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"James Toback Humped My Leg In Central Park"

 


 

An Interview with the makers of Infinity Baby

 


2017: The Weinstein’s, Toback’s, Spacey’s, C.K’s, Affleck’s, and Hoffman’s of the film world have, for the first time, been ousted from their Hollywood havens and floated down an assembly line into the best short-term rehab facilities movie money can buy.

The effect is all encompassing, not just for filmmakers & entertainers, but for politicians (George H.W Bush, Al Franken), and the civilians who consume them, too. The influence is so sweeping that, come the 40th Denver Film Festival, a Toback story derailed an interview organized between the cast and crew of the feature film Infinity Baby, that was held in a small corner of the city’s Civic Center.

In attendance: Infinity Baby’s director Bob Byington (7 Chinese Brothers, Harmony & Me), its writer Onur Tukel (Catfight, The Misogynists), and its star Trieste Kelly Dunn (Banshee, Loves Her Gun).

The plot of their film, an autobiographical tale about genetically altered babies who don’t age and a parallel story about a man who can’t emotionally mature, lends an appropriately themed background to the provocative story and perspectives that quickly usurp the reigns.

 



Onur Tukel:

I wrote the script 5 years ago.  Bob read it and liked it.   

 

Bob Byington:

 

There were two things I liked about the script, there was the conceit of hiring a woman to be your mom, and I also liked Larry and Malcolm and how they talked to each other. And then I saw Trieste in Applesauce and I really liked the idea of her playing Alison, and then subsequently met her… She was able to do the laugh that Alison needed to do in the movie.  

 

Trieste Kelly Dunn:

 

Thank you. Very different characters though. I’m surprised you thought of me for the role because the Applesauce role was so different.

 

Cinelinx:

 

What didn’t you like about the script? I know there were darker elements that were changed, but was it just that they were too dark?

 

Bob:

 

No it wasn’t too dark, there were just certain things that I didn’t know how to do. So I tried to change it into a movie I could make. And one of those things was the altercation between Larry and Malcolm.

 

Onur:

 

Which originally ended in Larry stabbing Malcolm in the eyes.

 

Bob:

 

Which I changed to spraying, because I don’t know how to shoot stabbing. I didn’t know how to do it intuitively, and intuitively I knew how to do the spraying.

 

Onur:

 

I love blood and violence. The way I would have done it is you’d see the hand going up and then CHOP CHOP CHOP, the hand comes down and then you see him on the ground bleeding. I like to be dark. It’s good. You cut a few things.  Bob’s really good at finding where a scene is bloated.

 

Cinelinx:

 

In pre-production are you guys (Trieste & Bob) talking about the film on a broader level, e.g. what it means?  Or are you narrowing it down to character?

 

Bob:

Yeah we’re trying to figure out who she is, what she looks like, how she interacts with other characters… I really like Kieran Culkin a lot, and was excited to work with him. Were you intimidated by him at all?

 

Trieste:

 

Maybe at first a teeny bit. But no, he was so cool, so I immediately wasn’t.

 

Onur:

 

Were you intimidated because you like his work or because he’s from that Culkin family?

 

Trieste:

 

[laughs] I don’t know. I guess I was a fan and found him funny,

 

Bob:

 

He has a lot of presence.

 

Trieste:

 

I’d seen him in plays before so I knew he was a good actor. He’s been around for a while.

 

Bob:

 

I was impressed by him in This Is Our Youth.  

 

Onur:

 

How early was this. Were you casting Infinity Baby or was this 2 years before?

 

Bob:

 

Infinity Baby was kind of a gleam in my eye.

 

Onur:

 

You always knew you wanted to work with him in some capacity.

 

Bob:

 

I wanted Onur to play the lead initially, but I was aware almost immediately that that wouldn’t work out.

 

Trieste:

 

[laughs]

 

Onur:

 

Also I was too old, you cast it younger.  That was correct.

 

Bob:

 

We were going to add a “making of” component and Onur was very angry about that.

 

Onur:

 

Yeah, your initial plan was to make a metafilm.  They were going to destroy the script and make the movie about making a film, a film within a film. This showed an impressive lack of respect for the actual script itself. Bob didn’t have confidence in the script at all. He wanted to make like a low budget Harmony and Me thing.

