‘Barbie’ Star And Skincare Influencer (???) Michael Cera Tells Us About The New Season Of ‘Life & Beth’

Michael Cera is an onscreen pillar of many a millennial’s youth. He perfected the lovable, quirky nerd archetype in coming-of-age benders like Superbad and cult comic book classics like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. But he followed every box office blockbuster and early aughts classic with a smaller indie project, festival darling, or voice-acting gig that kept him toeing the line between magazine-stand celebrity and sidewalk-strolling anonymity. He liked it that way, getting recognized only sparingly in coffee shops and grocery stores but never chased down streets or mobbed at airports, but a Barbie role and a CeraVe Super Bowl commercial may just change that.

Fresh off his turn as Allan – a Queer-coded buddy of Ken’s who fits into all of his clothes and seems as disgusted by the idea of a horse-worshiping patriarchy in Barbieland as the rest of us – Cera pivoted once again, this time spearheading a guerilla marketing campaign for a skincare company that’s been borrowing his name for years. I spoke to Cera before his game day spot broke the internet, back when paid influencers and cleverly snapped paparazzi promos were sparking online conspiracies left and right. He played coy about his brand partnership then, urging me not to trust the misinformation that runs rampant on social media these days when I asked if he was, in fact, a skinfluencer now. In short, he lied, but after watching the three-minute ad in which Cera sensually whispers phrases like “all day hydration,” slaps some cream onto a rock face, and communicates with a unicorn dolphin, I can’t be too upset.

Instead of discussing his ongoing feud with the dermatology community, Cera teased the newest season of his feel-good comedy series Life & Beth, a semi-autobiographical take on the real-life romance of creator Amy Schumer and her chef-husband, Chris Fischer that returns to Hulu on Feb. 16th. In it, Cera plays a farmer named John whose relationship with Schumer’s Beth puts him on a path of self-discovery that’s hilariously awkward and often, heartwarming.

UPROXX chatted with Cera about finally reaching sex symbol status thanks to the show, the growing pains of new fatherhood, and the FOMO of still having a flip phone.

This season really dives into your character’s autism diagnosis. How do you play that respectfully, and also as this monumental discovery of self that pushes the story forward?

It’s something that John comes to through his relationship — Beth nudges him toward it — and ends up being a big unlocking for him of just understanding himself a little better. I love that it’s handled that way, this ASD diagnosis. It’s not a life-altering diagnosis, it’s just a way to understand himself a little better and work through their specific communication challenges. It’s a positive thing in his life, and it’s something that I would be grateful for — anything you could do to understand yourself a little better. So I love that we explore that this season, but it’s not the last word on John as a person. It’s not the only thing that you could say about him. You can’t define him by that.

So much of this show is based on Amy’s relationship with her husband, Chris. Is it tricky to play a version of a person who could randomly show up on set one day?

I didn’t think of it that way, fortunately, because that would be really challenging. The character is its own person. Chris is absolutely the big inspiration for it, and a lot of the moments are, of course, taken right from their lives, but it’s not an impression or an imitation of him because that is just not of service in any way, to the story or anything really.

Working so closely with Amy on bringing this character to life has been enormously helpful because Amy loves Chris, obviously, and experiences him so intimately that anytime I have any kind of question, anytime anything arises — even if I just want to make something more specific in a moment — I can always turn to Amy and be like, ‘What would Chris say? What can I say here to transition to this moment?’ And Amy always has something ready that’s so specific, and so dialed into the character’s voice that it’s great. I wouldn’t want to do it any other way really, than having her there all the time.

Has the advice ever been too specific? Has she ever overshared to get you there?

[laughs] No, I have to say, it’s always been very useful and just very, very instructive for me.

A big takeaway fans had in season one was that Michael Cera is a sex symbol now. Is that how you see yourself?

That’s the whole point of the show really, so I’m glad it’s landing … I mean, the character is this savior figure for Beth, so I get it. He is this escape for her, and he’s based on a very dreamy guy, so it’s a nice role to get to step into.

There is something almost irresistible about a man who knows how to dice a zucchini.

Yeah, or bleed a pig out.

There’s a pregnancy plot this season. You’re a fairly new dad. Did filming any of those scenes give you flashbacks to prepping for your baby?

Oh my God, yeah. It was totally relatable. It is all a bit of a haze, but I can remember feeling this looming sense of not knowing what to expect, and just feeling like you need to prepare, not knowing how, and just freaking out. I also remember when my son was born and we came home, for two weeks, we were in a state of [constantly] moving. Just always feeling like this engine that never stops going because you feel you need to be in service to keep this thing right. It’s like a whole new muscle you’re learning, and it is terrifying until, after a while, it suddenly feels normal.

How did that pre-baby stress manifest for you?

There is this preparation where you bring things in for the baby, you’re building things. It’s just a way of feeling ready somehow. It’s like externalizing your anxiety. I remember when we were in the hospital after our son was born, you feel like someone comes in the room every five minutes, inundating you with information about what you have to do, just downloading you on how to keep a baby okay, and it’s a million things, and you feel like you’re just trying to absorb it all. And really, all it boils down to is you have to change their diaper and feed them, and then they’ll sleep. It’s just those three things.

You’re not on social media. You still have a flip phone. You’re left out of the Barbie cast group chat. What’s your advice for dealing with FOMO?

I feel it often, so I don’t know how you deal with it. My wife is always telling me that I need to reach out to people more too. The thing is I also like being alone at home. I’m very happy to spend nights that way, but then you’re like, ‘Why didn’t I hang out with my friends that time?’ I feel like it’s up to you to make things happen. Apparently a lot of guys in their 20s and 30s, I read an article about this, especially post-pandemic, have been feeling very lonely and have, I think, become a lot more antisocial. I think it’s like if you really do have FOMO, I think you have to make the effort yourself. Because you can make things happen, and it’s actually very easy, but it’s just a matter of not thinking everything’s just going to come to you all the time.

I’ve seen stories of men going on “dates” with other men, just to make new friends because they’re so lonely. What would a “man date” with Michael Cera look like?

When I go out I just like to catch up with a friend. I don’t really like going somewhere where you can’t hear each other. So I like to just go have dinner and play chess somewhere.

I bought a travel chess set recently. My goal is to start bringing it to the bar on a night out and rope friends into playing with me.

Yeah, I have a specific friend that I do that with, and it’s funny because when you’re out playing chess, you meet other chess nerds and then they want to have a game, and you can get a little group hang happening.