The Lovebirds
Credit: Skip Bolen/Paramount

Ladies and gentleman, meet your newest rom-com crushes.

Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae play Jibran and Leilani, a couple on the brink of a breakup who find themselves wrapped up in a murder mystery in New Orleans — and EW has the first look.

“The aspects I love the most are the rare moments of sweetness between the two leads,” Nanjiani tells EW of the flick that reunites him with The Big Sick director Michael Showalter. “They spend so much of the movie bickering that the hints of what they used to be are my favorite.”

The actor, who is currently filming Marvel’s Eternals, was the first to join The Lovebirds, in theaters April 3 (stay tuned for the trailer later this week!), and it was his participation, along with the script, that drew Rae to the project. The two had never met but say they were fans of each other’s work and quickly teamed up to help adapt the script to better fit their vision for the characters.

“Initially they were written for white people which, plot-wise, would have been a different story,” explains Rae. “It’s not a story about race but we wanted to acknowledge our race and the fact that we’re an interracial couple.”

The re-writing period served as the actors’ pre-filming bonding session — they talked about their own relationships (past and present) and discussed insecurities they’ve faced in their own love lives — which served them well for the heavy onslaught of night shoots. Since The Lovebirds takes place primarily in the wee hours, the cast “lived like vampires for two months,” according to Rae.

The majority of the plot is being kept under wraps (both stars cop to being completely surprised by the story line), but Rae teased that the team collectively changed the film’s ending and that the movie involves physical comedy and fight scenes. Nanjiani, for his part, offered a bit of insight into their characters’ mindset at the time of the above photo.

“Due to — spoilers — we end up having to get new clothes at a CVS-type store,” he explains. “Since we’re in such dire straits, we don’t put much thought into what clothes to buy. So…that’s how you end up looking if you randomly pick clothes up at a CVS.”

Adds Rae: “If you’re in New Orleans and you want to blend in you, the crazier you can look the better.”

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