DID YOU READ

What Drives Nathan Fillion

What Drives Nathan Fillion (photo)

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Even if Nathan Fillion weren’t currently playing the eponymous mystery writer on the hit TV series “Castle,” the genre fans out there would surely know the charming Canadian actor from his work with cult-beloved producer Joss Whedon. Fillion had a pivotal role as a serial-killing priest in the final episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” captained both the ship and ensemble cast of space western “Firefly” (and its spin-off feature “Serenity”), and goofily played Neil Patrick Harris’ superhero nemesis in Whedon’s web musical “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.”

Fillion currently co-stars in writer-director James Mottern’s terrific desert drama “Trucker,” starring Michelle Monaghan in a career-launching performance as Diane Ford, a free-spirited (okay, promiscuous) big-rig driver who’s forced to watch over the 11-year-old son she all but abandoned to her ex. Fillion plays Diane’s drinking buddy Runner, one of the locals whose casual relationship with her proves complicated by the fact that he’s married. In support of the film, Fillion called me to talk about trucks, villains, Joss Whedon’s super-fans and the superhero franchise he’d like to reboot.

What’s the largest vehicle you’ve ever been behind the wheel of?

I had a Ford F-250. It was a big ol’ farm truck, but it wasn’t a rig. That’s about the biggest I’ve ever driven. That’s what I drove back and forth to high school. I was a poor guy, and it was a truck that my uncle owned and let me drive because I had no money. It was little compared to the thing Michelle [Monaghan] was driving around.

Runner’s relationship with Diane is unconventional, to say the least. Some people believe that men and women can’t be just friends when there’s any chemistry between them. Would you agree?

No, I don’t agree. I think when there’s chemistry, you know if there’s going to be some sort of compromising. You can know that. I like to think I’m able to draw the line. When it comes to married women, or if you’re in a relationship yourself, I try to keep myself out of situations that would force me to make decisions that could [lead] to trouble.

Michelle Monaghan’s been getting a lot of buzz for the role since the film premiered at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Could you share any outside observations about her in this performance?

I’ll tell you what I really enjoy. We all go to the movies, we all watch television, we know what they’re about, how they work. When the main character is a cop or a spy, it’s very exciting, but I also very much enjoy when the main characters are nobodies — a trucker. Michelle’s as serious as a heart attack about her work. She’s just very, very natural. You don’t need to have a huge role to attack. She attacks what is seemingly a small character.

Your career has been a bit entrenched in the Cult of Joss Whedon. Have you had any bizarre encounters with Whedon’s super-fans?

Yeah, one or two. [laughs] One thing I can say about Joss’ fans is that they’re dedicated, passionate, intelligent and very excitable. If you go to a sci-fi convention and there’re 3,000 of them in a room, one of them is going to get a little riled up and ask you to take off your pants. I’m a pretty reasonable man. I don’t let things get too far out of hand. I try not to mix fans and booze. I keep a lid on things.

10132009_DrHorrible.jpgSpeaking of Whedon, the only villain I’ve known you to play was Caleb on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Do you feel you’re ever typecast as the nice guy?

Not in the least. If anything, I’m typecast as a guy who’s maybe not so nice. He’s the hero who’s the anti-hero, or you think he’s a nice guy but he’s an adulterer. I’ve played so many roles, like a man who is married who cheats on his wife.

Maybe it’s your even-keel disposition that gave me this perception.

I agree. That’s part of the trick. People don’t walk around acting like they’re the villain. The villain walks around acting like he’s the good guy. The villain always thinks the show is about him, he’s going to win. The villain doesn’t think he’s a villain.

I know you’re too busy with your own TV show to work on Whedon’s series “Dollhouse,” but if you had time, what kind of character do you think you’d play?

Well, I wouldn’t be a doll, because they’re all in really great shape. I would be some incredibly rich businessman who hires a bunch of dolls to be some kind of private army. Yeah, that would be me.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.