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July 2017

Wingman Wednesday

Marianna Palka

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Palka as Vicky the Viking in “GLOW”

Fans of the Netflix series “GLOW” will know Marianna Palka as the squared circle brute Vicky the Viking, but beyond acting, the Scotland-native is a talented and sought-after filmmaker. Her movies “Bitch” and “Good Dick” were heaped with critical praise and she recently returned to the director’s chair to shoot the upcoming comedy “Egg” with Christina Hendricks, Alysia Reiner and Anna Camp.

We recently sat down with Palka to discuss how she balances wearing multiple on-set hats, how people will always need cinema in their lives, and why “GLOW” is such a game-changer for the industry.

TrunkSpace: We know that you write, direct, and act. Sometimes you do all three in the same project. Is that multi-hat experience wholly different than when you do something like “GLOW” where you’re focusing on acting alone?
Palka: That’s such a good question because I think those things all feed into one another. When I’m doing all of them together, it’s almost more streamlined and somewhat easier on some level because there are less conversations. I’m not explaining anything to my lead actress. I’m just talking with myself. So, it’s a beautiful thing when I’m doing all the jobs, but then it’s nice to just do one job like “GLOW” where I just have my lane and I like to stay in it.

Now with “Egg,” I like to stay in the directing lane. It’s the best.

TrunkSpace: Even though you like staying in the lane when you’re focusing on acting alone, is it hard to shut off the director’s brain? Not questioning decisions, but just wondering what the framing looks like and how a scene is playing out?
Palka: I like shutting off. It’s like a holiday. It’s like going on vacation. Do you like going on vacation to Hawaii or do you like going on vacation to Fiji? They’re both really awesome, you know? If I just have to focus on Hawaii, that’s fine. I tend not to be outside of what’s going on. I’m looking at it from the objective point of view when I’m working so subjectively as an actress.

It’s all about details and being in the moment. I’m really focused, so it’s kind of precise. I’m not really thinking about what anyone else should be doing, including other actors. I’m just thinking about me and how much I can bring to it or how generous I can be. It feels like a very giving, community-based activity.

TrunkSpace: The way people consume content has changed and continues to change. With that in mind, do you shoot your films with a particular format as your vision? Do you make them for the big screen?
Palka: I always thought about it both ways. Back in the day, I’d be like, “We’re making all of this detail, and someone may end up watching it on their VHS, or on a copy of a VHS, or whatever.” I’ve always been very open to that concept. I feel like now, even more so, I watch a lot of stuff on a small screen. But we’re still going to make all the cinematic decisions that we make in order for all of our movies to work in a cinema, because luckily enough, my movies have all played in the theaters first, and then they go wherever else they go. I know that’s not the case for everybody.

But that said, I think even if you’re a filmmaker and you’re making stuff that you know is going straight to online, you can still use the rules of cinema. You can still use justified camera movement. It doesn’t mean cinema has to die just because there’s a smaller screen. You can still make sure that the production design is amazing and that you’re not just pointing and shooting, but that you have a shot list and you’ve got good angles, and you’ve done it the way that a movie really gets to soar. The story really soars if you give all that skill.

TrunkSpace: It’s easier than ever to shoot a quality, affordable film and with so many distribution platforms now, it’s easier to get stuff out there. But with all of that in mind, is it more difficult to get people to notice what you’re doing on a grand scale because viewership is so segmented?
Palka: I’m not sure what’s going on in general for other filmmakers, but for me it’s the inverse of that. The more I’ve made movies, the more people have watched them. So the audience has been building, and I think that has to do with people wanting to see the stuff that’s more authentically in the cinema voice.

There’s this band First Aid Kit from Sweden made up of two sisters. They don’t have any modulation on their voices. It’s just their voices. You like to hear that. It’s just two people singing together that have sang together their whole life. There’s something so beautiful about it and it’s simple. It’s what we’ve been doing for hundreds of years. It’s like a centuries-old sound.

I think that there is something about the cinema that people need. They need stories that are told visually in a way that makes sense to them. I know not everyone will be able to articulate what it is visually that they’re finding appealing, but they know that they are appealed by it. They know that they find it appealing, the same way when I listen to First Aid Kit, I get choked up. I’m like, “Oh my God, this is so beautiful,” because it’s so authentic.

I think it’s really the authenticity in cinema that hasn’t died yet and will never die. I don’t feel like it’s going somewhere just because we’re changing our devices or our ways of watching it. I think it’s kind of stronger than ever because it’s been able to go through whatever ways society’s been changing.

Photo By: James Branaman

 

TrunkSpace: Certainly from a storytelling standpoint, the cinematic storytelling has sort of transferred over to television and “GLOW” is a perfect example of that. It’s a show that would have never been made even 10 years ago.
Palka: I know, it feels that way. It feels like it wouldn’t have been made even five years ago. Maybe not even a year or two years ago. It’s this moment in time that has allowed for it to happen. I love that. I love that years ago it would’ve been a movie that people would’ve gone to see at Sundance and that it wouldn’t necessarily been on Netflix for the world to see.

I love that we have this port in Netflix on that level and that they understand really what cinema is… that what they’re putting out there is really good stories and really well-crafted visuals with amazing quality of sound. It’s just wonderful. They’ve really maxed out the potential of each project. The way that they’ve done that has really given the artists feeling. It’s kind of like the Wild West right now. You’re allowed to make whatever film you want to make, or whatever TV show you want to make. You can really do anything and you can really say anything.

TrunkSpace: “GLOW” feels like the kind of series that is going to force the industry to look at what it’s doing and go back to the drawing board and diversify more.
Palka: I like how you literally said “GLOW” has changed the way that the industry views itself. Oh my God, that is so incredible. I feel like that.

TrunkSpace: It’s a show that people are enjoying in the moment and don’t realize what a game-changer it will be in the long run.
Palka: Oh my God, it’s so true. That’s what it felt like to make it. It felt like breaking all of these barriers. It felt like going through all of these ceilings. It was like, wow, we really want to be on a show where everybody’s a woman. We want to be on a show where all of the ladies are represented, every ethnicity, as much as they are possible. I loved it so much for that. That’s my experience in my life and it felt like putting that on the screen was a logical act. Then once we did it, it was like, “So we’ve done that, and now other people can do it more!”

TrunkSpace: And it could have gone in a completely different direction had the tone been different. There’s a version of this show that would have existed 10 years ago that was all slapstick with someone like Will Ferrell playing the Marc Maron character.
Palka: Wow, that’s so true, right? It’s such a meaningful, heartbreaking, authentic show. I love the creators, Liz and Carly, and Jenji… they just knew what they wanted to do. They were really clear with us. They’re very supportive and distinctive of females and they’re super beautiful mothers. They lead completely and dynamically, and it’s really awesome.

TrunkSpace: It kind of felt like a series that took people by surprise as well. There wasn’t much discussed publicly about it until its release and then it just sucks you in.
Palka: It really was beautiful on that level, because we got to have this beautiful time… we got to have so much connection. It felt like being soldiers together, connected in this bubble that was as intense as anything else. It felt like we were taking all these risks and anything could happen, because we were doing so much of the wrestling ourselves. It really felt like we could die. There was a sense that we could get injured, but also, we were in it together. It was beautiful to know that here we all were, going through the same experience and being so unified. So that was interesting because we were very jelled.

The half year, the eight months, between being done with it and it coming out, it was this real amazing time. We’re all really connected and need each other, because we’ve changed each others’ lives. We can’t go home after that. I care about every one of those women as much or maybe more than I care about myself. I really feel this deep bond. It’s like a link. You can’t take it away. Nothing could change it. Even if the world hated the show, we would still have had that bond.

I also think it’s funny, on our pink carpet at our premiere, we all were so put together and everything. We’re so dirty and sweaty and all our clothes are gross, and there’s nothing elegant, really, about the majority of the work that we did. Not like the fancy stuff that we did like when I’m Vicky the Viking and I’m playing that character. That was very elegant. That was like the most superhero stuff I’d done. But I just mean, like the daily grind of doing all those shows in our sweaty, dirty, disgusting stuff… felt so good. Then going to our premiere and seeing everybody in Givenchy, and all of our fancy, amazing, thousands of dollars worth of jewelry that we had… it was really funny to be like, “Oh yeah, we clean up nice.” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Have you heard any word on a season 2 yet?
Palka: We haven’t. When they’re going to be official about it, they’re going to be official about it, but we’re all looking forward to more for sure.

