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October 2017

Wingman Wednesday

Peter Macon

PeterMacon_Halloween_Wingman_wednesday
Photo By: Diana Ragland

Classically-trained actor Peter Macon is experiencing multi-layered career fulfillment as a pretend crew member aboard the imaginary spaceship the Orville.

On one hand, his current adult self is venturing on a journey of discovery with a character who is not only complex in personality, but is an entirely new species never-before-seen on film. It’s rife with opportunity.

On the other hand, his inner child, the one who grew up loving science fiction, is pumping his fist in excitement because his future self is spending every day on a spaceship venturing into galaxies far, far away. It’s a little boy’s dream come true.

As Lt. Cmdr. Bortus on the FOX comedy/drama hybrid “The Orville,” Macon is reveling in every on-screen opportunity, playing a prosthetic-wrapped straight man in a world crafted from the mind of Seth MacFarlane – which means even a straight line is given its own quirky curves.

We recently sat down Macon to discuss the anonymity of the role, playing Macbeth 150 times in one year, and what aspects of his craft help to shed a little light on the folly of humanity.

TrunkSpace: Is there something kind of nice about taking on a major role in a big network show and still being able to retain your privacy due to the nature of the role with the makeup and prosthetics?
Macon: I love it. I love it because it’s what it is. I don’t pine to be, “Oh, I wish my face was on the billboard so that people would recognize me.”

I worked at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for like five years, and it’s a really small town, but it’s a huge Shakespeare festival. You have like zero anonymity. You walk down the street and people are like, “Hey, I saw you in that show!” “I hated it,” or “I loved it,” or whatever.

But with this, it’s cool, because Los Angeles is already kind of an anonymous city – you can just disappear. It’s fun being Bortus with his voice and mask work, and people don’t recognize my face. I don’t care one way or the other, but it’s certainly fun to be standing at a bus stop and people are like, “Oh, look at this poster, look at this guy,” and it’s me, but I’m not saying anything. So that’s fun.

TrunkSpace: Did the makeup and wardrobe force you to change the way you would approach the performance at all, due to any sort of limitations?
Macon: I mean, not going into it, no. You can’t really plan for that, you kind of just have to get up there and do it, but once I got the prosthetics on, and saw what the limitations were – I lose about 30 percent of my hearing, I have kind of limited range, like periphery and turning my neck, and stuff like that. But then you just use that for the character, because he’s kind of stiff and he’s kind of a rigid, no nonsense, very serious cat. So, you know, it just kind of works itself in. You just take what you get, and you make it into what you’re supposed to make it.

Until I got into the suit, and into the prosthetics and stuff, it was mostly his demeanor, and the tone of his cadence… stuff that I had access and control over before I got into the makeup. And then once the makeup was on it was a whole different ballgame, because it does it by itself. I don’t really have to do anything.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how Bortus is a very serious cat, but in a cast of zany characters, is it fun playing the straight one?
Macon: Well, as you’ll see, that is a loosely defined term, the “straight one.” (Laughter) There are things that come up that, for instance, there’s a conversation where Bortus at one point says, “I can sing, I can sing,” and he says it so matter of factly. And then people were like, “Wait, what?” And so Seth was like, “Well, we should probably either prove or disprove that.”

I mean, he’s stiff in the sense that that’s his species – they’re very cut and dry, black and white – but being that he’s interacting with all these other lifeforms, and we’re stuck on the ship, you get affected by that. And the greatness of the writing is that there’s an arc, and there’s a lot of contradiction.

He’s a dark horse. He’s stiff, but he thinks a lot of things deeply… still waters run deep kind of thing. And you’ll see that it’s nuanced, and varied, and it’s not just like one note. It’s very complex.

TrunkSpace: From what we could tell, this is the longest you’ve ever played one character. Is that an enjoyable process for you, getting to spend an extended period of time inside one mind?
Macon: The only other thing I can compare it to is playing Macbeth 150 times up at the Shakespeare Festival. We started in February and we ended in November. It’s a heavy, crazy play, to be in that skin for that long. I think sometime in July I was like, “Man, we’re only halfway here!” But what started to happen was, there was this depth, like a whole other layer, that really reveals itself. And I mean, that’s theater, but you’re doing it every night.

This, I guess it’s comparable because we’re working 16-hour to 17-hour days on average, but then it’s like every day, Monday through Friday, sometimes Saturday, and so it’s equivalent. And there’s so much going on. That’s what’s great about doing series regular work because you really do get to take your time and figure it out. I don’t have to blow everything in one episode, I can kind of calibrate it for the length of, say an arc of four episodes, or over two episodes.

So it really is a joy. And plus, sometimes I have no idea, unlike a play where you know the beginning and the end over and over again, what’s going to happen to this guy until we get the script, and I love that because I’m like, “So you have to now fold this in.”

Photo By: Diana Ragland

TrunkSpace: Choices you made early in the process can come into play in an entirely different way than you originally expected.
Macon: Yeah. It’s good to make strong choices, but also you have to be malleable because you don’t know everything about this person. But at the same time, you have to build as much backstory as you can, and then it all just works in concert with what you’ve come up with. And then if it doesn’t work, you kind of keep reinventing it to keep it fresh, because what you may have discovered or figured out early on may not even be relevant down the road.

You have to be flexible – as strong as water but as flexible as it. And that’s just so exciting, because that’s what we do. That’s the greatest thing. I was doing this interview yesterday on the radio and I was like, “That’s the greatest part of being an actor, I get to have this experience of the human condition that is so varied, because you get inside of these people and you don’t judge them, and you just become them.” You live, you walk through their shoes, and it’s pretty amazing. It builds for great empathy, and you just have an understanding for people, to a certain extent. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s still make believe, and I’m being paid to do it.

TrunkSpace: Absolutely, but to be able to take on characters, particularly those who may make some questionable choices, and have to understand why they’ re making those choices, it’s fascinating because everybody does what they do for a reason.
Macon: Jean Genet, the playwright, said that the greatest tragedy in life is that every man has his reasons. Everybody thinks they’re right. No one really thinks they’re bad. Some people are born without a gene for empathy, they can’t feel, like serial killers can’t feel what their victims feel, so therefore they’re disconnected to it, and it’s a completely cerebral experience.

Just to get in the mind of someone like that, and just to see what that’s about, and just investigate it… it helps to shed some light on the folly of humanity. It’s a really cool job, at the end of the day.

TrunkSpace: And on the opposite side of that coin, 10-year-old you must be psyched because you’re on a spaceship getting to bring this really fun, alien character to life?
Macon: Dude, all the models that I’ve built… I cannot wait for the model for the Orville. I’m going to build it and hang it in my son’s room. I’m just totally nerding out. I mean, I’m on a space ship dude! Crazy! The kid in me, and I love science fiction – I’m watching “The Force Awakens” for the 90th time again, with the sound off, just because I like the visuals. There’s always something new to see. I love it.

TrunkSpace: Science fiction and fantasy projects, when done right, can amass very passionate fandoms. We know you did it some time ago, but you guested on a show with an extremely passionate fandom, “Supernatural.” When you were doing that in season 3, did it have the feel of a show that would be around for 13 seasons?
Macon: I didn’t know what to think. I kind of came late into the game. I had never even seen the show before, so when I got the show I just went back and I watched everything that was up to that point. I click on the TV now, and I’m like, “This show is still going, what the hell?”

