Tiffany Haddish insists that for her, “I’m all about mystery, and I’m all about solving issues. That’s just my plight as a woman. I feel like every woman is a detective, actually, and it’s our job to figure out what you’re doing.”
This attitude serves Haddish well in her latest role — playing a detective in the series The Afterparty.
From Academy Award-winners Chris Miller and Phil Lord, the genre-bending series centers on a murder mystery at a high school reunion with each of the eight episodes retelling the same night through a different character’s point of view.
Along with Haddish, the cast includes Sam Richardson, Ben Schwartz, Ike Barinholtz, Ilana Glazer, and Dave Franco.
Miller says that when he was young he probably watched ‘way too many movies,’ resulting in his extensive knowledge of various genres.
“Phil and I have been lucky enough to do a bunch of different type of things in our career, but this seemed like a really fun opportunity to be able to try out our hand at all sorts of different types of movies,” says Miller of his latest project.
As for the genres she prefers, Haddish blurts out a list, saying, “I watched movies all the time. I was always trying to escape from my reality, so definitely rom-coms. I loved comedies. I loved thrillers. Not so much into horror films. But Muppets! I’m all about Muppets. Animation. I’m there for that. That was my growing up. It molded me. The arts have molded me into who I am today.”
The high school reunion aspect of the storyline was appealing to Miller because, “It was fun to dive back into 2006. It was fun to revisit all of our childhoods, and insecurities, and bad fashion choices.”
When it came to crafting the mystery, Miller explains, “It was the characters first — try to make a story and a mystery that worked — and then the genre aspect of it came later where we were sort of looking at each character and thinking about how can we approach the style of what their worldview is.”
He adds that, “It was a math problem at first. That’s why all the characters names start with A, B, C, D, W, X, Y, Z.”
Miller insists that he’s not kidding about this, pointing out that the characters are in fact named Aniq, Brett, Chelsea, Danner, Walt, Xavier, Yasper, Zoe.”
Schwartz notes that the mystery is so intricate that, “it’s kind of exciting that at the end of each episode, Chris and Phil and the writing team make it feel like it could be anybody.”
With the shifting genre aspect, Miller says that once he and Lord tackled the mystery, “Then we picked genres for each person [and] had to adjust our characters to fit into the world of that style.”
Shifting the genre for every character while shooting the series was also tricky, says Miller, because, “Things [changed] in every department from episode style to episode style. Specific background elements, costumes, lenses, lighting — everything had to be different each time. So if we’re doing a scene in the hallway that was a rom-com version, and then we’re like everyone take a break, we’re going to re-light it to be a thriller, and we’re going to do that moment now as a thriller, the costumes change, the hallway, the lighting, and some set dec would change to fit the mood of the scene, and so it was really complicated for the crew.”
Glazer found this aspect of the series challenging, but in a good way. “It was such an exercise, and with this incredible cast, it was like we were athletes just stretching it out.”
A curious thing happened to Miller and Lord when they were building the series, admits Miller, “The [theme] that sort of started coming through as we were developing it was [that] really at the end of the day, [it’s] about empathy for other people and how we can see the world through our own myopic lens and [that we should] just take a moment to look at things through other peoples’ point of view, realize that they’re more human and complicated and not just a two-dimensional stereotype.”
‘The Afterparty’ is streaming on Apple+