Vital Thrills recently attended the press day for the upcoming Netflix movie Your Place or Mine, starring Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher. You can check out what we learned about Your Place or Mine below.
In February 10 release, Debbie (Reese Witherspoon) and Peter (Ashton Kutcher) have been best friends for 20 years even though they are total opposites.
Practical, risk-averse accountant Debbie craves routine and stability with her son Jack (Wesley Kimmel) in LA; Stylish brand consultant Peter thrives on change in New York City. When they swap houses and lives for a week, they learn they haven’t told each other everything after all and discover what they think they want might not be what they really need.
The cast also includes Jesse Williams, Zoë Chao, Wesley Kimmel, Griffin Matthews, Rachel Bloom, Shiri Appleby, Vella Lovell, with Tig Notaro and Steve Zahn. Your Place or Mine is written, directed and produced by Aline Brosh McKenna.
McKenna was asked about the idea for the film. She said, “You know, I was very taken with the story. It was based on personal experience. And I wanted to do a romantic comedy for people who have been through something in their lives, and have, you know, have accumulated some life experience.
“And so, as I was working on that, it just felt very personal to me through the whole process. And it was an idea I’d had for a long time. And then, when it finally came to fruition, it felt very personal. And then, you know, I like to work with unknowns.”
Kutcher was asked about how this character is different from the “man-children” he often plays. He said, “Well, I’ve played grown-ups before. I think it was interesting. It was very much about the hair. Aline had a very particular hairstyle that she felt that this character had to have.
“And she used the word ‘grown-up’ a lot. She’s like, ‘I want you have grown-up hair. Grown-up hair.’ I’m like, ‘This is my hair. Like, it is old. It’s 45 years old. It’s the same age as me.’ But the style and just kind of the put-together essence of the character, I think it was a juxtaposition to kind of the all-over-the-place world of Debbie.
“So that was fun to play. It’s just this person that had this meticulous, like, everything needed to be in its place. The pen needed to be here and the headphones here and the this there. And then, the other great thing, I’m not a very big fiction reader. I don’t read a lot of fiction. And she’s like, ‘Yeah, but this character’s a novelist, so he’s gonna be very well-read in fiction.’
“And so, I ended up diving in. Aline sent me, I think, like, 10 books prior to the film. She’s like, ‘You need to read all of these.’ And every one of the books had notecards in them about what Peter got from this book, specifically, like, what he got as a writer from this book. I actually fell in love with reading fiction again from this experience. So that was kind of fun and refreshing.”
Witherspoon was sent books as well, but she didn’t have the same reaction. She says, “So I called [Aline], and I said, ‘I have three children. I’m running a company,’ [laugh], “and I have a full-time other job. I’m not reading these books.’ But they would look really good on the set, and they did.”
Witherspoon and Kutcher were asked about having chemistry when they’re barely on screen together. Witherspoon laughed, saying, “Well, we decided probably a month before we started shooting. I had sort of a little panic attack because we didn’t know each other.”
Kutcher said, “We didn’t know each other,” and Witherspoon reminded him, “But we fully had met one time at a party, and it was weird.” Kutcher joked, “And I was sharing a cooler,” with Witherspoon saying “And he was weird.” They were being silly, of course.
Witherspoon added, “Anyway [laugh], I’m kidding. I’m kidding. We were quirky. And then, so about a month before, I was like, ‘I don’t know this guy, and we’re supposed to be best friends for 20 years.’ So we started sending each other videos every day.
Kutcher added, “Every day, we would send back and forth videos of how’s your day going? What’s going on? What’s happening with you? What are you afraid of?” The two said they met each other’s families over these videos and got used to speaking in this way.
Jesse Williams, who plays Theo, talked about playing a character who is a literary editor, “I am an avid reader. I was definitely a reader of fiction until I kind of converted. I stopped reading fiction, became obsessed with non-fiction for the last, maybe, 10, 15 years. So I’ve kind of been returning to that recently. And, yeah, I did teach, so I love books. Books changed my life particularly in high school.
“Actually, during this process, Aline was awesome enough; she got me a vintage, signed copy of one of my favorite books ever, which is Toni Morrison’s ‘Song of Solomon,’ which is just an absolute treasure… books are absolutely a transformative mark in my life or a fork in the road where things could have gone very differently.”
McKenna added, “And then the art in Theo’s office, much of it is copies of Jesse’s own art, artists that Jesse likes and brought to our attention. So to make that feel as authentic and grounded and as possible.”
Zoë Chao’s character Minka shows up without underwear at Peter’s place but also has a degree in differential calculus, and Chao was asked about the contradictions implied there. Chao said, “You know, I mean, I fell in love with Minka as soon as I read the script. Aline had just made, yeah, such a surprising, lovable, weirdo on page. And then Sophie De Rakoff brought all these amazing clothes. And then, boom, the character was there.
“Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, I love Minka because, though you don’t know what she does, there’s a very calculated mystique about her. She is not a sinister person. She’s actually a very positive person. And I think the ultimate hype-sister and, like, wing woman that you need in this life. And I like that she’s full of contradictions.”
Wesley Kimmel plays Jack and was asked if he always knew how to skate, or if that was something he learned for the film. He said, “I mean, it was always a part of the script. Like, I had started playing hockey when I was little. I had started to learn how to skate on hockey skates. I never really got to playing actual games like Jack never got in the movie.
“But I always skate in the summers. So it was sort of like, ‘Oh, I’m skating in this.’ So yeah, I had some lessons leading up towards the shoot. But, nah, it was not, like, super new. It was not like someone learning how to skate.” Kutcher added, “This guy’s playing this down. Okay. So we show up to shoot the hockey stuff. And he’s slaying it on the ice. Like, he’s downplaying. You go out and all the sudden you look like you’ve been playing full-scale hockey your whole life. Like, it was crazy.”
According to McKenna, Kimmel wrote her a lovely letter about the character as well. He said, “Well, that first audition that I had, we were reading the script before. We were reading the sides over, just get a gist of what was going on. And I looked up to my mom, and I was like, ‘This is literally me.’ We had the exact same qualities, the exact same issues, the exact same allergies. And it was just easy to be natural in the audition. It was just crazy.”
McKenna also co-wrote the song “Embers,” which appears several times in the film. “We used The Cars as sort of Peter’s music, the band The Cars that I had grown up on, but also I noticed that men tend to pick a band or an artist that they love and then really stick to that. And for her, we had a bunch of female singer/songwriter-type artists for her, but we wanted a song that was hers. And so, I was lucky enough that Sidd, who did the composing, and Alan, who works with him, invited me in to write a song with them.
“And it was really fun, and we spent hours on the phone. And I told them stories about why I had written the movie and sort of some of the experiences that had led me to write it, and what my inspirations were. We came up with this idea of ‘Embers,’ that it’s a relationship that is not in flames at the moment. Flames. But it’s still there, and it just needs to be stoked. And so, it was really fun. And then we found this young group. I was on TikTok, and I found this young group of artists from the Berklee School of Music.
“They sing a cappella a lot. And so, we did the arrangement with them. And I think it came out to be a really, pretty cool song that sort of represents Debbie’s hope for re-igniting. I wanted to show when you’re falling in love, and you’re not 21, that maybe she has more of a romantic history, and there’s other people in her life. Sometimes romantic comedies, the female lead is incredibly chaste, sort of chaste to a point which seems unrealistic. And so that was fun to give her a number of different love interests to play off of.”