Rashida Jones Interview I LOVE YOU, MAN

     March 19, 2009

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

Over the past few months I’ve written extensively about “I Love You, Man”. I’ve repeatedly said how much I loved the film and how it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s also one of those rare movies that you can see with your guy friends or on a date and have a good time either way. Trust me, this is a great film and one worth your hard earned money.

Anyway, last week I was in New York City for some press junkets and I got to participate in a roundtable interview with Rashida Jones.

In the film, Rashida plays the fiancé to Paul Rudd’s character and while she has plenty of girlfriends, Paul has almost no friends. So when he gets engaged, he doesn’t have a best man.Paul immediately sets out to rectify the situation by going out on “man-dates”. Enter Jason Segel’s character of Sydney Fife. After an awkward beginning, they begin to get to know one another and it leads to a bro-mance. But does this new friendship jeopardize everything else in his life….

During our interview Rashida talked about making the movie and all the usual things. She also talked a lot about her upcoming NBC show “Parks and Recreation”.

Again, I can’t recommend “I Love You, Man” enough. Go check it out. Finally, here’s a bunch of clips in case you want to see some footage and here’s Matt’s review.

Question: How much F’n fun did you have making this movie?

Jones: A lot of F’n fun, yeah. It almost felt wrong because it was so fun. You should feel some element of challenging or you should feel like you want to complain at work. I feel like that’s synonymous with work and honestly it was just so fun. There were a couple of days that I had off and all I wanted to do was go to set and I did. I went and visited when I wasn’t working. It was really fun.

Question: How long of a shoot was it?

Jones: I think it was like three months, two and a half months, three months.

Question: So ‘The Office’ was fun, too, right?

Jones: ‘The Office’ was really fun, too.

Question: So you’ve been really spoiled lately?

Jones: I have been really spoiled. I feel incredibly lucky because I kind of know that that’s not always the case.

Question: You’ve known these guys for a while and so how did that affect the working dynamic?

Jones: It was good. That’s a good thing. I mean, I’ve never worked with Paul [Rudd] before, but we’ve been friends for a long time and so it was just an easy place to start from, if you’re supposed to be in an intimate relationship in the movie we already knew each other’s rhythms well and we know how each other speaks and so that all makes it easier to get there. It was really fun. I’m saying that again. Fun, fun.

Question: Speaking of fun, can you talk about your upcoming project with Amy Poehler?

Jones: Now that is fun, yeah. It’s called ‘Parks and Recreation’ and it comes on April 9th on NBC and it is a comedy about local government and the challenges you face when trying to actually execute any kind of project on a city level.

Question: It was amazing how mysterious they kept what the show was going to be about.

Jones: I know. That was insane.

Question: People were wondering if it was going to be an ‘Office’ spin-off. Was it always mysterious to you as well?

Jones: Completely, honestly. I was kind of hold for it not knowing anything about it, not being told anything about it and not knowing if I was even going to get to do it and I actually found out as everyone else found out. It was like, ‘Is it really a spin-off?’ I had to call people and get confirmation, but I do understand their need to keep it under wraps because they don’t want people’s expectations to be anything that they’re not or should be for the show.

Question: And is it a spin-off?

Jones: No. It is not a spin-off.

Question: So it’s a clearly a separate universe?

Jones: It is a separate universe. It takes place in Indiana.

Question: Is it the same kind of mockumentary shooting style, following the characters around?

Jones: Yes. Similar style, but the difference is that you kind of don’t know why the crew is following ‘The Office’ and you can kind of tell a little more on this one because there’s sort of like or it feels like two crews. One is following me who’s like the concerned citizen with the complaint and then the other crew is following Amy Poehler’s character who’s like the city official, looking inside on city government. They kind of converge as we converge as friends.

Question: You work on the show with Aziz Ansari who is brilliant.

Jones: Yes, totally brilliant. I love him.

Question: Did you know his work before getting on the show and what’s it been like working with him?

Jones: I did, I did. I’m a big fan of ‘Human Giant’ and he had a little part on ‘I Love You, Man’ which is how we first met. He’s so cool. I mean, I feel like he is young comedy. He’s like the embodiment of young comedy. He’s hilarious and he kind of knows everything and does all his promotion online. He’s twenty six. He is a wonderful improviser and at this stage where we’re still trying to figure out who our characters are it’s such a good thing for someone to have such a strong point of view. His character is kind of a sleeze ball and he’s just constantly hitting on girls. There’s something about Aziz where you don’t feel threatened by him, but you’re still grossed out by his advances. So he’s pretty great [laughs].

Question: Also, what kind of entertainment do you enjoy in your free time and is that ever influenced by who you’re hanging out with?

Jones: I’m a comedy geek so anything comedy related, whether that’s standup shows, improv shows, I’m all over that. That’s my favorite way to be entertained always. To me, if you can laugh I don’t think there’s any equivalent. I don’t think crying is an equivalent. I don’t think any other emotion is the equivalent of laughter. So I do whatever I can to laugh all the time and to hide my pain.

Question: Do you have any favorite TV shows or movies that you’ve watched recently?

Jones: I’m kind of obsessed with this new TV show called ‘Delocated’, if you seen that. It’s on Adult Swim and Jon Glaser is the lead in it. It’s about a family who’s in the witness protection program and so the whole family wears ski masks and they have vocal modulators. It’s hilarious.

