Sex Advice From A Beautiful, Tropical Fish
I INTERVIEWED RASHIDA JONES! It was for Nerve (where I sometimes write some things and stuff) to promote her new movie, Celest and Jesse Forever which you should go see.
She was (predictably) disarmingly charming and smart. And really, really pretty. I have a sneaking suspicion that she is a kindred spirit.
(This is the original transcript, but the published version is here on Nerve.)
Sex Advice From Rashida Jones
You probably already want to hang out with Rashida Jones. From Freaks and Geeks to Parks and Recreation to smaller roles in The Muppets, The Social Network, and one million other impressive things, she has done a little bit of everything you care about. She makes her screenwriting debut with Celeste and Jesse Forever, alongside Andy Samberg. The two dreamboats play best friends who are divorcing, while trying to outwit an actual breakup. She wrote this film with her best friend whom she dated for three weeks in the 90’s. Then she tried to set our interviewer up with her writing partner. Yes, she really is that cool.
First off: You’re pretty.
I was just thinking because my writing partner like, loves… cute redheads.
Oh yeah? He likes a redhead? I like me a writer.
‘Cause I was like, gonna text him.
Are you single?
Um. Kind of.
How old are you?
You’re so cute.
Thanks! I’m so flustered!
Alright. We’ll talk about it.
Sounds good. Um. So. Your character is in love with her best friend, whom she’s also divorcing. What inspired that?
I think a lot of people I know were sort of going through this. Sorry. I’m putting my feet up. These shoes are really uncomfortable.
They’re really cute.
They’re not good for walking. Um. A lot of people that Will and I knew were kind of going through this. Not necessarily a divorce, but that person that you love and have loved, and taught you about love and taught you how to be in a real, adult relationship. And you don’t want to lose that person altogether, because they’re your best friend. So you think you can outsmart the process of separating from somebody, and you make this decision to kind of have this middle ground friendship, that’s A) irritating to your friends, and B) ultimately unhealthy. We were just working with what we were seeing.
There’s also this kind of archetype of a lady who was really ambitious, driven, successful, opinionated, being with a guy who’s kind of like a slacker and a manchild, not as ambitious. Maybe a little bit poetic, head in the clouds. We were seeing that a lot, too. That relationship dynamic. Almost like traditional male/female roles had been inverted a little bit.
Yeah, I feel like that’s a very strange shift in romantic stories lately.
Which, by the way, I’m happy about. At its most successful, it allows guys to be Beta, or more sensitive. It empowers them in a different way, rather than just being super macho. Unfortunately, in this scenario in the movie, it doesn’t work out. He needs somebody who’s going to make him feel like a man. But in its best case, it just allows men be more sensitive.
Andy Samberg is playing a romantic lead is unusual. What made you think of him for the role?
Andy and I have been friends for a really long time, since before he was on SNL, he was a stand-up and a writer and everything when we met. He’s so great. I didn’t know if he wanted to do something like this. He’d read the script, as my friend, just for feedback a long time ago. He was really nice and complimentary about it. But he didn’t say, “I want to do this part.” Then, as we started gearing up to film it, he was like, “I want to do it. And I think I can do it!” Because you don’t know if the person can do it, or has it in them, or wants to duke it out with you on the street. You know. We’re friends. It could be awkward. But he was right. He could do it. But I think there’s a lot that’s bought by the fact that Andy is one of those guys that you already have an association with. You already have an idea of who he is, and his face, and you like him, and he’s so funny. It bought us a lot. You can drop into the middle of the relationship, and you kind of know what to expect from him. And then he turns a corner and gives a great dramatic performance, which makes it more interesting.
This is kind of a heady question. A literary question, if you will: Oscar Wilde once said, “Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.” What’s your response to that? Do you believe that men and women can actually have non-sexual mutually beneficial relationships?
It’s the When Harry Met Sally question. Although that question, in that movie, sidenote, is that they end up together. The answer to the question is “no.” I think all those things that Mr. Wilde referred to, are things that yes, they bubble in friendships, too. I have girl friends and guy friends that I feel passionate about and that I feel romantic about. I think it’s about controlling it in a way where you focus the currency of the relationship towards a certain place.
Will and I are best friends, we’re writing partners, we dated for three weeks in the 90’s, but now, we used our currency for friendship and work. And I think you can do that. We’re evolved enough to do that, to be more strategic about how we have relationships, and how we control our feelings. We’re not animals. We don’t attack people on the street. We can be friends! We can totally do it! I think there’s always gonna be some weirdness. But I have so many guy friends. I have guy friends that I’ve been friends with since I was fifteen, that I’ve never slept with, I’ve never kissed. I’m sure both of us have thought about it, but we’ve decided, ultimately, that it’s not worth it. That we’d rather be friends. It’s totally possible.
