Renee Zellweger and Mike Kelley on Deconstructing Fate and Consequences in ‘What/If’

Variety | 5/20/2019 | Danielle Turchiano
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SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “What/If,” streaming now on Netflix.

Writer and executive producer Mike Kelley’s latest piece of dramatic storytelling is a limited series morality tale that starts with a high-powered, wealthy woman named Anne Montgomery (Renee Zellweger) offering Lisa, a young woman with a startup (Jane Levy), the investment she needs — if she gives her one night with her husband Sean (Blake Jenner). What goes on during that evening will be protected by a non-disclosure agreement, and if he breaks the terms and shares the details, Anne will take control of the company. But that is just the tip of the iceberg for “What/If.”

Kelley - Film - Proposal - Point - Story

While Kelley says the 1993 film “Indecent Proposal” was very much his “jumping off point” for this story, he was inspired by other “social thrillers” of the 1980s and 1990s, including “Fatal Attraction.” Borrowing from a traditional film’s structure, he weaved together 10 episodes of story that exposed a secret for each individual character, at a different point in the story. Angela’s (Samantha Marie Ware) affair with her boss (Dave Annable), for example, was shared early on, but both the reveal of just how sociopathic her boss was and how far he’d go to teach her a lesson came much later. Meanwhile, in the middle there was Lisa’s brother figure Marcos (Juan Castano) revealing to her that he was the one who set the fire that killed her parents, coupled with the truth emerging that Anne was actually her birth mother and therefore Lisa was not chosen as some random benefactor but had been watched her whole life, albeit slightly from afar.

“It is definitely tricky to balance all of those,” Kelley tells Variety. “What I wanted to do was make all the secrets and choices resonate with all of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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