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Once Upon a Time

Wingman Wednesday

Mekia Cox

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Once upon a time there lived a television series that brought together viewers both near and far for seven magical seasons. Many imaginative storylines were conceived with characters of whimsical origins. Laughs were had. Tears were shed. A fandom was born.

Mekia Cox joined the cast of the fantastical ABC drama series “Once Upon a Time” in its seventh season. Shifting between a cursed Hyperion Heights reality and the fairytale world, the Saint Croix native portrays both Sabine and Princess Tiana, a character first made famous in the Disney animated feature, “The Princess and the Frog.” As the sword-carrying Tiana, she’s on a mission with Cinderella (Dania Ramirez) to spearhead a resistance, one that aims to defeat Lady Tremaine (Gabrielle Anwar) and reshape the Enchanted Forest, ultimately leading to fans of the series living (hopefully) happily ever after.

We recently sat down with Cox to discuss how she approached bringing an animated character to life, her favorite aspects of Princess Tiana’s personality, and why we could all use a little dose of niceness in our lives.

TrunkSpace: You joined “Once Upon a Time” in its seventh season, but with so many new cast members stepping in at the same time, does that make joining an existing show easier?
Cox: I don’t know if I would say easier. It’s definitely different. In some ways it does feel like it’s a completely new show with a new cast because there are so many newcomers coming in. We’re all sort of in the same place, the ones who are new. However, the people that have been there, it’s nice to have them as well because they sort of know the ropes and they know how this whole thing works. If we ever have any questions about anything, whether it be what we’re doing on set or whether it be about backstory or what we have to look forward to, they’re always there, which is really kind of nice.

I really have enjoyed coming into this world and this set that has already been established, but yet there’s still this sort of renewed feeling of newness that’s happening.

TrunkSpace: It must also be a good feeling coming into a show with such a passionate, built-in fan base. They’ve been going on the journey with these characters for years, and now they’re going on the journey with you and your character Princess Tiana.
Cox: Exactly, which has been really nice. You know, the fans, I feel like as an actor they sort of help you. I’ve gotten some really sweet gifts and some really nice fan mail and it bolsters you up and helps you get through the day, so I enjoy all of that.

TrunkSpace: Because you are portraying such a well known character from the animated space, did you go back and try to bring any of those original character elements into your performance?
Cox: In speaking to Eddie (Kitsis) and Adam (Horowitz), the show creators, I discovered that they were taking small bits and pieces from the 2009 animated film, but they were also trying to create a new character as well, or a new version of this character. I think they kind of do that with all of these characters. They put their own spin on it, which makes it kind of interesting because you get to see more of their backstory, which you got to see a lot of in episode 5. You get to understand a little bit more about where this specific character came from that the “Once Upon a Time” creators have created.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, was there something that she allowed you to do on-screen that you have yet to be able to tackle in the past with previous characters?
Cox: I get to play with a sword. That’s always fun. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) What about in terms of personality?
Cox: The character in the real world, the scenes are very, very close to me and my personality – probably one of the closest characters that I’ve ever played to myself. What is nice is being able to play this sort of leader in the fairytale land – this leader of the resistance. There is a bit of quiet confidence that she has that I enjoy being able to play and this leadership role is a little bit different for me. It’s been fun to get to tackle.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned the fairytale land. Because you’re jumping between the two worlds within the storytelling, does it feel like you’re shooting two different projects at times just because of those jumps?
Cox: It does, actually. Even the way in which they speak in fairytale land is a little bit different. I try to keep it real as much as possible, but it is a different form of speaking when they’re in the fairytale land. You have to play the same character but in completely different environments, so there are times that it does feel like we’re shooting two different films.

TrunkSpace: To look around you and absorb that fairytale vibe that you’re entrenched in, we’d imagine it really helps you tap into the mindset of a fairytale character?
Cox: That’s exactly true, yeah. How it works is we come in, we’ll read the lines together, we’ll block it maybe and run through it once or twice before we actually shoot. Sometimes when we do that we come in and we’re just in our normal clothes and we’ll run through things before we go back and get changed and come back as our characters. All of the sudden, like you said, once we are in this world where the environment has already been created for us with our clothes and with the set pieces and with everything that’s going on, it all of the sudden becomes a little bit easier to tap into that character because you don’t have to imagine all of the things they are. It’s right there for you.

