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As a finished film, Michael Showalter’s The Lovebirds is a blast. Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae make for a delightful pair of leads for the romantic comedy, and the adventure they’re on is both engaging and hilarious. It’s work that all involved can be proud of – but like any work, the experience making it had both real challenges in addition to wonderful, unique rewards.
I had the pleasure of interviewing the stars of The Lovebirds earlier this month, and my final question to the duo was a broad one, having them look back at the total experience of making the film, and single out some of their biggest takeaways. As you’ll see clicking play on the video above, the process of making the movie wreaked a bit of havoc with the stars’ circadian rhythms, but it also gave them the opportunity to explore one of the most special places in America:
Part of what makes The Lovebirds impressive on a story level is the fact that it almost entirely takes place over the course of a single night – but the word “night” is significant in that sentence because it required the production to operate odd hours. While anything set indoors could be shot at any time, the majority of sequences taking place outside had to be filmed after the sun had gone down.
Working like that would mess with anybody, and Kumail Nanjiani acknowledged that it was a challenge for him in the making of the new move. Addressing the first half of my question, the actor explained,
I would say shooting nights was the most challenging for me. Most of the movie is set at night, so your day is starting at 7:00 PM, and you go until the sun comes up. It just messes up your rhythm so much. So to me that was what was what was the most challenging.
Considering that a great deal of the filmmaking process for an actor is patiently waiting around while also being consistently on call, it’s easy to see how night shoots may drive a person a little batty. Fortunately, the exhaustion that was apparently felt behind the scenes isn’t present in the movie at all (in fact, it’s actually surprising how totally alert the characters are throughout their all-night adventure – though that could be attributed to the adrenaline rush that comes with trying to solve a murder while simultaneously dodging the police).
Issa Rae agreed that doing all of the night shoots required for The Lovebirds wasn’t overly pleasant, but felt that the scales were balanced by the fact that during the production they were living in a remarkable place: New Orleans. Unlike some films, which shoot in the Louisiana city but ultimately have it stand in for another location, the new comedy is actually set in the Big Easy, and Rae loved that making the movie gave her the chance to spend some real time there:
I think the most rewarding was just being in the city of New Orleans. That was just such a treat, and my mom's side of the family is from there. So that was cool, catching up with some relatives. The food is amazing. Obviously the culture during Mardi Gras. I'd never been to Mardi Gras in my life and you always hear about it. So that was fun to take part in.
It was a sentiment that was immediately echoed by Kumail Nanjiani, who was given his first chance to really explore New Orleans and embed himself in the special culture in possess:
Definitely the most rewarding was getting to spend so much time in New Orleans. I had been before, but I'd never spent a significant amount of time there, and just to get to know that city a little bit and eat that food and meet people. That was just such a great experience.