 

Bob:

 

There was no making of element in Harmony and Me.

 

Onur:

 

But you wanted to have that kind of --

 

Bob:

 

Don’t shit on Harmony and Me.

 

Onur:

 

It’s a good movie. But thank god you preserved the script and shot it straight & not the meta disaster you were going to make.

 infinity baby

Cinelinx:

Why was Infinity Baby originally called The Misogynists?

 

Onur:

 

I think the way women are treated in the movie - Trieste’s character, the little baby - the title fits. Bob changed the title.  At the time, I thought it was a bad idea, but if you look at the culture now;  It was the right choice. You (Trieste)  worked in the Hollywood system. Surely, you have some metoo stories?

 

Trieste:

 

Oh my god, I’ve got some really crazy stories. I was Toback’d. I was James Toback’d.

 

Onur:

 

Yeah.  You told me this a while back.  When you were 18 years old, he humped your leg until he --.

 

Trieste:

 

Yes, he’s a leg humper.

 

Onur:

 

He preyed on you. He bought you ice cream? And then humped your leg.

 

Trieste:

 

He tried to buy me ice cream. I can’t believe I’m telling this story.

 

Onur:

 

This is great.  It’s not great that he humped your leg, obviously.  But it’s great that you can tell the story without feeling like a “woe-is-me” victim. What happened?

 

Trieste:

 

When I was 18, I was visiting New York.  He saw me in a store and offered to buy me ice cream. For an 18-year-old, I was more curious. He eventually convinced me to let him hump my leg.  

 

Onur:

 

And you let him?

 

Trieste:

 

Yes.  But I had to look him in the eyes when he did it.

 

Onur:

 

He’s so romantic.

 

Trieste

 

[laughs]

 

Onur:

 

Where did this happen?  Hotel room?

 

Trieste:

 

No. Central Park.

 

Onur:

 

James Toback humped your leg in Central Park?

Trieste:

 

Yes.

 

Onur:

 

I have to start visiting Central Park more.

 

Trieste:

 

[laughs]

 

Onur:

 

And you just let him do it?

Did he promise you a role in something?

 

Trieste:

 

No!

 

Onur:

 

Is that how you got the scar on your thigh!?

 

Everyone:

 

[laughs]

 

Trieste:

 

No! I’m going to be accused of making light of the situation if I’m laughing at this, but for some reason I do find it funny. He’s just such a perv, just the weirdest guy out there!

 

Onur:

 

And at the end of the day he didn’t force himself on you. He took advantage of you being psychologically and sexually immature at the age of 18, right?

 

Trieste:

 

I don’t know if it was the immaturity, but he was intentionally doing it to girls who were a lot younger than he was. The LA Times actually broke this story a while back.

 

Onur:

 

Of James Toback humping your leg?

 

Trieste:

 

Other womens legs.  Since then, like 300 women have written to this writer that they have similar stories.

 

Cinelinx:

 

Where were you when he approached you?

 

Trieste:

 

I was in an ice cream store. A Häagen-Dazs.

 

Onur:

 

Did he know you were an actress?

 

Trieste:

 

He probably smelled it on me. He told me I had a “great face for television” and I said “oh thanks.” And then he was like “Let me buy you a milkshake.”

 

Cinelinx:

 

And you didn’t take the milkshake right?

 

Trieste:

 

No.

 

Onur:

 

I mean you took the milkshake. But a different type of milkshake.

 

Everyone:

 

[laughs]

 

Cinelinx:

 

I’m sorry. I don’t know why I’m laughing at this.

 

Onur:

 

No but that’s the thing! Are we normalizing this? You’ve gotta see the laughter in it.  This is a story of perversion.  

 20171106 Misc McNichols DimagibaJ 041 min

Onur Tukel

 

Trieste:

 

Well it’s a funny story because it’s leg humping, you know?

 

Onur:

 

He didn’t just start humping your leg did he?

 

Trieste:

 

No. He asked.  

 

Onur:

 

You never felt traumatized by it? Or victimized by it? Do you take responsibility?

