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The Expanse

Wingman Wednesday

Nick E. Tarabay

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Photo By: Amanda Ramón/ Grooming By: Crystal Tran/ Styling By: Brandon Nicholas

From ancient Rome to the far reaches of space, Nick E. Tarabay has built a career on visiting fictional worlds that would make imaginative 10-year olds salivate. Hell, our inner kid is jumping up and down in excitement over his latest project, “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” because that’s what happens when you tell grown men that they get to watch giant monsters fight giant robots. Add the actor who plays Captain Boomerang into the mix and you pretty much just ransacked our childhood and brought one of our action packed action figure play sessions to life. Bravo to you!

We recently sat down with Tarabay to discuss how “Pacific Rim: Uprising” exceeded his own expectations, the feeling you’ll get when you leave the theater, and what fans of “The Expanse” can expect headed into Season 3.

 

TrunkSpace: This has got to be an exciting week for you. You just had the “Pacific Rim: Uprising” premiere the other night. How did that go?
Tarabay: Dude, it was fucking awesome is what it was.

TrunkSpace: When you’re shooting a movie like that, you must have your own idea of how the visuals will look in your mind. Did they live up to what you were expecting?
Tarabay: To be honest with you, and then some. Look, I’m old-school. I grew up watching movies before all the special effects and all the stuff, so when I see it now, it’s mind-blowing. It’s like, “How did they do that?” You see these robots, all CGI, but they’re characters. It’s amazing. I can’t even describe it. It’s amazing. So good. I was blown away.

TrunkSpace: And with this franchise in particular, what they did with the effects… the colors just pop right off of the screen.
Tarabay: Yeah, they were crazy. I was looking like, “Holy shit!”

TrunkSpace: “Pacific Rim” has such wide-reaching, international appeal. Does promoting it feel different because of that worldwide reach?
Tarabay: Absolutely, man. It’s great, because you don’t even have to speak English to like it. It’s such a beautiful, entertaining movie, and it’s got a lot of punchlines, and it’s got a lot of comedy as well in it. The action is just badass. You’re gonna love it. I mean, anybody will see it and be like, “Wow, that was fun.” As much as I love Oscar-winning movies and drama and all this stuff, I also love a good, entertaining movie. There’s nothing wrong with that. You go there and you just have fun, and your imagination gets to play, and you feel like a kid again. It’s beautiful. Just beautiful.

TrunkSpace: And in a day and age where, as a society, we’re so divided, it’s kind of nice to go see a movie where humanity is having to come together for the better good.
Tarabay: Absolutely! And also, it’s a diverse cast as well, which I’m for, through and through. I’m loving that Hollywood is on board with it now. It just shows you that, why not? What was the fear before from having a diverse cast? Me especially, coming from a different background, I appreciate it even more, because I think there’s a lot of talent out there, and a lot of gems out there, that just need an opportunity, just like me. Just give me the opportunity, and I will raise up to it and then some.

TrunkSpace: And the beauty in that is, a kid somewhere who doesn’t feel represented will see something of himself in the diverse cast and maybe feel inspired to chase his own dreams.
Tarabay: Absolutely. You hit it on the nail. I mean, look, I grew up in a culture, unfortunately, especially in my time, where nobody takes it seriously. It’s like, “Alright, get a real job, and then do the acting on the side as a hobby.” But who’s anybody to tell anyone else that this is not good enough? And to me, that hits on an artistic and a personal level. We were created in a way that we’re all artistic in one way or another, so for us not to fully realize that or acknowledge it, and by God have the support, it’s such a sad thing. And when I see that, when I see that onscreen, I’ll tell you, I’m lucky and I’m very old-school, because to me, that’s what I love about art. When it’s good, you don’t see diversity, you don’t see color, you don’t see culture. You just see something that brings everybody together.

TrunkSpace: And everyone might see or find something different in it, and yet they’re still bonded together collectively by that piece of art.
Tarabay: 100 percent! It has all these elements and then some, and it’s just… it’s good old fun. Just good old fun.

