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Get Serious: Comic Actors in Dramatic Roles
Updated September 27, 2010
Slide 1: Zach Galifianakis in It's Kind of a Funny Story
In a recent article on the Vanity Fair website, “Real World Toronto: When Comedians Stop Being Funny and Start Getting Real,” John Lopez explored the places where comedians play it (kind of) straight. Lopez noted that in It’s Kind of a Funny Story, “Galifianakis is as zany as ever, but with a new pathos, vulnerability, and sweetness that calls to mind Harpo Marx in a moment of quiet retreat.” This wasn’t Galifianakis trying to be dramatic, but rather, according to co-director Ryan Fleck, staying in character: “He wasn’t trying to be silly during the dramatic scenes. He knew what each scene was and what it required, and we just urged him to bring as much of his real personality into the role as he could.” While many early, silent comics like Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin wove comedy and pathos into every role, later comedians were often typecast in only funny roles. So when they broke off and accepted a serious part, their talent became all the more visible. In this slideshow, we survey a group of other performances, much like Zach Galifianakis’ part in It’s Kind of a Funny Story, in which otherwise funny actors get (somewhat) serious.
At the NYC Premiere of It's Kind of a Funny Story
Updated September 15, 2010
A slideshow capturing the events on the red carpet at the New York premiere of Focus Features’ forthcoming It’s Kind of a Funny Story, starring Zach Galifianakis.
Growing Up in the Movies
Updated September 10, 2010
To coincide with the release of It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Nick Dawson looks at more movies in which teenage protagonists are thrust into the world of grown-ups.
Slide 1: Introduction
At the start of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s comedy It’s Kind of a Funny Story, our sad, near-suicidal hero, Craig (Keir Gilchrist) tries to check himself into a teen help center, but gets pushed into the adult psych ward instead. There he finds himself among a dizzying parade of crazy, comic and carelessly groomed adults, a world for which he finds himself ill prepared. He mistakes fellow patient Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) for a doctor who prescribes “bird-dogging chicks” as a cure for his sadness. His elderly roommate barely speaks. Others seem like they can’t stop talking. As Craig tries to figure out who to trust and who to avoid, he unexpectedly in all this chaos finds himself and his future. The short stay at Three North psych ward that moves Craig from troubled teen to hopeful adult is a passage many teens have taken in the movies. Sometimes the journey is a fantasy, like the Technicolor trip that Dorothy is whisked up into in The Wizard of Oz. Sometimes it’s a farce, like in the endless antics Andy Hardy gets himself into as he tries to pass himself off as grown up. Sometimes it’s a tragedy, as with the kids in Buñuel’s Los Olividados, whose childhoods are violently taken from them before they even experience them. And sometimes it’s as subtle and internal as just growing up, as in Pump Up The Volume. But in all these movies, the young adults who start off confused by the complexities of the adult world end up as adults, ready, for better or worse, to make that world their own.
Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden
Updated September 01, 2010
An introduction to the fast-rising writer-director partnership behind the latest comedy from Focus Features, It’s Kind of a Funny Story.
Oakland-born Ryan Fleck and Boston-raised Anna Boden, writer-directors of It’s Kind of a Funny Story, met in 1999 on the set of a student short. At the time, Fleck was attending NYU Film School while, uptown, Boden studied film at Columbia. The two became a couple and, after Fleck went to Sundance with his NYU thesis film, Struggle, they decided to make a film together. Have You Seen This Man? was their first collaboration, a 2003 18-minute documentary short about an oddball artist/businessman who sold sundry items of negligible worth (a cracker, a thumbtack) across New York. The short premiered on PBS and was later broadcast by IFC. Of this period — and the next project that would consume them — Fleck told Filmmaker magazine, “After I graduated from NYU, I was doing just about anything to stay afloat. Then I met Anna, who was finishing up her undergrad work at Columbia University. We made our first documentary short, Have You Seen This Man?, and then we made another documentary in Cuba about hip hop music. At the same time I was playing around with this Half Nelson idea. Anna was giving me all these notes and her thoughts on it, and so we just started writing together at some point.”
Updated September 01, 2010
A primer on the young lead actor of Focus Features’ latest comedy, It’s Kind of a Funny Story.
Keir Gilchrist, Movie Star
In Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s comedy It’s Kind of a Funny Story, 18-year-old Keir Gilchrist plays Craig, the movie’s hero. A teen who takes the troubles of the world upon himself, Craig finds a way back to his life through checking himself in to the adult ward of a local mental health center. Gilchrist says, “I think anyone who was in high school can relate to Craig and the feelings he has; I definitely can.” To keep in character, Gilchrist explained that he “didn’t do research because I didn’t think Craig would have any idea of what it was like in such a place. I felt that was the appropriate way to go.”