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The Always Drool-Worthy Laura Harring

The Always Drool-Worthy Laura Harring (photo)

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Now that the film critic intelligentsia has fully weighed in on the last decade, Mexican-American actress Laura Harring should (and does) feel proud to have played an intoxicating part in David Lynch’s Möbius strip of a Hollyweird noir “Mulholland Dr.,” pegged by the biggest polls as the Best Film of the ’00s. As the mysterious amnesiac who stumbles into the life and arms of an aspiring actress (Naomi Watts) before nightmare logic fractures the narrative altogether, Harring received career-launching acclaim, which is not to dismiss her previous screen credits or having been the first Hispanic woman to be crowned Miss USA some years before. Anyone should be so lucky.

Harring can next be seen in writer-director Nancy Kissam’s feature debut “Drool,” a transgressive comedy (in the vein of John Waters) which screened at Slamdance and Outfest. Harring plays Anora, a Southern housewife and mother of two whose abusive, racist husband (Oded Fehr) is pushing her over the edge. With the arrival of new neighbor Imogene (Jill Marie Jones), a bubbly African-American beauty in whom Anora finds solace and inexplicable sexual attraction, both of their lives take a peculiar turn which includes domestic murder and an eye-opening road trip for the restructured family. I spoke with Harring by phone to discuss “Drool,” her reflections on starring in the last decade’s masterpiece, surviving a bullet wound to the head, and why she’s big in Korea.

“Drool” is unusual in that it features at least three gay relationships, but at its heart is the story of this mistreated woman trying to find happiness, which plays out as tragicomedy. What’s your take on the film, and how did you get involved with first-timer Kassam?

I just thought it was an interesting script — very funny, dark humor. I felt sorry for Anora, and when I feel such compassion for a character, I always feel like it’s the right character to play. Nancy immediately saw that I could play Anora, and I think it came about a year later. It hadn’t finished getting its financing, so it was a little miracle film. The filming conditions were difficult because of the humid August weather in Louisiana. There was no air conditioner on set, no quiet place to sit. But it’s a very funny film. People have responded really favorably to it.

01202010_lauraharring3.jpgI don’t need to tell a former Miss USA that she’s a very beautiful woman. What do you get out of playing against preconceived notions in a frumpier role?

I feel fortunate that I’m able to play diverse roles. I don’t think everybody in Hollywood gets the opportunity to do that. When I became an actor, my thing wasn’t to become famous. It was to do exactly what I’m doing, which is not just playing “leading lady” but all kinds of characters: abused, abusive, repressed, outgoing. When I was little, I was told I was a chameleon, and I feel really fortunate that directors see me that way also.

Do you think there’s enough progressiveness in the film industry in the way of great women’s roles, or is it still as much of a struggle as it always has been?

It goes up and down like a roller coaster. There are openings where women are getting stronger roles, more stories focused on women. And then, for a couple years, you see mostly male-driven stories. But I do believe those windows of opportunity are there, they do open, and they’re changing at a rapid rate. For me, it’s hard to keep up with trends. I just go for the roles and movies that I feel I could add value to, or contribute to, that I feel I could portray.

In the film, your son is accidentally shot in the head and survives. You were about the same age when you survived a similar injury in a drive-by shooting. Was that element of the script a coincidence?

Total coincidence. I forget that part of my life all the time. When I go back to that, when I was 12 and got shot on the right side of my head with a .45, I remember everything being in slow motion — the guzzling of the blood in my head like a fountain, my mother pressing [on it], and hearing the blub-blub of the blood gurgling. What I remember the most is feeling a crazy sense of peace. I could hear my thoughts really loudly, and among those thoughts were, “This is it?” [laughs] I couldn’t believe that that would be the end. When I survived that entire scenario about 24 hours later, and they stitched me up, the doctor said I was one of the full survivors of a .45. I was in a daze for a couple months.

01202010_lauraharring2.jpgIt changed my life forever, because I really make an effort to experience everyday in the present, be grateful for everything that comes, and try not to resist too much — because we resist what’s happening in us, whether it’s good or bad, and you tend to suffer more. When I recall that memory, I feel very fortunate. I feel like I’m living more fully because I’m more in the present and less worried about the future or the past.

Wow. Well, we’ve just wrapped a decade, and several prominent critics’ polls placed “Mulholland Dr.” as the Best Film of the Oughts. I’d love to know what the film means to you both personally and professionally, and if you could reflect back on when this project was just a rejected TV pilot.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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SO EXCITED!!!

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.”

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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. 

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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.