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Luke Wilson talks “Meeting Evil” and working with Samuel L. Jackson

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Luke Wilson has made a career out of playing nice guys swept up in a sea of wild characters, but in “Meeting Evil” his nice-guy character meets an entirely different sort of wild element — one that puts a dark spin on what a nice guy is capable of when pushed to the brink.

IFC spoke to Wilson about the new film, which he stars in alongside Samuel L. Jackson, who plays the mysterious, sinister stranger who takes a downtrodden salesman (Wilson) on a deadly journey.

“As a movie-goer, I like all kinds of movies, so I always appreciate the chance to do different stuff,” said Wilson of breaking from his usual comedic roles for this moody, tense thriller. “Of course, as an actor, I feel like I can do pretty much anything but a musical, so it’s always nice to get asked to do things that people don’t immediately think of me doing — something like this, which is more of dark, film-noir movie.”

“There were so many years when I was first starting out that I didn’t think about it,” he explained. “I was just trying to stay busy and make a living. People would say, ‘Hey, you sure play a lot of boyfriends.’ [Laughs] I didn’t even think about it then, but eventually I was like, ‘Wait, am I doing that too much?’ I’m really just doing whatever comes my way and trying to stay busy and get better at what I’m doing. It’s nice, though, getting older and being able to do different roles.”

Over the course of his career, Wilson has appeared in films alongside Gene Hackman, Bill Murray, and a host of other celebrated actors. With “Meeting Evil,” he adds Jackson to that impressive list — something that isn’t lost on the actor. Fortunately, he had a good idea of what to expect from his co-star.

“It’s funny, because Sam and I had actually gotten to be friendly before ‘Meeting Evil,'” he said. “George Lopez had gotten us to play in a golf tournament, so me and George and Sam played as a team at this tournament in Palm Springs. We wound up winning it together, but it was one of those things where I didn’t take it that seriously, but Sam was pretty intense about it. I was thinking I’d just play golf to have fun and be outside, but it became one of those things where I was like, ‘God, I have to concentrate, because Sam really wants to win this thing!’ So we became friends doing that.”

“Working with him, he’s one of those people who reminds me of Gene Hackman in terms of how much an icon he is, and I’ll get worried about a lot of different things,” he confessed. “I’ll be worried about being too much in awe of him, or being able to just be in the moment, because some of those guys, you can’t believe you’re standing there with them. He’s just incredible to work with. I love how much he works and how intense he is. He’s one of those people who likes to know everything about what he’s working on.”

And like any good thriller, “Meeting Evil” develops in a slow boil that leaves its audience guessing right up until the closing credits. Given some actors’ preference to not know any narrative surprises that await their characters (so they can react more authentically), IFC asked Wilson how he approaches stories with a twist.

“I have to read the whole script ahead of time, yeah,” he said. “I’ve heard Woody Allen movies are like that, though, where you get handed the pages the day of filming. That would be interesting to do, but I’ve never really done it.”

“I’ve worked on movies that are being rewritten as you go, but you take so long and so much time doing it, that it’s not really an issue knowing what’s going to happen or how the movie is going to end,” he added. “Working with somebody like Sam, you’re just in the moment. And having a good director is helpful to keep track of the story and build up the tension.”

Still, Wilson said that doing a film like “Meeting Evil” definitely flexes different acting muscles than the comedies he’s been doing for so much of his career.

“I definitely notice it doing a movie like this, or any movie that’s more serious and has emotions,” he explained. “It’s fun to work on a good comedy, because you’re in a good mood and the goals are always very clear for the movie and day-to-day, scene-to-scene. You’re just trying to do something that’s funny, whether you think it’s funny or the director or the other actors or people on set. For lack of a better term, it’s instant gratification.”

“Something like [‘Meeting Evil’], though, you just have to be confident in yourself and what you’re doing because it’s not as clear-cut,” he continued. “When you’re doing something that’s supposed to be scary or filled with tension or emotion, you just have to do the best job you can, and that’s really all you can hope for. You have to tell yourself that sometimes things will feel a little stagnant, but you have to remember that there are all these other elements that will add to it.”

“Meeting Evil” is available now via On-Demand video, and will arrive in theaters May 4.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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