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Facial hair, the secret to going from teen heartthrob to serious actor.

Facial hair, the secret to going from teen heartthrob to serious actor. (photo)

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Regardless of how you feel about the “Twilight” franchise, it’s hard not to read Brooks Barnes’ brief New York Times profile of vampire heartthrob Robert Pattinson and not feel at least a little bad for the dude.

Pattinson’s apparently been reduced to giving interviews in “an outdoor nook surrounded by tall hedges” while noting how “The more you are exposed, the more people irrationally hate you.” (Yes.) Whatever you think of him as an actor, here’s a guy who has become famous for a franchise that, when it’s done, will leave him with one defining image for the next 50 years unless he pulls out some kind of miraculous transition.

To prove his point, Barnes calls on academic Jeanine Basinger, who names a bunch of teen stars who never got past their defining moments in cuteness — “The Blue Lagoon”‘s Christopher Atkins, Corey Feldman, potentially Zac Efron — and cited the inevitable exception, Leonardo DiCaprio, whose success, we’re told, was in part due to “picking gritty roles and teaming with Martin Scorsese.”

In truth, it had more to do with his shaving habits.

06212010_gangs.jpg“Titanic” is cited as the turning point in DiCaprio’s career. It made the equally swoony success of “Romeo + Juliet” look like a joke. This, however, was after a number of tough roles — “This Boy’s Life,” “The Basketball Diaries,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” — that had already shown the young actor’s range and stamina for mentally exhausting parts. Compared to them, “Titanic” was a piece of cake, the toughest bit being the physical conditions. A number of post-“Titanic” career stumbles later, DiCaprio hit his stride in 2002 with “Gangs of New York” and “Catch Me If You Can” and never looked back.

DiCaprio’s greasy hair and face made sense for “Gangs,” which took place back in the days when a man wasn’t a man unless he demonstrated that he had enough testosterone to grow a full pate’s worth of hair on his face (although Daniel Day-Lewis’ mustache still towered over DiCaprio’s scraggly growth).

Subsequently, DiCaprio has proven constitutionally incapable of appearing clean-shaven on screen unless the part is set in the earlier days of the 20th century (“The Aviator,” “ReservationRevolutionary Road”), where facial hair was for social reprobates and other marginal types. This has nothing to do with his performances, and it tends to make him look jowly and pissed-off, but it’s certainly been a good way of avoiding charges that he’s too much of a man-child. If Michael Cera wanted to get haters off his back, seemingly all he’d have to do is grow a solid goatee.

06212010_littleashes.jpgWhich is to say: hello Mr. Pattinson. Do you want to be taken seriously? Grow some facial hair! Preferably the type that looks careless rather than elegant (or hilarious, in the case of his role as Salvador Dalí in “Little Ashes”).

It worked so well for DiCaprio. And just marvel at how far we’ve come since Alec Baldwin allegedly refusing to shave off his beard for “The Edge” back in 1997 almost destroyed a movie.

[Photos: “Twilight,” Summit Entertainment, 2008; “Gangs of New York,” Miramax, 2002]


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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GIFs via Giphy

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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GIFs via Giphy

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.