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The Boys

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Title: The Boys

Rated: TV-MA

Genre: Action, Superhero, Dark Comedy, Drama

Release Date: July 26, 2019

Run Time: Approximately 60 minutes per episode. (8 Episodes/Season 1)

Starring: Karl Urban, Erin Moriarty, Dominique McElligott, Jack Quaid, Anthony Starr, Elisabeth Shue, Jennifer Esposito, Jessie T. Usher, Laz Alonso, Chace Crawford, Tomer Capon, Nathan Mitchell, Karen Fukuhara

Reason We’re Watching It: Not only are there superheroes in the show, “The Boys” has a team of creative superheroes behind the scenes comprised of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Eric Kripke. After seeing how Rogen and Goldberg handled bringing “Preacher” to the small screen, “The Boys” had us at, “Hello.”

What It’s All About: A team of vigilantes band together to try and take down a corrupt group of superheroes. This isn’t your kiddos Marvel movie so unless your children are over 30, we would recommend they sit this one out. You will soon find yourself rooting against the so-called heroes of the show and questioning what would life really be like if superheroes flew among us.

Whoah! Rewind That!: You’ll find yourself rewinding several moments in each episode and rubbing your eyeballs in a cartoon-like manner, asking yourself, “Did I just see that?!” But to avoid some spoilers we’ll go with the scene you can view in the final trailer for “The Boys.” Hughie Campbell (Quaid) is sharing a tender moment with his girlfriend near the street when A-Train (Usher) literally runs right through her, splattering Hughie with viscera and leaving him still holding his girlfriend’s hands, the only thing left of her.

Watercooler-Worthy Tidbit: “The Boys” is based on a real comic book series of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. Ennis also wrote and created “Preacher,” the last TV series that Rogen and Goldberg worked on for AMC.

And that’s why we’re giving it…

 

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Wingman Wednesday

Juliet Landau

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Photographer: Deverill Weekes/Makeup & Hair: Shanna Cistulli/Stylist: Rebecca Penton

Growing up, film and television became an outlet for Juliet Landau. By immersing herself in the lives of those characters that she followed on screen, the former “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” star felt less alone in the world. It’s why she became an actress, and now, a filmmaker.

Her directorial debut, “A Place Among the Dead,” has been receiving rave reviews at private screenings around the world, but before it reaches the masses, she will be joining the cast of “Bosch” in Season 5, which is available now on Amazon Prime.

We recently sat down with Landau to discuss joining the well-oiled “Bosch” machine, how a single line can become the core mantra of a character, and why her directorial debut “A Place Among the Dead” has proven to be so personal to both herself and audiences.

TrunkSpace: We previously sat down with a number of your “Bosch” costars including Lance Reddick and Amy Aquino. Are there nerves involved when joining a series that already has an established on-set tone? Does it take some time to discover where your place is among that existing groove?
Landau: It’s wonderful to come onto a set that runs like a well-oiled machine. It’s a family of extremely talented people, who engender being creative and collaborative. This is how it is on the “Bosch” set. Everyone in the cast and crew loves what they do and is excited by the show they are making. I loved the working experience and I made genuine, lifelong friends. Also, I was so fascinated and invested in Rita Tedesco, the character I play, that I didn’t think about anything else, including being nervous. I was deeply engaged in the idea of bringing her story to life.

TrunkSpace: Is there something kind of exciting about joining an established series that has a loyal fan base behind it, knowing that there will be eyeballs on it when it airs?
Landau: Yes! Sometimes, you play a character in an Indie you believe in, but it’s a roll of the dice. You don’t know how many people will see it. It is similar to when you play a part in a black box theater because touching even a small audience is profound. It’s nice when there’s a passionate fan base. I’ve experienced this from the Buffyverse and from Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood” and even from a black box theater experience, which stimulated massive repeat viewership! Now I’ve been engaging with fans of the “Bosch” series and books, which has been fabulous! It’s easy to get bewitched by “Bosch.” Harry is a character we all wish really existed. He has an unwavering moral compass. As it turns out, my eyeballs will be seeing Season 5 at the same time as everyone else’s! What I do know from the scripts and the shoot, is that Season 5, like 1 through 4, rocks!

