‘Not Okay’ Star Zoey Deutch Discusses Producing the Dark Comedy and the Test Screening Note That Changed It

The actor also confirmed that she’s prepared for a spinoff of the show ‘Zombieland’ with her character Madison.
For Zoey Deutch, It’s all about the particulars.

The actor-turned-producer returns to the screen Friday in Quinn Shephard’s dark comedy Not Okay, and she plays Danni Sanders, a depressed young woman who Photoshops her way to Paris to impress an influencer (Dylan O’Brien). However, her plans fall apart when a terrorist attack occurs near her location instead of being honest she chooses to disguise herself as a survivor of the trauma and gain the fame and attention she’d always been hoping for.

As executive producer on the Searchlight Pictures project for Hulu Deutch was thrilled to take on the additional responsibility.

“When I was in Buffaloed and Not Okay, I was the central character of these films, so I was interested in knowing all the details because everything is important. That’s why I’d rather have a place at the table rather than solicit an extra one.” Deutch tells The Hollywood Reporter.

In the year 2019, Deutch received praise for her performance as Madison In Zombieland: Double Tap, and director Ruben Fleischer recently told THR that the possibility of a Madison spinoff would be appealing to him. It’s no surprise that Deutch will be thrilled to have another performance as the world’s only Valley girl.

“I would like to put my ‘Von Dutch outfit back on, in the absence of a better pun. the ‘Deutch’ jokes relating the Madison’s Von Dutch clothing. “That time was so enjoyable and I’ve been begging, Ruben Fleischer, to cast me in a film of his. However, I’d be thrilled to be in Madison again. She’s such a great character.”

In a recent interview with THR Deutch also opened her mind about the ways in which TikTok became her favourite partner and her most hated adversary during the production Of Not Okay. She also explains the impact of a test screening on the movie in a major way.

A couple of months ago, Dylan O’Brien told me the tale of how the two of you first spoke about Not Okay on the set of The Outfit, and that’s when I found out that you’re now a producer. What was it that prompted you to go in this direction, a couple of years ago?

The first thing I did was direct a film [The Year of Spectacular Men] which my sister [Madelyn deutchcomposed and my mother [Lea Thompson] directed which has made me realize just the passion I have for it. I’m a very meticulous person. I’m a control freak. I am a huge fan of artists and have many incredible artists in my life. It was an exciting experience to have the chance to bring people that I admire and love to work with, and also be a part of all these small actions that help make a film successful. When I made Buffaloed and Not Okay, I was in the middle of these films, so I was eager to learn the entire story since every detail is important. Therefore, I’d rather have a seat at the table, rather than solicit one.

On the production side of things What was the most difficult challenge, you had to face during the production of Not Okay?

Filming at night in New York City is no simple task. We also shot in the city during the summer months. I’m sure you’ve heard stories of people boasting about how difficult “insert film” had to be shot. (Laughs.) I always have fun at film festivals due to the fact that they’re competitions in which the film was shorter in time, had less money, and was more challenging. It was only the aspects we had to deal with. There would be six to eight pages on a given day but then we’d get an occurrence of a storm. Then we’d need to be shutting down for 4 hours, then need to find a way to recover those hours. All kinds of stuff were happening constantly to us, making it difficult. I tried my best to remain at the forefront of production in preparation, pre-production and post so that I could concentrate completely on the acting when we were making the film However, it was difficult to not be engaged.

The marketing really stuck out to me, too.

Quinn as well as I became both obsessed with meta-marketing and created a Not Okay TikTok, and it’s certainly unusual for a studio film to announce details ahead of time regarding the costumes, the set and characters, as well as actors. The usual approach is to keep this information secret until the appropriate moment however, we were curious about the concept of distributing information via TikTok without divulging what the film is actually about. It was a success. Searchlight was very enthusiastic about it, as well. We were interested in that too and it was an extremely interesting experiment.

The warning about content at the start of the film is intriguing because it establishes the tone from the beginning in the sense that Danni has become “unlikable.” In fact, the song that appears on the title card states, “You’re gonna hate me.” What was the debate about the self-awareness choice?

If I’m truthful, the warning was born from an experiment screening. The viewers were not sure what to make of her, and, now the warning completely alters the experience for the user. It’s also part humour in the least from our point of view. It’s similar to “We need to inform you that she’s not liked by you and that’s okay? You can now look at her since you know she’s not likeable?” Whereas when you look at films like American Psycho or The Wolf of Wall Street These are men who are absolutely unlikable however, we don’t have to be worried about this. It changed the viewers’ experience which I found intriguing.

There was a sense of empathy for her since there are a lot of people similar to her who have been stuck in social media’s constant popularity contest. Did you find one of the ways of getting her attention?

I was curious about what drove her need for online fame and followers. I was much more intrigued by her genuine desire for the guy at work to simply be able to recognize her name. I was also curious about what happens to her world when she hears her mom say “I am in love with you.” She’d never heard her mom say “I am in love with you and proud of you” perhaps in all her life. Therefore, I was curious about what drives someone to desire these things.

I thought it was wise to have Mia Isaac’s character since it is a sign that the film isn’t a shambles of the actual trauma survivors. In another time the storytellers might have let Danni get off the hook slightly more however, this film is adamant about responsibility, and that’s refreshing to see for an alternative. Because I didn’t ask an inquiry I’m hoping the answer is “yes-and” to me.

