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Wingman Wednesday

Johnathan Fernandez

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Photo By: Rowan Daly

If comic delivery became weaponized, Johnathan Fernandez would be a lethal weapon. And if that’s a long way to go in order to make a connection between the series “Lethal Weapon” and the spot on timing of the former comedian-turned-actor, so be it. This writing thing is hard! (And we’re not the only ones who think so, as you’ll see below.)

Silliness aside, the Poconos-raised Fernandez has and continues to be a breath of fresh air every time he appears on the hit FOX series, currently in its second season. Aside from being the best dressed medical examiner ever to tag a toe, his character Scorsese is also an aspiring screenwriter who tries to strike an internal balance between the reality of his day job and the fiction he longs to tell through his scripts.

We recently sat down with Fernandez to discuss the episodic journey of a character, the first time he improvised with Damon Wayans, and why the series continues to work so well while other reboots fail.

TrunkSpace: You’ve portrayed Scorsese in about two dozen episodes of “Lethal Weapon” so far. From an acting standpoint, is this the longest you have ever spent with one character, and if so, how do you view that experience in terms of seeing a character grow over an extended period of time?
Fernandez: Yeah, it is the longest I’ve played a character for sure. It’s really interesting to see how it has evolved, because I think when you go into the first episode of doing any kind of character, you kind of feel like you have it all figured out, because you work hard to make sure that you’re ready for the first time the camera is on you for that character. It’s fascinating to then look at my work in the first season and think about all the things I would change, or, just how much more in tune I am with the character now.

I think most actors figure that out, or have that experience, when they move on to a second season of a show or a third season. You always feel like you’re doing great work, but then you’re also, obviously, trying to get better and better all the time. When you get to a second season, you’re like, “Oh man, okay, now I’ve figured this out, and I didn’t realize that I didn’t know this part about the character, and now it’s way more fluid.” You learn. Every episode you learn new stuff, because you’re always filling in the blanks and coloring in the lines, so it’s absolutely super intriguing to find yourself in that position of always evolving, regardless of how many times you’ve done the character or not.

TrunkSpace: And we would have to imagine that just seeing your character put in different circumstances, and how he reacts to those situations, helps fill in those blanks even further? For example, we could go to one party and feel completely comfortable, and then go to a different party with a different vibe and feel completely out of place.
Fernandez: Yeah, it’s almost hilarious how not different it is from that. It really is that situation, because it’s like, “Yeah, I know what his deal is…” but now that he’s actually on a ride along, or now that he’s been in a different part of the office for the first time, it gives you a lot of room to improvise and try out new stuff, because it is a completely different environment. How will he, Scorsese for instance, react in this scenario?

TrunkSpace: From that first moment you read the sides and learned who Scorsese was going to become, did he go through a lot of changes from then to when you ultimately took ownership of him on the first day of shooting?
Fernandez: Shockingly, not really. I remember almost being taken aback when I had the first table read, the very, very first one, which was also the first time I was meeting Matthew Miller, McG, and Damon (Wayans), and literally everybody else, I was meeting for the very first time that day. I remember when we sat down and read it, and once I stopped thinking about the fact that I was sitting between Kevin Rahm and Jordana Brewster, once I got over that, I was just performing and stuff. Then afterwards, I felt pretty good about it. I asked McG, and I asked Matt Miller, I was like, “What do you think? Where are you at?” I didn’t even know what questions to ask because I was just so overwhelmed with the whole situation. Miller was calm and was just like, “Yeah, do your thing. We hired you because we really like the things that you’re doing already, so just lean into that. Feel free to improvise.” And that was literally it.

When we went to the next table read, which was with all the bigwigs at Warner Bros. and FOX, I just did pretty much the same thing, but did improvise more. That got received really well, and it gave me an opportunity to play with Damon and Clayne (Crawford) a little bit at the table. That was honestly it. That cemented the whole thing.

We do have talks, Miller and I, about the character, and the future, and how the character will feel in certain situations – just to really fill in a lot of the areas that we haven’t really approached yet. Those are very helpful. But in terms of the baseline, we pretty much figured it out the first day, and that was it.

Photo By: Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC

TrunkSpace: We know that you have a sketch/improv background. Getting to riff with Damon, someone who really turned an entirely new generation onto the medium with his work on “In Living Color,” that had to be exciting?
Fernandez: Yeah. Actually there’s a scene in the morgue, in the pilot, and that scene was the first scene that was shot of the whole pilot. I didn’t have a chance to get to Los Angeles, do the first couple table reads, and just kind of sit around for a while and get myself hyped up for my scenes. I didn’t have that opportunity, because the day that we were starting, which was the day after the major table reads, was my first day, everybody’s first day – the first scene up. It was really crazy when we were trying to figure out the beats, how the lines in the dialogue were going to work out. There was some dead space, no pun intended, in the morgue, where I was pulling the body out, and there was just a lot of filler that we needed to figure out, because there were a lot of mechanics that we had to work around for the dialogue to work. McG had said, “Fill in the time with whatever. Feel free to improvise.”

The scene was where I got a call from Murtaugh and Riggs to say to be at the morgue. It’s undisclosed, but it’s either after hours, or my day off. So I’m coming in, and I don’t really want to be there. They make a joke saying, “Thanks for coming in on your off day,” or whatever, and I respond saying, “Oh, well anything to get out of writing, because writing is really hard.” That’s what the end of the dialogue was, until the body was pulled out, and then Damon improvises, “What’s your script about? Are you writing about your Afro?” I said, “Well, I’m not writing about yours.”