TrunkSpace: “Once Upon a Time” is a show with such a large ensemble cast. For you, what’s the best part about being part of an ensemble where there are all of these various storylines going off in different directions and intersecting?
Cox: You get to meet a lot of really cool people. That’s fun. (Laughter)

I will say this, it does make it a little bit more challenging when you’re reading the script because you’re like, “Oh wait, okay, there’s a new character here? Okay, let me go back and figure out who this character is.” You have the real world and fairytale land and they have different names in both. It makes it more challenging, but also a more fun story, I feel like. I think it gives the creators many different ways that they can go with many different stories and players telling the stories.

TrunkSpace: It’s not easy for a series to make it seven seasons these days. What do you think it is that has enabled “Once Upon a Time” to thrive for so long?
Cox: I think it’s something that a lot of different people and a lot of different types of people can connect to. It was internationally, I believe, ABC’s number one show for a long time. I’m not sure if it is now or not, but I know it has been. There is something that people just can connect to and it takes them out of their own world for a second and allows them to remember, if they’re older, what it was like to be a kid, and if they’re younger, to be able to see these characters come to life and just to have fun for an hour and imagine these fantastical things that might not happen in the real world. And there are still nuggets that they give that are things that can help you learn how to deal with what’s going on in your real world.

TrunkSpace: It’s a heightened reality, but the emotions are real.
Cox: Exactly! That’s exactly right.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been acting since you were kid. Are there any pieces of advice or things you absorbed on a set in those early years that you still apply to your career to this day?
Cox: That it’s best to be as professional as possible. Things that everyone should know but sometimes people forget, which is, don’t be late, know your lines, and be nice to everyone around you.

TrunkSpace: We’re in a bit of a hyper-divided time in this country. The advice of being nice to everyone around you could certainly be applied to every day life as well.
Cox: This is very true. It would help the world if everyone was just nice to each other. That needs to be a new campaign – “Be nice.”

Once Upon a Time” airs Fridays on ABC.

Featured image by: Benjo Arwas

 

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Wingman Wednesday

Meghan Ory

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Photo: Meghan Ory Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

Before the summer draws to a close, we’re going to be taking some time to visit the shores… “Chesapeake Shores.” The Hallmark Channel original series recently returned for season 2 and with it, even more critical acclaim.

We sat down with O’Brien family member Meghan Ory to discuss what drew her to the series, the post-hiatus rowdiness on set, and why Jensen Ackles hit her in the head with a two-by-four.

TrunkSpace: As far as your character Abby is concerned, did you spend time with Sherryl Woods’ books or did you want there to be separation between the television world and the literary world that already existed?
Ory: Yes, unfortunately I chose not to read the books, although I can’t wait to do so at some point. I was told when we started filming that the series wouldn’t follow the books exactly and I wanted to be able to look at the series scripts with fresh eyes. Sherryl is lovely though and has been very encouraging and supportive; which is so important as I want to do this world and character she created justice.

TrunkSpace: Usually it is the genre shows that attract the rabid, die hard fans, but from what we have seen, “Chesapeake Shores” has that as well. What is it about the series that has turned people into diehards as opposed to casual viewers?
Ory: Well, that is a million dollar question! I wish I knew. We spend our time filming in this little bubble and have no idea how what we are doing will be received. It is very exciting that people are enjoying the stories we are telling and the O’Brien family as much as we enjoy making it.

TrunkSpace: Most television is high concept these days. Everything has a spin to it. What’s nice about “Chesapeake Shores” is that it feels like a bit of a throwback… a family drama ABOUT the family. From an acting standpoint, does that allow you to focus more on character and performance than something that is steeped in a high concept world?
Ory: Yes, that is something that drew me to “Chesapeake Shores” in the beginning. In the same vein as shows like “Parenthood” and “This Is Us,” it is really nice to be able to delve into the details of these characters. I think it allows us as the actors and the audience to become intimate with these characters and spend time with people you enjoy.

TrunkSpace: In a series about family, what was it like returning to your on-set family after the hiatus between season 1 and season 2? Is it a bit like going back to school after a summer vacation?
Ory: (Laughter) Yes, it definitely is. It is certainly quite loud and rowdy on set for the first few weeks back. It’s hard to get our work done!

TrunkSpace: There’s something else that connects a lot of your castmates other than being on-screen O’Briens. Many of you have also guested on “Supernatural.” You grew up in Canada and started your career there. Is it a bit of a rite of passage to appear on that series with it having been on the air so long now?
Ory: “Supernatural” has definitely made its way through the Canadian actor pool. My episode of “Supernatural” was quite funny actually. I worked with Jensen years before on “Dark Angel” and our characters were in love, then when I appeared on “Supernatural,” I was evil and he had to hit me in the head with a two-by-four. It was quite the reunion. I think the fans got a kick out of that one.