TrunkSpace: In the series you’re playing a court reporter who will have a secret teased out over the course of the season. Without giving too much away, what were you most excited about in terms of tackling Rita?
Landau: Rita had a hold on me from the first line I read on the page. I immediately became intrigued by the dichotomy of her life, by the risks she’s willing to take and the price she is paying. I delved into a ton of research about the secret part of her life, which I can’t divulge yet, but I can say it is one of the most interesting paths I’ve explored as an actress. Sometimes, a certain line becomes almost the core mantra of the character. With Rita, there were a few because she has the persona she shares with the world and a very different private persona. I learned a lot, even from the practical, court reporter aspect.

TrunkSpace: “Bosch” found a home with Amazon and built up a loyal fan base through the streaming platform. Netflix. Hulu. CBS All Access. The list goes on and on. As an actress, how has the popularity of streaming platforms changed the industry for you? Are there more opportunities now because there is more of a need for content?
Landau: The landscape has certainly changed and continues to do so at lightening speed. There are more opportunities. It is especially nice for actors and creators, when streaming services use their platforms for character-driven material.

Landau with Johnny Depp in “Ed Wood.”

TrunkSpace: Aside from your on-screen work, you’re also a writer, director and producer. Does this “content is king” world that we currently live in impact the Juliet who wears those hats?
Landau: It does and in a positive way. I love having an idea and taking it from inception to completion. Generating content is a two-way street. It’s about opening a dialogue with your audience. I became an actress and now a filmmaker, as a way to connect and communicate. Growing up, movies and TV made me feel less alone. They helped me process things I was grappling with and gave an outlet for my feelings. Like the adage, “If you build it, they will come,” if you craft a powerful story, whether it be drama or comedy, content is king and there will be viewership for it.

TrunkSpace: Your film “A Place Among the Dead” is extremely personal for you. Does that closeness to the material make it harder to relinquish control and release it into the world, or is it easier to see it off because you’re eager to share it?
Landau: I’m eager to share it. My husband, Deverill and I, have put a lot of passion and work into the process. It’s been an incredible journey. “A Place Among the Dead” is about the repercussions of growing up under the sway of narcissism and evil. It questions, if you come from evil, will you continue to go towards the dark side in life, or can you make a change and go towards the light?

I chose to make my directorial feature debut penetratingly personal, to invite the viewer to do the same. As they say, the more personal, the more universal. As I touched on earlier, all great work provokes conversation and can even provide healing. This is the stuff I am after with this movie.

It’s scripted as a meld of fact, fiction and the fantastical. I play an alter-ego version of myself, as do the following actors who have what I like to call, “cameos on steroids”: Gary Oldman, Ron Perlman, Robert Patrick, Lance Henriksen, Joss Whedon (my old boss from Buffy) and Anne Rice, appearing for the first time ever in a film.

TrunkSpace: What was the most enjoyable aspects of your “A Place Among the Dead” journey thus far? What made all of the blood, sweat and tears worth it?
Landau: We recently held in-house screenings and this has been the most exciting part! The response has been so powerful and beautiful. It’s everything we’d hoped our special movie would illicit. We did one for a theater full of young people from the Midwest. They were inspired and galvanized by the film. The Q & A was electric. They kept asking if their teacher had told us the inner thoughts they’d confided in him and if that’s why he brought them to see the picture. He didn’t even know what the movie was about and of course, hadn’t shared their private affairs!

We held three other sneak-peek screenings in LA, London, and NY, which included industry notables such as Rian Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”), David Greenwalt (“Grimm”), Jim Kouf (“National Treasure”), Jodie Foster (“Money Monster”), David Grossman (“12 Monkeys” TV series), April Webster (“Star Trek Beyond”), Eryn Krueger Mekash (“Ratched,” “American Crime Story”) and many more!

The entire audience, many who came out crying, stayed to talk about the film unprovoked for an hour and a half afterwards. Every time discussing the nature of evil, their experiences with it, their own childhoods, their parenting, their unhealthy relationships, the voices in their heads which drive them, and the times they’ve ignored red flags. I truly have never experienced anything like the cascade of intensely personal stories shared at a movie before.

