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Attack the Block

Before the Force

See the Cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Before They Entered a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Catch Attack the Block throughout December on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Screen Gems/Courtesy Everett Collection

Hey, have you heard there’s a new Star Wars movie coming out? No? You must not have the Internet. After all the wait, we’re just under a week away from our collective return mission to a galaxy far, far away. And here’s the thing — we shockingly still know little about the movie itself. Yes, we know Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are returning, because landing on the Moon got less publicity then that announcement. But who are these new guys filling up space in the teasers and trailers? Where have you seen them before? Before you catch John Boyega in his pre-Star Wars role in Attack the Block on IFC, take a look at the early roles of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens cast before they become bigger than a Sarlacc’s appetite.

10. Billie Lourd (Unknown)

Billie Lourd

You probably recognize Lourd from her turn as Chanel #3 on the Ryan Murphy horror comedy Scream Queens. But did you know she’s Carrie Fisher’s real life daughter? Lourd claims she’s not playing Princess Leia’s daughter in The Force Awakens, despite photo evidence that suggests more than a passing resemblance. Now we totally get why Chanel #3 wears earmuffs all the time.


9. Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron)

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

Born to a Guatemalan mother and a Cuban father, Isaac grew up in Miami before finding his way to the Juilliard School, where he studied alongside future costar Jessica Chastain. He played Romeo in the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Romeo and Juliet in 2007, before making the leap to movies. Giant flops like Sucker Punch soon gave way to small, critically acclaimed films, including DriveInside Llewyn Davis, A Most Violent Year and Ex Machina.


8. Daisy Ridley (Rey)

Daisy Ridley

BBC One

Perhaps the least known of the newcomers, Ridley had worked sparingly on British television before getting her big break in a galaxy far, far away. While none were starring roles, you may recognize her from Casualty, Silent Witness, Youngers or Mr. Selfridge, in which she got to act in the general vicinity of Ari Gold himself, Jeremy Piven.


7. John Boyega (Finn)

Big Talk Pictures

Big Talk Pictures

Born in London to Nigerian parents, Boyega was primarily a theater actor when he won the lead role of Moses in the genre bending hit Attack the Block. He nearly played a version of Mike Tyson in the HBO pilot Da Brick, but the series was ultimately not picked up. That may have been for the best, as it allowed him to accept the role of a lifetime when J.J. Abrams came calling.


6. Adam Driver (Kylo Ren)

NBC

NBC

While Driver may be best known for having sex with Lena Dunham in every which way possible on the HBO hit Girls, he’s already had a unique and diverse career beyond that star making turn. Before he ever found his way to acting, he actually served in the Marines, answering his country’s call after the attacks of 9/11. It would be an injury while bike riding, and not in the theater of war, that would lead to a medical discharge. A stop at Julliard led to roles on shows like The Unusuals and Law & Order: SVU (above), where he played, in his words,  a “creepy” computer geek. He made his feature film debut in J. Edgar, before landing roles in Lincoln, Frances Ha, and Inside Llewyn Davis, where he would costar alongside future Star Wars castmate Oscar Isaac.


5. Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke)

Film4

Film4

Serkis got his start in theater, starring in numerous hits, including a 1997 production of Hurlyburly with Doctor Who himself, David Tennant. But he is perhaps best known as the man who made motion capture acting respectable, famously playing Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films. Bringing a complex character to life, with the assistance of a talented group of animators, transformed the industry and his career. He would soon take on other digitally animated roles, such as playing the title role in King Kong and ape messiah Caesar in the new Planet of the Apes films.


4. Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux)

Domhnall Gleeson Harry Potter

Warner Bros. Ent./Courtesy Everett Collection

 

Son to actor Brendan Gleeson, Domhnall followed in his father’s footsteps, starring on both the stage and the screen. In 2006 he was nominated for his part in the Broadway production of The Lieutenant of Inishmore. He’s also been a constant presence in independent cinema, starring in everything from Frank to Never Let Me Go to Ex Machina (alongside future Star Wars costar Oscar Isaac). Still, he may be best known for playing the eldest Weasley brother, Bill, in the Harry Potter movies, starring alongside his father.


3. Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma)

Sony Pictures Classic

Sony Pictures Classic

Christie only recently found out that her role in the The Force Awakens was changed from a man to a woman, with her in mind. We can all be grateful for that based on her popular performance as Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones. She got her start with a blink and you’d miss it part in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, and also appeared in his 2013 film Zero Theorem, but has since gone on to bigger and better. Not content to have just two massive franchises on her resume, she recently played Commander Lyme in the concluding chapter of The Hunger Games movies, Mockingjay – Part 2.


2. Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata)

MTV Staying Alive

MTV Staying Alive

Like many acting greats before her, Nyong’o attended the Yale School of Drama, where she starred in productions of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. She had a brief run on a Kenyan soap opera called Shuga, before going on to win an Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, her first role in a film.


1. Max von Sydow (Lor San Tekka)

Dino De Laurentiis Company

Dino De Laurentiis Company

The elder statesman of the new Star Wars cast members, von Sydow has had a legendary career up to this point. Arguably most famous for Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and The Exorcist, von Sydow has also played Ernst Blofeld in the Bond film Never Say Never Again, craved the spice in Dune and attacked Earth with his intense eyebrows and facial hair as Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon. 

Travel to a galaxy far, far away (the ’70s) with the That ’70s Show “Totally Spaced-Out Marathon” Monday and Tuesday on IFC. 

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

Neurotica_series_image_1

IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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via GIPHY

Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.