Jenny Slate’s ‘Frustratingly Horny Lonely Teenage Years’ + An ‘Obvious Child’ Mad Lib

Jenny Slate stars in this summer’s hottest abortion comedy Obvious Child. (Sorry, we had to go there.) It’s a coming out of sorts for Slate, who, before this first feature-length starring role as a young and impregnated stand-up comedian, has been best known online and on cable. Her array of characters include the fickly talkative snail on her animated Web show “Marcel the Shell (With Shoes On),” and the dutiful and dumb — but “ameeeeeezzzing” — publicist Liz B. on Nick Kroll’s Comedy Central sketch show PubLIZity, which has become a show of feverish cult obsession, recently drawing in cameos from the likes of Katy Perry and Seth Rogen.  

Her Obvious Child character Donna Stern, written specifically for her by director Gillian Robespierre, is by far Slate’s most serious role yet. After an unexpected one-night romp with Jason Sudeikis’s dopple-ganger Jake Lacy, Donna finds herself with child and has to spend her last pennies to, well, fix the situation – a difficult decision she works out (and drinks through) on stage during her act. “The first time I watched it, I cried for the whole movie,” says Slate, recalling how lucky she felt that Gillian came to see her free stand-up show in New York’s East Village back in 2009. “I was so overwhelmed and kept thinking ‘What if this never happened to me?’”

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 The sweetly innocent Slate, who says she still draws on her childhood and parents and “frustrating horny lonely teenage years” growing up in Massachusetts, can only compare the ride to stardom to one thing: camp.

“At camp, suddenly I was really confident and people thought I was really funny when at eight years old I took off all of my clothes and ran down the hill,” says Slate. “Everything that bothered me about school and my fitting in was cut off, and then camp would be over and I would be devastated.” Of course, nothing is over for this comedian, whose public blow due to a slight slip-of-the-tongue on SNL is only a handful of years behind her. In fact, the rumor this week is that “Marcel” is heading to the big screen in the form of a musical.

As Slate continues to tour the country in support of Obvious Child, which also stars David Cross, Richard Kind and her off-screen good friends Gabe Liedman and Gaby Hoffman, she took time to Mad Lib with BlackBook. Here is what the sweet-faced but potty-mouthed Slate, who is not afraid to talk dirty panties and farting like the rest of us chicks, came up with.

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Mackenzie Davis on AMC’s New Show ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ (And Celeb Doppelgangers)

Mackenzie Davis is currently seeking structure. Born in Vancouver, the 27-year-old actress decamped from LA for Brooklyn and spends her days in local boîtes reading, writing thank you notes, and searching for wood scraps out of which to build bookshelves and bed frames. She’s also busy with press obligations for the new AMC show Halt and Catch Fire, which is set in 1980s Texas right before the first computer boom, a time when she says “there was this naïve God complex about unleashing pure goodness into the world.”

I find Davis sitting carefully poised, reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest in the corner of a café that not only looks cool but also, has really fucking good food, as she would put it. Her coffee-colored loafers are worn in and her faux-fur Peacoat is pink. She orders a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, with all of the spicy sauces on the side, as we talk about her character Cameron, a computer prodigy with a fuck-off attitude who had a sucker-punch of an entrance in last night’s premiere, the trials and tribulations of Tinder and a woman’s place in Silicon Valley. We do not talk about her hair.

I had to really pay attention to the pilot.

It gets easier to watch.

It was great; I just really had to pay attention—computer science is way over my head.

It’s so interesting to be examining this origin story now because it’s past the point of “The future is amazing!” and it’s starting to scare a lot of people. I am a little scared with my relationship to technology. I have to delete apps from my phone all the time just to have some kind of self-control. I almost hope I can lose my phone so I can just get a flip phone – I miss my Razor.

Me too!

But what I think is interesting about these people and this time—and you see this parodied on Silicon Valley as well—is that there is this naïve sort of God complex about unleashing pure goodness into the world. They really believe they are adding something into the world that can be judged as having ethics and morals. They believe access to information is inherently good, and it’s not. It’s whatever our psychologies interpret it to be, as we have seen now with the overreach of the NSA and the sort of obsessive narcissism of Instagram, and other things that I engage with and seek instant gratification from. Cameron really feels that she is injecting something that can be judged on its own as being a purely good thing and that she will change the world if only she can make that information accessible to everyone. But she also thinks she is the one who holds the power and elevation to deliver this goodness into the world – so there is already this enormous narcissism in it.

Already we see that Cameron is a very meaty character. 

Cameron is very young and very naïve and I see a lot of myself in college in her. What I like most about her is that they allowed her to grow so much and not just be a victim of her stereotype and just act rebellious without any motivation. She’s really flawed and really grows a lot – it’s really cool.

