close

May 2017

Deep Focus

Ira Rosensweig

IraRosensweig_DeepFocus

In our new column Deep Focus, TrunkSpace is going behind the camera to talk with the directors, writers, and producers who infuse our world with that perennial pop culture goodness that we can’t get enough of.

This time out we’re chatting with Ira Rosensweig, the filmmaker responsible for the digital series “Mystery Now,” which stars John Lithgow and serves as the companion prequel to the NBC comedy “Trial & Error.” He also previously directed the Clio Award-winning short “Neighbors 3: Zombies Rising” starrimg Seth Rogen and Zac Efron and is currently developing a number of original features, one of which he hopes to start shooting this summer.

We recently sat down with Rosensweig to discuss how he taps into the tone of an established series, how working with such high caliber talent can directly influence his career, and how he’d never ever EVER shoot 84 pages in four days again.

TrunkSpace: More and more networks are using companion shorts these days and they are continuing to grow in popularity. They’re often a continuation or precursor to the source material, but at the same time, they’re marketing pieces. How do you approach them as a director?
Rosensweig: I kind of approach them as I’d approach anything else, first trying to make the piece itself great, but then obviously you have to look back and see how it connects to the existing material and try to figure out the best ways to kind of weave into that and exploit that. I think with this project, “Mystery Now,” the script was written by two of the writers of “Trial & Error” so that was already taken care of. They obviously knew the world really well and figured out ways to come in and out of it, with the idea being that the story is about the murder of the John Lithgow character’s first wife. So in the Writer’s Room they had already figured out a lot of that stuff and were able to make the backstory that was in “Trial & Error” the main story here. I think the script itself was really rich and my job was to just kind of make it all come to life… try to make the piece feel as real as possible, at least at the very beginning. It was important to me to try to make it seem like it really could have been an unearthed kind of “Dateline” news magazine piece, but then as you go along I really wanted to play up a lot of fun formal elements and breaks and just try to figure out ways to keep it interesting and build the comedy. If you go too heavy in the front, it’s going to feel weird and you’re going to say to yourself, “This is too much of a parody.” You kind of have to find your groove and eventually figure out how to break out of that mold and be funny.

TrunkSpace: When you’re working within the tone of an existing property, it must help to have the actors from that property taking part because then you’re not really having to help them discover the tone because it’s a world they’re already familiar with?
Rosensweig: Yeah, it was great to work with John Lithgow because obviously he knows the characters so well so he snapped back into that mode and we just had a really great time, playing around and doing some improv. It was fun for him, I think, to revisit the character because they had finished filming awhile ago. But other than John, everybody else in the cast of “Mystery Now” was not a part of “Trial & Error” but they all really took it seriously and tried to inhabit their characters. I encouraged a lot of improvisation and a lot of what you see in the final piece is improv. We were lucky to find some really talented actors who knocked it out of the park.

(Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images for NBC)

TrunkSpace: And then you’ve got a piece like “Neighbors 3: Zombies Rising,” which obviously both Seth and Zac are dialed into their characters on and can just hit the ground running.
Rosensweig: Pretty much. With that, the challenge wasn’t figuring out the characters because as you said they knew them inside and out. The challenge with that was simply that we had them for 40 minutes.

TrunkSpace: Wow! You got a lot done in 40 minutes!
Rosensweig: Yeah. It was crazy. (Laughter) It was a crazy day where it was basically a junket. The traditional press junket has changed a little and now they film all of these vignettes for different networks, so AMC had them for an hour and subtracting hair and makeup and wardrobe, it was literally like 40 minutes to get that whole thing done.

TrunkSpace: Crafty must just be filled with coffee and Red Bulls on a day like that.
Rosensweig: (Laughter) Yeah. Basically. It was nuts.

But we threw them in there and they were amazing to work with. As I said, we had spent no time working on the character and just the entire time trying to make it as good and as funny as possible.

TrunkSpace: So is that a standard shoot schedule that you’re used to when working on a companion short like “Mystery Now?”
Rosensweig: Well, the windows for talent seem to be shrinking. To give you an example, with John Lithgow, that was shot over 45 minutes. I just did a thing for AMC promoting “Better Call Saul” and we literally had Bob Odenkirk for 15 minutes. It’s been good for me as a challenge just to be focused and try to get the best material possible in the least amount of time because I know in doing independent features and the schedule for TV, which are both things that I hope to be doing more of, I know they have to move quickly and I feel like this is a really great training ground for that.

TrunkSpace: It does seem particularly crazy in the TV landscape where everything is being made like mini films these days, and yet, the schedules remain breakneck.
Rosensweig: For sure. We’re talking about doing a feature this summer actually and it’s basically a 100 page script and I would hope we’ll have, maybe four weeks, so you’re talking about five pages a day. I actually did a web series a couple of years ago where we shot 84 pages of script in four days. Now, I never want to do that again. (Laughter) We did 20 episodes for that, so some of the episodes I think are really good and some of them not so good, but it was a great kind of experience that I, honestly, never want to do again. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: On the first day, super excited. By the time the fourth day roles around, insanity sets in.
Rosensweig: Oh yeah. It was literally staying up every night until 4:30 a.m., trying to figure out what you’re doing the next day and waking up two hours later and going to work.

TrunkSpace: But then on the fifth day when you’re wrapped, part of you was probably going… “I miss that.”
Rosensweig: (Laughter) No.

I also edited everything, so it was literally a four month grind where I was happy to be finished shooting and then it was, “Okay, let’s get to work and finish these things now.”

TrunkSpace: In working on these various projects with the caliber of talent you’ve had at your disposal, do you think it opens the eyes of executives, producers, and financiers to say, “Okay, this guy can step in and carry our feature or series?”
Rosensweig: I hope so. It’s weird… over the last couple of years, I’ve really been working with a lot of celebrity talent and I hadn’t done it that much before that. So I guess doing more of it convinces people of, “Oh, he’s good with talent and he can get things done quickly.” And I hope that is the case. It seems like the world of TV and film is now opening up a lot more. There have been projects, one in particular called “Guidance,” that I’ve literally been trying to make for eight years and it seems like we’re finally going to make it this summer, which is awesome.

TrunkSpace: Outside of directing, you also produce, write and edit. In a time when content truly is king, it must be beneficial to wear all of those hats and essentially control your own destiny.
Rosensweig: For sure. I was lucky coming up in the beginning when I was working for MTV Networks and Spike TV because I had a great boss and he basically let me write, produce, direct, and edit full commercial and promo campaigns for the network. So that’s kind of what I got used to doing. For me, the jobs really blend together and I love being able to wear a bunch of hats.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked with some massive international brands on the commercial side of things as well. Is there an added layer of pressure on a project where you’re not only tasked with creating a great piece, but also having to deliver a specific message?
Rosensweig: There is a little bit of pressure, but honestly, there’s no pressure that’s put on me that’s greater than the one that I put on myself.

