The Binge Interview: Clea DuVall on Natasha Lyonne, Fan Service, and Her Directorial Debut “The Intervention”

Out of all the stars who first (and, for many, last) grabbed our attention during the late-’90s teen movie boom, Clea DuVall is firmly among the most memorable. With her choppy androgynous hair, intimidating glare, and delightfully surly demeanor, she stood out brilliantly in a sea of Love Hewitts and Phillippes. In 1998 and 1999 alone, DuVall appeared in five of the era’s most definitive films: Can’t Hardly Wait, The Faculty, She’s All That, Girl, Interrupted, and, of course, But I’m a Cheerleader—a decently diverse lineup that covered all corners of white teen angst, from mainstream to underground, past to present, straight to gay.

The ’00s found DuVall shooting arcs on Carnivàle and Heroes and gracing prestige pictures such as 21 Grams and Zodiac with her haunting presence. And now, somewhere between her devastating, deeply macabre appearance on American Horror Story: Asylum, a pivotal role in the Best Picture Oscar winner Argo, and a breakout performance as a humorless presidential security guard who becomes the girlfriend of Selina Meyer’s disgruntled daughter on Veep, DuVall has found the time to step into the feature film director’s chair for the first time, exactly 20 years after her first screen credit.

After premiering to a positive reception at Sundance this January, The Intervention—which DuVall also wrote and costars in along with her Cheerleader cohorts Natasha Lyonne and Melanie Lynskey, plus Jason Ritter, Ben Schwartz, Alia Shawkat, Vincent Piazza, and Cobie Smulders—is in theaters and on iTunes today. It’s a bittersweet, character-driven comedy about a weekend getaway for four couples that are all old friends—except three of the couples are planning an intervention on the fourth, with the goal of convincing them to divorce and end their visibly miserable relationship. Needless to say, it does not go as planned.

DuVall has since toured the film to multiple festivals around the country, including the Frameline LGBT Film Festival here in San Francisco, which she attended along with Lyonne (herself no stranger to Frameline, after attending its screening of G.B.F. four years ago). I had the great thrill of sitting down with DuVall for a fun little chat in the Castro Theatre’s Frameline lounge back in June, while Lyonne repeatedly beckoned to her from the step-and-repeat several feet away, where she was humoring a photographer with a stream of soundbites.

In further evidence that I don’t understand the concept of acting, I was expecting DuVall to be at least somewhat like the most famous characters she has played: cold, sullen, prickly. I was shocked (and ashamed of myself) when she turned out to be as warm and welcoming as anyone I’ve ever interviewed. In this special episode of The Binge Movie Podcast, listen to me and DuVall discuss her film, the fan service component of casting herself and Lyonne as girlfriends, and the ongoing Alia Shawkat-Ilana Glazer conundrum.

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