I remember season 3, and this is before shows were… there were not very many shows that were going 10 seasons, and certainly not science fiction shows. But this show, man, I mean, I get it because the formula is great. It’s like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” meets the “Dukes of Hazzard.” (Laughter) It’s kind of like a cool concept, and again, limitless material, because you’re redefining a genre, and so good on them for having just a wellspring of stuff. And I’m not surprised that it’s going this long, but I had no idea.

I don’t know if it would have made a difference, but maybe I would have thought to like, not die. (Laughter)

The Orville” airs Thursdays on FOX.

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Wingman Wednesday

Nikki Leigh

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Photo By: MLC PR

A girl is a serious actress in the new Blackpills series “A Girl Is A Gun.”

That girl is Nikki Leigh, and for the California native who began her career as a model, it has been a difficult journey convincing those in the industry that she is more than just pretty face. With her riveting, emotionally-heavy performance as Santa Fe in the 70s style action fest, she has proven all of those second-guessers wrong and paved her own path to a future fraught with opportunity.

We recently sat down with Leigh to discuss what drew her to the project, how it took a toll on her emotionally, and why she’d like to thank all of those who allow others the chance to show a different side of themselves.

TrunkSpace: “A Girl Is A Gun” has a very sort of a 70s, noirish feel to it. What was it about the series that peaked your interest when you first read it?
Leigh: Just the power behind it first and foremost. The power behind it and the fact that it’s very women-driven. I think that it’s just a very powerful message, and it really is going with the times that we’re living in right now. I thought it would be really cool if we can give a visual effect and something that someone can watch in order to really spark that women empowerment.

TrunkSpace: And what is great about that is that while it’s no doubt there, it’s also disguised within the content, so people can take from that what they will and find different things that inspire and entertain them.
Leigh: Exactly. And I appreciate that so much more when you allow somebody to kind of personalize it and really just have it become something that they believe in because that’s what they found within the story.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, you had some very heavy scenes. Did the character provide you with any personality traits that you had yet to explore on camera?
Leigh: Yeah. I mean, she really does go through a really difficult time and that was something that actually, thankfully, I’ve never had to experience. But at the same time, it is one of my biggest fears, which I’m sure most women could agree with me on, the fact that the thought brings them to cringe. So to play someone so disconnected and so empty in that way, it was a bit of a challenge and actually took a toll on me for a little while. Prepping up to it, knowing when that scene was, and what day, what week, I was really, really on edge in my personal life. I was constantly apologizing, kind of for being not the real me at that moment. I apologized to everybody I was a little short with because I was just like, “Oh my God, I’m prepping for something and I’m really nervous about something that I’m about to experience.”

To be 100 percent honest with you, when we ended up shooting that, after the first take, I completely blacked out. I couldn’t figure out what was real and what was fake. And I just remember once the director yelled, “Cut!” that… first off, no one heard him yell “Cut!” the first couple of times… but there was so much commotion and so much going on and everyone was so deep that eventually they had to come out and literally pry the guys off of me. I literally was crying and went into a fetal position and someone came out, I remember, and draped something over me and left me there for a little bit because I completely disconnected from what was real and what was not.

So, yeah that one was really, really extreme for me.

TrunkSpace: Are you somebody who can normally leave those heavy performance moments on set at the end of the day? Was this one just so emotionally-draining that it was impossible not to have it carry with you?
Leigh: Normally I can kind of jump back and forth pretty quickly. And so this one actually, just kind of not knowing what was happening in the beginning, the way that I found myself to be very sensitive about the situation, it did take me a little bit of time to jump out of that character and that positioning. You do it a couple of times and, I don’t know, it really became something where I was like, “Let’s just get it done. I’m in this emotionally and all that, so let’s just hurry and get through it.”

Yeah, I mean it was very extreme, but like I said, I didn’t really realize what was reality and what wasn’t the first couple of times. I guess I had to experience something new to where I couldn’t just jump out of something like that. So, it was pretty extreme. I had every guy afterward apologizing to me. I’m like, “No, no, no. It’s okay. This is what we have to do right now, this is our job.” People walked out of the room. People literally left set and was like, “I can’t do this.” It was extreme.

TrunkSpace: The series airs on the Blackpills app. With so many different original content platforms and networks now available to consumers, is it just as important to educate people on the outlet as it is the series itself so that they know where they can view it?
Leigh: Of course! Yeah, Blackpills, it’s actually an amazing app. I have it on my phone, of course, and I was watching my show on it and watching everything. There’s some really badass content. Blackpills is very popular worldwide, especially in France, which is really cool. It’s such a cool concept too because it’s supposed to be kind of that drug. Everyone can say that Netflix is definitely a drug. I mean, people disappear, we don’t know where they go. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: With so much content circulating now and actors taking the reigns more on the development side, do you see yourself as someone who will develop your own content down the road?
Leigh: Oh yeah. I feel like that’s everybody’s dream. I’ve actually been really interested recently in figuring out how to write – to properly do it. Who wouldn’t want to make their own content and be something that they really always wanted to be? Or to tell a story they’ve always wanted to tell? I really think that that is a very powerful thing nowadays, to be able to have your own camera and your own crew and do your own thing and show the world what you’ve got. Otherwise, you’re only going to get so many opportunities.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of opportunities, we know that acting is your primary focus nowadays, but you actually started out modeling. Do you feel like you had to work extra hard to be seen within the industry as a serious actress as opposed to a model who wanted to act?
Leigh: 1000 percent! Yeah, actually you nailed it. It’s been a very difficult road. I always welcome a challenge, but you never know how other people are going to take it or if they’ll have preconceived notions. So, yes, it’s been a trying time, but at the same time, I really love what I do. I believe in what I do and I have great relationships with the people that I have worked with and great relationships with people in general. I’m not too worried about it. I can’t worry about it. I’m very much about positive energy and manifesting your own kind of destiny. If you don’t believe it, who will?

Photo By: MLC PR

TrunkSpace: And the old adage of work begets work in the industry really does ring true, right?
Leigh: Exactly. And you know who I really love to thank are the people who give actors, or just anybody really, an opportunity to show a different side. I know it takes a lot for those people to maybe even go against some people who are saying. “No way!” It takes a strong person to do such a thing and to give someone such an opportunity. So, I really do appreciate that. If you’re going to give me that opportunity then I’m going to do the best darn job I can do and impress you. I’m not going to just do it mediocre to get through it. I want to go above and beyond for you.

I am really thankful for this series because it’s serious and I love that. I really do. I mean, comedy is so much fun and it’s such a great, fun set to be a part of in the comedy world, but at the same time, I love being able to tell a story and have a little bit more of an impact in somebody’s emotional mindset.

TrunkSpace: With that “different side” idea in mind, what side would you like to show next? What type of roles do you want to play that you have yet to have the opportunity to play?
Leigh: Superhero! 1000 percent because I have wanted to be a superhero since I was a little girl! I mean, I’m very much a guy’s girl in that respect. Or, anything having to do with sports or something like playing some sort of athlete. I think that would be really, really cool. Not only that but, my father is a retired sergeant, so I think doing something where it’s like “Criminal Minds” or S.W.A.T would be really, really fun and intense. Yeah, anything that’s very powerful. I think I can be very inspired by that right now.