read more
Next Up

Nate Scholz

Nate-Scholz_NextUp

Name: Nate Scholz

Hometown: Vancouver, WA

Current Location: Marina Del Rey, CA

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Scholz: That’s a good question. As a kid I had an incredible imagination. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker and save the galaxy. I spent the better part of my childhood acting out such fantasies with friends. I grew up in what some would consider the “country” so I was always outside, building forts, playing sports (that rhymed) camping under the stars, and getting into trouble. The idea of acting as an art form didn’t exist to me. It was just something I did to escape reality. In high school I was a jock and partied a lot… and probably would have kicked my own ass if I said I wanted to do theater. In college I won a national marketing/sales competition and had my pick of 50 job offers. I chose the job that paid me the most and relocated me to LA… the worst reasons to make such a decision. Consequently, I was very unfulfilled and unhappy. After a year of battling depression caused by a poor life decision, I decided to look for a new job. Without going into great detail (too late), I interviewed with a famous writer named Leslie Dixon to become her assistant. It was during that interview that she told me I should pursue a career in acting. Apparently she had never told anyone that before, but she saw something “special” in me that she couldn’t ignore. She laid out what I needed to do then wished me luck. That was the catalyst for everything. Within a week I was in acting classes three days a week, had an agent within a month, booked my first short film within two months, and did my first standup show within five months. It was exactly what I had been searching for my whole life. I walked away from all that I had achieved in business and I’ve never looked back. I’m still grateful for Leslie. Without her, I might never have admitted to myself that acting was what I wanted to do all along.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Scholz: It’s a three-way tie: Mark Hamill, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. They all played the “hero” and did so with their own unique style and bravado. It was not their “acting” that inspired me, it was the characters they played and the fantastic worlds their characters got to play in…and inevitably save. Fun fact: I wanted to be Van Damme so bad that I took martial arts for 5 years and mastered the ability to do the splits using two chairs like he did in “Bloodsport.”

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career as an actor? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Scholz: Leslie Dixon helped set me on the path and told me what I needed to do to get started, but after that I was on my own. I truly had no idea what I was doing and had to start from scratch. I approached acting like you would a sales and marketing job, after all, that was my background. I believed that if I worked harder than everyone else, networked, and sold myself like a product then I would be a movie star in no time. I. WAS. MISTAKEN.

Don’t get me wrong, my tenacity, confidence, charisma, and drive did get me an above average amount of work in those early days, especially given the fact I had no prior experience in the field. The only problem was, I wasn’t that good of an actor… and I knew it. I had to find MY truth, MY art, and MY voice before I could ever find the truth of a character who is completely different from me. That process of self-exploration and discovery was painful, humbling, and empowering. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it took more than five years to uncover and is still an ongoing process. That process consisted of many exercises: Questioning EVERYTHING I thought, said, and did to uncover the hidden motivation behind it; learning to embrace tragedy and pain because the more shitty things that happen to you in life the more you have to pull form as an actor… I’ve been blessed in that area (laughter)… documenting my reactions to things that happen to me in my day-to-day life, practicing love, empathy, and compassion for people who are different from me; and exploring the human condition. The other part of my plan of attack was to determine “my type,” AKA “my product,” and then perfect it. I would ask acting coaches, casting directors, agents, peers, etc. what roles they could see me playing and then compare that to the roles I was booking most frequently. Once I had a sense for how others saw me, I was able to work on those characters in a more targeted fashion. Trust me, being type-cast is a great thing… it means you’re actually working.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Scholz: I did not move to LA to be an actor. I moved for a marketing job. I came here two weeks after graduating college in June of 2007. I started my acting career in mid 2008 at the age of 24.

TrunkSpace: Was that move an easy transition for you initially? How long did it take you to feel at home and find a good support group of friends and peers?
Scholz: My transition was okay. I brought my Golden Retriever with me so I never really felt alone in those early days. This can be a cold self-absorbed city and industry. It takes a while to find the core group of friends that are worth their weight in skin. I was fortunate to find a few good ones early on but sadly they moved away within a few years. This is something you must be prepared for. The turnover in this town is very high… not many people are cut out for it. In my experience, most people last about one to two years. Very few people make it five years and even fewer will make it 10 years plus. If they do, they are usually in it for the long haul and are doing things right…or they are incredibly stubborn and delusional. (Laughter) I met my core group of friends six years ago, 80 percent of them are from my home state (just works out that way), and most of them have been here 10 years or more. I can’t imagine being here without them. LA will only feel like home if you make it home. It took me about two years to adapt fully and five years to make it my home. It is a tough and crazy city, but it is also flippin’ awesome! If you focus on the positive aspects of the city (not all the negative), find a core group of friends who love you, and hollow out your nook in a part of the city that you vibe with, then you will thrive.

TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Scholz: I’d say it’s a short film I did last June called “Alibi.” I play ISSAC, a hardened bull rider who struggles to hold his marriage together while fighting to keep his bother out of jail for a crime he didn’t commit, only to learn that his brother’s alibi is far worse than he could ever imagine. It was the most challenging, complex, and fulfilling role I’ve played so far. It was executive produced by Mark Burnett and directed by his talented son Cameron Burnett. Though it may seem weird to choose a short film out of all the feature films, pilots, and TV shows I’ve done. its not. This was one of those rare projects that all actors pray for. Every person involved was incredibly talented, gave their all, did their homework, checked their egos, and came together to make something amazing. We left nothing on the table and you can’t ask for more. The project is already doing big things. It won ‘Best Short” at its first festival (Hollywood Reel Film Festival) and was recently accepted into Cannes!!! Needless to say we are all very excited for what is to come. Stay tuned…

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific type of role youd like to take on or a specific genre that you feel more at home in?
Scholz: This may sound bad, but I really want to play a serial killer or a twisted psychopath of sorts. I know what it would take to go there and how challenging it would be, which is partially what draws me to it. I have played many different types of characters and am at a stage now where I’m drawn to things that challenge me and allow for a flexing of my creative muscle. In sharp contrast, it’s also a dream to be on SNL and showcase some of the over-the-top characters I’ve created over the years. As far as the genre I feel most at home in, I’d say its science fiction or action/drama. Weirdly enough, comedy has always come easy to me. (I’m funny as balls in real life.) However, I never get called in for it and have only done a handful of comedic roles in my career due to my “type” and how casting sees me. The majority of the work I do is dramatic, which is funny because that was the hardest thing for me to learn and my main weakness as an actor when I was starting out. It took many years for me to become respectable at it…and who knows, I may still be terrible but no one wants to break the news. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Scholz: Actors need to have many strengths outside of their main skill set: Drive, self-motivating, marketing and social media skills, business sense, networking ability, charisma, professionalism, etc. Yes, I’m aware I’m doing a terrible job of not giving concise or specific answer for this question, but there is not just one answer, especially in this industry. Everyone in this town (casting, agents, directors, networks, etc.) has their own opinion on how things should be done, what’s good and what’s not, and what it takes to succeed. Trust me, you WILL go crazy if you try to listen to them all. There are no right or wrong answers or paths to get to the top. It’s YOUR individual story and journey. That being said, there are certain things you need to know to make that journey as smooth as possible and to keep yourself from being taken advantage of. Basically, these are just my opinions based on my experience, which was unique to me so take from them what you can. I’d say the greatest strengths an actor can have outside of acting itself are: CONFIDENCE (you believe it, they will believe it), GIVING (help as many people as you can as often as you can), KINDNESS (treat everyone on set with dignity and respect), EMPATHY (the best actors I know are also the most empathetic), and PURPOSE (you better have a reason for doing this other than fame and fortune).

