Created and executive produced by Paul Rust and Lesley Arfin, along with Judd Apatow, the Netflix series Love (which has already been picked up for a third season) follows nice guy Gus (Paul Rust) and wild child Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) as they navigate what it means to be in a relationship, with all of the exciting and awkward aspects of love and commitment. It’s an unflinching, hilarious and excruciatingly honest take on modern relationships that makes you wonder whether Gus and Mickey are perfect or entirely wrong for each other.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, actress Gillian Jacobs talked about how comfortable and fun it felt to return to the series, after having already completed a season, the most challenging aspects of playing such a flawed character, whether she’d want to be friends with Mickey, whether we’ll gain more sympathy for her this season, if Mickey even knows and understands what love is, and how it’s nice to be a part of a show that doesn’t follow typical TV conventions. She also talked about the upcoming Disney movie Magic Camp, in which she got to play a very successful female magician and learn some of the secrets and tricks of the trade.
Collider: How do you feel Season 2 is different from Season 1, and how do you feel it’s just the next step in the story of Gus and Mickey?
GILLIAN JACOBS: It was a funny thing because we had to start off by recreating exactly the end of Season 1, which is actually hard to do with people’s hair changing and stuff. That definitely felt like it was a weird pressure, in addition to the first day back at school. But once we got that out of the way, it felt very comfortable and fun.
When you have a full season to test things out, like the comedy and the comedic timing of it all, does it make things flow that much easier, for every season after that, or does each season present its own set of challenges?
JACOBS: Well, the first season, you’re really figuring out what the tone of the show is. And then, once everybody sees the first season, then directors, writers, actors and everybody are like, “Oh, okay, I get it.” There’s a little bit less questioning, guessing and trying to figure it out. It’s like, “This is the show we are, and this is the world we play in.” It’s fun for me ‘cause I spent six years on one show and hadn’t really gone through that process of discovering a show, a character and a tone, in a long time. It was fun to push myself again, like that.
This character is pretty much the definition of a flawed character. What do you like about her, and what are you most challenged by with her?
JACOBS: The most challenging things for me are weirdly technical things, like convincingly smoking a cigarette or smoking weed. I don’t really do those things in my real life, so I think I feel most intimidated by that stuff. And then, because her addictions and 12-step programs play so strongly in this show, you want to do that respectfully and accurately and with a lot of care. That’s something that I really care about.
It seems like convincingly playing drunk or stoned can be a very difficult thing to do because it can go too small and not read right, or it can be took big and over the top. How weird is it to be the sober one in a scene with three other actors who are supposed to be on mushrooms?
JACOBS: That, to me, at least was familiar ‘cause watching people get fucked up has been my whole life. That is something I’ve lived, my entire life. It’s harder for me when I’m supposed to be the one who’s drunk. That’s when I’m like, “Guys, I have no vanity about this. Tell me if I look stupid, I’m doing it wrong, or it doesn’t read.” I view it as a group effort to get it correct.
Is Mickey someone you could see yourself being friends with, or is she someone that you probably wouldn’t want to spend much time hanging out with?
JACOBS: She’d probably intimidate me at a party ‘cause she’s cooler than I am. Her wardrobe is infinitely cooler than mine, and I’d probably be worried that she’d think I’m a lame ass. But the great thing about Mickey is that she does have a genuine curiosity about other people, even though she can be a real insensitive asshole, too. I think that she’s a kinder person than she lets on. So, I bet if I got to know her, I’d enjoy her, but I’d probably be too scared to talk to her.
Do you think we’ll gain more sympathy for her this season, especially since she’s really trying to admit and address what her issues are, or is does her behavior make that questionable?
JACOBS: Well, I think it’s both. On the one hand, she does have a high degree of awareness about what she’s doing, but then she will also continue to act out. I also feel like that’s real. How many times, in our lives, are we fully aware that we have an issue, and yet we continue to make the same mistake? So, I think it depends on how comfortable you are with watching somebody be flawed. If you enjoy that and it makes it feel real, then I think you’ll enjoy a character like Mickey. But if it makes you uncomfortable, I don’t know how much you’re going to like the second season.
I also really love the relationship between Mickey and Bertie. Their relationship kind of steps over the line with each other, at times, but there’s also so much humor there. What do you enjoy about that dynamic?
