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Carrie-Anne Moss discusses her emotional turn with Ryan Reynolds in “Fireflies in the Garden”

Carrie-Anne Moss discusses her emotional turn with Ryan Reynolds in “Fireflies in the Garden” (photo)

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Playing a superwoman is something that Carrie-Anne Moss has always done exceedingly well; her turn as Trinity in “The Matrix” films is third maybe only to Sigourney Weaver in “Aliens” and Linda Hamilton in “Terminator 2” as one of the movies’ most formidable female characters. But lately, the actress has stepped away from action-heavy films to tackle a new character, that of being a parent. And evidenced by her turn in “Fireflies in the Garden,” it seems like her role in real life has started to be reflected more vividly in the ones she tackles on screen.

In the film Moss plays Kelly, the estranged ex-girlfriend of Ryan Reynolds’ Michael Taylor, who steps in to play peacemaker and provide support after his mother dies. Although her role is only a small one in a film filled with plenty of big names, including Reynolds, Julia Roberts and Willem Dafoe, she leaves a memorable impression, particularly after she offers Reynolds’ character affection in some particularly unexpected ways – at least for a reunion at a funeral, anyway.

IFC caught up with Moss to talk about her role in “Fireflies in the Garden,” which is rolling out in theaters in limited release. In addition to talking about what drew her to the role of Kelly, Moss discussed the challenges of balancing an acting career with the responsibilities of raising a family, and continuing to find opportunities that challenge her without compromising her relationship with her kids.

Is there a sense of freedom or responsibility when you’re playing a character with a limited amount of screen time?

I don’t know – I don’t really look at it like that, I guess. I guess when you’re carrying a film, you feel the weight of that, because you’re there every day and you feel the weight of your character that way. But I really just loved this script and wanted to be part of it. And at the time that we shot it, there were other scenes that they did that ended up changing the direction of the film. I just loved the story. And I just saw the movie again, I saw the final cut of it the other day, and I thought it really turned out great. And I remember when I was watching why I wanted to do the movie: I remember reading the script and after I finished it, I ran into my kids, who were sleeping, and like smelled them and snuggled them and kissed them. It just made me want to remember how – I mean, I already know this, but just how precious our children are, and how important it is to love them and how important it is to nurture them. And the thought that anyone could be so hard on their child the way that [Willem’s] character is so hard on him, it was heartbreaking – it’s heartbreaking as a mother. And it just made me want to love my kids even more, and that was the main reason I wanted to do it.

It wasn’t because it was, oh, this is the role of a lifetime for me, or I have to play her; it wasn’t like that. I loved the movie, and Julia Roberts, I’m such a huge fan of hers, and I always have been. She’s a big part of why I became an actor, because I remember seeing her in movies and thinking to myself, wow, I feel similar to her, when I was younger. Like, there’s somebody kind of like me in movies – that age, and it just made it feel attainable to me somehow. And her portrayal of that mother in that movie for me when I watched it was really powerful, how much she loves her children and what a great mother she was, and how she couldn’t really do anything about how her husband was. There’s something about the way she played that that I just loved watching.

When you have these scenes that are so wrought with unspoken tension – and it’s supposed to be so long-held – what’s the best way to prepare for that? Stay serious and focused or keep it light?

I don’t know. I think you do your homework, whatever that looks like, and then ultimately you just let it all go and you just try to be in the moment and listen and try to bring the truth for yourself into it. I don’t think there’s any formula; sometimes you’re laughing, and sometimes you’re not, you know? But I don’t really know the answer to that. But I know what you mean – but in a way, coming back to your very first question, I guess it is quite freeing in a way because you could play it really anyway, couldn’t you? You’re not connecting it to anything that’s happened for the audience.

Was any of Kelly’s back story worked out beforehand, even if it’s not going to be explained or explored in the film?

Well, [director] Dennis [Lee] talked to me about it, about her, and what he was looking for, and then I made my own things to complement that. But ultimately I think you throw it all away, you do that stuff and then you try not to be in your head when it actually comes time to shoot.

Given that your character shares a complicated history with Ryan’s, and you show up at this particularly tense time during a funeral, how do you make sure all of those levels are there, but you’re not necessarily addressing it directly?

Well, I think right there, just the logistics create that tension: it’s a funeral, it’s obvious that his wife, who he’s having difficulty with, we’ve figured that out as an audience, right? But those things are there already, so I don’t think that for me as an actress it’s difficult. It’s sort of built-in in a way, if that makes sense. And I personally love things not being said – I hate where everything’s written out so clearly so that everything connects so everyone knows. Life is not like that; when is life ever like that? So I really loved that scene and the way that it was written, that it didn’t answer all of the questions, you know? You understood that it was complicated, and that you didn’t necessarily know why. I love that, and I think sometimes we’re forced to spell things out too much for the audience.

Was there a lot more material in the script, or maybe in other footage you shot, that didn’t make it into the film?

Yeah, there originally was [a plot line] that she was pregnant, and that’s revealed near the end of the film – and she was struggling with how to tell him and all of that. And actually having a child when she’s had this life that’s been quite destructive for herself. But ultimately it didn’t really need to be in the film, so I think they made the right decision not having it; it wasn’t that it was bad, it was that the way the direction of the movie went, it wasn’t needed, I think. But I’m not the editor, I’m not the director, so I don’t know.

You mentioned how this movie wanted you to go be with your kids. How difficult is it to find roles that you really want to throw yourself into, and juggle your family life?

I didn’t want to spend more time with my kids because until then, I’d pretty much been a stay-at-home mom who hadn’t been working at all. It was more just wanting to just love them, to just breathe them in, because this goes by so quick, you know? Having children, as everyone says, they grow up so quickly. But I think it’s a pretty impossible balancing act – I think it’s impossible to balance it. But I think at certain times, something has to take priority, and for me, my children take priority most of the time. And when I am working, my husband takes that priority, and someone comes and helps us take that energy. But I think it’s a difficult thing that everybody has to have, being a mom and working, because it’s hard. Because little kids need their mom, so I think I’ve figured out what works for me, and I’m starting to work more now as my children are getting older. But I still have a little, little child, and I still bring her with me – but it’s hard. It’s certainly there’s no one way to do it, that’s for sure.

Do you have a specific criteria for the roles you’re looking for now?

I don’t know. I just know when I read something if it’s something that I want to do. I did a movie a few years ago with Sam Jackson and I was in every scene, and I hadn’t done that since I had kids. I think it was a month I shot that in, and it was really a big deal for me to do that, but I really wanted to do it, and it was a great experience. But when I read I read something and it’s like I’m carrying something, I have to look at where I’m at with my family, where everyone’s at – is it something that I really want to play? Is it something that I think I would be good in? Is it something I want to explore? Where does it shoot? All of those little things that when you don’t have a family, you don’t have to think about. When I first had kids, I had a suitcase under my bed that I didn’t even put away, and I was excited about going to all of these new places all of the time. And I still do love to do it – I just got back from being away when I did a movie in Toronto, and I was there for a week – and there’s a season for everything, I think, and I think I’m in the season of shorter things that four-five month things.

Will you be checking out Carrie-Anne Moss in “Fireflies in the Garden”? Let us know below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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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.