Palka is currently filming “Egg.” “GLOW” is available now on Netflix.

Featured image by: James Branaman

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Musical Mondaze Promo Posters

Trisha Molina

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Name: Trisha Molina

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Current Location: Los Angeles, CA

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Molina: I think I always knew that I was headed in that direction, but it wasn’t a fully formed decision until later in my life. I immigrated to America from the Philippines when I was 4 years old, and I had a difficult time making friends, so I took solace in retreating into my imagination. I was constantly coming up with these stories for my toys and I to act out, and I loved it whenever my mom pulled out the camera to record it all. By the time I was a teenager, I started taking drama classes, and acting became more of a coping mechanism to help me deal with depression. Once I started my Theatre major in college, it became so much more and I truly fell in love with acting. I couldn’t see myself pursing any other career. There’s just no replacement for the feeling that I get once I start delving into a scene or into the filmmaking process itself.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Molina: It might not be the most groundbreaking of performances, but I definitely remember being a kid and watching movies like “Jurassic Park” and “Jumanji” and thinking, “WOW. I want to do that for a living!” I honestly thought it was the coolest job to have — still do! It wasn’t even so much the movies themselves that got me interested, it was actually the behind the scenes footage that inspired me. I love watching behind the scenes stuff. I used to watch this show called “Mega Movie Magic” on the Discovery Channel, and it would show you all of these behind the scenes special effects stuff that they would do in movies and I was so fascinated by the whole process. I loved seeing how all of these different parts came together in such a collaborative process and created something wonderful to watch and experience. It showed me this whole other level of movie making that I hadn’t even considered and it inspired me so much to be a part of this industry. It just looked so fun!

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career as an actor? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Molina: For the most part, I’m just going with the flow. I went to college and got my BFA in Theatre Performance/Screen Acting and that’s really about as far as I got with my plan. I had one all laid out prior to that, but once I graduated, everything kind of went out the window. Life happens, you know? I was at the mercy of trying to make a living wage and saving up to move out to LA, but it took a lot longer to get out here than I had anticipated. Even once I was out here, it took a while before I was able to really pursue this career path full-force.

Now that I am, I’m trying to remain as positive, productive, and flexible as I can be — which is really important, in my opinion. I’ve been taking an on-camera acting class for the last two years and am always striving to keep getting better in my craft. I’m represented commercially, but not yet theatrically, so I spend a lot of my time submitting myself for a variety of projects. I’ve also realized the importance of having a good network under your belt, so I do my best to make sure that I’m making real, genuine connections with people. As amazing as it is to have a plan, I’ve learned that it’s more important to remain flexible and not let the setbacks knock you down. Trust me, there WILL be setbacks, and what matters at the end of the day is how you deal with them.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Molina: To be honest, the actual decision to leave home wasn’t really completely mine, but I was 23 when I finally got out here. I had been trying to save up to move to Los Angeles for about two years after college, but something huge always happened every time I had enough saved. For instance, a family emergency came up that required me to go back to the Philippines on very short notice… which meant a lot of money went towards a round-trip plane ticket. Around six months after that family emergency, I got a random phone call from my boss at the time telling me that my request to transfer to our LA location was approved and that I had two weeks to find an apartment and move there. For context, I put that transfer request in a year prior to this, so I had NO CLUE that it would ever get approved.

I literally had just the bare minimum amount of money in my bank account to put a deposit down on an apartment, rent a moving truck, and maybe buy some groceries once I was there. As soon as I got the green light, I drove down here, found an apartment within a day and a half, and drove back just in time for my going away party. It still took me about two and a half years after that to get to a point where I could actually pursue my acting career. It was just such a crazy moment in my life because I had no real time to think about anything! In hindsight, though, I don’t think I would change anything about it.

TrunkSpace: Was that move an easy transition for you initially? How long did it take you to feel at home and find a good support group of friends and peers?
Molina: It was a pretty easy transition for me; I felt at home almost immediately. Growing up, I had visited California so many times prior to moving here, so I knew what I was getting into. I never really felt like I belonged in Vegas, and I was so sick of it by that point; it was such a breath of fresh air to finally live in a place that I personally chose out. It definitely didn’t hurt that it was a solid 30 degrees cooler and I could go outside without getting heat stroke! I’m more of an introvert and I really love my alone time, so starting off without too many friends didn’t really phase me. In terms of finding my support group, I knew a bunch of people from college who had already moved out here to pursue careers in the film industry. They welcomed me with open arms right at the start, and that’s something that I’ve always been really thankful for. I still keep in touch and see them from time to time, but it gets harder the longer we’re out here; we just all get really busy. At this point, I’ve been here for five years, and I’ve found some great friends along the way through my acting class and through friends of friends.

TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Molina: I don’t know if I’ve really found my “break” just yet. It’s still early on in my career and I’m working on creating a strong foundation to build on. I’ve worked on some fun stuff over the last year and I’m so grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had so far. I’m keeping my outlook as optimistic as possible, so who knows what’s around the corner!

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific type of role you’d like to take on or a specific genre that you feel more at home in?
Molina: I don’t really want to close off any doors for myself and stay in one genre. I’d like to explore as many as I can! With that said, I’d like try tackling some more comedy roles. I think it’d be a great challenge because it’s not really a genre that I get to do a lot. On the other hand, I think it would also be a great challenge to tackle more drama, too!

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Molina: That’s hard to choose! I think flexibility and perseverance are really important strengths, but my number one has to be self-awareness and knowing who you are as a person. You’re going to face a lot of obstacles both in and out of your career, and if you don’t know yourself or your self-worth, then getting to the other side of that obstacle is going to be a serious up-hill battle. As an actor, rejection is a major part of your life and you have to know who you are in order to not take it personally. It really goes hand in hand with flexibility and perseverance. I’ve found that hardly anything ever goes as planned and you really need the ability to just shake it off and keep moving forward.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Molina: Ultimately, I’d love to be consistently working in both film and TV — mostly film. That’s really what I want out of my career. As much as I would love to say that I was an award-winning actress, my primary goal is to be a working one with a long, long, long career ahead of me. I love that there’s so much amazing storytelling on TV and streaming networks, but I would still love my primary focus to be in film. Growing up in America and being a mixed Asian-American, I never really saw too many faces or stories like mine portrayed in film, especially in the foreground. Now that I’m older and am in the film industry, I want to help fill that gap for viewers in a genuine way. I want viewers who were otherwise underrepresented to be able to watch a film and go, “Yes, my viewpoints are valid, too.” From personal experience, it really makes an impact to see yourself positively represented in the media, and I really just want to leave something for my future kids to look up to.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Molina: If this is really what you want, don’t ever give up! Things happen at their own pace, so don’t compare your journey or your progress with another person’s. All that will do is cause you so much more grief and anxiety than you need (trust me). It’s also important to have a life and hobbies outside of acting that helps you to feel fulfilled. Good things take so much time to arrive, so you need to have a lot of patience. And I mean, A LOT of patience. You also really, really need to maintain a positive attitude in all aspects of your life, including your career. You’ll be so surprised to see just how much positivity occurs when you do!

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Molina: A few places! You can visit my website at www.trishamolina.com or follow me on social media.

Instagram: @trishamolina

Twitter: @_trishamolina

IMDb: www.imdb.me/trishamolina

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Musical Mondaze

Styx

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Very few artists have the opportunity to celebrate their studio sweet 16. Creative wells dry up and in-fighting often leads to the classic band disband, which is why longevity in rock is not easy to roll. Styx has defied its critics and outlasted its peers since first coming together in 1972, touring the world countless times over for millions of adoring fans and crafting evergreen hits that continue to excite listeners. “Come Sail Away,” “Lady,” “Too Much Time on My Hands,” and “Mr. Roboto” are just a few of the immortal anthems that we have all sung along to at some point in our lives.

Now, as rock radio stations continue to disappear or regurgitate the same “modern rock” songs that they were spinning in the 90s, Styx has released the “The Mission,” their 16th studio album, and has outlasted the FM airwaves that first propelled them to stardom.

