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Wingman Wednesday

Byron Mann

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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

Hiro Kanagawa

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Photo By: Kristine Cofsky

While we used to look forward to “tentpole” films rolling into our local cineplexes every summer, now we can see the same production quality, marque names, and multi-layered world building appearing on our televisions every night, holding up the pop culture tent with poles steeped in rich, complex storytelling. In fact, it’s starting to feel like a new, highly-anticipated series premieres every week, and for those of us addicted to the binge, it’s a great time to consume.

The new Netflix sci-fi thrillfest “Altered Carbon” is the kind of show that not only has us excited, but it could very well usher in a new dawn of big-budgeted event series. Adapting a project like this, based on the 2002 novel by Richard Morgan, for anywhere other than a movie theater would have been completely unheard of even a decade ago. The cost alone to bring the futuristic, effects-filled story to life would have scared off every executive from network to cable, but now it seems, much like the technology that makes a show like this possible, the sky is the limit.

We recently sat down with “Altered Carbon” star and one of our favorite character actors Hiro Kanagawa to discuss how he brings his memorable characters to life, why the series could be a game changer for the industry, and the rock ‘n’ roll dream that still pecks away at him.

TrunkSpace: First thing’s first…we love us some you! Your work is always so rich in character and the choices you make with those characters are extremely memorable. What is your approach to tapping into a new character and making him your own?
Kanagawa: Thanks for the kind words. Acting is an ephemeral activity, even when captured on film, so it’s great to know that some of what I do is memorable. Creating these characters really depends on the circumstance, the style and content of the script, the people around you, the specifics of the character. When I was starting out I was coming from a bit of an arty physical theater background, so I tended to work outside-in: find the voice, find the walk, find the way this guy carries himself. But in film and TV, less is more – you really have to internalize things and work inside-out because something as small as a sideways glance or an arched eyebrow can be a big, big move. Also, everybody you’re working with is coming at things from different methods and training techniques and traditions, so I’ve found the most reliable thing to do as an actor is BE IN RELATIONSHIP with your other actors and your environment. I hope audiences appreciate my work as Captain Tanaka on “Altered Carbon.” I’m proud of it, and a lot of it comes out of being in relationship with Martha Higareda’s character, Ortega.

TrunkSpace: As you mentioned, you’re set to star as Captain Tanaka in the new Netflix series “Altered Carbon.” By any standards it seems like an extremely ambitious project, but by television/streaming standards, it feels like it could be the kind of project that forces others to rethink the way that they’re doing things. As you were working on the series, did it have the feel of something that could be groundbreaking within the industry itself?
Kanagawa: Absolutely. And it’s more than blind ambition, there’s a desire, an aspiration to make something really good. I could tell everybody on this project from the top down were dedicated to getting things right. I go into my first wardrobe fitting and a few days later I have another one because they’ve re-thought things. And then another one. I walk on set on my first day and my first reaction is, “Wow.” Same thing the next day when I see another set. And so on. I get called in to rehearse on a Saturday and with input from all of us actors, the scene gets rewritten. There’s creative energy. Everybody’s involved and engaged. Nobody was mailing it in on this one.

TrunkSpace: At this point, millions of people have already viewed the trailer online and the buzz continues to build around the series. As an actor performing within a show that is generating that kind of pop culture interest, does it place you in a position to put expectations on how it will be received and accepted, and in a way, alter your life/career in the process?
Kanagawa: I do have expectations that it will be well-received. I’ve seen bits and pieces and everything I’ve seen excites me. I’ve read the scripts, of course, and being a writer myself, I have nothing but admiration for the writing. I am aware that my work here as Captain Tanaka will probably get a lot of eyeballs and I’m happy about that because I feel good about it. If this creates more opportunities for me in the future, I’m ready. Bring it on.

TrunkSpace: For those who have never read the Richard Morgan novel, can you tell us a bit about Captain Tanaka and what his journey is throughout the course of the series? What did he offer you from a performance standpoint that you have yet to tackle in a project before?
Kanagawa: The series is in the same universe and follows the same general trajectory as the first book, but it’s a major expansion of that universe. Captain Tanaka, in fact, does not appear in the novel. What I can tell you is that Tanaka is a deeply-conflicted and compromised police captain tasked with keeping law and order in a world run by an ultra-powerful elite. He’s a good man in a bad world and he can either keep his head down and do as he’s told, or he can do the right thing. As an actor, you live for characters who are conflicted in this way.

TrunkSpace: From one talked about project to the next, you’re also working on “Snowpiercer” for TNT, a series based on Bong Joon Ho’s popular 2013 film. Both “Altered Carbon” and “Snowpiercer” come with a bit of their own built-in audiences seeing that they had established fan bases in other mediums already. Is that a gift for an actor, working on something that you know people will already be lining up to see, or does it also come with its own set of pitfalls knowing that some viewers might go in with expectations already in place?
Kanagawa: I think there are instances where the fans of a known, iconic story do not want what they know and love to be messed with. I don’t think “Altered Carbon” or “Snowpiercer” will suffer from that given both projects are re-interpreting the original for a different medium. If anything, I feel an audience expectation and excitement to see what new directions both series will go in.

TrunkSpace: You’ve performed in dozens of series and films over the course of your career. Looking back, are there any characters that you wished you had more time to spend with and explore further, and if so, why?
Kanagawa: Lt. Suzuki on “iZombie”, and the Yakuza boss Okamura on “The Man in the High Castle” both met untimely ends. There was a lot more to explore with those characters.

TrunkSpace: You’ve had some great runs on fan favorite shows adored by the Comic Con crowds like those two you just mentioned, and most recently, “Legends of Tomorrow.” But one thing a lot of people might not know about you is that you also played father of the first family of comics, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. What was that experience like, giving voice to such an iconic character?
Kanagawa: I don’t do a lot of animation, so it was a tremendous pleasure being in the room with artists who are the creme de la creme of that industry. And as an Asian actor, I thought it was fantastic that I had the opportunity to voice such an iconic non-Asian character. Reed, of course, is kind of the “straight man” in the family, so I didn’t have to move far from my natural speaking voice, but I had a great time with a couple of episodes where Reed switched bodies with Ben/The Thing as well as with Dr. Doom.

Kanagawa with Joel de la Fuente “The Man in the High Castle”

TrunkSpace: You also did an episode of “Supernatural,” which many in the fandom consider to be one of the most memorable in the series’ 13 year run. (“Changing Channels”) That got us to thinking… can you imagine yourself working on one character for such an extended period of time, in this case, 13 seasons, and is that something you would welcome?
Kanagawa: It really depends on the character I guess. I’ve been lucky to have a sustained career without being attached to a single character or show for longer than two seasons. But this is the golden age of the serial narrative and there is so much good writing out there in this medium that I would welcome the opportunity to explore a character over multiple seasons.

TrunkSpace: We read that you started your creative journey as a musician, composer, and writer. Are those areas that are still a big part of your life even as your acting career has continued to propel you forward in ways that you probably never thought possible?
Kanagawa: I am a playwright as well as an actor and I am very proud of the fact that I recently received the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Drama, one of Canada’s most prestigious literary awards. As for music, as anyone who ever played in a high school rock band will attest, I still dream of getting the band back together, taking my shirt off, and kicking some ass!

TrunkSpace: A lot of times our loves and creative outlets can end up feeling like “work” when those outlets become careers. Do you still love acting as much today as you did the first time you stepped foot on a set and began your career?
Kanagawa: I actually love it more now than ever. I feel I’m just starting to get really interesting opportunities, and that’s coming at a time when I’m starting to do my best work. All of that is extremely exciting. I’m chomping at the bit here.

