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Wingman Wednesday

Evan Daigle

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Photo By: Akeem Biggs

The hit TNT series “Claws” took audiences by surprise when it first aired in the summer of 2017, but those tuning in weren’t the only ones to have the Rashida Jones-produced dramedy exceed their expectations. Evan Daigle, then a college student in New Orleans, was cast in the pilot as Toby, only to discover months later that the character would become a recurring role, kick-starting his professional career in a most unexpected way.

We recently sat down with Daigle to discuss the slow burn of Toby’s birth as an ongoing character, the inspiring words that will stay with him throughout the course of his career, and why he has been spoiled with “Claws” being his first job.

TrunkSpace: Your “Claws” journey and how your professional career kicked off was sort of unorthodox and not how a lot of actors find their path. How has your life changed the most since it all began?
Daigle: I think that the biggest difference in my life was just having to leave school – being in school since the time that I was five years old and then leaving, not when I planned to leave, but when I was 23 and about to graduate. It was an opportunity that I couldn’t refuse. And I was going to school to be able to work professionally as an actor. So I think that that was probably the biggest difference in lifestyle. But now that I’ve settled in, after doing two seasons of the show, I feel really comfortable with all of the crew and all of the other actors and everything. I think that the biggest new thing that I am dealing with now is how to settle myself in Los Angeles and figure out how this city works ‘cause I come from a really small town in Louisiana.

TrunkSpace: You had no idea where things would end up when you first read for the part because the character wasn’t even considered to reoccur at that time, so in terms of your personal journey, it must have been interesting to see it all take these turns, turns that you never expected?
Daigle: It was a slow burn for sure. I got the pilot in October of 2016. The character was only going to be in one episode, and the series hadn’t been green lit yet. I was only going to be in that one scene. I auditioned for another co-star part, not recurring, nothing to do with that, but then whenever the series got green lit in January of the following year, my agent called me and said that they had me penned for the first three episodes of the season. So at that point we kind of had a feeling for sure that it was going to be a recurring part and after that it was just every week I would get a call from my agent, “They want you back. They want you back.” And I ended up doing nine episodes the first season and six episodes in this new season. So it’s been moving pretty fast. I can’t believe that it’s already been two years and two seasons since I started with the show.

TrunkSpace: Did you already move on emotionally from the job between that period of getting the pilot and when you ultimately heard back?
Daigle: Oh definitely. You sort of have to ‘cause if you really stress out or think about options or projects that you don’t really know they’re gonna go or not you’ll just live miserably as an actor, so you have to try to just let it go as much as possible. Obviously I was checking Variety every day, and when I saw the Variety article that the series got green lit, those two days between then and then whenever my agent called me were some of the most stressful days that I’ve had in my young career. But whenever I got the call to tell me that they had booked me for more episodes, we were both so excited.

TrunkSpace: As far as jobs go, because there were so few expectations out of the gates, it must be the gift that keeps on giving.
Daigle: Oh and this project has… that’s the perfect way to put it. It’s been the gift that keeps on giving. Not only has this project really given me the beginnings of a real career, it’s also just been such a blessing for this job to be what it is. I feel so incredibly, incredibly inspired by the themes of the show. I love how diverse and inclusive it is. It’s just been great that this show is my first job. I feel really spoiled for the set that I work on, ‘cause I hear it’s not necessarily the norm.

TrunkSpace: It feels like a lot about this job, at least how it relates to you, has not been the norm. You didn’t go to Los Angeles to start your career. In a way, the show kind of found you in New Orleans, right?
Daigle: Yes. There’s a small film industry in New Orleans ’cause a lot of films and TV shows will film down there and they’ll hire the co-stars and the one-liners out of New Orleans. And so I had a small agent there and that’s why I was able to even get in the room with the part because it started off so small. I had always saw myself moving to LA or New York to start my career, but I was going to try to stay in New Orleans and build up my resume with a couple of co-star roles to have a little something-something whenever I got out here. What has happened to me now is more than I ever could have asked for or even envisioned for myself, so it’s been amazing.

Photo By: Akeem Biggs

TrunkSpace: And it must be such a confidence boost to your abilities as an actor to know that they brought this character back after you gave him life?
Daigle: Yeah, and honestly, that’s been the most gratifying and most validating thing for me, is that it’s true what you say – if you’re not a regular, you’re not contracted into absolutely anything. And so they can kill you off or they can simply write you out. And so Jenn Lyon, who plays Jen in the show… and I will never forget, I think in the fifth or sixth episode of the first season, her and I were working together and she sat me down and told me that she was really proud of me and to recognize that I’m here and continuing to be here because I’ve impressed the producers at the network and studio level continuously. And she was like, “You’re a young actor, I know that you probably don’t understand the gravity of that, but I want you to know that I’m proud of you.” It’s just that kind of validation, from these seasoned actors that have been just working for years and years and years, it’s given me the confidence that I think I need to start really competing in LA.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned leaving college sooner than you expected, but in many ways, your education is continuing through your work on the series… just not in a classroom.
Daigle: Oh 100 percent. The first season for me was a complete, complete immersion into film acting. I was studying theater in school and I had a really good film acting teacher but there’s nothing like actually being on set and getting to work with people like Carrie Preston and Harold Perrineau who are these insanely talented, seasoned theater, film and TV actors. It’s what I was telling you, I feel so spoiled by this being my first job.

Claws” airs Sundays on TNT.

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Wingman Wednesday

Hiro Kanagawa

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Photo By: Kristine Cofsky

While we used to look forward to “tentpole” films rolling into our local cineplexes every summer, now we can see the same production quality, marque names, and multi-layered world building appearing on our televisions every night, holding up the pop culture tent with poles steeped in rich, complex storytelling. In fact, it’s starting to feel like a new, highly-anticipated series premieres every week, and for those of us addicted to the binge, it’s a great time to consume.

The new Netflix sci-fi thrillfest “Altered Carbon” is the kind of show that not only has us excited, but it could very well usher in a new dawn of big-budgeted event series. Adapting a project like this, based on the 2002 novel by Richard Morgan, for anywhere other than a movie theater would have been completely unheard of even a decade ago. The cost alone to bring the futuristic, effects-filled story to life would have scared off every executive from network to cable, but now it seems, much like the technology that makes a show like this possible, the sky is the limit.

We recently sat down with “Altered Carbon” star and one of our favorite character actors Hiro Kanagawa to discuss how he brings his memorable characters to life, why the series could be a game changer for the industry, and the rock ‘n’ roll dream that still pecks away at him.

TrunkSpace: First thing’s first…we love us some you! Your work is always so rich in character and the choices you make with those characters are extremely memorable. What is your approach to tapping into a new character and making him your own?
Kanagawa: Thanks for the kind words. Acting is an ephemeral activity, even when captured on film, so it’s great to know that some of what I do is memorable. Creating these characters really depends on the circumstance, the style and content of the script, the people around you, the specifics of the character. When I was starting out I was coming from a bit of an arty physical theater background, so I tended to work outside-in: find the voice, find the walk, find the way this guy carries himself. But in film and TV, less is more – you really have to internalize things and work inside-out because something as small as a sideways glance or an arched eyebrow can be a big, big move. Also, everybody you’re working with is coming at things from different methods and training techniques and traditions, so I’ve found the most reliable thing to do as an actor is BE IN RELATIONSHIP with your other actors and your environment. I hope audiences appreciate my work as Captain Tanaka on “Altered Carbon.” I’m proud of it, and a lot of it comes out of being in relationship with Martha Higareda’s character, Ortega.

TrunkSpace: As you mentioned, you’re set to star as Captain Tanaka in the new Netflix series “Altered Carbon.” By any standards it seems like an extremely ambitious project, but by television/streaming standards, it feels like it could be the kind of project that forces others to rethink the way that they’re doing things. As you were working on the series, did it have the feel of something that could be groundbreaking within the industry itself?
Kanagawa: Absolutely. And it’s more than blind ambition, there’s a desire, an aspiration to make something really good. I could tell everybody on this project from the top down were dedicated to getting things right. I go into my first wardrobe fitting and a few days later I have another one because they’ve re-thought things. And then another one. I walk on set on my first day and my first reaction is, “Wow.” Same thing the next day when I see another set. And so on. I get called in to rehearse on a Saturday and with input from all of us actors, the scene gets rewritten. There’s creative energy. Everybody’s involved and engaged. Nobody was mailing it in on this one.

