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The Featured Presentation

Jun Yu

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Photo By: Brett Erickson

In a summer that has pretty much been film-free, the first true blockbuster is busting more than our block. Movies have always been an escape, but with the release of Mulan on Disney+ this past Friday, it is a reminder of what was and of what what will be again… normalcy.

For star Jun Yu, who plays Cricket in the film, Mulan is an experience that goes well beyond the official run time.

I learned so much and gained so many beautiful memories with everyone,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Yu to discuss who he is most excited to have see the film, his love for music, and why he has taken up ceramics.

TrunkSpace: As far as debuts go, you’re coming out firing on all cylinders! What does it feel like to be kicking your film career off with such a big, anticipated project?
Yu: I’m truly honored to be a part of such an important and special film. I am really excited to share all the work we’ve done with the world, but mostly I cannot wait for my mother to see what her love and support has created.

TrunkSpace: As mentioned, Mulan is your first project, but in addition to that, it was also your first audition. With so many firsts on one job, what is the biggest lesson/takeaway from your experience shooting the film that you’ll keep with you throughout your career moving forward?
Yu: I’d probably say that you can never be afraid to fail and to enjoy the journey.

TrunkSpace: In the film you place Cricket. Without giving away any spoilers, what do you think audiences are going to love most of all about the character when they sit down to watch the film?
Yu: I hope they enjoy the innocence Cricket helps bring to the world of Mulan. Cricket is shy and naive, but with a little luck, he finds a family.

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on Mulan that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life?
Yu: Mulan will forever be the starting pistol that kicked off my career. I learned so much and gained so many beautiful memories with everyone. I will always carry the love everyone on the project shared with me.

TrunkSpace: You’re also a musician and rapper. What does music offer you creatively that acting alone can’t achieve?
Yu: I wouldn’t go as far to say that I’m a musician and rapper, but music is something I love to do. Music gives me just as much as acting does but just a little differently. Music gives me confidence in my voice as an artist. I need both in my life and sometimes lessons from one helps me reach higher levels in the other.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an actor/artist and how do you overcome those insecurities when they make an appearance?
Yu: I’m a pretty big perfectionist, who tends to fixate on minute details. I’m trying to overcome the fear of failure. Because of this, I’ve actually taken up ceramics!

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?
Yu: No, I would not. To me, the fun part about life is the adventure off into the unknown. I’m going to want to enjoy this ride.

Mulan is available now on Disney+.

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The Featured Presentation

Jimmy Wong

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Photo By: Diana Ragland

Although Mulan was destined for a theatrical release, 2020 had other plans. With the arrival of COVID-19, many studios shelved their summer blockbusters, opting to wait out the storm, but Disney called an audible and the result was a massive tentpole movie premiering directly into our homes. This suits star Jimmy Wong just fine because  he believes it’s not where you see a film like Mulan that matters most, but who you see it with.

While people don’t get to enjoy it on that big screen, the more important part about theater, to me, has always been the uniting experience that comes from watching a movie together with your family or your friends,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Wong to discuss rays of hope, united New Zealanders , and why Mulan is so groundbreaking.

TrunkSpace: Does Mulan feel like a special release, because in a lot of ways, you’re giving people an escape at a time when they need it more than ever?
Wong: Yeah. I was talking about this the other day as well. In this current time period of the world, I think everyone is looking for a ray of hope. Quite insane in every part of the spectrum, it seems. And so I think having the ability to be able to watch this movie in an un-stressful way at home is going to be a really big part of what makes this whole release special. Even though it wasn’t as intended, and it wasn’t the idea, it’s still something that will be, I think, a wonderful escape for a lot of people.

TrunkSpace: And in terms of the industry, it could revolutionize the way things are done moving forward.
Wong: Yeah, exactly. And I think a big part of this as well was, this was a decision that was made out of necessity as much as it was out of convenience. And I think for a movie like this, that I’ve personally been waiting now almost five months to come out, I’m just so relieved that it finally is going to be able to be released in some way. And a big part of me is deeply sad that people won’t be able to enjoy it in the theater at the current moment, because it was a movie that was filmed with really big aspirations and with an amazing crew and a director of photography that is extremely talented, and has the ability and capability to make a movie that moves you. We even called one of the lenses that we used on the set the Lawrence of Arabia lens because it created such an epic shot. This is the kind of feel that we’re going for with this movie. While people don’t get to enjoy it on that big screen, the more important part about theater, to me, has always been the uniting experience that comes from watching a movie together with your family or your friends.

TrunkSpace: The beauty of it is, it can always be re-released into theaters when the dust settles on the pandemic, so in a way, we’ll be able to have our cake and eat it too!
Wong: Yeah. And I obviously can’t speak for any of the marketing or movie plans from the Disney side, but it would definitely make me very happy to be able to watch this in the theater when it is safe to do so. Maybe as early as, I don’t know, next summer or something? Because I think that would be a wonderful time to make sure that everyone around the world does get to see this movie because the story is so universal, and is going to be inspiring to so many people that that’s my main concern still.

