“Parks and Recreation” star Rashida Jones has found the secret to landing a juicy, complex leading role: write it yourself. Her first stab at screenwriting — with partner Will McCormack — is “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” a funny and realistic look at former high school sweethearts (Jones and Andy Samberg) who hit their 30s and decide to split up.
Was it ever difficult to balance being both an actress and co-writer on this project?
I would say really the only time it came into play was the three years of trying to get the movie made. Being an executive producer and a co-writer and knowing it was such a great part for me to be able to play, it was hard to keep taking the blows of the thing getting set up and then the thing crumbling. It was tough, but once I got on set, for me my only challenge that I wanted to tackle was doing a good job in the role and carrying the film, so I had to really shut all the other stuff down, you know?
Why do you think it’s so difficult for movies like this to get made?
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There’s a whole bunch of factors, and one of them is just the state of the industry, unfortunately. The movie industry isn’t special — the middle class is disappearing, and it’s happening in movies, too. These films that they used to make for $10 million or $20 million, where the financial stakes weren’t as high, they’re disappearing. They’re not as willing to spend money on that. They want to spend money on franchise movies or things that they know the kids are going to see on the weekends — that sounded like such an old person, but you know what I mean.
Do you see yourself doing more projects like this going forward?
I’m not sure if I want to begin a movie anytime soon. It was a lot of responsibility. But I definitely want to write more, and I hope that I can continue to write things that feel realistic and maybe slightly innovative, maybe left of center. And Will and I are really excited to write something else.
Why did it take so long for someone to cast Elijah Wood as a gay best friend? Because he was great.
(laughs) You know, I don’t know. He’s probably been busy doing lots of other really cool things.