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Everything to Know About the New Comedy Caper Drive-Away Dolls

Margaret Qualley, Pedro Pascal, Beanie Feldstein and Matt Damon are part of the queer noir's star-studded cast.

By Elisabeth Ford

Drive-Away Dolls hits theaters this week and make no mistake, Margaret Qualley’s Southern twang isn't the only inviting quirk this movie has to offer.

From filmmaking couple Ethan Coen and Tricia Cooke, this twisted, romantic, yet thrilling comedy from Focus Features is a new spin on what queer cinema can offer.

“So many movies about lesbians are deep, they're serious and they're often very dramatic,” Cooke said, according to Focus Feature's production notes. “It was important to me to tell a story with highly visible queer characters, without having their sexuality be the whole point of the film. We wanted it to have a lot of sex but fun sex, not socially important sex. Like you see in a B-movie, not in an important movie.”

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While the noir is centered around the raunchy lives of two young lesbian women (Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan) looking to reset their love lives, you can't overlook the rainbow of A-listers rounding out the cast, including Pedro Pascal, Beanie Feldstein and Matt Damon.

Marian, Jamie and Sukie stand together during a scene in drive away dolls

What is Drive-Away Dolls about?

According to the film’s official summary, “this comedy caper follows Jamie (Qualley), an uninhibited free spirit bemoaning yet another breakup with a girlfriend, and her demure friend Marian (Viswanathan) who desperately needs to loosen up. In search of a fresh start, the two embark on an impromptu road trip to Tallahassee, but things quickly go awry when they cross paths with a group of inept criminals along the way.” (Watch the trailer above.)

While renting a car for their adventure, they're accidentally given one meant for "nefarious purposes" and come into possession of a mysterious briefcase, which is the catalyst for this screwball noir.

Coen, whose work with his brother Joel includes both cult hits and critical darlings (Fargo, Raising Arizona, and The Big Lebowski) directed the film, while he and Cooke share writing credits.

Who's in Drive-Away Dolls?

The cast is undeniably fun, led by Qualley and Viswanathan.

Margaret Qualley

Marian and Jamie peak out of a door way in a scene of Drive-Away dolls

Qualley, (Poor Things, Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood) plays one of the protagonists: Jamie. She is an eccentric and care-free person, working her way through a bad breakup.

“Jamie’s the kind of person where if you need her to do X, Y, and Z -- she's there,” Qualley said in Focus Features' production notes. “She is absolutely in for the hang, no matter what the hang is. Jamie is sex-positive. She's kind of like a puppy. She's ready to love and I think she’s pretty sincere and a good, sweet person.”

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Geraldine Viswanathan

Marian holds a drink in a scene of Drive-Away dolls

The antithesis of her character is her best friend Marian, played by Viswanathan (Blockers). Marian is more reserved in her nature and is urged by her friend to loosen up.

“Marian knows herself and she knows what she's comfortable with. She has a big, bruised heart. She knows she needs to push out of her comfort zone and I think she wants to do that, but on her own time. She’s true to herself, which I think is admirable,” Viswanathan said. 

Marian breaks loose from her predictability when she devises a plan to road trip down to Tallahassee, and Jamie tags along.

Beanie Feldstein

Sukie sits at a desk as a police officer in a scene from Drive-Away Dolls

Feldstein (Booksmart), plays Sukie, a police officer and Jamie's irate ex, who's been saddled with a yappy little Chihuahua named Alice after their breakup.

“Sukie doesn't take s--t as a cop or in her personal life,” Feldstein said of her role, per the production notes. “She's going to go after Jamie and make her take this dog. She’s going to get what she wants and no one's going to get in her way. As a small, round person, I feel like people wouldn't necessarily see me as a threat, so getting to play Sukie was incredible.”

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“Beanie was fantastic," Coen said. "You give a good actor a really angry character and they can really commit. Beanie is the sweetest person in the world and to see her yelling at everybody was a joy.”

Pedro Pascal

The Collector holds onto a briefcase wearing sunglasses in a scene from Ethan Coen's DRIVE-AWAY DOLLS

Pascal (The Last of Us, The Mandalorian) stars as Santos, described by Focus as "a suave European whose possession of the briefcase ends in a dark Philadelphia alley."

Speaking about Santos' aesthetic, costume designer Peggy Schnitzer commented that, “Pedro had to look suave, but also a little sleazy, down to the eyeglasses. We made the coat work so it stayed on his shoulders when he was running away. And he was so effortless at just flinging it off as he ran, we couldn’t stop laughing.”

Colman Domingo

The Chief and The Goons in a scene from Ethan Coen's DRIVE-AWAY DOLLS

Domingo (Rustin), plays The Chief, who's responsible for delivering the briefcase to his boss, Senator Gary Channel. According to the film's production notes, Domingo's turn as an unpredictable pimp in the Janicza Bravo comedy Zola convinced Coen and Cooke he was the person for the part.

"The Chief is the one man in the movie who isn’t a dope. He’s the person who has it under control,” Cooke said, “until it all gets away from him. “Watching Colman in ZOLA, we knew he would make a great Chief. Colman’s a lovely man, very generous. And fun.”

Bill Camp

Curlie on the phone in a scene of drive-away dolls

Camp (The Queen's Gambit, The Night Of) plays Curlie, the perhaps dim-witted owner of the car rental agency who's to blame for the mix-up that sends Jamie and Marian on their misadventure.

“Bill is a great guy and a great actor. He does so much with so little," Coen said. "We told Bill that his character was the lump of iron at the center of the universe. Bill went further, he made him a lump of lead.”

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Matt Damon

Senator Gary Channel clutches a book to his chest in a scene of Drive-Away Dolls

Damon (Oppenheimer, The Bourne franchise), lends his star power as Senator Channel, "the family values-touting politician who will stop at nothing to get hold of the case."

“Matt, Pedro, Colman, Bill - they’re all really gifted clowns, in the best sense of the word. And that comes from totally committing to the part and taking it seriously,” Coen said.

Coen also noted a common thread in many of his films that are definitely on display in this movie.

“For some reason, the women in our films are normal and competent and the men tend to be inept and barely presentable,” he said.

Other characters include the bumbling duo of Arliss and Flint – played by Joey Slotnick (Plane) and C.J. Wilson (Manchester by the Sea) – who are after Jamie and Marian to retrieve the briefcase. And the film even features a trippy unbilled cameo from Miley Cyrus as a "beguiling hippie chick" from the senator's past named Tiffany Plastercaster.

When is Drive-Away Dolls premiering?

Drive-Away Dolls hits theaters Friday, February 23.

Both Focus Features and NBC Universal are part of Comcast.

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