TrunkSpace: We talked about it being the biggest movie to go this route in terms of distribution. How big of a movie was it to be on the set of? In terms of scope, was this the biggest project you’ve ever worked on?
Wong: It certainly was. And it was interesting because we did a lot of it not in the United States – not in Los Angeles. And so we got to work really closely with people that were deeply connected to our director, Niki Caro, because she is from New Zealand, and has a lot of the resources in that native country of hers to be able to make a movie like this possible. There was obviously a lot of times when they had to really be careful about how they spent the money, and how they budgeted it out, to just make it work because it’s such a huge project. So for me, it was really exciting to walk on set and see 300 people, all of them, for the most part, being native New Zealanders, and knowing that a lot of these people had history working on amazing projects, like The Lord of the Rings, and a whole list of other things.

So to me, it was great. We’re walking into this with the experience of all of these people that have this really deep, close, personal connection to each other because they’ve all worked in the same industry together, in New Zealand specifically. And in Hollywood, a lot of times you walk onto a set, and everyone has a ton of experience, but they all come from different places, different experiences. It was great to feel that unity that was just really prevalent on set. And you could feel it with the familiar nature of everyone there, that even though there were sometimes hundreds of people on set, it still felt like a very personal and intimate production.

TrunkSpace: And with so many people and moving parts, that commands a lot of direction to capture a scene or moment.
Wong: Yeah, absolutely. And big credit to Niki to find so many talented and badass women to take on all of these major roles as well. That, to me, is why this movie is groundbreaking in a lot of ways. It’s not only the first Hollywood movie to feature a full Asian cast at this budget level from a company this big, but it also features an incredible, incredible crew that is directed by a woman and crewed up by so many other amazing talented women as well. And I think, for being a story that, again, is all about a woman, it’s this wonderful confluence of a bunch of different things that I think will make a big difference in a lot of people’s lives when they watch it for the first time.

TrunkSpace: Obviously, it’s based on an immensely popular animated film. How does a movie like this stand on its own without getting comparisons to what came before?
Wong: I think being a Disney movie, and especially a Disney remake, no matter what, you’re going to open yourself up to those comparisons just because Disney is such a massive influence. So many people have seen and enjoyed the original movie. A big part of this that really rings to me as special, though, is that Niki is not just some director there to do a job. If you look over her prior movies – Whale Rider, McFarland, USA, North Country – so many of those movies have a strong, independent young woman at the center of them, prevailing against incredible odds, and becoming something even better and stronger at the end of it through the hero’s journey. And I think that’s what makes this version of the movie so special is that you get to have a director that is intimately connected to this kind of tale, and is able to tell it with such craft and accuracy that it stands on its own by itself.

At the same time, you have the entire backing of a studio like Disney, that is going to ensure that no matter what, when you watch this movie, you’re still going to be – if you are a fan of the original – you will be reminded of it, but not in a way that takes away from the vision of the director. So I think that’s all, again, a combination of a lot of factors that went into a project like this. And typically, the bigger the budget, the less control you feel that directors and the crew have. But in this case, Niki really had such a grand vision, and a specific way that she wanted to tell this story, and all the research that they put into it as well… the end product stands on its own as this incredible piece of just beautiful cinematography and beautiful storytelling, wonderful score, great sound design, incredible action. If you never saw the original, you wouldn’t be missing it.

TrunkSpace: And the original impacts a specific generation at the time, and now this version can impact a new generation in a completely different way.
Wong: Yeah. And something I like to keep reminding people about is, people have all sorts of opinions about this movie, about the franchise, about the companies that are involved, about the countries that are involved… and I like to remind people that at the end of the day, yes, your opinions, of course, they matter. I have opinions of my own. But so many people, especially the young kids who will watch this movie, will not ever hear a single one of those opinions when they put this on the screen and watch it for the first time. And it really does have the potential to be that incredible story, or inspiration, to so many of them. As much as we like to complain about the corporate nature of the world, and all these other things, we can’t discount that fact. And that fact that gives me hope that this movie can transcend all of the media around it.

TrunkSpace: It’s all relative, right? We grew up in the ‘80s, and movies like Back To The Future and Star Wars were incredible inspirations, which are movies that plenty of people also have opinions about. You can’t choose where you find your cinematic inspiration, regardless of who is backing a film.
Wong: Yeah, absolutely. And the fact that so many people will see this movie because Disney is, obviously, an ace with their marketing – and they’re going to do that to get it around to as many people as possible – it gives me a lot of happiness in my heart as well, just to know that I might not be the person that watches this and walks away from it going, “I can now do something I didn’t think I could do before,” but I know that’s going to be the case for a lot of people.

Mulan is available on Disney+ today.

