Chris O’Dowd revealed he and Rosamund Pike rehearsed their upcoming BBC comedy in the pub over a glass of wine.
The pair star opposite each other as a warring husband and wife in State Of The Union, a short-form BBC Two series containing 10 10-minute episodes.
Written by Fever Pitch’s Nick Hornby, it follows Tom (O’Dowd) and Louise (Pike) as they meet in the pub ahead of their weekly marital therapy sessions.
As the recently estranged couple ply themselves with drink, clues emerge as to why their relationship fell apart.
The series was filmed inside a London pub and Irish actor O’Dowd said he and Pike would stay on after work to learn the next day’s scripts over a drink.
He told the PA news agency: “I had never really met her before so it was a great way to bond. It was an odd little thing to try and do.
“We wanted to play a couple who has chemistry but who are going through a bad stage in their relationship so the chemistry isn’t great.
“So you want people to believe you’re married but not in a very happy marriage. It’s an odd kind of thing to try and do. We did try spending a bit of time together and found that process very useful.”
Oscar-nominated Pike, 40, was first to sign up for State Of The Union, which is directed by A Very English Scandal’s Stephen Frears, with O’Dowd, 39, joining her later.
O’Dowd said the project was an “easy yes” because “the material was great”.
He added: “I loved the idea of these short little episodes, I’d never done anything like that before. I’d been enjoying Ros’ work from afar so it was a bit of a no-brainer.”
O’Dowd is now an established Hollywood star thanks to roles in films including Bridesmaids (2011), This Is 40 (2012), The Sapphires (2012).
He first found fame as lovable fool Roy Trenneman in sitcom The IT Crowd, and said his State Of The Union character has suffered from “arrested development”, comparing him to previous Hornby creations.
He said: “He’s a music journalist whose career has disappeared because no-one is buying music magazines anymore. So it is someone who has made a life from pop culture and has defined himself by what he likes and dislikes in it. And when that dissipates he’s left something of a husk.”
The first two episodes of State Of The Union will air on BBC Two on September 8, with the full series available on iPlayer afterwards.