Category Archives: Movies and TV

Actress Natalie Loren Kwatinetz Talks ‘The Tribes of Palos Verdes’, Career

Photo by John Hong

Photo by John Hong

Born in Liverpool, England, actress Natalie Loren Kwatinetz was captivated by American films from an early age.

Although her striking looks would eventually lead her to a successful modeling career –including working with famed British fashion photographer, Bob Carlos Clark, Natlalie eventually became an in-demand DJ before launching an acting carer with a resume that includes appearances in “Entourage”, “Violence” and 30 Seconds To Mars’ short film, “Up In The Air”.

Natalie’s next role will be in the upcoming Jennifer Garner film, “The Tribes of Palos Verdes”.

The film focuses on the lives of two teenagers who move to Palos Verdes, an affluent suburb of Los Angeles. Their mother (Garner) teeters on the brink of a nervous breakdown while one of her daughters turns to surfing to escape her troubled home life. Natalie plays Gina, a member of the local tennis club that their mother dislikes. The film, which also stars Alicia Silverstone and Elisabeth Rohm is expected to be released in late 2017.

I recently spoke with Natalie about “The Tribes of Palos Verdes”, her career and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did this project come about for you?

It was a typical audition process. Originally, I had auditioned for a different role but when I went in to meet with the director, Emmett Malloy, we decided to go with anther role for me. I was very excited to be a part of it.

What attracts you to a script?

Great writing and getting to work with different directors and talking to them. I love great characters and storytelling and being taken on an emotional journey.

How would you describe the story of “The Tribes of Palos Verdes” and your character, Gina?

It’s the story about Jennifer Garner’s character and the lives of her teenagers when the family moves to Palos Verdes. While there, she meets my character. Gina is someone who likes to play tennis and have a perfect life, which is something Jennifer’s character doesn’t find very attractive [laughs].

What was the chemistry like on set and getting to work with Jennifer Garner?

It was great working with Jennifer. Her character was so different from things she’s done in the past. The vibe on set was amazing; everyone was ready to work, and it’s great to be around that creatively. 

Did you always know you wanted a career in entertainment? Was it something you always aspired to do?

Absolutely. I started out as a model and had a huge passion for music as well. I was a DJ for a while, performing as Luxury Kills and performing at a lot of clubs in L.A. and fashion shows in New York. It was a fun time. I soon started to get more involved in acting because it was another passion of mine. Although I still love music I eventually decided to give up DJ’ing and concentrate more on film work.

What is it about the creative process that excites you the most?

I love it when you get a script and you know the director and character and can already get a feel for what kind of vibe it’s going to be.

Do you ever see yourself getting on the other side of the camera at some point?

I’d love to eventually get into directing and producing. It’s definitely something I’d like to do at some point.

What’s something people may not know about you?

I like to paint and draw and would actually like to go to art school — if I could find the time [laughs]. I really like drawing faces and trying to capture expressions.

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

I’ve been living between New York and L.A. Right now, it’s pilot season now and there are a few things happening that I can’t announce just yet — stay tuned!

What excites you the most about his next phase of your career?

I’m just looking forward to working on more great projects. There’s a lot of things happening in L.A. right now, so it’s very exciting.

Advertisements

Actress Sara Castro Discusses ‘Christmas Eve’, Upcoming Projects

Photo by: Gaylord Hill

Photo by: Gaylord Hill

“A botched robbery leads down a destructive path for a police officer, an amateur photographer and a strung-out mall Santa as they all converge in one explosive and deadly night.”

With a cast that also includes Eric Close (Nashville, Without A Trace), Adrian Paul (Highlander) and Mary-Margaret Humes (Criminal Minds, Dawson’s Creek), Sara Castro’s next project, “Christmas Eve” is sure to be one of the most talked about independent films of 2017. The film reunites the beautiful actress with director Richard Friedman, who worked with Castro on the critically acclaimed “Halfway To Hell”.

In “Christmas Eve”, Castro plays the role of Kasey Edwards, a mother trying to manage her husband’s alcohol recovery while caring for her sick daughter.

Castro has also earned praise herself for her powerful work in the film, “The Shift” aa well as the genre-defying, award-winning horror/sci-fi, “The Dark Tapes”.

Although “Christmas Eve” won’t be released until next year, I recently spoke with Castro about the film and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did “Christmas Eve” come about for you?

I had the pleasure of working with Richard Friedman again on this project. Richard has a lot of experience as a director and is always putting together interesting things. But it wasn’t a role that was just given to me. I liked the fact that I had to work for it and earn it. It makes you want to work even harder so you can show them they made the right decision.

What was it about the script that piqued your interest?

It was having the chance to work with Richard again, the story and the role. The fact that it had such good names attached to it was another factor because you learn so much from them. Eric Close (who plays my husband, Randall) has been in a lot of series and just finished Nashville. It’s always cool getting to work with great people. It validates why you do what you do.

How would you describe the story of “Christmas Eve”?

It’s a story about a robbery that leads down a destructive path for a police officer who’s reconnecting with his estranged mother. That leads to another story about an amateur photographer and his vindictive fiancé. From there, it connects to a strung-out, mall Santa. He’s my character’s husband and is a recovering alcoholic who’s having a hard time keeping a job. My daughter is very sick and needs assistance, so we really need the money. I’m a nervous wreck trying to make sure the stress isn’t getting to him but at the same time I have my own demons.

What else can you tell me about your character, Kasey?

Kasey is the strong one in the family and has been through a lot with her daughter being sick. She’s trying to keep everything together and under control.

Is there a certain way you like to prepare for a role or scene?

I always try to put together a backstory for my character: where she came from and what’s led her to this point in time.

What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

I love the process of discovery and surprising myself as well as giving the director different takes. That’s the most fun and beautiful part of the process. It can be a bit nerve wracking when you just throw yourself into a scene but you’ll always be pleasantly surprised and find things you never expected. The unpredictability makes it fun.

Are there any other projects you’re working on?

I recently attended another of “The Dark Tapes”. Michael McQuown (Director) has told me that he has plans to do a spin off of it. I believe we’ll be shooting that in February.

What are you most looking forward to about the 2017?

I’m really excited for 2017 and with the help of my team feel I’m getting closer and closer to my goals. The momentum is going so well and it’s only going to get better!

Actor Michael Nardelli Talks ‘Christmas In Homestead’ and Upcoming ‘Dark/Web’ Series

Photo credit: Patrick Maus

Photo credit: Patrick Maus

After making his professional acting debut as Stradivarius Helberg on the television show ‘Quintuplets’, actor Michael Nardelli went on to star alongside Zac Efron in the independent film, ‘Derby Stallion’ as well as the comedy ‘Grassroots’ with Jason Biggs. He’s also had recurring roles on such shows as  ‘American Crime Story: ‘The People Vs. OJ Simpson’,  ‘CSI: New York’, and ‘Nashville’.

But as 2016 comes to a close, Nardelli’s creative prowess is really starting to heat up. Beginning with the new Hallmark film, “Christmas in Homestead’.

In ‘Christmas In Homestead’, Jessica (Taylor Cole), one of the most famous actresses in world, heads to the Christmas-obsessed town to shoot a holiday-themed film. While there, a romance brews between Jessica and a local innkeeper. Nardelli plays the role of Ian Cooper. An aggressive paparazzo who makes his living by chasing down celebrities and getting the dirt on their love lives.

In real life, Nardelli is currently producing, writing and starring in a new digital series called ‘Dark/Web’ that’s slated for release early next year. Each episode consists of a portion of a serialized tale and a stand-alone science fiction / horror short centered around technological themes.

I recently spoke with Nardelli about ‘Christmas in Homestead’, ‘Dark/Web’ and more in this exclusive interview.

How did “Christmas in Homestead” come about for you?

It came up with an audition. My agent sent me the request and I taped it. Nowadays, a lot of auditions (and even callbacks) are put on tape rather than in room. I actually never had to audition in a room with anyone. The glory of modern technology [laughs]!

What was it that attracted you to the script?

I’d just come off several really dark, challenging roles so to run off and make a Hallmark Christmas movie felt like going on holiday! I liked the idea of doing a feel good romantic comedy. I also liked Ian’s arc a lot. Going from someone very self-centered to someone who realizes he must become a better person to keep someone he cares very much for in his life.

How would you describe the story of “Christmas in Homestead”?

It’s an old fashioned, fish out of water Christmas story. “Christmas In Homestead” is about a Hollywood production that goes to a small-town in Iowa to film a Christmas movie. There’s lots of hijinks and clashing of morals: big city folk kind of rediscovering their values in this small town where things like family and tradition are more important than fame and fortune.

What else can you tell me about your character, Ian Carter?

Ian Carter is a paparazzo and makes his living chasing down the big photo and the big exclusive in Los Angeles. When we meet him, he’s very bottom line driven and doesn’t have a lot of sympathy for others’ privacy. He’s been chasing one of the biggest actresses in the world, Jessica (played by Taylor Cole) and follows her to Homestead to get the big scoop on whether or not she’s getting back with her ex. Along the way, he meets a local Innkeeper who kind of changes his entire world.  

