1 of 5 | Brenda Song can now be seen in the romantic comedy, "Love Accidentally." Photo courtesy of Amazon Freevee
NEW YORK, July 14 (UPI) -- The Suite Life and Dollface actress Brenda Song says she wanted to star in Amazon Freevee's Love Accidentally because it reminded her of the feel-good movies she grew up watching.
"This script was such a great callback to those old-school romantic comedies from the 1990s and early 2000s that I personally miss so much," Song told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "I just thought it was a fun twist on a rom-com that plays with today's technology tropes. For me, it was a win-win in every way."
Premiering Friday, the Pride & Prejudice-style film follows Alexa (Song), an ambitious advertising executive who is dumped by her boyfriend on her birthday -- the same day she learns her professional rival Jason (Aaron O'Connell) also is up for the promotion she was certain was hers.
Her luck takes a turn, however, when she accidentally dumps her work phone in a restaurant ice bucket, gets a new mobile from the tech guy at work and tries to text her best friend from the office, only to realize she mistyped the number and connected with a charming, recently jilted man, whom viewers quickly learn is Jason.
The pair carry on an anonymous text relationship, pouring out their hearts to each other after hours for several weeks before Jason realizes his new friend actually is his greatest foe and is left to decide if and how to tell her.
Song described the story as being about two goal-driven people on a journey to learn who they really are and what they want out of life.
"She's going through that quarter-life crisis where she has a list of things she has to accomplish by the time she is 30, which was very relatable to me," Song said.
"That's what drew me in -- how relatable the story is, even though it is exaggerated by the fact that she felt like she needed to hit these certain markers in life and wasn't paying attention to what was going on around her. She was so focused on work that her personal life was falling apart and she didn't even realize it," she added.
"To be able to, all of a sudden, let her guard down and to be vulnerable is kind of liberating for her because she is so worried about this image she has to keep up."
Hallmark Channel leading man and The Haves and Have Nots actor O'Connell thinks Jason and Alexa are very similar, and that's what simultaneously attracts and repels them to one another.
"He's super competitive. He thinks he is the best guy for the job. Work is taking up so much of his time, his personal life is suffering. He gets broken up with and all of a sudden these texts start coming through at a time when he needs somebody to talk to," O'Connell said of Jason.
"He's got some buddies at work ... but he doesn't feel like he can open up in the way he can when he is not being judged through texting. It happened at the perfect time."
The actor enjoyed the dynamic of people healing from their past relationships, while excelling at work.
"It all comes full circle at the end of the movie. Everything happens for a reason," he teased.
Song found the "quippy" banter of their office dialogue fun, but challenging, recalling how director Peter Sullivan always was telling her and O'Connell to deliver their lines "quicker, quicker."
"And Aaron and I were like: 'Really? OK!' We really go to play. It was just such a juxtaposition from all the texting and falling in love," Song said.
O'Connell said he likes that viewers of all ages can enjoy the film because it doesn't contain offensive language or graphic images.
"Any time, you can be a part of a project today where you can sit back with the family and everyone can watch it without having to shield the kids ... it's a blessing," he said.
Telling a story like this and bringing joy to people during difficult or divisive times also is a pleasure, Song said.
"One of the things I love about being an actor is being able to take people out of their crazy lives for 22 minutes, an hour and a-half, and just entertain them a little, make them forget their problems for a little bit," she added.
Playing Debra, Jason and Alexa's boss, is actress and reality TV personality Denise Richards, who starred in one of the most famous romantic comedies of all time, 2003's Love Actually.
"She is such an icon. She's a Bond girl. She is such a movie star. She was so lovely, so warm, so talented. I, personally, was just in awe of her on and off set," Song said, admitting she became obsessed with what the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star was wearing and what she is doing at all times.
"When she comes on set, everybody's got to elevate their game," O'Connell said. "She's super-prepared and absolutely stunning. She ages in reverse and she is fun to work with and try new things with."
Playing the powerful, elegant woman who challenges Alexa and Jason to bring out the best in each other appealed to Richards.
"I was trying to play her as a compassionate, but strong, woman," the actress said.
"She can see that there is a little bit of relationship tension between the two, but they aren't too fond of each other at the office. I also love that it is contemporary with the texting, where they get to know each other without any preconceived idea of who they are or any judgment, which is really wonderful."
Richards said one of the movies Love Accidentally most reminded her of washer of was 1998's You've Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, as rival bookstore owners who meet anonymously in an online chat room and fall in love through email correspondence.
"That was when emails first started, if you can believe it. My children would not even understand that part," the real-life mother of three said.
"It doesn't matter how we meet someone special. The feelings we have as human beings are there, whether you meet someone online or through work or through a friend. It's those butterflies and that excitement."
Richards, who is divorced from actor Charlie Sheen and married Aaron Phypers in 2018, said Love Accidentally features a positive, authentic message about love showing up when one isn't aggressively seeking it out.
"I'm a big proponent of that," she said. "I didn't meet my husband this way, but it was when I least expected it. I know it's cliche, but it's true. When you are trying to meet Mr. Right or Ms. Right, you just forget that sometimes it happens when you don't expect it to happen."