After seven years as a wildly popular cast member on Saturday Night Live, Andy Samberg finally decided to follow many of his fellow cohorts into the wild world of movie-making. But after being panned by critics in 2007 with his first starring role in Hot Rod and being forced to work his way up the ladder again through colorful supporting roles, Samberg has covered his bases wisely.
First, in June, he co-starred with his comedic hero Adam Sandler in the raunchy R-rated comedy That’s My Boy, a cartoonish film in which Samberg seemed to be the only actor attempting to bring a tinge of realistic human behavior to the screen. But it’s his role in this summer’s Celeste and Jesse Forever (a crowd favorite at the Sundance Film Festival in January) that’s giving Samberg his chance to show some acting chops—both comedically and dramatically.
In Celeste, Samberg plays Jesse, a 30-year-old living in Los Angeles who is attempting to stay best friends amidst a divorce with his wife, Celeste (played by Rashida Jones of Parks and Recreation, who also co-wrote the film with fellow co-star Will McCormack). Celeste is a driven career woman, while Jesse drifts through life as a stoner and stays in her guest house—until he finds out he’s the father of another woman’s baby and has to decide which relationship he wants.
Here, Samberg offers his thoughts on both summer roles, missing SNL and his co-stars.
What was it like for you to tackle drama with Celeste and Jesse Forever?
I knew I could do comedy parts, but it was a little bit of a crapshoot. But Rashida is my friend, and I felt taken care of and encouraged through the whole process. The first week or so, I’d be asking “Was that good?” because no one was laughing. But I came to learn that drama is the opposite of everything I’d known. That’s when you know it’s not working in drama—when people laugh.