Nicholas Braun and Emilia Jones immediately bonded over their extremely awkward kissing scene when they started filming Susanna Fogel’s adaptation of Kristen Roupenian’s viral 2017 New Yorker short story Cat Person.
“I mean, the first thing I think of is just the horrible kiss,” Braun said at the world premiere of Cat Person at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, causing a burst of laughter.
“Shockingly bad, yeah,” Jones joked.
“That was step one, to figure that out,” Braun said of the scene, which finds the two having a very, very sloppy make-out session in front of a bar.
“From then on, I mean, Nick and I were very close. I think we even laughed in each other’s mouths halfway through a take,” Jones added.
Roupenian’s original Cat Person short story is the most-read piece of fiction ever published in The New Yorker, according to Sundance. Cat Person the movie hits with every bit of ick that the short story does — and more. It follows the story of Margot (Jones, CODA), a college sophomore who meets 33-year-old movie buff Robert (Braun, Succession) while working a shift at the local movie theater. What begins as a romantic comedy about a relationship with a few red flags and harmless awkwardness soon snowballs into a horror-thriller about a young woman caught in the trap of dating gray areas — and the very real, physical danger women face by bruising the male ego.
Jones said she felt “really lucky” that she and Braun got along right away on set.
“Because we’re such good friends, it allowed us to have complete and utter trust. And so when we were doing extreme scene after extreme scene, we managed to make it fun,” she said.
For Braun, exploring a character that triggers such strong emotions from the audience was a welcome challenge.
“That was one of the most exciting parts of it is, this is an energy of a guy I’ve never explored. But just who he is, and the territory of it, it’s important and it’s complicated. And I think you can say he’s a bad guy, but it’s so much more complex than that. And in a lot of this movie he thinks he was doing right,” Braun said.
“Sorry, this is — I’m like, I went through such a road of emotion watching this movie. I’m still going through it. It was overwhelming,” he said. “I love this movie so much. But it felt good to step into something like that. It was new. I had to trust these guys. And, you know, Susanna [Fogel] to help me drop into something I’ve never dropped into before.”
Main Image: Emilia Jones and Nicholas Braun appear in Cat Person by Susanna Fogel, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.