TrunkSpace: So superheroes or rel-life superheroes!
Leigh: Exactly. I didn’t even think about that. Good job, writer! (Laughter)

“A Girl Is A Gun” is available now on Blackpills.

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Wingman Wednesday

Alex Barima

AlexBarima_Halloween_Wingman_wednesday
Photo By: Malcom Tweedy

As the demon Drexel, Alex Barima has brought a uniquely expressive comedic delivery to Hell in the long-running series “Supernatural.” When not serving as the lapdog to Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino), the Montreal native is facing off with a different kind of demonic evil in FOX’s “The Exorcist,” playing the in-story role of the canary in a coal mine who senses that something very wrong is happening beneath the surface.

We recently sat down with Barima to discuss how “The Exorcist” has already become a game changer for his career, why he had a hard time sleeping for a week, and where he’s most comfortable when it comes to performance.

TrunkSpace: There was such great buzz and word-of-mouth surrounding season 1 of “The Exorcist.” Was it exciting coming into a series that had that energy already swirling around it?
Barima: 100 percent. When I got the part, I then went and watched the whole first season, and that really solidified my excitement for the show. I was like, “I get to be a part of something pretty cool.” We’re definitely really happy with the way everything’s gone so far, and we’re excited to show everybody.

TrunkSpace: For a long time, horror never really seemed to work in television. It was always better suited for film, but tonally, “The Exorcist” is bringing that cinematic feel to the TV side of genre with its telling of the story.
Barima: Yeah. The stories really unfold kind of like a film in a way where off the top, there’s not so much action going on. It’s more of a lot of leading up, a lot of introducing characters, and then slowly but surely things go south. By the end, when you’re in the heart of the plot, stuff hits the fan pretty hard.

TrunkSpace: As they should always do in horror!
Barima: (Laughter) Exactly.

TrunkSpace: Can you set the stage in terms of where your character Shelby falls into things?
Barima: So the leads from the first season had to leave Chicago, which was the setting of the first season. Now they join us, and we’re in Seattle. My character Shelby, he lives with his foster family on this island that’s just off the coast. There’s just a few kids in the house, and we’re all from these pretty rough backgrounds. Shelby himself, he’s from a broken family – a family broken up by drugs and crime and things like that. Growing up he had a very hard time, so he found religion. That’s what saved his life. Getting into the foster system is probably the best thing that ever happened. He found a family; he found a purpose. Now with all this stuff going on, he has very good perception. He’s a pretty smart kid, so he sees a lot of stuff. When something’s out of place, he notices almost immediately. He starts to kind of freak out before anyone else in the show.

I kind of like that. It’s always the character that I look to when I’m watching horror and stuff like that – the first character to really feel that something’s not right. I’m like, “Listen to that guy! Listen to him!”

TrunkSpace: It’s a rough turn for your character. Here he is, finding this silver lining, and then it all gets taken away.
Barima: Absolutely. It’s a living hell.

TrunkSpace: Does the creepy factor of the show ever spill out of the work? Do you have to remind yourself that none of it is real every now and then?
Barima: I definitely have had to shoot a few things where I’m freaking out. Shelby, he takes a few risks during the show because obviously he’s the red herring and trying to let everybody know that something’s not right. But of course, it’s hard to believe. He’ll take a few chances himself. I haven’t been too frightened shooting the actual show, but sometimes when we’re on location, and you’ve got a moment to yourself and you’re upstairs in the greenroom by yourself or anything like that, things kind of quiet down a little bit and then you maybe have a little too much time to think about things.

TrunkSpace: The imagination is a powerful force. It’s like when you’re driving at night and you know there is nobody in your backseat, but you convince yourself that if you look in the rear-view mirror you’ll see somebody there.
Barima: Yeah, exactly. After watching the first season, I had a very hard time sleeping for at least a week. This time around, I think watching it will be a bit easier because I was a part of it.

TrunkSpace: As an actor, how do you tap into fear within a scene?
Barima: It’s not easy because I’m quite technical when it comes to performance. I can’t count on my emotions because they’re not reliable. Typically, I’ll just try to understand what’s written on the page and then do my best to emulate that.

With this type of stuff, with fear, you need to realize that when you’re afraid, you don’t care about how you look. You’re just scared. Whatever happens to your body and your face and all that, it all comes immediately and you don’t have much control. I think a lot of it is about letting go. It’s not worrying about how you’re gonna look and just really, really, trying to convince yourself that you’re scared – channel that energy into your body and then your body will kind of drive itself. Hopefully people will believe that you’re terrified.

The music and the lighting helps, as well. I think in the end, it’s a little tricky, but it’s fun. I’ve never gotten to play scared before, like truly scared for my life. I’m excited to see how that turns out.

THE EXORCIST: L-R: Brianna Hildebrand, guest star Hunter Dillon, guest star Cyrus Arnold and guest star Alex Barima in the “Janus” season premiere episode of THE EXORCIST. ©Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Sergei Bachlakov/FOX

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular moment where you felt you got to really stretch yourself as an actor?
Barima: We’re only halfway through shooting the season, so I’m sure all of the toughest stuff is yet to come. But so far, I think the fear stuff has been very new for me. It’s been very new for me to be out there and act like my life is in danger and stuff like that.

In Vancouver, we do a lot of science fiction, so it’s usually either very action-oriented or very light. But with this stuff it’s like, “Okay, damn, you gotta dig deep, and really gotta be on point!” I think that’s been the newest thing for me. It’s the constant tension that’s in almost every moment.

TrunkSpace: Do you feel like your role in “The Exorcist” has the potential to be a game changer in your career?
Barima: It already has been a game changer, to be honest. Yeah, I think that me and my team, we kind of knew that once we got this, we were like, “Okay, this is a big deal.”

It’s been a pretty good year so far, but I’ve never really worked on anything of this scale. I’ve never had so many days on a project. We definitely know that this is gonna be something pretty big for me. I’m from a comedy background myself. That’s more my focus, but in this town we don’t have a lot of comedy. So, I haven’t gotten to do very much until, actually, this year. I did one film last December that just premiered in Toronto at the International Film Fest called “Public School” with Judy Greer.

After that I got on “Supernatural” where I got to do a little comedy, as well. So I was like, “Okay, I’m finally falling into my element here.” And then with “The Exorcist” it was like this super dramatic audition. I was like, “Okay, well I don’t know how this is gonna go” and they were like, “Oh, you got it. You’re in.” I was like, “Really?” (Laughter)

So this is amazing because I get to do this super heavy stuff on Fox with this project, and then I’ve got these other comedy things going at the same time. Whichever picks up is fine with me, but ultimately, I always feel more comfortable doing comedy.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned a magic word around here, “Supernatural.” We’re big fans of the show. You have had some great scenes opposite Mark Pellegrino, who has some amazingly unique delivery in everything that he does with the character of Lucifer. What has that experience been like?
Barima: Mark has been my favorite person to work with in a long time. I obviously joined the show very late, season 12. Mark is just so fun. We talked a lot between scenes, and we get along quite well. And then whenever it came to shooting, it was just so fun. It was just so fun to see him drop into this character so quickly – this character he knows so well, and he’s just doing this dialogue, and I’m trying to keep a straight face. It was quite hilarious.

