Why there’s no sex in “Ruby Sparks”

Ruby Sparks

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By Jennifer Vineyard

One of Ruby’s first lines in “Ruby Sparks” is, “I missed you in bed last night.” That statement shocks Calvin, not the least of which because Ruby was, up until that moment, a figment of his imagination. But it’s a statement that could also be made by the film’s audience, since despite being a romantic dramedy starring a real-life couple, “Ruby Sparks” is short on sex. Sure, Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan kiss, and they even walk around in some scenes with few clothes on, but there’s no actual sex scene for this pair. This is intentional, the filmmakers and lead actor told IFC.

“I have no problem kissing Zoe,” Dano said. “But I don’t think the film needed a sex scene.”

“We talked about it a lot,” said co-director Jonathan Dayton, “and ultimately, we felt like this film didn’t really require a lot of explicit sex. For the most part, it was better to leave that to the theater of the mind, than to show it.”

“One of the things we were impressed with Zoe’s script was how it covered a pretty large territory pretty quickly,” said co-director Valerie Faris. “It didn’t feel like we were missing anything [not to have a sex scene], because I love all the places it goes, so we never really lived too long in any one place.”

The closest the film comes to a nude scene is when a sleazy Steve Coogan convinces Kazan to strip down to her underwear to join him for a late-night swim, but as soon as she does, Dano interrupts the two. “Steve, we love and have loved,” Faris said. “He only came in for a couple of days, but he made that character so much more dimensional because of all he brings to it.”

Plus, Coogan’s recent turns as a philanderer in “Our Idiot Brother” and “The Trip” helped put the image to mind of what he would have done, if he only had a chance. “It’s a gift!” Dayton laughed. “Unfortunately, he just has that quality,” Faris said. “But he’s a super great guy, and he’s in pretty good shape, too. He was in his underwear in the pool and six in the morning, and I felt so bad, because he had to get right back on the plane right after that.”

In lieu of sex scenes, the film concentrates on the magical romance between Dano’s writer Calvin and his creation Ruby (Kazan’s character), who materializes in real life after he’s written her on the page. Their relationship, as it is, is tightly controlled by whatever Calvin types, including her every mood; if she starts caring more about her career, all he has to do is type, “Ruby misses Cal desperately,” and she comes running back.

“We wanted the magical aspects of it to have a romantic high, and be wonderful to watch,” Dano said. “But we wanted the emotions to be real enough so that you would be invested and it feels real, because Ruby is real, even if she came from who-knows-where.”

“Once we were there, it was just about Calvin and Ruby,” Dano continued. “I think Zoe choose what she thought was best for the characters, and I don’t know if she considered our relationship while writing it. I think we would have felt self-conscious if the film felt like our real life, you know? I wouldn’t have wanted our real relationship in the film, and she knows me well enough to know that I would be pissed off if that happened. But the story has a life of its own, and it ended up being a good thing that we could bring an intimacy and a chemistry to the characters for their own sake.”

Still, for fun’s sake, Faris and Dayton joked that they could revisit the sex scene idea for a viral video campaign, and finally “take advantage” of Kazan and Dano’s relationship. “If ever there were a time when we could have shot a scene, we had a real-life couple!” Dayton laughed.

“Maybe we can use it for some ads,” Faris suggested.

“The ‘Ruby Sparks’ sex tape,” Dayton said.

“Oops! This might just leak out,” Faris laughed. “Good idea.”

Will you be seeing “Ruby Sparks” this weekend? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.


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…


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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