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Scholz: I dream big so don’t laugh. First, I want to play a Jedi badass in one of the future installments of “Star Wars.” (Laughter) Yes, that is for real. Those movies were everything to me as a kid. They were not just an escape from struggles in my adolescence, but they stimulated my imagination, taught me to think big, and made me want to be a hero. My dream is to play a role that inspires kids in the same way. Second, I want to star as Nate Drake in the adaptation of the video game franchise “Uncharted,” which has the potential to be a modern day Indiana Jones. Not only am I huge fan of the franchise, I also look very similar to Nate Drake while sharing the same name and sunny disposition. Third, since consistency in this industry is the elusive holy grail we all seek… I want to be a series regular on a show that makes syndication, preferably in the science fiction genre (think “Battlestar Galactica”). Lastly, I want to be nominated for (and hopefully win) an Oscar, SAG award, and Emmy. And yes, these goals are are written in my daily mantra. Go big or go home!

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Scholz: Start young and do not come here unless you have conquered the market in which you live. Meaning, hone your craft where you live until it’s good enough to consistently book projects in that area. Don’t come here without a resume. You need to be successful in a small market with little competition if you ever want to be successful here. Don’t just come out here because you want to be an actor. Be an actor first and if you are successful/talented enough where you live then try your luck out here. LA is too expensive and competitive to waste time dicking around. Plus, you usually only get one shot with casting so if you come in and you are garbage, you may never be called back again. Don’t burn that bridge because you are impatient. Also, MAKE YOU OWN CONTENT. The industry has changed. Opportunities are VERY few and far between. It is important that you can be a jack (or jill) of all trades: producing, directing, writing, etc. Not only will that make you a WAY better actor, it will allow you to bypass auditioning and write yourself lead roles that are perfect for you. I would also advise not falling into the Hollywood party scene. Whatever the other actors are doing, do the opposite. Keep your nose down, work harder and smarter than your peers, and network. Surround yourself with people who are where you want to be professionally. Never be the smartest or most talented person in the room. It’s NOT a race, it’s a marathon. Most overnight success stories took 10 to 20 years. Have a flexible, well-paying day job. I could keep going… but I won’t.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Scholz: You can learn more about me on my IMDb page (www.imdb.me/nas). There you will find my bio, picture, reels, clips of my work, and about half of my acting credits. Instagram is also a good place to learn more about me (SpooneyMcGavin). I always keep it updated with behind the scenes pictures, red carpet shenanigans, and personal exploits. Or you can just Google Nate Scholz and a bunch of stuff will pop up.

read more
Opening Act

Kulululu

maskedband_OpeningAct
Art By: Hasmood

Artist/Band: Kulululu

Members: Anonymous

Website: Kulululu.bandcamp.com

Hometown: Portland, OR

Latest Album/Release: Live from KBOO 90.7

Influences: Pizza, Television, Bicycles, USA, music school, boys choir, electric guitars, jazz

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Kulululu: It’s kind of a mess. Quite frantic. Beautiful sometimes, but mostly frantic. It has rough edges, like the hole in the toe of your shoe, or the tear in the back pocket of your jeans. The stuff that you love even though it’s beat up. It’s very smiley.

TrunkSpace: We love the visual element you bring to your music, particularly with your album art. How important is that visual branding to what Kulululu is doing with its music?
Kulululu: It’s a natural extension of the project. It’s not so much a brand as a way of thinking, or a style of creation. There have been numerous contributors to our visual aesthetic. Most notably a Portland artist who goes by Hasmood, and a Tucson Arizona artist named Noah Nixon. Both artists have made significant contributions to our visual aesthetic and our general well being. The community that surrounds the project and the contributions that are made are all very important.

TrunkSpace: Sticking with the visual element… your videos, particularly “#14,” kind of freaked us out a bit. Tell us about how you marry those visuals with particular tracks and what the goal is when doing so?
Kulululu: Ah yes, success! Most often our goal is to have fun creating. A lot of the ideas surrounding the project are spontaneous and very intuitive. We don’t spend a lot of time making plans and thinking hard about how to put on costumes and have fun. There’s a lot of improvisation and a lot of accepting the unexpected outcome.

TrunkSpace: We saw that the band recently played a gig with Gold Casio, a former TrunkSpace alumni. That is a band that also focuses on the visual elements of the art it is creating. Is it more important for a band to align itself with other artists who have a similar mindset or with those who have a similar sound?
Kulululu: Gold Casio is a great band! I can’t keep my body still when they play.

Sound doesn’t matter. I think the most important thing is that you align yourself with other artists who you believe in and trust. People you know stand for good, and make art that you appreciate.

TrunkSpace: The band is planning to embark on a tour of the west coast this July and has reached out to fans to help it all come together. How much does the band look forward to hitting the road and putting miles under its collective belt?
Kulululu: There’s excitement! But mostly we just need all the help we can get to make it happen. We’ve never been on the road before, and it’s hard to book an anonymous weirdo punk band no one has ever heard of that wears masks and acts strange. If we can’t book the tour we’re just going to go camping and crash open mics. We’ll pay for gas by busking.

TrunkSpace: The band isn’t afraid to make its political leanings known, recently raising money for Planned Parenthood. In a time when everyone in the country seems so divided, do you worry about losing fans (or fans-to-be) if they don’t agree with your point of view?
Kulululu: It’s important for people to know what we believe. If they don’t like it that’s fine. Worried about fans? No. Worried about the country? The Earth? Our kids? The future? Hell yeah!

TrunkSpace: In your opinion, how important is it for artists to say something with their music, even if the messages being delivered aren’t obvious ones?
Kulululu: It’s up to the artist. Some of my favorite art is meaningless. But on the other hand, if you’re not trying to say something, or make people feel something, why are you writing music? That being said I think it’s crucial that artists recognize the opportunities they have to speak out against injustice. It’s not always the time or the place, but right now, with everything that’s happening across the world, our communities are being divided and performers especially have regular opportunities to speak up for what they believe and to offer a supportive voice to others who share their concern.  

TrunkSpace: A lot of times music can be perceived in a much different way than the songwriter intended. On the other side of that coin, songs can sometimes take on a different meaning to the songwriters themselves. Has something Kulululu created taken on a different meaning for you now as opposed to when you first created it?
Kulululu: My relationship to my music is constantly shifting. It’s ever changing. I do have a specific song titled “Freak Out” that was originally written about someone freaking me out. But now the song feels like us freaking out the listeners, in a really fun loving kind of way.

TrunkSpace: As far as marketing the band is concerned, what is the best way you have found in terms of getting your music and name out there into the world and to attract new fans?
Kulululu: We play a lot of shows and make a lot of art that we share often. It’s a lot of work. But it’s fun and therapeutic.

TrunkSpace: When you look towards the future of music, are you optimistic that new generations will continue to find their own unique voices in a world where the mainstream offerings get more and more streamlined and similar?
Kulululu: I’m sure that young people will find their own unique voices. The question is will we be able to find those young people?!? As the world gets more complex, so does the world of music. I am regularly astounded by the creativity of human beings and I have no doubt that it will remain ubiquitous amongst artists. I imagine music making will continue to become easier through the aid of technology. My fear is that people will forget how to appreciate the time and dedication that it takes to build the skills necessary to make great music.

Photo By: Hasmood

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Kulululu for the rest of 2017?
Kulululu: We will soon be releasing a slew of media on the internet. We will be putting out an album along with a music video, and a series of live sessions filmed and recorded in Portland Oregon by Banana Stand Media. Maybe a children’s book.

Mostly you can expect us to keep writing exploratory art rock, having way too much fun, and attempting to travel the world in the name of all that is great and wonderful!

