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Wingman Wednesday

Alan Ruck

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Ruck with Kieran Culkin in “Succession.” Photo by Craig Blankenhorn – © 2018 – HBO

No, we didn’t shirk our daily responsibilities and run off into the city with Alan Ruck to take in a Cubs game and be seated alongside the Sausage King of Chicago at a fancy lunch, but that didn’t make our chat any less exciting. The star of the iconic 80s comedy “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” has had an impressive career that has spanned four decades, but it is his most recent role as Connor Roy in the new HBO series “Succession” that has him giddy with excitement.

We recently sat down with Ruck to discuss the dramatic turn his character takes in an upcoming episode, the reason the show’s writers search for the comedy in every scene, and why he considers himself the cockroach of the acting world.

TrunkSpace: What struck us right away about “Succession” is that it’s story, character and performance, which seems to be a rarity in this super hero, everything-is-based-on-something else age.
Ruck: Yeah, it really is. It’s beautifully written. Jesse Armstrong and his gang of writers are really gifted. It’s also funny and… there’s a line in the show, I don’t know how many episodes you’ve seen, but in one of the episodes the character of Tom, played by Matthew Macfadyen, tells Greg, who’s played by Nick Braun, “Being rich is like being a super hero, only you get to wear a suit that’s designed by Armani.” In that way, I guess we are like super heroes… or maybe super villains. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: There’s certainly a lot of villainous twists and turns. From a performance standpoint, does that help to keep things interesting for you knowing that your arc could really go anywhere?
Ruck: Yeah, it’s exciting. When I auditioned for this, just the little description on the page sent to me from my manager said this character will evolve as the series progresses. In the pilot, and in the first three episodes, I really don’t do that much. And then in Episode 4, all of a sudden I was given a certain amount of responsibility at a sort of a corporate function, and things progressed from there. And then in the second season, and I think we will get a second season, Connor’s going to pursue some political aspirations, and it’s insane.

Clearly this guy, he suffers from delusional disorder, and we were kind of discovering things as we went along. I think maybe Jesse has known all along, and he’s allowing me to discover these things, but it could be that Connor is on the spectrum somewhere, in terms of maybe something like Aspergers. But he definitely suffers from delusional disorder, which I found out is on the same spectrum as schizophrenia. A schizophrenic will say, “I’m becoming a giraffe,” and you’ll say, “Okay,” and then a delusional personal will say, “I’m going to become President.” So technically it’s within the realm of possibility, but not very likely.

TrunkSpace: And the character’s personal journey within the family, being that he was the son from a previous marriage, makes for an interesting dynamic.
Ruck: Yeah. The old man is hard as nails, and probably the character that’s most like him is Siobhan (Sarah Snook), who’s our sister. She’s just as tough and smart as him, and ruthless. But the old man is not really heartless, and I actually think he feels a little bit guilty about Connor, because that marriage was a disaster, and then my parents got divorced, maybe when I was eight years old, so in a way I think maybe the old man thinks that he kind of abandoned me or stranded me. But for all of us, for all the kids, really the driving force is to win the old man’s approval. For Connor, here’s a guy in his 50s, and he still wants daddy’s approval. It’s sad.

TrunkSpace: Which brings me to our initial thought when we first heard about the series. “This is the really dark version of ‘Arrested Development’.”
Ruck: (Laughter) Absolutely.

TrunkSpace: As twisted as the relationship is with all of the kids in the “Arrested Development” fictional family, they also are all really just looking for some kind of validation or approval.
Ruck: Yeah. There was a movie that was made, I don’t know, 45 years ago or something – “I Never Sang for My Father,” with Gene Hackman and Melvyn Douglas. And even in that, there’s a line where he says, “Just because a person dies it doesn’t mean the relationship ends.” I think it is a life long challenge for many people to make peace with the relationship they have with their parents, or didn’t have – trying to figure that out or just get right with it.

TrunkSpace: And then you throw a business into the mix, and it becomes something else entirely.
Ruck: Yeah, and it’s fun, just because we’re talking about billions of dollars and the dynasty, and these people live in a way that most of us can’t even really imagine. So it kind of elevates it to the level of kings and emperors, and all that sort of nonsense, which makes it fun, because then it’s fabulous… in the true sense of the word, like once there was a king named Logan Roy.

