Leo Woodall and Ambika Mod want you to get in your feels

“Dex and Em” or “Em and Dex”? the stars of Netflix's forthcoming rom-com tell woo their pick

“Dex and Em” or “Em and Dex”? the stars of Netflix's forthcoming rom-com tell woo their pick

By Darshita Goyal08 Feb 2024
5 mins read time
5 mins read time

He was a boy, she was a girl. Can I make it any more obvious? He wanted fame, she wanted to change the world, what more can I say?

Sorry, he wasn’t a sk8r boi but are you in the feels? Good. Hold onto that pre-teen, lovesick angst from Avril Lavigne and Taylor Swift’s Fearless era because Netflix’s latest serve One Day is the same thing, but different font. A series adaptation of British author David Nicholls’ 2009 bestselling novel, the show premiered worldwide on Feb 8 and is already being touted as the new Normal People.

The series stars Leo Woodall of The White Lotus S2 bare-bum fame and Ambika Mod from BBC drama This is Going to Hurt as charming Dexter Mayhew and the sardonic, sharp Emma Morley. Woo sat down with the actors to chat about their characters, friendship pet peeves and the one day that changed everything for them. No spoilers ahead. For anyone who hasn’t read the book or watched the (mildly questionable) 2011 film starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, sit tight: this is the rom-com renaissance you’ve been waiting for. Equally, for everyone who has read and watched the plot, trust us, you need to do it again, it’s better this time.

I read [the book] when I was 13. I revisited it loads throughout the shoot because this series is very faithful to it. It was like my Bible, I always had the book on me.
Ambika Mod

One Day kicks off with Dex and Em meeting as strangers on the eve of their graduation in 1988. From one bottle of champagne to another, they stumble into an almost-one-night-stand before going their separate ways, leaving us with a series of what-ifs. From here on, each episode travels forward by a year and catches the characters on the same date: July 15. Over 14 gutting, banter-filled episodes, we see Dex and Em move in and out of each other’s lives.

When they’re in, it’s hard to look away from the screen. You want to breathe in the sexual tension, the deep, loyal friendship, the trust in someone you’ve known forever and the earnestness in every ritual. But when they’re out, it’s like pins and needles. Dex and Em make you yearn for that best friend you may have lost; they leave you wondering, hoping that that person makes it back in your life. (Side note: if you pick up the phone to text them while watching, go for it.)

While the story – funny, heartbreaking, still relatable – draws you in, it’s Woodall and Mod’s chemistry that makes you stay. In moments, Dex is a privileged, unkind jerk and Em is envious, rude and too self-contained for her own good. But Woodall and Mod find a way to add warmth to their characters; even in villainous moments you’re drawn to their heart, not their actions. This endearment and comfort comes through when you see the actors off screen, too. There’s constant banter, laughs, and two celebrities sitting on the cusp of big-break fame. Watch woo’s interview in full above, or read a selection of it below.

Dex and Em grate on each other’s nerves throughout the show. What are your biggest friendship pet peeves?

Ambika: I don’t like it when people don’t reply to me, but that’s just because it makes me insecure. Even though I’ve definitely done it to other people.

Leo: I don’t like to be made to feel bad about not replying to all of my friends.

Did you read the book before shooting?

Leo: I read the book during the audition process.

Ambika: I read it when I was 13. I revisited the book loads throughout the shoot because this series is very faithful to it. It was like my Bible, I always had it on me.

Did you get any advice from the original cast before filming?

Leo: No, I’ve never met either of them. Zero advice, thanks a lot guys! Kidding!

What was it like bringing Emma’s role to life?

Ambika: A surreal experience for sure, it took a lot of convincing of myself that I was right for the role. Not because I’m brown but because I had this vision of Emma in my head from when I was really young and I didn’t align myself with it. But I am very similar to her and there’s absolutely no reason why someone like me can’t play Emma. So it’s a really fresh addition to this new series.

What are you most excited for when the show comes out?

Leo: Hopefully for people to be feeling a lot.

Ambika: I’m just excited for it to come out, feel like there’s been a big lead-up. And I’m really excited for a new generation who might not have read the book to discover it.

Dex and Em or Em and Dex?

Leo: I think Dex and Em’s got a better ring to it.

Ambika: I think Em and Dex.

Leo: Of course you do!

Ambika: Yeah and what?! (both laugh)

Watch One Day on Netflix