As I sit down to write this, I’m watching Ray sob in Staten Island (with a dog, mind you) after a brutally sobering encounter with a white trashy Staten Islander who informed him of what a loser he is on HBO’s hit Girls. But Karpovksy, the actor that brings this 33-year-old mess to life, is basically the total opposite.
Karpovsky is a writer-director-producer-editor and general jack of all trades when it comes to filmmaking. Most recently, his two films–Rubberneck and Red Flag–were shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. A psychosexual thriller, Rubberneck came naturally to Karpovsky and his co-writer, Garth Donovan.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the genre,” Karpovsky says, “especially after watching films like Cache, Bubble and Fatal Attraction.” The film, which follows Paul Harris (Karpovsky) as he becomes completely obsessed and sexually enfatuated with a woman who doesn’t reciprocate his interest is “fun, creepy, and pretty preverse,” Karpovsky tells us.
While Rubberneck is intense, psychologically trying and scary at times, Red Flag is more comedic, but no less serious. A meta-comedy of sorts, the film follows Alex Karpovsky (played by: guess who! Alex Karpovsky!), a filmmaker touring college campuses and local theaters to promote his latest film after his relationship with his longtime girlfriend ends up in flames. Left with nothing but his loneliness and some questionable groupies, Karpovsky ends up in a troubled mental state, underscored and made deliciously relatable with the comedy’s subtly dark but witty humor.
“The film is autobiographical,” Karpovsky says. “I mean, I’ve never had a stalker,” he assures us, “but the touring…the going from venue to venue. It can get intense. The loneliness in the film is definitely accurate.”
And Karpovsky knows a thing or two about loneliness, he confesses. “When I was in high school I was a total introvert,” he says. “I was a really shy kid and I didn’t really get over that untill I went to college.”
That probably had something to do with college being like 5,000 miles away. An Oxford graduate, Karpovsky says that his college experience made him the actor that he is today, because it gave him the confidence he couldn’t find back home.
“There were some amazing professors there, and the school had a beautiful campus. I went to a lot of parties and it was an overall good time,” he says.
At Oxford, Karpovsky studied visual ethnography, but it was his time performing with the theater group that really made the difference. “I had so many great experiences with the various theater productions. It was really extraordinary and it’s what helped me come out of my shell, I think.”
Of course, we couldn’t let Alex go without asking him about Girls, and why he loves being Ray. “You know, the show’s great. I love getting to work with my friends, like Lena [Dunham]. The atmosphere is really loose and comfortable,” he says.
On his character Ray, Karpovsky is cautious about letting fans dismiss him as a loveable loser. “I think Ray is a really conflicted guy with a lot of depth. He acts like a know-it-all,” he says, “but really, he has a lot of fears and I think you really see that come out in him.”
New episodes of Girls premiere on Sundays at 9pm on HBO. Karpovsky’s films, Red Flag and Rubberneck are out in select theaters on February 22nd and are available on iTunes. Check ’em out!