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DID YOU READ

10 actors turned directors

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“What I really want to do is direct.” Once upon a time, that was a line used to mock the unbridled chutzpah of actors who wanted to helm films of their own, but now, no one’s really laughing at the notion that the pretty people in front of the camera might also possess the talent to handle the responsibilities behind the camera as well. Too many Academy Awards have been won by these thespi-auteurs. Need proof? Here’s a quick rundown of ten actors, in no particular order, who turned director and made good with the switch.



1. Clint Eastwood

Sure, let’s start with the big dog. That oddball performance at the Republican National Convention notwithstanding, and contrary to “The Fall Guy” Colt Seevers’ assertion that he’s responsible for the finery of Clint’s looks, Eastwood blazed a trail to stardom in the classic spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone, the mean streets of Dirty Harry’s San Francisco and in army pictures like “Kelly’s Heroes.” He started directing in 1971 with “Play Misty For Me,” he directed himself in classics like “The Outlaw Josey Wales” and “High Plains Drifter,” and in 1992, he was the Best Director of the Best Picture of the Year with “Unforgiven,” the dark revisiting of the western genre that made him famous. Since then, he’s directed gems like “A Perfect World” and returned to the Oscar stage with “Mystic River,” and returned to the winner’s circle with “Million Dollar Baby.” The kicker is that, for both of his Best Picture and Best Director wins, he was also nominated for Best Actor, but didn’t pull off the trifecta. That doesn’t matter, though. This is Clint Eastwood.



2. Mel Gibson

After that glowing tribute, the time comes to jump to this beleaguered fellow. Once, there was a time when Mel Gibson was just awesome. He was articulate and hilarious, Mad Max and a Lethal Weapon, a quipmaster who could match wits with Robert Downey Jr. in “Air America” and a guy you believed could charm the knickers off of Jodie Foster in “Maverick.” His directorial debut was 1993’s “Man Without a Face,” but he leapt into the stratosphere with 1995’s “Braveheart,” which became the Best Picture of the Year. It may have played fast and loose with the facts about the life of William Wallace, but it was quite the engrossing movie, landing him the Best Director award as well, although he wasn’t nominated in the acting category. He then transitioned from his successful on-camera work to following his passion – in this case, the “hey, let’s all beat up Jesus in slow motion” film called “The Passion of the Christ.” Things… well, they started to go downhill from there – maybe even a little “Apocalypto,” so to speak. Do you really need a recap of that, sugar tits?



3. Jodie Foster

Speaking of Gibson, one of his few defenders after it became clear that he was kind of nuts was his “Maverick” co-star Foster. As we saw at the Golden Globes, it turns out she might be a smidge damaged as well, as you might expect from someone who began acting at age three, and who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress as a 13-year-old prostitute in “Taxi Driver,” AND who was cited as the motivation for why a guy tried to assassinate the president when she was 19. Things like that gotta mess a woman up a bit. Add to that winning Best Actor awards for a profoundly disturbing graphic rape drama like “The Accused” and the enduringly creepy “The Silence of the Lambs,” and it seemed that the ugly underbelly of humanity is what she thrived on exploring. Perhaps that’s why her feature film directorial debut was with 1991’s “Little Man Tate,” a quiet story about a mother trying to raise her smart but socially-disabled son. Then, a few years later, she followed it up with the ensemble family dysfunction dramedy “Home For The Holidays.” That was it for her in the director’s chair, though, until 2011’s “The Beaver,” starring Gibson as a man having a mental breakdown centered around a hand puppet. For some reason. Perhaps it’s best not to speculate.



4. Robert Redford

Here we go. The erstwhile founder of the Sundance Film Festival made his bones early in his career as a blond, handsome leading man opposite notables such as Natalie Wood and Jane Fonda in “Inside Daisy Clover” and “The Chase,” respectively. He broke out of that mold with the legendary film “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid” with Paul Newman. He’d re-team with Newman and get an Oscar nomination out of 1973’s “The Sting,” becoming one of the biggest stars in the world. His first time in the director’s chair came with 1980’s dark family drama “Ordinary People,” and he knocked it out of the park, winning Best Director and Best Picture. He’s continued to produce stellar work behind the camera, with “The Milagro Beanfield War,” “A River Runs Through It” and “Quiz Show.” We’ll just quietly ignore The Fresh Prince Magic Golf Movie.



5. Bobcat Goldthwait

Wait, what? Yes, that “Police Academy” guy who screamed a lot in “One Crazy Summer” dropped that yelling stand-up schtick completely and started making black comedies that explore weird areas that no one else touches. Starting in 1991 with the alcoholic clown cult classic “Shakes The Clown,” and continuing with a pair of Sundance Film Festival entries – 2006’s “Sleeping Dogs Lie” (about a woman hiding the disturbing secret that she once fellated her dog on a whim) and 2009’s “World’s Greatest Dad” (starring Robin Williams as a father who covers up his son’s autoerotic asphyxiation death and writes a best-selling suicide note), he’s managed to tackle these strange subjects that could be broad comedies with a deft dramatic touch and realism. The 2011 Toronto Film Festival entrant “God Bless America” tells the story of a doomed, depressed man who starts a “Bonnie and Clyde” style killing spree against everything that sucks about America with an awful reality-show star. It’s a unique road Bobcat is paving, not for the easily-offended, but it’s a road worth traveling.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

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

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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