TrunkSpace: As an actor, do you have a different relationship with the work when there’s a very good chance that the audience is coming out to see the monsters and robots? Does your perspective of what goes into it, and what you take from it, from your side of things change?
Tarabay: Oh, not at all, dude. I loved it. I saw the first movie, and I was a fan. I think it’s just fun. I loved it. Doesn’t bother me at all. It’s not like I was, “Oh, I wish there was more of me or more of him or more of her than there is,” because let’s face it, I think the number one actor, the number one cast in this are the jaegers and the monsters. That’s the number one actor in the show, and then we come afterward. (Laughter) That’s my opinion. Some people might disagree with me, but I think that’s what it is. People wanna see those big monsters fight, and obviously the drama is gonna feed into it and that makes it even more delicious, but let’s face it, I wanna see those monsters kick ass and see what they do, so it’s all good, man.

TrunkSpace: In terms of your character Sonny, can you give us a sense of what his journey is without giving too much away?
Tarabay: Sonny is an edgy guy who wants what he wants. He’s a rough dude, and he tussles a little bit with John Boyega. It’s just fun, dude. I watched myself onscreen and, you know, in acting we tend to always look when we see ourselves on the screen like, “Oh, I could have done this better, could have done this better,” or whatever. I looked at it and I was like, “That was perfect.” I loved it. I loved me in it. (Laughter) And I think the audience will, too.

And hopefully in the third movie, you’ll see more of him.

Photo By: Amanda Ramón/ Grooming By: Crystal Tran/ Styling By: Brandon Nicholas

TrunkSpace: Is it difficult promoting a project in this spoiler alert age and worrying about what you can and cannot say leading up to a launch date?
Tarabay: Yes and no, I guess. It all depends. I have a couple of other projects that I’m working on that I cannot say anything about, and I’m dying to tell. When people ask, I’m like, “Yeah, I’m working on something, I just can’t tell you what it is!” And I mean, I get it. Look, as artistic as it is, it’s also a business, and I can see why the studios and the production houses are saying, “Let’s keep it so the audience will be enticed more and they wanna see it more and spend more money,” and all this stuff. It’s also advertisements. We love what we can’t have. We want it all, what we cannot and what we don’t know. So it’s all part of the advertising. If I tell you, “Hey, there’s a big movie coming up, it’s gonna be spectacular, and I’m in it,” now you’re really curious. If I tell you what the movie’s all about, now you might be like, “Yeah, I’m not sure if this is my genre,” or, “I’m not sure if this is it,” or, “I’m not sure if I like this,” and right away you’re out. But if I leave you in the dark a little bit, now you wanna know, and now you wanna go see it, and now you investigate more. So it makes sense.

TrunkSpace: The breadcrumbs that lead us into the theater!
Tarabay: Absolutely, man! But in this case, you’re not gonna regret it. You’re gonna go there, you’re gonna watch a movie, you’re gonna leave feeling good.

TrunkSpace: You’re no stranger to characters and worlds that have big, passionate fan bases, from “The Expanse” to Captain Boomerang in “Arrow,” and even “Longmire.” Was that by design or has it been luck that you’ve landed in these projects that have such passionate fandoms?
Tarabay: You know, it’s a little bit of both. I think luck has a lot to do with it, obviously, but also hard work and having the right people around. Look, if you work, if you keep that dream of yours alive every day… which is probably one of the hardest things to do – just keeping it alive through the ups and the downs that we go through, especially as an actor  ’cause most actors, we have more down than up, and more down time than the times that we’re working. For example, for me I always go back and do theater, just to keep that instrument sharp, to keep that dream alive, to have that faith going to stay positive. I think that plays a big part into bringing these elements into your path. And also, obviously having the right people around you – from agent, manager, publicist – that help you realize that dream, also plays a part of it. But I think luck has something to do with it as well. And then obviously you have to deliver once you get it, so I’ve been lucky enough that a lot of the jobs that I’ve been getting have been through relationships that I’ve made, like Captain Boomerang was a straight offer because the showrunner, Marc Guggenheim, such a wonderful man, I’ve auditioned for him a couple times a year, and he liked my work, so he gave me the role. And there’s a show that I’m doing, “Taken,” now, which came out of nowhere, and it was the showrunner from “Person of Interest” that offered me the role, just straightaway. So, good people like that are all around, and good work, I think, it is appreciated. I’ve been lucky. Even “Spartacus,” I did with Steven DeKnight, and now Steven DeKnight is directing this, so if you’re having these kinds of relationships, delivering, and having the right people, it all plays a big part of it.