TrunkSpace: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was a phenomenon and would be extremely difficult to replicate in any time period, but certainly today because audiences are more segmented than ever. When you first stepped foot onto that set, could you have ever envisioned you’d still be approached by fans eager to discuss the series 20 years later?
Landau: I did know that we were making something special. I knew Joss Whedon’s voice was exceptional and that Drusilla was a unique and complex role. The day I was cast, Sarah (Michelle Gellar) was on the cover of TV Guide for Buffy for the first time, so I felt that there was a bit of a ground swell starting to stir, but I had no idea about the impact and longevity. Also, when you are shooting, you kind of are in this little bubble of creativity. You are having your experience and what happens after it airs, is everyone else’s.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Landau: I am very excited about everything happening now, both as an actress and as a director. Deverill and I are in the midst of working on another project called “The Undead Series.” Envision Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.” This is “Vampires In Coffins Getting Blood!” All of the people who worked with us on “A Place Among the Dead” came back to work with us again. We have 26 additional interviews including Willem Dafoe, Tim Burton, Nathan Fillion, and oh, I have to mention some of the comic book talents we have since you may want to know! They include Steve Niles (“30 Days of Night”), Marv Wolfman (“Tomb of Dracula,” “Blade”), Georges Jeanty (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Superman”) Also for “A Place Along the Dead” we use Mark McHaley’s artwork (“X-Files”) and our composer Monica Richards is married to Steve Niles. He actually plays some guitar in the score!

We’re in prelim talks with a few of the biggie distributors on these two projects. The interest and momentum is exciting, but what’s most important is meeting everyone to decide the right home for our babies!

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Landau: It ‘s funny cause we ask a similar question in a way to each of our interviewees in “The Undead Series.” We ask if they would choose eternal life if they could. The answers are compelling. Hmm… A time machine… N
o, I just want to be in the present, experiencing the journey as it unfolds. There’s enough to relish that way!

Season 5 of “Bosch” is available now on Amazon Prime!

For more information on the future release of “A Place Among the Dead” and “The Undead Series,” follow Landau at Twitter and/or Instagram.

Featured Image By
Photographer: Deverill Weekes/Makeup & Hair: Shanna Cistulli/Stylist: Rebecca Penton

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Wingman Wednesday

John Hoogenakker

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Photo By: Bjoern Kommerell

As Matice on the Amazon Prime Video series “Jack Ryan,” John Hoogenakker is the kind affable bad ass that you want to battle alongside of and then have a beer with, and that’s not because he’s the costumed king responsible for making “Dilly Dilly” a part of the pop culture lexicon. A versatile performer with a seemingly limitless character reach, the actor is an on-screen chameleon poised to pop the top on his already fizzing career.

We recently sat down with Hoogenakker to discuss the chance to dig deep in television, reveling in the way Matice fills his space, and why some people who wear his likeness on a T-shirt don’t necessarily recognize him in real life.

TrunkSpace: You always bring memorable characters to the screen, John. Do you approach finding each character – uncovering who they are – in the same manner each time or does each character require a different path?
Hoogenakker: That’s very kind, thank you! Getting to play roles that are different from one another has been one of the great blessings of my career. With each role, you get to explore a different facet of your own humanity, which hopefully makes you a more fully rounded human being. I do try to look at them as completely different people, though, and I do my best not to ‘fix’ the character, which is to say I don’t want to necessarily wrap them up in a neat little bundle to make them more palatable to the audience.

TrunkSpace: Your new project “Jack Ryan” feels more like a film than a television series. As someone who has worked in the industry for over 10 years, is it exciting to have seen television storytelling mature and become so much more character-driven?
Hoogenakker: Oh man, without a doubt! The opportunity to see an arc expand and grow and mature over many episodes and seasons is the ultimate gift for an actor. So much of that, though, is up to the writers and creators. As actors I think we’re always waiting for another opportunity to go as deep as we can.

