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Jake Johnson is one of Hollywood’s most well-regarded actors. He began his acting career at the tender age of 12 in the sitcom “Quintuplets” and went on to star in the critically acclaimed movie “Sunshine Cleaning” in 2009. Since then, he has appeared in a variety of well-known films, including the movie “Bridesmaids” in 2014, the movie “Crazy, Stupid, Love” in 2011, and the movie “22 Jump Street” in in 2012.
Marijuana is an increasingly popular health and wellness product. It’s a powerful anti-oxidant that protects the body from disease and impairs the recognition of cancerous cells. It’s also been shown to improve certain aspects of mental health. In the past few years, marijuana has become more mainstream. Celebrities like Jake Johnson are often outspoken about the benefits of cannabis and the use of it in acting.
In Ride the Eagle, cannabis plays a key part in forging a connection between Honey (Susan Sarandon) and Leif (Jamie Foxx) (Johnson). They’re two true hippies who, unfortunately, only reconnect after Honey’s death. She left him a to-do list as well as personal films in which she told him everything she had always wanted to say to him.
Johnson just finished filming a program called Lost Ollie with Peter Ramsay, the co-director of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which sparked our conversation about working with nice people rather than jerks.
Jake Johnson’s Thoughts on Work and Life
Is working with individuals you’ll like being around a significant component of your decision-making process?
It’s a significant element of it. I’m not interested in working with jerks. I care deeply about the work, and I want the audience to appreciate it as much as I do, but my days are as important. If someone is a genuine nightmare and I find out about it…because in this industry, everyone gets information about each other before you say yes. If there’s an actor who’s known for being late or difficult, or a director who’s overbearing? Those days are gone forever.
It’s not really worth it. There are also other opportunities. It would be worth it if it were my sole source of income and I needed to support my family. But, if you can find another work where you won’t have to deal with a jerk, I believe that’s a better option.
Do you still believe that every job you take will be your last?
Every single time. It is, in my opinion, reality. I consider myself to be very lucky in this industry, and one of the reasons I created Ride the Eagle was because I wasn’t sure I’d ever work again. I was a part of the epidemic, and I like acting and being on set. I like writing and making things. I like figuring out a scenario as we’re filming it. I like excellent performers and crew workers that work hard and have a positive attitude. I understood that it was possible that it might go away, and I didn’t want it to, so I was ready to pay for it again.
I am a smoker. Weekenders is a brand I’ve discovered that I truly enjoy. I’m not sure whether it’s simply a California firm. Because I have a poor tolerance for marijuana, I can’t smoke with the best of them and stay cool. I’m a one-hit wonder. I like taking a hit of somewhat moderate marijuana. My major point is that I like exercising while smoking marijuana.
This is a stupid thing, but it’s for High Times, so I’m sure I’m speaking to the right folks, but it helps me connect with my body. It’s a nightmare when I’m working out and I’m not smoking marijuana. You’re simply jumping rope and tossing weights over your head, and none of it makes sense.
If I consume a little amount of marijuana, I can feel the advantages of my body, as well as where I’m weak and powerful. “Yeah, I’ll trip out a little bit at the gym, then go into my garage and play some Francis Bebey African music, take off my top, and go weird,” I say. That seems like a great way to spend 45 minutes.”
Did you ever smoke while writing?
No. When I was 19 to 21 or 22 years old, I went to NYU for writing. The school was very well-run. I chose dramatic writing, which focused on structure and writing principles. As a writer, I’d developed the notion that there are hard and fast rules, a three-act structure, and that the turning point must occur on this page.
I don’t have anything against individuals who smoke marijuana while working, but I just can’t do it. If I’m reading a screenplay and someone offers it to me, I’ll smoke a little amount of marijuana. I’ll be doing the show Minx in the autumn, but I wasn’t planning on doing a TV show for the pilot. I had just completed a performance and didn’t want to do another smack in the midst of the epidemic.