I think the hardest part is this: trying to stay positive throughout the whole journey. That’s the hardest part of it all, trying to stay positive, trying to stay sharp, trying to stay focused.

TrunkSpace: We know that the latest season of “The Expanse” kicks off in a few weeks. What are you most excited for in terms of your character’s journey in Season 3?
Tarabay: Oh, dude! I don’t know what happened in Season 3, they just… it’s way bigger! It’s just way bigger! The first episode is so grand, it’s gonna feel like a finale. It’s so big, and there’s so many things going on, and you’re like, “Wow, what just happened?”

Pacific Rim: Uprising” opens today.

Season 3 of “The Expanse” kicks off April 11 on SyFy.

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Wingman Wednesday

Byron Mann

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Photo By: Diana Ragland

Byron Mann is on one heck of a project run, but he’s the first to admit that it wasn’t planned. In fact, he couldn’t have planned it this way if he tried.

Not only can the Hong Kong native be seen starring in the new Netflix series “Altered Carbon,” but you’ll soon be able to catch him opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the upcoming action film “Skyscraper.” Both projects’ trailers were part of the highly-anticipated Super Bowl roster of commercials, proving once again that you just can’t plan for this kind of thing.

We recently sat down with Mann to discuss the reason “Altered Carbon” feels more like a film than a television series, why it won’t be easy for other networks to duplicate, and the place he often finds himself engaged in character work.

TrunkSpace: “Altered Carbon” seems like such an ambitious show, especially by television/streaming standards. Just the visuals… the sets… they’ve really built an atmosphere and then dropped the characters in to inhabit it.
Mann: I didn’t realize how ambitious they were until I started training for the show, both individually and they had me work with a trainer every morning. It was pretty hard, rigorous training. Then, in the afternoon, we would train for the fight sequence in the pilot episode. We did that for like two months. Training for one fight sequence for two months – it’s pretty steep, yeah.

TrunkSpace: That’s amazing. It definitely had the feel of watching a feature film.
Mann: There’s no question that they were making a feature film. The director, Miguel Sapochnik, who won an Emmy for “Game of Thrones” last year… there was no question that his ambition was to make it that. I mean, listen, the camera that they used was the ALEXA 65. That’s the same camera used for “The Revenant,” the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. That camera is only used for widescreen display of the image, like in a movie theater. It’s never ever been used for a TV show. He chose to use this camera for this television show, this streaming show, I should call it. The ambition was clearly there from the get-go to make it feature film quality. When you see the first episode, you’ll see very clearly that it is a feature film presentation.

TrunkSpace: Maybe that’s why the sets and world stood out so much to us, because of the widescreen display.
Mann: Yeah. Of course, when we’re filming, you don’t really feel it. I can tell, not only from filming, but actually from the preparation, the training and rehearsals going into it, that obviously the sets were… they built a new world basically. They built a studio for the series. They converted a printing mill into a studio in Vancouver. It’s called the Skydance Studios, and Skydance owns it. I don’t know how to describe it. They weren’t making another “CSI.” They were making a groundbreaking show, from the ground up.

