Grace Kaufman, Pico Alexander, & Jacques Colimon Talk The Sky Is Everywhere - Exclusive Interview

During some of the darkest times in our lives, love can come along and turn everything around. For Lennie in the new film "The Sky Is Everywhere," that is exactly what happens. The film follows this high schooler Lennie (played by Grace Kaufman) as she grieves her older sister's death. After feeling as though there's nothing left to live for, Lennie begins to bond with the one person she had always hated before — her sister's boyfriend Toby (played by Pico Alexander), who is also left picking up the broken pieces of his shattered relationship.

Dealing with all this emotion has left Lennie wanting to abandon her dream of attending Juilliard altogether. Her sister was always supposed to be beside her as they navigate the world together. Yet, when a new student named Joe (played by Jacques Colimon) begins taking music classes with her at school, everything changes. His skills on the guitar captivate her and leave her wondering where life will take her next.

We had the opportunity to sit down with stars Grace Kaufman, Pico Alexander, and Jacques Colimon for an inside look at their new movie. In an exclusive interview with The List, the cast opened up about the challenges of becoming emotional on camera, what it was really like working with Jason Segel, and if Kaufman actually had to learn to play the clarinet in order to play Lennie.

Grace Kaufman shares why she related so much to Lennie

Grace, how did you go about preparing for these emotional scenes as Lennie? Also, how did you go about preparing to be such an expert on the clarinet?

Grace: Oh, man. Yeah, it was a bit of a process. I think that there were a lot of things that kind of led up to the start of filming that I tapped into. I think that I, you know, was able to read the script, and it was just really amazing and just moved me so much getting to read the story of this young woman, you know, and what she's going through. And so I really resonated with her just on a lot of personal levels, and I wanted to just kind of apply those to the character and kind of find this happy medium of intertwining my own personal experiences with what she's going through. And I was able to successfully do that. Yeah, there were some moments that were a little crazy though, where I almost was like, where does Lenny end and where does Grace begin again? This is — It's just kind of crazy, but in a really beautiful way.

And in terms of the clarinet, I learned how to play it. I'd never touched the clarinet before I got the movie, and I learned for a good, like, three months before we started filming just from, you know, the basics to — then built up from there, because I never played it. But there was a lot of pressure there. I was definitely nervous to get to set and have to play it in person, live in front of a whole crew, in front of the rest, you know, in front of other cast members. But it was a little daunting at times, but it all felt really worth it. Definitely had to dedicate a lot of time to practicing and just teaching myself and learning from my amazing instructor, Melissa. So yeah.

Why working with Jason Segel was 'difficult'

Jason Segel plays a quirky character named Uncle Big in this movie. Was it ever hard for any of you to stay in character around him?

Jacques: We were busting him up. Yeah, right. [Laughs] Yes, he was funny.

Grace: Not even going to pretend. Yes.

Jacques: It was difficult. [Laughs] ... Yeah. There was a scene where he was, like, asphyxiating himself in this weird way, just to do a death impression and everything right in between myself and Grace — Lennie and Joe. And it was really, really f***ing funny. I'm not going to lie. [Laughs] This one broke a couple times, I'm pretty sure. [Points at Grace]

Grace: It took quite a few takes. [Laughs] Yeah. I couldn't keep it together. He just — Yeah. We'd walk onto set, and he'd just be like, "'Sup f***ers? What's going on?" He was just the most down-to-earth, funny guy and just — Yeah. He shared some amazing stories and was just, like, such a great presence on set. Yeah.

Pico Alexander opens up about the challenges of playing Toby Shaw

Pico, what was the most challenging aspect of playing Toby Shaw, a character who is dealing with so much grief?

Pico: Probably the emotional thrust of the piece, because the struggle was really with trying to make the grief sort of specific and, you know, getting there on the day. Like, it's one thing for me to be in my own living room and rehearsing a scene in my head and getting there emotionally, and another thing for it to happen when everything's in place.

And I'm not, like, totally sure what it is that makes for a recipe for success in that way. Like, what is it about a basketball player that makes it that they can sink that foul shot, you know, with like a minute to go in the game? I don't know what that thing is. I just know that Josephine [Decker, the director] and Grace [Kaufman] and, you know, being able to put all of my focus on the two of them got me there.

Jacques Colimon talks choreography with his co-stars

Jacques, your character, Joe, and Grace Kaufman's character, Lennie, had a lot of very choreographed scenes in the rose garden and when you're floating. What did a day on set look like for this?

Jacques: That was all fully improvised. So it was just — [Laughs] No, no, no, no. We had an incredibly gifted dance choreographer that was on set with us, walking through every bit of everything, and we had stunt choreographers that dedicated their time and effort to keeping us safe. And we'd be — There's a hot air balloon scene where I'm jumping, hanging on in midair. [Laughs] There's a scene where we're flying around in circles. There's, like, all of this beautiful motion.

And I feel like it was a lot of stuff that we had to juggle, but really I credit Josephine [Decker, the director] just to be able to weave all of those factors together with the tight choreography, because we were working on a tight clock. It was a real crunch to make those performances happen with all of the actors. And she's a theater artist and a cinematic director, so I feel like artists in theater know how to get scrappy sometimes, and she brings all of that to the table.

So it's cool to just, like, trust her and trust the process in those moments and trust Grace, too. And just work, you know, and have fun playing.

"The Sky Is Everywhere" premieres Friday, February 11 on Apple TV+ and in select theaters across the country.