The Cast and Characters
Wallace is warm-hearted, overtly cynical but quietly romantic. His mind is a
bottomless reservoir of anecdotes, observations, and semi-absurd theories. He
dropped out of med school and now writes software manuals in a fluorescent-lit
cubicle -not exactly what he imagined he'd be doing, career-wise. He believes in
love, fate and doing the right thing - even if none of those things have paid
off for him so far. He believes love is not an excuse for acting like a jerk -
he's not a fan of lying and cheating and manipulating and hurting other people.
His heart got broken not too long ago but he's getting over it - or at least
trying. Wallace can talk for hours with strangers and is never at a loss for
words, but he's never met anyone with whom he likes talking more than Chantry.
Daniel Radcliffe relates to the character of Wallace as well as the wit and
heart of the story. -One of the reasons I was so keen to make this film is in a
part of the script Wallace corrects Chantry on her pronunciation of a word. At
that point I knew I liked this guy, says Radcliffe of his character. -He's
slightly reclusive and not really that social but he very much wants to be
included. He's a very sweet guy but a bit misguided in the way he views
relationships as black
and white but that's kind of an interesting thing about him. He's an
interesting, complicated and also very funny guy.
As romantic comedy is a new genre for the acclaimed but ever-versatile actor,
Radcliffe was excited about jumping into the role. -Usually when I make a film
there is always one scene where my character breaks down and has some terrible
thing happen to him and with this film there wasn't any of that, says
Radcliffe. -It's a lighter film for me - not necessarily emotionally - but in
terms of the depths of pain and agony I have to go to. It was very enjoyable - I
hope to do more comedies in the future.
I think Dan's performance in this movie is really going to blow people's
minds, says Mastai. -He's so funny and charming, emotionally open and
quick-witted. I'm excited for the audience to see what he can do in this film -
it's such a juggernaut of a comedy performance. Dowse is equally excited about
Radcliffe's performance. -I think he's totally accessible, beautifully flawed
and immediately likeable as an actor, almost like a young Jack Lemmon, Dowse
says. -People inherently end up rooting for him. Also like Lemmon he has the
ability to mix comedy with great dramatic chops. It's a rare combination in an
actor. I think just how funny he is in this film will be one of the biggest
things people will take away from the film. He's great both with the scripted
comedy and standing on his own two feet improvising.
The girl Wallace falls for is Chantry -a sweetheart, with an engaging
curiosity and an off-kilter sense of humor. She can be a little antisocial, but
when she loosens up and gets comfortable with someone, she can talk all night.
She works as an animator, her dream job. Her life is great -if only everything
would just stay exactly the way it is, but life keeps changing. She's been in a
serious relationship for five years with Ben -which is wonderful, mostly. But
relationships, even wonderful ones, can get insulated. She didn't realize how
much she needed a little jolt of new friendship until she met Wallace.
Zoe Kazan, a successful screenwriter in her own right (Ruby Sparks), was
immediately attracted to the comedy and sentiment in Mastai's script. -In
addition to being funny, I thought the writing was really balanced in terms of
how it looked at the men and women in the story, she says. I immediately
thought there was something special about the script. On playing the character
of Chantry, she adds, -I think Chantry is a very likable person in that she has
a black and white way of looking at the world. She's not very ambiguous in the
way that she thinks about her friendships, work or relationships. Because of
that, other people rely on her - she's more of a giver than a taker. She is also
very honest and prides herself on that. She's the kind of person I would want as
a friend. I'm more of a grey zone kind of girl so it's interesting to me to get
to play somebody who looks at the world in such a different way.
In the film, Wallace and Chantry find themselves stuck in the occasionally
tricky friend zone. -I think Chantry experiences something that might be
familiar to a lot of girls - you meet a guy and you can tell that they like you
and then you have a weird responsibility that no one talks about - how to handle
it gracefully if you're otherwise involved with someone, says Kazan. -I
think Chantry feels a connection with Wallace right away. I think she wishes she
had handled it better after the fact but I don't think that she feels like she's
done anything wrong.
-Zoe has a great physicality to her that I love, says Dowse. -She's really
funny and smart. She's also a screenwriter so she understands the story and
process of making a film. There is some great improv that happens between Dan
and Zoe that I think audiences will find really funny.
