FX knows its viewers well and gives them what they want: raunchy comedies that don’t apologize for being what they are. But if you’re expecting another of the same when the network’s newest comedy, Legit, premieres on Thursday, Jan. 17, you’ll be sorely disappointed… well actually, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Because if you look deep down inside every FX comedy, you'll find that secret ingredient that makes them all successful: heart.
The newest show to mix raunch with emotion stars Aussie stand-up comedian Jim Jefferies as an edgy, foul-mouthed guy in his mid-30s, living in LA, struggling to make his life and career more legit – She said the show title! Drink! – only to find a difficult uphill battle every step of the way. Jim's cheerleading team is made up of his best friend/neurotic roommate Steve Nugent, a cyber-law library salesman struggling to stay on his feet in the wake of his divorce, and Steve’s brother Billy Nugent, who suffers from advanced stage Muscular Dystrophy and is confined to a wheelchair. Jim realizes the way to make his life more meaningful is to help Billy experience all the wild and crazy things his condition has prevented him from doing. In Jim’s mind, the way to help Billy is to take him to a whorehouse in Las Vegas to get him laid. Because, of course.
While this premise may sound like a Hangover-like debauchery-filled road trip (which it kind of is), Legit takes it a step beyond that and gives the story meaning. Jim really does care about his friend experiencing something everyone else may take for granted. There is compassion in the way Jim wants Billy to experience all the fun and happiness his condition prevents him from having, that normal life that seems so out of reach. These are real people, with real issues, albeit in hilarious situations most people don't find themselves in all too often. The balance of raunch to heart is perfect.
Before you watch the series premiere tonight, get acquainted with all the crazy people bringing Legit to life. Hollywood.com spoke with the cast at the show's red carpet premiere, so who better to tell you about the characters than the actors who play them?
Jim Jefferies as Jim: I’m playing a version of myself. It’s a slightly douchier version of myself. If I just played myself it would just be a whole episode of me sitting around eating cereal playing video games. It’s really me from about five years ago. It’s me when I was still taking drugs and sleeping around. As for this season, you’re going to be seeing a lot of development in Billy’s character, John Ratzenberger comes in to play Billy’s father, you’ll see a women thrown in a trunk, you’ll see an episode where we are in a disability home where we literally cast every disabled actor in Hollywood. We had them all there, there was chairs all over the place. It’s a mental show.
DJ Qualls as Billy Nugent: Well I turned [the role] down initially because I was afraid of it. And then I realized the reason I was afraid of it wasn’t the subject matter, which I thought it was. Out of all of the messed up stuff that I’ve done, this is the most messed up. But it wasn’t the material, it was the fact that I was afraid of being that vulnerable. I’m in a wheelchair and I can’t move except my fingers and my neck. It’s a scary place to be as an actor because you can’t use any of your bag of tricks. I can’t play with that physicality. I was really afraid of that. I’m more proud of this work than anything I’ve done in five years. And that feels good.
Dan Bakkedahl as Steve Nugent: Throughout the course of the season, you’re seeing Steve holding on [from his divorce]. For the first five or six episodes, I’m still wearing my wedding ring. I’m convinced that it’s just a separation. I’m not going to live a house with this guy smoking pot and my brother in a wheelchair peeing in a bottle. That’s not going to be my life. I’m going to go back to my regular life with my wife and kid, very soon. And we’re going to see that deteriorate. There’s a big event that makes it blow up for sure, right in my face. There’s a real finality to it where you just kind of go, Wow, that’s over. We see Steve go from a witless, hapless sidekick to kind of losing his mind to realizing the finality of the relationship with his wife to wanting to make his life his own.
Sonya Eddy as Ramona: Ramona is the caregiver in the house for Billy. She’s a little tough, she’s loving, she’s imposing, but she also likes to have fun and she gets in there with the guys. You know how sometimes the inmates are running the hospital? She sometimes gets in there with the inmates and causes some trouble. She is one of the most fully realized characters I’ve ever had the chance to play. You’ll see her laugh, you’ll see her cry, you’ll see her be sexy. You’ll get to see her in some sexy situations… heh heh heh! You’ll get to see her confront some issues from her past.