It’s exciting to work on. Obviously Jesse Armstrong is such a steal for this world. He’s been fascinated by it for a while. He did write another thing about Murdoch, and then he decided to go in a more fictional vein, which I think is better, because then we can go absolutely anywhere.

Ruck with Kieran Culkin and Sarah Snook in “Succession.” Photo by Craig Blankenhorn – © 2018 – HBO

TrunkSpace: What we enjoyed about it as well is that while it’s familiar ground, it also has a very unique voice and tone.
Ruck: Yeah, and I think a lot of that is Jesse and Adam McKay, and we’ve had some terrific directors along the way. Mark Mylod and Adam Arkin and Miguel Arteta and a woman named S.J. Clarkson, and they were all on the same page. And I think Adam just set this thing up with, “Let’s mine every possible comedic moment – whatever we can find that’s even vaguely funny, lets focus on that and see if it works.” Because otherwise this would by a grim business, just really examining the life of these entitled assholes.

TrunkSpace: You can really hear your excitement for the series in the way you talk about it. Do you still get the same level of excitement stepping onto a set for the first time as you did when you started out in the business?
Ruck: Well, it goes up and down, it goes in and out, and I think a lot of it depends on the material and the people involved. This time I’ve kind of struck gold, because top-notch network… I mean, if there’s a network that everybody wants to work for, it’s HBO. So right away, because they support the show and you kind of have, in a way, carte blanche – there’s no sort of censorship or anything – you can just take it where you need to. Fantastic writers, fantastic directors and top-notch cast, so it’s, “Oh yeah, I can live here!”

And then another thing we do that’s very exciting is Jesse and his gang, they write this material, and it’s wonderful, and we do the scene as written, say three or four times, and then they can’t help themselves… they have all these alternative lines that they’ve come up with. Sometimes it’s just one or two and sometimes it’s like a page and they’ll come up and go, “What do you think about this? We want to try this. How about this for the button on that? How about in this exchange with her you try out this line.” So then we change it up in the middle, which is fun, and then we’ll do that for a few takes and then almost always, Adam McKay certainly, all of them would say, “Okay, free one, just do whatever.” And what’s exciting about that is, you’ve done the scene now six times or whatever, so it’s sort of the DNA of the scene is in your bones, right? So you know what the transactions are, you know what the structure is, and then you just go and you improvise, whatever comes out of your mouth, which is pretty similar to what they’ve written, but every now and then somebody throws a curve ball, right? So now what we get is jazz, and it’s just a blast to do, because it’s like you don’t know what’s going to happen because somebody might go off, and then you just hang on for the ride.

Ruck with Matthew Broderick and Mia Sara in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. © 1986 – Paramount Pictures

TrunkSpace: Based of what you know of how the industry operates nowadays, do you think it would be more difficult starting out in 2018 than it was for you when you kicked off your career in the early 80s?
Ruck: I think it would be impossible. Young people come up to me and they say, “Hey, how do you get started?” And of course some of them just want to know how you get on the red carpet or how you get to be famous or whatever, but other kids, that really want to know how do you get started as an actor. I feel like I don’t have anything to offer them, because I started out in Chicago, about 1980, and it was a different world. Chicago then was sort of like Toronto, at the top of the minor leagues, not New York or LA, but it was a place where thing were happening. A lot of theater was going on, they were shooting a lot of films there… it was a location city and that’s how I got started. You could walk into any talent agency in Chicago, back then on a Wednesday, and say, “Hi, I’m new, I’m 23 years old, please take my resume,” and they would sit down, and talk with you, and say, “Okay, leave a few pictures and put our stamp on them and if anything comes up for you we’ll give you a call.” And that was kind of like a golden age, and the door was open. And now that is gone. As far as I understand, it doesn’t exist anymore. So I don’t know what to tell young people. It’s definitely harder now.

TrunkSpace: If you take the business aspect out of the equation and just focus on the craft itself, have the roles become more interesting over the years because the projects themselves have gotten more sophisticated or is it because you have lived more life and now have more interesting parts available to you?
Ruck: I’m not exactly sure. It’s probably a combination of all that stuff. I’m a funny type. I’m basically a character actor without a lot of character, and I looked very young for a long time. I played an 18 year old when I was 29. It was just the way it was for me, and then I kind of fell into a bit of a trough, where I didn’t look young enough to do that stuff anymore, but nobody wanted to cast me as a lawyer, and so I just kind of made my way, I worked in some sitcoms, finally got a good one, with Michael J. Fox, 20 years ago, and I think in a way I’m just a survivor. (Laughter) I’m kind of like a cockroach of the acting business… try to kill me, but maybe you can’t.