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The Featured Presentation

Dan Payne

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Photo By: Charles Zuckermann

Although he is no stranger to Disney Channel audiences thanks to roles in shows like “Mech-X4,” Dan Payne continues to be in awe of his “Descendants” experience, one he sees as exposing him to an entirely new generation of pop culture fans… even those found closer to home.

I think one of my favorite things, though, is that this movie makes my kids think I’m cool… for now,” he joked in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Payne to discuss shaping the Beast, becoming a set dad, and how being a professional volleyball player prepared him for a career as an actor.

TrunkSpace: The “Descendants” franchise has tapped into a younger generation in a way that is difficult for new properties to do in this current day and age. What do you think has enabled the ongoing narrative to hold audiences through three movies to date, especially at a time when so much other content is available?
Payne: I believe the success of the “Descendants” franchise has a great deal to do with the underlying messages and concepts within the movies. The most important idea being, quite simply, love. These movies deal with the idea of love by addressing the concepts of inclusion, standing up for one another, not judging a book by its cover and acceptance, to mention a few. The story is told by an unbelievably talented cast of young artists who can dance, sing, and act brilliantly with Kenny Ortega masterfully at the helm of it all. I just feel like it came together in a way that connected with people of all ages and I am truly grateful to have been part of it.

TrunkSpace: You have returned to the role of Beast in “Descendants 3.” Is there a different vibe – or even a different approach – to reprising a character in a film franchise as opposed to a television series that checks in with audiences more frequently?
Payne: I think each character could ‘grow’ with the story and express how their character had been affected by what happened previously. Each movie afforded a new challenge, which could hopefully inspire more growth. Some characters’ ‘growth’ might seem more drastic than others since the audience does not get to check in as frequently with movies as they do a television series. And, for me, Beast is a father. He has to learn to grow as a father and help his son as he matures in to a fine young king.

TrunkSpace: Obviously the films, though enjoyed by people of all ages, are geared towards a younger demographic. Do you think the “Descendants” franchise has opened you up to an audience that has yet to see your work, and if so, how do you use that in your career as an actor to carry momentum forward?
Payne: “Descendants” has been an amazing opportunity for so many reasons. I think it has opened me up to a new audience. I have been fortunate to be a part of the Disney world prior to “Descendants,” having played Traeger, the main villain on “Mech X-4” for a season as well as Gabby Duran’s father, Bruce on “Gabby Duran and the Unsittables.” I hope the exposure the “Descendants” movies has brought opens up more opportunities and audiences because it would mean more chances to do this job that I absolutely love. I have an amazing team around me, and I think we will work together to make the most of this shift. Disney has been very good to me, and I hope our relationship continues and that audience continues to grow too! I think one of my favorite things, though, is that this movie makes my kids think I’m cool… for now.

TrunkSpace: Your character is based on a very famous fictional beast, who to date, has been enjoyed by various generations over many years. However, this still feels new enough in the narrative and tone that it wouldn’t feel like history has had too much say in how you approached him on-screen. While the past is there, did you feel like you were taking on a character that audiences have never seen before?
Payne: I was very fortune to have Kenny Ortega help me shape our version of the Beast. Kenny let me know that we would collaborate to create a King Beast very specific to our world of “Descendants” while honoring the famous classic character as much as possible. In essence, the most important trait of the Beast I got to play is that of a loving father.

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on the “Descendants” franchise that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Payne: I will always cherish the relationships that began with the cast and crew. We came together as strangers on the first film and now continue as friends. It’s not often for me that I get to revisit film relationships for the course of three films and six years. I got to see some of the young actors grow up and got to become, in a way, a set dad to some of them. They are truly brilliant young stars.

TrunkSpace: You have been involved in many facets of artistic exploration, from acting to photography to stand-up comedy. As a person, are you someone who needs a creative outlet to feel your whole self? Is artistic expression a must have for you?
Payne: I think artistic expression and having a creative outlet are an extremely important to part of me. I would almost say essential as if part of my DNA. I don’t believe I need it to feel my whole self because there are other equally, possibly more important parts, like that of being a husband and a father. Those parts give me tremendous joy and fulfillment. I’m very fortunate that I have an amazing support group around me so that I can pursue those creative outlets that fulfill that part of my being and also be a father, husband and the other parts of me that all add up to the whole.

TrunkSpace: Prior to pursuing acting as a career, you were a professional volleyball player. Are there parallels between pursuing sports and pursing acting, particularly when it comes to training?
Payne: I believe that my experience in professional volleyball taught me to bring an excellent work ethic and sense of professionalism to everything I do. I also think it has paid major dividends in the less structured career path of acting. Auditions are like tryouts. Do the homework, put in the work, and give it everything I have to succeed. I learned to work in a team environment. I also learned the life lesson to get up one more time than I get knocked down to find success – big or small, whatever it means to you – on the journey of trying to be the best version of me I can be. I’ve said it before, I think you have to be a warrior for your own cause and battle for the right reasons!

