Meet Our Fall Cover Star: Rashida Jones

Rashida Jones is calling from beneath the “apocalyptic sun” in her hometown of Los Angeles. It’s mid-September and wildfires have cast a perpetual haze over California, giving the sun the appearance of a glowing red orb.

“There’s just this vibe that’s so heavy,” says the actor. “The air is so bad and the sun looks like an eclipse all day long. It’s just a very strange mood. Plus pandemic, plus political instability and division.” She comically brightens her voice. “But anyway!”

Such are the challenges of 2020: promoting a movie from home while surrounded by raging fires that make even breathing outdoors not a great idea. It’s a small delight, then, that during these uncertain times, the divine trio of Sofia Coppola, Bill Murray, and Jones are arriving with the whimsical and thoughtful father–daughter comedy On the Rocks. The film premieres on Apple TV+ October 23, following a limited Canadian theatrical release beginning October 2.

Rashida Jones S Magazine
Dress by Fendi; bodysuit by Wolford; earrings by Satta Matturi.

Coppola’s 2003 film Lost in Translation kicked off her celebrated cinematic connection with Murray. Incredibly, as Coppola was fine-tuning the script, Jones read the role that would go to Scarlett Johansson in her acting class for the young filmmaker.

The three first connected on camera when Jones—now gush-at-on-the-street famous from her comically sensible roles in The Office, Parks and Recreation, and #BlackAF—joined Coppola’s 2015 shoot for A Very Murray Christmas. The winking Netflix Christmas special featured, quite simply, everyone (Michael Cera, George Clooney, and Miley Cyrus cover just the Cs).

Jones, an exceptionally well-connected presence in Hollywood, daughter of legendary musical force Quincy Jones and the late Mod Squad actor Peggy Lipton, says she’d known Murray for years. “It felt like there was a special dynamic between me, Bill, and Sofia,” she says. “I think that’s where the seed of the idea was planted in her head.”

Rashida Jones S Magazine
Jacket and dress by Miu Miu; earring and ring by Retrouvai; necklace by Anita Ko.

Years later, Coppola called Jones to say she’d been writing a project with her in mind. The script was about a New York creative who grows suspicious of her husband’s faithfulness, and whose aging playboy father leads her on a madcap investigation. Beneath Murray and Jones’s warm chemistry is a closely observed portrait of the legacy fathers leave their daughters.

At one point, Murray, radiating his natural comedic aura as Felix, makes the audacious claim that he is going deaf to the pitch of women’s voices. “You can’t go deaf to women’s voices,” Jones’s Laura snaps. “You have a daughter and granddaughters, so you better start learning how to hear us.”

Rashida Jones S Magazine
Dress by Loewe; ring and earrings by White/Space Jewelry; sandals by 4 Moncler Simone Rocha.

It’s no great leap to presume parallels to both Coppola’s and Jones’s relationships with their own famous fathers (Coppola’s is Godfather director Francis Ford). “My dad, he really wants to grow and change and evolve,” she says. “He’s also 87 and was born in the ’30s. Some part of that will be limiting in how much he can grow culturally.”

The shoot coincided with personal tragedy for Jones— just 11 days before she was set to start shooting in New York last May, she lost her mother to cancer. She considered dropping out of the project, but trusted her bond with Coppola and Murray. “I was in such shock to lose my mom, and my friend,” she says. “To be around people who were so generous and tender and loving and supportive, and also to be able to go somewhere to put those feelings, was really hugely important to me at that moment.”

Rashida Jones S Magazine
Full look by Louis Vuitton; ring and earrings by Jennifer Fisher.

Jones credits Coppola for creating a work environment in which she felt safe. “Sofia has such a quiet control of the tone and atmosphere of her set,” she says. “The atmosphere is kind of essential to what you end up seeing on screen.”

Sartorially, her character Laura is a blend of Jones’s own style (“menswear and workmen’s wear”) and Coppola’s classic elegance. Laura wears neutral tees and a gold chain, a simple yet stylish urban arts worker’s uniform that Jones calls “malaise chic.”

In her personal life, Jones often feels out of place among the athleisurewear and “Instagrammable outfit of the day” looks in Los Angeles. She says her last red-carpet look before the pandemic—a black Roland Mouret column gown with gold statement jewellery by Lisa Eisner— was one of her favourites. “It was comfortable, I thought it was incredibly flattering, it was elegant, timeless,” she says. “When I look at that, I think, this is how I want to dress into my 70s.”

Rashida Jones S Magazine
Jacket, top, tie, and necklace by Dior; earrings by White/Space Jewelry.

As a regular red-carpet presence pre-pandemic, Jones knows the behind-the-scenes machinations that go into strategizing the perfect look. She hopes that a lighter touch is introduced when premiere and awards-show carpets return. “There’s so much business around fashion,” she says. “The stress and the effort that goes into this one moment, in my opinion, takes the fun out of it. You don’t get the chance to say, ‘F–k it! I am going to wear something weird, or I’m not in the mood to wear heels, or I’m going to pull something from my closet.’ It shouldn’t feel like a sales tool, like everything else.”

Social media has only intensified the experience. Jones herself left Twitter in 2016, just weeks after the premiere of Black Mirror’s famous “Nosedive” episode, which she co-wrote with Parks and Recreation co-creator Michael Schur. The episode, starring Bryce Dallas Howard, is about a society that uses a ratings system to determine people’s social currency. However, she has maintained an Instagram presence, which she has used to spotlight the wrongful deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery; voter suppression in Black and Brown communities; and the importance of Black women in positions of political leadership.

Blazer, top, and shorts by Celine; 80 earrings by Tiffany & Co.; ring by Cartier.

As the world watches the U.S. election unfold, Jones says she is trying to be hopeful about the future. “I’m a little nervous about everything that is going on right now,” she says. “A little bit more than nervous. But I do feel like there are things to look forward to if we can just get through this difficult time.”

She thinks of the ’60s, in which political and social divisions were similarly rife. “There was so much upheaval and the cultural response was this peace and love part,” she says. “I am really hoping that is what happens. I am afraid that social media and being online is so overwhelming that it is hard.

Photography by Leeor Wild at The Canvas Agency
Styling by Brad Goreski at The Wall Group
Styling Assistant Daniela Romero
Makeup by Jamie Greenberg at The Wall Group using Dior Makeup
Hair by Marilee Albin at Solo Artists/Serrano Salon For Davine Haircare
Photo Assistant Gemma Warren