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Video/Q&A: 'Celeste and Jesse Forever' star/co-writer Rashida Jones

(Lenny Gilmore / RedEye )
August 07, 2012|Matt Pais | RedEye movie critic

Women break down in romantic comedies all the time. They just rarely do so to the point of looking unattractive, says Rashida Jones.

“She always looks good, her hair looks good and her apartment’s pretty. It’s like, there’s things strewn on her couch and she’s sniffling a little bit,” says the 36-year-old star and co-writer of the breakup tale “Celeste and Jesse Forever.” “We wanted to go way past that. The un-showered, un-tethered, stoner drunk mess that I have been at times in my life, and I think other women have been.”

In the film opening Aug. 10, Celeste (Jones) has exactly that sort of breakdown as she copes with her divorce from Jesse (Andy Samberg), who moves on to another woman faster than Celeste expected. The movie offers a welcome opportunity to spend more time with the immensely likable “Parks and Recreation” actress, who so far has spent most of her big-screen appearances in supporting parts in films like “I Love You, Man,” “Our Idiot Brother” and “The Social Network.”

At the Peninsula Hotel, Jones (daughter of Quincy, a Chicago native) talked music, what couples should discuss more frequently and her incredibly eventful life that has included having LL Cool J perform at her Sweet 16 and receiving Cabbage Patch Kids as a gift when she went to the mall. With Michael Jackson.

“I think that was probably the first time I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, my life is not like other people’s lives,’” she says with a laugh. “I’m at the mall with Michael Jackson.”

If you could hear one song for the rest of your life, “Call Me Maybe” or “What Makes You Beautiful,” which would you choose?
“What Makes You Beautiful”?

That One Direction song.
[Gasps.] [Sings and snaps.] “That’s what makes you beautiful!” Oh my God, that’s so funny. I was just in Italy with a friend of mine and we sang that the entire time. I love One Direction! Oh, but probably “Call Me Maybe” is a better song as a construction, as a masterpiece. It’s more interesting. But then I wouldn’t get to see those cute boys. Oh, no, I’m not watching the video, I’m just listening to the song? “Call Me Maybe.”

That was a good back and forth.
With myself. [Laughs.]

In “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” there’s a sense that the characters’ relationship went on too long, or some things went unexamined. What’s something couples don’t discuss as much as they should?
Oh, interesting. I guess probably in the modern age probably monogamy. Because I feel like it’s this thing that we just assume we’re going to do and that’s what you commit to when you commit to a relationship, but there are parts of it that are unnatural and tested every day because there’s so much choice now. And you don’t get married to your high school sweetheart; you don’t stay in your hometown. You have access to the entire world. So I feel like it would be good for couples to discuss the fact that the monogamy they give to each other is a gift and it’s something to be respected and to feel grateful for as opposed to just taking it for granted.

What are the chances that becomes something a lot of people do? Do you read Savage Love, Dan Savage’s sex column? The issue comes up in there all the time.
It does.

And it feels like something that is—
Buried. I feel like we still live in a weirdly puritanical country that believes in this institution of marriage that we’re basically blowing it. Half the time we’re not even making it through the marriage, so I feel like the sooner we can get to talking about it the more likely we’ll be to evolve into whatever next phase there is of modern love.

Although if half the time we’re not making it then half the time we are. Why when people talk about this do they focus on the half that don’t work out?
Well, if you’re a mathematician or you work in the stock market, if something doesn’t work out a majority of the time, that’s the thing you’re going to be focused on. Unfortunately, people don’t focus on the success of anything; they focus on the failure of it and how they can fix the failures of it.

Speaking of failures, there’s definitely some awkward dates in this movie.
[Laughs.] Many fails.

I believe you say, “Do you like bread” at one point.
Yeah, perfect conversation starter.

Great conversation starter. What’s the worst thing someone’s said to you on a date or something you said that as soon as it was out of your mouth you were like, “Whoops”?
[Laughs.] So many bad moments. But I remember going on a date with a guy and we did not know each other at all, and he tried to feed me lobster. And that was really awkward.

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