In the new movie Life Partners, currently playing at Tribeca Film Festival in NYC, a trio of TV royalty teams up. At the center of the romantic comedy is Gillian Jacobs, who took a break from psychoanalyzing her college friends on Community to have fun with Gossip Girl's Leighton Meester. When we sat down with Jacobs, she talked about forming a great friendship dynamic with "goofball" Meester while avoiding the elephant in the room as she kissed her costar's real-life husband, Adam Brody, plus how those "awkward" smooches were different than when she had to kiss Ewan McGregor. And for you Greendale fans, Jacobs also spilled the fate of Community and if she thinks Jeff should be with Britta or Annie.
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POPSUGAR: The role of Paige seems so perfect for you, yet so different from your role on Community. Is that what drew you to the script?
Gillian Jacobs: I know! It is such a great depiction of female friendship that I thought was really accurate and nuanced and specific and real. And I felt like it was so different: it felt closer to me than a lot of things that I do and so different from Community and things that people are used to seeing me in. It felt really nice.
PS: With that being said, Paige and Britta have a few similar characteristics, especially being a little selfish and stubborn. Did that help you get into the role?
GJ: Yeah, I think that I've definitely been accused of being stubborn in the past. Definitely that fight she has with Tim where he's, like, "I can never win," and that sort of lawyerly, logical mode, "Well, actually, factually." I can definitely get into that mode in arguments, which I know is very frustrating for people. My mom said that, when I was really little, she could never win a fight with me because I would be, like, "No, actually, what you said was 'blah, blah, blah.'" But I think both Paige and myself have learned that it's not really worth winning fights. The point isn't to win fights. The point is to resolve conflict, not to be right. But sometimes that's difficult.
PS: What is also unique about this movie is that, though there are many lesbian characters, it's not about that. It's just about friendships and relationships, not about sexuality.
GJ: Yeah, it feels much more like, your friend is your friend, and their sexuality is an aspect of their personality, but it doesn't define them as a person. And when you've been good friends with someone for a long time, you're not hung up on the fact that they're of a different sexual orientation than you are. They're just your friend. And you get totally involved — whether it's like going on Tinder for a guy or a girl, you get into it. I love that scene where they're flipping through Tinder.
PS: Have you ever done that?
GJ: I've never online dated myself, but I have, totally over-the-shoulder with friends, been, like, "Oh! What about that person? What about that person?" They're like, "That's not my type!" I'm like, "But they're cute! You should go for it! Rate that person!" I totally signed my mom up for eHarmony behind her back. She called me and was, like, "Why am I getting emails from eHarmony?!" and I said, "Because I made a profile for you . . ." She did not go for it, but I'm gonna try again.
Source: Haven Entertainment
PS: I know that you and Leighton hadn't worked together before, but your friendship comes across as so genuine and natural. How did you form that dynamic?
GJ: I think we're just two goofballs — we're straight-up goofballs. And thank God, she's as weird and silly as I am. Just felt like we tapped into that right away and making voices and doing goofy moves. Even though I had only known her for days, I felt very comfortable around her and I think you see it on the screen.
PS: Was any of your stuff with Leighton unscripted, with a lot of ad-libbing? There's some great stuff about America's Next Top Model and booty tooches.
GJ: No, that was all written. I think Joni [Lefkowitz], the cowriter of the film, is a die-hard ANTM fan. So no, that was all specific, but I've definitely gone hard with that show in the past. And I feel like in recent years, it's been more about RuPaul's Drag Race for me.
PS: Do you act the same way when you're watching ANTM?
GJ: Yeah, you definitely find yourself having conversations about contestants on reality shows, like they're people that you actually know. Do you remember there was a season of ANTM where there were twins? I went to audition for someone, and one of the girls was working as a PA in a casting office. I was just starstruck. I'm, like, "What are you doing here? You're a star." I get really excited when I see reality TV people out in the real world.
PS: This is a totally different character for Leighton than Blair Waldorf, but Tim's pop culture and the goofy shirts felt a little Seth Cohen to me. Did you feel that at all?
GJ: I feel like he was dorkier in this movie than Seth Cohen. Adam is much more stylish in real life. Seth Cohen was a more stylish guy than Tim, which was really great that Adam didn't really have any vanity about it. Like the facial hair was not very attractive. He's such a good-looking guy — you gotta do something, or it'd be, like, "I'm dating a male model." What I love about Adam is that he'll wear weirder, dumber, uglier glasses; worse facial hair; and a dumber shirt. It's really refreshing.
PS: You and Adam have great chemistry, in good times and bad for Paige and Tim. You've worked together before, but never like this. Was that onscreen relationship easier to get into vs. just meeting Leighton?
GJ: Well, Adam and I have known each other for a couple of years now. This is our third movie together, but the first one that we actually shared scenes; [there was] no crossing of paths. With Adam, I knew him, so it wasn't like Leighton, where I was meeting her for the first time. And I think I know Adam well enough that I feel at ease around him. But it's always then weird to kiss someone that you've known.
PS: And his wife is right there.
GJ: They weren't married at that point, but yes, still, girlfriend is bad enough. I know I'm super awkward about stuff like that. It's like a weird part of my job where I have to kiss random people.
PS: Anyone on your dream kiss list?
GJ: Oh, God. I find it so awkward.
PS: Even if Ryan Gosling came up here right now?
GJ: That would make me blush as red as my shirt that I'm wearing right now. I would rather kiss those people in my real life than on screen. It's so awkward where there's a crew standing around watching you, and I don't like it at all. I was a photo double for Mélanie Laurent in that movie, Beginners. Because they had to do a day of reshoots, and the director Mike Mills was, like, "I think you're the same height, and you have the same hair color as Mélanie Laurent. Will you be in the scene with you and Ewan McGregor, it'll be like, over your shoulder onto him?" And I was, like, "Yes!" And then I got there, and they're, like, "Well, for continuity, because this is going in the middle of what we've already shot, he's picked her up, and he's kissing her, so he's going to have to pick you up and kiss you for it to match. Are you OK with that?" I was, like, "Yes, I'm OK with that!" So I'd have to say, Ewan McGregor was a delight, and if I was cast in a movie again with him, I would not be upset.
PS: Switching gears, the Community finale felt like a series finale, but I want six seasons and a movie so badly. Do you think it can happen?
GJ: Yes, it can happen! Keep writing articles talking about it as though it's already happening. Enough people have written articles about doom and gloom, you have to start writing totally positive, optimistic ones. Like, "Oh, my God, I'm so excited for the sixth season — it just was announced today." Now you and I exist in a parallel universe where it's already been picked up, and the movie is going to start shooting in a month.
PS: I'm torn, because I love Jeff and Britta together. Do you think it's over? It seemed like he chose Annie in the finale.
GJ: You know what? The thing I love about Community is, at the end of the day, I don't think it's a relationship show, so I am not super invested in the relationships of Community. I love the adventures, I love the incredibly smart writing, I love the weird inside jokes that we've developed over time. To me, that's, like, so peripheral — that's, like, the bad romantic-comedy version of the show, is that it's all about the relationships. So for me, who cares? Whatever [creator] Dan Harmon wants to do, whatever he and [executive producer] Chris McKenna come up with, I'm happy to do. But at the end of the day, it's not about who Jeff ends up with. Because that's so reductive! It's very reductive.
PS: The study group started because of Jeff and Britta, but it doesn't have to end with it.
GJ: Yeah! It can end with Abed and Brie Larson. They're so cute. That's the relationship I'm most excited about. I hope we can get Brie Larson back again next season and have more of their relationship. Like, who cares what the rest of us are doing? We've all slept with each other at this point.