Last night’s party at a palatial Soho private home was touted to “Celebrate the Rise of the Home Bar” with “America’s favorite TV bartender, Jake Johnson.” And maybe we’re wishful thinkers, but pretty much everyone who showed up thought we’d come to watch Johnson sling drinks Cocktail style, or at least Nick style. Alas, the occasion was really just a product launch for Stella Artois’s new PerfectDraft beer-pouring machine, and New Girl’s lovable curmudgeon only came down toward the end of the party in a nice suit that signaled he had no intention of getting behind a bar. He did, however, have every intention of being a charming interview. I talked to him about beer, his new movies Let’s Be Cops and Jurassic World, hanging with Prince, and [New Girl spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the latest episode] Nick and Jess’s breakup, which was happening on TV as we were speaking.
From the way they sent out the invite, we all thought you were bartending.
Oh really? [Laughs.] No, I’m not bartending. Unless I’m getting tips! That would be cool. I would actually bartend a little bit. I’m good.
You can actually bartend?
I can! Depends on the drink. If you want like a really fancy drink, I’m not your guy. I used to bartend at weddings on boats, so really simple bartending I can do.
Holding a drink steady.
Yes, I can hold a glass steady! [Laughs.]
I meant on a rocking boat!
I thought you meant I’m such an alcoholic my hands are shaking. [Demonstrates shaking hands.] Here you go, here’s your drink, here’s your drink.
Well, speaking of alcoholics, you were in Drinking Buddies.
I’m working with Joe [Swanberg] again this summer. We’re doing another movie with Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt and Brie Larson. There will be a lot more beer drinking in it.
Were you constantly drunk on the last one?
I wasn’t constantly drunk, but I was constantly drinking.
Just having a couple of drinks and then trying to do the scenes.
Does that happen when you’re bartending on New Girl, too?
I’m not allowed to say. I’m still doing that one. I’m going back to work there in August. [Laughs.] We wrapped season three and we got picked up for four, so we’re back in early August and back for the summer.
I hear Nick and Jess broke up tonight. Did you feel an actual sense of loss yourself?
Yeah, you know, you’re invested in a character, and we don’t control the story. So whatever the writers come up with, that’s what we do. So the fact that they put them together, the fact that they were together for so long, you just play those scenes. And when the breakup happened, I felt like, “Wow, here we go.” And I don’t know how they’re gonna handle it, and I’m excited to see.
Are you still in touch with Prince?
Oh yeah. I mean, we don’t send each other emails, but Prince has been really open with the cast and he invites us out to shows. It’s not like Prince and I are calling each other.
Were there backstage antics with Prince?
Kinda. Prince was really nice and social and hanging out with us between takes and doing jokes.
What did you learn about him?
I learned he makes a great omelette.
What kind of omelette?
He said, “The best omelette you’ll ever have.”
What did he put in it?
I couldn’t tell ya. You’ll have to have it from Prince. I didn’t eat it. That’s just what he told me.
The Let’s Be Cops Red Band trailer came out today. You get to curse a lot. Does it feel like letting loose after network TV?
Well, it’s an R-rated movie. It’s really fun. More so, it’s just a different tone. I read the script; Nick Thomas I think wrote a brilliant script for it. It’s just a funny movie. And then we were able to improvise a lot. I think it’s good. It’s one of those movies where it feels like a fun action-comedy that I wanted to be part of, and I wanted to make sure the action was real, so it wasn’t like you don’t ever believe in it.
Favorite action sequence you got to do?
We did a scene where I get shot out of a window and I fly three stories down, then land on a Dumpster, get shot at, and keep going. So the stunt guy did the main fall, but I still had to jump backwards off of a ladder while getting shot at and then continue the scene. That was pretty cool.
You sound very agile.
You know, my fat ass barely did it. [Laughs.] When I landed on the Dumpster, they had to take away some of the thud in post. Because there was a thud and then I was like, “OWWWW!!!!” That’ll get cut.
Do you limber up before you have to do a pratfall?
I don’t think I’ve ever limbered up, which is part of the problem. I’ve got one of those bodies that, like, it makes weird sounds when I move. Like nothing feels right. My knees I don’t think are pointed in the right direction, my hips are like that [points in one direction], and my back is like that [points in other direction].
Do you have to get in a particular mind-set before throwing yourself around?
No, I try to think as little as possible before.
Just in general.
In life. Yeah.
So you’re in Jurassic World.
I haven’t shot it yet. I shoot at the end of July.
If you get to interact with dinosaurs, which one do you want?
Probably the T. Rex, but what I’m really excited about is the director, Colin Trevorrow, directed me in Safety Not Guaranteed. And the writer of that movie [Derek Connolly] did a rewrite on Jurassic World. That movie we did for, I think it was $600,000 up in Seattle, a 20-day shoot. I loved it. So to do that and now be doing Jurassic World together, it just feels like a fun jump.
So it’s not the dinosaurs that are getting you excited?
You know, it’s not real dinosaurs. [Laughs.] I’m the tech guy. I’m the guy in the booth, so I don’t get to wrestle around with the dinos. That’s Chris Pratt and Bryce Howard. They get to do all that.
I was just trying to get to your relationship with the original Jurassic Park.
I loved it. I was born in ’78, so when it came out I think I was 13, so it was a big deal. So to be in that franchise is really neat. I try not to think too much about it because it trips me out, because in my heart of hearts I feel like I belong in little independent movies, where the fact that I’m in Jurassic World, I’m like, “Thank you!” It feels like I’m invited to a really nice party.
Where you make a lot of money.
No, not really. [Laughs.] But I know me and I know I could fuck this up, so I’m just trying to be like, “Everything’s cool! Don’t kick me out! I’m happy to be at the party!” I’m excited. I think Colin’s putting together a really cool crew, and I think Chris Pratt is a legit movie star. I’m excited for him.
He’s jacked enough now.
Oh, he’s ripped, dude.