Jay And Mark Duplass: 'People Give Us Blazers!'
In 2003, Mark and Jay Duplass decided to make a $3 movie — the cost of a mini-DVR tape from a nearby 7-Eleven — which resulted in a short film called "This Is John." The short, about a guy trying to create an outgoing message on his answering machine, was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival and quickly launched the careers of the Duplass Brothers.
This was by no means their first filmmaking endeavor. Mark and Jay Duplass started making movies together when they were kids, and continued filmmaking at the University of Texas, with minimal success. "We had tried to be the Coen Brothers in the early 90s, but we failed miserably because they're the Coen Brothers," Jay tells Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg at the Bell House in Brooklyn, NY.
Whether they are producing, directing, writing, or acting, the Duplass Brothers have been involved in an astonishing number of projects, including Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives At Home. On screen, you might recognize Mark from TBS's The League and Jay from Amazon Video's Transparent, which was Jay's first major role in front of the camera. More recently, the brothers co-created the HBO series Togetherness, also starring Mark, which follows two detached couples living and coping in Los Angeles. The character-driven dramedy focuses on themes of marriage and friendship, drawing upon the brothers' lives.
"When we are writing and directing and producing, sometimes acting in one of our things, it really is like being a parent," Mark explains to Eisenberg, "When we are acting in other shows, it's like being the drunk uncle who shows up with Oreos and plays with the children, but then goes home and doesn't have to deal with everything."
While other kids were obsessing over Star Wars, the Duplass Brothers were watching hard-hitting, emotional dramas, like Ordinary People, and pretty much anything that aired on daytime HBO in the '80s. For their VIP game, we quiz the siblings on this knowledge, specifically of Academy Award Best Picture Nominees from 1976-1985.
On their childhood filmmaking days
Jay: A lot of filmmakers' films from their younger days are prophetic of future genius...ours was not.
Mark: The first [film] was the invisible man walking across the room, where we would move the shoes one foot in front of the other and film them a couple of seconds at a time. And BLOW people's minds. The second one was a remake of The Blob where our blue bean bag just rolled down the stairs.
On their relationship
Mark: We don't fight a lot and we have actually talked about it. We're wondering if maybe we should fight more and we've talked about going to therapy so that we do fight more.
Jay: Try some yelling and screaming.
Mark: We're worried that we're repressing some stuff.
On their breakout success
Jay: We were kind of ready to throw in the towel. I was pushing thirty and was like, "I got to stop torturing myself and our family with this 'artist' thing." So, Mark was like, "Let's just make a movie today." The story was something that happened to me the day before. I was trying to record a greeting on my answering machine. It was a $3 movie that got into Sundance and did more for our careers than the previous 10 years of trying to be the Coen Brothers.
Mark: And now...as you can see...we own blazers!
Jay: We don't even have to buy these blazers. People give us blazers!
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