They say breaking up is hard to do, and perhaps no one understands this better than actress Rashida Jones, who celebrates a gutsy divergence from her usual girl(friend)-next-door comic turns with the release of her new movie and screenwriting debut, Celeste and Jesse Forever. The 36 year old actress stars as Celeste opposite Jesse (Andy Samberg), the two of them clinging onto a best-friend status despite their pending divorce. Billed as “a loved story,” the sentimental comedy explores the rough goings of attraction: will there be a second act between ex-lovers, or will an understudy swoop in for the lead?
W sat down with Rashida a few days before the film’s release, where she divulged candid relationship advice, the future of a music collaboration with papa Quincy Jones, and the allure of being in your mid-30s.
You and Will [McCormack, co-writer] dated briefly, split, became best friends, and then made this film together. A case of art imitating life?
Well, we dated right when we first met, but our timing wasn’t right and we figured out early on that romance wasn’t the path for us. Instead, we’re kind of like siblings; we spent a lot of time together and we share our own language. We’re not in the second act of the movie, but I can’t imagine it’s always easy for the people we date.
Do you think that second act is in the cards?
I wish; I think we both really wish, but we used up all our currency for friendship and for work—which is great, because that’s a much longer relationship than trying to be romantic and fucking it up.
I heard you’re able to stay good friends with most of your exes.
I do pretty good. I mean, the ones that I’ve wanted to stay friends with. I think you make mistakes, especially in your twenties, where you date guys you wouldn’t even be friends with—ever.
And what about the reverse? Can best friends evolve into lovers?
I was just saying that I don’t think you can go from best friends to lovers. That said, if the timing is right, he’s your best friend and you want to make babies with him—that’s good, that’s fucking the system. The best friendship is the hardest part, anyway.
Was it easier for you to make this film with close friends than strangers?
For sure. It’s great to have the opportunity to work with new directors like David Fincher. But with this particular film, because I wrote it and because I’ve never had to carry a movie before, I definitely wanted to surround myself with people that I trusted.
What’s the hallmark of good comedy?
There has to be truth. And for this movie, it was really important to have the comedy come from honesty; the funniest shit comes out of real life and things that people can relate to.
Like, I know that people have done Facebook spying or looked in somebody’s trash. It’s just being able to laugh at the thing that might hurt.
You and Will wrote this movie for a female audience. Do you think there’s a trend toward girl comedies?
I think because Bridesmaids was so successful, studios are interested in making these kinds of films. I hope it’s not a trend, though, I hope it’s a new reality in both film and TV.
I know your dad [Quincy Jones] is very proud of this latest endeavor of yours, and I heard one of the ways you and him connect is through music. Have you ever thought about doing a music collaboration?
Yes, we’ve talked about it but I’d want to put everything else aside and only focus on music, because I have so much respect for the process of music that I would want to bring a real virtuosity to it.
Is there something you love about being in your mid-thirties that surprises you?
Not giving a shit as much; I don’t care what people think as much and it’s so nice.
When did that develop?
30 and on. Caring about what people think of me decreases everyday. And also, I like myself. I’m not scrambling to find people to hang out with. Or dating just to date or whatever, I’m fine being alone. I want a baby and I want a family, for sure. But I have waited this long and I will late longer.
Photos, from top: David Lanzenberg; Lee Toland Krieger. All courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics