Tag: netflix

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!

‘Orange is the New Black’: Actress Julie Lake Talks Emotional New Season, Career

Julie Lake
Julie Lake

Filming Season 4 of the Netflix original series, “Orange is the New Black” was a bit of a blur for Julie Lake. The beautiful actress—who plays the role of the lovable Angie Rice on the show, was preparing to get married during filming and had found herself traveling back and forth from L.A. to New York.

The show that began as a comedic struggle for Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) to adjust to prison life has now evolved into an emotional dichotomy. The serious exploration of issues like racial tension, death and corporate greed have left us no doubt that Jenji Kohan’s series has finally hit its stride.

Although Rice’s personal story isn’t touched upon too deeply this season, Lake—much like everyone involved, deserves credit for giving viewers the series’ best one to date.

I recently spoke with Julie Lake about the new season of “Orange is the New Black” and more in this exclusive interview.

Warning: If you haven’t watched Season 4, this interview contains spoilers.

How would you describe this season of “Orange is the New Black” and Angie’s transition after the prison became a privately owned facility?

We all felt at the end of shooting that this was a heartbreaking season. Angie is dealing with it the same way she always has—by finding humor, fun and more trouble to get into to keep things interesting for her. In a way, she’s a class clown who deals with things through humor. We’ll see what happens in Season Five when the s#it really hits the fan how she’s going to cope!

The writing on the show has really developed into something special over these four seasons. What do you think makes it so special?

The great thing about the writers is that they’re given a huge amount of freedom. Sometimes on a network show the executives might poke their heads in and ask to have things changed. The beauty of this show is that no one is telling the writers what to do. They’re just going. Sometimes we’ll even get the scripts at the last minute and they’re still changing things up and doing re-writes. These writers are really unleashed and are just going for it and as a result, they’re making incredible art.

There’s a lot of racial tension within Litchfield this season. Were there any reservations with having to deal with such a sensitive topic?

I remember Emma [Myles] and I were nervous at first about being placed into a particular group and saying racist things. I want people to love Angie and was a little worried about what people might think. But the fans have really seen it for what it is. It’s been very powerful and I’m happy with how everything turned out.

When a main character dies on a series, there’s always a roller coaster ride of emotion for the audience. What was the feeling like on set filming that episode?

I remember reading the script and was like, “Wait…She dies? Is this real? Are they going to bring her back?” I really couldn’t believe it was actually happening. It was a sad day when we shot that episode. Everyone loves Samira [Wiley]. She’s part of the heart and soul of the show. It was a very emotional day and I remember everyone was upset. It was like we had just lost our friend.

At the end of Season Four, a major event occurs and things are about to become extremely violent. What do you think is going through Angle’s mind at the end of that episode?

You know, I don’t think it’s sunk in for her yet. Life outside of the prison was so real and dark and hard for her. Now she’s here in this place where she has friends so to her, it’s still fun.

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

I have been doing a lot of writing and creating. I’ve written a pilot with some friends from my sketch comedy troupe that we’re in the process of producing. Through pitching, we’ve actually begun work on another project, and are developing that into a pilot as well. I’m also in the middle of filming a series with my friend, Shirin Najafi, called “Mental”. We’ve filmed four episodes so far and have two more to go. I’m also acting and directing a web series two of my other friends wrote called “Tinderellas”. I’ve got a lot going on right now and am super busy, but it’s really been fun. It’s an exciting time and I have a lot to look forward to.

Selenis Leyva Discusses The Success of Orange Is The New Black

Selenis Leyva (Photo credit: King PDT)

At the beginning of season one of “Orange Is The New Black”, show creators were a bit unsure as to what direction actress Selenis Levya’s character (Gloria Mendoza) was going to take.

But by the end of episode thirteen, it was quite clear that Mendoza had become a central fixture of the groundbreaking NetFlix series; taking over the prison kitchen system that had once been dominated by the feisty Red (Kate Mulgrew).

It’s a testament not only to the show’s brilliant writing, but also to Leyva’s sassy portrayal of Mendoza that’s allowed her character to develop over the course of the series; one that revolves around the story of Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a woman sentenced to 15 months in prison after being convicted of a decade old crime.

Filming for season two is already underway with more amazing developments, plot twists and turns and surprises in store.

I had the opportunity to speak with Levya about her role as Mendoza as well as some of her other upcoming projects. She also discusses the appeal of shows like OITNB and when she knew she wanted to be an actress.

What first attracted you to Orange Is The New Black?

I am a huge fan of “Weeds” and after hearing that Jenji Kohan was writing and also the executive producer, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. I’m a big fan of dramedy, and Jenji’s known for dealing with seriousness and adding elements of comedy to it. That really speaks to me.

How do you prepare for a role like Gloria Mendoza?

Gloria’s definitely a New Yorker. She’s someone who was raised in the city and there’s a certain sass and fierceness that all New Yorker’s have. I was born and raised in New York, so I was able to dig into my own sassiness and bring that forward.

Years ago, I worked in a theater arts program where we went to juvenile facilities and worked with teenagers who had been incarcerated and developed workshops and plays with them. I never would have thought that years later I’d be looking back at that time for my own research, but it was wonderful to have that kind of experience.

