JAKE LACY IN NEW YORK, OCTOBER 2015. SHIRT: ALEXANDER WANG. TANK TOP: SCHIESSER. COSMETICS: DERMALOGICA, INCLUDING ACTIVE MOIST MOISTURIZER. STYLING: ANDREW MUKAMAL. HAIR: ADAM MARKARIAN FOR BUMBLE & BUMBLE/DE FACTO INC. MAKEUP: SUSIE SOBOL/JULIAN WATSON AGENCY. SPECIAL THANKS: JOE’S AUTO REPAIR CORNER.
Most actors are complex, brooding types who draw inspiration from their onionskin layers of conflicting personality traits. Not Jake Lacy. With the 29-year-old actor from Vermont, what you see is what you get. “I’m just a dude. As much as I want to be unreadable, I’m readable as hell. I get awkward when I don’t like things, and I get happy when I do. I’ll talk to anybody about pretty much anything,” says Lacy over a burger at the Wythe Hotel, down the street from the Brooklyn apartment he shares with his wife. “Sometimes I wish I were a truly interesting person, that there was a part of me that’s mysterious, not a dumb-dumb who happens to be in movies.” Lacy’s heretofore most recognizable roles—including the 21 episodes he spent playing Pete Miller in the final season of The Office and his recent turn as Lena Dunham‘s love interest on Girls—capitalized on this lovable if doofusy straight-dude vibe. Other such lighthearted roles include parts in the upcoming holiday comedy Love the Coopers and the Valentine’s Day rom-com How to Be Single. But with Jenny Slate’s 2014 Sundance breakout, the abortion comedy Obvious Child, serious directors also began to take note: When he tackles dramatic material, Lacy’s lack of pretense imbues him with onscreen earthy realness.
Danish director Lone Scherfig recently had the actor dye his hair blond to play an American Air Force pilot in her forthcoming WWII project, Their Finest Hour and a Half, and he can be seen in theaters now playing Rooney Mara‘s cuckolded boyfriend in Todd Haynes‘s Carol, a story of lesbian love in the 1950s. In the film, Lacy’s earnestness as a first-generation New York boy who just wants to start a life with his girl serves as a foil to Mara’s radical (for the era) feminine independence. With characteristic lack of bravado, Lacy admits that he sometimes questioned his talent in comparison to Mara’s and Cate Blanchett’s when, in between takes, he would watch their performances on the playback monitors. But Lacy isn’t one to dwell. When he felt inadequate, he’d use that to motivate himself—even after half making a fool of himself during his first meeting with Todd Haynes. “We were both wearing New Balance and I was like, ‘Sweet New Balances!’ Todd was sort of like, ‘Oh yeah, you’re wearing them as well.’ He just doesn’t have time to make small talk about sneakers,” says Lacy with a simultaneous laugh and grimace. “These things are intimidating for me afterwards. Going in, I’m just like, ‘Okay, going to meet a guy.’ Leaving, I’m telling myself, ‘Time to get to work, you unprepared motherfucker.’ ”