By Seija Rankin
July 31, 2019 at 10:00 AM EDT

Casting a remake of a beloved romantic comedy can be a Herculean task — one that should only be attempted by someone with a strong constitution and a deep love of the genre. Ideally, someone like Mindy Kaling.

And that is exactly what Hulu’s reboot of Four Weddings and a Funeral got. The rom-com, which has been reimagined as a series, debuts July 31 with the good fortune of having Kaling as creator and head writer. The first thing you should know about the new Four Weddings is that, with all due respect to the Richard Curtis-penned original, it improves significantly on the film’s diversity shortcomings. The plot, updated for 2019 and stretched into 12 episodes, centers on a group of Americans living in London, and the cast reflects the multicultural makeup of the city.

The series stars Nathalie Emmanuel (she of Game of Thrones fame) as Maya, a former Senate aide who moves to London to join her group of friends from university; The Mindy Project’s Rebecca Rittenhouse as her best friend, Ainsley; relative newcomer Nikesh Patel (who will also be seen in next year’s Artemis Fowl) as Ainsley’s fiancé, Kash; and Brandon Mychal Smith (You’re the Worst) and John Reynolds (Stranger Things) as Craig and Duffy, rounding out the friend group.

“We all bonded so quickly,” Smith said of the cast during a recent visit to the EW video studio. “It felt like we were best friends for years. We had fun, and you’re going to see that on the screen.”

Kaling found the actors in a variety of ways: Patel and Smith both came in to audition, and Rittenhouse was working on The Mindy Project when Kaling asked her to take a walk around the lot with her (a question normally met with, as the Brits say, a bit of a fright).

“Basically Mindy was like, ‘I want to work with you again,’” Rittenhouse recalled. “And I was like, ‘Well, duh. If it’s you, I’m in.’ So yeah, I didn’t have to audition, which was so nice.”

Patel, for his part, did have to go through the standard studio rigors, described a “terrifying” screen test that involved a high level of adrenaline and some goodnatured sass from Rittenhouse. But once he joined the cast EW, he was instantly enamored with Kaling’s abilities, noting that the showrunner was on the ground for the first month of filming and would often rewrite jokes on the fly.

“Mindy just reminds me of a queen,” Smith added. “She has this very queen-like presence and is organized and smart. She’s a very inspiring person to be around.”

Watch the video above for more.

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