Succession” airs Sundays on HBO.

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Wingman Wednesday

Alicia Witt

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Photo: Alicia Witt Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Kailey Schwerman

Once you’ve trimmed the turkey, got stuffed on stuffing, and crammed yourself with cranberry, take some time to relax with “The Mistletoe Inn,” the latest offering from Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas programming event. Starring one of our favorite multi-hyphenates, Alicia Witt, the movie debuts Thanksgiving night, making it the perfect final course for those looking to kick off the holiday season with a full heart… and stomach.

We recently sat down with Witt to discuss the strength of the Hallmark fandom, why she could relate to her character’s quest for creative confidence, and how she makes her music accessible for all listeners.

TrunkSpace: You’ve had a really diverse year, from “The Mistletoe Inn,” to “The Exorcist,” to “Twin Peaks,” and “Supernatural.” Has that always been the dream, to be able to do as many different types of roles and genres as possible?
Witt: Yes, that was always my reason for wanting to be an actor, is to play characters that are different from me, and play as many different kinds of roles as possible. I feel like I really get to do that at this point. I think it keeps me busy, and it keeps me on my toes. I get bored if I play the same role over and over again. I think about the last couple of years in particular, but really the entire time I’ve been doing this, there have been so many different kinds of roles that I think I’ve kept it challenging for myself.

TrunkSpace: Many of those television shows mentioned have massive fandoms, but truth be told, Hallmark’s fandom easily rivals them.
Witt: Most definitely. The interesting thing is that, for example, when I was on “The Walking Dead,” I did a lot of the conventions around that show, and I was so pleasantly surprised and thrilled to find that almost every other person that would come up to me, they were happy to have seen me on “The Walking Dead,” but they were most excited to talk to me because of the Hallmark movies. So, there’s actually a really big crossover audience as well, particularly for the Christmas films, because people who might watch something different during the rest of the year, pretty much everyone tunes in to Hallmark at Christmas because it’s such great family programming, and such great holiday programming.

TrunkSpace: You can’t have darkness without light, so for fans of “The Walking Dead,” tuning in to Hallmark Channel is a nice balance.
Witt: That’s exactly the thing. They’re both equally valid sides, and I try to live my day-to-day life more like the characters that I play in the Hallmark movies – more positive and more light. But I love exploring the darker side of things, too, because that is a very real element of the world in which we’re living. Yeah, you can’t have the darkness without the light, that’s so true. The job I’m working on right now, “The Exorcist,” which I actually just wrapped, is also a great example of that. It explores that side of us that we don’t talk about all that often, but it’s in there. I feel like these Hallmark Christmas movies celebrate all that’s special about the holiday season, and the coming together of families, and sometimes what’s challenging about that, but also what’s so important, and why it is the warmest time of the year.

TrunkSpace: It must feel extra special to have “The Mistletoe Inn” premiering on Thanksgiving, a night when so many families are already together?
Witt: I was so excited when I found out that was the night we’d be premiering. My movie last year, “The Christmas List,” also premiered on Thanksgiving and this makes me very happy and proud, and I know families are already together on that night. My family and friends in Nashville will all be together. We’re having a big joint dinner that we’re making together, and we’ll all be watching the movie for the first time together when it airs, and then I’ll be live tweeting and sharing that with the viewers for the very first time. I’m seriously so excited to see it. I’m not very big on watching my own work for the sake of watching my own work, but I love sharing these movies with people because they are so much fun, and I’m gonna be laughing as hard as anyone when we watch it.

TrunkSpace: Television moves at a breakneck pace as far as production is concerned. Because things happen so quickly on a movie like this, does that force you to come to set even more prepared in terms of knowing and connecting with your character, in this case, aspiring romance writer Kim?
Witt: This applies to everything that I do, but I tend to just absorb the script and think about the character while I’m working out or listening to music. The character just starts to find me and I figure out who she is and how she’d react to things. But it’s not so much a logical process as more of an intuitive one. When it comes to the lines, I actually learn those on the day. I happen to be really fast at learning lines, and I find that they’re a lot fresher if I don’t think about them too much. So, I let the character sink in for a few weeks beforehand, and then the lines themselves I don’t think too much about.

