Roundtable Interview with Will McCormack & Rashida Jones
Actors and Co-Authors in ďCeleste and Jesse ForeverĒ
Dallas, Texas, July 26, 2012
Presbyterian Outlook: You put the romantic comedy kind of on its ear in this
Rashida Jones: I think itís a genre that we respect, a lot, and grew up on,
and itís hard to tell that story in a different way, because itís been
told so well, and so many times. I feel like we approached it with caution,
where we were going to try to do something a little different, maybe invert
some of the conventions.
Will McCormack: Yeah, itís such a familiar convention: you fall in love, you
fall out of love, and then you either fall back in love or you donít.
Thereís not that many things to do, so we tried to freshen it and invent it
and update it in ways that felt interesting to us. But more than anything, I
felt like we just tried to be honest, and not try to sugar-coat, or ironic, or
satirical about the painful parts of it, and what heartbreak has been like for
us and the people around us.
RJ: Yeah, they fell out of love, and thatís how their journey begins, and
WM: Yeah, and itís also about acceptance: you think your life is going to go
one way, and then you reach a certain age, and itís so disappointing to find
out itís not, but you realize life goes on, and hopefully you grew a little
bit because of the heartbreak.
RJ: Yeah, he didnít grow, and she did, then he did, a little, and she missed
him, and then he wasnít interested anymore, and then she grows, because she
gets rejectedÖitís all timing.
WM: Whatís that old expression: Godís in charge of what happens to you,
but the devilís in charge of the timing? Itís hard to make those two
things intersect. (I donít know. Iím single. Very lonely.)
Presbyterian Outlook: This somewhat reflects your own experience as a couple,
RJ: We had a moment like, ďYou know, weíre better off as friends.Ē
WM: Yeah, we were kids. But our relationship is a lot like Rashidaís and
Andyís in the film. We are best friends. We hope we never have to get
divorced. But the story came not just from us, but from a lot of our friends
who have been in dysfunctional relationships with exes. Rashida came to me
with the idea, we volleyed it back and forth, and we wrote it together kind of
quickly---in four months.
RJ: And four years for it to actually come out!
PO: You sat side by side on one computer, right? Did you read each otherís
RJ: (laughs) We do tend to share a brain, sometimes. And we speak the same
languageónot necessarily masculine or feminine, but balanced in that way,
and weíre actors, so we act out all the scenes, and if they sound wrong, we
know theyíre wrong, and we fix it.
WM: Now we write separately, which is more efficient, but not as much fun.
PO: (to Will) Did you see yourself as Jesse?
WM: Only for a millisecond. Iím a character actor; always will be; I was
perfectly happy to play Skillz (a minor role). Besides, Andy (Samberg) did a
PO: What do you want to write about next?
RJ: Weíre OK putting the rom-com-dram genre to bed.
PO: No pun intended.
RJ: (laughs) No, pun intended. Maybe writing about family. And siblings. And
parents. And mortality. Lifeís meaning, and how that changes for you as you
WM: What success means. Does it bring happiness? Parenthood. Relationships.
But still a comedy. I think all movies should be funny.
RJ: Yeah, there needs to be some levity.
WM: Thereís comedy every day. And even in heartbreak, the moment you know
youíre getting better is when youíre able to laugh a little bit.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephenís Presbyterian Church, Irving,