Rachael Leigh Cook was cautious about being a 'relic' in Netflix 'He's All That' role, alongside Addison Rae

·7 min read

Fan-favourite 1999 romantic comedy She’s All That is getting the 2021 treatment with Netflix’s He’s All That (debuting on Aug. 27), starring TikTok sensation Addison Rae and Cobra Kai star Tanner Buchanan, but if you’re nervous about this new movie “ruining” your childhood/teen/young adult memories, original lead Rachael Leigh Cook, returning in this reimagining, had her apprehensions as well.

"I really had to think about if I thought it was a good idea," Cook told Yahoo Canada. "I wasn't sure at first if it was a little bit distracting for me to be in the movie, I thought to myself, they’re trying to make something new, you don't need the relic to like come around and just do a, ‘hey, I'm still here’ tour."

"But then I thought to myself, if this is something I can do that is a pat on the back, a nod, a validating thing for this new version, then I want to be supportive. I want to be behind what they're doing, I don't want to just be asked to comment on what I thought of the movie later."

For Cook, she revealed that she believes the She’s All That story actually needed an update.

"It's not as PC as it should be, it needed an update,” Cook said. "It'll probably need another update 20 years from now."

Rachael Leigh Cook as Anna Sawyer and Addison Rae as Padgett Sawyer in
Rachael Leigh Cook as Anna Sawyer and Addison Rae as Padgett Sawyer in "He's All That" (Kevin Estrada/NETFLIX)

The general structure of She’s All That, where the popular person in a high school takes a bet to makeover an outcast classmate, but ends up developing real feelings for that person by the end, is unchanged in He's All That. The similarities make it almost essential that Cook, along with fellow She’s All That castmate Matthew Lillard, who played Brock in the original, are part of this project.

Lillard is now playing the principal of the high school but fans of the original will be pleased to know that Brock’s iconic dance moves are back, which the actor revealed was actually more of a last-minute decision.

"It was a discussion about four minutes before we shot the scene," Lillard explained. "Mark Waters, the director, came to me and said, 'Hey, this is what I'm thinking, it's kind of crazy, you don't have to do it if you don't want to but it would be really cool if you did.'"

"I literally got on the phone...I said to my wife, 'I have a choice right now, I can either go for it and sort of leave all fear to the side and make this big gesture, or I can play cool and do it simple and not look like an idiot.' But I decided to look like an idiot and I thought, at the end of the day, idiots are awesome. In the name of idiots, I'm really excited about the moment."

Peyton Meyer as Jordan Van Draanen and Andrew Matarazzo as Logan in
Peyton Meyer as Jordan Van Draanen and Andrew Matarazzo as Logan in "He's All That" (Kevin Estrada/Netflix)

Using the Los Angeles ego

While Millennials and older will be happy to see Cook and Lillard together again, He's All That revolves around the character of Padgett Sawyer (Rae), an influencer with a massive social media following, living a seemingly perfect high school life, dating teenage pop star Jordan Van Draanan, played by Peyton Meyer.

For Meyer, playing this aggressive character, both in look and attitude, was fun for him, but he also had a lot of inspiration living in Los Angeles.

"I'm around a lot of people with very high egos a lot, so luckily, I get to pick [little pieces] from reality," he told Yahoo Canada. "It was so much fun to be able to just go far from myself and just to be able to let go and just kind of swim through this new guy."

But things aren’t always as they seem. Padgett is pretending to live in a luxury loft building but actually calls a more modest house home. Living with her mom, played by Cook, Padgett uses her influencer income to help pay the bills.

Early on in the movie, Padgett catches Jordan cheating on her on the set of his music video, a moment captured during a livestream, and the embarrassing encounter goes viral for the wrong reasons. That’s when Padgett takes a bet that she can makeover classmate Cameron Kweller (Buchanan) out of his scruffy long-haired look, so they can be prom king and queen of their school.

Madison Pettis as Alden, Myra Molloy as Quinn and Addison Rae as Padgett Sawyer in
Madison Pettis as Alden, Myra Molloy as Quinn and Addison Rae as Padgett Sawyer in "Her's All That" (Kevin Estrada/Netflix)

'It's for our generation'

There’s no denying that this reimagining is a bitter pill to swallow for fans of She’s All That, particularly with the new, young cast taking on this story. But the He’s All That stars make a good point for fans of the original, maybe this movie isn’t meant for you.

"It's for our generation and I hope that people will enjoy that, and we can introduce the original via this," Myra Molloy who plays Padgett’s friend Quinn told Yahoo Canada. "People Gen Z don't know about the original, so I feel like this can be that for them."

"It's always tough because fans love it so much and they don't want their possession to be altered or to be moved around in a different way," Meyer added. "But as long as people can understand that it's for fun, and it's for a new generation and it's for an entirely new audience, and to share that story through a new lens."

Tanner Buchanan as Cameron Kweller and Addison Rae as Padgett Sawyer in
Tanner Buchanan as Cameron Kweller and Addison Rae as Padgett Sawyer in "He's All That" (Kevin Estrada/Netflix)

Addison Rae, Tanner Buchanan connect through horses

One thing is certain about He’s All That and that is that this cast clearly had a great time filming it, something they’re not only speaking about but also comes through on screen.

For Rae and Buchanan, even a seemingly gross scene to film, when Padgett tries to get Cameron’s attention at the horse stable and ends up falling off the horse and landing in poop, was a great time for them.

"We both love horses,” Rae told Yahoo Canada. "I had a horse when I was a little girl, my mom loves horses, so I've always been really comfortable around any animal."

"It was so fun, we really took advantage of the fact that we got to do that and we were riding them everywhere."

"We had a lot of horse training too, riding training, leading up to shooting a lot of the stuff, which was incredible," Buchanan added. "I loved it so much I tried to buy one of the horses, but our horse trainer wouldn't let me because it was one of his personal horses."

Annie Jacob as Nisha and Isabella Crovetti as Brin in
Annie Jacob as Nisha and Isabella Crovetti as Brin in "He's All That" (Kevin Estrada/Netflix)

For Annie Jacob who plays Nisha in He’s All That, Cameron’s best friend, her favourite scene to film was a massive dancer sequence that comes at the end of the movie, just before the prom king and prom queen are crowned.

"It was difficult and it was hard but I had so much fun," Jacob said. "We had two days to learn the choreography and practice….and [Addison Rae] came on the second day at the end, because obviously she was filming the movie, she comes in and then boom, ‘like this, like that, OK got it.’”

Tanner Buchanan as Cameron Kweller and Addison Rae as Padgett Sawyer in
Tanner Buchanan as Cameron Kweller and Addison Rae as Padgett Sawyer in "He's All That" (Kevin Estrada/Netflix)

For Isabella Crovetti who plays Brin, Cameron’s sister, an ode to Laney’s brother in the original, played by Kieran Culkin, she loved filming the Great Gatsby-themed party in He’s All That.

"That was so cool because we got to dress up and they did my hair all, like, fancy," Crovetti said. "I would never be able to make myself look that good, so having a team to make me look like I was from the 20s was very nice."