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The “Wrath of the Titans” cast talks gods, moving past “Clash,” and where the next film might go

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Sam Worthington returns as Greek hero Perseus in this weekend’s “Wrath of the Titans,” a sequel to the 2010 remake of “Clash of the Titans.” This time around, Perseus sets out to free his father, Zeus, from imprisonment at the hands of Hades, and prevent the massive titan Kronos from destroying the world.

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, “Wrath of the Titans” faces a herculean task of its own: taking the franchise to the next level while overcoming the poor critical response to “Clash of the Titans” that almost doomed the sequel.

“What was most important to me was to maintain things I liked about the first movie,” Liebesman told IFC. “I went on opening day to ‘Clash of the Titans,’ and I had my own feelings about it — but there were things I really liked.”

“I thought Louis [Letterier] did an incredible job with the spectacle [in ‘Clash of the Titans’],” he explained. “It had a real massive, Hollywood spectacle to it, so that was important to maintain. What I wanted to add to that was a grittiness, so that I could ground that spectacle and try to make it as believable as possible, even though you’re in a fantasy world.”

For Liebesman, part of grounding the story was spending more time on the characters and their stories — including newcomer Agenor, the demigod son of Poseidon played by British actor Toby Kebbell. According to Kebbell, a character who started out as a sidekick for Perseus and occasional source of comic relief eventually grew into a bigger part of the “Titans” universe.

“What was originally written on the page was kind of a goofy character who spent his time saying inappropriate things at the wrong time, but me and Sam and Jonathan all agreed that we didn’t want that cliche in the film,” recalled Kebbell. “Sam wanted to make this big. He didn’t want to do a sequel and just make it like any other film for a paycheck.”

Along with the debut of Agenor, “Wrath of the Titans” also features an expanded role for two returning characters: Zeus and Hades. Played by Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, respectively, the two gods and the talented actors portraying them provide some of the film’s most memorable moments.

“I felt like [Zeus and Hades] were a little underused in the first movie,” said Liebesman. “Those two guys, Liam and Ralph, have such a great relationship with each other. They’re like brothers in real life. They’re so close. I just wanted to embrace that and have them in the film as much as possible.”

“There are a lot of scenes cut out with them, because I was just in love with those guys,” he laughed. “I was making my own Liam and Ralph movie. I would love to do anything with those guys. They are such a great team. I’m surprised they haven’t been in more movies together.”

And if all goes well with “Wrath of the Titans,” screenwriter Dan Mazeau says the “Titans” team has already begun discussing the next chapter of the franchise and where it could take Perseus and the Greek gods.

“It’s never really explained in mythology how it went from this pantheon of Greek gods to essentially none of them — to them being gone,” he explained. “That story of the fall of the gods hasn’t been told, so having this canvas to play with, it allows us to tell that story. This is about a world in transition. It’s a world going from a world of the gods to a world of men, so you’re seeing a lot of these things that were such a big part of the world, the gods and the monsters, having their last hurrah.”

“That was the overall idea when we started, and there is certainly more to tell,” he continued. “Where the world leaves off, it’s sort of an uncertain future, and mankind is going to have to chart its own course. I think there’s definitely some interesting stories, and yes, we’ve had some conversations about that.”

For Liebesman, however, it all starts with bringing to life a massive battle between the Greek gods and mythical creatures.

“That was the challenge that I wanted to give the team,” he said. “Can we do what you guys did in ‘Clash’ and ground it in reality? The fun will be trying to make people say, ‘Oh shit, this really looks like it could’ve happened!'”

“Wrath of the Titans” hits theaters March 30, and stars Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Edgar Ramirez, and Toby Kebbell. Keep an eye on IFC.com for more from the “Wrath of the Titans” press junket.

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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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