Photo: Treat Williams, Meghan Ory Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

TrunkSpace: In the episode you appeared, “Adventures in Babysitting,” you played a vetala. In a world where everything has been done and done again in film and television, it has to be pretty cool to have played one of the only vetalas to ever appear on screen… and quite possibly… that ever will appear? That’s Trivial Pursuit question territory!
Ory: I’ve never thought about that, very true though! It was definitely a fun character to play. I always enjoy playing a good villain!

TrunkSpace: We talked previously about passionate fanbases. You spent multiple seasons on the series “Once Upon a Time.” Do you think that series/character will stay with you forever? Will people always remember you as Ruby?
Ory: I loved that show from the first time I read a script for it. You could just tell it was a very unique and special world. It was a great opportunity to get to play the same character in different scenarios of life, so it was always interesting and exciting. Once will always have a special place in my heart and as I have said, you never know when Red might pop up again!

TrunkSpace: When you tap into a passionate fanbase, those fans then want to know everything they can about you. Is it getting increasingly more difficult to maintain a private life as a public figure due to the social media/instant gratification age? How do you strike a balance between the two worlds?
Ory: There are pros and cons to everything. It is so nice to be able to connect and communicate with fans and hear how they are liking what we are creating. For me, I feel like limiting the amount of social media I have makes a difference. I had to get off Twitter years ago, but really enjoy Instagram. I think it’s good to maintain a bit of mystery!

TrunkSpace: You have been acting professionally for some time now, but what aspect of the process still excites you the most and feels as fresh as it did on your very first acting gig?
Ory: It may sound cheesy, but anytime I am on set and the director says, “Action,” I am as excited as the first time I heard it. I feel very fortunate to have a job that I enjoy going to every day.

Photo: Jesse Metcalfe, Meghan Ory Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

TrunkSpace: You have played so many interesting characters over the years. Are there any that you wish you could have spent more time with and could have seen developed out further, and if so, why?
Ory: That’s a great question. I always feel a little sad every time I finish a show and have to say goodbye to that character. They become a part of your life. I would have enjoyed seeing what a second season of “Intelligence” would have looked like. I loved playing that character.

And I will always be interested to see where else Adam (Horowitz) and Eddie (Kitsis) take Ruby on Once, if they chose to. Lana (Parrilla) and I used to joke that the evil queen needed a pet wolf!

TrunkSpace: With the new season of “Chesapeake Shores” now reaching viewers, what do you hope fans will walk away with when the season finishes up?
Ory: I don’t want to give anything away but the finale of season 2 is going to shock a lot of people, I think. I hope viewers finish the season feeling satisfied and hungry for a season 3!

“Chesapeake Shores” airs Sundays on Hallmark Channel.

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Wingman Wednesday

Parker Croft

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Croft in Lycan

Welcome to the third installment of our LYCAN WEEK ongoing feature!

Opening Friday in select theaters, “Lycan” tells the story of six college kids who revisit an old Georgia legend, the strange and puzzling story of Emily Burt, the Talbot County werewolf. Based upon true historical events, the film stars Parker Croft (“Big Little Lies,” “Once Upon a Time”) as a mischievous documentarian whose camera tells a portion of the thriller’s narrative.

We recently sat down with Croft to discuss how “Lycan” came into his life, the local legend embraced by his home state of Vermont, and how he’s transitioning into a new chapter of his career.

TrunkSpace: From an outside perspective, you seem to be on this great run of projects, both those that have already been released and a number that are currently in the works. Has the last few years felt a bit like a “pinch me” period in terms of where your career is going?
Croft: Yeah, this is a good time in my life, there’s no doubt about it. I’ve been really excited about directing lately. I started up a production company with my wife called Paper Horse Pictures and we’ve been directing a couple of projects and putting together a couple of projects.

We actually just got word that the first project that I directed with my wife is a semi-finalist at Los Angeles CineFest.

TrunkSpace: Congrats on that! It sounds like you’re really diversifying, which in this day and age, seems more important than ever for actors.
Croft: Yeah, it’s been very freeing to be able to make the work the way I envision it to be made, so that’s very cool.

TrunkSpace: Throughout your career as an actor, were you observing other directors and how they go about doing their job so that you could then apply that knowledge to your own directing future?
Croft: Definitely. One of my earliest projects was a project I actually put together, produced and wrote along with a director and that sort of got me rolling on the “make it yourself” style of filmmaking. And yeah, I would say I’ve been hurdling towards this in many ways for a long time, so I’m really excited to start this chapter.