Mindy Sterling as Janice Nugent: I am a mother with flaws. With Steve, she thinks he’s a big fat loser. With Billy, the younger son who’s wheelchair bound, that’s her baby. She wants to take care of him and do for him but at the same time she’s annoyed by him. She does not like Jim. She finds him completely inappropriate, politically incorrect, foul mouthed, just wrong for her family. And later on in the season, there’s an intervention she has to go through… it’s pretty wild.
Legit airs Thursday nights on FX at 10:30 PM ET/PT.
[Photo Credit: Fox]
Follow Sydney on Twitter @SydneyBucksbaum
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The most star-studded event this season isn't turning out to be the Golden Globes or the Oscars or even taking place in Hollywood, for that matter. Rather, it's President Barack Obama's Inauguration on January 21 in Washington, D.C. With Beyoncé already slated to sing the National Anthem (along with James Taylor, who will sing "American the Beautiful" and Kelly Clarkson, who will take on "My Country Tis of Thee") at President Obama's second swearing-in, the historic weekend has even more star power lined up.
The Presidential Inauguration Committee has announced that Katy Perry (who subtly showed her support earlier this year in a variety of ways, including the dress she's wearing at left), Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley, fun., John Legend, Usher, Marc Anthony, Nick Cannon, Mindless Behavior, Far East Movement, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and the cast of Glee will all take part in the the Inaugural kids’ concert and balls.
The Kids’ Inaugural concert, which is hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, will take place on Saturday, Jan. 19. On Inauguration Day there will be two balls, the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball and The Inaugural Ball. All three of these events will held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Other celebrities, whose names have not been announced yet, are expected to attend. [Photo credit: Judy Eddy/Wenn] More:
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VICE Films Executive Director Eddy Moretti had an idea: team up with his longtime friend, director Harmony Korine (Gummo, Trash Humpers and the upcoming James Fraco/Selena Gomez movie Spring Breakers), draft a series of filmmaking rules ("This film must be the best film you have ever made," "The hero tells bad jokes. But they're good," "A stuffed animal needs to make an appearance") and hire international directors to help create an innovative cinematic experience. The result was The Fourth Dimension, a triptych of trippy short films helmed by Korine (Film #1: Lotus Community Workshop), Aleksei Fedorchenko (Film #2: Cronoeye), Jan Kwiecinski (Film #3: Fawns).
To headline the operation, Korine recruited Val Kilmer, who portrays a deranged version of himself in Lotus Community Workshop. Donning a Hawaiian shirt and ball cap, "Val Kilmer" heads to a skating rink to provide a group of small town folks with some insane motivational advice ("Tell me your awesome secrets! Tell me your awesome secrets!"). Portraying a version of himself in this fashion is a bold move, and one I was anxious to delve into after watching the film at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Your character in Lotus Community Workshop is named Val Kilmer. Is there any hesitation when someone comes to you and asks you to play a version of yourself? Was it always Harmony's intention to fictionalize your real self?
Val Kilmer: That he sort of finagled because the character's name was Hector. He said, 'You know, it might be interesting if we went in with all the energy, if we tell the audience that it's you coming to talk.' So I said, 'Sure.' And when it got closer, and he started saying my name more than the character's name, I said, 'So you don't want to shoot it both ways? I say some pretty awful things.' Hector does. I've had my share of misunderstood interviews, so I'd hate to see these in isolated clips.
He said, 'Don't worry.' And as soon as I really imagined not worrying, of course it's not me, it's a character. I think most of the world has some idea of who Tom Cruise is, even with all this meltdown and recovery and things. But… no. You spend your lifetime getting to know your spouse. Why do you think you know Tom Cruise? Because you've seen him in a bunch of interviews? He was acting.
We all do it all day long. You act for your boss. We all act to get what we want. Our dog acts. He acts sad if you don't let him out. We all act all day. It became something easy to embrace. And I had to trust Harmony. Trust your director. If you don't, you can usually feel reserve if you feel sensitive to how performances are put together. When I gave myself all the way to it… maybe the next incarnation might move into more of a collaboration, where I would be able to take greater risks with that one idea, but because it's so absurd — I'm preaching — I think it's clear it's not me.
Did playing yourself still have to be an extension of yourself?
Val Kilmer: I think any creation of an actor is supposed to be an extension. It is even if they're completely lying. Then you learn something about how they lie, how they cover their story. I won't name the actress, but an actress got a rather hideous face lift. But then she played a character who talked about getting a face lift. So she was talking about it.
