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Judy Greer talks “Jeff, Who Lives At Home” and the return of Kitty Sanchez in “Arrested Development”

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For as far back as we can remember, Judy Greer has been busy stealing scenes in every project she’s been in. Whether she’s been wearing her hair down and glasses off in “Arrested Development” or playing a heartbroken wife who confronts the comatose woman who her husband was cheating on her with in “The Descendants,” Greer always puts a memorable spin on her characters.

The same can be said for her role in the new Duplass brothers film, “Jeff, Who Lives At Home.” IFC recently caught up with the actress to talk about her shift from comedic to dramatic roles and also find out the latest scoop on the “Arrested Development” movie. Read on to find out what she had to say, but beware because some spoilers for “Jeff” do lie ahead.

IFC: You have been in some unhappy relationships in movies recently. Why are you doing this to yourself?

JUDY GREER: Yeah, I think it’s kind of cathartic. I stopped going to therapy. I don’t have to do that anymore because now I can just go to work. [laughs] It’s been fun to do something different. For me, you know, I guess I was sort of thinking of the coincidence just this weekend and doing press for the movie because I wasn’t really considering that, but I did spend some time in my career playing the sidekick role, so at one point I said to my agent and managers, you know, I’d love to maybe, instead of being the friend, be like the wife for a while, so they were like, “Awesome.” So now I’m like the wife now, so that’s good. But at least my wife characters, they have some stuff going on. I’m not just like, “So when are you coming home?” I’m like having [moments].

IFC: You’re mostly known for your comedic roles, so has it been a conscious effort on your part to make the switch to drama?

JG: Yeah, but I don’t feel like that’s the only thing I want to do now. It just was more of I kind of wanted to be challenged, and I feel like I wanted to explore that. I mean, I was going to audition for these roles; if I didn’t get them, then I wouldn’t have done them, you know what I mean?

I mean, “Jeff, Who Lives At Home” I got offered, thankfully, by the Duplass brothers. They were kind of thinking of me for the role from the beginning, but some of the other parts I’ve done that are more dramatic lately, that I’ve auditioned for, I feel like if I audition and I get it, you know, that’s good, right? Then that’s maybe what I should be doing right now.

IFC: Would you ever want to go front and center?

JG: Well, yeah. I don’t know anyone who would be like, “I don’t want to star in a movie.” Sure, yeah, in fantasy land I’d love to be in a romantic comedy where I get to be the girl who, you know, is not getting the guy until the very end when of course she gets the guy and lives happily ever after. I’m also not at all unhappy with the way my career has gone thus far and I feel like I’m really fortunate in that I get to work with awesome people. I get to do great roles and have these great moments in great movies, but I can also, you know, go to Target whenever I want. It’s nice. I feel like I have the best of both worlds.

IFC: What was it about “Jeff, Who Lives At Home” that drew you to it?

JG: I loved the script and then I met [the Duplass brothers] for dinner when we were talking about me doing it and I loved them. Like, they’re just cool guys. They’re just the kind of guys that you want to be in business with forever. I think of them like, if I could make instead of like a theater company a movie-making company, I would love for them to be the in-house writer/directors, and I could be the in-house girl, one of them, and I don’t know. They’re just really good people.

IFC: Was there something about the script itself or something about the character in particular that you were attached to?

JG: Well, I love the idea of fate and sort of destiny, finding signs from the universe and sort of slowing down. I love when [Jason Segel] says to close your eyes and take a deep breath and what do you see? I love that message. I love the message of how every day should be your best day, and I love the relationship between my character and Ed [Helms]‘s character even though it’s very sad and it seems like it’s kind of fallen apart.

I feel like I have seen that happen a lot with people I know and so I thought it was an important story to tell. Like, look how bad it can get. The beginning of the breakdown of communication is the end of your relationship. Once you stop putting in the effort and the time and take each other for granted, you have to really work hard to get it back after that. And so I was interested in that.

IFC: Was it nice to be offered a role outside of your norm?

JG: Yeah, definitely. For me it was, and it was fun to work with [Segel and Helms] because I felt like in a way we were all doing roles that we hadn’t gotten a chance to really do before, so it was cool that we were all doing it together. Like all of us were like, “Here we go, doing something completely different!”

