Maya Erskine is quickly learning that simply starring in a summer rom-com means that people will unload their wedding nightmares on you at every turn. She’s talked about embarrassing toasts and cringeworthy vows plenty while promoting her Tribeca darling, Plus One, which signs her and co-star Jack Quaid up for a dozen or so happy nuptials during that dreaded season of love as they make a pact to be each other’s dates for all of them. Erskine plays Alice, an openly brash, side-splittingly funny woman disillusioned with love. Her best friend, Ben (Quaid), on the other hand, attends every ceremony with the hope of finding the ever elusive “one.”
You can probably predict where they end up, but you won’t be able to map out how they get there — it involves frank discussions about the relationship between cuddling and involuntary boners plus some painful-looking graveyard sex. Erskine is so used to chatting about weddings that she doesn’t mind listening to me rehash a particularly traumatic personal story – a maid of honor speech fueled by edibles and too much tequila that earned nowhere near the number of laughs her film, which lands June 14, will. She’s also up for sharing mortifying stories of her own, as she’s proven with her breakout show on Hulu, PEN15, in which Erskine plays a 13-year-old version of herself in a semi-autobiographical turn. She is, like her best characters, unapologetically and hilariously real. We spoke with her about reshaping the rom-com for Asian heroines and the second season of her hit comedy series.
Have you suffered through a wedding season as Alice does in Plus One yet?
It’s just starting for me. I feel lucky, but I also was jealous of all my friends who were going to these weddings. I’m sure I’ll eat my words in a bit, but I love the idea of being a plus one. I romanticized it. I thought it would just be so fun. I didn’t realize the amount of money that you’re spending, the amount of time that you’re spending, the energy. It’s absolutely insane.
Are you more cynical about the idea of marriage, like Alice is, or are you a romantic?
[Growing up] I was watching Disney movies, I was watching romantic comedies, so, of course, that is what fed my brain of what a relationship looked like. I think, now, I’m more like Alice in the sense that, I understand that relationships are two separate people coming together. They have two different perspectives, two different backgrounds, baggage — there’s no way that you’re going to find your perfect harmonious soulmate. You’re going to find someone that you really love spending time with and that you love and respect, but you’re going to have conflict. That’s what I love about this movie is that these two characters, you get to meet them as people, not as a relationship. You get to meet them as two separate people and then you see them fall in love.