Blake Lively first met Anna Kendrick through friends. It was just after the critically-acclaimed film "Rocket Science" had premiered. Kendrick earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Paul Feig made sure that all the actors could explore the film's intersection of thriller and comedy. Creative partner Jessie Henderson says, "Paul creates a set that is safe for creativity, so you see people stretch beyond what they're already good at. We had such a talented cast and crew on this film and Paul pushed them to do even more than what you may have seen from them before."
Anna Kendrick thinks that many women will be able to relate to Stephanie and Emily's friendship because "Stephanie also wants validation from Emily." Kendrick says, "She's willing to put up with a lot of abuse because it's preferable to her loneliness."
Jessica Sharzer, who adapted the book into the screenplay, was grateful when she learned that Paul Feig would be directing. "You can see in Paul's work that he has a real talent for tapping into what makes women funny, but never in a mean or two-dimensional way."
Paul Feig comments that "women are often put into such specific boxes." He saw the screenplay for this movie as an opportunity to play with the audience's perceptions of women.
On screen, the martini Emily drinks calls for gin as the main ingredient. Off screen, Blake Lively's husband, Ryan Reynolds, has an ownership stake in Aviation Gin, a craft distillery in Portland, Oregon.
Detective Summerville is played by Bashir Salahuddin. Salahuddin also appeared in the Paul Feig directed film "Snatched" with Amy Schumer.
Although she did play multiple characters, some with more than one name, Blake Lively is only credited with playing Emily Nelson
Blake Lively was excited to play a villain for the first time. She described it as "fun and sort of delicious."
Paul Feig convinced Anna Kendrick to take on the complicated role of Stephanie. He "especially loves her when she plays people who are sweet and helpful and candid --- and that is Stephanie." And he trusted that Kendrick would make sure that Stephanie had a backbone.
According to Paul Feig, Jean Smart wanted to show that Emily's mother, Mrs. McLanden, considers herself as someone rich and classy despite living in decay.
To accentuate the contrast between the scary and the funny, director Paul Feig made the decision to shoot the movie like a brightly-lit comedy. "Thrilling things happen in the daylight rather than in darkly lit rooms." He adds, "in the suburbs, there's not a lot of hiding among the white walls and bright windows."
Renee Ehrlich Kalfus served as the costume designer on the film. She made sure that the clothing reflected each character's journey, often allowing the characters to use their clothing as a kind of armor they could hide behind.
The theme that screenwriter Jessica Sharzer was most interested in exploring was how society often forces women to choose one role to play in life, then penalizes them for breaking out of that role. "I like that this story looks at how different women decide between career and children."
Both Jean Smart and Anna Kendrick can be seen in the action-drama "The Accountant." Smart was also nominated for an Emmy award for her work as the family matriarch on Noah Hawley's "Fargo."
Bashir Salahuddin other credits include playing Keith Bang, the referee (and Cherry Bang's husband), on the series "GLOW." He's also written for "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" and "The Last O.G." featuring Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish.
Blake Lively drew upon her own creativity and interests in fashion to collaborate on Emily's different looks throughout the film. No wonder Stephanie found the dress so alluring.
Director Paul Feig chose Henry Golding to play Emily's handsome husband. "He has a beautiful voice and he has that ineffable sense of cool."
Mike Drake, executive producer, comments, "Paul is so dedicated to the craft of storytelling, and he's also got a very strong creative partner in the film's producer, Jessie Henderson."
Jessica Sharzer, who has written for "American Horror Story" and the "Dirty Dancing" TV movie, was brought in to adapt "A Simple Favor" into a screenplay. "The book always has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek and that's what I most wanted to capture."
Jessica Sharzer, the movie's screenwriter, found the character of Emily enjoyable to write because she's "so fashionable and slick, but it's also a façade. Intriguingly, both Emily and Stephanie have dark pasts, but they hide them in very different ways..."
In a recent interview, Blake Lively recalled the difficulty in filming the big scene at the end of the movie. "That was tricky," she says, "because we, on the day, had to make the plot twists make sense."
As noted in a recent article, Blake Lively deleted all of her Instagram photos and followed 28 accounts that share her character's name of Emily Nelson in the lead-up to "A Simple Favor's" release.
In order to help the audience feel as though they were really following Stephanie's vlogs, director of photography John Schwartzman chose to re-film the vlog scenes as they played back on a very high-resolution monitor. The technique allowed him to incorporate the detailed texture of the pixels on screen.