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Wingman Wednesday

Jessica Green

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It’s always exciting to see new faces catch big breaks in Hollywood, and when those faces are as uniquely captivating as Jessica Green’s, you’re reminded that the “it” factor really does exist. As the lead of the new fantasy series “The Outpost,” the Australian native plays Talon, the last woman standing of a race known as the Blackbloods. She sets out on a mission to avenge her family using her newly-discovered supernatural powers, and in the process, audiences around the globe will be entertained.

We recently sat down with Green to discuss how her past MMA training helped her in the role of Talon, whether or not she has experienced butterflies in spearheading the show, and what the future could have held had “As vs Evil Dead” not been canceled.

TrunkSpace: Your new series “The Outpost” premiered lat night. As you were gearing up for its release, what emotions were you juggling with? Were you nervous? Excited? A combo of both?
Green: A combo of both. After five months of filming, I’m excited to see the final product.

TrunkSpace: The series is intense and very physical. How much preparation did you go through before you were ready to take on Talon and her many butt-kicking talents?
Green: It all happened very fast. I only had about three weeks intense training for the role in Utah, but having my previous training with MMA was an advantage.

TrunkSpace: In the series Talon is on a very personal mission to avenge her family. Throughout the course of the first season, how much of that mission does she ultimately accomplish? Will she find any peace throughout the initial arc of the character that we see in these upcoming 10 episodes?
Green: You will have to watch to find out but she definitely does kick some ass!!

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, what have you enjoyed most about getting to inhabit Talon? What aspects of her personality excite you every time you slip into the character?
Green: I love that she is a such a strong female role model.

TrunkSpace: Do you feel pressure spearheading a major network series, and if you do, how do you tamper those butterflies to make sure you’re also enjoying the moment and everything that comes along with it?
Green: I am so blessed and honored to lead the show, and yes, I do get butterflies but I’m super proud of what I have accomplished.

TrunkSpace: They say that work begets work in this business. Outside of enjoying what you’re doing in the present, is there a part of you that wonders where being the lead of a series like “The Outpost” could take you in your career moving forward? Do you look to the future at all?
Green: Of course. “The Outpost” has already opened many doors and I hope for it to open many more. I will be in the USA for the premiere and I’m very excited for the future.

TrunkSpace: Moving away from the future and instead, looking back into the past… if you could sit down with 12-year-old Jessica, what would she have to say about your career as it stands today? Would she be surprised by your work as Talon in “The Outpost?”
Green: I think she would be excited and proud to see that the years of hard, dedicated work have finally paid off and that dreams do come true.

TrunkSpace: You’re from Australia but moved to the States a few years ago to pursue your dreams. How big of an adjustment was it for you and how long did it take for your new home to feel like home?
Green: I’m actually based in Australia and only head over to the States a few times a year for a few weeks at a time. I filmed “The Outpost” in Utah, which was freezing – -6 compared to the 30°C sunny beaches of the Gold Coast, Australia where I’m from! The Utah climate did take some adjusting too.

© NBCUniversal International Networks

TrunkSpace: You’re starring in a big series that will be seen all over the world, but it has no doubt been a long journey for you to get to this point in your career. Was there ever moment where you questioned your choices in pursuing acting and did you ever consider giving up? It must be kind of crazy to think about now, given where your path has ultimately lead you?
Green: I feel you need to have a very thick skin as an actor. There are lots of ups and downs and of course there are the days where you feel like giving up, but in this industry, to succeed, you just keep focusing on the dream.
 

TrunkSpace: Finally, Jessica, we loved you in “Ash vs Evil Dead” and thought there was so much potential in the character Lexx. Were you as sad as us to hear that the show was canceled? As a performer, how do you handle that kind of disappointment… managing the aspects of your career that are out of your control?
Green: Yes, it’s disappointing. I would have loved to see where Lexx’s character would have gone, but that’s part of the film industry – out of your control. You just pick yourself up again and keep following that dream.

The Outpost” airs Tuesdays on The CW.

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Wingman Wednesday

Sarah Jeffery

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She is a charismatic young actress with an effortless ability to steal a scene, but Sarah Jeffery has her work cut out for her this year, tackling two iconic characters from our pop culture past that promise to force fans to sit and watch with a fresh set of eyes. First she’ll slip into the purple-loving skin of “Scooby-Doo” character Daphne for the live action origin story of how she and Velma first met and began their sleuthing ways. Then in the fall, things will get downright magical for the Vancouver native when she joins the cast of The CW’s reimagining of “Charmed.”

Thankfully, not only is Jeffery up for the task of pumping new blood into old characters, but she also has the acting chops to make it work. We recently sat down with her to discuss the wiggle room in bringing teenage Daphne to the screen, why there are always two sides to the reboot coin, and what advice she gives to actors breaking into the industry.

TrunkSpace: As far as the “Scooby-Doo” gang is concerned, the majority of them have their established catchphrases and mannerisms, but Daphne seems to have more room for growth because while who she is has been established throughout the life of the franchise, she hasn’t been tied to defining lines likes “Ruh-roh” and “Jinkies.” As a performer, do you feel like you had an opportunity to bring something unique and new to the character that hasn’t been seen before, and if so, what approach did you take to making such an iconic character your own?
Jeffery: First off, I’m extremely grateful and honored to be portraying such an iconic character. I’ve always loved Daphne so much, so this has been wild. But like you said, there was a bit of room to create a more versatile Daphne and I think you’ll see just that. She’s well rounded, not just the stereotypical fashionista or girly girl. She’s multi-faceted and maintains her love for fashion and all that the original Daphne had, while also using her brain and wits. She’s clever and she’s funny.

TrunkSpace: The story that “Daphne & Velma” lays out takes place within a portion of the characters’ timelines that fans haven’t really seen yet. Did the fact that it predates most of what people know of Daphne and the rest of the gang allow you more freedom to make her your own as well?
Jeffery: We definitely did have some freedom to play with our versions of these characters being that it’s pre “Scooby Gang” days. They’re still in high school and still discovering themselves, feeling the highs and the lows, and it was a lot of fun playing a youthful version of Daphne.

TrunkSpace: While having some freedom to play with Daphne, is there still an element of nervousness going into portraying someone who has been seared on the minds of fans of the franchise for so long, even if that memory that people have is in the animated space?
Jeffery: Oh definitely. I’m still nervous to see how the film is received, and I most certainly hope people embrace my portrayal of Daphne. But at the end of the day, this is my take on her and I hope people see that we have honored the original series while bringing in some great new elements and layers.

TrunkSpace: Kids are the target audience for “Daphne & Velma,” but there’s no doubt that long-term fans of “Scooby-Doo” are going to check in on the movie as well to see what some of their favorite characters are up to. The film recently screened alongside some of those fans. Did you attend, and if so, was it nerve-racking seeing it in real time with a group of people so passionate about the history of the franchise?
Jeffery: I actually wasn’t able to attend the most recent screening, but I definitely imagine that I would’ve had some nervous butterflies watching alongside Scooby fans, old or new. I just want to make them happy!

TrunkSpace: As far as performance is concerned, is there something extra fun about bringing an animated character to life? While grounded in a reality, it’s still a heightened reality. Does that allow you to approach things differently than you would on another project or piece of work?
Jeffery: I think what’s great about our team on this film, particularly our wonderful director Suzi Yoonessi, is that we all had a similar vision. A fun, exaggerated reality but still as grounded as possible with our subject matter. That being said, we definitely have some larger than life moments that directly reflect the animated series, and that was a blast.

Jeffery with Sarah Gilman in “Daphne & Velma”

TrunkSpace: Outside of your work on “Daphne & Velma,” it was also recently announced that you’ll be bringing another well-known property back to life on the small screen, this time the long-running dramaedy “Charmed.” As a performer, is there something kind of freeing working on a project that you know will automatically have a built-in audience? Does it make the hard work prior to a project’s release mentally easier knowing that, at the end of the day, people are going to tune in?
Jeffery: In all honesty, sometimes having that builtin audience is a little more nerve-racking. I definitely appreciate the fact that these are characters that are near and dear to the fans’ hearts, and I want to do right by them. But also, it is comforting knowing that people will tune in, and hopefully connect with the project.

TrunkSpace: On the opposite side of that coin, reboots are always faced with comparisons to what came before. Is it important for a show like “Charmed,” or even a movie like “Daphne & Velma,” to establish themselves as their own thing (with their own tone and vibe) as quickly as possible so as to tell the audience, “This is what WE are, that is what THAT was?”
Jeffery: I think with working pretty heavily around reboots/revivals, I’ve come to realize that there are indeed two sides to the coin. You’re going to have people who are against it, and you’re going to have people who are there for it. I try to gently remind viewers and followers that yes, while we are being respectful and mindful of the original project, this is our take on it and there will be elements that are different, and there will be elements that stay very similar.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been playing Jennifer Lopez’s daughter on “Shades of Blue.” First and foremost, with Mother’s Day recently being celebrated, that’s a heck of a screen mother to have, but secondly, what did you take from her – someone who has accomplished so much in so many different mediums – that will stay with you for the rest of your career?
Jeffery: Getting to work with Jennifer intimately on “Shades Of Blue” was such a wonderful opportunity, and a huge lesson on professionalism. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from her about what it means to be dedicated to your craft, and what it means to be a hard worker. She shows up to work so prepared and so on her game, which is even more impressive because of how insane her schedule is. I give her mad props and I have loads of respect for her.