That’s very grown up of you.
You know. I’m single. Whatever. What do I know?
Can you tell me about a time when you were in love with someone emotionally off limits for one reason or another?
Oh boy. Shit. All I can think of is crushes, when I was really little, young. There were a couple people I had crushes on when I was a teenager, who were, like, a little older than me. Who were dating, like, my older sister. That really formed, and informed, the way I liked guys for the next 20 years, because there was always a slight idol worship. And there was a lot of like, fallen idol shit that I had to work out in therapy. People would disappoint me and be less than perfect, and then I’d have to deal with that version of the relationship. And that’s something that I definitely try not to do anymore. So for me the key is getting to know somebody, before I decide how amazing and perfect they are, because nobody is perfect, and everybody’s super flawed. It sucks to be disappointed, so the key is to create no expectation.
How do you get yourself out of the friend zone? How do you make a friendship into a sexy thing?
Nope. That’s not a thing I’ve ever been good at. I kind of know right away if it’s on or not. I think it’s so pheromonal, right? Like you’re just smelling each other. And they say when you first kiss somebody, you’re exchanging immunities. Isn’t that crazy?
I don’t know enough about it, but I wonder if exchanging immunities, and if the immunities are good matches, if it’s hotter. Do you know?
I like that idea. It makes a lot of sense.
I like the idea, too! It would make me feel like biology is king. I don’t know if that’s true, though. It should be that pheremonally, you’re attracted to somebody who has something that you want. Because then it’s not up to you at all, who you’re attracted to. It’s kinda not up to you anyway.
But I’ve never turned that friendship corner back into romance. Like, I could do romance to friendship, back to romance. But I can’t do friendship romance. There has to be romance first. Or passion. Sex. Yeah.
Ok! Now, forgive me in advance for this next question. I was, uh…
Exactly. Your parents (Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton) are both famous sex symbols. This is very important, so please answer as candidly as you can: which of your parents is sexier?
OH MY GOD!
IT IS THE WORST!
Why don’t you just shoot me in the eye!
That can be your answer!
Yeah, why don’t you just take a gun, and shoot me in the left eye?
I don’t want to do that.
Well, maybe they’re both equally sexy and that makes me, like, exponentially more sexy? I don’t know.
What lessons did your dad pass on about love and dating?
My dad is a total romantic. I know that sounds crazy because he has seven children with five different women…
I think that’s, like, the very definition, of a romantic, right?
It is! He’s always so romantic. He, like, dates a lot now. He’s 79. And he has a lot of girlfriends. But my dad is like, all heart. Both my parents are all heart. They’re just like, “the heart doesn’t lie.” Which is nice, because I’m kind of all about the intellect, and that’s a thing I have to control and move away from. I do tend to turn to my parents. As I get older, I value the heart and what the heart wants more than I did when I was a kid. When I was younger it was like, “This is right,” and “On paper this makes sense” but, the heart wants what the heart wants.
Ohmygod, Will said to me, we were doing preshoots for this movie, and we were talking about, like, age differences. Maybe I liked somebody who was younger or something, and he said, “The heart wants what the heart wants. I mean, look. Some people want to have sex with animals. What are you gonna do?” I was like, “That’s so not the same thing!! You just totally equated me with a bestial fucking fetishist?!” No. That did not make me feel better.
“It could be worse.” But that’s not really comforting.
No. Not at all.
So, I’m a big Twin Peaks nerrrrd…
Oh my god, obsessed.
Wait, really?! Your mom was Norma Jennings!
Oh my god, that’s so good to know.
Totally obsessed. Had like, the diaries. Do you remember the diaries?!
Of course! High school smut!
I was terrified of BOB. I was in high school, so I had no right to be that scared of any fictional character. I would check under my bed every night. Also, not cool to be afraid of someone who doesn’t exist when your mom is on the television show. And you go to set and you see BOB walking by, and you know that he’s like, a nice person. He was a nice person. He was a set dresser, that, like happened to be in shot. It was so good!
And all the girls were so pretty.
And so weird!
So weird! And so pretty. I was obsessed with the cherry stem tying…
‘Cause I could do it.
Me too! High fives.
What’s the best way for a fan to hit on you?
To… Not… Hit on me? Can that be the answer?
Of course. Have you ever had an interaction with a fan that charmed you?
People are generally pretty nice. They tend to be more disgusting on the internet because there’s a barrier of digital life between us. But generally people are pretty sweet and cute. The problem is, I’m not who you think I am, so we have an imbalance anyway.
I told my little sister, who’s a huge Parks and Recreation fan, that I was going to interview Ann Perkins, and she wanted me to tell you that you are a beautiful tropical fish. So.
Aw! That’s adorable! Tell her thank you. I’ve gotten that a couple times, actually.
