Something from Tiffany’s Director Daryl Wein on Shooting in New York City: ‘I’m just pinching myself in those moments’ [Interview]
As the weather gets colder and the Christmas lights illuminate your neighborhood, it’s the perfect time to chill out with your family with some hot cocoa and holiday movies. While some opt for the classics like Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, others love Hallmark’s slate of holiday films that are fun to laugh with (and at). Prime Video now adds their latest addition to the holiday rom-com genre with Something from Tiffany’s, an adaptation of a novel of the same name.
The film revolves around two different couples whose lives are intertwined after a mix-up of jewelry gifts causes changes — one more drastic than the other — to both relationships. It stars Zoey Deutch — who also serves as an EP — closes out by far the best year of her young career that included stellar performances in The Outfit and Hulu’s Not Okay. While Something from Tiffany’s may not be as poignant as her role in The Outfit or as physically demanding as her role in Not Okay, she brings a level of authenticity to Rachel that really enhances the film. Kendrick Sampson, Ray Nicholson, Shay Mitchell and Leah Jeffries — who, if you needed any more proof, will kill it in the Percy Jackson Disney+ series — also star.
I believe in the saying, “you can take the person out of New York, but you can’t take the New York out of the person,” and as a fellow New Yorker, this chat was both fun and insightful as director Daryl Wein discusses his NYU Tisch roots and filming in New York City, working with Deutch and other holiday movie nonsense.
Daryl Wein: You look like you got a lot of great DVDs behind you [smiles].
The Hollywood Handle: I do — are you a physical media collector?
Wein: I do have a lot of physical media [smiles].
THH: I love to hear that. I’m not a big fan of the digital stuff. Congratulations on your film, Something from Tiffany’s. What’s your favorite holiday movie?
Wein: Oh, God, that’s a good question is When Harry Met Sally considered a holiday movie? I’m just gonna say When Harry Met Sally.
THH: Fair enough. That’s a good answer. It’s different. How did you get attached to Something from Tiffany’s and did you read the book beforehand?
Wein: I read the book and then the script, which obviously was built off of the book, [which] had a lot of differences, but paid homage to the soul of the book. And yeah, I just love movies dealing with romantic entanglements that have profound themes around love and loss and betrayal and secrets and lies.
And Zoey Deutch was attached and I was like, “Reese Witherspoon, Zoey Deutch, Amazon? This just is too good to be true.” So yeah, I wanted to get in.
THH: I wanna get into Zoey in a second, but before I do, you mentioned that there are some differences between your adaptation and the book, could you name one major difference for somebody who, like myself, hasn’t read the book?
Wein: The whole storyline around the art installation on the East River was something that we built into the screenplay as a way for the two characters to bond and come together and also show off an element of New York, which that isn’t actually there, but, you know, the bridges are and so we got to show this beautiful part of Manhattan and the city skyline.
THH: What’s it like working with Zoey Deutch? I know she was also an EP on the project.
Wein: Yeah, she was a producer and she’s amazing. I mean, she’s just so charming and smart and witty, and she’s so emotive. Everything you look for in a leading actress, she just possesses all of those qualities. She’s so fun and easy to watch and relatable and beautiful, like, [I] love her to death. She’s just the greatest.
THH: This is a bit of a two-part question, but I wanna talk about filming in New York. So I read that you went to Tisch — I have my NYU Tish hoodie on myself — so I wanna ask you first, did that experience of going to Tisch help you map out any potential filming locations in your head?
Wein: Interesting question. I went to NYU Tisch for theater. I was in [the] dramatic arts acting program and I guess being in New York and going to college there helped me to have a pretty good grip on the city. And I lived there for 10 years, so that all helps, obviously, and is imbued in my life experience and worldview so to speak. So yeah, just the pulse, the energy of the city — I grew up on the East coast — it’s all just part of the fabric of my being and DNA and I made two other movies in the city, Breaking Upwards in Lola Versus, so I was trying to find places that I didn’t shoot before and I got to shoot in Bryant Park and some locations I wasn’t able to in the past because I had more resources and Amazon behind us. So that really opened up some doors and keys to the city, which was really fun [smiles].