TrunkSpace: You have spoken out against the mistreatment of animals and you are an advocate for adopting a vegan diet. What inspired you down this path and for those with similar views but feel they don’t have the platform, how can they also help spread the word?
Jeffery: I was inspired to adopt a vegan diet for quite a few reasons, but primarily for ethical reasons. I just couldn’t get behind the cruelty involved in the meat and dairy industry, and I wanted my actions to reflect that. Even if you don’t have a platform or a large audience to share your views with, you can still make sure those around you are educated and are aware of the effects a meat-based diet has on our environment, our bodies and the animals which it comes from.

Jeffery with Melonie Diaz and Madeleine Mantock in “Charmed”

TrunkSpace: Finally, Sarah, we just spoke about some things that you took away from your time working with Jennifer Lopez. For those with less experience working alongside of you now, what advice would you give them from lessons that you yourself have learned through your own experiences, things that you feel would be of value to carry with them through the rest of their own careers?
Jeffery: Over the years of working in this business, one of the most important lessons I’ve taken away is to always be curious. Asking questions about my craft has been probably the most important tool I’ve discovered. I’ve learned so much just by observing people I look up to, and not being too proud to ask about things I may not know. Be bold and curious enough to take risks. Another big thing to keep in mind is how you present yourself and how you take command of your work space. Be respectful, be professional, and be kind. No one wants to work with negative people. It sucks. So that being said, particularly as a lead, I always want to set a tone that is comfortable and cultivates success for all departments. It changes the whole experience.

Daphne & Velma” is available tomorrow on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD.

Charmed” premieres this fall on The CW.

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Deep Focus

Cardillo & Keith

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In our ongoing column Deep Focus, TrunkSpace is going behind the camera to talk with the directors, writers, and producers who infuse our world with that perennial pop culture goodness that we can’t get enough of.

This time out we’re chatting with Erin Cardillo and Richard Keith, creators of the new CW series “Life Sentence.” Starring Lucy Hale, the dramedy tells the story of a young woman who, after living as if she were dying, has to navigate the extreme choices she made upon learning that her terminal cancer has been cured. We recently sat down with the pair to discuss juggling new humans with a new show, why they surrounded themselves with people more talented than themselves, and the reason their partnership works.

TrunkSpace: The series premiere of “Life Sentence” just went down. What emotions were you juggling with as you headed into the final stretch?
Cardillo/Keith: Exhaustion. Joy. Accomplishment. Pride. Fear. Did we mention exhaustion? It’s been a long road to get to the premiere of “Life Sentence”… we had this idea over two years ago and started pitching the show 18 months ago. We then wrote and produced the pilot and the first season all while having and raising newborns (who were born a week apart).
Keith: My daughter was born the day we turned in the studio draft of the pilot. And she took her first steps the day we turned in the studio draft of the finale.
Cardillo: My son followed her up by timing his milestones with the networks drafts. So it’s been a pretty hectic time in our lives, raising a new show and new humans!
Cardillo/Keith: In terms of the fear, it isn’t fear that the show is or isn’t good. That’s subjective. (We’d argue it’s good.) But no matter what you do, some people will think it’s great and others won’t. The fear is mostly… will the show find an audience that really connects with it? We both put our hearts and souls into this show, which required us to spend a lot of time away from our families. So, our hope is that our hard work comes across on screen and that these characters and their stories speak to people as strongly as they do to us. But at this point, that’s out of our hands. And there’s something terrifying and exhilarating about that.

Thankfully, we were blessed with an amazing lead, Lucy Hale, and a wonderful mentor and partner in Bill Lawrence (and immensely supportive spouses who supported us doing this in the first year of our children’s lives)… so… what we’re saying is, it seems like we were given all the tools to succeed and our hope is really just that we didn’t screw it up!

TrunkSpace: As writing/producing partners, you have worked on other series together, including your own creations. Does this one feel different? Does the buzz that’s been building for “Life Sentence” give you a different perspective at this stage in the process?
Cardillo/Keith: It definitely does. Between having someone like Lucy attached and a producer like Bill on board, there are certainly higher hopes for this show at the studio and network level than on our other projects. And it’s nice to have a certain amount of excitement from fans who are eager to see what we’ve all been working on these last 18 months. But, at the end of the day, buzz or not, you’ve got to find an idea you’re passionate about, try your best to surround yourself with people who are more talented than you, and put everything you have into bringing that idea to life. That process never changes, and that’s where the real reward is.

TrunkSpace: Tone is everything when it comes to establishing a series, but it feels like that’s even more important when your main character is battling terminal cancer. How long did you two work on getting the tone down, and how much did your cast have a hand in it becoming a reality?
Cardillo/Keith: There was a lot of discussion about tone on this show. Especially considering that we first conceived of it (and pitched it to the networks) as a ½ hour single-camera comedy. But the more we (and Bill Lawrence and our producer Liza Katzer) talked about it, the more depth we saw in the idea and in exploring not just how this diagnosis affected our lead, but also her entire family. And so, we decided to make some tweaks and try our hand pitching it to CW as an hour dramedy. Once they got on board, the idea continued to evolve. Our first draft had much more of a comedic bent to it than the final pilot (and series) ended up having. As Bill likes to say, if you’d asked us before we started shooting the pilot how many times we thought Lucy Hale was going to cry on screen, we’d have said, “Maybe once,” but our director (Lee Toland Krieger) would have said, “Oh, like a thousand.” In the end, we collaborated and landed at a more reasonable number (somewhere around 10). And that sort of collaboration and evolution continued throughout the first season of the show and helped the show find, we think, a nice balance of humor and heart. That sort of collaboration is one the reasons we both love working in television… and, of course, the actors had a major hand in shaping the tone as well. All the good intentions and well-written lines in the world don’t matter if your cast can’t pull that tone off. What was fun on this show was, we didn’t always know going in what the perfect tone of a given scene would be. So, we’d try a version played for drama, a version played more comedically (thankfully we have a cast that can do both), and then you get to go into the editing room and really shape the scene…

TrunkSpace: From the time that you first put pen to paper on the concept to where you are now, what are you most proud of when it comes to “Life Sentence?”
Cardillo/Keith: Finishing it! Every show starts the season with a big empty white board and there’s nothing that makes our stomach hurt worse. Except maybe taking a multi-vitamin without food (which is seriously gross). Also, as we mentioned, this show was constantly evolving and where this season ends isn’t necessarily where we would have said it ended when we pitched the show. But, we’re really excited about the direction it ended up going in. We feel like it will be a satisfying journey for our audience and Stella, and hopefully, everyone will find some tears and laughter along the way.

TrunkSpace: CW is a network that is known for letting shows find their legs and grow. As creators, is that a comforting thought knowing that your creation will have as good a chance as any at having an audience discover it and hopefully, become emotionally invested?
Cardillo/Keith: Absolutely! Nailed it. This question was easy.

Photo By: Storm Santos

TrunkSpace: You’re both actors in addition to being writers. Does that skill set give you a different perspective on developing characters and scenes? Do you test things out among the two of you to see if the performance side of things will pay off?
Cardillo/Keith: We do. Before we were getting paid to write, we turned Erin’s dining room into our office. We’d write and act things out (often loudly and enthusiastically) to test how scenes would play, much to the chagrin of Erin’s neighbors. Especially when we were working on the pilot of the “Significant Mother” digital series, which was a super raunchy sex comedy. It involved us acting out scenes where one of us was mad at the other for sleeping with our mom, and we had a surprising amount of candid conversations about dildos. Erin’s neighbors definitely gave her weird looks in the stairwell.

TrunkSpace: Was writing always in the cards or was it a part of your careers that came after the fact? Did working as an actor serve as the catalyst for where you both are today?
Cardillo/Keith: Acting was definitely the way both of us got our foot in the door. And it definitely informs our writing process. We pay a lot of attention to the flow and rhythm of dialogue because we know first hand how much easier an actor’s job is when the dialogue falls out of their mouth naturally. In terms of writing, that’s always been in the cards. We’ve both always been interested in telling stories… it’s why we became actors in the first place. And, at the end of the day, whether you’re writing, acting, directing, producing, or editing etc., if you’re working in film, television, or theatre, your job is to tell stories. And, eventually, both of us started to feel like there were stories we wanted to tell that were outside the scope of the characters we could play as actors. So we started writing. Initially on our own, trading feature scripts and giving each other notes. Until we realized that the stories we wanted to tell overlapped and it made sense to tell those stories together.

TrunkSpace: What is it that you have found in each other creatively that makes the partnership work?
Cardillo/Keith: I’m (Rich) really good at getting up early (like 4 a.m.) to crank out drafts and my brain dies by about 3 p.m. Whereas I (Erin) really am happy working away into the wee hours of the night. So it allows us, as a team, to basically work 24/7 if we have to. And it still allows each of us individual time to rest and the ability to work at the times where their creativity is at its peak. We also make each other laugh a lot, which is really important. Especially when you’re about to start shooting an episode in 10 days and you don’t have a script yet… not that we have ever had that happen to us multiple times on multiple episodes of multiple shows that we’ve worked on.