We recently sat down with lead vocalist and keyboardist Lawrence Gowan to discuss the band’s rock legacy, how “The Mission” became their own mission, and the feeling he gets when 18,000 fans respond in unison at a Styx show.

TrunkSpace: Thousands of bands have created and recorded music over the years and only a small percentage of those have left their mark in such a way that they have become a chapter in the story of music itself. Styx is one of those bands. Does the heaviness of that still hit you at times?
Gowan: It does and that’s a great opening observation. It struck me, similar to the words that you just used, probably around the start of the new millennium. Rock music is the giant musical statement of the last half of the 20th century. If you wanted to look at the first half, the seismic shift was the discovery of jazz, but just arbitrarily say that jazz and blues and their American influence on the world of music. The last half of the 20th century, unarguably, it belongs to rock. It’s the giant statement.

I remember when I was going to the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, in the early or mid-70s, and I was saying to a couple of my professors, “I think Lennon and McCartney will be like Beethoven and Mozart a hundred years from now.” They would look at each other trying to hold back the laughter, and now you’ve got musicologists that compare what they’ve done to the great songs of Schubert or any of the great works. Musicologists now, absolutely lay that out. It’s just a historical fact. There’s no more debating it, you know?

TrunkSpace: And they’ve reached more people with their music than any of the composers who came before them.
Gowan: Yeah, which is the ultimate impression of music on planet earth. I mean, you can easily argue that Paul McCartney is the most successful musician in the history of music. Flat out. There’s no debate. Numbers alone dictate that.

Anyway, I don’t have to build up his career. We’re here to push Styx. (Laughter)

I’m sure you’ve heard this expression. An attitude is usually distilled to a quick cliché and some of them ring very true. I remember around 2000 hearing this expression for the first time ever. “Don’t mock the rock.” Meaning that when musicians go to approach it, don’t undersell it. Don’t underplay it. Don’t dismiss it as something that’s simplistic. Honor it for what it truly is, which is music that’s had a profound impact on the entire planet. You could probably go to the farthest reaches of planet earth and I’ll bet you there’s an AC/DC song that still resonates with everyone.

Having said all of that, yes, I do take that on my shoulders as being something that needs to be kind of respected in a strong way. The fortunate thing for me is, and this is where luck plays into it or perhaps the rules of attraction, I don’t know, but I’m in a band with very like-minded people who think of it exactly the same way and the proof of that is there every single day. The ritual of what it takes to put the level of rock show that Styx are able to pull off every night, it begins around noon.

TrunkSpace: It has to be quite an operation to be able to pull off that level of production quality every single day.
Gowan: It’s funny. There’s a daily ritual that everyone goes through and I can guarantee that two and a half hours before we hit the stage tonight in Houston, Todd will be on a practice pad going through incredible things in the dressing room. Ricky Phillips will have his bass cranked up and he’ll be doing his thing, and JY and Tommy, the same thing. And I will be on the keyboards, basically running through my scales and all kinds of classical and rock pieces that I love and that get me ready for the show. Then a half hour before the show there’s going to be a very intense vocal warm-up with all of us together, and by the time we hit the stage tonight, we are going to be so revved up and so focused on what we’re doing that it’s going to have the impact that we’re hoping for.

We’re going to end the day with a sea of thousands of big, smiling faces looking back at us. Then I’m probably going to goof off for a little while before I hit my bunk in the bus and we’re down. (Laughter)

What I mean by all of that is that it’s the center point of the day and it’s something that we take on gladly, but very seriously.

TrunkSpace: There’s a routine and tradition to it, but at the same time, each show must be different based on whatever the audience is giving you, right?
Gowan: You’re absolutely right, which is why you can play the same song not just thousands, maybe even millions of times, and never play it the same twice. If you’re a musician that’s really engaged in playing the song, there’s a nuance that every song takes on because it’s a new day with a fresh set of ears listening to it. New circumstances. Life has moved ahead and that song has to vibrate with you in a whole new way. If you’re open to the suggestion of that, if you’re open to the invitation of that, you’re going to perform the song to the best that you can on that day and it’s going to mean something.

Photo By: Jason Powell

TrunkSpace: You might have played a song 30 times already on a particular tour, but that audience that night, they haven’t heard it yet.
Gowan: Correct! And it is for them. It’s for you to give the most sincere, connected, and meaningful performance of the piece, but it really is for them to embrace and to personalize and to get caught up in the moment. It is a different moment today than it was yesterday.

Having said that, a part of what’s really kicking us in the ass in the most beautiful way right now though, is the fact that we have the new record, and just having a couple of new pieces to play in the show alongside these songs with these long legacies to them. That’s definitely a shot in the arm and a mental boost that has us all even on a finer point to doing these shows.

TrunkSpace: “The Mission” is the band’s first studio album in 14 years. Was there a big gap between studio offerings because you guys needed to refuel the creative tank?
Gowan: No, no not really. I’ll tell you, it wasn’t anything like a 14-year writer’s block, even though it may appear that way. There have been daily, weekly moments where something new is played in the dressing room by one of the guys in the band. Sometimes it starts with a drumbeat or something, and we kind of get around it and jam on it a little bit. And sometimes it’s a complete song or a half complete song. Then we take a stab at it and we wind up doing the soundcheck with it. We’ve done that consistently over the last 14 years. The difficulty was, we’d always end up going, “Oh, we’ve got to finish that. That’s going to be great. Maybe next year we’ll make the record, because we’re looking at a schedule and we see 120 shows between now and the time we can ever hit a studio.”

Acknowledging and living with the insatiable demand that there is to see the band around the world, we could perform every day of the year and just what pleasure that we derive from that, especially at this advanced stage of a career, to still have that be so vibrant and to have it in our lives, it’s not something that we like to turn our backs on and take six months away from to go and make something new. It’s really not incumbent on us to do that. We don’t have to do that. In fact, there are many signs in the world telling us not to do that, chiefly among which are the fact that radio doesn’t play new music from a band that’s been around for, you know, nearly five decades. The fans that come to the shows, they want to embrace the songs that they’ve known for decades and love. There’s no pressing issue and there’s no record company breathing down our backs saying, “We need something new and we need it now.” That just doesn’t happen.

TrunkSpace: So what made you guys decide that it was time?
Gowan: Two years ago, Tommy Shaw came in with this little piece he was working on called, “Mission to Mars” It was like many other dressing room jams and it began to bubble up and I was charmed by it immediately and I loved the notion of anything about space. I’m very spacey. (Laughter) I liked it right off the bat and within the next 10 days he’d brought in another piece that a fellow named Will Evankovich, who wound up producing “The Mission,” was working on. Tommy said, “Listen to this piece Will’s working on. It’s called ‘Locomotive,’ and then listen to ‘Mission to Mars.’” The two of them… it was a loose but somewhat tangible connection between the two. The intrigue increased a bit more.

Right around that time, JY was blasting on this riff in his dressing room and suddenly there are these threads that quickly begin to kind of weave together, and you’ve got the beginnings of what could ultimately be either a tapestry or… maybe just a bedspread. (Laughter)

Tommy was, by then, living in Nashville. He’d moved from LA, and Nashville of course offers you, in a very real way, the opportunity to go and record anywhere you want. It’s such a musical mecca now that music’s on your mind. Shortly thereafter, I was called to go and spend some time in Nashville. We began fleshing out the songs over the course of the next year. They were intense sessions, but very enjoyable. About a year into it we realized, “This is becoming an album. It’s becoming a Styx album.” The danger of that is that, we don’t have to do this. We don’t have to commit the time, but if we do, let’s make sure that we really love it. If we don’t love it, we’re not gonna put it out and we’re gonna regret the time that we put into it. We began leaning forward from kind of a more passive, fun thing to leaning in hard. We wound up recording it three times. The third time, intentionally, because we decided to record it analog as if it was 1979 and so that sonically it connected to the big four albums Styx made between ’76 and ’81.

