Sweet Girl director Brian Andrew Mendoza has been working with Jason Momoa for a decade now as producing partners at their production company Pride of Gypsy. They have worked on a number of films together including Road to Paloma, the first feature film for Pride of Gypsy. Mendoza was a producer and cinematographer on the film while Momoa starred, directed, produced, and co-wrote the film. Mendoza and Momoa also produced Braven, which Momoa starred in, through Pride of Gypsy and Mendoza once again was also the cinematographer on the film.
Sweet Girl is Mendoza’s feature film directorial debut and although he has been working with Momoa for years as a producing partner and cinematographer Mendoza talked about the added pressure he felt when directing Momoa in Sweet Girl.
“I joke it means don’t mess up as a director. I was saying earlier to somebody when your directing him [Jason Momoa] in a film if it’s bad you don’t look at your friend at the end of the day and go, “Sorry.” So, I think there was a lot of stress and weight in making sure that the movie was good and really stepping up.
I feel like I had a different approach in working with him to tell this story in the fact that it felt like it was just at another level of having to make sure that it was good and it was what we wanted to make. It was also great because there is a side to him that I’ve seen for many years that no one else has.
So, I wanted to work with him to craft a story and this character so that you would see things from him that we haven’t seen from before. Outside of Aquaman and being a superhero, he’s never really been in a big film, contemporary film like this and that also was something I felt like was great and I wanted to see and work with him on.”
A lot of the pressure that Mendoza felt in making sure Sweet Girl was a good film seemed to come from wanting not to disappoint his friend and producing partner Jason Momoa. Sweet Girl features Momoa showing off not only his skills as an action star with intense fight scenes, but the emotional heart of the film with the relationship between his character Ray Cooper and his daughter Rachel Cooper played by Isabela Merced. Mendoza talked about how the father daughter relationship was the heart of the film.
“It’s ultimately Rachel’s story and the impact her parents have, specifically her father in this story and what he gives her and supports her that then allows her to have the strength to move on. And we have a scene towards the end of the movie where she’s putting on his Carhartt jacket almost like an armor because of it.
I was really just trying to explore the aspect of that relationship between Jason and Bella or Ray and Cooper. And what strength was Rachel getting from Ray as being his daughter and going through the grief of losing the wife and mother. It just had a lot of heart to it that seemed like a perfect recipe to apply to a revenge story or a justice story.”
Isabela Merced is a stand out in Sweet Girl and her chemistry with Momoa is obvious from the start. Mendoza explained why Merced was the right actress for the role of Rachel Cooper and how her chemistry with Jason Momoa came through on screen.
“She just was. She was at the top of our list from the get go. When I first talked to her I had my fingers crossed just hoping that she was going to say yes. There’s so much that works, in her personality just as a person, that works with Jason and it just came through when they’re together. You see it when they’re together on screen or off screen. You just knew. It’s weird to say I just knew right away that she had what was right for the character.
She was amazing. I mean I can’t for people to watch this and see her in it. I hope people talk about her performance and what she did because it’s worth talking about.”
Both Momoa and Merced to deliver dynamic and layered performances in Sweet Girl. The father daughter relationship feels authentic throughout and their shared loss is palpable as a motivation throughout Sweet Girl. With Sweet Girl being Brian Andrew Mendoza’s directorial debut, he manages to tell a layered and complex story with shocking twists and interesting characters. Mendoza wanting to be sure he succeeded when directing his friend and the passion he has about the family relationship at the heart of Sweet Girl shine through not only when he spoke about Sweet Girl, but in the film itself.
SWEET GIRL OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS AND TRAILER
Devoted family man Ray Cooper, vows justice against the pharmaceutical company responsible for pulling a potentially life-saving drug from the market just before his wife (Adria Arjona) dies from cancer. But when his search for the truth leads to a deadly encounter that puts Ray and his daughter Rachel (Isabela Merced) in harm’s way, Ray’s mission turns into a quest for vengeance in order to protect the only family he has left.
Sweet Girl is directed by Brian Andrew Mendoza and stars Justin Bartha, Amy Brenneman, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Raza Jaffrey, Lex Scott Davis and Michael Raymond-James. Sweet Girl premieres on Netflix August 20, 2021. Are you going to watch Sweet Girl on Netflix? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media.