- Published: Tuesday, 23 February 2016 16:22
- Written by Fred Topel
Community’s Gillian Jacobs returns to television in the Netflix original series Love, produced by Judd Apatow. Love was created by Paul Rust, who plays Gus in the series. Jacobs plays Mickey, a single woman living in Silverlake. She works a a satellite radio station in a job she hates, and Gus works as an on set tutor for a diva child actor. The show follows how both of them meet but don’t quite get together right away.
In the tradition of another Apatow produced series, Girls, Love is about a lot of the mistakes Gus and Mickey make. They can be funny mistakes, or sometimes actually tragic mistakes. Jacobs and Rust gave a roundtable interview with press after a Netflix panel to the Television Critics Association and CineMovie was there to ask them questions. Love season one is currently streaming on Netflix.
How did the idea for the show come up? How much of it is autobiographical?
Paul Rust: I co-created the show with my wife, Lesley Arfin, and Judd. It started off originally as a movie and then we thought, there’s so much stuff to mine here so let’s take our time and be patient and do 10 episodes. Lesley and I are certainly a jumping off point but it quickly became lots of Guses, lots of Mickeys in the world and we just compiled all those stories into the relationship. Then Gillian got involved because she’s fantastic. We wrote the part for her, with her in mind, and we were able to get her.
Gillian Jacobs: I didn’t even know that.
You keep them apart a lot. Was that cool to get to observe your characters separately?
Gillian Jacobs: Yeah, I think it’s great in the show that you get the full context of these people’s lives. You meet them, you’re intrigued by who these people are and as the season goes on, you really learn why they are the way they are. It was really interesting because I saw you on set far more as a writer than I did as an actor for the first chunk of the season. I had a lot of my scenes with Brett Gelman and Claudia O’Doherty and Kyle Kinane and all those people. I really didn’t see Gus’s side of the world until the very end of the season. I thought it was a really great way to really go in depth with these characters.
Do you think the isolation they feel is specific to cities like L.A., or is it universal today?
Gillian Jacobs: That was certainly my experience of Los Angeles when I first came here. I first came to L.A. auditioning. I would come out for pilot season. I didn’t really know anyone. The only people I would meet were the girls I was up against at auditions, so it wasn’t the friendliest bunch. I actually looked at an apartment at a place very similar to where Gus lives in that. I found that to be depressing because this woman had lived in the apartment for so many years. She rented out her second room to people every pilot season and one of her big selling points was that she had Oscar screeners, but they were all 15 years old. So they were all VHS tapes.
Paul Rust: Check out The Accidental Tourist.
Gillian Jacobs: Yeah, exactly. The Constant Gardener. So I found that very much, and it wasn’t really until I moved here full time for Community, I had a job and that gave me a structure to my life and I made friends. A lot of people I find who move to L.A. are like, “You have to go find the city. It doesn’t present itself to you in the same way that New York does for a lot of people.” So I found that incredibly relatable. A lot of time screaming, crying alone in your car. Having meltdowns but I do think that that is sort of modern life as well. It’s not just Los Angeles.
Paul Rust: In Los Angeles too it’s particularly tough because I feel like in other cities, say New York, you meet somebody, you can hit it off, “Hey, let’s get a cab. We’ll make out in the cab.” In L.A. it’s like I met you, we’re going to go to our separate cars, drive, I hope parking is okay on my street. I’ve had parking restrictions entirely blow [dates] because it’s like, “This is too tough.”
Gillian Jacobs: I lived in West Hollywood and my friend called it The Fortress of Solitude because it was so hard to park anywhere near my apartment that no one would come hang out with me.
Gillian, you’ve been in some R-rated and raunchy material. Was it fun to be the R-rated, raunchy character in Love?
