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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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