IFC: It seems like you have a pretty even split between your film roles and your TV roles. Do you prefer one over the other?

JG: Not really. I don’t know, it used to be like years ago when you used to have to pick one, and obviously you don’t anymore. There’s things I like about both. I have never been — besides “Arrested Development,” and it was like so tenuous if we were ever coming back or not, and I wasn’t a series regular on that show — but I’ve never been in a real hit show. I’ve never seen what that’s like. And so I feel like there’s a lot of things about being on a successful television show that I’d love to experience, like a little bit of job security, like putting some money in the bank, that kind of stuff. Working with the same people every day, watching a character grow and evolve, and having some say in that.

But, you know, making movies is so awesome. It’s like summer camp. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel, so you feel like you can always throw yourself into a role because it’s going to end in one to three months, depending. I love being in another city for a chunk of time, because you really get to learn cities and people and that’s interesting and informative. But, you know, sometimes the hustle can get tiring and because of the economy and because the business is changing and because of the Internet, the roles are getting fewer and the people who want them, the group is getting bigger.

Whereas before I would audition for a part and get it and my competition would be other actresses like me, now my competition is like movie stars want parts. You know what I mean? They’re just not making as many small movies, they’re just not making as many movies period, and we just don’t know what’s happening and the direction the business is going to go in.

Especially with television, too. The Internet, you don’t have to watch television shows on TV anymore, you can watch them on Hulu and it’s like, who knows? It’s an interesting time, but I think it’s important to kind of be doing both.

IFC: It’s interesting you say that because “Arrested Development” is coming back, but it’s going to be on Netflix. Are we going to see Kitty Sanchez again?

JG: I mean, fingers crossed. I don’t know.

IFC: You haven’t heard anything yet?

JG: I heard probably, but I don’t know, until I’m watching the movie and I’m in it onscreen, I never count on anything.

IFC: What would she be doing now?

JG: I’d like for her to take the whole family down. I feel like Kitty Sanchez should come back with all the secrets and take down the Bluths. But, I probably shouldn’t put it out there, because then they’ll be like, “Well, now we can’t do that!”

Do you plan on checking out “Jeff, Who Lives At Home”? What do you think Kitty Sanchez has been up to? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

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.

“The Artist” leads the 2012 Spirit Awards winners

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It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to this year’s awards season that “The Artist” swept the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards. The critically acclaimed black-and-white silent film beat out fan favorites like “Drive” and “50/50″ to bring home the awards for Best Feature, Director, Male Lead (Jean Dujardin) and Cinematography.

But “The Descendants,” which has been trailing along in second place in the race for this year’s Oscar gold, didn’t go down without a fight. The Alexander Payne-directed movie earned statuettes for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Female (Shailene Woodley). Unfortunately, Woodley wasn’t nominated for the Best Supporting Female Oscar, though she likely would lose to “The Help’s” Octavia Spencer, who has been a powerhouse this awards season.

Many of the winners throughout the night were indicative of who is likely to take home statuettes during tomorrow’s Academy Awards. Michelle Williams won Best Female Lead for “My Week with Marilyn” and Christopher Plummer won for Best Supporting Male in “Beginners.” It would be a big upset of either of those didn’t get the Oscar for their respective categories, though they are getting a run for their money by dark horses Viola Davis and Max Von Sydow. Meanwhile, “A Separation” beat out “Shame” for Best International Film, and is the frontrunner expected to win the Foreign Language Oscar tomorrow as well.

But what makes the Spirit Awards special is that they nominate many of the independent films that wouldn’t otherwise get recognition by big time awards shows. “Pariah” took home both the John Cassavetes Award, “Margin Call” won both the Best First Feature statuette and the Robert Altman Award, and “The Interrupters” won for Best Documentary. And host Seth Rogen’s nominated film, “50/50,” took home one away for Best First Screenplay (Will Reiser).

There weren’t too many surprises during the show, but it is a vote of confidence for “The Artist” that, even up against such stiff, critically acclaimed independent competition, it took home awards in all the major categories. It would be a pretty giant surprise if any other movie took home Best Picture and Director tomorrow evening.

Were you happy with the awards given out during the Spirit Awards? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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