TrunkSpace: There really is an exciting problem solving aspect of filmmaking that becomes addicting, right?
Croft: Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s totally, totally awesome. I absolutely love a lot of the jobs that go into making a film. I’m really interested in cinematography. I’ve been doing my own editing. I’ve been doing a lot of it and I’m really having a good time with it.

TrunkSpace: So how did “Lycan” come into your life?
Croft: It’s similar to how most of the acting projects that I’ve come across, which is that it was an audition. It went well and then the project came together and here we are.

TrunkSpace: It sounds like you and “Lycan” producers Crystal Hunt and Dania Ramirez are on a bit of a similar career trajectory because they are also transitioning to putting together their own projects and making the kind of films that they have always wanted to make.
Croft: Yeah, that’s cool. Certainly when you have a little bit more of a say in the process you can see some stranger and more risky things come to fruition in a way that maybe doesn’t happen when there’s a lot of money on the table.

TrunkSpace: And where does your character Kenny fall into things?
Croft: So Kenny plays the role of… I almost want to say he’s sort of a mischievous documentarian. A bit of the footage comes from a camera that Kenny is supposed to be shooting, so some of the narrative comes through Kenny’s camera, which is kind of cool. And he’s definitely a bit of a jokester, and a bit of a wiseguy, and a bit of a party animal.

TrunkSpace: The premise is steeped in the idea of local lore and it seems like every small town in America has its own legend. Do you think that makes the film relatable on a storytelling level?
Croft: Yeah, in the way that lore sort of connects us, for sure. That would be one of the ways in which it’s relatable. For me, at least horror movies, I don’t go on that ride to empathize my human experience. I like to be spooked. I like to see something jarring or scary. Not to say that horror movies can’t do that.

TrunkSpace: “Lycan” is described as more of a suspense thriller than a horror film. In your opinion, does it still deliver on those moments of jarring or scaring the audience?
Croft: Yeah, there is certainly a handful of moments that are really jarring, for sure. I think that’s something that people go to horror movies for. I think they like to get a little shock every now and then.

TrunkSpace: You grew up in Vermont. Did you have your own local legend?
Croft: In Vermont, the closest thing we have to something that’s lore is this Loch Ness Monster thing.

TrunkSpace: You’re talking Champy!
Croft: (Laughter) Yeah, I’m talking Champy. It’s not much, but it’s a mascot at the very least.

TrunkSpace: The people of Vermont really embrace Champy.
Croft: Oh yeah, Champ is all over the place. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: “Lycan” shot on location in a very rural area of Georgia. Does shooting in seclusion… away from the big production hubs… does it help bring the cast together?
Croft: Yes, for sure, but you don’t necessarily need to be in a tent to come together. With the experience I’ve had on location, the cast bonds pretty quickly because everybody’s just got each other for the most part, and I wouldn’t say that “Lycan” was an exception. I love those guys. We got close quick.

TrunkSpace: When you’re shooting a film, particularly an indie, do you have to emotionally separate yourself from it after wrapping knowing that it could be a long time before it sees the light of day, if at all?
Croft: Oh yeah. I mean, I’ve had so many experiences where movies just didn’t even go and nothing happened. They imploded. If you’re not an integral player in every step of the process, you kind of just say goodbye to it once you finish your process. For me anyway, there are so many elements at play that I can’t control, so you think, “All right, it will come together or it won’t.” And it’s cool that this one came together, for sure. That’s no small feat for anything to come together.

TrunkSpace: As you’re now involving yourself more in the production side of things, how important is it for you to look at the ever-changing distribution landscape?
Croft: As I’ve begun the transition into making my own projects more and more, I’ve really been concentrating on different changing platforms and how they’re interacting with each other. The way that things are going, I’m actually really stoked because it seems that more and more people want original content and I’m in the business of making original content, so I have more buyers.

I think we’re entering a really cool new chapter of media because everyone can make it now.

Lycan” arrives in theaters this Friday!

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Wingman Wednesday

Dania Ramirez

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Ramirez in Lycan

Welcome to the second installment of our LYCAN WEEK ongoing feature!

Opening Friday in select theaters, “Lycan” tells the story of six college kids who revisit an old Georgia legend, the strange and puzzling story of Emily Burt, the Talbot County werewolf. Based upon true historical events, the film stars and is produced by Dania Ramirez (“X-Men: The Last Stand,” “Quarantine”) who teamed up with best friend Crystal Hunt to turn a lifelong dream into a cinematic reality.

