Warning: this article contains minor spoilers.
There are only two types of readers in the world: those who love Irish author Sally Rooney and those who love to hate her.
The stars of Hulu and the BBC’s “Conversations with Friends,” a show based on Rooney’s bestselling novel of the same name, belong to the old camp.
Before being offered the lead roles on the show, Joe Alwyn and Alison Oliver said they were both “massive” fans of Rooney – who is best known for her available and approachable prose that often tackles stories from messy relationships. And after reading Rooney’s books, cast members Jemima Kirke and Sasha Lane also became devoted followers.
“I liked that I never felt the book tied things together,” Alwyn said of Rooney’s 2017 debut novel. “And even more so with the show, there’s an acceptance of to be in motion, of the complexity of all this which will continue.”
“Conversations with Friends,” which debuts on Hulu Sunday, follows two college students Frances and Bobbi (Oliver and Lane) whose lives unexpectedly intertwine with older married couple Nick and Melissa. (Alwyn and Kirke). The highly anticipated series follows Hulu’s first Rooney adaptation, “Normal People,” which won critical acclaim in 2020.
The complicated web of relationships between all the characters — especially that of Frances and Nick who begin an extramarital affair — taught Kirke that there are “so many different ways to be in love.”
“It doesn’t have to look like anything. It can be unconventional,” Kirke said. “Rightly or wrongly, love is supposed to create an intense feeling in you that we all enjoy to some degree.”
She continued, “Love makes all those emotions feel like an array of colors, and I think there’s nothing wrong with being in the wrong relationship sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with struggling in a relationship and staying, and thinking it might be worth it.
Although Frances and Nick are in “fragile places,” the two are still able to find solace in each other’s company, Oliver said of his character’s actions.
Everything is always a little more complicated than it seems
-Actor Sasha Lane, who plays Bobbi
“There’s a similarity in how they interact with the world,” Oliver said. “They’re both more introverted in their relationships and used to being a little more behind in their relationships.”
Like the other main characters, Nick can be “complex and contradictory and brilliant but also flawed”, said Alwyn – which is exactly why the actor was drawn to the role in the first place.
Nick is “remote” and “not good at communication, so it was a process of peeling back those layers,” Alwyn added, saying it was fun fleshing out every nook and cranny of his character.
Lane – who plays Bobbi, Frances’ ex-girlfriend who also becomes close to Nick’s wife, Melissa – said the show emphasizes that people can’t always judge a book or case by its cover.
“Everything is always a little more complicated than it seems…Relationships and love and all that,” Lane said.
“S— is so much more complicated.”