To all of our friends here in the States, Happy Thanksgiving! We will see you after the belly-stuffing break!
To all of our friends here in the States, Happy Thanksgiving! We will see you after the belly-stuffing break!
Weird gets a bum rap.
In high school, individuals labeled weird are often cast out, but years later, go on to do great things with their lives.
A lot of food that kids call weird when they’re just beginning to discover their taste buds end up becoming the sweet and savory staples of their adulthood diet.
And television shows far left of the procedural center may not be embraced by the “mainstream,” but it’s those series that go on to become the groundbreaking trendsetters of tomorrow.
One of those weird but wonderful programs is Hulu’s “Future Man,” a sci-fi/comedy mashup that follows a janitor’s journey to save the world. Executive produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the series strikes a very unique tone, but it’s star Derek Wilson, who plays Wolf, that makes us howl in delight.
Weird has never been so entertaining.
We recently sat down with Wilson to discuss portraying the most “badass warrior in the history of the planet,” why it took some time to get comfortable in Wolf’s boots, and how airing on a streaming platform meant getting away with far more than they ever thought possible.
TrunkSpace: Here’s what we love about “Future Man.” A promo exists where it says, and I quote, “It’s never too early to talk to your janitor about herpes.” That’s not a promo you’d see a lot of series rolling out.
Wilson: (Laughter) Right. Yeah, it’s pretty specific I guess, and random at the same time.
TrunkSpace: What first drew you to the series? Was it the tone? The premise? Something else entirely?
Wilson: It was, I think, the character, even though I didn’t really fully know what we were going to do with it. Evan Goldberg called me when I was shooting “Preacher” for them and said, “We’re about to shoot a pilot. You’ve got a couple weeks off from ‘Preacher.’ The character is the most badass warrior in the history of the planet. He lives in a sewer, and he eats garbage and rats, and oh, he’s from a video game.” I was like, “Yeah, that’s cool. Let’s do that.”
I didn’t know the tone. I didn’t know really what it was. I got the script, and I thought it was funny, but didn’t really put it all together. Even the first night of shooting, Seth (Rogen) came up to me and was like, “It’s a crazy character. Let’s just kind of rehearse in front of the camera and figure this out. We don’t really know either, so let’s just figure it out.” There’s a couple scenes in the pilot where it’s just trying to figure out something, the tone of it, and who this character is, and how far we can go.
Then when we went to series, it continued to develop. Even the first few episodes of the series, we’re still trying to figure out the tone. We had great moments in those first few episodes, and they’re good episodes, but we really started to find the tone and find our groove, as a whole – the writers’ room, the cast, everybody – in about the fourth episode, I think, which is pretty normal for a show. But this one especially, it’s just so… I mean, it’s a big swing.
TrunkSpace: Like you said, finding the point of view of a series can take some time, especially when you’re trying to have as unique a POV as “Future Man.”
Wilson: Yeah, you just have to dive in. I would come home from work shooting those first few episodes and talk to my girlfriend like, “Man, I don’t know what I’m doing here.” The character, it’s all fish out of water, so it always feels awkward. You don’t know if you’re nailing it or what. But it ends up, it just kind of works, especially for where the character starts to go about halfway through the season, and through the end. You kind of have to have that setup to go there.
TrunkSpace: Is there pressure involved playing, as you put it, the “most badass warrior in the history of the planet?”
Wilson: The three months before we started shooting, I definitely was in the gym as much as possible. (Laughter) During the pilot, my body was wrecked from doing all the fight training, because I just wasn’t used to that. I would go home and take Epsom salt baths every night. I was wrecked. I knew I had to be in good shape for this, because we have a great stunt team, but we do learn it all. We do as much as we can. I was in better shape by the time we got to Episode 2, which was shot a year after the pilot, because I had to be.
TrunkSpace: Was it one of those moments where you start to realize that your body has muscles in places that you didn’t know it had muscles, simply because new areas are sore? (Laughter)
Wilson: That’s right. I remember during the pilot, my hip flexors were so sore, because I was doing so many kicks, which I don’t do any sort of martial arts or anything. So yeah, little muscles that I never really thought about that much, but it was good. It was good prep.
TrunkSpace: For an actor, was it a bit of a best case scenario to be working on “Preacher” and then have the creative team from that instantly think of you for this? That speaks volumes for that work you were doing.
Wilson: Yeah, it was amazing. I was in my house in Albuquerque shooting “Preacher.” It was a crazy day, because I still needed to make a little self tape to show to the people at Hulu, who didn’t know who I was. I was having technical difficulties. It was a really stressful day. Evan was like, “You gotta get me this tape in 45 minutes.” Three hours later, my internet is down, and I’m scrambling. He was calling me like, “Dude, you gotta get it to me. You gotta get it to me.” But it worked out, and I got it to him. (Laughter)
Two days later I was on set shooting this thing. It was crazy. Then I went back and finished “Preacher” that season, so it was nuts.
TrunkSpace: Is shooting a series for Hulu similar to shooting a series for a network? Is it paced the same?
Wilson: The pace of it was crazy, just because the production is huge. We shoot two episodes in 10 days. I know it’s only half hour episodes, but if you’ve seen the show, it’s a large production. People have said, “It’s got this cool low budget look.” Well, it takes a big budget to achieve that, and a lot of time. We were shooting really long days. But also, the big difference I noticed was the presence of the Standards & Practices was not as present on this, because it’s a streaming platform. We got away with a lot. They just kept saying nothing as we did the most outrageous things. Our scripts were turned in and the writers were like, “Oh, there’s no way they’re going to let us do that.” Then they’d just never say anything.
I know there were some nerves about the James Cameron episode. Even though I just watched it, and it… it’s not a send up of James Cameron. I really think it’s a tribute. It’s funny, but I think it’s very honorable. But maybe I’m just trying to be nice. (Laughter)
TrunkSpace: So is it safe to say that “Future Man” couldn’t exist in its current form on a network, even cable?
Wilson: I can’t imagine. I really can’t imagine it. Yeah, I can’t imagine it anywhere else to be honest.
It’s just the right time for something like this. The right time and the right place.
Season 1 of “Future Man” is available now on Hulu.
Once you’ve trimmed the turkey, got stuffed on stuffing, and crammed yourself with cranberry, take some time to relax with “The Mistletoe Inn,” the latest offering from Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas programming event. Starring one of our favorite multi-hyphenates, Alicia Witt, the movie debuts Thanksgiving night, making it the perfect final course for those looking to kick off the holiday season with a full heart… and stomach.
We recently sat down with Witt to discuss the strength of the Hallmark fandom, why she could relate to her character’s quest for creative confidence, and how she makes her music accessible for all listeners.
TrunkSpace: You’ve had a really diverse year, from “The Mistletoe Inn,” to “The Exorcist,” to “Twin Peaks,” and “Supernatural.” Has that always been the dream, to be able to do as many different types of roles and genres as possible?
Witt: Yes, that was always my reason for wanting to be an actor, is to play characters that are different from me, and play as many different kinds of roles as possible. I feel like I really get to do that at this point. I think it keeps me busy, and it keeps me on my toes. I get bored if I play the same role over and over again. I think about the last couple of years in particular, but really the entire time I’ve been doing this, there have been so many different kinds of roles that I think I’ve kept it challenging for myself.
TrunkSpace: Many of those television shows mentioned have massive fandoms, but truth be told, Hallmark’s fandom easily rivals them.
Witt: Most definitely. The interesting thing is that, for example, when I was on “The Walking Dead,” I did a lot of the conventions around that show, and I was so pleasantly surprised and thrilled to find that almost every other person that would come up to me, they were happy to have seen me on “The Walking Dead,” but they were most excited to talk to me because of the Hallmark movies. So, there’s actually a really big crossover audience as well, particularly for the Christmas films, because people who might watch something different during the rest of the year, pretty much everyone tunes in to Hallmark at Christmas because it’s such great family programming, and such great holiday programming.