What can you tell me about your new series, Dark/Web? 

I really like stories that deal with the human condition and also what it means to be alive today. And “today” means technology and social media. We’ve opened these doors in our lives that will never close again in terms of the Internet and connectivity, and most of us don’t really know its impact on our daily lives and our future. “Dark/Web” came out of that. For this project, I teamed up with my brother, Tim Nardelli and Mario Miscione.

How would you describe the series?

It’s a scary, fresh, relevant take on where we are today with technology and the dangers of a world that is “always on.” It’s reminiscent of “The Twilight Zone” in the way it tackles modern issues we’re all dealing with thematically, but hides some of that in stories that are meant to be entertaining, scary and thrilling. The show has an anthology aspect to it, so a cool variety of filmmakers and actors pop in and out for episodes. There’s also a serialized portion of the show though that spans across the eight episodes and kind of ties everything together. It’s the kind of show where the more you watch the more you see how everything is connected.

Do you have a timeframe as to when it will be released?

We still have three episodes to film in February and we’re hoping to release it in spring 2017.

Did you always know that you wanted a career in entertainment? Was it something you always aspired to do?

Yes. I grew up watching old movies and TV shows with my mom and  always wanted to be up on stage or in front of the camera (or behind) doing the same thing. In middle school, I’d write, direct and act in little shorts that my classmates and I would make. I’d always ask if I could put a little film together instead of writing a paper and sometimes even got my wish! I did all of the theater I could in high school and college. Because I didn’t grow up in Hollywood or New York and didn’t have family in the entertainment business, it was an unconventional decision to make. But there was never any other option for what I wanted to do!

Actor David Banks Puts on 20 Pounds Of Muscle for New Role and Says, ‘Sayonara Skinny’

Photo by: Gaylord Hill

Photo by: Gaylord Hill

They say actors can always just sit and wait around for the right roles and auditions to come along. But David Banks was never about the status quo. Instead the actor –who’s credits include more than 100 commercials as well as the features “The Dark Tapes,” and “CUT!” chooses to shine by doing things his own way.

Case in point. Banks’ upcoming project, “Preacher Six” required the wisecracking funnyman to gain more than twenty pounds. To reach his goal in the quickest amount of time, Banks hit the weights hard and supplemented his routine with Optimum Nutrition products.

I recently spoke with him about his dramatic transformation and his upcoming projects in this exclusive new interview.

“Preacher Six” required you to gain some weight. How were you safely able to put on 20 pounds of muscle?

My character is one of those heavily caffeinated, fast-talking lug types. I’ve been the skinny, twerpy guy for a long time. So when they asked me if I’d be ok with putting on ten pounds I said, “Why not go for twenty?” Robert Corbett and the guys at Optimum Nutrition really helped get me get on the gain train! Their gainer shakes and Amino Energy quickly became my new best friends.

What was your exercises routine like? 

I went the resistance route. Lifted heavier than normal and whenever I wanted to stop, I did two more. I got to the point of excitement that I’d hit the scales just to see how much heavier I was than the day prior. I also set my alarm clock to wake me up in the middle of the night to devour tuna and protein shakes.

What can you tell me about “Preacher Six”?

The minute I picked up the script I literally couldn’t put it down. Tracy Ray [screenwriter] is onto something really big here! “Preacher Six” is the story of a small town preacher who’s summoned to the big city where he ends up fighting evil. The characters he meets along the journey are something special and unique! The film also stars Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story), Zach Galligan (Gremlins), Kyle Hester (The Chair) and Bill Oberst Jr. (Criminal Minds). Kyle and I have been talking about working together for years, so I’m excited it’s finally happening. He is an absolute talent.

You’ve recently stepped away from commercials to be a little more involved in films. Is there one you enjoy doing more than the other?

I’ve always had a strong love for commercials and enjoy the process of it a little bit more. It’s fascinating with everything that goes into a simple thirty-second spot. 

David Banks - (Before)

David Banks – (Before)

What’s the biggest compliment you’ve heard so far about any of your commercials?

“Wow, you were so annoying!” [laughs]. I think the minute I stop being the aggravating, irritating and imbecilic idiot next door is when I know it’ll be time to quit.

You have two other movies coming out soon, “Half Magic” and “Bornless Ones”. What can you tell me about them?

“Half Magic” is Heather Graham’s directorial debut and was an absolute blessing to be a part of. She really put her heart into this one and is one of the most giving actresses I’ve ever worked with. I also got to work alongside Chris D’Elia and it was non-stop laughs.