Farewell

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Ashleigh Ross

AshleighRoss_Wingwoman_wednesday
Photo By: Alex Kruk

Recent Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards winner Ashleigh Ross is a true multi-threat. While many people refer to her as a “social media star,” in reality she’s so much more than that. She’s a dancer. She’s an actress. She’s a singer. But which one is she the most passionate about?

We recently sat down with the Australian native to find out!

TrunkSpace: Out of everything that you’re focused on in a creative space, which one are you the most passionate about at this particular moment in your life?
Ross: At this time in my life it is definitely acting. Ever since I was three years old, I would have said dancing, but just recently, in the last couple of years, it has definitely been acting. Acting is my main passion and I absolutely love it. It is pretty much what I’m focusing on at the moment.

TrunkSpace: What was it that pulled you away from dancing and towards acting? Was it a particular project or performance?
Ross: I never used to like watching movies, which is so weird considering I want to be an actress now, but when I was around 11 years old I started to watch all of these movies and I just fell in love with characters and stories and just the way that movies made me feel and how they made other people feel. It was just incredible and I knew that I wanted to do that as well.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been in LA taking classes and honing your acting skills. Is there something that you’ve learned in that time that you have found to be particularly valuable and that you’ll take with you throughout your career?
Ross: Every acting class teaches me something, which is absolutely incredible. It’s so amazing how acting continues to grow and change, so I’m learning something in every single class, which is incredible and I love that.

Honestly, I’m just taking any bit of information that I get and applying it to my acting to see if it works for me or if it works for how I portray the character. I just take on anything that I can get.

TrunkSpace: You spent most of your life dancing and in that, there’s an incredible work ethic involved. Dancers train so hard and for so many hours, all in the hopes of continuing to improve and perfect their skill set. Do you apply that same work ethic and mentality to your acting career now?
Ross: Absolutely. I’ve been dancing since I was three years old and being in classes pretty much every day for about four to eight hours… it very much disciplined me as a kid. I definitely take that into my acting.

TrunkSpace: And what’s cool is that you’ve been able to combine both of those skills thus far in your career by having landed roles that highlight your dancing abilities.
Ross: Yeah. That has honestly been such a lucky thing for me. I love it when there’s a role that involves dancing as well. And when I go to auditions where they’re like, “Oh yeah, it would be great if you could dance as well…” I get so excited because I love combining the two. It’s a dream come true.

TrunkSpace: One of the terms often associated with you is “social media star” and we’re just curious what that term means to you?
Ross: Social media is crazy in this day and age. I still cannot wrap my head around it. The fact that I even have the following that I have is absolutely insane. I’ve heard that some peers who are doing well in social media would sometimes enjoy free instagram followers via socialfollow to give them a little boost. I definitely cannot wrap my head around it. I get that it can help them boost their followers though and appear more trustworthy. It’s not just the amount of followers that you should consider increasing though, it’s also important that the instagram models you use are also a key thing that you need to consider.

I do not see myself at all as a social media star so it’s so funny when someone writes it next to my name or I go somewhere and they’re like, “Oh, you’re the social media star!” It’s so crazy. It makes me laugh. I do not see myself as that at all.

TrunkSpace: In acting, it’s always said that an honest performance is what resonates with viewers. And yet, in the world of social media, it seems like the same idea applies. Those people who are honest in what they’re saying on their various social media platforms seem to be the ones who bring people to them and it can become a very powerful tool. It can also be a very dangerous tool. If you’re well-known online then you’re a target to hackers. Make sure you have some decent antivirus software, you could discover more on websafetyadvice.com.
Ross: Absolutely. Just recently, people have really started to take social media seriously. People used to laugh at social media and think that someone was only famous because of social media or things like that, but people are just starting to realize how important social media really is and how much it does affect acting and singing and dancing and all of the different types of performing arts. It is really important and it’s so good that people are starting to recognize how important it really is.

TrunkSpace: And from a business standpoint, it makes sense for a television network to tap into the existing fanbase of the talent they’re casting for their shows. For example, if I were an executive and I was choosing between two actresses, yourself and someone who only had a few hundred followers, it makes way more business sense to cast you in the hopes that your followers would also come and watch the show.
Ross: Yeah. I’ve been for auditions in LA where in the first five minutes of the audition, they ask how many social media followers I have. Which in a way is a plus for people who have social media followers, but also, I love when castings really stick to the art and the performance and that whoever fits the role the best, gets the role. I love that.

TrunkSpace: That makes total sense. You want to build your career on your talent.
Ross: Yeah. Absolutely.

TrunkSpace: You’re from Australia and in LA now. Where have you found the biggest differences to be when it comes to home and here in the States?
Ross: Well, actually, just two days ago I got home to Australia. I love being home, but being in America is absolutely incredible.

I mean, they’re so different… even just coming down to little things like food and shopping and things like that. They’re so different, but I absolutely love America and I love being home in Australia. They’re my favorite places to be in the world.

Photo By: Alex Kruk

TrunkSpace: And don’t forget that amazing Los Angeles traffic!
Ross: Oh my gosh, my mom and I were literally just driving yesterday and we were like, “Why is it so quiet?” And we were like, “Wait… this is actually just normal.” LA is just so crazy. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You recently won a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice award. What did that mean for you?
Ross: Being nominated for a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice award was absolutely shocking. When I found out that I had been nominated, I was so gobsmacked, I could not believe it. I was sitting with my mom and I was like, “This has to be a joke… this cannot be real.” I could not believe it.

And I was up against some incredible nominees… like people that I look up to, which was so humbling and so incredible. I was so happy. And then to win the award… it was just another level of shock and happiness and excitement. I was so stoked. I had butterflies in my stomach the whole day of the Kids’ Choice Awards and then when they finally announced it, I could not believe it. I was like, “Did I hear that right? What is going on?”

It was so exciting and I can’t wait to just keep doing what I’m doing!

To learn more about The Ashi Ross Gold Turnboard, click here.

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Melora Walters

MeloraWalters_Wingwoman_wednesday

She wowed us in films like “Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights” and kept us glued to the television with her turn as Wanda Henrickson on the HBO series “Big Love.” Now, Melora Walters is taking on the taboo subject of adultery in the new comedy “The Lovers” from writer/director Azazel Jacobs.

We recently sat down with Walters to discuss how she falls in love with the projects she takes on, having to walk away from them when she wraps, and how one of our interview questions is now only the second time she has been approached about her appearance on “Seinfeld.”

TrunkSpace: “Magnolia” is one of our favorites here and your performance was an extremely underrated one.
Walters: Thank you.

TrunkSpace: It was a such a dramatic, heavy role. Was it a difficult character to tap into and inhabit?
Walters: Well, it was for Paul Thomas Anderson and he’s basically a genius and to be able to have an opportunity to work with him in any capacity… it’s not about what it takes to get there, it’s about the opportunity to work with him. For me, I would just dive to the bottom of the ocean for that man.

TrunkSpace: And you have worked with Paul Thomas Anderson on multiple films. What is the experience like working with the same director on different projects? Does the relationship change?
Walters: Well, I only worked on three films and I think I sang on a fourth one, but it’s not like I work on every single film with him. Again, Paul, as far as I’m concerned, is the most amazing writer/director and it’s just like being in these moments of time where everything stands still. I don’t know how to describe it.

