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February 2018

Wingman Wednesday

Diana Bentley

DianaBentleyFeatured
Photo By: Shaun Benson

The latest season of the horror anthology series “Channel Zero” has been injecting our Wednesday nights with a dose of the creepy crawlies. Filled with morbidly captivating visuals and paced to unsettling perfection, “Butcher’s Block” is a gem of a genre offering from series creator Nick Antosca and the folks at SYFY, but it’s the ensemble cast that has us transfixed.

Diana Bentley portrays Edie Peach in the mystery-filled season, and much like the character’s surname would suggest, she is surface sweet, but there’s also something completely and utterly menacing about her that indicates this Peach is rotten to the core.

We recently sat down with Bentley to discuss her “Channel Zero” trip, why she was instantly at home in Edie, and the reason she feels so lucky to be a character actor in the current content climate.

TrunkSpace: “Channel Zero” is part visual feast and part mind trip. “Butcher’s Block” in particular looks like it would have been quite the experience for all involved just because of the nature of the story and the world in which you’re working. When you’re performing in a project that has a heightened reality, does it make the process a bit more surreal?
Bentley: This process was unique because, although the world around Edie Peach in “Channel Zero” is surreal, Edie is quite a grounded and clear mother bear to me. She sees the world only from her own perspective and experience, and isn’t concerned with seeing anything other than that. So, for me as the actor I felt like I was wandering around set in rose colored glasses having the time of my life! I’m sure it was a very different trip for the rest of the cast. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: We know you have a theater background. In watching “Butcher’s Block,” we couldn’t help but notice that there’s something very theatrical about it at times, even right down to the framing. The dinner scene in particular comes to mind. In those shots where the entire table is visible, it’s almost like you’re looking up at it on a stage. As you were working on the project, did you get that theatrical vibe at any point during production?
Bentley: I don’t know whether I would say I felt the show was ‘theatrical’ but I would say it feels heightened to be inside. There’s a tension and a need and a ‘keeping up appearances’ that kept me feeling like I couldn’t let the ball drop. I think that’s the magic of the Peach clan and the show’s storytelling.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, what was the most exciting aspect of Edie Peach that you were looking forward to tackling? Was there something in her personality that was an entirely new take on a character for you?
Bentley: From the moment I read the audition I fell in love with Edie and needed to play her because I understood her so deeply. I’ve never felt so at home in a character or loved them so much. There is a quality to Edie that wants to love and be loved so badly, that it obliterates everything else. I found this an intoxicating aspect of her personality.

TrunkSpace: We always hear about character complexity and how that can make working on a project more interesting for a performer, but does that also apply to story complexity? Does a yarn spun with lots of twists and turns keep things more interesting for you?
Bentley: Yes. The story is everything. Arkasha Stevenson and Nick Antosca had such an incredible grasp on the story and who these characters were, and that made it a delight to work on. Arkasha let me improvise as Edie and pushed me to explore Edie’s humor and also her darkness. She trusted that I knew the character inside out and let me play – it was just the best experience. When you can really follow a director and where they take you it makes for an awesome ride.

TrunkSpace: “Channel Zero” plays in various genre sandboxes, but the one that is most apparent (and the big draw for viewers) is horror. One of the things the show does so well is setting a really uncomfortable, creepy tone for the audience, and based on early feedback, this season is firing on all creepy cylinders. What are you most excited for viewers to see and experience as the season rolls on?
Bentley: I just think as the show delves deeper and deeper into the world and psyches of the characters, viewers will be more and more entranced and horrified. Olivia (Luccardi) and Holland (Roden) have such wild journeys – I can’t wait for the audiences to see where these two sisters end up!

TrunkSpace: Horror fans are pretty welcoming when it comes to new projects, especially when those projects are done right. When you’re coming into a series like “Channel Zero,” do you go in thinking about the end product and how it will be perceived? When all is said and done, the genre has a bit of a built-in audience so there’s automatically going to be a set of viewers who will tune in to see if it’s their cup of tea, which must be nice to know as you’re working on something… that the work you’re doing will be discovered regardless?
Bentley: I didn’t think about the end result – but I was really excited to share this show with viewers. I just think it’s such a wacky, dark, terrifying and often funny ride. As a cast we really bonded making it, and when that happens it’s usually a sign that it’s going to be good!

Photo By: Allen Fraser/Syfy

TrunkSpace: You’re also returning to “Frontier” for Season 3 later this year. We hear so much about how exciting of a time it is for actors in this “golden age of television” because of the rich, character-driven stories, but is the quantity just as exciting as the quality? Is there more work now than when you started your career?
Bentley: I feel pretty lucky to be a character actor right now because I think more than ever dynamic and meaty characters are being written for women. Edie is the perfect example – she is all of the traditional conventions of femininity but turned upside down. And Imogen on “Frontier” is not dissimilar! What you see isn’t always what you get and that’s what I’m drawn to.

TrunkSpace: Is theater still a big part of your life? Does acting on stage give you a different thrill than tackling a role on-camera?
Bentley: Theater is a huge part of my life. I run my own theater in Toronto called the Coal Mine Theatre! It’s a 90 seat theater in a storefront and we have an awesome audience. There’s nothing like performing on stage – it’s a different thrill performing live and a different beast in many ways. I like flexing those muscles once in a while.

