Wingman Wednesday

Marcus Rosner

Photo By: Lane Dorsey

As one of the male suitors of the fictional dating series “Everlasting,” Marcus Rosner is tapping into parts of his Northern Alberta upbringing to bring good ol’ boy Warren to life in Season 3 of “UnREAL.” While the jury is still out as to whether or not the fan base will be rooting for Warren to come out the romantic victor of the show within a show, each of the beaus-to-be will have their closet skeletons revealed in good time, proving that maybe it’s not such a bad thing that love, as they say, is blind.

We recently sat down with Rosner to discuss what it’s like joining a successful series three seasons in, how Alan Jackson helped him tap into his country-bred character, and why “Supernatural” has one of the best set atmospheres in the biz.

TrunkSpace: You’ve joined the cast of the Lifetime series “UnREAL” in its third season, which kicked off this week. When you’re joining an existing show with an established on-set atmosphere, do you feel a bit like the new kid going to a school where everybody already knows everybody else? How long did it take you to feel at ease in the job?
Rosner: Yeah, you kind of do honestly, but with this show, you get a whole freshman class you’re a part of because while the main cast is always there, each new season requires a whole cast of suitors and in this case, one suitress. And we actually outnumber them as well, so you have the comfort of not being alone in that situation. Besides that, you end up spending so much time around everyone, main cast and new, given the ensemble format of the show, that you figure out who you vibe with pretty quickly and it’s easy to relax within the first few days. I imagine in the case of this show, with all the turnover, each new season establishes its own on-set atmosphere.

TrunkSpace: In terms of the work itself, it must be very exciting to join a show with an existing fan base. So many of the “Will they be watching?” questions are removed from the experience, which must be nice knowing that your performance will be seen?
Rosner: That’s not really something I put a whole lot of thought into personally. I’ve always just enjoyed the work and some of my favorite experiences and performances have come in projects that very few people have ever seen. But, if I’m being honest, there has definitely been more excitement about this project than I have experienced before – you can feel the growing anticipation for the show to return after so long. Not to mention it’s kind of a cult hit within the entertainment industry itself from what I’m told. So that doesn’t hurt.

TrunkSpace: Now, whether the character himself will be embraced by the fan base remains to be seen, but from what you know of Warren, is he someone who the viewers will accept?
Rosner: Warren may slide under the radar a little at first until he makes his presence known in a big way. He’s certainly a very principled man but some of his beliefs that come out down the line may rub certain people the wrong way. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of response he gets. This show has a way of bringing the demons out of all its characters and there are very few exceptions.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, did Warren offer something new in terms of a type of character you have yet to play? What was it about him that you were most eager to dive into?
Rosner: I grew up in Alberta, Canada around farms and country music and never really involved myself in either, so in a way, this was a nice opportunity to get in touch with those things. I drove to set every day listening to Alan Jackson to get my accent dialed in and I loved wearing a cowboy hat all the time. It was really easy to find the identity of Warren, how he walks, how he sees things. I don’t know, maybe it’s in my blood. I’ve played a few cowboys in the past but never with a full-fledged accent like Warren. One of the things that I was always interested to figure out was how someone like him, being from a much more conservative area of the country and holding really traditional beliefs, would perceive all the sex, lies, and videotape going around on “Everlasting.” That was a lot of fun.

TrunkSpace: When you’re presented with a new character, what is your method of personal discovery? How do you go about finding who that person is and how to portray him moving forward?
Rosner: Well, in life everybody wants something. I think (and I’ve been taught) that whether it’s conscious or sub-conscious you can boil down everyone’s driving force to one clear objective. In Warren’s case, his mom is dying and he wants to make her happy. He wouldn’t normally ever be the type to do something like go on a reality dating show, but momma wants him to settle down and he’s desperate to put her mind at ease before she goes and there aren’t exactly a whole lot of female suitors on his ranch. So given that circumstance, plus his upbringing as a conservative, he wants to find love but also maintain his principled beliefs, which on the “Everlasting” set is a near impossible task. So I really just keep those circumstances in mind and that overall objective when going into any scene, and from there it’s pretty easy to figure out how my character would maneuver any situation to eventually achieve that greater goal. I’ve been working with the Chubbuck technique a lot recently and a lot of this comes from that.

