Exclusive Interview With Zoe Kazan And Michael Dowse On The F Word (aka What If)



Arriving in theatres this week, in the US at least (in Canada it hits on August 22nd), is The F Word, the new romantic comedy from director Michael Dowse. Titled What If in the states, the film stars Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan as Wallace and Chantry, respectively. The two young adults meet one night and feel an instant chemistry between them, leading to a new friendship. Wallace, having been burnt recently by a particularly bad relationship, is looking for love and falls head over heels for his beautiful new friend. There’s just one problem: Chantry is currently living with her longtime boyfriend.

Charming, clever and full of great performances from the entire cast, The F Word is a thoroughly enjoyable romantic comedy that should definitely please those who have been jaded by the genre lately. Our very own Sam Woolf gave the film a 4/5, saying in his review that:

What If doesn’t reinvent the romantic comedy wheel, but it’s often too damn well-meaning and pleasant to fault. The cast is likeable across the board, and the low-key chemistry between Radcliffe and Kazan livens up the banter even when it doesn’t go to the weird and disgusting places that separate What If from the many other romcom fish in the sea.

Recently, while Dowse and Kazan were in Toronto, I had the chance to sit down with them for an exclusive interview. We spoke about building the chemistry on set, using Toronto as the backdrop for the story, if men and women can ever just be friends and much more.

Check it out below and enjoy!

Michael, what drew you to this particular story?

Michael Dowse: I was trying to do something totally different from my past work. I had never done a romantic comedy but was a big fan of the genre. After I read the script, I saw the potential to do something memorable and something that would be a positive addition to the genre.

How extensively was the script re-worked? Because this is based on a play, right? So how much did you add or remove?

Michael Dowse: Well, the play is a one act play. Elan [Mastai] did most of the work extrapolating it. There’s not a lot of similarities though. We took the start and the end of the play and then filled in the rest.

Talk a bit about shooting in Toronto and how that added to the film.

Michael Dowse: Toronto was chosen not just for creative reasons but also for financial reasons. It just made a lot of sense to shoot here. Location is always important in romantic comedies. Like Manhattan in When Harry Met Sally. It gives the film context and adds texture to the story. I didn’t want to hide Toronto, because it’s beautiful. It’s a great multi-national and cultural city. I love the east end and the water and there’s just so many nice pockets to focus on here.

Zoe Kazan: I love Toronto, but I don’t want to come here in the winter. We shot in the summer. I’ve been here several times though and I love it. Michael used the city to ground the story, so everything feels real. There’s a reality to the film that will carry over even to people who haven’t been to Toronto. It just feels like these are real people and these are their real lives.

Michael, were Daniel and Zoe always the first casting choices?

Michael Dowse: Yup, absolutely.

How did you know they would click?

Michael Dowse: You kind of just give it your best guess when you meet them individually and get a sense of their humor and personality. During the hair and make-up tests though I knew immediately that they worked well together.

Zoe Kazan: Daniel and I had met once a couple years before we shot the movie, while working on Broadway. We met through a mutual friend, and I thought that he was shockingly normal and approachable, given how famous he is. He was totally cool and great to hang with. We hung out off set while shooting the film as well, because we were all at this hotel together, and that was fun. But we work in a similar ways while on set, so that helps, too.

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