TrunkSpace: You spent time working on “Fuller House” for Netflix in 2016. What did you guys take from that experience that you have carried with you in your careers and to where you are today with a show like “Life Sentence?”
Cardillo/Keith: On “Significant Mother,” we didn’t really have a full writers room because of time and budget constraints, which meant we had never really been in a full writers room with a staff sitting around a table breaking stories. So when that show came and went and our subsequent pilot at CW, “The I Do Crew,” didn’t go, we both thought it was really important that we staff on someone else’s show. So, if we were fortunate enough to get another show, we’d know first hand what it was like to be someone on staff. And we hoped that that perspective would help us learn how to collaborate with our staff in a way that not only made them the most productive, but engaged, creatively fulfilled, and invested in the show. Because at the end of the day, it may say “Created by Erin Cardillo & Richard Keith” but that’s just the beginning. It takes hundreds of people to bring a show to life and keep it alive. And the more you can make everybody feel like this is their show, like they see a little piece of themselves, and that they see their hard work in it, the better the show will be.

Hale in “Life Sentence”

TrunkSpace: Erin, you spent almost 100 episodes playing Esme Vanderheausen on the soap opera “Passions” from 2005 to 2008. Soaps can be such a breakneck environment where you’re sprinting through more pages a day than ever seems conceivable. Did working in that atmosphere sort of prepare you for anything?
Cardillo: It certainly had a boot camp element to it, but the biggest gift of that show was how creative I got to be during that time. Both with the character of Esme (who was an absolute loon) and because the writers let me improv a lot, which was so much fun. But also, because I only worked two to three days a week and we’d shoot my part of an episode out in three to four hours, which meant I actually ended up with a lot of free time on my hands. I wrote my first feature and developed my first TV project during that time. I never would have been able to do that if I’d been going from job to job as an actor and also working a side job to support myself, as a lot of actors have to. It was truly a gift in every sense of the word.

TrunkSpace: Richard, what have you learned in your career as an actor that you try to be mindful of now as an executive producer? Do you think you approach certain aspects of the job differently because of your own experiences in front of the camera?
Keith: Definitely. For me, it’s important to remember to really listen to your cast when they have thoughts or concerns on something that’s happening with their character in any given script. It’s every actor’s job to be an expert on their own character. To protect them. To fight for them. To service them. So, as a writer, you have to be humble and realize that while that character may have started in your mind, it now lives in their body, and while you have dozens of characters to focus on, they only have one which makes them an expert in a way you’ll never be.

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you with a time machine and offered you a chance to glimpse at what your careers will look like 10 years from now, would you take the futuristic peek?
Cardillo/Keith: Tempting, but no. Some of the best things in life happen unexpectedly. Sure, you may have a plan, but if you have an open heart and an open mind and are willing to let go of what you think should happen, we’ve found that things can turn out better than expected. And sometimes worse. But you learn from failure, and if you try to avoid it, you also rob yourself of the chance to grow as an artist and a person. Not to mention the fact that if you know what’s going to happen at the end of Act Five, you could forget to enjoy the ride of getting there.

Life Sentence” airs Wednesdays on The CW.

Featured image by: Storm Santos

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Wingman Wednesday

Leanne Lapp

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Lapp in “Supernatural”

Leanne Lapp first caught our “iZombie” eye as Gilda in the undead CW dramedy and now she’s returning to the network, guesting on tonight’s noir-inspired episode of “Supernatural.” Portraying a procurer of rare items who appears to know the whereabouts of one that is of particular value to the Winchester brothers, the Vancouver native is set to further complicate the already-complicated lives of everyone’s favorite demon-hunter siblings, sending them on a wild goose chase that is sure to get wilder than most.

We recently sat down with Lapp to discuss why she was excited about working on the series, getting to go full femme fatal, and the reason “Supernatural” has been so successful at capturing lightning in a bottle for 13 seasons.

TrunkSpace: You’re guesting on this week’s episode of “Supernatural,” a series we have covered in great length here. One of the things that we have heard over and over again from everybody who has appeared on the show is that it’s one of the most welcoming sets that they’ve ever stepped foot on. Was that your experience as well?
Lapp: Yeah, it was an amazing set to work on. They’ve been running for 13 years now, so the entire cast and crew know each other so well and are so comfortable with one another, they almost know what the other is thinking. So it’s such a smooth set to work on and that really makes things great when you’re just coming on as a guest star and you’re kind of the new kid in school. It makes things really easy and enjoyable.

TrunkSpace: And as you mentioned, 13 seasons, that’s such a rarity in this day and age where everything is getting more streamlined in terms of not only seasons, but episode counts as well.
Lapp: Yeah, that seems to be the trend. I feel like people are really enjoying television in the sort of mini series format these days, which I love as well, but I think the fans of the show just kind of pulled it through. The “Supernatural” fans are so, so supportive and that is the reason the show has aired for so long and has kept everybody employed.

TrunkSpace: It certainly seems, as far as the fandom is concerned, that for somebody guesting on the series, this is a universe where every character matters.
Lapp: I don’t know that I’ve worked on a show yet with such an amazing group of fans. It’s been amazing.

TrunkSpace: The fandom hasn’t seen your episode yet, but when the ending credits roll later tonight, will they accept Margaret or are they going to lash out against her?
Lapp: Well, she’s a really interesting character. The episode is a really interesting episode. When I first got the audition sides, I had so many questions, which of course, nobody would answer for me because it’s all kept under wraps. (Laughter) But the scene just seemed so different from anything that I had seen on the show or knew the show to be centered around and so, I was like, “Oh my gosh, what’s going on here?” The episode really is a very, very fun episode. It’s kind of, a little bit, stylistically different. You can see in the promo just with my character and a couple of other characters, it’s almost kind of like a film noir-esque episode, so I think that will be a fun one for people to watch.

TrunkSpace: That’s a dynamic that the show has always done well, sort of combining the elements of drama and comedy and mashing them together.
Lapp: Definitely. I don’t know if my character was necessarily the funny one, but there were definitely moments that were meant to be quite serious where I had a hard time keeping a straight face while we were filming because the other actors were just cracking up. But I got through it. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: We’re sure you can’t say too much for fear of stepping into spoiler alert zone, but what can you tell us about Margaret and how she makes her presence known in this universe?
Lapp: Well, what I can say, I guess what’s already been released to some extent, is Sam and Dean are looking for a specific item the entire episode, and it’s something that they wouldn’t be able to find in a store. They’re not able to obtain it traditionally. They kind of have to seek out some pretty dark characters to get a hold of it and Margaret is somebody that they meet in this sort of black market community and she sends them on a bit of a wild goose chase for it.

TrunkSpace: Characters on the show tend to return, either to become allies of the Winchester brothers or to make their lives more difficult. That seems to be another element that the fandom really enjoys because it helps build out the world and add layers. Perhaps we could see Margaret again?
Lapp: You never know. That’s definitely kind of the vibe that the cast and the crew certainly have, and I’m not even necessarily speaking about my own character. I have so many friends and colleagues in Vancouver who have worked on the show over the past 13 years and the vibe of every crew member is like, “Well, we’ll just see you back here in a couple months or a couple years or a decade.” They just all sort of assume that you’ll be coming back because now, especially with that show, they’ve been running for so long, that I have friends that have played two different roles on the show. The vibe is definitely we’ll see you again soon.

Photo By: Kyla Hemmelgarn

TrunkSpace: So for you personally, what did you enjoy most about Margaret and getting to play her?
Lapp: So many things. I guess I can narrow it down to three things. One, I wanted to work on the show. It’s been running in Vancouver for so long and filmed a lot in the neighborhood that I grew up in as a child, so I grew up seeing their trailers and such, dispersed around my neighborhood. Two, as you can tell probably from watching the trailer for the episode, Margaret is sort of this femme fatal character who’s kind of trapped, maybe not literally, but her style and her vibe is very much of the ‘40s. I did that for so long on “iZombie” playing Gilda and I was excited to revisit that because I collect a lot of vintage clothing and stuff just in my own life. And probably the biggest thing is I really, really, really wanted to work with Amanda Tapping, who directed this episode. I had heard so many amazing things about her and I had met her in a couple audition rooms and she comes from a world of… she’s an actor as well who is now directing and she was just the most lovely person to work with, even in the confines of an audition room where you work with each other for five minutes and then you may never see them again. She was so wonderful and I just knew shooting an episode with her would be a great experience so, I really wanted to work with Amanda as well.

TrunkSpace: Is an actor’s relationship with a director on a series different than with film? Do the dynamics change from medium to medium?
Lapp: In some cases. When you’re working on film, generally – hopefully – you have a little bit more time. Everything in television, the pace, everything goes so quickly. When I first started acting, I was working on some independent films and just small things and stuff like that where they had the location for as long as they needed it, or it was really about the director feeling happy about what they had gotten. And of course that’s the case working on television as well, but everything works on a much, much faster pace. The great thing about working with Amanda was, because working in television has to happen really quickly, and television is predominately what I work on these days, I’m used to maybe getting two takes. Maybe only one, maybe two, maybe three if I’m really lucky, and Amanda was the first director that looked at me and was like, “Do you just want to do that again?” And I was like, “Yes, I would love that!” She worked on “Stargate” for 10 years. She just knows that feeling of, “Gosh, I really wish I had another chance at that.” So that was really great. She really is an actor’s director.

TrunkSpace: You mention the speed of shooting a television series, but we know that you’ve also done a number of Hallmark Channel films, which as we understand it, can move even quicker, right?
Lapp: Yes, they shoot I think 10 of those at a time in Vancouver and they shoot on a three week schedule, sometimes less, and a lot of times you’re working with a skeleton crew, so half the crew is shooting one thing and half the crew is shooting another. But those sets, those movies, that’s another thing that has a really, really huge, supportive fan base that love Hallmark movies.