TrunkSpace: What is the best house you’ve ever performed in? Not the best play or experience, but the most beautifully-moving theater itself – the kind of place that inspired you night after night – and why?
Bentley: I did a show at my own theater a few years ago called “Bull” by English playwright Mike Bartlett. It’s a play about bullying and we did the entire show inside a cage with the audience right on the other side of the cage, up against it. It was the most insane experience because the audience felt free to speak and comment and voice what they were feeling throughout the show. It was intense but awesome.

TrunkSpace: Anything is possible in “Channel Zero,” so we figured we’d take a page from that fantastical handbook for our last question. If we had at time machine and it could send you ahead 10 years to see what your career would look like in 2028, would you take that opportunity for a futuristic sneak peek?
Bentley: No! I love living in the moment. One of things I try to embrace about being an actor is not knowing what’s coming next or what’s happening. It’s one of the unique things about the profession that I’m learning to love. Your life could completely change overnight and that’s intoxicating if you let it be.

“Channel Zero” airs Wednesdays on SYFY.

For more information on the Coal Mine Theatre, visit here.

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Sit and Spin

Andrew W.K.’s You’re Not Alone

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Artist: Andrew W.K.

Album: “You’re Not Alone”

Label: Bee & El/Sony Music

Reason We’re Cranking It: In a world that is filled to the brim with negativity, bullying and gloom, it is rare to be reminded of the positive side of life. It is even more rare to be reminded of it with the power of rock and partying, but Andrew W.K. has done just that with his latest album, “You’re Not Alone.” Each track leads into one another like a rock opera that is consumed by our ears and filtered out through our brains, and by the time the last song plays through, we’re left feeling stronger and more uplifted than when we began.

What The Album Tells Us About Them: This album has a very emotional vibe to it. It feels like a journey – perhaps a journey that Andrew W.K. has made in his own life and is sharing with the world through amazing guitar riffs, masterful piano playing and entrancing vocals. The album has a truth and honesty to it that is undeniable and rare.

Track Stuck On Repeat: While we have the whole album on repeat, we can’t get “Party Mindset” out of our minds. It has a melodic piano hook mixed with a message of discovery that will have you singing along and drumming on your desk with positivity and partying, the rest of the day long!

Coming To A City Near You: Andrew W.K. tour dates can be found here.

In Their Own Words: Check out our 2017 chat with Andrew W.K. here.

And that means…

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Wingman Wednesday

Steven Schirripa

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Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

When you sit down to have a conversation with Steven Schirripa, you know with absolute certainty that you’re getting the genuine article. In a business where the line between reality and make believe can often become blurred, the separation between who the man is and what the man does is crystal clear. It is this real McCoy quality to Schirripa that translates to his work and makes him the most likable person in any given scene, including memorable performances as Bobby ‘Bascala’ Baccalieri in “The Sopranos” and as Detective Anthony Abetemarco on “Blue Bloods,” which returns this Friday on CBS.

We recently sat down with Schirripa to discuss first pitch milestones, why he’s happy not chasing down every opportunity these days, and the reason millions of people are watching “Blue Bloods” week after week.

TrunkSpace: Before we get into the meat and potatoes of our chat, as baseball fans, we’ve got to ask… where does getting the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a Yankees game rank in terms of life moments for you?
Schirripa: That was a great day. George Steinbrenner invited us. We had met him, and he invited us and gave us his box. We could take our families, and then I think there were five of us that threw out the first pitch. Jamie-Lynn Sigler sang the national anthem. Yeah, that is right up there. That’s a good one. We were in the dugout – the players wanted to meet us, we wanted to meet the players. Torre was there. 
I also threw out one at the Cubs game and the Tigers game, and I’m proud to say I haven’t bounced it yet. A lot of pressure.

TrunkSpace: One of the things we always loved about you, Steven was, well… you. Every appearance we have ever seen you do, whether it was with Conan O’Brien or on “The Tonight Show,” your segments were always real and conversational. Nothing seemed scripted.
Schirripa: Listen, I can’t fake it, who I am. I’m not a Hollywood guy, so I can’t fake it. People, even when I used to do all the talk show appearances, and I’ve done just about everything, they would say, “Let me give you a joke.” I said, “I can’t tell a joke. I gotta tell stuff that is real, for me, part of my life.” I’m not a comic. Listen, I’m a regular guy that has had some really good jobs. That’s how I describe myself. I’m just a regular guy, man. I’ve gotten lucky, I’ve worked hard, and it’s all worked out, but I see things a different way. I was on the other side of the business where I bought acts and I produced stuff, so I was on that side. I look at things kind of from that side as opposed to the acting side where sometimes you talk to an actor, or a comic, and they have no idea what’s going on, or it’s, “I gotta talk to my manager.” I know what’s going on. I know how the business works. I’m a realist about the business. I don’t rely on anyone to make decisions for me. I’ll take advice, but in the end, it’s my decision.

TrunkSpace: Everybody talks about how the business is changing, but it’s more the front end that’s changing – the distribution if it all. The business is still operating as it always has.
Schirripa: Well, yeah. I mean, of course, you have all these different places and outlets, and the funny thing is, there seems to be so many more shows, but I don’t know… at one point the reality shows kind of took over, do you remember that? That’s maybe 10 years ago or so, and so, that was replacing everything and then that kind of went by the wayside a little, and then you got Netflix and Amazon, and there’s some really good stuff on there.

