Gillian Jacobs, best known for her roles in the NBC sitcom "Community" and the Netflix series "Love", stars in the first TV commercial from Diet Coke’s new “Because I Can” campaign, which encourages fans to live the life they want to live, regardless of what others might think.
In the spot, which breaks today, the actress grabs a Diet Coke from a corner store before walking along a sidewalk and offering viewers a straight-into-the-camera invitation to do what makes them happy — whether that’s having a Diet Coke or living in a yurt, she makes no judgements.
We caught up with Jacobs in New York between rehearsals for The Public Theater’s Off-Broadway production of “KINGS,” which opens this week.
How does it feel to be associated with Diet Coke and, specifically, this new campaign?
Diet Coke is such an iconic brand, so I’m honored to be a part of it. “Because I Can” is such a positive message that applies to my own life… going out and doing what I want to do, no matter what. I can be a nerd and listen to podcasts about the Supreme Court, or go to art and history museums. All because I can!
Any recent ‘Because I Can’ moments you’d care to share?
You know, I’m working on it! I’m not always the best at being spontaneous and having fun. “Because I Can” is a mantra I’m trying to carry with me into 2018. I am doing a play for the first time in 10 years, though, so there’s that. We start previews tomorrow! I’ve been wanting to do more theater for awhile, so I’m really excited.
What was it like shooting the Diet Coke commercial and working with (director) Paul Feig?
It was great! I’d wanted to work with him ever since I auditioned, unsuccessfully, for “Bridesmaids”! He’s so fun, because you never know which incredible suit he’ll wear that day. He has the best style of any director in Hollywood. The entire crew was lovely… And I’ve known Karan (Soni, who is also featured in the campaign) peripherally for a few years, so it was great to be on set with him. I hope we get to work together more.
Any fun memories from the shoot?
I remember feeling really cool getting to handle one of the sleek new Diet Coke cans, which the crew treated like stars on the set. I also remember it being really hot that day, so the ice-cold Diet Coke was extra delicious. And we filmed on the same block where I’d once shot a scene for “Love”, so it was cool to be back there. Oh, and I was geeking out because one of the extras had been on the Bravo show, “The People’s Couch”, which I’m a huge fan of.
You’ve worked as an actor in TV, movies, onstage and now, in commercials. How is each medium different? Do you have a favorite?
I’m lucky to have a career where I’ve gotten to do it all. The principles of acting are the same, but there’s truly something unique about performing in front of a live audience. It’s a different discipline. Having to do an entire piece every night, from start to finish, without being able to stop or call “cut” when something goes wrong challenges the perfectionist in me. It feels scary, in a way. That’s why I wanted to do a play again. I wanted to scare myself a little… to get butterflies and sweaty palms before the curtain opens. The last time I felt this way was when I had to do improv comedy for a movie called “Don’t Think Twice” without any improv training.
Tackling this fear is a nice fit with “Because I Can”. It’s easy to only do things you’re accustomed to doing, so it’s good to try things that push you a little outside your comfort zone.
You’ve been a loyal Diet Coke drinker for years. Any special memories?
Yes! Growing up, I remember how cool it felt to travel on an airplane and drink Diet Coke. Flying with my dad at Christmas to visit family in Florida and getting to order a Diet Coke was really special. It still is!
As part of its relaunch, Diet Coke is rolling out four new flavors (Feisty Cherry, Ginger Lime, Zesty Blood Orange and Twisted Mango). Do you have an early favorite?
I think Feisty Cherry is my favorite so far, but they’re all great! I’m confident there’s one that appeals to everyone out there. And of course, the original Diet Coke is hard to beat. It’s here to stay!