Photo By: Charles Zuckermann

TrunkSpace: We’re suckers for “Supernatural” here, a series that you appeared on back in 2014. It is about to begin its final season, so we’re curious how important that show has been to performers and crew in the Vancouver area and how much of a void it will leave behind?
Payne: Jared and Jensen are ambassadors of awesome! They have relentlessly been a brilliant part of the Vancouver film community. I think it will leave a fairly substantial void. But I have to say, Vancouver is an amazing and resilient community of tremendously talented actors, directors, crew – you name it – and I’m excited to see what fills those big shoes!

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Payne: That is an extremely tough question to answer. There have been so many milestones along the way that I could say are a highlight. I mean, I have met and worked with people that have inspired me beyond belief, been part of projects that altered the course of my career and traveled to foreign countries to do a job I love! I truly hope the highlights are still coming and THE highlight is yet to come! If you are asking me to pick one as I sit here, filming a movie in Thailand was surreal. It was the first time I left the continent on an acting gig. What a gift!

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?
Payne: No… yes… no.

Okay, admittedly, there was a moment of curiosity that arose as I thought about being able to know. But it faded quickly, and I can now confidently say, “No, I would not take that journey.” I guess the lesson of Faust in a way? I would rather continue this crazy journey as an actor and be excited by what may be just around the corner. I have loved the wild ride it has been so far and look forward to the next adventure… whatever it may be!

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The Featured Presentation

Joseph Gatt

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Photo By: The Riker Brothers

Highlighting one of his biggest roles to date, Joseph Gatt has been reveling in the build up to this Friday’s release of the live screen reimagining of “Dumbo.” Portraying Neils Skellig in the film, a South African big game hunter who works for Michael Keaton’s Vandevere, the London-born actor doesn’t only appear on screen with one of the greatest cinematic names of all time, but he does so by stealing the scenes he appears in. Not too shabby considering one of his costars is a flying elephant!

We recently sat down with Gatt to discuss his excitement for the project, the reason he thinks the film will be embraced by a multi-generational audience, and why working with Tim Burton was so empowering.

TrunkSpace: “Dumbo” is a huge film. It features a stacked cast and a director who is an icon in the industry, Tim Burton. You’ve been in the industry a long time, but is it hard not to get excited about being involved in a project of this size and scope, especially when the trailer hits and the reactions from the public start to trickle in?
Gatt: It’s impossible to not be excited for this movie. It’s one of my biggest movie roles to date and it’s in one of the most high profile movies I’ve worked on to date. It’s been in post-production for almost 15 months, so the anticipation is overflowing. I’ve seen clips when doing ADR and they all look fantastic. There’s something in this movie for everyone and I’m incredibly excited to see the joy it’s going to bring.

TrunkSpace: On the opposite side of that coin, does a part of you have to separate yourself emotionally from a project like this once you call wrap? In an industry where so much is out of your control, can that get magnified even more so when it’s on a film this large?
Gatt: Letting go is one of those things you learn to accept as an actor. Some find it easier than others. The best that one can do is their best job while the cameras are rolling and hope that the editor, director and producers keep it all in! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Obviously “Dumbo” is based on an iconic brand and character. Because of that, was there a sense on set that the way to handle the live action adaptation was with respect to everything that came before? How do you take a classic and give it the remake treatment without alienating those who fell in love with the original?
Gatt: Unlike many of the other Disney live action remakes, “Dumbo” is a new rendering of the original, rather than a remake. Ehren Kruger has written an incredibly clever and inclusive screenplay that maintains the basic story, character and heart of the original, but at the same time brings it totally up to date with wonderful human characters and modern philosophies, combining modern human ethics and socially conscious ideals. All of this is done while still being set in the early 1900s and all looking very beautiful and Tim Burton indeed. I personally think this version will be much better than the original. I know that some might consider that sacrilege to say, but the human elements and the fact that it’s set in a very real world, will make it much more accessible to modern audiences, especially children.

TrunkSpace: Your character has one of the best cinematic names of all time, Neils Skellig. What did you like about this guy when you first read for him that made you go, “Okay, I can see me bringing this guy to life and I’m the right person for the role?”
Gatt: Ha! Yep. Too right! As soon as I read the script I knew this was going to be a fun role. Actually, a fun challenge. I had to learn a South African accent for the role. I’ve done many different accents for roles over the years, but this was a first. Also, Skellig basically stands for everything that I am totally against. His principals and motivations are the total opposite to mine. He’s a bully and hates animals. Animals to him (and people) are simply a means to an end. Props to get something done. And when that thing is done… the “prop” is discarded… and not in the most pleasant ways. Occasionally those discarded props become other useful objects to him, like clothing. I think the last time I played someone this sociopathic or hateful was playing The Albino in “Banshee.” Like in that instance, I had to find some way to like or connect with Skellig. I connected with his passion and his military fastidiousness and addiction to doing things perfectly right. Luckily for me (but not the world as a whole) there are many people in the world as hateful as Skellig, so doing the research was a matter of some Google searching and watching YouTube videos. The other wonderful thing was that Tim wanted all of the human characters played very real and grounded. Nothing over the top or superficial. Everything was to come from a real place. I loved creating this guy.