TrunkSpace: You’re doing a number of episodes of “UnREAL.” Is it fun to learn new things about a character as scripts come to you, or do you prefer to have as much of the picture painted before you shoot a particular project?
Rosner: Just about every actor, if given the choice, would have the entire story given to them up front. That’s one of the reasons films are such sought-after projects. When you have the whole story, you can develop a much more defined arc for your character and make more detailed choices along the way, but it’s definitely exciting to sit down with a new episode script for the first time and see what new information you will be given about a character you feel such ownership over. The fun really comes from justifying whatever insane behavior happens to take place in the script. Like, why would my character do this? How do I learn that? Once you find that you know how to play it.

TrunkSpace: You’ve starred in a number of Hallmark Channel movies over the course of your career. One of the fascinating things about the Hallmark Channel brand is that it has a very loyal following, and in fact, a fandom known as the Hallmarkies. Would you say that the Hallmarkies rival some of the more well-known fandoms from the science fiction and fantasy genres? Have you felt the Hallmarkies presence either in person or on social media?
Rosner: The Hallmark Channel has been very good to me over the years. In Vancouver where I started acting, they shoot dozens and dozens of films each year, so there is a lot of opportunity to work on their projects. My first major role on their network came as the “other man” in a love triangle on the second season of their hit show “When Calls the Heart.” I fully expected the audience to hate me for coming in between their two leads but the response I got on social media and in person from fans was about as kind as you could ask for. I mean, they hated my character but they couldn’t have been sweeter to me outside of the show. They are passionate fans but they take care of their own.

They’ve gone on to support me in any other projects I’ve been a part of across many different networks and shows. One thing that I think differentiates that fan base from others is that they feel a genuine friendship with many of the actors who appear regularly on their network, I have a few that I message with every once in a while just to keep in touch and see how they’re doing because they’ve been so supportive and I know other actors that have the same connection with them as well.

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel productions are known for being very efficient. Has working within that fast-paced scheduling allowed you to sort of be prepared for anything that comes at you, particularly in the world of television?
Rosner: (Laughter) Absolutely. The pace these films shoot at can rival just about anything. You need to show up with all your lines locked in because things can get moved around on any given day, you can shoot parts of different scenes altogether and can receive rewrites at the last second, so you need to be a quick study. It certainly helps build that muscle that you use in auditioning where you need to pick up words quickly and be ready to put them on film the next day.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of fandoms, you also guested on an episode of “Supernatural,” a series that is currently in its 13th season. Is it kind of a right of passage for actors based in Canada to pass through the “Supernatural” universe?
Rosner: (Laughter) Yep. Especially if you’re living in Vancouver where it shoots. They’ve been on for so long and have cast so many roles over the years that most actors I know have had the opportunity to work on their show. One thing I will say about that show and specifically that set is it’s one of the nicest atmospheres and most well run shows in the business. And Jared (Padalecki) and Jensen (Ackles) seem to have mastered this ability to lead by example. You can see them making the effort to make guest actors comfortable and at home so they can do good work. Can’t say enough good things about my experience on that show.

TrunkSpace: Aside from “Supernatural,” you’ve also guested in series like “Once Upon a Time” and “Arrow.” Is there a character, even someone you only tackled for a single episode, that you wished you had more time to explore, and if so, why?
Rosner: I wish I had more time playing Max Fuller on “Arrow.” It was the second professional gig I ever had, only their third episode, and the show hadn’t even premiered yet. I knew from reading the pilot script the show would become a hit. I look back at my short performance on the show and wish I had more opportunity to see what kind of rivalry existed between him and Oliver Queen.

TrunkSpace: We read that it was a trip to Broadway that cemented your desire to be an actor. What was it about that first experience sitting in the audience that made you say to yourself, “I want to do that!”?
Rosner: I had always wanted to visit NYC and so when I graduated my Mom took me on a trip there as a sort of graduation gift. We saw a few shows and something about just sitting within reach of these performers made it tangible to me. Coming from Northern Alberta, the entire entertainment industry was a foreign concept to me. Seeing these actors and being in the same room as them made it seem a little more real – like I could reach out and grab it if I could just learn the craft. And that’s what I’ve been pursuing ever since.

