Comedy Isn’t ‘Long Shot’ For June Diane Raphael

By Rick Bentley Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) June Diane Raphael's road to comedy started in New York, where she studied acting at Tisch School of the Arts and the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. These days you can catch this rising talent in the new Rom Com "Long Shot" featuring Charlize Theron.

Tribune News Service

June Diane Raphael loves making people laugh, whether through a brilliant spoof of the reality dating genre with the series "Burning Love" or a romantic comedy such as the feature film "Long Shot." It's an added bonus when she can also make people think about a serious issue or the power of romance at the same time.

"I am very passionate about doing comedy. I am absolutely shocked that people will pay me to do it because I would absolutely do it for free," Raphael says. "It was also a thrill for me to have a role that had this scope. The political backdrop, which is something I am interested in also, was really appealing too."

In "Long Shot," she had plenty of opportunity to mix it up on a comedy level, especially with costar Seth Rogen. In the film, Raphael plays Maggie Millikin, the by-the-book chief assistant to rising political star Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron).

Just when Field is considering making a run for the presidency, she runs into Fred Flarsky (Rogen), a talented and free-spirited journalist in search of a job. Field was Flarsky's babysitter years ago, and he still has a major crush on her.

Field decides to hire Flarsky as her new speechwriter because he seems to have an understanding of who she is and will be an asset in helping get the message out to the public. The hiring doesn't thrill Millikin and sets off a few office showdowns between the two, especially one big incident with a wardrobe selection.

The working relationship between the actors was the opposite, as Raphael was excited to get to work with Rogen again. In the few times they have worked together, Raphael fell in love with the way Rogen attacks comedy so as to make sure a joke is as good as it possibly can be.

A lot of the humor in the screenplay by Liz Hannah ("The Post") and Dan Sterling ("The Office") comes out of the political arena. Raphael's approach to acting is to concentrate more on bringing life to her character, but she realizes we are living in a time with comedy where there is more care about what is being said to generate a laugh.

"Being careful about the impact of our words and our comedy and our jokes, even with the best intentions behind them, is a good thing. That's only positive. Along with that, as a performer, one has to feel free and have to feel free to fail and say the wrong thing," Raphael says. "You have to be uncensored and work from that place. That's an interesting dynamic. But, telling stories that are representative of more people is only a good thing for comedy."

The perspective comes out of almost two decades of being funny in television and film for the New York native. Her credits includes "Year One," "Funny or Die Presents," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Unfinished Business," "New Girl," "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," "Grace and Frankie" and "Veep."

Raphael's road to comedy started in New York, where she studied acting at Tisch School of the Arts and the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. Following graduation, Raphael studied improvisational comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. That's where she and Casey Wilson ("The Hotwives of Las Vegas") would eventually run a two-woman sketch show.

Her long list of credits also include multiple projects as a writer from the feature films "Ass Backwards" and "Bride Wars" to episodes of "The Very Funny Show." Raphael was convinced from the start the script for "Long Shot" was strong but she knew because Rogen likes to push to get the maximum out of a joke, there would be times she would be able to give input. She felt plenty of freedom to improvise, which she points out is really just "writing on your feet."

Being part of "Long Shot" gave Raphael a chance to be part of a production that while going for laughs, also features a sweet romantic tale.

"Romance is a funny thing because we all love seeing two people find it," Raphael says. "I think the heart of romantic comedies is very hopeful and a very hopeful genre. There's something sincere about it."

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