In the latest Funny or Die video, New Girl actor and comedian Jake Johnson took on something much scarier than the dinosaurs he was running from in Jurassic World: the sport of parkour. Johnson teamed up with American Eagle Outfitters for some flip- and jump-ready stretch denim, because as he says it, "You need your apparel to be able to stretch, so you can do what you need to do… and I'd like to look handsome — so I want pants that actually look like jeans." On the day of filming, we spoke with Johnson about if those pants could hold up to his stunts, future run-ins with dinosaurs, and how he got into parkour shape.
How did you prepare to do a live parkour video?
I prepared for this parkour video by doing months of parkour throughout all the major cities. I did a national tour with the other 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. It's 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 either of those things?
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.
Is stretch denim essential for parkour?
You need your apparel to be able to stretch, so you can do what you need to do. But I'm also not into looking 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 look 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 it have helped you escape angry dinos in Jurassic World?
Well, considering I was the control-room nerd, the answer is yes.
Is parkour your way of preparing to run from dinosaurs in the next film?
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 — 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 percent yes.
Is this outfit a direct nod to Nedry from the first film?
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 1991.
What is your normal fitness regimen?
I actually go to the gym a couple times a week. 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.