Working with your partner can be a bit distracting. For Lily Collins and her husband, Charlie McDowell, it was easy to separate the line between director and then-fiancée, but that didn’t mean it didn’t have its difficult moments while shooting the movie “Windfall”.
ET’s Cassie DiLaura spoke with the couple ahead of the film’s premiere Monday, where they opened up about working together on the dark thriller.
“The only time it was a little distracting, is when Jesse Plemons, who’s a very good friend of mine, is picking her up and kissing her. I’m like, wait a minute. There’s something off about this. My good friend is kissing my then-fiancée,” McDowell said of directing Collins.
Collins, on the other hand, had an easier time not blurring the lines, telling ET that she was able to “completely forget” that it was her husband-to-be behind the camera.
“You know, what’s funny, there were moments that I was so in the world of the film, in terms of it being a set and this is my director, that I was able to completely forget the fact that it was my husband directing me. Actually, at the time, it was my fiancé,” Collins shared. “He’s such a great actor’s director that the way he communicates to all of us and what he wants and how collaborative he is.”
Distractions aside, the couple admittedly had a great time filming the project.
“We had such a good time making this film. The collaboration between she and I was really special. Jason Segel, I’ve known for 18 years and is a dear friend,” McDowell said. “It was like being at camp with all of these actors. It was really fun.”
“It was so easy, and it was such a collaborative team effort,” Collins added. “And it was really fun. It actually was really fun. Then, at the end of the day, we got to pick apart the day and go, how did you feel, how does it… It was great. It was a really great time.”
In “Windfall”, a man breaks into a tech billionaire’s empty vacation home, but things go sideways when the arrogant mogul (Plemons) and his wife (Collins) arrive for a last-minute getaway.
The film, McDowell shared, was largely a product of the pandemic, created over Zoom calls and shot in one central, safe location.
“This whole thing came out of the pandemic. We were two months into the pandemic, and it was a question of, ‘What do we do? How do we stay creative? How do we keep telling stories?'” he explained. “I got on Zoom with three of my friends and we started to write the story to this film. It was basically, ‘How do you contain something to one location, one space? And shoot it safely.’ That’s how we made it.”
It was through those Zoom calls that Collins became interested in being a part of the film and taking a role in something that’s quite a departure from her otherwise upbeat character in “Emily in Paris”.
“I was privy to the creation of it. Charlie, Andrew Kevin Walker, Jason Segel and Justin Lader, they were all creating it from all of our different houses during the pandemic,” Collins revealed. “I would just hear them on Zoom talking about characters and the story and then I read the scripts. It was never a given that I would be involved. I just fell in love with the character of the wife.”
While Collins wasn’t always sure she’d be involved, McDowell knew all along that the character of the wife would be perfect for his wife.
“I don’t know if I’ve completely told her this, but we always wrote the part for her. We always knew it was going to be her. Whenever we talked on the Zooms, sometimes the writers would go like, ‘Yeah, and then when Lily does this,’ and they’d say her name,” McDowell shared. “I think the whole time, I was like, OK, I know it’s her. But I didn’t want to quite yet balance the home life and the work life. At a certain point, it was very apparent that it was like, ‘OK, I really want you to play this part.'”
The film premieres on Collins’ birthday. As far as what the couple is going to do to help the actress ring in her 33rd year, Collins said those plans are still “TBD.”
“I’ve been so in the movie world that we’re like, ‘Wait, crap it’s also my birthday. What are we going to do?’ It’s still TBD. It’ll be one nice, big celebration. Honestly, I think that this has been such a labor of love to get a small film off the ground. This time last year we were shooting. I think that my birthday last year was the day after we got our first vaccines. Then a year later, we’re having it premiere and it’s again, a different world, yet again.”
See Collins in “Windfall” when it hits Netflix on March 18.
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