Does anyone really have it all together? Who knows. Adult Beginners explores the complicated world of being grown-up through the eyes of Jake (Nick Kroll), a tech entrepreneur whose seemingly-perfect life falls apart in New York City after an invention of his goes bust. To recover, he heads to the suburbs to crash and recover with his sister and brother-in-law, Justine and Danny (played by real-life couple Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale), and soon Jake becomes the step-in nanny to their son Teddy (played by the adorable twins, Caleb and Matthew Paddock). The film debuts this weekend in theaters, but we first got a peek at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall, where we sat down with the cast to discuss the project.
Turns out, this is a deeply personal film for Kroll, who also served as its producer, because you’ll see the jokester of The League and The Kroll Show in a more serious light. “Our goal was to make like very funny movie, but it’s really grounded in this relationship of a brother and a sister and a brother-in-law,” he told us. “Nobody’s a witness to your life like your siblings are and nobody can call you on your s— like your siblings can, and I think that’s what really drives a lot of the movie.”
The film was shot over 22 days in upstate New York, just near Kroll’s childhood home in Rye. Filming so close to the Kroll crew had its perks—including a sleepover at Kroll’s family home. “His mom put us up and was lovely-she made this gorgeous spread,” said Byrne. “The movie is about family and relationships, so it was really fitting that we did that.”
Cannavale also loved their Kroll sleepover. “Nick’s parents have a castle!” he said. “It’s ridiculous. I had no idea the Krolls are loaded. They have a mansion and then they’re building another one right next to it. It was bizarre. I’ve only ever lived in an apartment my whole life, so it was wild for me to be in a house like that. It looks like the Corleone compound."
It’s clear these three bonded, and it shows in their on-screen chemistry, which is important in a film that takes on what it really means to be family. With its funny moments and serious reflections, the movie taps into an essential human need and want: the unconditional support of those you love.
Scroll down to read more about what to expect from the film, straight from Kroll, Byrne, and Cannavale, and check it out in theaters starting Friday, April 24.
Bobby Cannavale’s Role Was Basically Bobby Cannavale
“I loved this script when I read it and it’s a great opportunity to work with Rosie [girlfriend Rose Byrnes]. Rose had read the script first and she was like, “Babe, this guy is just like you!” I was like, “He is just like me.” It turned out the scriptwriters [Jeff Cox and Liz Flahive] wrote it for me. So it’s sort of kismet that I got to do it and do it with my lady. Rosie and I had just started living together when we shot the movie and so it was kind of fun to share the dynamic that we had at home in the movie.”
It Was Freezing in New York and in the Pool Scene
“We shot in the middle of winter, and it was the coldest winter ever in New York. For the pool scene, it was eight degrees outside and the pool heater had broken, so we were frozen,” said Cannavale. “If it looks like we’re freezing in the clip of the movie, it’s because we are freezing. I couldn’t even act like I wasn’t cold."
Speaking of Which, Jogging in Spandex Is Not Easy in the Middle of Winter
“I was jogging a lot in lycra,” said Byrne. “Those scenes were definitely the hardest scenes to shoot. It was freezing!”
You’ll See Nick Kroll’s Serious Side
Kroll may be known for goofing around, but he dials up his sensitive side for this flick. “I have scenes that are dramatic, and I really haven’t had a chance to do a lot of that,” said Kroll. “I have a couple fights with Bobby, who’s a really heavy duty actor, and it was really cool for me to be able to do a scene with a guy who I’ve watched do really dramatic stuff. I really appreciated being able to sink my teeth into something that felt more grounded and more real and more relevant.”
Bobby Cannavale Doesn’t Like Houseguests as Much as His Character
“The idea of an outsider coming into your home was the challenge,” explained Cannavale. “I never had that happen. That was interesting having a grown up come and live with you. Personally, I have kind of the two-day rule about people staying with me. Two days, two nights, and then you have to find a hotel. We talked about what would it be like, really, if a grown-up stayed in your house for months? It would be awful.”
With additional reporting by Janelle Grodsky.