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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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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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