I remember thinking instantly, and just looking at his face, being like, “Oh crap, could I say that? Is this real life? I don’t know what’s happening right now.” Literally, UCB’s (Upright Citizens Brigade) whole mantra is just, don’t think. That’s the whole thing, don’t think. You already know your character. What would the person do next, and just improvise from a very real place. Obviously, immediately I was like, “Oh shit,” and then Damon’s face, I will never ever forget it in my entire life, because it was like, “Okay, we’re going to do this,” kind of thing.

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) The green light!
Fernandez: Exactly! We ended up improvising a ton that first morning, and it really kind of set the tone for our relationship, and the relationship with Scorsese, Murtaugh, and Riggs.

Just having that levity, which is the entire show – that’s why the show is liked by so many people, because there’s a lot of different situations that you also have that banter, and have that fun, so it’s not always doom and gloom. Since then, we try to improvise as much as possible. It doesn’t always make the cut, because it doesn’t always make sense to make the cut, but it definitely was just like… man, being able to make a guy like Damon laugh, and standing toe to toe, it means everything.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, “Lethal Weapon” was one of your favorite films growing up. As a fan of the original, did you second guess if a series based on the movie would even work?
Fernandez: 100 percent. I’m a huge nerd and I consume a lot of different types of media. I know that if I was on the sidelines for this thing, seeing it get announced, I’d have been like, “There’s no way it’s going to be good. It’s impossible. It’s going to be the worst show of all time.” Especially just because reboots in general… most of them haven’t really worked.

TrunkSpace: And of course, there’s expectations to live up to when something is based on something else.
Fernandez: Totally. And if anybody was about to reboot something, the immediate advice I would give them is, you have to do your own thing. You have to. I talked about this with Clayne too, just to re-imagine his character, he likens it to theater. How many actors have played Hamlet? Just because you’re going to be Hamlet doesn’t mean that you’re going to do the same thing as the other guy. In fact, you’re going to try your hardest to not do the same thing that the previous guy did. But for some reason, when it gets to television, and things are being re-imagined, they try to do the same thing, and then obviously, it doesn’t work.

It was cool to read the script, and be like, “Oh wow, this is actually going to be pretty legit.” Then when I watched it, I was very, very pleasantly surprised at just how good it is. All of the actors in it are so great. The vision behind it, the groundwork laid by McG and the work that Matt Miller had done going into the pilot, was just so excellent – to make it really stand out, and not be just a regurgitation of the previous movies, even though we all love them, obviously.

We get it all the time now in social media and in reviews, just people saying, “I don’t think about the previous ‘Lethal Weapon’ movies at all when I watch the show,” which is probably the highest compliment that we could ever get.

TrunkSpace: What the show has done so well and so successfully is opening up and expanding the world. It feels like that is what makes you not focus on the films.
Fernandez: Right, and that’s what’s cool about television, is that in a film, you have a finite amount of time, even if you have several sequels, to tell one story. Television is literally the same characters in as many different situations as possible. If you have a baseline where the story is two cops in Los Angeles, working for the LAPD, solving crimes, you just have to show them dealing with different crimes. Crime, that’s not going anywhere. There’s going to be new kinds of crimes happening all the time, unfortunately. To just see how these detectives and the people around them would react in different situations is television, so it’s nice to completely bet everything on that and just say, “Hey, remember when you watched Riggs and Murtaugh explode a bunch of stuff, and say a bunch of funny things in the movies? Well, now you’re going to have an opportunity to see them do that every week.” If you are doing the job well, then it’s like, “Yeah, I want to keep on coming back and seeing what these guys are up to.”

Lethal Weapon” airs Tuesdays on FOX.

Feature image by: Rowan Daly

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Wingman Wednesday

Dr. Dustin Cohen

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Photo By: Ray Kachatorian

As a general rule of thumb, if someone asks you if you want to speak with “Weird Al” Yankovic’s dentist, you say yes. Dr. Dustin Cohen, owner of The Practice | Beverly Hills Boutique Dental, is more than just a set of steady hands inside your mouth – he’s also a pop culture aficionado, a hardcore sneaker collector, and one hell of an interview.

We recently sat down with Dr. Cohen to discuss dental misconceptions, the reality of reality television, and if in fact liquor will make our teeth sicker.

TrunkSpace: You’re our first dentist featured at TrunkSpace. Can you promise us a pain free interview?
Dr. Cohen: That’s my specialty! But I am a dentist, so I hope I don’t bore you to death.

TrunkSpace: In all seriousness, some people genuinely do have a deep-rooted fear for visiting the dentist. In your experience, where does that fear stem from? Do you feel like dentists get a bad wrap?
Dr. Cohen: Yeah, the dental office definitely triggers a rise in blood pressure and stress for a lot of people. I think old school dentistry was pretty barbaric and scary. I don’t think their customer service experience, equipment, or use of numbing agents was up-to-par in the old days, then that fear gets passed down from one person to the next amongst family and friends. Those horror stories stick in peoples’ heads, causing anxiety that the same thing may happen to them.

At our office, anyone who walks in feeling nervous, walks out questioning why they were nervous in the first place. We are on a mission to make it unimaginable for anyone to go to a dental office other than ours. That means we do anything and everything possible to change the stereotype of the scary dental office.

TrunkSpace: What is your particular approach to making patients feel at ease when they step foot (and mouth) into your office?
Dr. Cohen: This would be what we call the Bespoke Dental Experience. This starts off with something that is incredibly unique amongst doctors & dentists… we start on-time! Seriously, who likes waiting for an hour before being seen? We start and end on-time, every time. We have a lot of very busy patients who don’t have time to be late, but it also helps to minimize the stress associated with waiting around worrying about what’s going to happen.

We also like to have you fill out our “personalize your visit” form. This lets us know if you want a pillow or blanket, maybe some water or some headphones… then we’ll have it ready for you when you come to the office! A comfortable patient is key to quick, easy, and painless procedures.

