It is hard to pin Jake Johnson down.
While Johnson played Nick Miller in “New Girl” for seven seasons, he balanced that out with leading parts in the indie hits “Safety Not Guaranteed” and “Drinking Buddies,” supporting roles in the blockbusters “Jurassic World” and “The Mummy,” and he even branched out to co-write “Digging For Fire” and “Win It All.”
Johnson’s eclectic career choices have clearly worked wonders so far, as his inherent warmth and goofiness immediately elevates any project he is involved in.
These qualities have also always meant that Johnson would be the ideal addition to any mainstream comedic ensemble. Which, coincidentally, was the next cinematic box that Johnson wanted to tick off.
That made the offer of Randy ‘Chilli’ Chilliano in “Tag” just too good to turn down, as the outrageous comedy revolves around a group of tight-knit friends and the 30-year long game of tag that kept them together.
Johnson recently admitted to me the immediate appeal of “Tag" was that it was a “big, studio comedy.”
“We all knew what we were trying to do,” Johnson said of his fellow cast-mates Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm and Hannibal Buress. “And I thought, ‘The laughs are good. There’s a lot of fun set-pieces. It is ridiculous. It has some heart. There was nothing in it that I thought was offensive or mean-spirited’.”
“I really wanted to make a popcorn movie. Where people could just go, and if they didn’t want to see a big franchise movie, or a sequel or a remake, if they just wanted to sit down and watch a big laugh comedy with an ensemble that you like. I thought that was accomplished and that made me happy.”
Johnson’s positivity for “Tag” bled into its production, as the actor insisted it was just “fun” to make the movie with a “really good group of people.” Unfortunately those good vibes didn’t manifest into an impromptu game of on-set tag, though.
“I am 40-years-old. I don’t have much interest in playing tag. I have interest in shooting a movie about tag. So there was no running around and tagging each other.”
Which was probably for the best, because Renner managed to break both of his arms just while shooting “Tag.” Johnson made it very clear that he wasn’t to blame for these injurie, pointing out that he “didn’t see the scene” being shot. Although he did joke that it was ”probably” somehow his fault “indirectly.”
It isn’t a surprise to learn that Johnson didn’t partake in a game of tag during production, as revealed that he didn’t even really like to play it when he was a child.
Instead, he just focused on “playing make-believe and wearing goofy clothes and wigs and using funny voices.” Johnson is more than aware that has ultimately paid dividends, as he enthusiastically pointed out “now I do it professionally.”
You can see Johnson joyously indulging in such shenanigans for our benefit once again when the refreshingly original and uproariously enjoyable “Tag” is finally released on June 15.