Actor Jake Johnson is best known as Nick Miller on the television show “New Girl.” But, he is also a veteran actor appearing in several comedies, including “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” “No Strings Attached” and “Paper Heart.”
Johnson joined the cast of the upcoming sci-fi romance movie “Safety Not Guaranteed” as a magazine reporter who traveled with a couple of interns to investigate a strange classified advert about time traveling.
During the press day for “Safety Not Guaranteed,” Johnson gave Latino Review an exclusive interview to discuss the details on his role for this project. In addition, he joked about his popular role on “The New Girl” and even revealed some info about his character in the upcoming romance “The Pretty One.”
“Safety Not Guaranteed” will be in limited release starting on June 8th in the cities of New York, Los Angeles and Portland. And then it expands its release in theaters nationwide on June 15th.
Check out the interview transcript below.
Latino Review: What attracted you to this project?
Jake Johnson: Working with Colin Trevorrow and being in a Derrick Connelly script. I think he is a great writer. I was excited to hear that Aubrey Plaza was interested. I’ve been a fan of “Parks and Recreation” for a while and her work in “Funny People” was really great. I really like the script. I really like Jeff’s character.
Latino Review: Talking about your character, no offense, but I thought your character was a jerk.
Jake Johnson: [Laughter] None taken.
Latino Review. I mean, what attracted you to this type of character?
Jake Johnson: I don’t mind audiences not liking characters I played. I don’t mind people thinking that he’s a jerk.
I like some jerks. I like that he was a jerk. I like that he was rough around the edges. I like that he gets hurt and tries to rebound. And that is interesting.
Latino Review: There was that side story about your character seeking out an old high school fling. That was a little bit different, wasn’t it?
Jake Johnson: Absolutely, that was fun to play.
Latino Review: How was it acting with Aubrey and Karan?
Jake Johnson: Working with Aubrey was great. She was a huge talent and really fun to work with. And she became a really good friend.
Working with Karan was really awesome too. He’s a real talented guy. It’s really fun to work with somebody that it was his first job. Everything was new [to him]. He got a really big career ahead of him. I’m excited to be a part of his [first movie].
Latino Review: Did you give [Karan] some helpful tips?
Jake Johnson: Probably more than he wanted to hear.
Latino Review: Like what?
Jake Johnson: We would just talk scenes out. I would say like, “I would think it would be funnier if you do this.” Or we talk philosophy about how to play the characters. We would rehearse in our hotel rooms a lot.
Latino Review: This is a movie that was filmed in less than a month. Could you talk about the short time frame and filming up in Seattle?
Jake Johnson: Shooting in Seattle was gorgeous. And the crew really works hard. Every day we were in a different location. It was just a fun experience. It was neat.
If you never been to the Seattle area—it was gorgeous.
Latino Review: I’ve never been to Seattle.
Jake Johnson: It’s gorgeous. We got to shoot all around Seattle and the Washington state. We took a road trip up to Oceanside.
Sometimes when you shoot something, you do like the same location. Like the TV show I’m on, we shoot in the loft a lot. So it’s really fun to shoot, but you’re in the same room.
The beauty of that movie was that we were in Seattle and exploring Seattle. Then we were finishing and going to different parts of town. It was a really fun experience.
Latino Review: You interacted a lot with the cast and crew?
Jake Johnson: Absolutely. We just became a big family. It was fun and I hope that I get to do more movies like it since they’re kind of the special ones.
Latino Review: On that note, which do you actually prefer—TV or movies?
Jake Johnson: They are so different. It really feels like apples and oranges to me. It’s hard to compare them.
What’s great about TV is the consistency and the amount of work. What’s great about these movies is that they are a little thing of lightning. They happen and they’re fast. You form a whole crew and then everyone dissolves.
They’re both really great. But they’re 180 degrees different.