We recently sat down with Ramirez to discuss how the film was a family affair, the cultural importance of local ghost stories, and why the 1980s did such a great job capturing an authentic and suspenseful tone in the horror projects of the time period.

TrunkSpace: Our chat is very timely because it was just announced that you’ll be playing Cinderella in “Once Upon a Time.” Is there anything with this version of the character that will be different than what we have seen of her in the past?
Ramirez: I think every time you see a different actor take on a role, you’re going to see a different take on it. As actors, we bring our own flair to things. The world that we’re setting up for this particular Cinderella will be a different kind of world. The great thing is that it’s still a love story and so essentially the aspect of the Cinderella story will still be there, but there will be different circumstances in which everything sort of happens to her. It’s kind of how the love story goes. That’s the one thing I really do love about the creators of the show, Adam Horowitz and Eddie Kitsis, is that if you watch the show at all, you know that they are very committed to making female characters very bad ass and not damsel in distress types of characters. I think that in itself makes the Cinderella character different.

I also come from a different background with a different set of situations that I’m going to go through in the real world that are going to take my journey in a different direction. I’m also a mother, and I’m really dealing with different kinds of struggles in my life. But essentially, it’s a Cinderella story so we all want a happy ending.

TrunkSpace: Between “Once Upon a Time” and “Lycan” also due to be released, it seems to be a bit more of a happy beginning for you in terms of a new chapter in your life and career?
Ramirez: It’s been such an incredible journey in my life. For me, the journey with “Lycan” does feel kind of like a Cinderella story because I started my journey in the Dominican Republic in a very, very humble background just dreaming of something better. Coming to the States as an immigrant, figuring out the language, and then finally getting into the world of entertainment has been a journey within itself. I remember just at a very young age being in my acting class. That’s where Crystal Hunt and I met, who is one of the “Lycan” executive producers. We made a pact back then. We said, “Hey, one day we’re going to make it. We’re going to produce our own films.”

And we’re making it a family affair. My husband, Bev Land, wrote and directed it. His brother, Donnie Land, is one of the producers. Crystal’s mom really came in and helped us out a lot. It does feel like a fairy tale to be done with the film and then right before the film premieres, be able to get this role in “Once Upon a Time.” The journey feels like we’re writing our own happy ending. That’s kind of cool.

TrunkSpace: And from a work standpoint, it must have a special feeling attached to it when you’re so emotionally invested in a project?
Ramirez: I think every time I work on something it feels really special, but this particular project was our baby. I was pregnant when my husband was writing it. It’s interesting because I had just given birth about four months prior to starting pre-production for the film and then we started shooting about a month later. The hard work that it takes to really get something off the ground, and that persistence and work ethic to make an independent film work, it’s just really about not giving up. Every time something comes up, it’s being able to just tackle it and say, “Hey, we’re going to get this done! That’s talking from the pre-production aspect of it to actually shooting it, which by the way, we shot it in 13 days.

TrunkSpace: Wow!
Ramirez: I know. It’s insane.

TrunkSpace: Having just given birth a few months prior to production, how did you find the time and energy to both star in and produce the film?
Ramirez: My motto is that I’ll rest when I’m dead. For right now, if I have an opportunity to make something happen, I will. I’m just a hard worker and I’ve always had that work ethic in my life. Again, I come from a different kind of background. The way I see it is, I have nowhere to go but up. I just dedicate my life to doing something that I love. Being able to touch the masses with a story and have people relate to it, it’s a gift. I see it that way. Whenever I wanted to just take a nap in the middle of the day, I just thought, “No, we have something that we have to do!” We just kept trucking.

TrunkSpace: And you shot in Georgia, right?
Ramirez: My husband’s mom was amazing and let us use her entire land. She has acres of land in Columbus, GA near Talbot County, which is where the Emily Burt legend started. That’s how we ended up finding out about the legend of Emily Burt.

TrunkSpace: Did shooting an indie film in such a secluded location force you to think outside of the box from a production standpoint?
Ramirez: I remember at one point we didn’t have enough money to rent lights. Somebody said, “One of our guys knows how to build lights. If we just buy the parts and ship them in from China, we can build our own lights.” That’s what we did.

All these little challenges kept coming up. We just trucked on and made it happen. It’s really beautiful to be able to do that. That’s also what I want in my life, to inspire and show people that, “Hey, you can do it! Just say that you’re going to do it and don’t stop!”

