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Jay and Mark Duplass talk “Jeff, Who Lives At Home” and future projects

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Anyone who’s seen “Cyrus,” “The Puffy Chair” or “Baghead” knows that writer/director brothers Jay and Mark Duplass don’t tell run-of-the-mill stories. Their films walk the fine line between comedy and drama, and often seek to find truth in the most normal of situations.

Their new project, “Jeff, Who Lives At Home,” is no different. The movie follows two brothers, a “burnout” who lives at home named Jeff (Jason Segel) and his asshole brother Pat (Ed Helms), as they navigate through a day that seems like any other. But Jeff, who has a passionate belief in fate thanks to a love of the movie “Signs,” is convinced that this day is the culmination of his destiny. Meanwhile their mother, played by Susan Sarandon, discovers on her birthday that she has a secret admirer in her office, and struggles to discover whether she can open herself up to a new romance at her age.

IFC recently had the chance to talk to the Duplass brothers about their inspiration for “Jeff” and their experience working on the film. In the below interview, we talk casting choices, future project and the joys of having a stoner as your main character. Read on, but beware that some “Jeff” spoilers do lie ahead.

IFC: Is this film at all autobiographical in terms of the relationship between the two brothers?

JAY DUPLASS: No. I think that Mark said best recently. He was saying that Pat and Jeff are both in side of both of us. We would like the Jeff part to come out more. We’re working on that. But basically, Mark and I are sort of workaholics; we grew up in Catholic school. We kind of put our heads down and worked very, very hard, and making this film was a little bit of wish fulfillment for us, because we wish we were a lot more like Jeff. We love guys like that.

I think, for better or for worse, we inherently kind of see them as somewhat heroic. We realized that they appear to most people as just sort of like burnouts, but for us there’s this other element of them being kind of like rogue agents operating outside of the norms of society, and taking chances and hoping for bigger things in their lives. At least, the ones that we have been friends with. That’s what kind of inspired us to make the film.

IFC: What was the inspiration to tell a story from a character like Jeff’s perspective?

MARK DUPLASS: Jay and I are always interested in these sort of unlikely hero protagonists. [You] find yourself rooting for this person that you can’t believe you’re rooting for. And I guess, not to get too corny about it, but Jay and I have a deep-seated love for these kinds of people and you can very quickly write them off as just a quick stoner profile, but if you take the time to dig a little deeper, there’s a lot of hopes and dreams inside of Jeff. So, for us, it was less a conscious decision to do that and more just following our [interests] of what we’d want to see.

IFC: Where did you come up with the idea for Susan Sarandon’s storyline?

JD: Well, we always try to do something a little different, like you’re talking about with the tone that we have on Jeff. We’re obviously acknowledging that most people would reference him as a stoner, but we’re choosing to explore this other side of him, happening concurrently with all of these other characters, in this case specifically with Susan’s character. A mother character, typically in a movie, is usually used just as a counterpoint and to sort of yell at them and be angry with them. And we do a little bit of that, but we were just interested in her having this sort of sexual awakening.

I guess the theme of the movie, you know, thinking about it retrospectively, is that all of these characters are not happy, they’re stuck, and they’re trying to get to that next level. They’re trying to get to that point where they have a little bit of air and a little bit of light and a little bit of joy in their life and none of them are very good at getting there or know how to get there. For Susan’s character, we just got excited about this idea of this inter-office romance and her, not only being resistant to the romance, but also being resistant to the idea that she could even participate in something like that in this stage of her life, and … that was exciting to us.

IFC: How did you decide the actors to play each role?

MD: Jason [Segel] was the first guy we brought on board because we knew he had that wonderful everyman quality plus he’s a bit of a dreamer himself, and we knew he’d be the right fit. And then we brought on Ed [Helms], because if you’re asking someone to play a douchebag in your movie, then you have to really cast a nice person for them because when it’s time for them to turn a little bit, you have that.

But in regards to Judy [Greer], we knew absolutely we wanted her for the film mostly because she has this very [unique] quality about her which is she can be simultaneously tragic, sad and funny at the same time. And it’s very hard to watch a sweet girl like Judy cry and find yourself sympathizing with her and laughing at the same time. That’s just a real testament to the spirit of her.

IFC: Do you two have plans to work on any other movies in the future?

MD: We have a whole bunch of things right now and we’re both having kids this year, so lots of things on the horizon.

IFC: One last question for you Jay. I know Mark has been spending a lot of time acting recently, but are you ever going to make the jump in front of the camera?

JD: It’s possible that I might do something this summer. I mean, up until this point, with all the films Mark and I have made, I’m the primary camera operator, so it definitely is hard to get in front of the camera when you’re behind it. It’s kind of just been not really on our radar, not really an option up until this point. But there’s a film that someone has asked me to act in and I might do that this summer.

What are your thought on the Duplass brothers’ approach to filmmaking? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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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…