SET IT UP: 10 BEHIND-THE-SCENES SECRETS
Updated: Aug 13, 2018
The biggest movie hit of the summer isn’t in theaters -- it’s on Netflix, and since its release on June 15th, it’s won heaping praise from critics and viewers, scoring a stellar 94% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
So if you haven’t yet managed to see Set It Up, immediately stop what you’re doing and go Netflix and chill. You’ll be treated to something all too rare -- a well-written, well-acted modern romantic comedy.
#ZoeyDeutch and #GlenPowell, who became real-life buds while working on 2016’s Everybody Wants Some!!, star as Harper and Charlie, a pair of overworked NYC assistants whose plan to escape their high-rise work prisons involves hooking up their demanding bosses, a high-powered sports reporter played by the luminous #LucyLiu and venture capitalist extraordinaire #TayeDiggs. Of course, as in every rom-com worth watching a million times, the duo finds themselves falling in love, in this case over a greasy pizza. But complications invariably ensue before they can taxi off into the sunset together.
So the next time you're at a party, and your friends are raving about this zeitgeisty flick, you can impress them with these 10 cool behind-the-scenes tidbits.
1. It was written by a woman.
It all starts with a great script. And Katie Silberman’s 2015 spec first started attracting serious attention when it appeared on Hollywood’s famed “Black List,” an annual survey of the unproduced screenplays "most liked" and yet passed over by more than 250 film execs. Set It Up joins Argo, Juno, The King’s Speech, I, Tonya, and many others that’ve gone on to be picked up, produced and critically lauded from the list. Silberman’s believable, intelligent characters and sparkling dialog have made an impression, along with the fact that the script plays off all the trope-tastic beats of a classic ‘40s or ‘90s rom-com (the meet cute, stuck in an elevator and airport scenes) while giving them a smart update for a 21st-century audience.
2. It was directed by a woman.
...who happened to be in her third trimester with her second child. Claire Scanlon earned her chops and won an Emmy as an editor on The Office before moving behind the camera to helm episodes of successful sitcoms like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Fresh Off the Boat. Want to talk bad-ass? Scanlon shot Set It Up -- her very first feature -- during the summer of 2017 on the steamy streets of New York and never missed a beat. “If anything, it stopped people from complaining around me,” she told the Washington Post. “How could they? I was eight months pregnant.”
3. The f-ckable pizza scene: The pie was from Joe’s and Zoey puked her guts out.
One of the most talked-about sequences finds Harper and Charlie making all kinds of meaningful eye contact over the perfect New York pie. As one look at her Instagram can confirm, Deutch is a committed carb-lover. She told HelloGiggles that she made sure the prop master got local fave Joe’s Pizza. She has excellent taste -- Joe’s has been a Greenwich Village institution since 1935, and is famed for its signature NYC thin-crust.
Director Scanlon and Deutch confirm that instead of using the standard “spit it out after each take” method, though, Deutch ended up going to town and “threw up violently halfway through the scene.” "I don't want to burst any bubbles, but the amount of pizza that was had was so disgusting," Scanlon told E! Online. "Nobody was hot for anybody in that moment.” But according to an interview with the Decider -- which named the sequence “an all-time rom-com classic” -- Powell disagrees: “With Zoey, even if you want to barf, you can find something lovely in her eyes.” Awwww...
4. Okay, what about that to-die-for red power suit?
Rivaling the pizza scene for the number of tweets it’s inspired, Kirsten’s bright red ensemble is a standout among the on-point wardrobe choices curated by Set It Up’s costume designer Rebecca Hofherr. Hofherr also happens to head up wardrobe on Liu’s CBS show Elementary, where she’s currently winning kudos for putting Joan Watson in impeccably tailored three-piece suits and ties. “I wanted her to be a powerful female boss but I didn’t want to take away her femininity,” Hofherr told Vulture about her picks for the take-no-prisoners web mogul.
