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Rosamund Pike Finally Tells Her “Version”

Rosamund Pike Finally Tells Her “Version” (photo)

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There’s a reason why Rosamund Pike plays the woman who makes Paul Giamatti’s twice-married Barney Panofsky realize he will love no other. With the beauty to play a Bond girl in her first film role and the smarts to be one of the few to follow through with a meaningful career, Pike has that bedeviling combination that can seduce an audience of either sex and prove elusive to casting directors unfortunately too used to casting actresses for one quality or the other. However, this has changed in recent years as Pike has found her unique skill set employed to play the daft, but knowing arm candy to Dominic Cooper in “An Education,” the trophy wife who was smarter than her husband in “Made in Dagenham,” and ultimately her natural role as the complete package in “Barney’s Version” as Miriam, the woman who catches Barney’s eye, captures him with her intellect and endlessly frustrates him as only perfection can.

If one were to suggest she’s anything close in person, Pike would quickly disabuse you of the notion, though she’s even quicker to disarm you, pulling out her iPhone at the drop of a hat to show off the green head that sits by her fireplace, a life cast of her face used as a model for the prosthetic work for her character in “Barney’s Version” that she’s since spraypainted over and outfitted in Doc Ock spectacles. She can’t help but look particularly radiant when she does this, showing flashes of the performer her co-star Giamatti has repeatedly said he’d become “obsessed” with before filming and the curious old soul that jetted off to Kerala right after filming wrapped to experience an Ayurvedic detox for the first time. (Not surprisingly, she wrote eloquently about it for the Times of London.) Now that the old-age makeup’s worn off, Pike recently took the time to talk about her other transformations, both in inhabiting the the role of the aging Miriam and for her career, in addition to her recent adventures in the States.

You initially went in to audition for the role of Barney’s free-spirited first wife Clara, but came away with Miriam, which seems like a benchmark for your career. Was it particularly gratifying to get the part?

I don’t read any press actually, but [my agent] sent an e-mail and he just said The Sunday Times just picked “Barney’s Version” as something to watch and it said something [like] “Rosamund Pike has the acting chops to play any role she wants now.” That felt really, really good because that’s what you want is freedom. I went into this business because the first films I saw that got me in the gut and moved me, it was probably “In the Name of the Father” with Daniel Day Lewis. I was glued to the screen. I felt the injustice, I felt I was going through it all with the character and I just bawled my eyes out and it was an incredible experience. I thought I want to do that to people. I want to give people those kind of rides. And until now, I haven’t really gotten the kind of roles that have allowed me to do that. [slight laugh] So in a way, it feels like a point of freedom is coming. And Paul [Giamatti] had my back. Paul really went out on a limb. I auditioned for it and we met and I think Paul said, “cast her.” That’s what you need. You need someone in this business because people are so…I don’t know. They’re risk averse.

01122010_RosamundPikeBarneysVersion2.jpgAfter your audition, I understand you wrote a letter to the filmmakers. Have you done that in the past?

No, but I wrote an e-mail to the producers and the director after the meeting and I knew the novel of “Barney’s Version.” I read the script backwards and forwards. I’d obviously done reading for Miriam on my own and then I met Paul and Paul was Barney. I believed in him so totally as Barney and I believed in myself as Miriam that we’d tell this story with truth. It felt right. We were those people. And you don’t always feel that. Sometimes you go in and of course you want it to work and you do a chemistry read with another actor and you don’t quite believe them or you kind of know you’re faking it a little bit. But with this, it was like looking into someone’s face and there was no acting. There was no artifice. It was daunting in some ways when you actually get the job. You then think God, how am I going to pull this off? But mentally getting inside the older woman I didn’t find so hard actually.

Since you age gradually in the film, does the physical aspect of it change your performance?

This is what’s interesting. You get the part and it’s all about the soul and the feeling inside and then suddenly, the obsession is all on the external, which is usually what throws me. It’s what threw me in the Bond film [“Die Another Day”]. I went and auditioned for the Bond film, got that role — I had just come back from traveling on a gap. I was like a shaggy student, sort of hippie kind of chick and then suddenly I get transformed and all the focus was suddenly on the external. It makes you panic because that’s not how you got the job, right?

And then the same with this. Everybody’s looking at you and you just feel so insecure because you think oh, I’m not right. As soon as the focus goes on the external, one feels that and the first [makeup] tests didn’t really work. I thought oh, no, they’re going to think I can’t age enough visually and they’re going to fire me and cast someone else. Suddenly, we made a breakthrough. We changed the actual substance of the pieces that we were using for prosthetics from silicone to gelatin and suddenly, it started to behave like skin. And we made a decision that [Miriam] wasn’t going to gain weight as she got older, but she definitely was going to have pieces on her eyelids, pieces on her cheeks. These folds here on the side of the mouth. Pieces on the neck. They did an age-sort of makeup on me, putting age spots and little veins in and then over the top of that, I did my makeup as Miriam would, so I put mascara on and eyeliner on and treated the face as if it was mine. Suddenly, then we got something real.

01112011_RosamundPikeBarneysVersion3.jpgWas it a challenge keeping her real in other ways when you’re representing a perfect woman for Barney in this film? I do realize the film is called “Barney’s Version.”

It’s Barney’s version, yeah. Sometimes I was pushing to add some lines that had a bit more edge. Like Paul and I really wanted in the scene where I agree to go for lunch for the first time and he gets drunk. In the film, Miriam says, “Are you okay? Is everything alright?” And I wanted her to say, “Barney, are you drunk?” And the director and the producer didn’t want it. They were so keen that she was never that direct. I think Miriam in the book probably is a bit more direct, but they just wanted her to seem permissive. That’s her quality that they wanted in the film was for her to be all-understanding and they just worried that anything would make her seem too hard, which I think, in some ways, it’s a shame because I think you can have bite. You know that wasn’t her challenge. It’s a humorous recognition, really.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

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

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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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

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

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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