Hes Just Not That Into You writers celebrate 10 years and share some BTS secrets
Writing partners Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein want to be known for their romantic comedies. While some screenwriters might see the genre as a stepping stone for bigger blockbusters or sweeping dramas, the pair behind Never Been Kissed have always wanted to stay in this lane. The Drew Barrymore rom-com marked the first script that they sold and the beginning of their working relationship with Barrymore and her production company, Flower Films.
After Never Been Kissed, the pair worked on several television projects, and their next feature film presented an all-new challenge: turning a popular self-help book by two Sex and the City writers into a movie. EW chatted with Kohn and Silverstein about some of the untold stories behind He’s Just Not That Into You — just in time for the film’s 10th anniversary.
Nancy Juvonen gave them free rein
Barrymore and producing partner Nancy Juvonen were attached to He’s Just Not That Into You when New Line Cinema bought the rights to the book, which was penned by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. The book was inspired by an episode of HBO’s Sex and the City (a show Behrendt and Tuccillo worked on) in which Carrie’s boyfriend, Berger, tells Miranda that a guy she went on a date with just isn’t that into her — which she finds incredibly refreshing. The book became a pop culture phenomenon, and the discourse around it became A Thing.
When He’s Just Not That Into You got near the pens of Kohn and Silverstein, they were a bit nervous that they’d get caught in the book’s orbit. “We were sort of wary of the book, not because of the content but because it already existed in a piece of media,” Silverstein tells EW. “So we were just sort of like, how do we get around that, and making it a full-scope movie. Then also just simply, we were like, we’re never gonna say that title.”
Their fears were quelled once they talked to Juvonen, who encouraged them to channel of the spirit of the book. “It was really Nancy who started the process in the perfect way,” Kohn recalls. “She was the one who said this can be a complicated, nuanced relationship movie that illustrates all kinds of stuff; you don’t have to feel hamstrung by the book. When we came in to pitch it, we brought in, no joke, a giant, poster-sized flowchart, with solid lines from person to person where they were into each other and dotted lines when it was one person into you that the other person was not into back. We talked through every relationship in the whole movie. She really was the impetus behind letting us just go for it.”
That star-studded cast was even better than they expected
He’s Just Not That Into You boasts a starry cast, including Scarlett Johansson, Bradley Cooper, Ben Affleck, Kris Kristofferson, and Barrymore herself. The sheer amount of talent was a bit intimidating to the writing pair, and they didn’t know what to anticipate from such a a group of stars. And that’s not even mentioning the rom-com GOAT, Jennifer Aniston, who was one of the first to shoot. Since they had so much big-name talent, they had people only for small stretches of time, and Silverstein says it was like shooting a bunch of small movies. Fortunately, Aniston helped get things off on the right foot. “Jennifer is the nicest, most professional person in the world, and she came and set the tone,” Silverstein says. “She came in and was like, we’re doing these scenes as written and that’s what we’re doing. That set the tone for all the other stories after that. It was really, really an incredibly fun and exciting and fulfilling experience, from beginning to end.”
People had thoughts about Gigi
While Kohn and Silverstein say they don’t really remember reviews of Never Been Kissed, one thing that frustrated them with He’s Just Not That Into You was the reception of Ginnifer Goodwin’s character, Gigi. She’s the character who serves as the embodiment of the film — she keeps fumbling her dates and misinterpreting signs from the lackluster guys she’s seeing. Basically, Gigi is your friend who never stops talking about her love life. And people didn’t like her. Both Kohn and Silverstein were very happy with how the movie turned out, but Silverstein was frustrated by how Gigi was received by critics and audiences. “You like to write movies about things that exist in the world, positive or negative,” he says. “So for people to say that Gigi’s character was over-the-top or not likable or annoying, like, yeah, there are not-likable and annoying people in the world! That’s the whole point. You’ve worked in an office with that person, who literally will only talk about the guy she’s not into or they’re not into her.”