TrunkSpace: Do you view the craft differently now than you did when you first began your pursuit of it?
Kanagawa: Completely. I’m always learning about myself as I journey through life. And acting is a craft you can learn so much about from watching people you’ve never met. You can watch actors who died decades ago and learn from them. You can learn from watching people at the food court at the mall. It’s endlessly, endlessly fascinating.

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you tomorrow with a blank check and said, “Hiro, go make the kind of projects that you want to make,” what would that look like? What kind of project would you develop for yourself knowing that money was not an option?
Kanagawa: Being a writer and having a couple of screenplays and series concepts, I’d use the money to get those things made. I don’t really write roles for myself, but if I had a blank check maybe I’d be tempted to write myself something. Might be tempted to write myself a part where I cross the desert, climb the mountain, and make it to the promised land.

Altered Carbon” premieres Friday on Netflix.

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Trunk Stubs

Somebody Feed Phil

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Series: Somebody Feed Phil

Where To Watch: Netflix

Episodes: Season 1/Six Episodes

Starring: Phil Rosenthal (And occasionally his parents and brother.)

How Do I Know That Guy?: If Rosenthal is both unfamiliar to you and yet strikingly recognizable at the same time, it’s probably because you were a fan of the long-running sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond.” Rosenthal created the series and it’s clear to see that star Ray Romano was channeling the mind behind it, and in the process, doing a bang up job!

Reason We’re Watching It: Yes, the dishes looks delicious, but there are a million food-meets-travel shows out there. What makes “Somebody Feed Phil” different is the heart of the host being fed. Rosenthal doesn’t only just connect with the food he’s sampling but with the people behind each meal. In a show marketed to be about food, what it ultimately becomes is a show about being human, and for us, that’s a winning recipe.

Our Favorite Episode: Like Rosenthal points out in the episode, the country of Vietnam gets a bad wrap, but between the ear to ear smiles of its people and the delectable food coming out of Saigon, this episode was both eye opening and eye edible.

We’re Inspired!: Thanks in large part to our favorite episode about Vietnam, we hunkered down in the kitchen and attempted to make our own batch of Pho, a popular Vietnamese soup. It’s now even more popular with us. Somebody thank Phil!

And that’s why we’re giving it…

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Wingman Wednesday

Adam Bartley

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* This feature originally ran 04/19/17

There are some actors who just steal the scene and captivate viewers regardless of who else is in the scene with them. The on-camera dazzling is never done intentionally. It is the actor’s commitment to the part and pledge to the craft that shines a spotlight on the performance, forcing those at home to pay attention. They exist in a fictional world, but play their character as an authentic resident of the imaginary zip code that we, the viewers, visit as voyeuristic tourists.

One of those actors… one of our favorite actors… is Adam Bartley. As The Ferg on the long-running series “Longmire,” Bartley has been playing the deputy everyman with understated precision for five (soon to be six) seasons. The series is currently in production in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is where we caught up with the Minnesota native.

We recently sat down with Bartley to discuss how the show has changed his life, its pop culture legacy, and his favorite episode thus far.

TrunkSpace: When did you realize that The Ferg went from character to fan favorite character?
Bartley: I don’t know. I think the fans love every character. They’re just so loyal and incredible. But, as far as Ferg is concerned, I think in the first season… I think it was around the third episode when Ferg turned his badge in. When Ferg turned his badge in and said “I’m just not made for this… I can’t do this” and the Sheriff said, “Listen, Ferg, I hired you for two reasons. The first one was because of your father.” And I say, “What’s the other one?” And the Sheriff says, “Well, I’m still waiting to find out.” I think that moment helped people to really connect with Ferg in the sense of how similar he is to so many people and so many people’s paths. You’re not always going to show up and be the best at what you do all of the time. It’s a kind of an everyman availability for audiences and I think that’s what latched people on… they saw a lot of themselves in the character and started to root for Ferg immediately from them on. And then of course, there’s the moment when I think the audience found out Ferg is in love with Cady Longmire.

TrunkSpace: That episode definitely felt like Ferg’s coming out party in terms of revealing him to have various layers, especially when we see him react so emotionally to Cady’s accident.
Bartley: Yeah. That’s great. That was a really incredible episode. That’s absolutely right. That piece… you’re seeing something beyond a sort of loyal, hardworking, trying-to-please-the-Sheriff kind of deputy. You’re seeing a person who has feelings and who you can relate to.

TrunkSpace: From an acting standpoint, what for you has been the most exciting thing about the character’s growth over the life of the series? What were you most excited to work on?
Bartley: Well, any time I’m working in a scene where it’s just Walt and I, that’s always… I love that relationship. Rob Taylor is a very good friend and we have a really good sort of chemistry as friends on and off camera. I really love watching the evolution of that relationship because for Ferg, the Sheriff is sort of the father figure he, I think, always wanted. He just tries to please him and make him proud every day. And so to be able to play in that space is really challenging and exciting.

I would say my favorite episode that I’ve worked on in the first five seasons has been when I get physically apprehended and beat up by the mob and I have to walk to some diner and call Walt. He comes and we sit down and just playing in that scene was really, really powerful acting and he really helped bring that out. I’ve lost my badge. I’ve lost my gun. I’ve been had and I’ve failed again. It’s hard to fess up when you fail and it’s hard to acknowledge that you fail, especially to the Sheriff.

TrunkSpace: Coming from a theater background, when you first started working in those scenes with Robert… he’s so understated and quiet in his delivery whereas in theater you’re taught to project… did that take some getting used to?
Bartley: It’s funny that you say that. I actually talk about this a lot, including last night and a couple of days before. Yeah, that’s one of the great things about this show for me is that it has been an on-camera education in ways that you could never get in school or anywhere else. A lot of that has to do with that when I showed up, coming from the theater, I had been rehearsing my first scene for the pilot and was just so excited and I was all ready to go. I was speaking somewhat loudly and theatrically and told the Sheriff, “Hey, listen I’m so sorry I’m late… it will never happen again!” (Laughter) In the first rehearsal, Rob… barely audible. He just sort of mutters his line to me and walks away. It was really powerful. It was a huge “wow” moment for me because the challenge, I think, on camera for any actor coming from the theater is believing that your most simple, your most honest, open, simple true reaction to any situation is enough. That people are going to find that interesting, without you doing anything more than you saying the line. Obviously Rob Taylor has been in the business for a very long time and figured that out 30 years ago, but I was figuring it out on the fly. It’s been an incredible sort of Petri dish this show, playing around with that sort of trust in myself and in terms of getting it down to the most simple truth in every scene.

TrunkSpace: It’s funny that you said Robert was barely audible because he’s so patient and soft in scenes sometimes that it’s easy to imagine him being difficult to mic.
Bartley: (Laughter) You get used to it. It’s true. We’ve always had good sound mixers. Always. Yeah, it’s so nice to not have to get every word out to the world. It’s nice for you to be discovered… that what you’re saying is being discovered and heard for the first time.

TrunkSpace: When you landed the part, how much of your character did you base on the source material from the books?
Bartley: None, actually. No. I read “The Cold Dish,” Craig Johnson’s book, and kind of soaked in the world, but the character The Ferg in that book is very different from the character that I play. I was really interested in sort of creating my own character because the writers for the TV show had really created a new character for The Ferg. But, I wanted to make sure that I was in the world.

