New Faces: Rebecca Rittenhouse, A Rom-Com Lead For the Modern Age

The former The Mindy Project actress stars on Hulu’s retelling of Four Weddings and A Funeral.

Maridelis Morales Rosado for W Magazine

Rebecca Rittenhouse has had a thing for rom-coms since she was “about five,” she says. So, when asked to name her favorite of all time, she needs to take a minute before she answers. “There are so many,” she says. “Obviously I love Richard Curtis, so Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually. And I love Two Weeks Notice. It’s so underrated. They are both so amazing in it. I’m a big Sandra Bullock fan. I also love The Proposal….There a lot of classics, too.”

As the star of Hulu’s retelling of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Rittenhouse is now getting to immerse herself fully in the genre. The new series, which aired its first four episodes on Wednesday, is a modern update on the classic 1994 film and is centered around a group of four American friends who reunite in London for (what else?) a wedding. The show was created by Mindy Kaling and Matt Warburton, another Mindy Project alum. “During the last season, Mindy had approached me several times and said, ‘Hey, Rittenhouse, I want to talk to you about something,'” the actress recalls. “We took a stroll around the lot one day and she said, ‘Matt and I are working on a reimagining of Four Weddings and a Funeral and it’s not greenlit yet, but it’s very much a real thing. We would very much like you to be a part of it. Is that something you’d be interested in?'” Rittenhouse’s response: “I don’t even know if I let her finish her sentence.”

The show, which filmed in London, is a love letter to the genre, complete with nonstop references to all the classics. In the first episode alone, Rittenhouse’s character, Ainsley, greets a friend at the airport with giant cue cards, a la Love Actually (“It’s actually quite hard to manage them,” she notes) and hosts a costume party where everyone is required to dress up as their favorite rom-com character. Ainsley goes as Princess Buttercup from The Princess Bride, but ask Rittenhouse who she’d dress up as and she once again needs to give it some thought. “I probably would have done Pretty Woman,” she says after careful consideration. “The brown polka dot dress.”

Rebecca Rittenhouse photographed by Maridelis Morales Rosado for W Magazine.

Ainsley, a peppy, brightly-dressed interior decorator, is quite a departure from Rittenhouse’s most memorable role to date, the chilly Dr. Anna Ziev—and it’s a change that Rittenhouse welcomes with open arms. “People still think I’m like my character,” she says. “There’s a side of me that comes across as a frigid WASP. I had this doctor come to my house and I was drinking out of my Mindy Project cup and he was like, ‘That’s my favorite TV show.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, I was on it.’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, who were you?’ I told him I was Dr. Anna Ziev and he goes, ‘I didn’t recognize you. You’re so warm.’”

Beyond The Mindy Project, Rittenhouse, who studied romance languages at the University of Pennsylvania as well as acting at New York’s Atlantic Theater Company, has appeared on several TV shows, including Red Band Society and Blood & Oil, as well as in the 2018 film Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, co-starring Joaquin Phoenix and Jonas Hill. (She also has a cameo in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, as Michelle Phillips). Still, the 30 year-old says that Ainsley may be her favorite role to date—so much so, in fact, that she took home a very big piece of her character: her bed. “Basically I’d been looking for a bedframe for a long time, and my character is an interior designer,” she explains. “I walked into Ainsley’s bedroom and was like, ‘There it is.’”