TrunkSpace: Was there something about Kim from a performance standpoint that you have yet to do with a character in the past? What was it that drew you to her?
Witt: She reminded me a lot of myself when I was starting out as a singer/songwriter. Because I could relate to her sense that she had this talent that, on one level she knows that she’s good at writing, and she knows that she could do it seriously and have a book deal and all of that, but because she’s a grown up living in the real world, with a real job and all of that, she needs that extra boost to get the confidence to start doing it in earnest. And at the beginning of the movie she doesn’t quite have that yet, and it’s not being helped at all by the fact that she’s been dating this real piece of work, known as Garth, who I just love that character so much in the movie. He takes himself way too seriously and believes that his work is more important than Kim’s and actually dumps her within the first five minutes because he’s decided he needs to date a more serious writer, and his career’s moving up and hers isn’t. I actually dated a singer/songwriter very similar to Garth when I was just starting out as a singer/songwriter. I had wrote a song called “About Me,” that I’ve released, that I actually wrote after that guy broke up with me.

TrunkSpace: So there was a real connection to the character as far as her journey was concerned.
Witt: Oh, I totally related. For me, it was quite a few years ago, but it kept bringing me back. I kept having flashbacks of this guy that I had dated. There was a lot that… like when Zeke (played by David Alpay) is giving Kim feedback on her writing, I could relate to that vulnerability of receiving feedback for the first time on my songwriting, or my performances. When you’re first starting out it feels like such a rejection that, if every song you write isn’t a potential hit, then you should just quit and not write songs anymore. And that’s not the way it works, you have to write hundreds of songs before you start becoming a good songwriter. Many of those songs nobody will ever hear, and it’s the same way with writing. You have to be willing to make mistakes, and write something that isn’t perfect to get to the point where you are good. So I felt like that was a real parallel and something that I could relate to in Kim.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned having a similar experience hearing feedback on your songwriting for the first time. Do you write primarily from a personal space, or do you take a more storyteller’s approach?
Witt: I have done that, the latter, but most of the time it is personal experiences and things that I am feeling. And it can be just a moment, it could be a passing feeling that I have for someone or for a situation, and you turn it into a song. If you were to tell that person, “This song’s about you,” they might be confused, and they might not get it. But, people can inspire a song without the entire story of the song being 100 percent accurate to what the real scenario is. It’s all over the place, and some of the songs I’ve written are about some of the things that have happened to people I know, and sometimes just things that I’m imagining.

TrunkSpace: So can criticism and feedback be more difficult to hear because you tend to write from such a personal space?
Witt: I think it was in the beginning. Now, I don’t take it personally because it really isn’t. I mean, to make a song something that other people, who haven’t had your specific experience, can relate to and apply to their own lives, you do need to adjust them sometimes. Sometimes it’s not good to have them be too specific. Other times you need the opposite – you need to make it more specific. 
There are moments when you put something into a song that didn’t happen at all, that’s got nothing to do with what your true experience was with it, but sometimes that’s gonna make for a better song that more people can access.

TrunkSpace: And that’s the beauty of music, an entire group of people can each find something different in a single song and relate to it in a different way.
Witt: Yes, completely. That’s what I love most about music.

TrunkSpace: And you have a new EP in the works, correct?
Witt: It’s due out soon. I did this Kickstarter campaign, which just was such an honor, and the album is done and it’s ready, and I’m just trying to figure out how best to release it because it’s produced by Jacquire King, who has an extraordinary track record. And it’s safe to say they’re the best recordings I’ve ever been part of, and I just want to do the best that I can by them and figure out if they’re going to be distributed by a label, or if I self-release again, or what. So far, my music career has pretty much been self-generated, though I’m trying to explore the possibility of finding the right person to help me with it, but if that doesn’t happen I will just self-release it again, and book a tour, and get going with it. I can’t wait to share it with everyone, though.

TrunkSpace: Finally, Alicia, as people plan to gather around with family and watch the premiere of “The Mistletoe Inn” tomorrow night, what do you believe it is that continues to draw people to Christmas movies like this one?
Witt: I think that at this point, when you tune into Hallmark Channel, especially at Christmas time, you know that you’re going to see programming that will make you smile, make you feel good no matter what’s going on in the wold, or in the news, or in your own family. And at this time of year, even though it is the time for families to get together, and in theory it’s all warm and fuzzy, there’s sometimes a lot of tension. You have family members who don’t see each other all year long and then they get together and they may not get along the way that we would like, but Hallmark can actually help make that better. I hear this a lot from people who come up to me all year long and tell me that my movies have helped their families to grow closer at the holidays. And it’s just a great channel to leave on and help you get in the mood. At least the ones that I’m a part of, I try to find some kind of offbeat humor in every one of them. And there’s a few moments that I’ve seen in this one that especially make me smile. They let me be a little bit goofy and silly, and I have as much fun making them as I do watching them. I’m really proud to be on yet another one this year.

