DID YOU READ

Clea DuVall talks “Argo”, Ben Affleck, and her favorite project ever

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If you don’t immediately recognize the name Clea DuVall, it’s not for lack of a lengthy roster of popular film and television appearances on her resume. She’s had parts in everything from “Can’t Hardly Wait” and “The Faculty” to “Girl, Interrupted” and “Zodiac”. It’s just that she’s not often been at the forefront of those films. DuVall has existed as the sharp, talented character actor that, when you see her, you think, “I’ve seen her before!” That dynamic, however, may be about to change. After excellent performances in 2012’s “Argo” (available on Blu-ray and DVD February 19), the young actress is poised to become one of Hollywood’s hottest properties.

DuVall recently sat down with IFC.com to discuss working with Ben Affleck, holing up with six other actors, and what’s next for her.

IFC: “Argo” is a great film and, I think, rightfully deserves all the awards it’s receiving. Can you tell me how you got involved in the film?

CLEA DUVALL: I had known Ben [Affleck] for a really long time and about a year-and-a-half ago we saw each other. He said, “I’m making this movie and there’s a part I think you’d be really good for. You should come in and talk to me about it.” A few weeks later, I went in and met with Ben and [casting director] Lora Kennedy. He told me about the movie and what would be required of us, which was to live in a house together for a week with nothing from the outside world, and also a lot of improv and things like that. Of course I was like, “Totally!” And then I felt really afraid. [Laughs]

IFC: Were you nervous about taking on such a heavy subject or were those nerves calmed a little because you had already known Ben?

CD: I was definitely nervous, especially because he was asking us to improvise around Iranian politics in 1979. It can be a little daunting, but all it meant is that we really had to know our shit and do the work. I was really excited for the challenge because you don’t always get that kind of opportunity in a film to go that deep.

IFC: You and I were both really young when this whole real-life situation was happening. Did you do a lot of research into the conflict, and the story of these hostages, to prepare for the role?

CD: I did, yeah. I read a lot of books about it and, for each of us, they put together a research packet detailing the people we were playing. I was fortunate enough, as well, to speak with Cora before we started filming, so I was able to sort of pick her brain and see what it was like for her. More the day-to-day of it rather than the high-intensity drama. That was really, really helpful.

IFC: You have this great part in the film that actually feels a lot like an ensemble – the six of you holed up in this house. Tell me a little bit about the dynamic that the six of you had together.

CD: I think Ben was so smart to have us all live together because it really did give the effect that he wanted, which was that we were all people that knew each other very intimately because, by that time, we actually did. We all kind of moved around as this unit. The six of us were always keeping tabs on each other. We were very aware of each other and, I think, that was very important, especially when we got into the scenes that we shot at the bazaar for the location scouting.

You have these people who have been inside for three months terrified for their lives and then, all of a sudden, are thrust into this environment with thousands and thousands of people who, ultimately, want them dead. Creating the authenticity of that experience and having these people around was a little bit of a security blanket effect. It was such a brilliant idea that Ben had. I don’t think that we would have started day one with that dynamic had we not done that.

IFC: Do you think it helped, as well, to create this really claustrophobic, enclosed feeling of those scenes?

CD: Yeah, absolutely. And that cabin fever, stir crazy, high tension feeling was heightened by the experience. It helped to add very subtle layers to all of it. It subconsciously gave us these layers that we definitely would not have had otherwise.

IFC: How was it working with Ben, as he was both directing and starring in the film?

CD: He was amazing. I really was so impressed with how he handled it. I’ve worked with a couple other director/actors who did not handle it with the ease and grace with which he does.

IFC: Are you surprised that he didn’t get the Oscar nomination or is that just sort of par for the course with these types of things?

CD: I was definitely surprised, as everyone else was, but I also think that Ben is the real thing. He’s an amazing filmmaker and he’s probably going to run out of shelf space with all of the awards he’s going to get. I’m sure he’ll have a very long directing career, so I’m not worried about him.

IFC: You’ve done a good amount of TV in the past as well. Do you prefer one medium to the other?

CD: No, not really. I did a show for HBO called “Carnivale” and that was my favorite job I’ve ever had, and what I liked about it was being able to build the character and have her change and evolve.

I think I’ve been really fortunate in the TV that I have done to be able to really explore a character in a way that you can’t really do in film. But I also like film because it is this short window of time and the appreciation for that time is heightened because you know it’s going to end. Your pace is different as an actor working in film rather than TV.

IFC: What’s next for you? I see you have “In Security” coming up. Can you tell me a bit about that film?

CD: That is a little independent film that I was shooting on the weekends while I was making “Argo”. It’s just this cute little movie. I don’t really know what’s happening with it right now. I think they’re trying to go to festivals with it. The indie film world is tough.

I’ve also been working on some behind-the-camera things that I don’t really want to talk about just yet, but it’s looking very promising.

Otherwise, I don’t know. Hopefully something amazing.

IFC: What is the one project in your career that you wish had gotten more recognition or attention?

CD: “Carnivale”, for sure. I think it was just a little bit ahead of its time. I think if it was on now, people would love it. It was the one of the first of what basically ever cable show is now. It was really interesting and different and people couldn’t handle it.

“Argo” arrives on Blu-ray and DVD February 19.

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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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