Jake Lacy, 30, was born in Greenfield and raised in Vermont. A graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, he gained attention playing Pete on the final season of The Office and starred opposite Jenny Slate in 2014’s Obvious Child. He’s since appeared in Love the Coopers with Diane Keaton and played Rooney Mara’s suitor in the acclaimed Todd Haynes film Carol. His new film How to Be Single hits screens on Feb. 12, and he’ll return in the role of Fran in season five of the hit HBO series Girls, which premieres Feb. 21.
Jake Lacy: Oh, man, how sick is that jacket? They custom cut that. We went to a costume house and saw a few they liked. Some fit better than others, and some were too far gone, because they were from the era, so they were 60-plus years old. So they took my measurements, and based on the ones they liked, they found a fabric that was period-appropriate and cut it and lined it—the whole thing. So I got to set and said, “I don’t remember trying this one on. It’s perfect!” And they were like, “Yeah, it’s custom.”
Did you get to keep it? No. I’m sure it went back to a costume house, but that would have been awesome, tooling around in that. It was so soft, like cashmere. I could take a nap in it.
Todd Haynes: The ultimate interpreter of the 1950s? I’d say he’s the ultimate director. I don’t know that he’d want to put a label on himself like that, but he is so thoughtful as a director and a creative individual that there’s no leaf left unturned when he invests in a time period or a story or the characters. I feel like if he tackled any era, we’d walk away saying, “That was the 1970s. That was the early ’80s.” He’s so specific and thorough.
Did you read The Price of Salt before doing the movie? I did. It was sort of a groundbreaking book when it came out in that it was the first story where the subject was a gay or lesbian couple and it didn’t end in a car accident or a murder/suicide, etc. The books that dealt with that subject matter at all usually ended with some horrific, ominous lesson of “Don’t be gay or you’ll die.”
Please tell me that Cate Blanchett has at least one flaw. Maybe she’s too kind? Too personable? She’s unbelievable. I think from afar, people project what she must be like, but my experience was that she was incredibly professional and incredibly selfless, both while filming and while promoting the film. She and Rooney are the stars, and they could both have ignored me if they’d wanted to, but they were both so gracious and thoughtful.
Was it intimidating to work with Diane Keaton in Love the Coopers? Before I met her it was intimidating because of whatever craziness I self-generated. But as soon as I met her she was warm and fun and funny. I feel like being an actor is like perpetually going into your first day at school or a new job. You build up all these ideas of “Everybody’s gonna like me,” or “Everybody’s gonna hate me,” and then you get there and realize that everyone’s just trying to do their job. Some people make that experience really enjoyable, and Diane is certainly one of those people.
OK, How to Be Single—give me three easy steps. Well, if you want to stay single, I’d say bad breath, a lot of gaseousness inside and out, and not excusing yourself for either of those things. But seriously, that is the title of our movie, but it’s really about how do you figure out who you are so that you can move forward and share your life with somebody.
How does it feel to have your career ignite the way it has? It’s the dream. It’s what I always dreamed of as a kid and throughout school. I’ve had these amazing opportunities to work with people I respect and have looked up to for so long. Like Girls—I wanted to be on that show and through a series of events just wound up there. It’s overwhelming. I feel like the luckiest boy in the world.
So you watched Girls before being on the show? Oh, yeah. I remember when it first came out, my friend saying, “That’s the kind of show we’ve gotta be on, man!” And I said, “I agree! I’m not sure how that’s gonna happen, though,” and then three and a half years later, an audition came down the line.
Jenny Slate—funniest person you ever met? She’s wonderful. Fantastic. It was such a joy to work with her. That project was executed beautifully for very little money.
Are you a big fan of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On? Of course! How could you not be?
Which of these is not a Marcel quote? A) I used to have a sister. Someone asked her to hold a balloon. B) Guess what a hamster looks like to me? A grizzly bear. Or C) Guess what my skis are? Toenails from a man I’m going with B.
Ding, ding, ding! Spot on. Think you’ll forever be identified with The Office? I would say that if I am, that’s fine by me. I had jobs before that, but I’d say that role is what led to Obvious Child, which led to a half dozen other things. I feel like being a part of The Office is what got the snowball rolling down the hill, getting more momentum. I’m eternally grateful.
Thing you miss most about living in New England? Driving through the mountains, taking the long way home just to be out on a dirt road somewhere.
Worst job you ever had: gym attendant? No! At least I got paid for that. The worst job I ever had was when I was so desperate, I was looking on Craigslist for day-to-day jobs. This was an extra in a non-union film. It said they’d pay $100 for the day. I basically sat on a folding chair in an abandoned warehouse in Queens with three other people for like 10 hours. Then he used me for one scene in this horrible, lower than student-quality production. Then, when we were finished, I asked for the $100, and a guy on the crew took out his wallet and gave me like 15 bucks. That was the last time I looked for a job on Craigslist.
Dream role? It’s hard to imagine one. It’s more like something comes along and you say, “That’s a project I want to be a part of.” But there are lots of dream people I’d love to work with. Some of them I’ve already gotten to work with, but then there are the Scorseses and De Niros and Meryl Streeps. I think Ray Liotta is amazing. Ben Mendelsohn. Brit Marling. There are a lot of people I’d love to work with.
Describe the past few years in two words. Chaotic and beautiful.
Location: The Brooklyn Winery; Styling: Michael Fisher / Starworks Artists; Styling Assistant: Mary Inacio; Grooming: Rheanne White / See Management; Wardrobe: Dolce & Gabbana jacket and shirt, Alex Mill long-sleeve shirt, RRL jeans