This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.

DID YOU READ

Sam Rockwell Speaks With “Conviction”

Sam Rockwell Speaks With “Conviction” (photo)

Posted by on

The new film “Conviction” tells one of those stories so incredible no screenwriter on their best day could invent it. After her brother Kenny went to prison for a murder he didn’t commit, Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank) devoted almost two decades of her life to freeing him. She earned her GED, then a college degree, then a law degree, so she could represent him in court when no one else would. In other words, “Conviction” is one of those movies that’s “based on true events,” a phrase that made Sam Rockwell, who plays Kenny, chuckle when it came up during our conversation. Why? “When my girlfriend sees horror movies that say ‘Based on true events,’ she always goes ‘Honey, it’s based on true events, I can’t see it!'”

Obviously the true events tag didn’t stop Rockwell from taking on this project, which is another in a series of interesting performances he’s given in recent films about fallen family men, including “Moon” and “Snow Angels.” I asked Rockwell why he’s drawn to these parts and to working with actors-turned-directors (like “Conviction” director Tony Goldwyn), and what he dances to when he’s got to pretend like he’s rocking out onscreen.

You don’t look the real Kenny Waters, right?

No.

He was a bigger man.

Yes. I only had three or four weeks to prepare, and there was just not enough time to get into that kind of shape. Otherwise it would have been a “Nutty Professor” thing — which I actually think Eddie Murphy should have gotten an Oscar for. I tried to lift a few weights, but it just didn’t take.

I ask because I was wondering if you prefer it that way because you don’t have a responsibility to look exactly like this guy. You can use your physicality to help express who this guy is.

It is nice. Tony [Goldwyn] and I did talk about shaving my head [like the real Kenny Waters]. But I was going to do “Iron Man 2” right after, and I had committed to “Iron Man” before this so I couldn’t shave my head. I bulked up a little for some of the scenes. But mainly I wanted the guy to look kind of sinewy as a young man and then we wanted to make him look bulky later. So we did some things with tightening my clothing and I pushed my belly out in a couple of the scenes. The makeup artist, Vivian Baker, was pretty amazing. With the budget she had, I think she did a pretty incredible job. We did some tricks with the hair, accentuating the receding hairline and all that stuff. But Vivian should get a lot of credit.

You’ve talked in the past about watching movies as part of your preparation for roles. What did you watch for this one? A lot of prison movies, I’m guessing.


Absolutely. I watched all that stuff. “The Hurricane,” “Dead Man Walking,” “American Me.” But I caution young actors against doing that too much because you don’t want to start mimicking other actors. You don’t want to be a carbon copy of a carbon copy. In acting terms, we talk in actions and verbs; what are you “doing” in this scene? Because you should always be active. That’s why they call it acting, not reacting. And I think when you’re watching movies you’re shopping for actions. And so you’re not necessarily mimicking the actor, you’re stealing actions, which is your arsenal in a scene.

There’s a theme that’s popped up repeatedly in your films lately, and it’s certainly present in “Conviction.” You keep playing men who are separated and isolated from their families. Is that something you’re actively trying to explore in your work? Were these just the best projects you were offered? Or do you make one and people see it and start saying “Hey, I think Sam Rockwell would be good for this role.”


[laughs] I think Tony and Hilary [Swank] mainly saw and responded to “Lawn Dogs,” another isolated dude I played. I guess I’m drawn to those parts, and they find me. They keep pulling me back in. I don’t know. I guess they remind me of some of the films that really made an impression on me as a kid and that I rewatched as adult later on. And I saw these films at a very young age, which may say something about me. “Taxi Driver,” “The Deer Hunter,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Alien,” “Blue Collar,” “Badlands,” “The Last Detail,” “Midnight Cowboy.” These films had a big effect on me. I’m sort of a film geek for all the films of the 1970s. I still maintain that was the best decade of American film.

You’re working with an actor turned director here, in Tony Goldwyn. That’s also something you’ve done quite a lot lately.


Yeah.

Do you seek out those collaborations with actor/directors?

Yeah, I guess I do…Clark [Gregg, director of “Choke”], Tony…

Jon Favreau, twice [on “Iron Man 2” and the upcoming “Cowboys and Aliens”]. Some guy named George Clooney who’s done a couple projects [like “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”].


Yeah, that dude. A lot of good looking funny guys. And they’re all very compassionate toward the actor’s process. Including the “movie star” George Clooney, because he struggled a lot as a young actor. He had a lot of lean years before he became “George Clooney.” That builds character, I think. And Tony’s the same way.

WARNING: The next question contains spoilers about what happened to the real Kenny after the events of the film.

Reading the press notes after watching the film I was sort of devastated to learn that the real Kenny passed away six months after his release from prison. Was there ever a discussion about putting that into the actual film?

It was a discussion. They played around with putting it in the end text crawl. I think they were testing it, and people loved the movie but when they saw that they would be completely devastated. And it wasn’t really what the movie was about. Not to be corny, but the movie’s about the transcendent power of love. It’s about this relationship between these two people and it’s about his freedom. So that was just not punctuating the film in the way that they wanted. Tony struggled with that decision a lot.

You have a terrific scene at the beginning of the movie in a bar where you get into a fight with a guy and then you do this crazy dance and striptease to “My Sharona.” How much of that is the script and how much of that is you creating that on the set?

The script by Pam [Gray] was really solid. And all the dialogue was verbatim. The only thing I maybe ad-libbed was [in a Boston accent] “Now it’s a pahty!” or something like that. And I wanted to have those sunglasses because I felt that would make it more playful in a realistic way.

When you’re doing a scene like that, what’s the set like? Do they play “My Sharona?” Or any music at all?

I had them play James Brown, and I had them play a song from “Mean Streets. And I actually was copying De Niro a little. It’s after he shoots the guy at the end of the movie, and there’s this song playing in the car, “Mickey’s Monkey” by The Miracles. And so I was clinging to that image, and I copied a little bit of that. And I did a lot of fancy dancing that thank God they cut because it just wasn’t realistic.

I went to see “A Behanding in Spokane,” on Broadway in which you starred opposite Christopher Walken. Is it fun or terrifying to have to act opposite that guy on stage?

[The publicist enters the room to tell us our time’s up.]

Yeah, yeah, I’ll just say he’s brilliant and he likes surprises and he loves to play. And I love to play too. We had a blast.

Do you have any good Walken stories from the experience?



I do, but we’d be here for like five days.

Watch More
IFC_Portlandia-AORewind-blog

A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

Watch More
SistersWeekend_103_MPX-1920×1080

WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

Posted by on

Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

IFC_Comedy-Crib_Sisters-Weekend-Series-Image

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

SistersWeekend_101_MPX-1920x1080

IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

IFC_Comedy-Crib_Sisters-Weekend_About-Image

IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

SistersWeekend_102_MPX-1920x1080

IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

Watch More
IFC_BVSS_203_birthday-song-celebration

Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy

Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

via GIPHY

IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

via GIPHY

IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

Watch More