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People's Exclusive Interview with Screenwriter and Hollywood Darling Emmy Harper

After a several-years-long hiatus from the rom-com world, perennial favorite and beloved nepo baby Emmy Harper is returning to the writers' room with her latest film, No Reservations. We sit down with Emmy for a no-holds-barred interview where we discuss her return to her screenwriting roots, that surprise Oscar-winning masterpiece from last year, and how she's still working through the grief over losing her father, Hollywood icon Tom Harper. You don't want to miss this exclusive peek into the life of one of today's most treasured stars.

PEOPLE: Emmy, first let us start by saying we are such huge fans of your work.

EMMY: Thank you so much. I'll admit, even after all these years, I never get tired of hearing that!

PEOPLE: Let's just dive right in, shall we?

Emmy laughs nervously, sipping from her (full-fat) latte.

EMMY: I suppose we shall.

PEOPLE: No Reservations is your first romantic comedy since the death of your father four years ago. What was it like returning to the genre that defined your early career?

EMMY: It was so many things. Heartbreaking and difficult at times, but also rewarding. It truly felt like coming home. I've always loved making people happy, and happiness is something I haven't had a lot of in recent years, so it was nice to lose myself in this world of love and laughter.

PEOPLE: Back when you first started writing screenplays—at the ripe old age of twenty, might I add—many hailed you as the next Nora Ephron. And, of course, your parents, the late Tom Harper and the fabulous Diane Brenner, are both legends in their own rights. Was there a lot of pressure on you to succeed?

EMMY: Of course! [There's another hint of that laughter.] My parents have always been very supportive and the complete opposite of stage parents—I think it's well known by now that they essentially refused to let me get involved in the business until I was a teenager—but the pressure comes with the family name. I know I've had a huge advantage having them as my connection in the industry, and I never wanted to disappoint anyone.

PEOPLE: I think it's safe to say you've never let anyone down! You've written some of the most commercially successful rom-coms of the past decade, but also some more serious fare. Let's talk Midnight Sunset, your now Oscar-winning foray into writing a more sober film. What was that shift like, and what inspired you to go down a darker path?

Emmy goes quiet for a long moment, thinking about her answer and taking a long breath before she starts speaking, like she needs to steady herself before she can respond.

EMMY: I guess the easy answer to that is I was in a dark place. Losing my dad so unexpectedly... I'm not sure if I'll ever truly be over that, if you can ever truly be over that. There was just no way for me to sit down at my computer and write a happy love story when my world felt so encompassed by grief. My parents have always been the inspiration for my films. They are—or were, I guess—a real-life happily ever after. Seeing what happens after the happily ever after ends was a real punch in the gut. Midnight Sunset was the movie I needed to write at the time, and I'm very proud of how it turned out.

She clears her throat after a long pause.

EMMY: But I'm thrilled to be returning to rom-coms and making more movie magic of the lighter variety.

PEOPLE: With No Reservations, you're also taking on a producer role for the first time. How has that been?

EMMY: Amazing. I've really loved getting to see the process from beginning to end. And with Liz [Hudson, Emmy's best friend, former college roommate, and esteemed director] leading the charge, I know my baby is in good hands.

PEOPLE: Word on the street is that Jonathan Brentwood has been cast as the leading man?

EMMY: Word on the street is correct. I adore Jonathan, and he is the absolute perfect person for this role. I couldn't imagine anyone else taking it on.

PEOPLE: And for the leading lady?

We catch Emmy grimace, even though she tries to hide it by sipping from her empty cup of coffee.

EMMY: We'll let you know as soon as we know.

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