There’s a certain level of refinement that comes from honing a particular craft over the course of a lifetime: a restraint of movement, a precision in technique, an intentionality with nuance. It’s in these moments of stillness, of seeming nothingness, that Gillian Jacobs shines most brightly in the second season of Love on Netflix. A master craftsman in the art of acting, Jacobs inhabits the sex-addicted-drug-abusing Mickey Dobbs with such an honesty and naturalism that one would be hard pressed not to believe she’s playing an extension of herself. Nothing could be further from the truth.
On the heels of a third season pick-up for Love, Gillian Jacobs spoke to The Laterals about learning to overcome stage fright, her pet peeves with roommates, and the importance of art in today’s divided world.
You've been acting nearly your entire life. What about acting still excites you?
I enjoy working with talented people, learning new things, and pushing myself. The best moments are when you surprise yourself in a scene.
As someone who’s worked extensively on stage, film, and television, do you have a favorite medium for acting?
I haven't done a play in a long time, so I currently feel the itch to do theater again. It would be fun to perform in front of a live audience. Each medium has its challenges, but working in a variety of mediums keeps it exciting.
Even before shooting began, Love had already been picked up for two seasons by Netflix. How was that like for you and the creative team? Was that something you discussed beforehand?
Knowing we had two seasons made everyone on set more comfortable and relaxed. The writers were able to think longer term rather than worrying week-to-week if the show would keep going. The whole atmosphere was more calm than the first season of a network show.
There’s an episode in Love when Mickey and Gus house-sit together, and Mickey realizes she needs space because she can’t stand being monitored. Do you have any pet peeves about living with a roommate or a significant other?
Occasionally you just want silence. I have been known to lock myself in my closet with the lights off to just hide.
Has your process changed over the years when it comes to preparing for auditions or roles?
I think I feel less anxiety auditioning now, which helps a lot. I used to literally shake, my palms would get sweaty, and my vision would sometimes go out of focus. I still get nervous, but I can breathe through it much more easily now.
Do you still get stage fright? How do you deal with it?
Of course! The best cure for stage fright is to focus on your scene partner. If you are actually listening and reacting to the other person, you can forget about the audience. But too often, I get in my own head, and I'm not present in the moment.
I’ve read you’re a Shakespeare aficionado. What would be your dream role in a Shakespeare play?
Rosalind in As You Like It is the largest female role of any Shakespeare play, but there are so many! I played Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream in college. That was really fun.
How do you unwind after a long day on set?
Cereal and Vanderpump Rules.
You’ve previously worked with the Russo brothers, and we’ve seen a few Community cameos in their Captain America and Avengers movies. Would you ever consider doing a superhero franchise?
For sure! It would be fun to challenge myself physically like that. I might have to learn how to do a pull-up though.
In Don’t Think Twice, your character Samantha’s boyfriend gets a huge break to be a cast member on the SNL-equivalent Weekend Live. It’s a simultaneously joyous and heartbreaking moment because Samantha had dreamed of being on the show as well. Coming from an educational pedigree like Juilliard, did you ever experience something similar? How were you able to cope and persist?
In the same way that Jack thinks the hard part is over when he is cast on Weekend Live, I thought getting into Juilliard would be the difficult thing. What we both learned is that the stress and challenges have just begun. I also went to college with people like Samantha who loved the artistry of theater and couldn't stand the commercial aspect of the entertainment business.
What is the hardest part about being an actress?
Facing constant rejection and criticism. I had to be persistent and tougher than I thought I could ever be.
In our current political landscape, what role - if any - do you think art and storytelling play?
Great art has made me think more deeply, made me more empathetic, revealed hard truths, and taught me about myself.
In Love, Mickey works as a producer for a satellite radio show. What are your favorite podcasts that you’re currently listening to?
2 Dope Queens, Sooo Many White Guys, Crimetown, You Must Remember This, Radiolab, Dear Sugar.
I know you’ve dabbled in directing with your documentary on Grace Hopper. Is that something you’d like to continue to do?
Yes! I am hoping to make more documentaries about women and technology. I'm also interested in the women of early Hollywood. I wrote an article about Anita Loos for Lenny Letter.