TrunkSpace: What is the biggest misconception that people have about dentists and/or going in for dental work?
Dr. Cohen: Patients rarely recognize how precise dental work must be to feel, look, and function correctly. We work in fractions of a millimeter! A half of a millimeter can make all the difference between a perfect looking front tooth or a snaggle tooth. A filling that is a quarter of a millimeter too high can feel like you are biting on a rock! So sometimes people get upset if things take a bit longer to adjust than they anticipated or if they need to come back for a bite adjustment. You have to set proper expectations, because those things are very common. Your mouth is a tough place to work!

TrunkSpace: One of the things that makes you so interesting is that you’re not our parents’ dentist. And by that we mean, you’re hip and you’re plugged into the world of pop culture. Do you think having that knowledge of the pop culture landscape makes you more relatable to patients and able to connect in ways that other doctors can’t??
Dr. Cohen: Yeah, I mean, I hope so! I have always naturally been attracted to the pop culture landscape. Probably because it always seems so fun and cool… and how can you hate fun and cool? Los Angeles is the perfect place for me to do business. LA and Beverly Hills are the epitome of pop culture: lots of hype around new movies, TV shows, music, and restaurants. I believe a big part of the reason we are popular with the “in the know” crowd is because I can relate so well to what those patients are interested in.

TrunkSpace: You’re also an avid sneaker collector. How many pairs are in your collection and how do you view the shoes themselves? Are they art? Are they pop art? What is the allure for you?
Dr. Cohen: I do love me some sneakers. I have around 100 pair of shoes right now. I view them as a way to show people that I have some creativity and style. When I was in dental school I bought about 30 pair of brightly colored sneakers to contrast the boring scrubs that all 126 people in our class had to wear. Sneakers also have a pop culture niche that attracts a hip crowd and I like being part of that.

TrunkSpace: You named your son Jordan after your favorite sneaker brand. Are you nostalgic for the old Jordans or are the new versions just as exciting to you as a collector as those you wore as a kid?
Dr. Cohen: Yeah, my little dude is named Jordan. My wife hates it when I say it’s because of Michael Jordan or Jordan Brand sneakers! (Laughter) Before we were even married she said she liked the name Jordan and I quickly agreed. It’s just a coincidence that it’s the same name as my childhood idol, wink wink.

Anyway, I tend to wear the older Jordans like the III’s & IV’s mostly. The new ones are cool, but a little too sporty for me these days. The older ones have become more of a stylish casual sneaker and that fits me better since I don’t really get to play basketball anymore.

Photo By: Ray Kachatorian

TrunkSpace: You and your wife Stacey work together and your practice (The Practice) is based in Beverly Hills. You have a list of celebrity clientele. This seems like the perfect recipe for a reality show. Has that idea ever been floated around?
Dr. Cohen: We’ve asked some patients who are reality TV stars & producers about the business, but not really about us having a show. Looking at it from a business perspective, it would probably be fantastic for our office. Looking at it on the personal side, we’d be concerned about the potential family issues that it could cause working with that type of schedule. I think we would have to consider it if the opportunity arose, but we already have big plans of where we want to take our business that have nothing to do with TV.

TrunkSpace: One of your patients is none other than “Weird Al” Yankovic. We have to ask… and hopefully this doesn’t break doctor/patient confidentiality… but have the two of you ever discussed his dentist-themed song “Cavity Search?”
Dr. Cohen: I did ask him about it! I asked if he thinks about the song when he goes to the dentist. Thankfully, he does not. Cool little secret from that song, he said they actually brought a dentist to the studio to use the drill during the recording.

TrunkSpace: As previously noted, your practice is based in Beverly Hills. One of our favorite places for a martini when in town was Nic’s, which closed down fairly recently. So, related but unrelated at the same time… how bad is alcohol for our teeth?
Dr. Cohen: I think the biggest problems you are going to have from drinking alcohol is the sugar in the mixers and if you pass out without flossing and brushing your teeth! Diagnosis: dental cavities due to drunken behavior.

TrunkSpace: Playing off of our previous question, as a doctor, do you find that people will randomly ask you professional advice in a non-professional atmosphere? (This question seems very Larry David-like, but it seems this may be a very real occupational-meets-social hazard that doctors face.)
Dr. Cohen: Luckily, I don’t get a whole lot of that. Or is it because I’m good at keeping my dental degree a secret from the crazy people I meet?

TrunkSpace: Finally, Dr. Cohen, this is a pop culture magazine, so we have to end with a pop culture-related question. Your practice is called The Practice. There was also a show called “The Practice,” which starred Dylan McDermott and is no doubt available on some streaming platform somewhere. Which Practice is more fun? (This is total layup question but we have our Jordans on so we are prepared for the layup!)
Dr. Cohen: The Practice | Beverly Hills Boutique Dental is way more fun! Even a dental office looks exciting compared to a law firm!

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Wingman Wednesday

Ian Verdun

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Photo By: Claudia Greene

Unless you’re a sailor from the 15th century with a belly full of wine, you probably don’t have a lot of experience with mermaids. That being said, Ian Verdun, star of the new drama series “Siren,” which premieres March 29 on Freeform, promises viewers will find plenty to relate to when mermaids come ashore in the fictional town of Bristol Cove.

The Los Angeles native portrays a salt-of-the-earth fisherman in the new series, and it’s these types of real, recognizable people that he says helps to ground the fantastical elements of “Siren.”

We recently sat down with Verdun to discuss why he thinks the series will have no problem finding an audience, how success won’t mean it arrived overnight, and the reason he genuinely loves portraying his character Xander.

