Plus, stars Tommy Dorfman and Rainey Qualley talk with EW about filming the unique Freeform series in quarantine.

Advertisement
LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA
Credit: Freeform

What have you accomplished during quarantine? Tommy Dorfman and Rainey Qualley are about to make you feel very unproductive.

The two stars make up one quarter of Freeform's Love in the Time of Corona, the four-part event series created, filmed, and edited completely in quarantine. Dorfman (13 Reasons Why) and Qualley (who releases music under the name Rainsford) play two BFFs/roommates navigating the virtual dating scene while living through the pandemic quarantine. They also were in charge of wardrobe, hair, makeup, and even lighting and sound and sometimes cameras since all their scenes were filmed in Dorfman's own house and no one else was allowed inside for safety reasons (Qualley doesn't live with them normally but moved in during production and lived there throughout the filming process). Talk about being jacks of all trades.

But that's not all! Qualley even went one step further and recorded an original song for the series that her character Elle performs in the final episode. And EW has your exclusive first listen at the emotional ballad that feels like the perfect anthem for this wild time.

Check out the exclusive sneak peek of "6ft from Love" by Qualley below, and then check out what the stars told EW about what fans can expect from the series, what it was like filming at home, and more:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There is so much about this series that people will relate to but your characters’ story especially feels so universal for anyone in their 20s and 30s who has been single during all of this insanity.

TOMMY DORFMAN: It feels like a time capsule for quarantine. Our generation typically settles down later in life but there's something about being put in this position that makes you really reevaluate past relationships. From my character's perspective, Oscar is going through, "Why did I not get a boyfriend before this?" feelings [laughs] and feeling very isolated and alone without the distractions of casual sex and dating and all those things.

RAINEY QUALLEY: We're all longing for connection in an even deeper way than we typically would. What's really interesting about this show is that we're experiencing this in real time and so it's a reflection of what we're all going through right now. What's great about the story is that it really is about love and connections and humanity with the backdrop of corona and being in quarantine. These stories would be relatable and interesting regardless of the circumstances, but they just so happen to be taking place right now. It's so poignant how everyone's going through this right now as the characters are.

How much input did you have on your characters’ storyline?

DORFMAN: A lot actually! This was a different type of experience. It was so expedited, and there were no scripts when we signed on. [Showrunner] Joanna [Johnson] wanted this to feel authentic, but also separate enough from our lives so that we didn't feel like we're on a reality show. Originally the concept for Oscar was that he was a gay man and something that was really nice as Joanna and I talked about this character, talking about representation and all those things, I had the opportunity to make Oscar nonbinary and bring in that facet of the relationship with themselves and also how it changes the relationship with Elle. And then on the very fundamental level of not having a costume designer present and using our wardrobe for safety reasons, really getting to collaborate with them and with hair and makeup to create what we what we wanted our characters to look like, and because Oscar's a stylist, it was really fun. Typically, during quarantine, I have not been dressing up a whole lot, except for when we have dress up night [laughs] but Oscar is the type of person who's always in a look. It was great to see what I have in my closet that I can bring in to help Oscar flourish.

QUALLEY: Tommy got involved in the project before I did but we've been in quarantine and there weren't even scripts when we first started getting involved in the project, so I was just given an overview of the character arc. And then based on my meeting, I make music so they were like, "We’ll make Elle a musician and then Rainey can sing a song!"

DORFMAN: The song is beautiful. It was stuck in my head for weeks after, also in our neighbors’ heads [laughs] because I was blasting it on my deck.

QUALLEY: [Laughs] Really putting it out into the world! But yeah, there's enough of ourselves in these characters, but then it's also separate from ourselves so that it's still acting. The storyline follows Oscar and Elle figuring out their relationship and whether or not they're interested in each other.

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA
Credit: Freeform

Minus the romantic interest in each other, how closely does your characters’ story compare to your actual reality of quarantining?