Ramirez with director Bev Land on the set of Lycan

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how your husband grew up around the area where the legend of Emily Burt first took shape. Did you have any local legends or ghost stories in the area where you grew up in the Dominican Republic?
Ramirez: In the Dominican Republic, especially where I grew up, we didn’t have much electricity, so we didn’t have TV. I didn’t even grow up watching television. I think I started watching television around the age of 5. So yeah, there are always legends when you’re growing up in a remote area like that, because that’s what people talk about. “So and so died and she was there and the spirit went inside her.” I grew up listening to ghost stories like that my whole life.

I’ve always been fascinated by the horror genre. The one great thing about “Lycan” that I really responded to was the fact that it was based on something that people knew about. You can research it online. The way I see it, “Lycan” is more of a Hitchcockian suspense thriller. It’s something that you can look up and inquire about. It feels a little more scary if you know that it is something that actually happened to real people.

TrunkSpace: They always say that something needs to be grounded in reality to connect with an audience and what better way to ground it in reality than with actual reality!
Ramirez: That’s what I mean. My husband, as a writer and as a director, is interested in those kinds of stories more than anything. He has an incredible mind. He was able to take this legend and then write a story around it. We kind of made it a little more interesting because we really wanted to put a face to the disease of lycanthropy. That’s what makes it a little more interesting than just the legend, the fact that lycanthropy is a disease that to this day is misdiagnosed as schizophrenia and is something that still occurs.

TrunkSpace: And that’s when people believe they are wolves?
Ramirez: Yeah, it’s when people believe they’re turning into wolves and believe that the hair is growing out of their faces and that they’re transforming. We wanted to really bring light to that disease as well as talk about this legend.

Ramirez as Cinderella in Once Upon a Time

TrunkSpace: And in addition to all of that, it’s also a period film.
Ramirez: Yeah, our film takes place in the 1980s, which I love because I grew up watching those kinds of movies. The temperament of the film also has that old school feel to it as a suspense story, so that’s really cool. I do think that the 80s had a sensibility to the take on a horror film that I really enjoyed. It felt pure and youthful, but really interesting. I grew up and I was a teenager in the 80s, so for me it was really good to kind of go back and reminisce on all of that and watch all of the movies and see their take on all that stuff.

TrunkSpace: Even the poster has that great throwback feel to it.
Ramirez: Yeah, the 80s sensibility is great because, I believe, films have taken such a science fiction turn. As far as feeling that eerie suspense, I’ve always liked the tone of the way the 80s films were made, especially the idea of a bunch of young kids in the middle of the woods. There’s something really authentic about that. We wanted to really tap into that and bring that back. Even the look of it and the feel of it has that vibe and makes it a little different than other films that are coming out today.

That’s why I really loved tapping into the disease as well, because it’s more of a human psychosis film than it is a jumpy horror film. That’s what makes it not only authentic, but I feel, way more scary than just watching a movie where you’re fascinated by the effects.

TrunkSpace: As you look back over your first producing experience, is there anything that you would have done differently, either to make your own life easier as the producer or for the production as a whole to run more smoothly?
Ramirez: It was really challenging to do it independently and to do it for no money. As a producer and as a creative entity, if you ever finish a project and feel like you’re completely satisfied and that there’s nothing that you wouldn’t change, then you have stopped your mind creatively. There are always things that you’re going to end up, after the project, saying, “Oh man, I wish I did…” Not everything is going to be 100 percent exactly what you thought it was going to be.

The great part about this project is that there are things that I didn’t expect that came out even better than I thought and that’s a testament to the people that were a part of it. Not just in front of the camera either, but the people who really fought and worked in the trenches with us making sure that even after we shot the film that the look of it was great and that the color was perfect.

Lycan” arrives in theaters this Friday!

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Wingman Wednesday

Adam Croasdell

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Photo By: Elisabeth Granli

There is a lot of drama swirling about in the historically-inspired “Reign” and Adam Croasdell has been in the thick of it since joining the show as Bothwell in its fourth and final season. Prior to becoming a suitor to Mary, Queen of Scots, the Zimbabwe native appeared in fan-favorite series like “NCIS,” “Once Upon a Time,” and “Supernatural.” Studying and performing throughout the world enabled Croasdell to embrace all cultures and points of view, an exercise in acceptance that he has applied to his acting, particularly in the process of discovering new characters.

We recently sat down with Croasdell to discuss how there is no such thing as a bad guy, managing the time crunch of television, and how he was instantaneously accepted into the “Supernatural” fandom after appearing as Norse god Baldur.