 

TrunkSpace: Freeform has an amazing track record of building and establishing shows that amass really passionate fandoms. In everything that you have experienced and seen of the show thus far, does it have that same fandom-building potential?
Verdun: Absolutely. I think it could do it on a number of levels, actually. First and foremost it’s about mermaids, so I think there’s already such an avid fan base for that creature, for that folklore, all across the planet. There’s no country in the whole world that doesn’t have some kind of dedication to mermaids, some kind of cultural cornerstone where it deals with those creatures, so I think that alone is gonna have a lot of people very interested from the beginning. And then when they really get into the story and they get into the characters, and they get into what we’ve actually done with these characters, I really think people are gonna find a passionate new angle. And my character, he’s not a supernatural thing. I definitely am not a mermaid. Spoiler alert. (Laughter) But I think there’s something so human about him. When you have characters who do things that are just incredibly relatable, incredibly human, especially against the backdrop of something so crazy and so out there and off the wall, you really find a way to just see yourself in all of these people, in all of their situations, and in all of their hardships in spite of all the zaniness that’s happening.

And I think that the writers have really done a great job of keeping everybody grounded, so when people watch, it’s not just about flippers and fins and intrigue and mystery and all of that other stuff, which is great and awesome, and I enjoy it – I enjoy genre TV like anybody else – but I think the thing that keeps you coming back and makes you really passionate is the people. I tip my hat off to them (the writers) because I was just so excited to get a script every time, because we would just eat it up and just zoom right through every script. It was the only opportunity for us to be fans, because it’s spoiled for us. We already know what’s happening. If anybody watching the show is as involved and intrigued as we were reading it, then, yeah, I think it’s really gonna find a big audience.

TrunkSpace: What’s interesting about mermaids is that, while it’s a recognizable creature, they haven’t been overly exposed in the world of modern pop culture.
Verdun: I totally agree. And I think there’s actually a couple of reasons for that. One I think is that it’s probably just incredibly expensive, technically, to do it, especially on television. It’s a lot of water. It’s a lot of stuff. So I think we’ve just kind of come to a point in time in television, just technically, where we’re able to pull off something like this and make it believable and real and fresh. But I also think culturally we’re just in a different place where Women’s Liberation, the #MeToo movement, Time’s Up and all of these things are happening when it comes to narratives that center on women in positions of power, and I think that before now, it’s been very rare to actually look at these kinds of creatures, these stories, and actually focus in on them and break them down because people weren’t paying attention before.

TrunkSpace: The show is already creating a buzz, and again, Freeform is very good and finding audiences for their programming. With all of that being said, does it feel like “Siren” could be a game changer for you as far as your career is concerned?
Verdun: I mean, one can only hope, right? Don’t count your fish before they’re caught, right? (Laughter) But I would hope so. For me, it’s not really an overnight success. It takes years to become an overnight success. I graduated from college back in 2007, so it’s been a long haul for me.

It’s about the integrity of the story that you’re telling and it’s about the craft, no matter what the project is, you know? You always wanna do your best work and you always wanna be able to stand up and stand behind what you’re doing and be able to defend it, and I’m very lucky with this show that I genuinely enjoy it and I genuinely think it’s a great show. I’m very lucky to be going into this particular process with a project that I really, really, really love. It makes things, I imagine, so much easier. This is the first time I’m doing any of this, so it’s not like I have a lot of comparative experience.

TrunkSpace: Like many other shows nowadays, “Siren” is adopting a smaller season order (10 episodes), which for viewers, feels more consumable. You’re getting story, not just filler content.
Verdun: Exactly. You don’t have those little standalone episodes. It really kind of felt like we were shooting a movie every week. It’s just the production value and the amount of people that are involved, and sometimes, the depths that we had to… pun totally not intended, but kind of intended… the depths that we had to go to to really find characters and to really tell a very honest story about them in light of, like I said before, all the craziness. So I think it’s also advantageous to have smaller episode orders because you’re able to put some money into it, and put some bang into the episodes that really just, you know, knocks everything home, because when it looks beautiful and when everybody’s happy, it shows up on screen.

TrunkSpace: We know you can’t go into too much of the story, but can you give us a taste of what Xander’s personal journey is over the course of that first season?
Verdun: I would love to go into details, but obviously, I can’t. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) Contractually you can only confirm that you’re NOT a mermaid.
Verdun: (Laughter) Yeah. All I can say.

What I can say about Xander is I think his journey is incredibly relatable, even though, you know, it’s mermaids and I doubt too many people can relate to dealing with mermaids. I’ll be very surprised if they do. (Laughter) But I think his journey is about friendship and it’s about loyalty and maybe misplaced loyalty. And I think it’s also about family for him. His entire outlook is very tied up in the people that he’s with and he’s around. I think he’s an incredibly smart guy, he’s incredibly intelligent, but I don’t think people give him credit for it. What I do love about him too is he’s just this regular dude. He’s a working class, blue collar fisherman, and I think to give that perspective a younger face, and even to give that perspective a brown face, to me it’s really interesting. I rarely ever see fishermen on TV or even blue collar characters as people of color. They generally aren’t. But we exist, they exist. I don’t come from a high class, upper class, or even upper middle class family at all. I grew up pretty poor. We have blue collar people that have very different faces and it’s almost an honor to be able to represent that and to put a human face on it that looks a bit different.

Siren” premieres on Freeform March 29.

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Wingman Wednesday

Jack Turner

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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 Turner to discuss reuniting with his “My Summer Prince” costar, why he would hang out with his character Ben in the real world, and the reason he left his job at Google after five years.

