October 2, 2020
The writer and actor gave birth to a son and buried her mother while filming On the Rocks with Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray. She talks about grief, resilience – and challenging Pixar
In On the Rocks, a new movie by Sofia Coppola starring Rashida Jones and Bill Murray, the city of New York appears in what was until recently its customary guise. The bars and restaurants are full, the streets are crowded, and in every scene, New Yorkers breathe on one another with outlandish abandon. “It’s a weird time to celebrate anything,” says Jones, down the line from LA, but there is something about the movie, in which she plays a thirtysomething woman whose life is in freefall, that feels like a tribute to a vanished world. “I had a child and lost my mom in the same period [as filming], and was in very amorphous emotional shape,” she says. That sense of limbo imbues every frame.
The film unspools with the dreamlike pace of a Michael Cunningham novel, while Murray’s sardonic wit saves it – as in his previous collaboration with Coppola, Lost in Translation – from ponderousness. The surprise, to the uninitiated, is Jones, who at 44 is at the height of her professional powers, an actor who after years of playing supporting roles in shows such as Parks and Recreation and The Office, assumes the lead with a frank, amused intelligence that reminds us she is a writer as much as an actor.