“Bornless Ones” will be out sometime in early 2017. Alexander Babaev [director] is absolutely going to be huge! I’m excited about that one as well.

 What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

I’d have to say my favorite part is witnessing how it all comes together in the editing process. I also tend to lean more towards the seriously dark and depressing characters in a film and am fascinated by the ability one has to turn on the “crazy” switch.

Have you ever given thought to your next writing / producing project?

Absolutely! I had so much fun watching my last writing adventure; “CUT!” come to life. I’m already working on a new film even more twisted [laughs].

Actor Justin Swain Discusses His Role in The Netflix Series, ‘Luke Cage’

justinswainBold, relevant and entertaining are just some of the adjectives used to describe the new Netflix original series, ‘Luke Cage’.

Fans of the Marvel universe already know know that “Luke Cage” follows the story of Carl Lucas (Mike Colter); a former convict with superhuman strength and unbreakable skin who now fights crime. It’s the perfect complement to other acclaimed Marvel themed Netflix shows like “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones”.

Actor Justin Swain plays Bailey in “Luke Cage”; an NYPD police officer who plays a pivotal role in tracking down the criminal mastermind responsible for the most recent crime outbreak. The series also stars Simone Missick as Misty Knight, Bailey’s NYPD colleague.

Already an accomplished actor and playwright, Swain has also written for film and television and is currently producing his first feature film, “Penance”.

I recently spoke with Swain about his role in “Luke Cage”, his career and more in the exclusive interview.

How did you become involved in “Luke Cage”?

It was pretty funny because Marvel is so secretive about everything they do that I didn’t even know I was auditioning for Luke Cage because the sides weren’t labeled. It was right before Labor Day weekend and I was heading out of town to visit my family when I got a call from my agent saying I booked it. I still didn’t know it was Luke Cage until I got an email later welcoming me the Marvel Cinematic Universe! I showed it to my wife and she was like “wait, what?!” [laughs]. Then I realized it was for Luke Cage. I was super excited because I’m a big fan of all the Marvel shows as well as the films. I was grateful to be a part of it.

What was it about the script that attracted you to the project?

When I went in for the audition I remember thinking, “these pages seem like a procedural cop show, but these lines have kind of an edge to them.” I think the writers did a great job of blending the Marvel Universe with a slick, edgy, grounded tone. Not only is it entertaining but I also think Cheo Hodari Coker [series creator], Marvel and Netflix have created a piece of art so relevant and necessary to today’s cultural conversation.

What can you tell me about your character, Bailey?

Getting the chance to play Bailey was so cool. The role grew as the season progressed and each time I was sent my pages it was an exciting surprise to see where the writers were taking it. He’s an analytical guy and I think that is a good balance and challenge for Misty who tends to go with her gut. I think he also wants to protect Misty; in little subtle ways Bailey is trying to make sure she doesn’t self destruct before they they are able to understand what is really going on with the whole Luke Cage situation.

One funny detail was his glasses. Early on I got some pages that said he wore glasses, so I quickly grabbed my wife’s glasses as I left the house. When we started shooting the scene, I was wearing the glasses and looking at the computer screen. It was my wife’s prescription so as I stared at the computer screen I started to feel sick. I couldn’t wear the glasses for too long so I had to take them off during the scene and it started to become a little Bailey character thing [laughs].

What was it like working on a Marvel production?

Just getting a chance to work with talented actors like Simone Missick, Mike Colter, Rosario Dawson and Karen Pittman was a gift. It was also awesome to work with the showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker and the whole writing staff Jason Horwitch and Aida Marshaka Croal. They were so gracious and accessible during filming and are just incredibly creative and talented people. Then they brought on amazing directors like Paul McGuigan to do the pilot, Steven Sujik, and then Clark Johnson directed the finale. Just a really great group of people to work with.

What was it like getting to work with Simone Missick?

She’s an amazing actor. I thought she did a fantastic job stepping into an iconic character and making it her own. She was really fun to work with, always accessible, a really kind person. She was very giving as a scene partner. Working with her made my job very easy!

Did you always know that you wanted a career in entertainment? Was it something you always aspired to do?

I acted in plays when I was kid and pursued it into high school as well. I think for me, it was a way to connect to people and, coming from such a small town, I really cherished that. When it came time to pick a college I remember my mom asking me if I wanted to go to school for acting or visual arts, because I had also grown up painting as well. I think that’s when I made the choice. I said, “I want to go for acting.” That was it.

What are some of the differences between doing a series like Luke Cage as opposed to doing theater or a feature film? 

