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The “Casa de mi Padre” cast weighs in on Will Ferrell’s spanish-language skills

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We’ve seen Will Ferrell play everything from a human raised by elves to an ex-president, but this weekend’s premiere of “Casa de mi Padre” could feature the popular comedian in one of his most challenging roles to date: a Mexican rancher who doesn’t speak a word of English.

In the film, Ferrell plays Armando Alvarez, a man who must save his father’s ranch from a dangerous drug lord played by Gael Garcia Bernal. Offering both a clever homage and hilarious parody of classic telenovela dramas, “Casa de mi Padre” is filmed almost entirely in Spanish (with English subtitles), and nearly every member of the cast speaks the language fluently.

All except for Ferrell, that is.

“I had enough going in where I could read [Spanish] fairly well,” said Ferrell of his Spanish-language skills at the point when the cameras began rolling. “It wasn’t that I was learning it phonetically or anything like that, and I didn’t have to use a Marlon Brando-style earpiece or anything. [Laughs] I just got together with the translator and we’d go over lines nearly every day. We’d actually drive to the set together, drive home, and then start working on the next day’s lines.”

“It was complete immersion,” he said of his crash course in the language. “I started dreaming in Spanish.”

And apparently his hard work paid off, as his Spanish-speaking costars were quick to heap praise on Ferrell’s command of the language.

“He’s good… really good,” Bernal told IFC.

And if anyone should know, it’s Bernal — a native Spanish-speaker who has appeared in six Oscar-nominated films, including multiple nominations for Best Foreign-Language Film at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. One of the most successful Mexican actors in Hollywood right now, Bernal lavished praise on Ferrell and his take on the dim-witted but honorable Armando Alvarez.

“When he found himself in trouble with a certain word, he would ask us questions, but he speaks really well, with a good, clear accent,” said Bernal. “And [the times when he didn’t], that was part of the character. The character is a little slow, so…”

Actress Genesis Rodriguez, who plays Ferrell’s love interest in the film and also grew up speaking Spanish, took her praise for Ferrell a step further.

“I really think that Mexican actors should pay attention, because there’s a new guy in town,” she joked. “And he’s ready.”

Rodriguez noted that she had to change up her own Spanish in order to take on the proper accents for a Mexican character — something that made her even more impressed with Ferrell’s grasp of the language.

“[It was actually] confusing for me, because he really dominated the cadence of the Mexican accent,” she explained. “I’m Cuban-Venezuelan, so I had to change my speech in that sort of way, because I played a Mexican part. So for someone who does not dominate the language and does not really understand what he’s saying, to pinpoint that sing-song way of saying things is extremely impressive.”

Still, not everything came easy for Ferrell, who said he occasionally found himself at a loss for words when his costars improvised lines here and there or ad-libbed in the moment. Normally a master of improv who always gets an extra laugh out of a scene, Ferrell said his shaky grasp of the language outside of what he memorized led to a few long, thoughtful pauses while he tried to understand what was said. In fact, a few of those scenes made it into the final cut of the film, when Armando is seen contemplating something said by one of the other characters.

“When everyone was speaking so fast, and they’re fluent, you don’t realize what’s being said,” he confessed. “It was all I could do to make sure I got that day’s work down and sounded authentic. We didn’t want [any lines] to be dubbed in later or have to do the take again.”

“I never doubted Will Ferrell,” laughed Rodriguez. “I’ve been a fan for many, many, many years, and I thought that if there was one person to do it and take this type of risk, it would be him. And he did it just brilliantly.”

“Casa de mi Padre” is currently in theaters. Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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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.