Season 3 of “UnREAL” airs Mondays on Lifetime.

Featured image by: Lane Dorsey

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Wingman Wednesday

Byron Mann

Photo By: Diana Ragland

Byron Mann is on one heck of a project run, but he’s the first to admit that it wasn’t planned. In fact, he couldn’t have planned it this way if he tried.

Not only can the Hong Kong native be seen starring in the new Netflix series “Altered Carbon,” but you’ll soon be able to catch him opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the upcoming action film “Skyscraper.” Both projects’ trailers were part of the highly-anticipated Super Bowl roster of commercials, proving once again that you just can’t plan for this kind of thing.

We recently sat down with Mann to discuss the reason “Altered Carbon” feels more like a film than a television series, why it won’t be easy for other networks to duplicate, and the place he often finds himself engaged in character work.

TrunkSpace: “Altered Carbon” seems like such an ambitious show, especially by television/streaming standards. Just the visuals… the sets… they’ve really built an atmosphere and then dropped the characters in to inhabit it.
Mann: I didn’t realize how ambitious they were until I started training for the show, both individually and they had me work with a trainer every morning. It was pretty hard, rigorous training. Then, in the afternoon, we would train for the fight sequence in the pilot episode. We did that for like two months. Training for one fight sequence for two months – it’s pretty steep, yeah.

TrunkSpace: That’s amazing. It definitely had the feel of watching a feature film.
Mann: There’s no question that they were making a feature film. The director, Miguel Sapochnik, who won an Emmy for “Game of Thrones” last year… there was no question that his ambition was to make it that. I mean, listen, the camera that they used was the ALEXA 65. That’s the same camera used for “The Revenant,” the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. That camera is only used for widescreen display of the image, like in a movie theater. It’s never ever been used for a TV show. He chose to use this camera for this television show, this streaming show, I should call it. The ambition was clearly there from the get-go to make it feature film quality. When you see the first episode, you’ll see very clearly that it is a feature film presentation.

TrunkSpace: Maybe that’s why the sets and world stood out so much to us, because of the widescreen display.
Mann: Yeah. Of course, when we’re filming, you don’t really feel it. I can tell, not only from filming, but actually from the preparation, the training and rehearsals going into it, that obviously the sets were… they built a new world basically. They built a studio for the series. They converted a printing mill into a studio in Vancouver. It’s called the Skydance Studios, and Skydance owns it. I don’t know how to describe it. They weren’t making another “CSI.” They were making a groundbreaking show, from the ground up.

TrunkSpace: Which sort of calls out other networks. Executives at all of these other networks are going to be saying, “We need our own ‘Altered Carbon’.”
Mann: Oh man, that’s easier said than done. You can’t just duplicate that overnight. You can’t. It’s so hard making anything these days. It’s hard making a television show. It’s hard making a feature film. Not only do you have to make a show like that, then you have to make it a super duper outside-the-box, groundbreaking show. Forget about it. You can’t even plan it. A lot of things that came into being. There’s Laeta Kalogridis. She wrote “Terminator Genisys,” “Shutter Island.” She’s the leading science fiction writer in Hollywood. “Alita: Battle Angel,” the movie that is coming out from Robert Rodriguez… I mean, she’s it. She’s the Steven Spielberg of writers. Then Miguel Sapochnik, who was the executive producer and also directed the first big episode, which took 30 days to shoot. So you have a lot of these things coming together to make this kind of a show.

It’s like the Patriots – it’s a lot of things coming into one. Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and Gronk. The reality is, in football terms, you can’t even duplicate that. Where are you going to get another dynasty? If one of them leaves? If Brady leaves?

I’m very honored, very humbled to happen to be a part of this. It’s awesome.