TrunkSpace: “Jack Ryan” has a real buzz surrounding it since it was first announced. As an actor, is it difficult to not get swept up in that excitement and place your own individual expectations on a project prior to its release? How do you manage that “will it” or “won’t it” when it comes to a series or film finding an audience?
Hoogenakker: That’s a great question. There have been some wonderful projects that I’ve gotten to be a part of in the past, and I’ve learned over time that I do my best work when my primary focus is on connecting with the other people that I’m working with. Essentially, I try to do the best I can to be connected and to behave like a real human, and leave it all on the field. It is certainly gratifying, though, when people respond favorably to something that you’ve put so much time and effort into.

TrunkSpace: In the series you play Matice. What was it about this guy, a block ops CIA bad ass, that intrigued you when you first read him on the page, and how did he develop into what we ultimately see today in Season 1?
Hoogenakker: I really enjoyed the way the guy filled his space, and his comfort level with his work. One of the first scenes I read of his was when he was giving Jack a primer on how to load his weapon and chamber a round, and it just felt so casual. Which is of course how it would be for a person who lives and breathes the realities of armed conflict on a daily basis. When John (Krasinkski) and Wendell (Pierce) and I met each other, we kind of hit it off right from the start and had a lot of fun working together, which I think translated into them allowing me more wiggle room to find as much humor as I could.

TrunkSpace: It seems like everything about the character needed to be researched, from the way he moves into a room or the way he holds his weapon. What is that detailed research like and does it help you better understand who he is, not just how he exists within a particular circumstance?
Hoogenakker: The research began the very first day I arrived on set in Montréal and met our technical advisor, Kevin Kent. We started by working on drills with the M4 and practicing how to clear a room and move with the weapon. Beyond that, I feel that some of the most important research I got to do was more passive, and came with the time I spent hanging out with Kevin and the rest of the advisors on the project, all of whom had been career Navy SEALs. Just the way that people who have been in dangerous situations, and had one another’s backs for years, interact in regular social settings. The way that they joke with one another was probably my favorite aspect of my time with them.

TrunkSpace: As stated, Matice is pretty bad ass. What have family and friends thought of your portrayal? Would they say that playing a bad ass is in line with who you are in real life or a far cry from the John they know?
Hoogenakker: It’s funny, though I am definitely not a Special Ops bad ass in real life (and only play one on TV), I’ve had lots of friends and family reach out and talk about how close they feel Matice is to me, which has been a first among the roles that I’ve played.

Amazon Studios

TrunkSpace: You also have some great lines/quips within the series. As an actor, can you get a sense of a line when you read it in a new script from the perspective of it being dialogue that will stand out with the audience? Is it a gift getting those memorable snippets?
Hoogenakker: I think there are absolutely times when you read the script and things stand out to you as funny, for whatever reason. We all have to be kept in check when it comes to keeping the joke simple, though. You don’t want to put a hat on a hat, as they say. As an actor working in the medium of film and television you really have to take the temperature in the room when you’re filming a scene; for instance, if it makes the crew laugh you’re probably onto something. I think John is hilarious, too, and when I can see that I’m cracking him up, that’s also a good barometer.

Photo By: Bjoern Kommerell

TrunkSpace: Speaking of memorable lines… “Dilly Dilly” kind of became a cultural phenomenon. Was there any part of you who saw that coming? Could you have prepared for the type of response that advertising campaign received?
Hoogenakker: No, if you had told me that once “Jack Ryan,” starring John Krasinski and Wendell Pierce, premiered I would also be answering questions about my work in an iconic Bud Light campaign I probably wouldn’t have believed you. The director (Jim Jenkins) and I have worked together a bunch in the past, and I have a lot of faith in his ability to make things funny, but beyond that, we were all blown away by the response to the first spot. I’m starting to see my face on T-shirts, which there is really no way to prepare for.

TrunkSpace: The beauty of that part is that you’re in wardrobe that kind of disguises who you are in real life. Has it been a situation of having your cake and eating it too – you get to be a part of this massive campaign, and yet still walk down the street and have a level of anonymity?
Hoogenakker: It’s so funny you should ask that question. A couple days ago I was walking down the street in Chicago and a guy passed me wearing a Dilly Dilly T-shirt. I thought, you know what, I’m gonna speak to this guy, and see what happens! So as he walks by, I say to him, “I really like your shirt, man!” And he looks right back at me and says, “Thanks!” And just kept walking… at home and in the business it’s different. Family, friends and co-workers love bringing it up, whenever. In fact, when I was introduced at the “Jack Ryan” premiere, Carlton Cuse, an icon, and one of the creators of the show, leaned into the microphone and said “Dilly dilly!”

