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Jay and Mark Duplass talk “Jeff, Who Lives At Home” and future projects

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Anyone who’s seen “Cyrus,” “The Puffy Chair” or “Baghead” knows that writer/director brothers Jay and Mark Duplass don’t tell run-of-the-mill stories. Their films walk the fine line between comedy and drama, and often seek to find truth in the most normal of situations.

Their new project, “Jeff, Who Lives At Home,” is no different. The movie follows two brothers, a “burnout” who lives at home named Jeff (Jason Segel) and his asshole brother Pat (Ed Helms), as they navigate through a day that seems like any other. But Jeff, who has a passionate belief in fate thanks to a love of the movie “Signs,” is convinced that this day is the culmination of his destiny. Meanwhile their mother, played by Susan Sarandon, discovers on her birthday that she has a secret admirer in her office, and struggles to discover whether she can open herself up to a new romance at her age.

IFC recently had the chance to talk to the Duplass brothers about their inspiration for “Jeff” and their experience working on the film. In the below interview, we talk casting choices, future project and the joys of having a stoner as your main character. Read on, but beware that some “Jeff” spoilers do lie ahead.

IFC: Is this film at all autobiographical in terms of the relationship between the two brothers?

JAY DUPLASS: No. I think that Mark said best recently. He was saying that Pat and Jeff are both in side of both of us. We would like the Jeff part to come out more. We’re working on that. But basically, Mark and I are sort of workaholics; we grew up in Catholic school. We kind of put our heads down and worked very, very hard, and making this film was a little bit of wish fulfillment for us, because we wish we were a lot more like Jeff. We love guys like that.

I think, for better or for worse, we inherently kind of see them as somewhat heroic. We realized that they appear to most people as just sort of like burnouts, but for us there’s this other element of them being kind of like rogue agents operating outside of the norms of society, and taking chances and hoping for bigger things in their lives. At least, the ones that we have been friends with. That’s what kind of inspired us to make the film.

IFC: What was the inspiration to tell a story from a character like Jeff’s perspective?

MARK DUPLASS: Jay and I are always interested in these sort of unlikely hero protagonists. [You] find yourself rooting for this person that you can’t believe you’re rooting for. And I guess, not to get too corny about it, but Jay and I have a deep-seated love for these kinds of people and you can very quickly write them off as just a quick stoner profile, but if you take the time to dig a little deeper, there’s a lot of hopes and dreams inside of Jeff. So, for us, it was less a conscious decision to do that and more just following our [interests] of what we’d want to see.

IFC: Where did you come up with the idea for Susan Sarandon’s storyline?

JD: Well, we always try to do something a little different, like you’re talking about with the tone that we have on Jeff. We’re obviously acknowledging that most people would reference him as a stoner, but we’re choosing to explore this other side of him, happening concurrently with all of these other characters, in this case specifically with Susan’s character. A mother character, typically in a movie, is usually used just as a counterpoint and to sort of yell at them and be angry with them. And we do a little bit of that, but we were just interested in her having this sort of sexual awakening.

I guess the theme of the movie, you know, thinking about it retrospectively, is that all of these characters are not happy, they’re stuck, and they’re trying to get to that next level. They’re trying to get to that point where they have a little bit of air and a little bit of light and a little bit of joy in their life and none of them are very good at getting there or know how to get there. For Susan’s character, we just got excited about this idea of this inter-office romance and her, not only being resistant to the romance, but also being resistant to the idea that she could even participate in something like that in this stage of her life, and … that was exciting to us.

IFC: How did you decide the actors to play each role?

MD: Jason [Segel] was the first guy we brought on board because we knew he had that wonderful everyman quality plus he’s a bit of a dreamer himself, and we knew he’d be the right fit. And then we brought on Ed [Helms], because if you’re asking someone to play a douchebag in your movie, then you have to really cast a nice person for them because when it’s time for them to turn a little bit, you have that.

But in regards to Judy [Greer], we knew absolutely we wanted her for the film mostly because she has this very [unique] quality about her which is she can be simultaneously tragic, sad and funny at the same time. And it’s very hard to watch a sweet girl like Judy cry and find yourself sympathizing with her and laughing at the same time. That’s just a real testament to the spirit of her.

IFC: Do you two have plans to work on any other movies in the future?

MD: We have a whole bunch of things right now and we’re both having kids this year, so lots of things on the horizon.

IFC: One last question for you Jay. I know Mark has been spending a lot of time acting recently, but are you ever going to make the jump in front of the camera?

JD: It’s possible that I might do something this summer. I mean, up until this point, with all the films Mark and I have made, I’m the primary camera operator, so it definitely is hard to get in front of the camera when you’re behind it. It’s kind of just been not really on our radar, not really an option up until this point. But there’s a film that someone has asked me to act in and I might do that this summer.

What are your thought on the Duplass brothers’ approach to filmmaking? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and 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.