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What kind of research did you do to prepare yourself for these characters and this world, right before the computer boom?

I read a lot of books – they gave us a big package of books to read just to familiarize ourselves with the time period. One was Soul of the New Machine by Tracy Kettering. It’s basically a documentary book of a company doing the very thing that we are doing in the show, which is a software company as they transition into PCs and assemble a team of different personalities and different levels of egotism about different skill sets. I had no idea what the temperature of this world was like or how fiery or cold of how insular it was.

What was most interesting about this time to you?

I read a lot of books and articles about women’s experiences and roles in the world of technology from 1900 to present day. Women were the first coders. At the time, it was a really low-level job, and as soon as they started to get respect for it then it became a man’s job and they got demoted back down to secretaries. There were a lot of women in the tech industry because it was this totally innovative thing and now…I really want someone to explain to me why this has happened – what are we doing and what are we telling our girls? How is this still such a viral thing that we are discouraging our girls to follow math and science and engineering and technology? There is this organization called “Girls Who Code” that we [the show] have some kind of affiliation with. And it’s basically just reinforcing at the young age of middle school that 74% of girls express a really strong interest in math, tech, engineering and computer science, and then only 7% of them choose it as a major when they are in undergrad. That’s like an enormous gulf! So “Girls Who Code” gets in at this crucial time and creates a space and classes for girls to explore their interests.

Did you spend any time in Silicon Valley?

We did some screenings there and everyone was so nice and so warm, but there were like two women there in this sea of men. It felt like the 1950s.

Do you have any interest apart from the show in computer programming? 

I audited these MIT classes online, which were way above my head but it was nice to try and understand this like introduction to Python Programming. At a certain point I was like, “You need to stop trying to be a genius because you can’t learn this in four months.”

Is there supposed to be a future Steve Jobs on the show?

The obvious Steve Jobs is Joe (played by Lee Pace), because Jobs was a visionary mastermind but he was not a technical mastermind. He worked with computers but he was not super prophetic in a close-to-the-metal way, but he was able to see a very good idea and market it beautifully.

You’re about to become the object of affection for a bunch of young men. What to you is attractive about “computer nerds,” for lack of a better phrase?

I think talent is so sexy and anybody who is devoted to something and has insight into a thing that I can’t personally understand is incredibly sexy. If, of course, they can also communicate that information to me. I do not like it when people just speak at me and don’t try to help me learn. But, I find obsessive personalities very sexy.

Have you ever met anyone on a dating set?

I was on OkCupid three years ago for a couple of months and I just found I got the scariest messages. I know so many people, though, who are getting married or are in the most perfect partnerships and so many of them have met on the Internet. And I know so many people who have gone on tons of fun dates on Tinder, but I’m too anxious I think. I can’t even talk on the phone unless I am in a dark room. I can’t have two worlds co-existing.

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Are you social media savvy?

I don’t have Facebook. I am on Instagram and I love it. So I share the urge. I love going on Tinder especially with my male friends and cultivating a really good profile for them. No more fucking puns about goats – that is not a bestiality thing, I was thinking of something very specific [laughs] – and going through all of their messages. So I think I live vicariously through other people’s Internet exploits. It’s so much fun and so addictive.

What’s an average day like for you – IRL?

If I don’t have press I’ll come to this café [Brooklyn Label] and write Thank you cards a lot of the time and just read scripts. And then I have my craft projects. I just moved into a new apartment so I basically have a very unstructured life. I am seeking structure. I will walk around, look for things to collect in my new house, maybe go for a bike ride and go to a cemetery.

On that note, don’t you have a zombie movie on the horizon? 

The Kitchen Sink. It’s a parody, sort of, but like an earnest satire of every horror genre. It’s set in a town where zombies, humans and vampires co-exist with strained peace. The peaceful interactions are very thin and taut, and then aliens attack us and that erupts everything and it’s an all out war. So it’s three kids, a human, a vampire, which I play, and a zombie who band together and save the town. I think it’s really funny and bizarre. It turns Breakfast Club-y.

Quite a departure from Halt and Catch Fire

There are times when I want to be so careful about what I choose, and always make the right choices, especially as an actress because I don’t know how long this is going to go for and I want to maximize any opportunity I may have. And then there are other times when you’re like “Oh, I get to be a fucking vampire and fly through the air and drink blood and fight people the entire movie!” There are adult acting dreams and then there are childhood acting dreams, and I was like “Oh, that’s an absolute fantasy and what I thought acting would be like when I was five-years-old.”