TrunkSpace: At this point, millions of people have already viewed the trailer online and the buzz continues to build around the series. As an actor performing within a show that is generating that kind of pop culture interest, does it place you in a position to put expectations on how it will be received and accepted, and in a way, alter your life/career in the process?
Kanagawa: I do have expectations that it will be well-received. I’ve seen bits and pieces and everything I’ve seen excites me. I’ve read the scripts, of course, and being a writer myself, I have nothing but admiration for the writing. I am aware that my work here as Captain Tanaka will probably get a lot of eyeballs and I’m happy about that because I feel good about it. If this creates more opportunities for me in the future, I’m ready. Bring it on.

TrunkSpace: For those who have never read the Richard Morgan novel, can you tell us a bit about Captain Tanaka and what his journey is throughout the course of the series? What did he offer you from a performance standpoint that you have yet to tackle in a project before?
Kanagawa: The series is in the same universe and follows the same general trajectory as the first book, but it’s a major expansion of that universe. Captain Tanaka, in fact, does not appear in the novel. What I can tell you is that Tanaka is a deeply-conflicted and compromised police captain tasked with keeping law and order in a world run by an ultra-powerful elite. He’s a good man in a bad world and he can either keep his head down and do as he’s told, or he can do the right thing. As an actor, you live for characters who are conflicted in this way.

TrunkSpace: From one talked about project to the next, you’re also working on “Snowpiercer” for TNT, a series based on Bong Joon Ho’s popular 2013 film. Both “Altered Carbon” and “Snowpiercer” come with a bit of their own built-in audiences seeing that they had established fan bases in other mediums already. Is that a gift for an actor, working on something that you know people will already be lining up to see, or does it also come with its own set of pitfalls knowing that some viewers might go in with expectations already in place?
Kanagawa: I think there are instances where the fans of a known, iconic story do not want what they know and love to be messed with. I don’t think “Altered Carbon” or “Snowpiercer” will suffer from that given both projects are re-interpreting the original for a different medium. If anything, I feel an audience expectation and excitement to see what new directions both series will go in.

TrunkSpace: You’ve performed in dozens of series and films over the course of your career. Looking back, are there any characters that you wished you had more time to spend with and explore further, and if so, why?
Kanagawa: Lt. Suzuki on “iZombie”, and the Yakuza boss Okamura on “The Man in the High Castle” both met untimely ends. There was a lot more to explore with those characters.

TrunkSpace: You’ve had some great runs on fan favorite shows adored by the Comic Con crowds like those two you just mentioned, and most recently, “Legends of Tomorrow.” But one thing a lot of people might not know about you is that you also played father of the first family of comics, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. What was that experience like, giving voice to such an iconic character?
Kanagawa: I don’t do a lot of animation, so it was a tremendous pleasure being in the room with artists who are the creme de la creme of that industry. And as an Asian actor, I thought it was fantastic that I had the opportunity to voice such an iconic non-Asian character. Reed, of course, is kind of the “straight man” in the family, so I didn’t have to move far from my natural speaking voice, but I had a great time with a couple of episodes where Reed switched bodies with Ben/The Thing as well as with Dr. Doom.

Kanagawa with Joel de la Fuente “The Man in the High Castle”

TrunkSpace: You also did an episode of “Supernatural,” which many in the fandom consider to be one of the most memorable in the series’ 13 year run. (“Changing Channels”) That got us to thinking… can you imagine yourself working on one character for such an extended period of time, in this case, 13 seasons, and is that something you would welcome?
Kanagawa: It really depends on the character I guess. I’ve been lucky to have a sustained career without being attached to a single character or show for longer than two seasons. But this is the golden age of the serial narrative and there is so much good writing out there in this medium that I would welcome the opportunity to explore a character over multiple seasons.

TrunkSpace: We read that you started your creative journey as a musician, composer, and writer. Are those areas that are still a big part of your life even as your acting career has continued to propel you forward in ways that you probably never thought possible?
Kanagawa: I am a playwright as well as an actor and I am very proud of the fact that I recently received the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Drama, one of Canada’s most prestigious literary awards. As for music, as anyone who ever played in a high school rock band will attest, I still dream of getting the band back together, taking my shirt off, and kicking some ass!

TrunkSpace: A lot of times our loves and creative outlets can end up feeling like “work” when those outlets become careers. Do you still love acting as much today as you did the first time you stepped foot on a set and began your career?
Kanagawa: I actually love it more now than ever. I feel I’m just starting to get really interesting opportunities, and that’s coming at a time when I’m starting to do my best work. All of that is extremely exciting. I’m chomping at the bit here.

TrunkSpace: Do you view the craft differently now than you did when you first began your pursuit of it?
Kanagawa: Completely. I’m always learning about myself as I journey through life. And acting is a craft you can learn so much about from watching people you’ve never met. You can watch actors who died decades ago and learn from them. You can learn from watching people at the food court at the mall. It’s endlessly, endlessly fascinating.

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you tomorrow with a blank check and said, “Hiro, go make the kind of projects that you want to make,” what would that look like? What kind of project would you develop for yourself knowing that money was not an option?
Kanagawa: Being a writer and having a couple of screenplays and series concepts, I’d use the money to get those things made. I don’t really write roles for myself, but if I had a blank check maybe I’d be tempted to write myself something. Might be tempted to write myself a part where I cross the desert, climb the mountain, and make it to the promised land.

Altered Carbon” premieres Friday on Netflix.

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Wingman Wednesday

Douglas Smith

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Smith with Matthew Shear in “The Alienist.” Photo by Kata Vermes

Being a fairly young television enthusiast must be a bit like being a fairly young Boston sports fan… you only know winning! In this Golden Age of TV, the amazing content being pumped into our homes is unlike anything we could have imagined 20 or 30 years ago. Even when something is not your particular cup of tea, it’s hard to argue that it’s not still quality tea.

Such is the case with TNT’s ambitious new series “The Alienist.” Based on the novel by Caleb Carr, the 10-episode crime drama set in 1896 looks and plays like a movie, further advancing the creative maturity of television as a storytelling medium.

We recently sat down with series star Douglas Smith to discuss how he views the small screen awakening, how he approached his performance in “The Alienist,” and the memorable advice Bill Paxton gave him.

TrunkSpace: “The Alienist” is such an ambitious show and certainly reflective of how far television has come in recent years. As an actor working in this Golden Age of TV, is it still exciting to see really high-end storytelling like this being developed or is it kind of expected now?
Smith: I think both. I think audiences have come to expect the best storytelling to unfold on their TVs, but it’s still exciting. I audition for every type of thing. I’m auditioning for indie movies that have no budget. Then next week, I’m auditioning for a sci-fi, CGI thing. I’ve done my fair share of both. I’ve done indies. I’ve done Blumhouse horror movies. I’ve done visual effects-heavy things that are higher budgeted. And so, when you get a chance to work on something that is both well-budgeted, so they can really realize their vision, but it’s also rooted in a gritty, detailed world, you’re able to go into a place that’s maybe not so safe. It’s fun.

I just think people come to expect really great things to show up on their Hulu, or their Netflix, or their Amazon Prime. It’s interesting. Hopefully it keeps going. I hear people wonder what the future will hold, and I don’t think anybody really, truly knows. I know that I definitely waste a lot of hours watching stuff on my various platforms when I should be doing other things ‘cause of how good the stuff is that’s out there. I’m sure you’re the same.

TrunkSpace: Guilty as charged! What’s interesting is that not only do we park ourselves in front of the television way more than we should, but we go into every new show with expectations. There’s a sense of everything needing to be A+ storytelling now.
Smith: Yeah. Well, there’s also this nostalgia side of TV, where you almost expect it to not be that way, and that has a place too. I think that’s why you still see procedurals of the more generic nature still on your television and still getting lots and lots of love from people. I mean, I sometimes feel that way. I sometimes wanna watch that kind of stuff, like “Law & Order” reruns. I’m a huge “Quantum Leap” fan.

TrunkSpace: Great show! Ziggy!
Smith: I discovered that a couple years ago. Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I’ll put on an episode.

TrunkSpace: Imagine what they could do with that show now?
Smith: I would love to see an update, but you have to find an actor with Bakula’s charm. Bakula, he still has the charm. He could definitely be in it, but, he’s busy on “NCIS: New Orleans,” though.