TrunkSpace: Which sort of calls out other networks. Executives at all of these other networks are going to be saying, “We need our own ‘Altered Carbon’.”
Mann: Oh man, that’s easier said than done. You can’t just duplicate that overnight. You can’t. It’s so hard making anything these days. It’s hard making a television show. It’s hard making a feature film. Not only do you have to make a show like that, then you have to make it a super duper outside-the-box, groundbreaking show. Forget about it. You can’t even plan it. A lot of things that came into being. There’s Laeta Kalogridis. She wrote “Terminator Genisys,” “Shutter Island.” She’s the leading science fiction writer in Hollywood. “Alita: Battle Angel,” the movie that is coming out from Robert Rodriguez… I mean, she’s it. She’s the Steven Spielberg of writers. Then Miguel Sapochnik, who was the executive producer and also directed the first big episode, which took 30 days to shoot. So you have a lot of these things coming together to make this kind of a show.

It’s like the Patriots – it’s a lot of things coming into one. Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and Gronk. The reality is, in football terms, you can’t even duplicate that. Where are you going to get another dynasty? If one of them leaves? If Brady leaves?

I’m very honored, very humbled to happen to be a part of this. It’s awesome.

TrunkSpace: When you signed on, did you dive into the source material, Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 book, to see what came before?
Mann: No. When I first started, I talked to Laeta Kalogridis, the showrunner. She said, “Don’t read the book.” So I didn’t. I just read the script, and I had many, many hours of sitting down with her alone, and just asking her questions like, “What’s going on? What happened?” It’s a new world with new terminology, a new technique of how things work. It’s like “Blade Runner.” It’s a brand new world. Believe it or not, I think 50 years from now, I think our lives will be very close to what we see in “Altered Carbon.” It’s predicated on this premise, that everyone has a “stack,” like a gift in their vertebrae. All humans have this gift. Even if your outer body dies, you can go resave yourself again. As I understand, they’re heavily invested in this technology right now, as we speak.

TrunkSpace: So when you’re playing in the sandbox of a whole new world with new terminology and techniques on how things work, does it allow you to take a different approach to performance than you would with something set in modern day New York, for example?
Mann: Not really. As an actor, when you’re doing a scene, you just want to find out the questions. “Who are you? What do you want? What’s happening in the scene?” It’s still human emotions. No matter how sci-fi everything gets, the baseline is still dealing with very basic human emotions – love, jealousy, desire, power – all that.

Mann in “Altered Carbon”

TrunkSpace: Between “Altered Carbon” and the projects you have due up, you’re getting to work in a lot of different genres. As an actor, is it a treat to get to play in so many different types of projects?
Mann: Yeah, I guess it’s fun. It doesn’t really faze me too much. After playing so many different characters, I think it’s all… the stuff I said earlier, it applies to every single project. Basically, you find out who you are, what you’re doing here, and what are you trying to do? That hasn’t changed from the ’70s and the ’60s, when you had movies like “The Graduate,” or “Serpico,” or “The French Connection.” And now with “Altered Carbon,” it’s still the same thing. Especially for an actor, it’s just you playing in an emotion.

TrunkSpace: Is that the personal draw for you as an actor, the discovery of finding out who a character is?
Mann: Yeah. Sometimes you find it on the tape, when you’re filming. That’s gold, if you actually discover that.

TrunkSpace: Are you someone who looks at someone sitting in a coffee shop or in line at the grocery store and breaks down who they are? Do you have those storyteller moments where you’re trying to discover “characters” even in real life?
Mann: Well, it can hit you anytime – character thoughts can hit you anytime. Once you’re thinking about it, it’s in your subconscious. For me, I’ll tell you when it hits me, it hits me when I’m taking a shower. Sometimes I’m in the shower a long time, and you think about these things.

TrunkSpace: We can totally see that. No distractions. No cell phones. Just you and your thoughts.
Mann: Yeah, and the water is warm, hopefully. When you’re under warm water, your body relaxes. When you’re relaxed, a lot of good things happen to you. I’ve thought about that. I said, “Why do I have these great thoughts when I think in the shower?” It’s usually because your body is really relaxed.

