Actress Gillian Jacobs got her start at the age of eight. Her mother, looking for an outlet for her child with a flair for dramatics, enrolled her in acting classes. Jacobs went on to become classically trained at Julliard; something so competitive, grueling, and highly critical that it turned her off theatre acting. Naturally, she began gravitating more towards TV and movie acting (something that wasn’t part of the curriculum.) Her big break came in 2009 on the comedy TV series Community. Her character, Britta Perry, is an aspiring psychologist whose attempts to help her fellow students, however misguided, are well-intentioned and anticked. The anarchist-atheist-activist combination is one that’s achieved effortlessly for someone that prefers to play things by the book.
Jacobs’ starring role in the Netflix original romantic comedy series Love, premiered in early 2016 and officially wrapped this past March. She plays the neurotic and adventurous Mickey Dobbs, addicted to sex, love, drugs, and alcohol. As a self-proclaimed rule follower, teetotaler, and drug abstainer, this couldn’t be farther from the actress IRL. Still—it’s a very convincing departure. Cast alongside ‘good guy’ Gus (played by Paul Rust,) the relatability is even more palpable. After a decade long hiatus from theatre acting, Jacobs returned to the stage in 2018 as Kate in the Sarah Burgess-written play “Kings.” The tale of corruption in Washington DC politics sees her character as a medical industry lobbyist to the Senator.
Adding to her catalog of feature films is The Big Ask, Life Partners, The Lookalike, Don’t Think Twice, and the recent Life of the Party, opposite Melissa McCartney. Her latest film, Netflix’s Ibiza, just premiered in June. Playing the lead of Harper, a publicist tasked with landing a big client in Spain with SNL’s Vanessa Bayer in tow--it’s quintessentially a movie about the lengths that friends will go to support one another, even when that reluctantly includes ditching work to fly to Ibiza to follow a hot DJ. Skilled in the art of disguise, Gillian Jacobs saves the ‘playing it safe’ for her personal life. Her repertoire of rom-dramedies showcases her in believable, substantial, feel-good roles that also allow her to live vicariously through the riskier risk takers in society.
Gillian sits down with her long-time friend, fellow actress Busy Phillips, for a candid and nostalgic interview where they dish on department store modelling, show ponies, new and old acting ventures, and friendship.
Busy: How are you? Are you crazy from running around doing all this press for Ibiza?
Gillian: I’m good. It is crazy when you are running around and actually doing it. But it helps that I’m really excited about this project, it motivates me through all the insanity of the schedule. It's all been very well, and actually, I’m going to NY on Saturday.
Busy: What are you doing in NY?
Gillian: We are going to do the premiere for Ibiza at Vulture Fest and we’re also doing an event there and then there is the press stuff.
Busy: I loved the movie. I didn’t get to see you after. Did you know--I went to see your play [KINGS] in NY and a man had a heart attack in the audience?! They had to stop the play for 45 minutes, but even still, the play was really great. Though I was so stressed the whole time that the man was gonna die, but thankfully he ended up alright.
Gillian: Woah, that’s nuts, I didn’t hear about that!
Busy: Are you feeling sad about Love being over and you not having a TV show to go back to in the first time in like 10 years… wait, wow… how long have I known you now? Almost ten years!
Gillian: Wow, really, that’s crazy?!
Busy: Yeah, I mean, let me think... we met when Birdie was a baby. When we met she must have been eight months old, because she is turning ten in August. Wow, we have known each other almost a decade.
Gillian: That seems right because I feel like I just moved to LA when I met you. When Community had just been picked up.
*[Gillian Jacobs first met Busy Philipps after she was invited to a taping of the show Love Inc.]
Busy: So yeah, Birdie was eight months old then and now she’s modeling. She’s walking the cat-walk for Gucci next month!
Gillian: Are you kidding?
Busy: Yeah of course I am kidding, but I mean... she could be. [laughter]
Gillian: I could see it.
Busy: I feel like very TV actor’s kid becomes a kind of model at some point. The kid wants the limelight at some point. She deserves her turn Gillian, she does. [laughs] I'll build a runway in the house, I can do that! Did your ever model?
Gillian: My mom worked for a department store so when I was a kid, so I was in the fashion shows there, but that was in the mall, at the department store. So does that count?
Busy: Wait, NO way! So was I. No.
Gillian: OMG, I remember the part of it when I had to go to etiquette school, and part of the class was I had to walk Dillards Spring fashion show in the mall. I remember modeling Easter type of fashion, very puffy dresses. The fancy kid’s Easter dresses. I wonder if they still do that kind of modeling in malls?! I wonder if mall scouting still goes down!
Busy: Maybe… or maybe it's just [done through] Instagram now… everyone’s just finding models on Instagram now.
Gillian: Of course. They go and find people on Instagram now.
Busy: Ok, so back to business. Are you sad about the show [LOVE] being over.
Gillian: Yeah, I am. It’s an adjustment. Right about now I would be going back [to filming], and it’s strange because it gives you such structure in your life when you are on a TV show, and now I have to create it for myself.
Busy: It sounds like you are kind of doing that. You have four thousand movies to promote, so that’s good haha. Do you get.. I get this way when I do a lot of press, I start to deeply, deeply loathe myself, do you get that?
Gillian: Oh yes. It’s like also you don’t want to give the same answer over and over again and be disingenuous, but you can't think of a better answer to give. I mean, it's so nice to have talented people do your hair and makeup and dress you up, but also you feel like a little show pony after a while. I would rather just be in my pajamas. But this, doing this with you, that’s pretty nice.
Busy: Okay well that sounds like the perfect line to end on [laughs]. Is this long enough, this interview?
Gillian: I think it is. I love you and will talk to you later.
Photographer: Jora Frantzis
Stylist: Sarah Dinken
Makeup: Jenn Streicher
@Tracey Mattingly using JUICE Beauty
Hair: Suave Professionals Marcus Francis @Starworks
Writer: Hannah Rose Prendergast