But it’s funny because you’re not that person! We feel like we know that character, but it’s just a character.
It’s a weird thing. I never thought I would be in that situation. But I know what it’s like for me. Last night I was on The Daily Show, and I didn’t really think about it until I was there, and John Stewart came to my dressing room and I was so freaked out. Because I’m such a big fan. I love him so much, and I was like, “Don’t come in here. You don’t know me. I’m your fan. You don’t fucking know me. Don’t talk to me.”
Do you know there’s a Tumblr called, Rashida Jones Knows Everyone and it’s just pictures of you with famous people?! Is that… ture?
Pssshhhhhhttt. What do you expect! I mean, I grew up in Hollywood. I’ve been kicking around forever, and I’m social. And I write and I act and I’ve been working for fifteen years! And, my parents are music and TV and film! Like, I don’t really have a choice. I do know a lot of people, and my friends used to give me shit about it. But it’s not like I’m friends with everybody. I have my homies from high school and college and after college, and that’s my core. Also, most of the people that I’m friends with who are in the business, I’ve been friends with for ten to fifteen years, and we’ve all survived the business together and that’s why we’re friends.
Speaking of people you know! This question assumes that all participants are single and available: Let’s say Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, and Andy Samberg, as a for instance, walk into a bar. Who gets the most action and why?
Jason would conjure up the most action, ‘cause he’s just like that. Paul would probably ask for the least amount of action and get the most. And Andy would just be, like, broing down with everybody. And then after, like, three hours, everybody would want to give him action. God, that would be so hard. That’s like a Jewish wet dream. What would you do if those three walked into a bar?!
Me? I would explode. Also, where is this bar?
It would like crumble an entire generation of women. It would crumble me. I don’t think I could do it. I guess I did hang out with them, during I Love You Man.
But you blocked it out because it was too intense?
That’s like, a lot of hot funny hotness.
It’s a lot of dude.
It’s a lot of dude.
Okay, ladies’ edition of this question…
Amy Poehler, Zooey Deschanel, and Aubrey Plaza.
That’s really hard. But in that way, there’s something for everyone. Maybe there’s more variety. If you want to go with just, like, a queen, who’s like, running shit? And hot? You’d go Amy. If you liked being ignored and being played games with, you’d go Aubrey. And if you just liked, like, straight up quirkiness? You’d go with Zooey.
Yeah. All the flavors.
I would say all flavors. Everybody’s taken care of.
Great! Do you have a type?
I’d say funny and smart is my type. And tall. I like tall. And confident. But not too confident. Smart and funny is the biggest thing for me. But, like, actually funny. And actually smart. Not like smart like, “I’m gonna show you I’m smart.” Smart like, “I’m just smart so, don’t worry about it. Figure it out.”
Are you wiritng my Nerve.com profile as we speak?
I am. Aren’t you excited! When is ex-sex a good idea?
“Ex-Sex.” Sex with an ex. It looks better on paper.
Oh, right! Ex-sex I think is a long-term good idea when you know that you’re not going to see them again or call them again. If it’s really ex-sex. If it’s ex-sex with the hopes of it not being over? You’re screwed. You’ll be stuck in the cycle.
Ex-sex is also a good idea when there’s unfinished business. Like maybe, like, subtly hate sex? Or, like, let-me-show-you-how-much-I’ve-learned-in-the-past-couple-years sex. I think that’s a good one. Where you just need to show them new information about what you know, now.
Several of your characters have made bad dating decisions. What’s the worst romantic disaster you’ve ever had?
Oh god. There are so many. I’m not going to go into details, but in my “dating heyday,” I had a run-in. I was dating two people at the same time, and one found out about the other, and it was super awkward. I mean! I didn’t promise anybody a rose garden, it still was not comfortable. I had to do a lot of patching up. And then I realized, I don’t need to date multiple people at the same time. I realized that that’s not what dating is. I’d been with a boyfriend for so long that I didn’t know that I should actually just try to focus on one at a time. I was like, juggling. It was like a full-time job. And then it wasn’t anymore.
Then you went on vacation.
This movie is like a grown up, post meet-cute romantic comedy. Do you have a favorite romantic comedy?
I mean, the holy grail for me is When Harry Met Sally and Annie Hall. And Broadcast News. Which I guess maybe is not a rom-com. But maybe it is. It’s a perfect movie. It is my favorite. Those three are, like, unbeatable. They’ll never be beaten. Don’t want them to be beaten. They still hold up. Hard.
Congratulations on writing this project and everything!
Thanks! That’s like, the good thing, about getting old. Older. Is that I had so much fear, in my 20s, about actually doing stuff, completing stuff, putting it out there. And now I just, care a little bit less.
And then you do it, and it’s out there.
It’s out there. It’s for everybody else to decide.