Jim Gaffigan talks Linoleum

Actor-comedian Jim Gaffigan spoke with Solzy at the Movies about starring in sci-fi dramedy Linoleum, which is now playing in theaters.

Gaffigan was supposed to talk about the film a few weeks ago but had to reschedule the press day. In the film, he stars as Cameron Edwin and doppelganger Kent. Cameron hosts failing children’s science TV show, Above & Beyond, but also has aspirations of being an astronaut. Following a space-race era satellite falling into his backyard, Cameron ends up in a midlife crisis and plans to rebuild it into his dram rocket. This leads to a strained relationship with wife Erin (Rhea Seehorn) and daughter (Katelyn Nacon). Written and directed by Colin West, the film premiered at SXSW last year before playing an extensive run on the film festival circuit.

Shout! Studios released Linoleum in theaters on February 24. Please check the film’s website for theatrical listings.

It’s so nice to talk with you again!

Jim Gaffigan: Good to see you there.

I was telling Colin when I spoke with him that you couldn’t escape me in 2019.

Jim Gaffigan: (Laughs) Well, yeah, we’ve been chatting. When was the first one was it?

SXSW 2018.

Jim Gaffigan: It was Being Frank, right?

Yes.

Jim Gaffigan: Yeah, that’s crazy.

What was it about Linoleum that drew your interest to the script?

Jim Gaffigan: It was pre-vaccine lockdown so there was part of me that wanted to get out of the house but I really did love the script and I thought it was super ambitious. I kind of viewed it where if Colin could hit half the themes or the points that were in the script, that the movie would be a success. It was so ambitious. I just remember reading this and saying—this production was 20 days and probably no money. What money there was was taken up by testing. It was so sincere and having talked to Colin, he’s a very sincere sweet guy and so I knew that if he could hit some of these, it would be a good movie. I feel like somehow he pulled it off.

Obviously, the ending of the movie has this real impact on people. I’ve probably seen it six times and it never ceases to amaze me the impact it has on an audience and even a really jaded group that has film people like you that have seen a lot of films. It’s fun to see the sparkle that Linoleum provides for people.

It is one of those movies that I’ve never really been in one that had kind of that impact. I was supposed to do these interviews that I’m doing today, including you, a week ago. There have been a lot of interviews where people were like, I’ve been dying to talk about this. It is the type of movie that prompts discussion, it creates questions. Normally, we’re in this age where sometimes creativity can prompt, you need to vent about it, whereas Linoleum provides this path for introspection.

Did you do any sort of prep when it came to finding the character?

Jim Gaffigan: Science is not my wheelhouse. I knew that I was going to watch some Bill Nye the Science Guy and I’ve done StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson. My youngest son is really into science so I was familiar with people that had an enthusiasm for science. But, yeah, watching some of Bill Nye the Science Guy and having relationships with people that love science, that was one of the things that I really wanted to make sure that I captured that enthusiasm. It’s one thing to be into science, but it’s another thing to have a children show where you’re sparking, hopefully, some interest in children surrounding it. Colin has that enthusiasm for science so that was the motivation for the research that I did.

Otherwise, it’s trying to find these characters within yourself and serving some story points. Rhea Seehorn and I, when we were shooting this, we would go on these hikes and we were talking about the relationship that Erin and Cameron had because we certainly didn’t want the relationship to be married with children couple. We wanted it to be everyone’s been in a relationship that even at the end, there is an affinity for one another and we wanted that so that it would serve the movie in a greater sense.

Jim Gaffigan in Linoleum
Jim Gaffigan in Linoleum. Courtesy of Shout! Studios.

How did you approach playing your doppelganger in the film?

Jim Gaffigan: Yeah, I feel kind of lucky because there’re a lot of voices in my head. We have different versions of ourselves, right? We have our version with work friends; we have our versions with family. The different versions—I play Cameron and Kent in this movie—it wasn’t that big of a leap, because it’s much more complex than this, but Kent has a confidence that I feel at times in my life. Cameron has a vulnerability that I probably exist more often. That’s some of the fun of acting is finding yourself in these characters. The Cameron and Kent—they exist, but in every role I play, it’s finding that character and kind of embracing it without a judgment. That’s the important thing is not—for Kent, I’m never critical of the characters I play because then I think I’m judging them.

It’s always weird, because when you’re shooting, occasionally people will be like, Yeah, that guy you’re playing, that guy’s a dick. I’m always caught off guard because I’ve rationalized it so much and I can’t have an opinion on the person I’m portraying’s behavior. It has to be the only decision that he would make. I’m always caught off guard. Also, whenever you’re playing a character, people on the crew will treat you differently. It helps when you’re playing Kent—I’m wearing a wig and a mustache and people are like, You’re behaving differently. You even walk a little different. It goes back to when we were kids just pretending.

I noticed that Linoleum also a family affair with two of your children in the cast.

Jim Gaffigan: Yeah. My sons, again, this is during the lockdown. They were looking for people to play these roles of that I don’t want to give away anything. It’s always fun to do things with my children but it is also, when we’re in the process of it, I’m like, I don’t know why I subjected myself to this. I mean, obviously, I did it because I love my kids and I want them to have these rich experiences. It’s easier when it’s someone else’s kid because then it’s their responsibility. When it’s your child, you’re like, you probably shouldn’t be eating pasta the entire day, you’re gonna get sick. One of them was eating cereal and the other one was eating pasta. I think the one that was eating pasta, he eventually got sick in the van going home but that’s just being a kid.

How exciting was it to return to SXSW for the premiere last year?

Jim Gaffigan: South by Southwest, all these festivals are amazing and they are unique in their own way right? It feels like visiting different in laws when you go to these festivals, whether it’s Sundance, SXSW, or Toronto. You visit some family, it’s more formal, and you visit some family—SXSW is kind of like the kids are in charge rather than the parents. It’s much more of a, this is loose, this is a barbecue. That’s Sixth Street in Austin. It’s just there’s an element of a creative energy that is so important at all these festivals, but that’s unique to Austin and to the fact that festival also has other elements like tech and comedy.

It’s definitely a lot warmer than Park City.

Jim Gaffigan: Yeah.

Speaking of Sundance, it was so weird to be at the festival for the first time since 2020 and not see you on the ground.

Jim Gaffigan: Right. Yeah, no, I had quite a good run there. There were a couple years where I had multiple movies there. I’m such a workhorse. The festivals are the rewards because the indie films, there’s nothing glamorous about it. You’re doing it because you love it. There’s also a celebratory element but it’s important to remember that there are no guarantees there. I’ve done plenty of indie films where they are sitting in the director’s closet. It just never gets seen it. Sometimes, it stalls and editing. It’s a nice reminder, too—the true gamble, which is indie films, which is you’re doing it for the process of acting. You shouldn’t have an expectation that all of them will end up at SXSW or Sundance.

Or Toronto.

Jim Gaffigan: Yeah.

It was so great getting to catch up with you.

Jim Gaffigan: Thank you so much. It’s always good to see you again.

Likewise. Bye.

Jim Gaffigan: Thanks. Bye. Appreciate it.

Shout! Studios released Linoleum in theaters on February 24. Please check the film’s website for theatrical listings.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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