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At first sightPoker Faceis a very modern American crime thriller. Dive deep into the sands of redneck America under the metaphorical heel of creator Rian Johnson and star Natasha Lyonne. ButPoker FaceIt also looms large in the annals of 1970s Little Hollywood, the world where the eccentric Lt. Columbus knew everything.
Starring Lyonne, Benjamin Bratt and Ron Perlman, the series grew out of Lyonne's love of classic crime and noir genres. "My love for Peter Falk, all the Cassavetes and Wim Wenders movies, my love for detectives like Philip Marlowe,the long goodbyejChinatowne Humphrey Bogart”, Cube.
"Of course, my understanding of my work has always been very author-based, as there is no better term," adds Lyonne. "Well, I see it as a great job. You know what I mean? It doesn't matter what specific aspect of the work you do. For me right now it's about which people I can do things with and that the way we understand the material is 360 degrees."
The series is a collaboration between Lyonne and writer/director/producer Rian Johnson, best known for his work on the middle third of the finale.star WarsTrilogy,Star Wars: The Last Jedi, ANDstar Warsprecursorvillainand more recently the whodunit moviesknife awayjGlaszwiebel.
The latter two, the beginning of a series of mystery films starring Daniel Craig as master detective Benoit Blanc, is in many ways the starting point forPoker Face. Not that the two worlds are remotely the same, but both draw deeply on Johnson's reverence for classic crime novels such ascolomboor the adventures of Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie.
Lyonne and Johnson became friends through Johnson's wife, film journalist Karina Longworth, who hosts the film history podcast.you have to remember that. Wanting to turn a podcast episode into a movie, Lyonne ended up on the couch where the couple talked about their love in the 1970s.
"We struck up a friendship and started getting together for these dinners, and you were really inspired," says Lyonne. "An old psychiatrist told me that relationships thrive when people have information about each other and fall apart when that information is depleted. What we have is pretty brilliant."
The bubblegum really took off, says Lyonne, when Johnson sent her a script based on their conversations:Poker Face. “It was much better than the ideas we discussed because it was completely original; It's the most generous gift one artist can give another when they say, "Hey, I wrote all this for you, so we can do this."
and in the world ofPoker Face, in which Lyonne plays Charlie Cale, a casino teller with an innate ability to detect lies, all roads seem to lead to the legendary TV seriescolombo, in which Peter Falk played Lieutenant Columbo, a homicide detective working for the Los Angeles Police Department. The series was a "howcatchem" as opposed to a "whodunit" in which the culprit was revealed to the public, and the format followed the detective's genius for piecing together the clues.
At just 43 years old, it seems mathematically impossible for Lyonne to be obsessed with it.colombo, but Hollywood is Hollywood, who are we to deny? "Thanks for telling me I'm too young, I don't hear that enough anymore," he laughs. "I think I have better hair than Peter Falk... but he's someone whose work instinctively makes a lot of sense to me.
“And it's not just comfort food; when you have those scenes with him and John Cassavetes [in what many fans consider the best Columbo episode ever,study in black, in which Cassavetes plays murderous director Alex Benedict], they're kind of driven by the story,” says Lyonne. (The episode also starred Blythe Danner and Myrna Loy.)
"The quality of the actors in this television series is exceptional", adds Lyonne, remembering that her childhood was also marked byThe GodfatherjscarjRockyand "I remember loving Bette Davis and Jessica Lange so much as a kid, too."
Perhaps the most visually impressive aspect ofPoker FaceIt's its attitude and color palette that eschews the often-perfect image of American suburbia that television tends to favor, for a route through more authentic American back roads, where the sun is scorching and the air is full of sand and dust.
“Judy Reeves, our production designer, had a big task because we don't have a lot of time to prepare; and for each episode you have to build a completely different world each time”, says Lyonne. “Transforming this place, particularly upstate New York, into 10 different worlds so quickly is a huge task, but Rian set the tone with [Director of Photography] Steve Yedlin, and Judy is incredibly detailed. .
"I think the pilot really took charge of realizing that it was going to be shot and that it felt like one of his movies," adds Lyonne. "That's why it's so important that you have someone who is a giant who sets the tone for a series like this, because at least there's a role model that everyone knows if they don't achieve that goal."
Lyonne came to the series thank youRussian doll, a series she co-created, produced, wrote and directed. At thePoker FaceLyonne is producing, starring in, and directing an episode. She obviously wants more on her plate than just acting in front of the camera.
“Basically, [doing all those things] is really fun, and that's how I see the job now,” says Lyonne. "My discovery inRussian dollIn the writers' room at the end of the season and getting ready to direct the episodes and produce her and her attitude and the attitude of all the department heads, I really understood the character.
“A lot of times in a script you see an ellipsis in dialogue, dot, dot, dot, and you go up to the writer and say, what does she mean here? And sometimes I found they didn't know the answer,” adds Lyonne. "Since I was the writer, producer or director, I was able to build a bridge when we were actually shooting and that would create a more cohesive character arc."
Lyonne also led a somewhat eventful life; his first works were with Woody Allen, Mike Leigh and Paul Reubens; He later starred in the Netflix seriesOrange is the new black. "I think people tend to think I'm my characters and they're me," says Lyonne. "I know who I am. So I know it's not true. It's always a bit like a Mae West game for me, like I've drawn a drag character.
"I'm much more of an introvert and a writer and stay home all day and just smoke my cigarettes in peace and try not to talk as much as possible," she adds. “It's like discovering this game after 30 years. For me, it's always about being able to get into a line where I see the scope of what you can do. It goes a long way to say I love movies."
Poker Face opens in Stan on January 27th.
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