But I’ve gotta say that “Supernatural,” that crew, it’s probably one of the best sets in the whole city. The way they run the show, the way everyone is so comfortable at work, you can really tell that they’ve been doing it for a long time, and you can tell why they’ve been so successful. It’s such a well-oiled machine, that show. Really fun to work on.

“Supernatural” airs Thursdays on The CW.

“The Exorcist” airs Fridays on FOX.

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Wingman Wednesday

Jessica Meraz

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Photo By: The Riker Brothers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo By: The Riker Brothers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wingman Wednesday

Caitlin Carmichael

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There is a new generation of young actors prepared to take over Hollywood. Standing at the forefront, already having amassed an incredibly-impressive body of work, is 13-year-old Caitlin Carmichael. Currently starring in the gritty crime drama “Wheelman” for Netflix alongside on-screen dad Frank Grillo, the Georgia native’s work can be seen next in the family drama “Epiphany” and then opposite pretty much everybody who is anybody in the upcoming Dan Fogelman film “Life Itself.”

We recently sat down with Carmichael to discuss how her recent character journeys have become more multidimensional, why she hopes to do more of her own stunts in the future, and what she expects her path to be going forward.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been working since you were very young. How has the experience changed for you since those early days and do you enjoy different aspects of acting now more than you did back then?
Carmichael: Well, I started acting when I was three and a half. Growing up I always told my mom that my favorite playground to be on was a set, because it’s always where I wanted to be, and where I wanted to spend my free time. Now that I’m older I’ve started to appreciate the art form of acting in film and television more, and I have a deeper appreciation for it. I see how it takes everyone on the set to really make this project. It takes the crew, and the cameramen or women, it takes the DP, it takes the hair and makeup team, it takes the wardrobe. It takes every single person to come together to make this project, and I’m grateful to see that and I recognize the little things more. I’ve matured in my understanding.

TrunkSpace: Have the roles themselves become more interesting as you’ve gotten older?
Carmichael: I think the older that I get, the roles become more multidimensional, in a sense. I get to show different layers in the sides that I read for my audition, or the scripts that I perform on screen. They require a deeper understanding to get into the headspace and evolve into that character on script.

TrunkSpace: You have a number of high profile projects ahead of you. From your perspective, do you feel like you’re at a turning point in your career?
Carmichael: I definitely hope so. I’ve been working for 10 years. My Netflix original movie “Wheelman” was released at midnight last night, or officially today, and I was able to do all of my own driving stunts in the movie in a 1982 Porsche 911, stick shift. That was very exciting for me. Because we filmed in a parking garage, I was able to do all my own stunts myself. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am today and I really hope that “Wheelman” is opening a door for me to be able to do more of my own stunts in movies in the future.

TrunkSpace: And certainly there’s no better place for a creative person to be right now than with Netflix where so much of the focus is on unique content and character-driven storytelling.
Carmichael: I am so grateful to be a part of the Netflix family now. They have been so fantastic with the entire “Wheelman” journey, and we are just so excited to be a part of the team.

TrunkSpace: For those who haven’t seen the movie yet, can you walk us through a little bit of where your character falls into things?
Carmichael: Yes, so my dad Wheelman, AKA Frank Grillo, is the getaway driver for bank robberies. When he finds out he’s being double-crossed by two handlers, he has to call on me, his daughter Katie, to help save the day in a sense. I don’t want to spoil it, but you will get to see me drive in the movie and that is all of my own stunts. We filmed that in Boston for five weeks – entirely night shoots – so it has a very authentic feel to the setting and that really creates the tone of the movie.

It has a gritty feel, which is very authentic and natural, so that’s why that was a great choice for us, and I loved getting to work with Frank Grillo. He was the best on-screen dad I could have asked for. The way that he just embodies his character is fantastic to watch on screen.

TrunkSpace: If you look at “Wheelman” and then the other projects that you have due up, “Epiphany” and “Life Itself,” they’re all so different. From a diversity in character standpoint, that must be a nice journey to go on personally for you?
Carmichael: I think my favorite thing about acting is how the roles that I audition for, or I get to portray, are constantly changing. I always feel like I’m able to evolve into a new character. I’ve done more research now for my characters before I go on set so that I can really understand the person that I am when I step on the set and when I’m on screen.

TrunkSpace: And certainly the older that you get, the more life you live, which translates into your work.
Carmichael: Exactly. It’s great now being able to draw from my own experiences.

TrunkSpace: I mentioned “Epiphany,” which looks like a very heavy, dramatic film. Do you find yourself drawn more to dramatic roles?
Carmichael: Yes, definitely actually. I’ve worked in dramas and comedies, and all different genres since I was three, but dramatic films are particularly the ones that I’ve worked in the most and it’s just been my path.

TrunkSpace: Are you someone who can leave that heaviness on set when you wrap at the end of a long day?
Carmichael: I think because I try to do a lot of research, I’m prepared to be in that headspace when I’m on screen. I’m able to leave it on set at the end of the day, and being a part of a cast and crew that’s so supportive of each other, we leave the set on a positive note and I’m able to walk away with my set family at the end of the day.

TrunkSpace: The other film we mentioned is “Life Itself,” which has about as stacked of a cast as we’ve ever seen. When you do a project like that with so many great, talented actors who have been around for such a long time, do you view it just as much as an education as you do a job?
Carmichael: I was so grateful to be a part of that cast. I played young Olivia Wilde in the movie, and I was just ecstatic when I found out that it was a Dan Fogelman movie. I’m a huge “This Is Us” fan by the way. I did a series called “Chosen” where I played Milo Ventimiglia’s daughter for three years. It felt like everything was just coming full circle when I get to work with his director and showrunner Dan Fogelman on a movie. Then getting to film in New York with all of these amazing actors and getting to be a part of that set family was just wonderful. I’m really grateful and blessed for that experience. Milo Ventimiglia encouraged me before I went to set and we were texting back and forth and it was so nice to have his support on this project.

TrunkSpace: All of Dan’s work always has this amazingly rich dialogue that is so real and steeped in emotion. Did you feel that was also the case with “Life Itself?”
Carmichael: Let me tell you, he knows how to tell a story. That is what he does best, and I think it’s gonna be beautifully and exquisitely showcased in “Life Itself.” I’m so excited to see it.

TrunkSpace: You’re still so young and yet you’ve had these incredible opportunities in your career to work on all of these amazing projects. As you look forward in your career, what kind of path do you see yourself on?
Carmichael: Acting has been my path since I was three years old, and I think it’s going to continue to be my path, my trajectory for the rest of my life. I’m so grateful to have found my thing so early and now I can really grow and work on it as I’m growing up, and I can enjoy it. Honestly it doesn’t feel like work to me, it feels like fun because it’s something that I enjoy so much. I love being on set and I always have, and I definitely see that as my path.

Wheelman” is available now on Netflix.

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Wingman Wednesday

Mpho Koaho

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Photo By: Fitzroy Facey

With so many television shows airing and streaming, it seems like it’s getting increasingly more difficult to generate genuine fandom buzz for any new series set outside of a Marvel or DC universe. That’s why the continuing aura of excitement surrounding BBC America’s “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” is so, well, exciting.

With season 2 now underway, the series based on the Douglas Adams novel is growing more and more popular as fans of quirky storytelling embrace the uniqueness of the supernatural detective narrative. As Ken, series star Mpho Koaho brings his own singular on-screen presence that not only helps build out the world, but solidifies the Toronto native’s reputation as one of the industry’s best character actors.

