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Roman Coppola on “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III,” Bill Murray and wanting to work with Kristen Stewart

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Roman Coppola has been involved in the Hollywood scene for decades, but he rarely is found directly behind the camera. After helming his directorial debut “GQ” in 2001, he has acted primarily as a co-writer, music video director and producer on projects for people like Wes Anderson and his sister Sophia Coppola instead of directing his own features. That changed in 2011 when it was announced that he would tackle the independent movie “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III,” which he also wrote and was producing.

Years have passed and, after making its premiere at the Rome Film Festival and having a limited run in theaters, “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” was released on Blu-ray on May 14. IFC had a chance to talk with Coppola about the movie, the actors he chose to work with and what he plans on working on next.

IFC: Why is this the story that you wanted to tell?

RC: What can I say? Projects sort of choose you. People ask, “Oh, why’d you do this?” “Why’d you choose that?” I find it hard to really answer genuinely because you get something kind of in your mind and it’s an intuitive feeling. In this case, there was a character. I had a sense of this guy that I thought would be a fun to see portrayed. And then he got dumped and how does he react to that? He is kind of a very imaginative kind of character in how he sees things and to use to that as an opportunity to have these kinds of flights of fancy and have the experience of the movie reflect the feeling of what it’s like to be dumped and how your mind is kind of crazed and kaleidoscopic, fractured thoughts. It’s not really an answer I can give, why I chose that. It just sort of chose me. It’s just the character interested me in that world, but it did start with the character and the feeling, this vibe of this kind of cool guy who can’t keep it together when he got dumped.

IFC: What led you to casting Charlie Sheen in that lead role? Did you always know you wanted him, or was there someone else you were considering?

RC: I wrote it without really anyone in mind. As you’re writing, you always think, “Oh, it could be this person or that person,” and you’re sort of open to thinking of people, but I didn’t really have an actor in mind. It wasn’t until I kind of got into the casting process — who could I get to portray this? — that I thought of Charlie. To me, it was sort of a no-brainer in that I needed someone who was the right age, so mid-40s. I needed someone who is handsome and is charming, someone who had wit and this kind of sense of humor, and someone who’s a fine actor, and someone that, to me and maybe people won’t agree with me, but a freshness that you hadn’t really seen on the screen. There’s something fun about presenting someone that has a freshness in a way, and I just thought Charlie had all those qualities in terms of being, as I said, a very good actor, very charming, the right age.

The fact that I knew him personally — I haven’t seen him in many years, but we as kids we were pals during “Apocalypse Now” — that’s also something that means something to me. When you’re trying to make a movie, to reach out to people you have a rapport with and you know, you have sense of who they are, [is nice]. Obviously Jason [Schwartzman] is in the movie, and Patricia Arquette is someone who was part of our family; she was married to my cousin [Nicolas Cage]. Bill Murray is someone who I’ve worked with over the years, so there was a comfort and I think an asset of working with someone who I had this connection to.

IFC: It’s interesting that you call it a “freshness,” because I definitely do feel like we’ve seen a new side of Charlie Sheen since he came out of this difficult time in his life.

RC: I wouldn’t want to make any proclamations, but I think it’s great that you see it that way. It’s interesting because, to me, I think he gives a very good performance in the movie. I think he’s very charming. He’s just a witty guy. I think he’s fun to watch. I think that one of the challenges to the movie — and to me, I see him as the character. He’s Charles Swan III. You know, he’s embodying this character, but I think a lot of people seem, my impression, to have a hard time kind of divorcing all their kind of Internet kind of notions about someone. It’s hard for people to let go of that, so I sort of invite people to say, “Hey look, this is an actor portraying the role.” I think a lot has been made, at least presented to me, like, “Oh Charlie, that’s an odd choice,” or, “Why him?” To me it’s like, he’s so obvious. He’s a great talent. He’s got such charm and wit. It’s so obvious to me, but I guess that’s kind of why I’m just a different person than everyone else.

IFC: Well the parallel obviously is in the name, too. It’s weird seeing him onscreen being called “Charlie” or “Charles” and having to disconnect that.

RC: It’s funny because in “Two and a Half Men” he also plays “Charlie,” in his new show [“Anger Management”] he plays “Charlie,” and I wrote the character “Charlie” as just a name, so that’s a weird interesting coincidence.

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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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