‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ Series Is Nothing Like the Movie — Donald Glover & Maya Erskine Explain Why

Prime Video‘s Mr. & Mrs. Smith series isn’t just a reimagining of the 2005 movie of the same name — it’s a completely different story. Donald Glover and Maya Erskine‘s Smiths aren’t the James Bond kind of spies. Rather, as Glover explains it to TV Insider, they’re like “C students in an AP class.”

Don’t expect the same kind of sexy, high-stakes action on display in the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie movie. This new series, premiering its full eight-episode season on Friday, February 2, has the high-stakes spy thrills, but it’s a much more realistic depiction. This Mr. & Mrs. Smith envisions what it would look like for your average, everyday couple to work together as assassins.

To make these stakes feel realistic, the series had to strike a delicate balance of comedy, action, drama, and heartbreak. At its core, the show is about a marriage. We see its beginnings and everything that happens to the couple as the relationship evolves. They face similar existential struggles couples face in real life, like kids, trust, keeping attraction alive, and so on. More than anything, they wanted this show to feel human.

Glover serves as co-creator and executive producer in addition to starring in the series. Francesca Sloane, Glover’s writing and producing partner on Atlanta, is also co-creator, writer, and executive producer. The Community alum tells TV Insider that when it comes to their Smiths, “we wanted people to feel like them.”

“I feel like, you watch the 2005 [movie] and it’s kind of aspirational,” Glover says. “Nobody’s walking around like, ‘I’m just like Brad Pitt!’ We wanted it to be more relatable.”

Glover’s Atlanta director, Hiro Murai, directs two Mr. & Mrs. Smith episodes. “Hiro made a good point when we were filming the second episode. He was like, ‘Oh, these are C students in an AP class.’ Like they shouldn’t be in this class, and it’s like fun to watch them try and be in it. But also you root for them, because if you and your funny friend got put in a class you’re not supposed to be in, and everybody’s like, ‘You’re not supposed to be here,’ once you start getting Bs and As, people will be rooting for you. We just thought it was a better idea for a long-term show.”

Donald Glover and Maya Erskine in 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' Season 1

David Lee/Prime Video

Erskine says there was less humanity to be explored if they were to follow the 2005 movie’s mold.

“That change was important because it was really about two lonely people who are looking for connection,” the PEN15 alum says. “I feel like the essence of this show is about intimacy and marriage and trust. The reason they are the way they are is because it’s sometimes more interesting to watch people who are kind of rejects that aren’t the best spies in the beginning.”

This gives the characters “somewhere to go,” Erskine goes on. “You can see them get better. You can have the fun of watching them get to that place. It’s more interesting to me to see flawed humans.”

There were things Sloane and Glover loved about the movie that they knew they would keep in their rendition.

“We definitely love the couple’s therapy component, especially if you’re two spies,” Sloane shares. “The only way that therapy works is to be really honest, but you can’t be really honest with therapy [as spies]. We thought that was a really interesting angle.”

Additionally, “there was a chase scene at one point, with Angelina and Brad sort of reconnecting and admitting all of the lies that they had over the years with each other, including that her dad was an actor at the wedding. Those kind of moments were like, oh, there are really good things here that you can dive deeper with in terms of a relationship and in terms of lying and coming to the truth.”

Making John and Jane Smith relatable action, comedy, and romance stars was “the most challenging part” of the whole thing, Sloane explains. It’s hard to “give all those ingredients and still make the soup taste good in the end,” she continues. “You don’t want to overpower it one way or another. But we realized, as long as the relationship felt like an anchor and as long as the relationship sort of then supported why we had missions and what the missions would say for the relationship, we were in the right lane.”

Like Glover and Erskine, Sloane’s favorite movie change was making these Smiths “the rejects.” She hopes couples can “see themselves in some capacity” in these characters as they evolve through their relationship as spouses and spies. More than anything else, Sloane says that “this is a show for awkward, lonely rejects around the world. I hope that all the awkward, lonely rejects can see themselves in our Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”

Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Series Premiere, Friday, February 2, Prime Video

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