In an interview with E! News, director Claire Scanlon revealed that Set It Up was very different from what its fans might recognize today — and that the movie actually almost didn’t get made at all.
One of the biggest differences in the movie is that the role of Harper, played by Zoey Deutch, was originally set to be played by Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke. But when production for the movie began to stall (there was some trouble casting the bosses, now played by Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs) Clarke had scheduling issues and had to pull out of the project. Because of this, the film’s original production company, MGM, was no longer interested in making it. Fortunately, Netflix picked it up.
Harper was also originally supposed to be older — 28, to be exact — which proved to be a problem when Deutch was cast in the role.
"My biggest concern, and I was very open about this, was the character was originally written as a 28 year old and she was 22 [at the time]," Scanlon told E!. “We changed the age to 25 from 28 and I think she pulled off 25."
Scanlon also said that she had originally envisioned Amy Poehler in the role of of Kirsten, mainly because she wanted to see her in a role that wasn’t exactly “nice.”
But Scanlon was more than happy with Liu in the role instead.
"Lucy Liu was such a get, I was so happy," Scanlon told E!. "She's so good."
Despite the various trials the movie faced in throughout its production (apparently, the “pizza scene” required so many takes to film that Deutch threw up from eating too much pizza) the original premise of the movie — in which two assistants scheme to set up their bosses — stayed more or less the same.
This is because it’s actually based on a true story from the film’s producer Julia Berman, who had tried to set up her boss with the boss of another assistant she had a crush on IRL. This didn’t actually work out the same way that it does in the movie (such schemes rarely do, after all) but when she told the movie’s writer Katie Silberman about it, the seed for a modern rom-com was officially planted.
And, clearly, it worked out well for the rest of us.