 

Trieste:

 

I never felt traumatized. I just remember when I left,  thinking “Why did I let this happen.”  How did he manage to pull this off.  We were sitting on a park bench and suddenly he’s kneeling on the ground and I’m allowing a man to hump my leg? Like it was easier to just let him do this? I don’t know. And he did say it’d be really quick, he was like “I’m really fast”  [laughs] And he said “I’ll keep my clothes on it’s really easy.”

 

Cinelinx:

 

Did you know who he was at that time, that he was a filmmaker?

 

Trieste:

 

I knew because I had heard of his films, and I let him talk about himself. I thought “I’ll let this guy talk about himself” and before you know it we’re sitting on a park bench and he’s telling all these stories about how he’s “open sexually”,  has a very “70s mentality”, loves sex, and how all his movies are about sex. And oh yeah, a list of all these actresses that he’s had anal sex with… I won’t mention their names.

 

Onur:

 

Really? Oh my god.

 

Trieste:

 

Yeah, and I was just like oh, people are really open minded in Hollywood [laughs].

 

Onur:

 

And open behinded. That’s a bad joke, let's not put that in there.

 

Cinelinx:

That’s gonna make it.

 

Trieste:

 

[laughs]

 

Bob:

 

We should press the restart button.

 

Onur:

 

What? We shouldn’t be talking about this?

 

Bob:

 

No, I just mean energy wise.

 

Onur:

 

Okay, sure sure.

 20171106 Misc McNichols DimagibaJ 091 min

Left: Bob Byington, Middle: Trieste Kelly Dunn, Right: Onur Tukel

 

 

Trieste:

 

Rachel McAdams and Selma Blair came out with --.   They have worse stories because he actually brought them to auditions. And asked them to take their clothes off and say “I need to know what kind of actor you are and see how comfortable you are with your clothes off” just being all kinds of manipulative.

 

Cinelinx:

 

I’m shocked and happy that you were able to brush it off so quickly.

 

Trieste:

 

Part of it was that I had just moved and I grew up in Utah. I just moved to New York and I just graduated High School. So I did think “Oh, this is a thing that happens here.” [laughs]

 

Onur:

 

Did he ask if you were 18? Like was age an issue to him?

 

Trieste:

 

Hmm. I don’t know, he could have.

 

Onur:

 

Like you could have been 17. To me, legally what he did was pervy and creepy, but it’s not illegal If he talked you into it and he didn’t force himself on you right?  

 

Trieste:

 

No he didn’t force himself.  I think the illegal part was that we were in a park. Like you can’t hump people’s legs in a park.

 

Onur:

 

Creepy, amoral, unethical, but I wouldn’t say you can’t make films anymore, you’re out of the academy, or something like that. It’s grotesque to destroy someone’s career because of something with such a gray area.  America is a pathetic reactionary country.  It’s like someone pulled the fire alarm and everyone’s running for the exits.  There’s no fucking fire.  It’s all an illusion.  Remember 9/11? Before 9/11 George W. Bush was a loser.  Suddenly, he was a hero.  We prop up false heroes when the fire alarm goes off.    

 

Cinelinx:

 

So who’s the false hero now?

 

Onur:

 

I don’t want to list names.  I just assume that for every women who said “no” to Weinstein, there was a dozen who said “yes.”  So what does that say about the culture?  Remember, prostitution is the oldest vocation in the world.   

 

Trieste:

 

I don't know, the other stories are pretty bad. Other people have worse stories.

 

Onur:

 

Then why did you let him do it?  I mean, if he had been more famous, do you think you would have let him do more?

 

Trieste:

 

No. It was like having a transgressive experience. Also, I've always been the 'people pleaser' type, in all areas of my life, and a lot of women are like this and have a hard time saying no to all sorts of things and that can bleed over to sex. Certain people will sense that about a person and take advantage.

 

Onur:

 

Toback by Pfizer. It’s like viagra.  But it’s for your dog.

 

Trieste:

 

He was trying to get me to come to these screenings and stuff, but after that I was like Nah, I’m not going to go to any of that.

 

Onur:

 

Did you feel anything when you looked into his eyes?

