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Bradley Whitford, from the White House to dirty dad

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Bradley Whitford is known for his role as the lovable White House deputy chief of staff Josh Lyman on “The West Wing." But his role in a new short film, “Man Up, Little Boy,” shows another side of the actor: He plays a father determined to win an intense arm wrestling match with his teenage son, a dad not afraid to make sexual jokes at his son's expense.

In the short, debuting at the Dances With Films Festival on Wednesday,  Whitford plays a domineering father who will not give his son (Zachariah Palmer) the keys to the car for a date until the teen can beat him in an arm wrestling match. Whitford’s character is not above throwing salt in his son’s face or making dirty comments.

“The most remarkable thing to me was the brutality of it and the perverse, black humor of it,” Whitford said.

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Whitford said he decided to work on the short after his friend Dan Greenberger asked him. Greenberger wrote and co-produced the film after the idea came to him during a tennis match with his daughter.

Greenberger is a producer and writer of promos for CBS Television. He previously worked for Showtime Networks and debuted a film last year at the Dances With Films Festival.

Greenberger is concerned about how the audience will react to the eight-minute film because of its unique humor, he said.  “I’ll be a little bit nervous, but we’ll know pretty quickly how it went over.”

Jeffrey Williams, the director and co-producer, said that the short is twisted and dark, which is what attracted him to the project.

“I was like ‘This is hilarious, this is so wrong,’” Williams said. “We walked a fine line, [but] nothing about it was really shocking to me because this is my sense of humor.”

This will be the first time people will see "Man Up, Little Boy," which was made in February.

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Whitford is also set to portray a completely different kind of character in a new TV series called "Trophy Wife," which will appear on ABC this fall. The show will depict Whitford as a guy marrying for the third time, bringing his three children into the mix. He also has parts in several movies coming out later this year, including "Saving Mr. Banks."

Dances With Films, which is in its 16th year, runs through June 9. The films are shown at Hollywood's Chinese Theaters. For a schedule and ticket information, visit www.danceswithfilms.com.

To watch a clip of "Man Up, Little Boy" click here.

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Twitter:@DiangeleaMillar

angie.millar@latimes.com

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MoviesDanceEntertainmentRobin WilliamsBradley WhitfordWill SmithABC
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