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On the scene at 'The Double' New York premiere

Richard Ayoade and Phyllis Somerville attend 'The Double' screening at Sunshine Landmark on April 30, 2014 in New York City
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On April 30, 2014, was on the scene for a New York special screening of Magnolia Pictures' "The Double" at Sunshine Landmark. From the film: co-writer/director Richard Ayoade and Phyllis Somerville were joined by additional celebrity guests Benedict Cumberbatch, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O, Janeane Garofalo, Alexa Chung, Duncan Sheik, John Cameron Mitchell, Michael Stuhlbarg, Leah Hennessey, Alison Wright, Sophie Auster, Tennessee Thomas, Amy Heckerling, Ry Russo-Young, Constantine Maroulis, Zach Wigon, Louisa Krause, Keith Poulson, Elvis Perkins, Johannes Huebl, Caris Reid, Will Bates, and Max Osterweis.

"The Double seeks" to answer the question, “what would happen if I met someone who looked exactly like me, and that person had the polar opposite personality?” The film would best be described as a comedy. However, it is a story that goes to some dark, surreal places. Jesse Eisenberg plays Simon, a weak-willed pushover of a man who works a demeaning job and longs for Hannah (Mia Wasikowska), who he lacks the courage to pursue romantically.

Seemingly out-of-nowhere, there is a new employee at his workplace who looks physically identical, James (Eisenberg). James is everything Simon is not: confident, assertive, aggressive. The two seem to get along at first, but the situation soon spirals out of control. The film is directed and co-written by Richard Ayoade, who has a background in British television and wrote and directed 2010’s critical acclaimed coming-of-age film "Submarine." He wrote it with Avi Korine (brother of Harmony).

Check out what director Richard Ayoade told us exclusively on the red carpet.

Q: What drew you to this story and why is now the right time for a film adaptation?

Richard Ayoade: It was Avi Korine’s idea, who I ended up writing with. It was his idea to adapt the novel. His first script was in 2007, so it’s gone on for a while. I just really like the idea of this lonely, put-upon invisible man and I feel it’s very interesting how people connect to one another, and how people are seen and all of those things. And I think it’s not relevant to one particular time or another. It’s just always interesting to me. And we really liked the book.

Q: Were you a fan of Dostoevsky before that?

Richard Ayoade: I was not a buff of any kind, you know. I’d read some, but I hadn’t read that book ’til I read Avi’s script. He’s good! I’d recommend him.

Q: How do you juggle the comedic elements and the more dramatic elements present in the story? Is that something you have to consciously sort out?

Richard Ayoade: No you don’t ever worry about that. You just worry about if something’s interesting. You know, if the audience can follow it. If you feel it makes sense. You just hope something’s interesting and that can be funny or serious. That might be a concern in a Tyco commercial, if there’s too much dark stuff, but not in this.

Q: What attracted you to Jesse Eisenberg as your lead?

Richard Ayoade: I think he’s the best actor around of his age really and he has this enormous range. And he doesn’t rely on wig factory physical transformation in parts. It’s internal. He’s funny, but without trying to play things for laughs. He can do everything.

Following the screening, guests made their way over to Maison O for cocktails and canapés. "The Double" opens in limited release on May 9.

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