Why the Set of Something Borrowed Was Such a Hotbed of Romance and 18 More Film Secrets

Engagements, cast dinners, an unpaid bet. Something Borrowed director Luke Greenfield, author Emily Giffin and star Colin Egglesfield share why filming the 2011 rom-com was something awesome.

By Sarah Grossbart May 06, 2021 1:00 PMTags
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Who knew that such a f--ked up love story could be so romantic? 

Because while the plot of Something Borrowed isn't exactly the stuff of conventional fairytales—girl meets boy, girl's best friend falls for boy, girl realizes on the eve of her BFF's wedding that maybe she was in love with boy this whole time—there was certainly some magic in the air on the New York City set.

"You know, a lot of us got engaged during that shoot," director Luke Greenfield reflected to E! News in an exclusive chat. "And I was one of them." 

Indeed, by the time the star-studded, delightful rom-com—based on Emily Giffin's bestselling novel—hit theaters on May 6, 2011, Ginnifer Goodwin (the aforementioned girl, buttoned-up people pleaser Rachel) was set to wed actor Joey Kern (though their split would be announced within days, making way for her real life fairytale), Kate Hudson (her life-of-every-party best friend Darcy) was engaged to Muse frontman Matthew Bellamy and expecting their now-9-year-old son Bingham and John Krasinski (Rachel's sardonic best friend Ethan) had wed Emily Blunt at George Clooney's Italian villa. 

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As for Greenfield, he proposed to actress Sarah Baldwin, who had a part in the film, "right after the shoot," he shared, Baldwin returning to Manhattan's upscale Amsale boutique to pick out her dress, the same spot where Darcy selected a $12,900 drop-waist stunner.

When the couple wed in Cabo San Lucas, Colin Egglesfield (who played sexy lawyer Dex, Darcy and Rachel's shared love interest) was on the guest list, as was Molly Smith, who helmed the project with producing partner Hilary Swank. "It was an amazing time," Egglesfield raved to E! "That was a fairytale wedding." 

So, yeah, the whole experience was "kind of a love-fest," agreed Greenfield. Including amongst the cast, who bonded during the 2010 shoot that took them from NYC to the Hamptons. Filming at their rented beachfront mansion in Amagansett was a bit like summer camp, said Egglesfield. "I was like, please, I never want this to end. I am in heaven." (Though he does have one small gripe with Krasinski—more on that later.) 

Reflecting on that blissful summer more than a decade later, the Chicago-bred actor, director Greenfield and author Giffin celebrate the flick's anniversary by letting E! News in on all the fun.

1. What a gift. One of producer Molly Smith's six sisters was the one to give her Emily Giffin's 2004 novel about the messiest of love triangles, "and I loved it," Smith told Collider of reading the best-seller and its 2005 follow-up, Something Blue. So when she and Hilary Swank "formed our company and were building a slate of projects, I told her about the books and gave them to her. We just fell in love with it and went after the rights. It's a really neat thing to be able to take something from the book, all the way to the screen. It was our first time doing that."

2. The project surpassed all of Giffin's expectations. "I'd been sort of warned by other authors that it can be a nightmare process: 'You won't be consulted,' or 'You won't like what they do,'" she told E!. "But it was just the opposite experience for me. The producers were actually here filming The Blind Side in Atlanta right around the time that they bought Something Borrowed and they called and said, 'Would you like to have dinner?' And we just really hit it off and became friends."

She was fine with whatever changes needed to occur to translate the story on film "as long as we remain true to the characters," she continued. Her one slight quibble: In the book, straitlaced Rachel and her pal Ethan were entirely platonic whereas in the film he professes his love. "I remember kind of fighting back against that and saying, 'No, I believe in female and male friendships,'" said Giffin. "But at the end of the day, I recognized that we needed more tension in the third act."

3. Though Swank briefly flirted with the idea of appearing in the film, "when the first draft of the screenplay came in, I just didn't see myself in the role," she told Collider. But she and Smith were in total agreement about who they did envision. "We knew immediately who we wanted to play Rachel and Darcy," said Swank of going after Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson. "We got our first choice. We were so lucky."