TrunkSpace: This isn’t your first time working with Taylor. Was coming together on this movie by design or was it a bit of a surprise for you?
Turner: Taylor was working with the production team a little bit and was able to suggest some names and it ended up coming my way. I was really happy to get it and it was great to have the chance to work with Taylor again – she’s brilliant to work with. It was also fun to get the team together after “My Summer Prince,” which is probably one of my favorite times on set.

TrunkSpace: On-screen chemistry is so important to the success and believability of Hallmark Channel movies. Because you two have worked together in the past, did that allow you and Taylor to jump right into the material and hit the ground running?
Turner: Yeah, totally. I think that chemistry comes from really good listening. I think that that’s the majority of what chemistry is on camera. When you trust that someone’s going to be there and be prepared and be ready to listen to you just as much as you’re ready to listen to them, then it takes a lot of the pressure off and no one’s just thinking about their side of things. It becomes a very interactive acting experience. I think that definitely having worked before and trusting each other the way we do, we could sink very quickly into daily routines of running lines on the way to set, running lines on the way home, and then, “See you tomorrow morning.” It was all very straightforward.

TrunkSpace: And in that, it must give you a sense of comfort off-camera as well – a sense of ease within the job itself?
Turner: Definitely. Simple stuff that makes things really easy. There wasn’t a grocery store nearby and Taylor had a car and I didn’t, and so when she was on set, she’d let me use her car so I could go and get groceries. It’s simple stuff – some surprising teamwork that makes those kinds of experiences even more enjoyable.

TrunkSpace: From our understanding, working on Hallmark Channel productions is an extremely efficient process, which makes sense given how many new movies the network airs each year. From an acting standpoint, how does that efficiency impact what you’re doing as a performer?
Turner: I personally like it. There’s not too much time to overthink things and so you trust your instincts and maybe get some direction to try some different options in takes, leave it behind and move on to the next thing. This film was a 15-day shoot, but my days were condensed into 10. I shot my side of things, the scenes that I was in, in 10 days, which is a very quick shoot for a film. I like that a lot because you just get in that rhythm and it’s very focused.

TrunkSpace: That also must allow you to pursue more projects throughout the course of a year when you’re not committing yourself to a six week or longer shoot?
Turner: Totally. I’ve been quite lucky with the shoots I’ve done. I’ve done more condensed shoots in terms of the amount of time that I’ve been on them. I’d love to do an extended TV show, but it’s also great for me to… I only came to this five or six years ago, so I’m getting loads of varied experiences through lots of different sets and lots of different roles and that’s very enriching.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to your character Ben in “One Winter Weekend,” is he someone who you could see yourself hanging out with in the real world? Was it easy for you to connect with him?
Turner: It definitely was easy to connect with him. He’s a CEO of a company but almost reluctantly so. He started the company, it went public, and he’s beholden to the board of directors and the shareholders. He has a bit more of an entrepreneurial mentality, combined with an easygoing nature, and isn’t strictly business. I think he’s become a bit jaded that his baby isn’t his. His vision isn’t really being fulfilled anymore and the company’s products aren’t being innovative and he needs a weekend away to get some perspective on some of the issues he’s been having in the company and also in the press, and then of course, he meets Cara.

TrunkSpace: And the conflict then arises because she is essentially the press, right?
Turner: Exactly right. Good research.

At the beginning of the film they both book the same chalet and neither of them are happy about it. To ease the tension, their friends that they’re with suggest that no one talks about work for the weekend because we’re all going to be sharing space together and it should just be a fun time.

Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Steven Ackerman

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel programming continues to grow in popularity. Why do you think that is?
Turner: I think it’s really family friendly, simple entertainment. Simple is the wrong word, but in contrast, simplicity can be elegant in that you have characters who are dealing with very relatable problems, and over the course of the film and the obstacles that they go through, they learn something that is universal about themselves and come out the other side. It can be a very clear learning experience for the audience as well as the characters. I think they’re quite elegant in the ease that the scripts and the films have.

TrunkSpace: You have one of the more interesting journeys in becoming an actor that we’ve read about. Firstly, you studied psychology and we have to imagine that having that knowledge must be pretty beneficial in an industry where there are so many different types of personalities?
Turner: Definitely. Both in terms of the characters you play and also on-set dynamics. That’s where professionalism really comes into play and I was fortunate that I worked at Google for five years and had a heavy dose of professionalism there. I feel like I have good training, if you like, for working in film and TV. The funny thing about the psychology degree is that the way psychology has gone for the last 15 or 20 years, it’s become very scientific. The degree was almost closer to neuroscience or neuropsychology rather than observable human behavior. In a way I feel like acting school, which I did at night while I was working at Google, and then working in film and TV, is the education in psychology I always wanted and also the expression of what I’m interested in.

TrunkSpace: Like you mentioned, you worked at Google for five years, which is a company that a lot of people are running towards, not from.
Turner: (Laughter) I know. Google is a great job, so I like to joke that it was a series of unforgivable mistakes leaving that place.

TrunkSpace: And it was while you were there that you planted the seed for what would ultimately become your acting career?
Turner: Yeah, it was. I thought I’d go to an acting class for a couple reasons. Partly because of the psychology background and because a few really close friends and family said it could be a good fit as a hobby. I also thought it might help me at work. A lot of the executives do actually use acting coaches in order to help them dealing with different personalities or in helping themselves. Maybe some people need to be more assertive, some people need to listen better, some people need to present with more authority, or maybe even less authority. Acting can be really helpful for executives.

So I went to a class and just instantly fell in love with the rooted but spiritual nature of it. I just fell in love with it and became hooked and did a two-year class while I was in San Francisco at night, two or three nights a week. Then came a time where I was prepared and ready to leave the fold of Google. There’s no regrets, but it was a very difficult decision.