TrunkSpace: Absolutely. The Hallmarkies rival the fandoms of a number of genre shows, which tend to draw a more passionate viewership.
Lapp: Yeah, I was so surprised when I first started working on them. I guess I was just kind of ignorant to it because I hadn’t seen many of them until I actually started auditioning and working in Vancouver but, Hallmark fans are extremely supportive. I think the nature of a Hallmark film is, with some exceptions, as long as you’re having a good time shooting it, as long as it’s an enjoyable schedule to work on, it’s going to show and the audience is going to enjoy it. All of those films are just really feel-good movies that you come out of with a warm feeling in your heart, so I think as long as the set and the work experience reflects that, it shows.

TrunkSpace: And that kind of goes full circle back to “Supernatural,” because that is also what has made that series work so well for so long. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and fans can sit and chuckle their way through an episode, even when the stakes are high.
Lapp: Yeah, that’s so true. And, you know, that reflects as well on to Jared (Padalecki) and Jensen (Ackles). The show is huge and they’ve had such successful careers. You meet all types of people working as an actor when you come on different shows. Jared and Jensen are super humble, so relaxed and casual, and not stressed out about anything. There’s really this vibe on the show of which, doesn’t exist on every set. A lot of sets this isn’t the case, but there really is a vibe on the show of, “We’re not doing open heart surgery, we’re not saving lives, we’re making a TV show and it should be fun and enjoyable.” From other shows that I’ve worked on, I think when your lead, or in this case your two leads, project that attitude, it really stems from them and then it trickles down to all of the crew and the entire rest of the cast as this is the appropriate way to behave and act on a set. I think obviously the show has a lot of amazing things going for it, but I think those two guys really had a hand to play in making it the enjoyable experience that it is for every actor that guests on the show.

Supernatural” airs Thursdays on The CW.

Featured image by: Kyla Hemmelgarn

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Wingman Wednesday

Jordan Claire Robbins

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Usually when new characters are introduced into the “Supernatural” world, it doesn’t necessarily end well for the Winchester brothers. With more enemies than allies, Sam and Dean will probably have wished they steered clear of sisters Jamie and Jennie Plum, a pair of witches who make their debut in tonight’s episode, “Various & Sundry Villains.”

Jordan Claire Robbins plays Jamie (Jennie is played by Elise Gatien), a character whose personality she identified with almost immediately. In addition to her “Supernatural” debut, the Bermuda-born actress will next appear in the highly-anticipated Netflix film “Anon,” which is scheduled to premiere later this year.

We recently sat down with Robbins to discuss what it was like coming into the show during its 13th season, the handsomeness of its handsomely handsome stars, and why she’s committed to focusing on what’s directly in front of her.

TrunkSpace: You’re set to guest star in tonight’s episode of “Supernatural,” a show that has built up a very passionate fandom over its 13 seasons on the air. What are your thoughts on getting to enter into the “Supernatural” universe and be a part of such a rich world with so much story already having been told?
Robbins: “Supernatural” has one of the best fan bases of any show, and I think it’s amazing that after 13 seasons the Winchester brothers are still going strong! I was incredibly excited to get to jump on board with the show and to get to be a part of Dean and Sam’s story. Because everyone on the show has been working together for so many years, it felt like one big family and the energy on set was extremely positive and welcoming. It was a joy to be a part of and I was sad when we wrapped the episode!

TrunkSpace: In the episode you’re playing a witch, a type of foe the Winchester brothers have had to take on numerous times as Hunters. How does your Jamie Plum compare to those witches that came before? How powerful is she?
Robbins: Well, you’ll have to tune in on Thursday to find out exactly what Jamie is capable of, but I will say that committing to the “Supernatural” world and casting spells made me feel very powerful as an actor! It was a treat to get to play a witch, especially knowing the brothers’ loaded history with them on the show.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, what did you enjoy most about Jamie Plum? Did she allow you to go anywhere new that you have yet to go on-screen with a character in the past?
Robbins: When I first auditioned for the part, I remember being most excited at the thought of playing a character who has so much fun. Jamie has a sense of humor that is very similar to mine, and it felt like a very natural character for me, probably more so than any I have played before. I also loved her confidence; she doesn’t shy away from her power, which was a really fun thing to play with.

TrunkSpace: Those Winchester brothers are very handsome. When they’re running around the set trying to murder your character, do they lose some of their handsome luster? Is there any situation… any bad lighting… food-on-their-face moment where they’re not as ruggedly good looking as reflected in the series?
Robbins: Well… I hate to break it to you, but they are indeed as ruggedly handsome offscreen as they are onscreen! They also are both very kind, and VERY funny – the time in between takes was usually spent laughing and as you can imagine this made for really enjoyable shoot days. They are not only good at what they do, but they also have a blast doing it!

TrunkSpace: Speaking of good looking people, you’re very beautiful yourself and in addition to your acting career, you’re also a model. Do you feel like you have had to convince people within the industry that you’re not a model who wants to act, but an actress who models? Is that a hurdle you have faced?
Robbins: Why thank you! I got into modeling almost 10 years ago while I was studying at University, and it has given me many great opportunities to travel and meet wonderful people. While acting has always been my biggest passion and dream, modeling gave me the chance to get very comfortable being on camera and practice taking direction. When I decided it was time to put more energy into acting, my modeling agents were extremely supportive. I think at one time or another most actors, with or without a background in modeling, have felt a sort of pressure to prove that they are serious about wanting to act. I have been fortunate enough to study with some amazing acting teachers and to learn from experience, and I am grateful to have both modeling and acting as creative outlets.

TrunkSpace: Do you envision yourself playing a character when you’re modeling, even when there isn’t dialogue involved? Are you tapping into someone else within yourself?
Robbins: Well at the risk of sounding like Derek Zoolander… yes. In the same way an actor onscreen can say a lot with only their eyes, I think a photo is always much more interesting when the model is present and genuinely feeling something. I often play with different emotions during a photoshoot to keep myself engaged – there is a difference between a forced smile and a smile when someone is happy and enjoying themselves. Plus it’s more fun that way!

TrunkSpace: As your acting career continues to grow and branch off into new and exciting directions, do you anticipate modeling still being a part of your life or is it something you see yourself leaving behind as new opportunities present themselves?
Robbins: I see photography and acting as being intertwined forms of art; I have always loved the collaborative efforts that go into creating a great photograph, and I think as my acting career continues to develop I will continue to enjoy doing both.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of opportunities, you’re set to appear in the upcoming Netflix movie “Anon” starring Clive Owen and Amanda Seyfried. With that cast, and the Netflix brand behind it, do you view the project as a bit of a career game changer?
Robbins: Shooting “Anon” was definitely an amazing opportunity and big learning experience. Most of all, it was a complete gift to be able to work with a very talented and seasoned group of people, and made me feel grateful and excited to keep working with actors of that caliber. Clive was lovely and having been a fan of his for a while, it was very happy to get to work with him!

TrunkSpace: What did you take from your “Anon” experience that will stay with you for the rest of your career?
Robbins: Andrew Niccol, the writer and director of the film, has a brilliant mind and unique attention to detail that translates beautifully into all of his films. The style “Anon” was shot in presented some technical challenges for me as an actor, and while shooting I felt relieved that I had emotionally prepared for my scenes enough so that when taking direction I could let go and trust in myself. That was an important lesson to learn – that the biggest gift I can give myself is to show up prepared in every possible way, so I can let go in that moment and the work is free to take on a life of its own.

Pictured (L-R): Jordan Claire Robbins as Jamie Plum and Jensen Ackles as Dean — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, you moved from Bermuda… sunny, warm Bermuda… to Toronto. Are the winters are reminder (particularly this winter!) of the warmth you left behind? Don’t get us wrong, we love Toronto (Go Blue Jays!), but… BERMUDA!
Robbins: I see your point! I may be biased, but I think Bermuda is truly the most beautiful place on earth and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes long to be there when I’m away, especially on the coldest of winter days. But I can’t complain because I am doing what I love over here, and luckily it’s a quick flight from Toronto; it’s reassuring to know that I can get home even for a few days to recharge when I need my fix of ocean and family time. I’ve been living in Vancouver for much of the last year, which is very different from Bermuda but stunning in its own way; I definitely feel most like myself when I’m close to ocean and/or mountains!

TrunkSpace: People change throughout the course of their lives. The core you is always the same, but interests and motivations find different nesting spots. Today, in 2018, what motivates you to continue to pursue acting and other creative endeavors?
Robbins: I’d say my biggest motivator right now is self-growth and really stepping outside of my comfort zone with each role I take on. The last year has really been about learning to be kinder and more patient with myself, and to let go more so things can unfold in their own way. (I can be a bit of a control freak!) The more I work, the more I realize how much there is to learn and discover about who I really am and how I can give of myself more deeply if I take my ego out of the equation. It excites and humbles me to get into the life of a character so much that I learn and discover new things about myself and new ways of perceiving the world, which then gives me more to work with. Being a good artist is impossible to do if you’re not in touch with yourself in an honest and nurturing way, and I’m most excited to keep growing into a better human as my career continues.