 

Trieste:

 

I felt like “I wish this wasn’t happening right now.” [laughs]

 

Onur:

 

And now you laugh about it! You haven’t been haunted for 15 years by it?

 

Trieste:

 

No no no. I forgot about it honestly. I kind of didn’t even think about it ever. I’m sure I thought about it afterwards. I didn’t feel good about doing it. It was like I’m a girl from Utah, he must’ve smelled it on me, I’m a sucker.

 

Cinelinx:

 

If you were 18 in 2017 and the same thing happened today do you think you’d respond the same? Would you report it?

 

Trieste:

 

No, there was just nothing to really report. It’s not illegal technically. I also think I just did weird things as a teenager. Part of it was just curiosity. Can’t you put yourself in a situation like that, as a man? I mean I’m sure you’ve had sex with women where you’re like why did I have sex with them?

 

Like sometimes you just do stupid shit.

 

Onur

 

Still do. I don’t regret them though I just regret my life. I just regret everything. Like everything that’s coming out of my mouth right now I’m sure I’m going to regret.

 

Bob:

 

I met Trieste in a hotel lobby and I....

 

Onur:

 

Yes?

 

Bob:

 

...I begged her to come upstairs.

 

Trieste:

 

Yeah he was like please come upstairs, and I’m not saying this is how you’re going to get the role but… [laughs] He did not do that at all.

 

Bob:

 

Then she did the laugh and got the part. I did feel weird that we were meeting at my hotel, but I’m a very frightened person. I don’t say things to women. I’m too afraid to.

 

Trieste:

 

Are you scared because you think someone will accuse you, or because you’re shy?

 

Bob:

 

I’m just scared of women.

 

Trieste:

 

That’s another dynamic, is that a lot of men probably feel that way. There’s just different types of men.

 

Onur:

 

And there are a lot of women who aren’t precious about sex or their bodies. Women have sex with men all the time and vice versa. Sometimes you regret it, sometimes you don't. But if a producer talks you into giving them a blowjob, and the girl is over 18 and regrets it later, I honestly side with the man. Again! This is maybe provocative --.

 

Trieste:

 

Right but we’re not talking about people that are on the same playing field. You haven’t been in a position like that, and when you have you realize how fucked up it is

 

Onur:

 

That’s exactly right. But at the same time, in some ways you’re the one with the power if you’re giving the blow job.

 

Trieste:

 

A lot of people say no. And I’m sure a lot of people said yes and went along with it.

 

Onur:

 

A lot of people said no whose careers were still okay.

 

Trieste:

 

Yeah.

 

Onur:

 

And a lot of people said yes whose careers didn’t blossom.

 

Trieste:

 

I mean that guy’s just a terrible person, he’s devil spawn.

 

Onur:

 

Of course. No doubt.

 

Trieste:

 

He’s just terrible to everyone, women and men.

 

Onur:

 

I don’t want to devalue rape by saying that physical assault is the same thing as convincing someone to give you a blowjob. I think that’s happening today. Everything’s being grouped together.  It’s a false equivalency.  Having your leg humped is NOT the same as getting raped or date raped.

 

Trieste:

 

People are calling a guy who grabbed their ass assault, and he’s in a wheelchair. Let's not call that assault.

 

Onur:

 

You’re talking about George Bush, senior?

 

Trieste:

 

Yeah.  

 

Onur:

 

Yeah...George Bush senior grabs someone’s ass.  It’s a crime against humanity, right?  His son launched an illegal war in Iraq where thousands of people died.  Who gives a fuck, right?   There’s a ton of shit to be outraged about.  To all those crying wolf, spare me your righteous indignation.  Welcome to the internet...the bulletin board for mock outrage.  

 

Trieste:

 

If I was assaulted on the street and somebody punched me, I would call something like that assault.  An old man grabbing someone’s ass isn’t the same thing. [laughs] We don’t need to discuss this anymore.

 

Cinelinx:

 

… Let’s talk about Infinity Baby.

 

Bob:

 

I’d like to talk about a movie I just finished production on.   

 

Cinelinx:

 

Oh yes.  You just wrapped a new film.

