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    My exclusive interview with Sarah Silverman. - 06/07/07

Interview: Sarah shy about lunch with Kanye

Posted by Gator on January 28th, 2015

Amy Kaufman’s Los Angeles Times feature (January 27) on Sarah is another must-read for fans:


Sarah Silverman was sitting in the lobby of her hotel with a bunch of dudes. She’d just met the guys, who all looked young and kind of star-struck, like they’d high-five one another after she left.

“OK, so I’ll text you later,” she said, waving goodbye.

“How adorable are they?” she asked, making her way over to a nearby restaurant. “We’re all going to go play basketball later.”

After performing for over two decades as a stand-up comedian, this is the brand that Silverman, 44, has established: the goofyeverygirl who brings her marijuana vape to the Emmys instead of extra lipstick. As she puts it: “The mayor of everywhere.”

“When Nicole Kidman walks into a room, people are like, ‘Oh, my gosh,'” she said, acting intimidated. “But with me, it’s like, ‘Oh, Sarah!’ People feel like they went to camp with me.”

012715LAtimesPullquoteWhich is great, for the most part — until one day you decide you want to be a little more like Kidman. That’s where Silverman’s at right now, and why she’s at Sundance for the first time with “I Smile Back,” a bleak drama that barely offers even one moment of comic relief. Silverman plays Laney, a housewife who seems to have it all — two cute kids, a loving husband who dotes on her. But she’s struggling with crippling depression, and instead of taking her prescribed pills, she self-medicates by doing lines of cocaine and sleeping with random men. Sometimes she’s pretty despicable.

Adam Salky, who directed the movie, knows that may be hard for moviegoers to accept. “The business is always trying to put you in a box,” he said. “But Sundance is the perfect place to take risks, because that’s what it’s all about.”

A couple of days before her film had its premiere, Silverman was nestled into a fancy booth with a view of the Wasatch Mountains. An eager waiter came over to offer her the house specialty, fondue, but she grimaced and said she wasn’t hungry. She ordered a ginger ale and rubbed her stomach as if it hurt.

“I’m not sick,” she said, readjusting her ponytail. “I’m just Jewish.” Read the rest of this entry »

Video: THR asks Sarah for slogan

Posted by Gator on January 28th, 2015

Straying from the standard interview subjects at Sundance, The Hollywood Reporter, for its “Sundance Short Cuts” feature, asked celebrities, “What is a word or phrase that each of you overuses?”  The full video includes two different Sarah segments.

At timecode :30 (30secs), she digresses:

“I don’t know, but my manager pointed out yesterday, and I guess it’s true, that at some points I go like this– [Makes clawing at neck motion with both hands.] Do I do that? …When she did it, I was like, ‘That’s crazy– but– it does look familiar. I can imagine doing that. And it makes so much sense, because at night when I wash my face, I’m like, ‘I have a rash on my neck. It’s just red!'”



At timecode 1:50, she more directly addresses the question:

“I want to have a signature phrase, though. I’ve been really trying to push this [takes a blue collar pose and voice]: ‘Sounds like my ex-wife.’ (Host: I don’t know if that’s totally fresh and new, but–)”


“What about–um–‘What a country!’ Is that fresh– [Adam Salky observes the Yakov Smirnoff reference, so Sarah drat-punches fist:] Dumb-dumb!”


P.S. Fans will recognize “Sounds like my ex-wife” from Sarah’s invocation of that bit on the January 8 episode of @midnight.

Interview: Sarah’s hour at Sundance

Posted by Gator on January 28th, 2015

Sarah’s first time talking extensively about I Smile Back since completing the movie was apparently this one hour live-streamed New York Times “Times Talk,” at Sundance, the morning of January 24. Times movie blogger, Cara Buckley, interviewed both Sarah and Tig Notaro. Notaro was at Sundance for the documentary about her, called “Tig.”

Tig Notaro is a long-time friend of Sarah, including having worked on The Sarah Silverman Program. (In this interview, they mention that Sarah visited Tig daily in the hospital when she had her cancer surgery.) The interplay between Sarah and Tig in this interview is hilarious; you can see from some of their shorthand that they are real friends. But if you haven’t seen Tig before, prepare for her frequent irony.

