Gabrielle Union and Keith Powers explore uncharted territory in their romantic Netflix adaptation "The Perfect Find," starring as 40- and 20-something-year-old coworkers who get into a "forbidden fruit" entanglement. The movie, based on bestselling author Tia Williams's novel of the same name, follows the meet-cute-gone-wrong of fired-and-rehired fashionista Jenna (Union) and her random fling-turned-colleague Eric (Powers) — who happens to be the son of Jenna's tyrant boss, Darcy (Gina Torres). The film also stars Aisha Hinds, DB Woodside, Janet Hubert, and La La Anthony.
"I think that that intimidation, and it's not in a bad way, it's more to just keep me on my toes really."
The unconventional love story in director Numa Perrier's vintage Hollywood-inspired rom-com challenged Union and Powers in more ways than one. But working alongside Union, Powers says, especially encouraged him to stay on his A game. "I mean, you just want to make sure you're up to par," he tells POPSUGAR. "You know that the film is riding on the chemistry, so if people don't buy into that, the movie won't last. It's over at that point. No matter what the words on the paper say, what they said in the book, chemistry is everything."
Powers is still fairly new to the industry at 30, while Union, 50, is a Hollywood veteran. Though it may be the first time as scene partners, the acting pair say they had the support of their offscreen friendship to guide them through their onscreen project together — even if Powers was a little shook by his experienced costar.
"For sure, it was [intimidating]," he says of working with Union, "but I think once we got into it and started working, it was easy . . . I think that that intimidation, and it's not in a bad way, it's more to just keep me on my toes really. I like working that way too because it helps me stay professional and just know, you got to be on your P's and Q's."
Union had no doubt that Powers could keep up with her onscreen, especially after seeing him portray famed singer Ronnie DeVoe in BET's "The New Edition Story" in 2017. It's one of her "favourite projects that has come out in the last 10 years." The actor, also a producer on "The Perfect Find," reveals she also knew the two had the chemistry to pull off their movie before filming even began.
"I had the utmost confidence in him," Union tells POPSUGAR of Powers. "If you can play Ronnie DeVoe, you can play anything. For him to have such a feature part in that [movie] — and he did it so seamlessly — he could do the dancing, I was like, 'OK, he's onto something.' Then he kept booking and booking and booking, so we had the conversation about casting, and he was the only person on every person's wish list. So we're like, 'I think that says it.'"
Union says "The Perfect Find" crew was so convinced of Powers's leading man skills that she demanded they snatch him up with a proper proposal. "What we're not about to do is ask this man to jump through hoops and not just make him a straight-up offer," she continues. "He's a star, make him the offer. We all agree, obviously. Let's be respectful and treat him like the star that he is."
Casting Powers as her "The Perfect Find" lover wasn't the only thing that drew Union to the Netflix movie. She was also an established fan of William's novel. So much so that Union says she "bought that book day one" when it was released in 2016 and "devoured it in a single sitting." So it didn't take much to convince her to bring the story to the big screen.
"It's how she crafted a tale of love and desire and also self-betrayal that just felt hopeful."
"The way Tia writes. First of all, I'm just a fan of her writing. I'm a fan of her. But it's how she crafted a tale of love and desire and also self-betrayal that just felt hopeful," Union shares. "If you read the book before you see the movie, there are changes, there are differences. But I loved how she ended the book because it felt more real and very messy, and it's kind of controversial and not what you would expect from a romantic film or a book."
It was years until Union would be able to bring her movie vision to life — and it all happened by chance. Producer Tommy Oliver held the book's film rights, she learned upon a run-in. "He was like, 'Yo, are you familiar with that book, "The Perfect Find"?' And I'm like, 'I'm a super fan. Why?'" Union recalls. "He's like, 'Well, I have the rights. Do you want to work together?' I'm like, 'Oh my God, this is destiny.'"
The years-long lead-up to "The Perfect Find" has been a whirlwind experience for Union and Powers, and Torres, too, who says "it was fantastic" to team up with the duo and Perrier. "Everybody came to play," Torres tells POPSUGAR, adding that "there's so much" she was drawn to in the film — including Darcy's fabulous wardrobe. "We had a really good time. And despite knowing each other for so many years, it was the first time that Gabrielle and I got to spend some time on screen together. We really cherished that." The actor also says "Keith was a sweetheart to work with," and "Numa was wonderful as she was a great guiding force. Can't ask for more than that."
But turning "The Perfect Find" into a movie and debuting it at two major festivals this year (Tribeca Film Festival and American Black Film Festival) is actually more than they all could've asked for. And while audiences fall in love with Jenna and Eric's steamy romance onscreen, Torres hopes viewers will simply "come away wanting more stories like this." Especially, she adds, "wanting to see more people of colour inhabit roles like this that are traditionally and historically reserved for a white audience." She notes, "I think that's what makes this movie so special."
"The Perfect Find" is now streaming on Netflix.