In this week’s “The Boys Are Back,” Clive Owen seems to break from his usual screen persona to play a sports writer whose wife passes away, leaving him a single dad forced to reconnect with and learn to take care of his two sons. But how far a stretch is that, really, for a man whose screen specialty has become the reluctant hero?
This week on the IFC News podcast, we offer an appreciation of one of our favorite leading men, saluting his presence, his choice in roles and his ability to read the silliest of voiceovers without a hint of irony.
The Exorcist is a modern horror classic thanks to many of its haunting images: the ominous stairwell, the spider walk, the face of the demon. Before you catch IFC’s all-day Exorcist movie marathon on November 1st, take this quiz to see how well you remember the film, its sequels and its influence in pop culture.
This Thursday, October 1st, get to know two great new shows on IFC. At 10P, get on the ice and join the team on Benders. On the premiere episode, Paul’s (Andrew Schulz) grandpa makes him an offer he can’t refuse, even if it interferes with his busy schedule of hockey playing and beer drinking.
The stay tuned at 10:30P for Gigi Does It, the new show starring David Krumholtz as a grandma who gets her groove back. This week, Gigi Rotblum inherits her late husband’s secret fortune, hires an assistant (Ricky Mabe), and takes unexpected measures to protect herself. James Urbaniak (Difficult People) guest stars.
We said everyone has a favorite character, and let’s be honest: it’s Red. And Red almost had the ability to lay out Hyde with a swift roundhouse kick to the head. Chuck Norris was considered for the role of Eric’s dad, but was unavailable due to filming Walker, Texas Ranger, opening the part for Kurtwood Smith’s incomparable portrayal.
2. Mila Kunis lied about her age to get the role of Jackie.
Snotty (but surprisingly smart) Jackie propelled Mila Kunis to stardom. She got the part by being perfect for it, and by playing older than she actually was. Auditioning at age 14, she told the producers that “I’ll be 18 on my birthday,” neglecting to mention said birthday was still four years away. Having an actual teenager play a television teenager for once is a nice novelty.
3. The show was almost named after a Who song.
A ’70s-set sitcom couldn’t help but be defined by music, but That ’70s Show was legally forced into its final name. Early ideas included “Teenage Wasteland” and “The Kids Are Alright,” but pressure from The Who’s lawyers forced the creators to come up with something better. At which point they found that test viewers had already given it the wonderfully self-aware name.
4. “The Circle” was a way to get around censors.
The show’s trademark camera spin was a powerful comedic tool for endless one-liners and honest moments where the characters talked directly to the camera. Most importantly, it allowed the show to make it clear the characters were totally baked while never showing them actually smoking pot.
5. Leo Was Really Arrested For Drug Charges
Hyde’s drug-inspired boss Leo incarnated the ’70s stoner culture on several levels. Not only was he played by the iconic Tommy Chong, but he disappeared from the series for a while because he was serving a jail sentence for selling drug paraphernalia. It was such a natural chain of events, Tommy was surprised they didn’t write it into the show.
6. You can blame a movie for Blonde Donna.
Donna claimed she dyed her hair blonde after her marriage to Eric was called off. But the truth is Laura Prepon went blonde for the lead role in the 2006 psychological thriller Karla.
7. Topher Grace was discovered in a high school play.
Topher Grace got his start in show business after That ’70s Show creators Bonnie and Terry Turner saw him in their daughter’s high school play. We assume he wasn’t constantly called “dumbass” in the play, but he wowed the Turners just the same.
8. Red really is from the “Craphole” state.
Kurtwood Smith is the only actor from Wisconsin, where the show is set. In fact, Red Forman is even more authentically Wisconson-ian, being based on Smith’s stepfather, who passed away shortly before the pilot was filmed. Yes, there actually was a real Red.
9. Josh Meyers was originally going to play Eric after Topher Grace left the show.
Josh Meyers, brother of Seth Meyers, was hired to replace Topher Grace, who’d left the series to fight Spider-Man on the big screen. Eric’s suddenly different appearance was going to be explained by the changing effects of coming back from his trip to Africa as a newly grown man, but the writers eventually ditched this ludicrous idea. Instead we got Randy Pearson, a fusion of Eric’s snarky humor and Kelso’s way with the ladies.
10. Eric’s Vista Cruiser license plate marks the passage of time.
That ’70s Show almost lasted an entire decade with eight seasons, but it only took up four years of fictional time. And you can tell what year each episode takes place in by the license plate at the end of the theme song.