Andy Sandberg twelve years ago taking his first stab as a movie star

                    June 2012 By Philip Berk

Longtime friends, Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones provide the perfect chemistry for the sweet love story Celeste and Jesse Forever,  in which they play a once-married couple getting cold feet about signing those final divorce papers.

The day before the press conference Andy made it official: he was leaving Saturday Night Live to pursue a film career.

I remind him that other SNL alumni (Bill Murray, Chevy Chase) left after they had established movie careers for themselves.

Does he have any trepidation?

“Whatever happens,” he responds, “I’m going to go for it. I genuinely feel I have done more with my career than I ever thought possible. I feel real good that I’m been getting to work with people I admire.”

Not the least of which is Adam Sandler with whom he shares costar billing  in That’s My boy and the upcoming Grown Ups 2.

More interestingly he’s subsequently been recruited for a new BBC comedy series, Cuckoo, in which he plays an American who meets, falls in love with, and marries a British girl in Thailand and then has to put up with her belligerent father played by Welsh comic Greg Davies.

So how did he get involved with Celeste and Jesse?

“I’ve been friendly with Rashida for years. She sent me the script because we’re both writers, just to take a look, and I really connected with the character of Jesse and its examination of today’s relationships. People of our generation don’t necessarily end up with the person they first fall in love with, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Even though it took four years for that to happen.

Rashida both star, writer, and producer, explains. 

“We (writing partner Will McCormack) finished the script in November of 2008; we showed it to some friends in the industry; they gave us great notes, and then we gave it to our friend (power producer) Jennifer Todd, who wanted to produce, and we sold it to a subsidiary of Fox in March 2009, and they folded a month later, and then we sold it to Overture and they folded a couple of months later, which may be emblematic of the state of the industry. After that we we set it up about six times, at different budget levels, but then finally we had this tiny window for Andy’s schedule and my schedule, and we just said, ‘Screw it. We’re going to make it this summer come hell or high water,’ and luckily we found a great producer-investor who financed the whole thing.”

And the director, where did he come from?

“We had watched his film The Vicious Kind, which we loved, a very different kind of film. Lee Krieger, he’s a very young, talented guy. When we approached him he immediately responded, and he continued to be on our team even as the budget shrunk.”

How much of Jesse is really Andy?

Andy answers that.

“There’s a lot of Jesse in me. Certainly in terms of his career towards the end of the film, I’m like him. There was a time when I was just as aimless, not living up to my potential, not really engaged, not particularly interested in anything. But once I started doing stand up, suddenly I found myself working a lot harder. In that way Jesse is very similar to me. Once the opportunity is presented he starts taking control of his life. Of course he’s also sarcastic, a lot of joking around, that was the part of the character I knew I could do well  — the other side of him, the more dramatic stuff was more of a challenge, but I was really happy with the way it turned out.” 

Although according to Rashida initially he wasn’t  that eager to play the role?

“He definitely didn’t jump in. I wish he had. We’ve been friends for years, and I asked him to read the script as a friend, just for some feedback. He was very nice and effusive about it, but then subtly he dropped hints that he could play the part. Finally after a couple of years he came clean and said he wanted to, which was great. He makes a perfect Jesse.”

How was it working with him?

“Because we were friends we had a built in dynamic with each other. We share a sense of humor so it was really easy to work with him, although it’s hard to scream at him and fight with him.”

Rashida can be seen in Parks and Recreations and Andy on Saturday Night Live. In person she’s as appealing as she is on screen and he’s just as adorable.