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Alia Shawkat on “Arrested Development” return: “It wouldn’t happen without the fans”

Alia Shawkat

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With “The Oranges” and “That’s What She Said” recently in theaters, and “The To-Do List” due in February, Alia Shawkat is on a roll — and that’s not even counting her return to the newly resurrected “Arrested Development,” now shooting. She accredits most of her success to “Arrested,” and by extension, the rabid fanbase that helped the show find a new life: “It wouldn’t happen without the fans,” she told IFC. “All the fan love, we wouldn’t be back without that.”

One of her favorite expressions of fan love was seeing an art exhibit with paintings inspired by the cast, drawn as Simpsons characters, or Tony Hale sitting on a weird seal. They were just so cool. I love seeing our characters just be caricatures anyway, and being one of those was super surreal. That was really special.”

Shawkat told IFC “it’s crazy” to be back on set, because “time has a weird way of getting back at you. It’s hard to have a concept of time, sometimes, especially when you’re working and you look exactly the same as you did then, and you’re working with all the same actors. But it’s great and everyone’s excited to be back. Every day, we’re like, ‘This is crazy!'”

The “Arrested” team will continue to shoot through mid-November, but even with a couple weeks of the reunion under her belt, Shawkat said that being back on set reminds her of when she first shot the pilot. “I remember, when I got the cover sheet, it said, ‘This show is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of show. You have to be on board for the style and moving quickly,’ and I was like 14 at the time, so I was like, ‘Yeah! Whatever!’ I remember adjusting to that was very easy for me and Michael [Cera], and now, we’re adjusting to it as adult actors. It’s a process, for sure. But we’re moving! We’re getting a lot of stuff in, and it’s a really high creative level that Mitch [Hurwitz] is at. He’s a genius.”

Shawkat’s character in “The Oranges” bears a resemblance to her Maeby, but her Clementine in “That’s What She Said” is less sure of herself — the only thing she knows is that she wants sex. “She’s like, ‘Here’s my vagina! Let’s have fun.'” And in “The To-Do List,” she’s relegated to a best friend role for Aubrey Plaza. But soon, in some of her upcoming projects that she’s got in the works, Shawkat will get to demonstrate some of her many other talents, such as art.

“I’ve been pitching an animated show to different networks,” she said. “It’s similar to ‘Daria’ in tone, but it’s a futuristic post-apocalyptic world, with a girl who’s lost one arm kicking ass. She’s trying to get revenge, so she’s not just fucking around. But it’s a comedy, too, and it has some of that Adult Swim grossness.”

Shawkat is also still trying to get a show off the ground with her friend and “Whip It” co-star Ellen Page, called “Stitch ‘N Bitch,” which the two actresses would co-star and co-write. “We just got stoned one night and said, ‘Let’s write something making fun of ourselves as hipsters.'” They were looking at HBO, but now they’re considering launching the show online.

And when she’s not looking to become a showrunner in her own right (Hurwitz, look out!), Shawkat is in the early stages of studying how to play a dominatrix for a film called “The Books.” Although she’s already played a prostitute (“Cedar Rapids”) and a nympho (“That’s What She Said”), being a dom is very different, she cautioned: “She’s a sex worker, but she’s more of an actress. She’s not just a sex kitten doing things — there have to be interesting reasons. What the client is getting off of is the psychological trip, and you have to be very strong. It’s a mask she has to hide behind.” Like any of her fun characters, she said, “it will surprise you. You’ll go, ‘Oh wow.'”

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…