Shooting a series like Luke Cage seemed to me to be more like shooting a film. The set was loose and sometimes you could throw in some ad-libs and — if you were able to come up with something good– they would keep it. Theater is a completely different animal; it’s more athletic in a way. You have to be on for it every night. To use a racing analogy, I’d say doing film/TV work is like sprinting — you have to go hard, fast and be precise. Theater is more like endurance work — you have to buckle in and maintain the character straight through for two hours every night.

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

I’m currently looking into working on a virtual reality project. I’m also finishing up the development of a new series about a group of fishermen in Massachusetts who are over regulated by the government so they turn to smuggling to survive.  There are lots of opportunities on the horizon!

What excites you the most about this next phase of your career?

Luke Cage was a great experience and I have no idea what the rest of the series is going to look like. They are doing The Defenders now and Luke Cage is part of that gigantic Marvel world. It’s also all intertwined with Jessica Jones and Daredevil. Marvel has big plan for the whole Marvel Universe so I’m excited to see where it’s going and what is happening next!

‘Night Cries’: Actress / Filmmaker Brigitte Kingsley Discusses New Psychological Thriller

Written and directed by Andrew Cymek, “Night Cries” is a psychological thriller about a man searching for his wife in a post-apocalyptic world.

The film took home the Best Screenplay award when it premiered at the Blood In The Snow film festival last November, and for good reason. Cymek and his partner, Brigitte Kingsley have become masters at delivering multi-layered stories with beautiful cinematography and passionate musical scores to all of their projects. “Night Cries” is a thought provoking film that plays on the ultimate question we have in life, and just how far we’d go to find our one true love.

nc_004

The beautiful Kingsley plays the role of Sara Morgan in “Night Cries”. A strong, defiant wife and mother who finds herself lost in a world she doesn’t recognize. The film also stars Andrew Cymek, Colin Mochrie, Lauren Williams and Jacob Blair.

Night Cries is available now for pre-order now in various packages and will be shipped on December 14. This will be followed by a world wide digital release in the New Year.

I recently spoke with Kingsley about “Night Cries” and more in this exclusive interview.

How did the Night Cries project originally come about?

I first met Andrew back in 1999 when he and I were both in school. He was doing a ten-minute short called “Night Cries” that was inspired by these characters. We shot the short and I remember thinking that it was a really cool story. Now fast forward to 2012 when we started our company, Good Soldier Films. We were trying to figure out a good pilot project to launch the company with and decided to create a “Night Cries” feature. Andrew had already worked out the characters in his head. He wrote the feature and we jumped into it.

In your opinion, what makes the story of “Night Cries” so special?

I think the main push is the cyclical feeling you get when you watch it. There’s so much thought that went into the imagery and ideas behind the story and you see that in various ways throughout the production. It’s a very in depth look at life and death. Andrew wanted to forward the idea of the end of the world, but he also wanted to go more into a personal apocalypse when someone’s world ends. There’s a lot of layers to it and that’s what makes it so cool.

What was the casting process like?

A lot of the characters were written with certain people already in mind. Colin Mochrie was someone we instantly knew we wanted to work with. He has so much depth to his acting but doesn’t often have a chance to do things this sinister. We thought he’d be great fit for the role of The Hat. A lot the other actors, like Lauren (Angel) Williams and Jacob Blair, we had worked with on other projects before.

You mentioned Colin Mochrie. What was it like working with him?

Colin is one of my favorite people in the world. He’s so defined as an actor and comes extremely prepared. He was only out for a few days but was such a pleasure to be around.

nc_012

A lot of attention is paid to the music and cinematography in this film. Can you speak a little as to how these are important to you?

They’re both very important to us. We’ve worked with Josh Fraiman (cinematographer) for several years on various projects. Although we had a small crew we made sure to take the time to give him the beautiful shots he wanted. When it comes to the music, Emir Isilay (our composer) is an extremely talented guy. Andrew sent him the ideas of what he had in mind and when the music came back the first time around he had tears in his eyes because it was exactly what he had envisioned. Going from one world to another and bringing sense to a certain level. It was epic and beautiful.

What are some of the other projects you’re currently working on?

“The Man In the Shadows” is another film that’s available for pre-order. It’s a story by Adam Tomlinson that’s based on the real phenomenon of shadow people. Adam had experienced a man in a hat and coat that that had haunted him a few times. He looked into it and found that it’s actually an apparition that happens to many people around the world. He wrote a script that’s partially based on his experiences and the people he had spoken to. “Country Crush” is also coming out in the New Year. It’s a country musical that stars Jana Cramer, Madeline Merlo and Munroe Chambers.