TrunkSpace: You can’t have darkness without light, so for fans of “The Walking Dead,” tuning in to Hallmark Channel is a nice balance.
Witt: That’s exactly the thing. They’re both equally valid sides, and I try to live my day-to-day life more like the characters that I play in the Hallmark movies – more positive and more light. But I love exploring the darker side of things, too, because that is a very real element of the world in which we’re living. Yeah, you can’t have the darkness without the light, that’s so true. The job I’m working on right now, “The Exorcist,” which I actually just wrapped, is also a great example of that. It explores that side of us that we don’t talk about all that often, but it’s in there. I feel like these Hallmark Christmas movies celebrate all that’s special about the holiday season, and the coming together of families, and sometimes what’s challenging about that, but also what’s so important, and why it is the warmest time of the year.
TrunkSpace: It must feel extra special to have “The Mistletoe Inn” premiering on Thanksgiving, a night when so many families are already together?
Witt: I was so excited when I found out that was the night we’d be premiering. My movie last year, “The Christmas List,” also premiered on Thanksgiving and this makes me very happy and proud, and I know families are already together on that night. My family and friends in Nashville will all be together. We’re having a big joint dinner that we’re making together, and we’ll all be watching the movie for the first time together when it airs, and then I’ll be live tweeting and sharing that with the viewers for the very first time. I’m seriously so excited to see it. I’m not very big on watching my own work for the sake of watching my own work, but I love sharing these movies with people because they are so much fun, and I’m gonna be laughing as hard as anyone when we watch it.
TrunkSpace: Television moves at a breakneck pace as far as production is concerned. Because things happen so quickly on a movie like this, does that force you to come to set even more prepared in terms of knowing and connecting with your character, in this case, aspiring romance writer Kim?
Witt: This applies to everything that I do, but I tend to just absorb the script and think about the character while I’m working out or listening to music. The character just starts to find me and I figure out who she is and how she’d react to things. But it’s not so much a logical process as more of an intuitive one. When it comes to the lines, I actually learn those on the day. I happen to be really fast at learning lines, and I find that they’re a lot fresher if I don’t think about them too much. So, I let the character sink in for a few weeks beforehand, and then the lines themselves I don’t think too much about.
TrunkSpace: Was there something about Kim from a performance standpoint that you have yet to do with a character in the past? What was it that drew you to her?
Witt: She reminded me a lot of myself when I was starting out as a singer/songwriter. Because I could relate to her sense that she had this talent that, on one level she knows that she’s good at writing, and she knows that she could do it seriously and have a book deal and all of that, but because she’s a grown up living in the real world, with a real job and all of that, she needs that extra boost to get the confidence to start doing it in earnest. And at the beginning of the movie she doesn’t quite have that yet, and it’s not being helped at all by the fact that she’s been dating this real piece of work, known as Garth, who I just love that character so much in the movie. He takes himself way too seriously and believes that his work is more important than Kim’s and actually dumps her within the first five minutes because he’s decided he needs to date a more serious writer, and his career’s moving up and hers isn’t. I actually dated a singer/songwriter very similar to Garth when I was just starting out as a singer/songwriter. I had wrote a song called “About Me,” that I’ve released, that I actually wrote after that guy broke up with me.
TrunkSpace: So there was a real connection to the character as far as her journey was concerned.
Witt: Oh, I totally related. For me, it was quite a few years ago, but it kept bringing me back. I kept having flashbacks of this guy that I had dated. There was a lot that… like when Zeke (played by David Alpay) is giving Kim feedback on her writing, I could relate to that vulnerability of receiving feedback for the first time on my songwriting, or my performances. When you’re first starting out it feels like such a rejection that, if every song you write isn’t a potential hit, then you should just quit and not write songs anymore. And that’s not the way it works, you have to write hundreds of songs before you start becoming a good songwriter. Many of those songs nobody will ever hear, and it’s the same way with writing. You have to be willing to make mistakes, and write something that isn’t perfect to get to the point where you are good. So I felt like that was a real parallel and something that I could relate to in Kim.
TrunkSpace: You mentioned having a similar experience hearing feedback on your songwriting for the first time. Do you write primarily from a personal space, or do you take a more storyteller’s approach?
Witt: I have done that, the latter, but most of the time it is personal experiences and things that I am feeling. And it can be just a moment, it could be a passing feeling that I have for someone or for a situation, and you turn it into a song. If you were to tell that person, “This song’s about you,” they might be confused, and they might not get it. But, people can inspire a song without the entire story of the song being 100 percent accurate to what the real scenario is. It’s all over the place, and some of the songs I’ve written are about some of the things that have happened to people I know, and sometimes just things that I’m imagining.
TrunkSpace: So can criticism and feedback be more difficult to hear because you tend to write from such a personal space?
Witt: I think it was in the beginning. Now, I don’t take it personally because it really isn’t. I mean, to make a song something that other people, who haven’t had your specific experience, can relate to and apply to their own lives, you do need to adjust them sometimes. Sometimes it’s not good to have them be too specific. Other times you need the opposite – you need to make it more specific. There are moments when you put something into a song that didn’t happen at all, that’s got nothing to do with what your true experience was with it, but sometimes that’s gonna make for a better song that more people can access.
TrunkSpace: And that’s the beauty of music, an entire group of people can each find something different in a single song and relate to it in a different way.
Witt: Yes, completely. That’s what I love most about music.
TrunkSpace: And you have a new EP in the works, correct?
Witt: It’s due out soon. I did this Kickstarter campaign, which just was such an honor, and the album is done and it’s ready, and I’m just trying to figure out how best to release it because it’s produced by Jacquire King, who has an extraordinary track record. And it’s safe to say they’re the best recordings I’ve ever been part of, and I just want to do the best that I can by them and figure out if they’re going to be distributed by a label, or if I self-release again, or what. So far, my music career has pretty much been self-generated, though I’m trying to explore the possibility of finding the right person to help me with it, but if that doesn’t happen I will just self-release it again, and book a tour, and get going with it. I can’t wait to share it with everyone, though.
TrunkSpace: Finally, Alicia, as people plan to gather around with family and watch the premiere of “The Mistletoe Inn” tomorrow night, what do you believe it is that continues to draw people to Christmas movies like this one?
Witt: I think that at this point, when you tune into Hallmark Channel, especially at Christmas time, you know that you’re going to see programming that will make you smile, make you feel good no matter what’s going on in the wold, or in the news, or in your own family. And at this time of year, even though it is the time for families to get together, and in theory it’s all warm and fuzzy, there’s sometimes a lot of tension. You have family members who don’t see each other all year long and then they get together and they may not get along the way that we would like, but Hallmark can actually help make that better. I hear this a lot from people who come up to me all year long and tell me that my movies have helped their families to grow closer at the holidays. And it’s just a great channel to leave on and help you get in the mood. At least the ones that I’m a part of, I try to find some kind of offbeat humor in every one of them. And there’s a few moments that I’ve seen in this one that especially make me smile. They let me be a little bit goofy and silly, and I have as much fun making them as I do watching them. I’m really proud to be on yet another one this year.
“The Mistletoe Inn” premieres Thanksgiving night on Hallmark Channel.
Artist/Band: Radio Macbeth
Members: Darien Campo, Declan Hertel
Hometown: Monmouth, OR
Latest Album/Release: Bubblegum Wasteland (2017)
Influences: Neutral Milk Hotel, Radiohead, Ween
TrunkSpace: How do you describe your music?
Campo: We ask ourselves that question all the time. I think “eclectic” is a good word for it. We draw from a large pool of influences, so our music tends to reflect that. We market ourselves as “Lo-Fi Indie Pop-Rock,” which feels like the most condensed description of our sound.