The reaction to it, we’re holding our breath for that, but we never had this much critical acclaim to a new Styx album in the history of the band, you know? We’ve had to fight through some pretty negative stuff in the past, but this has been extremely well-received and we couldn’t be happier.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been singing for decades. What do you do to keep your vocal cords fresh and not overextend yourself when you have a slew of dates in front of you?
Gowan: We all have our different rituals and regimens and voodoo magic to try and keep ourselves in check. I would say for me, I would put it in this order: get enough sleep, number one; and don’t fry your voice out on alcohol. I try to keep my drinking days, as they are, to occasional days off. Like bad habits, let them kind of have reign on a day off, but make sure that on that day off you still get plenty of sleep before the next one. I happen to like doing some yoga exercises every single day. They’re usually around half an hour or a bit more, just to get my body conducted to be able to face the show. In so doing, I find that for the most part, my voice decides to behave itself and respond on command.

There’s gonna be a section in every year, and I hate to acknowledge it, but there’s gonna be a couple of weeks where it’s gonna be under the mark. That’s the same for every single guy in the band. Aren’t we lucky that we’ve got three lead singers who can pull up the slack when something like that happens? It happens to all of us. On an annual basis, we know it’s coming. This year, I don’t know what it is… we all seem to be healthy and just hitting our notes really well. Maybe it’s the extra heat that’s in these shows in the summer. I don’t know. Basically, things are, and I’m touching everything wood around me right now… we’re hoping health will stay that way for a little while.

It all harkens back to your first question. Do you see this as a serious undertaking? It really is, because look at the price of tickets. You owe them. If they’re gonna leave their laptop for five seconds, and actually fight through traffic or whatever they have to fight through to get to that show, you better deliver. The days of, “Oh, he didn’t show up,” or, “Oh my God, he was drunk on stage,” are kind of… the entertainment value in that, it’s gone by the wayside a long time ago.

TrunkSpace: And now with cellphones, you can’t really get away with it anymore, either. (Laughter)
Gowan: (Laughter) Oh, there’s only 10,000 video accounts of your antics, you know?

TrunkSpace: The good part of the cell phone angle is that you now have an entire stadium throwing up the light whereas even in the days where smoking was more common, no everyone had a lighter.
Gowan: Yeah, exactly. JY starts a light up every night. “Probably no one has matches on them now, or lighters. Maybe three or four of you out there, but you’ve all got cellphones. Some of you have got two cellphones, so get them out, light them up!”

It leads to the most beautiful moment of the night. When you look out, you see a sea of 18,000 people and it’s just every single person. You look out at it in the dark and it really is a breathtaking sight from the stage to see all those out there. It’s one of those moments you take in where you realize, that’s how far this music has reached. You can see a sight like that and they’re all responding to it with their little camera light.

TrunkSpace: Full circle back to “The Mission,” it must be like looking up at stars out in space!
Gowan: Oh boy. When I start trying to pick out constellations then I know I’m getting a little too much of an out of body experience. (Laughter)

“The Mission” is available now.

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The Pod People

Rachael O’Brien

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Being funny isn’t easy. It’s difficult to make people laugh. When you are successful at the act, brilliant at the process, being funny comes with its own set of burdens. For starters, people always expect you to be “on” at all times. “Make me laugh! Dance, monkey… dance!” And of course, you’re only as funny as the last joke you told. Applause can quickly transition into heckling.

Luckily for Rachael O’Brien, a true multi-hyphenate in the entertainment industry, she has a natural ability at finding the funny in the everyday experiences and life moments that makes her relatable point of view work with comedy club audiences and podcast listeners alike.

We recently sat down with the “Be Here For A While” host to discuss late night brainstorming, the unexpected work that goes into managing a podcast, and why she needs to clean to write.

TrunkSpace: You are involved in so many different aspects of the entertainment business. If we trace things backwards from today to the source, what would we find in terms of the starting point that got you interested in the entertainment business?
O’Brien: Watching “Saturday Night Live.” I was obsessed with it as a kid, really obsessed with Chris Farley, David Spade, Will Ferrell, and Cheri Oteri. That sort of era. I used to reenact the Spartan Cheerleader skits with my dad at parties.

TrunkSpace: Nice.
O’Brien: Yeah, it was awesome. Very cool.

But, yeah, it was probably watching SNL. I just thought, “That’s what I want to do!” and I figured I’d move to New York and be on SNL, which is strange because I ended up becoming a stand-up comic, which is way different than sketch comedy.

TrunkSpace: As you look at all of these different aspects of your career now, how do you manage them and give them all equal attention? It seems like it would be a lot to manage.
O’Brien: Yeah, it is. It’s certainly not easy to manage, but it’s manageable because I love it, so I’ll make it work no matter what, if that makes sense.

TrunkSpace: For a lot of creative people, particularly writers, they have a hard time shutting their brains off. Are you ever not working?
O’Brien: Never. Absolutely never. I mean, in the middle of the night, not last night but the night before, I woke up probably six different times. I don’t take notes. I send myself emails because it will be an alert when I look in the morning. I woke up six different times in the middle of the night to send myself emails like, “Write this into a script. This would be a good joke.”

TrunkSpace: So when those ideas come to you, do you know where they’ll exist, as in a script or as a part of your stand-up material, or do they evolve?
O’Brien: It sort of just evolves. And sometimes I never even use them. I just have the thought, and then I forget about it sometimes. It’s actually more work sometimes to go back and look at the notes I’ve written. I’m like, “Oh, that was a joke that would have been really good.” I forget about it.

TrunkSpace: It’s something musicians reflect on a lot. Coming up with a riff or guitar part and then, poof, it’s gone.
O’Brien: Yeah. Exactly. Maybe it’s because a lot of people overthink stuff when they’re sleeping, and then you just sort of forget about it.

TrunkSpace: You run a podcast called “Be Here For A While.” Other than giving you another creative outlet, what does having a podcast mean to your career? Is it an important part of the equation that comics need to tap into?
O’Brien: I don’t think you have to, but it’s really helpful because podcast fans and listeners are not like any other type of fan. They really feel like they know you, and I actually feel like I really know my listeners. So it’s like building a really strong listener fan base, because you’re talking about your life and it’s personal. It’s a once a week thing. I think it’s extremely important.

TrunkSpace: Does managing the podcast add an extra layer of stress because of the consistent frequency of it?
O’Brien: When I first started my podcast, I was like, “Oh, cool, it will just be this fun thing I record once a week. Whatever, I’ll have my friends on.” It’s a lot of work, because you’re, also, constantly doing other people’s podcasts because that helps build listenership, and once you get sponsors and ads, that’s a ton of work. And there’s your listeners. I give my email out to my listeners, and so they’re always emailing me and I want to respond. Sometimes I call them because I don’t want to respond in a long email. They’ll email me for dating advice and it will be a super long email and I’ll just be like, “I think it might be just easier if I call you.” (Laughter) I just tell them to give me their phone number and I call them.

TrunkSpace: From an outside perspective, it seems like the toughest aspect of running a podcast is coming up with a fresh point of view.
O’Brien: Yeah. I don’t really have a major concept. Mine’s just about comedy and life. I just talk to other comedians. I don’t know. I just have different guests on, and I interview people a lot. I had a psychic on this week. That was pretty cool.

TrunkSpace: Does the podcast lead to people coming out to your live performances and do the live performances lead to people listening to your podcast? Seems like it could help out on both sides.
O’Brien: Yeah, definitely. I get more people coming to my comedy shows through my podcast. My podcast listeners will come and I also do live podcasts in comedy clubs. Yeah, it definitely helps that.

TrunkSpace: Sticking with the stand-up side of things, is that world a bit more of a boy’s club than other areas of the business, particularly when it comes to the club owners and those who book the events?
O’Brien: It definitely can be. I try not to think about it too much because I’m not someone that’s like, “Oh, I’m at a disadvantage because I’m a girl,” or, “I’m at a disadvantage because of whatever.” There are definitely more white male comedians than anything else. Yeah, it is a boy’s club, but you can’t think of it that way. If you’re going to survive, you just can’t think of it like that. I just try not to get bitter about that kind of thing. It’s like, “Well, it is what it is.”

TrunkSpace: Are the people who exceeded their two drink minimums more apt to heckle a female comic?
O’Brien: No. I think when people get drunk, they just will do anything. Being a female comic can, also, come at an advantage because you’re a smaller group. “Oh, we need a female comic on the show.” You’re not competing with 3,000 people. It’s a smaller pool of people.