TrunkSpace: We discovered the show late in its run thanks to the wonders of binge watching. It takes hold of you and you get sucked in very easily. That being said, how can so much terrible stuff happen in one small Wyoming county!?!?
Bartley: (Laughter) I know. Luckily Wyoming itself is not that crime-ridden, but in our Wyoming, things have not been very good. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Other than relocating during production, how has the series impacted your life and career the most?
Bartley: Wow. Well… this series has allowed me to realize a dream of mine. To be on camera. And it’s a dream that didn’t really come to me until I was 30 and then it really hit me there with what I wanted to do. I had been doing theater all over the country for 10 years and this not only has changed my life forever in regards to having a seat at the table to be able to do other things… and hopefully having an opportunity to do more things after this… but the singular experience of working on “Longmire” is unlike any show I’ve ever worked on or any play I’ve ever worked on. We are an incredibly close family of people that really love being together and really love working together. I’ll take that with me and I’ll take what I’ve learned from these people, from this incredible group of artists, and how people treat each other and how artists should have space and room to create the greatest version of the stories they’re telling and how establishing great working relationships up front on new projects… how that pays dividends and how it shows up on camera. It’s starkly different from other shows that don’t have those elements. We’re lucky to have an incredible group of producers that from the very first moment on the pilot set the tone for how this was going to go. It’s just not always that way. There’s a lot of other ways people go about doing this business, but as I go forward, that’s the best gift… taking what I’ve learned from this show and these people and applying it to everything I do going forward.

And the other thing is the fans. All of these incredible, loyal people who just love the stories so much and reach out and come to Longmire Days. They’re so kind. This show has really touched a lot of people. It has really changed lives and that’s so humbling… to know that I’m sitting in a coffee shop and somebody comes up and seeing them with almost tears in their eyes to meet me… it’s like, “Wow!” It’s powerful. Storytelling can be so powerful and I just feel so blessed to be a part of it and to have this be my job.

Bartley as The Ferg in “Longmire”

TrunkSpace: And it’s something from a pop culture legacy standpoint that will stand the test of time. The show isn’t going anywhere. New generations will find it.
Bartley: Yeah. No doubt. It’s just a special show for a special time. And the cool part about that is that, even in years from now when I’m missing being down here in Santa Fe and being with this incredible group of people, the wonderful thing is that “Longmire” is still going to be sitting there on Netflix. It’s still going to be sitting there and people can watch it whenever they want. They’ll have new viewers every day. In that way, it’s being sort of aired for the first time every single day.

TrunkSpace: It is crazy to think about now because there was a time when a show would air and you might catch it in a rerun or in syndication, but most shows just sort of disappeared. That’s not how it works nowadays, especially for shows as popular as “Longmire.”
Bartley: They live on. It’s so unique to this time and to this Golden age of television. There’s so much content and people will keep discovering it. That’s wonderful.

TrunkSpace: The show has such a rich history of really great guest stars. Was there anyone in particular that came into the show and gave you butterflies or made you feel a bit intimidated to be in a scene with based on their body of work?
Bartley: Well, the thing about our show is that it is a big open-hearted family and everyone that works on the show gets to be a part of it right away and is welcome. So there’s not a lot of intimidation going on around the set. But that being said, when Gerald McRaney and I had a scene together, that was a really interesting day. He’s a powerhouse. He was playing quite the powerhouse on the show as well and he basically gave it to me, in the rehearsal and in the scene, in a classic McRaney kind of way.

We’ve had so many great guest stars. I’ll just say that. Heather Kafka, who played the woman who had all of the deer carcasses… she’s just an incredible actress. One of my favorite people too. There have been so many like her who have come and just lifted the show up. And Mary Wiseman who played my love interest on the show is just a phenomenal actress. She inspires me and we have such a great time working together and such a great connection on camera. She’s quite special to watch.

It’s one after another. I could name 40 names and keep going.

It’s a special place. It’s a special group. We have an incredible crew. Just the best people. When I come to set, it’s saying hi, every day, to 75 people on my way to rehearsal. And then saying goodbye when I leave. That’s every day. There’s a lot of laughter and a lot of closeness, but also a lot of focus as well. A shared focus. It’s a time I’ll never forget.

TrunkSpace: Walt is a classic Hollywood badass. You also appeared in “Justified,” which featured a more modern badass in the form of Timothy Olyphant’s character Raylan. Having been around so many on-screen badasses, what makes a successful one?
Bartley: (Laughter) A good on-screen badass? That’s a good question. I would say keeping things close to the chest. Characters that say as little as necessary and sort of lead with their actions instead of their words. And having physical stature…

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) That helps!
Bartley: Yeah. Physical stature helps.

Bartley is currently filming season 6 of Longmire.

Bartley also recently guested as Duke in “This Is Us” on NBC and can be seen on the big screen in the upcoming films “Annabelle: Creation” and “Under the Sliver Lake.”

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Wingman Wednesday

Jason Butler Harner

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*This feature originally ran on 7/17/2017

Great performances happen all of the time, especially in this day and age when so much quality content is just a click away. What’s more difficult to achieve is a great career with a body of work that not only improves upon itself with each new role, but that collectively elevates the projects contained within it. Jason Butler Harner has managed to achieve this career potency, seemingly without trying. His natural on-screen magnetism draws you in and never lets go. He is an actor who can say more with a look than a full page of a dialogue, a skill he has put to use in “Ray Donovan,” “Homeland,” and most recently, Netflix’s “Ozark” opposite Jason Bateman and Laura Linney.

We recently sat down with Harner to discuss the complexities of his “Ozark” character, the comfort (and discomfort) of lying in a pool of blood, and the best stages he has ever performed on.

TrunkSpace: In “Ozark” you’re playing rogue FBI agent Roy Petty. What did Roy offer in terms of interesting character elements that felt different from what we’ve seen before from other representations of FBI agents on screen?
Harner: That’s such a good question actually because I’ve seen and certainly played a lot of Feds. Every character in the series is human and conflicted in surprising ways. That’s a testament to what Bill Dubuque created and certainly what Chris Mundy and our staff of writers kept alive throughout the 10 episodes.

With Roy… his name is Roy Petty, which that tells you something… but with Roy, he has a very hard edge. Within Petty’s drive and his expertise as this focused, seasoned FBI agent (albeit complete with some dangerous, unpredictable blinders) is the fact that he has no shame. And I mean that in a good way. He doesn’t give a fuck. Okay, he may have a dash of it, but it doesn’t control him. He is unapologetic about his laser sharp intent to bring down the cartel, no matter how. He’s not interested in the protocol within an agency that is mired in bureaucracy. And, perhaps most importantly, he has ZERO shame about being a gay man, and particularly a gay man in this typically homogeneous, predominantly straight male profession. That was a revelation to me. Huge. It gets no airtime. It’s a non-entity and that is incredible. It surprised me how it exactly evolved as I got more information about him, and of course how I got to reveal more of him. Listen, I’m not an idiot, he’s definitely shutdown, particularly emotionally, in certain areas rooted in guilt and pain. And he may ultimately unlock some levels of regret that could lead to capital letter shame after this first season is over. (You’ll see why in Episodes 9 and 10.) But, for now, his primary motivation comes from so many other places, and shame is just not one of them. That was profound to witness and then make manifest.

They gave me the benefit of a backstory that would unfold much later in the series, and they told me what that story was early on.

