‘Palm Springs’: J.K. Simmons, Camila Mendes & More Preview the ‘Relatable’ Comedy
Take Groundhog Day, shift the action from snowy Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, to the California desert, and what do you get? Hulu’s surprisingly timely and sweet film Palm Springs, starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti.
Unlike cynical weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) in the 1993 fantasy flick, who was on his own as February 2 kept repeating, two people—Samberg’s carefree Nyles and Milioti’s cynical Sarah—find themselves reliving one experience over and over again: the destination wedding of her sister Tala (Riverdale‘s Camila Mendes). Unable to escape the inevitability of their situation, the unlikely pair bond over their shared loop and concoct increasingly silly and imaginative ways to spend their day(s). Palm Springs rounds out its hilarious ensemble with costars including Oscar winner J.K. Simmons (Counterpart), Peter Gallagher (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist), Meredith Hagner (Search Party), and Mendes.
“I was predisposed to like [this project] because Andy is a pal and such a good guy,” says Simmons, who appeared opposite the Saturday Night Live alum in the most recent season of NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine. “It’s not just funny, but really smart, clever, and a fun ride.”
Simmons portrays Roy—”a man of mystery,” according to the actor. “When we first meet him, he seems to be a little disgruntled about something and not a big fan of Nyles. More is revealed as we go along.”
Other connections are apparent from the start, such as Nyles’ girlfriend Misty (Hagner) who is also besties with the bride. “She can be a little bitchy and bratty in moments,” says Hagner of her character. “She’s in a relationship with Nyles going in, and it’s not too great. She’s a little dramatic and possibly a narcissist.”
The actress says she “had a blast” shooting. “I think that sometimes the most extreme, sad moments of our lives are so funny. So getting to play the satirical element of that is really fun,” she notes. Also fun for the self-acknowledged “big fan” of Samberg fan: “getting to improv and be stupid with him!”
Unlike Misty, with her penchant for drama, Tala is an angel. Mendes describes her as “a loving, very giving person who sees the best in people. She has such an innocent, pure heart. That’s kind of what I like most about her.”
To play Howard, Tala and Sarah’s father, Gallagher tapped into his wealth of musical talent. “I spent years on Broadway doing musicals and I’ve always sung, so I was stunned to have the opportunity in Zoey’s to sing songs I grew up with, that already had a place in my consciousness,” he says, adding, “I was really surprised that they wanted me to sing in this film!” (Side note: His wife helped choreograph his wedding performance.)
The actor says he was surprised by the timeliness of this rom-com: “I had no idea how powerful and relevant [Palm Springs] would be in the midst of a pandemic when we are all essentially in a closed loop, questioning our sanity and asking all sorts of deep questions [for which] ultimately the answer is, yes, love is your salvation.”
Mendes echoes the sentiment, saying, “On top of all the existentialism, I think there’s a positive message in finding love and how love is the purpose of living. That’s what people need to be reminded of right now. In times like this, [you’ve] just got to cling to the people you love.”
Palm Springs, Movie Premiere, Friday, July 10, Hulu