 20171106 Misc McNichols DimagibaJ 044 min

Bob Byington

 

Bob:

 

In my new (Currently Untitled) movie, we don’t exactly know what happens between a female substitute teacher and a boy, her student. And part of what the movie’s about is where the line’s crossed --. It’s about a female sex offender. We're working on a voiceover for Nick Offerman --

 

Onur:

 

Is it true that after making this film Nick Offerman’s name is now Nick GettingOfferMan. That’s a terrible joke.

 

Bob:

 

That’s what I meant about the reset button.

 

Everyone:

 

[laughs]

 

Cinelinx:

 

And convicted female sex offenders are treated differently. Lighter prison sentences and all that.

 

Bob:

 

There was a woman on my flight, she was looking at my computer which had some stuff on it from the movie, and we got to talking and she mentioned that she’d be mortified if a male teacher hit on her daughter, but that if her son “bagged” - she said bagged- a woman who looked like my teacher, that she’d be proud of him. That’s a quote, and it was very flat and direct. Phenomenal to hear her say that.

 

Onur:

 

Yeah I was surprised because I thought Trump was finished when the pussy grabbing comments came out. But ultimately women just didn’t care. 54% of white women still voted for him…

 

Trieste:

 

Because we’re just so immune to it. We’re so immune to that kind of thing. That’s why it’s so surprising that suddenly people are talking about it and there’s such a fallout. People are losing their jobs over it.

 

Onur:

 

I met a guy the other day.  A liberal.  So sure of himself.  So absolute in his convictions.  He claimed that all women, all 54% of women who vote for Trump, did so, because they have suffered psychological abuse from men.  He was saying that all women are mentally-ill. That was the only way they could have voted for Trump.  And he said all of this with no irony.   It was sickening.  That’s how you champion women?  By stating that they’re all too brain-damaged to think for themselves?  

 

Bob:

 

You’re so angry, Onur.

 

Onur:

 

We’re just in a very narcissistic “Look at me” time with instagram and social media. Some people are surely using the “me too” thing as a way to get attention as well. The intention is good, but it's dangerous too. It breeds paranoia. It devalues real assault.

 

Trieste:

 

I don’t think that’s exactly what’s happening.  I think there are a lot of people who are feeling pain.   And I’m not even talking about the James Toback story.  I have a ton of stories, Onur. Where there are men with power and they bully other women.  Women have to leave their jobs, sign NDAs, and then go up against these companies that they don’t have a chance in hell against. And then their careers are stalled.

 

I think that’s where the real issue is. But it’s funny with Bob’s film, I do think there is a massive double standard. I don’t know. The rules are just different, they are different. We’re finally going by female rules.  

 

Trieste2.0

Trieste Kelly Dunn

 

Bob:

 

We cast a babe in our new movie on purpose. Trump was a good looking guy like 30-40 years ago. He could come into a room, he has a commanding presence, there was a context in which he could flirt with a woman. But at some point he crossed a line, and Toback did too, into being a very repulsive person. When they walk into a room everyone goes UGH.

 

Onur:


Because of the way they look?

 

Bob:

 

Yeah, they don’t look good anymore.

 

Onur:

 

So George Clooney could still do this? Could do the hotel room thing?

 

Bob:

 

I think if you look a certain way you can get away with something.

 

 

Trieste:

 

Or you just don’t need to. I think if you’re a good looking guy it’s just easier to get laid. You don’t have to be rich and powerful and Harvey Weinstein. Those guys became rich and powerful probably so they could get laid.

 

Onur:

 

The thing is about sex. There’s so much anxiety wrapped up around sex. You know what I mean? You might have to drink to confidently access your libido. You might say things that are forward. But it's all for a good cause. Sex. Sex and nature are intertwined. All motivations of are governed by sex. But we're creating an atmosphere where we’re afraid to be our primal selves. That's what I'm afraid of. There's no gray area when it comes to touching someone. If you touch someone without permission there’s no gray area.

 

But there’s the assumption that all men are creeps, that if you say hello to a woman and tell her she has a nice shirt that you’re trying to get in her pants.  If you hug a woman good-bye, you’re trying to get close to her physically.

 

Trieste:

 

Not all women though. Not all men are creeps and not all women are frantic about --

 

Onur:

 

But there is an assumption that ALL men want to have sex with every attractive woman they meet.

