Meet Our Summer Cover Star: Rashida Jones

From the first moments of the new Apple TV+ series Sunny, it’s at least partially clear that Rashida Jones is living in a Kyoto of the future. Or maybe it’s a parallel universe. Her character, Suzie Sakamoto, has just discovered that her husband and son have vanished in a mysterious plane crash, and she’s been gifted a domesticated robot made by her husband’s robotics company to somehow help her deal with it all. At first, she tries to end Sunny (said robot, voiced by Joanna Sotomura)— it’s too close, too strange, too non-human to be able to understand her grief. Inevitably, though, they develop a friendship. Together they uncover the truth of what happened to Suzie’s family and become tangled in the secret underbelly of Kyoto that Suzie never knew existed.

Shirt by Max Mara; jacket by Jacob Lee; bracelet and necklace by Cartier.

Sound eerily familiar? Save for some of the wild details, technology’s encroaching presence in our lives is a theme that is, for better or worse, extremely relatable. And the fact that it’s front and centre in Sunny is partly by Jones’s design (she executive produced the series alongside director Lucy Tcherniak and writer/creator Katie Robbins, who adapted the story from Colin O’Sullivan’s book, The Dark Manual). “I think it’s pretty lonely to be alive, especially right now with all the false promise that we’re connected, because of technology, makes us feel lonelier,” she says. “I love the idea of finding ways and being part of a parable about how to talk about those things without directly talking about them. It’s not exactly what people are going through right now, because we don’t have domestic robots, but we are contending with this overwhelming relationship with technology that permeates our lives whether we want it to or not.”

The artificial intelligence revolution loomed large over Hollywood in 2023, with a lengthy SAG-AFTRA strike that upended the industry and won protections around the use of digital replicas of actors like Jones. Sunny, which had been filmed before the strike, explores the concept further. “I’ve been obsessed with AI and the question of what makes us sentient since I was a kid,” she says. “What is it to be alive and what is it to be human and how do we define that in a way that protects our humanity? Will AI ever be able to imitate that? And do they become sentient through that imitation?”

“I think the feeling is really hard to put into words, and I, for one, will say that I don’t think I would have made it through my grief if I didn’t have comedy and I didn’t have a way to cope and deal with it.”

Rashida Jones

Top and pants by Louis Vuitton; earrings and ring by Tiffany & Co.
Jacket and bralette by Harithand.

Big questions for a morning commute—Jones is calling while driving across Los Angeles to her appointment. “It’s really glamorous, I’m going to get my bone density checked,” she says, laughing. It’s only natural that the 48-year-old actress, producer, writer, and director would be multi-tasking—it’s been a busy year/decade/life. A very quick rundown of Jones’s multi-faceted life and career includes comedic roles in hit sitcoms The Office, Parks and Recreation and Angie Tribeca, podcast hosting alongside Bill Gates, helming a production company, and producing a Grammy-winning documentary about her father, the legendary music producer Quincy Jones. Oh, and she had a baby with her partner, Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig in 2018. The list goes on. When I ask how she balances things, she’s refreshingly honest. “There’s a myth that women can have it all and then everybody has to make it seem really easy to have it all, because that’s part of the new pressure under the guise of feminism,” she says. “For me, my priority is my family and my inner life. And so, I hope that the things I pick for work can be a part of that. But I have to make sure, for me, that those things are fulfilling and I’m not being emptied out. I don’t want to be on that treadmill and so emptied out that I don’t have the energy and time for myself and my family.”

Full look by Prada.

Another thing Jones is refreshingly honest about is her current relationship with fashion, which she describes as questioning at best. “I’m of an age where all my friends seem to be talking about this feeling that they really used to feel inspired by considering how to dress for the world, and how to be the kind of person they wanted to be in the world through fashion, and I think we’re all having a moment where it’s just kind of like, ‘I don’t know,’” she says. Jones is a big fan of menswear, uniform dressing, and everything she wore in Japan while filming Sunny, but she’s in a self-prescribed “re-evaluation era.” “I’m looking for the next phase of my relationship with fashion, which I think will probably end up somewhere in a ‘less is more’ category, with moments—because I don’t want to kill the joy—where I can have fun and experiment and express myself,” she says. Above all, she’s looking for ease.

Suit by Valentino; shoes by Andrea Wazen; earrings and ring by Van Cleef & Arpels.
Dress and shoes by GUCCI; gloves, stylist’s own.

When Jones first starred on our cover, in a menswear-inspired tuxedo, it was in support of On the Rocks, a Sofia Coppola film that co-starred Bill Murray as her father, as the two investigated Jones’s character’s husband’s faithfulness, often to comical ends. Just before Jones began filming, she lost her mother, Peggy Lipton, to cancer, which brought grief into focus for her. “When it happens, it’s so raw and so confronting that you can’t even believe that that’s how it’s designed for everybody,” she says of the loss. Grief is something she explores once more in Sunny, albeit through her character Suzie’s acerbic brand of humour. “I think the feeling is really hard to put into words, and I, for one, will say that I don’t think I would have made it through my grief if I didn’t have comedy and I didn’t have a way to cope and deal with it,” says the star. “So hopefully that’s in there, and the fact that Suzie’s an acerbic, nihilistic character, means she deals with her own loss through comedy. Hopefully that’s something people can relate to.” Even in a parallel universe, humour gets you through.

“Work is still work, even if it’s creative, and I’m lucky enough to have this wonderful career and do this expressive thing, whether it’s writing or directing or producing—but no assholes.”

Rashida Jones

Dress by Dior; ring and necklace by Tiffany & Co.

When I ask Jones what’s coming next for her, she rhymes off a flurry of goals, which include gardening, writing, being a mom, and reuniting with her Parks and Recreation co-stars to work on a much-hyped reunion. “Amy [Poehler] and everybody really want to feel like there’s a reason to assemble the Parks people and that there’s an organic calling for the characters, but there’s a whole universe to explore still that nobody’s even seen. So yeah, everybody’s ruminating,” she says.

Jones also has another sci-fi project coming out, a film called In the Blink of an Eye, directed by Andrew Stanton. Starring Daveed Diggs and Kate McKinnon, the film weaves the history of the world through three interconnected stories. Most of all, she’s looking to work with collaborators who are either mentors or lifelong friends. “[Director] Mike Nichols, who was a great family friend and mentor to me and so many people—his whole thing was ‘no assholes.’ Can’t do it. Life is too short,” she says. “Work is still work, even if it’s creative, and I’m lucky enough to have this wonderful career and do this expressive thing, whether it’s writing or directing or producing—but no assholes.”

Suit by Valentino; earrings and ring by Van Cleef & Arpels.

Photography by Erik Carter (Anderson Hopkins)
Styling by Dani + Emma (The Wall Group)
Makeup by Jamie Greenberg (The Wall Group)
Hair by Kylee Heath (A-Frame Agency)
Nails by Miwa Kobayashi
Digital Tech: Joseph Mitchell
Stylist Assistant: Sazja Lincoln
Photo Assistants: Nicol Biesek, Alexa Forester