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Leslye Headland talks “Bachelorette,” this fall’s sleeper hit comedy

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By Leigh Stein

“Bachelorette,” Leslye Headland’s scathingly funny directorial debut, is likely to be the breakout hit this fall. Starring Kirsten Dunst as the alpha Maid of Honor from hell, the film follows three bridesmaids (played by Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, and Isla Fischer) on the eve of the wedding of their friend Becky (Rebel Wilson), along with groomsmen that include James Marsden and Adam Scott. But this isn’t “Bridesmaids II.” For one thing, there’s a lot more coke. For another, there are no baked goods in sight. Headland’s talent as a playwright (the film is based on her stage production of the same name) shines through in the wicked dialogue, and impeccable pacing of this dark comedy, in which these women destroy (and maybe repair) each other.

We sat down with Leslye at the Provincetown Film Festival, where “Bachelorette” was selected as the opening night film. She wants everyone to know how quiet and demure she was during this interview. It’s not like she said “finger-banging” within the first two minutes or anything like that.


IFC: Was it awkward having your parents at the screening?

LESLYE HEADLAND: No, they loved it. They’d seen a very early version of the Sundance cut, and they’ve seen the play a bunch of times.

When they saw the first play I ever wrote, that was when they were like, “What’s happening? Are you okay?” It was my lust play, so it was all about, you know, finger-banging. My poor father actually got out of his seat in the theater and stood in the back and was pacing.

So that was in 2005. That’s when they got the bomb dropped on them. Now it’s seven years later: they expect some terrible, scatological humor, and some sort of reference to some sex act and all of that… They’re smart enough and hip enough to see that it’s not all mean-spirited. They get that there’s empathy for the characters, and it’s not all terrible. It’s just that…there’s going to be some fucked-up shit happening.

IFC: Well, on the note of mean-spiritedness, the movie is about a commitment to marriage and how this is a big step…

HEADLAND: Yes!

IFC: But I was thinking: girls are committed to each other, and they’re fucking bitches, but they’re committed and they’re loyal.

HEADLAND: Dude, I love that you brought that up. It’s so funny that a lot of people don’t in the interviews, and it’s one of those things where it’s like, “Am I the only person that notices this?” At least with my girlfriends, like my best friend in the world, Melissa, who actually plays the wasted stripper in the movie…we’ve known each other for eight years. I wrote the play on her couch when we were both living in the same studio apartment. And it is like a relationship. We have to sometimes remind each other of why we became friends in the first place, in the same way that you would with a couple. You have to go on dates, and just be like, “Remember when we were living together? And had no money?” We have to constantly go back to the origin story of our friendship because a lot of times, you can get really sick of somebody. You can be very hard on your friends in a way that you wouldn’t be hard on your coworkers, or your family.

IFC: It’s like, “You’re my best friend. This is for life.”

HEADLAND: This is it. This is happening now. And, not to spoil anything for anybody who hasn’t seen the film, but that scene with Rebel and Kirsten towards the end, where you as the audience are finally let in as to why they’re friends, and what connects them…I always thought of it as a love scene, like that moment in a marriage when it’s like, “Remember when you swept me off my feet? And I fell in love with you?” It’s like, “Remember when I covered for you and everyone made fun of me?”

IFC: Remember when we were puking in the bathroom together?

HEADLAND: Remember when we were puking in the bathroom together? God, that was my favorite part of life! (laughter)

Leslye Headland

IFC: One of the things I loved about the movie was the pacing of it. And the dialogue was so excellent, and I think that probably speaks to your talent as a playwright, because that’s all you have: people talking.

HEADLAND: Yes. All you have is people talking, all you have is what the audience knows but the characters don’t know. You have a lot of dramatic irony, a lot of they-saw-something-happen-that-the-other-character-didn’t…maybe that’s why I talk about sex so much because I’m like, “This is getting boring.”

IFC: We need a blow job joke…

HEADLAND: We gotta bone it up with a blow job monologue…that’s probably where it came from: being terrified that people are going to be bored. I used to say that, when I started to write theater and invite people to it, especially in L.A. People would be like, “I don’t know if I really want to go see a play…” And I was like, “No no no, I write plays for people who hate plays.” I’m terrified people are going to get bored. And it’s the same thing with the movie; I think that’s why it’s so fast. And also, I’m obviously just a fast-talking, crazy person.

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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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