TrunkSpace: Procedurals still have those extended seasons. A 22-episode season tends to have a lot of filler. On something like “The Alienist” where you’re doing a 10-episode season, what’s great about that for the viewer is that every second counts. That must be true for the performer as well?
Smith: Yeah, I would definitely agree with that. I think that you don’t have to retread, and you can really pick your valleys. At least, I did this privately and collaboratively with the different directors that I was working with on the show. We were engaging in a pretty constant conversation… ’cause my character Marcus is very confident and very matter of fact about what they’re doing – kind of cocky and doesn’t seem overly emotional about the killings of the first victims they’re dealing with, as well as the corpses of those five boys who are being analyzed years after their death. That was the way I chose to play it, and that was the way that Jakob (Verbruggen) agreed with. And then moving forward, talking to Max (Frye), one of our writers, we realized that there’s a point where it does go and hit closer to home for Marcus, and we were able to sort of pick that moment a little deeper into the show. It’s around the midpoint of the show.

I was just doing ADR for that scene, and I was really happy with the way it came about. It was like a multi-person dialogue about when does it get too close to home for someone like Marcus, ’cause he grew up in a really dangerous, disgusting neighborhood. I didn’t think it was the right choice for him to be as affected by these grisly murders as somebody like John Moore (played by Luke Evans), who came from a much more sheltered, high society, although I didn’t want to play it like he’s this depressed guy. That wasn’t the vision of the character that was set forth by Caleb Carr in the novel. He was always very strong, and moving forward, especially at the end of the book when Marcus and John go off on their own together, to sort of question people. It’s always John who’s the narrator in the book, who’s reticent and worried, and then Marcus is just like on the side of the building. He’s doing this. He’s doing that. And so, I felt like that was the right move.

When I started reading the scripts as they started coming out, they really kept that. They’d go deeper into Marcus’s home life than the book does, which was also a welcome thing as an actor. Jakob was there throughout the filming of the whole 10 episodes, even though his name is only on the first three. He was actually a shepherd for the whole thing. When I would be working on later episodes, he would still be walking around and he would be shooting something from the earlier episodes later that week, or he’d be in the editing room. We had countless conversations just passing in the hall before I walked into the stage to, let’s say, film a scene from a later episode. “Hey, what do you think about this? Is this right?” Same with Jamie Payne, who directed the last two episodes. He was there the entirety, as well. We were left alone to the point where we could come up with our own ideas, but there was a lot of support to sort of question if those ideas were wrong. There were a few times where the idea was wrong. I remember a pretty specific moment when one of the writers was like, “No, you don’t wanna do that because of this, this, this.” And I was like, “Oh, fuck. You’re right. Okay. Yeah.”

Smith with Matthew Shear in “The Alienist.” Photo by Kata Vermes

TrunkSpace: Do you approach your performance differently on something like “The Alienist” when you know it is a period piece? Just in terms of how people held themselves, presented themselves, etc.?
Smith: Yeah. That was a long ongoing conversation. The first sort of things were just meeting Matthew (Shear) and being like, “Hey, this is my idea. How did you play it in the audition?” And he’s like, “I kinda did it like this.” And I was like, “All Right. That’s kinda how I did it. We must be on the right track, ’cause we both got cast.” And then, I think the day we landed in Budapest, they had us meet with the dialect coach, Rick Lipton, and we spoke with him. That night we all met at a wine soiree thing, and that was like my first question to Max. Then, we watched some documentaries that sort of analyzed the New York sort of way of life. There was this really great little movie called “Hester Street” that’s kind of about Jews in New York around the turn of the century. It stars that woman from “Annie Hall,” Carol Kane. Then, we watched a documentary called “If These Knishes Could Talk.”

So, we had an ongoing sort of debate. I don’t know if the debate ever really fully ended. We just were like, “Okay, let’s put on the clothes. The clothes are pretty restrictive. Okay. That’ll sort of inform the performance.” But, we didn’t want to be charactery and so stiff, ’cause I really think there’s a malleability and a certain urgency that the Isaacsons bring to the scenes that they populate, and I didn’t really want us to blend in. I don’t think they blend in when I read the pages of either the book or the script. I think they really stand out like sore thumbs in most of the environments that they find themselves in. And so, I wanted to embrace that rather than fight against it.

TrunkSpace: The series plays out like event television in the sense that, you don’t want to wait until it’s all available to stream. You want to show up each week and see what’s going to happen next. Did it have that sense when you first read it?
Smith: I knew it was a week-to-week airing experience, which I know a lot of people like to do. “Stranger Things” came out and most of my friends finished it in a weekend. I’m a little more traditional. I like to spread things out when I like them. I didn’t really think about that though, to be perfectly honest. I kind of knew we were doing a show that was going to be on a network that aired it week after week, and didn’t dump all the episodes at once, but that’s really not a thought that comes into your mindset. I’m there just kinda spending more time talking about what you were talking about, like, “Okay, how do they walk? How do they feel? Like, how many suits do they own?” We sort of decided that the suit you see them in is pretty much the only suit they have. I think we changed outfits once, halfway through, and we’re like, “This is their summer suit.” But they really only own two suits. Even that felt like, “Would they even have two suits?” Maybe. Probably one, maybe two. We were thinking about these kinds of things. And then, thinking about, “How many times have you seen a dead body? How many times have you had sex with a girl? Marcus is not a virgin.” Things like that. “Has Lucius ever had an experience with the opposite sex?” It’s these sort things that you try to focus on, because that’s what’s gonna affect how you do the scene.

I knew we were doing the whole book, which I was happy about. I didn’t think it was the right decision to stretch out the book in more than one season of television. I think that’ll make for a really satisfying experience for people. So, I was happy about that. That’s one thing I didn’t know when I got the job, because I only got the first two scripts when I got the job.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on so many projects, and obviously a lot of great television going all the way back to “Big Love.” As an actor, what projects taught you the most about the craft, even though you’re probably still learning on your journey?
Smith: Very much still learning. I learn something on every job. I learn stuff on good and bad jobs. The most valuable thing I ever learned was Bill Paxton telling me not to eat too much before my closeup when they break for lunch in the middle of your scene. It may sound weird, but true. You could spend all day doing your character bio or doing sense memory or something, but we’re sort of practical workmen. Basically he saw me… we were doing a scene, a pretty deep father/son scene. They had to break for lunch after we’d done the master and Bill had done his closeup, but they were saving my closeup. They had to cut for lunch and he saw me piling a huge amount of apple crumble onto my plate. He was like, “Ah, bud…” He sort of did like a little cut gesture. He used to do this kind of cut with his hand across his neck. “I’d cut that out, man. You’re way out of the scene. You know what I’m talking about, brother?”

Smith with Paxton in “Big Love.”

I really always remember that on any job I’ve ever gone on. You do a lot of doing nothing on a set, but you have to be very careful with how you do nothing. You have to be very careful about how you hit the craft service. You have to be very mindful in the way you occupy this body of yours that needs to be ready to perform and access any emotion at any time.

The Alienist” airs Mondays on TNT.

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Wingman Wednesday

John Harlan Kim

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Nobody ever said that saving the world week after week would be easy, but for fans of “The Librarians,” it’s at least guaranteed to be entertaining.

Now entering its fourth season, the fantastical adventure series that spun off from the successful TNT movie franchise of the same name, is returning for more anything-and-everything-can-happen storytelling. Focusing on the high stakes exploits of an ancient organization of librarians tasked with protecting the planet, the new season promises to deliver on the kinds of fun twists and turns that fans of the series have come to expect.

We recently sat down with star John Harlan Kim, who plays Ezekiel Jones, to discuss how the limitless storytelling potential of the series impacts his performance, why a horror-themed episode was one of his favorites, and whether or not he could see himself playing a librarian for another 10 seasons.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that surprised us was just how young you are in real life. From an outside perspective, Ezekiel seems like a really complex, multilayered character, which seems like a gift to get to play at your age.
Kim: That’s the cool thing about Ezekiel, is he is complex. I get to delve into the lens of what essentially makes him up as a character. I think we have such an amazing writers team to essentially put together these characters that all have their special skills, and talents, and what makes them ultimately, at the end of the day, qualified librarians. But also, they all come with their own set of problems and flaws. That’s what really humanizes them. So that’s what I love about the show, is that you find these almost everyday people that are in jobs like the pipelines with Stone. Or working at a hospital with Cassandra. But then there’s more than meets the eye – their vocation barely uncovers who they really are.