-Dan and Zoe together are even better than I imagined these characters to
be, says Mastai. -They bring so much to the parts - they're both so open. The
vulnerability and intensity of their performances is more than I could have
Ben, Chantry's long-term live-in boyfriend, is sharp, grounded, thoughtful,
and ambitious. He's a genuinely good guy who wants to make the world a better
place and sees his future with Chantry in it. He kind of seems perfect - but is
he perfect for Chantry?
-I enjoyed playing the other guy' in this film, says Rafe Spall of his
character. -Sometimes the other guy in romantic comedies can be so unlikeable.
As far as antagonists go, Ben is difficult not to like. He truly is a
three-dimensional character who really loves his girlfriend.
Adam Driver plays Allan, Wallace's best friend, who introduces Wallace to his
cousin, Chantry. Allan is brash, opinionated and never hides what he wants. He
goes after it, damn the consequences, and always says what's on his mind -
especially if it's not what his best friend Wallace wants to hear.
-Allan is such a fast kind of paced character, someone who has kind of a
strange code of ethics and who falls in love and is very committed early on,
says Driver. -He draws these really weird comparisons and his mouth kind of
operates a little bit faster than maybe his mind does.
-Adam Driver really brought his own sense of humor to the part, which is
amazing, says Dowse. -Adam, the complete opposite of Dan, belied a great
closeness and became a somewhat unreliable sounding board for this character.
With Adam and Daniel's characters, it's a college roommate type of thing. It's a
last opportunity for people of different backgrounds to collide and stay
friends. They are opposite in most ways but similar in their own way - they
share a sense of humor and in some ways a common outlook on life. Together
Mackenzie Davis plays Allan's passionate girlfriend, Nicole. Maybe everyone
else is uncomfortable talking about what's really going on with Wallace and
Chantry, but not Nicole. She's found her man in Allan and wants everyone else to
be as happy as she is. She calls it like she sees it and she sees immediately
that Wallace's feelings for Chantry are anything but casual. -The Nicole/Allan
story works as a foil to the Chantry/Wallace relationship in that they adopt an
almost hazardous approach to following your heart - they are confined neither by
nor morals in following what they want while Chantry and Wallace are almost
crippled by their obligations to people external to their feelings for each
other, - says Davis.
-I think both couples act in the extreme, with the
healthiest approach being the average of their relationships. Davis was
initially attracted to the project because she enjoys that WHAT IF is a romantic
comedy that resists any expected outcome for Chantry and Wallace to get together
- it keeps you guessing until the very end. -It's a pretty realistic portrayal
of a relationship that feels very romantic even while admitting that things are
not propelled by feelings alone, she says. -Sometimes you have to wade through
the mud and deal with the casualties. In contrast to the slowly developing
Chantry/Wallace pairing, the Nicole/Allan relationship progresses at Mach speed
and is so passion-fueled that it almost scares them. -They have a very instant
carnal connection that, I think in their minds is beyond words, that it's very
guttural and carnal and that's the only way that I think they express it, says
The actors dove right in to playing the intensely passionate couple. -Adam
Driver is so funny and wonderful in this movie and really bizarre, says Davis.
-He's so smart and such a good actor and it was such a wonderful experience to
get to work with him and improv with him and, laugh and have him make me laugh
all the time. Driver was equally appreciative of his on-screen girlfriend.
-Mackenzie is beautiful and very smart and very good. She's very focused, free
and comfortable, he says. -Our first day that we met we hadn't even been
introduced until we shot that scene at the karate match where we're like fully
in our relationship, just making out like crazy, says Davis. -And so we kind of
had to forgo any formal getting to know you phase and just be like, Well, we're
Dalia is Chantry's flirty, sardonic little sister. She is hyper-protective of
her big sister but also just a little competitive with her and is always looking
for the next rebound from the last romantic disaster. Dowse credits Megan Park
for bringing a specific mania to Dalia that acted both as a threat and a
cautionary tale for the single life.
-I loved Dalia, and when I first read the script I really understood her. I
think she's really hot and cold like a lot of people in their early 20s, says
Park of her character. -She's a bit more sarcastic and darker than Chantry. She
loves her sister and wants the best for her but she's also there to challenge
Wallace. She's really funny - I loved playing this part. Dowse was blown away
by the overall level of comedic and dramatic talent in the group of actors who
make up the core cast. -Each character drew different things out of Wallace and
Chantry, he says. -Their individual relationships with the could-be couple
reveal unique sides of the story and create many memorable moments in the film,
both touching and hilarious.
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