“I don’t feel satisfied with success,” confesses “On the Rocks” star Rashida Jones. In our recent interview (watch the exclusive video above), she adds, “That’s not the thing that keeps me going. It’s trying to subvert my own expectations of myself. I’ve only ever played a lead role one other time in my life, and it was a movie I wrote for myself (“Celeste and Jesse Forever”). I wasn’t looking to do that. When someone like Sofia Coppola asks you to do that you jump at the chance. It’s scary. I still have a lot of feelings and doubts about myself and ability to perform and hold this movie. But I had to step up to the challenge. I had to do it.”
The Apple TV+ comedy feature film is written and directed by Oscar-winning Coppola. Jones plays Laura, a mother who suspects her husband might be having an affair. She enlists the services of her father Felix (Bill Murray) to get to the bottom of things. The pair go on a series of hijinks and stakeouts around Manhattan. Jones explains, “I learned that I’m not the only person who has this melancholic quality of being middle aged and figuring out how you fit into your own life. I feel like this character that Sofia wrote is an archetype of a woman of a certain age and what she’s going through. I relate to that.”
Nuance and restraint allows for much of the film’s power and humor to come from the unspoken moments, with Laura as a particularly restrained character. Jones reveals, “I’m such an outspoken person. To be more reserved, listen and internalize a reaction is challenging for me. I wanted to make sure it came across in a multi-layered way. There’s a scene when we’re having lunch; at the end of one of Felix’s long theoretical runs, he lands on catching a woman to impregnate her, just as the waitress comes back. Everything is said in my face. ‘I am mortified. I’m so sorry you have to be here. Welcome to my life. And there’s nothing I can do.’ But I say nothing.”
Coppola is one of few women nominated for Best Director at the Oscars (for “Lost in Translation”). Jones says, “She has such a delicate touch and defined atmosphere. As soon as you start watching her films you know where you are and you know where you want to be. When Laura explodes and says to Felix ‘you have to start listening to women’s voices’ there is something so poignant about that line. Because if you love women and you love strong women, you have to figure out a way to hear their voices. You can’t just say you love women. That’s the same when it comes to filmmaking and representation. All these men who make decisions, all these men who direct and produce movies, have women in their lives they love. Do you really love women? Ok great! You also have to listen to their stories and celebrate their stories. In a way where we have more than five women ever as director nominees at the Oscars.”
Reflecting on “On The Rocks” the actress reveals, “I’m most proud I got to play this character that’s slightly different from myself. Who is internal, not reactionary and more thoughtful and paced in the way they respond. I do feel I did bring some life, color and dynamism to that internal life in a way that I’ve never had a chance to do before. So that’s cool.”
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