Break-ups are tough.
Even the break-ups that are the right thing to do can be difficult. Movies dealing significantly with break-ups are dicey, too. For every Annie Hall (which follows a relationship from start to finish and beyond), there are five The Break-Up's.
Rashida Jones, who stars as Celeste in Celeste & Jesse Forever, must be aware of that. She and Will McCormack (who plays pot dealer Skillz) wrote the screenplay—about the dissolution of a marriage in which the soon-to-be ex-husband (Andy Samberg is Jesse) and wife try to remain the best friends they’ve always been—and manage to keep the film moving in unexpected directions.
One thing that sets Celeste & Jesse Forever apart from most comedies, romantic and otherwise, is its ability to successfully play up heavily dramatic moments in the middle of the jokes (read the review here). There’s one scene in particular, in which Celeste and Jesse have “one of those scorched-earth, middle-of-the-street fights” that happen in most break-ups, Jones tells SFR.
“I’ve definitely had that,” she adds.
When asked why she and McCormack decided to focus, at times, on the drama, Jones says, “Honestly, we wanted to take it there. We didn’t want [the movie] to be so expected that you knew what was coming at every corner. And we wanted to tell the story about heartbreak and losing someone you love; and I think the only way we knew how to do that in an honest way was to go for it.”
The scene, in which Celeste and Jesse say everything they’ve been holding back from each other for more than a decade, is brutal in its honesty and doesn’t let either character get the better of the other. They’re both wounded, and because we’ve spent the past hour getting to know them, it almost feels like watching two of your good friends split.
“It was like one of those moments when you say the meanest, hardest things to the people you know and love the best,” says McCormack.
“It was really fun to watch,” he adds. “We were in Hollywood and it was really late and there were grown men with booms, and grips and electrics actually crying. It was really cool. It was a good filming night.”
Jones is the latest actress to write herself a great part; Celeste is believably complicated (and still funny) in a way that most characters in comedies just aren’t. She and McCormack say they’ve recently been offered lots of romantic comedies, but they’re ready to try something different. “We just wrote a script that’s an adaptation of a comic book I co-wrote called ‘Frenemy of the State,’” says Jones.
“And we wrote a [television series] pilot,” says McCormack. “But I don’t know if I ever want to write another romantic comedy. And if I do it’s going to be one for the elderly. It’s going to be an elderly romantic comedy.”
“Hot,” says Jones.
Celeste & Jesse Forever opens at UA DeVargas Center 6 on Aug. 31.