TrunkSpace: As you look forward, down the road that lies ahead, what type of career do you hope to have when all is said and done? If you could choose your exact path, what would it look like?
Robbins: When all is said and done, I want to be able to look back on my career and know that I never held back or shied away from a challenge, and I want my work to have had a meaningful impact on people. It’s important to me that I take on roles that scare and intimidate me in some way, because if I’m resisting something it probably means I need to throw myself into it. Last year I wrote and produced a short film called “Driver Is Arriving Now,” and I really enjoyed being behind the camera – I would love to keep exploring that side of things. Directing has always intrigued me so I hope to delve into that one day too. But for now, the goal is to not think too far ahead so I can give my full commitment and attention to what is in front of me!

Supernatural” airs Thursdays on The CW.

Anon” arrives on Netflix later this year.

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Wingman Wednesday

Kim Rhodes

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Photo By: Travis Hodges

If you steer clear of people with yellow eyes, call your car Baby, or recognize the value of salt in places other than the kitchen, chances are good that you’re fan of the series “Supernatural.” And if you are, you know that the Winchester brothers have had their fair share of friends and family come into their lives throughout the course of the show’s first 13 seasons, though none have left an impact quite like Sheriff Jody Mills. Now the maternal ass-kicking ally, portrayed perfectly by Kim Rhodes, is on the verge of spearheading her own spinoff series, “Wayward Sisters,” which viewers will get a taste of tonight when “Supernatural” returns to The CW following its mid-season hiatus.

 

We recently sat down with Rhodes to discuss her “Supernatural” road so far, the power and magic of the fandom, and what she’s most excited to explore with Jody in the new series.

TrunkSpace: “The road so far…” is a popular phrase associated with the series. Could you have ever expected that your “Supernatural” road would lead you here today, on the verge of your own spin-off series, “Wayward Sisters?”
Rhodes: I was so grateful every single second on that set. It never occurred to me to wish for more. And then when people started whispering, “Wouldn’t this be a good spin-off? Wouldn’t this be…” like, in my darkest heart there was a tiny little flicker of, “Yes, please! Please! I want to do this forever!”

But really, no expectation. No belief. I am astonished and I have no idea how this happened, with the exception of a group of powerful, vibrant, unbelievably joyous fans that were like, “No, no, no. We’d like this. Look what we can do.”

TrunkSpace: Obviously the fandom is very strong, but to be able to have a creative say and help a network venture towards a particular idea or concept is a very rare thing.
Rhodes: I’ve never heard of it happening before. Ever. Now, “Supernatural” has a very unique relationship with its fans. I remember being on a different show, and they actually said, “You’re here because of your fandom. We want to know how to do that with our show too.” I was like, “You can’t.”

I think the magic of “Supernatural” and the relationship with the fans, it cannot be recreated, because you can’t tell people what to do. This is the other thing. The fans are all individuals. It’s not a hive mind. You can’t just feed it. It is not a foregone conclusion that this spinoff will go. Because you can’t just seed somebody something and say, “Here, we call this ‘Supernatural,’” and have them say, “Yes, we love this.” They’re smart. They’re opinionated. They’re vocal. And they’re powerful. And it all comes from different ways of expressing love for the show “Supernatural” and for themselves and their own relationships and place in that. It’s pretty miraculous.

TrunkSpace: And because of that, it is called the SPN Family for a reason. They’re not afraid to say what they love and they’re not afraid to speak up when they don’t love something, but even then, it comes from a place of love.
Rhodes: It is, in all aspects, a family. I was talking to somebody else and I was like, “You know, nobody pushes your buttons like your family because they installed them.” It’s very easy for fans to be passive in this world, because nothing’s expected of them. But the “Supernatural” fandom expects a lot of itself, and they are passionate. I love that. It makes me identify. I’m like, “Yep, you’re me, I’m you! Yes!”

TrunkSpace: We know creatively the table has been set for “Wayward Sisters” throughout the course of the season, but this week’s episode really serves to put viewers at that table. Are you experiencing any sort of nerves in terms of how it will be received by the fandom?
Rhodes: You know how Holly Hunter cried in “Broadcast News?”

Supernatural — “Wayward Sisters” — Pictured: Kim Rhodes as Jody Mills — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: Yeah.
Rhodes: There you go. That’s me. I was fortunate enough to have four episodes on a completely different show, playing a completely different character. I’ve been on “Criminal Minds” for the last couple months, and it kept me distracted. Today is the first day I’m not on “Criminal Minds.” I was like, “Oh, maybe I’m not completely okay. Maybe I’m just repressing all of the terror and hope I’ve ever felt in my entire life that has culminated in this moment.” Yeah, that’s far more likely is that I’ve just been repressing it.

TrunkSpace: Would you say tonally that tonight’s episode of “Supernatural” is going to be representative of what “Wayward Sisters” will become?
Rhodes: Boy, I wish I could answer that. I don’t know. They haven’t told me anything because they know I don’t keep secrets well. That said, what is definitely indicative of everything they’ve said they want is how high the bar is set. We didn’t cut corners as actors. We didn’t cut corners with storytelling. It is brutal. The fights are hard, the work was tough. We trained, all of us, trained. Both physically and with weapons. The bar was set high. I can safely say that should this go to series, we will only keep raising the bar for ourselves. We want to exceed the fans’ expectations. And their expectations are pretty damn high.

TrunkSpace: That’s the thing. Sometimes expectations can be a blessing and a curse, because people are excited but at the same time they have their own set ways of what they envision something will be.
Rhodes: Yes. Now that is definitely something we are aware of. I had said before, I would like to say again, give it a chance. Just because you don’t see all of your expectations met in one episode doesn’t mean we aren’t laying the groundwork, particularly in terms of representation. “Wayward Sisters” has really opened up the number of voices and perspectives that the stories are being told from. Within that, if you don’t look at something and go, “Oh, well they forgot this…” Maybe not. You can’t eat the entire meal in the first bite.

TrunkSpace: Yeah, it’s not a movie. It’s not an hour and a half. It’s a long journey.
Rhodes: Yeah. And also, you’ve seen the episode so you know what I mean when I say there’s probably going to be a moment when the fans feel a little betrayed. When they’re going to be like, “Wait a minute, you did it again to us?”

TrunkSpace: Right.
Rhodes: Just hang on. And that’s going to be my motto for the entire journey, is just hang on. Just hang on. You think you know. You don’t know. Just hang on.

TrunkSpace: Obviously you’ve seen the character Jody grow over the course of your time on the series. What are you most excited about from a character’s journey in terms of what we could possibly see her go through over the course of her own series?
Rhodes: I am so excited to see Jody make some mistakes, and watch other people have to clean up her mess. Jody’s been pretty on-target so far, because that’s how she’s served the show. We know she’s made mistakes, but we haven’t needed to watch any of them because that wasn’t pushing the storyline of “Supernatural” forward. I would like to think that within “Wayward Sisters” Jody’s going to make mistakes. And she’s going to have to learn some stuff, which is hard as a senior member of a group. Because a lot of my identity as a person when I’m in a situation like that is, “Oh yeah, I got this. Let me tell you how to get this.” And Jody’s going to have to realize that she ain’t always got it and she’s going to have to learn from the girls around her. I’m looking forward to seeing what she learns from them.

Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: Jody’s always been very supportive of Claire, Alex, and Patience in terms of them taking on the responsibilities of being Hunters, but as she becomes more invested in the group and as dangers increase, do you think she’ll have second thoughts about that?
Rhodes: I think that’s always going to be with her. I think that’s definitely a note to her, because she’s experienced loss at the hands of the supernatural. And really, nobody else has lost the kinds of things that she’s lost. Jody is the one who’s painfully aware of what’s at stake in this kind of life and so she’s always going to have to struggle to allow people to be who they need to be, to fight the fight that needs to be fought.

TrunkSpace: She’s taken these girls under her wing at a time when they needed her, but we would imagine that Jody needs them just as much, if not more given those holes left to be filled in her personal life?
Rhodes: Well, I also think for me, I prefer to phrase it not so much filling the hole – because those holes have unique shapes and nothing will ever fill them – but to remember that someone’s capacity to love, and I have personally experienced some pretty traumatic losses in my life, the loss will never be replaced. But the love continues to be expressed when I choose to love someone else. And love myself. I think that is something that Jody is aware of. She’s never going to replace her husband and her son. However, being of service and finding hope again is the best thing she can do for their memory. And those girls give her both of those things. She can love again, and she can hope again, because those girls are in her life.

TrunkSpace: Finally, Kim, you sort of touched on this at the start of our chat… how grateful you were to be on the set each and every time you got the call. Everybody we have spoken to who has been involved in the series or who has worked on the series, they all have that same point of view, which is that they genuinely love the experience and being a part of this universe. Having been in this industry for as long you have, is that rare? Because it seems pretty rare from an outside perspective.
Rhodes: Do you believe in love at first sight?

TrunkSpace: Actually, yeah.
Rhodes: Have you experienced it?

TrunkSpace: Yes.
Rhodes: That’s pretty fucking rare isn’t it?

TrunkSpace: It is.
Rhodes: It’s like that. It exists. People who have never experienced think it’s a myth. People who have experienced it know how precious it is and how rare it is. It’s magic.

Supernatural” returns tonight on The CW.

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Wingman Wednesday

Nathalie Boltt

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Photo By: Ian Redd

After having worked all over the globe, including the United States, South Africa, New Zealand, Germany, and the UK, Nathalie Boltt settled into the sleepy community of Riverdale by way of the manipulative Penelope Blossom, a character she has portrayed on the Archie Comics-inspired series since it first launched on The CW in early 2017.

