Charlyne Yi and Jake Johnson are pranksters at heart, but it’s hard to tell on first glance at their new film, Paper Heart. Charlyne Yi: [Laughs.] Half of it; 50 percent is fake, and 50 percent isn’t.
It’s ostensibly a documentary about the nature of love; Yi admits upfront that she doesn’t believe in love, and sets out on a mission with director Nick Jasenovec to chat with a variety of people—longtime married couples, scientists, children—about their thoughts on the subject. Jake Johnson: All the documentary is real, from the psychic to the kids, everybody, to the judge. AVC: What was the purpose behind creating the confusion?
CY: Yes and no, but I think yes in terms of, if we were making a straight documentary. I don’t think it takes away from it, because we were very aware that we were making a film that wasn’t going to be spontaneous.
But knowingly we were making a movie, and kind of seeing it as “This is a movie with ‘boy meets a girl,’ there is a structure to it, and there’s an outline to it.” And that’s not where the spontaneity was going to come from, except for the improv. Even though there was so much spontaneous stuff that happened.
But then the credits roll, “Nick Jasenovec played by Jake Johnson” appears onscreen, and the whole thing starts to seem fishy. But then at the end, it says “Nick Jasenovec played by Jake Johnson.” So it’s not like we were totally fooling them. CY: Well, I didn’t sit around eating hamburgers all day.
JJ: We didn’t want people leaving and then still being like, “What’s going on? Originally, I was curious about love, and I was a bit skeptical myself.
And I met people with awesome stories, and I was like: “There’s so many movies about love that are fiction, what if we made a movie actually capturing true-love stories?” And I came to Nick Jasenovec with the idea, and he was like, “Oh, you should be on camera, because you’re skeptical, and it’d be funny to see it through your eyes.” I was like, “I don’t know about that.” “Oh, what if you fell in love? ” One, I’m really uncomfortable to be on camera, and two, I don’t know about dating in front of a camera for the purpose of a documentary. I was like, “That was awesome.” [Laughs.] JJ: There’s a certain cheesiness that I think Jasenovec wanted to…