Listen, I’m 60 years old, I’ve been making a living for 18 years as an actor. I had a whole ‘nother life before that. I like what I’m doing. I like where I’m at right now. I’m not as hungry as I once was and running around and selling and trying to pitch. I’m just enjoying this job on “Blue Bloods,” which is a great job. It’s here in the city, and I’m just kind of taking a step back because all through the years, “The Sopranos” years, it was like pressure. You got on “The Sopranos,” it’s THE show. The show’s getting massive, bigger, bigger, bigger… you want more material. You have all these actors, and everyone wants to do more on the show. And then you want to sell stuff because you know it’s just going to end, so you do this, you do books, and you sell this. It was like a whirlwind. If I didn’t do something two days in a row it was like, “What the hell?” I needed to do interviews, or “The Tonight Show,” or writing the books. And now, I’m just kind of happy where I am.

TrunkSpace: When something like “The Sopranos” hits though, there’s got to be a part of you that must know it’s necessary to capitalize because that opportunity might not be there tomorrow?
Schirripa: Oh, absolutely. Look, I knew it was going to go away. Some guys didn’t, some guys thought they were kind of stars and that was gonna be it and we’ll ride this train forever. That is not true and I knew that wasn’t going to be true. I knew that from being on the other side of the business, that everything is going to end. That’s the one thing we can be sure of. So, me, I’m doing appearances all over the country and some of the guys are going, “Where are you going? Where are you going this weekend?” And I’m going, “Hey, I got three young kids, man. I gotta put them through college.”

So, without selling my soul, and I could honestly say I did not because I have been offered every reality, every piece of garbage along the way, and I would not dip my toe there. I did game shows to help my income at one point. “The $100,000 Pyramid” and “Hollywood Squares” and stuff early on, but I can honestly say, I knew it would go away. I’ve written six books, turned one of them into a movie. I was on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” which was a really good job and a really good show that I enjoyed. So, you gotta cash in while you can, and I don’t think I left anything on the table.

Schirripa in “The Sopranos”

TrunkSpace: When you’re working on a show like “Blue Bloods” or “The Sopranos” where you’re on them long term, does it start to feel like those periods are defined by those shows? Is it like, for you, “These are the ‘Blue Blood’ years. Those were ‘The Sopranos’ years.”?
Schirripa: Yeah, absolutely. The thing with “The Sopranos” years, and listen, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved it, and without “The Sopranos” I have nothing, but you were, seriously, always worried about getting killed off. That was a serious concern. You were always worried, “Oh, you’re gonna do one more season.” Or, “We need two years off.” It was like you got two years off from work. I think one time the longest was 15 or 16 months. That’s a long time to sit on the sidelines. We did okay. We weren’t getting stupidly rich – I wasn’t anyway. So, there was always pressure there.

Listen, I didn’t buy an apartment in New York until the show ended because I was always worried that I was going to get killed off or it wasn’t going to work out, or whatever. I had a house in Las Vegas and the first thing I did when I made money, I paid it off. I figured if all else fails, I get my wife and my three young kids and we’ll go back to Vegas and live in a house that’s paid for. At least I’ll get that covered. So that was my mindset there. Obviously, it all worked out with “The Sopranos.” It was a once in a lifetime thing, believe me – a moment in time that will never happen again.

TrunkSpace: And it’s a moment in time that has helped to define what television is today.
Schirripa: Absolutely, but I’m just talking the whole experience. The guys, the fellow actors and producers, the crew – it was a moment in time where it really was a family. We traveled together, we went through stuff together. I go to the set, “How you doing? Good to see you. How you doing?” We do the thing. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Just like most people with their every day jobs. “The Sopranos” was different. We vacationed together, we hung out together. It was like kind of playing on the Yankees, 2003, 2004 and 2005. We’re going out, we walk into a restaurant, you get a standing ovation, six of us. We enjoyed each others’ company, we traveled together, we did a lot of appearances, so we were together a lot on and off camera.

TrunkSpace: Which you must be able to appreciate even more now because as you have surely experienced, not every job is like that.
Schirripa: No, absolutely not. And I can honestly say everyone is very nice. I’ve very rarely worked with someone that wasn’t pleasant. Everyone’s very nice, and you work, and you go home, and you have a few laughs on the set, and that’s the job. And that’s 95 percent. But “The Sopranos,” there was always… listen, this wasn’t “Friends” where they had six of them and they’re not going anywhere. You were really concerned that every year somebody was going. You don’t want to be that guy. One, you’re gonna be out of work and number two, you’re gonna miss a good time.

TrunkSpace: Obviously “The Sopranos” was a huge hit, but with something like “Blue Bloods,” that’s a show that continues to be the most watched show in its night. As every cable show and streaming series becomes a part of the water cooler conversation, are network procedurals getting overlooked?
Schirripa: The show is a really, really well written show, and a really well acted show. For some reason, you know how it happens, I don’t know who makes these decisions, but it gets overlooked. It gets thrown in the pile. It’s not nominated for anything – not writing, not acting. I mean, are you kidding me? Bridget Moynahan, Donnie Wahlberg, Tom Selleck – they’re as good as it gets. I’ve worked with a lot of great actresses, Bridget Moynahan is as good as any of them.