JACOBS: The thing I enjoy most about that is getting to work with Claudia O’Doherty, who I think is insanely talented. She’s so funny and so smart, and she’s an amazing writer, in addition to being an incredible performer. When you see joy in Mickey’s face in those scenes, that’s Gillian. That’s not acting. I love being in Claudia’s presence. That feels like a treat to me, anytime I get to work with Claudia.
At this point, whether or not it’s something she’s in a healthy place with, does Mickey know what love is and what it means to be in love with someone else?
JACOBS: I don’t think she’s ever been in a functioning relationship, or a healthy, supportive relationship. You meet her dad in Season 2, and I think that gives you some insight into how she didn’t really have a lot of that at home either. I don’t know if she’s ever witnessed or been in a healthy relationship.
Why do you think Mickey and Gus could work, and why do you think they shouldn’t be together?
JACOBS: I think they understand each other, in a very deep way. I feel like there is a good probability of co-dependence and reinforcing some unhealthy habits for both of them, but I also feel like they’re two people who maybe see each other for who they really are, and love and appreciate that, in a way they haven’t gotten from anyone else. I think Gus sees her sweetness and vulnerability, and she sees that he is not a wimp. She knows that he’s got passion and fire. I feel like they’ve got this chemical draw to each other. Sometimes it’s hard to explain why two people are drawn together, but they just are. But, I think they also can reinforce bad habits in each other. It’s going to be interesting to see whether or not they’re able to move past that stuff, or if they’re going to bring out the worst in each other.
With the way things are left at the end of the season, there’s certainly a big question mark about what will happen next for Mickey and Gus. Are you curious to see if she’s honest with him, and to see if they can find a way to stay together? Have you had any conversations yet about where things will go in Season 3?
JACOBS: Yeah. We’re about to start shooting it, so we’ve read a couple of scripts for Season 3, but I don’t know what she’s going to do. I don’t want to spoil too much for people who haven’t seen Season 2, but the nice thing about this show is that it doesn’t follow a lot of TV conventions of, this happens, and then this always happens. Sometimes in life, when something happens, you think there will be a big blow-up, but then that doesn’t happen. It follows the murkiness of life, rather than the conventions of television, which I enjoy.
You also have the Disney movie Magic Camp, about a summer camp for aspiring young magicians, which sounds like so much fun. What was the appeal of that project?
JACOBS: I have played a lot of dark, flawed character, like in Love and a lot of the movies that I’ve done, so it’s always fun to do something completely different and be in a PG Disney film. I also like the fact that my character is a very successful female magician, and there aren’t a lot of female magicians that are popular on the level of the male superstars. I like the idea that maybe this movie could inspire some girls, with the younger girls in the cast and also my character, to get into magic, too. Also, it was the chance to work with Jeffrey Tambor and Adam Devine. It was really fun.
What sort of prep did you get to do for that? Did you get to learn a lot of cool magic tricks and secrets?
JACOBS: I did learn some. Actually, the guy who was our magic consultant was on the first season of Love, in the episode that we go to the Magic Castle. He was showing me the magic trick, and he eats it and I’m like, “Oh, I forgot to memorize the card.” Justin Willman, who played that character, was out consultant for Magic Camp. I got to really know him and his whole team, and they taught us a lot. I, thankfully, had to learn the least. Everybody learned so much, and we’re performing entire routines. They have a big performance at the camp, and I was just sitting there watching the kids perform. They had been training for weeks and months, and they were so impressive. Justin and his team did an incredible job. We were sworn to secrecy, as far as revealing any magic tricks. It would say, on the top of the callsheet, every day, that you’re not supposed to tell anybody how you did anything. I really frustrated family and friends, by refusing to reveal those secrets.
What kind of magician is your character?
JACOBS: My character, Christina Darkwood, is more of a mentalist/illusionist, rather than a card tricks/sawing people in half magician. She’s not doing anything physically crazy, like David Blaine, but she’s a headlining Vegas magician, or which there sadly isn’t really a real-life female equal. I can’t think of a real world comparison for her, but it made me happy to think that maybe some little girls will watch this movie and get into magic.
Love is available to stream at Netflix.