Fred Armisen talks about the new season of Portlandia, airing tonight at 10/9c


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Last week, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein debuted a brand-new holiday special, “Winter in Portlandia.” As fans clamor for more, on Friday Jan 4th at 10/9c, the much-anticipated third season of IFC’s original sketch comedy show, Portlandia, premieres. The show’s co-writer, co-creator, and co-star Fred Armisen, sat down for a lightning round of questions about the show.

What is the biggest difference in creating seasons one and three of Portlandia?

Season one was kind of like a camping trip. We just didn’t even know what we were, which isn’t a bad thing. We were just figuring out what we were. During the first season, we hadn’t worked with Jon much and we were just sorting ourselves out. By season three we were open with ourselves about what we wanted. This time around we wanted to do more stories that went from episode to episode.

There’s more of a story arc?

Yes, but we also knew to ask not just what is it, but what we want. In the beginning it was walking in the dark. Now, instead it’s more thoughtful. It’s “let’s try and go this direction. “

You have some amazing guest stars in season three including Roseanne Barr, Patton Oswalt, J Mascis, and more. Do you write parts for them specifically or just work them into stories?

It’s both. Sometimes we’ll write out a whole story and we’ll need someone to play a part, like an ex-girlfriend. All the people we picked were people we’re fans of. But then in like Patton Oswalt’s case we just liked him and wanted to fit him in. But with the ex-girlfriend we wanted someone a little crazy and a little …we really like her, but Juliette Lewis seems really explosive and we got in touch with her and asked her to play the part. And Patton we love and just had to work around his schedule.

Is it fun playing host to all these stars in Portland?

It is! They all come and start making comments about Portland. Patton was also doing stand up in town and ended up being there for a few days and he commented that he hadn’t seen anyone wearing a tie the whole time he was there.

How much of Gavhan Quinn is really you?

That’s my favorite character to do at the moment.

The studio tour scene with him in Winter in Portlandia was kind of amazing.

It’s very much a Chicago thing. So many guys I know in Chicago are like that. It’s like how guys in the 70s talked about cars all the time and now so many guys I know are talking about recording studios. Guys just sitting around talking about microphones.

Do you ever walk around in that wig and mustache?

Only at work, which is actually a lot of time, you know?

Is he the character you most relate to?

Yes, without a doubt. Although sometimes I relate to Peter, lately it’s Gavhan.

Are we going to see new characters in season three or have you found your cast?

There’s a few new ones definitely, but we also have a few characters that we really like and are getting to know.

Will the characters have grown at all during the hiatus? Or is it more of a “Seinfeld”-ian no hugs, no growing idea?

Oh they definitely have grown, but it’s less about them growing and more about us getting to know them.

What is it like to play an enhanced version yourself on the show? Is it strange?

It’s good, because I can edit who I am really am. So it’s a good way to work. It makes me look better than I am. I’m always wearing nice clothes, I have glasses and my hair looks nice.

When I asked which character you most related to, you didn’t choose that one.

I took that out of choices of characters. I made that one moot.

Does how you write things on SNL influence Portlandia and what can you do on Portlandia that you can’t on SNL?

I don’t really think about it when I’m writing. Whatever is in front of me is what I write for. If it’s February it ends up on SNL, if it’s June it ends up on Portlandia. They are both forgiving and gratifying. Portlandia has some stuff that can be really broad, even though it’s seen as subtle, and Saturday Night Live can be experimental, too.

Is there another Portlandia live show in the works?

Not at the moment. The timing worked out last year to do some touring to promote the show. We had a lot of fun, but the timing just isn’t there for a whole tour. Maybe we’ll do a one off.

You’ve done a television, a special, a live show and a book. Is a movie next? Or are you going Trapped in the Closet style and heading to Broadway?

I would really like to do a movie. Schedule-wise I don’t know when exactly, but I think it would be great to do a Portlandia movie. Some of my favorite television shows have done it and they’ve been great. Like Monty Python. I think it would be great.

You’ve mentioned schedule restrictions a few times in this chat. Obviously both you and Carrie have other day jobs, how hard is it to schedule around them?

In a positive way, it’s hard, but I like scheduling to be hard. There’s good results in that. When time is limited you really focus on things you want to do. If we do get to do a Portlandia tour it will be cities we really want to go to. Time restrictions are a good police officer for things we want to do.

Want the latest news from Portlandia? Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter@ifcPortlandia and use the hashtag #portlandia.

Portlandia returns to IFC on Friday, January 4th at 10/9c

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Documentary Now! Robert Evans Mansion

The Reel Deal

Everything You Need To Know About “Mr. Runner Up” Inspiration Robert Evans

Watch the two-part finale of Documentary Now! this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

In its upcoming two-part finale, Documentary Now! spoofs the crown jewel of docs: The Kid Stays In The Picture. It’s the autobiographical documentary about Robert Evans, the unlikely Hollywood mogul whose mix of self-aggrandizing bravado, classic good looks and extremely circumstantial good luck took him from being a salesman to an actor to the head of Paramount Pictures.

If you’ve never seen the film, it’s totally worth it. Rotten Tomatoes agrees, with a staggeringly-high approval rating. Watch it before, or watch it after — doesn’t matter. You’ll appreciate it whenever.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of background that will come in handy…

Robert Loves Robert

Robert Evans desk

USA Films/Everett Collection

Robert Evans is the ultimate Robert Evans fan. The movie was written, produced, directed and narrated by Robert Evans. It is totally unbiased.

He’s Kind Of A Big Deal

Robert Evans, Chinatown
Paramount Pictures

Evans produced some of Hollywood’s true classics: Chinatown, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather, Love Story…the list goes on. Totally legit and amazing movies.

He’s Also Kind Of A Joke

Wag The Dog
New Line Cinema

Evans has been parodied in TV shows and movies like Entourage and Wag The Dog. He is the quintessential “producer” you already have in your head.

So Wrong He’s Right

Robert Evans Slap
20th Century Film Corp

Robert Evans is a notorious narcissist whose love of self is so blind and sincere that it’s actually adorable.

There’s Something Missing

via Giphy

Entire sections of Robert Evans’ life are left out of the documentary. Maybe it’s because of timing. Maybe it’s because real life isn’t a tidy narrative. Who knows.

He Blew It

Spider coke

Evans had a pretty spectacular fall from grace. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in the early 80’s, and was connected to a contract killing during the production of The Cotton Club. Oops.

Losing Is For Losers

Everett Collection
Everett Collection

In the Robert Evans mythology, all tragedies are just triumphs in disguise, and every story has a happy ending…for Robert Evans.

Bill Hader Jerry Wallach

With these simple facts in hand you are now prepared to thoroughly enjoy the two-part finale of Documentary Now! starting this Wednesday at 10/9c on IFC.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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