TrunkSpace: “Jack Ryan” is hitting right now, with a Season 2 already on the way. What else do you want to accomplish in the year ahead? What are some of your goals that you hope you can check off and achieve?
Hoogenakker: I’d love for the notoriety and the visibility of the project to draw attention to the different roles I’ve gotten to play, which people might not even realize were played by the same actor, and to keep challenging myself by playing new and different roles in the future.

Season 1 of “Jack Ryan” is available now on Amazon Prime Video.

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Wingman Wednesday

Trunktober: It Comes At Night

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This October we’re focused on one thing and one thing only… watching as much horror-related programming as possible to prime the pop culture pump in celebration of Halloween. Our consuming will be taking place nightly, and while there’s no rhyme or reason to how we’re going about choosing our scary screenings, we’ll do our best to tell you how we did it so that you can watch them as well.

Title: It Comes At Night

Directed By: Trey Edward Shults

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough, Kelvin Harrison Jr.

We Watched On: Amazon Prime

Trunktober Approved Because: “It” never actually came at night, at least not the it we were expecting. Named more like a monster movie than the slow burn, tension-filled Ambrose Bierce-like horror we discovered the film to be, as it turns out, much like in life, the real monsters are those lurking inside all of us. Dun dun DUNNNNN!

Biggest Scare: What “It Comes At Night” does so well is build a growing sense of dread, which tickles at the back of your neck for the duration of the film and makes you increasingly uneasy. Imagine if the ever-present awkwardness of Michael Scott from “The Office” made you terrified instead of uncomfortable. That’s the vibe you experience when delving into the world that Shults creates.

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Wingman Wednesday

Kyan Zielinski

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PHOTOGRAPHER: Patrick Chai/STYLIST: Shannon Komsky/GROOMER: Patrick Chai

Based on the best-selling book, Amazon’s new all-ages series “The Dangerous Book for Boys” is a whimsical journey that places the viewer in the path of a young boy’s wide-eyed outlook on life, as guided by the teachings of his recently-deceased father. Both heartfelt and heart-wrenching, the six-episode Season 1 is perfect for a “family movie night,” and while it’s entertaining for kids and adults alike, it also introduces audiences to the next generation of young actors, including the extremely talented Kyan Zielinski, who plays eldest brother Liam McKenna.

We recently sat down with Zielinski to discuss the fun of getting to perform in such fantastical settings, the biggest lesson he took from the production, and why he’d volunteer to put on the Iron Man suit in the next generation of Marvel movies.

TrunkSpace: “The Dangerous Book For Boys” is a comedy, but it also deals with some heavy subject matter. How much was the tone of the series discussed with you before you stepped foot on set and how much of that went into finding who Liam was as a character?
Zielinski: We talked about it at the first table read and on the first day on set before we went upstairs to the house, but they also wanted us to create that personal side to it, as the character, and explore how our individual characters would act in this kind of situation. It was really cool to be able to develop my character from the beginning and that they gave us some room to be creative.

TrunkSpace: There’s also a whimsical fantasy element to the series, and yet as characters, the McKenna boys are very much grounded in reality. Did getting to bring that real-world honesty to these fantastical settings and scenes enhance the experience for you?
Zielinski: Yes, absolutely! Going from a Texan saloon to the next scene where we’re going to school was super cool! This show was like nothing I have done before. I mean, traveling to the moon, being around a llama, and all of the other crazy fun things we explored was amazing!