TrunkSpace: You’re also coming at things with a different point of view.
O’Brien: Exactly. It can also be an advantage.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to writing material for your stand-up, how often do you try to switch it up and add to things?
O’Brien: I try to all of the time. Sometimes it’s hard. It depends on the show though. It’s like, if I’m on a show with huge, all-star headliners at the Comedy Store on a main room show at 8 p.m., I’m probably not going to try out new material, because I want to do my best stuff. But if I’m doing a bar show, or if I’m in Reno, Nevada doing seven nights… that’s where I was on my last tour… and no one knows me and it’s 7:30 p.m., yeah, I’ll try out new material then.

You have to choose the show to do it on, but I try to do it as often as possible.

TrunkSpace: There was a time in the 90s when every stand-up comedian was getting his or her own television series. It feels like we’re venturing back to that area of things.
O’Brien: Yeah. That happens a lot. That’s half the reason why I got into comedy. I went to grad school for screenwriting and I liked to write comedy pilots. I was like, “How do these people get these made.” They were stand-ups.

I think that’s happening again. Yeah.

TrunkSpace: What’s the ideal headspace for you to be in to write?
O’Brien: I’m a mess when I write. There is no ideal headspace. It’s so hard for me to… once I start doing it, once I force myself to do it, I can do it for hours and hours, but I will clean my house three times over to procrastinate from writing. I will do anything to procrastinate it because it just freaks me out. So there is no ideal headspace. It makes me crazy.

TrunkSpace: Nothing wrong with that. We need a clean workspace to get stuff done.
O’Brien: Totally. I’m cleaning right now while we’re talking. Everything needs to be perfect before I can settle in to do something like that.

Listen to “Be Here For A While” here.

O’Brien also appears on Bravo’s “Vanderpump Rules.”

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Blood Drive

Blood Drive

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TrunkSpace is looking to rev the engines of “Blood Drive” fans. We’ve made it our mission to feature every actor and actress who has appeared on the series, and in doing so, has left a mark on the grindhouse gorefest.

Let the race begin…

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Wingman Wednesday

Carel Nel

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One of the great things about “Blood Drive” is that it is a visual feast for the eyes. From the blood-chugging cars to the incredible set designs and the beautiful cinematography that seems to change seamlessly from episode to episode, the series paints the picture of a world like no other. One of the big parts of that equation is the characters that inhabit the world. A potpourri of post-apocalyptic personalities, the fictional call sheet reads like an old Loony Tunes cartoon where Bugs Bunny takes a wrong turn at Albuquerque and winds up in a weird saloon.

We recently sat down with one of the more visually memorable “Blood Drive” cast members, Carel Nel, to discuss his heavily-tattooed character Rasher, performing opposite Colin Cunningham, and why his involvement in the series was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

TrunkSpace: We have been asking this of every “Blood Drive” cast member we speak with because, well, it just seems like an obvious first question. (Laughter) Did you ever wonder if the material you were working on in “Blood Drive” would ever make it to air?
Nel: I remember reading the pilot episode, which is called, “That Fucking Cop,” and thinking, “Who is going to air this?” After getting the part and reading the rest of the show I thought, “This is genius!” It was so tongue-in-cheek and funny. If we get 70 percent of what was on the page, it would be a monumental effort. Credit to James Roland whose crazy vision has given us such a unique and entertaining television show.

TrunkSpace: Just to be clear, you’re not all-over tattooed in real life, correct? That many additions to your skin before each day of shooting must complicate things from a continuity standpoint, no?
Nel: I have zero tattoos. They are all fake. It didn’t really complicate things as Kerry Skelton and her team of makeup artists did a phenomenal job. They had about 300 different photos of my face, so there was never a problem. The only complication was that I had three hours of makeup to do every day, but it was worth every minute.

TrunkSpace: And you did some shooting of the series out in the hot sun of South Africa. We’d assume that body sweat and temporary tattoos are probably not the best onscreen partners? Did it take a lot of touching up to maintain the look?
Nel: Not really. I’m South African so I’m very used to the weather, and fortunately, we shot most of my scenes at night or indoors.

TrunkSpace: How did you become involved in the series and was Rasher always meant to reoccur?
Nel: I was actually having dinner with friends at our local hang out and bumped into Luke Mason who I’d worked with on a different project. He told me he was working on “Blood Drive” and asked why I haven’t auditioned. That Monday he mailed me sides and the rest is, as they say, history. So, thanks Luke… I appreciate it.

As far as I know they were struggling to cast Rasher and they almost cut the character from the show. Initially they said I would do two episodes, but I ended up doing five.

TrunkSpace: You shared an… interesting scene with Colin Cunningham’s Slink in a dentist’s chair. Were we accurate in the assumption that you were administering an enema to your scene partner, and if so, how do you explain that gig to your family and friends? (Laughter)
Nel: (Laughter) I think you’re referring to episode 4. I don’t remember the enema, but I do remember the dental work on Slink. Rasher is truly a jack of all trades.

Well, I told my mom it’s a show about cars that run on human blood and she couldn’t get past that part, so I kind of gave up. My friends on the other hand were easy. I just said “grindhouse” and “the cars run on blood” and they were all like, “That sounds crazy, when can we see it?!” It hasn’t aired in South Africa yet so we are all waiting in anticipation.

TrunkSpace: How do you view Rasher’s role in not only the race itself, but in the world that “Blood Drive” takes place in?
Nel: I think it all boils down to Rasher’s relationship with Slink. When I met Colin the first day on set we immediately hit it off and started figuring out Rasher and Slink’s relationship, which I think, really helped in creating a world for us to exist in. Rasher isn’t Slink’s underling or minion; there is a true friendship and mutual respect there. They are in this world together. I would view Slink as a mentor and a father figure to Rasher. Then everything else makes sense. Rasher is with Slink for better or worse. He is in on the plan and wants the race to succeed.

I would sometimes joke with Colin that Slink had saved Rasher from a torturous childhood and adopted him as his son. You always need a bit of a backstory.

TrunkSpace: Visually the character fits in perfectly with the chaotic craziness of the “Blood Drive” world. How much of who Rasher became existed in the original script and how much of him was about discovery in wardrobe and makeup?
Nel: There wasn’t much reference in the script except that he had tattoos over his face. I had a makeup test the day before I had to start filming and we weren’t sure exactly what to do with Rasher, so Kerry and I just started putting tattoos on my face. We had this idea that he did the tattoos himself, so we went for a prison tattoo look. There are gangs in South Africa with a similar look, so that was what we were going for.

As for wardrobe, the incredible Danielle Knox had the costume all figured out. She had me in a kinky BDSM bodystocking and a corset, which was extremely uncomfortable but looked amazing. A lot of credit must go to Danielle and Kerry for creating an incredible look for Rasher.

TrunkSpace: The sets in “Blood Drive” are just as unique and off the wall as the characters appear. Did the environments play a role in your character development?
Nel: Yes! Andrew Orlando outdid himself. It was an actor’s dream to walk onto set. I would just look around and there would be hundreds of cool things lying around. I would just say, “Hey guys, do you mind if I use this in the scene?” and they would be like, “Yeah man, go for it… please just don’t break it.” So yes, it helped me to be much more creative.

The Mayhem parties were insane! It made it so easy to be in the world of “Blood Drive.” There would be fire coming out of the stage and hundreds of extras just going crazy. The extras were amazing. They bought into “Blood Drive” just as much as the actors.

TrunkSpace: We previously mentioned Colin Cunningham. He seems like an incredibly talented actor, not only in performance but in character discovery. What was it like working with Colin, who you spent most of your scenes with?
Nel: Colin is amazing. We had a blast. I learned a lot about acting from Colin. I think he created something like 20 different Slinks and each of those 20 Slinks would interact differently with the other characters. It was great to watch. He was so easy to work with and always keen to discover something new. He would say, “We’re missing something in the scene…” and we would work out something new. Everything he did was to try and make every scene better. His performance is at the same time frightening, weird, funny, crazy, and extremely truthful. What an actor!

TrunkSpace: Beyond the performance and the work itself, what was the highlight for you personally in working on the series?
Nel: Being South African and working on local stuff, we don’t nearly have the budgets you guys have. So to be able to work at this pace and on this scale was a highlight.

