John Reynolds has perfected the role of the tepid Brooklyn boyfriend in crisis. As Drew in the cult hit series Search Party, he’s a bespectacled and conflict-avoidant millennial who becomes accessory to a murder committed by his girlfriend Dory (Alia Shawkat). In the charming new comedy film Save Yourselves!, he plays one half of a couple who are hopelessly addicted to their smartphones. Jack (Reynolds) and Su (Sunita Mani) attempt to get out of their rut with an off-the-grid vacation in the Catskills, but end up in the midst of an alien apocalypse instead. Spoiler: Jack’s tech job and penchant for sourdough baking aren’t exactly useful skills in this scenario.
“I don’t know how to be a man,” he laments at one point. “I don’t know how to get the hook out of a fish’s mouth and I don’t know anything about plumbing. I know that’s all bullshit masculinity and I never wanted to be that type of guy anyway, so I sort of hid behind this idea of a modern man so I wouldn’t have to do that type of guy stuff. But I’m not good at the new stuff either!”
Ahead of the October 2nd streaming premiere of Save Yourselves!, we caught up with Reynolds about what he’d do if aliens invaded the planet, his children’s book project, and where to get his glasses.
GQ: Between this and Search Party, I can't help but notice that you’re playing the same Brooklyn boyfriend type. Do you ever draw inspiration from people you know?
Reynolds: For sure. I feel like I'm more endeared to Jack. He has a good heart and he's sort of insecure and trying to figure out how he fits into these ideals of masculinity. And then I feel like Drew is more of a pitiable person. But I feel like I grew up with a lot of people like Drew. They had brothers. And they have this set way that their families are, and they follow what their brothers do. And they want to keep this sort of Midwest normality going. I feel like I know a lot more people like Jack now, who are into cooking and do a job online. My life since the pandemic has been paralleling Jack's more and more. And that has been funny.
Do you think this movie is going to resonate a bit more now that we're in the middle of this pandemic, with many people shut in with their partners and trying to escape to upstate New York and all that?
I think so. I mean, I definitely felt it at the beginning of pandemic, washing our groceries and shopping for toilet paper and stuff. It sort of reminded me of doomsday prep. I mean, I literally was at a cabin in Wisconsin this summer and my dad was chopping wood and he has degenerative arthritis. So I was like, "Let me chop the wood." And then, knowing that my girlfriend was watching me was so stressful.
Did you do it?
I did eventually, but it took a bunch of hacks to get the wood to split. Wood is hard to chop, so I feel for Jack for sure.
Do you relate to your character's relationship with social media at all? Those scenes where Jack and Su are sitting next to each other on the couch, eating Van Leuween and staring into their phones were a little too close for comfort for me.
It’s hell. I for sure relate. This morning, I was watching a movie with my girlfriend and we were both on our phones. My urge is to tell her to get off her phone, but then I'm on my phone also.
Have you ever tried to go off the grid?
Yeah. I've been on some rafting trips and things like that. Camping trips that have been weeks at a time, and then I'll have to be off my phone. And I mean, it's a strange feeling because you're like, "Anything could be happening." I went on a rafting trip in 2015 and it was really tense right before we went on the river. There had just been that shooting in Dallas. And Trump was campaigning and spouting a bunch of vile stuff. And we were like, "Oh, the world could be crumbling around us."
What would you do in an alien apocalypse?
Damn. I don't know. I mean, I guess try to get a weapon. And then you could lay low. I don't know. I mean, I think you're just doomed, right? Like in Save Yourselves! I think you're just doomed. Not a very hopeful message. Maybe I'd try to talk to them.
“Wood is hard to chop, so I feel for Jack for sure.”
How were the alien “pouffes” developed for the film?
I'm not really sure. I think they wanted them to be sort of cute and unassuming. And then practical as well. And they landed on these furry balls that look like little ottomans and stuff.
What was it like acting across from a small furry ball that's supposed to be terrifying?
Practical effects are way more fun than digital ones. It was nice to physically see the aliens. The guy who designed them, his name's Calder and he would always have a new practical tool, like a little tentacle and a magnet that would stick to a car. It kind of felt like a fun little treat.
So what's going on with Search Party season four?
We already shot it. And we got it done, I think at the beginning of March. So I was like, "Oh, thank God we got it done before the pandemic popped off." I think this one's really fun. And there's a more expanded role for Cole Escola, who I think is one of the funniest people in town.
Finally, my most important question: where are your glasses from?
Yeah, that's always a big question. I feel like I get people sliding in my DMs daily. And they're always like, "This is a weird question, but... " You're like the fourth person today, it's not a weird question. But I got them from Oliver Peoples like 10 years ago. I don't think they make this model anymore. It’s sort of a pain because I play a lot of basketball in the park. And I just wear these old antique glasses and they're always getting smacked off my face and breaking. And then I have to go to the Oliver Peoples store and have them fix it. And they're very mad at me every time I come in. Like, "What are you doing with these glasses?" I'm embarrassed to tell them.
Classic. The Larry David glasses.
Yeah. A lot of people like to scream at me on the street that I'm Harry Potter. You know how teens be. Teens are mean.
Oh yeah. I'm terrified of every teenager.
Yeah. They love to scream at me. I think I'm just a target. I'm big and goofy and they like to take me down.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
This was supposed to be the summer of Samberg: Palm Springs, his new, (mostly) grown-up movie might be his best work yet. Then the pandemic hit, and police protests upended his sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But America’s poet laureate of the dick joke is taking it all in stride.
Originally Appeared on GQ