TrunkSpace: Incredibly talented people are involved in this project both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Did you view your time shooting the series just as much an education as you did a job, and if so, what is something that you learned, either in performance or process, that you’ll carry with you through the rest of your career?
Zielinski: I did! I learned a lot on the production of Dangerous Book. In Episode 103, in the scene where Liam initially gets hexed by Tarot cards, he walks backward into a lamp. Chris Diamantopoulos gave me a tip. He taught me that when doing something like that, you can reverse the action and walk back to your initial mark, while counting how many steps you take so that when performing the act, you can know exactly how to time it. This was especially helpful in my case because I was saying a line while walking backwards. That’s just one example. Every day on set was a learning experience as everyone on the project was phenomenal – actors and crew.

TrunkSpace: What are you most excited for people to see when they sit down with the first six episodes now that it can be streamed on Amazon?
Zielinski: I am very excited for people to see, not only the show in general, but the chemistry and connection we all had. I am very excited for people to see the characters that we created and the way we all act together on screen. The story is very touching and relatable in the way that we all face struggles in our families and lives.

TrunkSpace: Is it exciting to be involved in a project like this and be able to sit back and watch as viewers can sort of consume and digest it all in one sitting? Does the binging experience for an audience change the acting experience for you?
Zielinski: It is very exciting to be in a project like this because it doesn’t feel much like a television show while shooting. Quite honestly, it felt more like we were filming a long movie. When you’re a viewer sitting back and watching the show’s episodes back-to-back, you don’t have to wait a week before you can watch the next episode and there’s not a concern of you possibly forgetting what happened in the previous episode. Also, for me as an actor in the show, the response is immediate, and that is pretty cool that I can just see what people think after Day 1. It’s very rewarding.

TrunkSpace: You have a number of other projects in the works, including the horror film “They Reach,” which sounds pretty awesome. Are you enjoying getting to play in different genres and experience different approaches to your craft?
Zielinski: Yeah, each genre is very different. Like in horror, the formula is completely unlike comedy and drama in so many ways. I really enjoy stretching as an actor and adapting into very different scenarios. I hope to have a very versatile acting career.

TrunkSpace: What is your process to finding a new character you’re presented with and learning who he is and how to portray him?
Zielinski: I read through the material I’m given for the character and story and try to make a connection in my own way from my own life. Whatever it is, an entire film script after I have booked the job, an entire episode of a show, or just the audition sides, I read through it and think about what the writers have already established with my character and what the given arc is in the story. After that, I fill in the gaps and brainstorm on a possible backstory for my character if one is not given.

TrunkSpace: As you look forward in your career, are you setting goals for yourself or are you more interested in putting in the work and letting fate play a hand in where it takes you?
Zielinski: I set plenty of goals. I work best when I have deadlines and structure. However, while I have a good idea of what I want to accomplish and where I want to go, I also let fate play its hand and can’t wait to see what opportunities lie ahead.

TrunkSpace: Super hero movies continue to wow audiences. If you could step into the shoes of any comic book character, who would it be and why?
Zielinski: I would become Iron Man, Tony Stark. I think that out of all comic book characters I am most like Iron Man because we both are very mathematical. I also think that his flying metal suit is pretty awesome, so there’s that.

TrunkSpace: Finally, Kyan, you’re still so young with so much career ahead of you… what is it that interests you most about acting at this stage in your life and do you see yourself maintaining this path or do you have other career interests that you hope to pursue as you get older?
Zielinski: I love being able to create and transform into other people. I do see myself following this path for a long time, but eventually switching over to writing and directing, but still in the film/television industry. I love all sides of filmmaking including but not limited to camera operation, editing, and directing cinematography. On YouTube, I get a chance to be creative and play every position of filmmaking on my channel, Kyan Zielinski Vlogs, so I really enjoy doing YouTube videos as well.

The Dangerous Book For Boys” is available now on Amazon.

Featured photo credits
PHOTOGRAPHER: Patrick Chai
STYLIST: Shannon Komsky
GROOMER: Patrick Chai

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Wingman Wednesday

Amy Aquino

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Photo By: JSquared Photography

Amy Aquino has been lending her talents to memorable projects for decades, and in turn, leaving a lasting impression on our pop culture processors. From “Working Girl” in the ‘80s to “Picket Fences” in the ‘90s and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in the new century, the New Jersey native continues to take on projects that not only entertain audiences but spark shifts in both the method and delivery of content within the industry itself.

