Peacock’s Meet Cute might seem like merely a familiar mashup of time-loop films and romantic comedies but for star Kaley Cuoco and director Alex Lehmann, there were enough fresh elements for them to take a chance on the project.
“We’ve seen romantic comedies and time travel; we’ve done all of that. There was something about this that was unique,” Cuoco told The Hollywood Reporter at Meet Cute‘s New York premiere last week. “And when I heard Pete [Davidson] was attached, I was like, ‘This is such an interesting, kind of a different type of film.’ And honestly it’s really sweet, and it brings a lot of joy.”
The film follows Cuoco’s Sheila and Davidson’s Gary as they repeatedly embark upon the same first date, with Sheila using a time machine to keep reliving that first spark and turn Gary into the perfect match.
“It was an opportunity to tell maybe a slightly more honest rom-com,” Lehmann said of what attracted him to the project. “I respect all the other rom-coms out there and there are some great ones. It’s not really my genre that I would see myself in but it felt like I got to tell a really honest one even though there was a tanning bed time machine in it. We got to play with real characters. There was a lot of freedom where it felt like if I was going to make a rom-com, this is it.”
As the film proceeds, it becomes clear why Sheila keeps repeating her first date with Gary and the two have to figure out how to break the cycle.
In this way, Lehmann said, the film tells a truer love story.
“It’s really easy to find someone that makes you happy, and it’s easy to fight for a relationship three months in. When you’re living a relationship three years in, 30 years in, you’re fighting for something completely different and that’s romance to me, especially when you see that these people aren’t just trying to save their relationship. They’re trying to support each other and stand by each other as they face their own mental health issues and neuroses and stuff,” the director told THR at the Meet Cute premiere. “That’s love — celebrating the imperfect and honoring it.”
As Sheila and Gary embark on multiple iterations of the same night, they’re clad in their original clothes from that evening, which created a challenge for costume designer Li to come up with memorable ensembles.
“Because we knew Sheila’s dress had to be instantly recognizable, iconic, stand out against every other person that we were seeing from frame to frame, Alex [Lehmann] and I worked really closely together to find a color and a silhouette of a dress that was like, ‘Wow, bam.’ When you saw it you knew that that was the main character of the story,” Li said of Sheila’s yellow gingham dress. And after deciding on that color for their lead actress, Li said, “We made a conscious effort that every principal character, a lot of the background characters, no one else that we saw was in our color principal that Sheila had on.”
Gary’s striped sweater and green chinos ensemble, meanwhile, Li said, is a “deceptively simple costume.”
“It kind of blends into the background and we kind of did that on purpose,” Li said. “Sheila, obviously the movie is kind of through her lens and her perspective, so when you see Gary at first you’re kind of meant to feel like he’s just part of the background. He’s just like everyone else. But for some reason she just keeps going back and back to him. So the fine line and trying to find a costume that was interesting enough for us to pay attention to but would also fade into the background at the same time, it took us a bit of time to find the exact right sweater.”
And though Sheila and Gary’s outfits mostly remain the same, Li teased that there are slight tweaks across the timelines.
“For Sheila’s character, for example, you see that her earrings change from one timeline to the next, maybe her necklace changes, maybe her hairstyle changes,” Li said. “So those are the kinds of things, Easter eggs that you’ll have a good time looking at if you keep watching the movie.”
For Lehmann, his biggest challenge was to keep his comedic actors focused during the film’s tight filming schedule.
“The thing that was most challenging about this movie was we didn’t have that many days to shoot and Pete and Kaley were so funny that a lot of times they would just start riffing and we had such a good time just laughing and watching them riff, I felt like we could get carried off in that direction,” Lehmann said. “But honestly I enjoyed the fact that I got to do both. When else do I get to sit front row at a Pete Davidson stand-up show?”
Meet Cute is currently streaming on Peacock.