When you’re an actor married in real life to an actress, it only seems natural that you’d cast yourself opposite your wife in a rom-com that you’ve co-written and are directing. But that’s not what Dave Franco did for “Somebody I Used to Know.” In fact, he wasn’t in it at all — but he had a good reason.
The movie, now streaming on Prime Video, tells the story of Ally (Alison Brie), a very stressed TV producer, who suddenly finds herself out of a job and running to the comforts of her hometown. While there, she runs into her first love Sean (Jay Ellis) and starts to question how her life turned out after leaving him, and the person she has since become.
Franco, who is, of course, Brie’s actual husband, directs the film but admitted to TheWrap that there was never a point where he considered putting himself in Ellis’ role of the film’s leading man. But that’s mostly because he knows how hard it is to act and direct a project.
“I learned from the first movie I directed that it’s actually really nice to just be behind the camera,” Franco explained. “You know, there’s so much going on already. And so, if I didn’t have to be in a place where I needed to run back and forth from being in front of and behind the camera, like, I wanted to avoid that at all costs.”
That said, Franco also noted that he and Brie, who co-wrote the film with him, really felt like Jay Ellis was most appropriate for the character of Sean overall.
“On top of that, it’s like, there are so many great actors that you don’t need me,” Franco said. “It’s like, we can find someone else. And when Jay Ellis showed interest we were like yes, he’s better for this part than me anyway. And if we can get Jay, this is incredible.”
The thing is, Sean is now engaged to Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons), who reminds Ally an awful lot of her younger self. As a result, Ally is determined to figure out if Sean really was the man for her — albeit in morally questionable ways. But that moral gray area was the most important aspect of this love story for Brie and Franco, not just crafting any love story. And that’s why they were particularly deliberate in casting.
“It was about sending people the material, seeing if they connected with it,” Brie said. “And then really important to Dave and I to get in a meeting with them over Zoom — it was during COVID — and talk them through the tone of the movie, what we were going for, what the themes were that we were exploring, and kind of let them know.”
She continued, “Because on the page, I think you could take this movie a lot of ways, and we have some comedic set pieces in the film that might read more broadly than we play them in the movie. So it was like, it was all about us connecting with people and speaking to like the heart of the film, and everybody really connected with it. And we lucked out.”
You can watch TheWrap’s full interview with Dave Franco and Alison Brie in the video above. And the full movie is now streaming on Prime Video.