After months of cryptic teasers and social-media stunts, Paul Feig鈥檚 neo-noir thriller A Simple Favor, starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, is finally opening in theaters this week 鈥 which means everyone will soon know the answer to the question, 鈥淲hat happened to Emily?鈥

Based on the novel of the same name by Darcey Bell, A Simple Favor follows Stephanie (Kendrick) as she attempts to unravel the mystery of her best friend Emily鈥檚 disappearance. We won鈥檛 spoil the ending for you, but suffice it to say that nothing about the movie or the titular favor is simple.

鈥淚 aged 10 years,鈥 Kendrick joked to Brit + Co of working on the film. 鈥淵ou read it the first time, and you鈥檙e like, 鈥楪ot it. Got all the twists.鈥 And then as you start to dissect it, you start to second-guess everything.鈥

Ahead, Kendrick and Feig share their memories of making the movie 鈥 including their initial reactions to the script, their thoughts on Henry Golding (who plays Emily鈥檚 husband, Sean), and why Emily and Stephanie鈥檚 friendship is so important to the central mystery.

Brit + Co: Paul, this is a very different type of movie for you. Even the trailer sells it as something 鈥渇rom the darker side of Paul Feig.鈥 Why did you want to tell this story?

Paul Feig: I鈥檝e been dying to do a Hitchcockian thriller. And I don鈥檛 know how to write those, so I was always like, 鈥淚 hope I find a script one day like that.鈥 And here it is! I love any story where you think you know what somebody is and you don鈥檛 鈥 where people鈥檚 surfaces tell you one thing and then you find there鈥檚 so much more depth. Because I think that鈥檚 like life.

B+C: You mentioned it鈥檚 a thriller, but it definitely plays with the genre a little. How was it pitched to you, Anna?

Anna Kendrick: It kinda wasn鈥檛 pitched to me. I don鈥檛 know if it would have been better or worse to have had context. I just read it at face value and took it as a thriller. And the entire time, I was like, 鈥淚 think this scene is kinda funny. Do they know that it鈥檚 funny?鈥 But that meant that I got to discover it myself. And I think that people will discover it in the theater, especially because we鈥檙e really pushing the mystery aspect and the dramatic aspect. Hopefully it鈥檚 a little like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang or Fargo, where you鈥檙e like, 鈥淲ait, this is funny. Why is this funny?鈥

Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively in A Simple Favor

B+C: How do you strike that balance when you鈥檙e filming? How do you find the right tone?

AK: You ask Paul Feig three questions every 10 seconds. You drive him absolutely crazy. You get inside Paul鈥檚 mind. Blake and I were like, 鈥淵ou just tell me, man.鈥 Because boy, oh boy, there were days when we were like, 鈥淚s this part funny? Is this part real?鈥 And the truth is, it was always kind of both.

PF: Everybody just has to play it dead-serious. If I cast it with a bunch of comedians, it would fall apart.

AK: It would be a spoof. The stakes aren鈥檛 real.

B+C: Paul, did you have Blake and Anna in mind for these roles when you read the script?

AK: Of course he did!

PF: The Stephanie character is so specific. I thought, 鈥淲ho can pull this off? Who鈥檚 a great actress who can be funny and find the three-dimensionality in it?鈥 And Anna rose to mind very quickly.

Anna Kendrick as Stephanie in A Simple Favor

AK: I was absolutely thrilled, but I did have the strange experience of more than one person on set saying that when they read the script, they thought of me, and then they found out that I was doing it, and they were like, 鈥淥h, perfect!鈥 And my reaction to that was, 鈥淔*cking excuse me?鈥 Because I have worked very hard to cultivate a cynical, jaded, and cruel, frankly, reputation, so I don鈥檛 know who鈥檚 been talking smack that I鈥檓 sunny, positive, and optimistic. It鈥檚 ruining me.

PF: Your campaign to be cruel has backfired terribly.

B+C: Are there parts of Stephanie you relate to, though?

