DID YOU READ

Sally Hawkins on the Year She Became a “Made” Woman

Sally Hawkins on the Year She Became a “Made” Woman (photo)

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A month after my first interview with Sally Hawkins was canceled after she lost her voice, there’s still a raspiness in her throat that’s at odds with her otherwise indefatigable spirit. Yet both are evidence of a 2010 in which Hawkins has appeared in three films to hit the States this fall — “Never Let Me Go,” “It’s a Wonderful Afterlife” and “Made in Dagenham” — and stood toe to toe with Cherry Jones on Broadway in a revival of George Bernard Shaw’s “Mrs. Warren’s Profession.” (This isn’t even to mention the three on the way in 2011: the dramas “Desert Flower” and “Jane Eyre” and the Sundance-bound comedy “Submarine,” which I felt was one of the best at this year’s Toronto Film Festival.) In the midst of this incredibly busy season for the actress, Hawkins took the time to talk about overcoming shyness, why there truly are no small parts and how Mike Leigh changed her approach to acting.

Actors are sometimes the last to know about when all these projects are going to come out, but has it been surprising how busy you’ve been this past year?

It’s wonderful. Like you say, you never really know. You do your bit and then you hope for the best and you think, oh I hope there’s an audience at the end of the day. But here, it’s an incredible response. It’s just been amazing. I didn’t think I’d be in this situation again and talking to people about a film that I’m passionate about a few years after “Happy-Go-Lucky” …I feel so lucky. But it’s all that you want for [“Made in Dagenham,” in particular], something that’s based on an important part of history and without these women, God knows where we would be, so it’s wonderful to talk to so many people and people want to talk to you as well.

12142010_SallyHawkinsMadeinDagenham.jpgI’ve heard you say you were shy growing up and yet you’re in a profession that requires you to be open. Did that actually help you play Rita, who is similarly thrust into the spotlight [as a factory worker who leads the charge for equal pay in “Made in Dagenham”]?

Absolutely. I’m getting better at it. In interviews, you have to realize it’s not about you and that makes it easier. You’re there, sort of working and promoting a film and getting it out there to a bigger audience, so that makes it easier to take it away from you. But I suppose I was quite shy growing up and I think acting is, like it is for a lot of actors I know, a way of expressing and for Rita, I think it’s similar. She is quite quiet and shy and she’s had no experience of talking publicly in this way. Her world’s been quite small and she ends up at the end of the film where it’s grown extensively and become global in a way.

I think the way she deals with it and the way I’m able to deal with it is that she’s doing a service and the more she invests in that, the more passionate she becomes, and the easier and the stronger she becomes actually because she’s speaking as the voice of the women and there’s a responsibility to that. She’s the one that’s been pushed forward and she owes it to not only herself, but to all of them to keep calm, to keep that clarity of voice and their integrity to speak the truth and it’s all she can do. So I think it was a nice dimension of Rita, but it’s what I saw in all these women actually.

You’ve got “The Roaring Girl” [about Bernadette Devlin, the youngest woman ever elected to British Parliament] in development too. Are these historical parts where the good roles are or are you a bit of a history buff?

Hopefully that’ll happen soon. When you’ve got roles like “Made in Dagenham” and then a figure like Bernadette Devlin, they’re formidable women. Bernadette Devlin was a subject that came up with Aisling Walsh, the director who I worked with on “Fingersmith,” a BBC project years ago and we’ve stayed in contact. These projects, they’re around in the mix for awhile and sometimes they just bob up to the surface and it just so happens that it’s a one that has a similar theme, but you can’t help but be drawn to those kind of figures. You just hope that if you’re called upon to do those roles, you do them justice and you do them well.

12142010_Submarine1.jpgTalking about projects that bubble up, “Submarine” came as a bit of a surprise. [Hawkins plays the mother of Oliver Tate, an eccentric teen living in England.] Since it’s such an original vision, did you have any idea how that film was going to turn out?

No. Richard [Ayoade, the director] is incredible and he’s a master filmmaker in the making, if not already there. I’ve known him for a number of years; he’s also a good friend and he has a creativity, so you can’t really know. [“Submarine”] has such a lovely tone to it, a slightly stylized ’80s tone, which just made it more interesting as you’re walking into this dimension, you’re not quite sure how or where to place it and I love films that sort of slip in between the gaps in time and space. You’re not quite sure where they are, where they fit and that informs the awkwardness of how Oliver sees the world and the way he sees it in a heightened, slightly surreal, odd way you do as a teenager and all those hormones are rushing around.

When I spoke to Richard in Toronto, I was expecting him to cite a lot of coming-of-age stories as influences, but it took me aback when he mentioned “Taxi Driver.”

Knowing Richard as a film geek and film buff – I mean, I think I know and love a lot of films, but then it’s nothing compared to Richard. His library of films is ridiculous. Brilliant. You could be there for years. He’s influenced by so many films and “Taxi Driver,” I know, is one of the big ones. That’ll probably be an influence on every film that Richard makes because I remember him talking about “Taxi Driver” and every single moment he knows the film so well. I can’t wait to see his next film because yeah, it’s brilliant.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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