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

Feb 23, 2023

Jim Gaffigan (The Jim Gaffigan Show, Bob’s Burgers) delivers a career-defining performance in Linoleum, the quirky sci-fi comedy-drama from the mind of writer/director Colin West (Double Walker). But audiences may also be surprised at how much depth the film holds as it soars to trippy creative heights with its unconventional premise.

Gaffigan plays Cameron Edwin, the host of a failing children’s science TV show called Above & Beyond. Think: Bill Nye The Science Guy with no budget. Cameron aspires to be an astronaut and sure enough, after a mysterious space-race-era satellite coincidentally falls from space and lands in his backyard, Cameron enters full midlife crisis mode. He hatches a plan to rebuild the machine into his very own dream rocket. Meanwhile, his relationship with his wife (Rhea Seehorn of Better Call Saul) and daughter (Katelyn Nacon of The Walking Dead) start to tear.
Things take a bizarre turn when Cameron notices events beginning to unfold around him—a mysterious doppelgänger moves in next door, a car falls from the sky, and an offbeat teenage boy forges a friendship with him. As he pieces together these surreal events, he suspects that there’s more to his life story than he originally thought.

Also on board: Gabriel Rush (Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel), Amy Hargreaves (Homeland, 13 Reasons Why), Roger Hendricks Simon (Love in Kilnerry, The Sublet), Elizabeth Henry (The Sisterhood of Night, Behind the Mirror), West Duchovny (A Mouthful of Air, The Report), and Michael Ian Black (Wet Hot American Summer, The State). Tony Shalhoub (Monk, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) plays a noteworthy character too. Gaffigan shared more about the film with MovieWeb.

The Sky’s the Limit

MovieWeb: Congratulations on the film. A memorable ride. What’s unique here is that you play two very different characters—Cameron and his mysterious new next-door neighbor. What were your thoughts when this story came into your orbit?

Jim Gaffigan: I found it really compelling, but selfishly, I wanted to play the complexity of these two characters and, and kind of the mathematics. I know nothing about science, and in this, I play kids’ science show host, like Bill Nye, which is completely foreign to me. I wanted the challenge of capturing that enthusiasm. Overall, I knew the story was going to be ambitious. I think most actors would tell you that it’s fun [to play two roles]. That possibility jumped out at me. I love acting, and I love complex roles like that. In the entertainment industry, it is the perception industry, but it’s very risk-averse. So, people only want to hire someone that they know can do it. I selfishly wanted to portray these two characters so that I could show that to future collaborators, directors, or writers.

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MW: What came to mind reading the script?

Gaffigan: I read it a couple of times, and I thought, well, if this director can hit five of the 10 points, it’ll be pretty interesting. And I feel like Colin nailed pretty much all of them. I mean, there are a lot of things going on. Having attended a bunch of screenings, there is something really fun about witnessing that last 10 minutes, where people kind of piece the film together. And you want to be involved in projects that present questions and prompt discussions afterward.

MW: There are so many inventive plot devices in the film. What surprised you the most about the overall story?

Gaffigan: The reveal at the end. That surprised me. It was piecing it together. You know, there are some elements that are not in the final cut, and it works fine without them, but I think it was so ambitious what Colin was trying to do. And by the way, we were shooting this pre-vaccine, during lockdown time. So, there was a part of me that didn’t know if the movie was going to be made.

An Out-of-This-World Concept

Shout! Studios

MW: Colin West’s ideas land well here. What else stood out about working with him?

Gaffigan: I loved Colin’s sincerity when I was talking to him. I knew that the tone of his other work was good, leaving it up to the viewer to decide. He wasn’t somebody that had an agenda in what he was trying to say. I love indie films, and I like those movies where you don’t know where it never lands on your head, but it might not even land right away. And that’s why you can have a discussion with someone afterward. Right? It’s fun.

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MW: He must have had great ideas about the two characters you play?

Gaffigan: I loved discussing with Colin how we weren’t going to give away what’s going to happen at the end. So, in building those relationships between cameras, the different characters, I wanted people to be undecided. Like, when Cameron is ignored by his family at the dinner table… is he being annoying? Are they being annoying? It’s like, he’s not the victim of this situation. Maybe the family’s a victim of him being annoyed. I love portraying those kinds of questions.

MW: What do you feel this film says about grief, or moving through change, and life itself?

Gaffigan: I don’t want to give too much away, but I really think this movie is a love story. The greatest accomplishment a human being can have in life is being in a fulfilling relationship. I think that’s what some of this movie is saying. The greatest gift you can get is that someone is there for you. It’s pretty amazing. There’s this certain story point of Cameron’s relationship where his marriage and his career are both in crisis. What we learn is the most important thing in anyone’s life is probably not as important as that commitment he had in his life. I really struggled with successes—it’s a strange mystery. And for me, creative fulfillment is really what I want. Stand-up comedy, creative fulfillment. But I didn’t know that. I had to learn that. I was super ambitious. I wanted to be on The Late Show with David Letterman. And I finally appeared, and I remember after the show, I was like, “What do I do now?” I know that sounds corny, but it was this realization of like, “Oh well, you know, I wasn’t in a relationship.” I didn’t really prioritize that. I think everyone in their evolution of maturity has those moments.

Linoleum, from Shout! Studios, opens 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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