TrunkSpace: The types of movies that he makes don’t seem to be as prevalent in theaters today as they once were, especially as so much of what is being released is based on some other preexisting material.
Walters: I don’t even know how to comment because…

People are making films all the time and whether the general public has access to see them or knows about them, I mean… there’s just tons of films being made for no money. There are beautiful films everywhere and they just might not be distributed. But I think filmmaking is really an art. It’s an art form and so people are constantly creating. Yes, they are remaking. Yes, there are a lot of comic book movies. But at the same time, there are so many interesting films being made.

TrunkSpace: “Magnolia” was such a great dramatic film and you’ve had such a diverse career in the world of drama, but we’d have to imagine that you’re approached just as often for something you did in comedy, which was a very famous episode of “Seinfeld” called “The Hamptons?”
Walters: You know, very few people know that I was on “Seinfeld.” I’m not approached about that at all. I think I was approached about it once and it was last fall and it was when… (laughter)… in an airport going through security. One of those guys who checks your ID and ticket, he was like, “Hey, were you on ‘Seinfeld’?” And that’s the only time anyone has ever said anything to me. My daughter was mortified.

TrunkSpace: Wow. That’s really shocking considering how the show has remained in a perpetual state of airing due to syndication.
Walters: No. I’ve only been approached once by it. Nobody knows I’m on. I’m surprised you’d know I’m on it. You must have looked at my IMDB page. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: We didn’t, but apparently we know far too much about pop culture.
Walters: (Laughter) That’s funny.

TrunkSpace: Well, we touched on drama and comedy, but it seems like your new film “The Lovers” is a sort of mix of the two in that it’s a comedy, but the subject matter is pretty heavy. Is that accurate?
Walters: Yes!

TrunkSpace: Where does your character Lucy play into things?
Walters: Well, Tracy Letts is married to Debra Winger in the film and he’s having an affair with me and she’s having an affair with the lovely Aiden Gillen. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: And then they start having an affair together? The married couple?
Walters: Yes! Which is oddly lovely. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: So one could assume that it takes their outside affairs to make them realize that they missed each other?
Walters: I don’t want to give anything away, but I think that’s something that people will walk away from seeing the movie and discussing. Because, in one sense it’s terrible, but in another sense it’s like, “Well, it makes them love each other again.” I think Azazel, the director and writer, is really amazing. He also, I think, is brilliant. I think he captured something that’s very human and very true in relationships. Not that everybody has affairs, but the elements of it… the essence of it. Some partners are usually desperate to find out if their significant other is having an affair and will use reverse phone lookup websites to try and find out. I think he has really captured something of relationships and what it is to be human. And I really hope people walk away questioning this because it’s interesting.

TrunkSpace: Well, and that applies to so much in life… that “grass is always greener” concept. People can apply it to jobs, family, friendships, etc. The problem being, it’s not always green on the other side of the fence.
Walters: Exactly. Exactly! And in the end you’re faced with yourself and you have to look at yourself in the mirror and maybe stop projecting on different people. That’s difficult.

TrunkSpace: “The Lovers” is opening opposite a box office behemoth in the form of Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” Do you ever concern yourself about an opening weekend and what a film you’re starring in is up against or is it more that once you’re done, you step away and let fate take over?
Walters: I just walk away from it. I’ve done so many films that nobody has ever seen. For me, I love acting, so it’s about having these opportunities. And in “The Lovers” it was really an opportunity to do something that I’ve never done and a role I’ve never done and be involved with these amazing people like Azazel and Tracy and Debra and Aiden. Everybody. It was like a gift. For me, I go in and basically do my job and I love my job and then I’m done. I don’t think about the other stuff at all. I didn’t even know that until you told me. In my boring life, it just doesn’t mean anything. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You mentioned that there were movies that you have done that nobody has seen. Was there one that you wished more people had seen?
Walters: Well, to me when I commit to a writer or director or film role, I put everything into it. My job is to bring a character to life… someone’s vision to life. That’s what I’m suppose do. So each time I go into something, in a way, it’s like I fall in love with it. I have no control over any of the other stuff. But every project I’ve worked on I’ve basically fallen in love with the project and the role. They all have lives of their own. I love them.

TrunkSpace: Is there one of those lives that you’d like to revisit from a performance standpoint?
Walters: No. Never. (Laughter)

MAGNOLIA, Melora Walters, 1999, (c)New Line Cinema

TrunkSpace: Is part of that the joy of being able to slip into the mind and body of different characters as opposed to playing the same character?
Walters: Maybe. I don’t know. That’s an interesting question. Maybe that’s my defense mechanism kicking in. I like to go in and leave and never go back. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You were raised in Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands. From an acting standpoint, does having experienced different cultures and different people benefit you in terms of discovering new characters?
Walters: I think maybe what it did was make me an observer because I never fit in anywhere. I didn’t belong to anything or anyone. So you become the stranger… the observer. And maybe that helped, as an actor, to not judge anything. Maybe. I don’t know. And to know that there are vast worlds and people and in the end we’re all just human beings trying to find meaning.

TrunkSpace: People can travel. People can experience. But living places… going behind the scenes of those cultures and societies… it must open the door a little further in terms of understanding.
Walters: Right. But on the other hand, everything is relative I think. I haven’t experienced what you’ve experienced, so I think… I think it’s all relative.

You’re asking very interesting questions!

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) Sorry. We like to dig deep and peel back the layers.
Walters: Yes, I see that. (Laughter)

“The Lovers” arrives in theaters this Friday.

Walters also wrote and directed the film “Waterlily Jaguar” due to be released soon.

read more
Just Another $@!#*? Column

Celebrating National Lumpy Rug Day

lumpyrug_JustAnotherBleepingListColumn

Everyone’s got a TOP WHATEVER column. You know the type… a list of arbitrary best ofs, worst ofs, or does it really matter ofs. Well, TrunkSpace didn’t want to be left out, so we decided to come up with our own JUST ANOTHER $@!#*? LIST COLUMN. Whereas other lists on other sites may have a point, rest assured, ours will have none.

This time out we’re celebrating National Lumpy Rug Day with a list entitled…

THE TOP FIVE VERY UNHAPPY LUMPY RUG SITTERS!

A NAPPING BLOBFISH

A MOOSE IN A CABOOSE

A WEREWOLF WITH INSOMNIA

A FRUMPY RUG ON A LUMPY RUG

RICK MORANIS GONE GOZER

A very special thanks to Dustin Evans for indulging our lumpy rug art needs!

read more
Wingman Wednesday

Michael Chernus

MichaelChernus_Wingman_wednesday

Michael Chernus inhabits a role in a way in which very few actors have the ability to do. He commands your attention, but does so without crowding the scene. He has that mysterious “it” that creative folks spend their entire lives hoping to tap into. He works within a spotlight that you cannot look away from and it is a light that he himself generates, powered by an unrelenting commitment and passion to his craft.

In a few months Chernus will be entering the Marvel Universe under the villainous guise of The Terrible Tinkerer, but before “Spider-Man: Homecoming” swings into theaters, the “Orange is the New Black” star will be appearing in “The Dinner” opposite Richard Gere, Laura Linney, and Steve Coogan.

We recently sat down with Chernus to discuss why it is important that movies like “The Dinner” continue to get made, the history of his Marvel character, and how saying too much could in fact lead to his untimely death.

TrunkSpace: This week your latest movie “The Dinner” is going up against a big Marvel blockbuster in the form of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and yet, soon you too will be in a big Marvel blockbuster.
Chernus: (Laughter) That’s true.

