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Keira Knightley Takes the Mic

Keira Knightley Takes the Mic (photo)

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Does Keira Knightley ever get to take a break? She’s without question one of the industry’s foremost young actresses, but since her 2002 breakthrough in “Bend It Like Beckham,” she’s also seemed hell-bent on proving herself the hardest working. In the past three years alone, she’s appeared in two blockbusting installments of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” snagged a Golden Globe nomination for her role in the lauded Ian McEwan adaptation “Atonement,” strapped on a corset for “The Duchess” and shrugged out of one for “Silk.” But she assures she’s had her fair share of time off: “I am sort of chomping at the bit to get going. I got tired, and I wanted to be hungry for it again. And I am very hungry for it now and I can’t wait to start.”

Knightley’s latest role is as Vera Phillips, the childhood flame that poet Dylan Thomas (played by Matthew Rhys) re-encounters in a war-torn London in “The Edge of Love.” The drama, based loosely on events from Thomas’ life, traces the triangle that forms between him, his wife Caitlin (Sienna Miller) and his former sweetheart. When Vera marries William Killick (Cillian Murphy), an officer who’s called away to combat, the uneasy friendship the three have formed begins to fall apart. The film reunites Knightley with John Maybury, who directed her in “The Jacket,” and finds her for the first time working off a script written by her mother, playwright Sharman Macdonald. I got a chance to chat with Knightley about female friendships, period costumes and her singing voice.

I’d imagine playing a character who works as a nightclub singer, as Vera does, is many a girl’s dream role — it’s a very specific sort of glamorous.

I’ve always enjoyed watching Marlene Dietrich’s films. She always does that sort of thing very well, doesn’t she? But I don’t really have anything specific that I’m desperate to do on film. If I read it and for some reason the fancy takes me then I’ll go with it. It’s more instinct than anything else. But it was a lot of fun.

You’ve expressed reservations about the fact that you actually sing in the film in earlier interviews. Do you feel better about it now that it’s played and people seem quite positive?

It went down well, it sounded all right, and people haven’t been too horrendous about it, so yes, I suppose it’s okay. [laughs] It was completely terrifying at the time, and it didn’t stop being terrifying. It took about a day and a half to film, and I think I was terrified from morning, noon, til night. It seemed like a very long day and a half. I had a fantastic singing coach and did a couple of lessons before actually having to do it, and I really enjoyed that. It was the whole singing live in front of people that terrified me.

So we shouldn’t expect an indie rock album from you any time soon?

No, I don’t think so. [laugh]

03112009_EdgeofLoveKeiraCillian.jpgYou’ve played several characters based on real life figures. Is there a difference in how you prepare? Do you research, go back and look at photos…?

With “The Duchess,” I was much more specific. I read her book, and other books where she’s featured. With [“The Edge of Love”], I have to say I didn’t look into the actual woman that much, partly because there isn’t actually that much [out there]. Her granddaughter is one of the producers, which was very exciting, but I took a hell of a lot of artistic license with my portrayal of Vera. I didn’t try and go for something like how she actually was. I mean I sort of figured that my mom had done a lot of research as far as the script went and that I’d just take my own interpretation from the script.

Is it more challenging to play a role in which you’re dealing with someone who actually existed, or to play a character like “Pride & Prejudice”‘s Elizabeth Bennet, who never existed, but might as well have for all of the strong ideas people have about how she should sound and look?

Elizabeth Bennet is a very specific one because it’s such a well-loved book character, it comes with a lot of baggage. Most of the women who read that book see themselves as Elizabeth Bennet, so that’s quite a daunting thing, particularly for a 19-year-old, as I was. With [“The Edge of Love”], it’s based on reality. The friendship did occur, they did live in Wales together, there was a shooting, there was a trial. But as far as the stuff in between, it is a dramatization, so I think there’s been a lot of artistic license. There’s pressure on every single part you play. I don’t necessarily feel more for somebody that actually existed as opposed to somebody that didn’t.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.