The Glen Powell Network

13 Dec

Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney Take Us Behind the Scenes of Anyone but You

VANITY FAIRThe headline-making costars peel back the curtain on their romantic comedy, from the screening of My Best Friend’s Wedding that inspired them to a When Harry Met Sally–esque cameo from Powell’s parents.
Few films generate as much prerelease buzz as Anyone but You, a romantic comedy starring Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeney that made early headlines thanks to rumors of an offscreen romance between the costars. Both actors have shrugged off the speculation, a tactic Powell credits to one of his famous former costars.

“I remember after I did Top Gun, Tom Cruise gave me some advice,” he tells Vanity Fair. “He said, ‘When this movie comes out, things are just going to get really loud, a little more chaotic. It’s your job to just turn down the volume. You can hear it at whatever volume you want.’ That’s been a great piece of advice for me, because it helps you to just enjoy the journey. You can turn it up or you can turn it down and just sort of coast, because at the end of the day, it’s all noise.”

Directed by Easy A’s Will Gluck and adapted from a script he cowrote with Ilana Wolpert, Powell and Sweeney star in the film as Ben and Bea. After a brief romantic encounter goes sideways, the couple is forced back together for their loved ones’ destination wedding. The characters are named after Benedick and Beatrice, the warring coleads of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The iconic duo was last brought to life onscreen by then married couple Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh in 1993.

“I grew up loving rom-coms,” Sweeney, who is best known for her roles on TV’s Euphoria and The White Lotus, tells VF. “There’s just such a beautiful nostalgia to them, and I miss leaving a theater filled with happiness and joy and love and wanting to go back and see it again. I really hope that everyone can feel the amount of love and excitement and how special this experience was onscreen.”

Both Sweeney and Powell wanted to harken back to “the theatrical rom-com, something with big scope and big heart and big laughs,” he says. “Not a lot of people think that thing is meant for theaters anymore, and we set out to prove them wrong. And I think we did it.”

During production in Sydney, Australia, cast and crew screened 1997’s My Best Friend’s Wedding, which featured performances by two more Anyone but You stars: Dermot Mulroney and Rachel Griffiths, who play Bea’s parents. Mulroney imparted some valuable wisdom to his castmates: “Don’t look down on the rom-com,” he said, according to Powell. When he made the movie, Mulroney continued, “I felt a little weird about it as a man being in a rom-com.” He advised his costars not to follow his lead: “Really embrace this movie, because to represent love for people on the big screen is one of the greatest privileges of your career.” Mulroney hadn’t seen the film since 1997, says Powell, “so it was an interesting, emotional time capsule to be with him.”

Their characters pay tribute to another genre classic—1989’s When Harry Met Sally—during a witty exchange on an airplane. In that film’s famous diner scene, director Rob Reiner’s mother, Estelle, coyly delivers a now classic line: “I’ll have what she’s having.” Anyone but You’s version involves Powell’s actual parents—Glen Sr. and Cyndy—who also appear in the film, sitting nearby as Sweeney’s character inadvertently straddles a snoozing Powell. “All the moves that she’s doing right to my face are done right in front of my parents on that airplane,” Powell says with a laugh. “My parents make a cameo in every movie I do. But Sydney was really very instrumental in giving them that placement—she got them VIP access, as she does with everybody.”

Plenty of awkwardness ensues during Ben and Bea’s fake-dating conceit. At one point, while plotting how they’ll pull off their ruse, Bea says, “we’re all in seventh grade when it comes to this shit.” When asked about their own adolescent follies, Sweeney remembers when a childhood friend with whom she was “madly in love” gave her a ring on Valentine’s Day. “Then everyone was making fun of him the next day, and he stomped it,” she says. “It broke my heart.”

An amused Powell chimes in. “He had Sydney Sweeney as his fiancée in seventh grade—he lost it, and lost the deposit on the ring?” he asks. “It feels like a sad rom-com in itself. That’s going to be the redemption story that we’re really talking about. He’s going to put together the pieces of that ring and come back for Sydney’s heart.”

Powell and Sweeney keep bantering as they reminisce about shooting in Australia—nights spent camping out on the beach, and a day of filming that they’ll never forget. At one point in the movie, Ben and Bea are all dressed up for a pivotal conversation outside of an iconic Australian landmark. “That day while we were shooting that scene, Barack Obama happened to be visiting the Sydney Opera House,” says Powell. “I’ve never had a set visit from the president before. As a grand romantic gesture, I brought Barack Obama. Just one of those Barack Obama slow claps in the distance.”

As they wait for Anyone but You to hit theaters December 22, Sweeney and Powell hope audiences feel as strongly about the film as they do. “A great rom-com is really the kitchen sink of the feels,” says Powell. “You get two people that hate each other, and then they love each other so much, and they’re vulnerable. Then they laugh…. The reason why people get sentimental about rom-coms is that it really is everything that movies should be. You want to revisit them. It’s like comfort food.”

They also hope viewers will leave the theater quoting some of the film’s most memorable moments—or singing a few off-key renditions of Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten,” which gets a lot of airtime in the movie. “[If] my career does not go well, I’ll be singing this at birthdays and bar mitzvahs for the rest of my life,” Powell jokes. “I’ll be on Cameo, singing ‘Unwritten’ for anyone.”

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