TrunkSpace: So as a viewer we’re presented with him, but we don’t yet learn what makes him tick?
Harner: We don’t know what’s going on yet, and listen, a lot of times, and I’ve played some of them, you’re given characters that are very two-dimensional. They’re a mood. They’re very by the book, they’re very eager for a fight. They’re angry, they’re dangerous, psychotic, crazy, for example, and we don’t really explore why, so fortunately for me and for the viewers of “Ozark,” Roy is humanized. That’s my job as an actor, to create my own backstory, find reasons why, try to fill something out, flesh something out so that the producers and editors can decide whether or not they’re interested in that. Fortunately in this case, especially Chris Mundy was like, “Listen here’s what’s going on…” and it gave me something to go from.

I basically have one of those sleeper characters where he’s in it a little bit, a little bit, a little bit, and understandably anybody could think that this character is just going to be in this episode, and then he just keeps coming around and you’re like, “Oh shit, what’s going on?”

TrunkSpace: The series as a whole seems different tonally from a lot of what’s on the air today where, even in the darkest of stories, there’s some sort of comedy woven throughout. But with “Ozark” it strikes that serious tone throughout, and in the process, feels a bit like a throwback in that regard.
Harner: Yeah, especially in that first episode, it’s maintained throughout the whole thing. The color palette of the series is very specific and that was exciting. It definitely was Pepe (Avila del Pino) and Ben (Kutchins), the DPs, and Jason (Bateman) establishing the world of that tone. It was really very clear about what it was.

TrunkSpace: It felt very reminiscent of early Coen Brothers, like “Miller’s Crossing.”
Harner: I love that movie so much. Marcia Gay Harden before anybody knew Marcia Gay Harden.

TrunkSpace: One of the other cool things about the show that is sort of reminiscent of TV in general these days is that creators are showing interesting segments of the country that haven’t been spotlighted before. “Justified” in Appalachia, “True Blood” in the bayou, “Longmire” in Wyoming, and then the Ozarks here, which as far as we could recall, is a picture we’ve never seen painted in television.
Harner: It’s so true. I’m from a small town in America, raised in the suburbs of DC, and then lived in New York City for 23 years and now I live in LA, so I have a great affinity and appreciation for small town America and the fullness of America. I was just at dinner last night with some friends and they introduced us to this friend from Norway, and of course they had no idea what the Ozarks were. I was like, “Well…”

I didn’t know this when the series started and I could be getting this wrong, but the waterfront, the shoreline… there’s more shoreline of the Ozarks than in the state of California. The lakes are so big and what’s around them is so amazing. We have this last shot in the first episode, which is unbelievably beautiful and is not CGI’d at all. That’s shot from a helicopter that’s pulling away and is 100 percent the Ozarks and for real. I think it’s so amazing. (Laughter)

Jason Bateman is just the most amazing person in the world. He is the kindest and the smartest. About halfway through production he rented out a movie theater and shared with the cast and crew the first episode just to sort of be like, “Hey, just so you know this is what we’re making here in case you had any doubt. And thank you.” Which nobody else does on any other show I’ve worked on. Nobody else does that. When that last shot came on, and only a skeleton crew had been there in the Ozarks when they filmed that so only the skeleton crew knew about it, everybody just started hooting and hollering and cheering. It was really great.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how the first season is 10 episodes in length. From a performance standpoint, does that shorter episode order benefit you as an actor because you know that the story is not going to be stretched out and that each episode will have as much character bang for the buck as possible?
Harner: Yeah, I mean, no offense to procedurals, but you’re not stuck in that format. When they say it’s going to be character-driven, in this case, they really mean it. Obviously there’s a lot of plot that happens in each episode. I remember sitting in the editing room after the second episode and I looked at Jason and said, “I cannot believe how much content we have in one hour!”

The benefit of being on a platform like Netflix and in a series like this is that you also have scenes where you can uncharacteristically sit down with a character or a couple of characters and have what would seem like a long amount of time. I have a monologue coming up, I don’t think they kept all of it, but I have this scene coming up where I’m fly fishing with a character that you’re going to meet and we were really shooting at 5 a.m. on a river in Atlanta with the fog coming up. It was so beautiful, and when you get those opportunities in your life as an actor, you think, “This is why I’m doing this. I’m in waders in the middle of a fucking river fly fishing, which I have been studying for over a month to look like I know what I’m doing, and I’m just going to tell this story and we’re going to sit here for a period of time.” Magical. For everyone too, including the viewer.

TrunkSpace: And what’s beautiful about things right now is that audiences not only expect that, they crave it. They want to see their storytelling play out in that way.
Harner: One of the things I really appreciated was that they really were not interested in the more sensationalist aspects, although there are some colorful characters and situations that happen in the series. It was, “How do we get into the nitty gritty of this family having to survive and adapt to living and completely changing their lives.” But also, be as interested in the nuance of that translation as in the larger concept of everything else happening. I always appreciate that. Jason Bateman’s attention to detail on seemingly mundane things is so good. Just silly things like, if you pick up a phone that’s not yours but you have to access it, Jason makes sure that those details are built in in some way. Those small little details, they credit the whole thing. It makes you go along with the story a little bit more and not have to add your own sort of magical realism that can happen a lot in the things that we see.

TrunkSpace: Could those little details exist in another platform? Could Jason have been able to do that on a major network?
Harner: I don’t know actually. The highest compliment that I can say in terms of my experience, and I’ve been really lucky because I’ve had some wonderful experiences on a variety of platforms, but I have never had the kind of leadership and involvement the way that I have witnessed on this production. Patrick Markey is a great creative producer. Mundy is a diplomatic showrunner. Laura is a Godsend. And Jason is a confident leader. He’s been doing this since he was 10 years old. He understands not only how every department works and how the camera works, but how the productions works. I’m sure there were tons of conversations and meetings with Netflix and MRC as it was going, everything from budget and tone and all that, but it didn’t have the micromanagement feel that a lot of other things that I’ve worked on have had, which is a road to hell paved with good intentions. A road to mediocrity. It takes the vitality out of it.

SCANDAL – “Run” – (ABC/Nicole Wilder) JASON BUTLER HARNER

TrunkSpace: We know you have a theater background and it sounds like as far as that community experience of theater goes, “Ozark” seems to have had that vibe based on the way you speak of it.
Harner: Yeah. I also recognize I’m a series regular so I have a lot more agency. When you’re a guest star, there is a certain amount where, more often than not, you sort of get in and get out, do your thing and hopefully don’t offend anyone. Our set was very inviting to everyone.

I have a joke with a couple of friends of mine who are far more successful than I am. We always talk about the “first day of school” regardless of the project. It’s always slightly nerve-wracking. I’m confident in my abilities and I’m also self-effacing, but when you have the ability to not be intimidated and to ask a question that you know you’re going to get an answer to or, even better than an answer, you might get an, “I don’t know,” that’s assuring. When you’re a guest star and you’re just there for a little bit, it’s very rare that you have the luxury of being able to ask that question.

TrunkSpace: From a performance side, is there any character from a previous series or film that you wish you had more time to spend with just because of the interesting nature of the character itself?
Harner: Yeah, there’s a number of them. Whenever my character is not killed off, I’m really excited. (Laughter) I’m personally excited from a logistics standpoint that I’m not going to be lying in a pool of blood for a period of hours, and I’m also excited for the possibility of returning to that work, of course. (Laughter)

The character on “Homeland” was such an anomaly. All of a sudden he does this violent act and then disappears, so you think, “Well, that person is still around somewhere. Could he come back?”