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

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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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Wingman Wednesday

Rukiya Bernard

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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 Rukiya Bernard to discuss her “One Winter Weekend” highlights, why her character’s story delivers a great message for women, and the crossover between the Hallmarkies and the Helsingers.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on multiple Hallmark Channel movies throughout the course of your career, the most recent being “One Winter Weekend.” Do you continue to return to the Hallmark Channel fold because of the people involved, because of the characters you get to portray, or a combination of both?
Bernard: I think it’s a combination of both. I enjoy doing lighthearted comedies and Hallmark gives me the chance to do that.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer, the end product – the completed film – is what becomes memorable, but for those who work on a project, there’s an entire experience involved. What for you were some of the highlights of your time on “One Winter Weekend?”
Bernard: There were a number of highlights in this movie such as eating fondue for work, figuring out how to do things while both hands were incapacitated and getting to know the cast. We’d go out after work whenever possible and it was great getting to know them.

TrunkSpace: When you first got a sense of who Megan was, what initially drew you in, and did you begin to enjoy different aspects of her personality as you spent more time with her?
Bernard: When I first got the role of Megan I enjoyed her free spiritedness, which contrasts nicely with her REALLY good work ethic. It’s maybe too good to her detriment. I enjoyed her playful side and that really drew me in.

TrunkSpace: What is Megan’s journey throughout the course of the film? Did you get to tackle something within the performance that you have yet to onscreen?
Bernard: Megan’s journey is one of learning to stand her ground and go after what she wants in life. I loved that aspect of her story. I think it’s a great message for women to hear – for everyone to hear, actually.

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel movies continue to grow in popularity and draw massive audiences week after week, season after season. As someone who has worked on multiple productions, what do you think the draw is?
Bernard: I think the draw is they are easy to watch and people know what to expect. They’re never going to make you uncomfortable and they’ll always put a smile on your face. Now more than ever, I think we need that and I think that’s a huge part as to why the numbers are increasing week to week.

TrunkSpace: As a star of “Van Helsing,” you’re no stranger to passionate fandoms. What we didn’t realize until we started really diving into Hallmark Channel content was that the films have their own really passionate fandoms called the “Hallmarkies.” In your experience, how do the Hallmarkies compare to some of the genre fandoms like what you have experienced firsthand with “Van Helsing?”
Bernard: You know what’s interesting is some of the Helsingers are Hallmarkies too! I was shocked to see the crossover when I started getting messages from fans. It makes me laugh as “Van Helsing” is a horror show – very dramatic and tragic with lots of blood and gore – it’s vampires! And then my Helsingers will change channels and enjoy a MOW I’m in with lightness and everlasting love and lots of fun shenanigans. I love it!

Photo: Rukiya Bernard, Taylor Cole Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Steven Ackerman

TrunkSpace: Speaking of fandoms, you have made two appearances on the series “Supernatural,” a show whose fan base continues to propel it forward, currently into its 13th season. You first guested in season 7, and just returned for season 13, playing two entirely different characters. What is it is like getting to play two characters within the canon of one popular series? Although not entirely rare in the “Supernatural” world, it is relatively rare in the industry as a whole, correct?
Bernard: Yes, it is rare to be invited back onto a show and I was honored that it happened. The SPN fans are super loyal too. It was fun playing both characters who were quite different in that, though both were counseling types (season 7 I played a fraudulent psychic and season 13 I played a grief counselor), the characters were very different and had different demises – I never died in the current season.

TrunkSpace: One of the great things about “Supernatural” is that from a storytelling standpoint, it’s this perfect mix of the fantastical and the relatable. In your season 13 episode, “The Big Empty,” you portrayed a shapeshifter who was dealing with some really heavy, human circumstances and emotions. That sort of perfectly sums up the unlimited potential of acting in terms of where you can go with the craft, does it not? Getting to play a “monster” who, in the end, is the victim, is a theme as old and as relatable as the story of Frankenstein, but at the same time, it’s not something you get to do while sitting in a cubicle at an office.
Bernard: (Laughter) Yeah, it’s not an average day at the office – though if you watch “Van Helsing,” my character Doc is a “monster” grappling with finding and proving her humanity again, so maybe it is another day at the office for me. I think the constant in all the characters I’ve played is that they are presented as one thing and through the journey they go on they endeavor to change. I love playing those characters because I think people need to see that it’s possible to change if you want to.

TrunkSpace: You have received both fan acclaim and critical praise for your work on “Van Helsing.” As you look back over your time on the series, what memories bring a smile to your face, both professionally and personally?
Bernard: I have many fond memories. “Van Helsing” is my first television series and I’m lucky that we’ve been picked up for a third season. When I think about my first few days on set, I was so nervous and was convinced that I was going to get fired, but I think back on those days now and they make me laugh. I also think about the friendships I’ve made and how lucky I am.

TrunkSpace: From what we read, your mother was an art store owner. Did you grow up in a creative environment where your own creative endeavors were supported and nurtured?
Bernard: You’ve done your research. Yes, my mom owned Toronto’s first African art store and though she wasn’t an artist she was a huge supporter of the arts and really helped encourage my artistic desires. Both my parents did. My dad was a graphic artist before becoming an entrepreneur and he’s a really good singer, too. I think I get my artsiness from him.

Bernard in Van Helsing. Photo by: Dan Power/Helsing S1 Productions/Syfy

TrunkSpace: Have your aspirations/goals changed from when you started out acting to where you are now?
Bernard: Not really. I just think my goals are more well-rounded because they now include my family and balancing my dreams and aspirations with my kids and my husband. We aim to support each other with the varying things we want to do in life.

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?
Bernard: I didn’t set any resolutions. I kind of have a fear of them as they set you up for failure. However, I did decide to work out more even when I can’t get to the gym and have crafted workouts I can do at home and while I’m on the road. No excuses this year!