They do get overlooked, but not by the audience where 14 million people are watching the show. 13 or 14 million, with DVR, and they’re watching the show week in and week out. “The Sopranos” never got those numbers because not that many people at the time had HBO. Then you see some shows that get all the hype, “Girls” being one of them. You didn’t get a half a million people watching that show. No one got more publicity than “Girls,” no one… cover of every newspaper, magazine at the beginning. “Mad Men?” Cover of everything. Hey, great shows, all the hype, but not that many people watching them. This show gets watched.

It’s also not unlike the Emmys. One year a show is nominated for five Emmys – all the actresses, actors – they’re all nominated. And a year later, the show has cooled off and no one is nominated. What? They forgot how to act? They’re not good anymore? And that’s exactly what happens. They’re on here, they’re off here. You go cold. All “Blue Bloods” does is it just keeps on going, keeps on getting viewers. The show is a really, really good show.

TrunkSpace: Well, that’s what’s so great about a show like “Blue Bloods” is that it keeps its head down and gets the job done. It doesn’t try to be something that it’s not.
Schirripa: Absolutely, as it should. People love the show. It used to be always, “Bobby, Bobby, Bobby…” when I walked around New York, but now, it’s, “Anthony, Anthony, Anthony…” Everybody’s watching this show, man. If they don’t catch it on Friday nights, they catch it On Demand, or certainly in syndication. It’s all over the place. Plus, what I love about it, not unlike “The Sopranos” where New Jersey was like another cast member, the streets of New York are another cast member here. And that I like very much, shooting in Brooklyn and in Queens, and here in Manhattan. That I like. There’s nothing worse than a show supposedly in New York, but they’re really in Toronto. There’s nothing worse.

Blue Bloods” returns from a month-long hiatus Friday on CBS.

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Trunk Stubs

Submission

SubmissionFeatured

Movie: Submission

Rated: NR

Genre: Drama

Release Date: March 2, 2018 (limited)

Running Time: 1h 46m

Starring: Stanley Tucci, Kyra Sedgwick, Addison Timlin, Janeane Garofalo, Ritchie Coster

Directed By: Richard Levine

Written By: Richard Levine

Reason We’re Watching It: “Submission” is based on Francine Prose’s acclaimed novel, “Blue Angel”, which was penned 17 years ago. The topic of sexual predators has unfortunately become more and more relevant today in not only Hollywood but in politics as well, so the timing of this film seems very appropriate and should spark additional conversation. Levine does a great job of modernizing the material and telling an enthralling story, making way for Tucci and Timlin to deliver incredible and intense (increditense?) performances, both of which are reason enough to watch the film.

What It’s About: Ted Swenson (Tucci) is a frustrated creative writing professor at a small New England college. He is surrounded by colleagues that he despises and students that he loathes. Swenson’s pupils all seem unteachable and lacking in talent until one semester he notices a student with potential, Angela Argo (Timlin). The two begin working closely together on Argo’s writing and the line between teacher and student blur until you’re not sure who’s the predator and who’s the prey in the story.

Whoah! Rewind That!: It’s hard to pick a single moment to rewind in this film because it’s more of a “long game” type of flick, but it’s worth revisiting Tucci’s reaction once he starts to realize that he may be the one being victimized and used for his professional connections.

Watercooler-Worthy Tidbit: Tucci is a graduate of the acting program at State University of New York where he was roommates with Irving Rhames. Rhames gives credit to Tucci for being the first person to call him by his well-known screen name, Ving.

And that’s why we’re giving it…

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Sit and Spin

Camp Cope’s How to Socialise & Make Friends

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Artist: Camp Cope

Album: “How to Socialise & Make Friends”

Label: Run For Cover Records

Reason We’re Cranking It: We hate the term “girl band” for many reasons. You’d never hear a trio made up of all dudes being called a “boy band,” so why does gender matter when it comes to women who write and record music? If something rocks and moves you, why in the hell of hells does the sex of those setting and igniting the emotional charges matter? The answer is, it doesn’t. And while much of “How to Socialise & Make Friends” is a call to arms on gender equality, the album itself accomplishes that message without even having to say it because when something is this good, it creates change whether people realize it or not.

What The Album Tells Us About Them: For a band that has only been together since 2015, Camp Cope is a more cohesive unit than those who have been creating alongside of each other for decades. The Aussie natives are not only delivering serious messages through their music, but they’re doing it seriously, setting a high bar for all 2018 albums to follow.

Track Stuck On Repeat: “The Opener” does in fact open “How to Socialise & Make Friends” and it features some incredibly powerful vocals from singer/guitarist Georgia “Maq” McDonald, quickly becoming one of our favorites behind a microphone. If you’re not inspired by this track, there’s a good chance you may be a little dead inside. Thankfully, the song is crafted in such a way that it will wake you up after a handful of times through.

Coming To A City Near You: Camp Cope tour dates can be found here.

And that means…

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Wingman Wednesday

Marcus Rosner

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Photo By: Lane Dorsey

As one of the male suitors of the fictional dating series “Everlasting,” Marcus Rosner is tapping into parts of his Northern Alberta upbringing to bring good ol’ boy Warren to life in Season 3 of “UnREAL.” While the jury is still out as to whether or not the fan base will be rooting for Warren to come out the romantic victor of the show within a show, each of the beaus-to-be will have their closet skeletons revealed in good time, proving that maybe it’s not such a bad thing that love, as they say, is blind.

We recently sat down with Rosner to discuss what it’s like joining a successful series three seasons in, how Alan Jackson helped him tap into his country-bred character, and why “Supernatural” has one of the best set atmospheres in the biz.

