Tuesday, December 20, 2011

CRUSHWORTHY: Jake M. Johnson from "New Girl"

This year has blessed us with some seriously crushworthy guys. So to countdown the 25 days until Christmas, each day I'll put a spotlight on one actor we wish we could catch under the mistletoe. In this case, Santa rewards the naughty and nice.
{DAY 20} 
The Wallflower // Jake M. Johnson
Jake is a pretty unassuming guy. You probably hardly noticed him in the untraditional love story Paper Heart as Charlyne Yi's documentary director and moral support. Yi and Michael Cera's quirky courting ritual was probably too distracting. But who knew that it would turn out to be perfect training for Jake's breakout role as the emotionally-reluctant anti-social Nick, who often wrangles and advises the quirky lead character on the new FOX series "New Girl"?

When we're first introduced to him, he's this blubbering mess that was recently dumped by his on-again-off-again girlfriend. You have to understand how annoying he was originally. I have a horrible memory. Especially when it comes to names. But he was SO annoying that I actually remember the name of the girl he repeatedly whined about for what seemed like an eternity but was only three episodes.

Post-Caroline (and inevitably pre-Jess) Nick is a lot less sensitive. In fact, I would go so far as to characterize him as standoffish. He refuses to participate in goofy pastimes or to accept apologies or assistance of any kind. He's like a grumpy old man. And it got worse when Paul (Justin Long), Jess's new boyfriend, entered the picture. Nick was the only one who didn't like him and had no legitimate reason for not liking him. Jess had to practically mine kindness out of him. And it appears she's wearing him down.

Jake does an impressive job of hinting at the subtle struggle Nick's having with trying not to fall for Jess, but he's about as ready to start something serious as she is. He also succeeds in occasionally acting as a window through which viewers perceive his roommates. One minute he's onboard with the gang and the next he's trying to distance himself from their weirdness. He's very good at getting a lot across with simple gestures and facial expressions. He's the kind of actor you have to watch more than listen to. Thankfully, he's easy on the eyes.

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