Now that we’ve been shooting for three years, it’s sort of like they’re finally understanding what the job entails. They’re getting very good at it. They’re ultimately, I think to an extent, getting comfortable with saving the world. That’s sort of the fun dynamic we get to play off this season. I’ve never been to a fourth season of a show. Obviously, as you mentioned, I’m still quite relatively young. I think I’m just excited to see how it plays out from here. We’ve had the audience stick by us so faithfully, and they’re some of the best fans going around at the moment. I’m just excited to ultimately see what they think of this season, because now we’re playing off established knowledge, and established characters, and those dynamics. They play out a little differently to how you would expect.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned the writers. Is this the kind of show where, as an actor, it’s a bit impossible to guess where the writers are going to take your character because of the limitless potential of the stories themselves?
Kim: That’s a good question. Yeah, I mean there are no boundaries in “The Librarians” world. It’s a magical world, where literally anything can happen. That’s sort of the cool thing about it, is every episode that we deal with almost feels like we delve into a little bit of a different genre. We can have the Minotaur in a bit of an action or thriller episode. We can have a bit of a romantic comedy element playing out. We can have a bit of horror in certain episodes. So that’s what’s cool about being on the show, is it knows no bounds, and we’re essentially, all as actors, just on it for the ride. These writers do such a fantastic job of intellectually, and accurately obtaining information, and translating that into a script that’s both compelling and entertaining, but also quite informative as well.

TrunkSpace: When you look at Ezekiel’s personal journey thus far, what has surprised you the most in terms of where he started to where he’s been?
Kim: Well, the cool thing is, I don’t think they pictured casting somebody like me. I mean that in the way of, as you mentioned, I’m quite young. I think the whole dynamic of Ezekiel being this troubled, trickster younger brother, sort of came, I think ultimately, with my casting. I think they wrote around the fact that I was quite young, and that I would’ve actually received my letter from the library, if I had received it 10 years ago, even younger. That all sort of came out as we got to play with more scenes, and really step into the shoes of these characters.

Now ultimately, I take up the role of annoying little brother with pride, but it was sort of fun to see why he is that way. What is his arrogance? Is it real arrogance, or is it fake arrogance? Is he acting cool because he’s hurt? Is he acting cool because he truly believes he’s cool? That’s sort of what I had fun with. I had my book, where I’d essentially write notes on what I felt about the scene – what he was potentially hiding, and what he wasn’t. That’s what I had so much fun with, seeing some of that come across on the screen.

Photo by Allyson Ward Riggs

TrunkSpace: As you stated, you’re getting to play in all of these various subgenres week to week. Does that allow you to approach performance differently from episode to episode, depending on the tone of a given script?
Kim: Yeah. One of my favorite scripts was the horror house episode in the first season. It was funny, just to have Ezekiel present, almost like the audience’s voice. He essentially would contradict the actions of the characters, saying out loud what the audience at home would probably be thinking. “You don’t do this in a horror movie. You don’t do that.” That was sort of a fun little dynamic to play with.

I think that’s what’s cool about the show – it gives us a chance to jump into either an emotional scene, or a funny scene, and sort of allows us the freedom to see what the characters would do in those particular situations. That’s what I think ultimately makes them real people. The writers do such a good job of providing, almost, the audience commentary within our dialogue. That’s what I think makes it clever and fun.

TrunkSpace: It sounds rewarding to be getting to play in this sandbox as an actor, but on the inside, 10-year-old you must also be doing cartwheels getting to go up against things like, as you previously mentioned, a Minotaur.
Kim: (Laughter) Yeah. I remember at some point, at the end of Season 2, “And the Point of Salvation,” where I’m getting to play opposite Christian Kane and Lindy Booth, and then Rebecca drops an amazing monologue. And then the next thing you know, we’re running from zombies. (Laughter) So that’s sort of the fun aspect of this show, is like you said, that absolutely anything is possible… and don’t we know it!

TrunkSpace: You’re about to kick off your fourth season of “The Librarians.” What has been the most enjoyable part about getting to play the same character for such an extended period of time?
Kim: I’ve gotten to try and experiment with different things, and see what the audience responds to, and what they don’t respond to. Now we’ve definitely, all of us, worked out almost all the kinks. Now we’re at a point where we’ve been in the skin of these characters for so long, we understand them almost as well, if not better than anybody else. So as far as our ideas that we bring to the table, they’re definitely a lot more in line with what everybody else is thinking at the time. So that’s sort of the cool thing, is coming into Season 4, knowing what we do, and knowing that we do it well – ultimately seeing how far we can take these amazing characters.

TrunkSpace: So if you were in a position where you could be playing Ezekiel for 10 more seasons, is that something you’d be excited about… getting to play a character for that long?
Kim: To get to work with these people for that long would be a blessing. I think as far as being on a show for that long, it’s essentially up to the efforts of the creative team and the actors themselves, to keep it fresh, and interesting. I would absolutely be up for that challenge. What’s so great about it is we have such short seasons that I’d also love to squeeze in little projects in between, both of my own, and others. But yeah, ultimately, at the end of the day, Ezekiel is such a fun character to play. For as long as they’ll have me around, I’d be happy to step into his shoes.

Season 4 of “The Librarians” kicks off Wednesday on TNT with a two-episode premiere beginning at 8 PM ET/PT!

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Wingman Wednesday

Juan Riedinger

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Photo By: Noah Asanias

Juan Riedinger may not be on his best behavior as Teo in season 2 of TNT’s “Good Behavior,” but getting the chance to play in the gray with a character is always a fun prospect for the Alberta native. He’s been keeping audiences on their toes both as an actor and as a filmmaker since first falling in love with the craft while attending college and has contributed his talents to everything from the Netflix hit “Narcos” to the popular Canadian series “The Romeo Section.”

We recently sat down with Riedinger to discuss how taking an elective to round out his course load led to a career, why being a director makes him a better actor, and what the most memorable aspect of working on “Good Behavior” was.

TrunkSpace: If you take a look at your filmography, one thing is very clear – you work a ton. Do you love the work itself or do you have the kind of personality where standing still isn’t an option?
Riedinger: It’s definitely a combination of both. I mean, standing still is definitely not an option, but it’s also important what you’re filling your time doing, and it needs to be something that you love as far as I’m concerned. I love everything about being an actor and a filmmaker as well. I direct and I edit, but my focus these days has definitely been acting, and I can’t complain. Things have been pretty good.

TrunkSpace: What first drew you to the industry?
Riedinger: It all started out in an acting class that I was taking in university. I was studying to, at first, to be a veterinarian, so I was majoring in biology, and then I volunteered at a vet clinic one summer and, as much as I love animals, I just couldn’t see myself in that position doing that for the rest of my life. So I kind of shifted gears and started to take English classes, literature, with the idea of potentially pursuing being an English professor or something along those lines because I was always good at writing essays and I enjoyed that, but, again, it was not something that I absolutely loved.

Then, in my third year of university, this was all in Calgary, by the way, I took a theater class because they asked me to take an elective to fill my course load. I’d never done that before and I figured, “Oh, it sounds like it might be an easy credit.” I just remember we had to do monologues in front of the whole class, and I was the first one selected to do it. I didn’t get to see anybody else do it. I just kind of got up and did this monologue that I had prepared, and it was just… that’s definitely the moment that this spark ignited in me because I just realized, “Holy cow, what an amazing thing to be able to do!”

It was definitely more of a gradual process to sort of commit to doing that as a full-time career, but that’s, to answer your question, that’s where the spark started.

TrunkSpace: It was probably a bit of a gift that nobody went before you because you had a clean slate and didn’t have to compare internally. You just did your thing as you envisioned it.
Riedinger: Absolutely, and if I had gone out to party instead of put the time into learning that monologue and I wasn’t fully prepared for the experience, that might have put a bad taste in my mouth and my entire life course could have gone in a completely different direction based on that singular moment, which is just, to me, blows my mind.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how you’re also a director. Does being a director make you a better actor and vice versa?
Riedinger: I like to think so, yeah. One general rule that I’ve stuck to is, I never cast myself in any of the projects that I’m directing because I like to keep them very separate. When I’m directing, I like to focus entirely on that. Having directed the projects that I have, it’s really opened my eyes to what it is to work with an actor, which has sort of taught me, when I’m acting, what it is that a director is trying to tell me.

It’s just a different kind of language, and I feel like it’s definitely sharpened my skill as an actor being on the other side of the camera, and the same with editing. Being an editor, what it’s taught me is that not every single moment is as precious as we tend to make them out to be as actors. If you have a little moment where you’re just not feeling it or it didn’t go the way you planned it to, that’s okay because that’s what editing is for. I feel like it’s really allowed me to not make things so precious and to trust the fact that, in the end, everybody’s going to be doing everything they possibly can to make this as true and as authentic as it possibly can be.

