Interview: Jake Johnson hopes "people enjoy the ride" in new movie Self Reliance

The actor also wrote and directed the Hulu movie, marking his directorial debut in film.
Courtesy: Hulu
Courtesy: Hulu /

If you're looking for a laugh, then you'll want to treat yourself to watching the new Hulu movie Self Reliance, streaming Friday, Jan. 14, 2024. The comedy stars, is written by, and directed by Jake Johnson. This is the first time the actor directs a movie!

Self Reliance follows Tommy (Johnson), a man who's going through a routine life and doing the same thing day after day. When he's approached by Andy Samberg to take part in a dark web reality show, he decides to join. He will be hunted for 30 days by assassins trying to kill him. But, there's a loophole. They can't come near or hurt him if Tommy is with anyone else. They can only approach if he's alone. And you can bet there's hilarious twists and turns!

Hidden Remote had the opportunity to speak with Johnson ahead of the movie's release about what he hopes viewers take away from the comedy, his experience directing for the first time, and what it was like to work with friend and co-star Anna Kendrick, as well as the rest of the cast. Read on below for the full interview and be sure to scroll down to the end for the video!

Self Reliance
(Photo: Courtesy of Hulu) /

Hidden Remote: To me, the story was kind of Squid Game-esque, but more comedic and rooted in character growth. What's the message that you wanted to portray?

Jake Johnson: I think the message for me is entertainment. I wanted people to enjoy the movie and have fun watching it. I think entertainment is important and pretty great. And so obviously the movie is about being around people, surrounding yourself, taking chances, and going for it while we're here. But the main message I really want to get across is, I hope people enjoy the ride.

HR: What inspired the idea for Self Reliance?

Johnson: It came to me years ago based [on] a Japanese reality show. I just loved the idea about how far we're pushing entertainment, what we think we can keep getting away with, and how crazy of a show they would make that I would still watch. And so I first started thinking about what [I would] watch. Would I watch a show about someone being hunted? And, I hate to say it, but probably. And then everything I make, I like having comedy in it. I like a lightness, I like optimism in terms of entertainment. So then I put it into something that I would want to do, and [that's] kind of the movie.

Self Reliance
(Photo: Courtesy of Hulu) /

HR: This is your first time directing, so what made you make the jump into getting behind the camera?

Johnson: I think I got the opportunity to do it. I was trying to get this movie made. I think this was the way that, in terms of the package, that I was able to do it. And so I was excited to direct based off of years of watching directors. It was fun to do.

HR: I know you and Anna Kendrick have done a lot of movies together and you guys are friends. Was it more comforting to have a friend on set while you were doing this?

Johnson: Yeah, it was really nice to have her because she's also very talented. I didn't have to worry too much about her character. I knew she kind of had that done. I felt like the two big relationships of the movie for Tommy are obviously his relationship with Maddie (Kendrick), and then his relationship with James, Biff Wiff’s character. So once those two little love stories were kind of feeling solid with the actors, I felt a lot more confident.

Self Reliance
(Photo: Courtesy of Hulu) /

HR: For Tommy, why do you think he went into the game? Was it overconfidence or was there another reason?

Johnson: I think that's fair. I think he thought he could win. I think he felt like this was a very exciting thing that could happen in his life. And because of the loophole, he thought it wasn't going to be that hard. He thought his family was going to fully support him and believe him. And they were going to create charts and be together all the time. And then he was going to have 30 days with people and win a bunch of money.

HR: What was the best/hardest thing about directing?

Johnson: I felt like the hardest part of it was post-production, being in the edit bay day after day and trying to put the puzzle pieces all together. A lot of the cast just killed it. The Andy Samberg stuff was really fun. Eduardo Franco was so great. The stuff where all the ninjas come out of the bedroom was a really fun night. Chris Lloyd was so great, working with GaTa was really exciting. His scene I felt like he really crushed it. The Natalie Morales scene was really fun to do. Everything with the siblings. The two hosts when we did that scene, they were just excellent. Everything with Boban [Marjanović], all the fighting. I felt like the best part was working with all the actors and just kind of being blown away by different people's performances and choices.

* This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Self Reliance begins streaming Friday, Jan. 12, 2024 on Hulu.

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