TrunkSpace: We mentioned already that Tim Burton directed the film. What’s a note or piece of advice that he gave you during the shoot that you’ll carry with you throughout the rest of your career?
Gatt: There wasn’t a single thing he said or did. It was the overall experience. Tim is a true artist. He paints his movies. Every detail matters to him so much. He does his work with the utmost grace and respect for all of his family. By “family,” I mean the whole cast and crew. He’s like a guiding father figure. I never heard him raise his voice to anyone, even in some very stressful moments. He trusts his actors to make the right choices and then directs with suggestion rather than orders. He is always open to discussion and you leave set every day feeling like you’ve been an important and collaborative part of the creative process. If I had to use a single word to describe working with Tim, it would be “empowering.”

Gatt in Dumbo with Michael Keaton, Colin Farrell, Douglas Reith, Eva Green, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins

TrunkSpace: We’re nearing the premiere date for the final season of “Game of Thrones.” As someone who has made a stop on that series, is it special for you to have been even a small part of that world given the impact it has had on people and pop culture? Where does it rank among your career highlights?
Gatt: I have been a fan of GoT since it began and was so excited when Dan (Weiss) & Dave (Benioff) invited me to be on the show. It didn’t quite work out exactly as planned, since the role was changed drastically last minute due to major script revisions, but it was still a tremendous experience. It was an amazing cast and crew and we had a lot of fun in Iceland and Northern Ireland.

TrunkSpace: You also starred as The Man on the series “Z Nation,” which is a show with a very loyal fan base. As an actor, what is it like getting to work on a series that stretches beyond casual viewership and has a group of people invested in where the story and characters are going?
Gatt: I’ve had this experience before with “Banshee” and “Teen Wolf.” It’s pretty amazing when the fans are so invested in the show and characters. It’s almost like doing theater, where the connection is so immediate and visceral, and you know exactly how they feel about you right away. Nothing withheld. It’s also incredibly fun and the fans are very interactive. They partake in the live tweeting the cast does for each episode and almost guide the writers to make certain choices regarding characters. The Man was a tough push with the fans because I was going up against their favorite and beloved characters. After a while they started to love The Man. I think it was because I worked really hard to give them a fully rendered three-dimensional character with real motives and feelings instead of a simple bad guy. It had the audiences torn between loving and hating The Man! In fact, the audiences liked the character so much by the end of the season that there was a bit of a social media outcry when he didn’t return for the following season.

TrunkSpace: That is also a show where it seems ANYTHING is possible. What is the craziest on-camera moment that you found The Man in where you couldn’t help but say to yourself, “Well, I never envisioned this for my career…”?
Gatt: I’ve done some pretty crazy stuff on camera during my career, but eating brains probably tops the strangest! Yep, never thought I’d being doing that one, but I guess it was inevitable. Especially since I escaped being turned into a zombie! The funniest part was having the director demonstrate the correct way to eat brains. There is photographic evidence of this hilarious moment. I can tell you it was not pleasant. The “brains” were made from a gelatin substance covered very liberally is red corn syrup. I was directed to take a very large bite, which had me almost gagging as we shot the scene. It’s not something I’m excited to do again, but it made for some very entertaining viewing.

Gatt as The Man in Z Nation. Photo by: Daniel Sawyer Schaefer

TrunkSpace: You also do a ton of voice acting, particularly for video games. Do you take a different approach to voice acting than you do with on-camera work? Where do the two differ most for you?
Gatt: I love voice acting. The beauty of voice acting is you can get to play multiple roles on one title. I think I’ve done about 15 roles on The Elder Scrolls Online, all varied voices and accents. It’s also given me a chance to play a Sith Lord. Not just a regular Sith Lord, a romanceable Sith Lord. Lord Scourge (from “Star Wars: The Old Republic”) was such a hit with the players that they wanted to make him a romanceable character, so I had to go into the studio and do a session with Scourge making out with people and saying romantic lines of dialogue.

My approach to voice acting is very similar to my on camera work. I move around a lot and encompass the physicality of the role as much as possible. The only difference is that I can roll into the studio in my PJs or gym sweats and don’t have to do my hair. (Laughter)

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?
Gatt: Nope. No good can come of it. Because either you’re going to see a wonderful life and then spend your whole life trying to make the right decisions to reach that point, or it’ll be horrible, and you’ll spend your whole life trying to avoid it. Either way, you’ll be missing the best part. The journey. That’s where the gold is. And there’s no point if you keep looking for the end of the tunnel and miss all of the adventure on route!

Dumbo” flies into theaters this Friday.

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The Featured Presentation

Paxton Booth

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Disney Channel star Paxton Booth didn’t get into acting for the recognition, he got into it because it’s fun. As part of the ensemble of the new hit series “Coop & Cami Ask The World,” the fun is emphasized thanks in part to seeing his character Ollie Wrather grow on-screen, while also having the opportunity to do his own stunts, including taking flight in a wing suit.