TrunkSpace: Does that make you more open to taking notes from a director and applying them to your performance?
Riedinger: Absolutely, yeah, and it also depends on the director that you’re working with. You get directors of all shapes and sizes and experience levels and the levels of talents for the craft of directing. I think that a big part of the director’s job is to gain the actor’s trust, and, once they do that, then I think an actor will become much more malleable and open to adjusting the performance in ways that maybe that actor didn’t originally envision.

TrunkSpace: You’ve joined the cast of “Good Behavior” in season 2. For those you have yet to catch up, can you give us a sense of who your character is and where his journey will take him?
Riedinger: I play a character named Teo, who’s kind of this mysterious figure who appears. He’s a childhood friend of Javier’s, played by Juan Diego Botto, and also of Javier’s sister, Ava. He sort of appears in their lives after many, many years, and you don’t really know what his intentions are at the beginning. You don’t know if he’s up to good, if he’s up to bad, and that’s something that just sort of begins to become clear as the story progresses.

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TrunkSpace: It’s got to be fun to play in the gray and keep people guessing.
Riedinger: Yeah, you don’t want to reveal too much early on. You want to keep the audience on the edge of their seats that way.

TrunkSpace: From a character stance, did you know where we was going when you signed on or was that a learn-as-you-go experience for you as well?
Riedinger: That’s funny, because I spoke to the creator, Chad Hodge, before we started shooting, and he actually gave me the option. He said, “Some actors like to know every little thing about the course of where the character is headed and some actors don’t want to know anything.” I think I am more in the middle. I like to know kind of the broad strokes and then just sort of fill the gaps as we go along. I did have a general sense of what we were going to be doing with Teo, but there were also a lot of surprises along the way.

TrunkSpace: Performance-wise, what was the most memorable aspect of playing the character for you?
Riedinger: I was acting in two languages, which I haven’t had the chance to do a lot. Teo is from Argentina, and so, even though I speak Spanish, my mother is from Peru, I haven’t had the chance to act in Spanish a lot. And not only Spanish, but Argentinian Spanish. It’s something that I definitely wanted to get right, and so we had a dialect coach. She was originally from Argentina, and she was helping us with that. Also, I was getting help from my fellow actors who were also Argentinian. So it’s getting the Argentinian Spanish, but then it’s also getting the dialect when you’re speaking English because the Argentinian accent is very different actually than, say, Mexican Spanish.

For me, that was a very big challenge, but everybody seemed to be happy with it. I felt happy with how it went in the end, too. I got to watch a lot of movies from Argentina, which opened my eyes to filmmakers from a part of the world that I wasn’t familiar with. Yeah, that’s definitely something that I got to take away from that experience.

“Good Behavior” airs Sundays on TNT.

Featured image by: Noah Asanias

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Wingman Wednesday

Jessica Meraz

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Photo By: The Riker Brothers

It would be a large-scale violation (otherwise known as a major crime) if you didn’t tune in to catch Jessica Meraz join the cast of the long-running TNT series of the same otherwise name when it returns on Halloween night. As a young detective with a complicated past, the “Major Crimes” newbie shines as Camila Paige, seamlessly joining the ranks of her fellow detectives in the critically-acclaimed spin-off of “The Closer.”

We recently sat down with Meraz to discuss mom contract clauses, why she could instantly relate to Camila, and how her path has been less about following a plan and more about winging it.

(Oh, and it’s important to note, Jessica Meraz is our 400th feature!) 

TrunkSpace: You landed the role of Camila Paige in “Major Crimes” but were unable to discuss it until the announcement was formerly made. Is it a bit comically painful to be cast in such a high profile part and not be able to discuss it right away?
Meraz: You definitely want to scream it from the roof top. You want to be like, “Ahhh!” It’s definitely excruciating to wait to let people know. You have to be careful who you tell, particularly my mother, because she can’t hold back. It’s always like, “Mom, please don’t post it,” or, “Please don’t say anything.” Then, I get a text back that says, “Already did.” I’m like, “Mom!” about everything.

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) There should be a mom clause in contracts because there’s really not much anyone can do to silence their outspoken pride in their kids.
Meraz: (Laughter) That’s true.

TrunkSpace: Often detective characters written into procedural dramas are a bit one-dimensional, but Detective Paige seems to have a lot of layers to her.
Meraz: Yeah. That’s really fun about her. She doesn’t really know how to work with a team. She’s got a lot of quirks to her and a lot of family history. So, the writers and the creator gave me a lot to work with, just jumping in. It wasn’t just like, “Oh, she’s smart and she’s good at her job.” No, it was layered. They gave me relationships with the other detectives that were already established. It was really nice to have layers to work with.

TrunkSpace: Detective Paige raised her siblings, which is a lot of pressure on somebody, especially so young. Is she somebody who handles pressure well now in her adult life and career?
Meraz: That’s a good question. I think it’s probably a case-by-case basis. When it comes to her professional life, she’s on. It’s difficult to rattle her because that is where she is. Things are kind of right or wrong and she can be prepared. But when it comes to her personal life, that is something where growing up without parents to help her – sometimes when you’re teaching, you neglect the learning. Since she was teaching and she was raising her siblings, I think a lot of the personal life challenges can rattle her.

TrunkSpace: You were raised in a big family with a lot of siblings just like Detective Paige. Were you able to connect with her through that?
Meraz: She is very deep in my heart because I basically modeled her after my mother. She just is my mother in so many ways. My mom lost her mother when she was 14 and had to raise her little brother in Mexico. That was something that has made my mom really tough, but also at the same time, such a softy. I was very much able to relate to her on that level, just because of my mother, having that temper and maybe having some things that she didn’t learn from a mom. But at the same time, there is nothing that will stop my mother from doing what she wants. Nothing. So, it was very easy to connect with her as far as having my mom as an example.

TrunkSpace: That’s the second time you’ve mentioned your mom in this interview. She’s going to be super psyched!
Meraz: (Laughter) Yeah, I’m a mama’s girl.

TrunkSpace: Looking over your previous roles, we would also imagine Detective Paige was a great opportunity for you to sort of present a different side of your acting abilities, not only to an audience, but to casting directors because she seems so different than everything else you’ve played thus far?
Meraz: Very much so. It’s been really nice to kind of lead with intelligence as opposed to lead with my sexuality or with my sense of humor. To just lead from that place has been a nice change. It has really felt like a new language. The vernacular is something that I’ve never worked with.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, was there somewhere that you got to go within this season, a scene or a specific storyline, that you didn’t expect when you signed on to play her?
Meraz: Getting to work with the other actors is a really different experience for me. I’ve done a lot of comedic stuff and those actors who just fly by the seat of their pants and everything is really fast moving. So the different energy of being on something so serious, it elevates your own expectations.

Just the way I prepare for every scene and every role is so different. I had to learn that from the other actors because these words and these lines that we’re saying are really intricate and specific. I had to ask all of the other actors, “Okay, how do you prepare for something like this? How do you prepare for these interviews?” They have been so generous in helping me because I really needed the help. My entire process has completely changed for this kind of material.

TrunkSpace: You’re constantly working with new directors in television, many times on an episode-to-episode basis. Does having that fresh set of eyes each time you start shooting a new episode also encourage you to approach the process differently?
Meraz: Every director is so different, so there have been certain ones that get really involved with the actors as far as notes or what they want. A lot of them are former actors or still current actors – they kind of fit into the acting of it. Other directors are a little more focused with just the story being told from a certain perspective, so it’s been really interesting.

We have this really cool director, Anthony Hemingway. He was really specific. He really wanted me to turn everything down. That was interesting for me. I’m really curious to see that episode, to see how it translates, especially because I respect Hemingway so much. He’s a really talented person. I’m curious to see what he saw and how his little adjustments will translate on screen.

Photo By: The Riker Brothers

TrunkSpace: You spent 22 episodes playing Natalie in “Chasing Life.” Your journey with Detective Paige has just begun, but for you, what is the best part about exploring a character for an extended period of time?
Meraz: I think it’s something that, as actors, we’re really lucky to do – to see the world through a new perspective. Just getting to see the world through a different point of view and what would you do in that sort of circumstance. As much as you try not to let things go home with you, little pieces do. Every character I’m working on is with me throughout the time that I’m with that character. So, it’s been nice to lead my life with a little bit more rigidity and just kind of be thinking about things differently. I have noticed all of the different LAPD situations that are just going on around me in a very different way than I did before this.

