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Saturn Awards: Joel Courtney talks “Super 8” and working with J.J. Abrams


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Joel Courtney has grown up a lot since “Super 8” came out last year. But even though he’s gone on to get roles in other projects like Tom Sawyer in “Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn,” he still stands in the shadow of the J.J. Abrams/Steven Spielberg project that made him a star.

That’s a shadow Courtney is happy to stand in. The 16-year-old won a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Young Actor in “Super 8,” while the film also won awards for Best Director (Abrams) and Best Music (Michael Giacchino). IFC caught up with Courtney on the Saturn Awards red carpet and asked him why he thinks the movie is perfect to lead the award show winners.

“‘Super 8’ is perfect for this awards show, for this awards ceremony, because it’s slightly horrific, not really, but it’s all sci-fi,” he said. “It’s got a great story, a great plot, and I mean it just fits in with this category so perfectly.”

Like “Star Trek 2” now, “Super 8” was shrouded in secrecy when it came out. Courtney said that he thinks that level of protection is important for audiences.

“If you know what’s going to happen in the movie, it’s not interesting. But I think it’s also important to have some publicity because, I mean, you don’t want to go into a movie going, ‘I have no idea what this movie is going to be about,’ he said. “But the thing is for ‘Super 8’ everybody loved it, so I mean it was a good thing.”

“Super 8” was Courtney’s first movie experience, and his big break in Hollywood. We asked him what he learned from working with established filmmakers like Abrams and Spielberg in his breakout role.

“Everything, actually. I learned it’s okay to shout at people. In my house, I’m not allowed to shout at anybody. It’s very strict. It’s a very Christian home. I love it. So he taught me that that’s okay and a bunch of other stuff. It was a great learning experience,” he said.

Courtney added that the element that most impressed him from making “Super 8” was its special effects.

“I had no idea how people did that,” he said. “I understood that it was on computers, but I didn’t know how, and a lot of the CGI people at Bad Robot, they actually showed us what they do and how they do it. They built us a scene and they made the monster actually run around on their computer. It just blew me away to see it actually come to life like that. And in the movie, it was amazing, even more.”

So will “Super 8” ever get a sequel in our movie culture where that seems to be encouraged? Courtney doesn’t think so.

“I can’t see it coming. But J.J. is brilliant enough to come up with something,” he said.

Would you want to see a sequel to “Super 8”? 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

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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

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