Jay Duplass is having a moment.
The longtime filmmaker made his major acting debut this summer in “Transparent,” the much-buzzed about Amazon original series depicting a trans woman (Maura, played by Jeffrey Tambor) beginning her late-in-life transition. Duplass plays one of Maura’s three adult children, Josh, an emotionally stunted music producer trying to piece together his own identity. Now, on Sunday, Duplass’ new drama “Togetherness” — made with younger brother and creative partner Mark Duplass — premieres on HBO.
But while his television pursuits may be fresh, Duplass, along with his brother, has been inside the entertainment industry for years. The brothers first garnered a following in the indie film community with hit Sundance features “The Puffy Chair,” and “Baghead,” which put their true-to-life, emotionally grounded aesthetic onto the map. They then transitioned to mainstream success with the studio-releases “Cyrus” and “Jeff, Who Lives At Home.”
As the two rose through the ranks of Hollywood, their traditional labor breakdown often put Mark acting onscreen, while Jay worked behind the camera. That division, coupled with Mark branching out to play roles in projects outside the family — such as in projects like Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” Melissa McCarthy’s “Tammy” and the FX series “The League” — gave audiences more familiarity with the younger Duplass brother. He quickly gained a reputation as one of the busiest actors in Hollywood, working at a rate he himself characterized as compulsive. Jay, meanwhile, was portrayed as the more careful, balanced sibling, off editing an indie film somewhere in the wings.
“Jay would rather make one movie every two years that we direct together and then garden and run and get centered,” Mark joked to Grantland in 2012. “ And I just feel desperately compelled to work. Down to the core of my being. I have no idea why.”
But now, for the first time, that dynamic has shifted. While the two brothers were editing “Togetherness,” Jay was doing double duty on the set of “Transparent.”
“We switched roles a bit this summer,” Jay told HuffPost Entertainment in a recent interview. “He sort of became the dude on lockdown, and I became the one having an affair with my other show. I kind of came to an appreciation of how challenging his life is by jumping around for different things.”
In advance of Sunday’s “Togetherness” debut, HuffPost Entertainment got on the phone with the writer/actor/director to talk about his perspective on the Duplass brothers’ origin story, his newfound passion for acting at 40 and what to expect on the upcoming HBO show.
Short Film Roots: “This is John,” and “Scrapple”
Mark has said before that there was an early period where you both were editors trying to make the day job work. Then your dad helped you out financially and you were able to really focus on making things. Do your…