TrunkSpace: You really can’t be too upset about that!
Chernus: I have nothing to complain about, my friend.

TrunkSpace: When you’ve done a movie and it’s set to be released to the world… do you worry about the competition on opening weekend or because it is ultimately out of your control, do you just let what happens happen?
Chernus: It’s a good question. I think it probably depends on the project, but mostly, I don’t think about it because, like you said, it’s out of my control. And, they’re very different kinds of movies. If somebody is going to go see “The Dinner” they’re… not that they wouldn’t see a Marvel movie… but it’s probably a different audience. Also, I’m sure if I were Richard Gere in “The Dinner” or Steve Coogan or Laura Linney, maybe I would be thinking about those things more. I’m not the big movie star whose name is above the title, so how well the movie does doesn’t really depend on whether I’m in it or not.

TrunkSpace: It does seem that in this day and age a film like “The Dinner” is labeled a “small movie” and yet the cast is stacked. It really feels like a sign of the times when a movie like this falls into that very broad category.
Chernus: Yeah. It’s kind of wild. It’s interesting. As exciting as everything is in television in terms of Netflix, Amazon and all the new streaming platforms and how big of risks you can take in terms of storytelling on that platform… yeah, there’s not the same demand for movies that are more just about people talking to each other than there used to be.

TrunkSpace: From an art standpoint, how important is it that movies like “The Dinner” continue to get made and distributed?
Chernus: Oh, I think it’s super important. I’m always very grateful to the independent producers and financiers who make these “smaller movies” and put their money and their heart and soul into making sure that these kinds of stories get told. It’s very important. And just personally, I grew up watching all of those great movies from the 70s that were big mainstream movies that had big movie stars but were, for lack of a better word, simple movies about people’s lives. I’m thinking of movies like “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Terms of Endearment,” or “Ordinary People.” Movies that are about relationships and families. Not that they still don’t get made, but they don’t hit the mainstream in the same way that they used to. So yeah, I think it’s very important that these movies still are being made and being seen.

Michael Chernus in “The Dinner”

The great thing about the independent film festival circuit is that these movies will get screened at festivals and then get bought by giant distributors. “Manchester by the Sea” was at Sundance and had a big sale. I’m just glad that those kind of movies are being made still.

TrunkSpace: Obviously the bigger the budget the bigger the production, but from how you work as an actor on a movie, what is the biggest difference in performing in something like “Spider-Man: Homecoming” compared to “The Dinner” and movies of that size?
Chernus: That is a very good question. In some ways… I’m going to contradict myself here in the midst of this answer… but in some ways there isn’t much of a difference, to be honest. There’s a lot of similarities from working on a Marvel movie and working on “The Dinner” to even working on a Netflix show. At the end of the day, a set is a set and there is a way of approaching storytelling as an actor that doesn’t vary too greatly no matter what the budget of the movie is. And so, I would say that once the cameras are rolling, working on “The Dinner” is very similar to working on “Spider-Man” and very similar to working on “Orange is the New Black.” You’re there, you’re playing a character, and you’re just trying to live moment to moment and listen to your scene partner and just serve the story in the best way that you can.

That being said, and I can’t give away too much of anything until the movie comes out, but I will say that I’m very, very impressed by everyone who works at Marvel and everyone who works at Sony, who was also producing that movie. The Marvel way of making movies is really fun and really exciting. They put so much thought into these films and anybody who is a Marvel fan knows the effort that they go to to please their fan base and put little Easter eggs in the movie and little hints. There are all kinds of things and you can watch it and have never read a comic book and not know anything about Marvel and you have a good time. And if you’re the biggest geek in the world who knows everything about the universe, you also are satisfied because there are all these little inside jokes everywhere. And that’s really fun to dig into that world and be like, “Oh my God, there’s three meanings to this line I was saying.” This simple little line that I had, to people who really know, there’s so much more going on there.

And they really have the time and the money and the resources to make sure that the movie works. On a smaller budget indie, you have so few days. Sometimes you have something crazy like an 18 day shoot schedule or a 21 day shoot and you’re behind before you even get started. On the Marvel movies you don’t feel the same kind of pressure. There’s a different kind of pressure, but you don’t feel the same kind of pressure of, “We have to get this and we have to get this right now and we have to get it right.” There’s a little more room to be like, “Okay, this isn’t working so let’s think of a different way to approach this scene.” So that’s really nice.

TrunkSpace: Well, when you’re shooting a movie like “The Dinner,” that’s the movie that you’re shooting, but when you’re shooting a Marvel movie, you’re also shooting parts and pieces of movies yet to be. Maybe not physically, but at least you’re setting the table for that.
Chernus: That’s absolutely right and I didn’t realize that. I knew a fair amount about the Marvel world and I read comic books as a kid, but yeah, these movies are so intertwined in such a major way. You shoot something and then they all go away and discuss it and I’m sure there are committees where it’s like, “Oh no, we can’t say that and yes, we can say that.” It was interesting to start to learn how we’re all part of this greater Marvel fabric. We’re all woven into this bigger story, which is the story of the Marvel Universe.

TrunkSpace: And what’s fascinating about that for you is that The Tinkerer has been around longer than many of the characters who are already appearing as part of the cinematic universe. There’s a lot of history on your shoulders.
Chernus: Oh yeah. Totally. He’s an OG villain. (Laughter) The Tinkerer is old school Spider-Man. It was fascinating. When I got cast and in looking at some of the old books… those first issues of Spider-Man where both Vulture and Tinkerer are there, it’s really cool. It’s really cool to feel that history in small ways and in large ways. I was very honored. I mean, obviously it’ll be a slightly different character in the fact that I don’t look like a bald old guy. (Laughter) So, visually it won’t be the same character, but I’m happy to carry the torch.

TrunkSpace: Many in the world grew up on a diet of Spider-Man, and again, what’s cool about The Tinkerer in the history of the character is just how much he played into the creation of other characters. He was the villain’s villain in that he gave them the power to be who they ultimately become. So being cast as a character who COULD be part of that fabric going forward must have been an exciting thing?
Chernus: Absolutely. And I’m not saying that I know that that will happen. Nobody has said that I’m coming back, but I’m hopeful for that. There’s definitely potential for him to be involved with many different villains if they choose to do that.

TrunkSpace: Performing alongside of so many acting heavies in both “The Dinner” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” must have also been very exciting, so we’re curious what was one memorable moment from each that you’ll carry with you moving forward?
Chernus: From an acting standpoint, on “The Dinner”… and this relates to the question you asked about what’s the difference. Although “The Dinner” was very heavily scripted, it’s based on a worldwide best-selling novel and Oren Moverman, the director, wrote the really great adaptation of that. That being said, Oren is very great about including the actors in terms of like, “Okay, what do you want to say here?” or “What would you do?” or “What do you think is interesting?” And he let us do a fair amount of improvising and so there’s this monologue I have where I describe a cheese course. Instead of being broken up into acts, it’s broken up in courses because it takes place over the length of this dinner. So we shot nights in this old mansion outside of New York City that we converted into a restaurant and we would start at like 5 p.m. and wrap at 5 a.m. So there were these sort of grueling night shoots and maybe we were there for a week or a little over a week. And on the last day of shooting at that location Oren was like, “Just a heads up, the last shot of the night I want you to describe the cheese course and it’s not written, so I want you to go into the kitchen…” We had a kitchen on set where we had great chefs who were actually making the meal every night. He said, “Go talk to Jay and Paul and just see what cheeses they have because I know they have some great cheeses, learn about them and write up some stuff about each cheese and then be ready to talk about it on camera.” Oren and I went over it and made up some jokes and created a structure for it, but essentially, I sort of improvised/wrote on the fly this cheese course monologue and shot it at like 5 a.m. That was so fun and it was such a great acting exercise. When he said it to me, I was like, “Oh, God, that’s terrifying and I’m going to screw this up and it’s not going to be any good.” But we just sort of went for it and I’m pretty proud of how it turned out. I think it’s this weird, funny little moment in the movie and on a bigger budget movie, you might not have the freedom to do that because things are just a little more structured.

