‘The Broken Hearts Gallery’ star Geraldine Viswanathan on filming in Toronto and how she handles heartbreak
If there’s one great equalizer, it’s probably heartbreak (sorry Madonna, it is in fact, not COVID). Everyone experiences it some form or the other throughout their lives. Whether it’s with a partner, a close friend or a family member, breaking up is always hard to do and often not easy to get over. We go through so much of the breaking up (and getting over it) process privately, but what if you could share your heartbreak with the world in an art gallery, via a memento from your failed relationship? Sounds scary, but also kind of exhilarating, right? Enter Lucy, the star of the Selena Gomez-produced romcom The Broken Hearts Gallery—portrayed by Australian actor and your new BFF Geraldine Viswanathan—who is a serious hanger-on. As in she *literally* can’t let go of her past romantic relationships, keeping numerous mementos that now litter her New York City apartment. A gallery curator by trade, Lucy starts her own Broken Hearts Gallery where people can share their heartbreak around the same time she meets a cynical dude during an Uber mishap named Nick, played by fellow Australian (and Stranger Things alum) Dacre Montgomery.
While the film, which was set in NYC but filmed primarily in Toronto—keep your eyes peeled for the tote Lucy carries throughout the film, from local plant shop Dynasty!—was initially released in theatres on September 11, the November 24 streaming release means that we can now all curl up and watch Lucy and Nick (SPOILER ALERT) fall in love.
In time for the digital release, FLARE chatted with Viswanathan from her childhood room in Australia about what drew her to Lucy, her time filming in Toronto and what she’d leave in an IRL Broken Hearts Gallery (it’s *very* fitting).
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She was drawn to Lucy as a character—and was inspired by one Bridget Jones
When it came to Viswanathan’s portrayal of Lucy, she’s like a lot of romcom heroines we’ve seen before in that she’s unlucky in love, but she’s also entirely new. For one, you’ll probably want to be her BFF and you’ll *definitely* want her necklace layering game. And the former is what drew the actor to the role. “I thought it was such a fresh and fun romcom and I wanted to be friends with [Lucy], wanted to be her,” Viswanathan says. Not to mention the fact that, as a self-identified introvert, she thought it’d be fun to experience playing such an extroverted and bold character. “She’s such an open heart and she feels her feelings and she’s very expressive, so I really just wanted to know what that was like.”
If the idea of a quirky, bold woman who often gets caught by her would-be paramour sans pants (as Lucy does) sounds familiar, that’s because it probably is. Viswanathan says she looked to Renee Zellweger’s Bridget Jones when creating Lucy, even if it was only subconsciously. “I love romcoms, so it’d be pretty hard for me to not even subconsciously pull inspiration from the romcoms that I love,” she says. “I really love Bridget Jones’s Diary and for Lucy I think the Bridget character is just so charming. Even with all her flaws and foils, you just love her.” And, like Lucy, Zellweger’s Bridget *also* has a disdain for pants (who could forget that iconic final scene in the snow?).
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But Viswanathan is the opposite of Lucy in real life
Unlike her character in the film, Viswanathan’s style is more of an “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to the end of relationships—at least at first. “I kind of get over it like a guy does, out of sight, out of mind, in the beginning,” she says. “And then, like a month later, I’ll be like, ‘Oh my God.’ It takes a while to settle in for me.”
But Viswanathan does have one thing in common with Lucy. “I love holding on to memories and reflecting on them whenever I can. I love being sentimental,” she says, adding that she keeps a lot of mementos from past relationships. “Every letter, anything ever written to me, I think I’ll hold onto forever.”
So, what would she leave in an IRL version of the gallery? “I’ve recently found a card; I went to a magic show with my ex and the magician did this trick and I had to write his name on the back of the card. So that feels very Broken Hearts Gallery.”
Broken Hearts Gallery is especially significant now
While the movie was shot over the summer of 2019, months before the COVID-19 pandemic changed life as we know it, looking back on the time spent filming now—where the actors could run around NYC and Toronto, getting pastries from Nadège and hanging out in Trinity Bellwoods Park, something Viswanathan says she loved—has made the film take on a special significance for her. “The current situation that we’re in really makes our film seem like such a fantasy,” she says. “Even for me watching it, I get so much out of it because you get to experience New York and going to restaurants and karaoke bars, and it just is truly a social, adventurous life that we’re all missing and craving right now.”
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And ultimately, the actor says she hopes that the film helps viewers escape into that fantasy of the before times; a time when people could jump into a cab, run around Brooklyn and just…touch other people in general. “I hope that people reminisce on their heartbreaks and those friendships that have gotten them through,” Viswanathan says. “I think it’s a really powerful thing that Lucy does; she turns her pain and heartbreak into something beautiful and asks the world to share it with her. It’s easier said than done sometimes, but I think that’s really inspiring.”
And yes, this film could 100% have taken place in Australia
With both Viswanathan and Montgomery hailing from Australia, it’s hard not to imagine that this film could have easily been set somewhere in the southern hemisphere. Although Viswanathan agrees that it would be a *much* different movie if set somewhere like Sydney. “There’d be more beaches. There’d be more tanned and blonde people, probably,” she muses. “You can really only go two ways in Australia: it’s like either a beach or the outback. An Outback Broken Hearts Gallery would be sick, you’d have dirt bikes and crocodiles.”
Like we said, a pretty different movie.
The Broken Hearts Gallery is now available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime, Google Play and YouTube.