Interview with Rashida Jones - Co-writer and Star of Celeste and Jesse Forever

Interviews
by Melissa Silverstein
August 1, 2012 1:34 PM
4 Comments
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Got a chance to meet the whip smart star of Parks and Recreation on TV (do you watch that show?) and the co-writer and star of the very good Celeste and Jesse Forever.  Here's our conversation.  The film opens Friday, August 3rd in limited release.

Women and Hollywood: I was so excited when your film was announced and wanted you to comment on a quote that you said about why you wrote the film.

"It's hard to find female leads that are flawed and interesting and dynamic. We wanted to write something that was in the vein of Judd Apatow -- you talk like you actually talk with your friends -- but with ladies..I want to do that and not just be someone's girlfriend or wife. I want to be the one to go on the journey."

WaH: Why has it been so hard for women to go on the journey?

Rashida Jones: Not be reductive but isn't everything harder for women?  Isn't it just harder to be alive and be a woman?  We carry this tacit burden of being more empathetic -- again reductive -- of keeping the peace, getting paid less, getting less acknowledgment.  And being nurturing as well as being powerful. It's a high responsibility and I do think that I am very grateful for the feminist movement and it's really put us ahead and has empowered us in a way that is daunting for men.  They don't know how to fit in, they don't know how to deal with it and I think that to publicly still be the "big guys" makes them feel better.  That is the one thing they still have control over.  They can still feel like they are balancing it by being in charge.

WaH: Movieland seems to be even harder.

RJ: Anything public, entertainment especially, is always a little bit behind.  And now there is this trend towards women.  I think when I said that, Bridesmaids hadn't yet come out.  Movieland is harder for everything.  You can't be an openly gay moviestar.  You can't be an openly gay pop star really- minus Ricky Martin.  I am happy to take whatever this new trend is for women and claim it and make it ours.  I hate calling it a trend because it is a reality.  The trend is that it is now being reflected in Hollywood.

WaH: I was thinking about it this today because I saw Ruby Sparks, your movie and coming up is Bachelorette and For a Good Time Call.  All the movies were being made when Bridesmaids came out so what is happening clearly happened before Bridesmaids, but they are building on the success.

RJ: I think the reason why it is now is because Hollywood is unfortunately about money.  So if they can seize something financially viable in a trend they are going to support it. That's fine.  I am happy to use it.  Will and I are writing partners -- Will has a lot of feminine qualities and I have have a lot of masculine qualities.  We write both.  It's not like I write all the female voices and he writes all the male voices.  He has a really strong female voice too.  I feel this way about multiculturalism too, the more of the spectrum you can represent, the better it is.  "Women who are domineering and horrible, women who are volunteering subjugating themselves.  Women who are confused, women who are sluts.  Women who have chosen to not lose their virginity."  The more you have the less you can stick someone into one category and I know for me personally as an actress I have played these nice dependable pragmatic characters for a long time which is great because it is an aspect of my personality.  But I also have a little bit of an edge as a person and I wanted to show a version of that as well.  Celeste is a woman who is maybe more common now than before - she is on top of her game, built this whole life on an identity on how she sees the world.  She is very opinionated, very outspoken and maybe its crumbling because she can't control everything and that's different for her and she has to learn a new way to deal with life.

WaH: I'm excited to see all different kinds of women.  The multidimensional women.  We see them on TV but not in the movies.

RJ: It's true and that used to be the opposite.  And it's nice that it is happening in a way.  One of the things that I am most proud in being a part of on Parks and Recreation is my relationship with Amy's (Poehler) character.  It's how women are actually friends.  We support each other.  We get mad at each other and then we talk it out.  Guys come between us.  Work comes between us but ultimately we work it out.  We are totally unconditionally supportive of each other which is how my friends are.

WaH: Parks and Recreation is one of the most radical shows on TV.

RJ: I know isn't it crazy?

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4 Comments

  • Flow555 | August 3, 2012 11:00 AMReply

    Great conversation! Very mulit-demensional.... you both are pioneering and doing an awesome job at it!

  • Ainsley Caffrey | August 2, 2012 6:09 PMReply

    Can't wait to see Celeste and Jesse Forever. I love the concept of the film and love Rashida Jones! I am even more excited to see the film after reading this interview and discovering that she co-wrote the film.

    http://www.missmillmag.com/

  • Susan Cartsonis | August 2, 2012 1:35 AMReply

    I loved this film. Rashida Jones is a movie star and fantastic writer. Cheers to her and Team Todd and the rest of the people responsible for making the film. Great directing and cinematography. Lovely.

  • grrljock | August 1, 2012 2:23 PMReply

    Thanks for the interview. Totally agree that one of the best things about Parks and Recreation is Leslie and Ann's relationship, though paradoxically Ann seems to be the least defined major character because she mainly serves as foil/straight man to the others. I'm following Rashida Jones' career with interest, and will watch out for CaJF.

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