TrunkSpace: When you signed on, did you dive into the source material, Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 book, to see what came before?
Mann: No. When I first started, I talked to Laeta Kalogridis, the showrunner. She said, “Don’t read the book.” So I didn’t. I just read the script, and I had many, many hours of sitting down with her alone, and just asking her questions like, “What’s going on? What happened?” It’s a new world with new terminology, a new technique of how things work. It’s like “Blade Runner.” It’s a brand new world. Believe it or not, I think 50 years from now, I think our lives will be very close to what we see in “Altered Carbon.” It’s predicated on this premise, that everyone has a “stack,” like a gift in their vertebrae. All humans have this gift. Even if your outer body dies, you can go resave yourself again. As I understand, they’re heavily invested in this technology right now, as we speak.

TrunkSpace: So when you’re playing in the sandbox of a whole new world with new terminology and techniques on how things work, does it allow you to take a different approach to performance than you would with something set in modern day New York, for example?
Mann: Not really. As an actor, when you’re doing a scene, you just want to find out the questions. “Who are you? What do you want? What’s happening in the scene?” It’s still human emotions. No matter how sci-fi everything gets, the baseline is still dealing with very basic human emotions – love, jealousy, desire, power – all that.

Mann in “Altered Carbon”

TrunkSpace: Between “Altered Carbon” and the projects you have due up, you’re getting to work in a lot of different genres. As an actor, is it a treat to get to play in so many different types of projects?
Mann: Yeah, I guess it’s fun. It doesn’t really faze me too much. After playing so many different characters, I think it’s all… the stuff I said earlier, it applies to every single project. Basically, you find out who you are, what you’re doing here, and what are you trying to do? That hasn’t changed from the ’70s and the ’60s, when you had movies like “The Graduate,” or “Serpico,” or “The French Connection.” And now with “Altered Carbon,” it’s still the same thing. Especially for an actor, it’s just you playing in an emotion.

TrunkSpace: Is that the personal draw for you as an actor, the discovery of finding out who a character is?
Mann: Yeah. Sometimes you find it on the tape, when you’re filming. That’s gold, if you actually discover that.

TrunkSpace: Are you someone who looks at someone sitting in a coffee shop or in line at the grocery store and breaks down who they are? Do you have those storyteller moments where you’re trying to discover “characters” even in real life?
Mann: Well, it can hit you anytime – character thoughts can hit you anytime. Once you’re thinking about it, it’s in your subconscious. For me, I’ll tell you when it hits me, it hits me when I’m taking a shower. Sometimes I’m in the shower a long time, and you think about these things.

TrunkSpace: We can totally see that. No distractions. No cell phones. Just you and your thoughts.
Mann: Yeah, and the water is warm, hopefully. When you’re under warm water, your body relaxes. When you’re relaxed, a lot of good things happen to you. I’ve thought about that. I said, “Why do I have these great thoughts when I think in the shower?” It’s usually because your body is really relaxed.

TrunkSpace: You had two trailers for projects you’re in run during the Super Bowl. One was for “Altered Carbon,” and the other was for “Skyscraper,” starring Dwayne Johnson. Not too shabby for the most watched television event of the year!
Mann: Yeah, no kidding. Like I said, you can’t plan for this stuff. You just can’t. You just have to go along life’s journey, do the best you can, and then life will kind of find your way towards these things.

Altered Carbon” is available now on Netflix.

Skyscraper” arrives in theaters July 13.

Mann can also be seen returning to SyFy’s “The Expanse” later this year and the upcoming Blumhouse thriller “Only You.”

Featured image by: Diana Ragland

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Wingman Wednesday

Echo Kellum

Photo Credit: Lesley Bryce

* Feature originally ran on 04/28/17

It’s a super terrific day and here’s why. Echo Kellum who plays superhero Mr. Terrific on The CW’s “Arrow” stopped by TrunkSpace to let us pick his brain about his skyrocketing career, including his laugh-inducing work on standup stages across the country where many first fell in love with the Chicago native.

With “Arrow” set to return for a sixth season in the fall, Kellum will be continuing his crime fighting ways, but in the meantime we sat down with the “Girlfriend’s Day” star to discuss the first time he suited up, navigating the passions of the fanboy landscape, and… Mr. McGibblets!

