DID YOU READ

Dwight Henry explains how his Hurricane Katrina experience made him perfect for “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

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Dwight Henry didn’t want to take a role in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” In fact, he never even auditioned for a part in the film. Instead, his bakery, Buttermilk Drop, had the lucky location of being across the street from the studio where director Benh Zeitlin was holding auditions for his upcoming indie.

But Zeitlin saw something in Henry’s personality that he wanted in the character Wink (the father of the movie’s leading lady, Hushpuppy). Henry had a daughter Hushpuppy’s age and, like his character, stayed behind to protect his home when a terrible storm had hit. In real life, that storm was Hurricane Katrina, while in the movie, it was a quick albeit terrifying thunderstorm.

“They believed in me, you know what I mean? And they seen some things in me that I didn’t see in myself,” he told IFC during a recent press day for the film, adding that he turned Zeitlin down three times before ultimately agreeing to take the part. “I wouldn’t sacrifice my business for no acting career because my business is something, ultimately, that I know I’m going to pass down to my kids, and that’s most important to me than anything else in the world. I can’t pass an acting career down to my children.”

He continued, “That was one of the things that drawed them to me. They could have got outside professional actors, which they tried to get to do this part, but they wouldn’t have brought the passion to the movie of someone trying to go through this in real life.”

Even if he didn’t see what Zeitlin saw in him then, he does now. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, the Caméra D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and most recently the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival. It’s been a whirlwind experience for Henry and his nine-year-old costar, Quvenzhane Wallis.

Neither have them had any previous acting experience, but Zeitlin made sure he worked with his actors in a way that made them feel comfortable. With Henry, that meant Zeitlin met with him at night to accommodate his baking schedule.

“Me and Benh, we would go over the script. I would read the script and we would go over it, then he would take the script and throw it away. Just like that, toss it on the side, and he would say, Dwight, tell me how you would say this in your own words,” Henry explained. “Then two days later he’d come back with the script, everything that I said in my own ways and how I felt about certain situations would be in that script because he wanted it to be in my own words, he wanted to feel the passion that I had of going through these things in real life.”

And Henry has experienced these things in real life. He reminisced about his mother and father having to put him on the roof of their house when he was two years old because Hurricane Betsy had flooded the lower Ninth Ward. The storms that wrack New Orleans have been a part of his life literally since birth, and he knew that he was never going to let them win.

“We show a strength and a resilience, just like when a hurricane comes sometimes, we party before the hurricane so when the hurricane comes, we gonna tell that hurricane we’re not going to let you disrupt our life. We’re going to have a hurricane party,” he said, acknowledging that his words describe a scene in “Beasts.” “In the sense of our imagination, we don’t want to let this hurricane think he’s got us whipped and we gonna run like he want us to do, so we stay back.”

Even during filming, there were constant problems that threatened to overcome Henry and the rest of the “Beasts” production. The BP oil spill happened at the same time they were supposed to start shooting, but Henry, Zeitlin and the rest of the cast and crew endured, found new locations to film at and managed to make a phenomenal film.

The most terrifying storm that Henry had to stand up to was Hurricane Katrina. It was that experience that made him the perfect pick for the role of Wink.

“I was in neck-high water because my business, I refused to leave the business that I worked so hard to open up and you think I’m going to just let vandals come vandalize it, burn it down? I’m not walking away from what I love just because the government telling me to walk away,” Henry said. “That’s the same strength they needed in this character, because Wink was the type of person when a problem occur, everybody looking to Wink, everybody looking up to Wink to solve the problem, blow up the levy or whatever, so they see a strength, a resilience in me.”

That’s a resilience that has stayed with him, and it’s clear that he loves his city no matter how many times the weather has tried to make him leave it. In fact, he’s opening up a new bakery in New Orleans’ business district called Wink’s Bakery and Bistro after his “Beasts” character. “And I’mma serve hush puppies,” he said with a laugh.

“I’ve been to France, and I’m traveling all over the United States doing press, but I’m still keeping my feet grounded,” he promised. “I’m not the Hollywood type. I’m not going to pack up my bags and let me move to Hollywood and stuff like that. I’m stuck in Louisiana with the Buttermilk Drop and Hollywood’ll have to come to me before I go to Hollywood. … It’s a certain magnetism that New Orleans, where we live, has. You can’t leave it.”

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” is open in select theaters in New York City and Los Angeles.

Are you intrigued by Henry’s journey to the big screen? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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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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