We recently sat down with Koaho to discuss the diversity of Dirk Gently, why television was a scared cat for a very long time, and how the fans are just as unique and diverse as the show itself.

TrunkSpace: “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” is unlike most other shows on television, both in premise and tone. What does that uniqueness offer you as an actor, from a performance standpoint? Does it open doors in what you can do in your performance?
Koaho: 100 percent. I think the uniqueness of it starts from the diversity of everything. It’s uniquely diverse, and not just from a racial or a gender standpoint. Obviously now we’re introducing fantasy, and the Rowdy Three, and just all the diverse characters on the show like Bart Curlish. We’ve got a mix of players.

And then in terms of performance, it gives you great freedom because you’re not following any kind of conventional template. Max Landis’ writing style – I think why he’s so good writing this Douglas Adams fandom is because he’s similar. He understands the craziness of what Douglas Adam’s writing is, so then Max gives an actor just immense freedom from a performance standpoint. Because your character’s already unique – he’s written you in a very uniquely diverse way – and then the dialogue is just left of everything. I think it’s very à la Douglas Adams, in terms of the uniqueness and the craziness of it all.

I think that’s what’s appeased fans, as well. Outside of the Dirk character, in this adaptation, Max has created every other character, yet he still has appeased diehard Douglas Adams’ fans.

TrunkSpace: It feels like the kind of show that, in a season or two, other shows will try to emulate, but right now, it’s very much it’s own thing.
Koaho: That’s very well-articulated. These are things I think about every day as an actor, and have thought about for 20 years in Hollywood. And the thing is, specifically the person writing this, Max, grew up in Hollywood.

It’s interesting that I can articulate what I did from being around, and then exactly the same thing permeates within Max’s world, because he was raised by John Landis and very much grew up understanding the exact same thing you mentioned. I think that’s very prevalent in Max’s mind, in his world, and I think he attacks it that way, so I think those are things he’s aware of. I really, really do. I really think he’s aware of that and, while maybe not tries to get away from it, he just goes, “I’m not gonna do that.”

I think he’s just so unique that he doesn’t even have to try to not be something. It’s just so easy for him, and I think it’s because of growing up in Hollywood, and understanding the repetitive nature of things.

TrunkSpace: With that unique feel of the show, do you think the show has a cap in terms of the people it can reach? Like for example, while we love the show, we’re not sure our moms would be able to get invested. (Laughter)
Koaho: I totally agree with you, and obviously in a perfect world you want to think your show can reach anybody, but not any show is necessarily either appropriate for everyone, or someone’s cup of tea. I would speak to Dirk not being everyone’s cup of tea, specifically because there are many refined people in the world, a little more reserved, conservative, sheltered who would say, “We don’t really do much.” To put Dirk Gently in front of them, to put what we do on that show, will be a lot for some people, no doubt. No doubt.

You’re absolutely right. My mother can’t watch this show. No. No. No. I know my mother. She’s a very refined… I wouldn’t say she’s conservative, but this is a little too far for her, on the borderline of loco.

TrunkSpace: But at the same time, that’s the beauty of television in today’s world. It can be geared towards certain likes and dislikes because there’s so much content available now.
Koaho: Well, in terms of television, television was a scared cat for as long as it’s existed. Literally, television was a scared cat, network television, and then HBO and Showtime, they grew a pair and gave us adult television. I’ve never been against network TV, but I understand their reasoning. You’re in people’s homes. A six-year-old or a seven-year-old could turn on the TV and see “The Sopranos” if that was network TV.

I get the shackles of network TV, but it wasn’t until I came to an HBO, a Showtime, where I really started to enjoy television again, and I’m talking about the kid that grew up on sitcoms. It took getting to this point. I think it was “Dexter” before I really could say I loved television again. “Dexter” got me back.

TrunkSpace: So purely from an acting standpoint, is TV more interesting now just because everything is so character-drive and performance heavy?
Koaho: Well, I would say the actor that I am cares about the character-driven stuff, because I’m very ‘character actor’ and obviously if you know anything about my career you can see that, but there’s an 11-year-old in me who’s just not this uptight actor, and that’s a fan of stuff that just doesn’t look at it that way, that looks at it from a less serious place – the kid that was watching “Beauty and the Beast” on the plane going to San Diego Comic-Con.

Photo by Bettina Strauss/BBCA – © 2016 AMC & BBC America

Someone comes up to me like, “What are you watching?” I’m like, “I’m watching ‘Beauty and the Beast’, god dammit!” I had a fucking blast, man. That’s what I love about me. I’ve learned the business working 20 years, so the character-driven stuff matters – holy crap, it matters to me, especially as an actor, but then the kid that started acting appreciates the diversity of a Dirk Gently. Not even the actor, the black kid, the African that I am, appreciates the diversity in my show, and the direction, from a diversity standpoint, television is going in.

It’s two sided, it’s twofold, really three or four sides, even.

TrunkSpace: And there’s diversity in the characters from an emotional standpoint. There’s more broken characters now than ever before.
Koaho: See, there you go. That’s realistic. People are not perfectly emotionally in check, man. Holy crap. Look at Marvel with the flawed superheros. That’s realistic. Most of those heroes are probably gonna be loaners anyway, right? The idea for them to be affected emotionally that way, that’s very realistic, so it’s amazing how TV was almost selling you what movies were forever. And to be very honest, television, network TV… I don’t even want to just say network TV, but mostly network TV… is still a beauty contest. I don’t care what you say, it’s a beauty contest. It’s just, “Put a lot of really pretty people in roles, put a lot of really pretty people on TV and see what happens.”

I sift through so much… so many scripts, so many auditions, television… I’ve sifted through so much stuff to get to this point doing a Dirk. I’m not here reading for CW stuff every day. No disrespect to the CW, no disrespect to anybody working on the CW, but that’s not my shit. That’s not who I am. I don’t want to do a CW show, and real talk, honest to God honesty, outside of maybe like “Black Lightning,” I don’t know if you’d ever catch me on the CW because I don’t know if… especially coming off of having read for a lot of things, pretty much everything, you grow to a place where you realize, “This is not how I want to be represented. This is not how I want to be portrayed.” So you realize, “I wouldn’t audition for that show again,” or, “I would audition for this show every day of the week.” I can’t do certain things. They wouldn’t put me in certain things because I don’t fit that look… I don’t fit that mold, you dig? I’m the most unique character actor, so we have to always take our time and find the most unique thing for me.

TrunkSpace: You spent numerous years on “Falling Skies,” so you know about passionate fandoms. How does the Dirk Gently fandom compare in terms of the passion and commitment to the material?
Koaho: I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this, to be honest. “Falling Skies” was very supportive, very loyal, but Dirk Gently fans are locos, man. I have such respect for them. You know what I really love about the Dirk Gently fandom? Just how different everybody looks! Just the quirkiness of everybody, and just how unique and different everybody is! I look at so many of these beautiful faces, and I go, “You know, that is not who I expected to see.” That’s so pleasant, because I’m sure people say that about me sometimes, with certain projects they see me in. They would have seen me in something and say, “Wow, I never expected Mpho to do something like this. Wow, he was really good.” That’s a pleasant surprise.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” airs Saturdays on BBC America.