It’s interesting for fans to observe Sarah’s difficulty finding the right words to talk about I Smile Back in this interview, seemingly unsure how to “promote” such a troubling story. In the subsequent interviews, Sarah became much more fluent in her “talking points.”

(Note: It will take some persistence for you to watch this, since half of it is Tig talking not about Sarah. Sarah’s more significant segments are more toward the beginning and toward the end. Also, we’ve transcripted several of them below. And to save some time, you can manually skip the first three minutes of Sundance personnel introducing, to get to when the actual interview starts.)

SARAH’S MORE SIGNIFICANT SEGMENTS: Read the rest of this entry »

Still Punching coming soon?

Posted by Gator on January 28th, 2015

Back in November, the writer of Still Punching the Clown tweeted that filming was complete. And with J.K. Simmons in contention for an Oscar (he won a Screen Actors Guild award on Sunday), it’s no surprise that Still Punching got a recent media mention. This is from the January 21 New York Post “Page Six.” 

J.K. Simmons — who’s being called a lock to win an Oscar for his role as a maniacal music mentor in “Whiplash” — wrapped his latest indie project just before the holidays, and it’s being tipped to hit the festival circuit this year.

Simmons appears in “Still Punching the Clown,” which is set in the comedy world and co-stars Sarah Silverman, “Silicon Valley” creator Mike Judge, Tig Notaro and Jim Jefferies.

The film has an unusual history: “Face/Off” producer David Permut wandered into a screening of an indie project called “Punching the Clown” at the Slamdance Film Festival back in 2009, between seeing movies at the larger Sundance — and he liked it so much, he ultimately backed a bigger-budgeted sequel.

Sarah to be in Clown sequel

Review: Variety praises Sarah in I Smile Back

Posted by Gator on January 26th, 2015

VarietyBannerBelow are the Sarah-related sections of Scott Foundas’s January 25 review in Variety of the Sundance showing of I Smile Back.

Rarely has a performer striven so concertedly to shed any trace of his/her comedy roots as Sarah Silverman does over the course of “I Smile Back,” an addiction drama in which the acerbic comedienne gives the kind of warts-and-all, let-it-all-hang-out (body parts, fluids, etc.) turn that awards’ consultants dreams are made of. But Silverman’s performance is more than an attention-getting stunt, and it’s her hellish rendering of a New Jersey housewife under the influence of drugs, alcohol and mental illness that elevates director Adam Salky’s sophomore feature above the suburban-nightmare movie-of-the-week it otherwise often resembles. Even with the buzz sure to ignite around its Sundance premiere, “Smile” will prove a tough sell commercially, where more sensitive types will blanch at the film’s Olympian gauntlet of self-abuse, reckless endangerment and public humiliation.

Playing addicts of one kind or another has been a tried-and-true recipe for funnymen (and -women) seeking serious-actor street cred, from Michael Keaton in “Clean and Sober” to Jennifer Aniston in the recent “Cake” — neither of whom had to play a scene quite like the one Silverman does early on, as her Laney Brooks stumbles into her sleeping daughter’s bedroom and begins masturbating atop the child’s teddy bear. And that’s just for starters. Indeed, the Laney we meet at the start of “I Smile Back” is already significantly damaged goods, having stopped taking her prescription lithium and slipped back into a series of old, self-destructive habits: cocaine, vodka, amphetamines and torrid afternoon sex with the restaurateur husband (Thomas Sadoski) of a close family friend (Mia Barron). But because Laney is a practiced addict, she manages to conceal the evidence that things are coming undone, for a while, until her efforts become like spackling paste on volcanic rifts.

…What propels the film forcefully along is Silverman, who pulls us down so deeply inside Laney’s sickness that everything else seems to fade away (much as it does in the character’s own life). Though one can see occasional flashes of the actress’ sardonic standup persona in scenes where a drunken Laney castigates a fellow parent from her kids’ school or insults a dinner-party guest, this is fundamentally a performance that doesn’t solicit the audience’s pity or complicity — or even, for long stretches, anything resembling our sympathy.