Smith was the first to suggest John Krasinski as Rachel's quippy best friend Ethan, "which was such an inspired idea," Swank continued. Director Greenfield, tasked with, as he put it to E!, "kind of roping these people in," agreed: "I have a huge love for John Krasinski, he's one of the most talented people I've ever worked with."

4. Colin Egglesfield proved to be the wildcard. They wanted to cast someone "fresh" to play Darcy's fiancé and Rachel's eventual love interest, says Smith, "because we couldn't think of anyone that lived up to Emily's standards of Dex, the way she describes him in the book, as this JFK, Jr., perfect guy." And they were blown away when they saw the All My Children alum's audition tape. "We were like, 'That's our Dex,'" recalled Swank. 

The one issue Greenfield remembered was his close resemblance to another film actor you may have heard of. "He's literally a Tom Cruise lookalike," noted the director. "And so that was one of the things that we were, I guess, concerned about. Like, 'Are people going to think this is just Tom Cruise playing this role?' He was the real find." The Chicago native had the necessary likability to play a guy cheating on his fiancée with her best friend. "You feel what he's going through," explained Greenfield. "So the audience hopefully is not, 'This guy's a f--king cheater. I hate this guy.'" 

5. Egglesfield actually credits Greenfield with helping him nail what he calls "one of the biggest jobs of my life." During his chemistry read with Goodwin, he knew he was competing against one other actor. And when they read through the scene in which Dex asks Rachel why she never mentioned her feelings for him before, it fell flat. 

"To Luke's credit, he came up to me and he just kinda whispered in my ear and he said, 'Hey, do this scene the way the you would do it if it were your words and you were really saying these words to the woman of your dreams who you wanted to marry,'" Egglesfield recalled. "And once he gave me that little piece of direction, that piece of freedom to just say it how I would say it, all I had to do was turn and look at Ginny and look into her beautiful little eyes and we connected and we blew that scene out of the water."

6. Naturally he got the part. "I remember I was sitting on my bed in Los Angeles in my apartment and I was watching SportsCenter," he shared. "I got a call, I think it was probably 9:30 or 10 in the morning, and it was my agent. And he said, 'You want to go to New York and work with Kate Hudson?' I think everyone in Brentwood heard me scream because I was, like, jumping up and down in my bed."

7. Reality set in soon after—"You're like, 'Oh, s--t. Now I gotta actually do this'"—but his first meeting with Hudson erased any traces of anxiety. "It was actually her birthday the day that we had met," he said of that April 2010 encounter. "And she invited me to her birthday dinner that night, with a bunch of her friends. So that was a great way to just kind of break the ice and get to know her."

8. Hudson was thrilled not to be cast as the protagonist. Coming off filming 2009's Nine and 2011's A Little Bit of Heaven, the star was initially reluctant to even consider the film. "I just was ready to be home," she explained to Collider. But at Swank and Smith's urging, she started reading the book "and Darcy was just such a hilarious character to me because she's just so deeply self-centered. I'd never really played a part like that before, so I thought, 'Well, this is going to be fun.'"

9. Goodwin didn't exactly think Rachel was the good girl, either. "I loved the challenge of finding sympathy for this character and trying to represent her in a way that the audience could find sympathy for her because I actually judge her harshly and think she makes piss-poor decisions, at every turn," she told the outlet. "I don't necessarily believe that she deserved to have true love in the first place, given her actions and her lack of responsibility taken." 

10. Thankfully the dynamic between Hudson and Goodwin was more friendly than frenemy. "We got along immediately," Goodwin raved to Collider. "We become friends, the moment we met. We're both girl's girls. Neither one of us is competitive with other actresses. We have the same life priorities, so as different as we may be, we're exactly the same in the most important ways, so we became fast friends. That part wasn't difficult. We never had to work on representing the chemistry between us."

11. Though they were definitely nervous to shoot one scene in the script. Ahead of filming the recreation of their childhood dance to Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It," Hudson shared with Collider, "It was one of those things where I thought, 'Okay, here comes that moment in the movie where we dance.' Ginny and I were like, 'If this is bad, can we please cut this out of the movie?'"