TrunkSpace: You’ve joined the cast of the Lifetime series “UnREAL” in its third season, which kicked off this week. When you’re joining an existing show with an established on-set atmosphere, do you feel a bit like the new kid going to a school where everybody already knows everybody else? How long did it take you to feel at ease in the job?
Rosner: Yeah, you kind of do honestly, but with this show, you get a whole freshman class you’re a part of because while the main cast is always there, each new season requires a whole cast of suitors and in this case, one suitress. And we actually outnumber them as well, so you have the comfort of not being alone in that situation. Besides that, you end up spending so much time around everyone, main cast and new, given the ensemble format of the show, that you figure out who you vibe with pretty quickly and it’s easy to relax within the first few days. I imagine in the case of this show, with all the turnover, each new season establishes its own on-set atmosphere.

TrunkSpace: In terms of the work itself, it must be very exciting to join a show with an existing fan base. So many of the “Will they be watching?” questions are removed from the experience, which must be nice knowing that your performance will be seen?
Rosner: That’s not really something I put a whole lot of thought into personally. I’ve always just enjoyed the work and some of my favorite experiences and performances have come in projects that very few people have ever seen. But, if I’m being honest, there has definitely been more excitement about this project than I have experienced before – you can feel the growing anticipation for the show to return after so long. Not to mention it’s kind of a cult hit within the entertainment industry itself from what I’m told. So that doesn’t hurt.

TrunkSpace: Now, whether the character himself will be embraced by the fan base remains to be seen, but from what you know of Warren, is he someone who the viewers will accept?
Rosner: Warren may slide under the radar a little at first until he makes his presence known in a big way. He’s certainly a very principled man but some of his beliefs that come out down the line may rub certain people the wrong way. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of response he gets. This show has a way of bringing the demons out of all its characters and there are very few exceptions.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, did Warren offer something new in terms of a type of character you have yet to play? What was it about him that you were most eager to dive into?
Rosner: I grew up in Alberta, Canada around farms and country music and never really involved myself in either, so in a way, this was a nice opportunity to get in touch with those things. I drove to set every day listening to Alan Jackson to get my accent dialed in and I loved wearing a cowboy hat all the time. It was really easy to find the identity of Warren, how he walks, how he sees things. I don’t know, maybe it’s in my blood. I’ve played a few cowboys in the past but never with a full-fledged accent like Warren. One of the things that I was always interested to figure out was how someone like him, being from a much more conservative area of the country and holding really traditional beliefs, would perceive all the sex, lies, and videotape going around on “Everlasting.” That was a lot of fun.

TrunkSpace: When you’re presented with a new character, what is your method of personal discovery? How do you go about finding who that person is and how to portray him moving forward?
Rosner: Well, in life everybody wants something. I think (and I’ve been taught) that whether it’s conscious or sub-conscious you can boil down everyone’s driving force to one clear objective. In Warren’s case, his mom is dying and he wants to make her happy. He wouldn’t normally ever be the type to do something like go on a reality dating show, but momma wants him to settle down and he’s desperate to put her mind at ease before she goes and there aren’t exactly a whole lot of female suitors on his ranch. So given that circumstance, plus his upbringing as a conservative, he wants to find love but also maintain his principled beliefs, which on the “Everlasting” set is a near impossible task. So I really just keep those circumstances in mind and that overall objective when going into any scene, and from there it’s pretty easy to figure out how my character would maneuver any situation to eventually achieve that greater goal. I’ve been working with the Chubbuck technique a lot recently and a lot of this comes from that.

TrunkSpace: You’re doing a number of episodes of “UnREAL.” Is it fun to learn new things about a character as scripts come to you, or do you prefer to have as much of the picture painted before you shoot a particular project?
Rosner: Just about every actor, if given the choice, would have the entire story given to them up front. That’s one of the reasons films are such sought-after projects. When you have the whole story, you can develop a much more defined arc for your character and make more detailed choices along the way, but it’s definitely exciting to sit down with a new episode script for the first time and see what new information you will be given about a character you feel such ownership over. The fun really comes from justifying whatever insane behavior happens to take place in the script. Like, why would my character do this? How do I learn that? Once you find that you know how to play it.

TrunkSpace: You’ve starred in a number of Hallmark Channel movies over the course of your career. One of the fascinating things about the Hallmark Channel brand is that it has a very loyal following, and in fact, a fandom known as the Hallmarkies. Would you say that the Hallmarkies rival some of the more well-known fandoms from the science fiction and fantasy genres? Have you felt the Hallmarkies presence either in person or on social media?
Rosner: The Hallmark Channel has been very good to me over the years. In Vancouver where I started acting, they shoot dozens and dozens of films each year, so there is a lot of opportunity to work on their projects. My first major role on their network came as the “other man” in a love triangle on the second season of their hit show “When Calls the Heart.” I fully expected the audience to hate me for coming in between their two leads but the response I got on social media and in person from fans was about as kind as you could ask for. I mean, they hated my character but they couldn’t have been sweeter to me outside of the show. They are passionate fans but they take care of their own.

They’ve gone on to support me in any other projects I’ve been a part of across many different networks and shows. One thing that I think differentiates that fan base from others is that they feel a genuine friendship with many of the actors who appear regularly on their network, I have a few that I message with every once in a while just to keep in touch and see how they’re doing because they’ve been so supportive and I know other actors that have the same connection with them as well.