TrunkSpace: You had two trailers for projects you’re in run during the Super Bowl. One was for “Altered Carbon,” and the other was for “Skyscraper,” starring Dwayne Johnson. Not too shabby for the most watched television event of the year!
Mann: Yeah, no kidding. Like I said, you can’t plan for this stuff. You just can’t. You just have to go along life’s journey, do the best you can, and then life will kind of find your way towards these things.

Altered Carbon” is available now on Netflix.

Skyscraper” arrives in theaters July 13.

Mann can also be seen returning to SyFy’s “The Expanse” later this year and the upcoming Blumhouse thriller “Only You.”

Featured image by: Diana Ragland

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Wingman Wednesday

Dewshane Williams

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Photo: Dewshane Williams Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Steven Ackerman

Yes, we’re counting the days until wind chills are no longer a factor in our daily clothing choices and Nor’easters are Nor’more, but until then we’re embracing the sentimental glow of the season – warming ourselves at the foot of the fireplace, indulging in home-cooked comfort foods, and of course, settling in under a heavy blanket and watching Hallmark Channel’s Winterfest programming event.

Premiering Saturday on the network, “One Winter Weekend” tells the story of a surprise romance that develops between two unlikely people, played by Taylor Cole and Jack Turner, who find themselves double-booked and snowed in together while on their own individual weekend away in the mountains.

We recently sat down with “One Winter Weekend” star Dewshane Williams to discuss staying warm on location, being welcomed into the Hallmark Channel family, and why it’s important to learn on the job.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, this is your first time working on a Hallmark Channel movie. Did you go into the production with a certain set of preconceived notions/expectations and how did those views change by the time that the film wrapped?
Williams: You’re correct, this is my first time working with Hallmark Channel. I had no idea what to expect; however, I kept an open mind to the experience which was beneficial to my process. I was able to evolve creatively as a result, which is exactly what I was hoping would happen. If there’s anything I’ve discovered it’s that romantic comedies can be a lot of fun to work on.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that Hallmark Channel is known for is creating films that establish a feel and tone of a particular season, ultimately putting the audience in that seasonal moment. As far as the technical aspect of making a movie is concerned, was that element of the process new to you and does it ultimately play into how you approach your performance at all?
Williams: I’m from north of the border (Canada) where it can get pretty cold during the winter. For me, shooting in the freezing temperatures of Winnipeg, or the Kananaskis Mountains, was fairly simple. Wear layers, and you’ll be fine. Our wardrobe department was the best. They took care of us by making sure we had the appropriate gear. They’ve got these things we call “hot shots,” which are incredible! You put them on and they heat up for several hours; keeping your muscles and vital organs warm.

TrunkSpace: As far as your character Sean is concerned, can you give us a little insight into who he is as a person and how you “found” him in your own personal discovery process?
Williams: Dr. Sean is an affluent, supportive, free spirit. He’s the kind of friend you want to have in your corner. Sean also has a great sense of humor, which is infectious. We share a number of characteristics in common, and so I was able to understand where he was coming from rather easily. I’m grateful I got the opportunity to bring him to life.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular scene or moment that you’re most excited for people to see in terms of your performance as Sean?
Williams: All of it! Typically, I don’t watch the things I’m in as I’m rather self-conscious – most actors are – however, my intention is to watch this film. Gary Yates did a wonderful job directing us, so I’m curious to see how it all turned out.

TrunkSpace: We have been amazed at how passionate and engaged the Hallmark Channel fan base is, especially via social media. Did you have any idea how popular Hallmark Channel movies were when you signed on for “One Winter Weekend” and now that you’ve been a part of one, what do you think the draw is for all of those “Hallmarkies” who continue to tune in with each new film or series?
Williams: I had no idea how passionate Hallmark Channel’s fan base was! That’s a great thing to hear; hopefully the film lives up to their expectations. I recently attended the TCA 18 event in Los Angeles with Crown Media, and it felt like I was being welcomed into a family. Maybe that’s it? There’s a warmth to the network that’s universal. It feels like you’re welcoming a family member into your home.