For the last four years Aquino has portrayed Grace Billets on the series “Bosch,” which is set to kick off Season 4 April 13 on Amazon Prime. Based on the novels by Michael Connelly and starring Titus Welliver, the episodic crime drama was already greenlit for a fifth season before the fourth ever reached an audience, a rarity in the business of television.

We recently sat down with Aquino to discuss gorilla filmmaking for Larry David, dealing with the fictional bureaucracy of being a captain, and why she feels so lucky to be doing what she loves.

TrunkSpace: We were recently re-binging our way through “Curb Your Enthusiasm” for at least the third time. Is there something extra special about being involved in a series that people don’t only watch, but will watch again and again?
Aquino: That one was so much fun because it is actually improvised. What they do is – you’re probably aware of it – they write a prose description of what happens in the scene, but without any lines, and you don’t actually say any lines. They even do the camera blocking with you just kind of saying, “Well, alright, I’ll walk over to the table here and greet Larry, and then I will go and find my table over there and ask the waitress for something.” You never actually say lines until the camera’s rolling. They get absolutely everything fresh and it was so much fun to do.

TrunkSpace: Sounds a bit theatrical in a way.
Aquino: It’s a little like theater, it’s a little like improv. A lot much more fun than theater because you get to write your own lines. And it’s a little like the real life theater in a way because they shoot on location and they don’t have all the big fancy set-ups. It’s like, “Where should I change?” “Well, I think there’s a bathroom over there.” “Okay. I’ll go in the bathroom and I’ll change.”

TrunkSpace: Gorilla filmmaking. (Laughter)
Aquino: Yeah, with Larry David and HBO. So, the biggest budget of anybody, of any professional company on earth. (Laughter) But it was really fun.

TrunkSpace: “Bosch” returns on April 13. What has the experience been like for you getting to return to the character for four seasons now?
Aquino: It’s pretty lovely being able to kind of live with her and find out more about her over a long period of time. It really is. I haven’t had that experience. I’ve recurred on a lot of shows, and I was able to do it on some levels with “ER” over the course of 15 seasons, but not as intensely as this. It’s lovely to have regular work, God knows, as an actor… and as an actress of a certain age. That’s just great. And certainly, the relationships get enriched, and watching Maddie (Madison Lintz) grow up, literally, from a little girl to a young woman, has been extraordinary. I feel very grateful.

TrunkSpace: Where have you seen Grace grow the most from when you first discovered her to where she is now in Season 4?
Aquino: Well, the big growth has been professionally, but in the sense of understanding where she’s headed and what she really likes to do, and what her limitations are. Obviously, the affair that she had was a terrifically bad idea, which she didn’t really understand at the time. But the fact that that prevents her from being a captain made her sit back and appreciate what it is she is doing, and that there’s value in what she does, and that she wouldn’t necessarily flourish, or want to be dealing with the bureaucracy of being a captain. There’s something very satisfying about being far more directly involved with the solving of crimes. So, she’s kind of coming to terms with that, although this season is interesting because she gets a real taste of what life might have been like.

TrunkSpace: That must help to keep things fresh for you as well because she’s physically being put in different circumstances, which would force anyone to change their p.o.v. over time?
Aquino: Oh, completely. Absolutely. And the other piece where she’s having to really kind of stretch and dig deep is having to do with her relationship with Bosch, because as he has been more and more internalizing his pain, and there has been more and more pain to internalize, she’s finding it more and more challenging to reach him. You know, I look back at some of the first season and second season, when we’d have a difference of opinion about how he should behave, we would have a flat out conversation about it, and now he’s, as you’ll see in this season, contending with solving his mother’s murder, and he’s contending with other major personal tragedy, and he hasn’t had a lot of therapy. Where he goes, and where he’s learnt to go, is to just shut down, and it’s made him much more of a challenge to deal with, and to balance the friendship and the professional relationship. That’s been kind of an interesting, and frustrating, ride to be on recently with him.