As a filmmaker, what satisfies you the most about seeing a completed project?

As a filmmaker, the thing you want is for your work to mean something. So when a stranger comes up and tells you that your work touched them or made them realize something they hadn’t thought about before, that’s what matters.

‘The Killing of America’: Director Sheldon Renan Discusses U.S. Release of Ominous Documentary

killingofamericaWhen they asked Sheldon Renan to watch The Killing of America at a recent film festival, it was the first time the director had seen the film he had worked on since it was released thirty-five years ago. Afterwards, Renan remarked how amazed he was at how well the film played more than three decades later and how relevant its message still was in 21st century America.

Originally produced in 1981, Renan, along with co-producers Leonard Schrader and Matachiro Yamamoto set out to document America’s seemingly unending love affair with violence. From iconic newsreel footage to chilling interviews with convicted killers, Renan and his team sought to depict a terrifying aspect of Reagan-era America through a brutally honest lens. Despite some limited theatrical showings, the documentary has never received an official American release, until now.

The Killing of America is told in narrative style. Describing horrifically tragic events of the last half-century with pinpoint accuracy and chilling realism. But perhaps more than anything else, the film is an ominous reminder that social, economic and racial injustice as well as the proliferation of personal firearms has not abated in the thirty-five years since the documentary’s creation.

I recently spoke with Renan about The Killing of America and more in this exclusive interview.

How did you become involved in The Killing of America project?

I had done a lot of heavy research in the world of homicide and gun culture in preparation for a script I was working on when I met Leonard Schrader and Matachiro Yamamoto. They wanted to use the film Faces of Death as a springboard for this new project they were working on about homicide and violence. They were looking to put together a team of young filmmakers that were very ambitions and loved films, but they were having trouble finding clips. I had come out of the film archivist world and put together some clips for them. It was exactly what they were looking for and they asked me if I could help them.

What was the initial reaction like to the film when it premiered and why has it never received a proper U.S. release until now?

The film was initially made to be released in the fall in Japan. It was the seventh highest grosser there that year as well as a hit in a number of other countries. The company that bought the rights to distribute the film in America did a preview for coming attractions, but a high ranking official thought it was taboo and would terrify people. I even remember at the cast and crew screening about a third of the people walked out.

Aside from the fashion and vintage cars, the documentary looks like something you’d see on the news today.

Although it looks like a documentary, nothing is fake or has been rigged. The only change is that the sound has been enhanced in some places. Len’s writing is incredible and Chuck Riley’s voice in the narration could cut through metal. He was telling a complete story. A narrative arc about the subject. By the end, you’re inside the mind of killers, which isn’t very comfortable.

What are some of the parallels you see today as compared to when the film was made?

It’s the same pattern. The main thing is that the person pulling the trigger is usually someone who has a very bad sense of self-esteem. I remember the L.A. coroner telling us that it comes down to the person deciding whether to kill themselves or someone else. When you’re unhappy about something in yourself, you tend to project that flaw onto other people.

What have you learned about us as a society by making this film and seeing it again thirty-five years later?

You observe that if you don’t treat people well or if they’re not raised well and given structure and self-esteem, you’re going to pay for it later in a very bad way. You also can’t let emotion rule you because the long-term effects can be enormously devastating. The third thing is that people have to have the right to have access to and have guns as it says in the Constitution–but not one that can punch a hole in a tank and not without background checks.

Is there a message you think viewers should take away from watching The Killing of America?

If you’ve had a lot of violence in your life this is a film you shouldn’t see or show to your kids, as you’ll find it very upsetting. Early on, the coroner’s office allowed us to film and the day we were there L.A. was in the middle of a crime wave and they were running six autopsy tables at one time. This is a complex phenomenon and something you can’t run away from. This film is one step in thinking about and understanding violence and how epidemic it is in American culture and recognizing that you cannot escape the connection between it and the easy availability of guns. People also need to be careful about this loose talk about destroying our infrastructure because you don’t like one party, candidate or president. Because what lies on the other side is nothing we want to go back to.

‘Insecure’: Actress Veronica Mannion Discusses New HBO Series, Career

(Photo credit: Anne Marie Fox)

(Photo credit: Anne Marie Fox)

Veronica Mannion is fast becoming a rising force in the celestial world of the Hollywood scene.

The beautiful actress–who’s also spent time as a standup comedienne–can currently be seen in the HBO comedy series, Insecure. The show, based on series creator and star Issa Rae’s web series “Awkward Black Girl”, follows the exploits and racy tribulations of a modern-day African-American woman.