But once they got into the choreography, "It brought back so many memories of doing dance routines as a little girl," she continued. "For me, it was Janet Jackson's 'Rhythm Nation.' I specifically remember the routine that me and my friends would do to that. So, it did actually end up feeling right. It was easy and fun."

12. As Egglesfield remembers it, the toughest scene actually involved his and Goodwin's romantic Fourth of July evening rendezvous. Filming on a rooftop, "they had trouble getting all of the camera equipment to the top of the building," he shared. "So by the time we started, we were already running out of time." It was close to 4 a.m. with the sun about to rise and lightning in the distance when it came time for his take. 

"The production assistant said that we had about 10 minutes before it was going to start raining," he continued. "So here we are, like, 'All right, we've got to get going! Hurry up!' And we've got to shoot this incredibly romantic, amazing moment where Rachel and Dex are connecting and bonding over this weekend. And we're doing it with lightning in the background and I could start to feel raindrops. I think we maybe had two or three takes with my coverage and then it literally started raining and the sun came up."

13. For Greenfield, though, the toughest hurdle had nothing to do with the script or the actors. "I think our biggest challenge at the time, which was massive, was keeping the f--king paparazzi away from Kate Hudson," he admitted. With the Golden Globe winner in a new romance with Bellamy, she was a top target that summer, photographers following them from Manhattan to the Hamptons and adding delays to their film schedule. "I mean, literally, we had to hide her until she joined the shoot," Greenfield shared. "Shoot with her and put her in hiding again. It was a whole ordeal."

14. And they shot allllll over the city. Locations included Madison Square Park's Shake Shack, streets in the West Village and even the "super exclusive" Gramercy Park, said Greenfield. Getting their hands on one of the private spot's infamous keys "was a nightmare," he recalled. "Ellen Schwartz, she's an incredible producer and knows New York so well, had to finagle this." 

Egglesfield also remembers how surreal it felt riding up and down Sixth and Seventh Avenue in the early morning hours and filming near Union Square late into a Sunday night. "It was pretty dead," he said, "and you never really see New York City that quiet." 

15. But filming at NYC bridal boutique Amsale may have required the most work, revealed designer Amsale Aberra. "We're on the mezzanine level, so they created an entire Park Avenue storefront," she shared with InStyle. Choosing a dress for Hudson's character to wear was actually the easy part. Having worn a few bridal confections onscreen ("I think I'm at seven," she joked at the time), Hudson knew her way around a bridal salon. Said Aberra, "It was literally like a bride shopping for her wedding."

16. Meanwhile, the men did the sports. "I remember the Celtics were playing the Lakers in the NBA playoffs, so John Krasinksi and I were talking about basketball," Egglesfield recalled. He even made a bet that the Boston native apparently forgot about after his hometown team fell to Kobe Bryant and co. in game seven of the 2010 finals. "If you ever talk to him," Egglesfield joked, "tell him he still owes me $100!" 

17. Giffin even scored a part in the film. Producers planned for the author to make a cameo, reading a copy of Something Blue, on a park bench next to Goodwin and Steve Howey (as Dex's playboy pal and Darcy's eventual paramour, "He is one funny motherf--ker," Greenfield raved). 

"My cameo would have been slightly longer but I kept looking into the camera," Giffin admitted. "Like I'd be like, 'Is that right? Is that right?' And Luke was like, 'Giffin! You're terrible at this! Don't look into the camera!' He needed to cut it at the end because he's like, 'We had three takes and you looked into the camera all three times.' So I don't have a future in acting, that's for sure. But it was fun."

18. Speaking of, the sequel is totally going to happen. A decade later, Giffin swears she, Smith and the team at Black Label Media "are definitely still committed to bringing Something Blue to the screen" whether as a film or limited series. (For the record, both Greenfield and Egglesfield are ready, willing and able.)

But first, fans will be able to see her bring to life The Lies That Bind, her June 2020 novel (out in paperback May 25) that's "technically" a prequel to Something Borrowed, in that "you see those characters and the worlds kind of collide." With casting on the limited series to be announced soon, there's every reason for fans to believe they'll get to see Darcy's story play out. And maybe, just maybe, Egglesfield will recoup his winnings.