How do you remake the 2005 hit Mr. and Mrs. Smith? The rom-com spy action film, which starred Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as assassins disguised as a married couple, was a pop culture phenomenon. It grossed more than $186M at the box office as its co-leads’ romance played out in the tabloids.
Now, the movie is being reimagined as an eight-episode streaming series, starring and produced by Donald Glover. In this version, out Feb. 2 on Prime Video, Glover plays John Smith alongside Maya Erskine as Jane Smith.
“People have no clue what this show is going to be really,” Glover said in a Prime Video promotion for the show. “They have an idea because Mr. & Mrs. Smith was a film, but this tone is a lot different.”
Erskine joked that there are lots of similarities.
“I think this is exactly like the Mr. & Mrs. Smith movie and we are exactly like Angelina and Brad. But if we were to talk about the differences, in this we are carrying out missions together, but having to pose as a married couple. So it becomes a real relationship set against the backdrop of the spy genre,” Erskine explained in the video.
In the Glover-Erskine series, “two lonely strangers land jobs working for a mysterious spy agency that offers them a glorious life of espionage, wealth, world travel, and a dream brownstone in Manhattan. The catch? New identities in an arranged marriage as Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Smith,” the Prime Video description of the series read. “Now hitched, John and Jane navigate a high-risk mission every week while also facing a new relationship milestone. Their complex cover story becomes even more complicated when they catch real feelings for each other. What’s riskier: espionage or marriage?”
The movie went a bit differently. In the 2005 film, Pitt and Jolie played two professional killers who met by chance on the job and quickly got hitched. They become John and Jane Smith, “a couple in a stagnating marriage, [living] a deceptively mundane existence,” according to a film description. “However, each has been hiding a secret from the other: They are assassins working for adversarial agencies. When they are both assigned to kill the same target, Benjamin Danz (Adam Brody), the truth comes to the surface. Finally free from their cover stories, they discover that they have been assigned to kill each other, sparking a series of explosive attacks.”
Much like the movie, Glover’s John and Erskine’s Jane are secretive and skeptical and hold things from each other, but as their love grows, so does their honesty and vulnerability.
Did we need a new Mr. and Mrs. Smith?
In the run-up to the series, there were detractors who wondered whether Hollywood needed to revisit old stories to make them fresh again.
Series showrunner Francesca Sloane tackled this issue head on. In a Jan. 5 open letter, she shared that she thought Glover, who co-created the show, was “kidding around” when he first brought the idea to her. The pair previously worked together on FX’s Atlanta.
“Based on the creative work that both Donald and I have done in the past, writing a series based on a rom-com action spy thriller felt like an odd fit for us. But Donald, in his Donald way, expressed that part of the excitement in taking this on was that it was a big swing,” she wrote in the letter.
Addressing the “who needs this show?” critique, she said, “No one would need a show that retold the same blockbuster movie. But what we set out to do was to make something wholly original. This show is about a relationship, it’s about being clumsy humans. It’s about being relatable.”
Critics say that’s exactly what they’ve done. Rolling Stone raved about the series, writing, “the actual show that Glover, Sloane, Erskine, and Co. have made is wonderful. It cleverly inverts the movie’s premise. It blends the best elements of retro TV and modern TV, and deftly balances the ridiculousness of the core idea with the danger of it. And if Glover and Erskine’s chemistry isn’t so scorching that you assume they must be getting together in real life, they play off each other incredibly well throughout. It’s a whole lot of fun.”
The Wrap called Mr. and Mrs. Smith “the first must-see show of 2024,” saying “rebooting big budget movies into episodic TV is always a challenge. But, with great risk often comes great reward. What Glover and company have done here goes beyond good storytelling. They’ve up and flipped the genre script. Again.”
So what does Brad Pitt think?
At the show’s premiere in New York City, Glover told Extra he connected with Pitt about how his series differs from the film, sharing that he wanted to put his own spin on “the sexiness part.”
“I was like, you know, ‘Is there any pitfalls or anything?’ He was like, ‘No, I’m sure you’ll do great. Just follow the idea. It really is just about relationships,’” Glover said. “So I think I was like, I just want to focus on the relationship part of this… I think we really lock down, like, the kind of idea of, like, OK, like, what’s sexy in the long term, you know, which is cool.”
Stream all eight episodes of Mr. & Mrs. Smith on Prime Video.