Linoleum Star Rhea Seehorn and Director Colin West Go on a Wild Ride in Their Inventive Sci-Fi Comedy

Feb 24, 2023

What can possibly go wrong when the host of a low-rated children’s science attempts to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut by building a rocket ship in his garage? That’s the clever premise in Linoleum, writer/director Colin West’s new sci-fi comedy starring Jim Gaffigan, the Grammy-nominated stand-up comedian of The Jim Gaffigan Show and the upcoming Peter Pan & Wendy from director David Lowery.

Gaffigan plays Cameron, who’s in full midlife crisis mode. The ripple effects of his actions generate a bevy of bizarre events that force him to question his own reality. Those actions also put a dent in his marriage to Erin (Better Call Saul’s Rhea Seehorn) and with his daughter Nora (The Walking Dead). Toss in his new doppelganger neighbor (also played by Gaffigan) and things get trippy in Linoleum.

For Seehorn, the film was a wildly fascinating undertaking. She immediately credits West’s script and artistic vision, and the dedication it took to create an unconventional film that certainly has shades of Donnie Darko.

“I was very moved by the letter that Colin put with the script describing that the film was born out of his experience with his own family, and how it’s really wanting to explore realities,” Seehorn said. “And I say plural because we create ‘realities’ for ourselves. Our relationships create realities. The film also explores unconditional love and ‘time,’ and all these huge existential and philosophical elements.”

“I was like, ‘How are we going to explore all of these in the film?’” she quickly added, “but Colin is such a lovely, humble, brilliant filmmaker, and he does it with this light touch. Suddenly you realize you’re fully in this world he’s created. And I just thought it was a beautiful experience making it.”

A Film with a Major Twist

Shout! Studios

Linoleum had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival last year and recently hit the Palm Springs International Film Festival. The film boasts a stellar cast, including Gabriel Rush (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Amy Hargreaves (13 Reasons Why), Roger Hendricks Simon (The Sublet), Elizabeth Henry (The Sisterhood of Night, Behind the Mirror), West Duchovny (A Mouthful of Air, The Report), Michael Ian Black (Wet Hot American Summer, The State), and Tony Shalhoub (Monk, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel).

Linoleum also culls from history in some ways. The filmmaker seems to cull from the heightened emotions of 1957’s Sputnik 1, when the first artificial satellite was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union.

“I like to say I like grew up in a house of science, because my dad was a mathematician turned computer scientist, and my mom worked in big tech.” West shared. “Science and math were constantly being discussed at the dinner table. My favorite TV show growing up was Bill Nye The Science Guy. So, I like the idea of science being fun and creative. If I weren’t a filmmaker, I would be a scientist.

Related: Exclusive: Linoleum’s Jim Gaffigan on his Twisty New Sci-Fi Comedy-Drama

He admitted that he wanted to create something unique with Linoleum. “I think the film goes from being this really elevated, kind of cerebral film to being grounded, heavy, and very emotional. That’s what surprises a lot of people. They’re basically watching this kind of puzzle. We eventually give you the solution to the puzzle, and then the story keeps going, and there’s a real emotional punch to it, even more so than I ever thought.”

Using sci-fi and comedy as a launching pad, West was able to craft a tale that would lure viewers in and keep them invested in the characters. And an unconventional story for that matter. It’s a fun guessing game for audiences, and judging by the positive responses at film festivals, Linoleum may find a rare kind of following.

“This is definitely a film where you bring to it what life experiences you’ve had,” Seehorn noted. “Then it’s going to alter how you feel about those experiences. It brings up emotions in you, especially if you’ve had to deal with the loved ones in the aging process. There’s also the idea of time, and the different chapters we go through individually. I love how the film asks: ‘Where did the dreamer in all of us go?’”

Pulling From Past Influences

Curiously, Seehorn said she wasn’t much of a sci-fi fan growing up. She loved Star Wars as a kid, and a lot of her friends were into Star Trek or went to sci-fi movies or read sci-fi books. But it wasn’t really her thing.

“I wasn’t that into sci-fi, but I just realized I had a pretty devout obsession with TV shows that had magic in them—shows like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie. And this was back when Nick at Night, just played old sitcoms at night instead of any kind of animated programming,” she shared. “I was also fascinated by Fantasy Island. So, I love films with magical realism in them. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Lars and the Real Girl, The Lobster, Charlie Kaufman’s films.”

In those films, Seehorn often finds depth, nuance, and perspective. Basically, films that provoke thought and generate questions—about life and “reality.”

“There’s something about the allegorical part of films like that,” she added. “You get to explore these feelings, emotions, and these philosophical questions that Colin is asking about time, unconditional love, and age.”

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She points out how Linoleum also explores what it means to be successful, a theme that resonated with many film festival audiences. “That theme came up again and again at screenings. That thing of… ‘I wanted to do something important, I wanted to make something of myself.’ I feel like that’s a that’s an obsessive thing going on right now. Everybody feels like, ‘How do I get famous and be important,’ or “I want my life to have meant something.” And it’s like, well, how are you defining that?”

Seehorn says her character, Erin, lets her husband Cameron, who’s asking similar questions, know that he actually did do something; that he was her loving husband, and the family they created was something important.

“That’s something to circle back to with the magical realism I mentioned,” Seehorn noted. “Magical realism allows you to talk about things that feel intangible in us; those things that are so hard to pin down—the mysteries of trying to be a human on the planet and to just get through things.

“So, I wasn’t really into sci-fi, per se, but I love fables, I love allegories,” she went on. “Even in Better Call Saul, there was heightened realism all the time. That show was not straight. There isn’t magical realism, but there’s heightened realism and, and I think it kicks at the core of who we are when you’re able to show those things in film and television.”

Catch Linoleum, from Shout! Studios, in theaters on Feb. 24.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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