By Kharisma McIlwaine
From “Babysitter’s Club” to “She’s All That”, Rachael Leigh Cook is no stranger to beloved characters. A self-proclaimed huge fan of the rom-com genre, Cook stars in Netflix’s “Love, Guaranteed”. Written by Hilary Galanoy and Elizabeth Hackett and directed by Mark Steven Johnson, “Love, Guaranteed” tells the story of Susan, a struggling attorney committed to fighting for justice. After going on 986 dates without successfully finding love, Susan’s charming new client, Nick, played by Damon Wayans Jr., enlists her help in suing the online dating company ‘Love Guaranteed’ for false advertising. Cook spoke with The Philadelphia Sunday Sun about balancing the actor/producer role, online dating and her overall joy working on the film.
Working as a producer while also starring as the lead in a film requires a very unique set of skills. Cook offered her experience with both roles.
“When you’re an actor, you’re more of a hired gun on something… your opinions are not as formally welcomed. Sometimes people will ask you what you think, but you’re almost never looped in on casting conversations”, she stated. You do get to sometimes speak up after a certain amount of years, about changing your dialogue around depending on what it is. There’s just a lot of ways in which you don’t get to peak behind the curtain that you do when you’re a credited producer and they have to let you in.”
Fortunately, on this project Cook was involved in all aspects of this film from its inception. She brought the concept for Love, Guaranteed to the writers and then pitched it to Netflix. She shared the inspiration behind the film.
“I remember hearing about a lawsuit where a group of people sued Coors Beer because their slogan, ‘Tap the Rockies”, was no longer true. They stopped using that water and people found out about it and sued for false advertisement. I now understood it to be a ‘gotcha’ lawsuit that we reference in the movie, but I thought there was an extension of that” she explained. “I just love romantic comedies, so I thought, what if it was one of these dating sites that show you you’re going to be all but dancing with your significant other on the beach in your old age, if you just pay this monthly subscription fee. Then I thought, what if they made the very foolish promise of guaranteeing love. I’m so lucky that Netflix was as supportive of the concept as they were from the very beginning and we had an incredible team of writers.”
Cook has a long filmography and has a knack for portraying extremely likeable characters… Susan is no different. She’s quirky, kind and a little old school… her car drives home that point with a removable door handle and a broken cassette player that has Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” on a constant loop. Cook shared the parallels she found in the character.
“The thing about Susan that the writers picked up on, that’s also a part of me and works well with her profession… is her borderline obsession with fairness. Her intense commitment to what’s fair is something that I relate to a great deal and I loved pretending to be more of a super adult than I consider myself in real life.”
Filmed in Vancouver, Canada, Nick and Susan’s meet-cute happens after a Canadian two step at a local coffee shop.
“The scene where we meet is actually the first scene we shot, which I thought the director planned out really well. We are just two people with very similar frequencies, and I hope that it translated well.”
Cook knew that she wanted Wayans as the leading man in the film and praised his ability to bring a certain je ne sais quoi to the character.
“Damon’s family name will always be synonymous with bringing us all so much joy, but Damon is a person with a great deal of native intelligence about him and he brings that to every role. He elevates something that could be silly on the surface… he brings so much inherently to everything”, she said. “The greatest thing is that we got someone who really brings a sense of easy charm with him, but you also believe that he is a guy who could have a bit of a chip on his shoulder and could actually be a person that would file this lawsuit. He was a total homerun!”
Finding love through online dating is a timely topic, especially in the world of quarantine and COVID… it also happens to be an interesting take on the traditional ways people find love in rom-coms.
“I read that online dating has gone way up since COVID started and the initial conversations are lasting far longer. You can’t sort of swipe and move on as it were, it’s really down to who people are and people are getting more invested in who these strangers are on the other side these accounts”, she reflected. “I hope that people looking to connect during this difficult time connect with our movie and the world resumes some semblance of normalcy before we all totally lose our minds.”
Love, Guaranteed is a heartwarming story that serves as a reminder to hopeless romantics that love has a way of finding people that are longing for it, when and where they least expect it. Cook expressed sincere gratitude for her experience working on this project.
“I just feel really blessed. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I can’t imagine having a more fluid and incredible experience putting a movie together than I did with this one. I feel really grateful to everyone involved.”
Fans of Cook can look forward to several upcoming projects. She recently finished filming “Nowhere”, a pilot where the soundtrack and score were written first and the majority of the acting is done without dialogue. She is also producing and starring in a romantic comedy Christmas movie called Cross Country Christmas coming to the Hallmark Channel.
Be sure to follow Rachael Leigh Cook on Instagram @rachaelleighcook and on Twitter @RachaelLCook. “Love, Guaranteed” is currently streaming on Netflix.