With Natalie I probably was able to be a little bit more… I’m sure that I was using my sexuality as a tool much stronger than I am now. Now I’m able to use that intelligence a little bit more.

They come with you. They become a part of your every day life.

TrunkSpace: You moved out to Los Angeles when you were 18. When we’re that age, we all think we have everything figured out and we have our life mapped out for us. With that said, how much of your path has gone as planned and how much of it has been having to wing it along the way?
Meraz: Well, I think I’ve been winging it the whole way. (Laughter) I had no personal connection to the industry. I didn’t have an aunt. I didn’t have a father. No one. So, coming out here was just all… I’ve learned everything though trial and error, and mainly error. So, it’s been figuring it out.

Right now, it’s pretty perfect. This was really my dream, what I’m living right now. I’ve got a lot of the scars to show for it as far as the errors along the way. It hasn’t been easy, but right now it feels pretty great.

Season 6 of “Major Crimes” kicks off October 31 on TNT.

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Wingman Wednesday

Jocko Sims

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Photographed by Steven Gerlich at Aesthesia Studios

As Lieutenant Carlton Burk on the TNT drama series “The Last Ship,” Jocko Sims not only survived the Apocalypse, but the casting sheet as well. Originally slated to guest star in five episodes, the Texas native was told at the end of the first season that he shouldn’t go out for any new pilots because they wanted him to come back as a series regular. He has been fighting the good fight ever since.

We recently sat down with Sims to discuss how being on set taps into his childhood imagination, the places he never thought he’d get to explore with Burk, and the greatest movie Michael Bay has yet to make but should, “Transformers Chainsaw Massacre.”

TrunkSpace: The fourth season of “The Last Ship” is airing now, but you actually just wrapped up the fifth as well. Was that an unusual experience in relation to previous seasons, shooting them back-to-back like that?
Sims: Yes, it definitely was. Usually we film somewhere between five and six months out of the year for one season. And then when we got the two-season pick up and we were told we were gonna film the entire thing back-to-back, we were taken aback a little bit. We were like “Wow,” because we realized we were gonna film for an entire year straight. And we did just that, and you know, it actually was a blur. It went by quicker than any of us anticipated.

TrunkSpace: One of the amazing things about the show is the realistic quality of the sets. When you first stepped foot on the bridge of the ship, with all of the buttons and knobs and crazy lighting, was your inner 13-year-old super excited?
Sims: To be honest, 30-something-year-old me is still excited. (Laughter) And five seasons in, every time I step into the CIC (Combat Information Center), where all the action goes down, even though it’s just a set, it’s really remarkable. I’m always in there pressing buttons and trying not to break them, because they’re not real. And I’ll get in trouble sometimes, but you can’t help but sit there and call out a command and press something and just imagine a Tomahawk missile or something being launched from this multi-billion dollar equipment of a naval ship. I mean, it’s just incredible. You’re right, it does tap into your sort of childhood imagination and dreams.

TrunkSpace: And they’re just so authentic, so it only helps spark the imagination even more.
Sims: That’s a testament to the support of the United States Navy. Even the Secretary of the Navy himself, who made a cameo in season 2, Ray Mabus, came by and he stepped foot on our sets and he said he literally couldn’t tell the difference between the p-ways, which are the hallways of the ship, and the actual ship. Of course, CIC is not exactly precise and accurate, because there are some limitations there as far as what we’re able to emulate for security reasons, but other than that, there are lots of parts of the ship that are exactly carbon copies, so it’s pretty remarkable what they’ve done.

TrunkSpace: When you started out on the show, you came in as a guest star. Did you have any idea you’d still be talking about your character Carlton Burk all these years later?
Sims: Not at all. Five episodes turned into five seasons and that’s how I like to tell it. And it was exactly that. I didn’t know about “The Last Ship” when I got on for the second episode. The pilot they had shot in 2012, I think, and it took them a while before they picked it up. And then in 2013, I came and I was at the table read and was instantly a part of the family. I couldn’t predict that I was going to be there for the long-haul, but I just felt very much at home. I was treated much the same by all the regulars there, who were the original people – Eric Dane, Adam Baldwin, Christina Elmore, Charles Parnell, and Mr. Travis Van Winkle. And before I knew it, the season was up and Hank Steinberg (series creator) came to me and pulled me aside. He said, “Hey, pilot season is coming up, but don’t go out for any pilots, I’m gonna lock you in.”

TrunkSpace: That’s awesome. Not only to see the role turn into a series regular, but on top of that, not to have to deal with the heartbreak of pilot season!
Sims: Listen, not just that, but for the last five pilot seasons. (Laughter) It’s been amazing. That’s always a blessing, as an actor. And you know, I even talk to our sound guy, Steve Nelson, and he’s been in the business for 30 years. And he’s done a lot of films. As we were wrapping up he said, “This is my first time ever wrapping a fifth season of a show.” That touched me and helped me to really appreciate more of the experience that we’re currently having.

TrunkSpace: As far as other series go, “The Last Ship” really seems to have had a different kind of journey than a lot of others that have made it on the air. It has sort of marched to the beat of its own drum.
Sims: Absolutely, well, or at least marched to the beat of the audience. They’ve been mad supportive of the entire run. And we had a little bit of a delay to get on the air for season 4 as they pushed the schedule back, and the fans were going a bit stir-crazy. And I don’t blame them. I mean, as it stands now, for the first three seasons, we would have to wait nearly a year for the show to air. This one went a little bit beyond a year, but the payoff thus far has been so great for the fans. They’re really enjoying this season.

“THE LAST SHIP S3 UNIT” “Don’t Look Back” / Ep 313 TNT Ph: Doug Hyun

TrunkSpace: Throughout those seasons, what is something that the writers handed you story-wise that you were excited to throw yourself into and stretch yourself as an actor?
Sims: Well, there’s a couple of things, and it started in season 2 for me. That’s when I feel that Burk really began to come alive as a character. Well, actually I can go back to season 1. When I first got the role, there I was signed on to play this tough-as-nails guy, who is going to be, essentially yelling at his men and getting them prepared for what’s to come, and I’ve never played a character like that before. So it was great to dive into that. But what I loved about what the writers had written from the very beginning, was that Burk had this interesting parallel where he was going to be loyal to the Navy, loyal to the ship, and loyal to the mission, but at the same time, he has a big heart. And so there’s scenes in season 1 where I would be going hard on Kevin Michael Martin’s character, Miller, and ask him if he’s bucking for a silver star. After he hears a noise and fires his rifle off, it turns out to be a crow that he was firing at. And I take his gun away and he moves on. And then Captain Chandler comes up to me and I ask him, “Is that a little too much?” And he goes, “Nope, that was just right.”

So the fact that they had that duality going on in the character from the beginning I thought was really cool. And then in season 2, you see an even softer side of Burk as you got a love interest in Ravit Bivas, who was played by, Inbar Lavi. She is a fantastic actress and we hit it off pretty well. And also that was an interesting journey because she came in for seven episodes and then, of course, her character dies at the end of that, so Burk has definitely gone through a lot of emotion and that has definitely been the case for this season as well.

TrunkSpace: You mention this season specifically there, and we saw on your Twitter page that you felt the recent episode was the strongest so far. Now in season 4, that’s where a lot of shows start to lose their storytelling juice. What do you think keeps things going so strong for “The Last Ship?”
Sims: Well, the writers have always wanted to make sure that each season was going to be a stand-alone season. Season 1 was about finding out what this virus was, who weaponized it, why it’s killed billions of people, and coming up with the vaccine. Season 2 was about going back to America. Going home, and seeing what was left of home. And that was also the season where you saw the rise of the Immunes. Season 3 was about distributing the virus all around the world, and then we find out in Asia that we’re having some trouble curing some people. We didn’t know if the virus had mutated at that point or if we found out that some people, perhaps the president of China, was sort of wrangling that vaccine and using it for his own purposes. And then season 4, now you see that the virus have shifted and it’s jumped into the crops and it’s affected the world’s crops, so now we’re dealing with world hunger, potentially, and famine. And so I think what makes the show so strong is that each season has its own obstacles and its own new enemy, and that’s what keeps it interesting and keeps it fun.