I was on my way up to the cabin where Ride the Eagle was filmed. My agency gave me the screenplay for Minx, the pilot, while I was driving up. I arrived to the cabin, drank a couple of beers, took a huge hit of marijuana, and turned on some music. After 30 minutes, I’m getting a little tired of sitting there listening to music, so I say, “You know what? This script will be read by me.”
Because I can picture things, it was the ideal headspace for reading a script. I judge something if I’m not stoned at all and read it. I consider the days and the reaction of the audience, and I wonder whether this is a wise decision. With the marijuana, though, I just read what I think the author meant. “Man, she created a great script,” I thought. I felt like a strange uncle, saying things like, “Yeah, Ellen, dude!” It was slain by you. Let’s get started on realizing your vision, man!”
You got it just right. Because they’re like-minded individuals, we wanted the moment when he smokes his mother’s marijuana in her room. Certain individuals don’t visit their parents, and when they do, it’s a disaster because they discover they have nothing in common with them. We have a sour relationship.
The issue with Leif and Honey is that they have a lot in common and would have had a great time if they could get beyond their quarrels. She’s a strange painter, and he’s a funny drummer in a young, hipster band. They each like to live in their own galaxy. They might have grown up together and spent some time together as adults.
And so the purpose of the film was, and it stemmed from the pandemic, where, wherever you felt politically…like a lot of my very close friends who became extremely worried about the pandemic and the roots of COVID, and went a little bit deep into conspiracy theories? I felt cut off from the people I cared about. “Man, that friend of mine who has always been a strange has turned into a genuine oddball,” I thought. Is it possible that we’re no longer friends?”
“I don’t want to be done being friends with them,” I thought as I thought about this movie. On this, we disagree. We had a very terrible phone fight, but there’s so much fun to be had that we won’t speak about it.” So there was the overarching impression: Leif and Honey should have gone hiking together, smoked a joint, and cherished their days. And maybe don’t bring up the cult [they were in] when it comes to the past. Man, maybe we should speak about anything different. A day has a limited number of hours.
When you write, do you listen to music? What was your favorite song from Ride the Eagle?
What was the name of the Ride the Eagle song? Francis Bebey has always been a favorite of mine when it comes to working out to global music. The music was something in the mix that I don’t want to attempt to pronounce because I’ll get it wrong and seem like a complete moron. I’d feel very ashamed if I was the Chicago man who was attempting to pronounce an African name and completely botched it. I’m simply going to say it’s fantastic. This is a lovely song.
When you lived in Chicago, were you very engaged in the theatrical scene?
I wasn’t one of them. I moved out of Chicago when I was around 18 or 19. Then, when I was 25, I returned with a really bizarre project called Project Joke, in which I produced a documentary about young improvisational comedians who tour the Midwest. I lived in an RV and went around to all these comedy clubs, writing stuff in front of crowds to demonstrate how much people despise unpolished artists. People despised me as a performer, but every time I took the stage, I’d think to myself, “I don’t know why this crowd despises me so much.” So, we produced that thing, and then I went back to Chicago to edit it, and everyone despised it as well.
That seems to be a really humbling experience.
That was my whole career until I was around 30 years old. Everything was awe-inspiring. Nobody likes you until you’re on television or on stage [laughs]. But that’s the nature of the game. You go up on stage and have to suck for a long time before you find your rhythm.
Were you hanging out at bookshops and coffee shops during the Beatnik era?
High school was the beatnik era.
In high school, you read David Mamet and Sam Shepard?
Yes, I was. I had the time since it took me five years to finish high school. When I was 15, I dropped out of high school. So, in the start of high school, I felt like I was just going through the motions, so I dropped out or took a year off. That year, I had a day job in the city with my Uncle Eddie, where we hung neon signs. I remained up till 3 a.m. and then fell slept until noon.
I had a taste of what it was like not to go back to school and not to respect education. So when I returned to school, I wanted to be concerned about something, but I didn’t know what it was. That’s when I began looking for great authors and performers and thought to myself, “I can value that,” but I’d never be able to appreciate math because I’m simply not good at it.
How did you make the transition from being a D student in high school to attending NYU?