Featured image by: Fitzroy Facey

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Wingman Wednesday

Victor Webster

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There’s no better seasonal experience for the senses than autumn, and with the Fall Harvest programming event currently underway at Hallmark Channel, the network is making sure we all get to participate in the sights and sounds of the season.

Starring Victor Webster and Jill Wagner, “A Harvest Wedding” tells the tale of a lost love only to be found again, set against the backdrop of a New England town ankle-deep in fallen leaves and swirling with crisp air that tickles the lungs. The movie premieres Saturday at 9 pm ET/PT.

We recently sat down with Webster to discuss why he loves the Hallmark experience for both he and the audience, what drew him to the character David Nichols, and why he always arrives on set fully prepared.

TrunkSpace: You’ve trained in martial arts for years. Do you look at acting in a similar way in that, you’re training and working hard to always get better?
Webster: Yeah, I look at acting like I looked at playing sports. For me, you’ve got to work really hard and you’ve got to put in the effort. You can’t just walk on the court and expect to be able to shoot three-pointers and free throws. I take it very, very, very seriously. I wouldn’t say that I’m a naturally gifted actor. I’m not, by any means. I’ve got to work hard at it and I take it very seriously.

TrunkSpace: You’re currently starring in the new Hallmark Channel original film “A Harvest Wedding.” Television is known for its fast-paced production schedules. Does that work and preparation come into play even more so on something like that where you’re wrapping a project in such a short period of time?
Webster: We work 12 hours a day on camera, plus we show up an hour early, and we’ve got an hour for lunch. We’re there 14 hours a day. Sometimes, depending on the movie, you’re working six days a week, so the schedule’s pretty crazy. You’ve got like 10 pages of dialog a day you have to memorize on top of it, so you’ve got a lot of homework to do. You have to be focused and you have to come prepared. The Hallmark movies are such a well-oiled machine, that if you’re the cog that’s slowing up the whole machine, that’s never a good feeling.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked in the science fiction world, which is known for having loyal fandoms, but there is a fandom of loyal Hallmark Channel viewers that rivals the passion of science fiction fans. Has that been your experience?
Webster: I was walking through Central Park the other day, and I had a woman come up to me and she was freaking out because she watches every single Hallmark movie there is. I love doing these movies because everybody can watch them. If you’re a child, or a grandma, or a mom, or like one of my buddies that watches Hallmark movies, it’s like it doesn’t matter, there’s something for everybody. We have so much negativity going on in the world right now, it’s nice to sit down and have two hours of something beautiful and positive where there’s always a happy ending.

TrunkSpace: One of the things the network is always great at is painting a picture of the season that the viewer is currently in and making the movies feel like a part of what they’re experiencing seasonally at that exact moment.
Webster: Yeah, the world that you’re in at the moment is a part of the Hallmark world. You’re right. It’s like you’ve been immersed into a virtual reality. Even if not, if you’re in California and you know that it’s not fall out, you watch one of those movies and for those two hours that you’re watching a movie, you feel like you’re in that world with the trees changing color and the leaves falling. They always shoot them so beautifully, even from the aspect of the cinematography, it’s just a beautiful addition.

TrunkSpace: You’ve starred in a number of Hallmark Channel movies. What was it about this particular character that drew you in? Was there something that he offered you from a performance standpoint that you haven’t had a chance to experience yet?
Webster: The last one that I did for them, I played a guy in a suit, and he was an MBA. This one was a guy that worked on a farm, that worked with his hands, who had dirt under his fingernails and drove a tractor. Playing those kind of characters that like to get their hands dirty, there’s always something that is fun to play because that’s more closer to who I am. Being able to wear dirty jeans and a T-shirt, versus a suit and tie, which I’ve also done because I was a stockbroker – going back and forth between those roles and doing something different each time is one of the things I love about acting.

Photo: Jill Wagner, Victor Webster Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Brendan Meadows

TrunkSpace: We talked about the production schedules a bit, but does that expedited process force you to look at your own performance differently as well?
Webster: Yeah. You don’t have the luxury of not being prepared. I’ve worked on some bigger movies, where people come and it feels like they’re literally learning their lines while they’re on set. When you’re shooting 10 pages a day and you’ve only got three weeks to shoot it, you better come prepared. Otherwise, you’re never gonna get a good take, you’re never gonna get a good performance because you’re just gonna be trying to memorize your lines. That’s such a disservice to the people that want to go home – the crew that wants to go home and see their families at the end of the night, or to your co-star that did three hours of homework after a 14-hour day to go home and memorize for three hours. You need to come prepared. I take this very seriously. No matter what I’m working on, I always do, but yeah, for sure, it requires everybody to be on their game.

TrunkSpace: You said it yourself, these productions are like a well-oiled machine. In your experience, have you seen any companies or networks that are able to pull off what Hallmark Channel does?
Webster: Never. It’s an anomaly. The only other way to compare it is to compare it to a TV show that’s been on the air for 10 years because they’re doing the same show. The thing that’s completely different about this is you’re doing a different movie with different actors, different writers, different directors, different locations. Honestly, my mind is blown on how they keep it all together and they do such a good job and they do over 100 movies a year.

TrunkSpace: As you look over your career as a whole, are there any characters that you wished you had a chance to spend more time with?
Webster: The character that I played on the TV show “The Lot” for AMC, which was about what went on behind the scenes at 1940’s film studio. I really, really wish that I, more than anything, had been able to delve into that. I wish I could go back with what I know now and replay that character because I was so green and fresh, and there was such an opportunity to just do so much more with that character than what I did. I felt like I did a good job, but with what I know about acting and life in general right now, I feel like I did a disservice to that. I could go back now and really bring that character to life, and he’s a very, very messed up character with lots of colors and facets.

A Harvest Wedding” premieres Saturday at 9 pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel.

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Wingman Wednesday

Jake Busey

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Photo By: Dana Patrick

Jake Busey works a lot, and when he’s not working, he’s thinking about work. That tireless desire to hear the words “ACTION” may stem from the fact that, as the son of legendary actor Gary Busey, he has seen the inner workings of the entertainment industry since he was a kid. In fact, he admits that being on a movie set is the one place he feels the most comfortable, and it’s a comfort that has lead to countless memorable performances, from the murderous Johnny Bartlett in the extremely-underrated “The Frighteners” to bug-hunting soldier Ace Levy in the cult classic “Starship Troopers.”

Busey can currently be seen in Showtime’s “Ray Donovan” and in the new horror/comedy hybrid “Dead Ant.” Season 2 of his Hulu series “Freakish” kicked off this week as well, and for those who love a vintage franchise reborn, he will be starring in Shane Black’s “The Predator,” due next summer.

We recently sat down with Busey to discuss his definition of “favorite movie,” how he refuels the mental tank, and why he’s had to be a salmon who swims extremely hard upstream.

TrunkSpace: We spoke with your “Dead Ant” director Ron Carlson recently. We have to say, that sure looked like a fun character to play.
Busey: “Dead Ant” was a hoot. We really had a good time. We really enjoyed filming that. It was quite the bonding experience for the whole gang.

TrunkSpace: An end user, the viewer, sees a film and that’s what they remember, but for actors, the experience is probably where you draw your memories from, right?
Busey: That’s very true. In fact, I wrestled with that for many years. I would have fans ask me what my favorite movie that I did was, and so I would think about trips that my wife and I took in New Zealand – my girlfriend at the time. We spent two weeks traveling in New Zealand while I was doing “The Frighteners,” then we went to Fiji for another 10 days about a month later. And then of course, the culture and the people – and so I think about “The Frighteners” in a very good way.

