NEW YORK – We all know those couples: the ones who share an Instagram account or pack on the public display of affection.
Alison Brie and Dave Franco do neither of those things, although the married couple’s impossibly sweet romance has been on full display while promoting their romantic comedy “Somebody I Used to Know” (now streaming on Prime Video).
“I’ve been like, ‘Oh, God, we might be laying it on a little thick,’ ” jokes Franco, seated at a corner table with Brie at Manhattan’s Loreley Beer Garden. “We’re typically a very private couple, but it’s been enjoyable to talk about a movie that feels so personal to us and to do it with her.”
Directed by Franco and starring Brie, “Somebody” follows a young woman who returns to her hometown and conspires to reignite an old flame with her soon-to-be-married ex (Jay Ellis). It’s the first project the actors have co-written, after appearing together in 2017’s “The Little Hours” and “The Disaster Artist.” Brie also starred in Franco’s directorial debut, 2020’s “The Rental.”
Franco, 37, and Brie, 40, look back on their relationship (edited and condensed for clarity):
Question: Do you have any tips for other couples who might consider writing a screenplay together?
Alison Brie: It helps to be fans of one another. You have to start from a place of mutual respect. And as a couple, if you’re not good at communicating, then I don’t think you should. (Laughs.) You have to like hanging out and being together.
Dave Franco: It’s like in a normal relationship: If things aren’t working, a baby’s not gonna fix it.
Brie: And neither is a script!
What’s the worst relationship advice you’ve ever received?
Brie: The worst advice I was given is that “relationships are supposed to be hard.” They should actually be fun and great. That’s not to say you don’t have to put in work and prioritize the person in your life.
Franco: This is going to sound very cheesy, and it is. We have to spend a decent amount of time apart because of work. So we’ve done this thing from the very beginning that when we’re going to bed at night, instead of just sending a text, we essentially write a mini-love letter to each other.
Brie: We call them GLLs: “Goodnight Love Letters.”
Franco: No matter what you’ve gone through that day and how tired you are, it forces you to sit there and think about the other person before you end your day.
Brie: And really think about why you love that person. We’re constantly taking stock of why we’re grateful for this relationship.
What’s the biggest compromise you made moving in together?
Franco: For many years, I was the single guy with two 18-pound cats. As you can imagine, it weeded out a lot of my potential significant others. But she immediately took to (them), to the point where we actually moved my cats into her place before I officially moved into her place.
Brie: Right before I met Dave, I was in a phase where I was like, “I don’t want to be in a relationship. I don’t want any pets. I don’t want any plants. I don’t want any kids.” I didn’t want any attachments, and then here comes Dave with his two 18-pound cats living in my house. They became my babies.
You first got together in 2011 while you were in New Orleans with friends for Mardi Gras. Was there a moment when you realized, “I could see myself dating this person?”
Brie: All weekend, we had been joking about this weird painting in his (hotel) room of a ribbon on a stick. When I landed in LA, Dave sent me a photo of this painting with his face superimposed on one end of the stick and my face on the other end. There was something about it that was so perfectly my sense of humor. It sounds so stupid, but I truly opened the photo (on my phone) and felt a drop in my stomach. Up until that, I was like, “That was a fun weekend with a hot young guy.” And then I was like, “Oh, no, I’m gonna fall in love. I’m in trouble.”
Franco: I remember I had a favorite T-shirt for so many years and you casually took it (that weekend). But I didn’t care you took it and that was a sign. The shirt didn’t even matter anymore.
Dave, you proposed in 2015 wearing Alison’s Mardi Gras mask, but she didn’t recognize it at the moment and was just confused. Would you have handled it any differently now?
Franco: I put too much emphasis on her recognizing the mask and thinking that it was extremely sweet that I kept it without her knowing.
Brie: I maintain that even just a small preamble to the “Will you marry me?” would’ve been helpful, like, “I’ve kept this mask for five years.” It was so unexpected! I turned around and Davey just had this Zorro mask on his face. But I apologize, honey. I’m glad you used the mask.
Franco: Me, too! We still have the mask hanging in our kitchen.