TrunkSpace: “Blood Drive” is so very unlike anything else on television. That statement is said a lot about a great number of shows, but usually it’s just said for the sake of saying it. It truly is the case with your show. Does that make being involved with it feel all the more special?
Nel: This was a once in a lifetime experience. The amount of creative freedom we were given, the incredible cast, the insane scripts, and the amazing vision that each of the directors had just came together beautifully to create this crazy show.

TrunkSpace: Do you anticipate that working on the series will open up more doors for you as an actor, and if so, does it concern you that visually Rasher looks so different than what casting directors will discover in Carel Nel?
Nel: I hope it does and I think Rasher’s look will be a great addition to my show reel. Just imagine… you see a normal character and then BAM, Rasher pops up on your screen. I think it might even help.

TrunkSpace: When you look at your career moving forward, what would you like to accomplish? Do you have bucket list items that you want to check off in your career?
Nel: I just want to work and do work that I’m proud of. And maybe play Hamlet on Broadway.

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Wingman Wednesday

Michael Mosley

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Photo By: Riker Brothers Photography

Regardless of the genre, Michael Mosley owns every scene he’s in. The Iowa native can deliver laughs with ease, as made apparent in shows like “Sirens” and “Scrubs,” or he can drop a major dramatic anvil on the heads of viewers, which he’s doing with his latest string of projects, including “Ozark” and “Seven Seconds,” a pair of high-profile Netflix shows. He is versatile, relatable, and in the opinion of this publication, one of the most underrated actors working in the business today.

We recently sat down with Mosley to discuss the emotional heaviness of his recent roles, his approach towards comedic performance, and how his 12-year-old self would have been super psyched about getting to kiss Margot Robbie.

TrunkSpace: We have some unrealistic expectations for this interview because you’re one of our favorite people to watch onscreen, so we’re expecting nothing but insightful responses and wittiness. (Laughter)
Mosley:: (Laughter) Okay. Well here we go. Just throw a pitch and I’ll knock it out of the park.

TrunkSpace: Your new Netflix series “Ozark” is some dark storytelling and your character has gone through some heavy life stuff. When you’re performing in a character-driven, emotionally drenched project like this, does the material trickle into your own headspace? Does it become a heavier job when the material itself is heavier?
Mosley: Yeah, it definitely does. And the world is heavier, so it all kind of feeds into itself. The last couple of years… I was on “Sirens” and I was telling dick jokes in an ambulance, so to come to this and have everything be so heavy and weighted, I was really very nervous about it. I haven’t done heavy shit like that in awhile. When I was on “Castle” playing this killer, that stuff would get a little thick at times, but this guy was a victim. He’s often kind of high on his horse about where he saw himself spiritually and where he saw others spiritually and stuff like that, but he was not a bad guy or anything. This is happening to him and he was just kind of navigating through it.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how you haven’t done this type of heavy work for awhile. Did you put yourself in a position to step away from comedy after “Sirens” in order to distance yourself from being seen in that light?
Mosley:: Not at all. When I first started out, I was kind of the serious actor. One of the first gigs I got was for a drama on NBC where it was this really heavy show, and then I started getting these comedies. Bill Lawrence picked me up to do a pilot for him and then he put me in his last season of “Scrubs” and then all of a sudden I was this funny guy, which is great. It’s so much fun. It’s a fun way to make a living because you’re just on set with your friends busting each others’ balls all day and they roll the cameras and you try to crack each other up. I don’t know what happened. I shot a comedy pilot last year that didn’t go, and then I got in this movie with Rob Reiner coming out called “LBJ” with Woody Harrelson, and that was heavy. Then I don’t know… this year has been a heavy year. I don’t know why. With “Ozark,” and then the next thing I’m doing “Seven Seconds,” which is on Netflix and we already shot… that thing’s fucking dark, man.

TrunkSpace: Not only dark, but it’s also very politically and socially timely, right?
Mosley:: Absolutely. I guess that’s the darkness of that conversation in our lives right now is that it is very real, very poignant, and yes, it’s definitely the backdrop of what we’re doing on “Seven Seconds” in Jersey City.

TrunkSpace: You said you started out as the “serious actor” and then things veered into the comedy lane. From our standpoint, comedy is either a “get it” or you “don’t get it” situation because those beats and the timing can be difficult. Did you find that it just came natural to you?
Mosley:: I think with anything, you’re as good as the guy in front of you or the girl in front of you. With “Sirens,” me, Kevin Daniels, and Kevin Bigley were a little rock band. We all had our instruments and we knew how to play, and by the second season, they were just letting us rip and go to town and go crazy. Timing to me is with another person. It’s like the timing that the two people or three people or four people have is kind of unique to them. That’s as far as I can speak to it because I don’t really know why some of that stuff works. I’ll go in for something and they’re not laughing at me at all as I’m auditioning. Sometimes I’m flat, and then sometimes somebody gets it.

TrunkSpace: Regardless of how a project is ultimately received by viewers, do you view each one as a success based on the experience you had working on it and what you learned about yourself as an actor?
Mosley:: Yeah, for sure. “Ozark” was fun. And it was weird as hell and unique. We’re down in Atlanta out in the woods floating around in lakes and shit. It was really great. I didn’t really know what was going on in the show very much. Watching the show, there’s 20 storylines going on all the time… different people and different things. There were so many trailers on set and Mason, my character, never knew what was going on outside of it. We all had our own worlds and Bateman was kind of stringing it all together.

Working with Bateman was a blast. He’s really good in the show because he’s such a good actor, and I don’t think we’ve seen him like this… when he’s pleading for his life in the pilot, it’s unreal. He also has this kind of natural likeness about him as we’ve always known him to have. So it was really wild getting to act with him and doing this really intense, epic stuff, and then they call “cut” and he’d be cracking jokes and busting balls with the crew. The more I’m in this business, you kind of run into these people who are effortlessly in control of themselves… folks that have an ease and you trust them. They’re like a good quarterback.

TrunkSpace: “Seven Seconds” is based on a Russian movie. It seems like a bad time to be involved in anything Russian.
Mosley:: (Laughter) Yeah, right?

TrunkSpace: In all seriousness, the show is very topical as we previously mentioned. Did that put extra pressure on everybody involved to make sure the show hits the right tone and point of view knowing that it’s meant to say something specific about what is going on in our society today?
Mosley:: Absolutely. We were so careful, and I hope we did it. With something like “Seven Seconds,” we just want to make sure at every point we’re not taking anything for granted… not making any assumptions and that nobody’s opinion is coming out in a way that’s not there to encourage discussion and discourse and to protect those that aren’t being currently protected right now.

TrunkSpace: Both “Ozark” and “Seven Seconds” are Netflix shows, which means they’re rolled out, per season, all at once. For an actor, how does that experience differ for you than something like “Sirens,” which took a more traditional approach?
Mosley:: Well, a couple of things. When you’re doing a network broadcast, you kind of have to beg people to show up to the party. You’re on Twitter saying, “Hey, please watch my show. It’s on Tuesday at 8:00.” With the streaming, you don’t have to do that. It just kind of lands. I haven’t been on any social media begging anybody to watch “Ozark” or anything. It’s just there.

Photo By: Riker Brothers Photography

Also it’s a premium subscription, so their pedigree is just a little bit different. They’re not afraid of anything over there that I can see, so that’s great. You get to do kind of crazy stuff.

TrunkSpace: Well, and like you mentioned previously with “Ozark,” there are so many storylines going on at once that being able to stream it all at once helps keep everything tight for the viewer.
Mosley:: Yeah, there’s that too. Also, with network broadcast TV, they’ll change the show as it’s airing based on how well it’s doing or how well the show next to it is doing. So as you’re shooting episode 6 on a broadcast network television show, episode 1 is airing and if episode 2’s numbers drop, they’re going to go into the writers’ room and episode 8 is going to be completely different and now the show’s completely different. They have to get in there and tinker with it, whereas on Netflix, there’s none of that. They let creators take the ball and run with it.