Hertel: We kind of decided on indie pop-rock just to have something to say when this question comes up. But while the foundation is guitar/bass/drums/vocals for the most part, we also do a lot of synths and glitchy stuff, string and horn sections, not to mention the occasional bit of musique concrete. We do a lot of “kitchen-sink maximalism” type stuff, just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.
TrunkSpace: You have this great tagline that reads, “Your friends have never heard of us.” You’re right, but let’s change that. In your opinion, what should we tell them about WHY they should check you out? What are the Radio Macbeth bullet points?
Hertel: We’re too experimental to be indie and too indie to be experimental. We’re like every band you’ve ever heard, but also like no band you’ve ever heard. I hope that’s what we are, anyway. We’ve been told that there are a couple of vicious earworms on “Bubblegum Wasteland,” so we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.
Campo: Yeah, it’s nice.
TrunkSpace: You just dropped some Radio Macbeth positivity on us, but on the opposite side of that coin, where are you guys hardest on yourself as a band?
Campo: This brings a light on an interesting conundrum of mine. Projects like Radio Macbeth are a constant learning process for me. I’m always watching tutorials, reading books and forums, and talking with other musicians. I want to make sure that every day I’m a little bit better than I was the day before. The problem is anything we make very quickly gets swept back as “not as good as I can do now.” As soon as I finish a project, “Bubblegum Wasteland” for example, I can immediately look at it and see what I can do better. On one hand, I think it shows that I am still growing as a musician. But on the other hand, it makes it really hard to be content with something I’ve made. It’s like I’m constantly trying to outdo my past self, it’s a never-ending competition.
Hertel: One of the biggest issues for me is that we currently live about fifty miles apart, and without a serious sense of immediacy in place it can be hard for me to stay motivated to write and learn. It’s so easy to let real life get in the way of what really matters, you know?
TrunkSpace: Your debut album “Bubblegum Wasteland” was released in September. In your opinion, does it represent a different side of the band that didn’t exist prior to it? Did the recording process change the band itself?
Campo: To be honest, prior to “Bubblegum Wasteland” Radio Macbeth didn’t really exist either. I think we’re still figuring out who we are as a duo and as individuals, so I’m not sure yet which side of Radio Macbeth made an appearance on this record – that’s probably something we’ll have to figure out in retrospect.
Hertel: The album literally brought us into being! Until that point we were just two dudes who had done some shitty demos together and occasionally jammed through Neutral Milk Hotel songs. Then at some point in the summer, we kind of looked at each other and said, “If not now, when?”
TrunkSpace: You recorded it in an apartment living room. What kind of acoustics did the room have? Did you do anything to the space to get it record-ready?
Hertel: I’ll let Darien handle this one, as he was wholly responsible for the construction of Mustard Music Mk II, Spider-Man blankets and all.
Campo: Acoustics? Terrible. I had blankets pinned up on the walls and ceiling, and even a couple hanging down from the ceiling to form a makeshift “booth” to record in. It was the jankiest shit you’ve ever seen. A lot of the production process was massaging some of the quirks of the recording space out of the tracks. It wasn’t the easiest space to record in, but we figure it’s better to record whatever we can whenever we can instead of waiting until we have the perfect space and equipment. I feel it’s important for us to just keep making music, no matter what equipment or space we have to use. We’ll be able to record in a better space someday, for now we’ll just focus on the music.
TrunkSpace: What is your favorite track off of the album and why?
Campo: Declan’s track “Ophelia” is such a beautiful song. It’s one of the more raw, honest tracks on the album. I love the build on it, and the subtlety – especially in an album of songs that are so dense and intricate – it’s cool to have something more sparse.
Hertel: That’s such a hard call to make. “Godless, Faithless, Weightless” I think is the best example of our creative bond, which is to say, I gave Darien vague, figurative direction on the production of the song (“gross”), and he somehow ended up reading my mind exactly. On the other hand, “Vapor Trails,” one of Darien’s, is never not stuck in my head. I think “Vapor Trails” is our “what we’re about” song, just perfectly encapsulating our love of broken pop.
TrunkSpace: What does the Radio Macbeth writing process look like? How does a song go from inception to completion?
Campo: On “Bubblegum Wasteland” we each wrote songs separately and then came together to mash them into a record. Declan and I are constantly writing in our free time and we’re always sending little demos back and forth online. BW was the first time we tried to find some common thread in our songs and put an album together. It’s a lot of fun incubating these tracks in private, and then bringing them together and saying, “Okay, now how do we make this into a Radio Macbeth song?”
Hertel: “Ophelia” was written as just me singing over acoustic power chords. I sent the demo to Darien, he said, “Gimme a minute,” and something like an hour later, he sent me back, essentially, the song you hear on the record. The process of Bubbadub was pretty much like that: one of us would write a song, bring it to the other, and together we’d turn it into a Radio Macbeth song.
TrunkSpace: Are the songs written from a first person perspective or are they approached more as a storyteller looking at the world and those who inhabit it? What is the creative point of view?
Campo: My songs are usually first-person. I sing about pretty personal stuff, so I typically use heavy metaphor and try to abstract my song’s meaning to the point that only I know what it’s about anymore. I find it easier to sing about difficult subjects if I can turn it into a story. I come up with characters and a world to use to express myself more eloquently. It’s really hard for me to be honest in my music, but I know that honesty is what makes good art, so turning my experiences and emotions into basically short stories makes it a little easier.
Hertel: Speaking for myself, 100 percent first person. They have fantastical contexts, but all my songs on the record are from my perspective. I’m trying to write more from the perspective of characters as time goes on, but my songwriting background/inspiration came from folk punk and emo, which are both intensely personal, first person genres.
TrunkSpace: Again, going back to your “Your friends have never heard of us” line, what if the opposite were true. If everyone knew who Radio Macbeth was and you were one of the most popular acts writing and recording music, would you be comfortable with that? Is the possibility of fame welcome or feared?
Campo: Oh geez, that’s a big hypothetical for me. Honestly, I have no idea. We’re just so focused on working on ourselves and our music that the idea of becoming “one of the most popular acts” is such an alien idea to me. We’re still developing our musical voice, so we’re just happy that anybody is listening to us. Maybe later down the line we’ll get to a place where we want to start gathering more outside acclaim. But for right now, Radio Macbeth still feels like such a bedroom project of ours.
Hertel: Welcome as fuck. To a point. Like, I don’t think international superstardom is for us, but if we had a dedicated and large-enough fan base for us to do this until it kills us, that would be ideal. Or like how K.Flay has been making dope shit for years and years, and now that she’s used to and into the grind, she’s kinda blowing up? Lovin’ it. Though I’d love to be a cult band. But like Darien said, that’s such a far-off, foreign idea at the moment that’s it’s difficult to answer with any perspective other than the abstract idea of success.
TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight for the band thus far? What has been the most memorable experience or most unforgettable aspect of being a part of Radio Macbeth?
Campo: We’re so small-time at the moment, that every time we get a new download, or someone sends us a message saying they liked the record it feels like an accomplishment. I love when folks reach out to us, I make sure to reply to every message we get. Just knowing that people are actually listening to this shit is so great.
Hertel: Exactly. Our first positive review, our first blog acceptance, whenever anyone says, “Hey, I really love your stuff,” it’s all been great. Even the rejections have been kinda fun. Someone even made up a word to diss us! I think it was “sucroseness.” Good times.
TrunkSpace: With that said, what do you hope to accomplish moving forward? What does the band want to check off of its collective bucket list?
Campo: We’re still thinking small at the moment. We want to start playing shows around our area and getting our name out in the open. We’re also working real hard on getting more and more music online for folks to hear. But we’re very careful about our product, and we want to make sure we’re only putting out the best work we can do. We’ve been putting a lot of time into getting our live act together.
Hertel: I want to tour at some point. Even if it was just playing Oregon. That sounds like the scariest, best thing we could end up doing. Then we can think about taking over the world.
TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Radio Macbeth as we creep closer to 2018? What does the new year hold?
Campo: More music. Always more music. Everyday we’re writing and recording, and I cannot wait for people to hear our newer material. I think it’s going to blow “Bubblegum Wasteland” out of the water.
Hertel: We’ve done a huge amount of writing for the next record, and we’re working on the live act, getting it ready for the stage. I think we’re already head and shoulders past “Bubblegum Wasteland,” and it’s gonna be great when people can hear what we’ve got.
Jet Jurgensmeyer may be young, but when it comes to the entertainment industry, he’s no newcomer. Not yet able to drive, the versatile actor and voice talent has already left his mark on pop culture, helping to establish brand new characters like Nonny from the animated series “Bubble Guppies,” while also slipping into the shoes of long-adored characters like Spanky in “The Little Rascals Save the Day.” Currently he can be heard bringing Stinky Peterson back to life in “Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie,” which premieres Friday on Nickelodeon, and on the big screen in “Ferdinand” opposite John Cena and Kate McKinnon, due December 15.
We recently sat down with Jurgensmeyer to discuss how voice acting became a part of his career, why he loves playing established characters, and how being the biggest Peyton Manning fan played into his work on “Ferdinand.”
TrunkSpace: Aside from your on-screen acting, you’re also an accomplished voice actor. Was that always part of the plan or did your voiceover career just take off on its own?
Jurgensmeyer: It kind of just took off on its own. I mean, I just remember going out on some auditions and getting the parts. I just kind of fell in love with it. And I really liked it once I started doing “Bubble Guppies” because Charlie Adler, who was the voice director on that, he really taught me everything I know about voice acting, honestly. And he’s so funny. My parents came in for one of the last episodes I did, and my dad was so surprised how we had almost come up with our own sign language. He wouldn’t even have to talk into his mic and give me directions. He would just do different kind of motions and I would know exactly what to do. So, it just kind of happened on its own.
TrunkSpace: You voiced Stinky Peterson in the new movie “Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie,” which premieres this Friday on Nickelodeon. How much of your take on the character was a throwback to the original, and how much of it is you and your version?
Jurgensmeyer: Well, he’s from Arkansas, and I’m from Tennessee. So I had to do a Southern accent. And I remember doing the first audition and I was like, “Well, I know I can do the Southern accent part, so now I just have to kind of figure out the way that he originally talked and stuff – and figure out the different things that he would do with his voice.” And that was kind of how that happened. It’s interesting how you put it, where it’s me and it’s him. It’s both of us at the same time.
TrunkSpace: What’s kind of nice about this movie is that it ties up some loose ends for fans of the original series, and at the same time, it’s accessible to new fans.
Jurgensmeyer: Exactly. That was one of the things that we were all really excited about. We actually went to a party last night for it, and they showed the movie and it was really cool. I’m really excited for everyone to see it. But it definitely does kind of bring some closure. That was one things that they were talking about last night. They were saying that this movie will bring closure to the original fans, and it will also bring closure for their kids. It’s really cool. I’m really excited about it.
TrunkSpace: It must be fun to work on a project like this that already has an existing fan base?
Jurgensmeyer: Definitely. It was such an iconic show. I have a lot of older friends that are like, “Oh my gosh, you’re in the new ‘Hey Arnold!’ movie? Oh, I loved that show when I was a kid!” I’m really excited to be able to show it to them. And I just know everybody that watches it is just going to fall in love with it.
TrunkSpace: What did you enjoy most about playing a character who already existed, as opposed to somebody brand new?
Jurgensmeyer: Well, it’s something that I like doing in live action and in animation. Whether it’s a true story in live action or whether it’s trying to mimic somebody else’s voice like I did with Stinky Peterson, I always like being able to bring their story back to life and being able to kind of share their story with everybody else.
TrunkSpace: As somebody who has worked so extensively in voice acting, when you’re sitting down and reading, either for work or for yourself, do you find yourself trying to tap into the character voices as you’re reading from the page?
Jurgensmeyer: I do, actually. That’s kind of something that I do a lot. I’m currently reading “The Chronicles of Narnia” books, and every time I start reading it, whether it’s a script or whether it’s those books, because those books are just phenomenal, I immediately start thinking of the scene. And I start thinking of what the characters look like, and how they would say it. Sometimes I’ll say one of the lines a few times in my head and I’ll be like, “Oh no, what if he tried it like this?”
It’s kind of funny and it’s kind of weird at the same time that I think that, but I really do.
TrunkSpace: Sounds like you’re on a path to also becoming a director!
Jurgensmeyer: Yes, sir. That is something that I would definitely like to do.
TrunkSpace: We noticed a funny coincidence in your recent work. Not only are you playing a character named Stinky, but you’re also playing one named Dirty in the Amazon show “Stinky & Dirty.” Is there a theme building here? (Laughter)
Jurgensmeyer: (Laughter) That was kind of a joke last night, as well. I told some of my friends that were there and they were like, “Wow, you know, I think this is a sign, Jet, that you’re getting these stinky and dirty roles.” And I just kind of laughed. I was like, “Uh huh, sure.” (Laughter)
TrunkSpace: Now all you need to do is voice the character Pigpen from “Peanuts.” (Laughter)
Jurgensmeyer: Yeah. (Laughter)
TrunkSpace: You also have “Ferdinand” due in theaters this December. The cast of that film is completely stacked. How exciting is it for you to be involved in a project of that size and scope?
Jurgensmeyer: Oh my goodness! When I found out I was getting that part, I was so excited, because I play young Peyton Manning, his character. I’m probably the biggest Peyton Manning fan ever, so, I was really excited to be able to do that. And I was telling the director and the producers, I was like, “You know, if you guys have a screening, I mean, certainly he’ll be there. And you guys will want a picture of younger and older Guapo. I mean, sure, right?” (Laughter) They were like, “I think we’ll be able to work something out.”
TrunkSpace: Nothing wrong with being a Manning fan, but, we’re up in Tom Brady country, so… (Laughter)
Jurgensmeyer: Oh. All righty. (Laughter) I have him on my fantasy team, so we’re all good.
“Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie” premieres Friday on Nickelodeon.
“Ferdinand” charges into theaters December 15.
“The Stinky & Dirty Show” is available now on Amazon Prime.
Featured image by: The Riker Brothers.
So often we hear about “the look” of those who work in film and television, but it’s their impact – an ability to draw the viewer in and take them on a journey – that should receive the “the” attention. One of those individuals with an exceptional impact is Khary Payton.
It came as a great surprise to us that the Georgia native has starred in, thus far, only nine episodes of “The Walking Dead.” As King Ezekiel, the spirited leader of The Kingdom, his character’s reach seems to have extended well beyond that which he has physically appeared, moving the fandom in ways that make a single digit episode count seem improbable. Yes, the character is noteworthy to “The Walking Dead” universe, but Payton’s performance is what makes the royal thespian memorable. It’s his “the impact” that makes an impact.
We recently sat down with Payton to discuss how he approached the character’s public persona, how voice acting played a pivotal role in establishing Ezekiel’s private persona, and why he feels like a proud papa when it comes to Cyborg, a character he has been voicing for nearly two decades.
TrunkSpace: One of the things that shocked us as we prepared for this interview is that you have only physically appeared in nine episodes of “The Walking Dead” thus far, but what you bring to the series seems to have existed for 90 episodes. That says something about your impact on not only the series but the fandom because you have really left your mark on “The Walking Dead” world in a very short period of time.
