‘Roar’ star Merritt Wever really enjoyed having sex with a duck

On the iPhone, there’s an autocorrect feature that tends to turn a certain word into “duck.” Many, if not all of us, have been faced with this dilemma: “I’m so angry DUCKING”, is sent while pressing the delete button furiously to replace the capital D with an F. This little problem has now inspired an entire television episode.

RoarApple TV+’s new female-centric anthology saga from the creators of GLOW, crushes this autocorrect nonsense in a single episode and throws Emmy-nominated Merritt Wever into the mix. A lonely woman has sex with a duck. (Don’t worry: there’s a cute encounter, too.) In a time when new nonsense hits the timeline every hour, you shouldn’t go past this. For real: A mallard duck shoves its way into a woman’s nether regions as she yelps in delight, writhing in ecstasy on the kitchen floor. Seriously.

“I don’t want to think about it,” Wever tells me, with a sigh – although a few minutes ago she was just talking fondly of the live duck used on set: “I feel like we’ve reached our pace pretty early. Justin the Duck was wonderful to work with.

But there’s more to “The Woman Who Was Fed by a Duck” than the sex scene and Justin. The duck, named Larry in the episode, whom Alisa de Wever meets in a park, actually becomes her abusive boyfriend. Their affair begins with the charlatan taunting her castigating the lack of charisma in ordinary men, standing on a duck-sized pedestal to promote the level of understanding he has for women.

Apparently, Chloë Sevigny was not alone when, in The last days of disco, she claimed that “there’s something really sexy about Scrooge McDuck.” There’s a certain appeal to these ducks, for some reason, and Wever was ready to smash it all.

What was your first reaction when you read the little story and the script?

When I was sent the script, I was sent a note that said it was about a woman who is in an emotionally abusive relationship with a duck. So I knew it. I had that framework in place, so I didn’t have the experience I guess, or hoping someone would watch the episode. It’s like, “Oh, she’s talking to a duck. Oh, now she’s going out with the duck. Oh, now the duck is, you know. It was like having your head held high.

This is from the original story, but why do you think a duck works well, and another animal doesn’t?

I know! It’s a good question. The purest and truest answer is that it’s based on the story in the book, which is “The Woman Who Was Fed by a Duck”. The story of the book is very different. It’s just a woman on a park bench lamenting some aspect of her life, and the duck comes up and starts talking to her and giving her her thoughts. Our wonderful writer, Halley Feiffer, had a specific response to this and a specific slant, or take, and used that as a starting point. Truth is, I think that’s why it’s a duck.

It was always going to be the duck.

But having him play a relationship that can sometimes be very subtle, tough… the dynamic can slowly develop over time. This may cause you to wonder if this is happening, if you are right, if you are wrong. It can cause you to question what you know, what you think, what you feel. He can gnaw and gnaw at you, like he does with this character. The fact that she walks through it with a duck leads her to seriously doubt herself.

What was it like staying rooted in the dynamics of an abusive relationship when there’s also the fantasy element of the duck?

It’s about playing everything as realistically as possible and trying to stay as believable as possible in an incredible situation. Which I guess all of these episodes have in common. And then I just hope that if I treat this like it’s the most normal thing in the world that people watching will be invited into that normalcy as well. But yeah, more than other things I’ve done, I can’t pretend to imagine what it’s like to see it with fresh eyes.

How did you find chemistry with a duck? The chemistry you have in the episode is actually there, at the start.

[Laughs] It’s so funny! I am very happy. I thought working with an animal would be the episode challenge. And, unexpectedly, I feel like we hit our stride pretty early. Justin the duck was wonderful to work with. Sounds like I’m talking bullshit, but he was actually wonderful. I thought the whole episode would be us grabbing a sentence or two of a scene here and there, you know, between the duck waddling or quacking.

He cooperated!

It was set up so that Justin Kirk, who plays Larry, would be there with us every day, just off camera, playing every scene with me. So, I would watch this living duck – a living, breathing creature that looks at me and listens and moves its head and everything – and then I would have Justin Kirk acting with me. Having these two focal points really worked. It ended up being fun and very lively, because there’s also the element of, I don’t know! The duck could start talking at any time. The duck could leave any second.

Do you think the two were a good pair? Did they look alike?

Justine and Justine? Justin the duck goes by the name of Justin Timberlake, by the way. The others were also named after the Backstreet Boys. Yeah, I think they complement each other pretty well.

Was it easy to work with the duck?

The duck was there every day. Like I said, I had anticipated this crazy, unruly, difficult time, and it wasn’t. The first time I hung out with Justin the Duck, I didn’t realize my hands were having a startled reaction. Every time he moved his head very quickly, the duckbill, I always felt the need to get my hands out of the danger zone. But it worked out. At the end of the day, the hardest part of the episode was what is always the hardest part of any job – any acting job – which is acting.

I have to ask. What was it like filming the sex scene with the duck?

I don’t want to think about it. It was just part of the job, and so we had to do it. And do it, we did it! But see, I don’t have it.

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