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel productions are known for being very efficient. Has working within that fast-paced scheduling allowed you to sort of be prepared for anything that comes at you, particularly in the world of television?
Rosner: (Laughter) Absolutely. The pace these films shoot at can rival just about anything. You need to show up with all your lines locked in because things can get moved around on any given day, you can shoot parts of different scenes altogether and can receive rewrites at the last second, so you need to be a quick study. It certainly helps build that muscle that you use in auditioning where you need to pick up words quickly and be ready to put them on film the next day.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of fandoms, you also guested on an episode of “Supernatural,” a series that is currently in its 13th season. Is it kind of a right of passage for actors based in Canada to pass through the “Supernatural” universe?
Rosner: (Laughter) Yep. Especially if you’re living in Vancouver where it shoots. They’ve been on for so long and have cast so many roles over the years that most actors I know have had the opportunity to work on their show. One thing I will say about that show and specifically that set is it’s one of the nicest atmospheres and most well run shows in the business. And Jared (Padalecki) and Jensen (Ackles) seem to have mastered this ability to lead by example. You can see them making the effort to make guest actors comfortable and at home so they can do good work. Can’t say enough good things about my experience on that show.

TrunkSpace: Aside from “Supernatural,” you’ve also guested in series like “Once Upon a Time” and “Arrow.” Is there a character, even someone you only tackled for a single episode, that you wished you had more time to explore, and if so, why?
Rosner: I wish I had more time playing Max Fuller on “Arrow.” It was the second professional gig I ever had, only their third episode, and the show hadn’t even premiered yet. I knew from reading the pilot script the show would become a hit. I look back at my short performance on the show and wish I had more opportunity to see what kind of rivalry existed between him and Oliver Queen.

TrunkSpace: We read that it was a trip to Broadway that cemented your desire to be an actor. What was it about that first experience sitting in the audience that made you say to yourself, “I want to do that!”?
Rosner: I had always wanted to visit NYC and so when I graduated my Mom took me on a trip there as a sort of graduation gift. We saw a few shows and something about just sitting within reach of these performers made it tangible to me. Coming from Northern Alberta, the entire entertainment industry was a foreign concept to me. Seeing these actors and being in the same room as them made it seem a little more real – like I could reach out and grab it if I could just learn the craft. And that’s what I’ve been pursuing ever since.

Season 3 of “UnREAL” airs Mondays on Lifetime.

Featured image by: Lane Dorsey

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Sit and Spin

Soccer Mommy’s Clean

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Artist: Soccer Mommy

Album: “Clean”

Label: Fat Possum Records

Reason We’re Cranking It: Less angry but no less visceral, Sophie Allison has the potential to be her generation’s Alanis Morissette – an artist who hikes up her emotionally-covered sleeves to bare the scars that life, even in her relatively short-lived 20 years, has left on her soul.

What The Album Tells Us About Her: Allison connects to humanity through her music, finding a kindred spirit in the concept of being. Sure, we’re all on different paths, but “Clean” speaks to the crossroads we all find ourselves standing at eventually, a communal space where universally-shared experiences crash head on.

Track Stuck On Repeat: There’s something about Allison’s ascending vocal delivery on “Last Girl” that is spellbinding. We’re six plays in already this morning and the new song scent has yet to wear off.

Coming To A City Near You: Soccer Mommy tour dates can be found here.

And that means…

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Trunk Stubs

Survivors Guide to Prison

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Movie: Survivors Guide to Prison

Rated: Not Rated

Genre: Documentary

Release Date: February 23, 2018

Running Time: 1h 42m

Featuring: Susan Sarandon, Patricia Arquette, Danny Trejo, Jesse Williams, Ice-T, Quincy Jones, Tom Morello, Danny Glover, and more

Directed By: Matthew Cooke

Written By: Matthew Cooke

Reason We’re Watching It: Featuring commentary and insight from a who’s who of high profile activists and social commentators from the worlds of film and music, including Sarandon who not only executive produced the film but narrates alongside of Trejo, the brutally honest documentary is a pull-no-punches look at the American justice system and the overcrowded prisons that exist from sea to shining sea.

What It’s About: By delving into the stories of two men who were wrongfully convicted of murders that they didn’t commit, the film serves as an informational tour guide into the inner workings of our criminal checks and balances. As Trejo offers up at the start of the film, the United States may be the land of the free, but there are more people imprisoned here than anywhere else in the world. In fact, there are so many laws on the books that, according to a terrifying tidbit by the Wall Street Journal, the average American commits three felonies a day without ever realizing it. If you end up being wrongfully (or rightfully) sentenced for a crime that you didn’t (or did) commit, “Survivors Guide to Prison” breaks down the 411 you’ll need to get through life on the inside.

Whoah! Rewind That!: Some of the not-so-fun facts that are shared throughout the course of the film are, at times, hard to come to terms with and often require a rewind just to make sure you heard them correctly. For example, did you know that 13 million Americans are arrested every year? That’s more than the combined populations of Los Angeles and New York City. Most people would agree that’s far too many Miranda Rights in need of being read, but what solution can be reached? Is there one? And if so, how do we clean up the mess we’ve already made?