When not acting, Boltt is applying her talents and drive to other cinematic endeavors, including writing, directing and producing. She is currently in development on a new film called “Holy Days” that she will direct based on the novel by Joy Crowley, but first… more “Riverdale.”

We recently sat down with Boltt to discuss slapping Alice Cooper (not the singer!), how Archie Comics impacted the show’s fan base, and why going evil is like therapy.

TrunkSpace: “Riverdale” seemed to establish a very loyal fan base in the early going of the series. How soon into the process did you feel the presence of the fandom and ultimately the series’ potential?
Boltt: I think I felt it when my first episode kicked in, when I slapped Alice Cooper. People kind of sat up and took notice. And then by Episode 5, which is when I was incredibly cruel to my daughter at the funeral, Jason’s funeral, was when people started following me and taking an interest.

I think the series’ potential was clear right from the pilot; it just really struck a chord. The pilot was just super sexy and dark and mysterious. It had that “Twin Peaks” element of a body, but in a real emotionally-capturing way that’s… it just struck a chord, especially with teenage audiences and their parents.

TrunkSpace: Were you able to see firsthand the fandom grow and build upon itself after Season 1 made it to streaming platforms like Netflix? Did that unlock even more potential in the popularity of the series?
Boltt: Absolutely. It went to Netflix, which is where a lot of people watched it. I know after Season 1, the viewership went up 400 percent. So it was a huge hit over the summer on Netflix, in the States especially, but of course Netflix loves people all over the world who don’t have cable or network TV to watch it.

I know that “Riverdale” is the fastest growing show on social media at the moment.

TrunkSpace: As someone who works on the show and knows the world better than most, how much of the source material, the original Archie brand, played into the series not only finding an audience, but maintaining one?
Boltt: The Archie Comics have been going for 75 years, so it’s got a huge fan base. And then, of course, it was like the re-imagining of Archie as a graphic novel that also really brought it into the new millennium. I think that already made people trust it, which is what happens with those with graphic novel and comic backgrounds. And all of the main characters have come from the Archie Comics, but they aren’t necessarily played in the same way because, obviously, they’re just comic strips. Penelope Blossom, for instance, was in the Archie Comics, and FP maybe not so much; I’d have to check that out. But some people have changed considerably. Like, Miss Grundy is young and hot, whereas in the comics she was an elderly lady. Yeah, some of those things have changed, but all to suit the ensemble with the inspiration of the Archie brand behind it. And I think it also does maintain the Archie brand because that’s how word spreads.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, what did your character Penelope Blossom offer that you had yet to tackle on screen? What did you like about her that was different?
Boltt: I just like the fact that Penelope is quite a weirdo. The Blossoms seem to be stuck in sort of a time warp of their own. They’re like this royal family in their tweeds and their equestrian-looking outfits, but everything that Penelope wears is kind of… it harkens back to Hitchcock movies, which was one of my references. And also, I was asked to play her in a kind of other-worldly, quite the strange way, so while all of the other families are contemporary suburbia, the Blossoms are quite removed, and in a way it’s kind of like the Addams Family meets the royal family of Britain.

She’s just evil. She’s just such a terrible parent. And for that, you really have to go quite dark and quite still and quite scheming, and that’s loads of fun to play. It’s a little like therapy, really. (Laughter) Poor Madelaine (Petsch) who plays Cheryl… but we laugh about it, so that’s good.

TrunkSpace: Now that you’re a season and a half into your “Riverdale” journey, where have you gotten to go with Penelope that, looking back, you didn’t expect to go to when you first signed on to play her?
Boltt: Well, I certainly didn’t expect her to be burned. Loads of stuff has happened to Penelope; it’s awesome. I think the writers really have a lot of fun. So I didn’t expect at the end of Season 1 that Penelope ran back into the house and managed to get herself third degree burns. And I also didn’t expect just how evil she is and how she keeps on finding ways to be awful to Cheryl. But I suppose what I loved so far is the episode when Penelope actually shows a little heart, that’s The Sugarman episode. There’s some real motherly love there, and real remorse and regret, and I liked playing that a lot because we haven’t seen a lot of that.

TrunkSpace: In terms of an actor’s relationship with an audience, is the experience of working in television different from working on a film? Does the extended time with a character make the relationship with the fans more personal?
Boltt: Yes, of course it does. You get to kind of click into your character more easily the moment you get onto set because you know your character well; you know exactly how you would play that as Penelope, for instance. But also, your audience is committed to you, so you know they’ve invested in your character. And whether they love or hate you, they have certain expectations and that lasts for years if the seasons go on, whereas you’ve only got an hour and a half in a movie to build that up.

With the amazing TV series that are available at the moment, people really dig getting into their TV series and really like getting into the juiciness of it all, and having their favorite show to discuss. And I think you also then get to dig deeper into your character and find new things about them just as you would a new friend.

TrunkSpace: Your latest film “24 Hours to Live,” which arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on February 6, is tonally very different from your work on “Riverdale.” Is it important for you to diversify your career and the roles you tackle project to project?
Boltt: Yes, it is. Nobody likes playing the same thing over and over. In “24 Hours to Live” I play a doctor who brings someone back to life. Ethan Hawke plays the lead character, and it’s a sci-fi role, and he drags my character around and nearly kills me. I think that kind of reversal of power is fun to play because generally I have power over Cheryl, but in “24 Hours to Live” Ethan’s character has power over me. And it’s physical and it was action-packed, and real shoot-em-up stuff. And it was amazing working with a team like… we had people on that like Oscar-winning Colin Gibson from “Mad Max,” and real top-notch people who see things in a different way.

Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network. All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: “24 Hours to Live” has a stacked cast and an impressive creative team behind it. A decade ago, a film with that level of talent would have created box office waves, but the industry and the distribution methods have changed so dramatically that there is now such an incredible volume of content in the marketplace all vying for the same sets of eyeballs. Have those changes to the industry altered the role of the actor at all, either through the process itself or in the personal reward of being involved in a project?
Boltt: I think, yes, it’s very clear that cinema has changed a lot. This is the golden age of television, and so cinema has to really work. I think we find a lot of films are franchises because audiences and filmmakers, distributors, etc., are very risk averse, and people aren’t going to the cinema so much anymore. They stay at home. So yeah, I think we all want to have our time on the red carpet and have amazing premieres and that sort of thing, but sometimes it’s actually seen as more of a marketing potential for a movie like that which is full of action and will go and do really well online because people like to sit at home and get into that sort of thing, and devour those sort of films On Demand. And so, I guess that was the marketing strategy that they went for. It’s all about that, and I think the strategies are quite different to when you would just wait to see what happened at the box office.

It is an incredible cast and an impressive team, and I would recommend watching it. It shot in Cape Town. It looks very beautiful and cinematic, and would play very, very well on a home entertainment system. High octane, lots of fun. And yes, they are all vying for the same eyeballs, but people also consume a lot more media, so I think films like that will find their niche.

TrunkSpace: You’re also a writer, director and a producer. Do the changes in the industry, both creatively and from a business standpoint, excite you more when wearing one of those hats as opposed to acting?
Boltt: I think being a writer, director and producer excites me because it gives me a feeling of having more control. Acting is very subjective. I have a wicked imagination, and so I write everything from drama to kids’ animation to outrageous comedy, and it just gives me an instant range. As a director, I think you learn a lot as an actor and when you step behind the camera to direct, you realize you actually have the skills often to direct, and I think that can be a fun challenge. And I think, above all, it gives you real respect for how difficult it is to get anything made. It’s actually miraculous to go from an idea to then a script, to financing, to shooting, and to actually distributing something. The fact that anything gets out there and is good is miraculous and magical to me still. And as an actor, you show up, you say your lines, you try to do a good performance and you go home. Whereas, when you’re writing, directing, producing you’re there the entire time, and it’s tough. And then when you come back as an actor, you really respect everybody who is involved in that very complex process, and I think that’s healthy.

TrunkSpace: Do you view those various industry jobs as careers separate from acting, or are they all extensions of what you set out to do when you first decided to pursue your dreams?
Boltt: I think it’s all part of storytelling, and that’s certainly what I’ve always wanted to do and always have done. Even when I started out as a dancer, that’s still a storytelling of a type. It’s an expression. So whether you’re expressing yourself as an actor, you’re also expressing yourself as a writer and a director and a producer, and it’s an extension of the creative process. So yeah, I think acting can be frustrating because you have a long run of doing things and being in demand, and then you have your down time where you feel like you’re waiting, and I don’t like waiting. I like being busy all the time, so that’s an extension of my personality, I guess.

Photo By: Ian Redd

TrunkSpace: You’re originally from South Africa, but have spent time all over the world. In your experience, how is pop culture viewed differently around the globe and does pursuing a career in acting require different approaches in different locales?
Boltt: Yeah, I think it does. In places like New Zealand and South Africa where you have really small industries, there’s a lot more jack-of-all-trades feeling to what you do. We all do a bit of everything, A lot of that stuff is seen locally. It doesn’t have the same viewership, so I think there’s just a lot more humility involved in making smaller shows in smaller countries. You still want to do a great job and build your audience. And then you go onto something like “Riverdale” and it’s got a global viewership, and you get a completely different taste of what it means to have a hit show in the world. And there are a lot of perks that come with that, a lot of attention that comes with that, and I think you have to respect that as well because it’s the next level of success. And I have worked in Germany and on German films, so that’s interesting being in another language and their working methods are quite different.