TrunkSpace: It feels like there is so much negativity and chaos going on in the world every time you turn on the news or check your Twitter feed. Do you think that part of the appeal of a film like “One Winter Weekend” is that, as a society, we’re just looking to feel good? In a way, they’re a bit of a throwback, are they not?
Williams: Definitely. Globally there’s quite a bit of negativity out there. If we can provide viewers with stories that help them believe in a better world, or warm their hearts; we’re responding to that negativity in a creative way. “One Winter Weekend” will make you feel good while watching it. That was one of our intentions.

TrunkSpace: Prior to your work on “One Winter Weekend,” you appeared in a number of science fiction and action projects. Was that by design? Did you have an interest in those genres that lead you down that path, or did fate step in and point you in that direction?
Williams: Prior to “One Winter Weekend” I’ve done a number of science fiction and action projects, you’re right. I think it was both by design and fate. As a boy, I was always interested in sci-fi and action. Getting the opportunity to combine both on a show like “Defiance” or “The Expanse” was a dream come true. Some of my biggest influences in film/TV are Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Steven Spielberg, and Will Smith, respectively. All of those names have an extensive background in science fiction/action projects… maybe I’m subconsciously following their lead?

TrunkSpace: A number of the series you have appeared on have built passionate fandoms, both due to their source material/character origins (“Supergirl”) and their originality (“Defiance”). Do you think social media has allowed series like those we mentioned to build on their fandoms in ways that shows of the past were unable to do? What is your relationship with social media and the fans who reach out to you via the platform?
Williams: I’m very fortunate that the fandoms I’ve encountered so far in my career have been wonderful. They really care about the shows we’re making and that’s apparent to us. “Defiance” and “Supergirl” fandoms, we see you and appreciate your enthusiasm. I think fandom organization is much easier than it used to be prior to the internet, and that definitely allows certain shows/films to thrive. The audience is a very important part of what we do and so I try my best to engage them online when I can. I haven’t been on Twitter in a while, but I’ll return sooner than later!

Williams in Defiance. Photo By: Joe Pugliese/Syfy

TrunkSpace: You studied your craft in school, but how much have you learned through the act of doing that you could have never discovered in a classroom? Is it important for people to strike a balance between training and hands-on experience to find success as an actor?
Williams: I went to an arts school in Toronto, and one of my school mates once gave me some great advice. I was in-between acting classes and I reached out to Nina (Dobrev) asking her for some advice on the craft. Her response has always stuck with me. She said, “Some of the biggest things I’ve learned happened while working on set.” That’s proven to be true for me as well. Understanding how to efficiently communicate with my crew/director in the workplace was one of those skills I’ve been able to develop. You can only learn so much in the classroom, or during training. At some point, you’ll have to take those skills and apply them while in the work environment. As a general rule in life, balance is key.

TrunkSpace: You started out acting for the stage. Does that medium still call out to you and do you continue to perform in theatrical productions?
Williams: Yes! The stage calls me from time to time. I would love to produce and star in some theater. Maybe Shakespeare? I had a chat with a friend of mine last month who wanted to do a little play, so I might do that if the scheduling is right. Would you come?

TrunkSpace: Count us in! Have your aspirations/goals changed from when you started out acting to where you are now?
Williams: Yes. My aspirations have evolved since I first started acting, as I’m constantly growing. I would love to offer more to the industry, and hopefully I can provide opportunities for others as well. I’m interested in writing and producing. directing is also something I would love to explore. Over the years my appreciation for the other departments that make up our community has grown immensely.

TrunkSpace: We’re a few weeks into 2018. Did you set any resolutions for yourself in the new year and if so, how are you doing with them thus far?
Williams: New year, same me. I’m trying my best to grow creatively, have new experiences, and read a couple more books. That hasn’t changed since last year.

One Winter Weekend” premieres Saturday, January 20 (9 p.m. ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel.

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