 

Eva Green Talks Tarot Cards, Temptation, and ‘Penny Dreadful’

If you think Vanessa Ives’ clairvoyant, ball-busting and hyper-sexual demeanor was all a front, think again. This Sunday’s episode of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful—the second of the series–was a coming-out of sorts for Ms. Ives, played by Eva Green, who is no stranger to on-screen sex and total male-domination (cut to past films like The Dreamers and Casino Royale, to name just two). Green’s Miss Ives can outwit any socialite, hang (read: convulse, jerk and basically twerk) with the devil and still make Mr. Dorian Gray—played by the handsome Reeve Carney—jealous. I chatted with Green to go deep into Ives’ rumble with evil spirits, and find out what exactly she is hiding beneath that very tight corset of hers.

Keeping in mind the show’s spirit, I’m going to jump right into the juicy stuff: your big monologue. Can you tell me how you prepped for this scene? What was challenging? And was that your grumbling voice?

The Séance? It is indeed  one of the most difficult scenes I have ever done. It’s one of those things could easily looks silly.  Vanessa is possessed at that moment by several different characters, so the transitions between each one were tough as well as finding their voices and their emotional states. And as for the “grumbling voice,” it is my voice. I am actually speaking Lingala (a dialect from the Congo)!

Have you ever had to act possessed before for a role? It looks like it hurts!

Yes it’s my first time! And let me tell you, it really really scared me sometimes. It is a very physical role—lots of  bruises—but such an amazing role, and what wouldn’t we do for art? Just wait for the other episodes!

How did you land Penny Dreadful, and what about the role attracted you most?

I was so so  lucky that John Logan, the writer and the creator of the show, offered it to me. Even though it takes place in Victorian England, Vanessa is a thoroughly modern woman. She’s a non-conformist, and hungry for life at a time when women were repressed. She’s such a cool character! It’s a great opportunity as an actor to show all her different facets.

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Do you think Vanessa is as confident as she appears in the show and to the audience? For you, what is her biggest inner conflict?

No,  not all.  Vanessa, like all the other characters in Penny Dreadful, is gifted and cursed with special powers, which make her unique but also alienate her. She is torn and tormented. She is possessed by some obscure force, but she has such an amazingly strong will that she is able to keep it dormant—except when temptation arises. Then it becomes a fight to see who will win,  Vanessa and her iron will, or the obscure force.

Who is your inspiration for Vanessa?

Vanessa inspired me! She is such a well-written character that she “exists” even on the page, which is very rare today.

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Can you give us one spoiler alert, or a hint, for what’s to come for Vanessa? Are Vanessa and Dorian going to start up a relationship (please!)? Is Vanessa’s relationship with Sir Malcolm completely ruined now?

Oh, I am sorry I can’t tell you otherwise I will ruin it. And John would have my head!

There are so many tales intertwined in PD. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, Count Dracula. What was your favorite haunting tale when you were growing up? And do you personally believe there are unexplained, supernatural occurrences that happen in life?

Yes, of course! I loved  the tales of Edgar Allan Poe, Maupassant, Théophile Gaultier…The depth of the psychology of the characters and the way the madness is portrayed really fascinated me.

Have you ever personally experienced a tarot card reading? 

I taught myself how to read tarot cards for the role and then found myself picking one card everyday to inspire me and oddly enough it did! A little anecdote that’s really spooky: I rehearsed the tarot card reading scene with John Logan months before shooting. I spread the cards , asked John to pick one, and he picked “The Lovers” just as Ethan Chandler does in the show!

This is your second proper series. Do you prefer doing TV or film, and why? What are your thoughts on the current craze over TV?

Without a doubt, film. But this was such an extraordinary character and well so written that I couldn’t turn it down. Some of the TV series are really amazing like Top of the Lake, Game of Thrones, American Horror Story, Breaking Bad…But I do hope the future of feature films will not be endangered by the success of TV series.

 

‘Palo Alto’ Star Emma Roberts Recounts Her Teenage Years

Emma Roberts on Set, photo by Gia Coppola

“You always think you’ll never forget what it was like to be a teenager,” says Emma Roberts, star of Gia Coppola’s first feature film, Palo Alto. “But then you get older and completely forget everything.” Based on select, and somewhat inconspicuous scenes from James Franco’s book of short stories, Palo Alto is this year’s angsty teen flick but with out all of the stuff. Subdued, or stoned, is her take on the obtrusive spell that is high school when sex, parties, drugs, homework , and The Future, are on the brain.

Coppola—maybe due to her budding age of 27 or the sheer fact she is destined for greatness like her forefathers—has winningly re-mastered adolescence through the eyes of the underdog in us all. Roberts plays her innocent leading lady April, opposite newcomer Jack Kilmer (Val’s very pretty son), the misunderstood artist Teddy. Franco plays April’s seductive soccer coach, while the actress Zoe Levin plays Emily, the slut, though you never hear that word murmured once in the film, and the rising actor Nat Wolff plays Fred, the explosively provocative friend in the Fight Against Authority.

