Mark Duplass never wants his ‘The League’ character to change

Mark Duplass reprises his football addict character for the fifth season of "The League." Credit: Getty Images
Mark Duplass reprises his football addict character for the fifth season of “The League.”
Credit: Getty Images

To some, Mark Duplass is a filmmaker specializing in small dramedies like “The Puffy Chair,” “Cyrus” and “Jeff, Who Lives at Home.” To others, he’s an actor who plays soulful slacker types in “Humpday,” “Your Sister’s Sister” and “Safety Not Guaranteed.” But to most, arguably, he’s Pete, the horrifically dude-ish fantasy football addict on “The League.” Though the FX show enters its fifth season, Duplass says his character hasn’t changed much — which is good.

How do you feel Pete has evolved over the seasons?
Here’s the greatest thing about Pete and this show: Pete does not grow up. Every man-child movie or anything you watch, over the course of 90 minutes they learn their lessons and become good people. Pete’s kind of a terrible human being. He’s super shallow. He’s very into fantasy football because he doesn’t have very much else going on in his life. He really doesn’t change — which I kind of love.

Do you think he’ll ever change?
I think Pete’s got a shot at beginning self-awareness around 75. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Are there any stray similarities between you and Pete?
No, I’m so different from him. He has this confidence — even if he doesn’t work hard, he knows he’s going to be fine in the world. I’m deathly afraid of failure and am pretty neurotic and I’m a workaholic because of that. If I don’t create projects for myself, nothing will happen.

The cast is mainly comic actors, whereas you and your wife Katie Aselton come from movies.
The films that we’ve done are dramedies, so we have an appreciation for comedy. You just have to take ego out of it, and make sure you’re not trying to be the funniest one in the scene all the time. You’re just trying to make the funniest scene you can. And sometimes that’s setting somebody else up.

How do you maintain the group rapport, especially with gaps in seasons?
We’re all very close friends. Steve [Rannazzisi] just moved back to New York. But the rest of the cast, we all live within two miles of each other. We use Katie’s pool as a place where we hang out a lot. We’re buds, we just kind of lucked out on this one.

As an actor, what are the challenges of doing TV versus film and hanging onto the same character?
“The League” is a bit like summer camp. I get to show up and just be an actor and improvise and have fun. And then I walk away. We’re not really arc-ing these characters long-term. We’re watching them in their stasis — we’re watching their eternal state of man-childishness. The real challenge is trying to stay creatively relevant and stay creatively inspired. The thing that helps us the most with “The League” is it’s an improvised show. We work from outlines, so you can never get to that lazy space where you just memorize your lines and spit them out. You always have to be on your feet, you always have to be paying attention, because you never know what’s gong to happen. It keeps you vital.

You’re working on your own TV show, “Togetherness,” for HBO. What are some challenges of writing and directing in this different medium?
We’re really not pros at long-form drama yet. We’re new at it. Our films barely crack 90 minutes. HBO has been not only helpful but really supportive and letting us have our vision — laying back when the time is right but also stepping forward when they need to. They tell us to let things breathe, let things open up, to think in terms of eight seasons. They’ve actually taught us quite a bit.

What have you learned from some of the other directors you’ve acted for, like Noah Baumbach, Kathryn Bigelow and Lawrence Kasdan?
Lawrence Kasdan taught me efficiency with words. When I improvise I ramble a lot. Kathryn Bigelow showed me that you can use the same process that I like to use, which is improvisation and multiple cameras, but apply that to greater, grander, even sociopolitical plotlines. It doesn’t have to just work for people or emotional stories. Noah Baumbach loves his words. I learned to appreciate my words, though there are still times I encourage my actors to improvise their lines because I’m sick of the ones I wrote. But I’m just sick of them. The audience isn’t.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.