I think in performance, you get a persona, and then you refine it, then you make projections of that. Like Clint Eastwood sold an idea about a character. We're all thinking the same thing when we say 'Clint Eastwood.' Singular, uncompromising, violent — they all involve those things.
I will admit that I haven't always understood Harmony's films on a plot level, but I always enjoy them on a tonal level. How does he explain his motivations and ideas to help bring you into the fold?
Val Kilmer: Poorly [laughs]. He's much more clever than he lets on. He doesn't like to talk about it — that's to his credit. It's a real talent of restraint in not being articulate about things that become an intellectual process. Like these rules. He didn't tell me about them. I'll turn around and he has a blindfold on. He's telling me to say this one particular sentence that isn't completely to do with the scene. It's a dubious honor.
Do you find that your process changes when you tackle material that's heightened realism like this film versus realistic roles? I know you're currently touring in a one man show based on the life of Mark Twain.
Val Kilmer: I wouldn't call this heightened realism. It doesn't feel like that.
What would you call it?
Val Kilmer: It's my name, but I obviously don't dress like that. I don't ride a BMX bike. I haven't changed my profession and I don't live in Nashville. I don't live with Harmony's wife, who plays my girlfriend. So, I wouldn't call it that. I don't have an alternative suggestion.
Perhaps Lotus Community Workshop is straight fantasy. Is it still the same process?
Val Kilmer: Everything is the same at the beginning, you're just trying to make a realistic application of what's written, and personalizing it. It's always realistic in that way. I fought a dragon once in a movie. I really cared about killing him, but I wasn't trying to convince you it was real. It was just real. It just matters if I believe it's real. Or if you're in love with a costar and she's a dragon. Imagine that she's not.
Angelina [Jolie] tells a story — and I'm happy she mentions is because it's so weird. [In Alexander] I'm raping her. And her breast fell out of her nightgown. And during the take, I kind of made sure my face blocked her breast and covered it up, all while grunting and sweating.
That is acting.
Val Kilmer: I was a bit out of the moment [laughs]. But, it always involves large and small paradoxes. Making people believe. Harmony is really good at that. The things that are just given in it, the hard cuts — I ride a bicycle, but I live in a mansion. What does that mean? It's fun to contemplate. I'm talking about myself, but it's clearly not me.
Are scenarios like that ever confusing for you as a performer?
Val Kilmer: No, I was never confused because the text is so singular. He's a motivational speaker, but he doesn't care about anything motivational speakers care about. He doesn't have a selfish bone in his body. He really wants people to get better — he just happens to be crazy. Or stupid. Probably stupid.
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As Phone Booth not-so-subtly points out most folks these days spend a great deal of time on the phone--so much so that the compulsion to answer even a random ringing phone is sometimes just too hard to pass up. Such is the fate of one Stu Shepard (Colin Farrell) a smooth-talking PR rep who revels in his self-serving unethical existence. He prefers to wheel and deal on his cell phone while pacing the streets of New York but uses a public phone booth for the calls he doesn't want wife Kelly (Radha Mitchell) to find out about like the special one he wants to make to Pam (Katie Holmes) a wannabe actress he's trying to get in the sack. Yet on this particular afternoon the pay phone rings--and being the phone junkie he is Stu answers it. Biiiig mistake. The caller turns out to be a serial killer with a sniper rifle who tells Stu he'll be shot dead if he hangs up the phone. Of course Stu thinks it's a sick joke at first but after the sniper kills someone near the booth Stu is suddenly thrust into a hellish game of cat and mouse with the unseen gunman. Eventually the police arrive led by senior officer Captain Ramey (Forest Whitaker) who first mistake Stu for the crazy shooter. Soon however Ramey his team Kelly and even Pam become ensnared in the sniper's web--and only Stu can save them by digging deep into his soul and coming clean ultimately outwitting the killer at his own game.
That this is pretty much a one-man show is a given--and Farrell bears the weight of it on his shoulders quite well. The Irish actor has a certain reckless-yet-oh-so-vulnerable approach towards his craft which he uses to full benefit in Phone Booth. Stu goes from cocky bravado to gut-wrenching defenselessness in one fell swoop and even though his character's dialogue gets heavy-handed about what a schmuck he has been Farrell manages to make it all believable. As the sniper Kiefer Sutherland is menacing and sardonic as he goads Stu into his confessions but the baddie never comes off as evil as you would like him to be. Of the supporting players only Whitaker stands out as the police captain who is thankfully a lot smarter than he first appears to be. Holmes and Mitchell on the other hand have the tedious tasks of playing "the women" and neither are able to rise above their thankless parts.
