Rashida Jones on Oscar Diversity, ‘On the Rocks’ and How ‘E.T.’ Changed Her Life

Director, actress and producer Rashida Jones recalls the first movie that evoked emotion for her: 1982’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”

“I remember very vividly being so emotionally overwhelmed,” Jones tells Variety‘s “Awards Circuit” podcast. “Especially the scene when he is sick and he’s dying. I remember being completely knocked over by how much I could feel.”

It wasn’t necessarily a movie that made Jones want to get into filmmaking and follow in the footsteps of her famous parents — legendary music producer Quincy Jones and late actress Peggy Lipton. But that film clearly struck a chord.

Jones has added several hyphens to her career in recent years: Acting in series such as “Parks and Recreation” and “Angie Tribeca,” executive producing others like “Claws” and “Black AF” (which she also stars in), writing projects like an episode of “Black Mirror,” and directing films such as “Quincy,” the music documentary about her father.

Now, Jones is garnering Oscar buzz for her latest role, in the Sofia Coppola feature “On the Rocks.” The film, in limited theatrical release now, bows Friday on Apple TV Plus. It stars Jones as Laura, a woman who suspects her husband, Dean (Marlon Wayans), is cheating on her. Bill Murray plays her father, Felix, a ladies’ man who wants to help uncover Dean’s infidelities.

Jones discusses “On the Rocks,” working with Murray and Wayans, diversity in Hollywood, and much more on Variety’s “Awards Circuit” podcast. Also in this episode, filmmaker Justin Simien (“Dear White People”) talks about his new project, the thriller “Bad Hair,” and Variety‘s awards quartet chats about the week’s hot topics. Listen below:

It’s a reunion of sorts for Jones and Coppola. The actress had workshopped the lead role for Coppola’s “Lost in Translation,” which eventually went to Scarlett Johansson. Jones calls the director “a marvel” and says Coppola’s sets offer a comfortable and collaborative experience.

“She has a graceful command and knows what she wants. I’ve rarely been in the presence of that before,” Jones says.

Jones also speaks to the Academy’s new diversity and inclusivity standards, and suggests there’s still much more for the industry to do.

“There are many factors that go into moviemaking,” she says. “Hollywood is just a microcosm for this country and a reflection — sometimes a poor reflection, sometimes an aspirational reflection. Many things have to line up to make this dream come true. It doesn’t just come from one place; the studios, the people giving awards, the inside and the outside, the moviegoers.”

Variety‘s “Awards Circuit” podcast, hosted by Clayton Davis, Jenelle Riley, Jazz Tangcay and Michael Schneider (who produces), is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in film and television. Each week “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top film and TV talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every Thursday.

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