TrunkSpace: From what we read, you’ve lived all over the world. From an acting perspective, has that exposure to different people and cultures enabled you to better find who characters are?
Croasdell: Yeah. I’ve lived all over the world. I was born and raised in Africa to English parents and then lived in various countries across there and then in the UK before coming across to the United States. I think it’s a good question because what I often say to people is that if one has the ability or means to travel than it should be mandatory for the very reason that it really gives you an insight into what makes other people tick. It makes you much more tolerant of differences and much more celebratory of different ideas. I think when a person unfortunately is lost very much into their own culture, whatever that is, it can lead to problems because they believe that their way is the right way or the only way of doing things. I think it’s kind of a myopic view. So I feel very lucky to have been able to travel so much and to have lived in so many places. I think it certainly has informed the way that I approach a role and a character.

I said at a convention recently during a question and answer session that I play a lot of quirky characters… eccentric characters. A lot of “bad guys.” And to me that’s an unsatisfactory idea… the idea of a bad guy. Because to me a bad guy is somebody who has followed a perfectly natural chain of thought processes to arrive at the action that he’s doing, which appear bad, but actually it’s completely normal and attributable to his worldview and life experience. So I try very hard not to judge any character that I’m playing because it’s perfectly natural and normal for them to be doing the thing that they’re doing and I find that fascinating. I think I probably wouldn’t have arrived at that had I not done so much traveling and lived in so many places.

TrunkSpace: Because at the end of the day, the “bad guy” himself doesn’t view his actions as bad.
Croasdell: Quite right. It’s completely normal what they’re doing. It’s completely rational and I find that fascinating. The stereotypical views that we have of other people and even people in our own lives… it’s just a shorthand and lazy thinking. I find it quite fascinating to be able to delve into the mindset beyond that.

TrunkSpace: So in terms of those various places that you have lived, did you also train in those different locations and did the education itself differ from place to place?
Croasdell: Yes. I trained in South Africa and it was a very interesting time. The ANC had just come into power after years of apartheid. It was a very fascinating time in history. I was very proud to had been there for that. I hail from Zimbabwe so the whole time I was growing up, I had a racially-integrated school system and social structure. South Africa at that time was a little bit more closed off to that type of thinking, but by the time that I had arrived, Nelson Mandela had just come to power and was the new president. It was a very exciting time. So it was interesting watching all that in flux around me and the new order coming in. It was a privilege to watch it happen. And certainly training in South Africa you are given a very broad training but also specifically in the classics with English playwrights and American playwrights. Of course, we had the African playwrights as well, which we studied, and modes of African performance, which are quite different and really fascinating. I was very happy to have received from both the western world and from Africa as well and everything Africa has to give. It’s a culture filled with great storytellers and musicians and poets. It’s incredibly rich and diverse, so I think I received a very good training indeed. I was very lucky.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been working steadily in film and television since the late 90s. How have you seen the way the industry approaches storytelling change over the years?
Croasdell: When I think about the late 80s and early 90s, it was a sort of a lighter age of performance, especially on TV. The characters were very likable, but they had A thing and they did THAT thing that they did and we loved watching the show for that. Now we have this Golden Age of television, which is truly incredible. The quality that is coming out of TV these days is astonishing and it has become an entirely different beast. The characters have much more depth. The heroes are anti-heroes. The female-driven stories are incredible… stories for women by women. It is an amazing smorgasbord of phenomenal writing and phenomenal characters right now. It’s a great time to be an actor.

I was saying this the other day, that there is a fair amount of 80s nostalgia that has come about because of it, I think. In the 80s and early 90s there was a sort of innocence about television, and maybe even films, where things were pretty straightforward and the hero was pretty straightforward and the bad guy was pretty straightforward. We had a lot of fun watching what the hero did to the bad guy and what the bad guy did to the hero. That was the mode. Now it’s hyper-realistic and much grittier. There’s a lot more sex and ultra-violence, often that speaks of the realities of this planet. But it’s interesting that it has lead to a sort of 80s nostalgia and you can see it in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and where they’re rebooting all of these 80s TV shows all of the time. And they often fail, generally, because people have moved on. You sometimes get it in the movies where they hit massively like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but in TV, I think it has moved on. I’m watching “Breaking Bad” at the moment, binge watching it, and really, what Bryan Cranston manages to do with his character is astonishing. I remember watching him on “Malcolm in the Middle” and sort of going, “Okay, cool…” and now you watch him in “Breaking Bad” and the depth of characterization that you can go to in today’s TV world… it would be a dream to get a reoccurring on something like that. The writing is so good these days. It’s an utter gift and to be able to go into the headspace of the characters in a way that you never have the time to do in a film and just develop it and develop it out… Bryan Cranston does it magnificently and deserves all of the accolades for it. It seems to be an example of the way TV has gone and binge watching on Netflix is just so new too and we want to see it ALL immediately. You can get a really good feel for the same character and their arc.