I went  back to age seventeen with Roberts hours before the film premiered at TriBeCa Film Festival.

What were you like at 17-years-old?

I was a social butterfly, for the lack of a better phrase. I was definitely a lot more outgoing than April. It’s funny, you always think you’ll never forget what it was like to be a teenager, but then you get older and completely forget everything.

Did you go to a proper high school?

I was home-schooled for five years, but I went to all of my friends’ school stuff like dances and football games, so I guess I got the experience—without really having to have the experience [laughs]. My friends always joked, “You’ve been to high school in the movies but never in real life.”

April’s room in Palo Alto was Gia Coppola’s real-life childhood room, replete with her aunt’s Virgin Suicides movie poster on the wall. What did your childhood room look like in L.A.?

It was very girly. My door was covered in stickers and cut outs from magazines. I was obsessed with collaging all the time. I had a bulletin board covered with stuff I love. I had a very girly bed and lots of books. My CD player was my life. I listened to Spice Girls and Britney Spears and choreographed dances in my room [laughs]. I was a pretty good lip-syncer…

My cousin had Jonathan Taylor Thomas cut outs all over her wall…

Oh, Jonathan Taylor Thomas! He was so cute. I was in love with him.

There are a lot of “first times” in this film. Can you tell me about one “first time” for you?

I’ve been on set pretty much my whole life, but Blow was my first movie and my first audition. My mom finally let me go on one audition, and I got the role! I love that movie.

You’re pretty involved in the fashion world. Did you have any say in April’s wardrobe in the movie?

A lot of April’s clothes were actually Gia and my clothes. We were both really present in the wardrobe and hair and make up looks. It was very fun to get to collaborate on that and it really helped me get into character. I liked that April doesn’t really look like me, as in Emma Roberts, she just looks like a girl in a movie.

So many teen movies are full of make up and fashion and boobs…

[Laughs] Yea, I hate that. There were some days when Gia wouldn’t allow me to put any make up on and I was like, “Gia, let me have my mascara!” and she was like, “No.” She would literally drag me out of the hair and make up chair and tell everyone not to put any make up on me. 

Were you and Gia close friends before the film?

Definitely acquaintances, but I was actually closer with her mom Jackie. But we always had a really good back-and-forth when we would see each other out. Gia and I really bonded when we started working on the movie. It just became a short-hand between us on set where we didn’t even have to finish our sentences, we would just understand each other and what we wanted from the scene. It was really nice to work with someone like that. Especially being two young females in the movie industry, it’s nice to have another young girl have your back. It’s good for all the girls to stick together. She’s just the coolest. 

There was barely a trace of social media in the film, except for a few text messages between April and Teddy.

That was actually my cell phone with my bright yellow Juicy Couture phone case on it! But [the film] was definitely more about being in the moment. I like when it’s more simplified and people just exist and are not being sucked into social media like we all are becoming.

Are you avid on Social Media?

I definitely am guilty of it but I try to step away from it. I put my phone away at a certain time at night. Sometimes, I’ll have weekends with my girlfriends where we all leave our phones and just hang out. At Coachella, everyone kept taking out their phones to take pictures and one of my girlfriends finally said, “OK, everyone put their phones away, no more taking pictures – we are just going to be in the moment instead of trying to remember the moment.” I want to have a dinner party where everyone has to leave their cell phones in a hat at the door. 

That’s a great idea. I heard you are an avid reader. What was your favorite book in high school?

I loved Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the actual novella. I loved loved loved that book. I’ve read it a bunch of times. 

Favorite book now? 

Anything Joan Didion. But right now, I’m reading The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. I’m actually going at a snail’s pace because I just don’t want it to be over. 

Favorite movie when you were seventeen?

Clueless.

Favorite movie now?

Clueless . I love Miss Congeniality, 13 Going on 30 . I’m a sucker for chick flicks, for sure. 

Who was your crush at seventeen?

[To her Mom] Mom, who did I like at seventeen? She just said, “Who didn’t you like at seventeen [laughs].” I love having a good crush. Isn’t it so fun to be seventeen and have a crush on someone? That’s the best feeling in the world. Shia LaBeouf was my crush for sure. He was all over my bulletin board. 

And it’s pretty safe to say who your celebrity crush is now…

Yea. Totally!

And Jack Kilmer is going to be every seventeen-year-old’s crush now…

I know. I told Jack, “If I were seventeen and single I would be so in love with you right now.” And he ignores all of us girls, which of course makes us all like him even more . 

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