Then I think about “Twister,” when she got in her Jeep and drove all the way from LA because we didn’t have money for a plane ticket, or a rental car in Oklahoma, so she drove her Jeep out during “Twister.” Then when I booked “Starship Troopers” and bought a brand new Dodge truck, she drove that out from LA to Wyoming for the whole filming. And then I put her in the film – she was a stand-in for Denise Richards. That was a real bonding experience for all the people there, and to have my girl with me was fantastic.

And for about 15 years, I was always answering people in regards to my experience of making the film. Then one day it hit me, “Oh no, they’re wanting to know what my favorite film that I did was on the screen, because that’s what they’re awareness is.” It was a big moment of revelation for me.

TrunkSpace: When looking over your filmography, which is filled with project after project, we’re struck with just how consistent it is. Are you someone who loves the work, loves to work, or a combination of both?
Busey: I think you have me at a loss there, because I don’t know the difference between loving the work and loving to work. I mean, I don’t know the difference in distinction.

For me, I love being on a film set, that’s my favorite thing. That’s where I feel most comfortable and if there was ever a place where I didn’t feel like I needed to be somewhere else, it was a film set. Sometimes you’ll be somewhere and you’ll get that feeling of some sort of sixth sense where something kicks into your brain and you go, “I feel like there’s something else I should be doing,” and then you wind up calling your loved ones or whatever, and as it turns out a friend of yours was in a car crash. Nine times out of ten, it’s just you sort of having a nagging feeling like, “I’d rather be somewhere else.” Besides from my kids, when I’m on a film set, the point is, I never have the thought, “Oh, I should be somewhere else.” I just feel completely at home.

TrunkSpace: With that said, do you feel like it’s important to refuel the mental tank between characters?
Busey: Absolutely. One of my very favorite quotes in the world was by a guy that you would never guess, from the 1960s, and he had a quote that was basically, “It’s an actor’s duty to seek out more of life than life puts at his feet.” And you have to experience a lot of things in your life, because in order to portray different characters, you need to have a wealth of experiences to draw from. Somebody who is a sheltered homebody would not make a good actor because they don’t have anything to draw from except for their own small little world.

My mind just never stops, and I never stop moving. I’ve been told it’s because I’m a Gemini, I’ve been told a variety of things, but I’m always creating something. I’m always thinking about something. I started a motorized bicycle building company. I am a pilot. I’ve now dove head first back into something I was very involved in when I was in my late teens and early 20s, which is desert racing. In fact, I’ll be racing the Baja 1000 this year, which is November 19.

So I’m always busy, I’m always thinking, and I’m always auditioning for more films. And by virtue of that, I’m always acting.

Busey in The Frighteners

TrunkSpace: Outside of film, you’ve also been working in quite a bit of great television, from “Ray Donovan” to “Freakish,” which just kicked off season 2 on Hulu. From a character driven content standpoint, how much has TV changed from when you started your career, and is it creatively more appealing to you now than it was then?
Busey: You know, there’s a lot more available now than when I started. Interestingly enough, when I was beginning, when I was coming up, and also when I was a child – I spent the 70s and the 80s on film sets with my dad. As a film actor, that was De Niro, that was Jon Voight, that was Al Pacino, that was… I don’t know, I could go on. Clint Eastwood. The list goes on and on. But TV, you didn’t want to be Ted Danson, and quite frankly at the time, neither did he. And you didn’t want to be Tom Selleck. He was so pissed off that CBS wouldn’t let him out of his contract to go do Indiana Jones, and Harrison Ford got the role, and he couldn’t do it.

Back then TV was subpar – the craft of it. Film was considered artistic and television was considered second rate. If you did TV it was just a career suicide. You wouldn’t get let back into the world of great filmmaking, with Scorsese or something. And now, everybody has a home theater system, and the internet has turned streaming into a possibility, and everything is all based on home viewing, and laptops, and we’ve got a lot of content now – you don’t even say film anymore, because it’s just considered content. It’s all shot for a tiny screen, for being on the telephone.

Nowadays, there’s only two kinds of films. There’s 100 million dollar spandex movies, and then there’s the tiny, tiny low budget independent films that may or may not get distribution. Film has kind of become a little bit of a wasteland for actors.

TrunkSpace: In a way, the two mediums have kind of flip-flopped.
Busey: Yeah. If you’re doing movies now, unless you’re one of those top 20 people that are in those spandex movies, you’re like slumming it really. No one will outwardly admit it, but if you take a meeting with somebody – a new agent, or a new manager or PR person – and you’re like, “Yeah, I’m doing a lot of independent films,” one might assume that means you’re working and that’s a good thing, but really what the other people are hearing is, “Oh, he’s slumming it in independent film land.” So yeah, you’re exactly right. You said it the best. It really has flip-flopped. Look you’ve got Meryl Streep doing television.

TrunkSpace: Anthony Hopkins!
Busey: I mean, it’s crazy. The world has really changed.

I’ll tell you what, I’ve got a lot of friends who are actors that are my age and we share in a unique thing about being Generation X-ers. There wasn’t as many of us, so we were never the popular majority. So I’ve got a lot friends, including myself, that never quite made it over the top of that multiple million dollar spandex movie for their characters, and you’re kind of caught in this lurch, by virtue.

When I was starting out in my early 20s, I couldn’t get hired. Everybody that was being hired was in the previous generation. They were all like 30 years old. It was Charlie Sheen, and Kiefer Sutherland, and Christian Slater, and those guys who were working. I was a youngster and couldn’t get hired, and then when I was in my mid 20s I really started working a lot. But then, by the time I hit my late 20s and early 30s, then all the young 20-somethings, and I guess the early Millennials – the earliest of the Millennials – took over. Ryan Phillippe, and Timberlake, and all these guys came up.

So, caught in a generational sort of wasteland has been an interesting way to forge a career. And plus, I’m a unique looking guy, so I’ve really had to be the salmon that has to swim extremely hard upstream to even keep working in this industry. And I love it, I love working, but I will not tell you that it’s easy, that’s for damn sure.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned “The Frighteners” earlier. We were all chatting about that film internally here, it being October and all, and the consensus was that it is an extremely underrated film. Had that been released today, particularly with the way that tastes have changed and the horror/comedy hybrid film genre is more accepted, it might have had a completely different lease on pop culture life.
Busey: Oh true, yeah. This movie “Dead Ant” that I did, it is wholeheartedly what “The Frighteners” was going for back in the day. It is comedy and horror combined, but I remember at the time, I got a lot of criticism because critics didn’t know how to interpret watching a film that had comedy and horror. It was like, taboo.

TrunkSpace: And when it opened, it was up against “The Nutty Professor,” so you’re automatically losing half of your comedy-loving audience to that film.
Busey: Yeah, exactly. And how do you market that? But I think today’s audiences, I think with the internet and everyone being so involved and connected on the World Wide Web that we’ve got going, I really do think that people are certainly not as close-minded and a lot more accepting of multiple genres mixed together. Because quite frankly, when you sit down and you get on YouTube, and start bouncing around, there’s a million different things going on within five minutes.

