It’s With Love premiere day on Prime Video, and we wrap our countdown to the holiday series with the talented trio of Emeraude Toubia, Desmond Chiam, and Rome Flynn.
Emeraude Toubia plays Lily Diaz, a woman from a tight-knit Mexican-American family who is searching for real love after ending the relationship with her seemingly perfect boyfriend. She’s a hopeless romantic but balances that with a practical streak that we don’t often see in rom-coms. Lily is also very close with her brother, Jorge Jr (Mark Indelicato).
Desmond Chiam is Nick Zhao, Jorge Jr’s best friend and roommate. A handsome playboy, he’s never taken love seriously until his relationship with Lily makes him see things in a new light.
And Rome Flynn plays Santiago Zayas, described as “a modern Afro-Cuban American Mr. Darcy” for all of you Pride and Prejudice fans. Although he has a big heart, he’s more of a loner until he meets Lily and she begins chipping away at his protective walls.
Emeraude, Desmond, and Rome shared a bit about their characters, and some of the ways With Love is redefining the romantic comedy.
As much as Lily is a romantic, she’s also a realist in many ways. Was it refreshing to play a character that breaks rom-com tropes?
Emeraude: I loved playing Lily. She is a cocktail of emotions. I want to play those characters that are fully dimensional. It was great to play her and so much fun. She’s dealing with a lot of things that I’ve dealt with in the past, and that my girlfriends are still dealing with. It’s finding love. Lily had her “perfect on paper” boyfriend, and that wasn’t enough. It takes courage to let go of people that you’re comfortable with, and she ends up having her heart broken. She doesn’t know what she wants in life. She was taught that just because you do good things, and you maybe follow a certain path that everything automatically plays out. That’s not life. In a way, she’s trying to try to make her family proud and follow their traditions, but she’s trying to set her own rules of what she wants in her life and in her career. It was interesting to navigate that with her.
Nick could easily be a one-note character, but he is so dynamic. And his friendship with Lily brings out a side of him that I don’t think he even realized was there. What can you share about playing a character that smashes viewers’ expectations?
Desmond: It would have been easy for Nick to be a joke character. In a testament to the writing, Gloria sees that people who behave the way Nick does have a lot more going on. It deconstructs what [a character like this is] thinking. His quips are very much a defense mechanism for something. And for Nick, in particular, there is this idea that he has never really explored the idea of love in a way that isn’t just about sex. It’s a super important thing to unpack how [relationships are] commodified, especially in the social media era.
We meet Santiago at a vulnerable moment in his life, but the walls go back up immediately. What can you share about how those walls begin to come down through the season?
Rome: Yeah, we meet him at this point in his life where he is in a tough spot, losing somebody very close to him. But that propels him in the direction of trying to find love. Maybe that’s something he wants. He knows that’s what his parents want for him, which is typical for Latin families. Your family wants you to find love and be in healthy relationships. Santiago has such resistance because he’s accustomed to being alone, and was okay with that. He’s a loner, walking his own path and not conforming to anything, especially because of the way he thinks about relationships. They’re more practical, and he doesn’t think there’s much magic behind it. When he meets Lily, there’s an initial spark. Even early on, in the first episode, he feels that, but he doesn’t know what it is. He looks over his shoulder and continues on, but we revisit that when they find each other. There are sparks right away. We’re scratching the surface with all of these characters and their respective relationships.
With Love Season 1 is now available on Prime Video. If you missed our other cast and creator interviews this week, you can read them here.
Photos courtesy of Prime Video