I think the approach has to be different. Wherever you go, you need to kind of feel out how people like to work and understand that approach and be respectful of it. Your job as an actor is to do your job well and listen to the director, and do your best to realize something, to bring to life your character. Sometimes you need a more subtle approach of asking what it is that the director requires. Sometimes you need to sit quietly and just wait until you’re called upon. And other times, you can be more direct and confident about it. I think it’s always a matter of just watching for awhile; being quiet and watching and seeing how people like to work, and then trying to respect that while also being true to what your job requires.

TrunkSpace: We’ve barely scratched the surface on 2018. Did you make any New Year’s resolutions for yourself and looking forward, what are your career goals as you tackle a fresh calendar?
Boltt: You know, I’m not that good at New Year’s resolutions. If I’m happy I just carry on doing that; I just continue with the plan. At the moment, I’m looking at moving to Canada and pursuing my options here. However, I have a feature feature film, “Holy Days,” which is in development in New Zealand, so I’m looking forward to directing that there. It’s an exciting time. Things are going really well. I’m making things and my family is with me, and I have met a lot of exciting, creative people that I’m going to be working with. So I suppose part of that is to continue on the projects that I’m on, but also to keep fit and eat healthy, and not burn out. I think when you’re a busy person like I am, you tend to want to just have some balance. I’m going to be directing some music videos as well for a band called The Strange. That’s going to be fun. And writing some comedies and some dramas, and of course, playing Penelope and loving that. So that’s my plan for 2018, and I’m excited to see what people think of my storyline, which is quite outrageous, that’s coming up. I think people have a bit of an idea.

And you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter. I’ll be posting some of behind the scenes madness all throughout the year.

Riverdale” returns tonight on The CW.

24 Hours to Live” premieres on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital home entertainment February 6.

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Wingman Wednesday

Kyanna Simone Simpson

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Photo By: Miles Schuster

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when if you wanted to get your superhero fix, you had to pick up a physical comic book or settle for midday reruns of a green Lou Ferrigno with gamma-radiated eyebrows. Now, on any given night, you can scroll through the hundreds of channels at your disposal and watch extraordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Many have long predicted that hero fatigue would cut down on the audiences who turn out to watch those in capes and cowls take on imaginative villains, but that has yet to manifest itself. In fact, as we venture deeper into the character catalogs of comic book publishers, something really exciting is happening… we’re seeing the genre become more diverse.

Case in point: “Black Lightning,” the latest offering of the DC Universe’s small screen expansion premiering tonight on The CW, focuses on an African American superhero who comes out of retirement to fight the good fight once again.

We recently sat down with series star Kyanna Simone Simpson to discuss her thoughts on getting to play in a metahuman world, the reason she feels the series will be a success, and why she didn’t know Matthew McConaughey was standing right in front of her.

TrunkSpace: Superhero-based projects continue to wow audiences and don’t seem to be losing steam anytime soon. When you landed your reoccurring role in “Black Lightning,” what was going through your head at the time?
Simpson: Oh my gosh, I literally went crazy because when I started reading up on “Black Lightning,” I found out that this was the very first African American superhero family on network television and I get to be a part of this story, so it was such a blessing. Now I get to be on a cool show with people who have superpowers. That’s just so amazing to me.

TrunkSpace: Between “Black Lightning” and projects like “Black Panther” and “Luke Cage,” it seems like we’re venturing into this really great period of diversity in the genre.
Simpson: Exactly. It’s as though we’re finally being able to show we’re super as well. We can come out here and show you that we can have great shows that push the limits too. I think that’s something that’s very cool about “Black Lightning.”

TrunkSpace: And for a network like The CW that is so good at blending fantastical elements with reality, “Black Lightning” looks to be continuing that formula… balancing the genre storytelling with the “real life” stuff that becomes so relatable to audiences.
Simpson: Yes. “Black Lightning” has a very good story – a very deep story about family and life and culture and neighborhood going on behind the scenes, as there’s obviously superheros in this show, Black Lightning, but it tells a very detailed story as well. I think that’s what the viewers are going to like a lot about this show.

TrunkSpace: We get the vibe that this is the kind of show that would appeal to longtime comic book fans, as well as those people who have never even picked up a comic book before.
Simpson: Yes. I thought the same thing when I first started reading up on it. I went to go grab all of the comics and I was like, “Wow, we’re really hitting the ball on both DC and dramatic television.”

TrunkSpace: Most people haven’t seen the series yet because it actually premieres tonight. What can you tell us about your character without giving too much away?
Simpson: My character’s name is Kiesha. She’s best friends with Jennifer Pierce, who is the youngest daughter of Black Lightning, Jefferson Pierce. I’m her partner in crime. I try to encourage her to push the limits sometimes because she’s the daughter of the principal of Garfield High and I just want her to get out there and have fun. That’s really where Kiesha comes in.

TrunkSpace: And it’s probably safe to assume that you two will find yourselves in some trouble as well, right?
Simpson: (Laughter) You’ll see the kinds of things we get into.

TrunkSpace: So from a character standpoint, was there anything about Kiesha that you were excited to bring to the screen, perhaps a part of her personality that you have yet to tackle with a character in your career?
Simpson: Kiesha is very close to my heart because she’s such a free spirit and she doesn’t allow other people to dictate how she thinks or how she’s going to go about her day. That’s what I like so much about her, her confidence. It’s one of the very first roles that I was able to play where I’m able to kind of peek into the life of a teenager, having fun and everything, wanting to party all the time, because a lot of jobs that I’ve done, they have been period pieces and this is a different look at everything. I enjoy it so much. It’s so much fun.

TrunkSpace: And just to be clear, she’s just a regular teenage girl, right? No superpowers of her own?
Simpson: (Laughter) She’s a regular girl and she loves it.

TrunkSpace: You also have a film due out later this year called “White Boy Rick,” which has a stacked cast including Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Jason Leigh. What was the experience of shooting that film like for you?
Simpson: When I found out about “White Boy Rick,” I almost peed my pants. It was so amazing. Matthew McConaughey is definitely an actor who a lot of new actors would dream to work with, and that was my case, so when I got the opportunity to play Brenda in “White Boy Rick,” I jumped at it. I’m so excited for this film to premiere in the summer. I can’t wait to see how the audiences react, which I believe is going to be really positive and great.

TrunkSpace: Matthew’s career has taken such an interesting turn within this last decade or so. The roles he tackles now, he physically goes through the changes to become whoever that person is, and in doing so, really has become a chameleon onscreen.
Simpson: Yes. The very first day that I met Matthew actually, it was my first scene and I was nervous because my first scene of the film when I began filming was with Matthew. That’s a lot of pressure, but when I walked on set I’m looking around and I had no clue that that was Matthew McConaughey right in front of me. I had to look at him twice and I’m like, “Oh, whoa!” He’s such a cool guy. I was able to have a few conversations with him and he really made me feel a lot more comfortable and a lot less nervous on the job.

TrunkSpace: The film’s release is still months away, but can you tell us anything about Brenda and where she falls into the story?
Simpson: Brenda is a classmate of White Boy Rick, Ricky, and she’s along his path in life. She kind of makes him grow up a little bit more. When you see the film you’ll understand what I’m saying, but she has a very reasoned mind and she also has to grow up pretty quick in life as well.

TrunkSpace: It terms of tone, it’s a pretty heavy story.
Simpson: It is, and when I started doing my research and homework on the story, I was like, “Wow, this is such a great story that needs to be put on film.” Everyone needs to know about this because when you see it you’ll understand what I’m saying, but it’s definitely something that can happen to a lot of youth.

TrunkSpace: One of the things we noticed in looking over your body of work is just how diverse it is. You’re not doing the same types of projects over and over again, but instead, mixing it up to include a little bit of everything. Is that something you set out to do, to bring as much genre diversity to your work as possible?
Simpson: I definitely want that to be how my career continues. It just so happens that the roles that I have landed have been so diverse and I’m thankful for that because that’s how I want to be. I want to be able to immerse myself in the types of characters that…

I don’t want to be just an every day girl. I want to be able to understand all types of different lives. When I played young Deborah Lacks in “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” I learned so much. All of my jobs seem to teach me and I seem to learn something brand new with each and every job. That’s what I plan to do for the rest of my career.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” Getting to play the younger version of a character who was being portrayed by Oprah Winfrey… and now there’s rumors that she might run for president… that has to be pretty cool.
Simpson: Ms. Winfrey is literally the best. I am so blessed to have been able to work with her. She’s a good mentor of mine now and I’m almost speechless every time I think about it or talk about working on “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” because that was my biggest dream come true.

TrunkSpace: In a previous interview when asked about what your future goals were, you said that you want to have a degree on your mantle and more quality roles under your belt. Does that mean you have goals beyond acting and the entertainment industry?
Simpson: Well, I’m actually in school for Entertainment and Media Studies, so my goal is to 1.), win an Oscar, and 2.), I want to be able to produce, direct and write as well as act in films. I’m just so intrigued by the entire film industry and entertainment world. I don’t want to stop at acting. I want to continue to grow and spread out in the entire industry.

TrunkSpace: So far so good because not many college students can say that they’re staring down superheroes when they’re not studying.
Simpson: (Laughter) I know. It’s definitely hard. I’ll never say it’s easy, but it’s what I have to do and it’s what I desire to do.

Black Lightning” premieres tonight on The CW.

White Boy Rick” arrives in theaters this August.