We recently sat down with Booth to discuss the popularity of the series, which Tim Burton film he’d have liked to star in, and the most cherished item in his Hot Wheels collection.

TrunkSpace: Congrats on the success of your new series “Coop & Cami Ask The World.” Are you surprised by how well it has been received or did you anticipate that people would tune in and enjoy it?
Booth: Thank you! After reading the first few scripts and seeing how the characters are developing, I knew it would be a good family show. It is definitely something my family would sit down to watch together.

TrunkSpace: In the series you play Ollie Wrather, the youngest of the Wrather family. He is a character who speaks his mind. What do you enjoy most about getting to play Ollie, especially over a long period of time? (We believe you’ve shot 20 episodes already, correct?)
Booth: We just finished shooting Season 1, which was twenty-one episodes! Ollie is such a fun character to play because he has no filter. It was fun to say things I wouldn’t normally say. Playing Ollie gave me the chance to do a bunch of stunts, which is something I’ve never done before.

TrunkSpace: Is it fun getting to stay with a character for that long – seeing him grow and develop over time?
Booth: Yes, it is great to play a character that actually grows up on screen! I’ve been on projects where you don’t get to play with the character much, so this has been awesome to be able to put my own spin on him. You can see his character develop so much from the pilot. The first few episodes didn’t have much of a storyline for Ollie, but he slowly grows and gets more involved in each episode. I really like how Ollie and Fred start to bicker as the season goes on.

TrunkSpace: What was the most exciting thing you got to do while shooting the first season of “Coop & Cami Ask The World?”
Booth: All the stunts were a lot of fun and exciting. One of my favorite was getting to fly in the air in a wing suit. We were lucky to have such an awesome stunt coordinator, Danny Wayne, to teach me how to be safe and always made sure I had fun.

TrunkSpace: Disney Channel is known for turning young actors into big stars. Are you prepared for the attention that could come with the success of a big Disney Channel show?
Booth: I haven’t really thought about it too much. I was so young when I started acting – I did it because it was fun, not to get attention. I don’t mind when people recognize me and say hi, it’s pretty cool.

TrunkSpace: We read that you are a big Tim Burton fan. If you could have starred in any Tim Burton movie, which one would you have liked to have been involved with and why?
Booth: I would have loved to been in “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” Being the character of Barron, played by Samuel L. Jackson, would have been awesome. Playing the bad guy would be a big change and challenge. His character eats eyeballs in the movie and makes it look delicious.

TrunkSpace: You have been acting since you were 2 ½. What do you enjoy most about getting to perform and work in film/television?
Booth: I really like meeting new people. It’s cool to see your hard work on the screen and see people’s reactions to it. Plus, I get to play pretend every day!

TrunkSpace: You’re a Hot Wheels collector. What’s the prize car in your collection, the one you were most excited to get your hands on?
Booth: On the last shooting day of Season 1, one of the camera operators gave me a Hot Wheels from his personal collection he’s had since he was my age. It’s a fire engine from 1969 that has a really cool fire ladder and it’s in awesome condition. I really like collecting the classics, but when they have a personal story that’s even better.

TrunkSpace: Finally, Paxton, we know you’re still so young, but have you thought about what kind of career you want to have in the future? Have you set goals for yourself in terms of your acting and other creative endeavors?
Booth: I’d love to continue acting and eventually get into doing films. I’ve really started to become more interested in learning what’s going on behind the camera, too. I’d love to shoot some high fashion editorials and start my own fashion line someday, too. But like you said, I’m still young, so my future is wide open!

Coop & Cami Ask The World” airs on Disney Channel.

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The Featured Presentation

Ed Asner

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Photo by Alan Markfield – © 2003 Alan Markfield, New Line Productions. All rights reserved.

While our interview with Ed Asner may not be as iconic as the actor’s 70-year-long career in the entertainment industry, it’s pretty high up there. Constantly keeping us both on our toes and on the edge of our seats, the star of such classics as “Up,” “Elf,” and “Mary Tyler Moore” took an honest and straight forward approach to our conversation, never once mincing words. It was refreshing, and to be completely honest, exhilarating – like a carnival ride you don’t want to get off of after whirling to a stop.

We recently sat down with Asner to discuss perfected grouch-ism, how voiceover work has brought him pleasure late in his career, and why an actor can’t wallow in ego and still be a judge of good work.

TrunkSpace: We were trying to find a starting point for this conversation. You have so much going on from new television and film projects, to ongoing stage productions, to your upcoming poker tournament, we figured it may be best to put it in your hands in terms of where you’d like to begin. What are you the most excited to talk about?
Asner: Oh, I always get excited when I’m out to do “A Man And His Prostate.” I love the show.

