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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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Car Notes

Portlandia Keeps Road Rage In Park

Get a lesson in parking etiquette on a new Portlandia.

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It’s the most American form of cause and effect: Park like a monster, receive a passive-aggressive note.

car notes note

This unofficial rule of the road is critical to keeping the great big wheel of car-related Karma in balance. And naturally, Portlandia’s Kath and Dave have elevated it to an awkward, awkward art form in Car Notes, the Portlandia web series presented by Subaru.

If you’ve somehow missed the memo about Car Notes until now, you can catch up on every installment online, on the IFC app, and on demand. You can even have a little taste right here:

If your interest is piqued – great news for you! A special Car Notes sketch makes an appearance in the latest episode of Portlandia, and you can catch up on it now right here.

Watch all-new Portlandia Thursdays at 10P on IFC.

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Naked and Hungry

Two New Ways to Threeway

IFC's Comedy Crib gets sensual in time for Valentine's Day.

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This week, two scandalous new digital series debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib.
Ménage à Trois invites people to participate in a real-life couple’s fantasy boudoir. And The Filling is Mutual follows two saucy chefs who invite comedians to make food inspired by their routines. Each show crosses some major boundaries in sexy and/or delicious ways, and each are impossible to describe in detail without arousing some awkward physical cravings. Which is why it’s best to hear it directly from the minds behind the madness…

Ménage à Trois

According to Diana Kolsky and Murf Meyer, the two extremely versatile constants in the ever-shifting à trois, “MàT is a sensually psychedelic late night variety show exploring matters of hearts, parts and every goddamn thing in between…PS, any nudes will be 100% tasteful.”

This sexy brainchild includes sketches, music, and props that would put Pee-wee’s Playhouse to shame. But how could this fantastical new twist on the vanilla-sex variety show format have come to be?

“We met in a UCB improv class taught by Chris Gethard. It was clear that we both humped to the beat of our own drum; our souls and tongues intermingled at the bar after class, so we dove in head first.”

Sign me up, but promise to go slow. This tricycle is going to need training wheels.

The Filling is Mutual

Comedians Jen Saunderson and Jenny Zigrino became best friends after meeting in the restroom at the Gotham Comedy Club, which explains their super-comfortable dynamic when cooking with their favorite comedians. “We talk about comedy, sex, menses, the obnoxiousness of Christina Aguilera all while eating food that most would push off their New Year’s resolution.”

The hook of cooking food based off of comedy routines is so perfect and so personal. It made us wonder about what dishes Jen & Jenny would pair with some big name comedy staples, like…

Bill Murray?
“Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to… Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to avoid doing any kind of silly Groundhog Day reference.” 

Bridget Everett?
“Cream Balls… Sea Salt encrusted Chocolate Ganache Covered Ice Cream Ball that melt cream when you bite into them.” 

Nick Kroll & John Mulaney? 
“I’d make George and Gil black and white cookies from scratch and just as we open the oven to put the cookie in we’d prank ’em with an obnoxious amount of tuna!!!”

Carrie Brownstein & Fred Armisen? 
“Definitely a raw cacao “safe word” brownie. Cacao!”

Just perfect.

See both new series in their entirety on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Dark Arts

Foot Fetish Jesus And Other Nightmares

Meet the minds behind Comedy Crib's latest series, Quirks and The Mirror.

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The Mirror and Quirks are really, really strange. Deeply disturbing yet hauntingly beautiful. But you really don’t need to read a synopsis of either of the aforementioned shows to understand the exact variety of nightmare-bonkers comedy these shows deliver — that’s why the good lord made links. Instead, take a peek behind the curtain and meet the creators.

Quirks

Let’s start with Kevin Tosi. Kevin does the whole show by himself. That doesn’t mean he’s a loner — Kevin has a day job with actual humans. But that day job is copywriting. So it’s only natural that his suppressed demons would manifest themselves in biting cartoon form, including “Foot Fetish Jesus”, in ways that somehow speak to all of us. If only all copywriters channeled their inner f*ckedupness into such…expressive art.

The Mirror

Onward to the folks at Wham City Comedy.

These guys aren’t your typical comedy collective in that their work is way more left-field and even elevated than your standard digital short. More funny weird than funny ha-ha. They’ve done collaborations with musicians like Beach House, Dan Deacon & Wye Oak, television networks (obviously), and others. Yeah they get paid, but their motivation feels deeper. Darker. Most of them are video artists, and that explains a lot.

See more of The Mirror and Quirks on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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