Happiest Season Stars Mary Steenburgen and Alison Brie on Making Hulu’s Romcom

They also discuss what made director Clea DuVall a standout leader on set.

If you’re looking for a wildly charming holiday comedy to watch over Thanksgiving weekend, Hulu has you covered with Happiest Season. The movie stars Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis as Abby and Harper. Harper invites Abby to go home with her for the holidays to meet her parents and sisters for the very first time, but it isn’t until they’re nearing the house that Harper reveals she hasn’t come out to her family just yet. So now Abby must keep their relationship a secret and pretend to be Harper’s roommate.

There’s lots to love about Happiest Season, but one of the most remarkable components of the film is the ensemble. Whether it’s a heightened comedic beat or a moment that leans more heavily into family drama territory, there’s a striking amount of authenticity and depth on display here that isn’t just relegated to whoever has the most dialogue or is the focus of a particular scene. Happiest Season is also loaded with pitch perfect reaction shows that add quite a bit to the family dynamic and where the characters fall within it.

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Image via Hulu

With Happiest Season due out on Hulu on November 26th, I got the chance to chat with Alison Brie who steps in as Harper’s sister, Sloane, and Mary Steenburgen who plays their mother, Tipper, to discuss what it is about Clea DuVall that makes her a standout director and also to reveal the magic behind those unforgettable reaction shots. According to Brie, it simply came down to how genuine they all were:

“I think that the characters are so well drawn, they’re written well, they’re incredibly specific and unique to themselves. And then working with such skilled actors, I felt like every actor came in and was so present and really brought something grounded and connected to each of their characters. There really was that present energy in every scene. It wasn’t like, ‘Now let’s pick up some reaction shots from Alison. Go!’ I feel like that never happened. We all wanted to be on set all the time, so it’s not like you were ever faking something acting with a piece of tape. Mackenzie has her big emotional scene and there was not a dry eye in the house. Every take, all of us, whether we were on camera or not, were crying. So it’s very genuine what you’re seeing.”

If you’d like to hear more, check out our full chat in the video at the top of this article! And if you’re looking for even more Happiest Season content, click here for my interview with Stewart and Davis, and be sure to keep an eye out for an extended conversation with Brie for Collider Ladies Night!

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Image via Hulu

Alison Brie and Mary Steenburgen:

  • Steenburgen and Brie highlight what makes director Clea DuVall a stellar leader on set.
  • How they could tell that DuVall was loving a take.
  • Steenburgen and Brie discuss the value of reaction shots in the film.

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About The Author

Perri Nemiroff
(2433 Articles Published)

Perri Nemiroff has been part of the Collider team since 2012. She co-hosts Collider FYC, The Witching Hour and hosts the interview series, Collider Ladies Night. Perri’s a proud graduate of Columbia University’s Film MFA program and member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Perri splits her time between Los Angeles and New York, but devotes every waking hour to her cat, Deputy Dewey.

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