Gillian Jacobs on her 'Girls' role and the end of 'Community'
She has graduated from Greendale and is now headed to Hannah: Community star Gillian Jacobs has snagged a recurring role on season 4 of HBO’s Girls. EW checked in with Jacobs to talk about her new job — and, yes, the end of her old one.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’re playing a character on Girls named Mimi Rose. Already that smacks of great potential. What can we expect from her?
GILLIAN JACOBS: I have an awesome name — in the grand tradition of Girls having awesome names for their characters… So I can’t really give much away about my character. But…I can tell you that she is a multimedia artist who doesn’t agree with Hannah’s interpretations about art and challenges her ideas.
Do we meet her in Brooklyn or Iowa?
You are tricky! You’re very sneaky!
How about one more cryptic clue about her?
I’ve been wearing a pair of my own shoes in this episode that we’ve been shooting. How’s that?
Can you describe the shoes?
They’re Converse… Oh god, I don’t know what I can say! Just pretend I’m on Mad Men and I can’t tell you anything!
What attracted you to this role that you can’t talk too much about?
I thought it was really great because it was different from Britta, and I thought it would be really fun to get to do a different kind of character on a comedy but a different sort of comedy — one that has very serious, dramatic episodes and then really fun, silly episodes. It’s such a great group of people and it’s really fun to get to work in New York. All of it was pretty appealing.
Anything on your wish list? Do you want to have a controversial sex scene at a warehouse or is there an outfit you want to wear?
I have just been trying to not wear things that are trademarks of Britta, so I nixed stripes and I nixed some leather jackets. I think it’s fun to dress differently and be a different character, so I saw a couple of leather jackets hanging in the wardrobe room and I said I would kindly like to not wear leather jackets on the show.
Have you always been a big Girls fan?
Yeah. Actually, my friend produced Lena’s movie Tiny Furniture, so I met Lena [Dunham] when that came out years ago. I’ve watched the show from the beginning.
Are you looking to do another weekly role on TV? Or did this particularly appeal to you because you can dip in and out?
I don’t want to get so gun-shy that I never do another regular role again. But then on the other hand, it has only been, like, two weeks since Community ended, so I’m not feeling desperate to pick a job that would be longer-term. It’s bittersweet, because on the one hand, I’m really excited — there are a lot of opportunities — but on the other hand, I of course would have preferred to just keep doing Community. So you kind of have mixed feelings about the whole thing…. I have to say, it is very nice to be back on a set. It feels good to go to work right now and work with really lovely, awesome people, but I get really sentimental when I think about my Community crew and I miss them all very much.
What was your reaction when you heard the news? As sad as it was, you guys had been living on the edge of cancellation for so long that I have to assume at some level you were bracing for it? Or do you just get used to squeaking by and always getting that last-minute renewal?
I kind of think that I was living in hope. You do the Paleyfest, Danny [Pudi] and I did the Hulu upfronts for Community, and you sort of feel like, “Yeah, you’re going to come back — we’ll do the sixth season, it has to happen. The hashtag has to come true.” So while I always knew that we were on thin ice for years, I think in my heart I really thought we were going to come back.
So it was surprising.
Yeah. It’s like you said — when you defy death so many times, you think you got one more life. I guess we were a cat with five lives instead of nine.
Have you talked much to [Community creator] Dan Harmon and the other cast members? Has everyone made peace with it, or are different people going through different emotions?
We’ve all communicated with each other and I think we all are in a similar space where you get really sentimental about things, and sometimes I torture myself by looking up clips on YouTube. I definitely rewatched the Dean’s peanut bar rap. And I think that the really nice thing is that we all really love each other and we love working together. And the saddest thing to me is that I don’t get to say Dan Harmon’s words and I don’t get to sit around that table with those people anymore, because it’s a really special group of people and we had this chemistry as a group and I think it was pretty good.
With Dan coming back this season, it felt like the show had a renewed energy, so there was hope for a sixth season…
It felt like we had all this renewed energy and enthusiasm, and as opposed to being five years into a show and going, “There’s nothing left to do,” it just felt like, oh God, we could easily do another season of this. And they would all be great episodes, because I thought we did 13 great episodes this year. But then I console myself by thinking: I’d rather go out with a show that’s in its prime than something that everybody’s wishing would just go away finally. So if we left on top and left them wanting more, I guess that’s better than the thing they were just hoping would die. [Laughs]
It’s never too early to start this question: Would you be up for a Community reunion?
Duh! Does that question even need to be asked? Of course! Duh-doy! Of course! Any time, anywhere. I think when you’ve had a lot of jobs and some great gigs and some not-so-great gigs, you appreciate the really great gigs, and I’ve always valued and appreciated Community as a truly special show and a truly special job.
Is there any talk at all that there still could be a movie or some extra life for the show in another form?
I get a lot of my information from the Internet, same as you, so what’s the Internet saying these days? I haven’t heard anything. I mean, if Dan wants to make the movie, of course! I’d be there.
Your favorite Community memory off the top of your head. Go!
Oh gosh — that’s so hard! It’s just sort of a montage of people making me laugh so hard till my stomach hurts, and times when Ken Jeong would be breaking on one line for like an hour. It would just be so funny and be going on for so long that we’d all be hysterically laughing. Or Donald [Glover] doing some impression of some person and Jim [Rash] as the peanut bar or any one of his innumerable costumes. Just all of us on set at 3 in the morning, so tired. I remember there was one time, we were shooting the Halloween episode of the first season and I was so tired I actually couldn’t see. They came and brought me from my trailer — and my contacts had just completely dried out and I was kind of walking blind back to the stage. And Yvette [Nicole Brown] and I were supposed to be dancing, holding red Solo cups, and we’re just kind of swaying back and forth because we were essentially asleep.
What’s the one thing you always wanted to do on the show but never got to?
I remember Donald always kept trying to figure out how we could do a Back to the Future episode without magic, and I don’t think he ever cracked it. But that was sort of a goal for a while. But we couldn’t have actual magic. We tried to not have — well, maybe we got away from that — did we have magic on the show? I don’t know! It’s hard to tell sometimes! [Laughs] Multiple timelines — is that magic? Or is that just, like, advanced science?… I wish Donald had figured out how to do that Back to the Future episode that never happened.
By the way, on Girls, do you Britta anything?
I don’t think I’ve Britta’d anything yet. But I’m sure that will come.