DID YOU READ

Christopher Lloyd discusses getting morbid for “Snowmen” and what it’s like playing a sage

Christopher Lloyd discusses getting morbid for “Snowmen” and what it’s like playing a sage (photo)

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The new movie “Snowmen” — out today — might need an introduction, but one of its stars, Christopher Lloyd, certainly does not. He’s been working for decades on TV and in films, including “Taxi,” “Back to the Future,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” and countless others, contributing a singular sort of eccentricity that’s as undefinable as it is irresistible. And yet, in “Snowmen,” he plays a relatively straightforward role as a caretaker at a cemetery who offers some much-needed advice to a group of kids in the midst of dealing with such weighty issues as life, death, and doing something worth remembering.

IFC caught up with Lloyd for a discussion about his work in “Snowmen”; additionally, he talked about his legacy as an actor known for being a bit odd, and examined the challenges of living up to others’ expectations while still satisfying his own.

The story of “Snowmen” is weirdly morbid – it almost feels like an “American Beauty” for kids. What initially appealed to you about the script?

Well, I kind of liked that there is it’s almost turned into a tragedy. I like the fact that something kind of scary occurred in it; it made it go deeper in its feeling and somehow realistic. You know, things do happen sometimes among young people. And I liked a film for young people that kind of dealt with that, as opposed to something that’s maybe very sugary and safe. I like going there; I’m glad everything turns out in the story, but in the process of the story, the kids mature – something happens that makes them think more seriously about life and who they are and what kind of people they want to be. They’re not just sort of set pieces, you know? And I also felt that the places they head into also involve the parents and the family in a much deeper way than might otherwise be the case, which I felt was good to see this. It was a balance – it wasn’t just what the kids were doing and the parents are sort of putting up with it or coping with it in kind of a superficial way. It pulled everybody into it and I felt it was much more emotionally fulfilling in the long run.

Was there a sense of freedom or responsibility when playing a part where you have an important role but a limited amount of screen time?

I wanted to help these kids work things out for themselves, to find themselves, and it was a limited time, but I felt that the scene was very well written and it gave me a lot of opportunity to do that. The scene in the chapel, there’s a lot of little nuances between them and myself, and among themselves, and again, the writing really afforded this to make good choices, and real choices.

Was there more to him that was either in the script or your development of the character that we don’t see?

He’s a loner essentially. He’s taking care of things around there, but he operates alone, and I didn’t imagine him as being married and having much of a family life. I figured he lived pretty much alone and whatever kind of circumstances he’s made livable for himself, and that he’s kind of whimsical at the same time, and he’s taken in a lot of life and learned a lot. And I would like to think he has a kind of profound understanding of what life is about, and he has these young people, and he sees them struggling with their own problems at their level, and he wants to give them some sort of direction without being too explicit or authoritarian, but just by way of suggestion, kind of lead them in a direction that could help them in life.

This character is otherwise pretty normal but you’ve obviously had great success playing eccentric characters. At this point is one easier than the other, or more fun?

I don’t know. I get into a character that comes my way, and you’ve probably heard this before, but whatever character I’m playing at the moment, I get pretty obsessed with it and try to bring it to life in as many ways as I can within the confines of the material. I mean, every time I wrap on the film, whatever the size of the role, or however it was written, if I feel like I’ve given it something I fell really good about it.

How comfortable are you with that association with those sorts of roles, and how much do you feel like you’ve been able to explore enough other opportunities so that you don’t feel typecast?

Well, I’ve loved to do the things that I’ve done, and I know that’s work that I’ve done sort of brings scripts to me that are sort of similar, maybe characters that are similar. I’ve had those characters come to me that are sort of a reflection of Doc Brown or Reverend Jim, and I’m very happy to play them as long as each time, the character is something different or unique in the first place. I just don’t want to repeat what I’ve already done; on the other hand, I always yearn for, like comics want a dramatic role and dramatic actors want to be comedians.

There’s always wanting to do something that you’re not normally known for doing. Last summer I had an opportunity to do a play, “Death of a Saleman,” playing Willy Loman, and I just relished it because it’s just the antithesis of so much else that I’ve done, goofy characters or way-out characters, and here was somebody who was so real and so demanding in a very dramatic way in a brilliant play. So one way or another, I get the opportunities to do different things.

Will you catch Christopher Lloyd in anything he’s in? Speak out 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.