Writer-director Nikole Beckwith (Stockholm, Pennsylvania) returns to the Sundance Film Festival this year with Together Together, a dramedy starring Ed Helms and Patti Harrison, and the three of them spoke to Collider in advance of the film’s world premiere this past Sunday.
Helms plays a middle-aged man who hires a younger woman (Harrison) as a surrogate, and their relationship proceeds to challenge perceptions of love. Tig Notaro, Julio Torres and scene-stealer Sufe Bradshaw co-star in the charming indie, which Bleecker Street acquired prior to the festival.
Beckwith describes Together Together as being about “the complicated, boundary-pushing, intimate relationship that develops between these two strangers in an extremely personal circumstance.” She said she wanted to make the film because “surrogacy is becoming more and more a part of the way families are made,” and she wanted to tell a positive surrogacy story. “It can be portrayed as fraught and very melancholy, but there’s this whole other pull on the spectrum of experience there that’s positive.” She also wanted to shine a light on the male biological clock and tell a story about a guy chasing fatherhood by any means available to him.
The film is the first leading movie role for Harrison, who took in several hard-to-watch birthing videos in preparation for the role, and said she was drawn to the script because of the way it subverts expectations. “When I was first reading it, I was like, ‘oh my gosh, are they gonna end up together? Is this another movie about a young girl falling for an older guy?’ And it addresses that,” said the actress, who is also a writer herself, with credits ranging from Big Mouth to Dispatches from Elsewhere.
Helms loved the script as well, and The Office alum has surely been sent a lot of quirky indie comedies over the years. “There was something very vulnerable and warm about this story, and it was an opportunity for me to spread my wings a little bit. I’ve been in serious movies before, but never quite in this space. [This film] is unique, and not something we’ve seen much of.”
Though production took place in Los Angeles, the film is set in San Francisco, where exteriors were shot over a couple days. Unfortunately, Beckwith was sick during the San Fran portion of the shoot, describing herself as “a troll person under a blanket.” These days, she’s feeling great, though the director and her two stars did lament not being in Park City this year due to the pandemic.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Harrison. “I’m not excited that the reason it’s not happening is a global pandemic, but as far as safety goes, I’m happy that it’s digital and that they’re still going on with it. They’ve made a lot of, frankly, cute workarounds that just made me feel really touched that there are people who, despite all the really horrible shit happening right now, [do] more than just say, ‘here’s the link, watch it!’ They’re trying to bring a sense of excitement and joy to people.”
“[Our work] doesn’t often get to have a coda, but what these film festivals are so great at is reconvening a group of creative people and [us] having that chance to reconnect and build those bonds even more,” said Helms, who expressed excitement and relief that his mother was feeling well herself after getting the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I’d love to be standing outside in a freezing cold line,” added Beckwith, who also noted that Bleecker Street’s deal calls for a theatrical release in addition to a digital release. “It’ll be both, because pandemic or not, that’s commonplace.”
As for what’s next for the two leads of Together Together, Harrison will soon be seen in Season 3 of Shrill, which she said will return to Hulu this spring, though the actress was tight-lipped regarding a return to I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson on Netflix. Meanwhile, Helms talked about his upcoming Peacock show Rutherford Falls, and said he’s working hard trying to pull together The Miserable Adventures of Burt Squire, which is slated to pair him with Harrison Ford.
“I can tell you it’s such a cool, wild, hilarious script, and Harrison is the perfect guy for that role and humbly, I think I’m the perfect guy for that part. I’ve never worked with him but I can’t wait,” said Helms, who closed the interview by predicting that, in the end, Together Together will “make you a kinder person.”
Watch the full interview above, and stay tuned for further release details from Bleecker Street, because this really is a sweet little movie that made me laugh and moved me to tears.
Why so serious?
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