Few of Hollywood’s privileged children hold down regular jobs, let alone work on their days off, but Rashida Jones isn’t one to take the easy way out. The 33-year-old daughter of megaproducer Quincy Jones and “Mod Squad” star Peggy Lipton graduated from Harvard before pounding the pavement in New York and Los Angeles in search of acting gigs. “It ended up being more difficult than I thought it was going to be,” she says. “I was spoiled because my first part (in an indie called “Myth America”) was just handed to me by a friend from school who was making her first movie, so I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this.’ But it took several years and several jobs before ‘Freaks and Geeks.’”
After breaking out on that series, Jones scored roles on “Boston Public” and “The Office.” Now, she’s starring in the comedy “I Love You, Man,” which opened in theaters last week.
“Filming this movie was the best job I’ve ever had. I would go to set when I wasn’t working just because I wanted to see everybody and hang out. Not a lot of people get to say that about their job,” she says.
In the flick, Jones appears as the fiancée of a buddyless guy in search of a best man. “I think it’s a very modern dilemma,” she says. “I have a lot of girl friends who are very adept at making friends, and guys are just not. Now at their mid-thirties, when their college friends faded away, it’s hard to find new friends.”
Her friendless husband-to-be is played by Paul Rudd, who says working with the actress was hardly a chore, although she did keep him in check. “Rashida is funny, smart, pretty and there is no attitude,” he says. “When I would start to go off in directions that were not very realistic, I would look at her and it reminded me to play the reality of the situation.”
Jones credits her mom, Lipton, with being an excellent coach. “She’s helped me with most of my auditions, and she reminds me to balance my life when I get too hectic.” Older sister Kidada, who designs clothing and accessories for Disney, also helps keep her grounded. “We really live in different worlds. She’s not a movie buff, so when she likes my work it makes me really happy,” Jones says.
Up next, Jones returns to television, costarring with Amy Poehler in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” a mockumentary-style sitcom (from the producers of “The Office”) about municipal government in an Indiana town, premiering April 9. Jones plays a nurse who befriends Poehler’s city official at a town meeting.
But becoming a comedic queen was never Jones’ intention. “I don’t know that I’m the funniest person, but I am drawn to people who like to laugh. I would be an idiot to say comedy is easy, but it does come naturally. It never feels forced,” she says. “It’s my plan to keep doing it. If I can surround myself with hilarious people every day, I will always want to go to work.”