Latino Review: The funniest thing is that you’re on the show “The New Girl,” and your character is trying to get the girl. So far, your character hasn’t got the girl. And, then in this movie, you didn’t get the girl either.
Jake Johnson: [Laughter] I think you’re finding something about me. I never get the girl.
Latino Review: [Laughter] What’s up with that? You’re not getting the girl. When are you going to be in a movie or TV show that you’ll finally get the girl?
Jake Johnson: You’re right. I don’t know. You’ll have to talk to my agent about that. [Laughter]
Although Nick (from “New Girl”) got a bunch of girls this season, he just didn’t get THE girl.
Latino Review: It’s like the same thing in the movie. Your character got a lot of girls, but….
Jake Johnson: Technically, you’re right. He didn’t get THE girl. So my characters get a lot of girls, but he doesn’t get THE girl. [Laughter]
Latino Review: You’re growing a beard right now, is that for a future role?
Jake Johnson: I’m doing a movie in a couple of weeks.
Latino Review: What’s the movie?
Jake Johnson: It’s called, “The Pretty One.” It’s with Zoe Kazan.
Latino Review: It’s that the one about the twin that died?
Jake Johnson: You read that one? Nice. We shoot in a couple of weeks and I’ll have a beard for that.
Latino Review: So what’s that movie about?
Jake Johnson: I’m not sure on what I’m allowed to say, except that it’s about a twin that died. [Laughter] I think that’s all I could say.
Latino Review: What character are you playing?
Jake Johnson: I play a guy named Basil, who kind of lives in the past a little. He likes to pretend and lives in a stoner fantasy world. He has to try and come out of that and wake up to the reality of his life.
Latino Review: Going back to this movie, “Safety Not Guaranteed,” what was the biggest challenge you had to face?
Jake Johnson: The biggest challenge was trying to find who the character was. It’s the trust in the process. We would literally do a scene and have two takes at it. And the director wants to move on. You have to trust that it’s all there and we have it.
In TV, you are able to just shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot. And you know you gave them options.
And in this, we didn’t have a lot of time. But, you do an entire scene sometimes and you’ll only shoot it twice. And you would have to have faith a lot that they had it.
The biggest challenge was the trust in the director.
Latino Review: Was there any improve and jokes on the set?
Jake Johnson: There was a lot of improvising. We had a very solid script, but we improvise things in the moment a lot. And, you just had to trust that it was working.
Latino Review: What was a scene in the movie that was very noticeable to be seen as an improve?
Jake Johnson: There’s a scene with my character and Karan’s character are in the hallway and I put the sunglasses on him and pop his collar. That was an improvised scene.
Latino Review: That was an interesting scene.
Jake Johnson: The scene was there in story, but we improvised on the dialogue and how we did it.
Latino Review: And your character wasn’t treating the [investigation] seriously and towards the end—it was a complete surprise. Without giving way the ending, of course, was that the right ending in your mind?
Jake Johnson: 100 percent. I loved it. I saw it for the first time at Sundance. I reacted with the crowd. I reacted like my character does in the movie.
Latino Review: You were happy and cheery.
Jake Johnson: Yeah, I liked it. I predicted the other ending. I kinda knew what the movie was. It was about this sad sack—so I get it. And then the ending happened that way. So I said, “Fuck yeah!” Let’s have fun. Let it work. So much in life doesn’t work—so let this one work. So I thought it was great.
Latino Review: If you were in the main character’s shows—what would your mission be and when?
Jake Johnson: The truth is that I wouldn’t go back. I wouldn’t mess with it. If you go back, then you won’t get the present as is. I wouldn’t want to take a chance to see if everything came out worse. So I wouldn’t mess with it.
Once you go back, it could lead to a lot of trouble.
Latino Review: For your fans’ sake, will you ever get that girl?
Jake Johnson: [Laughter] Hopefully, Nick gets Jess at some point. Hopefully, he gets THE girl. Hey, man, give me the damn girl!!! [Laughter]
Thank you very much.