Four years after Sleepwalk With Me, Mike Birbiglia is finally back with his second film as a director — and this time, it’s an ensemble dramedy. Don’t Think Twice, out today, features Birbiglia, Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, Keegan-Michael Key, Tami Sagher and Chris Gethard as members of a veteran New York improv troupe that just can’t quite seem to “make it” — until one of them finally does, landing a job on the thinly-veiled version of SNL called “Weekend Live.”
What follows is a way-too-real look at envy and impostor syndrome that anyone involved in any creative pursuit — not just comedy — will understand. It’s not pessimistic, though: There’s a touching resolution as all the characters figure out how to succeed on their own terms.
BUST caught up with Gillian Jacobs and Kate Micucci ahead of the movie and talked fame, friendship, and SNL.
Don’t Think Twice feels so much like a love letter to improv in New York and SNL. Does it feel true to your own experiences working in comedy?
Gillian: I don’t have a real improv comedy background, but I found the struggles of the characters very relatable to my own life and career. It’s that combination of excitement and disappointment when your friend gets the thing that you really wanted to get, the is it ever gonna happen for me, do I keep going or is it time to throw in the towel, that felt very relatable.
Kate: I think anyone who moves to a city to pursue their dream can relate to that, and also to the prolonged growing up.
How much of the film was improvised?
Gillian: The vast majority of the movie is scripted. We did do a few takes of improv in front of audiences for the performance scenes, which was just terrifying. We had a two-week boot camp before we started shooting.
Kate: It was like being thrown into playing with the NBA. Tami and Mike and Keegan are some of the best improvisers in the entire world.
You mentioned that excitement and disappointment when seeing a friend get something big, have you seen people treat you like that when you’ve had success?
Kate: I feel like I can’t specifically think of one moment of realizing, “Oh, that relationship changed,” but I’m very oblivious to a lot of things. I don’t notice when someone cuts me in line.
Gillian: I have to say that something I really value is having friends who are not actors. You find the people that can both be just genuinely happy for you, and also think that what you do is not the most important thing in the world. It gives you a good sense of perspective. I’m very lucky that I do have — and I would count Kate Micucci among them — great actress friends who I feel excited for, and I feel that excitement coming from them to me as well, but I think it’s important to have a balance of people in your life.
Kate, your character is a cartoonist — were all your character’s drawings your own?
Kate: Yeah! That was something that Mike and I had talked about before the movie started. He wanted to make my character a cartoonist because he’d seen some of my drawings online and he thought that would be a really good fit, and I was really excited about that. I’m somebody that likes to do a lot of different things, so it was neat to have this character who was pursuing performing, but maybe art and writing is the way she should go.
And just like your character, you’re involved in so many things — acting and comedy and cartoons and singing — how do you choose which aspect to focus on?
Kate: It’s become a little more difficult. Gillian and I are doing a show in Brooklyn and I’m going to play a few of my solo songs, and I have to remember them because I haven’t played a show since January. Before, when I had more time on my hands, I would practice all the things every day, but now I just dive into whatever the project is and focus on that. But there are times when writing a song or playing a song help me get out of my head for the scene I’m about to do or the audition I’m about to go on.
Gillian, you were on our cover a couple years ago, and in that interview we talked about how you were in so many projects that BUST really loves. You’ve done several more of our favorites since then, most recently, Love. How you go about choosing a project?
Gillian: At this point, I like to try to do something I haven’t done before. For Love, I felt like I’d done a lot of very serious dramas and a lot of comedies, and I wanted to do something that melded the two. For Don’t Think Twice, I was really intimidated by the idea of improvising and I felt like Sam, the character I play, was not that similar to any I’d played before, but felt closer to me in real life.
The whole BUST office, and I think the whole world, has such a crush on Keegan-Michael Key. What was it like working with him?
Gillian: Dreamy! He’s so positive and supportive and has more energy than any human being I know, and is funny and smart and thoughtful.
Kate: It was really fun. He and I were living in the same building when we were shooting this movie, and we’d have that school bus moment in the morning when we’d both have our backpacks on and be waiting for the passenger van to pick us up.
Since Don’t Think Twice has so much about “Weekend Live,” who are some of your favorite SNL comedians?
Gillian: I got to do a movie a few years ago with Taran Killam and Bobby Moynihan and Aidy Bryant and all sorts of people, and I had the best time working with all of them.
Kate: When I was a kid, I memorized Gilda Radner’s album. She had a song called “Let’s Talk Dirty To The Animals” and it had swear words in it, and it was the first time I was allowed to say swear words in front of my parents and they thought it was funny.
Has SNL ever been something that you really wanted to do?
Gillian: Not as a cast member, because I’m not very good at impressions!
Kate: I always daydreamed about it. I would tape it every Saturday night and watch it Sunday morning because I wasn’t allowed to stay up that late. But it was a daydream for so long and when I was finally actually acting, a different path opened up, and I never really actually pursued it. It was probably a dream that helped me get where I was going, without actually going for that particular dream.
Top photo: Don’t Think Twice
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