New York, NY - 12/11/23 - Will Gluck (Director), Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell attends the New York Premiere of Sony Pictures’ ANYONE BUT YOU at the AMC Lincoln Square.
-PICTURED: Will Gluck (Director), Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell
-PHOTO by: Marion Curtis / StarPix for Sony Pictures
-Location: AMC Lincoln Square
Anyone But You Interview: Glen Powell, Sydney Sweeney, & Will Gluck Preview Modern Shakespeare Rom Com
Anyone But You is bringing a much needed revival of modern literary adaptations in Hollywood. Though the concept has largely been in hibernation for the last decade, there once was a time when it was producing what would become some of the most iconic comedies of that era.
From 10 Things I Hate About You (William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew), She’s The Man (William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night), and John Tucker Must Die (William Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor), we were long overdue for a new modern retelling of a Shakespearean classic.
Anyone But You is a modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Benedick and Beatrice are now Ben and Bea, played by Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney. Other characters have similar modifications to their names. Hero and Claudio are now Halle and Claudia, and Leonato is Leo (played by rom com icon Dermot Mulroney!)
This modern retelling is in capable hands. Director Will Gluck is best known for the last truly iconic modern literary adaptation Easy A (which took inspiration from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter). His thorough attention to source material is highly evident in his latest work.
Note: The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
LadyJenevia: [In Anyone But You,] there was an abundance of quotes from the source material, William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, and a bonus quote from Romeo and Juliet. “Here’s much to do with hate, but more with love.”
Can you explain your process of curating and integrating these quotes into set decoration and character lines?
Gluck: It was very hard. It felt like I was back in college or high school because I had to find specific quotes from the play that worked where we were going. I had to kind of reverse engineer it so it was a lot. I swear to god I must have reread [Much Ado About Nothing] 50 times during the editing of this movie to find an actual quote and to see if it worked. Then, once I had a quote, I realised, ‘Actually, that’s kind of a misquote from the source material.’
It took a lot of time to pull, and you’re probably the only one that’s ever going to realise that the first line is not from Much Ado About Nothing. You would also be kind of shocked to hear that over 70% of people have no idea where those quotes are from.
LadyJenevia: Well, Romeo and Juliet is my favourite Shakespeare play.
[In Anyone But You] you had “some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps,” “skirmish of wit,” “men were deceivers ever,” “I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest”…
Gluck: That’s right.
LadyJenevia: I’ve only seen it once. I don’t know if I missed some but I’m gonna see it again on opening weekend.
Gluck: There are many other hidden Easter eggs, like the names of the boats. There’s a lot of Easter eggs in here if you like Shakespeare.
Benedick and Beatrice are an iconic couple among Shakespeare’s roster. The pair are best known for their verbal sparring which morphs into romantic love. Powell and Sweeney’s Ben and Bea indulge in their fair share of hurled insults too.
LadyJenevia: As a fanatic of modern literary adaptations I have to ask, what aspects of Benedick and Beatrice did you pull from William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and what ways did you aim to make these characters your own?
Sweeney: Ooh… that’s a really good question. Well…
The whole dynamic and the structure of the film is from Much Ado About Nothing. The characters, the dynamics… we definitely had a little bit of it but then we found so much of our own through the characters as well.
Powell: And you’ll see, every character within it sort of has it’s own modern name and everyone has their own modern twist on it. But the hard part is, updating Shakespeare is its own issue and then you have to update the rom com in general-
Sweeney: But still make it feel nostalgic.
Powell: That was actually… I think the most interesting part is, how do you make a big theatrical rom com that is full of scope, full of heart, full of funny, that people want to show up to the theatres and watch and… I don’t know, I think we did it.
LadyJenevia: Oh yeah, you really did. You fully snapped, I couldn’t believe it. I had high hopes and it was so much better than I thought it was going to be.
In addition to starring in the film, Sweeney took a hands-on approach in the development process from the very beginning, earning herself an executive producer credit.
Sweeney: I had the script two years before, brought it to Glen, was working on it, developing it. I pitched it to Glen for him to read and he ended up liking it as well, and then brought on Will Gluck to direct, and took it to Sony to sell it.
The adaptation of Benedick is a major stand-out of the film, with so much attention and care put into adding humorous and heartfelt layers to his character beyond the signature snark of the source material.
LadyJenevia: Glen, this version of Benedick feels really fresh compared to other male rom com leads because you have this juxtaposition of a Fuckboy persona with really endearing vulnerabilities and realistic flaws. Can you share your approach to maintaining that undercurrent of vulnerability even when you’re playing Ben’s Fuckboy bravado?
Powell: Yeah, I think in terms of the masks that people wear, that’s literally what this movie is about. We build up this armour to protect ourselves from the world. Ben’s lost his mom, who arguably is his best friend. He doesn’t want to love again because he doesn’t want to lose someone that he really cares about. This movie is about self-protection, and real love is about diving in even though you think you can be hurt. I think that’s the true essence of Rom Coms. It’s guarded people exposing their hearts on film. That’s it.
LadyJenevia: Will, can you give more of an insight into how you went about adapting Shakespeare’s Benedick with all of this nuance added into it?
Gluck: Benedick, even from Shakespeare and in ours, our Ben, he’s an asshole. He’s an asshole, he’s a jerk, right? And especially in the Shakespeare play, I mean, the entire Much Ado About Nothing, the theme should be just, ‘Believe Women’, cause they don’t believe one woman in that entire play. That’s a whole different issue, but…
If you get someone like Ben in our movie, he’s a Fuckboy and an asshole. Once you realise it’s just a complete facade and it’s just a front, then you start to understand and you want to pull him out and say, ‘Stop being that guy. Stop being that guy.’ That’s what we did. The more douchey you made him, the funnier it is when you realise, ‘Oh my god, this is not who this guy is, he’s putting on an act.’
Now, Benedick never really turned like that. He never really flipped as much but that’s because of Shakespeare.
Anyone But You will premiere in cinemas December 22. Tickets are available to pre-order now!
To hear even more from Glen Powell, Sydney Sweeney, and Will Gluck, watch my full Anyone But You interview here:
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