It takes truly special talents to be able to make truly special films. Out today on DVD & Blu-Ray from our friends at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is a wonderful film that pushes the boundaries of what a romantic comedy is expected to be and makes it something incredibly heartfelt and real. In advance of today's release I got to talk to the star of the film who also took on the duties of executive producer and screenwriter for the very first time. It's time to talk about "Celeste and Jesse Forever" with Rashida Jones.
DV: How are you today Rashida?
Rashida Jones: I'm great thanks for asking.
DV: Let's talk "Celeste and Jesse Forever"; I gotta say that I really loved the movie and it isn't one that you can fit into any kind of mold as it moves so effortlessly from heartfelt to heartbreaking to hilarious; what inspired this story?
RJ: Thank you so much for saying that, it came from my own experiences with relationships and it also seemed like a thing that was really common among our friends with people in their first adult relationship and it taught them how to be a partner in a relationship. Then a change happens and they just don't know how to make the jump and let go of the person as they try to keep the person in their lives in a way that is potentially a little unhealthy. And you know we were seeing it a lot as there was a lot of emotion in that scenario with a lot of dynamics to mine and that is kind of how it all got started.
DV: A lot of it really hit home for me personally, especially for those of us in our mid-30's it's a very relatable story.
DV: This is not only your first time as a writer but also as an executive producer on the project, how was it for you wearing the multiple hats on a film with more responsibilities?
RJ: You know it was fulfilling and also really difficult, I guess like anything fulfilling really is. Though while we were filming the movie, I kind of had to take off the other hats because I knew that if the movie was going to work on any level that I had to be committed to just the acting part of it. It was an incredibly steep learning curve is all I can say, but I learned a lot about filmmaking really quickly because you it's a scenario where you just have to find an answer even if you don't have one, it was invaluable it really was. But that being said, I'm not dying to produce a movie even at a tiny level any time soon (laughs). It's hard.
DV: Any improvisation on set, or was it all in the script?
RJ: Unfortunately, we didn't have a lot of time, because we didn't have a lot of money. There wasn't a whole lot of improv, but there were a couple of scenes. In particular the scene where Andy & I have our way... with the lip balm?
RJ: That scene, Andy really created a very personal story when it came to the foreplay of the lip balm and I kind of let him go for it because he seemed to be really involved in it... (comedic pause)...but besides that we pretty much stuck to the script.
DV: There was one line in particular in a scene with you and Ari Graynor where you mentioned you had a date with the star of "20,000 B.C" the prequel to 10,000 B.C" and I just howled!
RJ: (Laughs) That was definitely in the script, I love that joke.
DV: You both played it so straight and it worked perfectly.
RJ: (Laughs) Thanks!
DV: I have to talk about the soundtrack for a second...
DV: When you think of the romantic comedy genre, for music the standard mold goes to an indie rock vibe, however when songs by Freddie Scott and Bobby Caldwell come up it puts you in a different mindset. Did you have any say on the soundtrack and was music a part of it helping you to get the story where it needed it go?
RJ: It was very much a part of the process and it was extremely important for us to be able to get that right. When Will (McCormack) and I wrote the script we wrote it to my nephew Sunny Levine's album "Love Rhino" which is just the perfect break up album and so naturally when we were talking about the music for the movie we just said we have to have Sunny do the score which he did and Sunny and his partner Zack Cowie who is like a music encyclopedia designed these soundscapes for the movie because we wanted to make sure it was timeless. We didn't want an indie soundtrack that was going to be out of date in like two months, so he did this great thing by picking a lot of songs that were sampled by hip hop songs so people really on the inside know what the references are but they are still songs that are timeless and can be played over and over again. Thank you for noticing because it was a very well thought out execution.
DV: It was a real treat and for people who pick it up it makes the experience of watching the film even more special.
RJ: Agreed, agreed
DV: You have a fairly extensive track record of working with some hilarious people (I Love You, Man is a personal favorite). We all know that when you are on set the 'gag reel' moments happen. I've always been curious, from your experience do those moments tend to happen more on a comedy where the laughter is flying around the set, or on a drama where a tension breaker might be needed?
RJ: You know, I think that your instinct is probably right; it's comedy. What your trying to do is crack people up, it's like an occupational hazard. You crack people up and then they are going to ruin takes. On "I Love You, Man", I had a couple of scenes that I had to go and do ADR (Additional Dialogue Recording) because Paul (Rudd) was doing stuff that was just so funny, that he was cracking up the entire crew and ruining the take to that extent. I did a drama recently and it's different, because when you are doing a comedy and trying to make people laugh all day, your giggle reflex is just triggered because that's your job.
DV: Is there a dream job out there for you? A certain role, or that chance to work with so and so?
RJ: You know, I don't think that I have anything particular that I can point to, but you want to be able to work with people that you admire and learn from. I'd rather not play the bad versions of the things that I have already done, and I want to move forward. Every actor always says I'd love to work with Mike Nichols, Cameron Crowe, Woody Allen but I want to be able to work with the best people and for the most part I am really happy with where I am as I continue to grow.
DV: Anything notable coming up for you?
RJ: You know it's been good, you make your own movie and you do get some slightly better offers for sure but I have a movie coming out, a comedy called "Cuban Fury" a salsa dancing movie with Nick Frost, Chris O'Dowd and Ian McShane but I'm just kind of waiting for the right thing to come along.
DV: And the show (Parks and Recreation) is still going strong as well, so that eats up a fair amount of time...
RJ: Yeah, exactly and that is totally great so I can't honestly say I'm reading anything at the moment.
DV: Any Oscar picks?
RJ: I'm sort of out of it as some of my favorites of this past year weren't nominated like "The Master" and "Rust and Bone" and I'm kind of out of the game from that sense.
DV: I'm going to let you go, but you and Andy were great in this and best of luck with the home video release.
RJ: Awwwww...Thank you so much for saying that, I really do appreciate it.
DV: I'll let you get back to work and thanks again for the time.
RJ: You're welcome and it was great to meet you.
DV: Great to meet you too...
"Celeste and Jesse Forever" is now available on DVD & Blu-Ray at all major retailers and video stores everywhere.