Jake Johnson writes and directs his first movie, 'Self Reliance'

Best known for his role on 'New Girl,' Johnson branches out to behind the camera

ByGina Sirico OTRC logo
Friday, January 12, 2024
Jake Johnson writes and directs his first movie, 'Self Reliance'
'New Girl' star Jake Johnson talks about his directorial debut, 'Self Reliance;' part comedy, part thriller, part romance.

LOS ANGELES -- It's wild, it's wacky and it's Jake Johnson's first foray into directing. Welcome to "Self Reliance," a new film streaming on Hulu.

Johnson stars as Tommy, a guy who's sort of lost his way in life. He and his girlfriend of 23 (!!) years have split, he's living with his mom and he's going through the motions of life.

Along comes Andy Samberg in a limo (seriously), who offers him the chance of a lifetime.

"A guy gets an opportunity to go on a dark web show where they are hunting him and he has 30 days to live but they can't kill him if he's with people. So he decides he has to fill his 30 days with different people from his life while they're trying to kill him," Johnson told On The Red Carpet.

Maddy, played by Anna Kendrick, is another player in this crazy game who has nothing to lose. She and Tommy team up and sparks fly.

"For me, the real fun of this movie is the cast and how many people come out. We have Eduardo Franco and GaTa and all these different people who pop up in the movie and, you know, make it really exciting," Johnson explained.

This is Johnson's directorial debut and he wanted to make it memorable.

"I wanted a nice manic pace. I wanted laughs but also some action, a thriller. I tried to throw everything in because who knows if I'd ever direct again so I wanted to throw all the genres in one, but I'm really excited with how it turned out," Johnson revealed.

The manic pace of the movie is the exact opposite of what Johnson's character's life is like before he starts the game. He's lonely, down-on-his-luck and taking part in this experience is a way to right the ship of his life and get himself back on track.

The mental health aspect was intriguing to GaTa.

"Definitely felt that I had to do it, because it was talking about mental health in there a little bit and I'm a mental health advocate. You know, everything's up here so I definitely felt I needed to take a very big stab at it," GaTa said.

Johnson's co-stars sang his praises.

"I've been a fan of Jake's for so long. He's so funny and so talented and I just knew whatever he was doing, if he was directing it, it was going to be awesome," explained Natalie Morales.

Emily Hampshire, who plays one of Tommy's sisters, said Johnson made the experience a collaborative one. "He was so good, as a director. He was asking for our opinions on stuff and just so inclusive and, yeah. I'd do anything for him."

But would the cast ever take part in a reality show like this?

Morales said, "Yes, wouldn't you? For the story? You have to - the story's too weird not to do it!"

Mary Holland agreed. "I would do something like this. And I think I might actually do pretty well because I'm pretty clingy by nature! So I think I would manage to glom onto somebody and keep them with me for 30 days straight."

As for Johnson himself? "No, absolutely not! It would be an easy pass."

"Self Reliance" is streaming on Hulu now.

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