TrunkSpace: You’re on the road a lot with that show. Do you enjoy the traveling aspect?
Asner: I hate the travel. My bones don’t work that well, so travel exacts comfort. I’d like to disappear and then reappear at the point and place.

TrunkSpace: Do you see yourself doing “A Man And His Prostate” long term or is there an end date in sight for you?
Asner: As long as my daughter can book it, I’ll do it. It’s very simple to do, so…

TrunkSpace: Yes, you don’t need a lot to set up the stage, right?
Asner: Yeah. It fits like a glove, it’s not a tax on memory, and it’s built to make people laugh.

TrunkSpace: Which we all need these days.
Asner: Oh god. Where are you?

TrunkSpace: Massachusetts.
Asner: So you’re highly keyed into… attuned to what’s going on.

TrunkSpace: Keeping the ear to the ground, for sure. We read that you’re a self-described grouch. Does it take a grouch to survive six decades in the business, or does six decades in the business make a grouch?
Asner: Where do you get six decades?

TrunkSpace: We were going by…
Asner: I started acting when I was 19.

TrunkSpace: We’re terrible at math.
Asner: Yeah. Let’s see. I’m ending my ninth decade. I’ll be 89 in November, so 19 from 89, I believe is 70.

TrunkSpace: So does seven decades in the industry make you a grouch or does it take a grouch to survive in the industry for seven decades?
Asner: It teaches me how to perfect grouch-ism. I have made wonderfully-defined moves and not many people can lay claim to the kind of moves I make.

But fuck you!

TrunkSpace: What’s that?
Asner: Fuck you!

TrunkSpace: Why’s that, Ed?
Asner: I’m being a grouch. What do you want?

TrunkSpace: Oh okay. Thought we said something wrong!
Asner: Oh god no. I’m kidding.

TrunkSpace: We were just reading that you’re involved in what could be a possible strike within the voice acting industry. The various streaming platforms definitely seem to be changing the way people have to look at the business model of things.
Asner: Yeah. I have not kept up to pace in terms of negotiations or anything like that. I don’t have a hand, so I’m really unaware of where the problems lie, or who’s proposing a fix. But God knows, voice work has given me unbelievable pleasure in my latter years.

© Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

TrunkSpace: It does seem like there’s more animation happening now that there has ever been.
Asner: Yeah, there certainly is. And it’s amazing to me how it just happened. Used to be you started out in this business, you go in and you audition, you appear at lineups and all that crap, and there’s an order to it. I never found the order on voiceover. It just happened.

TrunkSpace: And what’s really fascinating now is that it’s almost just as sophisticated as regular television – as live action.
Asner: Oh yeah.

TrunkSpace: It doesn’t speak down to kids anymore.
Asner: Well, it’s intriguing to me that… when did I make “Up”? ‘09 was it? I did that for Pixar/Disney. I don’t think I’ve had another inquiry to do a voiceover at Disney/Pixar since then. What does that mean?

TrunkSpace: As a company, maybe they see voice actors only inhabiting one character within their various worlds?
Asner: Or they somehow blank out when the thought of me in a particular piece or play occurs. I mean, if I was a hot property in one movie, I would just automatically think I’d be a hot property for a forthcoming movie. They evidently don’t think I have more than one voice.

TrunkSpace: And that was not only a hot property but “Up” has since become a modern classic for people.
Asner: Yeah, yeah. And I’m very proud of it.

TrunkSpace: In fact, you can look at a number of your projects like “Elf,” which has become an annual tradition for people, or “Mary Tyler Moore,” which helped to define an era of television, and see how they’ve impacted pop culture. Does it feel like you’ve caught lightning in the bottle numerous times in your career?
Asner: Oh of course, of course. I get it with the fan mail. I understand it with the fan mail. But I like to keep working and I want it to propagate and it doesn’t seem to do that much propagating.

TrunkSpace: Do you enjoy the process of acting as much today as you did when you first stepped foot on a set?
Asner: Oh absolutely. It’s masturbatory.

TrunkSpace: A lot of people act as a hobby. Do you feel lucky to have been able to do it as a career for as long as you have?
Asner: Well, I don’t know who does it as a hobby.

TrunkSpace: Well, we’re in the Boston area and there’s a lot of local community theater where people are performing for the passion of the craft itself.
Asner: Yeah, but not when you’re involved in a film, I don’t think. And I’m saddled with the problem now with this God play I’m doing. (“God Help Us”) It should be off book, and I don’t know if I have the energy or desire to try to get off book. I discovered this with “A Man And His Prostate.” Where “Love Letters” achieved quick fame with two actors reading, I use a book on “A Man And His Prostate” and the laughs just keep pouring in. So you can captivate with a book in your hand and I resent it if I have to get off book with the God play.

TrunkSpace: If everybody is laughing at “A Man And His Prostate,” why fix what’s not broken?
Asner: That’s right. That’s right. It wasn’t even my thought. I whined to the producer, and other fellows in the vicinity, at the time I started with that and they said, “Read it!” And it worked.

