When I last talked to Zoe Kazan, she and her partner, Paul Dano, were in town with Ruby Sparks, a romantic comedy she penned about an author who writes his dream girl into being, only to realize his fantasy can't function in the real world.
Now she's back in town with The F Word, Michael Dowse's romantic comedy about two people, Chantry (Kazan) and Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe), who meet and become friends because she's in a long-term relationship and he'd never dream of breaking them up. Things aren't that simple, of course, but the movie has a great deal of fun with the tension of just being friends - at some lovely Toronto locations in Riverdale and Leslieville.
The F Word is different from most romantic comedies in that it's about two people who should be together but aren't trying to be. They settle for friendship, and we get to watch that become something deeper almost against their will.
The thing that I keep saying about the movie is that it resides in the place where most romantic comedies elide - most of the time they show two people coming together via montage; I even did it in my movie. I was sort of sending it up, but that's it: you watch two people fall in love but you don't actually know what they're saying or what's drawing them to each other. It's sort of a foregone conclusion, and I like that this movie dwells in the realm of "Why do two people like each other?"
The chemistry between Chantry and Wallace is a tricky thing. They have to have something powerful so we can root for them to get together, but it also has to be subtle enough that they think they can just be friends. How did you and Radcliffe figure it out?
My pat answer is that I think chemistry comes from curiosity about the other person, and it's easy to be curious about Dan. He's an interesting person, he has a really interesting mind. I think it has to do with the kind of attention you pay to the other person. As an actor, you're used to giving heightened attention anyway, so you kind of just turn the beam of that attention on the other person. And he's easy to get along with. He's a really likeable, affable person. He's a little guarded, I think - how could he not be? That was the big challenge for both of us, being authentic with each other. For me getting past that guardedness and getting to the real Dan - and for Dan, trusting me. I think something got built between us, which was nice.
And then we get to watch genuinely appealing people be pulled toward each other.
I think that's exactly what the movie's about. You know, people think it's a joke when I say it, but I actually mean it very seriously. I don't know if I could be friends with someone if I didn't find them attractive. I don't mean physically attractive, I mean mentally and emotionally appealing. My girlfriends are people I want to be around all the time, and I think when you have a friend of the opposite sex, that line does get fuzzy sometimes. You have to really be an adult and have good boundaries in order to be able to navigate it, and part of what's happening here is that one of these people, at least, is attempting to have boundaries - but she herself is not resolved enough as a person to know how to build those.
Unlike a lot of movies that shoot here, The F Word puts Toronto front and centre, shooting on location and letting the city play itself.
I grew up in Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles I see on film is so different from the L.A. I grew up with, so I relate to wanting an authentic version of your city. That's a credit to Mike. He found all those locations, and Elan [Mastai], who lives here, also clued him in to the places that people really hang out, not the tourist spots.
Did you get any time to knock around town while you were making it?
When I first got here we had, like, five days before we started filming. Elan gave me a book of walking tours of Toronto, and I just walked in every direction I could find. And Megan Park is from London, Ontario. She had a car, so we would drive to different places, and I got to soak up parts of the city, which felt really great.