Rising star Jake Johnson swears he’s not exactly like scruffy bartender Nick Miller in the hit Fox sitcom New Girl, which returns September 25 for a second season. Of course, he and his character do share comfy clothes and a classically masculine aesthetic.
By Brandon Voss
Essential Homme: How do you describe your personal style?
Jake Johnson: A lot of my style comes from wardrobe departments. When I do a movie, they’ll usually buy three pairs of the same shirt and pants, so I’ll grab one of those when we’re done. I liked all the J. Crew stuff that the wardrobe lady dressed me in for Safety Not Guaranteed, so that’s where I started shopping. I don’t like being too flashy. I like to keep it simple.
How does your style differ from that of Nick, your New Girl character?
There’s no difference. I knew from the start that I wanted Nick to be very masculine, so they put me in a lot of J. Crew, Levi’s, henleys, plaid button-downs, and Fruit of the Loom t-shirts. Look, I see the changing trends, and I know it’s not popular in 2012 for a man to look masculine, but I’m sticking with it. Nick’s a guy’s guy, so I don’t ever want him in anything that could be considered metrosexual. Men’s clothes seem to be getting tighter and tighter, and I just don’t think a man needs to be in tight clothes. I like a more comfortable, classic look.
Which celebrity’s style do you most admire?
Mark Ruffalo’s a cool-looking cat.
What do you like about his look?
Pass. [Laughs] I don’t know. I can’t picture what he looks like at the moment. I mean, I don’t want to have sex with the guy.
In the event of a closet fire, which accessory would you save first?
A corduroy Chicago Bears cap that my buddy Max Winkler bought me as a birthday gift a couple years ago. I wear it a lot.
You’re from the Chicago area and you studied at NYU. How has living in Los Angeles influenced your style?
L.A. has actually made my style much worse. I never had much style to begin with, but now I’ll just throw on running shorts and flip-flops because it’s so hot. Then someone will call and ask me to get lunch, so I end up leaving the house in an atrocious mesh tank top that I wear to work out. The sad thing is that, because of everyone’s funky L.A. style, no one makes fun of you for dressing like an A-hole.
Now that you’re more likely to be recognized from TV, aren’t you more conscious of how you dress in public?
I’m actually going in the other direction, because I think it’s funny to get recognized while wearing lime green sweats.
When’s the last time you wore a suit?
Oh, I like to dress up for Hollywood events. If I’m going to do those, I want to look nice. I don’t want to be one of those actors at a dressy event wearing a V-neck and six necklaces like he just rolled out of his van. I bought a couple heavy wool suits from an estate sale that I got tailored, and they look great. Sometimes I wear them with suspenders or a cool ’70s tie. But I don’t have a stylist, so I just wing it.
Does your wife, artist Erin Payne, ever help you put an outfit together?
She’ll take the lint roller and make sure there’s not dog hair all over my suit. Or she’ll say, “That honestly looks weird.” And because she doesn’t say something very often, I’ll know it must look really weird.
Essential Homme, September/October 2012 issue.