December 8, 2014 @ 11:48 AM
Rashida Jones is the latest creative to sit down for Entertainment Weekly's Lightbulb videos, a new series that examines what makes some of today's leaders in the creative fields tick.
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Despite her many memorable (and high profile) TV roles, including Ann on Parks and Recreation, Jones's rise to Tinseltown stardom didn't come easily. The actress admits that after many failed attempts to land a role, she almost gave up on the profession before getting her big break alongside Steve Carell and John Krasinski on The Office. Since then, Jones has added producer and writer to her ever-growing resume, fully cementing herself as a mainstay on TV and in film. Watch the full video above to learn more about her career path and what's next for the lovable actress. Plus, head to ew.com to check out the full Lightbulb Video series!
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Hi. Hi, how's it going? Good. I'm Rasheeda. I'm Darren. Very nice to meet you. Nice to meet you. Thanks for being here. Nice to be here. Here, take a seat. Take a seat. [MUSIC] You're watching EW Lightbulb, presented by Glade. I wanna talk a little bit about just getting your start with acting. One thing that I'm always really kind of interested about is how you kind of break into the world of network sitcoms. When I moved to LA, I wanted to do comedy. That's what I wanted to do. Every actor has the same story. It's like, you're too this, you're too that, you're too this, you're too that. I was too quirky for the lead. I was, like,. Maybe a little too attractive to be the side kick, whatever story it was. Being told that you're too attractive must be ipptically strange thing for a performer to hear, right? I mean, but then you're also told you're not attractive enough to be, you know... Hollywood. Hollywood. I remember being told I wasn't I tested for a drama on the WB and then I was told the reason I didn't get the part is because I wasn't WB enough. What does that mean? It means that I'm not irrelevant now, so that's good. [LAUGH] So I almost gave up. I almost quit. And then I got the audition for The Office, and I was a little tentative cause I had a lot of friends on that show. I think there is a, a slight misnomer in Hollywood that like if you know people you get parts. And everybody's scared to lose their jobs. Nobody is in the position of authority to give anybody any work really like. There's not some mayor of. Hollywood, No! That's just going to kind of get you [CROSSTALK] [CROSSTALK] I am guaranteeing you, no. Now, will you still meet Tom Cruise? Yeah. No. I felt like I had won some, like, contest, cuz I watched the show and loved it so much. It was pretty nuts. It was extra real. The character, Anne, when, Well, We first met her, what was that kind of like? Finding out where she was going and finding out who she was? Well, it's really a little bit parallel with Washita's trajectory. I just refer to myself like third person. I'm so sorry, it's horrible. [LAUGH] I you know, I play the street man a lot. That's like a thing that I do. And I'm, I'm a little bit like comedy adjacent sometimes I like to say. And. That's on your business card, comedy adjacent, sure. Yeah exactly, exactly. The part of beauty of that is that you get to have it more of the emotional dramatic turns. So that's where like my. The other part of my career comes into play. You know, from the office you transitioned into Parks and Recreation. What's it like for you playing a character for that long, over the course of so many years? Parks is by far the best work situation. That being said, it's still, you know it's 14 hours a day, it, it is a bit of a grind. And it's been really fun to be able to play with all of these incredibly talented, really funny people, but there is something very specific about being. The straight guy. I've always wanted to have an opportunity to break out of that a little bit. Feels to me like you're kind of trying to go for something kinda fresh and something new. Do you feel the need for your characters to embody some element of, of feminism, or to sort of like, not to say like be a role model, but to certainly explore stuff that, that in the past, female characters haven't gotten to explore? I think that we were aware of it, and wanted to. You know, Amy was very adamant about portraying, like, two female characters on TV having like a really healthy supportive relationship' cuz you don't get to see that that often. Obviously I'm supportive of that, too. So you get to Celeste and Jesse forever. How did that kind of come about,' cuz you, you co-wrote it, you starred in it, this was a big Rashida project. Yeah, my best friend, Will McCormack, we had talked about writing together for a long time. We said let's sit down and write something and just write it until it's done. If it sucks we'll burn it, and from there it just kinda grew. But. I think the inspiration was I grew up on romantic comedies, I love them so much, especially the ones from the 70s and the 80s, when you didn't have to fit a quadrant, as it's called now. [LAUGH] Any Woody Allen movie really, any James Brooks movie. Well, it's funny to because those movies that you mentioned as inspirations, like they're romantic comedies, they are favid bleak. They're dark, so that's what we wanted to do, we wanted to go somewhere and to bring you somewhere. That you know where you're actually having real feelings, but you can also laugh you know because to us like life is that weird where you turn, it turns on a dime and you have that pivot and you're, you're so sad and then all of a sudden you're laughing.>>So Lest in Jesse to me is very bittersweet, but there's a real kind of underpinning of optimism to it and, and a to z as a TV show. It's very kind of like fun, like is that, is, is it kind of like a tone that you're going for in these projects? You know, we're, we're constantly trying to figure out what our brand is, because everybody's obsessed with brand. And I think the only thing we can settle on as a commonality is that. We're interested in the, the truth of relationship and then any comedy that comes from there we're, we're happy about you know? So even if it's like I'm cool with total absurd comedy as long as the root of it is true and it's something that people relate to. We wanna make a movie about family next. Okay, so you're gradually building up to the multi generational. Family epic- Yes. [LAUGH] Do that? I hope so. [LAUGH] From your lips, yeah. What's it, what's it been like transitioning into the new role of being the person who's, who's at least partially behind the scenes generating this stuff? It's really interesting. I, you know, I think it'll be weird to go back to just acting again because I know so much now. Like, it's, you know, sort of- You seem- Disillusioned- Behind the curtain, yeah. It's disillusioning it's also really like enlightening you know? Mm-hm. And I, I actually wouldn't want to unknow what I know but it's nice to be able to be at the beginning of a creative process with a lot of people that I trust and like and, and to be hard and respected in that way is nice. More in the drivers seat. Yeah and listen I, it's, there's still like so many echelons of like. Authority that you have to get through before, like, your thing is actually accepted, as the right thing to do. But you're closer to it than you are when you are, like, an actress. You're closer to the Mayor of Hollywood. Yeah. This much closer. Soon, soon, soon, you want to be them. Yeah. Watch all of ew.lightbulb, presented by Glade.