And on the “Spider-Man” movie, again, I know it’s annoying, but I can’t really…

TrunkSpace: You don’t have to explain. Totally get it. The NDAs are probably super intense.
Chernus: Already, telling you what I’ve told you, I feel like they’re going to come murder me. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: We’ll talk about it again once it’s out.
Chernus: Yeah. Once it’s out, I’ll tell you everything! (Laughter)

But, just working with Michael Keaton was so fun. He’s such an icon and growing up and seeing him as Batman and Beetlejuice and all of his films… I’m such a fan. And now of his later work like “Spotlight” and “Birdman.” He’s so down to earth. He’s so cool. He’s so funny. He’s really generous. We really hit it off and just laughed so much on set. Any time we weren’t shooting we were just sort of cracking each other up, so that was really fun to be able to spend time with him and pick his brain about the business and to get to know him a little bit.

Michael Chernus in “Orange is the New Black”

The Dinner” will be served to theaters this Friday.

Spider-Man: Homecoming” swings into theaters July 7, 2017.

 

read more
Bottled Up Emotions

Revival Brewing Company’s Night Swim’Ah

NightSwimahDrunkenEmoji

Brewer: Revival Brewing Co.

Beer: Night Swim’Ah

Alcohol Content by Volume: 4.70%

I apologize for my drink-related silence these past few weeks. Like any well-oiled machine, I too need to refuel the tank, which I have done in the form of swearing off beer…

UNTIL NOW!

Like Godzilla rising from the sea after licking his wounds, I, Drunken Emoji, am returning with a vengeance. As my first trick, I’m going to drink a sixer of Night Swim’Ah, a raspberry-infused witbier. Brewed in Rhode Island, this big beer from the tiniest state is a refreshing offering that feels best suited for a relaxing weekend with plenty of outdoor leisure in mind. Although the raspberry flavor is not openly advertised on the bottle, it’s there, mingling with textures of vanilla and… banana bread?

Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m rusty. But I taste it there, tucked away in the back of the bottle. I guess I’ll just have to pour a few more to see if I’m chasing the right flavors.

>Insert the tssss pop of a battle cap<

And now to find me some outdoor leisure to attend to!

DRUNKEN EMOJI RATING

read more
Wingman Wednesday

DaJuan Johnson

DaJuanJohnson_Wingman_wednesday
Photo Credit: JSquared Photography

Fans of the series “Bosch” were recently served a third course of binging when season 3 of the gritty police procedural premiered on Amazon Prime. Series star DaJuan Johnson has seen his character Rondell Pierce go from officer to detective in the span of those three seasons and it’s a promotion that “Bosch” diehards have been eating up. To further satiate the appetites of its hungry subscribers, Amazon recently announced that the series has been renewed for a fourth season.

We sat down with Johnson to discuss how the series has changed his life, how choosing his own adventure as a child has prepared him for an adulthood of crime solving, and how going super would be pretty super.

TrunkSpace: How has “Bosch” altered your life and career the most?
Johnson: You know, I think it opened up a lot of fun doors for me. I played cops or detectives before, but I think once “Bosch” came out and I had a big role in it for season 1, I think more people took me a little bit more seriously. And I think I looked really good in the uniform back then. (Laughter) It just gave me some more… I’m such a nerd. I was going to say beat cred instead of street cred. (Laughter) That was a bad joke. I’m sorry.

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) It was a dad joke.
Johnson: That was a dad joke. (Laughter)

But, yeah, I think in that sense, it definitely has opened more audition doors for me because people know “Bosch” and it’s a well-known name. And being one of the more known characters there has opened more doors for me.

TrunkSpace: It’s funny because you mentioned you have played cops in the past and we actually noticed that you have played quite a lot of authoritative characters.
Johnson: (Laughter) I’m laughing because I think of myself with my kids and I try to be that authoritative dad with them and they don’t listen. They’re just kind of like, “Dad!” (Laughter) It’s nice to be able to play one on-screen.

I think that one of the cool things about all of the cops and detectives that have come into my life is just that when I was younger… I’ve always loved this… but when I was younger there were the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, “The Hardy Boys” or, maybe I dabbled in the “Nancy Drew” stuff, but I loved to solve the mystery or solve the cases, so it’s kind of cool to really do that in real life.

TrunkSpace: Those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books is where it was at, but it was easy to cheat and disregard your chosen adventure if you didn’t like the results. (Laughter)
Johnson: (Laughter) Yeah. And then just go backwards. I loved those. I don’t know why they’re not around.

TrunkSpace: Well, with the way that technology is advancing, we’re getting to a point where “Choose Your Own Adventure” could wind up in television or film and the audience could quite possibly decide how a story progresses and ends.
Johnson: Ohhhh… man. Mind blown! Imagine that? (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You’re three seasons in and your character has been promoted to detective. As you look back over your time on the series thus far, where were you the most challenged strictly from an acting standpoint?
Johnson: You know, I would say it’s this season… the season as a whole. Being promoted up to detective and really just like, okay, where has Pierce been before this? He was an officer. He’s a by-the-book guy. My partner got shot last season.

No spoiler. That was season 2, so if you haven’t seen it… (Laughter)

Let me back up. Actually, some of the things that I feel very responsible about doing… if I hadn’t done a couple of things in our relationship with my partner… telling him I didn’t want to work with him and all of this stuff, maybe he would still be alive. So this season itself and really just jumping into detective while still holding my values of a by-the-book guy and I think just stepping up to the plate with all of the big boys this season. That’s the challenge. Working with Titus. Working with Paul. Working with Amy. Hands on. I’ve worked with them before, but really, all eyes are on you now. I think this season has been the challenge. A good challenge.

TrunkSpace: Is this the longest you have ever spent with one character?
Johnson: Umm… yeah. I guess when I think about it, yeah. I did nine episodes this season. I’ve done a nice stint on “General Hospital” and some other things, but I think this is the biggest one. Yeah.

Way to bring it home! Way to make me think about it! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) From a character arc standpoint, that must be so interesting to play someone who you know, but at the same time, not necessarily knowing where he is going?
Johnson: It is really fun to discover where you go, but it’s also cool because I have a base. You have a base of like, “I know my values as this character.” I know my North Star, if you will. Then we get to branch out. We talked a little bit about a wife. We talked about if Pierce will ever go to a not-so-great place. Just different things like that and I think are really kind of cool that I get to keep exploring and keep peeling back the onion layers, if you will, of this guy.