Payton: You know, I feel really a part of the production as well, and I feel invested with the cast and the crew. I think it’s just a testament to the way that this show is run and the people around it. It also helps that they give you a kingdom and a tiger. (Laughter) I’ve been lucky enough that they’ve taken a couple of episodes out to really focus on our community, so I think that helps to kind of cement ourselves into the fabric of the show. But yeah, people ask, “How do I feel about 100 episodes?” but I’m like, “I’m barely reaching double digits at this point.” (Laughter)
TrunkSpace: As King Ezekiel, you’re playing a character who himself is playing a character. Do you view both King Ezekiel, who the people of The Kingdom know, and Ezekiel, the more vulnerable man he shared with Carol, as the same character? Are you playing two different people?
Payton: No. I was viewing it as a guy who has a job to do and you don’t act the same way in your living room as you do in your work a lot of times. It just so happens that this guy has to bring his work home a lot more than most. (Laughter) It’s kind of two sides of the same person. I think of it like… a public figure has a certain way of dealing with the public versus how they are when they’re more relaxed. With Ezekiel, it just so happens to be that his work persona has started to infiltrate to his more relaxed state because he really doesn’t have much time to relax. And I took a little bit of a cue from Lennie James and Andy Lincoln on the show. They’re British, but they kind of stay in their accent the entire time that they’re on set, and sometimes it takes them awhile to turn it off. I feel like I’m using the same kind of device with Ezekiel, that he’s talking that way so often and so much, that to turn it off, he needs kind of a conscious switch to tell himself to turn it back on or off. So it’s not something that he falls out of so easily.
People say, “I can’t believe he stayed in character through all of that.” The thing is, once you’re in character, it’s kind of hard to fall out of it.
TrunkSpace: So much of King Ezekiel’s persona is about theatrics and appearing larger than life. When it came to those tender moments where he discussed his past with Carol, what is a more subtle choice you made with the character that you’re particularly proud of?
Payton: Oh gosh. What I’m most proud of I think, especially in that first moment with Carol in the garden, was that there was no mention in the script or even in the comic about his voice changing. It was just that his physicality changed, that he was holding himself like a regular guy instead of a king or like royalty. When I first read it, the first thing I thought was that his voice had to change. I had done all of this voiceover and all of this Shakespeare over the last 20 years and I just think that’s where my mind and my heart went, in that where you really feel the difference is vocally with him. I felt really good about that.
TrunkSpace: It’s so interesting to hear your perspective on that because when you listen to that change happen in the character, it really brings the walls down, and as a viewer, you’re instantly drawn to him, much in the same way that Carol is.
Payton: Yeah. There was this slight thing I did in that talk with Carol. I said, “People see a guy with a tiger…” and I meant to say “shit,” but I just said “shoot.” I added that because I felt the vocal quality changed kind of subtly at that point, because he’s kind of quiet about it, and so I think that “shoot” was the moment that people really heard that his voice had changed.
TrunkSpace: So often you hear actors talk about how they apply their on-screen experience to voice acting, but here you took what you learned at a microphone in a booth and applied it to your live action performance.
Payton: I think with all of it, one hand washes the other. The beauty of the job is that it’s always new and it’s always different. You can constantly explore. I’ve been able to play so many different characters and in so many different genres of acting, that I think it helps lend itself to making each part that I deal with a little more unique.
TrunkSpace: The introduction of Ezekiel came at a very important time within the ongoing story of “The Walking Dead” universe. With so much despair surrounding all things Negan, in a lot of ways he became humanity’s light at the end of the tunnel. For every ounce of bad in the world, there’s an ounce of good to balance it out. With that being said, is there more to Ezekiel than just a character? Does he represent something else – a sort of universal idea that there can’t be darkness without light?
Payton: Yeah. I think a lot of our job in The Kingdom was to bring some light and some hope back into a hopeless situation. But I also think that there are a lot of similarities as far as Negan and Ezekiel are concerned. They’re both very theatrical guys who are kind of about “the show.” Negan doesn’t just want to kill somebody, he wants to make a production out of it. And in that way, I think he feels he’s protecting himself. They both use theatrics to very different ends.
TrunkSpace: “The Walking Dead” fandom is far-reaching. Most of the actors aren’t too far removed physically from their on-screen persona, but there’s a bit of distance between real-world Khary and undead world Ezekiel thanks in large part to hair, makeup, and wardrobe. Does that physical separation allow you to have a bit more anonymity than perhaps some of the other actors?
Payton: Yeah, I would say I’m not as recognizable as Norman or Josh McDermitt, who plays Eugene. I mean, that mullet is hard to miss. (Laughter)
It’s getting a little harder to walk around without being noticed. The first nine months of this whole thing, I could walk down the street and not worry about it too much, but once the show’s back on, and especially after I do “The Talking Dead,” I start to realize people say hello just about everywhere I go. But it’s usually not a mob. It’s one or two people here or there and everybody’s really polite. I have to say, my life, although it has changed drastically, at the end of the day, it hasn’t changed that much. I go to work, when I get back home I take my girls to school and take out the trash – I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. But the work is really gratifying and it’s really cool to be able to go to these conventions and meet people who are really affected by the show.
TrunkSpace: And as we touched on at the start of conversation, to have been in nine episodes of a series thus far and have affected so many people in such a profound way, there’s something really special about that. That’s the reason you get into acting, right?
Payton: Absolutely! It’s the absolute reason why you get into it, or at least, it’s why I think you get into it for the right reasons. I always say, “We’re in the hope business.” People turn on their televisions or they go into a dark theater to find some entertainment, but beyond that, I think hope and inspiration. If you’re doing it right then some incredible things can happen.
TrunkSpace: You have voiced nearly 200 episodes of Teen Titans Go!,” which is a mind boggling number of episodes in television, but especially animation. Do you think you’ll ever be as close to another character as you are Cyborg, if for no other reason, just because of the volume?
Payton: (Laughter) Well, volume-wise, maybe not, but you never know. If I play my cards right, maybe I’ll somehow dodge the walkers and the bullets. (Laughter) But that’s going to be a more difficult proposition.
Cyborg was my first voiceover job and my first voiceover audition. I feel like that character is probably closer to me just because there have been so many iterations of Cyborg since then, but the first one, they kind of tailored him to me. I know there were Cyborgs before, but he really kind of blew up in that first “Teen Titans” show in the early 2000s, and so I feel kind of like a proud papa when it comes to that character in that we were able to kind of launch him into the larger fandom of comic book characters.
TrunkSpace: Your version of Cyborg has kind of become the character for so many people, so when they read comics with the character now, they’re probably reading him in their heads as you. That’s pretty cool.
Payton: Yeah, it’s kind of cool, man! (Laughter) I kind of liken it to Scooby-Doo. When I was a kid, I felt like Scooby-Doo was always around, even though it hadn’t been around, probably even when I was born. There are kids growing up now and Cyborg has been around as long as they have been alive, which is kind of crazy. As far as they know, Cyborg has always been around. Except for a few instances, I’m pretty much the voice. Of course there’s a new Cyborg now in the “Justice League” movie, but still, I feel like we gave birth to that being a thing.
TrunkSpace: You’re also voicing the new “Big Hero 6” series, bringing life to fan-favorite character Wasabi-no-Ginger. Is it a different experience for you finding a character who existed fairly recently through another actor?
Payton: They really were open to me just kind of giving my own take and not trying to do an impression, so it felt very organic, finding Wasabi’s character. I didn’t feel like I was having to put on too much. I was just able to bring myself to it, and so that made it easier. Plus, Wasabi being such a, literally animated character, he reminds me a lot of Cyborg, so I kind of just brought a little bit of that to it.
“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays on AMC.
“Big Hero 6: The Series” premieres November 20 on Disney XD.
The 200th episode of “Teen Titans Go!” airs November 24 on Cartoon Network.
It’s not often that an actor starring in a series is as big of a fan of the show as the fandom that supports it, but for Patrick Gilmore, Season 2 of his Netflix series “Travelers” is queued up and ready to stream along with the rest of us. As David Mailer in the time-traveling drama, the Canadian-based actor continues to be impressed by the grounded nature of the science fiction storytelling, relishing in the human moments that the writers craft for both his character and his costars’.
