High school is tough, but it’s even tougher when you’re trying to figure out if you have real feelings for your childhood crush — or her sister. But it makes for good comedy in Hulu’s new rom-com “Crush,” and that’s exactly what drew star Rowan Blanchard to it.
The film follows Paige (Blanchard) as she tries to figure out what has been the happiest moment of her life so far, so she can immortalize it for her college art school application. She thinks it may be her crush on Gabriella Campos (Isabella Ferreira) and the time she fell in love with her in elementary school. Again, Paige slowly begins to fall in love with Gabby’s sister, AJ (Auli’i Cravalho), a journey that is an inspiration in itself.
Directed by Sammi Cohen and written by Casey Rackham and Kirsten King, “Crush” also boasts a cast that includes Megan Mullally, Aasif Mandvi, Michelle Buteau and more. For Blanchard, saying “yes” to this project was done “very, very quickly”.
“They sent me [the script], and then I was like, ‘I want to do this. How can I do this?’ So that was it,” Blanchard said.
The fact that it was a teen romantic comedy about two young women was just an added bonus. “At least for me, it didn’t feel like I wanted to do anything weird,” she added. “I felt like I wanted to do a comedy. That’s what drew me to the script, that it didn’t feel like in regards to to be gay.
You can check out Rowan Blanchard’s full conversation below.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
“Crush” is so cute. I’m a sucker for a really good rom-com and this, to me, feels like a throwback to early 2000s rom-coms. Was it like that when you were filming it? Or when you first read it?
Yeah, well, I think that’s what really appealed to me! When [“Crush” producer] Natasha [Lyonne] and everyone sent me the script that I really felt connected to – I don’t know, I just feel like it’s such a missing genre. Or you get very, very little and far between now compared to, exactly, the early 2000s when they were producing these movies like all the time.
But yeah, I mean, I really like putting on a romantic comedy. And I just feel like it’s a missing genre. It’s a special genre, because you can laugh and I don’t know, smile. There is a lightness that is maintained. And yeah, I mean, I thought the script was really really funny. And I laughed a lot while doing it, so it was a fun time.
I laughed a lot watching this. That was my favorite thing was that you had to play in your deadpan humor, because you really have that comedic timing. So I really laughed out loud more than once.
Good! I’m so happy, it really makes me happy. Thanks for saying that.
Sure. So I also spoke to your co-star Auli’i Cravalho, and she talked about how having queer writers behind this queer rom-com played a huge role in being real, levity, and just fun of the scenario. Can you tell us a bit about this aspect?
I think overall everyone involved in the project was really – we never felt like we wanted to do something that was, or at least for me, I didn’t feel like to want to do something weird. I felt like I wanted to do a comedy. That’s what drew me to the script was that it didn’t seem like in regards to to be gay. It seemed important.
I also want to ask about an aspect that, at least if it was me, I would have said no. You are track stars in this movie and running is hard. So at some point did you think, “Do we have to make them into runners? Can we do anything else here guys?
Nope, [but] I don’t run. I do not work. I’m a pretty unhealthy person so this was a stretch for me. In fact, I’m such a bad runner that I hurt myself on set. I like, micro-ripped something. I didn’t have to like going to the hospital. but I didn’t have to film because it was really – yeah, well, I’ll keep this whole story for years. But let’s just say everyone on the “Crush” set now knows that I’m not a runner.
And Auli’i mentioned that she had to learn how to skateboard, because you have a really cute skateboarding moment where she pulls you through. And she said she hurt herself there.
Yeah, I’m glad I didn’t skate, because I think I would be dead. (Laughs)
I’m curious, how great were you Paige, as Rowan? And how much do you perhaps draw from other characters in the genre?
I think I really liked Paige’s sarcasm, and just her dryness. And everyone on set, I just feel like we were really committed to trying to make things as fun as possible. I think I was trying to find the moments where she, you know, lets life happen to her, but also how she humorously diverts everything. And I’m a very sarcastic person. So it was fun for me to do that on set.
Were you able to improvise all of this?
Yes, I improvise a lot! I don’t remember how much made the actual cut, but I improvised a lot of the lines. There was a lot of improvisation between me and Tyler [Alvarez] and Megane [Mullally]. But I felt lucky that I was allowed to improvise a lot on set, which was awesome. Because I really think the script has such conversational comedic dialogue that it was a good base to build on and it was really easy to improvise. It was really fun.
Yes, tell me about working opposite and Megan too! Because I mean, if you want someone to play your mother in a romantic comedy, I have a feeling it’s going to be Megan Mullally. I don’t know how you hold up in a scene with her where she talks about putting your gum in the dishwasher because she thinks it’s a sex toy.
I love it. I mean, the second she was on set, I was just happy. I had so, so much fun with it honestly. She’s definitely my favorite part of the movie, having seen her. And I was just, I was just really excited for her to play my mom.
We really had fun doing these scenes together. There certainly [were] funny times when the two of me were, we couldn’t stay together. Because sometimes she even says such crazy things, I even think it shocks her that it comes out of her mouth. (Laughs)
But I love it. I was able to spend time with her during filming. And I really liked him a lot. She is awesome. It was so fun, though, to see how far we could push him in scenes together.
Besides working with Mega, did you have a favorite moment on “Crush”?
Honestly, I mean, the night shoots were crazy. When we had this whole party sequence, we did like a week of night shoots, you know, ending at 6:30 in the morning, six in the morning. But something is happening. You bond with people so much when you’re, I feel, in a way, on a night shoot. I had a really fun time filming all that party stuff. The whole thing was really fun. There were so many people on set and they rented it out as a nice big house and it was just fun. I do not know. It was a really fun time.
“Crush” is now streaming on Hulu.