What’s the atmosphere like on the set?

It’s amazing. We all were kind of like freshmen in college for season one and immediately formed this close bond with each other. For season two, we’re more like sophomores, but we’re still this one amazing family.


Were you aware at the time of how successful the show would become?

I had a feeling it was going to be groundbreaking. Not just because of the amazing cast members and what I watched them do, but also because the writing is so good. We have a transgender on the show and women of various ages, shapes, sizes and platforms. It was something that had never been done before.

What do think makes shows like OITNB more appealing than those on network television?

I think a lot of it has to do with being allowed more creative freedom. The beautiful thing about Netflix is that you’re able to put it all out there at once. Network television is more censored and there are a lot of factors you have to take into consideration regarding viewership. Here, we’re able to take big risks where as the networks have to play it safer.

Was being an actress something you always aspired to be?

I always knew. I didn’t grow up in a houseful of artists, but my parents always used to watch telenovelas (Spanish soap operas) with lots of drama, tears and crazy plots. I remember just loving the idea of being able to express all of these emotions. I used to lock myself in my room and reenact all of these scenes. I knew then that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Tell me a little about your upcoming projects.

I have a supporting role in the upcoming film “St. Vincent De Van Nuys”. Its outrageous and funny. Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy are comedic geniuses and for me to be attached to something so fantastic is amazing. I also have an indie film called “Living With The Dead”. It’s a story that’s completely different from what audiences have been used to seeing me do and a lot more serious. I’m really looking forward to them.

What can fans can expect from Season 2 of Orange Is The New Black?

The next season is going to be deeper. We’re really exploring more of the stories with the characters and the different people who make up the amazing world of Orange Is The New Black; both inside and outside of prison. We’re still shooting so I can’t say exactly what surprises lie ahead, but I can tell you that I’m in the season and that I’m in the kitchen. It’s going to be spicy, and a lot of fun. 



What We Should Learn From The Netflix Debacle

I don’t know about you, but I’m a lazy ass. When I want something, I want it NOW. I don’t want to toast my bread anymore or have to brush my teeth manually. I’m all about convenience. I’d much prefer to go into the kitchen every morning and push a button from a menu board and it would magically appear. And I’d rather just stand there and open my mouth while an electronic machine got my whites all pearly.

I mean, c’mon this is the twenty-first century here right? Even George Jetson assumed we’d all be driving cars that could fly and using robots as maids by now. Is it too hard to ask for a little convenience?

But my biggest beef isn’t really about toast or teeth. It’s about something much more important. MOVIES.

When I read about the whole Netflix debacle I was stunned. I mean, here was a tiny upstart company who literally put the goliath stores Blockbuster and Hollywood Video out of business with just this simple idea:

Maybe people don’t want to drive to get their movies. What if we mailed DVDs to their house and they could send it back whenever they want? And what if we used the power of the Internet to stream movies into their homes when ever they wanted?

The idea was brilliant and Jetson like. I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t sit at work all day long and decide I’m going to watch a movie that night. Unless it involves going to the theater for a new release watching a movie is a spur of the moment thing. Something you decide to do while perusing the channels.

And quite frankly, when I want to watch a movie the LAST thing I want to do is have to order a DVD online and then trudge out to the local grocery store and wait in a line at the Red Box machine to pick it up. And please don’t get me started on the old biddies that hold up the line by standing at the machine and just browsing. The Netflix model was right up my alley.

But then corporate greed took over and they blew it. NetFlix decided a few months ago to nearly double their monthly fees and split the company into two parts. One for DVD’s by mail and the other for their streaming service they would rename Qwikster. And that’s when everyone ran for the hills.

After much public outcry and seeing their stock price plummet, NetFlix “Qwiksterly” eight-sixed the idea of separate companies and will keep them as one (but will still keep the new pricing thank you very much). All of this now means the progress of my Jetson movie watching will be delayed.

So what should we learn from this? That it’s high time we give the people what they want. I really don’t understand why these companies can’t get it together. It’s not hard to figure out. If you’re listening, here’s is what I want:

I want to sit down in front of my 50″ television, click on a menu button and watch ANY movie or TV show ever made when ever I want.

I’m talking anything not newly released. I don’t care how they do it. Get all the movie studios into one room and make it happen. There’s free money to be made. Get people interested in the old catalog again. Sure, there’s no market for releasing DVD’s from 1970’s game shows but if it was streamed as part of a package I bet there would be.

Chances are good that people who stumble upon a movie they haven’t seen in ten years will stream it on a whim rather than dig through a pile of old DVDs. There’s no time for that and we shouldn’t have to do that anymore anyway.

Stream absolutely EVERYTHING!  From the first episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood to Star Wars. I want it all, and I want it NOW. Charge me something like $34.99 a month (you’ve got to love the way making it a penny less than $35 psychologically makes it look cheaper) and I’ll be happy.

It’s coming. Sooner rather than later I hope because I’m tired of making my own toast, brushing my own teeth and standing in line at the RedBox.

I can just picture George Jetson turning over in his grave right about now.