Watercooler-Worthy Tidbit: Prior to beginning his acting career, Trejo spent a span of 11 years moving in and out of cells, including a stint in the infamous San Quentin State Prison in California. He knows firsthand how the system works, adding an extra layer of credibility to the core concept of the film and its unfiltered honesty.

And that’s why we’re giving it…

 

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Sit and Spin

Screaming Females’ All At Once

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Artist: Screaming Females

Album: “All At Once”

Label: Don Giovanni Records

Reason We’re Cranking It: Seven albums in and the DIY-punk trio is still getting better, finding a seamless track-to-track studio groove with the return of producer Matt Bayles who previously worked the control booth on 2015’s “Rose Mountain.” It’s a beautiful marriage, the kind of best-case-scenario coupling that would make others in creative relationships jealous.

What The Album Tells Us About Them: For a band called Screaming Females, there’s not a whole lot of screaming going on and that’s perfectly okay with us because lead singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster’s resonating vibrato is best delivered when under control. It’s a mesmerizing serenade that calls out to you like a siren, and it’s an instrument she knows how to use to perfection in any given musical circumstance.

Track Stuck On Repeat: Sure, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks, but those who rock will be unable to throw “Glass House,” at least out of regular spin rotation. If cassettes were still a thing (not in a collector’s way) and we were putting together a mix tape, this track would get the call.

Coming To A City Near You: Screaming Females tour dates can be found here.

And that means…

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Wingman Wednesday

Ray Santiago

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Dispelling belief is part and parcel for fans of “Ash vs Evil Dead,” the small screen continuation of everyone’s favorite time traveling, Deadite killing, chainsaw wielding anti-hero, Ash Williams. An appetizing stew of genres, the main ingredients being horror and comedy, the Starz series (kicking off Season 3 this Sunday!) often requires a bib to consume because while delicious, it can and does get very messy.

In order to buy into the weird and wild plot points and chuckle along with the awkwardly-timed one-liners, there needs to be an element that grounds the show in reality and serves as a surrogate sherpa, guiding the audience inside. That’s where Ash’s endearing sidekick Pablo comes in. Played brilliantly by Ray Santiago, the Bronx native brings an irresistible naiveté to the part, winning over the fandom with a huggable humor that no one saw coming when the show first premiered three years ago.

We recently sat down with Santiago to discuss the diversification of the franchise, why having fun means you’re doing something right, and how his expressive face can work for and against him.

TrunkSpace: How are you doing?
Santiago: Oh, you know, just living the “Evil Dead” dream.

TrunkSpace: There are a lot of people who have been fantasizing about living that dream for decades. You’re in the minority of people who have actually achieved it!
Santiago: I know. I’m very honored to actually be part of that and, you know, it’s interesting that you say minority because in a lot of ways I feel like what we’re doing on “Ash vs Evil Dead” is diversifying the franchise and it’s been really awesome to be able to do that.

TrunkSpace: And to be able to do it in a way where, at least from what we can tell, there are no restrictions… that’s got to be very exciting?
Santiago: It’s funny that you noticed that. Yeah. We really get to do a lot of what we want and I think it comes from having Bruce (Campbell) on board as an executive producer. He’s an amazing leader, and he definitely works really hard to keep the franchise on the right path. Also, too, having been through the jumping through of some hoops for Sam Raimi to be initiated into this franchise… I made a promise to him that I would fight for my character… the good of the character. It’s really interesting this season, we had a meeting before the season with the showrunner and I went in there with a bunch of ideas and 90 percent of the stuff that I wanted to do… short of shaving my head on camera… I got to pretty much do everything that I wanted to do with the character.

Also, being away in New Zealand and having such a small, close group of people working on the project, who originated the project, we really trust each other and know that we’re making the right choices. As Bruce taught me, if you’re not having fun then you’re doing it wrong.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that Bruce has always done so well is having fun on-camera at his own expense, which really brings the audience in on the joke.
Santiago: Yeah, and I think it’s definitely something that we sort of do with Pablo in the sense of, he’s consistently being thrown into a blender of torturous situations. How many times can this guy actually believe in the idiot Ash to save the world? How many times can we watch this guy be tortured by these, you know, not-so-strong Deadites? That’s kind of what makes it funny.

TrunkSpace: We recently went back and watched the first two seasons start to finish. Admittedly, one of our wives offered her take on things, which was, “This show is a little much for me.” Between the gore and the… well, gore, she was having a hard time with it, BUT, and here’s the kicker, she felt that Pablo was the inroad for her that helped ground it in reality.
Santiago: We really do feel like Pablo, in a lot of ways, is the heart of the unit and Kelly’s sort of the brains and Ash is the muscle. Yeah, I’m glad that she picked up on that because that was sort of what we were going for, because we knew that Ash is sort of limiting in who he can appeal to. Maybe not every woman loves him, but we wanted to bring other things to the franchise that would support and help this guy’s story. I think that Pablo definitely does that in being the heart of the unit and sort of the eyes of the audience, and a new audience.

