Talking Girls with Alex Karpovsky

Alex Karpovsky and Lena Dunham in the HBO series Girls. (Photo credit: JoJo Whilden/HBO)

Girls is halfway through its first season on HBO. The critically acclaimed show began shooting its second season this month. Alex Karpovsky’s “Ray” will be part of that shoot. Yes, he’s in season two, which is great news for those who rate Ray’s brief “McDonald’s monologue” in episode one as one of the show’s many gems. Alex met Girls creator Lena Dunham at SXSW and appeared in her breakthrough 2010 film Tiny Furniture. Alex talked to The Dodgy from his Brooklyn home about Girls, his latest feature Rubberneck, the writing process, and whether or not The Pint Interviews is a damn good idea.

Girls

Alex found out just a few months after Tiny Furniture premiered at SXSW about Lena’s Girls series and admitted his curiosity for it.  He was filming a movie in Brainerd, Minnesota, where his shot his 2006 comedy The Hole Story, when he got Lena’s call and request to be part of the pilot episode. His Ray Ploshansky (what some call “assholery”) character appears in six of the ten episodes. Alex confirmed he’ll be a part of season two.

I can say that Lena did a really extraordinary job of creating a very safe bubble for the actors to feel comfortable. It’s a very big set sometimes, obviously, for HBO, and it’s very easy, especially if you’re young and haven’t done a lot of TV before – which is a lot of people on the show – to get lost, distracted, overwhelmed, and intimidated. I think she did an incredible job of creating a very warm, open-minded, enthusiasm-filled bubble for the actors who hang out, rehearse, and ultimately perform. And I think it’s nurtured a lot of trust, a lot of respect in other people and the freedom to just voice your thoughts if you don’t fully understand “this joke” or “this motivation” or a particular point of conflict in a scene. It’s just a very nice space she’s created. Not only creating but also nurturing it over the course of these episodes. My experience has been positive and warm.

A nice surprise for me in episode one was seeing Chris Eigeman as Lena’s internship boss. I thought it was a nod to his roles in Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan, Barcelona, and The Last Days of Disco. Not to mention his role in Noah Baumbach’s Kicking and Screaming. I feel that Girls is the nearest thing I’ve seen to a serialized version of those kind of movies.

I know Lena is friends with Whit and Noah and their work has made a huge impression on her. The sensibility, the tone, and the characters. The situations those films explore is a huge part of Lena so it’s definitely no accident Chris Eigeman was on the show.

Rubberneck, which Alex directs and stars in, and wrote with Garth Donovan, made its premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

My hope for the movie is to find a distributor who will make it accessible for the people who are interested in low budget, character-driven, slow-burning, psychosexual thrillers. We’re in negotiations with a few places now, just seeing where the best fit will be and hopefully it will be out there pretty soon.

The Writing Process

The only thing I kind of need is constant variety. Sometimes I want silence, sometimes I want to be in a coffee shop. Sometimes I write without music an sometimes I feel like I need it. I just always need to change it up otherwise things start feeling stale. It all depends on the genre. I feel if I’m writing a comedy it’s better to be in a lively, semi-public space. And with something like Rubberneck (with Garth) – we were usually not in a public space when writing that.

Now comes the part where I recommend a film for Alex to see that he hasn’t and he does the same for me – the only rule is it can’t be one of his own. My choice for him was Brit Marling’s Another Earth.

I’ve been wanting to see that  for awhile so maybe this is the nudge I needed.

Alex’s recommendation for me was something I haven’t seen, The Puffy Chair by the Duplass Brothers.

It’s their first feature. It’s really good.

As far as other filmmakers, Alex said he wouldn’t mind working with Paul Thomas Anderson and thinks it would be fun to do a scene with Vincent Gallo.

I think that would be a good time.

And finally, I asked Alex if he would have been game to be part of The Pint Interviews, where The Dodgy interviews a guest at a pub over their favorite pint of beer. His reply was “sure” so I’m going with that.

In June in Alex will be in Los Angeles for the debut of his latest film, Red Flag.

Alex Karpovsky in the indie film Rubberneck

Alex Karpovsky in Rubberneck.

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