Netflix is kicking off the holiday season with a rom-com guaranteed to get you in the spirit and make you believe in love again. Launching Nov. 5, Love Hard stars Nina Dobrev as Natalie, a journalist and hopeless romantic struggling to find love in Los Angeles. But things begin to look up when she swipes right on Tag (Darren Barnet), a dreamy guy from the East Coast. Taking a leap of faith, she boards a flight to surprise him for the holidays, only to discover that she's been catfished by Tag's childhood friend Josh (Jimmy O. Yang), who is equally unlucky in love.
According to producer Mary Viola, the story was born from comparing real online dating horror stories with the film's co-writer, Danny Mackey. "We started to see a pattern in profiles and first-date experiences. We also each noticed a few 'too good to be true' profiles that usually resulted in them being fake," she said. "Danny came up with the 'what if' concept of someone surprising one of these fake profiles in person and getting catfished, but rather than having it end in disappointment, it actually ends with the pair realizing they were meant to be."
To celebrate the movie's upcoming debut, we asked Nina Dobrev all about catfishing, her best dating experiences, and her advice for dating in 2021.
What was it like working with this cast?
Shooting during COVID was especially difficult but the silver lining was being in a bubble with our amazing cast. We were all around the same age and got to spend a lot of quality time both on and off set, laughing and having the most incredible time! Heather McMahan is my spirit animal and makes me laugh harder than anyone I've ever met before.
Love Hard deals with "catfishing." Did you know about it before shooting this film? Did you watch the popular MTV show?
I did know what catfishing was, yes. I had not seen the MTV show, but when we were on set shooting the movie Jimmy O. Yang told me about it and we watched a bunch of episodes on YouTube in between shooting scenes. I've never been fully catfished because I myself have never been on a dating app/met anyone online. But I have a lot of friends with crazy stories of their own…
What is your most unique dating story?
My best date was a surprise. On our first anniversary my boyfriend wanted to recreate our first date. He took me to the same Korean BBQ restaurant, and then took me to the bar we went to the year prior. Unfortunately the bar was closed that night but he suggested we try to sneak in. When I opened the door there were candles and flowers everywhere and our song was playing. He'd rented out the bar for just the two of us. We ate cake and drank cocktails and danced together for hours. It was super romantic.
What is your best piece of dating advice?
Be unapologetically yourself. Because if you're not, they'll find out eventually. So cut to the chase.
Love Hard debuts Friday, Nov. 5 on Netflix.