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

Season 2 of “Van Helsing” arrives on Netflix today.

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Wingman Wednesday

Kim Rhodes

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Photo By: Travis Hodges

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supernatural” returns tonight on The CW.

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Wingman Wednesday

Nathalie Boltt

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Photo By: Ian Redd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo By: Ian Redd

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

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

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

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

Riverdale” returns tonight on The CW.

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

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Wingman Wednesday

Kyanna Simone Simpson

KyannaSimpson_Wingwoman_wednesday (1)
Photo By: Miles Schuster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Lightning” premieres tonight on The CW.

White Boy Rick” arrives in theaters this August.

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Wingman Wednesday

Cooper Andrews

CooperAndrews_Wingman_wednesday

Whenever established shows attempt to introduce new characters well into the life of a series, generally it feels like sharks are being jumped. But when meeting new characters is ingrained in the very premise of a show, such as “The Walking Dead,” the audience is more accepting of a revolving door and even anticipates first-time faces, often while simultaneously having to say goodbye to longtime favorites.

Few characters in the history of “The Walking Dead” have brought synchronous smiles to the faces of the fandom more so than Jerry, King Ezekiel’s ax wielding, peace sign flashing right-hand man. Portrayed by Cooper Andrews with a jovial perfection, the affable resident of the Kingdom offers hope in a world where it, much like their resources, is becoming increasingly scarce.

Landing a memorable role in one of the most popular shows in all of television has a tendency to impact a career, and for Andrews, the after-effects have been no exception. Later this week the New York native will appear in the crime drama “Den of Thieves” opposite Gerard Butler and 50 Cent, and as it has been reported, he is set to star as Victor Vasquez in the highly anticipated “Shazam!,” due in theaters April 5, 2019.

We recently sat down with Andrews to discuss the fandom’s acceptance of Jerry, building a backstory for his undersized chest pad, and how he went full circle on “The Walking Dead,” from boom operator to star.

TrunkSpace: Not every job in the world has the power to change someone’s life, but we have to imagine that landing a role in “The Walking Dead” is one of those gigs where you can sort of feel the crackle in the air of things to come?
Andrews: Yes. Once I started on the show, I didn’t have a clue how people would respond to him (Jerry), but it’s been going well. I’ve been getting some cool opportunities from the show, just getting to go around the country and getting to go to other countries now. Just as an actor, working with all those performers, it gave me a confidence that I didn’t have as an actor before, I don’t think.

TrunkSpace: And from what we read, things moved pretty quickly. You auditioned, and then you knew within a couple of days that you were going to Georgia. Did the fact that it happened so quickly allow you to not overthink it?
Andrews: Yeah, pretty much. From me finding out to me leaving was just a few hours. I was with my friend shooting a fight sequence, and I got the phone call. I was sitting with all of this camera gear in a swimming pool. So yeah, I really didn’t have time to process it.

TrunkSpace: How soon did you feel the reach of “The Walking Dead” fandom and their acceptance of both Jerry as a character and you as a performer?
Andrews: The day after it aired I was already bumping into people who were like, “Hey, are you…” You know, with that kind of surprise, “Are you that guy?” But to the point where people just say my name now, that’s weird.

TrunkSpace: We mentioned this to Khary Payton recently as well, but with all of those from the Kingdom, the characters have made such a big impact, but in the grand scheme of things, you guys haven’t been around that long. For fans, it feels like folks like Jerry and King Ezekiel have been around for many seasons.
Andrews: And honestly when I was watching it, it does feel that way. I do a yearly binge of the show. I’m on Season 4 right now, and it was just one of those things where I’m like, “Man, I forgot how much I love this show.” I never forgot that, but with just how much story happens before we even get there, I’m like, “Wow, I feel like we’ve been on here forever, but it has not been that long.”

TrunkSpace: Jerry’s comic relief is often injected into the series at times where it feels like, as an audience, we need it. Do you feel like Jerry and other characters who offer those playful moments are important to the success of the series – a sort of balance of light and darkness?
Andrews: I don’t know how Jerry affects any of the series, but as far as I feel how I try to make him effective is, and I think when they gave me all the cool writing stuff, all these awesome one-liners, I think it’s important for people to remember that there is something other than fighting. And Jerry, I think, is a big part of that. He’s an optimist. For me, that’s an awesome thing to be on a show like that. And I think the other characters on the show kind of need that optimism. So yeah, I definitely think that the show needs it, too.

TrunkSpace: We know fans love to obsess about backstory, but one of the things that we love is that we can take a character like Jerry and try to read between the lines and dissect who he is and why he is. Like with Jerry’s affable nature, a part of that, for us, feels like perhaps it’s a bit of a coping mechanism for him in this new world. Maybe it’s how he gets through all of the darkness, by being the light.
Andrews: Yeah. I definitely feel that. I feel like Jerry’s whole goal is to move forward. And I had this… there’s this joke about me and the chest plate. I like Jerry not having a backstory. I like that idea, because Jerry is a very forward person. He thinks about the future. He thinks about what’s to come. But when I wear that chest pad, it’s so tight and so small that I always wonder, “Huh, I wonder if this was always my chest pad?” I’ve had that thought recently, or since Season 8 I’ve had that thought, I should say. I just always thought, maybe if there was a backstory, I wondered if there was a kid involved or something that he had, and he tried to set the example for his kid. But that’s just a thought. Maybe there’s nothing to do with it, and they just don’t make my size. (Laughter)

AMC – © 2017 AMC Film Holdings LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TrunkSpace: Another item that became synonymous with your character was the ax. In the episode “Some Guy,” you lose that item, which got us to wondering, from a performance standpoint, did you approach Jerry differently after that? As if, by losing the ax, it altered the way he carried himself?
Andrews: I played it like this… when Jerry loses the ax, and he’s like, “Shit balls,” I definitely had more of a, “It’s just an ax” mentality about it. The reason I was upset is that, “Oh, I kind of needed this weapon right now to go through all of these things. This stick might not handle it.” I think a very big thing about the Kingdom is that they’re all spirit. Even right now, everyone has run from the Kingdom, but they’re still the Kingdom. They don’t need the Kingdom to be the Kingdom. I don’t need my ax to be complete. It’s just an extension of what we can do. So that’s how I played it.

