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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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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.