Phone Booth had some difficulties making it to the big screen. Originally From Hell's Allan and Albert Hughes were attached to direct with a varying list of A-list actors attached to star at different times including Will Smith and Jim Carrey. Eventually the film fell into director Joel Schumacher's lap in 2000 and (after Carrey dropped out) he cast newcomer Farrell with whom the director had just worked in Tigerland. Twentieth Century Fox at last was able to set a November 2002 release date--but then came the horrifying real-life events last October where two snipers in the Washington D.C. area randomly killed several people and the studio decided to postpone the release due to those sensitive circumstances. Now that the film is finally coming out the wait seems to have paid off since a) Farrell has become a bona-fide star in the meantime with The Recruit and Daredevil under his belt and b) Phone Booth is just as fresh and visually stimulating as if it was made yesterday. Schumacher shot the film in 10 days because he knew he had to pull out all the stops to sell the concept of having the action revolve around one guy standing in a phone booth. The result is an excellent fast-paced film which uses a split-screen style to tell the story--and keep the movie's--and the audience's--adrenaline pumping throughout.
After 20 years with the LAPD Det. Mitch Preston (Robert De Niro) just wants to catch the crooks finish the paperwork and retreat to his mundane life at home where he eats TV dinners and pursues his hobby of making bad pottery. Patrolman Trey Sellars (Eddie Murphy) really wants to be an actor--he's only a cop because he made a lousy waiter. When Sellars bungles Preston's undercover case and media hounds catch it all on tape the irate Preston shoots up a news camera that gets in his face. Over-caffeinated network exec Chase Renzi (Rene Russo) upon seeing the damning evidence that could have killed her cameraman is captivated by Preston's complete lack of charm and convinces her superior she can save his crappy network by pairing Preston and Sellars up on a reality show. As expected Preston is reluctant--and even more so when he's forced to take the mugging Sellars as his partner. The two take impromptu acting lessons from iconic actor/director William Shatner (playing himself) and set off to attract an audience boost the ratings become celebrities and get the bad guys in a televised reality christened Showtime. Meanwhile the evil Cesar Vargas (Pedro Damian)--whom we know is evil 'cause he hides in the shadows he's flashy and well groomed and he mumbles in an unfathomable Third World/ European accent--is stockpiling guns powerful enough to knock down houses and blow the doors off a Brinks truck.
The movie offers a few good yuks--a coke-sniffing dog an unprecedented cameo by jive-rhyming lawyer Johnnie Cochran and William Shatner satirizing William Shatner (who does this better than anybody else satirizing William Shatner). Unfortunately we've seen a lot of his funniest stuff like the scene in which he demonstrates how to roll over a car hood cop-style in the previews. Rene Russo gives an effective souped-up Lethal Weapon-type performance with her hyper pushy fast-talking network exec desperate to make her name in the industry. De Niro's straight-man comedy is in his facial expressions--or lack thereof--and Murphy is…well Murphy. It's their first outing together and they play off each other like a foul-mouthed version of Abbott and Costello (guess who plays who?). We've seen De Niro play grumpy (Midnight Run) and Murphy play obnoxious (almost everything) before. But as you may suspect it's their grade-A chemistry that holds this badly stitched predictable though occasionally funny flick together--especially in regards to the jokes on Hollywood and the current bounty of reality TV.
You can smell the gags and The Odd Couple-versus-Goldfinger plot unfolding a million miles away. You just know Preston is hiding a gun inside that Big Gulp when he goes undercover to investigate a pawn shop and you know Vargas will make bad-guy errors in judgment like staging a robbery in downtown L.A. the day after he's confronted by our star cops in a populated disco. But that may lead you to wonder why the police--who are likewise not presented as being particularly bright in this movie--weren't trailing him as Vargas is the prime suspect in the gun-trafficking subplot. Some of the comedy borders on satire but isn't played up enough for you to tell if it was meant that way or not. The action scenes are so badly edited it's hard to tell who's chasing whom until the camera cuts back to Murphy's toothy grin and a cement-faced De Niro shooting out his car window. And speaking of commercial-laden reality TV the product placement in this movie is shameless--we get a full-length commercial for Apple Computers played not once but twice.