It’s great because it allows creators to find their sea legs and figure things out and it lets the cast get comfortable with themselves, lets the crew get tight, and everybody becomes completely cohesive by the end of the process. The real vision gets to be honored, which is kind of difficult in broadcast television.

TrunkSpace: What aspect of your career would 15-year-old you be most impressed with? Is there a particular project or somebody that you worked with that young Michael would be super psyched about?
Mosley: I don’t know. Getting to kiss Margot Robbie on “Pan Am” was pretty cool. (Laughter)

You know, you play cops and robbers and you get to fly an airplane… you get to do all this crazy shit that you never expect to do. That stuff is just super crazy, like going out to Jersey City and spending a week hanging out with the homicide detectives and having dinner with them, talking to them, listening to their stories, and cracking jokes with them. And meeting the homicide detectives and vice detectives and cops in Manhattan and having dinner with them. These are crazy, wild things that you never would expect that you get to do. Or when I was in “Pan Am,” we went to a flight simulator and I was flying a plane with Mike Vogel. Not a real plane, but a computer plane that moved and stuff. Or going to Mozambique, shaving my head, and hanging out with a bunch of marines. This is the stuff that’s just kind of crazy and wild and fun about the job. Hitting your mark and saying your lines is one thing, but where the plane takes you is bizarre.

“Ozark” is available now on Netflix.

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Next Up

Grace Rehorn

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Name: Grace Rehorn

Hometown: Kansas City, Kansas

Current Location: Los Angeles, California

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Rehorn: As a kid, my best friend and I spent hours in my upstairs bedroom playing a game called “imagination.” We created an entire world of fictional characters and acted out their lives with different plots and relationships. It was basically a very long, weirdly well-developed improv. Looking back, I think this game of imagination is where it began. However, I decided to pursue acting as a career after completing an acting for film workshop in Los Angeles. I fell in love with acting for the camera and the subtly and honesty it requires.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Rehorn: The first actress that comes to mind in Sandra Bullock. I remember watching her films over and over until I knew every line. She is hilarious and beautiful, but so relatable! She has the ability to make you laugh and cry in the same moment. That unique balance of comedy and vulnerability is something I strive for as an actress!

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career as an actor? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Rehorn: I moved to Los Angeles with little experience outside a few drama classes and one triumphant run as Liesl in “The Sound of Music” in the ninth grade. I had a lot of catching up to do. I quickly got into the best classes possible for me and worked on developing my craft. I also focused on gaining experience by acting in small projects and working as a production assistant to help me understand how things work on set. I think this strong foundation will help me feel confident and prepared as I take the next steps in my career.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Rehorn: I decided to move to Los Angeles after I graduated from college at age 21. I was considering going to graduate school to become a lawyer or a psychologist. If it was not for the overwhelming support I received from my family and friends, I would have never had the courage to move to LA and pursue acting.

TrunkSpace: Was that move an easy transition for you initially? How long did it take you to feel at home and find a good support group of friends and peers?
Rehorn: I expected the move to LA to be an easy transition for me. I have traveled a lot in my life and I felt confident. I hate to admit it, but nothing could have prepared me for a move from Kansas to Los Angeles. I used to cry every time I got in my car because driving in Hollywood was so stressful! I have been here six months now, and I am starting to feel at home. I am lucky to have two amazing roommates and a wonderful, supportive acting class. I am now an excellent city driver.

TrunkSpace: What has been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Rehorn: I just finished an episode of a crime recreation show on Investigation Discovery. It will be my first appearance on TV. I got to spend a week running around covered in fake blood! It was a great experience.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific type of role you’d like to take on or a specific genre that you feel more at home in?
Rehorn: That is a tough question because I love so many genres! I have always dreamed of being in a teen horror flick or an awesome action movie. However, I feel most at home in comedy. I would love to do something comedic, but with great honesty and heart!

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Rehorn: Openness! It is so important to be open and present in your everyday life and have the ability to connect with people. I have always been a bit guarded, so I am currently working on being vulnerable enough to truly live in the moment. This helps you bring truthfulness and real emotion to your work.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Rehorn: Believe it or not, I don’t want to become rich and famous. I chose acting as a career. My dream is to be able to support myself doing the thing I love most in the world. If I can do that, and be involved in some projects I am passionate about along the way, that would be a success in my book!

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Rehorn: It takes a lot of courage to move away from home to pursue a dream that feels so unattainable. However, in my experience, there will always people saying, “You can’t do it,” no matter what you decide to do with your life! When you experience overwhelming self-doubt (and you will experience overwhelming self-doubt), just remember that you bring something unique and special to the table. Have confidence in the fact that you are the only person in the world who can be you! Combine that confidence with a LOT of hard work and, in my humble opinion, you will be just fine.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Rehorn: You can learn all you need to know by visiting my website: www.gracerehorn.com. To get a glimpse of my day-to-day, follow me on Instagram (@gracerehorn)!

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Musical Mondaze

Hundred Handed

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Hundreds of hands have been thrust together in applause for Hundred Handed since they formed in 2015. Part pop and part punk, the Los Angeles-based trio has been putting the fun in funambulist, which for those without a dictionary handy, is a super formal word for tightrope walker. Why are they walking a tightrope? Well, the music industry is not an easy nut to crack and yet the three friends dove headfirst into a pool an ocean away, kicking off their career in Australia where they played their first live show in front of 10,000 music fans. And all without a net!

We recently sat down with drummer Drew Langan to discuss how there is no Slipknot to be heard in their music, why nothing would be a departure sonically for the ever-evolving band, and how they would revamp a cartoon classic.

TrunkSpace: You guys have all been in different bands with different people over the years. What is it about Hundred Handed that clicked and made not only creative sense but inner-band relationship sense as well?
Langan: Even in previous bands, we were always hanging out with each other for the most part. We’ve always been on the same page with the music we want to make and with pretty much everything for that matter. Also, nobody can drink like we do, so we’re kind of stuck with each other.

TrunkSpace: The band has been together since 2015. How long did it take for you guys to figure out who Hundred Handed was in terms of sound?
Langan: Well, we thought we had it figured out immediately! In hindsight, we had some evolving to do. We’ve been writing and recording nonstop, so it didn’t take more than a few months to really figure out who we are and what we sound like.

TrunkSpace: Your tunes are a sort of musical upper. We listen, and we can’t help but get amped up and happy. Is that a goal when you guys sit down to write new material?
Langan:: 100 percent. We spent enough time being angsty and heavy and we wanted to get back to the root of why we do this. To have fun! We want to have fun while we’re doing it and we want that to translate to everyone who listens to us. There’s absolutely no shame in having too much fun.

TrunkSpace: You guys have a wide range of musical influences. Who of those influences do you hear the most when you listen to your own songs back?
Langan: Well I definitely don’t hear any Slipknot, which is probably a good thing. (Laughter) That’s a tough one. I hear some Blink-182 and definitely some Daft Punk.

TrunkSpace: One of the coolest things about creating music or art is that a day will come where the stuff you’re creating will then influence someone else. Have you given any thought to the idea that you may inspire some kid somewhere to pick up his first guitar or pound out some beats on a kit for the first time?
Langan: Yeah, of course! If some kid came up to me and told me he started playing drums because of me, Jordan would NEVER hear the end of it. I’d be insufferable. It would be amazing!

TrunkSpace: Who inspired you guys to pick up your first instruments?
Langan: I was actually kind of forced by my elementary school. I made the laziest decision to play snare drum because all I had to carry around was a practice pad and sticks. Man, that one backfired. Now I have the most gear to lug around.

TrunkSpace: The band has dropped a few singles throughout the course of 2017 thus far. We have noticed a lot of bands have been taking that approach to their music, which in a lot of ways, harkens back to the dawn of commercial music. As far as Hundred Handed is concerned, what is the benefit to releasing singles as opposed to a full album all at once?
Langan: We just want to get the music out there. These days, it’s so easy to release a single song so if we’re excited about one, we put it out. We still like the idea of putting out entire albums, and we will probably do that at some point, but we’ve been writing so much that we had to get some out.

TrunkSpace: Are there plans to release more singles in the near future? What can we expect to hear next?
Langan: Always! We may even release an EP in the near future so keep an eye out!

