DID YOU READ

Adam Brody and Whit Stillman talk “Damsels in Distress” and dating losers

Adam Brody and Analeigh Tipton in "Damsels in Distress"

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By Jennifer Vineyard

It’s called “Damsels in Distress,” but Whit Stillman’s first movie in 14 years (like “Metropolitan,” “Barcelona,” and “The Last Days of Disco” before it) also has quite a few dudes in distress as well. This time, they are played by Adam Brody, Billy Magnusson, Ryan Metcalf, and Hugo Becker (best known for his role as Blaire Waldorf’s quasi husband on “Gossip Girl”).

“People were saying to me, ‘Oh my gosh! How did you get Prince Louis in your film?'” Stillman told IFC, laughing. “He has the same manager as I do, that’s how.”

“The part I’m playing is so different,” Becker enthused. “I’m really playing a bad guy. You’ll see. I’m an ass in the movie. I think some people will definitely hate me after this.”

Becker’s character, Xavier, was originally written as an American college student, but was changed to be a French man once he won the role, which makes his request for “Cathar love” seem all the more cosmopolitan. (Don’t know what “Cathar love” is? Stillman laughed, “Look it up.”)

“Xavier is supposed to be trying to save the girls from their troubles,” Stillman said, “but he does scabrous things, sort of. But he doesn’t like talking about it.”

Boys like Xavier contribute to a theory espoused by the lead character Violet (played by Greta Gerwig) — that falling for handsome and intelligent guy is a sure path to suicide. (Hence, her work at a suicide prevention center). Violet and her college friends try to date the less handsome (such as Metcalf’s Frank) or the less intelligent (such as Magnusson’s Thor), or as she puts it, the “frankly inferior,” but she still feels herself strangely drawn to the suave Charlie (played by Brody).

“Violet’s theory that you should date losers, that you shouldn’t date on your level is mostly a rationalization,” Brody said. “Whit Stillman doesn’t even actually subscribe to that theory himself, even though he’s had that idea repeated in other movies. But it is such a unique theory, because he’s literally championing the exact opposite of what every other movie tells you.”

For instance, once Violet realizes “Charlie” is actually Fred, and that he’s been telling lies to her friends about who he is and what he does for a living, she’s even more attracted to him, not less. “We’re told that lies are bad and that honesty is the best policy,” Brody said, “but that’s not actually the case. And this isn’t an instance of just telling a polite fib to protect someone’s feelings, or a little fib about your age. What Stillman is championing is reinvention, that you can present how you’d like to be seen. That my character invents his name and his job title is not the worst thing he could do, and Violet sees that as totally fine and even acceptable.”

By embodying many of Stillman’s recurring themes — as Chris Eigeman used to — Brody becomes a bit of the writer/director’s surrogate. In fact, Stillman hopes to pair the two actors in his next project. “I don’t know why he’s taken such a liking to me,” Brody said. “I’m flattered, but I don’t feel nearly as sharp as Chris Eigeman. I’m not worthy!”

Brody confessed to looking up the more mannered vocabulary in Stillman’s script, so he could play catch-up. (He was the last one cast and had little time to prep).

“I wanted to zip my tongue around it, so I looked up decadence, dandyism, sublimation, as it relates to literature,” he said.

That’s because his character Fred proposes that the topic of his paper will be “The Decline of Decadence”: “Take the flit movement in literature, or homosexuality. It’s gone completely downhill. Right down the tubes. Before, homosexuality was something refined, hidden, sublimated, aspiring to be the highest forms of expression and often achieving them. Now it just seems to be a lot of muscle-bound morons running around in T-shirts. It’s pretty disillusioning.” Violet then asks him, “Are you gay?” “Not especially, but in another era, it would have had more appeal. Now, I just don’t see the point,” he tells her.

“I even asked Whit for a reading list,” Brody said. “Some of the stories I had read before: Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop, Tolstoy’s Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth, Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I felt like I was going to college, though, and I was inspired to read even more. I was expecting to have all these discussions with Whit like my character does in the movie, and none of that happened. I mean, we had some later, but not on the shoot. There was no time. But it wasn’t necessary to understand all of his philosophical musings to play the part. He’s just operating on a much higher level.”

Despite the discussions of homosexuality and sodomy in the script, Brody said everything on and off set was kept very “chaste” — no cursing allowed. “When Whit found out I was doing [the “Deep Throat” movie] Lovelace, he said, ‘Oh no. I hope you’re not doing any nudity,'” the actor said. “Yes, he just wrote a movie that has anal sex, but that’s a ruse — it’s more a quest for a higher spirituality, if that’s possible.”

Brody compared “Damsels” to “The Last Days of Disco,” “when you had a character doing coke and sleeping with a stripper”: “Yes, there’s a club scene, and it’s a sexually charged atmosphere with drugs everywhere, but they have a philosophical discussion. They’re relentlessly upwardly mobile.”

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.

via GIPHY

It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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