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Sally Hawkins on the Year She Became a “Made” Woman

Sally Hawkins on the Year She Became a “Made” Woman (photo)

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A month after my first interview with Sally Hawkins was canceled after she lost her voice, there’s still a raspiness in her throat that’s at odds with her otherwise indefatigable spirit. Yet both are evidence of a 2010 in which Hawkins has appeared in three films to hit the States this fall — “Never Let Me Go,” “It’s a Wonderful Afterlife” and “Made in Dagenham” — and stood toe to toe with Cherry Jones on Broadway in a revival of George Bernard Shaw’s “Mrs. Warren’s Profession.” (This isn’t even to mention the three on the way in 2011: the dramas “Desert Flower” and “Jane Eyre” and the Sundance-bound comedy “Submarine,” which I felt was one of the best at this year’s Toronto Film Festival.) In the midst of this incredibly busy season for the actress, Hawkins took the time to talk about overcoming shyness, why there truly are no small parts and how Mike Leigh changed her approach to acting.

Actors are sometimes the last to know about when all these projects are going to come out, but has it been surprising how busy you’ve been this past year?

It’s wonderful. Like you say, you never really know. You do your bit and then you hope for the best and you think, oh I hope there’s an audience at the end of the day. But here, it’s an incredible response. It’s just been amazing. I didn’t think I’d be in this situation again and talking to people about a film that I’m passionate about a few years after “Happy-Go-Lucky” …I feel so lucky. But it’s all that you want for [“Made in Dagenham,” in particular], something that’s based on an important part of history and without these women, God knows where we would be, so it’s wonderful to talk to so many people and people want to talk to you as well.

12142010_SallyHawkinsMadeinDagenham.jpgI’ve heard you say you were shy growing up and yet you’re in a profession that requires you to be open. Did that actually help you play Rita, who is similarly thrust into the spotlight [as a factory worker who leads the charge for equal pay in “Made in Dagenham”]?

Absolutely. I’m getting better at it. In interviews, you have to realize it’s not about you and that makes it easier. You’re there, sort of working and promoting a film and getting it out there to a bigger audience, so that makes it easier to take it away from you. But I suppose I was quite shy growing up and I think acting is, like it is for a lot of actors I know, a way of expressing and for Rita, I think it’s similar. She is quite quiet and shy and she’s had no experience of talking publicly in this way. Her world’s been quite small and she ends up at the end of the film where it’s grown extensively and become global in a way.

I think the way she deals with it and the way I’m able to deal with it is that she’s doing a service and the more she invests in that, the more passionate she becomes, and the easier and the stronger she becomes actually because she’s speaking as the voice of the women and there’s a responsibility to that. She’s the one that’s been pushed forward and she owes it to not only herself, but to all of them to keep calm, to keep that clarity of voice and their integrity to speak the truth and it’s all she can do. So I think it was a nice dimension of Rita, but it’s what I saw in all these women actually.

You’ve got “The Roaring Girl” [about Bernadette Devlin, the youngest woman ever elected to British Parliament] in development too. Are these historical parts where the good roles are or are you a bit of a history buff?

Hopefully that’ll happen soon. When you’ve got roles like “Made in Dagenham” and then a figure like Bernadette Devlin, they’re formidable women. Bernadette Devlin was a subject that came up with Aisling Walsh, the director who I worked with on “Fingersmith,” a BBC project years ago and we’ve stayed in contact. These projects, they’re around in the mix for awhile and sometimes they just bob up to the surface and it just so happens that it’s a one that has a similar theme, but you can’t help but be drawn to those kind of figures. You just hope that if you’re called upon to do those roles, you do them justice and you do them well.

12142010_Submarine1.jpgTalking about projects that bubble up, “Submarine” came as a bit of a surprise. [Hawkins plays the mother of Oliver Tate, an eccentric teen living in England.] Since it’s such an original vision, did you have any idea how that film was going to turn out?

No. Richard [Ayoade, the director] is incredible and he’s a master filmmaker in the making, if not already there. I’ve known him for a number of years; he’s also a good friend and he has a creativity, so you can’t really know. [“Submarine”] has such a lovely tone to it, a slightly stylized ’80s tone, which just made it more interesting as you’re walking into this dimension, you’re not quite sure how or where to place it and I love films that sort of slip in between the gaps in time and space. You’re not quite sure where they are, where they fit and that informs the awkwardness of how Oliver sees the world and the way he sees it in a heightened, slightly surreal, odd way you do as a teenager and all those hormones are rushing around.

When I spoke to Richard in Toronto, I was expecting him to cite a lot of coming-of-age stories as influences, but it took me aback when he mentioned “Taxi Driver.”

Knowing Richard as a film geek and film buff – I mean, I think I know and love a lot of films, but then it’s nothing compared to Richard. His library of films is ridiculous. Brilliant. You could be there for years. He’s influenced by so many films and “Taxi Driver,” I know, is one of the big ones. That’ll probably be an influence on every film that Richard makes because I remember him talking about “Taxi Driver” and every single moment he knows the film so well. I can’t wait to see his next film because yeah, it’s brilliant.

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Give Back

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.

via GIPHY

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…

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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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