In the middle of chatting with Jessica Capshaw, she has to break for a quick dental-related intermission. “Hold on, my daughter just lost a tooth in the hallway. She’s been waiting for this!” Seconds later, the mother-of four picks right back up to talk her latest project, Netflix’s latest rom-com and unofficial start-of-the-holiday-season, Holidate, where she plays the role of big sis Abby to Emma Roberts’ Sloane. In between the smile-related pause and pre-stream, the 44-year-old spoke with us about how she’s holding down the fort—and keeping herself sane at the same time—at home this fall.
What made you take on this film?
I spent a decade playing the coolest, most satisfying, tortured and amazing character. [Capshaw played Arizona Robbins on Grey’s Anatomy for ten years.] I loved being her and I loved bringing that character to life. Anyone who works on TV will tell you that, every year, you think it’s going to be the last year because nothing is ever a sure thing. At the end of it, there was definitely a feeling of, “Oh my gosh. What do I want to do? What is out there? What resonates with me? What wants me? What do I want?”
I’m sure a lot goes on in the mind…
It got a little existential, but I wanted to be practical—because I had spent such a long time doing one thing, which is so atypical in the acting world. The one thing that came to the top of the list early on was that I knew I wanted to do a comedy. It’s what I enjoyed the most when I first began acting and, on some level, I think it’s what comes easiest to me. There is just spontaneity to it, a certain sense of joy. But, when I went looking for one, it turned out that comedies were not that easy to write. I read a bunch and some of them were funny, some of them were funny-adjacent and some were really funny, but maybe didn’t completely work, or I wasn’t completely right for it, or it wasn’t completely right for me.
Then, all of a sudden, Netflix came along with Holidate and it was so funny that it made me laugh out loud. At the time, Emma Roberts was attached to it, and I think Kristin Chenoweth was circling around it—all people that I really like. Emma is good friends with my little sister, and I was playing her big sister so, it just all came together. Then, when I met everyone, it was an instant family and it worked. We had a great time and I think that the movie turned out to be exactly what everybody wanted it to be, which was a really solid, compelling, good, delightful, fun, raunchy and cool romantic comedy. And my character isn’t too far off from experiences that I’ve had in my own life—she’s a mother of four who tries to make it all happen and also tries to be her own self and create a life that’s fulfilling and compelling.
What are you doing for your own self during this time?
Interestingly enough, my husband, who is one of the founders of The Honest Company [Capshaw has been married to Christopher Gavigan since 2004] recently launched a CBD-based product line called Prima. They have a daily gel cap that I started taking before the pandemic hit. I have one of those active imaginations and I always imagine all the worst things happening, which leads to some anxiety at times. But, I swear, ever since I started taking the daily, I feel like the edge is off. It’s not psychoactive. There’s nothing in it that makes you feel different or anything. It’s more like a nice evening of all good things.
During stressful times, I have always found self-talk to be very helpful. I also try to get my sleep and I’ve always been someone who loves skin care. I’ve always been acutely interested in taking really good care of my skin because, obviously, your face is right out there when you’re an actor. I find a lot of comfort in the protocol of it all, so I feel like I’m a little like Dory in Finding Nemo. “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” So, I keep doing all the things that I take solace in or are normal for me. That gives me comfort.
You were on a TV show for a decade. What did you learn beauty-tip wise from the set?
The big thing I learned is that it doesn’t need to take you as long as you think it does to get ready! Really, the only thing that I need to feel my best is some kind of lash, which can be either an eyelash curler, a great mascara, or, sometimes, I’ll put some of the individuals on. I need a nice little bronzer. I’m obsessed with ’90s style and I absolutely love the Benetint Cheek Stain—I think I have totally five bottles of it because it’s in my glove compartment—it’s in my purse, it’s in my diaper bag, it’s everywhere. A flush cheek and some bronzer and lashes and lip balm and you’re good to go, but the secret is taking care of your skin.
Care to share your routine?
I definitely invest in it [my skin]. One of my girlfriends owns a store called Knockout Beauty. She’s a wealth of information and I have learned so much from her. I’m a very big fan of sprays because they make you feel fresh and they’re on-the-go, and I’m constantly going. There’s one called Lumion Mist—I love it. I do love a great facial and I see a woman in Los Angeles, Vanessa Hernandez, who is just a glowing-skin pro and I definitely miss going to see her. Facials are amazing. I stay on top of it at home, and I give myself little home facials and all that, but I do love when she really works my skin.
Makeup-wise, I am a giant fan of Gucci Westman’s whole line. I love all of her cheek and eye products. I’m not a big foundation-wearer, but when I need to for the red carpet or for work, I will wear her stuff; it’s great. Giant fan of Kevin Aucoin Curling Mascara. It’s a game-changer because, for so long, I would be wearing mascara underneath my eyes instead of on my eyelashes and the formula is almost rubbery. Maybe that’s not the best way to describe it, but you can pull it, and it comes off in little clumps and it doesn’t flake. What else do I love? I love Sjal. I love their cleanser, I love their toner and I love their regenerating serum. It’s amazing. It has crushed up crystals in it or something. It’s very luminescent.
Your mom [Kate Capshaw] is in the business. What beauty tips did she pass down?
In a funny way, we sort of complement each other when it comes to beauty. We tag team: I’ll go for one thing and she’ll go for another. Not to sound too philosophical, but her beauty was always from within. I grew up knowing I had a gorgeous mother, but she wasn’t someone who wore a ton of makeup or led with that beauty, she just was beautiful. There was a confidence in it, and a sense of ease and a relatability to her. I could see it and I watched people react to it and I certainly admired it. I hope to have that philosophy in my life.