The Mistletoe Inn” premieres Thanksgiving night on Hallmark Channel.

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Wingman Wednesday

Cyrus Arnold

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Photo By: Matt Sayles

TrunkSpace is making a slight alteration to its name for this particular feature. From this moment on until the last punctuation on the page, we will be known as…

TruckSpace.

Those with a goosebumps-inducing affinity for FOX’s “The Exorcist” will know why. As the sweet, affable foster kid David “Truck” Johnson III, Cyrus Arnold brings a shot of lightheartedness to the weekly adrenalin fest – that is, when he’s not serving as a meat suit to a malevolent demon.

We recently sat down with Arnold to discuss his horror cred, why playing Truck will make it easier to tap into future characters, and how he’s looking to branch out beyond acting.

TrunkSpace: Most people probably know you from “Zoolander 2” where you played Derek Jr., son to Ben Stiller’s Derek Zoolander. Tonally, a much different vibe than what you’re currently doing in “The Exorcist.” From a performance standpoint, is there a particular genre you prefer working in and why?
Arnold: Both genres are really fun, and they’re so different, that there really isn’t a genre I prefer over the other. Although I do love to make people laugh.

TrunkSpace: What we love about “The Exorcist” is that it has this really great, throwback feel to it. In a lot of ways, it reminds us of the horror movies we loved to watch when we were your age. Does starring in a show like “The Exorcist” give you some cred with friends just because of the cool factor?
Arnold: That’s really funny. Most of my friends are used to seeing me in a funny way, so they do find it cool that I’m in such a hardcore horror TV series. I still don’t know how much cred I’m getting though!

TrunkSpace: Within the series there’s some great creepy moments and some great scare-out-loud moments. Without spoiling what’s to come, what’s your favorite scare of the season so far?
Arnold: So far, my favorite scare of the season is probably something that happens in Episode 7. It’s pretty horrifying. I don’t want to spoil it, but that entire episode is pretty much one big scare.

TrunkSpace: For those who have yet to catch up with their DVR and the latest season, can you walk us through where your character Truck falls into things and what his journey is?
Arnold: Truck is one of the foster kids at Andy’s home. He has a heart of gold and throughout the early episodes of the season you see that Truck has funny moments with the characters. He has the role of comedy relief. When the Exorcists visit Andy’s home, that’s when the demon tries to find a target and Truck would be the perfect target for the demon because of Truck’s sensitivity. Eventually, the demon takes Truck over and terror ensues. He only wants to be loved.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, what is your favorite thing about the character? What does he allow you to do on-screen that you have yet to have the opportunity?
Arnold: My favorite thing about Truck is his pure innocence and how he means no harm to anyone. I have never played a character yet that is so sweet at heart and it is very interesting to play a character on the spectrum.

THE EXORCIST: Guest star Cyrus Arnold (C) and Li Jun Li (R) in the “Darling Nikki” episode of THE EXORCIST on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Serguei Bashlakov/FOX

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular moment or scene from your work on “The Exorcist” that you felt you learned the most from and will apply to your career and acting moving forward?
Arnold: There is a scene in Episode 6 that is very intense. It was interesting to get into that headspace of Truck in that scenario. That was probably the most intense scene I’ve done performance-wise. I think I’ll be able to apply just getting into the right mindset for the characters I portray in the future because of that experience.

TrunkSpace: We read that you hope to one day expand your career to include screenwriting. If you could write a project for yourself today that would get greenlit, filmed, and be seen by millions of people, what kind of character would you write for yourself and why? What kind of person are you itching to play?
Arnold: I would love to play a villain in a movie. Lucky for me, one scene in Episode 5, I kind of got to play a little bit of one. So, now I want more!

TrunkSpace: You grew up in Burbank, so you’ve been surrounded by the entertainment industry your entire life. Do you think being so close to the industry helped shape and cement your interest in being a part of it?
Arnold: I do think being close to the industry helped. Because I was born and live in Burbank, I get the opportunity to audition and to be an actor.

