DID YOU READ

Stephen Dorff Finds a Home “Somewhere”

Stephen Dorff Finds a Home “Somewhere” (photo)

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When Stephen Dorff exits a black Ferrari in the middle of nowhere at the beginning of “Somewhere,” one thing is clear as the dust settles from the dirt donuts he’s made in the distance – he was meant to be a movie star. So it is with slight irony that the film in which Dorff plays one in the middle of an existential crisis is the role that may lead to his professional rediscovery in real life. Once a darling of indie cinema during the ’90s to the point where he played Candy Darling in “I Shot Andy Warhol,” Dorff has since endured life on a Uwe Boll set and seen his devilish grin that made him poised to become a leading man co-opted by filmmakers to pigeonhole him as a bad guy in films such as “Blade.”

As Johnny Marco, the only demons Dorff battles in “Somewhere” are those of his character’s own creation — the one-night stands that text him to ask “why are you such an asshole?” on his Blackberry, the hazy nights of partying in his otherwise empty suite at the Chateau Marmont, and worst of all, the estranged relationship with his ex Layla and their daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning), the latter of whom he clearly adores. Johnny’s reconnection with Cleo serves as the path to his own salvation in “Somewhere,” and though the film is hardly autobiographical, it’s territory known well to both Dorff and director Sofia Coppola, who both were wild enough at one time to have 21st birthdays at the Chateau Marmont and nowadays have the artistic cred to fit in with the rest of the Hollywood hotel’s famous guest list. I recently spoke to Dorff about working with his longtime friend Coppola, why he didn’t need to do much background research on his role, and why it’s okay to call this a comeback. [There are spoilers for “Somewhere” at the start of the second page.]

Since you’ve known Sofia Coppola for a while, when you saw the finished film, were there touches where you thought she really knows me well?

I just think [Sofia] gave me such a great opportunity to kind of create a new kind of movie star and there’s a lot of differences between me and Johnny Marco, but at the same time, there were obviously things I could totally understand and relate to. But when I first saw the movie, I was just blown away by just the piece because it’s such an intimate portrait of this guy’s life. She just led me to great places as far as the challenge of working in this environment with not much dialogue. There’s no tricks. It’s all just pretty much a naked performance.

12212010_Somewhere2.jpgWas it an interesting way of working for you?

It was a lot harder. I love being challenged. Sofia gave me the ultimate challenge here because there’s nothing driving the acting but human emotion. There’s no explosions, there’s no murder, there’s no bank robbery. There’s nothing that we normally see in these movies that usually trigger the emotion or trigger the next scene. This is all just inside this guy’s head and then basically we see him grow and hopefully by the end, he becomes a man, which I think he does.

In past interviews, you’ve estimated that Johnny was two years into being really famous, which seems like such a precise observation. Does it help or limit you as an actor when you have such a precise idea of where this guy is headed, perhaps from personal experience?

I just wanted to set up where he was. I figured he started acting and got some parts obviously, but then his real fame came quite quick, so I thought it would be a little more daunting for a guy to have this crazy fame for a movie he wasn’t even that proud of. Now when we open, he’s probably had about a year-and-a-half into this kind of spinning, monotonous boredom, broken kind of thing of what’s going on inside him and detachment from family, from his ex, from his daughter.

If you’re broken inside and you’ve got some issues that you haven’t dealt with, then you’re really screwed. I think that’s what happens to most of these talented people who lose everything is because they probably never fixed what was going on inside them. They just went from one movie premiere to the next and just kept rocking with it and you can keep going and keep making money, but if you don’t have your insides figured out and you’re hurting inside, then that’s not going to go away no matter how much money you make or how many girls you’ve got throwing themselves at you, what kind of car you drive. It doesn’t really mean anything. And that’s what I loved. The movie, to me, was always about an adolescent father becoming a man.

12212010_Somewhere3.jpgDid you have a favorite movie star excess that was from the film or were you suggesting things to Sofia to include?

I would suggest certain things here and there and she’d let me go with certain things, like the press conference scenes and things like that. Basically, she made me feel like a partner on this movie just by bringing me in so early, giving me every kind of luxury that I could’ve ever asked for to play this part, like staying in the hotel, spending some time with Elle in the beginning, just me and her where we could develop our own kind of trust and rhythm, so that by the time we were on set, we were kind of a unit — it just became kind of effortless. [Sofia is] just is an amazing director because every choice she makes, whether it’s an early prep choice in rehearsal or me picking up Elle from school and spending time with her, it just all led me to finding the character.

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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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