"Community" was the TV show that made Gillian Jacobs famous and a number of projects followed, including the Netflix series "Love." Next she stars in the forthcoming adaptation of R.L. Stine's "Fear Street" book series. But first, you can see her in the indie comedy "I Used to Go Here" (rentable via streaming) from Chicago writer-director Kris Rey.
"I think the movie ties into the theme of this column, because this character is sort of going through her worst moment," said Jacobs. She plays a 30-something debut novelist whose book has just tanked on a heels of some personal disappointments. "She's really at a crossroads in her life and she gets this invitation to go back to her alma mater to give a talk. And when she's there, everyone is treating her like she's a big deal and it's very affirming and nice and good for the ego. But it's also a moment where she has a choice to make: Is she going to face some things in her life, or is she going to regress and go back to the safety of this college experience where she feels like a very big shot?"
When asked to share a worst moment from her own career, Jacobs replied: "I actually thought of two instances which are kind of mirror images of each other. One is about me falling up a flight of stairs and one is about me falling down a flight of stairs, and they happened almost exactly 10 years apart."
My worst moment ...
"The first one occurred at the Berlin International Film Festival. This was around 2008. I was in this movie called 'Gardens of the Night' and it was premiering in competition at the festival, which was a huge deal for me. I had never been in a movie that had been released in theaters, let alone one that got into such a prestigious film festival and I was one of the stars.
"So we went to Berlin and we had the red carpet premiere and gala screening. This was before I had a stylist, so I dressed myself and convinced my family to buy me this beautiful Marc Jacobs dress that was, like, more than my rent (laughs), so somehow I talked my family into that. So I'm feeling good about myself. And at the end of the screening, the director invites the cast up onto the stage.
"And as I'm walking up the stairs of this huge theater, I trip and fall down on my hands and knees. And at the same time my shoe falls off down the stairs, and it just keeps falling, to the point where I had to ask one of the other actors to hand it to me.
"So that was a real puncture to the ego and it immediately grounded me back to who I am as a person and I was just thinking: This is typical of me. Of course I couldn't pull off this persona of the sophisticated young ingenue with her movie premiering at a festival.
"The thing that worked to my advantage was that nobody knew who I was (laughs) so it wasn't like when Jennifer Lawrence fell up the stairs at the Oscars, you know? So even though it happened in public, it wasn't a news story because I wasn't a well-known actor. But it was humiliating for me.
"Thankfully I didn't hurt myself. But my other story, the bookend to this, I did hurt myself (laughs).