TrunkSpace: Season to season, “Bosch” episodes are rolled out all at once. Does that that change the experience for you?
Aquino: I guess so. It doesn’t make an enormous difference to me, except for, on some levels, to talk about it once it’s released. Once it’s released, we don’t have to worry about spoilers. You’re on your own. Although, I don’t know that everybody sits down and watches it right away, binges all the episodes, but I suspect that the vast majority do. It’s only 10 episodes and people, our fans, are so crazy about the show and they have been waiting for nine months or for a year, most of them, for it to happen, that I don’t think they’re gonna waste a whole lot of time. But, as I said, I don’t know that it changes my experience of it that much. I still wait for each script to see where it’s gonna go. I have a general sense of what her story’s gonna be, but even I can get surprised by some of the things that happen, just as you would with a show that goes for a longer period of time.

TrunkSpace: It must be nice to know you have a fifth season already greenlit before the fourth even comes out.
Aquino: How lucky am I? Yeah. And we’ve known, actually, for a while and we just couldn’t talk about it. Look, Amazon really respects Michael. They have a great relationship, and while they won’t talk about the show, or they don’t talk about numbers, we can certainly assume that based on that, that it’s tremendously popular and therefore it’s a valuable commodity to Amazon. And that’s nice to know.

TrunkSpace: Well, and that’s just it, it must be refreshing to not have it be about the numbers, but instead, about the quality of the show itself.
Aquino: Yeah. I mean, look, we all know that Amazon has got algorithms for everything. There’s no question that they have figured out that there’s tremendous value to their company to have this show up there for whatever reason. I mean, maybe people who watch “Bosch” buy a lot of stuff, so it’s just a completely different outlet on some levels and they keep it to themselves and that’s fine. But also, because of Michael and his worldwide popularity, I think it is tremendously valuable for them to be associated with him, and to have Amazon, as a media outlet, associated with him. That has to mean a lot. The way I gauge how popular the show is by how much I get recognized, and it is startling to me. Because there are no numbers I don’t really know, but I know that wherever I go, and in the oddest places, people will stop me and say, “Oh my god, I love ‘Bosch’.” “Oh my gosh, oh my God, that’s you! Wow, it’s Grace Billets. Wow, I love the show.” It’s extraordinary.

Aquino in “Bosch”

TrunkSpace: Most other streaming platforms seem to be in the content business, and by that we mean, they’re churning out new shows on a regular basis, but Amazon seems focused on the ones that are working for them.
Aquino: Yeah. They are going for quality and not quantity, that’s for sure. There’s no filler. They don’t need to be doing content because they have so many other avenues by which they make their money, so they only do content that they really believe in, and that’s kinda special. You don’t have 24 hours of the day to fill up.

TrunkSpace: Do you still enjoy the process of acting as much as you did the first time you stepped on a set? Is it still as exciting for you as it was then?
Aquino: I think I would be lying to say that it was. I still feel incredibly grateful to be able to do this thing, and I love being challenged, and I love trying the process of figuring out what is actually going on here, you know, looking at these words on a page and digging behind them because I’ve got a very analytical mind and that’s where I love to go. At this age, after 30 years in the business, it’s not gonna be the same. I remember when I shot “Working Girl,” and I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I don’t think it is that. That is precisely the same. Because, I guess knowing how the sausage is made too, and especially in film and television, it’s certainly different from theater. I probably still get the same thrills in theater, getting on the stage when I’m doing plays, which I continue to do, because that is just that immediate moment.

TrunkSpace: And it must change night to night depending on the audience as well?
Aquino: Absolutely, every night is completely different because you do have a relationship with the audience, and you have a relationship with the people on stage with you, but the audience is your costar in a big way and not everybody understands that, how wildly different your evening is depending upon who’s out there taking the ride with you. It’s more comfortable, certainly more contained, in a film and television set, but I still love it and wonder how fortunate am I to be able to do something that does challenge me like this, and to be compensated for it. I’ll never forget how lucky I am.

Season 4 of “Bosch” premieres April 14 on Amazon Prime.

Featured image by: JSquared Photography

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Wingman Wednesday

DaJuan Johnson

DaJuanJohnson_Wingman_wednesday
Photo Credit: JSquared Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why are you putting doubts in my mind?

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

Photo Credit: JSquared Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Bosch” is available now on Amazon Prime.

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