TrunkSpace: With shows like “Bosch” being released all at once, does it change the experience for you as an actor as it gets rolled out? Does it feel more like a movie than a television show upon release?
Johnson: That’s so funny you said that because, yes, and I got asked this question a couple of times on Twitter. The shooting experience is exactly the same… the set of time that we’re actually shooting it. But when it comes out, it’s like this… “YAY!” And then a week, two weeks, or maybe a month the fanfare kind of dies down. And it’s a little bit for me… I don’t know about anybody else… it’s like, “Gosh, we just spent six months shooting this and people have devoured it in 24 hours.” (Laughter) And it’s over. It’s very interesting. Again, I’ve never had that experience before, so it’s very interesting to witness it.

TrunkSpace: The way you just described it in terms of spending six months shooting it and then people devouring it so quickly, that really puts the term “binging” into a new perspective. You essentially spend all of this time preparing a meal and setting the table and then it’s gone so quickly.
Johnson: You are. I’m very interactive with my social media fans on Twitter and stuff like that and I’ve got to tell you, we’ve got some major “Bosch” fans out there and that’s really awesome. I was blown away when it came out on Friday and literally by Friday night or Saturday morning, people were like, “I’m done.” I was like, “What?!?!” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: The series was recently renewed for a fourth season. When a show is already guaranteed to return, does that change the mindset of an actor? Does it take pressure off and allow you to be more selective in the other things you’re choosing to do, knowing that you’ll be returning?
Johnson: Well, you never know if you’re returning to your show or a season until that season starts. (Laughter) For me, as an actor, I just love to live in that moment. I love to live in that moment, live in that season, and live in what’s going on because you could be working on the first five episodes, and you don’t know it yet, but you could die in episode 10. So I take it moment to moment and I really just dive in. “Where are we going with this and what would I like to do here? How can I just be present and fully engaged in this character?”

But, I think I’m coming back for season 4. Unless you’ve heard something? (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: No. No. Although, nowadays a big thing is the shocking first episode of a new season character death.
Johnson: I think this interview should be over. (Laughter)

Why are you putting doubts in my mind?

TrunkSpace: Sorry. No doubts. Let’s think of it like this. ANOTHER character could die in the season opener and Pierce could be elevated even further!
Johnson: You know, one of the things I did was start a hashtag called Team Pierce. I would have that hashtag going. “Stay strong, #teampierce fans!” (Laughter)

Photo Credit: JSquared Photography

TrunkSpace: What was your journey like from your home in Florida to your move to Los Angeles where you set out to pursue acting as a career?
Johnson: You know, that’s a great question. To be real honest, it was an easy/hard one because all of my family is either in Chicago or in Miami. My mom is in Miami. So leaving all of that to come out to this unknown… luckily I have what I call my village that supports me and my village is basically the people I went to theater school with from the University of Florida. There’s about 10 of us out here that really support each other in our acting. One of my very best friends is on “Orange is the New Black” so we’ve been supporting each other as this has unfolded.

But, just from a physical standpoint, as that young actor, I didn’t feel like I got it or that really things clicked for me until six years of being out here. And I hate to put a number on that because I get worried about people reading that and saying, “Well, that’s six years and if it takes that long then…”

It takes the time that it takes for everybody. It’s just your own time. It took me that long to know the way… the right streets to take to auditions and things. Six years into it. Things started to click after that time for me. Getting the right agents, the right managers, the right roles to take and to audition for. And I think after I booked my first network television TV show, which was “Close to Home” a long time ago, I got it. I think I started to get, “Okay… this is how we operate here. I’m mentally in the game. I’m physically in the game. And emotionally.”

I miss home, man. I won’t lie to you and say that I don’t miss home where my mom is, but, this is home for me now. I’m an LA boy now.

TrunkSpace: We spoke about the many authoritative characters you have portrayed, but as you look back over your body of work, what do you feel is missing? What type of character or project do you want to sink your teeth into?
Johnson: Easiest question you’ve asked today. I’m a big sci-fi/superhero/fantasy guy and I’m gunning for that world because that is what I loved. I’ve loved it since I was a kid. What kid didn’t want to be a superhero? And so, now that we really get to be superheroes, I have been dying to step into that world. I had a close call with it this last fall, but I was on “Bosch” so I couldn’t take this other role. I love what I do on “Bosch.” Literally, it’s so fun to do and to be there, but a little part of me was like, “The superhero dream!” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: And you got a little taste of that already having been on “Agent Carter,” which is in the superhero universe.
Johnson: Yeah! And get this… I played a cop. I remember walking on set that first day and I was just giddy. I was like, “I’m so excited to be here!” (Laughter) Because I was superhero adjacent. I was that close to my dream and seeing this world… the Marvel Universe…

That’s my next one. My next move. I feel it. My next big move, I think. And I’ll stay there forever!

“Bosch” is available now on Amazon Prime.

read more
Next Up

Kayla Vera

KaylaVera_NextUp

Name: Kayla Vera

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Current Location: Brooklyn, NY

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Vera: Growing up, I had a very strict upbringing. I had to be home by 10 pm, I couldn’t wear any makeup or paint my nails in bright colors… and so I had always dreamt of escaping to some new place and being someone else, living someone else’s life even if only for an hour. And now as an actor, I have that opportunity. I can be a bad girl, a dangerous one or an evil one. I can be a lawyer, a mom or a femme fatale. I step into the souls of these new people and I can be them even if only for an hour. It’s fascinating. I’m a good girl deep down, so it is a lot of fun for me to be bad sometimes!

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Vera: I absolutely love and adore Nicole Kidman. I have been following her career for a while now and I get inspired by everything she does, especially the new HBO show she is in called “Big Little Lies.”

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career as an actor? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Vera: I’m not so much worried about “making it” in everyone’s eyes anymore as much I’m trying to enjoy my journey as an actor and constantly strive to become better. We all have a different concept of success and happiness and I feel that it’s more important to enjoy what you do, and be the best that you can be at it instead of trying to please everyone around you. Breathe, smile, keep learning and have fun!

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Vera: I used to sing before. I traveled and performed live in front of large audiences, and had an amazing time exploring that passion of mine. A few years ago I decided to pursue acting. I joined SAG and have been studying at various acting schools in NY and LA. Sometimes when I take a break from school, I take on an indie project and it gives me an opportunity to test what I had learned in class, and master my own “style” of acting.

TrunkSpace: Was that move an easy transition for you initially? How long did it take you to feel at home and find a good support group of friends and peers?
Vera: For me transitioning from music into acting was relatively easy. I was already used to performing in front of live audiences, sometimes small and sometimes quite large ones. I was also used to the camera from filming a multitude of music videos where you have to create a character according to the song lyrics. It is just not as deep as the character work you would have to do for a film, but it is similar.

TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Vera: I haven’t had my “big break” just yet, but I’m working on it! 2017 is my year!

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific type of role you’d like to take on or a specific genre that you feel more at home in?
Vera: I’m very interested in modern drama. I would love to do theater… that is what I’m training for, but at the same time I’m open to other genres as well.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Vera: You have to really know yourself. Acting is so much more than technique. You have to feel every character you play on a very deep level so that you almost become a vessel of that energy, and then when it comes through in your performance, that’s when magic happens.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Vera: I’m grateful having met some big people in the industry and also having had the opportunity to be mentored by a few of them. That alone to me is an accomplishment. I continue to grow as an actor and I feel that when the time is right, it will all fall into place for me. I’m in it to win it.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Vera: My advice is… don’t let other people’s opinions dim the light that you have inside of you. That light is what makes you you! You have to protect it and develop it and let it shine bright, like a star in the night sky.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Vera:
My website www.kaylavera.com
My Instagram www.instagram.com/kaylavera.official

read more