Since the early days of Hollywood, there have been romantic comedies about a man and a woman who start off as just friends but end up falling in love.
“Platonic,” the acclaimed Apple TV+ show, turns this formula on its head by centring the story on a pair of (truly) platonic best friends: Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, who reunite onscreen for the first time since their 2014 comedy classic “Neighbours.” In the show, Rogen and Byrne reconnect after a long rift and rebuild a friendship that becomes all-consuming with destabilizing, hilarious results.
Byrne was cast first. When showrunners and directors Nicholas Stoller and Francesca Delbanco asked who she thought would be a good fit for her best friend, the Australian actor said she instantly suggested Rogen.
“I think people responded to our ‘Neighbours’ characters together, and this was a real vehicle for that,” said Byrne in an interview. “I feel like we have an ease with one another; we’re not a married couple, we’re friends, so we could be a little bit meaner to one another. It was really an opportunity to reunite.”
Rogen — who is best-known for his movies about male friendship, from “Knocked Up” to “This Is The End” — said that exploring the nuances of male-female friendship felt “very different and original.”
“The idea that we could have that comedic dynamic where we’re very brutal and honest with each other and that we don’t have this romance to preserve provided us with an opportunity to be very funny with each other in a new way,” said Rogen.
While predominantly a comedy about friendship, the show also focuses on the challenges of approaching middle age, a subject that, particularly for women, has been historically ignored by Hollywood.
Byrne said this theme resonated with her personally.
“I have a lot of women in my life, who have been in that intensity of raising small children and then coming out of the trenches of that,” said Byrne. “What you’re faced with is, ‘What’s the next chapter?’ You’re trying to both get back into the workforce and figure out your role in the world. I feel like (the show) dealt with that in a way that was very funny, but also really relatable.”
As movie stars, Rogen and Byrne are part of the new wave of Hollywood elite moving to streaming services.
“TV has really changed from when I came into the industry,” said Rogen. “The perception of it, the people working in it, the resources and creative freedom given to it is nothing compared to how it was when I was first starting out.”
“In many ways, the more culturally relevant media is television, not movies anymore. I think people talk about ‘Succession’, ‘Ted Lasso’ and ‘The Boys’ more than most movies that come out. I’ve just seen it through the show that we’ve produced, I think ‘The Boys’ has had a bigger cultural impact than a lot of movies have had over the years.”
Both actors have a big summer ahead. Byrne will reprise her role as Renai Lambert in “Insidious 5,” and Byrne and Rogen will reunite for the hotly anticipated “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” for which Rogen wrote the screenplay.
Rogen, who recently voiced Donkey Kong in the global smash hit “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” said he wanted to switch up the recording process for TMNT, so that actors weren’t in sound booths by themselves.
“We’ve done a lot of the recording sessions in big groups,” said Rogen. “We’ve really gone out of our way to lump the performers together so they can play off of each other and speak over one another and try to capture that more live-action energy. I’m really proud of it and I’m really excited for people to see it.”
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