TrunkSpace: And at the end of the day, life is all things. Life is not one genre.
Busey: Certainly true. And that was one of the things that I was bummed out about when “The Frighteners” didn’t do so well. It was panned by the critics for being funny in the beginning, and scary at the end. It’s like, this is a good film – its own unique entity.

“Freakish” season 2 is available now on Hulu.

“Ray Donovan” airs Sundays on Showtime.

Featured image by: Dana Patrick

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Wingman Wednesday

Mark Pellegrino

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Supernatural — “The Rising Son” — Image Number: SN1302a_0086.jpg — Pictured: Mark Pellegrino as Lucifer — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC All Rights Reserved.

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

According to the current “Supernatural” universe, that’s technically true, at least as it concerns this particular plane of fictional reality. And although it wasn’t a trick that he himself pulled, trickery was involved.

Playing out in the finale of season 12, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles), along with the help of angel Castiel (Misha Collins), demon-turned-devil Crowley (Mark Sheppard), and their mother Mary (Samantha Smith), trapped Lucifer, played brilliantly by Mark Pellegrino, in an alternative universe where Hell on earth is an actual thing. Never one to go down without a fight, the fallen archangel did some serious damage to the Winchester crew before popping out of existence, serving as the catalyst for Crowley’s sacrifice (permanent), murdering Castiel (semi-permanent), and pulling Mary into the alt-dimension with him.

Lucifer is the bastard of big bads, that much has been made clear since he first appeared on the series back in season 5, but we just may be seeing a different side of him moving forward, one that replaces his devil may care attitude with an all new Prince of Not-So-Darkness. Stuck in the alternative universe with Mary and no longer the most powerful being within finger snapping distance, a vulnerable and reliant Lucifer is emerging and it’s a character journey that Pellegrino is excited to see play out.

We recently sat down with the Los Angeles native to discuss how his relationship with Mary will be forced to change in the alternative universe, why he feels fans may start rooting for Lucifer to do the right thing each week, and what makes the SPN Family the best fandom in the business.

TrunkSpace: Heading into season 13, Lucifer is stuck in a strange land with a sworn enemy, but from what we’ve seen teased out, it looks like you may have to rely a bit on each other. Is that accurate?
Pellegrino: Yeah. And I think that makes for good drama and good comedy, because we are the odd couple, for sure, and sort of chained together at the hip, and definitely need each other to either escape this place called the “alternate universe,” or get out of it.

Yeah, and I feel like in doing the scenes, we were sort of like an old married couple, to be honest with you.

TrunkSpace: Because of that, are viewers going to see a side of Lucifer that they haven’t seen before?
Pellegrino: I think so. I think we haven’t seen Lucifer really vulnerable. And I think in this new universe, even though he tries not to show it, there’s quite a bit of vulnerability revealed because he, as powerful as he is, and he proves it while he’s there a couple of times, he’s also out of his depths in a lot of ways. And so I think it’s going to be kind of a cool thing for the fans to see someone so powerful struggling with realities.

TrunkSpace: With the death of Crowley last season, fans are without a lovable bad guy to root for. Is Lucifer going to step up and be that guy that fans hope will do the right thing week to week?
Pellegrino: I hope so. I mean, that’s what I like to think. I like to think Lucifer has some redeeming qualities to him, and they’ve so far written a Lucifer that really goes against the archetype that we’re used to. And I like that. I like that a lot.

You know, they say parenthood changes you. And I’m hoping that there’s something to that with Lucifer. He seems to be yearning to have a connection, and I think that is sort of the opening, the door opening, to spaces that he’s had to keep closed since being alienated from the universe. So yeah, I’d like to think there’s doors opening in Lucifer’s character, and that it’s going to bring out that latent good thing that I sort of hope everyone has.

TrunkSpace: Lucifer is yearning for a connection, but at the same time, the writers did such a great job setting up that same yearning in Samantha Smith’s character Mary last season. Are the two characters, stuck as they are, going to find a kinship in each other?
Pellegrino: I hope so. I mean, I really see… it’s just good writing. I see those dynamics playing all the way through with all of the characters. They’ve got very similar issues to resolve, just on sort of different levels. And I think that’s great. I think that’s what makes them, even as enemies, familiar.

TrunkSpace: Lucifer wants out of the “alternative universe,” but at the same time, isn’t this exactly what he wanted? Wasn’t he looking for a world with this kind of end result, especially one that is free of Winchester brothers? What’s keeping him from wanting to stay there?
Pellegrino: I think I sort of played that when he originally came into the world. He was like, “Whoa. Cool. This is interesting…” But I think Lucifer reveals a respect for creation. I think he reveals a sense that, “Hey, we could do this better than has been done.” He actually has an ideal that isn’t about destruction, and pain, and death, but something else, something noble, believe it or not. And so at first, he might have enjoyed the chaos, but I think he has something that stretches further than just that. I think that’s sort of superficial.

Supernatural — “The Rising Son” — Image Number: SN1302a_0507.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Samantha Smith as Mary Winchester and Mark Pellegrino as Lucifer — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC All Rights Reserved.

TrunkSpace: It also kind of feels a bit like Lucifer, as powerful as he is, needs the Winchesters in his life because, if for no other reason, they’re the only ones who aren’t afraid to stand up to him and that seems to excite him a little.
Pellegrino: Oh, I think Lucifer loves people who are smart, loves people who are courageous, who have the chutzpah to go against, I mean, even God. The Winchesters are ballsy, and he can respect that. If you remember when Crowley shows up in the alternate universe, Lucifer sort of hops around on the ground like he loves that Crowley had the chutzpah and the intelligence to beat the odds.

And there is that element to Lucifer’s character, that respect for defiance, and that respect for courage, that he has in spades. He’s always sort of pushing the limit as far as he can go. And he’s that guy that likes no-limit men and no-limit women. And when he sees it in them, he can’t help but smile at that quality. So I think there’s a lot of layers that are going to come out with Lucifer, and you’ll see that perhaps he’s not as desirous of chaos and destruction as one would think. He just has a better idea.

And the revolutionary is one that thinks that it has to be burned down before you rebuild it again. I want to rebuild it, and make it better than it was before. That’s kind of noble.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned that Lucifer respects ballsy people. How would Lucifer get along with himself if he came across a version in an alternative world like the one he’s stuck in now?
Pellegrino: (Laughter) Well, in this world, luckily or unluckily for him, Lucifer doesn’t exist. Lucifer lost the battle in a big way. So he’s going to be that guy in that world. And the question is, will he measure up to the alternative universe Michael, who’s a very, very different cat than the one in the world that we knew?

TrunkSpace: Who we’re actually going to meet in tonight’s episode, correct?
Pellegrino: Yes.

TrunkSpace: Sounds like complicated roads are ahead! Finally, Mark, in terms of your ride on this journey so far… in your experience, is there anything that compares, fandom-wise, to the SPN Family and their commitment and loyalty they have to the show?
Pellegrino: Oh, no. Not at all. And I think that’s in part due to the unique relationship we have with them. It’s reciprocal. We help each other out. And unlike most fandoms, they don’t see that barrier between us and them. And it’s kind of cool, you know? And it’s great being part of that sort of passionate group of people.

Watch Lucifer come face-to-face with alt-Michael tonight when “Supernatural” airs on the CW.

Featured Image By: Manfred Baumann

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