Sarah Silverman’s problem is that comedy comes so naturally. She was a stand-up first, a sidekick second and then herself in skits, shorts and other small roles. To look at Silverman on screen is to see her true self.
As with all comedians, the assumption is they’re always on, always telling jokes, always being a comedian. “A director once told me, ‘Well, nobody’s going to ever get lost in you, because you’re a personality,’” she recently revealed in an interview with Time Out.
“It made me so sad, but I completely understood. When it’s someone you see in all the magazines or someone whose personality you know, it’s hard to get lost in them. That’s why so many people’s first performance is the one most lauded, because they’re the most mysterious.”
But author Amy Koppelman saw something else and went after Silverman for the lead role in the dramatisation of her novel I Smile Back, in which the outspoken comic plays Laney Brooks, a suburban mother spiralling out of control, ravaged by addiction and unable to escape the clutches of wrongdoings in her past.
“I’m so flattered she thought of me,” Silverman says. “Oddly, in this creative world, people tend to only cast you in things that they’ve already seen you do, whether they realise it or not. She heard me on the radio and she felt so connected, they asked me if I’d be interested. But it never occurred to me it’d get made. Most movies don’t get made. So it was like, ‘Yeah, sure!’
And good job, too, for Silverman at least (the film is riddled with shoehorned references to context that suggest director Adam Salky didn’t trust the star as much as the author did) it’s powerful and utterly believable. To look at Laney Brooks is not to look at Sarah Silverman at all.
I Smile Back is out in cinemas across Dubai from Thursday April 28.
A legendary stand-up, Williams’ topsy-turvy comedy career was punctuated by marvellous turns in Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society and One Hour Photo.
From divorcee in Crazy Stupid Love to a murderous wealthy wrestling aficionado in Foxcatcher, The Office star was Oscar-nominated in 2015.
Adored in the UK for her role in TV sitcom Peep Show, the Brit was astonishing as an abused wife in bleak British indie Tyrannosaur.