Gillian Jacobs: Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah, it feels kind of naughty when you’re swearing on set and you know it’s going to make it in unbleeped on the show. We got a few swear words in on the Yahoo! season of Community but it really felt very transgressive. This was taking it to a whole other level. I think that for me, I’m a very boring person in my real life so I got to act out a lot of misbehaving fantasies with Mickey. It’s really fun.
Writing with Judd, how was he a mentor and what lessons did you learn about writing comedy?
Paul Rust: In a weird way, I felt like the mentoring began when I was in college and I saw Freaks and Geeks. I had a friend who taped it off of Fox Family so we had tapes of Freaks and Geeks. I was in college and I was writing at that point. Watching that show and seeing that sort of perfect mix of hey, if you just write about your own experiences, that’ll be interesting enough. That set me on this course to begin with and it just so happened a few years later, I got to meet Judd. I think partly why Judd wanted to do this was we’re of similar personalities and types and have experiences that are similar. So yeah, it was very easy to agree.
What were the biggest similarities you clicked on?
Paul Rust: We wrote the fifth episode together where I go on a date, and all we did was sat down and made a list of every possible thing that’s ever gone wrong with us.
Gillian Jacobs: How cathartic.
Paul Rust: It was, it was, very much so.
How much of your own love story is in the show? Is Mickey based on your wife?
Paul Rust: It started off like “This is going to be us!” A day into the writers room it was like, “Oh, this is not us.” It has to take different directions and if we just tried to transcribe what’s going on in our lives, it’s not going to be interesting. It’s been a dream. I love my wife. It’s such a thrill in a relationship to be able to collaborate creatively. It’s very romantic and I like it.
Did you both remember things differently when you drew on your personal experiences?
Paul Rust: Not so much between us, but it is funny to be in the writers room and people will be like, “You know, Gus is just a people pleasing pussy.” And I’m like, “Uh, not really. He’s got his reasons.”
You really show the mundane side of the industry. Was it interesting for both of you to depict the non Entourage side of things?
Paul Rust: Too bad, I wish it was like Entourage. I would get to have a happy ending. I think we thought it was interesting that in the entertainment industry, there are so many nooks and crannies of people who have jobs and you don’t necessarily get to see the student teacher on set or the people who’s the program manager of a satellite radio station. I think the big key that we had was so often in Hollywood, behind the scenes stuff, people are cigar chomping and telling it like it is. In my experience, it’s usually very kind people just trying to do the right thing. We tried to capture that as much as possible.
What are the new aspects of modern love to explore on TV?
Gillian Jacobs: I was going to say love in space but I think we’ve seen that for decades. I think, like Judd said, the great thing about this model on Netflix is that you could take your time with this show. Probably for a network pilot the entire season would’ve happened in the first episode. So the freedom really to stretch it out, to see those near misses and miscommunications and have a period of time where they’re not connecting, I thought that was unique to this show and that was a real appeal to me.
Paul Rust: Four of our episodes would’ve easily just been done in a montage in a movie. The exciting thing about doing a format like this is really being able to take our time.
What are each of your favorite dating stories?
Gillian Jacobs: Oh goodness golly me. I think thankfully none of my real life stories have made it onto this show.
Paul Rust: Yet.
Gillian Jacobs: Just a lot of terrible first dates. A lot of bad, bad first dates that I probably shouldn’t have gone on. But you know what? You’ve got to be open because you never know in life. You could meet the great love of your life at a gas station. So you just don’t know. A lot of misadventures for me. I’m trying to think of a funny, pithy little anecdote right now. I’m just thinking of sadness, crying on the street.
Paul Rust: In college I once asked somebody to go on a date on Valentine’s Day. Cool move, first date on Valentine’s Day. I remember her saying, “Let’s dress up like we’re going to prom.” I guess to make it in italics a date.
Gillian Jacobs: Really? No one wants an italics date.
Paul Rust: It was an ironic date.
At least she followed through. It would’ve been worse if you dressed up and she didn’t.
Paul Rust: That’s true. At least she gave me the heads up.