TrunkSpace: So does it feel like things have flipped a bit and working in TV has sort of become the new version of film… especially from a production aspect as the medium continues to grow?
Croasdell: Yeah, I think there’s a lot to that. Although, in my experience with TV acting, you still are so on the clock. They want you to bang out the performance quickly. I did a movie back in South Africa a couple of years ago called “Hatchet Hour” and we had the amazing luck to be able to rehearse for 10 days ahead of shooting. That’s sort of almost unheard of even in movies these days, but you certainly don’t get that in TV. You get nowhere near that. You might have a rehearsal or two rehearsals and then you’re up and running and you’ve got to bang out the scene. Although it’s nice to think of it being more like movies, in terms of the process for the actor, it’s not necessarily because time is money and you’ve got to get on it.

But that’s an interesting challenge for the actor because you have to come to work, as I hope one always would, very prepared. You have to be ready to deliver the goods almost instantaneously. And if you get a second take or a third take or a fourth take, if you’re lucky, you have a few ideas in mind to try things. You have to almost train like an athlete to do that type of acting.

TrunkSpace: So when you’re in that mindset and working within that focus, does it change things up when you’re working on a series and a new director is suddenly involved in the process and by doing so, alters the tone and dynamic?
Croasdell: Absolutely. It’s always very interesting when you do ongoing drama and the director changes. Obviously it should be a wonderful dance where they come in with their ideas, which are often brilliant, and then mix with your ideas. What I realized for myself is that, a lot of the directors, some of who may be great fans of the show and know exactly what’s going on, often they’re directors-for-hire, so they’re out and about in the world doing other projects as well. What I finally realized was that nobody knows the character or your character’s arc better than you and the writers, so often times you have to approach the director and go, “That’s a great idea, but my character wouldn’t really do that.” And you can tell them the reasons why because no one is thinking about it more than you. It’s always about being open to them and their vision, but you help each other.

TrunkSpace: So as you look over your body of work, what project had the greatest impact on your career?
Croasdell: Well, the one that immediately comes to mind… and it’s probably not for the reasons that you’re thinking of… I was on a soap in England called “EastEnders,” which is a very well known soap over there. It’s watched by the majority of the country. I had the good fortune of landing the role of the doctor on the show and that was for a year ahead of me coming to the US. I always wanted to come out to the States and getting that job, which was a high profile job in the UK, provided me with the money and some of the profile needed to create a case for my green card to get me to the United States. I always wanted to come to the United States because over the course of living in the UK for many years, I was flown out to the States about four or five times to test for various pilots and I came down to the wire for some, probably the biggest one of which was “Prison Break.” After that, I thought that I had to be present in the United States, and so I went about wanting to get here and did all of my application stuff. But really it was “EastEnders” that allowed me to come here.

TrunkSpace: You appeared on “Supernatural” many years ago. It was one episode, but an episode that many in the fandom love and in a time period where viewers consider the show at its peak as far as storytelling goes. Has that fandom stuck with you?
Croasdell: Yeah. It really has. And that’s the thing that’s been surprising and delightful about the American TV shows. I have found fanbases on “Reign,” “Once Upon a Time,” and also “Supernatural” to be just phenomenal. Phenomenal fanbases filled with really phenomenal people. You get welcomed instantaneously as part of the gang, certainly on “Supernatural.” I was playing the Norse god Baldur and I had some great scenes with the Winchester lads. It was my first job after having arrived in the States. Literally, I arrived in the States and 10 days later I was in Canada shooting.

Croasdell in “Supernatural”

TrunkSpace: You come to the States to shoot and you’re sent to Canada!
Croasdell: (Laughter) Yeah. Actually, a lot of my jobs have been up in Canada. A lot of my work. “Reign,” “Supernatural,” “Once Upon a Time”… and another as well. I love going up to Canada. I love it.

But yeah, the fans are phenomenal. Just the other night there was a book launch for a “Supernatural” book that a lot of the actors had contributed to. I was there and people were coming up to me like, “Hey, you’re Baldur!” I was like, “How can you even remember that? That was like seven years ago!” (Laughter)

It’s a phenomenon that I was totally unused to, being an English actor. There’s not a fanbase in the same way over there. People play it a bit cool in the UK sometimes. Here, if people like a show, they really like a show and they’re not afraid to say it, which is wonderful for the actors.

The series finale of “Reign” airs tonight on The CW.

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