Broad City's Ilana Glazer Takes On The Silver Screen

embed-1Photo: Courtesy of FilmBuff.
You know Ilana Glazer as part of the hilarious duo from the hit web-series-turned-Comedy-Central special Broad City. Now, she's taken on a more serious role in the newly released How To Follow Strangers. In the film, Glazer plays Ellie, a young woman living in Brooklyn, who sees the same stranger, Casey, every day. Intrigued by their encounters, she begins to follow him. We caught up with Glazer to discuss her new movie, Missed Connections, and all things love — and voyeurism — in NYC.
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Your role in this film is more of a serious one for you. How did you know it was the right time to make the jump from straight comedy to, let's say, dramedy?
"I definitely didn't think about it. You know, I didn't go to film school or anything, and it's a really, really rare situation to get this type of appreciation. It's just a really cool opportunity to be there. It was also so cool that they were offering me this serious role. I didn't really think too much about the trajectory — like my personal trajectory or something — as much as, 'This awesome project is in front of me.' And, you know, it's an honor to be asked to do something. It's flattering to be asked. But, also this script is so close to Chioke [Nassor's] heart that it was an extra honor that he trusted us all with his baby."
Broad City is a depiction of the lives of 20-something girls in New York, but so is How To Follow Strangers. How do you think the film represents that same life, but in such a different way?
"I feel like Ellie is more of a suburban transplant than Abbi and Ilana in Broad City are, because Ellie has just moved to the city. I feel like Abbi and Ilana had been there for a few years, and Ilana went to college in New York. It's a much higher level of comfort and trying to fit in. The movie is funny in a different way. [Ellie's clipboard-canvassing job] was so vastly funny to me. I know people who have moved here. It's quite funny, you know? They make like $20 an hour or something. It's just like, 'Oh no, Ellie.'"
embed-2Photo: Courtesy of FilmBuff.
The film does depict the frustrations of living in the city, both the major ones — like committing to a relationship with someone and being vulnerable — and the lesser ones, like having to work a canvassing job or swiping your subway card five times before it works. When it comes to the story between you and Casey, how would it be different if it was set outside of New York City. Or, could this story even take place somewhere else?
"This movie is so deeply New York. I don't think it could've happened anywhere else. I mean, it could have, but I don't know what the specifics would be, and I don't think Chioke does either. Chioke's been so many places in his childhood, but he is such a New York artist. It's so necessarily New York. The story of something like finding someone's journal who's just the person you've been thinking about. That weird stuff happens here. I think it could have taken place in another city, but it would've been different. I feel like, in order to fit somewhere else, it would've had to been real hard. Chioke made it himself, and our group, we made it all together. We made it so it couldn't have been anywhere else."
Do you think that your character — let's say she decided not to follow Casey — do you think she would've posted a Missed Connection?
"I think that Ellie as a character is really starting to grow because of her following Casey. I think she would have, but I don't think he would've been looking at all."
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The Internet isn't very present in the movie at all, which is kind of nice.
"It's magical, in a way, because of that. I think she would have [posted], but I don't think he would have checked for that. I don't think he would have noticed. He had his own sh*t going on."
So, she kind of had no choice. She had to either follow him or that's it?
"I really agree with that."
How To Follow Strangers is available on iTunes.
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