You get the sense that Mark Duplass is running on all cylinders in Hollywood. The actor-writer-producer-director is collecting a stream of great reviews for his upcoming turn as Kenneth in the new film "Safety Not Guaranteed," as well as getting notice for his hilarious regular role as Pete on the FX comedy "The League." He can also be seen starring in Lynn Shelton's indie film "Your Sister's Sister."
Duplass also was recently cast in a key supporting role in Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow's upcoming film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden "Zero Dark Thirty."
Mark is one-half of the Duplass Brothers production team, along with Jay Duplass. The Duplasses are responsible for such films as "Baghead," "Cyrus," "Jeff Who Lives at Home," and the upcoming "The Do-Deca-Pentathlon."
I recently connected with Mark to talk about his new film, as well as confront the rumor of a purported superhero character he's hatching.
When I first came to Hollywood, a big producer asked me what I wanted to do, and I told him write-act-produce-direct and his advice to me was to focus on one only. You seem to be having no problem doing it all. Why aren't you listening to the big producer's advice?
I think I met a different producer. Mine was called "my ego." That producer enters my dreams at night and tells me I can do anything I want in this world and he makes me try really hard to do those things. Maybe my producer and your producer should meet up and go bowling. Surely somewhere between those two gents is a well-balanced life.
In addition to playing the role of Kenneth in "Safety Not Guaranteed," you are also an executive producer on the film. Was the time-travel ad ["Safety Not Guaranteed" was inspired by a cryptic classified ad about time-travel originally printed in Backwoods Home Magazine in the fall of 1997. The ad read, "Wanted, somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before."] on your radar before the screenplay, and how did you get involved with this project?
I did know about it and I loved the sense of bravado and vulnerability inherent in the writing. It was a perfect fit for my sensibilities.
I see recurring themes of loss, disillusionment, the inability to deal with present day surroundings, adults seeking to hold on or return to yesterday in the movies you create. Are those themes you and your brother consciously choose to examine?
Not particularly, no. We are drawn to characters more than themes. The heartbeats of all our films begin with character. Odd, unpredictable behavior that hopefully make [sic] you laugh with them; feel sorry for them; then, ultimately, root for them.
Any similarities between the characters of Cyrus (played by Jonah Hill in the film of the same name), Jeff (played by Jason Segal in "Jeff Who Lives at Home"), and your role of Kenneth with the idea of growing up? Is getting older just a hard thing for all of us to deal with?
I don't see it at all about unwillingness to grow up. I don't think the term "manchild" really applies to these people. Cyrus is, quite frankly, in love with his mother. Period. He gets everything he needs from that relationship, except for sex/romance, and he is fulfilled. He has grown up in his opinion and he doesn't want to change his life.
Jeff, on the other hand, would love to grow up, but he doesn't want to settle for anything less than greatness. In many ways he has the most integrity of any character we have written.
As for Kenneth, well, he might be just plain crazy. Then again, he might be a genius... gotta go see the movie to find out.
OK. On a whole 'nother note, has Marvel or DC approached you with a superhero character they want you to bring to the big screen? If they did, would you do it?
They have not, but we recently pitched them "Super Sensitive Guy." It's about a man who has the great power to love, but he's constantly getting his feelings hurt and doubting himself. They have not gotten back with an offer just yet.
"Safety Not Guaranteed" has been getting the user comment label of ''hipster flick', usually given off in a snarky, less than five word comment. What does hipster flick mean to you?
That moniker has to do with sarcasm. I will say this about my character in that film -- there is not an ounce of sarcasm or cynicism in a man who truly believes he can time travel. There is, however, a mullet, a jean jacket, a late '70s Datsun, and Aubrey Plaza in the film, so I can understand why some people think it might be a hipster-fest. But it's not. The film is sincere and raw and has a big, open heart.
If there was a moment in time you could go back to, when and where would that be and why?
The late '60s in the household of John Casavetes, just to see John and Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara and all those guys yelling and making weird independent film. They created the world in which I live, in many different ways, and I'll always worship them for that.
Early classified ads offer many historical clues into the details of daily life routines and needs, from eras long faded into the annals of time. Do you think classifieds are a fair capture of a society and culture meanderings? They can certainly be like a civilized SOS call. Do you think there is a deeper representation in the ads? What do the ads say about us?
I think there is a very intelligent and valid point to be made here. You can certainly glean much about our culture and what's important to us by the back of the local weekly rags. In fact, just the other day, I found a subtle one that certainly defines our generation in many ways. It said, simply: "These pills will beef up your c---. $20.00" Poetry, indeed.
"Safety Not Guaranteed" won the Waldo Salt screenplay award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and will hit theaters Friday, June 8.
Find showtimes and tickets near you on Yahoo! Movies.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Mark Duplass