As a result, I created a play about a man. It’s humiliating because I have no idea why it was so important to me, but I created a play about a man who worked as a gorilla keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Bongo, I think, was the gorilla’s name at the time, and she was the major star. I heard somewhere that some zoo gorillas or animals are the star of the zoo.
In this drama, my role was the gorilla’s caregiver. He was a happily married man. When the gorilla dies, he disintegrates in a manner that his wife can not comprehend because she continues repeating, “Well, I’m alive.” When the gorilla dies, though, a piece of him dies with him, causing his relationship to break apart.
That tale was an obsession of mine; I wrote it a million times and sent it to NYU, where I was accepted based on that play. Mark Dickerman, the program’s director, would constantly mention my gorilla antics. I believe I got in because it was a strange play, but he was intrigued by it.
How long has it been since you last read it?
That was a long time ago. It’s most likely dog feces. I know I’m still obsessed with gorillas, and there’s still something about loving something that isn’t of this world and having it really mean something to you, not sexually, I’m not getting into that territory, but just having love for something that isn’t of this world and having it really mean something to you. At some time, I’d want to do a romantic comedy with someone who isn’t me and is my age or younger. One day, I’d want to read a screenplay that has the same concept as the gorilla, but is better done. Someone who is over over heels in love with a ship and doesn’t understand why. But then you write the romantic comedy, and only he understands it.
Isn’t it wonderful as an actor to have an idea for a narrative you’d want to be given and then be able to write it yourself?
So there’s a distinction. I consider myself to be a competent writer, but not necessarily a great one. I think the screenplay I read for Minx is better written than mine. “Man, that’s a wonderfully constructed story,” I thought as I read it.
If I were to create a tale involving a man and a gorilla, it would become strange after I got into it. That is something I am aware of. Because I’m speaking their words, as an actor, you can fake it and be less strange in someone else’s production. But if I produced a film about a guy who falls in love with a gorilla, I’m quite sure it wouldn’t be well received by the reviewers.
It has the potential to be a Sundance smash.
Perhaps, dude. I’d go, and there’d be a lot of conflicting responses, and a lot of people on social media would be asking, “What the fuck is this lunatic doing?” And I’m the only one who could afford it. I’d have to do the shooting in my own backyard.
You were in a great episode of Mythic Quest.
Thank you, sir.
That notion of you making one concession that leads to many compromises, and eventually it’s just a life of regret is a nightmare.
Totally. Honestly, I didn’t think about that too much in it. In watching it, I really felt the pain that Doc feels, and I felt the story that Rob was telling. But the truth is, in making it, I didn’t think of that. What I always try to do with characters is, I try to see it through their point of view. I thought my character was right. You make that compromise, because it’s Disney. If you have an opportunity to blow something up, it’s foolish not to.
In my mind, I was quite certain she was the evil person. So when I recognized it for what it was, it made me sorry for my character, and I thought to myself, “Ahh, he’s such a loser.” He squandered it.” But I hadn’t considered it before. It was something I didn’t want to think about. While we were filming, I didn’t think about it. That was written by a lady called Katie, who smashed it, and Rob is a genius.
All I want to do is set Doc straight. If he’s in a scenario where he’s the bad guy, I have to assume Doc is telling the truth. I don’t want to play him as a terrible person, therefore I have to think everyone else is incorrect. I want to portray him as someone who is acting for the right reasons. So that was my experience with Mythic Quest. I really like how it came out.
The last moment in the shop is heartbreaking.
So depressing. Cristin [Milioti], she’s very excellent. I had never met her before. She’s a fantastic performer. For the first time, I watched Palm Springs. It was fantastic, in my opinion. I thought she and Andy were fantastic, and I was thinking to myself, “Man, she’s got that quality about her as an actress where I don’t want her character’s emotions harmed.” I’m sitting alone on my sofa, and despite the fact that she raped her sister’s fiancé, I truly adore this character. But that’s just her as a performer. It’s difficult to maintain a character like her as likable as she is.
What’s it like for you on the larger jobs? You create these handmade movies, but what’s it like for you on the bigger jobs?
