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Q&A: “The People We Hate at the Wedding” screenwriters, cast navigate family dynamics

(From left to right) Ben Platt, Allison Janney and Kristen Bell star in Amazon Prime Video’s “The People We Hate at the Wedding.” The film will begin streaming Nov. 18. (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

“The People We Hate at the Wedding"

Directed by Claire Scanlon

Amazon Prime Video

Nov. 18

By Talia Sajor

Nov. 18, 2022 6:22 p.m.

Weddings may be the time for family to gather, but there is no vow they’ll get along.

On Friday, Amazon Prime Video will be ringing the wedding bells for the release of Claire Scanlon’s “The People We Hate at the Wedding.” Based on the comedic novel of the same name written by Grant Ginder, the film follows struggling sibling pair Alice (Kristen Bell) and Paul (Ben Platt) and their mother Donna (Allison Janney) as they travel to London to attend the wedding of their estranged, posh half-sister Eloise (Cynthia Addai-Robinson).

Before the film’s premiere at the Regency Bruin Theatre in Westwood, the Daily Bruin’s Talia Sajor spoke to Janney, Dustin Milligan, who plays Dennis, and screenwriters ​​Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin and Wendy Molyneux on the red carpet about re-creating the complex family affairs from Ginder’s book for the big screen.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

[Related: Q&A: ‘Tell Me Lies’ cast, crew explore poignant truths in TV series adapted from novel]

Daily Bruin: How does this film touch on complex familial dynamics?

Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin: The thing that the film, the book also, really showed was that a lot of times with families that things that go unsaid, and that build-up over time can create bigger rifts than are necessary. I think in a family, there are times when you have to figure out if it’s worth just getting it all out in the air and moving forward. And I think it’s usually worth doing that. That’s sort of the spirit of the story, and we tried to keep that in this.

Wendy Molyneux: If you’re a member of a family, especially (a) big family, anytime you’re at a family event, it’s like a fork in the road. I’m like, ‘Well, shall we unpack 40 years of our history, or shall we have a nice brunch? Those are the only two paths here today.’ Most of the time you choose the brunch, and I think this movie is about the moment when you have to choose unpacking history.

DB: How did you build that on-screen chemistry with Platt, Bell and Addai-Robinson as the matriarch of this dysfunctional family?

Allison Janney: We didn’t have to work at it at all. I attribute it to our theater backgrounds: all of us coming in knowing and just having been in the business a while. I don’t know what it was, but we just all had instant chemistry together. It was so easy and so much fun to work with them and Cynthia as well. I didn’t even know Cynthia was not British, because she kept her accent the whole time. I just had no idea that she wasn’t until one day towards the end, she started talking to me, I was like “Wait, what?” I was so blown away by her. But she’s absolutely lovely.

Claire (Scanlon) was such a joy to work with too. The script, just the first introduction to my character, I was so excited to get to do it because it involves physical comedy and everything. That was the best introduction to a character I’ve ever played. It was great fun.

[Related: Q&A: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ cast, crew discuss transition from stage to screen]

DB: What do you hope audiences should take away from watching the movie?

Dustin Milligan: It’s a very funny, very smart, well-written, at times raunchy, but also very heartfelt movie. I think it’s one of those things, especially right now around the holidays, (that’s) great to sit down and stream while you’re stuck at your parents’ house or wherever you are.

It’s a reminder of all the reasons why we are very justified in why we maybe don’t always want to hang out with our family, but also why in some ways, they can be really wonderful as well.

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Talia Sajor | Arts editor
Sajor was the 2023-2024 Arts editor. She previously served as the 2022-2023 Theater | film | television editor and a Photo, Opinion and PRIME contributor. She is also a fourth-year communication student from Oxnard, California.
Sajor was the 2023-2024 Arts editor. She previously served as the 2022-2023 Theater | film | television editor and a Photo, Opinion and PRIME contributor. She is also a fourth-year communication student from Oxnard, California.
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