ComingSoon spoke to The Drop stars Jillian Bell and Joshua Leonard, who also co-wrote the movie, about Hulu’s hilarious comedy that revolves around dropping a baby. The comedy begins streaming on January 13.
“Lex (Anna Konkle) and Mani (Jermaine Fowler) are a happily married young couple, running their dream artisanal bakery in Los Angeles and excited about starting a family together. A trip to a tropical island resort for a friend’s destination wedding, coinciding with Lex’s ovulation cycle, feels like the perfect opportunity to conceive,” says the synopsis. “But good vibes and high hopes are cut short when, shortly after their arrival to paradise, Lex accidentally drops her friend’s baby in front of all their friends. Paradise becomes purgatory for our couple as recriminations, passive-aggression, and old wounds begin to permeate the island reunion and throw Mani and Lex’s future into deep uncertainty.”
Tyler Treese: Jillian, the cast is filled with so many people with great comedy backgrounds. So what was the filming atmosphere like on set? I know it was a tight shoot, but I feel like undeniably there’s gonna be a good bit of improv.
Jillian Bell: The majority of it is improv and it was crazy because I’ve worked with Utkarsh [Ambudkar] now … I think this is our fourth film and the rest, I think it was our first time. And I just fell in love with everyone. Like honestly, we have so many inside jokes. One of them, Joshua tattooed on him, so I mean, they’ve got to be good inside jokes by now. They were pretty decent.
Joshua Leonard: I will also add, whenever my phone buzzes like 37 times within the course of 22 seconds, it’s always the Drop group text, which still reinstigates itself every couple of weeks or so.
Josh, you co-wrote the movie with the director. What went into this idea of basing the comedy around dropping a baby? It’s absurd as a concept, but that’s also exactly why it works so well and is so funny.
Joshua Leonard: It is absurd. All the credit for the original seed idea on this movie goes to Sarah Adina Smith’s husband, Shaheen. Ostensibly, Sarah was obsessed with force majeure and wanted just the notion of what happens when somebody kind of betrays the biological imperative of their gender. She wanted to do a swap and try that out as what could a woman do that would essentially make her inadvertently a dud? She asked her husband of many, many years, she was like, “What could I do that would make you feel like I just wasn’t wife or mother material?” And he’s like, “I don’t know, I guess if you dropped a baby.” And so that’s where the idea came from. She was telling me this on a hike years ago in L.A. and I have a really sick sense of humor, so as soon as she said it, I buckled over and I didn’t stop laughing for about 90 seconds. Then we decided to write it together.
Jillian, there’s this hilarious argument that the two of you both get into when Josh says your character has the potential to be a baby dropper. So out of the whole cast, who do you think actually has the potential to be a baby dropper?
Jillian Bell: Oh my gosh. I should have prepared for that question, but it’s awful! I mean, I have to pick someone who would be a baby dropper? I’m going to go … oh gosh. Oh gosh. Maybe me? I’m pretty klutzy. I feel also anxiety, like I’ll get anxious about something that is pretty normal. Like, I’ll be on an escalator and be like, “This isn’t normal. I don’t know how to be on an escalator!” And feel like I’m going to fall every time. So maybe I’m the one. I’ll blame it on me.
Joshua, one thing I really enjoyed about the movie was it wasn’t just Anna and Jermaine’s relationship that gets impacted by this baby drop — it’s all of the different couples. How was it finding the balance of the a-plot, but all the corresponding characters and side stories all have an impact and are memorable as well? It’d be really easy to just focus on the a plot, but the whole cast gets time to shine here.
Joshua Leonard: Thank you so much! We certainly tried hard, in the writing process, to figure out what stew of characters would be interesting together in terms of turning on and turning off different parts of ourselves and how different people would respond to that. Then, honestly, that that was about 30%, and then the other 70% was just getting this phenomenal team of actors together who really not only made the parts their own, but made the parts so much bigger and more specific than we ever could have written them.
Jillian, I loved the scene with the pitch deck meeting. How was it filming that?
Jillian Bell: It was ridiculous. I think I pitched to Josh because so much of this is him and Sarah’s creation that I was like, “Can I scribble up a couple of things on …” didn’t I do that? I think I did. I took a box of crayons —
Joshua Leonard: You didn’t show me until the first take. I never saw it until the camera was rolling.
Jillian Bell: That’s what I thought, but I couldn’t remember. And it’s just the worst drawings of taxis and clocks and things that you’ve ever seen — like a child could do it better. And that’s me genuinely trying. So it’s quite embarrassing.
Joshua Leonard: It’s the greatest pitch deck of all time, please!
Jillian Bell: I just was like, “What if we’re good at a lot of things around the resort, but pitching to a potential financier is not one of them?”
Josh, I want to ask you about working with Elisha Henig his character is just so hilarious throughout, it seems like he has a really bright future for comedy.
Joshua Leonard: There there are several … I guess we can call them memes — but they were little pieces of footage that existed of Elisha that we would share with each other as the movie was being edited just because they never didn’t make us laugh. Elisha another member of the cast, obviously younger than the main ensemble, but just brought so much humor, specificity, and just commitment to that ridiculous role. He had his ethos. The character in the movie has a big following, has an ethos, is kind of a … I’ll let you watch the movie to see that. But he came in with his own manifesto that he’d written. He really put the work in.
Jillian Bell: You can tell!
Joshua Leonard: I think it shows. Totally.
Jillian Bell: He’s so good. I don’t even know how old he is, but he’s very young and I’m just like, “I can’t wait to see what he does next.”