TrunkSpace: Have you guys tried anything new or different with the upcoming material that is a departure from what we know of Hundred Handed already?
Langan: I wanted to do some Josh Groban covers, but I got vetoed on that. I’m joking, but like I said, we’re always evolving. There’s nothing that I would consider TOO much of a departure though. We’re just getting better!

Photo By: Taryn Anderson

TrunkSpace: You guys gave some love on Twitter to the news that there is an “Animaniacs” reboot in the works. If Hundred Handed was asked to make the new theme song, what would you do to the original to modernize it and give it a Hundred Handed spin?
Langan: Oh what a song! I think I still know all the words. We’d take it into the studio and play it the way we play, but I honestly think we’d keep it pretty close to the original. It’s hard to mess with such a classic.

TrunkSpace: Another Twitter shout out we see a lot of from you guys is giving social media props to random national whatever days. There seems to be a day of recognition for pretty much everything these days, BUT, what’s one day the band would like to celebrate that is missing from our world?
Langan: Well there’s already National Whiskey Day so… no, I think we’re good! Maybe if we take that one step further and make it National Jack Daniels Day. I swear we are keeping those guys in business.

TrunkSpace: What’s been the career highlight thus far and what is on the list of “things to achieve” for the remainder of 2017 and into the new year?
Langan: The first show we ever played was in Australia for a crowd of 10,000. That was pretty insane. Just getting to see Australia in general and knowing that our music got us there was a pretty huge highlight. As far as the future, we’re planning on hitting the road and getting some touring under our belts. Time to go out and play these songs a few hundred times!

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Wingman Wednesday

Adam Pelkowitz

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When it comes to capturing the hearts and minds (and appetites) of audiences, the size of the part isn’t what matters, it’s the meatiness of the role itself. For Adam Pelkowitz, the South African actor who portrayed Fat E on the SyFy series “Blood Drive,” meat is exactly what his onscreen contribution lead to. After stopping off for a bite, the jumpsuit-wearing racer was turned into diner “beef” and became the bite. And given their smiles, one could assume that the patrons loved him tender. (Bonus points go to TrunkSpace for flagrant Elvis joke!)

We recently sat down with Pelkowitz to discuss his artistic onscreen death, what flavor he’d be, and why the experience of “Blood Drive” will stay with him forever.

TrunkSpace: We have been asking this of every “Blood Drive” cast member we speak with because, well, it just seems like an obvious first question. (Laughter) Did you ever wonder if the material you were working on in “Blood Drive” would ever make it to air?
Pelkowitz: (Laughter) I never doubted that everything that we shot for “Blood Drive” wouldn’t make it to the air! I KNEW it would all be there. This is because of the genre that the production is based upon. Grindhouse is a very specific genre and due to its nature, it needs to have all of the elements that were shot and then ultimately shown.

TrunkSpace: Your character’s name (past tense spoiler alert) was Fat E, or Fat Elvis for those in the know. There’s been a lot of Elvi (plural Elvis) portrayed on screen over the years. What did you hope to bring to your maniacal version that audiences haven’t seen before?
Pelkowitz: Well, interesting question… I chose to make Elvis truly “Fat” (in the seven deadly sins sort of way), in essence, sluggish, ugly, morbid and totally egotistical in his own manner. I want audiences to look at Fat E and think, “Wow, this man has really been living the good life more than he actually should have.” I wanted to create a kind of “air” about him that was totally different from any of the other characters that were involved in the production.

TrunkSpace: In terms of character background, was he an actual Elvis impersonator or did he just share a similar love for sequined jumpsuits and colorful leis?
Pelkowitz: Well, when I auditioned for the role, I was asked to give a lot of the usual and generic Elvis hip swings and lip movements, etc. I chose ultimately to go the opposite route in my performance. I chose to create a different kind of Elvis impersonator who, as you say, looks and dresses like Elvis and sounds like Elvis, just with a really irritable bowel (pun intended) who is totally put off by others and is really only interested in causing trouble, smoking cigarettes, and eating burgers. (Spoiler alert!)

TrunkSpace: Shooting under that hot South African sun, were you a hunka hunka burnin’ Pelkowitz in that jumpsuit? (Yes, bad pun intended.)
Pelkowitz: I was born and bred in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am used to the weather here. Cape Town is a different story when it comes to weather. It’s humid and in the parts of Cape Town where we shot “Blood Drive,” it certainly was boiling. Lots of sunscreen and water… all in the name of good fun!

TrunkSpace: This is going to sound really weird coming out of our lips but… your death was beautiful. Legitimately, the way that your character died was shot in such an interesting way. As far as onscreen deaths go, that one has to be a bit of a badge of honor?
Pelkowitz: I totally agree with you… without sounding egotistical. I am honored to be able to say that I “died like that.” It was definitely an interesting journey. Firstly, I had to go for prosthetics, which took about two hours. I had to wax my (unfortunately, extremely Jewish hairy) chest, sit with prosthetics and weird slime being smeared all over my face and upper body, pictures were taken, etc., etc., etc. It was a whole process. Thereafter I had to have special training where I was strapped into a harness and suspended from the ceiling for no longer than three minutes at a time because being upside down for longer than that can be quite dangerous to one’s health. Aneurysms are definitely not wanted or needed. When it came to shooting the scene, it was all planned out before so that I would only have to spend a minimal amount of time upside down. The door opening and closing was an amazing touch to a very interesting day. It was really totally amazing and I am grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to “die” like that. (Laughter)

Fat E hung up to dr… fry!

TrunkSpace: You’re also an editor and videographer in real life. Could you appreciate that entire scene, and really, most of that episode, in a whole different way knowing what went into it? There were some really innovative shots that you’d never expect to see in a grindhouse gorefest.
Pelkowitz: Absolutely! I am totally aware of what goes into these things being a videographer and an editor, but I was totally amazed at the incredible shots, the seamless editing, and the way in which everything was put together in the end. I thought to myself, “Fuck, that’s awesome!” Everything worked! I mean, it’s really difficult putting all of that stuff together. One doesn’t notice that, which is definitely a good thing because it comes across as that is how it was supposed to be, instead of one of those, “Oh, look at that animation there” moments.

TrunkSpace: Ultimately Fat E was being processed for others to get fat on. What do you think your character tasted like?
Pelkowitz: I believe Fat E tasted like beef that had been hung for at least 28 days.

TrunkSpace: Had Fat E survived beyond episode 2, how do you think he would have done in the race overall?
Pelkowitz: I don’t think that Fat E would have done very well in the race had he survived. I think that he probably would have made one more episode before dying in some grand manner. (As Elvis’ always do!)

TrunkSpace: The sets in “Blood Drive” are just as unique and off the wall as the characters appear. Did the environments play a role in your character development?
Pelkowitz: They always do. Obviously if you are in a beautiful restaurant with silver service, Fat E would most probably not have been as forward as to snatch the burger out of Arthur’s hand. He probably would have gotten the waiter to bring him Arthur’s plate. (Laughter) For me, the sets completely help with my Fat E character. He is as dirty and as dodgy as that diner in Pixie Swallows.

TrunkSpace: What was your most memorable moment working on the series?
Pelkowitz: Obviously working with the incredible cast that is featured on “Blood Drive.” Making friends with these incredible people. The crew and producers were amazing to work with. In essence, the entire experience will stay with me for the rest of my life!

TrunkSpace: From what we could tell, “Blood Drive” was your first big television project. How do you hope to position your involvement in what is quickly becoming a cult classic to further your own acting and professional career?
Pelkowitz: Yes, “Blood Drive” was my first major television project. Well, this is an interesting question. I live in South Africa. I have been in the performing arts industry for 12 years now having performed in many major musical theater productions as well as having been fortunate enough to be nominated for awards for some of them too. I have already sent my CV out to some international casting agents, who hopefully will see my career and become interested in what I have to offer to the world of television and the performing arts. I am definitely not leaving this here. I am constantly auditioning for new roles and new productions. So only time will tell. Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity.

TrunkSpace: When you look at your career moving forward, what would you like to accomplish? Do you have bucket list items that you want to check off in your career?
Pelkowitz: I would love to be able to perform on Broadway. I would love to be involved in an international feature film. And I would love to become more recognized for the character work that I do. These are most certainly bucket list items. WATCH THIS SPACE, WORLD!

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