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Wingman Wednesday

Emily Swallow

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Photo By: The Riker Brothers

Most shows have a difficult time maintaining an audience for more than a few years, but with CW mainstay “Supernatural” currently in its 13th season and showing no signs of losing steam, it’s difficult to imagine a time where the Winchester brothers are not killing monsters and, as has been the case over the course of the series, being killed by monsters.

The strength of “Supernatural” goes beyond its stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki however. Yes, the series could not exist without them, but the dynamic demon-hunting duo would not be as engaging to an audience without a supporting cast of characters who not only define the in-series lore, but help reshape it even after more than a decade on the air.

Actress Emily Swallow did just that when she joined the series as Amara, God’s sister, in season 11. Her connection with Ackles’ character Dean both riled and excited fans and her very presence sent ripples throughout the fictional universe and lead to one of the biggest reveals in the history of the show, that the beloved reoccurring character Chuck (played by Rob Benedict) was in fact God, which was long hinted at by the writers and presumed by fans.

We recently sat down with Swallow to discuss her take on the “Supernatural” fan base, why she loves attending the conventions now that her storyline has (temporarily) buttoned up, and what her favorite stage acting experience has been to date.

TrunkSpace: You entered the “Supernatural” universe in a big way via a character who ends up becoming a part of the foundational lore of the series. How has the fandom, one that is extremely passionate about its characters and ongoing storyline, welcomed you into the SPN Family?
Swallow: I have never experienced a fandom that is so passionately protective of a show and its characters. Because of that, I was understandably greeted with a degree of skepticism from the fans, especially because I had googly eyes for Dean AND was causing a bit mayhem wherever I went. I remember Misha (Collins) telling me I should be prepared for the fans to hate me after the episode when Dean and Amara kissed! I was excited about Amara’s mission, though, and I hoped that, as her story unfolded, the fans would realize she was deeply hurt and misunderstood and that THAT was why she did the things she did. I found this to be true; because Amara ultimately needed what the other characters who are central to the show needed – love and family – the fans rejoiced for her when she and Chuck made up.

TrunkSpace: One of the great things about the series is that it’s a bit like a secret club. If you watch the show, you’re in. If you don’t, you may not even know that the show is still on the air. But the truly amazing part of that is that the cast seems to be a willing participant in that club. There’s a lot less separation between those who are on the show and those who are in the fandom than there is with other shows. Do you think that has helped keep the audience vested and engaged for what is now 13 seasons?
Swallow: Absolutely, but it goes both ways – everyone involved with the show is keenly aware that we owe a LOT to a fan base; without their active involvement, we might have run out of steam several seasons ago. It’s a very exciting thing to feel the energy from such an engaged audience. I have felt a similar passion from theater audiences, but this is new for me in television, and I LOVE it. It keeps us energized while we’re exploring the storylines and makes us even more excited to see what comes next.

TrunkSpace: Another really unique aspect of the show is that, even when cast members are absent from the series, they’re still engaged. Everyone we have ever spoken to who has appeared on the show has had the same experience… there’s nothing quite like it in terms of on-set atmosphere. Has that been your experience as well and what is the source of that universal feeling?
Swallow: It’s true! To be honest, I felt more involved with the show and the fans once I’d already shot my season. This was partly because I just didn’t get to work with many other actors until the end of my season (Amara led a pretty dang solitary existence), and partly because of the lag time between when I shot and when episodes aired. My involvement in conventions didn’t really start until I had finished Amara’s storyline. The conventions continue to surprise me. Some of my favorite actors to collaborate with at conventions didn’t even appear in my season of SPN, but I get to sing with them, play with them, improvise with them and match wits in a way that is SO much fun! The conventions also give me a chance to be myself with the fans – Amara is quite far from me in terms of my natural disposition and temperament (thank goodness), so it’s great that I can be super goofy and dorky. I think this all happens simply because there are a lot of actors who have been on the show who are generous, playful and silly and love the interaction that the conventions provide.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, what did Amara offer you that you hadn’t had a chance to experience before? Was there something about her personality, how she viewed the world, that made her interesting for you on a level that may be different from what fans saw in her?
Swallow: I LOVED what the writers gave me for Amara! To me, the most interesting exploration had to do with finding her very human vulnerability, and trying to connect to that place in her that isn’t immune to pain and fear and hope and dreams…while it was thrilling to embody such an epic character, in order to believe in my acting choices I had to tap into the humanity that the show’s writers are so gifted at bestowing on the characters. Early on, I decided that I would probably serve her much better if I focused on stillness and a steady focus rather than trying to SHOW her power. That made sense to me too because, since she’d been locked up for all of time, she had a LOT of information to try and take in from the world around her, so I let her be always watching and waiting until she was stirred to react to something. It makes me relieved when I hear fans talk about how conflicted they were about hating her. Even though she reacted in ways that were destructive, they often say they felt so sorry for her because she was alone and misunderstood. I hope that’s true for most viewers. To me, “evil” characters are most interesting because of the vulnerability and pain they are trying to cover up, and I think we can all relate to feeling lonely, confused, lost, not heard… I loved that about Amara.

© 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: You had some really great, meaty scenes with Dean (played by Jensen Ackles) and Lucifer (played, well, in season 11 it is a bit confusing) that went beyond dialogue and delivery. The facial expressions… longing and bitterness turned from emotions into physical representations… it was some really powerful acting. Did you get to go places with Amara that you never expected to when you signed up to play her?
Swallow: Absolutely! With Jensen, the scenes came rather organically; we knew from the beginning that they had a bond that neither of them could really explain or understand, and so we just committed to that and didn’t try to logic it out. There’s something freeing about that kind of primal connection and it meant that, even if we weren’t entirely clear on where their relationship was headed from episode to episode, that internal struggle was there. Plus, Jensen is such an honest, present actor that it’s impossible NOT to want to connect with him! As for my Lucifer scenes, I never got to work with Mark (Pellegrino), but rather dealt with Castiel-as-Lucifer. That was fun because Misha was having so much fun channeling Mark! With him, it was interesting because I felt like Amara’s treatment of Lucifer was less about Lucifer himself and more about trying to get God/Chuck’s attention, so it was almost as if I was trying to gauge what HIS reaction would be when I was talking to Lucifer or (more often) torturing him. I felt wonderfully supported in everything I tried for Amara, and that led to me feeling safe to go from joy to rage to hope to fear in a heartbeat. I have to thank all the actors I worked with for that!

TrunkSpace: It seems nobody is ever truly gone when it comes to the “Supernatural” universe. Amara is currently on a sabbatical with her younger brother God. As the Winchesters continue to get themselves into trouble, has there been discussion about if and/or when she will return?
Swallow: I sure hope so! For now, I think Chuck and Amara are traveling with their band and driving people crazy hogging the mic at karaoke nights. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You recently worked on the animated series “Castlevania.” Do you take a different approach to voice acting than you do your on-screen work? Is the character discovery/journey the same?
Swallow: The beginning of the process is the same; I still look first at the character’s wants, needs, hopes and fears and make decisions based on her circumstances in relation to that. But my experience recording VO has been in a sound booth with few or no other actors, so it is indeed very different! Much more of that is left up to the director and editors.

TrunkSpace: “Castlevania” is a property that has had a lot of people invested in it from the time that they were kids. Does that put extra pressure on those involved in a project when it automatically has a specific set of expectations from an existing fan base?
Swallow: Not really, because I know that, if I try to predict what people want, I’ll probably do horrible work that doesn’t really try anything bold! I know it’s impossible to please everyone, so I just try to stay true to my gut and what I connect to in any project, and then make sure I do a thorough exploration with the director and other actors. At the end of the day, I think people who truly love a project or certain pre-existing characters will appreciate that honest, heartfelt commitment more than any attempts at imitating a style or another performance of a role.

© 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: People say that television is the editor’s medium and that film is the director’s medium. In your opinion, is the stage where the most amount of emphasis is placed on performance?
Swallow: Absolutely. When I’m on stage, I have much more control over the character’s journey from beginning to end. To an extent, I can make the audience look wherever I want and I get to find the performance for THAT show in THAT moment, and I love the changes that can occur night to night because of that. When we walk onstage to do a performance, we are often aware of world events that may be on the audience’s mind that day, or the experience they had walking into the theatre, and that collective consciousness means, to some extent, we’re on a similar wavelength. We are all experiencing space and time together for a couple of hours. With anything recorded, that experience is entirely different; not only is the audience far removed in time from when the work was performed, but the editor is controlling the timing, the actors they’re looking at at any given moment, where commercial interruptions occur…as an actor, I have to operate with faith that what I’m exploring in the character will come through even if I don’t know how a scene will ultimately be presented.

TrunkSpace: What is the most memorable stage/house you’ve ever performed on/in and why has it stuck with you?
Swallow: My favorite show was “Nice Fish,” which I performed a few years ago at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. It is a play that Mark Rylance co-authored, co-directed and co-starred in. It was a HUGE joy to work on because it was a brand new play and we discovered some of the scenes through improvisation in rehearsals. We even had parts of the show that weren’t ever written down – we discovered them anew at every performance! Mark is such a generous and playful and trusting performer, and he gave me courage to risk failure and try things that frightened me. Plus, I got to play a Norse Goddess living in a sauna ice house on a frozen lake in the midwest! That whole rehearsal and performance process challenged me in such fun and exciting ways, and I loved my fellow actors. We had so much trust and love built up that we were able to make really thrilling discoveries in front of an audience.

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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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