On “Scandal” it was a wonderful Shonda Rhimes sort of teaser where it was an episode where Kerry got kidnapped and we were in a jail and you didn’t know where we were, but you thought we were in another country. It was great. Kerry was so generous. I got killed, but I thought he was really interesting. I thought that his duplicity was particularly interesting, but then he got shot in the back of the head two episodes later and that was it. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: And there’s that pool of blood again!
Harner: There’s that pool of blood. (Laughter) It’s funny, there’s such respect in terms of the different ways that different sets deal with that… the way they shoot it. Some are very kind so you’re not actually physically in that pool of blood for a long period of time, and some don’t care. “Scandal” was very kind. “Ray Donovan” was very kind. I won’t mention the ones that maybe weren’t so kind. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: We were looking over your theater credits and saw that you have stood on so many great stages. It had us thinking, what is the best stage you’ve ever performed on?
Harner: Wow, that’s a great question. I need to really think about that. So many come to mind for different reasons so I’ll try to compartmentalize them.

I’ll tell you a personal story, and then I’ll tell you some stages that really moved me.

Jason Butler Harner as Varick in Ray Donovan (Season 3, Episode 3). – Photo: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: RayDonovan_303_821.R

When I got out of grad school and I started really performing, I went to A.C.T. in San Francisco. I did a play up in Seattle called “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” by Martin McDonagh. Great play. While I was up there, I got hired to do “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” because Garret Dillahunt pulled out, I think to do “Deadwood.” He’s a good friend of mine now, but Garret pulled out and I got short notice to go do “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” at A.C.T. in San Francisco. The Geary Theater. So “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” is obviously a classic, iconic, huge American play to have to climb. It was everything that I had been trained to do, that kind of big play, so I walked into the theater because I wanted to see The Geary. I was curious about this intimate play in a big space. I don’t know what the seat number is, but it’s got to be like 1000, and it’s three tiers and I walked in and I looked up and I just started crying because I thought, “Whoa. How am I going to do this?” And then, “I’m ready to do this.”

The other two theaters that come to mind… I did a play in the West End by Lanford Wilson, which I think is a beautiful play called “Serenading Louis.” Lanford Wilson wrote “Burn This,” which is the major play of his that people remember, but “Serenading Louis” is a tremendous play that gets shortchanged. People call it sentimental in that modern, misappropriated redefinition of melodramatic. And that’s not true. Anyway, the Donmar Warehouse is an incredibly intimate space, audience on three sides and a balcony, but the balcony is maybe at 12 feet so it’s very… it’s like an old-fashioned observing laboratory.

The last theater that I’m going to mention is one that was built and it was incredible. I did this Mike Bartlett play. I do a lot of American premieres of English and Irish plays for some reason, which I love. So it was this Mike Bartlett play called “Cock” after a cock fight, and interestingly enough, in America, the New York Times wouldn’t even print the title “Cock.” We had to call it “The Cock Fight Play.” But anyway, the set designer built a raw plywood stage in the round… a fully immersive experience for the audience. It was incredible.

What I love the most about live theater is every night is its own organism and dialogue, so you have to be incredibly alive and you are hopefully fed by the audience’s reaction, and if not, you’re working towards making them conscious and communal.

TrunkSpace: And it’s something that is only shared with those in attendance. It can’t be tweeted or forwarded or passed on.
Harner: Yeah, not to get too arty-farty about it, but I do think on some cellular level as human beings, we crave a communal experience. I love all of my devices and I love watching various storytelling through various mediums, but sometimes now you have to get tricked into having that communal experience because it’s not a part of our routine. Then when you get there, you appreciate it. Sometimes it’s like going to a wedding, a family commitment, or a church service or whatever where you think, “Oh God, I have to go…” and some of it is just about navigating how to deal with it and lots of people you don’t know. And then inevitably when you get there you have some type of experience with people around you where you are collectively witnessing or processing something. I don’t know what happens, I just know that something happens, and I appreciate that. Somehow it’s reassuring. There’s a sense of humanity, which right now, just as a side note, I am so interested in any storytelling that we can offer or create that’s encouraging humanity and compassion. It can be messy, it can be bloody, it can be a lot of things, but ultimately I feel like we have a slight responsibility in storytelling towards flexing those muscles, reminding those muscles that humanity and compassion exist right now because I feel things are getting a little disparate, you know?

“Ozark” premieres July 21 on Netflix.

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Wingman Wednesday

Sarah Minnich

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Photo By: Lesley Bryce

It appears to be more about creative fate than coincidence that Sarah Minnich can be seen starring in a string of period pieces. As a child, the California-born actress who first drew attention for her run as Brenda on “Better Call Saul,” always found herself playfully portraying characters living in the past.

I used to literally play dress up all day long in period costume type stuff because it’s just what I wanted to do,” she said in a recent phone interview.

Years later, that imaginative playtime is paying off for Minnich. She can currently be seen in the buzzy western series “Godless” for Netflix and in the ripped-from-the-headlines six part mini-series “Waco,” set to premiere January 24 on Paramount Network.

 

We recently sat down with Minnich to discuss the pull of history on her career, how she approaches playing non-fictional characters in a semi-fictionalized story, and why the future of filmmaking is looking so bright.

TrunkSpace: In addition to you working on a string of period pieces, we have also noticed that a number of your recent projects, from “At the End of the Santa Fe Trail” to “Waco,” are based on true events.
Minnich: And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ll tell you something interesting… when I was in high school and middle school, I was terrible at history. I always screwed my GPA up because of history classes, but now, in the past five years or so, I’ve started listening to audiobooks, and specifically historical fiction audiobooks. For some reason, I’ve become much more attracted to and interested in learning about history and historical events. It sort of fits right in like a puzzle with my love for doing period piece type of work and trying to explore the character and mindset of folks that used to live in the past.

TrunkSpace: Does playing someone who actually existed or portraying a fictional person who existed within an actual moment of history force you to approach finding a character differently?
Minnich: Typically, my homework before I go for an audition is pretty extensive in terms of researching. Obviously the homework is fairly extensive for any piece that you go in for, but for period pieces, you want to look at the era. You want to look at personal accounts from people that lived in that era. For roles that are based on actual people, that becomes even more difficult because it sort of becomes a process of trying to actually capture that person’s essence, which is friggin’ hard! Then, you run into issues of, “Well, what if you don’t capture it right, and they don’t like that?” It’s kind of this game of guess and you do your best to base it on what you’ve learned and what you can find.

That’s another thing… you can’t always find information on the people that you’re attempting to portray, so you sort of just got to put your best foot forward and go with what the director asks from you, and rely on your instincts, but at the same time, rely on the direction you’re being given.

TrunkSpace: When you’re working on a project that is based on real events, does the vibe on set take on a different feel?
Minnich: When you’re portraying actual folks, it becomes more of a legal concern because they want to do their best to portray the facts, but at the same time, there’s a certain amount of liberty taken when writing about historical events because you weren’t there. I wasn’t there. I can’t say exactly what happened. So on the production that I recently worked on with “Waco,” we had to be really sort of careful in how we portrayed things because you don’t want to step on people’s toes and you don’t want to portray it incorrectly.

