In her new Netflix movie Love Hard, Nina Dobrev finds herself in a familiar rom-com triangle with a mega hunk and a lovable nerd. But if the set up is as old as Pretty In Pink, the catfishing plotline adds a contemporary twist. Dobrev says she was excited to be in a movie that throws shade on the whole notion of a fairytale romance. Here, she talks to Refinery29 Canada about why actual relationships take work, her IRL experiences with Internet scammers, and her favourite Love Actually storyline (you won’t believe which one it is).
I’ve seen reality shows about catfishing, and Dateline episodes about catfishing, but a catfishing rom-com — I feel like this is a first.
Right. It’s funny because I had never heard of the reality show and then Jimmy Yang [my Love Hard co-star] told me about it. We started watching episodes between takes. It’s a crazy concept, but obviously it does happen and it’s very relatable. In the movie, all hell breaks loose and the comedy that ensues is really fun and wild, so that really appealed to me and then the rest of the cast and our director Hernán [Jiménez] who I was so excited to work with. I was also very interested in playing a flawed character. Natalie is very much the girl who tries to be perfect and is searching for perfection, so much so that she doesn’t see the big picture. She’s so zeroed in on this one idea [of her perfect guy] that she can’t see herself and her flaws. It was a theme I wanted to explore.
You’re obviously perfect. You must have had to do a lot of research to get into character.
Of course. I had to really reach into that acting tool box. I do think that everyone goes through this experience at one time. We’ve all seen the Disney movies about the princess finding the perfect Prince Charming. It’s not a reality, but unfortunately it’s a narrative pop culture feeds us from infancy. It takes so long to realise that relationships take work and it’s not always going to be smooth sailing. I have had to learn that lesson in my life.
Any words of wisdom?
Well, the movie is about prioritising connection. My character gets “catfished,” but the person she was actually speaking to, the person she has chemistry with is Josh [her catfisher]. I think you can get distracted by surface level things, but really it’s connection that will last a lifetime. As my mom says, “Beauty fades, dumb is forever.”
Your mother sounds awesome. Maybe she should host a dating show.
Ha. I’ll tell her you said that.
Are you more or less likely to fall for an internet scam than your character?
I’ve never been on a dating app, so less likely in that department. With scams in general, I think I tend to see through things. I know that the phones are listening to us because any time I talk about something with my friends there’s an ad 10 seconds later. On Instagram when the ads come up I always scroll faster so that I don’t get more of them.
Do celebrities get those bot calls? Like “Hello. There is a warrant out for your arrest?”
I sure do. I have changed my number multiple times because of that.
You said that you have never been catfished, but have you ever heard of anyone impersonating you?
Yeah, all the time.
How often is all the time?
Well there are a lot of fan accounts and things which are very flattering and cute. I’ve seen on Instagram the handle Nina Dobrevv with two Vs and like “this is the private account where she posts all her real photos.” So, people have impersonated me in that way and also my family members. For a while there were people impersonating my brother who doesn’t even have social media.
What’s the endgame of playing your fake brother?
I don’t know! He definitely hated it. He gets mad at me every time I post a photo of him. Sometimes I do it just to get a reaction.
I read recently that Jennifer Aniston turned down the excellent rom-com Serendipity because she didn’t want to be typecast. Is that something you worry about?
I was really excited to do this movie. Being on that kind of set, there is such a light energy, you’re just laughing all the time. Shooting during the pandemic, I wanted to do a comedy and I knew the world wanted to see that, so I had no reservations. I’m sure if you’re Jennifer Aniston and you’ve done so many of them, you could get typecast, but I’m not there yet. I’ve only done one other rom-com. Talk to me in a few years.
Are you a fan of the genre?
It’s hard to choose one. Obviously Love Actually.
Obviously. But what is your favourite storyline within Love Actually?
Also hard to pick just one. I don't remember the names, but the two porn stand-ins.
Wow. Curve ball. You have been on two series with cult followings. I’m wondering what people stop you about more: Vampire Diaries or Degrassi?
Probably Vampire Diaries more. Especially in the last year. At first I wasn’t sure why but then I realised over the pandemic a lot of new people have discovered it on Netflix.
So I guess we need to get Degrassi on Netflix ASAP.
I had a way smaller role on Degrassi, but people still stop me for that, too.