2012 king of summer indies: Mark Duplass
By CINDY PEARLMAN June 15, 2012 5:15PM
Mark Duplass arrives for a premiere of “Your Sister’s Sister” with co-star Rosemarie DeWitt (left) and director Lynn Shelton. He also stars in “Safety Not Guaranteed.” | John Shearer~Invision/AP)
Updated: July 18, 2012 6:18AM
In a summer of Downey, Hemsworth and Bale, there is another name to add to the list.
Meet Mark Duplass. You will be meeting him almost weekly at the box office over the next month.
Why? He’s staging his own mini-takeover of Hollywood.
“ ‘The Avengers’ got good reviews,” he jokes about the summer blockbuster he’s not in. “I got the box office.”
It’s funny because he has no shot of the superhero team’s numbers. But Duplass definitely is making an indie movie dent and getting his name out there.
The actor, who usually works as a filmmaking duo with his brother Jay, breaks out on his own this weekend with the sci-fi romantic drama “Safety Not Guaranteed” and the love triangle heart-tugger “Your Sister’s Sister.”
He has a role in “People Like Us” later this month and with Jay he wrote and directed July’s “The Do-Deca Pentathlon,” about two brothers who compete in their own 25-event Olympics.
To say it’s a crazy time for him is an understatement. The 35-year-old native of New Orleans says, “I also have a seven-week-old baby, so I’m very excited about what’s happening to the career while working on sleep deprivation.”
Did we mention that he also has a role in director Kathryn Bigelow’s untitled project about Navy SEAL Team 6 tracking down Osama bin Laden? “I’m in her movie. That’s all I can say,” he says of the plot.
When you’re keeping plot secrets for big directors, you’ve really arrived.
“Certainly, I can tell that there is awareness of me in Hollywood now. Studios are aware, which is part of the battle,” he says. “I’m asked, ‘How are you handling all of this?’ The truth is I have four cups of coffee in me this morning, a 4-year old and the baby, and a bagel as my only meal today, so let’s just say that my wife and I are making it work.”
In “Safety Not Guaranteed,” Duplass plays a man who places a help-wanted ad looking for someone to time travel with him. He warns that he has only done this once before. “You really don’t know for most of the movie if he’s insane or brilliant,” Duplass says. “I loved dealing with that ambiguity. What I also loved is this is a man who believes he can go back in time. He’s not a cynic or sarcastic. He has this childish charm.
“I got to play someone with a pure heart.”
In “Your Sister’s Sister,” Duplass stars in a love triangle that pits sisters played by Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt against each other at a remote cabin. The film was mostly improvised based on an idea Duplass brought to writer/director Lynn Shelton.
“It’s a grounded soap opera,” he says. “I think of it as a Shakespearean bed-switching comedy.”
Duplass has dabbled in music and filmmaking for much of his life. “My brother and I made movies as kids. We just didn’t make anything good,” he jokes. “I hear when you watch early Coen brothers films or early Tarantino, you can see the seeds of their genius. You can’t see our seeds.”
The division of duties was simple. “Jay was stronger and older, so he carried the camera,” Duplass says.
He says the idea to become professional filmmakers seemed like a lark at first. “It didn’t seem realistic, so we planned to go into finance. Then we moved to Austin, Texas, and Richard Linklater (‘Dazed and Confused’) was such an inspiration to us. Here was a guy wearing jeans and a T-shirt. He was a normal American dude making movies about people. That’s what we wanted to do.”
Forget about him becoming some spoiled movie star.
“I might be in a bunch of summer movies, but I can say with confidence that it was mere hours ago when I had fecal matter on my hands,” he says. “I say that with pride.”
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