TrunkSpace: In that same “Some Guy” episode, there was this really great, powerful moment for your character that we felt you played perfectly. At some point, and we’re paraphrasing here, but you call Ezekiel, “Your Majesty” and he says, “You don’t need to call me that.” And you respond with, very seriously, “Yes, I do.” That was such a great moment for Jerry and the season as a whole because we suddenly saw the character’s vulnerable side.
Andrews: Yeah. Jerry’s very much clinging on to everything that he had at that moment. Like if there was one more thing that happens, I’m gonna freaking lose it. “Yes, I do have to call you that, like more than ever right now.” Yeah, that was… I love that line.

TrunkSpace: It’s an exciting time for you because not only are you dealing with all out war in “The Walking Dead,” but you also have a film due out this week called “Den of Thieves” and it was recently announced that you’ll be starring in “Shazam!,” which is due out next year. People are always talking about “overnight successes,” but nobody’s an overnight success. Most people are always working towards a goal.
Andrews: First off it’s fun, but it’s one of those things where I’m like, “Huh, is this my life now? Is this what’s happening, or is this just a moment?” So I try not to get my head into that space too much because then I’m afraid I’ll try to give myself an expectation. But I do set goals for myself every year film-wise, working in the industry-wise. It’s always silly things. Last year my New Year’s resolution was to be in a movie. And then like four days later I was cast in “Den of Thieves,” and I was like, “Oh, sweet.”

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) It’s good to get those resolutions out of the way very early.
Andrews: (Laughter) Yeah. I was wanting to clear it.

TrunkSpace: And not only did “Den of Thieves” help you achieve that resolution, but it must have been a great experience because that cast is stacked.
Andrews: It was such a great experience. I love movies because we can really take our time to just focus on doing like two or three pages a day. When we’re shooting the show, we’re shooting maybe eight and nine pages a day and going through it quickly. We all put our best in, but we have to keep to a schedule, so it’s like we don’t get to take that extra time that a film gets to.

TrunkSpace: When we started our chat we talked about what a game changer “The Walking Dead” was, but fast forward about a year from now and “Shazam!” could change things for you again in a single opening day weekend.
Andrews: The biggest thing I’m excited about is, I’m a DC guy over Marvel. I was raised on Superman, reading his comics for like over a decade. I knew about Shazam, but I didn’t know the details about everything. I always read when he crossed over into Superman’s world or things like “Kingdom Come,” but the idea of Shazam I thought was always incredible. Just his honesty, just his pureness to be given the ability to shape the world, in a sense, is exciting. Getting to play this character is gonna be a lot of fun.

TrunkSpace: And I think a lot of the comic-loving population feels the same way you do. We knew of Shazam as a character, but we didn’t know every single detail about him, which may actually lead to the film being one of DC’s biggest cinematic successes… much like “Guardians of the Galaxy” was for Marvel.
Andrews: Oh for sure. I don’t know if you remember, but back when “Batman Begins” came out, everyone was like, “Michael Keaton is Batman! Michael Keaton is Batman! There was no other Batman!” I love Michael Keaton, don’t get me wrong. I loved it. But I was like, “I could see a new Batman.” And then Christian Bale happened. And then it was so funny because when Ben Affleck was announced, I then was reading, “Christian Bale is the only real Batman!” (Laughter) It’s just funny how that works.

With Shazam, there isn’t gonna be, “This is the only true Shazam!”

TrunkSpace: Maybe in 20 years from now people will be like, “This is not Victor Vasquez! Cooper Andrews is the only Victor Vasquez!” And it will come full circle!
Andrews: (Laughter) Yes!

I had an awesome full circle moment on that last episode of “The Walking Dead” that we did. So two or three years ago, Season 5, I was doing second unit boom operating. And so that means we do a section of a scene from this episode, then a section of a scene from another episode, throughout the season, because they’re just trying to cover everything. And there’s this scene where Andy Lincoln is behind the wheel of this car. I’m on the radio with my mixer, and I’m like, “All right, I’m just gonna get perspective from the camera side. I don’t think anything’s happening here.” And then Andy just starts yelling in the car. He’s like, “Ahhhhhhhhhhh!” I was like. “Whoa. Okay. I’m gonna move the microphone inside the car, and we’re gonna see what happens.” I put the mic in and then I hear, “And action.” And it goes quiet. And then nothing. And then I hear, “And cut.” And I was like, “I don’t know what just happened, but we got whatever that was.”

And it was him just yelling at himself to get into that moment, because it’s hard when you do these pickup shots. You have to get your head in there quick, and you can’t do like two pages of dialogue to build up an emotion, so he just yells it out. And with this last episode that aired, when you see me in the car at the beginning, I did that same exact thing like 50 yards away from when he originally did it – the same exact shot. It was the camera outside the car looking in, and it was just on my face and me having to go intense. And I was thinking, “Man, what do I… Oh, yeah!” And I just did it. And I was like, “This happened, full circle, 50 yards away.”

Den of Thieves” arrives in theaters this Friday.

The Walking Dead” returns February 25 on AMC.

Shazam!” is is due in theaters April 5, 2019.

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