THE EXORCIST: L-R: Alex Barima, John Cho, Cyrus Arnold, Hunter Dillon and Brianna Hildebrand in the “Help Me” episode of THE EXORCIST on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Serguei Bashlakov/FOX

TrunkSpace: If you had an entire day to do nothing but lounge around and binge-watch shows or movies you have yet to see, what would you spend the day watching? What are you looking to dive into and watch that your schedule has kept you from?
Arnold: I’m a geeky kid. I love comics, Star Wars, and all that stuff. So I was going to finish binging “Iron Fist” on Netflix. Oh, I have to watch “The Defenders” too. Dang. Mainly those two shows. I also have to finish watching “The Flash.” My favorite TV show is “The Flash” right now. So yeah, mainly “The Flash.”

TrunkSpace: Finally, Cyrus, if we talk again in 10 years… what do you hope we’ll be talking about? Do you hope it’s more acting roles, a screenwriting career, or something entirely different?
Arnold: I do want to be a screenwriter when I grow up. So, if we meet again in 10 years I hope we’ll talk about a movie or TV show I’ve written. Or maybe even a comic?

“The Exorcist” airs Fridays on FOX.

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Wingman Wednesday

Alex Barima

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Photo By: Malcom Tweedy

As the demon Drexel, Alex Barima has brought a uniquely expressive comedic delivery to Hell in the long-running series “Supernatural.” When not serving as the lapdog to Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino), the Montreal native is facing off with a different kind of demonic evil in FOX’s “The Exorcist,” playing the in-story role of the canary in a coal mine who senses that something very wrong is happening beneath the surface.

We recently sat down with Barima to discuss how “The Exorcist” has already become a game changer for his career, why he had a hard time sleeping for a week, and where he’s most comfortable when it comes to performance.

TrunkSpace: There was such great buzz and word-of-mouth surrounding season 1 of “The Exorcist.” Was it exciting coming into a series that had that energy already swirling around it?
Barima: 100 percent. When I got the part, I then went and watched the whole first season, and that really solidified my excitement for the show. I was like, “I get to be a part of something pretty cool.” We’re definitely really happy with the way everything’s gone so far, and we’re excited to show everybody.

TrunkSpace: For a long time, horror never really seemed to work in television. It was always better suited for film, but tonally, “The Exorcist” is bringing that cinematic feel to the TV side of genre with its telling of the story.
Barima: Yeah. The stories really unfold kind of like a film in a way where off the top, there’s not so much action going on. It’s more of a lot of leading up, a lot of introducing characters, and then slowly but surely things go south. By the end, when you’re in the heart of the plot, stuff hits the fan pretty hard.

TrunkSpace: As they should always do in horror!
Barima: (Laughter) Exactly.

TrunkSpace: Can you set the stage in terms of where your character Shelby falls into things?
Barima: So the leads from the first season had to leave Chicago, which was the setting of the first season. Now they join us, and we’re in Seattle. My character Shelby, he lives with his foster family on this island that’s just off the coast. There’s just a few kids in the house, and we’re all from these pretty rough backgrounds. Shelby himself, he’s from a broken family – a family broken up by drugs and crime and things like that. Growing up he had a very hard time, so he found religion. That’s what saved his life. Getting into the foster system is probably the best thing that ever happened. He found a family; he found a purpose. Now with all this stuff going on, he has very good perception. He’s a pretty smart kid, so he sees a lot of stuff. When something’s out of place, he notices almost immediately. He starts to kind of freak out before anyone else in the show.

I kind of like that. It’s always the character that I look to when I’m watching horror and stuff like that – the first character to really feel that something’s not right. I’m like, “Listen to that guy! Listen to him!”

TrunkSpace: It’s a rough turn for your character. Here he is, finding this silver lining, and then it all gets taken away.
Barima: Absolutely. It’s a living hell.

TrunkSpace: Does the creepy factor of the show ever spill out of the work? Do you have to remind yourself that none of it is real every now and then?
Barima: I definitely have had to shoot a few things where I’m freaking out. Shelby, he takes a few risks during the show because obviously he’s the red herring and trying to let everybody know that something’s not right. But of course, it’s hard to believe. He’ll take a few chances himself. I haven’t been too frightened shooting the actual show, but sometimes when we’re on location, and you’ve got a moment to yourself and you’re upstairs in the greenroom by yourself or anything like that, things kind of quiet down a little bit and then you maybe have a little too much time to think about things.