(Laughs.) Yes, accountability! Exactly. Rowan Mia Isaac, who plays the role, plays our main character. She’s our main character and has a complete story and a journey. She’s different from Danni in the sense that she’s real and that’s the most interesting feature about her in comparison in comparison to Danni. Rowan is a shrewd and vulnerable woman and courageous, which isn’t an easy feat but she does it. That’s why Danni is in awe of the authenticity of the person and how she conducts her life in the most honest way. Naturally, Danni thinks she wants to be famous and admired by the guy to not be so alone, but when she achieves it all and is unable to keep it all, she realizes that the one thing she truly lost was a real friend. This is the very first time she ever felt as if she had a real friend. This is her heartbreak and she is aware of it towards the end of the film. That’s the development. It’s coming to the realization that she was looking for connection, and that she did all the wrong things to get it.

Danni and Rowan’s fight was very emotional, even though we don’t know the conversation. Was that the original plan?

It was scripted so that there would be no dialogue, which means that the battle we were having was improvised. This is Mia Isaac’s first film and she amazed me during that scene, because of her actions and how she was accessing herself. It wasn’t just intended to be a purpose of a show. We believed that it was a super-wide image and that the dialogue would be used, however, she completely destroyed me. Therefore, I was not acting. I was just devastated by the way she was acting and how she was feeling.

You’re pretty engaged on social networks. You talk about your work, and provide glimpses into your life, including large bandages.

Then to ask the obvious question: does this film have a significant impact on the way you utilize these platforms?

I would like to be able to declare that it’s changed how I use social media. I’m definitely more self-conscious now and I’d lie if I claimed it altered my relationship with social media or my constant scrolling through Twitter. I’m not happy about it certainly.

It was clear that the film was relevant at the time of making it, but unfortunately, it’s become much more important as you’ve completed it. In a way is it interesting to see your film develop in real-time?

In a Q&A session the other evening, Quinn said something that I found fascinating. Quinn said, “I started writing this in the year 2018 and was scared that nothing would be of any use anymore. However, it’s a lot more than the previous year. It’s all about relevance today.” This is pretty bizarre.

Danni as well as Colin (Dylan O’Brien) smoke a bizarre joint in one instance. Does that really happen?

(Laughs.) The name is scorpion joint.

Wow, what a name.

(Laughs.) Dylan has a huge fan base and there were many people filming us as we were filming the scene. It was genuinely distracting. Later that night I received a message from a TikTok that was viral. The word “viral” isn’t the only one that bothers me, to say the least. Simply saying “viral” causes me to shiver. My body is literally beginning to tighten up. Then it was all v-i.r.a.-l and was an image of the rude laughter Danni made towards the close of the video. Danni was shocked and smirked really hard. Someone filmed my performance and posted it on TikTok and wrote, “Who’s this loser embarrassing herself in front of Dylan O’Brien?” So everyone was making fun of me and I was tempted to say, “It’s me! I’m in the film.” However, it would be very Danni of me since it’s an act she actually does in the film. (Laughs.)

In a shift of gears, I was the one who conceived the Madison-Zombieland spinoff conversation with Ruben Fleischer. I did a follow-up last year, with Ruben Fleischer. Given that he’s obviously interested in the subject, can you confidently declare that you’re open to wearing the Von Dutch attire again?

I’d love to put on the “Von Deutch” outfit back on, in the absence of a better term.

I was hoping that you’d tell me that.

(Laughs.) I was forced to! You put me in. It was a blast and I’ve been beg Ruben to let me be in another film of his. Yes, I’d like to collaborate with him once more and be Madison again. She’s a great character.

For me, I believe that you as well as Glen Powell revived the romantic comedy with Set It Up, and I was confident that you’d continue to keep things moving and then re-team up pretty quick. However, Glen said to me recently that certain projects were cancelled. Are you trying to figure out what happened?

I’m hoping that in the future, someday we’ll have the opportunity to create another film in this category. This may not happen right yet, but I’d definitely want to discover something we could work on together.

When you’re 60, if you’re telling stories in front of a roaring fireplace Which day on Not Okay will you likely remember first?

I’m not looking to come across as an overly sensitive, self-important actor although, despite being a darker comedy, I was able to play the role more as an action. I took the role very seriously. When I saw Danni going to the elevator, crying following the incident you mentioned, made me in tears and completely upset. When I finally got in the elevator Quinn arrived to send me a note since we had planned to launch an entire series. I was crying and sobbing that we couldn’t bear to cut. That’s why Quinn took me to the elevator. But the elevator door was shut and we were trapped within the elevator. The elevator was still in motion and no one came to help us for the entire ten minutes. Evidently, they thought we were in deep conversation about the incident. In the meantime, we were two levels, banging the elevator doors, and shouting, “Let us out! Let us go!” And neither of us had cell phones, as I was part of the scene and Quinn was in the direction. We didn’t have a means of contacting the AD or the AD, and I didn’t get mic’d since we were only making use of the boom. It was hilarious since nobody showed up to meet us and there were hundred people in the entire office was crowded with crew and cast. When we finally got from the lift and everyone was asking, “Are you guys good? Were you guys fighting? What’s happening?” But I was shocked because I had been crying in hysterics throughout the last five minutes of the drama before I was trapped in an elevator. The body was disorientated about how to feel and what to feel, it was an odd moment.

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