TrunkSpace: “Godless” is really turning heads and seems to be quickly becoming the latest water cooler Netflix series that everyone is talking about. For a lot of people, westerns are more of a brand than a genre. If they dig westerns, they are willing to give a new one a try, much in the same way that science fiction fans are. When you were doing something like “Godless,” did it feel like you were working on a series that was automatically going to have a built-in audience?
Minnich: Well, because I was working with Jeff Daniels, and because the show was a Netflix show… right there is your built-in audience. Yes, it’s a western, genre-wise, so yes there’s a mass group of people, just like you said with sci-fi, or just like maybe with romance or heavy drama or dramedy, of a built-in audience, people who are attracted to those kind of shows. What was so great about “Godless” was that it kind of flipped it. Westerns are typically male-driven. Yeah, you have Jeff Daniels as one of the main leads, so there’s a strong male figure in that production, but then you have quite a few females who are playing strong, independent, stubborn-minded type folks, and that’s sort of flipping it on its head. So some people who are normally attracted to westerns are like, “Whoa, what is this?” Some people who aren’t normally attracted to westerns are like, “Whoa, what is this?” It’s nice to walk into something that is both a norm, a norm for a genre, and at the same time flipping a genre on its head.

TrunkSpace: And you touched on this a bit, but when you’re going into a project with that caliber of talent both on screen and behind the camera, while also being a Netflix show, you’re going to get eyeballs on it right out of the gates.
Minnich: Netflix isn’t playing around. If you’ve seen some of their new projects, some of their newer stuff, they are bringing it to the table. Netflix used to be more of this sort of thing where you’d go, “Oh, you know, I’m bored, I’ll stick this on. There’s gotta be something on it.” Now, they’re competing. They’re putting out projects that are literally competing on a bigger scale that are gaining an audience. Like “Ozark?” Holy moly, that was an epic show, and who expected that to come out of Netflix?

Photo By: Lesley Bryce

TrunkSpace: People keep calling this the Golden Age of Television. For someone working within this time period, is it exciting to see television taking this dramatic, character-driven turn?
Minnich: It really is. It’s interesting and sort of surreal for me to sit back from it and be like, “Whoa, this is an era. I’m living in an era because looking back on this time period in 20 years, in 30 years, we’re gonna be like, ‘Oh, that’s when TV sort of was turned and we started to see diverse-driven projects. We started to see female-driven projects.’” And then we have the whole legal stuff that’s going on right now in the industry. This is an interesting time. Although our country is going through some major changes in terms of administration, it’s going through a different sort of renaissance in the film and television industry.

I’m really glad to see shows bringing on leads who are of different, sort of the non-heteronormative, non-stereotypical skinny, white female or strong, tough white male. You’re not just seeing those as the leads. You’re not just seeing these typical type of stories. You’re starting to see the perspectives of other types of folks, of the non-represented, people who haven’t been represented in the past 50 years in filmmaking. So in that sense, that’s beautiful, and it’s great in the film industry because it opens up so many doors and now we can represent those experiences and start to explore those and talk about educating the masses. What I did my master’s thesis on had to do with entertainment based education. I looked at how we could educate people using entertainment, using film and television. Look at what we’re doing now. We’re starting to pull out non-normative experiences… well, what they consider normative… non-normative or considered normative experiences and bringing them out into the light. That’s how we educate the masses in this day and age, so I think it’s great.

TrunkSpace: And while it’s exciting to see it happening now, the real impact will probably be felt in the work of the filmmakers of the future who gr0w up in this particular media age.
Minnich: Oh yeah, I can’t even fathom it. Sometimes I just have to not even imagine things because I don’t even know where that can go. We look at the generations who are younger than us, and we’re like, “Wow, dude, you’re gonna be tapping into stuff that I don’t even conceptualize at this stage.” Just like my parents or your parents who can’t really understand how to set up their Apple TV and they have to call us and have us do it for them – imagine what our kids are going to be doing?

TrunkSpace: It seems the mediums have flipped as well. Earlier generations looked towards film as the true art form, but now it seems like television is becoming that, while film becomes a mostly popcorn-driven media.
Minnich: The demand for content is so insane. The whole concept of binge watching was not around 10 years ago. That was not around 20 years ago. And so now all of a sudden there’s a demand for content, but not only that, there’s a demand for good content. So like I was saying, Netflix is rising to the occasion. That’s just going to continue to move forward. I think the whole TV concept, the episodic concept, people like that because then they have something to look forward to. They’re like, “Oh okay, I watched this episode, and now I can sort of mull this over in my mind for the next week until the next one comes out.” I think for some reason, that’s really attractive to people. They like to have stuff to sort of chew on during their work week.

TrunkSpace: When you look back at your career thus far, what was the turning point for you in terms of more doors opening and more opportunities presenting themselves?
Minnich: I think it might have been “Better Call Saul.” I don’t have a massive role on “Better Call Saul,” I have a recurring small role, but there is something to be said about having a show like that on your resume. So that got doors opened for me that would not have been opened. It’s like this trickle effect – one big thing, which really isn’t that big in terms of what you’re doing, but it’s a big name, and one big name opens a door for you, and then all of a sudden, you get to do this other thing. You do this other thing, and that opens a door. You do this other thing, and that opens a door. So, even doing these teeny little things on big movies or big television sets have opened doors so that finally I’m doing supporting roles, and finally I’m reading for lead roles. In the past 12 months, I’m finally auditioning for lead roles, which is like, “Hallelujah!” So, I can’t pinpoint an exact turning point for you, but I can say that one thing has led to another in a very step-by-step kind of way.

Season 1 of “Godless” is available now on Netflix.

Waco” premieres January 24 on Paramount Network.

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Wingman Wednesday

Elisa Perry

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Photo By: Marc Cartwright

For fans of the western, the new Netflix series “Godless” is the greatest gift they could have received for the holidays. Gritty and gutsy, the seven-episode season plays out like an epic film that you can’t quite look away from, which is ideal for all of those who fancy an episodic binge.

And if “Godless” is the gift you unwrap for yourself this year, series star Elisa Perry, who also recently appeared in “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” is the reward waiting for you inside. As Hobbs family matriarch June, the Pennsylvania native brings a strong and memorable character to the forefront, but does so with a soft touch – a delicate walk that she delivers brilliantly.

We recently sat down with Perry to discuss why “Godless” is so innovative, the most exciting aspect of getting involved in the project, and what she’s always marathoning via TV Land.

TrunkSpace: Your new series “Godless” is generating a lot of great buzz. In this particular day and age, especially given the way that people consume content, is there any better platform to be involved with than Netflix?
Perry: Listen, pretty much most of the stuff I watch is on Netflix, so it’s great that I’ll be able to watch something that I’m in on Netflix. (Laughter) They just have such original, such creative, no holds barred programming. “Godless” is a western, but it’s quite innovative. To be perfectly honest, it’s quite innovative from the perspective of women being such kick ass, gun toting cowgirls. It’s an exciting project to be a part of.

TrunkSpace: In a lot of ways it plays more like a film than a television series.
Perry: And I have to say, the way Scott (Frank) directed it, and his writing, it felt much more like a film. I kind of think that’s what he wanted, because he’s a screenwriter, and I think that’s his wheelhouse. It felt very much like that. And it looks like that.

TrunkSpace: For those who have yet to jump on their horse and binge the series, can you tell us about your character June and what her overall journey is?
Perry: June is the matriarch of the Hobbs family. It’s a family that migrated to Santa Fe. Her brother and her husband, they were former Buffalo Soldiers. Her brother, played by the amazing Rob Morgan, he’s pretty well-known for being this kick ass soldier who has a pretty big reputation, especially for that time. That’s something huge. June, being the matriarch of the family, is the person who kind of keeps it together, and sort of keeps her husband, Elias, who can kind of get a little caught up at times… she really works hard at keeping him levelheaded.

