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\'Upgraded\'s Archie Renaux and director Carlson Young
\'Upgraded\'s Archie Renaux and director Carlson Young
Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images + Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
Culture > Entertainment

Archie Renaux & Director Carlson Young Usher In A New Era of Rom-Coms With ‘Upgraded’

Camila Mendes has booked a ticket from Riverdale to Heathrow Airport. In Prime Video’s newest rom-com Upgraded, Mendes’ character, Ana Santos, is an art intern determined to impress her tyrannical boss on a work trip across the pond. But thanks to a Bloody Mary, a first-class ticket upgrade, and a cute British seatmate named Will (played by Shadow and Bone alum Archie Renaux), Ana gets wrapped up in a case of mistaken identity that might just change her entire life.

Will is a charming ad exec with a heart (and bank account) of gold. Renaux became highly aware of fans’ obsession with Mendes’ on-screen love life while filming a kissing scene with her for Upgraded. “I never thought that I’d be shooting along the South Bank, let alone kissing someone there in front of loads of people. Everyone recognized Cami from Riverdale, so they stopped to watch. I was like, ‘Oh God, why is there an audience right now?’” he says in an exclusive interview with Her Campus.

The London native says getting to shoot in his hometown was “pretty surreal.” Renaux’s favorite place to shoot, however, was four hours north of his daily commute. “There was a park in Leeds where we were shooting the football bits with the kids that Will coaches. It was a nice and sunny day. Getting to be outside was lovely,” he says.

Renaux might be deeply familiar with the British obsessions of soccer and tea (he’s Team Yorkshire Tea, BTW), but for Upgraded’s American-born director, Carlson Young, shooting in London was a chance to soak up British culture. “There were so many hidden subtleties that were fun to experience,” she tells Her Campus. 

To prepare for Upgraded, Young went around to different locations in London that pertain to the art world, like galleries and auction houses. Maybe that’s why the art scene sequences were her favorite to shoot. “All of the Erwin’s stuff was fun to film. Shooting Marisa [Tomei, who plays Ana’s boss] stomping through the intern lineup in particular was really fun,” she says.

Upgraded is Young’s second feature film, and it’s a hard left turn from her previous projects. How do you go from directing thriller fantasies to feel-good romances? Easy: You grow up with them. “I wanted to explore the rom-com genre because I’m so nostalgic about all of my favorite rom-coms from the ‘90s and 2000s,” Young says. “More than anything, I was up for the challenge.”

It’s easy to see the influence Young’s love of rom-coms has on Upgraded. The film includes all the quintessential tropes any rom-com worth its roses should have: a big city setting, a cute love interest to Google once the credits roll, and an ambitious leading lady determined to advance her career.

It was Ana’s tenacity that drew Young to the Upgraded script in the first place. “She’s coming up in this world where the odds are stacked against her. She doesn’t have an in. I really related to her; getting your foot in the door of the entertainment industry feels completely impossible. I respected Ana for fighting so hard to get ahead,” she says.

For Renaux, choosing to star in Upgraded was a matter of off-set energy. “Some jobs can be very intense because the stakes are really high all the time, so you have to stay at that level. Rom-coms are a lot of fun, so you stay at a giddy level, which is where I’m at most of the time anyway,” he says. “They’re a lot more relaxed.” 

Renaux’s recent filmography includes another rom-com called The Other Zoey, starring Josephine Langford and Drew Starkey. His next gig is a bit more Grishaverse than Hugh Grant — he’ll be starring in the 2024 horror/sci-fi film Alien: Romulus

As for Young, the next city she’s checking off her directorial bucket list is “Mexico City. That’s where my next film is set.” There’s no word yet on what genre the film will be, but with Upgraded’s upbeat dialogue and electric chemistry, here’s hoping Young is ushering in the next golden era of rom-coms.

Fabiana Beuses is an entertainment journalist at Her Campus, where she interviews celebrities and professionally fangirls over pop culture phenomena. She previously served as the Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus at FSU and as Her Campus' Summer 2023 Entertainment & Culture Intern. She graduated from Florida State University with double majors in Media/Communication Studies and English (Editing, Writing, and Media) and a minor in Film Studies. When she's not polishing her latest article, you can find her browsing bookstore aisles, taste-testing vanilla lattes around town, or rewatching the Harry Potter series for the millionth time.