But it does transmit an acute understanding, of how some people can come to feel like prisoners inside their own bodies, helpless to dispel the urges that compel them. There are echoes here of real-life cases like that of Diane Schuler, the Long Island soccer mom who killed eight people while driving under the influence in 2009, and you come away from “I Smile Back” with a better sense of how something like that might happen. It’s there in Silverman’s eyes, which flicker with an exquisite, agonized mixture of pleasure and shame as she plunges once more back into the abyss.

Review: Indiewire glows about dark Sarah

Posted by Gator on January 26th, 2015

The following is excerpted from Katie Walsh’s review of the Sundance showing of I Smile Back. The review was posted on indiewire.com January 26.


Laney (Sarah Silverman) is the perfect wife to Bruce (Josh Charles) and perfect mom to Eli (Skylar Gaertner) and Janey (Shayne Coleman). She’s a nurturing, loving woman, but she’s also got a raging addiction to anything in sight: sugar, booze, pills, coke, sex, literally anything she can get her hands on. It’s clear that as much love as she has for her kids (and Silverman has great chemistry with them), there are also deep wells of rage within her that send her into flaming-out downward spirals. Silverman plays Laney with a dead-eyed, twitchy ferocity, and her performance is at once horrifying in its reality and morbidly compelling in her rampant self-destructiveness.

At first, “I Smile Back” feels a bit like a very well-shot episode of “Intervention,” and the inciting incident that eventually sends her to rehab is rather ridiculous, but boy, does Silverman sell it. The majority of the film takes place after Laney returns from rehab, who focuses mostly on her struggles to be the perfect wife and mother, while also dealing with the anger and trauma from her abandonment by her father. Silverman is completely riveting as she tries and flails to do right, and her physical performance is remarkable: a change in her gait or expression signals the switch in her personality from human to addict. She courts danger, seeking out triggering events that will drive her to the booze and sex and drugs to numb the pain.

…The story isn’t perfect, including the shocking antics of the first act, but Silverman’s performance absolutely overcomes that. She is so devastatingly bleak at times that it’s bone-chilling. Everyone hates predicting things like this so early, but with the right distributor and marketing, she could be in awards contention and absolutely would deserve it.

“I Smile Back” is a showcase for Silverman’s considerable prowess as a dramatic lead actress, and any story problems in the film are eclipsed by her tremendous performance. She’s so completely raw while also conveying the numbness and shape-shifting abilities of an addict. It’s one of the darkest portraits of human desperation and destruction seen in some time.

Video: Sarah talks I Smile Back to Rolling Stone

Posted by Gator on January 26th, 2015

Below is the video of Sarah interviewed by Rolling Stone’s Peter Tavers at Sundance Film Festival, as well as the print article that Rolling Stone posted January 26.


January 26, 2015

Sarah Silverman’s work is known for eliciting laughs, not tears. But the acclaimed stand-up and comic actress has taken a creative detour by starring in the intense addiction drama I Smile Back, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. In the latest installment of “Off the Cuff,” Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Travers talks to Silverman about her dramatic break-out role.

 “There really is no evidence of ‘me the comedian’ in this movie,” Silverman says in the above video, before describing her character. (“[She] is a mom and housewife – smart – and living the life in suburbia. And a drug addict and a manic-depressive, I would say.”)

Elsewhere, the actress ruminates on the unexpected challenge of filming such emotionally heavy scenes during four-week shoots. “It actually is a bummer to be in a drama that has bummer scenes,” she says, noting that on off-days, she would “come home and go straight to bed, watch Law & Order.”

As the conversation veers, Silverman discusses her “full-on phobia of drunk people,” noting that she bolts at the “first sign of drunkenness at any kind of event.” (If forced to stay at a party, she usually tries to seek out a “comedy corner” with friends like Jack Black and Jason Sudeikis.) She also confesses her addiction to television – whether it’s “heady stuff” like Game of Thrones and Mad Men or “whatever’s on USA.”