She’s a loving mother – she loves her children. She understands her daughter, played by Jessica Sula, very well with the feelings that she has for one of the young men in the town. She’s a pretty strong woman, but a very religious woman. Pretty much everything with her comes from a place of love, but when she has to be strong and she needs to pick up a gun, she will.

TrunkSpace: What did June offer you in terms of character traits that you have yet to tackle onscreen before? Was there something in her personality that you were particularly excited to dive into?
Perry: You know what, the biggest thing for me was the fact that it was a period piece – that it was a western. I love period pieces. I had so badly been wanting to sink my teeth into something that was historical. To play someone like June… listen, I’m an actress, but probably unlike most people, I get excited when they say, “Little or no makeup” because right when they say, “Little or no makeup,” what that says to me is, “Oh my goodness, there’s a lot of places I can go with this,” and that, “I won’t feel like I’m wearing a mask.” Even in the audition they specifically said, “Look as close to the period as possible.” I immediately got excited, because I was like, “Okay, this sounds like something that I can really sink my teeth into.”

For me as an actress, I had never done anything that far, and I had definitely never done a western. I had never been to Santa Fe. So everything about it was attractive to me. I just felt it, even going into the audition, emotionally. I was immediately emotionally connected to who she was and what I needed to bring to her. What I knew for me was the foundation of who she was, was someone who definitely came from a place of love and caring, but had a very grounded sense of strength about her.

TrunkSpace: When you’re working in a period piece, do you approach performance differently? Even though it’s grounded in reality, people presented themselves differently during different periods if history. Is that something you needed to consider when you’re taking on someone like June?
Perry: Yes. One of the things I definitely had to remind myself of was, my modern day feminism. She’s the woman of the house, but at the end of the day, her husband is in charge of that house. He is in the “man in charge.” There’s a moment in one of the episodes where she just has to really back off and let him be the father that he is. As painful as it is, once again, for that time, you had to know your place, at least this type of woman. She never goes to bars. She’s a woman who makes all of their own clothes. They grow their own food.

There were moments where I had to remind myself, in the process of preparing myself to play June, that, “This is not what Elisa would do. This is not how Elisa would handle it. This is how June would handle it, based on June’s journey as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, as a sister, and as a daughter.”

Perry in Godless. Image courtesy of Netflix.

TrunkSpace: So in a way, it’s not only being true to the character, but being true to the time period as well?
Perry: Exactly. For me as an actor, those are very important. I’m one of those people who… I can get caught up. I can watch a movie and I’ll look and see where someone is supposed to be such and such a character. If they’re poor or they’re destitute, I’ll look and see, “But your eyebrows are waxed.” Not that that’s wrong, but for me, I’m just more detailed in that way. Even with my hair, as a black actress in this business – and this is a black woman period – our hair is always an issue. So, I really worked with the woman in charge of hair ahead of time, researching how my hair would be. I was like, “Just don’t give me some kinky, curly wig.” I wanted to be as true as possible because detail is very, very important. I wanted to connect as close as possible to everything that’s happening.

TrunkSpace: It’s like if you were playing someone who was deemed the “villain” of a story. You have to approach it as the villain would… what their motivation is… so that you can understand why they’re making the choices they are making?
Perry: Exactly! And why is that? Because there are moments when I’m able to merge how Elisa would handle it versus how the character would handle it, but the key is that it makes sense for me, as an actor, in that moment.

There’s a scene in “Godless” where we meet Jeff Daniels and his crew, and when you see it it’s like, “Oh God, why would that happen?” Even preparing for that I had to, once again, take myself on that journey of, “This is not an Elisa choice, this is a June choice.” Back then people could just show up at your house and you would offer them water, and you would invite them in and offer them food. Now, it’s like, listen, you don’t even let friends in who haven’t called. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) If someone knocks on the door you’re not expecting, the move is to shut off the lights and pretend you’re not home.
Perry: (Laughter) Exactly! You’re like, “Are you expecting anybody? I’m not.”

I live in a building that’s pretty secure, which makes me even more nervous if someone is knocking on the door. It’s like, “How did they get in?”

TrunkSpace: In a lot of ways westerns seem more like a brand than a genre. Those who enjoy a good western will tune in to for a new one, even if they’re unfamiliar with the story. Did it feel like you were going into “Godless” with a bit of an established audience already in place?
Perry: Oh, absolutely! Let me just tell you, I am a huge western fan. I’m the person who watches marathons of “Bonanza,” “Gunsmoke” and “The Big Valley” every day. Now, I might be showing my age right now, but it’s called TV Land. (Laughter) My fiance laughs at me all the time. He’s like, “Okay, here we go…” I’m like, “Listen, you leave ‘The Big Valley’ alone. You better not mess with Audra Barkley!”

Being a woman of color, even with all of these westerns, it’s not that often that you see us in that time. For me, it was really exciting to be a part of this project where it was, “Wow, there we are! We’re right there. We did exist then, and we weren’t slaves. We weren’t working someone’s field. We’re a family, the Hobbs family. We have our own home. We have land. We’re known in the community.” That in itself… I think Scott Frank just really nailed it.

Season 1 of “Godless” is available now on Netflix.

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Wingman Wednesday

Patrick Gilmore

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Photo By: Karolina Turek

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.

Photo By: Karolina Turek

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.

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Next Up

Kelsey Boze

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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 updatemeonkb@gmail.com.

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Wingman Wednesday

Benjamin Papac

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Photo By: Diana Mantis

Benjamin Papac has the talent, look, and mindset to be a force in the entertainment industry. Only three years into his career, the Georgia-raised actor with the art-friendly eye (check out his Instagram!) is making bold choices with the roles he takes on and the life he breathes into them, which is currently on display in the Netflix drama series “Greenhouse Academy” where he portrays Max Miller.

We recently sat down with Papac to discuss how he turns the lemons of his craft into lemonade, why “Greenhouse Academy” is different from other teen-focused shows, and the reason he has yet to receive any grief over taking a bite out of Bob in “The Walking Dead.”

TrunkSpace: You’re still in midst of a somewhat early portion of your career. What does it mean, at this stage, to be involved with a company like Netflix and a series like “Greenhouse Academy?”
Papac: Netflix is this powerhouse in the entertainment industry. Digital shows is where entertainment is going. To be three years into my career and a series regular on a Netflix show – my jaw dropped when I booked that role, dude. I was overwhelmed by getting to be a part of something so cool, so early. Acting careers are chaotic. You’ll go from feeling like you’re on top of the world one week, to feeling like you’ve got a long road ahead the next. I’m super grateful to have gotten to be a part of something so cool. I know that there’s a lot of work to do. I’m ready to do it.

TrunkSpace: So much of the career of an actor is based on the actions or reactions of other people. So much of it is out of your control.
Papac: Yes, it really is. The one thing that I can always do is work on my art and do the best work I possibly can with whatever role that I’m getting. I’m not the one who decides whether or not I work on a job. There are so many things that don’t have to do with the ability of the actor, that decide whether or not you book. Like, is your hair a shade too dark? Are you an inch too tall or too short? Things like that really do go into the casting process. It’s really frustrating at times. I’ll get really passionate about a role and I’ll be so excited to work on it. The director and I work really well together in the room. Something else out of my control influences whether or not I book.

