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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Is a time traveling man, crazy?

In the indie movie “Saftety Not Guaranteed,” three Seattle reporters seek the truth on a classified ad for a time traveling companion.

Latino-Review interviewed actor Mark Duplass last month to discuss details on the upcoming movie.

Duplass plays the grocery store clerk who placed a classified advertisement in a newspaper that called for an assistant to time travel with him.

Duplass is best known for his role in the fantasy football-themed comedy “The League.” He also recently signed on for an undisclosed role in Katherine Bigelow-directed “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Read the text interview below.

Latino Review: So Mark, tell us why you are attracted to a script like this?

Mark Duplass: I just loved the script. It’s very rare to get a script for an independent film that is decent. This one was stellar and fully realized. It had a combination of comedy and sadness that I just love. So then it combined with that adventure time travel element that I’ve never done in a movie before.

It was a good combination of what I know how to do well—relationship oriented quirky comedy with a new element that is exciting for me to explore.

Latino Review: How was it to be in an independent romantic comedy with certain sci-fi elements?

Mark Duplass: If you look at a movie such as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” it’s not a bad fit for what this movie is. Yes, “Eternal Sunshine” is about erasing people’s memory in that science fiction element. But, it’s really about the people in it, their relationships and how it affects them.

I think to look at “Safety Not Guaranteed,” it’s a time travel movie in so far as a time travel services of where people are at. Everybody is having a little bit of trouble in their lives and they’re feeling the need to eject from their current situation and go somewhere else. It’s a cool metaphor for the personal part of the film.

Latino Review: Are you attracted to roles of men with challenges?

Mark Duplass: This is the first time I’ve played someone like this. He’s borderline insane and a mystery that audiences would like. The big question is for people how they feel about Kenneth is “Is this guy crazy? Or does he actually know what he’s doing?”

That was really fun for me to play that [character].

Latino Review: How did you prepare to play this character then?

Mark Duplass: The key was really identifying with his sincerity and his lack of cynicism. I’m a pretty jaded, sarcastic, cynical person to a certain degree.

And I LOVE how pure Kenneth is. He doesn’t make judgments of certain people. Clearly anyone who believes they could time travel is not too cynical. And I rooted myself in just what that would mean. The good news about that it’s a quality that is very, very attractive to people who are lost. When you come across a believer, it makes you want to be with them. It’s what I use to bring Darius (played by Aubrey Plaza) into me.

Latino Review: Without giving away the ending too much, was this the perfect ending and why?

Mark Duplass: I’m a producer on the film so I was a big part of curating [that ending]. We shot multiple endings for the film, and it wasn’t clear to us until we tested the movie a few times with friends and co-filmmakers on which one would be right. It’s a bold move.

Latino Review: If you, yourself, would have the ability to go back in time—what would your mission be?

Mark Duplass: There’s a practical side of me that would go “Okay, I would go back and find out which lottery ticket that won.” And then I would win the lottery and take that money to use it to end world hunger and fund all the great independent films that I wanted to make.

But in terms of hanging out and being a part of something, I want to end up in John Cassavetes’ kitchen in the late 60s. And hang out with him, Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands to see the way how those guys make movies with their family and friends. That’s the beginning of the independent film spirit. It’s exciting to me.

Latino Review: Your answer is quite the opposite of Kenneth’s character in “Safety Not Guaranteed.”

Mark Duplass: Yes, absolutely.

Latino Review: There’s a scene in the movie, in which you play the zither. Do you personally play a zither in real life?

Mark Duplass: I do now. I had to learn how to play it. It’s not terribly different from playing a guitar. Actually, it’s more simple string instrument.

The song is written by our composer Ryan Miller, a member of the band Guster. He did the musical score for the film as well. He sent me a video of himself playing it. SoI studied his hands and learned the song. And just practiced it a bunch.

And I didn’t play it for Aubrey until we shot it on set. The take you see is me playing it live for her, which she is experiencing it for the first time.

Latino Review: So you only did it once?

Mark Duplass: We shot it twice and we accepted the first take.

Latino Review: How long did it take you to practice that thing?

Mark Duplass: I practiced it for a couple of weeks to make sure that I get it right.

Latino Review: It wasn’t difficult at all?

Mark Duplass: It wasn’t that hard. I’m a classically trained composer. I went to music school and have been in bands forever. So I’ve been around music forever and I’m comfortable with that.

Latino Review: Was there anything in the film that you found challenging for you?

Mark Duplass: Yeah. For me, I played [characters] in a lot of movies that are thinly veiled versions of myself to a certain degree. This guy could not be so different from me.

The biggest challenge for me was playing that true vulnerability and true lack of cynicism. Personally, I’m a confident, opinionated person. And Kenneth has very little confidence in himself. He’s a little skittish animal. So it’s really about inhabiting a completely different person from myself.

Latino Review: You are returning to “The League” television show about fantasy football players. Could you talk about that?

Mark Duplass: We are doing season four and start shooting in August. And it’s really fun. It’s about fantasy football, but it’s really about a group of friends who are really competitive with each other. And that’s a storyline that’s endless.

Latino Review: You just recently signed on to Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty.” Could you tell us more about that?

Mark Duplass: Unfortunately, I cannot really talk about that movie right now as you may notice that the film is pretty much under wraps on what’s it about.

Latino Review: But, are you looking forward to it?

Mark Duplass: Very much so and I’m taking off in a few days. “Hurt Locker” is my favorite movie for that year. And I’m really honored to be a part of that project. It’s going to be a different character for me.

Latino Review: Thank you.

Source: Latino Review

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.