A Holiday Engagement

With Something From Tiffany’s, Zoey Deutch revives the holiday rom-com.

Photo: OK McCausland
Photo: OK McCausland
Photo: OK McCausland

The Bryant Park holiday market is bustling with intensity in the afternoon as shoppers frantically hop from booth to booth to buy last-minute gifts. Sidestepping the foot traffic, I spot Zoey Deutch near the ice-skating rink — her bright, infectious energy glowing as much in person as it does onscreen. She moves fast and with full force, matching New York’s pace, which can perhaps be explained by her familial roots here: Her paternal relatives live on Long Island, and her grandma grew up in Brooklyn. “My dad’s side has the classic New York Jew family story,” she jokes.

Deutch’s latest film, Something From Tiffany’s, allows the charismatic performer to tap into her slapstick side. She plays Rachel Meyer, a restaurateur who runs a pastry booth in the very same holiday market where we meet in early December. The first rom-com she made, Netflix’s Set It Up, made it clear that she’s got the chops to play the “will they or won’t they” story line that is typical of the genre, and Something From Tiffany’s, now streaming on Prime Video, is a holiday-themed entry to the canon. Ironically, Deutch doesn’t watch many rom-coms herself. “I’m not a cinephile,” she tells me, adding that she’s just grateful to be known for films that bring joy.

As a holiday rom-com, Something From Tiffany’s is obligated to include some corny lines (“I love that something beautiful always comes out of the mess,” says Rachel at one point), but performances by Deutch and castmates Kendrick Sampson, Jojo T. Gibbs, and Shay Mitchell inject some realism into the characters. The film opens at a Tiffany’s jewelry store in Soho, where two men make holiday purchases: Ethan (Sampson) is engagement-ring shopping with his daughter for a Christmas-morning proposal to Vanessa (Mitchell), and self-absorbed tattoo artist Gary (Ray Nicholson) is looking for the most “reasonable” option Tiffany’s has to offer, a pair of $300 earrings, as a Christmas gift for Rachel. An accident right outside the shop sets us up for the ensuing hijinks. Ethan accidentally picks up Gary’s bag instead of his own, and Gary suffers minor memory loss, allowing him to forget that he actually had no plans to propose. You can probably guess how the story goes, but the original premise of Something From Tiffany’s introduces a few surprising twists before we make it to the happy ending.

Strolling along the ice-skating rink, Deutch points out her character Rachel’s booth in the market. Filming Something From Tiffany’s here “was even more chaotic” last year, she says. We pass a few booths offering bombolini, and she lets me in on a secret: Originally, the signature baked good offered at her character’s booth was supposed to be bombolini, but she convinced production that a cornetto, Italy’s lesser-known cousin of the croissant, was the right choice. “I made a pretty solid case for why it shouldn’t be bombolini, and now I keep seeing bombolini everywhere,” she says. “I am the unofficial publicist for cornettos.”

Photo: OK McCausland

We grab a not-so-cheap cup of hot chocolate (“Welcome to the Bryant Park holiday market,” the cashier quips) and find an adequately peaceful bench to sit on while we talk about the film. Deutch co-produced the project with Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production company, and her touch is visible in everything from her character’s Jewishness — “We were shooting, and he said, ‘Merry Christmas,’ and I just said out loud, ‘I’m Jewish!’ and it made it into the movie” — to the specificity of the fictional restaurant’s offerings. “Food rules my life,” Deutch exclaims, noting that cooking is her preferred method of self-care. She even insisted on bringing in Kacie Carter, chef of Honey Hi in Los Angeles and food consultant for the film, to create a realistic and delicious-sounding menu. “I wanted it to feel real and specific.”

Something From Tiffany’s marks the third film Deutch led this year (after The Outfit and Not Okay), but the 28-year-old actress used down time between press tours to take her first real break in more than a decade. “I had to take many months off, because a couple of my best friends were getting married,” she explains. “I became, like, a wedding assistant after making a movie about being engaged, which was the best thing ever. My friends are my entire life.”

Deutch’s care for the people in her life is evident. It shows up in the sincere way she speaks about her loved ones and the way she gives gifts: “I buy things all year long,” she says, adding that she has a designated closet where presents remain until it’s time for Christmas. “It’s chaos, because I don’t wrap as I go. I just throw shit in there.”

The actress is incredibly tight with her family, most of whom are artists. Her father (director Howard Deutch) and mother (actress Lea Thompson) supported her decision to work in the entertainment business. Her sister, Madelyn, is a writer and actress, and they both starred in their mom’s 2017 film, The Year of Spectacular Men. There are, of course, nepo-baby allegations to address, but it’s clear that Deutch was raised with a lot of love (a privilege in its own right). “I can only speak on my experience and how I truly feel, which is deep gratitude,” she says. “I know how fortunate I am to have had the opportunity to look around and know that I can be this, that I can do this — to have a dream and to see people right in front of me having lived it out is in and of itself such a leg up. Beyond.”

After circling the rink, the sky has darkened considerably, and the holiday lights twinkle brightly. Deutch glances back at the market behind us, which she was eager to escape. “Out of the chaos,” she jokes. “I look back as if it’s a mosh pit … but it’s, like, a totally civilized, lovely Christmas market.” This year, she wants to make a “radical” adjustment to her family’s gift-giving ritual of opening presents one by one, youngest to oldest. But it’s hard to convince anyone to change their traditions, and Deutch is ultimately looking forward to seeing the expressions on her many family members’ faces when they receive her gifts. “I want to spend my life figuring out what I did in a past one to deserve this,” she says, sighing. “But for now, I’ll just make movies until I figure it out.”

A Holiday Engagement With Zoey Deutch