‘Love at First Sight’ Director Vanessa Caswill & Author Jennifer E. Smith Chat BTS Details, Casting & More

Consider yourself warned: The statistical probability that you'll love Netflix's new rom-com, Love at First Sight, is pretty high.

Directed by Vanessa Caswill, this charming film—which claimed the number one spot on Netflix’s list of most-watched movies—is based on Jennifer E. Smith's 2011 novel, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. Haley Lu Richardson and Ben Hardy star as Hadley and Oliver, who fall in love on their flight to London, but lose each other at customs. Surrounded by chaos, the odds of them finding each other again are slim to none...that is, until fate intervenes.

PureWow had the pleasure of sitting down with both Smith and Caswill to discuss the making of the film, casting details, their favorite moments and more.

vanessa caswill jennifer e smith
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

PureWow: Jennifer, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is such a cute story. What was your inspiration for the book? Was it from personal experience?

Smith: It was! This is not a romantic story at all, I have to preface this. But many, many years ago I was on a flight from Chicago to Dublin overnight. And the man that I was sitting next to, who was not a Ben Hardy type, he was just an older gentleman who was really nice. And he was reading a book that I had just finished and I mentioned that I had just read it and we started talking and we ended up talking for much of the flight, and because he was Irish and I'm American, when we got to customs, similar to the book and the movie, the next morning I think we got split up.

We both sort of thought we'd see each other on the other side and have a chance to say goodbye and we didn't, and I remember walking out of there thinking how it felt strange that we hadn't said goodbye and how odd it was to spend that many hours talking to somebody and connecting with another person and then possibly never see them again. And that became a spark of the idea for the book.

PureWow: We love that the movie didn't feel like a carbon copy of the book, but still maintained the overall tone and message of the original story. How did you guys manage to strike that balance?

Caswill: I think Katie Lovejoy, the screenwriter, had a massive part to play in that. I think she really captured everything that was important and the real heart of the book, and then elevated it for screen so that it was cinematic to watch. I think what she did with the narrated character was just brilliant, having her actually be personified and come to life to play a kind of fate role.

I'm not going to ruin it because I don't want to spoil what happens. But in the book, where Oliver is going is different to where he goes in the film, and I think it's actually a really kind of uplifting and beautiful shift and probably more cinematic.

Smith: Definitely, I agree. Katie Lovejoy did such an amazing job with this. And when she and I were first in touch, she said she had read the book in one night and she cried and she loved it. And to her, it had almost every element that you needed to make a great film.

There were two things that she wanted to change, one was Oliver's story and one was adding the narrator, and I was so excited about both ideas because right away I could see how they would make it even better. I think that's the mark of a good adaptation, where it feels like the book, it has elements of the book. It's going to satisfy readers but it's also got just enough of a difference that makes it feel like its own thing entirely on screen and I couldn't be happier that it's just the tone of it. The feel of it the way it is, you know, light and sweet and cute but it also packs such a punch.

PureWow: We couldn't agree more, and part of the reason this film packed such a punch was the cast. Both Haley and Ben fit the characters so well and their performances were great. So Jennifer, we have to ask, were you involved in the casting process?

Smith: I really wasn't. I was they kept me posted along the way and I think they were very happy to hear that I was happy along the way, but I just mostly was hearing the news as it came and just so excited. I was able to see a video of the chemistry read between Haley and Ben and instantly they were Hadley and Oliver for me. They just were the characters that had been in my head all along. I don't think I even really knew what the characters looked like and now I can't picture them any other way.

PureWow: How did you feel about the rest of the cast?

Smith: You know, the dad is such a big, big character in the book and I'm such a huge fan of Rob Delaney. And Sally Phillips and Dexter Fletcher bring so much to it. And Jameela Jamil. You know, when I met Jameela on set I said to her that I'm the narrator of the book and she's the narrator of the movie, and I feel like the movie got a big upgrade. And I just think she just did such a fantastic job and brings so much to it as well. So I was thrilled from top to bottom.

PureWow: Vanessa, what made you want to take on this project? Do you have a history with the book?

Caswill: I hadn't read the book before I got sent the screenplay. I got the script in the summer during the pandemic. In August 2020. And it's just been such a strange, bleak time collectively. I read the script and I just thought this is joyful. This feels good. This feels like what I need. So surely, it's what other people need too, and that was really the first spot for me. And then I read the book and I found the book really moving, and it felt like it had so much heart and it was about so much more than love at first sight. And it made me cry and I thought well, this is it. This feels like a really good thing to be making.

PureWow: We're so glad you decided to adapt the book. And Jennifer, we'd love to know, what pivotal part of the story did you enjoy seeing on the big screen? Which part was your favorite?

Smith: One of my favorite moments in the book is when the two of them have that very charged, quiet moment in the middle of the night outside the bathrooms on the plane. And that is a scene I've always really loved from the book and I was eager to see how I knew it was in the script. I knew it would be in there. I didn't know how it would feel to see it and it made me cry the first time I watched it.

They're just so good in that moment. It's so beautifully done. And it kind of took my breath away and I just love that part the most.

Love at First Sight is now available to stream on Netflix.

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nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...