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

Archive for the 'Movies' Category

Sarah featured in NY Times 1/25/15

Posted by Gator on January 24th, 2015

This article about Sarah and this weekend’s Sundance Film Festival showing of  I Smile Back, in which she stars, was posted yesterday on the Times website, and will be in print in tomorrow’s paper. It includes a new interview with Sarah.

012315NYThdlnby Brooks Barnes

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — The harrowing drama “I Smile Back,” making its debut on Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival, opens with a drawn-out shot of a naked, forlorn woman. She is an alcoholic suburban mom having a cocaine-fueled affair and wrestling with mental illness. At one point she gets beaten bloody in an alley.

Sundance insiders think the performance by the lead actress will land with a sonic boom at the festival and, perhaps, on next year’s movie awards circuit. “An indelible performance” in a “career-defining, intensely layered and heartbreaking role” is how Kim Yutani, a senior Sundance programmer, summed it up.

But moviegoers could also snicker and cringe. It all depends on whether the unlikely star, Sarah Silverman, is allowed to be something other than a comedian.

With her squeaky little-girl voice and filthy vocabulary, Ms. Silverman has carved a reputation as one of the comedic greats by playing with extremes. She’s the sweet, responsible-looking one in pigtails who cracks sexually explicit jokes — the woman who wrote a song, “You’re Gonna Die Soon,” put on a great big smile and sang it to nursing home residents. (“It’s not cold in here/You’re just dying.”)

Now, through a circuitous casting route, she’s working a wholly different extreme. “I Smile Back,” adapted from Amy Koppelman’s 2008 novel of the same name, finds Ms. Silverman, 44, tackling two firsts: anchoring a feature film and playing a brutally dramatic part.

“I have no idea how it will be perceived, and that makes me terrified,” she said over iced tea at a cafe here on Monday in a decidedly unsqueaky tone. “I would like for the movie to be liked. But that’s also an uncomfortable spot for me. I don’t normally give control of my self-esteem to other people, or at least I’m trying harder not to.”

We’re all socially or professionally typecast to one degree or another. You can be the clown or you can be the studious one, but you can’t be both. If you are a hard-charging man, you are chief executive material; if you’re a hard-charging woman, you are a you-know-what. (Am I “just the color guy,” meaning a feature writer, as an editor once dismissively referred to me? Or can I be good at both soft and hard news?)

But Hollywood, despite some minimal progress, continues to make pigeonholing an art form. Comedians, especially women and especially ones as successful as Ms. Silverman, have it particularly rough.

“People are not all one thing,” she said.

Not long ago, when a casting director refused to let Ms. Silverman read for a part, she challenged him. “I said: ‘Why do I always have to be the sassy best friend? I know I’m good at that. But what about that character who is kind and tries hard and deserves love? Why can’t I read for her,’ ” she said.

His answer: “Because no one will ever see you that way.”

Ms. Silverman took a gulp of her tea. “Tears fell out of my eye holes even though I kept smiling,” she said.

Ms. Silverman plays that kind of character in “I Smile Back.” Laney is a smart, pretty woman who has it all — the house, the husband, the adorable children — and yet falls, though no fault of her own, into depression, alcoholism and reckless compulsion.

Her frustrated husband, played by Josh Charles (“The Good Wife”), at one point asks what he can do to help. Laney replies, “To not pretend that it’s all going to be O.K. when nothing is going to be O.K.”

In person, Ms. Silverman was every bit as foulmouthed as her fans would expect. She arrived wearing a Beer Nuts baseball cap, her ponytail shoved through the hole in the back, and seemed genuine in a way celebrities often are not.

“What do people wear to Sundance?” she asked, having never been. Answer: Locals in Park City, Utah, where the festival began on Thursday, call movie industry attendees P.I.B.s, for People in Black.

“I Smile Back,” directed by Adam Salky, came to Ms. Silverman in an unusual way. Ms. Koppelman, who wrote the screenplay with Paige Dylan, was listening to Howard Stern’s radio show one day in her car. Ms. Silverman happened to be the guest, and she was talking about her memoir, “The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee.”

“I heard Sarah say something like, ‘The more people that surrounded her the more alone she felt,’ ” Ms. Koppelman said. “And I just immediately knew she would understand Laney. I thought, ‘This woman is a professional smile-backer.’ ”

Ms. Koppelman said she was aware of Ms. Silverman’s reputation as a comedian at that point but that she had never seen any of her work. (It must be said: Ms. Koppelman has a high-pitched voice that is reminiscent of the one Ms. Silverman often uses when she is playing Sarah Silverman.) Doggedly, Ms. Koppelman got a copy of her book into Ms. Silverman’s hands and ended up meeting with her.

“I honestly wasn’t looking for this,” Ms. Silverman said. “I’m not one of those actresses out to prove something or rejuvenate a career by chasing an award. I’m a comedian. I’m still going to make funny videos from my couch.”

Some people will find it hard to believe that Ms. Silverman isn’t trying to prove a little something. I’m admittedly one. But she is known for being brutally frank.

When did she first meet Ms. Koppelman? “I’m a stoner, so I have no sense of time,” Ms. Silverman answered. “Between two and 10 years ago?” (It was 2010.)

Sitting in the middle of a crowded restaurant at the only available table, she warmly chitchatted about her dogs and doing laundry. She does her own, for the record, in a communal washer-dryer in her apartment building. No, she would not like anything to eat; she was planning to meet a male friend for a late lunch. (No, it was not Michael Sheen, the British actor whom the tabloids have identified as her beau.)

