The surprising classic inspiration behind Your Place or Mine
Your Place or Mine feels fresh and unique with its use of split screen — and the fact that the two romantic leads spend very little time in the same room.
But writer-director Aline Brosh McKenna was inspired by one of the most classic rom-coms of all, Pillow Talk starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson, particularly in that film's use of split screen to create humorous and romantic moments alike.
"It was a little bit the idea of updating a Rock Hudson-Doris Day movie where they're separated," she says. " But without using kind of the gloriously dated conventions that are in those movies."
Everett Collection Doris Day and Rock Hudson in 'Pillow Talk.'
Your Place or Mine follows longtime best friends, Peter (Ashton Kutcher) and Debbie (Reese Witherspoon), who swap places — trading her over-scheduled life with her son Jack (Wesley Kimmel) in Los Angeles for his bachelor lifestyle in New York City. But as the two experience life outside their comfort zone, they start to realize they might be just what the other needed all along.
McKenna says that the split-screen sequences, generally involving Debbie and Peter talking on the phone, required meticulous planning. "It's five sequences that we designed with the storyboard artist to be the split-screen sequences," she explains. "But the idea was always to keep them going. That was really fun was to try and figure out how to keep them separate but have them feel very together. They're communicating all through the movie. They're always tied together."
Netflix Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher in 'Your Place or Mine.'
For Kutcher and Witherspoon, it was merely an extension of the way they'd already been bonding in pre-production. "Every day, we would send back and forth videos of 'How's your day going? What's going on? What's happening with you? What are you afraid of?'" Kutcher said in a press conference. "By the time we started shooting it, we were used to communicating this way, so that felt really natural."
Kutcher added that the only tricky part was that he and Witherspoon got very comfortable improvising with each other, a hiccup in the technically precise split-screen sequences. "Although, the tricky part of shooting it, was when we're in a scene together, and we're both there, we're very improv-y with one another," he explained. "But given the way that this was done, one side of the coverage was done before the other person even began to shoot their side of the coverage. So we were acting against a video of the other person and the choices that were already made. There was none of that affecting the way the other person reacts to the thing you said."
Though McKenna notes they did try to put one actor on the phone with the other and filmed the bathroom/bathtub split screen together in person to try to maximize their ability to play off each other.
Your Place or Mine hits Netflix Feb. 10.
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