ended up doing development for Bette Midler. Having these icons believe in me really informed me. And I got very lucky. When I started doing musicals in L.A., Garry Marshall took a liking to me and became a mentor, a fountain of wisdom. Theater is what really grabbed my heart and said, “Go out and create.”

MW: Wonderful. What do you hope audiences take away from One True Loves?

Andy Fickman: You know, I think I really want people to take away a sense of how my dad died. When I was 16, my mom did not date for 25 years. My dad was her one true love. Then she called and said, “I’m going on a date, my first date at 70. She met a gentleman whose wife had recently passed away. They fell in love and got married. He asked my oldest brother for permission, then took my mom to my father’s grave site, and asked my father for permission. He told my father that he would take care of my mom. I never imagined my mom with somebody other than my dad. And there, I saw her, in the latter part of her years, finding love again. And it opened my heart. That’s when I read the book. I was like, “It doesn’t end with one person. There’s hope for all of us.” So, age is not a thing. We never know when it’s going to be happening. I want people to see there’s hope that there is a person for each of us… somewhere out there in the universe.

One True Loves, from The Avenue, hits theaters April 7. Catch it on digital April 14 and on demand April 28.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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