TrunkSpace: From what we could tell, this is the longest you’ve ever spent with one character. What has that experience been like for you as a whole… the idea of being in someone else’s skin and seeing him grow over an extended period of time?
Santiago: I’ve been in every interrogation room in Los Angeles. I’ve played a gang-banger, a drug dealer, but ultimately you just get to see them for 30 minutes or 60 minutes. With Pablo, I got to really build on a character that I didn’t actually know I was getting into. When I auditioned for the part, I felt like he was written very stereotypically. He had an accent and I was just like, “I don’t know…” But then, the way that we created it is we got rid of the accent, we made him more relatable, and to me, I think the key is that Pablo was born into a situation, born into an ethnicity, a culture… people decided before they knew him, before they look at him and know him, what he is going to be, and for me as a person, as an artist, that was the parallel between me and Pablo, it’s that we both really want to leave our marks on the world. We want to change the world and we want the world to see us as a hero. Pablo had no idea that he could be a hero. He was sort of just admiring Ash, not because he wanted to be like him, but he’s like, “Wow, if this guy could be a hero, then maybe so can I.” I think along the way he sort of steps into his own manhood and he realizes that he himself might actually have a little bit more than he thought he was supposed to have.

I think this season we really dive into that and the evolution of Pablo goes full-throttle in getting to see him embrace the lineage of Brujos that he comes from and how this power that he has within himself could be used for the good or the bad of the team.

There, right there, everything that I just said, was just like, “Wow, sweet.” I get to do so many things on this show that I’ve never done. I get to have prosthetics, I get to do stunts, I get to do horror, I get to do comedy. For me, this was an amazing field day of an opportunity because it was like going to camp for every possible genre and television show that you could possibly ever be thrown into. So, now I feel ready to go in any direction. I feel like I’m pretty efficient with stunts and improvising. It’s been an amazing experience.

© 2018 Starz Entertainment, LLC

TrunkSpace: Again, going back and watching the two previous seasons in a single session binge, you can really see Pablo’s growth, but at the same time, he doesn’t lose that innocence that makes him so relatable. There was this great line from Season 2 in the episode where Ash is trying to eliminate the Necronomicon (you!) and you say something along the lines of, “We used to watch ‘Monday Night RAW’ together.” It’s stuff like that, lines that retain his innocence, that makes Pablo a character that the audience roots for.
Santiago: Yeah, yeah, he’s always going to have that softer, naïve side – always going to be the guy who looks past people’s flaws and believes in the hero that they have within themselves. That’s just who he is. I remember who was up against me for the role and who they had talked about for the role, it was definitely a different direction. There was definitely a harder edge to the other people that they had considered. I think that going with my… what people have called cow eyes… it makes you sort of feel like there’s a vulnerability to Pablo that will never go away, purely based off the way that I look, and also just the way that he operates on the show. I think it’s a really nice layer to have when you have Ash and then you have Kelly, who both are ready to go – they’re such bad asses – so it balances it all out.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, one of the things that we love so much about what you bring to Pablo is his expressiveness. Is that something you brought specifically to the role, or do you feel that it is part of who you are as an actor?
Santiago: Well, it’s funny that you bring that up because that can be something that works for me or works against me. You know, the cartoonish vibe of the show sort of allows for that. I started to realize how far I could take it when they were like, “Yeah, you can have your hair be taller.” I was like, “Okay, cool. We’re going full cartoon mode here.” Just in the looks and the aesthetics and… I probably have more lines in Sumerian than I actually have in English. For me, what I decided to play with was like, “Oh, I’m going to make my facial expressions my one-liners,” because so often, it’s like we’re putting him in this situation and Ash is going to have the one-liner and then they’re going to cut to me for the reaction.

Photo by Geoffrey Short/© 2016 Starz Entertainment, LLC

I do have a lot of influence from Sam Raimi loving “The Three Stooges.” On this show, I can get away with that. But, it’s really interesting because when I audition for other stuff or when I work on other material, people are like, “What are you doing over there? Why are your eyes over there? Why do your eyes look like you’re just like a bobblehead?” I’m like, “Fuck!”

Pablo, feeling like he’s in this crazy scenario that he needs to react to… yeah, it’s one of those things that it became a Pablo-ism that is kind of me. I mean, I have three mustaches, basically, on my face, and a really big hairdo, so it’s kind of hard not to look crazy or cartoonish.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been working since the early 2000s in film and television, but when “Ash vs Evil Dead” hit, did it feel a bit like people were labeling you as a newbie or an overnight success?
Santiago: Actually, I’ve been lucky enough to work on jobs throughout my career that really can be sort of like game changers. What was interesting was that people always remember “Meet the Fockers” and they’re always like, “Jorge, Jorge, Jorge!” But, with Ash, once the show hit, when I started walking down the street, people actually started to call me by my name. They were like, “Oh, hey. Are you Ray Santiago?” And I was like, “Oh, shit! This is awesome. They really like knowing who I am as an actor.”

There’s people who have never seen “Meet the Fockers” or “Girlfight” and then they got to know me on this show. For me, it’s always just been this upward climb and this upward journey and I’ve liked the pace of it because if you hit big too quick, where do you have to go? I think having spent like a decade in Los Angeles, working and going into rooms trying to prove myself, I’ve grown up a lot and I’ve become a better actor. It’s really allowed me the confidence that I needed to have going into this franchise, moving so quickly, in a different country, and just being sort of trusted with things.

All of the things that I’ve done that have led me here have led me to do this with the utmost confidence and that was something that I felt like I really needed to have coming into the franchise. People ask me, “Were you nervous? Were you scared?” And I don’t want to sound too pompous or arrogant, but I was like, “No, I was actually very confident and ready to go because I had been prepping for something like this my entire life.”

Season 3 of “Ash vs Evil Dead” kicks off Sunday on Starz. Groovy!

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