I don’t mean this as if I’m oblivious to the fact that they’re different, but they feel the same to me; they’re just larger. So, for example, we’re flying Tom Cruise’s helicopter from the hotel to the set of The Mummy, which is a ludicrous, massive film with a ridiculous character, and he’s piloting it. Everything is an out-of-body experience, particularly for stoners. Every moment is amusing, such as working out with Cruise while blasting ‘80s music and then boarding a plane to Africa.
But, at the end of the day, it’s all about the performance. At the end of the day, it’s being in a scene with this man called Tom, or in my garden with D’Arcy Carden, or in Ride the Eagle with Luis Fernandez-Gil. It’s the same, identical thing at the end of the day.
The difficulty is that you’d have to tune out everything else. That is why I am not a fan of green-screen acting. Many of these huge superhero movies have great performers, but most of the acting is done on a green screen with wires attached. They’re putting on an incredible show for the crowd.
That isn’t my strong suit. That does not pique my interest. I want to see a set that appears 360 degrees, which means it’s genuine wherever you look. I like going in and experiencing the atmosphere. They started a publishing company with the Minx pilot in 1972. I like being able to open up a desk and see 1970s matches. I like living in make-believe, and when you’re working on a project and everyone is completely dedicated, it doesn’t matter how large or little the project is as long as it has that dedication to make-believe. It’s something I like doing. It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s Disney or if I’m paying for it. But it has to have that element where we’re all dedicated and giving it our best while appreciating the oddities of our business.
When you have a bad day, do you think to yourself, “Well, I could be working construction?” If you have previously worked in construction, do you think to yourself, “Well, I could be working construction?”
Every profession is difficult, but our industry is much easier than others. As a result, I was never very adept when it came to building. I’d have to take care of the demolition and cleaning, as well as the insulation. Alternatively, if I had to hang drywall, everything I did would be rectified by someone else. Then I’d have to listen to a lecture about how uneven my walls were. Those jobs were really difficult since you’re physically exhausted and no one seems to care how you’re feeling.
Even though my current employment are demanding, they are concerned about how I am feeling. As a result, it’s a fundamentally different situation. I have a tougher difficulty empathizing with performers who begin earning money at the age of ten and have never had a day job. Because it’s unique. It’s a different work, even if you have a long day on set.
Do you still utilize any of the skills you learned while working in construction?
Okay, I’ll tell you what occurred in this epidemic, which was amusing. When I thought everything was drying up before I performed Ride the Eagle? Do you have any idea how Leif, my character, lives in that small little backhouse? During the epidemic, I constructed it.
I created it because I couldn’t find anything else to do. I’m not going to be able to sit all day. That’s not who I am. I like working. I like having things to do. I intended to construct a little 812 office, but I quickly discovered that my abilities had reached a limit. YouTube has now become the great equalizer. I’ll be able to obtain the apprentice experience I never had in person.
When someone is attempting to teach you anything on a construction site? “I don’t know what you’re not seeing here, boss,” these individuals would say quickly and strangely to me. We have a 26, you must toss it up to the wall, over there you got the trip, but if you leave that trip one more time, boss, I’m taking the entire thing down, guy.” And I’d say, “What?” “You have a 26,” he’d say, “throw it up 12 feet on the trip,” and I’d say, “I didn’t hear a word that man Ron said.” And then I’d be known as the kooky stoner for the rest of my life. Because they’d think to themselves, “How many times do I have to tell this dunce?” “The 26 goes 12 feet to the trip,” I say, “and I missed it.”
What is YouTube’s allure? I’d go back in time. “I may need to hear it five times,” I would say after the gentleman or woman had finished explaining anything. Returning to YouTube, on the other hand, is not an embarrassment. “I don’t understand,” I’d say. “I’m not sure what you’re talking about.” I just thought that if I had YouTube back in the day, I may have been a better builder.
On October 7, Jake Johnson will host a cannabis-themed party in Brooklyn, NY. The evening will be an intimate gathering where Jake will share stories about acting, cannabis, and their intersection with people who have chosen to live a more conscious lifestyle.. Read more about jake johnson personality and let us know what you think.
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