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Andy Serkis’ “Rock & Roll” Lifestyle

Andy Serkis’ “Rock & Roll” Lifestyle (photo)

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“The only thing I’ve ever missed is a few buses,” says Ian Dury, as played by Andy Serkis, in “sex & drugs & rock & roll.” The film’s a biopic about the often decadent, sometimes tragic and altogether rocking lead singer for the Blockheads, one of the first to fuse together rap, rock, reggae and funk to become a sensation in the U.K. It’s no surprise then that Serkis doesn’t miss a trick in portraying the frontman, who’s hobbled by childhood bout with polio, but more than makes up for it with a life spent between two women — his wife (Olivia Williams) and his girlfriend (Naomie Harris) — not to mention an overindulgence on available drugs and alcohol, and a flamboyant personality that he attempts to tame in front of his young son (Bill Milner).

Although the actor, best known for suiting up in performance capture gear to portray Gollum and King Kong, underwent a considerable transformation to play Dury, equal attention is paid by director Mat Whitecross to retrofitting the traditional rock biopic, filling the film with animation, underwater musical sequences and a criss-crossing narrative that ricochets between Dury’s days of rebelling against authority in school to becoming an authority on the British scene. During the Tribeca Film Festival, Serkis and Whitecross sat down to discuss the film, the unexpected difficulties of hair in a rock movie, and I even got the “Lord of the Rings” star to talk about the studio he’s creating for motion capture.

The film unfolds almost like a collage and seems true to Dury’s passion for many artistic mediums. How important was it to have pop art blended into the film so seamlessly?

Mat Whitecross: That’s exactly what we were trying to go for, partly because he has such a kaleidoscopic life anyway, but also really because he was influenced by pop art, especially Peter Blake, who he studied under.

04292010_sexDrugsRockRoll.jpgOne of the issues with doing a low-budget film is you want to try and represent a whole era, but you don’t have the money and the size of crew to be able to do that. You can’t try and recreate ’70s Camden, so what other way can you give a new audience a flavor of those times? [The animation] felt like the most succinct way of doing it and we were lucky enough to get the great Sir Peter Blake to work on those sequences with our team.

With pop art in general, we wanted to give this film a distinctive look and it just made sense, given that art was an important part of Ian’s life, but couldn’t really be part of the script since there were too many other things to talk about. It felt like even if it’s subconscious, at least you’re getting it and then if you go back and rediscover the albums or his life and look at his work and his paintings, then it’ll all kind of click into place.

Andy, I read that you wore a caliper for months to achieve Ian’s limp. Was the physicality a place where you started for this role since it plays such a huge role in his life?

Andy Serkis: It wasn’t a place I started, no. It’s a place it was necessary to get to and get through. I started at a kind of producer/storytelling level, in terms of how to pull the whole thing together. It was a two-step process, really. It was understanding what the story was about and working with Paul [Viragh, the screenwriter] closely on the emotional core of the film and the father and son relationship — those were our starting points. The fact that we wanted to present Ian as the teller of his own story in a musical environment, that’s for me where the characterization starts. It morphed gradually into the physical preparation — obviously, the closer you get to the shoot, there were certain things you had to do, to lose weight and to work with the calipers and do all that to understand the physics of his disability and the psychology of living with it.

04292010_sexDrugsRockRoll.jpgThere’s a concert that is used as the film’s framing device — was that shot at the beginning of the production since it seems to have so much impact on what happens throughout?

MW: We wanted to do it upfront for precisely that reason, but unfortunately for scheduling reasons, primarily Andy’s hair, we couldn’t do it until the end of the shoot.

AS: It’s probably a good job actually because my voice was fucked up after that [laughs], which might’ve worked quite well.

MW: We scheduled all the scenes where he was speaking on the stage on the last day as well, so he was completely raw and ragged. We were very worried about it, but it actually gives it quite a nice fragile quality.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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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…


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.


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).


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.


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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