Mannion plays the recurring role of Kitty—Issa’s co-worker—who tries to be her friend throughout the season but almost sabotages one of Issa’s work projects due to her gossiping and prejudiced skepticism.

In additional to an impressive resume that includes stints on Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” and FX’s “American Horror Story”, Mannion has also written, directed and appeared in the film “Booze, Boys & Brownies”.

I recently spoke with her about Insecure, her career and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did your involvement in “Insecure” come about?

I was one of the lucky chosen to audition for the pilot. They booked me off tape so I didn’t even have to come in for a callback. I shot the pilot last September and then heard they wrote me into four more episodes in April. It was a dream come true scenario!

What was it that attracted you to the role?

Kitty’s the kind of person who tries too hard. She may be sweet but ends up coming across as annoying and judgmental. I think that I have that side to me, so it’s been fun channeling that version of myself.

What else can you tell me about her?

Kitty works with Issa at We Got Ya’ll and really thinks she’s making a difference at her desk job helping underprivileged kids.  She loves anything vintage, her co-worker Ken, and cats… obviously.

How would you describe the series? 

“Insecure” follows the awkward experiences and racy tribulations of a modern-day African-American woman, Issa Rae, and her best friend, Molly.  Some people are saying it’s like the black “GIRLS” or “Sex In The City”, but I think it’s what every HBO show wants to be: laugh out loud funny, authentic and with a lot of heart!

As a woman, what’s its like for you to be a part of a series that was inspired and created by Issa? 

Issa is an inspiration, not only to me but I think for all of us on set and for women everywhere. She’s so talented, funny, real and kind. She’s created not just an amazing show but a great atmosphere on set… and I think she’s going to change the world!

What’s the filming process like and working with Issa? 

A typical day can last from six to twelve hours. Since this was the first season the way it was shot and the tone (and even what our characters were eating or doing) was all a collaborative feeling. Issa definitely has a strong vision and point of view, but she was also open to people bringing themselves to the role. Everyone contributed to making Insecure the best it could be. It felt like one big family!

Did you always know that you wanted a career in entertainment? Was it something you always aspired to do?

I was one of those little girls singing in my living room, playing dress up and dreaming about the big lights of Hollywood.  My mom taught me that your thoughts create and to go for what you love to do. So here I am!

How did you become involved in doing stand-up comedy?

I started doing stand up when I moved to LA as a way to get on stage and get my acting fix! I realized that you don’t just have to tell jokes – you can do characters, sing, or even improvise with the audience. Stand up became my performance outlet. Somewhere where I could feel like I had power over my career just by making people laugh.

What’s the most challenging part of doing stand-up? What do you enjoy the most about it?

Probably the scene of it all and breaking through that next barrier. I don’t enjoy the bros, or the drunk hecklers but I love the immediate response of the crowd! You really have to be present during stand up because people will glaze over if you just go on stage and go on autopilot. You really have to be on your toes.

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

I just filmed a small role on “FEUD!” opposite Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange. It’s Ryan Murphy’s new FX show that premieres next year!  You can catch me in Episode 2.

What excites you the most about the new series and this next chapter of your career? What are you most looking forward to?

I feel very lucky to see my face on HBO!  I remember watching the second episode and thinking, “This is crazy! I’ve watched HBO all my life wanting to be on it and there’s my face!” I’m looking forward to more fun parts and more work with talented, good people! Whatever happens, I’m definitely enjoying the ride and feel so lucky to be apart of such a new awesome show.  I hope you watch and love it as much as I do!

‘The Caretaker’: Actress Meegan Warner Discusses Supernatural Thriller

thecaretakerWritten by Jeremy Robinson and directed by Jeff Prugh, “The Caretaker” is a new character-driven thriller that tells the story of a young woman who returns home to care for her gravely ill grandmother.

The film stars the beautiful Meegan Warner (Mary on AMC’s critically acclaimed series, TURN: Washington’s Spies) as Mallorie, an empathetic young woman who wants to do well by her grandmother. But in the process of staying in her grandmother’s vast Victorian home, Mallorie encounters bouts of sleepwalking and envisioning spirits, all while uncovering dark secrets about her family’s past.

“The Caretaker” was an official selection at Indie Horror Film Festival where it took home three awards, including the Director’s Choice Award. The film was also an official selection at FilmQuest, HellaCon, Gasparilla and the Fantastic Horror film festivals.

I recently spoke with Warner about “The Caretaker”, the final season of TURN, her career and more in this exclusive new interview!

How did this project come about for you? 

It was a pretty standard procedure. My agents sent me the script, I went in and taped with the casting directors and was later asked to come in for a chemistry read with [co-star] Sean Martini. Then a few weeks later, we were all on set!