We recently sat down with Gilmore to discuss how he became a fan of his own show, what keeps him from calling it a science fiction series, and why he felt overwhelmed walking the floor of a recent comic convention.
TrunkSpace: For you, someone who is involved in the series, what was the most interesting aspect of “Travelers” that first drew you to it? Was it the premise? The tone? Or was it something else entirely?
Gilmore: For me it was, and I’ve been using this term a lot, the world building. The show is a sci-fi show about people from the future, so on paper you read this and you’ve got something in your head that belongs on the SyFy channel. But if you watch the show with the sound off, it’s just a normal show about people. It takes place in present day, and it’s about relationships. That’s the part that excited me, is that you don’t even get much of a glimpse of the future – in fact I don’t even think you see it. It’s alluded to, which allows you to embrace the show a little more because it’s a little more relatable, given that it’s in present day.
TrunkSpace: It’s an aspect of the story. It’s not THE story.
Gilmore: Yeah, and I think that allows the viewers to connect in a way that they might not connect to a show about people in a spaceship. These are people sitting in a coffee shop and breaking up. It’s something we’ve all gone through – more than once sadly. (Laughter) It just makes it more real. It removes that block. It allows our suspension of disbelief and again it raises the stakes.
TrunkSpace: And it probably opens the door to a wider audience because some people place a stigma on science fiction. “Travelers” isn’t what they’d expect.
Gilmore: Yeah, my parents are a perfect example. They’re not gonna watch a show about a spaceship or an alien, but they’re curious about this couple. There’s a woman raising a child practically on her own with an alcoholic husband who happens to be a police officer. That’s fascinating and that’s just one of the storylines in “Travelers.” When people ask me what kind of show it is, I always hesitate to say sci-fi. That’s the inroad for the show, but the show becomes so much more.
TrunkSpace: What were you excited to do with your character David that you have yet to tackle in the past with previous characters?
Gilmore: I have hinted at other romantic relationships, but I’ve never actually had a chance to really fully play out this will-they-won’t-they thing, which I’ve been such a fan of since the days of Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd in “Moonlighting.” They just set the bar so high.
It’s such a catalyst for so many storylines of keeping these two orbiting each other. As a fan, it breaks your heart to watch what these two characters go through, David and Marcy – Marcy being a time traveler and me being her ex-social worker, now romantic interest. That was really fun for me to watch, because you grow up and you want to be an actor and you want to be Bruce Willis. You want to play that guy that is trying to win the girl over, but all of these circumstances are keeping you apart. I think that is fun. If you like that, you’re gonna like the show, especially how Season 1 ended in such a dramatic fashion. But the way Season 2 ends… I went to the writers after I read the last script, and I said, “How are you possibly gonna pull out of this nosedive?” (Laughter)
TrunkSpace: And we’d imagine that because it’s still not fully fleshed out yet, you probably don’t even know how they’re going to pull out?
Gilmore: They give me hints. I think they just love torturing me, because they probably do know the answer. (Laughter) And I like it that way, because otherwise I’m seeing the strings of the show – and I’m a fan of the show myself. I remember being on “Stargate Universe,” which was another Brad Wright joint, and whenever the scripts would come out it was like Christmas. They would just print them off and you could see everybody during lunch break or during the downtime, in a corner of the studio just flipping through the script, because they couldn’t wait to see what happened. I was typically going through the last few pages to see if I survived the episode. (Laughter)
I feel the same way with “Travelers.” I’d love to know what happens with David, but I want to be a fan too. I want to go on the journey as much as I can from the outside.
TrunkSpace: It has to be very exciting to be a part of this Golden Age of television, but at the same time, with so much quality competing content out there, does it get more difficult to bring eyes and interest to a show?
Gilmore: Absolutely. It gets harder to promote things. Back in the day – when I say the day, when I grew up I had, I think, two or three channels on my TV and you had everybody tuning in for the finale of “M*A*S*H” and “Dallas.” So what are you gonna watch? Well, you really only had a couple options. There was a template and you had your multi-cam sitcoms and you had your procedurals, and your “60 Minutes.” You really knew what you were going to get tuning into something. Now you have no idea. That’s fun, because you’ve got so much creativity being given a stage. As far as promotion goes, yeah, it’s tough. How do you say, “No, no, you should watch mine because mine stands out for X, Y, and Z reasons.” So you almost have to have some sort of MacGuffin or an angle that’s going to make you standout from the rest.
TrunkSpace: And the real trick for the viewer is, for the most part, everything is good now. The stories and characters are so complex. You spend more time deciding what you’re going to watch next than actually watching it.
Gilmore: Oh, I know. It’s like a kid in a candy store. I get overwhelmed. My buddy and I went to Fan Expo that was in Vancouver last weekend, and I’d never been. And we go to buy maybe a comic book or a little collectible toy or something, and we walk in, and it’s too much, there’s too much choice, and I felt overwhelmed. I had to just calm myself, do a little walk around and then decide. There’s a lot of time spent in that.
TrunkSpace: (Laughter) It’s like going grocery shopping when you’re hungry.
Gilmore: Exactly! That’s exactly what it is!
So what makes this standout? I think the fact that you have someone like Eric McCormack who is known for playing the – I almost compare him to John Ritter in his physicality. Eric is known as a really funny, straight laced guy, then you see him in this role – and they’re airing the same week, so it’s really fun to be watching “Travelers” and see him on “Will & Grace” a couple days later. He’s bringing something so dark and so new to what people are expecting, so that’s a ticket to watch this show. You’ve got a cast of up and comers like Jared Abrahamson, MacKenzie Porter, Nesta Cooper, Reilly Dolman, who a lot of people don’t know, but it’s just solid, solid acting. There’s not one false note in that whole score.
Again, I’m trying so hard not to be biased, but I am a fan of the show. (Laughter) It would make my job a helluva lot harder to be on the phone with you if I’m like, “Yeah, I’m on this show but there’s other cool things on TV…” I just think you’re gonna dig “Travelers.”
TrunkSpace: You guested on “Supernatural” way back in Season 3. It’s currently in its 13th season. If you were in a situation to be David in “Travelers” for 13 seasons, would that be something you’d be comfortable with and would you feel fulfilled playing the same character for that long?
Gilmore: That’s a great question. My immediate thought was paying my bills, and I’m like, “Oh, yeah! That would be awesome! 13 seasons!” But I think the beauty of “Travelers” is that they’re not bottle episodes – they’re not filler to get that 20 episode season that the network requires. Each episode builds on the other, and I think that to go beyond X amount of seasons – and I’m in no position to guess whether it’s five or six seasons – anything beyond that I think would do a disservice to the show as a whole. I think that the writers have an endpoint in mind – I know they do, but of course they’re not telling me. (Laughter) I can’t speak for the producer or the creators, but I feel like they have a certain amount of seasons in mind, and I don’t think that they would go beyond that, just for the sake of keeping the quality of the show where it is.
Now as an actor, and again someone who’s paying the bills, to be on a show for 13 seasons, that allows you a lot of flexibility to go on a vacation, buy food, or pay my bills. (Laughter)
Season 2 of “Travelers” is available December 26 on Netflix.
Season 1 is available now for binging. Check out the trailer below.
If time machines existed and you skipped ahead a half dozen years or so, you’d find a new generation of talent controlling both the creative side and the business side of Hollywood. One extremely talented individual on a path to having a say over both ends of the industry pool is Izabela Vidovic, the 16-year-old actress turned producer who is generating buzz for her performance as Via in the new Julia Roberts film “Wonder,” due in theaters this Friday.
We recently sat down with Vidovic to discuss what a breath of fresh air “Wonder” is, where she felt an immediate connection with her character, and why she’s looking to diversify her career as much as possible.