DORFMAN: I'm grateful that we weren't cooking on the show because that is so annoying to reset. [Laughs] And also that my dogs went to doggy camp because that would have been a really big challenge to try and incorporate them in the shoot [laughs]. But we also did things that I haven't done with friends since I was a child, like take a bath together on the show [laughs] which is just like not something I've done in adulthood. But now I need to start doing that with my friends more often because it's really nice!

QUALLEY: Yeah it was fun!

What was it like filming in quarantine compared to a normal TV show set?

DORFMAN: It was intense. I was not expecting the transformation of the exterior of my house. Props brought in plants for the windows and everyone had their own tents outside. There weren't that many people, maybe 10 people total if that. Everyone was super, super safe, wore masks, no crafty, none of the typical stuff that you would have. We were putting on our own mics, doing our own hair and makeup. They hired my housemate as a [production assistant] so he got to learn how to stop, start, how to slate. We were working with robotics and cameras and a lot of natural lighting, and just going off of what we had available to us. It's amazing how much we were able to accomplish in three and a half days. I learned you actually don't need as much as you think you do when it comes to filming a project.

QUALLEY: We also were just much more heavily involved in basically every aspect of production and filming than actors are even allowed to be. Usually there's very strict rules about like, we can't reset props, all these different rules for safety reasons. But for this, we got to do it all. We were much more involved in every way, which at the start of it I was kind of intimidated by. "Oh my god, am I going to have to set these cameras up? I don't know how to do that!" [Laughs] But I learned quickly enough.

DORFMAN: This felt like we were doing theater. It was a really invaluable experience of learning about cameras and about production on a new level and just showing up and being really collaborative with every department. Typically I don't have that kind of tight relationship when you're working on a normal set so I was really grateful for that opportunity to get to know the minutiae of what everyone does. I'm fascinated by that, I'm a film nerd. And from a basic acting perspective it was really nice to just be alone in a room with my scene partner and two cameras. It made it feel really intimate and special. And not having people coming in and touching you up between every take and just being able to stay in the moment was great. And we got to rehearse together at night while eating froyo.

QUALLEY: There's a couple moments where Elle has pretty emotional experiences. And typically on set I have to find a corner and put my earbuds in and take a moment, really set myself away from all the chaos to be able to get where I need to be. But for this, I'll just step into the bathroom right here. No one else is around!

DORFMAN: All the zoom date stuff, most of those take place in my bed. [Laughs] On my computer, with a little iPhone rigged for coverage. It's just me and my scene partner Jordan just looking at each other. And also we didn't know each other very well so we really did have all these sort of weird first dates. We still haven't seen each other in person! So we did have this really weird, virtual first dating experiences that I don't think we would have been able to have if we had all come together at a table read. There's moments that were organic and irreplaceable because of the circumstances we were in.

QUALLEY: It is such an ensemble piece and yet I haven’t met anyone else on this cast besides Tommy obviously and we’re all in this thing together. I’m hoping at some point we can all have like a dinner with the entire cast and all meet each other in person.

DORFMAN: A dinner in 2022!

LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORONA
Credit: Freeform

You said your roommate was hired as a PA – what was that like having him getting involved?

DORFMAN: It was great. I was like, "Can my friend who lives with me work on this instead of me asking him to leave the house for four days?" [Laughs] And they were like, "Of f---ing course." So my husband is here and my best friend from college has lived with my husband and myself for, gosh, like, six years now. He's in the industry, he's an actor and we went to theater school together for undergrad so it was like a natural thing for us to be working together creatively in storytelling. And he had never done any kind of PA work or behind the camera work before and he had fun learning new skills and learning how to slate.

QUALLEY: He was working so hard.

DORFMAN: He f---ing killed it. I was so impressed.

Love in the Time of Corona airs as a two-night event beginning Saturday at 8 p.m. ET/PT and continuing Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform. The episodes will then be available on Hulu the following day.

Related content: 

Comments