TrunkSpace: What was going through your head the first time you saw yourself in the full Mr. Terrific persona?
Kellum: For me, I grew up loving comic books and knowing that I wanted to be an actor, it’s always been a huge goal of mine to be any type of superhero. (Laughter) So, to do it with a character like Mr. Terrific… going through the audition process and then seeing him become a character to finally putting on the suit to getting his suit upgraded and to finally getting his feel out in the field… it’s been such an amazing world-changing experience for me. Like, I’m actually on a show that my friends actually like for the first time ever. (Laughter) It’s such a cool, wonderful thing to be a part of and every day I count my blessings and I’m just so grateful that I’m getting to bring this character to life.

TrunkSpace: It definitely seems like that in this day and age, the holy grail for an actor is getting to play a superhero character because not only does it look like a hell of a lot of fun to play, but it usually means a recurring role, right?
Kellum: Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. And that was another thing… the fact that they wanted me to come on as a series regular was huge. I was so thankful for that.

TrunkSpace: And congratulations are in order because you’ve been picked up for next season as well.
Kellum: Yeah. Season 6!

TrunkSpace: We know you probably can’t give away too much with how the current season winds down, but is it safe to say that you’ll be back next year as a part of season 6?
Kellum: You know, they keep telling me I will, but you never know. (Laughter) It’s like, “I’m back!” and then dead on episode 2. You’re like, “Nooooooo! Why?!?!” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: We’d imagine it can be pretty intimidating stepping into a show that already has an established on-set atmosphere and tone. How long did it take for you to feel at home and a part of the “Arrow” family?
Kellum: If I’m being honest, like the first day I walked on the set, I felt so at home and at ease and that was mainly because of Emily Bett Rickards. And then meeting all of the other actors and everybody involved with the show… they really did make it so easy and seamless and just a wonderful experience to be a part of. They treat you like one of their own and when I became one of their own, it felt so right. They treat every guest star, every recurring character… they treat with such respect and class and humility. It really just makes you feel welcome.

And in the other aspect of that, as far as the character… I think he’s still trying to find his way. He’s still trying to get to that place where he feels like he’s a working cog in the team and somebody who they can really count on. I think the fans are still trying to figure that out too and connect with him more. It’s been a really cool journey.

TrunkSpace: Do you have him figured out as a character? Do you feel like you’re in the headspace of Curtis Holt?
Kellum: Yeah. I really do. And thankfully we have some amazing writers who really come up with so much great material work-wise. But yeah, I really do feel like I’m in the headspace of how they want Curtis and where they’re going with him. Obviously he’s definitely a different iteration of the comic book persona, but I kind of like to think of him as early stage Mr. Terrific… Michael Holt kind of until he gets himself together. Because on this show, obviously he’s a little more awkward and quirky. It’s really about finding that balance where he can still be this awkward, silly guy, but then still kind of be badass in other aspects too.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned that fans were still trying to figure Curtis out and connect with him. Were you comfortable stepping into this world where people are already so attached to these characters as lifelong fans and as such… particularly in the social media age… aren’t afraid to speak their minds?
Kellum: Oh yeah. They’re my people. (Laughter) I know how they can be. I think when it all boils down to it, mostly everything you see is positivity. When you’re fortunate enough to be in a position that any of us are in while in this industry to work on a hit show or a show that people are passionate about, you’re going to get both ends of the spectrum from everyone. It’s just how it works. And if we weren’t in that position we’d be getting zero ends of the spectrum from no one. You just have to be thankful that you’re working out there and living your dream, doing the best you can, and getting paid pretty good to do it. So for me, it’s definitely a thing where you’ve got to take it all in and be thankful for the good love that’s coming in and learn from the negativity that’s coming in and just keep pushing forward.

