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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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.