CS Video: Alex Karpovsky on Red Flag, Rubberneck, Girls and the Coen Brothers!

Source:   Edward Douglas
February 18, 2013

If you've watched Lena Dunham's "Girls" on HBO then you're already fairly familiar with the distinctive style of Alex Karpovsky. On the show, he plays Ray, a side character from Season 1 - essentially the troublemaking bandmate of Allison Williams aka Marnie's boyfriend. Since then, he's become Hannah's boss at the coffee shop where she works and the live-in boyfriend for the previously virginal Shoshanna (played by Zosiz Mamet) and an integral part of Season 2.

What fans of "Girls" may not know is that Karpovsky is also an accomplished indie filmmaker whose third and fourth dramatic films as a writer, director and actor will be released this week following festival premieres last year. Although Karpovsky stars in both Red Flag and Rubberneck, they're very different movies with Red Flag being more of the improvised style we've seen him do in movies like Lovers of Hate and Dunham's own Tiny Furniture.

On the other hand, Rubberneck is a psychological thriller with the actor playing Paul, a scientist who has a fling with a co-worker and then becomes obsessed with turning it into something more, a film that gets darker as it goes along. spoke with Karpovsky a few weeks back about his two new movies, got a few thoughts on the evolution of his character Ray on "Girls" (who was featured in this past Sunday's episode) as well as his experience working with the Coen Brothers on their anticipated Inside Llewyn Davis.

You can watch the entire interview below in which we talked about:

* The timing for making the two very different movies
* How Rubberneck was intended as his slow-burning thriller
* Why he seems to play *ssholes a lot
* The approach he took to making each movie
* Shooting Red Flag in the South vs. filming Rubberneck in Boston
* Whether he does any editing himself
* Casting the two films and how that process was different for each one as Red Flag was done more like "Curb Your Enthusiasm" with two actors he met at Sundance
* Karpovsky hadn't originally planned on playing the lead in Rubberneck
* How he feels about the term "Mumblecore" and whether his style of filmmaking fits into that
* How he ended up on "Girls" after appearing in Tiny Furniture and how Ray wasn't originally meant as an ongoing character
* Lena Dunham is writing Season 3 of "Girls" already with plans to start shooting in late March
* His thoughts on why Ray has had more redeeming qualities and is more likeable over the course of Season 2:

"One thing that I really like about the show is that it's firmly rooted in authenticity and naturalism. It's really reflective to me of the people I see around me and people I remember from my younger days living in Brooklyn and that relates to the storylines, the relationships between the characters and their backstories. I don't think you can have a really three-dimensional believable character that doesn't have good and bad qualities, a character who is a jerk but also is endearing. Season 1 we saw more of the jerkish side and Season 2 we're starting to temper that by seeing what you might call a more endearing side. Once you've established the foundation for a character like we did in Season 1 for everybody, you're allowed to A.) explore underpinnings and backstory and B.) take the characters to really zany places without disorienting the audience. I think you saw that in Episode 3 of Season 2 with the cocaine bender which is this really wild adventure that Hannah goes on. I don't know if you could have had that in Season 1 because you're still getting to know Hannah then."

* On working with the Coen Brothers for their upcoming movie Inside Llewyn Davis:

"It was incredible. They're probably my favorite filmmakers and I've seen everything they've done. They've obviously created their own sensibility and style. In a way, you almost need to be directed less because you're so familiar with their very specific language. All the actors that were in my scene with me, because we've seen those movies, I feel we had a pretty firm understanding of what they're going for and what they want from us in these performances. One specific thing about it is that I've never been directed by two people before, because they finish each other sentences and they both talk to everyone. It's not like one person does tech stuff and one person works with the actors—they both do everything."

And lots more!

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