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What happens when two underdogs become super spies?
What if an action series focused more on “in-between moments” than major spectacles? What if the remake of the 2005 film “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” could reflect the lives of two ordinary, vulnerable people? The creative journey of Amazon Prime Video’s new comedy action series starring Donald Glover (as John Smith) and Maya Erskine (as Jane Smith) started with such philosophical questions.
While the original film by Doug Liman saw lead stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie as the captivating highly skilled and covert power couple, co-creators and executive producers Glover and Francesca Sloane have made a series about clumsy, awkward human beings trying to present themselves as cool spies.
“First and foremost, we tried to make something that we like, that was exciting to us and something that felt original,” Sloane told NextShark at the New York City premiere on Wednesday. “We knew for instance that we wanted it to feel really grounded amid all of the fantasy. We knew we wanted the relationship to feel as vulnerable and as real as possible. We knew we wanted to cast people who could play parts that felt as raw as possible while still sort of having a little twinkle in their eye.”
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The reimagined “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” follows two lonely strangers who secure positions with a secretive spy agency, which promises a life of espionage, wealth and a dream residence. The twist? They assume new identities, forced into an arranged marriage as Mr. John and Mrs. Jane Smith. Juggling high-stakes missions and relationship milestones, the couple's complex cover story becomes even more intricate as genuine emotions emerge. The narrative explores the dilemma of what is riskier: espionage or marriage.
Director Hiro Murai, who has worked with Glover for over 10 years in creating music videos, says that their easygoing rapport and playful nature remained the same in the series' production.
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“It was fun to be able to take that sort of working style and do something big and loud with it,” Murai says. “I think we just wanted it to feel real to us. There’s something about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie that felt untouchable. They’re like gods in that movie. I think we were interested in seeing what would happen if one of us were thrown into that situation. You’re kind of an imperfect person trying to present yourself as a super spy.”
Glover, also known by his stage name Childish Gambino, admitted that his first meeting with Erskine was as awkward as their characters’ first encounter, proving beneficial for the first episode later on.
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“When we first met over Zoom, which was already weird, I just knew she could act. So I assumed if she could act, we'd be OK,” Glover shared. “And then we got on set and it was awkward, which was actually good for the beginning of the show since we’re learning from each other.”
The turning point was a lunch break during which Erskine shared a crazy, embarrassing story with Glover. “We’re best friends now,” he told her.
“We made it cool for us to speak about things and laugh. Then we kind of just hooked into each other,” Glover added.
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While the new series delves into the humanity and mortality of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, it also promises all the stylish clothes, the iconic set-pieces and the exciting action. Erskine shared with NextShark her experiences with action and guns in the series, highlighting the exceptional training provided by the stunt team.
“I was someone who really enjoyed being physical so it was a great outlet for me, but I obviously had so much strength training to do. I was terrified of guns, so through this, I was able to overcome that fear of learning how to handle and properly use a gun. I got a little too comfortable at one point, but it was great,” she shares.
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Regarding representation on screen, the 36-year-old actress, who is of Japanese descent, expresses hope that Asian American viewers will feel inspired and pursue their own aspirations.
“I hope this kind of opens the door for them to just do whatever they want,” Erskine says. “Take up space!”
All eight episodes of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” will be available on Friday, exclusively on Prime Video in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide.
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