In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Donald Glover shared insights into the differences that led to Phoebe Waller-Bridge's exit from the much-anticipated Amazon Studios project, "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." The series, an adaptation of the 2005 hit film starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, initially had Glover and Waller-Bridge in the leading roles before "Pen15" star Maya Erskine replaced Waller-Bridge.
Glover, also known as the rapper Childish Gambino, likened Waller-Bridge's departure to a "divorce," highlighting the challenges in their collaboration. "It's a divorce in a weird way. This should have worked, and I'm being honest here.
A good relationship thrives on not shying away from the extremely uncomfortable. I'm not sure if we were ever going to reach a point where we could be completely brutal with each other," Glover stated.
Past Collaborations Contrast
Reflecting on the duo's previous team-up in 2018's "Solo: A Star Wars Story," where Glover portrayed Lando Calrissian and Waller-Bridge voiced the droid L3-37, Glover compared the experience to his work on the acclaimed FX series "Atlanta." He expressed a sense of cultural divergence in their creative processes, citing Waller-Bridge's solo writing approach on "Fleabag" and his collaborative environment on "Atlanta." "It might've been a cultural thing.
In 'Fleabag,' she did everything alone, while 'Atlanta' fostered a culture of open and sometimes harsh feedback. We could critique each other freely, which was key to our humor. I don’t think Phoebe and I ever reached that level of comfort," he elaborated.
Glover also touched on the inherent difficulties of dual leadership in such a significant project. "It's like having two captains. The show is a huge concept, and I don't think it can work with dual leadership. Phoebe rewrote the pilot, and while it wasn’t my style, it would have been fantastic with her involved," he admitted.
Describing Waller-Bridge's exit, Glover said, "It felt like a real divorce. The hardest part is knowing when to say it's over." In 2021, Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, had praised the original pairing as a "dream team," expressing excitement over having these two dynamic talents collaborate.
"Donald and Phoebe are incredibly gifted artists. Their joint creative force was something we were thrilled about, as would have been our global audience," Salke remarked at the time.