TrunkSpace: In a world that is mostly dominated by superheroes and remakes, “Wonder” seems like a real breath of fresh air. What drew you to it?
Vidovic: Well, reading the script for “Wonder” was very exciting for me as an actor, because it’s different, as you’re mentioning. It’s different than most scripts out there nowadays because of the through line and the message of the whole story, which is really just to choose kind and that it spreads positivity and love. It has such a great message, so it’s a great project to be a part of, especially now.
TrunkSpace: It feels like the kind of movie that would have been made 20 years ago, but would not necessarily see a green lit status today.
Vidovic: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s definitely refreshing, because sometimes you fall into the trap of seeing the same sorts of films being made, and sometimes they lack originality. It’s nice to see, as you’re saying, a film like this come out that has a message and is simply there to relay a good theme to others.
TrunkSpace: Did it feel like you were involved in something special when you were in the midst of shooting it?
Vidovic: Yes, it definitely did, and it doesn’t always feel that way. But even our director, he made a point to make the set so warm and pleasant and fun, so every day was just a blast to come in. And the kids, all of them were incredible. They had amazing chemistry. Jake and I, we clicked, and with Julia (Roberts) and Owen (Wilson). And everything just sort of fell into place and it felt right. I feel like that’s how you know that it’s gonna be something really good.
TrunkSpace: And for those who don’t know, can you walk us through where your characters falls into things and what her journey is?
Vidovic: My character is Via, who is Auggie’s older sister. Auggie is the 10-year-old boy with Treacher Collins syndrome, going to school for the first time. So, I play his older sister and we find her actually entering high school at the same time. It’s her journey, as well as his, discovering herself and her personal transformation and understanding that she can balance both her love and support for Auggie, but also allow herself to shine.
TrunkSpace: Was it easy for you to connect with Via right out of the gates?
Vidovic: You know, it was easy and it was natural for me in the sense that I have a younger sister, and I know that relationship – having a younger sibling and the feeling of protectiveness over them. But at the same time, I have not experienced the extremity and the severity of Via’s situation, which is passing on all of the undivided attention to the other sibling. And so, I had to do research and sort of get into that mindset and understand what it’s like to be that selfless because it’s a special thing.
TrunkSpace: For Via, is a part of her journey having to deal with sometimes feeling like she is always standing in the shadows?
Vidovic: Yes, that’s exactly what it is. She is in the shadows because of all of the attention that her brother requires, to no fault of his own, just because of the challenges that he faces. And she allows that, because she knows that he needs it more than she does. But throughout the story, she realizes that she can also give herself a time to also shine and to get her parents attention and still be a good sister.
TrunkSpace: The cast is pretty incredible. Getting to work with so many seasoned veterans, did you view your experience on the film just as much as an education as you did a job?
Vidovic: Most definitely. It was definitely a huge learning experience for me, because I was fortunate enough to be working on, as you said, a project that has so many veterans of the industry. Working with Julia and Owen, who are such icons, there’s really much to learn from them just watching their work and being with them on set. Not only are they kind to everybody, but they’re professional and they make it fun for everyone around them. And working with Stephen Chbosky, he’s really an incredible director, and he’s artistic. Not only does he want the best for the film, but he wants the best for everybody involved in it. It’s just been an honor working with these people.
TrunkSpace: Is there something about your performance in “Wonder” that you’re particularly excited for people to see? Were you able to do something with Via that you have yet to have the opportunity with other characters in the past?
Vidovic: Well, I think for me what was really cool was doing a role within a role. I got to do a monologue from “Our Town” as Via. And for Via, that moment is really pivotal for her, because it’s the first time that she’s putting her emotions on display and she has this connection with her mom, and it’s the first time that she’s really letting herself shine. And as an actor, I was playing both Via, but also Emily from “Our Town,” which was an interesting experience, I have to say.
TrunkSpace: Aside from “Wonder,” you’re also working behind the camera, so being able to learn from Stephen throughout this process must have been something that you could apply to other aspects of your career as well?
Vidovic: I would love to direct. So it’s so cool to work with a director who, like Stephen, incorporates both having a relationship with the actors and also having a relationship with the crew. Because oftentimes, you’ll find that when you work with a director, they’re better at one side or the other, and Stephen’s great at both – at balancing them. So, observing that was definitely a learning experience for me, because that’s what I strive to do in my career, in the future, behind the camera.
TrunkSpace: You spent nearly 20 episodes on the series “The Fosters.” Is the professional relationship with directors on a series different from the one you build with a director on a film?
Vidovic: Yes. On films, you definitely have a more personal relationship with your director, because on TV there’s a different director for every episode. And so, there’s only a certain amount of time that you have with that individual to cultivate something. But with film, you’ll be working with the same director every single day for two to three months. And so oftentimes, especially when the director is so hands on with the actors, you do build a very personal relationship, like I think most of us found we did with Stephen.
TrunkSpace: Have you been having fun exploring these other on-set experiences beyond acting? Has the producing side, that journey, been one you’re enjoying?
Vidovic: Yeah. It’s been very fun. I find that it actually strengthens you as an actor and as a writer and a producer – when you have knowledge in every area – because knowledge is power, so the more you know, the better. And so, as a producer, I have found that knowing what it’s like for actors and knowing what a writer’s job is just makes your job that much easier and it’s that much more beneficial. It’s like a clock – you need every part to make it work. And so, yeah, it’s been definitely a learning process and a lot of fun.
TrunkSpace: So as you look forward, do you see yourself focusing on one area or will you continue to wear different hats and juggle all aspects of your career?
Vidovic: I’m looking to juggle it all and make it all work. I love acting and I love all of these different aspects of filmmaking, and I’m excited to just combine all of that knowledge and do it all.
“Wonder” arrives in theaters on Friday.
Featured image by: Ramona Rosales
Name: Kelsey Boze
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Current Location: Los Angeles, California
TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Boze: When I was 15. I chose to drop all other extra curricular activities once I began high school and focused solely on my school’s theater program. Then my senior year I did half days of school and half days at a pre-college program at Pittsburgh Musical Theater.
TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Boze: I basically was a Disney princess as a child – always dancing around, singing, loving animals, and trying to get them to dress me. So they were a huge influence on my singing voice and acting style. As I got older I became a major fan of Audrey Hepburn and Julia Roberts. The most notable performance though was Angelina Jolie in “Girl, Interrupted.” I stayed up late one night with my mom and grandmother to watch that movie and was terrified of her character, Lisa. My mom explained to me that she was an actress just pretending and that stuck with me.
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?
Boze: Truthfully my only plan was a choice of LA over NYC. I made the decision to come out here and I had always easily found success in Pittsburgh – getting agents and work – so I figured the same would be true out here. After three years of being out here… I think differently. But my plan is always changing as I step higher and higher in my career. With new successes come new plans of how to continue that rise up.
TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Boze: Technically my professional acting career began in college. I moved only 45 minutes away from home that time to attend Point Park University in downtown Pittsburgh. I was originally from Peters Township, PA. I was 18. The real move that continued my professional acting career came when I was 22 when I moved to Los Angeles.
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?
Boze: The initial transition from east coast to west was extremely difficult. I moved to LA not knowing anyone or anything about the city. I rented an apartment and drove my car cross country with my dad. He set me up for about a week (my uncle from Seattle helped) and then I was on my own. I’ve learned that I would never do that again. I strongly believe you should set up a life for yourself before you move to a new place. But within my first year here I was cast in my first feature film, “A Closer Walk With Thee,” which brought me a good support group and a new boyfriend. That is when LA began to feel like home.
TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Boze: “Stasis,” a feature film I am in, which is available on Netflix in most countries, iTunes and Amazon in the U.S. and comes to Netflix in the U.S. in December. It is the only project I’ve worked on so far that has brought me fan mail and international attention.
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?
