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

Bachelorette movie

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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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Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…

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

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

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

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

See the whole season of Commuters right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.

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Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:


Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.

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Happy Tears

Binge Don’t Cringe

Catch up on episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia.

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Photo Credit: GIFs via GIPHY

A brain can only take so much.

Every five minutes, all day, every day, ludicrously stressful headlines push our mental limits as we struggle to adapt to a reality that seems increasingly less real. What’s a mind to do when simple denial just isn’t good enough anymore?

Radical suggestion: repeal and replace. And by that we mean take all the bad news that keeps you up at night, press pause, and substitute it with some genuine (not nervous, for a change) laughter. Here are some of the issues on our mind.

Gender Inequality

Feminist bookstore owners by day, still feminist bookstore owners by night, Toni and Candace show the male gaze who’s boss. Learn about their origin story (SPOILER: there’s an epic dance battle) and see what happens when their own brand of empowerment gets out of hand.

Healthcare

From Candace’s heart attack to the rise of the rawvolution, this Portlandia episode proves that healthcare is vital.

Peaceful Protests

Too many online petitions, too little time? Get WOKE with Fred and Carrie when they learn how to protest.

What Could Have Been

Can’t say the name “Clinton” without bursting into tears? Documentary Now!’s masterfully political “The Bunker” sheds a cozy new light on the house that Bill and Hill built. Just pretend you don’t know how the story really ends.

Fake News

A healthy way to break the high-drama news cycle is to switch over to “Dronez”, which has all the thrills of ubiquitous adventure journalism without any of the customary depression.

The more you watch, the better you feel. So get started on past episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia right now at IFC.com and the IFC app.

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