Hofherr continues, “This scene was so important because she was happy and thriving in her relationship and in her professional life at this point in the film. More so than her other looks, a red suit, in my opinion, is a statement piece that exudes confidence.” But the all-important question remains: Who designed it and where can I get one? It’s the Alice + Olivia Adair tie-neck red cropped jacket, paired with the Cadence cropped cigarette trousers. Unfortunately, it’s sold out on the designers’ website and at major retailers, but ebay has the jacket listed new with tags for $229, from an original price of $375. Of course, it’s in a Liu-sized 2…
5. It was almost Emilia Clarke and Amy Poehler.
Though the current casting and chemistry is just about perfect, Harper and Kirsten could’ve been played by two very different actresses. As Bustle reported, it turns out Emilia Clarke was once attached to the project. But she had a couple other things on her plate (like Game of Thrones) and had to drop out. And Scanlon told E! Online that she had her eyes originally set on Amy Poehler, since "I'd love to see her being not nice.” But she went on to say, "Lucy Liu was such a get, I was so happy. She's so good."
6. What the hell is that earworm song from the trailer?
That sax-and-horn heavy indie pop tune is “Just My Type” by the L.A. band Saint Motel, and it made it all the way up to No. 5 on Billboard’s Adult Album Song chart in 2015. It was also featured on the 100th episode of The Blacklist (the NBC drama, not the aforementioned list of Hollywood’s greatest unproduced screenplays.) Check out the ‘70s-inspired video on YouTube.
7. Lucy Liu has an adorable nickname for Taye Diggs.
These two longtime pals first met on the set of Ally McBeal way back in 2001, during Liu’s star-making turn as Ling Woo -- though their characters were attached to other people. Recently on CBS’ The Talk, she complimented him for his kindness and revealed that her pet name for Diggs is the uber-cute “Tater Tots.” And the dynamic duo is set to star in yet another comedy together. In May, Deadline announced that they’ll be shooting a feature called Stage Mother, also starring Jacki Weaver, set in San Francisco’s world of drag queens. No word on exactly what roles they’ll be playing, but fingers crossed for a romantic pairing.
8. Zoey was born into showbiz.
Her dad Howard Deutch directed several John Hughes movies, including Pretty in Pink, and a ton of TV, including American Horror Story, True Blood, Claws and Young Sheldon -- as well as the ‘80s sitcom Caroline in the City, which happened to star his wife, Zoey’s mom, actress Lea Thompson. You probably know her best as Marty McFly’s mom in Back to the Future, though she recently appeared on the ABC Family series Switched at Birth. She also made her feature directing debut on 2018’s The Year of Spectacular Men, written by and starring her daughter Madelyn along with Zoey.
9. Glen was NOT born into showbiz, but got his sister and Grammy into the movie.
Powell’s younger sister Leslie, a Nashville singer-songwriter, landed the tune “Us” on the Set It Up soundtrack, and his grandmother snagged a role as an extra in the Yankee Stadium scene, though it didn’t initially go as planned. As Powell told Jimmy Kimmel and AOL, “The first take where Grammy is in it, she ... could not have over-acted more in this scene. She probably went through a period of like 20 different emotions in 15 seconds. I was like ‘Grammy, Grammy, you've got to do less, like a little less.’" But she did rock her appearance at the premiere… He instagrammed a snap of the pair at the movie’s premiere, with the caption: “Watch out, Meryl. Grammy’s coming for you.”
10. Good news! A sequel is in the works.
Full disclosure: I would die on a battlefield for Lucy Liu, and I’m thrilled that she’s getting well-deserved raves for her funny and relatable performance as Kirsten, the tough-minded journalist who Harper describes as “a stunningly beautiful woman with dark hair and a fierceness that’s both scary and inspiring.” And good news: director Scanlon recently told E! Online that Liu’s character should be the focus of the sequel. "To me what would be interesting to see is Kirsten, where does she go next? The character Rick has clearly opened a door or her and made her realize, 'I'm worthy of a personal life and I deserve this.’ I'd love to see where that goes.” From her mouth to Netflix’s ear.