 

APPLESAUCE 5 1200x675 800x450 

Left: Trieste Kelly Dunn, Right: Onur Tukel, in Tukel's Applesauce (2015)

 

Cinelinx:

 

I couldn’t walk up to a playground and start talking to a kid.

 

Onur:

 

But you should be able to talk to a woman. You should be able to talk to any woman at any time because we’re all human beings here.

 

Cinelinx:

 

If I was swinging on the swingset talking to kids the police would show up.

 

Trieste

 

[laughs] That’s true, and I actually have a stalker who is a girl. She’s obsessed with me and has been for 6 years. She has a psychotic condition. She sends me love letters and it’s crazy, and if she were a man, yeah, I’d have a restraining order. Because men that do that occasionally get violent, but I just deal with her, and occasionally she’ll have a meltdown.

 

Bob:

 

That’s a good idea for a movie too.

 

Cinelinx:

 

Back to Infinity Baby... Trieste and Bob, was there an impetus to create chemistry between these two characters, Alison and Ben, that are dating but looking for completely opposite things in a relationship?

 

Bob:

 

Well I knew that it was important that the two of you have some sort of chemistry but I was confused by that in some ways because you guys were on different trajectories. I remember wanting you guys to hang out a bit, but I don’t remember if we did that.

 

Trieste:

 

We did do that! That was helpful.

 

Bob:

 

But I was a little bit confused about the relationship because the audience knows Ben’s serially heading into relationships, including this one.

 

Kieran told me something interesting, that when he did the scene with you where you come into the cafe and he says “Wow you’re beautiful!” that Ben is lying. Like he doesn’t have an opinion about what she looks like. He just says that, and I found it interesting that he made that choice.  

 

He had thought about it in this way that he was lying to her.

 

Onur:

 

But his thoughts contradict that like 30 seconds later when he starts thinking about how great she is -- well, how bad she is.

 

Bob:

 

Well his thought, as an actor, was that Ben was a guy who just goes on these dates and repeats these lines. Maybe he was a little more charmed by Alison.

 

Cinelinx:

 

What does Alison love so much about Ben?

 

Trieste:

 

I don’t know, that was a really hard thing to answer. I love that character so much because she finds so much humor and joy in everything. I’ve definitely been in relationships with guys that were probably not the best for me, or that were dicks or whatever… Most of the characters I play are kind of grumpy or cynical, but Alison just responds with joy. She even laughs through that last scene where she’s finding all this crazy stuff out. Even if there’s something sad about it she knows she’s going to be okay. I loved playing that character.

 

Onur:

 

Ben’s reaction to the laughter is anger because he feels like it’s disingenuous.  Your character truly feels like the world is a great place. Ben just can’t stomach this; he’s so misanthropic that laughter for him feels like there’s no truth there. He just thinks “how can anyone laugh when the world’s such a fucked up place?” She can see the beauty through all this negativity.  But I don't’ know if that comes across in the film. I still don’t quite understand why she’s with him.

Maybe she wants to change him.  Kiss the frog and turn him into a prince, or whatever.  Squeeze the rock so tightly that a diamond forms. I believe in the original script there was a longer conversation between the two in bed.  It was a postcoital conversation, where we got to see Ben’s tenderness.

Trieste:

Yeah. And Kieran is inherently charming and likeable. I feel like if you were to cast someone who wasn’t as immediately charming it’d be harder to see why there’d be that chemistry. But women do do that all the time. They’re with guys where it’s like “Why are you still with them?

Onur:

Every girl that I’ve ever dated I felt like “why are you with me?”  I believe that.  I’m not always a good person.  And that’s the thing about today.  If you’re an asshole some of the time, you get labeled as an asshole ALL of the time.  


Check out Infinity Baby  which released on iTunes on 11/14/17 and is available to rent for $4.99 HERE. 

Festival Portaits By James Dimagiba @ http://dimagibaphotography.com/

Special thanks to Denver Film Festival's PR Director Neil Truglio, who contributed some questions under the Cinelinx alias.


Watch Infinity Baby 2017 Full Movie Online Free Streaming






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