Brow Beat

Jake Johnson, the Lovable Grump

Thirst Aid Kit’s Bim and Nichole on the “rumpled man” of New Girl and Spider-Verse.

Jake Johnson smiles with a closed mouth.
Jake Johnson at a premiere on June 7, 2018. David Livingston/Getty Images

Jake Johnson has one of the most distinctive voices in showbiz, but there’s a lot more to love about him. On a recent episode of Thirst Aid Kit, Bim Adewunmi and Nichole Perkins focused on the irresistible grump from New Girl, Drinking Buddies, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This excerpt of their conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Nichole Perkins: Where did you first see him?

Bim Adewunmi: I’ve seen him in multiple things, but I think it’s difficult for me to kind of name one as the first. I just know that when I saw him in New Girl, every single part of me just stood to attention. I was like, “Oh, shit, that’s my catnip.” You know, you had Schmidt on the one hand, you had Coach on the other, and I was like, Fine, Max Greenfield, sure, whatever. Damon Wayans Jr., sure, whatever. Who the fuck is that rumpled motherfucker in the middle? Because I love a rumpled man. I love someone who looks as if they haven’t seen an iron in possibly years.

Perkins: Oh, that’s interesting.

Adewunmi: Yeah, I love a lived-in kind of like leftover man. That’s my shit. I’m just like, “Oh, my God, we’re going to have really cozy afternoons in.” So that’s all I want.

Perkins: That’s not necessarily my thing, but I think I focused on his character, Nick Miller, on New Girl because he was clearly the love interest or was going to be the love interest for our Jessica Day, and so I wanted to see what they were gonna do. Also, I liked his voice.

Adewunmi: Yes.

Perkins: He was this raspy, yelling man. Almost everything he said was in a yell, which is a little annoying in real life, but for the show it’s very funny. So I was interested in seeing where he was gonna go with all of his yelling, but really I just thought he was cute, and he was—this is gonna sound terrible, but like an average cute. I mean approachable, I don’t feel intimidated looking at him. Intimidated is too strong of a word, but there’s some people that are just like, “Oh, you’re too beautiful for me. I’m going to move on.” And he’s still a very handsome, good-looking man. But I also felt like, “Oh, I could see him in real life, and I could actually buy him a drink and see what’s going on with him.”

Adewunmi: Yeah, he feels to me like a British cute, like British TV cute.

Perkins: [laughs] Mmm hmm.

Adewunmi: Because I always thought, even when I was a kid, it always felt to me like Americans were too beautiful on TV. It didn’t really reflect—it felt so glamorous. Everyone had to be teeth-achingly beautiful, male and female and everything in between. And with Jake he kind of reminds me of all the British TV guys that I fancied when I was growing up where I’m kind of like, “Oh, yeah, you’re normal.” You feel like, like you said, “I could approach you in a bar.” I wouldn’t feel like, “Oh, my God, it’s like looking at the sun.” It was like, no, that is an average-size moon. I can look at that. And yet he’s clearly very handsome. He has that beautiful head of hair that I just love. I love his curls. Like I said, he looks lived in, he looks like he has been around the world. He’s slept in a youth hostel or two, like he hasn’t traveled through hotels necessarily. You know what I mean?

Perkins: Yeah.

Adewunmi: And I love the flashbacks that they do, for example, with Nick Miller, where he has a terrible soul patch or a terrible beard and he’s wearing a tie-dye poncho. And I’m like, “Yeah, I know him. I know him so horribly well.” And that’s part of it—like you said, he seems so obviously set up as the love interest. Of course, the writing points to it and whatever, but also I think on an instinctive level, I looked at him and I was like, him.

Perkins: Yeah.

Adewunmi: In a way that Jessica might have done on a similar, gut level, in a way she wasn’t even necessarily acknowledging.

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