March 19, 2012
A grown man who still lives in his mother's basement and his married older brother help each other through difficult times in the new comedy from the filmmaking Duplass brothers. Here's a look at Jeff, Who Lives At Home.
Jeff, a 30-year-old, is having difficulty getting his life started. With no career and no job prospects, he spends most of his time smoking marijuana and fretting about the future, much to the chagrin of his mother.
MOM "Get off that couch or you're going to find someplace else to live."
JEFF "I was kind of in the middle of something right now, mom."
MOM "Jeff, what do you do in the basement? You're not cleaning it."
JEFF "Do you really want to know? You didn't like it the last time we had this conversation."
MOM "Okay, you're right. I don't."
Meanwhile, Jeff's older brother Pat is married and - to the casual observer, at least - having a real life. But as Jeff blunders toward his destiny, he inadvertently helps Pat and their mom find their way too.
"I just remember a period in my life when I was out of work and was sitting there waiting for someone to cast me," recalls Jason Segel, who plays a naive and hopeful Jeff. "It was very much was like Jeff, sitting there thinking 'I'm going to wait for the sign that I'm worthy of being an actor.' That's what I related to in the part."
Left to right: Jason Segel plays Jeff and Ed Helms plays Pat in JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME, from Paramount Pictures and Indian Paintbrush. (Photo: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle)
JEFF "Why do you want to live like this, drifting through this life with no awareness?"
PAT "What are you talking about?"
"It was just very clear what my job was. It was to show up and be 'regular.' It was just so well written there was no need to talk about what the character's motivation was or anything like that. I knew my job was to show up and do what they had written," Segal adds.
The writers and directors are Jay and Mark Duplass, brothers whose improvisational style has won acclaim at independent film showcases like the Sundance festival. Jay Duplass says they urge the actors not to 'overthink' the roles.
Left to right: Co-writer/Co-director Mark Duplass and Co-writer/Co-director Jay Duplass on the set of their film JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME, from Paramount Pictures and Indian Paintbrush. (Photo: Chris Spellman)
"We are not just asking these guys to 'wing it' and come up with something funny. Everything that we do is based on character goals," explains Duplass. "Our whole process is trying to eliminate intellectualism from the process and really just doing it, exploring it and trying to find it."
Mark Duplass, who has experience as an actor, explains that Jeff, Who Lives At Home was a challenge because the story plays out in a single day.
"We have been shooting films that take place mostly on close-ups of people's faces and deal with interpersonal human relations and the tragi-comedy of relationships. This film maintains that but also expands it because it's a sort of adventure in a day in the lives of these people," he explains.
Those people include Susan Sarandon as Jeff's mom, with Ed Helms and Judy Greer as his older brother and sister-in-law.