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Andy Samberg Relives A Hellish Day In New Movie, 'Palm Springs'

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

In the new movie "Palm Springs" on Hulu, Andy Samberg plays Niles, who is stuck in the wedding from hell with the girlfriend from hell, reliving the same day over and over because - time loop, duh.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PALM SPRINGS")

ANDY SAMBERG: (As Nyles) The second you fall asleep, it all just goes back to the start.

CRISTIN MILIOTI: (As Sarah) Well, then what's the point of living?

SAMBERG: (As Nyles) We kind of have no choice but to live.

MILIOTI: (As Sarah) No, I'm going to get out of this.

SAMBERG: (As Nyles) Suit yourself. See you tomorrow.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You may know Samberg from his work on "Saturday Night Live" or as Detective Jake Peralta on the hit show "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." And, of course, while his new film is grounded in comedy, it also explores something that resonates deeply right now - when the days can indeed feel like an endless, repetitive cycle. How do you find connection and care when nothing seems to really matter anymore? Andy Samberg joins me now from Los Angeles. Welcome.

SAMBERG: Hi. Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Congratulations. This set a streaming record on Hulu.

SAMBERG: Yes. I have no idea what that means, but anytime we set a record, we'll take it (laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. I think it means a lot of people liked it. Why do you think the film is resonating so much?

SAMBERG: I can't really say. I mean, my suspicion is, A, there's not a lot out in general, you know, because production has stopped on so many things and also so many...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Dude, you're selling yourself short here.

SAMBERG: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's the first thing you're going to go with? There's no competition (laughter)?

SAMBERG: ...Well - I mean, normally in the dead of summer, we'd be, you know, in the shadow of giant blockbusters. And I also think that the themes are very relevant to what's happening right now - you know, the idea of being stuck in the same day and feeling like you can't really escape yourself or the people that you're with is obviously something that we're all experiencing in quarantine.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Even if you really, really want to, yep.

SAMBERG: (Laughter) Even if you really, really want to, yeah.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So someone gets stuck in the time loop with you - that's the sister of the bride, played by Cristin Milioti. And this is a love story that's dark and that - there are secrets, but in a way these characters like being in the time loop because actions don't have consequences, right?

SAMBERG: Correct, yes. That was definitely part of what we found funny about it premise-wise. It allowed us to get really creative, in my opinion, and taking it even further of sort of the bits that we could try and pull off.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So there are a lot of fun ways that you try to die in this film and things that you do just for the hell of it. I want to hear some of your favorites.

SAMBERG: Yes. There's, like, a scene where they just commandeer a plane and start flying with, you know, like, a basic instruction manual, which is something that you might do one day if you knew that, if it crashed, you wouldn't really have anything to worry about. You know, there's a whole sequence that I added where the two of them sort of take the wedding by storm and pull a bomb out of the cake and sort of play out a strange play of, like, spy and villain. And (laughter) Cristin insisted on wearing an eye patch and a hook hand for that, which was - it really added to the whole dinner theater aspect, which was really fun. But, you know, turning everything into a slumber party vibe, basically.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I have seen interviews with physicists on the ending of this film - and I'm not going to, again, spoil it. But you had a science adviser by the name of Clifford Johnson who...

SAMBERG: Yes.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Teaches at the University of Southern California.

SAMBERG: Yeah.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He gave a very interesting interview on this subject. And I read the whole thing, let me tell you...

SAMBERG: Yes.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...And he says he was pushing the idea that the time loop was a natural phenomenon, which I thought was really fascinating because I hadn't really thought of it. You know, the way that we understand time loops in "Back To The Future" - there's always, like, some kind of, like, vehicle or some way to get you back in time. But this - he wanted to have it be sort of some naturally occurring phenomenon.

SAMBERG: Yes. And it was interesting because I was the one who spoke with him, and it was just a delight. You know, he's worked on, like, "Avengers" and stuff, so he's - this is his bread and butter. And he's a brilliant and very wonderful person. But, you know, it was already kind of built into the script. There's this earthquake that happens once every day of the day that we continue to live in, and he was really encouraging of that. He said, lean in to the idea that the earthquake is maybe a result of some other cosmic event that we don't know what it is, you know? Like, the more you try and explain that, the more trouble you're going to get into because you can unravel any theory in science. (Laughter) So...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And that's not what the film is about, ultimately, so you don't want to go too far down that road.

SAMBERG: ...Exactly. It's a means to an end.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How is your pandemic going? What are you doing, like, to get through the days?

SAMBERG: Well, I have a 3-year-old daughter, so that alone is very time-consuming, obviously.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yes.

SAMBERG: And in a wonderful way, most of the time (laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Threenagers - I don't know.

SAMBERG: The threenagers, exactly. So that's been a big part of it and, in many ways, has been incredible for me because I am someone who works a lot. So to have this much time, no matter what I would prefer, with my family and with my kiddo is - has been really great. And then outside of that, you know, we've been doing a lot of developing in terms of my work. You know, there's a lot of meetings about how things would go if it was safe and when it's safe. And then you talk in circles for a couple hours. And then at the end of it you go, OK, well, I guess we'll see.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. Let's see when things can happen.

SAMBERG: Exactly.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Just to end, I guess, back at the movie, if there's, like, a single day that you could relive over and over again - did you think about that - like, what that day would look like? Because the day that you have in the film is not - like, it's not the day you'd want to relive necessarily.

SAMBERG: No, it's true. It's - that's a really tricky question because the days that I think the most fondly of - the fact that they were finite is what makes them so special, you know? Like, the birth of my child or my wedding day or, like, the day I got hired at SNL - like, the pivot moments in my life that I could point to and say, you know, wow, that's when my life really became what it is. I wouldn't want to relive it over and over again because it might devalue it in some way, so it honestly might just be, like, a perfect day at the beach, you know, where nothing really eventful happened, but it was all just easy and nice and no stress, and I was with people I loved. And the food was good (laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And there were drinks.

SAMBERG: And there were drinks, of course. Goes without saying.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's actor Andy Samberg. And his new movie is "Palm Springs," and it's streaming on Hulu. Thank you very much.

SAMBERG: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF HALL AND OATES SONG, "WHEN THE MORNING COMES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.