Photographed by Steven Gerlich at Aesthesia Studios

TrunkSpace: You’ve been hosting, producing, and directing “Apollo Night LA” since before your “The Last Ship” journey began. Is it important for you to maintain other creative endeavors outside of acting and diversify your own brand as much as possible?
Sims: Yeah, definitely. And it’s not so much just attempting to do so, but it’s more about the natural inclination to do it, just as an artist. When you’re an artist, you’re an artist. And that’s why you find a lot of people who are actors who also happen to be musicians, and vice versa. And you know, the older I get, the more I want to branch out and start exploring other things that I might be interested in.

Recently I started toying with the idea of painting a little bit. I’m not sure I have the patience exactly for that yet, but I’m definitely in touch with my artistic side. I definitely want to direct a lot more and write, and I’m interested in maybe doing a horror film or something in the horror genre. When I was growing up, I wasn’t inspired so much by actors as I was by directors. Wes Craven was one of my favorites, because he created the best boogie man of all time in Freddy Krueger.

I want to reinvent the wheel, in that regard – try and to capture that. And I know people have tried time and again, with different genres, but that would be my ultimate goal as a creative person at this point.

TrunkSpace: “A Nightmare on Elm Street” was such an ingenious idea because everyone can relate to sleeping and dreaming, so to weaponize that, it’s terrifying. It was lighting in a bottle, and, even when they tried to remake it, the concept didn’t work as well.
Sims: Yeah, it’s very difficult to recreate some of the classics. Very few people have been able to do it successfully. God Bless him, Michael Bay, who’s my boss’ boss’ boss, he’s the one. He’ll remake anything. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Transformers,” “Chainsaw Massacre,” “Amityville Horror,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” It doesn’t matter. If you can think of it, he’s gonna do it.

TrunkSpace: For a second there it sounded like you said “Transformers Chainsaw Massacre,” which, by the way, would be incredible!
Sims: (Laughter) Hey, listen, with Michael Bay, I wouldn’t put it past him.

“The Last Ship” airs Sundays on TNT.

Watch “Apollo Night LA” every Monday at 7 pm PST here

Featured Image: Photographed by Steven Gerlich at Aesthesia Studios

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Wingman Wednesday

Jasmin Savoy Brown

JasminSavoyBrown_Wingwoman_wednesday
Photo By: Matt Darlington

Fans of HBO’s “The Leftovers” will instantly recognize Jasmin Savoy Brown. As Evie Murphy in the critically-acclaimed series, she served as the centerpiece for the puzzling drama that captivated viewers throughout season 2 before a shocking fate befell her at the start of the third (and final) season. Now the Oregon native is going from a catalyst of mystery to a mysterious character as she looks to represent the historical legacy of the enigmatic Emilia Bassano, Shakespeare’s muse, in the new TNT series “Will.”

We recently sat down with Brown to discuss how the series is bringing theater to the screen, why Shakespeare is so timeless, and how she will always be grateful to “The Leftovers” and the doors it has opened.

TrunkSpace: Your new series “Will” is due out in a few days. As you gear up for that reveal to the world, what emotions are you going through?
Brown: I’m excited. I get a little bit numb right before something comes out. Maybe that’s a defense mechanism. I kind of check out of it and forget that it’s happening, even though I know that it’s happening and I’m promoting it all of the time. So yeah, I’m excited, but I’m also kind of not feeling anything. (Laughter) When you work so hard on something and then you put it out there and everyone judges it and can bash it, that’s really vulnerable.

TrunkSpace: Everyone has an opinion in the social media age! (Laughter)
Brown: Exactly!

TrunkSpace: With the shorter season orders that a lot of TV shows are working with now, it must make it feel a bit more like a film in terms of roll out because you’re done shooting by the time that it airs.
Brown: That’s true. We wrapped in March, so it’s been a minute. It was nice because the premiere was just a couple of days ago and the whole cast, the producers, writers, and directors met up in New York to have the premiere party. It was nice to see everyone and that made it more real.

TrunkSpace: So much of the content that’s being produced these days is often based on something else and a lot of that stuff is starting to feel the same. On the other hand, “Will” is obviously based on something else, but it feels wholly original at the same time.
Brown: Yeah. It’s interesting. It is really cool.

TrunkSpace: You have an extensive theater background. Did the series have an extra layer of interest for you, doing Shakespeare in this way, having worked on the stage so much in the past?
Brown: Absolutely. I thought it was really interesting that they would mold those together. You’re going to get to see theater and pieces of theatrical productions on screen. You don’t mix those two very often. It’s not just a recorded play, which is a whole different experience than watching it in a theater, but it’s theater on screen and for TV, so it’s this whole other weird genre. It’s really interesting.

TrunkSpace: In terms of wardrobes and set pieces, from what we’ve seen, that certainly helps give it that theatrical feel as well.
Brown: 100 percent. And I was spoiled. I got to wear some of the best costumes. She has some beautiful pieces and I was pretty spoiled in that sense.

TrunkSpace: Your character Emilia Bassano is Shakespeare’s muse, but how does “Will” present her to viewers?
Brown: Well, you see their relationship develop on screen, which is very cool. Apart from Will, Emilia is pretty mysterious. People don’t necessarily know what she’s about or who she is because every time we see her, we’re seeing different sides of her. She’s very much a chameleon. She takes the role of whatever she needs to play for whoever she is around in that moment. She has to be a mistress to the Lord in order to survive. She actually very much liked him, but at the same time she wants to do her own creative stuff. She’s just constantly changing depending on who she is around and it’s really interesting to watch.

TrunkSpace: So often creative endeavors start to feel stale and sort of frozen in the time that they were created, but Shakespeare is timeless. Why do you think that is?
Brown: It’s forever. I think because all of the themes he uses are just so human. Love, lust, war, family, sex, betrayal… all of those things are human things. And not that there’s anything wrong with aliens or a lot of technology, but that’s not timeless and not human, so to just look at human emotions and how we relate to one another, that will never expire.

TrunkSpace: In terms of performance, over the course of the first season, where were you the most surprised that you got to go with Emilia?
Brown: That’s a great question. Something that we’re taught or at least that is talked about a lot in acting is how much you hold back in the character. There’s so much going on inside, so much going on in your eyes, but you’re not actively showing it. You’re showing it by not showing it. All of these contradictions. And I feel like the stuff that I have done so far has been a lot more of showing my cards and Emilia can’t or she will die. She’s a woman in that period of time… she can’t just go around being herself all of the time. So having to hold so much back and be this incredibly intelligent, outspoken, progressive woman who is totally herself, but at the same time isn’t always showing who she is, is a beautiful contradiction that was challenging and I hadn’t done that before. It did stretch me and it was really rewarding and really fun.

TrunkSpace: Prior to going to that place with Emilia, did you have reservations that you could?
Brown: You know, I didn’t know anything. (Laughter) When I first booked it, I just knew that she was a real person and I had three pages of sides and I knew that I’d get to go to the UK. It wasn’t until I was on the plane flying there after I booked it that I got to actually read the script. So I had no idea. There wasn’t really a way to be nervous. Everything happened so fast. I booked the job, got on a plane on a Friday, and then I was shooting that Monday. I didn’t really have time to think about it, which was a good exercise for me because I tend to overthink.

TrunkSpace: Is that where you’re hardest on yourself as an actress?
Brown: Oh, 100 percent! And just as a human. I overthink things and I will be incredibly hard on myself. I’m working on that… just letting go and moving on and not lingering on things that took place a week ago.

TrunkSpace: When you booked “Will” it was a new show that had yet to establish a tone on set and a family within that world. How different is it coming into a new series as opposed to jumping in and doing a guest spot or reoccurring on a series that already is established and how does either reflect on performance in terms of comfort level?
Brown: Oooh. They’re so different and I love them both in different ways. Selfishly, and I would imagine most actors are like this, I want to do what I want to do because I prefer it this way. (Laughter) No one can tell me I’m wrong when no one knows what we’re doing, so we’re all figuring it out together and creating it together. It’s not so much about, “You’re wrong!” It’s, “Oh, that was interesting, but let’s try it this way.” That’s how I should think about it all of the time, but specifically on a new show that’s how it feels. There’s this excited creative energy that is just different from an established show.

TrunkSpace: And you’re all discovering your characters together at the same time.
Brown: Yeah. And that was one of the great things about this particular production. We had rehearsal and a lot of them, especially the cast in the first few episodes because they had a lot more time before they started shooting. It was a lot of rehearsing to just discover and explore our characters and who they are and how they fit together. I’ve never had that before. It just made the environment so much more supportive and creative and safe knowing that we were all figuring this out and rehearsing and discovering together.