The self-serious audience at Sundance will decide whether Ms. Silverman, a longtime skewerer of the self-serious, can go out on a new limb without falling off. But in one important way she has already succeeded. She’s delivered in “I Smile Back” perhaps the perfect example of what Sundance is about: challenging boundaries, stretching in unfamiliar directions and forcing viewers to be a bit more open-minded.

Sarah to be in Clown sequel

Posted by Gator on December 13th, 2014

This was reported on deadline.com 12/12/14:

Nearly six years after Punching The Clown won Best Narrative Feature at the Slamdance Film Festival, a sequel is in the works. Henry Phillips returns to star in Still Punching The Clown, which he again co-wrote with director Gregori Viens.  David Permut, Matt Ratner and Rick Rosenthal are producing the pic, which also stars J.K. JK Simmons Sarah Silverman, Mike Judge, Jim Jefferies, Derek Waters, Ellen Ratner, Ginger Gonzaga and stand-up comedians Tig Notaro, Nikki Glaser and Doug Stanhope.

PunchingTheClown1PIn 2012 it was reported that Sarah was developing a TV series for Showtime based on Punching the Clown, but that never went forward.  Our chances of seeing a feature sequel looks more promising: On November 25, Phillips himself tweeted, “Punching the Clown 2 is now in the can. Look out for it next year!”

IMDB summarizes the plot of the 2009 original this way: This uproarious and smart new comedy tells the story of Henry Phillips, a hapless modern day troubadour who grinds his way through the heartland, living out of his car and singing his twisted satirical songs to anyone who will listen. After a booking mishap involving a Christian fundraiser, he decides he’s hit rock bottom. Seeking to shake things up, he moves to L.A. where his luck changes overnight. Thanks less to his inept manager than to a wild case of mistaken identity, he falls backwards into a string of packed gigs, a record deal and even the promise of love. But he who lives by the whimsy of show business dies by it, and reality hits him like a fist in the face: an innocent miscommunication over a bagel brands him a neo-Nazi in the world of tabloid journalism. Luckily, somewhere between rock bottom and nowhere lies the perfect terrain for his dark and hilarious songs.

Sarah movie announced for Sundance Festival

Posted by Gator on December 3rd, 2014

The schedule for the January 2015 Sundance Film Festival was announced today, and among the features is I Smile Back, in which Sarah stars with Josh Charles (The Good Wife) and Thomas Sadoski (The Newsroom). Variety calls her role, “a self-destructive wife and mother.”

Here’s the paragraph that talks about Sarah in today’s Entertainment Weekly online article about the Sundance lineup announcement:

Earlier this year, of course, former Saturday Night Live funnywoman Jenny Slate recalibrated her career with the breakout Sundance dramedy Obvious Child. And in 2015, Silverman seems poised to similarly upend her image (for chipper yet foul-mouthed comedy schtick), starring in I Smile Back as a suburban mom struggling to maintain a facade of normalcy amid troubles with adultery and substance abuse. “It’s high drama,” Cooper says. “It’s like you’ve never seen Sarah Silverman before.”

Here’s our first look at a pic from the movie: Sarah as Laney with Josh Charles as her husband, Bruce.


Sarah’s Happy voice in cartoon short

Posted by Gator on October 23rd, 2014

Sarah voices one of the lead characters in The Unbelievably Sweet Alpacas, a cartoon short that addresses the social concern: Is economic inequality growing? 

In addition to Sarah in the role of Happy, the film features Amy Poehler (Sunshine), Maya Rudolph (Giggles), Sarah Silverman (Happy), Billy Eichner (Lollipop) and Andy Richter (Dough Vanshaw). The cartoon runs a little under six minutes, and is directed by Adam McKay.

Shalomlife reported that the 46 year old director–after spending most of his 20s clueless about the government decisions on trade policy, wages, pollution and war–became interested in economics and finance. “Once anyone starts looking at the underlying economic reasons behind these bizarre choices they make a lot more sense. It doesn’t mean it’s any less frustrating or infuriating but at least I started seeing the dog isn’t chasing his tail just to chase his tail, there’s a liver treat tied to it,” McKay explained.

The Unbelievably Sweet Alpacas is part of a new film series titled We the Economy: 20 Short Films You Can’t Afford to Miss. The series features films that pair comedians with directors, as well as economic advisors, and presents them in an array of different styles and lengths.

Another Million Ways gem as home release nears

Posted by Gator on September 3rd, 2014

Here’s the latest promotional offering from Seth Macfarlane’s movie.


Video: Sarah in Gravy peek

Posted by Gator on August 22nd, 2014



Finally, we get a glimpse of what Sarah will look like in the movie Gravy, which wrapped a while back but has had very few showings yet. Daniel Milder produced a recently posted behind-the-scenes feature which includes interview excerpts with a lot of the stars, including Sarah. (Clicking the pic takes you straight to her segment, or watch the whole video here.)  Looks like it will be fun but plenty gory.

There is “officially” no release date yet for Gravy.

Pic: Sarah on Ashby set

Posted by Gator on July 31st, 2014


This is the only photo we’ve seen yet of Sarah on set of Ashby. (That’s actor Seth Dousman-Disroe, who posted this selfie from filming in North Carolina in July.) Not a very informative pic, but at least it’s evidence that she really is in the movie.  Well, there is also the recently updated movie poster (below), which now has the names of the four lead actors over the title.