Welcome to Scene Stealer, a new feature here on Movies Blog where we salute the lesser-known actors who kill it so consistently with each and every scene they’re in, they leave you wanting more. These are talented men and women who’ve already earned your respect, familiar faces you’re always happy to see pop up in a movie or TV show — you just might not know them as marquee names… yet.
Our inaugural Scene Stealer is Jake Johnson, who returns to primetime tonight in all-new episodes of “The New Girl.” Johnson can also be seen booting NPH from heaven as Jesus in “A Very Harold And Kumar 3D Christmas,” hitting theaters this weekend.
Find out everything you need to know about Jake and his scene-stealing after the jump!
» Harassing Ashton Kutcher for trying to be like the “old guy from ’Up'” in “No Strings Attached.”
» Giving Michael Angarano poignant, heartfelt advice on growing up in the Indie “Ceremony.”
» A tie: As “director” Nick Jasenovec in indie darling “Paper Heart,” and punching out Tim Allen in “Redbelt.”
» “New Girl”
Johnson spoke with us about his work as Nick on the Zooey Deschanel-starring Fox comedy, saying: “I feel like at the beginning of the series Nick was in the middle of a pretty serious breakup and nervous breakdown and his life was spiraling. I always find it funny and engaging in life when somebody’s spiraling; the attempts they try to do to get back on their feet. I’m excited to see what his attempts are.”
» “A Very Harold And Kumar Christmas”
On playing Jesus opposite a Heaven-bound Neil Patrick Harris, Johnson said: “It was absolutely just weirdness. I got there and it was like four hours of hair and makeup. They really made me look like Jesus. I’m walking around and the director is awesome, Neil Patrick Harris, he’s so nice and professional and just funny. [And then I was] in a room with like a hundred of Detroit strippers. Like, ’What world am I in? What has happened?’ But yeah that director, Todd [Strauss Schulson]’s really great. He’s really fun to work with. Everyone was.
The Art of Scene-Stealing
Johnson doesn’t look at himself as a scene stealer as much as he’s just one member on a performance team. “You only win if everybody wins,” he reasoned. “You’re only as strong as your weakest link. If someone’s trying to steal it from everyone else, I feel like they’re trying to take away from the others’ performances. There’s a guy named Del Close out of Chicago who I studied as I was a kid, based out of Second City and his whole idea was, ’Make your scene partner look good and in doing so it will make you look good.’ If I’m a scene stealer, hopefully I’m a scene stealer by playing it the right way rather than trying to steal it from my fellow actors.”
“My career has been kind of interesting,” said Johnson. “In truth I’ve kind of liked it. I’ve had an under-the-radar kind of character actor-y career, where I’ve been able to do some really cool stuff. With each role I get and each role I’m in, people feel like they’re discovering me for the first time. There’s something nice about that. I try to do each role differently so that I don’t have just one brand; I don’t ever want a thing that I do. I hope I’m able to maintain that, and lucky enough to get good parts. Hopefully, with each part it feels like a whole new character, and a whole new person and it feels like you’ve never seen this guy before.”
“I go up to Trader Joe’s, this happened about two weeks ago, and I get up to the counter and the dude working was bearded, tats on his neck, the toughest looking guy in the world. Guys like that, for a guy like me, I want them to think I’m cool, I just can’t help it. So I get up there and he’s like, ’You’re the guy on “New Girl” right?’ I was like, ’Yeah,’ and I couldn’t believe that dude knew ’New Girl,” Johnson weighed in on his fame level. “So I said ’Yeah man, I’m on ’New Girl.” He goes ’Nice, yeah I saw the pilot with my girlfriend,’ and I was like, ’Great.’ He said, ’Yeah, I don’t like the show.’ I was like ’Ah, cool, great.’ He said, ’But hey man, good for you; I heard it got picked up for a whole season.’ We stood there awkwardly, he bagged my groceries and I took off.”
Tell us what you think of Jake Johnson’s work in the comments section and on Twitter!