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“Beasts of the Southern Wild” star Quvenzhane Wallis talks burps, screams and crawfish

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Quvenzhane Wallis is a tiny force to be reckoned with. In “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” the nine-year-old manages to transform life-changing events into a mythological story that, to her, could affect the entire world. As director Benh Zeitlin told IFC, much of her character, Hushpuppy, is actually derivative of Wallis as a person. But when it’s up to Wallis to explain the comparisons between herself and her character, she said that what you see is what you get.

“She’s brave and fearless,” the first-time actress told IFC at a recent press day for the movie. “She was active all the time. Since it’s a movie, yes [there are similarities]. Not really but there are. She doesn’t wear pants and her father is dying, and she gets to complete whatever she wants to do. She can do anything she wants. She doesn’t have to ask for anything, so it’s something that she does and she gets to do it by herself.”

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” premiered first at Sundance, then at the Cannes Film Festival and most recently at the Los Angeles Film Festival (where it won the Audience Award). Wallis, Zeitlin and Dwight Henry, who plays Hushpuppy’s father Wink in the movie, have traveled all over the country promoting this film. We spoke to Wallis towards the end of the press day, and it was clear that she was exhausted. As someone who is not trained for press, she let her disinterest with answering the same questions all day be known.

“Burp, scream and crawfish,” she ticked off on her fingers in answer to what her favorite parts of the movie were. When we asked whether that was a question she’s heard a lot, she further ticked, “Yes I have been asked.”

That being said, the experience was positive enough that Wallis said she wants to continue with acting. She’s already seen more of the world than many people have in their lifetime, though Sea World was one of her favorite parts of that along with going to Cannes and Sundance. And the filming experience in itself seems like it was a great time, with much of the movie being an on-set party.

“It was fun because we all got to have different people to play with,” Wallis said of the filming experience. “It was different because, whenever you go home, it’s just different and all you do is just seeing your friends and riding your bike. And then you go to the Bath Tub and all you hear is parades and drinking.”

As she previously mentioned, her favorite parts of the movie were her frequent burps, ear-piercing screams and the regular meals of crawfish. Wallis said she had told Zeitlin before they started the movie that she was especially talented in the burping and screaming departments, and that’s why those qualities were added to her character.

When asked what her favorite scene to film was, she answered, “When I burped. Just kidding [laughs]. When I had the crawfish, that was my favorite out of all of those things.”

She added that she liked filming the parade scene with the sparklers that many can see in the trailer for the film.

“It was fun because you never expect to do all those scenes and crazy scenes like that,” she said. “Whenever we were on the parade and we were shaking and screaming and water falling and people, we had to redo it and redo it, we had to go back and forth with the truck of the parade, so it was very funny.”

When IFC talked to Zeitlin about the film, he gushed about Wallis’s abilities. “The very first time I saw her, she was like fierce and defiant and wise beyond her years. She was five years old when she came in and she had this focus that we hadn’t seen from kids twice her age. She’s some sort of supernatural creature that came to us,” he said.

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” hits select theaters in New York City and Los Angeles today.

Were you surprised by Wallis’s powerful performance? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Rev Up

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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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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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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