TrunkSpace: And from what we understand, an actor’s social media following can actually play into that these days?
Papac: Yes, that’s absolutely true. It’s not true for every job. Even as early as my first year in the industry, back in 2014, there were jobs where the breakdowns would come out and they would say, specifically, “Social media influencers.” It’s not every job, but some jobs, yes, your social media following is considered. That’s part of the teaching landscape for actors. I was really resistant towards it for a long time. I was really shy about being active on social media at all. What got me excited about it was a moment when I saw a buddy of mine’s Instagram page. His name is Dallas Hart and he’s also in the cast. I was just going on Instagram one time. I saw a shot that was really cool. Then, I clicked onto his feed. His feed was gorgeous. He had turned his Instagram page into art, at least on a certain level.

TrunkSpace: We actually just saw yours and the cool live action/animation mashups you’re doing.
Papac: Yes, dude! Turning my Instagram page into art came from this moment when I realized, “Oh, I don’t have to make this; ‘Oh, look at me. I’m Benjamin. I’m so cool and I’m an actor.’” I can be, “Let’s make art on Instagram. Let people interact with it. Let my following build from there.” That way, it’s still genuine and it’s something I believe in.

TrunkSpace: It becomes another tool in your toolbox.
Papac: Exactly. Instead of it being something that I’m intimidated by, it’s another way I get to be an artist. That whole mixed media series that I did over the past couple of weeks, that came out of that. My buddy Chris Labadie took the photos. When I told him my idea – I wanted to use bold colors and interesting objects – he said, “Whoa, dude, what if we imagine the objects and we have somebody draw them in?” I got so jacked by that.

We’ve got a couple other ideas for mixed media that we may throw out on Instagram and see where they go. I’m hoping to do more cool projects along those lines.

TrunkSpace: Jumping into “Greenhouse Academy,” we know that Netflix has been promoting it as a “new kind of teen series.” From your perspective, what is the series doing differently that other shows have yet to attempt?
Papac: When the whole cast first booked the show, we were talking to the show creator (Giora Chamizer) and he was telling us how the objective of “Greenhouse Academy” was to bring a higher quality form of storytelling to a younger audience. He felt that in younger audience television there’s a lot of comedy, there’s a lot of fun stuff out there, but that the depth of complex relationships and things not always working out the way you want and having to grow and become more complex as you get older was kind of missing.

“Greenhouse Academy” Photo By: Ronen Akerman /Netflix

TrunkSpace: That’s certainly true. Usually things are very rosy and everything works out in the end.
Papac: Exactly. Giora took a lot of inspiration from Harry Potter and how well that series of stories brought humanity to a young audience. That was what he was trying to do. I think we did a really solid job of that. The way the characters grow in their relationships is really interesting to watch. It draws the audience in. We don’t patronize the audience. What’s cool about that is an 11 year old can watch the show and love every minute of it, and an 18 year old can watch the show and love every minute of it, and a 24 year old can love every minute. Even a parent who is sitting down with their kid to watch the show, they’re like, “All right, here we go. Here’s another kid show my kid’s obsessed with.” Then, they watch a few minutes and suddenly they’re just as invested. That’s what I’m really happy with about the show.

TrunkSpace: It’s kind of like watching a Pixar movie. Different demographics can take different things from the viewing experience.
Papac: Yes, dude! I’m so happy you said Pixar. I love Pixar. That’s what I love most about the show – that we can do that and that audiences of any age can find something valuable in it.

TrunkSpace: What did the character Max allow you to do on-screen that you have yet to be able to do in a project before?
Papac: From a craft perspective, this was the first opportunity I got to consistently work on the same character for an extended period of time. Before that project, I worked mostly in television and when I shot a guest star, I would get the material, do the audition the next day, book it a couple days down the line. Then, I would work on the show, maybe for a week. There were a couple of exceptions. When I shot Bale for “Into the Badlands,” there was a lot of time involved, but there wasn’t a whole lot of material. Then, when I shot “Saving the Human Race” for CW Seed, I did get to do more, but again, it was like six short episodes. I got to spend a lot of time, but there wasn’t as much material to go over.

“Greenhouse Academy” let me work. We shot Season 1 and 2 at the same time. I did 24 30-minute episodes over three months. I got to work really hard on this one character for a long time. As an actor, that’s pretty challenging. It’s like you have to flesh out a full complete human being who is dynamic from one scene to the next. You’ve got to do that for 100 scenes.

TrunkSpace: 24 episodes over the course of three months sounds intense!
Papac: Oh, it was. It was incredible. It was like a huge growth experience. Super stressful. We were constantly working. To put it into perspective, we did the same number of episodes as a network sitcom or a procedural, but we did it in half the time. That was a huge experience. The next time I’m on a show, it’s going to be so much less stressful for me because I’ll be used to having to handle so much. That was really cool.

TrunkSpace: “Into the Badlands.” “Saving the Human Race.” “The Walking Dead.” That’s some serious post-apocalyptic street cred! Is that a purposeful career direction or something that has just sort of happened by chance?
Papac: (Laughter) No, it just sort of happened. It’s like Sean Bean and all of his death scenes – it’s just how my career has started forming. I made a joke one time that I think my sweet spot genre is going to end up being the Zom-Com. (Laughter) I’m always shooting these post-apocalyptic scenarios. Honestly, I would love for that to continue. I have so much fun. One of my favorite genres to work in is epic-level sci-fi. Post-apocalypse is all over that.

Photo By: Diana Mantis

TrunkSpace: All the on-screen experience could lead to real-life knowledge should society ever crumble. You could be one of the only survivors!
Papac: Yes! If ever the apocalypse comes early, I’m ready. (Laughter)

I actually have occasionally considered what I would do in those scenarios. Stay away from the main road, get some simple tools, canned foods, water filter, and a couple other things. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Staying with the idea of post-apocalyptic worlds, has “The Walking Dead” fandom let you live down eating Bob yet?
Papac: (Laughter) I never got any hate for that. I actually get the most fan mail from people about that role on “The Walking Dead.” People love that show so much. I still get letters from my Atlanta agent. Every few months they’ll send me a packet. People are like, “Dude, I’m such a huge fan of ‘The Walking Dead.’ I loved your portrayal of Albert. This was the line you said and it was so cool. Can you please send me a headshot?”

It’s awesome. “The Walking Dead family” is just nothing but love. It’s one of the best fan bases I’ve ever encountered. The cool thing about “The Walking Dead” is it was my first professional job as an actor.

TrunkSpace: Not a bad first job to have!
Papac: I know! I was so jacked. I booked it right when I graduated college. I’m on campus, getting ready to walk into my ceremony, and my agent calls and says, “Congratulations. You just booked a job on ‘The Walking Dead.’ You’re going to be filming in two weeks.” It mostly films in Senoia, Georgia, or did at the time that I was working on it. To put that in perspective, that’s 15 minutes from my hometown. I grew up taking trips to Senoia every now and then to go to the local diners on the main street. It was such a cool job to have as my first job because it was in my hometown and a show that I had thought was so freaking cool. I remember watching the pilot my freshman year. That whole world of acting felt so far away when I watched the pilot. Four years later, that was my first job.

TrunkSpace: And then to go full circle when Rick Grimes puts a bullet in your head!
Papac: (Laughter) Yes! When we were filming, they were originally planning to have me be one of the people they hatcheted. Then, after I booked, they were like, “We can’t do that to the little teenager guy. It’s too brutal.” So, they switched me over to getting shot in the back of the head. But, yes, full circle, all the way.

Season 1 of “Greenhouse Academy” is available now on Netflix. Season 2 arrives in early 2018.

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