Boze: What I would like to work on for the majority of my career is dramatic features. I have an ear for comedy but I really enjoy taking on a drama. Whether in major motion pictures or plays/musicals on Broadway, I tend to favor drama. Anything with real emotional depth and complexity of character peaks my interest. Two bucket list characters I want to play are Poison Ivy and Ariel from “The Little Mermaid.”
TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Boze: Networking. Knowing what they have to offer as an actor and convincing people of that.
TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Boze: My ultimate dream is to regularly take on lead or supporting roles in major motion pictures.
TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Boze: Have a place to live, at least one person you know who you can explore the city with, and at LEAST job prospects for an income set before you make the move. An income, an agent, and a manager would be ideal things to have beforehand but aren’t essential. If moving to LA, have a car.
TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Boze: The easiest place would be my website: www.kelseyboze.com. And I have profiles on LA Casting, Actors Access, and IMDb. I also have a fan group that I send emails to with career updates; to join that, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members: Ryan T Jacobs (Vocals, Guitars, Songwriter), Ryan Aughenbaugh (bass, backing vocals), Dan Bacon (lead guitar, backing vocals), Juan Felipe (drums)
Hometown: Portland, OR
Latest Album/Release: The New Zero (August 2017)
Influences: Tom Petty, Radiohead, Spoon, Ryan Adams, The War On Drugs, Broken Social Scene, Father John Misty, Counting Crows, Bon Iver, Arcade Fire
TrunkSpace: How do you describe your music?
Jacobs: Usually we’d describe it as a Tom Petty meets Kings of Leon/Snow Patrol/REM kind of vibe. It’s visceral, melody-driven, guitar-heavy, radio-friendly indie alt-pop with some synths and a focus on clear, concise songwriting. A bit of the “don’t bore us get to the chorus” mentality, with the knowledge that you’re writing for a 21st century attention span, but also simultaneously aiming for something special and transcendent within that shorter time span.
TrunkSpace: Your debut album “The New Zero” was released in August. How much time in the life of the band is represented in the songs on the album? How far back do they go?
Jacobs: A couple of the songs go back to my time living in Berlin and were on our initial EP “Maquette.” Songs definitely mature and age differently over time and the recording process is always kind of like trying to catch lightning in a bottle so I felt they needed a second pass to be more accurately represented. The rest of songs were written the year it was recorded in. The basic tracking of drums and bass was done with the last constellation of members over the span of about a month or so. Then I finished the record myself over the span of a year, adding guitars, synths, organ and other programming stuff.
TrunkSpace: We read that the message associated with “The New Zero” was one that suggests a chance to shape what’s next. With that said, has Melville already moved on creatively to the band’s “what’s next” and if so, what does that look/sound like?
Jacobs: We’re already about six to seven songs deep into the writing of the next record and are continuing to demo the songs to further mold them into shape. We’re playing many of them live already so if you want to check out the new sounds, the best way is to come out to a show! I’d say that so far the songs have a bit more synth and a bit more edge and swagger. We’ll probably record them in Aughenbaugh’s studio and then find someone to mix them. We’re aiming for a little less sheen than “The New Zero” potentially, a bit more lo-fi while still walking that line of being mass consumable and radio friendly to the ears.
TrunkSpace: The band has gone through some sonic changes throughout the course of its time together. Is that a product of internal tastes changing, member maturity, or something else entirely?
Jacobs: I’d say it’s not been a concentrated choice, just an evolution of my songwriting and personal tastes evolving. When I started writing songs initially, there was definitely more of an alt-country or singer/songwriter vibe to the songs because I was often playing the songs solo and acoustic. Then I started playing music with other people more often and started getting more interested in writing rock songs for a band. I’d also say the players that I’ve been fortunate enough to have around me influence the feel of the songs too. The guys in the band now are all amazing musicians and bring a lot of their own distinct feel, energy, and ideas to the songs I bring in.
TrunkSpace: No one knows the band better than the band. When you listen back to Melville’s beginnings, where do you hear the biggest changes? What do you hear that maybe we, the listeners, don’t?
Jacobs: I’d say the most obvious change would certainly be that there’s less of that alt-country vibe to the music. I also think an evident change would be that my songwriting has matured as I’ve continued practicing the craft of songwriting; I’m always looking for the hook and trying to break songs down to their essence and find out what is going to make it interesting to the listener. The music is a bit more shoot-for-the-stars rock n roll now; looking to move people both internally and externally. Before, I feel the music was a bit more one-dimensional in the sense that it was introspective but was less focused on making people want to jump around and move to the songs. Now, I aim more conscientiously to find that duality of introspective lyrics with a melody or riff that makes you want to sing at the top of your lungs and jump up and down.
TrunkSpace: In your opinion, what is more taxing for a band in 2017, recording a full-length album or marketing that album? What challenges have you faced?
Jacobs: I’d say the answer is both to be honest. It’s tough to make a decent sounding record for less than five-figures and then you have to spend another few thousand to market it. I think a lot of music consumers have no idea what all goes into the process of making a record. If they did, and in addition, if they treated bands like small businesses hustling to be solvent, they might be a bit more willing to pay for the music they listen to. A band is legitimately a small business and every record you make, you sink large amounts of money into it and it’s a huge risk; particularly in a climate of consumption that expects everything free or close to it. The hours that go into the songwriting, the hours of rehearsal, the shaping of the songs in the studio, arranging the songs and so on and so forth – you put all that work in and it’s essentially a huge roll of the dice every time you put an album out there as to how it will be received.
TrunkSpace: There are so many voices on social media – so much noise. How does Melville rise above that and reach ears and eyeballs in a meaningful way?
Jacobs: It’s tough for sure to cut through so we try to be diligent about posting and keeping people updated without overwhelming them with TMI, so to speak. We hope that by being a part of cool events and playing great rooms that people will pay attention to what we’re up to. I’ll also from time to time do stripped down covers of well-known songs to hopefully attract some social media attention. It’s certainly always a bit of a crapshoot knowing what’s going to draw attention and there’s a strange risk that if an event or post grabs a significant amount of attention, it can produce a sentiment of “they’re doing really well, they don’t need my attention too” from a fan or potential fan, which is of course, counter-productive at times.
TrunkSpace: What does the Melville writing process look like? How does a song go from inception to completion?
Jacobs: So far it’s essentially been me working out songs on piano or acoustic guitar at home and then bringing that structure to the band. They write their parts within that existing song structure I’ve brought and the we work on the arrangement together, each contributing various ideas to get the songs to its best possible outcome. Then we see if the song sticks and finds a place in the set.
TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight for the band thus far? What has been the most memorable experience or most unforgettable aspect of being a part of Melville?
Jacobs: I’d say that we’ve been fortunate enough to have had several thus far. We’ve gotten to play for thousands of people on numerous occasions opening for bands like Collective Soul, 3 Doors Down, Murder by Death, and Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, among others. We also got to tour a bit with The Autumn Defense (a side-project of John and Pat from Wilco, a band I very much love.)
TrunkSpace: With that said, what do you hope to accomplish moving forward? What does the band want to check off of its collective bucket list?
Jacobs: I’d say the main goal is to just continue to get better cohesively as a band, continue to evolve on a songwriting level, and continue to play bigger and bigger shows. We’d love to tour as an opening act for a national touring act in the near future. In terms of specific venues, the Crystal Ballroom in Portland is kind of our Holy Grail at the moment I’d say and one of the only venues in town we’ve yet to play.
TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Melville as we creep closer to 2018? What does the new year hold?
Jacobs: The idea is to have the tracks for the new record recorded by April and a whole lot of shows including hopefully another west coast tour. I put together a Valentine’s Day show every year at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland where we get five local bands and we all do four to five kitsch love songs apiece, which is a lot of fun (think REO Speedwagon, Boyz II Men, ELO etc). We’ve also got a week-long residency at Al’s Den in March, which will be a stripped down affair with some reworking of familiar songs, some covers, and some special guests.