Question: I read somewhere where you feel more like a guy’s girl, more comfortable hanging out with the guys and so what was your inspiration for playing more of a girl’s girl in this?

Jones: I hate to say that because I feel those are two things that people always say, like, ‘I’m a guy’s girl –’ or like ‘I was a huge geek in school.’ And you’re like, ‘No, you weren’t and no you weren’t.’ But I actually have a lot of girlfriends. I like hanging out with guys for such different reasons than I like hanging out with my girlfriends. So it was not a stretch for me to hangout with all these girls. When we did that girl’s night scene there were ten of us and some people knew each other, some people were really good friends with one another and some people had never met before. We didn’t shut up for twelve hours. John Hamburg would call cut and we didn’t even hear him. He’d have to come into the room and be like, ‘Hey, yo, shut up. Stupids.’ We were really into it. I think the minute that you get a group of girls together and you want to have fun and you know how to make each other laugh you don’t even need inspiration really.

Question: Was he setting you loose then and telling you guys to just go with it?

Jones: Yeah. There were certain kinds of structural things for the plot that we needed to get out, but he was like, ‘As long as you pepper those in somewhere just go for it, whatever you want to do.’

Question: I was distracted by how great your style in the movie was, fabulous clothes.

Jones: Isn’t it good.

Question: Can you talk about how that came together, if you had a hand in it and what the inspiration for it was?

Jones: Lisa Evans who did the costumes is so good. She did the costumes for ‘Sarah Marshall’, too. She’s just got crazy perfect taste but she’s also so collaborative. We did a lot of fittings and stuff, but she wanted to do a preppy hipster with a lot of color and she definitely let me be a part of that, for sure. And she wanted Paul and I to look kind of like cool collegiate and I think that she did a really good job and so did the hair and makeup people who were amazing.

Question: What’s the best advice that you’ve ever been given and who did it come from?

Jones: My dad always tell me to make decisions from love and not from fear. I feel like that’s pretty applicable across the board.

Question: You come from famous parents. Was it difficult having a mother who was a star? Has it ever been difficult striking out on your own, wanting to be independent and wanting to make sure they’re happy with what you’re doing because we all want that?

Jones: Of course. Well, they’re unconditionally supportive of whatever I chose to do. They would not care. It’s nice to be able to talk to them about this because they know what it’s like and I think that in my twenties, for sure, I was like, ‘I want to be my own person and I want to work hard and I want to get it for myself.’ But they always supported that, too. That shadow was kind of like a projection. It was never anything that they did to me. They wanted me to be my own person and they wanted me to work hard because they knew that was the only way that I was going to feel the benefit of my own successes. Now it’s really nice because the tables have turned a little bit and my parents can be proud of me for doing things that I’ve done. My dad is just shinning proud all the time. He’s really, really cute and talks about me so much, even to strangers, which is kind of embarrassing, but he’s really sweet that way.

Question: Did you have to dance for eight hours to Rush like the other guys?

Jones: Yes, indeed. I didn’t sweat as much as they did. I mean, they were like pouring with sweat, but I did have to dance, yeah. I listened to ‘Limelight’ for twelve hours.

Question: Do you hate Rush now or love them?

Jones: No, I don’t. I had never heard them before. I wasn’t really familiar with their music.

Question: It’s because you’re not Canadian.

Jones: I’m not Canadian and I wasn’t big on the Prague rock growing up, but I actually really liked it and their stuff is kind of complex and interesting and their lyrics are cool. So it wasn’t boring after twelve hours. My feet hurt, but that was about it. I was Rush-a-fied. I got Rush-a-fied [laughs].

Question: Have we seen the last of your character on ‘The Office’, is that over for you?

Jones: I think for the time being it would be a little weird –

Question: Except for the lecture circuit every now and then?

Jones: Yeah, and well, our show is going to be on with ‘The Office’ and it would be weird to have these parallel universes with these two people who look a lot like but are different characters.

Question: So it’s going to be ‘The Office’ and ’30 Rock’ and ‘Parks and Recreation’, you need one more and you’ve got a sort of all star lineup for Thursdays.

Jones: Yeah, exactly. I hope so.

Question: A lot of actresses complain that female characters in comedy aren’t relatable all the time. I thought yours really was. What was your take on this character in a comedy that was all about dudes?

Jones: Well, first of all John Hamburg clearly really likes women and has a lot of respect for them and respect for the dynamism of just being a female which I think is kind of rare. At first when I read the script the first thing that I was attracted was the fact that this was a well rounded character and this was a kind of independent person with a strong point of view and wasn’t just like the girlfriend of the guy. She’s integral to the story, to the way that the movie moves. So that made it really easy and then all the other girls in the movie are amazing and have very specific points of view as actresses and as characters. So it made it really easy and then I’m also a loud mouth and I just brought that to the role, I guess.

Question: When you read this script did you set to work on creating the character or did you let that come out gradually during shooting, improvising your way into her?

Jones: Well, I’m not a method actress by any stretch of the imagination so the best thing that I can do is be as real as possible and find whatever commonality in that character that I can see myself. Then it’s just exaggerating that for the part and that had a lot to do with the rehearsal that I did with Jason [Segel] and Paul. To me the crux of this was our relationship and making sure that it felt really real and that I wasn’t too naggy and that he wasn’t too much of a pushover, that we had the right balance there and seemed like we could actually be together. So that was probably where it all came from.

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