AK: It took me a minute to understand how somebody could be so relentlessly positive in the face of people kind of openly excluding her and making fun of her. But I do relate to the idea of feeling guilt or shame about something and walking around for the next couple of weeks being extra nice and kind, because you think, 鈥淚f I鈥檓 just a good person, and I鈥檓 just really nice to everybody and I smile all the time, that thing will somehow not have happened. I will have not done this thing that I鈥檓 ashamed of.鈥 I just had to magnify that by a thousand, because the proverbial sins of her past loom so large in her mind. She works so hard to be the perfect mom and the perfect friend and the perfect member of the community, because that way she can feel like everything鈥檚 going to be fine.

B+C: We have to talk about Henry Golding. He鈥檚 blowing up now, obviously, but he was kind of unknown prior to this and Crazy Rich Asians. How did you know he was right for the part of Emily鈥檚 husband, Sean?

PF: I knew I wanted to have a very inclusive cast, and my wife鈥檚 a huge fan of the Crazy Rich Asians books, so she told me, 鈥淭hey just made a movie of that 鈥 you should look in that cast!鈥 Lionsgate had actually sent Henry鈥檚 name on a list, so I went online and looked at his sizzle reel from his travel show, and I was like, 鈥淥h my god, this is the most charismatic guy I鈥檝e ever seen. He鈥檚 beautiful, he鈥檚 funny鈥︹ So I called Jon Chu and said, 鈥淚s he for real?鈥 And Jon鈥檚 like, 鈥淥h, he鈥檚 the greatest. You鈥檙e gonna love him.鈥 I just remember saying, 鈥淭his guy鈥檚 going to be big.鈥

Henry Golding in A Simple Favor

AK: I feel like we got in while he would still say yes to our movie. I mean, it鈥檚 a great role, but you know what I mean. He鈥檚 just going to be such a freaking Brad Pitt megastar that he鈥檚 not going to remember my name.

PF: In some ways, it is a more thankless role, because he鈥檚 at the service of these two characters, getting pushed around in the middle. I could see a big star going, 鈥淥h, I鈥檓 not going to do that.鈥

AK: A disappointing number of men are not interested in playing the second lead to a female character, when I think some of the most brilliant people in the industry 鈥 who happen to be women 鈥 do it all the time and make the most of it.

B+C: Anna, you starred in the Pitch Perfect films, which are all about women. And Paul, you鈥檙e known for putting women 鈥 and relationships between women 鈥 front and center in your movies, too. What do you think this film says, if anything, about female friendship?

AK: I think there鈥檚 a nice thing about opposites attracting. I have a couple of friends where, every now and then when I have an out-of-body moment, I think, 鈥淗ow did we become friends?鈥 They鈥檙e just so different from me. But there鈥檚 something really nice about having a confidant and a close friend who just has such a different world view and such a different life experience. I feel like they give the best advice.

Anna Kendrick as Stephanie and Blake Lively as Emily in A Simple Favor

PF: When we did Bridesmaids, we were very concerned with making sure we didn鈥檛 portray women catfighting. What I like is mutual respect, even among enemies. And what I love about this is that it鈥檚 a cat-and-mouse between two people who really respect each other, even though they are at odds. The chemistry between you and Blake was so important. Originally it was written where she was just super mean to you. And you guys didn鈥檛 want that and I was glad, because you鈥檙e so happy for their friendship right in the second scene of the movie.

AK: One of my favorite moments in the whole movie, because it鈥檚 so relatable, is when Blake calls me her best friend. And even though the situation we鈥檙e in couldn鈥檛 be less appropriate, I鈥檓 like, 鈥淲ait, can we just pause? Am I really your best friend? Because I felt like maybe you鈥檙e my best friend, but I鈥檓 not your best friend.鈥 We鈥檝e all had that situation.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

A Simple Favor is in theaters on Friday, September 14.

(photos via Peter Iovino/Lionsgate + Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)