TrunkSpace: Is there anything in your life, either growing up or now, where you could relate to that passionate comic book fanbase? Is there something that you were drawn to in that same passionate way?
Kellum: For me, definitely anything in the X-Men realm as far as comics go, but really it was video games. For me, video games were my life saver. Video games were the things that I geeked out the most about as a fanboy. I was definitely tough when they would make different adaptations of video games to movies. I’d be like, “What the heck… why isn’t this great?” (Laughter) So I can definitely understand some of the hate. If I would have had Twitter then, I might have let a couple of actors know it. (Laughter)

So I can definitely understand the passion, but the thing is, if you don’t have passionate people about it, it’s not a popular project and you’re probably going to be canceled.

TrunkSpace: What’s so cool about video games today is that it’s now an accepted medium for established actors to voice characters in that world. Is that something you’ve dipped your professional fanboy toy in the water of yet?
Kellum: I have not had the opportunity to perform in a video game, but that’s definitely an aspiration. I would love to voice some video game characters. I definitely want to get into that.

TrunkSpace: You established yourself first in the industry as a comedian. That’s a medium where you write and perform your own material. Was it an adjustment delivering lines from other writers when you made the transition into acting?
Kellum: You know, honestly for me it wasn’t an adjustment because I’ve always considered myself an actor first and a comedian second. Acting was kind of something I just started doing when I was 5 years old in church plays, so I’ve always been saying people’s words. (Laughter) But when I got into comedy, it was like, “Oh, I can say my own stuff.” But it feels very normal and natural to be getting scripts and just going for it, but I also just love ripping and improvising and creating new stuff on it too. But I think I definitely kind of look at myself as an actor first.

TrunkSpace: So how much time do you still save for yourself on the writing/standup side? Are you still currently writing?
Kellum: I always write. I’ve never stopped writing standup material, even when I’ve taken a year or two off. I need to get back into it more… definitely something in the next year. I definitely want to be doing more shows, especially when I’m shooting in Vancouver. I want to be out there pushing the pavement and hitting up a lot of shows. But I never stop writing. I’m always writing. I’ve just got to perform more.

TrunkSpace: Do you think you’ll transition that writing skill set into television and film where you can develop projects for yourself?
Kellum: Oh yeah. Absolutely. I’m writing a feature right now that I hope to shoot next spring when we wrap season 6.

TrunkSpace: It definitely seems more accepted within the business for actors to diversify and be a little bit of everything these days. You’re not as specifically labeled as you would have been two decades ago, for example.
Kellum: It’s true. And what’s funny about that is that it’s not even about being allowed but it’s how you survive now. You can’t depend on just the one thing. Back in the day you’d book one commercial and you’re good for the year. You have to be out there completely diversifying yourself. You have to be into acting and into writing and into director. You have to do it all. You have to be a multihyphenate nowadays.

Photo Credit: Lesley Bryce

TrunkSpace: Well, and they always say content is king, but when you’re an actor and developing your own content, you also then control your own destiny.
Kellum: Very true. 100 percent true. You get to really say “yes” or “no” and determine the flow of how you want things to go.

TrunkSpace: It does seem like standup is one of the few mediums were you literally control every aspect of things. Even in music, you’re still having to give some control away, even if that control is not ownership based.
Kellum: Yeah. That’s why I think standup is the toughest form of entertainment to tackle. Because it is just you. In music, like you say, even if you don’t have someone else, you have an instrument to help you. You have your singing voice to help you. You have all of these other tools. In standup, it’s just you and your words and are you funny. Period. Also, a very solitary experience, but it’s so worthwhile.

TrunkSpace: It must have prepared you for the social media age a little bit because standup audiences seem like the first iteration of the internet troll.
Kellum: (Laughter) Oh yeah. Standup audiences were definitely the first trolls. 100 percent.

TrunkSpace: Finally, you’ve got to tell us how Mr. McGibblets came to be?!?!
Kellum: Mr. McGibblets! (Laughter) “The League!” I auditioned for it and it’s just a fun little role. I was a big fan of the show. Love Nick Kroll. Yeah, they just had me come in and do a little one-off. It was great.

TrunkSpace: See, it wasn’t Mr. Terrific who was your first superhero role. It was Mr. McGibblets!
Kellum: (Laughter) Truth right there!

“Arrow” airs Wednesdays on The CW.

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