THH: That relates to the second part of the question I wanted to ask you. Are there any difficulties shooting in the city, but specifically with Bryant Park which is such a small space? And did you guys really get to film there during Christmastime?
Wein: Yeah, we were shooting in Bryant Park in the heart of the action during Christmastime, which was absolutely crazy. There were millions of people around, so that was very challenging to kind of block that off. But the funny thing is, New Yorkers just kind of do what they do. Like, they are so used to seeing everything and they’re like, “Oh look, there’s a movie,” and they stop and stare, and then they just continue on with their day. So we had to keep moving them alon, [but] I love having all of them in the background and capturing that energy and the authenticity of the bustling city. There were people wearing masks because of the pandemic, but we did our best to cleverly shoot around that.
THH: It doesn’t sound like you still live in New York, I could be wrong, but if that’s the case, what’s the first thing that you have to do when you come back?
Wein: Sadly, I don’t [live in New York]. I miss it. I live in L.A. but I come back quite a bit and I wish my dream to have a place on both coasts one day [smiles]. I love to just walk the different neighborhoods, you know? I like to have a “West Village moment,” it’s so charming over there. I like to hit up shops down downtown, super [downtown] like Chinatown, Lower East Side area. I like to go to Central Park. I like to hit the museums: The Whitney, [the] Met, [and the] Guggenheim. I like to do galleries; all the new ones that opened up in Tribeca are fun. I eat a lot [smiles]. I try and seek out good new restaurants.
I just try and soak it all up. Go see a Broadway show if I can. Actually, I need to see if I can get into one tonight [laughs].
THH: My last question on New York itself: you’ve shot a few movies there, but are there any locations in the city or any of the other boroughs that you’d love to shoot in?
Wein: Oh, that’s a good question. Yeah, I think it’d be cool to shoot in Astoria. I shot Lola Versus in Brooklyn a bit, and Breaking Upwards [filmed] a lot in the West Village. Where else would be fun? Yeah, I mean, Chinatown could be cool, [to] shoot something specifically there. Red Hook would be really cool and interesting. There are so many, it just depends on the story.
THH: Going back to Something from Tiffany’s, were there any scenes in particular besides the Bryant Park (because of the logistics) that were difficult to shoot at all?
Wein: Well, shooting [while] walking across 42nd street and shooting in Washington Square, anywhere where there’s a lot of people in iconic locations is always tricky. Walking down the High Line with tourists [and] throngs of people is tough, you know? But you want to shoot those beautiful parts of New York and have some of those classic elements and it’s just about incorporating it and the people as much as possible.
THH: Aside from returning to New York City, do you have any other favorite memories from the shoot? Could be a particular scene or any memories off-camera?
Wein: I just love her [Deutch] running down the street and running onto the pier. And any[time] being out in the best parts of the city like we’re talking about. Central Park was just like so gorgeous [and] to be up there and shoot across from the Guggenheim, I’m just pinching myself in those moments [and] just like, ugh, this is the best — I can’t believe I’m so lucky that I get to make a movie in the best city in the world.
THH: And can you give sort of an elevator pitch for your film lastly, because the holiday season’s here, and there are a lot of holiday movies to watch, but why should people watch Something from Tiffany’s?
Wein: People should watch Something from Tiffany’s because it’s gonna make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. [It’s a] perfect holiday movie to throw on with family or a loved one and laugh, cry, it has hope and features beautiful New York City.
Quick logline… that’s tough. There’s a mix-up at the beginning of the film that ends up leading an engagement ring into the wrong person’s hands and that ends up bringing two groups of people together in an unexpected way that leads all of them to kind of find themselves and their true purpose in life and in their relationships.
That’s kind of a long-winded way of describing it. I’m not good with elevator pitches [laughs].
Something from Tiffany’s is streaming on Prime Video now.