What was it that attracted you to the role?

I remember coming in for the chemistry read and workshopping the audition scenes. It was the first time I met Jeff [Prugh], who was completely open to improvisation and suggestions. Meeting everyone and seeing how passionate and determined they were really drew me in. I just remember walking out of the room really wanting to be a part of the project.

How would you describe the story of “The Caretaker”?

“The Caretaker” is a character-driven thriller about a young woman named Mallorie who returns home to care for her sick grandmother only to discover that things aren’t as they seem. 

What can you tell me about your character, Mallorie?

Mallorie was such a gift to play because she had so much going on. She grew up with the knowledge that her mother abandoned her and her grandmothers health is deteriorating, She also struggles with her own mental heath problems and sleep disorders. I liked that she wasn’t your typical damaged horror movie girl though. She has great relationships outside of her family life. 

Meegan Warner (left) and Sean Martini in The Caretaker

Meegan Warner (left) and co-star Sean Martini in The Caretaker

What was the filming process like?

The whole experience was amazing. It was one of those projects where you didn’t want it to end. Jeff and Jeremy were awesome to work with. So open to ideas and encouraged improvisation. It was a very creative set to be on. The house we shot in was incredible and definitely added to the film. I remember Jeff saying something like he wanted the action taking place downstairs to feel like a drama and the events taking place upstairs to feel like a thriller. He really wanted the upper level of the house to have a dangerous vibe.

What do you think makes horror such a great genre? 

I think like any genre, it’s that escapism –the thrill and adrenaline. I love horror movies. If I’m choosing a movie to watch I usually gravitate towards horror. When you think about it, scaring yourself is a pretty strange thing to enjoy!

Did you always know that you wanted to have a career in entertainment? Was it something you always aspired to do?

The thought of being an actress never really crossed my mind when I was a kid. That whole world seemed so far removed from my upbringing. It wasn’t until I was fourteen that I decided acting was something I wanted to do. I did the school play and just loved the whole experience. I don’t remember the exact moment when it went from being a fun thing to do to a career option, but it happened quickly and from that point on I was pretty determined to figure out how to make it work.

What are you most looking forward to about with the final season of “TURN: Washington’s Spies”? What can fans expect from the show and from your character, Mary?

I’m really excited and curious to see how the writers will wrap it up: if we’ll have time jumps and finish the war or if we’ll just continue on from Season 3. I know absolutely nothing, so I can’t tease anything! But I can’t wait to read the first script, and I hope Mary continues to surprise!

Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

TURN will start filming soon, so over the next few months I’ll be working on that. After we wrap, who knows? That’s the exciting part about this job. You never know what’s next! I’d also like to give a shout out to another horror film I did in Australia. It’s called “Scare Campaign” and it’s getting a U.S release later this month. So please keep a look out!

“The Caretaker” is available now in multiple formats.

‘The Art of Elegance’: Kristin Chenoweth Discusses Timeless New Album

Photo by: Gian Andrea di Stefano and used with permission

Photo by: Gian Andrea di Stefano and used with permission

With a magical career that transcends Broadway, television, film and music, Kristin Chenoweth has firmly established herself as one of the preeminent artists of our generation.

After conquering the musical realms of country, Christian and Christmas music, the charismatic Tony and Emmy-award winning singer/actress showcases her interpretive prowess with her latest release, The Art of Elegance. A beautiful, 13-song package featuring Chenoweth’s unique take on classics from The Great American Songbook.

Songs like “Someone to Watch Over Me” (George Gershwin) and the sublime “A House Is Not A Home” (Burt Bacharach / Hal Davis) take on new life while tracks like the haunting “I’m A Fool To Want You” (Frank Sinatra/Jack Wolf/Joel Herron) and the apropos “I Get Along Without You Very Well” (Hoagy Carmichael) deliver timeless sentiment.

AXS recently spoke with Chenoweth about her beautiful new album and more in this exclusive interview.

AXS: What inspired The Art of Elegance project?

Kristin Chenoweth: I cut my teeth at a young age hearing the music from this era. This is my sixth album and throughout my entire career, this is the music that speaks to me the loudest. Obviously, I’ve looked up to many icons, certainly Ella Fitzgerald, Linda Ronstadt and Diana Krall have all been instrumental and are examples of women who have done it before me. They’re all very different and put their own stamp on their versions. That’s what I tried to do here. I also wanted to pay homage to the composers of the time.

You can read my complete AXS interview with Kristin Chenoweth Here!

%d bloggers like this: