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5 Questions with Gregg Turkington of Entertainment

It was a truly a golden opportunity to be able to interview Gregg Turkington, as the intrigue of whether he would be himself, or alter ego Neil Hamburger or The Comedian from the new film Entertainment, which opens at the Magic Lantern Theatres Carlton was high. Interestingly, he stayed out of character the entire time, and was very gracious and kind to boot, except for one moment, where the character seemed to sneak back within him.

The film Entertainment, directed by Rick Alverson, has been hotly anticipated ever since its debut at Sundance, and the film is a real tour de force for those open to experiencing a “true movie”. We spoke to Turkington, who also has a memorable turn this year in the film Ant-Man by a secret phone he uses just for interviews and the like from California. He provided us with some real Entertainment and some really compelling insights into the film and filming process.

Scene Creek: How much of the film is based on real life?

Gregg Turkington: We definitely took things that happened in reality based on what had happened at shows or on tour, but I would say that the off-stage Neil Hamburger and the on-stage Neil Hamburger depicted in the film don’t beat too much resemblance to my life, you know what I mean? The way that The Comedian tours in this movie, is a lot more grim than when I’m actually on the road at Neil Hamburger shows, you know?

If you’re trying to make people laugh, and you’re making them laugh, then it’s no longer anti-comedy, it’s comedy. You might take a different route to get to the same result, which is people laughing and being intrigued and amused by what you do but the goal is the same thing to make people laugh and be amused. Just because the style is different, and the tone is different, and you may not be letting them in on the joke, doesn’t mean it’s “anti”

Scene Creek: Do you feel like your showing this movie off?

Gregg Turkington: Don’t know about “showing it off”, there is going to be a really large percentage of folks who just say “this is really not up my alley”. Rather than showing it off, you’re just hoping to connect to the folks with whom the film would resonate. It’s kind of in the same vein as a lot of those sixties / early seventies art films. On the one hand, it gets people who are fans of those types of films, maybe fans who aren’t as concerned with airtight plots and aren’t as concerned with the audience leaving the theatre in a good mood, movies like Two-Lane Blacktop or The Last Movie, folks who like that kind of film, Zabriskie Point, folks who aren’t interested at all in Neil Hamburger, who have never even heard it, I don’t even know if that matters. On the other hand, you have people who have followed Neil Hamburger for years, and find the character amusing, for some of those, they might not like the film, because it’s more of a drama than a comedy. Really, we have the ability to pull folks from all walks of life.

We weren’t setting out to purposely alienate folks, we were setting out to make the most beautiful film that we could make. We were setting out to make the film to our personal taste and to what we would like to see. Magnolia Pictures has been so great to work with, and they really seem to get what we’re doing. Every step of the way, I’ve been really impressed with those folks.

Scene Creek: Do you think that the film will play well in Canada?

I’ve always found it kind of interesting that if you’re Canadian, you just really love hot weather, that you really have no choice, you’ll be dealing with cold weather a large portion of the year no matter what, so think it would be nice if you guys would purchase or take over by force or annex just some little piece of land, further close to the equator, and you know give people obsessed with the desert a chance to live there.

Scene Creek: How did you first come to appear in Ant-Man?

Gregg Turkington: They just asked me. I mean, I was surprised but I was just asked “do you want to be in this film?” The guy who directed it, Peyton Reed, I think is a fan of the Internet web series that I have, On Cinema at the Cinema, and he liked it and from watching it, he thought that the character I did on there, might translate to a character that he had in mind on Ant-Man, so I was brought in and it was mainly an improvised scene, quite honestly.

Scene Creek: Do you find yourself eating more Baskin Robbins?

Gregg Turkington: I don’t eat that that stuff.

I got a lot of questions at the première saying “what’s your favourite flavour of ice cream” and I said “I’m a vegan”.

Baskin Robbins definitely signed up for that one, but that wasn’t the first company that they were trying to shoot that scene in. I think that it was Chipotle originally, but Chipotle wouldn’t let them do it and then it was supposed to be Jamba Juice, and they wouldn’t agree. A couple of lines in the script, these companies didn’t want to be associated with the scene, so eventually Baskin Robbins let them shoot there, but it wasn’t product placement as some people have said, it definitely wasn’t. I think that when I was snooping around in there waiting to shoot, because we shot in an actual Baskin Robbins, I think I noticed that they had more than 31 flavours. Sticking to a number but actually got even more.

I gotta say the whole say that the whole experience probably increased my positive thoughts towards Baskin Robbins. Maybe not enough to eat the ice cream.