When Jillian Bell and Natalie Morales stumbled upon the script for I'm Totally Fine, it provided a golden opportunity for both to flex their comedic chops and show their dynamic range actors. The film follows Vanessa (Bell), a woman in mourning who takes a solo trip to clear her head after the death of her friend, Jennifer (Morales). However, Vanessa's self-care vacation plans change when she's met with a situation out of this world as an extraterrestrial takes Jennifer's form. Bell and Morales spoke to Bleeding Cool about how they came to be involved, working with director Brandon Dermer and writer Alisha Ketry, and their favorite moments from the buddy sci-fi comedy.
How the Pandemic Provided a Unique Opportunity for 'I'm Totally Fine'
Bleeding Cool: What intrigued you about 'I'm Totally Fine?'
Bell: My friend Kyle Newacheck, who I've known since our 'Workaholic' days, said he's always wanted to work with Brandon Dermer, who's the director of this film. They came together, thought of this idea, and pitched it to me, and I loved it. I called Natalie up and was like, "Do you want to do this weird project during the middle of the pandemic, which we've never been a part of before?"
Morales: I said yes because I got to work with her [points to Bell].
You both come from comedy backgrounds; how were you able to tell such a grounded story?
Keeping the characters, as weird as they are, grounded and making them feel like the situation that is insane feel as real as possible, right?
Bell: As grounded and natural, it is human even though one of the stars is an alien as possible [laughs].
What was it like working with Brandon and Alisha on their first feature?
Morales: The whole experience was very different because we shot it in nine days with a really small crew; I think it was less than 20 people, and it was different than any other movie either of us has done. Alisha and Brandon were super collaborative with us, which was wonderful and great to work with.
Bell: The different thing, which shouldn't be, is the level of excitement. It was so new, fresh, and exciting to them that it felt nice to be on set. Everybody felt like they could collaborate or give an opinion, and it wasn't looked at as someone thinking they were not doing their job right. It looks like, "Hey, we're a family. It'd be cool if you did it from this shot," or "Here's a line we were thinking about switching to." Everybody was open, which was cool.
So now you have a two-part question here: Natalie, what was in those bottles of olive oil? The second part is, what inspired the alien you played?
Morales: In the regular olive oil bottles, it was just water.
Bell: Thought you went method.
Morales: You thought I was drinking straight olive oil? I would have thrown up everywhere. When I "drank" the motor oil, it was a combination of something that the makeup artist and I came up with. I won't leave that to mystery to hear what it is because I feel like it's like a trick of the trade, and it is really fun to do it. It was also disgusting, but it was fun to do. The biggest inspiration for me was thinking about a child. I was thinking about somebody getting to experience what it's like to be a human being for the first time in an adult body.
What is your favorite scene in the film?
I liked when we were dancing. I like eating. I like where Jillian's character makes me a meal [laughs].
Bell: I enjoyed the scene where we're both falling asleep in the bed with the microphone we're sharing. That's one of my favorite scenes. We're a little emotional and very funny.