Kristen Bell and Ben Platt on playing a hot mess in ‘The People We Hate at the Wedding’ – and why families are so drunk

Ben Platt and Kristen Bell in ‘The People We Hate at the Wedding’ (Photo: Amazon Prime Video/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Kristen Bell and Ben Platt are siblings – but definitely not their best selves – in their new comedy The People We Hate at Weddings.

They have relationship problems (she has an affair with the marriage architect she works for; he has an affair with a man who only wants three), they have family problems (hurting both her widowed mother and her stepsister). They are bitter, bitter and always making bad choices.

They are easily among the greatest characters either actor has ever played.

“I played a lot of hot messes,” admits Bell, the Good place and Bad Mom admitted actor. “Alice is up there, though. And there’s something fascinating about watching someone make bad decisions. Catharsis entertainment is on some level everywhere. And when you’re watching these characters, Ben and I tried to make them better, but you’re watching them make these terrible decisions, it’s like, ‘No ! No! Why are you doing that?’ So I think it’s fascinating for the audience to see the level of dysfunction that they start to see, and it also gives them a great open-ended way to bring them to a better point in all of their family relationships.”

“In terms of the surface level of ‘messy’, it’s definitely the character I’ve played the most,” says Platt, the Perfect pitch alum last seen in the musical Dear Evan Hansen. “I’ve played characters who do things much worse than he does, but they’re more together in superficial ways. Paul is a bit more of a mess. But he also shoots from the hip. He’s very funny, and obviously a smart guy, and protective and still finding ways to love himself … but like Kristen said it was fun to read the script and find someone who is so clear in the place, we hope they will be there. when we first meet them, and then we root for them to get there.”

For their points, flawless characters can be boring, too. And messy characters can be really funny, which gave Bell and Platt plenty of room The People We Hate — which finds them heading to London with her mother (Allison Janney) for her half-sister’s (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) wedding — to a comical release.

THE PEOPLE WE WERE WITH AT THE WEDDING, from left: Dustin Milligan, Kristen Bell, 2022. Ph: Laurie Sparham /& #xa9;  Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video / The Everett Collection

Dustin Milligan and Kristen Bell in ‘The People We Hate at the Wedding’ (Photo: Laurie Sparham/Amazon Prime Video/Compilation courtesy of Everett)

That was a highlight for Dustin Milligan (Schitt’s Hill), who plays Mr. Right Bell’s Alice met on the flight to London – and then continuously sabotages their relationship.

“I’m such a big fan of hers, and I have been for so long,” Milligan tells Bell. “But then to experience it in person, it’s always something different. I have been very lucky in my career to work with famous actors. And you never quite know what the difference is going to be between how you see them on camera and who they are in real life. And she’s so warm and engaging and ready to play and very funny and witty herself that it really made it so easy to jump in and go ahead and build that relationship right away. … Everyone, like Ben and Allison as well, are incredible.”

THE PEOPLE WE MEET AT THE WEDDING, Cynthia Addai-Robinson (in yellow), Kristen Bell (right), 2022. Ph: Laurie Sparham /& #xa9;  Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video / The Everett Collection

Cynthia Addai-Robinson (in yellow) and Kristen Bell (right) in ‘The People We Hate at the Wedding’ (Photo: Laurie Sparham/Amazon Prime Video/Compilation courtesy of Everett)

Addai-Robinson (The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power) the challenge of playing the straight woman to the Bell and Platt siblings behaving badly.

“You have to recognize that giving that space to the other actors is part of guaranteeing it,” she says. “Sometimes you just get out of the way and let it happen. And, also, as funny as the film is, there are certainly many more serious aspects to some of these characters. So it’s great because it’s still rooted and grounded in things that feel heartfelt and relevant, especially with family dynamics and those hurt feelings and unspoken things. But I think when you laugh, you’re laughing because you recognize some element of truth in how scary family can be at times.”

So why are family relationships so fragile?

“I think it comes down to the fact that we are social creatures and we really want to be accepted by a group,” says Bell. “And the first group you know is your family. I mean, it’s like proven: Air, water, food, acceptance are the things we monkeys need most. So, once you’ve met your basic needs, you struggle to feel like you’re good enough in your first group, your family dynamic. And then, thankfully everyone is able to grow up and discover who they are. But it’s that reunification, when you come back to your family as an adult, that sometimes creates a lot of problems because people can become alienated. And I think the ultimate lesson for me, which is like a giant light bulb of life, is that you can disagree with every opinion that someone in your family has, but you’re still allowed to love them.”

The People We Hate at Weddings premieres Friday on Prime Video.

Watch the trailer:

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