Rashida on the cover of Boston Common magazine
Jones played Louisa Fenn on Boston Public and appeared in a series of indie projects before joining the cast of The Office in 2006. As Karen, John Krasinski's love interest for a season, she inherited The Office's vast fan base. In the years since she's cameoed in a number of genuinely hilarious Web series, cowritten and sold a screenplay, coproduced and cameoed in The Ten, landed her big-screen breakout role in I Love You, Man and traded laughs with Amy Poehler on NBC's new series Parks and Recreation.
And get this–she's even cooler in person.
BOSTON COMMON: Your career is full of so many smart choices.
RASHIDA JONES: There are a lot of actors who say, "I'm going to be this kind of actor." I don't want to do that. I've already found that it's so easy to be stuck in a box. I keep playing the straight guy and voice of reason, but I hope I can shake it up if different roles become available to me.
BC: You star alongside Amy Poehler on Parks and Recreation. That must be inspiring.
RJ: Amy is one of the coolest people I've ever met—the most giving, sane, unconditional friend and work partner. On top of that she's wildly talented. Not enough people give her credit for the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre, an improv theater in New York and LA she started with a few other dudes. Now many of the funniest people in the business are trained at her school.
BC: What kind of pressure has your cast felt, given the show's ties to The Office?
RJ: It's been great in one respect, while in another we want to distinguish ourselves. With TV it takes time for audiences to feel connected. Because of The Office, I think we're being given the chance.
BC: What did I Love You, Man do for you, recognition-wise?
RJ: That was a breakthrough role for me. What's crazy is when other famous people come up and mention it. Eric Bana just came up to me at the Funny People premiere and said, "I was just watching you on the plane!" In my head I'm like, You're the Hulk! You're Munich!
BC: Your costar, Paul Rudd, is getting the mainstream attention that he deserves.
RJ: There's nobody more adorable than Paul Rudd. I've known him for 12 years, which makes me feel old and awesome.
BC: Looking back, how do you remember your Harvard years?
RJ: I loved college. Cambridge is pretty damn big, especially when you're in school, but it also feels like a college town. Some people assumed I'd be a part of certain groups because of my dad, but I have nothing in common with blue-blood legacy kids. I grew up in LA and had never been in a building built before 1940 prior to studying at Harvard. Even my dorm—I'd never seen anything with that much history. Everyone else was really relaxed about it, but I was tripped out. I'd be like, "You guys, T.S. Eliot ate lunch here!"
BC: Were you an overachiever?
RJ: Honestly I wish I had taken further advantage of the activities and things on the academic side, but I dicked around for the first two years. I got there at 17, after all! Once junior year started it hit me: "Right, I'm at Harvard..."
BC: But you were in Harvard's Hasty Pudding Theatricals and the Harvard-Radcliffe Dramatic Club, which is impressive.
RJ: Hasty Pudding was a great experience. My roommate, Amy Brown, and I were the first women to write the music for the Hasty Pudding in the show's 165-year history. I also loved being in an a cappella group. It's kind of geeky, but there's nothing like standing in a circle and doing eight-part harmony.
BC: There's nothing wrong with geeky.
RJ: I was actually a raver sophomore year. The Wonderland Greyhound Park would get rented out for raves, so my friends and I, we'd get 20 people together and dance all weekend.
BC: So you weren't all geek! Tell me, how does someone as beautiful, successful and intelligent as you stay so pleasant and cool?
RJ: That's sweet! I've been around famous people since I was a kid and something happens to people as they become famous, they feel like it's OK to shut down their world and become assholes. They stop accepting any dissent and hear only "You're awesome." I would like to be an exception to the rule.
BC: You seem to be, so far.
RJ: Being involved in lots of things helps. And good parenting has a lot to do with it—actually it has everything to do with it.
BC: You're often praised for being very fashion-forward. Do you follow it closely?
RJ: I'm a big fan of fashion. I love what people can do with clothes. I'm most comfortable in designers like Phillip Lim, Isabel Marant and A.P.C. But I'll supplement it with some gorgeous, fancy pieces. There's a Dolce & Gabbana skirt I love, and this Proenza Schouler jacket that's amazing.
RJ: I have an existential fashion meltdown about five times a year. I'm in constant conflict—one day I want to look like a Parisian coquette, the next a Japanese architect and the next I want to be effortlessly rock 'n' roll. There are so many options and I, of course, tend to intellectualize all of it. BC
By Andrew Creighton Stone
Excerpt from the Fall Preview 2009 Issue
Source: Boston Common