Brown in “The Leftovers”

TrunkSpace: “The Leftovers” has been praised for its final season. We’ve seen a number of outlets calling it one of the greatest series send offs of all time. How important was that show to you and your career?
Brown: Being a part of the show, in every single way… in my personal life, in my spiritual and emotional life, in my creative an artistic life, and my career trajectory, I will forever have nothing but praise and thanks to “The Leftovers.” I owe it so much because it gave me everything, including mentors in my life and great friends and different perspectives on acting. I really felt like it was a paid master class, like I was being paid to learn from the most brilliant people. That’s another scenario where I have to distance myself for awhile because in the midst of all of the buzz, I haven’t actually watched the final season. I watched the first episode at the premiere, but I haven’t watched any of the rest of it. I probably won’t for about six months because it’s just a little overwhelming. The reviews came out and everyone is praising it so much, and just knowing that that chapter’s over, I just can’t yet.

But I’ve heard that it’s really good! (Laughter)

Will” premieres July 10 on TNT.

Featured Image By: Matt Darlington

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Wingman Wednesday

Jenn Lyon

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Photo By: Rachael Shane

With the new series “Claws” on TNT, Jenn Lyon is literally clawing her way to the top and forcing us all to pay attention. The North Carolina native relishes in portraying a “real” woman on television and hopes that the show’s success will lead to Hollywood moving further away from representing women based on preconceived standards.

If women could be freed from that… I think that would be wonderful,” Lyon says.

We sat down with Lyon only days before the premiere of “Claws” to discuss her favorite part of playing the character Jen, how she embraces the current moral backlash that the series has received, and why Timothy Olyphant is just so damn good at what he does.

TrunkSpace: We’re only a few days away from the premiere of “Claws” on TNT. From your perspective, while exciting, do you also worry about it finding an audience in this current TV landscape where there is so much content vying for the same eyeballs?
Lyon: Yeah, because you know, I’m ancient and I remember when there was just the three big networks and maybe like, USA and Nickelodeon. You didn’t have all of these different avenues and platforms showing produced content, so yeah, it makes me feel a little worried. I think what we have is real special though and you haven’t seen it on TV before. It’s such a show about female bad assery and I feel like it’s the right moment for it to happen. I’m just hoping everybody likes it as much as we do. I really believe in it.

TrunkSpace: It does seem like shows are given a bit more room to breathe and find an audience these days. In that time when there were only three major networks, if a show didn’t come out of the gates with 15 million viewers, it was axed immediately.
Lyon: Absolutely. TNT is really stoked about the show and they love it as much as we do, so I hope that it will be given a chance to develop. The pilot is spectacular, but I think it gives you a tiny window into these women and what their life is about. Then there’s this great cliffhanger and you get sucked into this world and I hope audiences will give it a shot.

TrunkSpace: Not only is it a female-driven concept, but it’s a full ensemble of women, which sadly, still seems rare even in this golden age of television.
Lyon: Oh yeah. Super rare! And all of us are of a different ethnicity. That’s also refreshing.

TrunkSpace: Is “Claws” an example of how networks are trying to be more focused with their content as opposed to being so broad that they are developed to be a little bit of everything for everyone?
Lyon: To me, it has something for everybody. We’ve got comedy. We’ve got sex. We’ve got drugs. We’ve got violence. We can really run the gamut. BUT, it’s also not for the children.

Apparently One Million Moms has a petition to stop the show from airing and they’re just really upset about it. I don’t know why that makes me so happy. (Laughter) I think good art should be kind of polarizing and so to be involved in something that is, it makes me proud.

TrunkSpace: That kind of moral push back from groups always seems to help ratings as opposed to hurt them.
Lyon: Absolutely. I remember when they protested “Angels in America” in North Carolina. People are going to want it more. Your actions are doing the opposite of what you think they’re going to do.

TrunkSpace: So when it comes from strictly a performance standpoint, what’s your favorite part of playing Jen in the series thus far?
Lyon: My favorite part about playing Jen is that she’s messy. She’s rough around the edges… tenuously sober. It gives me the leeway to sort of experience this full spectrum of emotional life within her. She has two kids and she has two different baby daddies and she’s just a real person. She’s like a size 12 or 14. This is a real woman on TV and that gives me so much joy because I’ve been on TV before and was super thin, never ate, played lovely things and was so sad and worried all of the time. And now I’m able to eat food AND be on TV. (Laughter) That is like a miracle to me. I think it’s so great for women to see other women of size in the show. And all the women in this show are at their natural weight. Nobody is dieting. We get to eat New Orleans food. It’s just amazing.

TrunkSpace: So if the show hits and becomes a mainstream success, do you think that will continue to force the hand of networks to present women in a more “real” light?
Lyon: I hope so. I think we have been turning that corner in the last few years, with women of size being more prevalent in mainstream shows. “Orange is the New Black” is full of all different sizes of women. So yeah, I think we have been turning the corner and I think comedy has really helped in that sense. I hope it continues to change.

I read this quote the other day and it said, “A cultural obsession with female thinness is really a cultural obsession with female obedience.” I was like, “Oh my God! That feels right!” It’s like you’re being told to keep in lockstep with some sort of standard that doesn’t have to apply to you. It presses you down all the time and to be free from that is huge. If women could be freed from that… I think that would be wonderful.

TrunkSpace: And it starts so early. Looking at a doll like Barbie, the body type is just not realistic.
Lyon: Yeah. They did that study where it was like, “If Barbie was a person, her real measurements would be…” And it was something ridiculous. It was like 48-16-20. And girls are being sexualized earlier too, so it’s like this pressure to be beautiful and sexy and an object starts so early. I don’t know what I would do if I had a daughter. I would just want to wrap her up in overalls and just keep her in a cabin. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You’ve done so much great theater over the years. Is that something you’ll continue to pursue as you navigate the film and television landscapes?
Lyon: It’s what I went to school for and it’s what I’ve been doing since I graduated. I think I only started doing film and TV like four years ago, and so I’ve been doing theater in those four years as well. I’ll go shoot something and then I’ll be unemployed and working at a pizza restaurant while I’m auditioning and then I’ll get a play and do a play and then I’ll go back to the pizza restaurant.

This (“Claws”) is a huge opportunity. I can’t believe it.

I’ll do theater whenever though. It’s my best love.

TrunkSpace: There just seems something special about it. Once you’re doing a play, you never really want to leave the theater itself, right?
Lyon: Yeah, that’s true.

Well… that’s not true. (Laughter) Sometimes you’re like, “I’ve got to get out of here!” It’s a grind. People don’t realize that. Eight shows a week is a real grind and it’s like you’re always preparing for or recovering from the show. It’s your life. But, it’s so immediate and wonderful and I think what’s really cool about it is that it evaporates. It’s between you and this audience. You’re sitting in the dark and it’s a weird ritual that we do and then it’s just gone. And it only exists in their minds and your mind. It’s not frozen forever like TV and film and there’s something about that that gets me excited.

TrunkSpace: It’s so funny you say that because in the day and age of streaming when people can rewatch stuff whenever they want, that makes theater even more unique.
Lyon: Yes. I was doing “Hold On To Me Darling” at the Atlantic in April and we had to constantly tell people to stop recording because Timothy Olyphant was in it and all of these “Justified” fans would come and they would try to record it on their phones. We were like, “You just can’t do it.” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: As you transitioned into television and film, did you sort of have to retrain yourself because acting for the stage is different, correct?
Lyon: Yeah, it is really different. People that say it’s not different, I’m like, “What are you talking about?” Everybody is so quiet on TV. (Laughter) Nobody talks at an acceptable level. You’ll be across the room from somebody and you’re like, “(whispering).” And in theater, you’re trying to reach the old lady who can’t hear who is sitting in the back row of the balcony. You have to fit the frame. So yeah, I had to sort of scale it back.

TrunkSpace: And to learn that out of the gates with Timothy Olyphant when you appeared alongside him in “Justified”… that had to be a great learning experience because he sort of epitomizes that quiet delivery.
Lyon: Oh yeah… that mother fucker can just do everything with like a little squint and you’re like, “Fuck you, Timothy!” He’s so good.

We got to make fun of him when he was doing the play because he always wanted to be doing something. Actors on TV… you’re always inventing business for yourself. You’re grabbing a cough drop when you’re talking to your boss or putting a file folder together. And he was always wanting to adjust the table or do whatever and we were like, “Stand there and say the words!” (Laughter)

“Claws” airs Sundays on TNT.

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