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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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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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