Jane Levy and Blake Jenner, stars of What/If, talk with Screen Rant about their on-screen romance, and whether or not they checked out Indecent Proposal before filming the project. The new series premiered on Netflix this past weekend, and it features Academy Award winner Renée Zellweger as Anne Montgomery, a wealthy venture capitalist with designs on a young couple in need that go well beyond making simple monetary investment. The series begins like a gender-flipped version of Indecent Proposal, but turns into something quite different.
That probably won’t come as much of a surprise since What/If is the new series from Revenge creator Mike Kelley, who used The Count of Monte Cristo as inspiration for a soapy drama about the disparity of wealth between the 1 percent and the other 99. Though that series has come and gone, Kelley’s work with Netflix is ready to follow in its footsteps, albeit under the Netflix banner, which makes it a little easier to attract actors like Zellweger, Levy, or Jenner.
For their part, Levy and Jenner play Lisa and Sean Donovan, a seemingly enviable couple whose past secrets threaten to tear them apart. Part of watching a marriage crumble is believing it is stable to begin with, an idea Jenner touched on while speaking with Screen Rant in advance of the show’s premiere. In speaking about creating a on-screen romance with his acting partner, Jenner said:
“I think unknowingly when you let somebody in it lends itself to the work. You get the most honest and simple and open moments from yourself. But also you start to unknowingly start to look out for each other. Jane was always checking on me. I was always checking on her. We were just trying to fuel this friendship, and I think it bleeds through the entire thing. That's how I like to work. I like to get to know my costars. And especially if you're getting married with someone, you might as well become best friends. That's the tease.”
The two were also asked whether or not they had watched or re-watched Adrian Lyne’s Indecent Proposal before filming. Levy had, jokingly saying:
“I watched it before we started, because I am a professional and committed actor. Blake just decided to wing it. As you'll see in the series that is our start jumping off point. I think that's actually how the show was born.
I watched the film, and I loved it. What I took away from it was, the reason why this movie works, and the reason why you want to keep watching and that you are invested as an audience member is because the stakes are so high, because you believe deeply in the love between Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson's character. And that was a big part of my preparation. Because, Lisa's main story is about family. She doesn't have her birth family, and Sean becomes her family. To have her family bond threatened in this way by Anne Montgomery is basically her worst nightmare.”
Jenner also had a laugh at the fact that he hadn’t yet seen the film, but he did say that Levy was there to give him the CliffsNotes version of the movie.
“Yeah. I mean, I knew about the film. Jane told me a lot about it. And because I was not professional I didn't watch the movie. Which I'm still ashamed about to this day.
But Jane pointed the key facts out to me when we started doing shoots. She's like, ‘It's a great movie. You should watch it. I love it. But I just want to show you some parts of it, because what makes it work is these two characters love for each other. And I feel like that's what really helps move our show along.’ So she showed me some scenes and I got the idea of it, and we all used the film as a starting off point.”
What/If is currently available to stream on Netflix.