TrunkSpace: The imagination is a powerful force. It’s like when you’re driving at night and you know there is nobody in your backseat, but you convince yourself that if you look in the rear-view mirror you’ll see somebody there.
Barima: Yeah, exactly. After watching the first season, I had a very hard time sleeping for at least a week. This time around, I think watching it will be a bit easier because I was a part of it.

TrunkSpace: As an actor, how do you tap into fear within a scene?
Barima: It’s not easy because I’m quite technical when it comes to performance. I can’t count on my emotions because they’re not reliable. Typically, I’ll just try to understand what’s written on the page and then do my best to emulate that.

With this type of stuff, with fear, you need to realize that when you’re afraid, you don’t care about how you look. You’re just scared. Whatever happens to your body and your face and all that, it all comes immediately and you don’t have much control. I think a lot of it is about letting go. It’s not worrying about how you’re gonna look and just really, really, trying to convince yourself that you’re scared – channel that energy into your body and then your body will kind of drive itself. Hopefully people will believe that you’re terrified.

The music and the lighting helps, as well. I think in the end, it’s a little tricky, but it’s fun. I’ve never gotten to play scared before, like truly scared for my life. I’m excited to see how that turns out.

THE EXORCIST: L-R: Brianna Hildebrand, guest star Hunter Dillon, guest star Cyrus Arnold and guest star Alex Barima in the “Janus” season premiere episode of THE EXORCIST. ©Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Sergei Bachlakov/FOX

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular moment where you felt you got to really stretch yourself as an actor?
Barima: We’re only halfway through shooting the season, so I’m sure all of the toughest stuff is yet to come. But so far, I think the fear stuff has been very new for me. It’s been very new for me to be out there and act like my life is in danger and stuff like that.

In Vancouver, we do a lot of science fiction, so it’s usually either very action-oriented or very light. But with this stuff it’s like, “Okay, damn, you gotta dig deep, and really gotta be on point!” I think that’s been the newest thing for me. It’s the constant tension that’s in almost every moment.

TrunkSpace: Do you feel like your role in “The Exorcist” has the potential to be a game changer in your career?
Barima: It already has been a game changer, to be honest. Yeah, I think that me and my team, we kind of knew that once we got this, we were like, “Okay, this is a big deal.”

It’s been a pretty good year so far, but I’ve never really worked on anything of this scale. I’ve never had so many days on a project. We definitely know that this is gonna be something pretty big for me. I’m from a comedy background myself. That’s more my focus, but in this town we don’t have a lot of comedy. So, I haven’t gotten to do very much until, actually, this year. I did one film last December that just premiered in Toronto at the International Film Fest called “Public School” with Judy Greer.

After that I got on “Supernatural” where I got to do a little comedy, as well. So I was like, “Okay, I’m finally falling into my element here.” And then with “The Exorcist” it was like this super dramatic audition. I was like, “Okay, well I don’t know how this is gonna go” and they were like, “Oh, you got it. You’re in.” I was like, “Really?” (Laughter)

So this is amazing because I get to do this super heavy stuff on Fox with this project, and then I’ve got these other comedy things going at the same time. Whichever picks up is fine with me, but ultimately, I always feel more comfortable doing comedy.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned a magic word around here, “Supernatural.” We’re big fans of the show. You have had some great scenes opposite Mark Pellegrino, who has some amazingly unique delivery in everything that he does with the character of Lucifer. What has that experience been like?
Barima: Mark has been my favorite person to work with in a long time. I obviously joined the show very late, season 12. Mark is just so fun. We talked a lot between scenes, and we get along quite well. And then whenever it came to shooting, it was just so fun. It was just so fun to see him drop into this character so quickly – this character he knows so well, and he’s just doing this dialogue, and I’m trying to keep a straight face. It was quite hilarious.

But I’ve gotta say that “Supernatural,” that crew, it’s probably one of the best sets in the whole city. The way they run the show, the way everyone is so comfortable at work, you can really tell that they’ve been doing it for a long time, and you can tell why they’ve been so successful. It’s such a well-oiled machine, that show. Really fun to work on.

“Supernatural” airs Thursdays on The CW.

“The Exorcist” airs Fridays on FOX.

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