The Inside Scoop with Parkour ‘star’ Jake Johnson

Have you seen the latest Funny or Die video with Jake Johnson attempting to duplicate amazing parkour stunts? If you haven’t, it’s a must see, so watch it now or re-watch it again!

Read on to learn more about how Jake prepared for the parkour video in an exclusive interview with Men’s Journal.

How did you prepare to do a live parkour video? Have you ever parkour-ed before?
JJ: I prepared for this parkour video by doing months of parkour throughout all the major cities. I did a national tour with the other parkour guys in my parkour gang. We went from Dallas to Seattle to New York. New York was crazy. Parkoured all throughout Manhattan. Got halfway up the Empire State Building just parkour’n. The preparation has been extensive. Its been over six months so I hope we make some magic today.

Parkouring takes a certain amount of fearlessness, and a whole lot of core strength. Do you have both of those things?
JJ: Tenfold. I’m nothing but core strength. I hide it. I think true strength is not meant to be shown off, so I put a layer of fat over my strength to camouflage it. If I were an animal, I’d be an animal who could play like I was dead, so that when you go to strike me, I could attack. That’s my layer of fat over my core strength. Fearlessness? Hell, when I was a baby I was doing parkour. As an infant my mother was throwing me up onto buildings and I was climbing down. So, born fearless – and over 30 years of building core strength.

What’s the best apparel for parkouring? Why did you choose American Eagle stretch denim?
JJ: You need your apparel to be able to stretch, so you can do what you need to do. But I’m also not looking to look like a schlub in sweatpants. In case I’m climbing up a building and there’s a beautiful lady up there, I’d like to look handsome – so I want pants that actually looks like jeans. But, given my flexibility, I also need to be able to possibly do the splits. I can’t have a pair of jeans ripping up the middle making me look like a clown. I need a nice in-between.

Would American Eagle stretch denim have helped you escape angry dinos in Jurassic world?
JJ: Well, considering I was the control room nerd in Jurassic World, the answer is yes.

Is parkour your way of preparing to run from dinosaurs in the next film?
JJ: Yes, the way that I prepare for all the movies I do is I prepare to run from dinosaurs while doing parkour. The movie I’ve got coming out in August, a smaller indie movie called Digging For Fire, made by the director of Drinking Buddies, is about a relationship. My wife in it, Rosemarie DeWitt, and I have a small baby together. We take a weekend apart; she forms a weekend romance with Orlando Bloom, I hang out with my friends in it – Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell. The only way to prepare for that kind of adult indie is to do parkour and pretend I’m running away from dinosaurs. So 100% yes.

Is this outfit a direct nod to Nedry from the first film?
JJ: Is that Wayne Knight? Newman? No, if anything it’s a nod to Samuel L. Jackson in the first film. But, no, we’re not going after a Newman look. The goal of this campaign is not to look like Newman from Seinfeld circa ‘91.

What is your normal fitness regimen?
JJ: I actually go to the gym a couple times a week. And my friend (Steve Berg) and I take hikes at least twice a week. Because you’ve gotta get that cardio going or you’re going to get in some trouble.

Why do this Funny Or Die video?
JJ: I’ve been working with Funny Or Die for a lot of years now, on projects here and there, and I find them to be very funny. The talent that comes out of there – from the creatives to the actors that get involved – it’s just top of the line talent. American Eagle contacted me, I know the brand, I like the jeans and I like the clothes. My character on New Girl wears this stuff so I do know it. I read the Funny Or Die script and thought it was very funny. I think it’s funny to parody a parkour video while also doing some actual parkour, because it looks cool. And I was able to get a good friend and collaborator, Max Winkler, to direct it. He’s done over 10 New Girl episodes and we did a movie together. Amanda Lund, who is really funny, is also in the video. She was also on New Girl and we are going to improvise and have fun. So, it just seemed like it would be a fun afternoon.


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