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Andy Serkis’ “Rock & Roll” Lifestyle

Andy Serkis’ “Rock & Roll” Lifestyle (photo)

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“The only thing I’ve ever missed is a few buses,” says Ian Dury, as played by Andy Serkis, in “sex & drugs & rock & roll.” The film’s a biopic about the often decadent, sometimes tragic and altogether rocking lead singer for the Blockheads, one of the first to fuse together rap, rock, reggae and funk to become a sensation in the U.K. It’s no surprise then that Serkis doesn’t miss a trick in portraying the frontman, who’s hobbled by childhood bout with polio, but more than makes up for it with a life spent between two women — his wife (Olivia Williams) and his girlfriend (Naomie Harris) — not to mention an overindulgence on available drugs and alcohol, and a flamboyant personality that he attempts to tame in front of his young son (Bill Milner).

Although the actor, best known for suiting up in performance capture gear to portray Gollum and King Kong, underwent a considerable transformation to play Dury, equal attention is paid by director Mat Whitecross to retrofitting the traditional rock biopic, filling the film with animation, underwater musical sequences and a criss-crossing narrative that ricochets between Dury’s days of rebelling against authority in school to becoming an authority on the British scene. During the Tribeca Film Festival, Serkis and Whitecross sat down to discuss the film, the unexpected difficulties of hair in a rock movie, and I even got the “Lord of the Rings” star to talk about the studio he’s creating for motion capture.

The film unfolds almost like a collage and seems true to Dury’s passion for many artistic mediums. How important was it to have pop art blended into the film so seamlessly?

Mat Whitecross: That’s exactly what we were trying to go for, partly because he has such a kaleidoscopic life anyway, but also really because he was influenced by pop art, especially Peter Blake, who he studied under.

04292010_sexDrugsRockRoll.jpgOne of the issues with doing a low-budget film is you want to try and represent a whole era, but you don’t have the money and the size of crew to be able to do that. You can’t try and recreate ’70s Camden, so what other way can you give a new audience a flavor of those times? [The animation] felt like the most succinct way of doing it and we were lucky enough to get the great Sir Peter Blake to work on those sequences with our team.

With pop art in general, we wanted to give this film a distinctive look and it just made sense, given that art was an important part of Ian’s life, but couldn’t really be part of the script since there were too many other things to talk about. It felt like even if it’s subconscious, at least you’re getting it and then if you go back and rediscover the albums or his life and look at his work and his paintings, then it’ll all kind of click into place.

Andy, I read that you wore a caliper for months to achieve Ian’s limp. Was the physicality a place where you started for this role since it plays such a huge role in his life?

Andy Serkis: It wasn’t a place I started, no. It’s a place it was necessary to get to and get through. I started at a kind of producer/storytelling level, in terms of how to pull the whole thing together. It was a two-step process, really. It was understanding what the story was about and working with Paul [Viragh, the screenwriter] closely on the emotional core of the film and the father and son relationship — those were our starting points. The fact that we wanted to present Ian as the teller of his own story in a musical environment, that’s for me where the characterization starts. It morphed gradually into the physical preparation — obviously, the closer you get to the shoot, there were certain things you had to do, to lose weight and to work with the calipers and do all that to understand the physics of his disability and the psychology of living with it.

04292010_sexDrugsRockRoll.jpgThere’s a concert that is used as the film’s framing device — was that shot at the beginning of the production since it seems to have so much impact on what happens throughout?

MW: We wanted to do it upfront for precisely that reason, but unfortunately for scheduling reasons, primarily Andy’s hair, we couldn’t do it until the end of the shoot.

AS: It’s probably a good job actually because my voice was fucked up after that [laughs], which might’ve worked quite well.

MW: We scheduled all the scenes where he was speaking on the stage on the last day as well, so he was completely raw and ragged. We were very worried about it, but it actually gives it quite a nice fragile quality.

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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.