Jane and the gang may be returning for a Happiest Season sequel — and Mary Holland is all for it.
“I mean, it’s in very early stages. The story of Happiest Season was an idea that Clea [DuVall] had for many years. And so it’s a personal story to her and something that I was so fortunate that she asked me to come on board to help write this,” the Golden Arm actress, 35, exclusively tells Us Weekly. “So I’m very, very open and very curious of where she sees it going. I do really feel like this is Clea’s story and I’m excited to see what happens.”
The rom-com focuses on Harper (Mackenzie Davis) bringing her girlfriend Abby (Kristen Stewart) home for the holidays to meet her uptight family in suburban Pennsylvania. But it’s not until the drive there that she confesses that her loved ones have no idea that Abby is her partner — or that she’s gay. Holland and Alison Brie play Harper’s sisters Jane and Sloane, respectively, with Mary Steenburgen and Victor Garber playing their parents, Tipper and Ted.
The film debuted on Hulu in November 2020 and has the best viewership of any Hulu original movie to date. “I was just blown away at the response that it got and people responding to Jane too. That meant the world to me,” Holland tells Us. “I hope we get to do more and just see more of these characters because it feels like we just scratched the surface with a lot of them. There’s even more story to tell there. They’re all just so three-dimensional and have so much of their arcs that I hope we get to explore someday.”
She adds: “When Clea and I were working on that, we were thinking it would be so great for Harper’s character to have sisters because I have a sister and that dynamic is incredibly intense and complicated. And I think it’s such a window into a woman’s relationship with other women. It’s a real window into getting to know who they are and the person. So, I think it’s a great way to establish a character too, is to show them with their friends and their peers.”
Holland and DuVall first met during a table read for season 6 of HBO’s Veep and they’d later sell the script to Sony’s TriStar in late 2017.
Although Harper and Abby were the leading couple, viewers couldn’t resist shipping Abby and Harper’s ex-girlfriend Riley, played by Aubrey Plaza.
“I was also like, ‘Wow. OK,’” Holland says about the buzz. “I mean, they have such great chemistry with each other and everyone in this movie is so incredibly attractive. So I really, I get it. It’s also, like, those two characters in that story are going through a real struggle with this journey with her family and how tough and difficult that can be for somebody. And Kristin and Aubrey are playing two people who are out and are fully comfortable with what their identity is. I think that the ease with which they were able to communicate because of that, I could absolutely see where people were coming from. It was really cool to see people engage in such a way with these characters and be so invested in them. That was great.”
Happiest Season also stars Dan Levy, Burl Moseley, Sarayu Blue, Jake McDorman and Ana Gasteyer. Since the comedy, Holland has gone on to star in another female-driven film, Golden Arm, which tells the story of a once defeated baker who finds her confidence after competing in an arm-wrestling competition.
“I’ve been so fortunate to be able to be a part of projects that are headlined by women and that have ensembles that are predominantly women. That has been such an amazing thing to have and to have experienced that as an actor and as a creator. And I actually think that we are now in a time where complex women characters are being written more and more often, and the richness of these stories, the complexity is of women as human beings, I think has been explored more and more on all these different platforms,” Holland explains to Us. “I feel like this is something that is just happening on a larger scale within the industry itself. And I think that that’s manifesting in these projects that are helmed by women and are sort of ubiquitous in the industry.”