TrunkSpace: It must make the experience sort of intimate for the audience when they’re reading it with you. They don’t feel necessarily like a spectator.
Asner: Well, I also know how to play the book. I’m looking away a lot of the time, but then when they see me go to the book they… I’m sure they’re wondering what surprise or what fish I’ll pull out of the book.

TrunkSpace: In talking to a few people about our chat today, everyone we spoke to about it referred to you as an icon. When you think about your career, do you view it that way? Is it iconic?
Asner: I hear it a lot. I’m selfexamining right now in terms of ego… conflicts with people close to me and I had to keep whittling out where does ego fit, and where does justice take over? And it’s not an easy battle. Not when you’re starting your eighth decade.

TrunkSpace: At some point, isn’t ego deserved? Haven’t you worked enough to afford an ego at this point?
Asner: I know, but you can’t wallow in your ego and still be a good judge of where to work.

TrunkSpace: You recently appeared in the series “Cobra Kai.” We haven’t heard a single negative thing spoken about that series.
Asner: No, I haven’t either.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how you can’t wallow in your ego and still be a judge of good work. Was that a project that you recognized on the page as being good work?
Asner: No. I did it and I enjoyed it and I was amazed at the universality of the praise. Very surprising.

TrunkSpace: Have you learned anything about life through acting – through playing all of these characters over the years – that you think you might not have discovered had this not been your path?
Asner: Well, acting tends to make you think you’re an Adonis, and then as you live your life, you find out people haven’t read the reviews. So you must have conflicts going on… the glow of great achievement as an actor, or what you think is great achievement, and its affect on your own personal psyche. It’s very puzzling.

TrunkSpace: Well Ed, thank you so much for making the time to chat. We know you have an event you have to get to.
Asner: I’m running late, but I so enjoyed our conversation. I didn’t give a shit.

TrunkSpace: Well thank you Ed, we appreciate that.
Asner: Well, it’s fun. I like you.

TrunkSpace: We like you too, Ed!

For more information on The Ed Asner & Friends Poker Tournament, visit here.
For more information on “A Man And His Prostate,” including dates, visit here.
For more information “God Help Us,” visit here.

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The Featured Presentation

Will Buie Jr.

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Photo By: Storm Santos

A series like “Bunk’d” means so much to the generation that is glued to their televisions (phones?) watching it. Yes, we’re well beyond the age of Disney’s targeted demographic, but it’s no different than the shows that came before it like “Hey, Dude” or “Salute Your Shorts,” scripted TV that spoke TO the audience as opposed to AT them.

With Season 3 of “Bunk’d” set to debut on Disney Channel this summer, the fictional camp is about to get a handful of new seasonal guests. One of those cast additions is Will Buie Jr.

We recently sat down with the young actor to discuss how he celebrated being named a series regular, the reason he’s called the “Bunk’d Encyclopedia,” and why he hopes his career runs parallel to Jay Leno’s.

TrunkSpace: First and foremost, congrats on being named to a series regular on “Bunk’d” in Season 3. What went through your mind when you first heard the news?
Buie: I was on a plane when I found out. Since I couldn’t jump up and down, I had a dance party in my mind.

TrunkSpace: Are you excited to see your character Finn developed out further and to see where the writers take him both in Season 3 and beyond?
Buie: Yes, I’m so excited. I have seen Finn develop over the 16 episodes, and cannot wait for the public to meet him.

TrunkSpace: Twofold question. What do you enjoy most about working on a series like “Bunk’d” and what do you enjoy most about getting to play Finn specifically?
Buie: I love working on “Bunk’d” because I have been a fan of the show since it premiered. I love being in scenes with the Ross kids and Lou, and being on the set of the Great Lawn, the woods and the Mess Hall every day. It’s so cool, they actually use a lot of real trees and bushes in the woods.

Finn is a fun character, but specifically my favorite part about Finn is his high energy and his strong desire for adventure.

TrunkSpace: Is comedy a genre you always felt comfortable with? Is it an area of performance that comes natural?
Buie: This was my first ever job in comedy, but I always have had a strong desire to play comedic roles. I don’t know if it comes natural, but I really love it and I would love to do more.

TrunkSpace: We here at TrunkSpace are mostly oldish now, but we all remember growing up on shows like “Bunk’d,” which in a lot of ways, help to define the childhood of the audience watching it. It speaks to them, not at them. Is “Bunk’d” the kind of show that you’d be watching even if you weren’t directly involved in it?
Buie: Oh yes, for sure. Actually I watched every episode of “Bunk’d” more times than I can even count before I even knew there was going to be a third season. The executive producers and everyone in the cast and crew nicknamed me the “Bunk’d Encyclopedia.” I know almost all of the details in every episode of the first two seasons, including the episode number and name. So you can imagine how much I love the show.

TrunkSpace: What are you most excited for fans of the series to see headed into Season 3?
Buie: There are three new campers at Camp Kikiwaka. We are all very different, but we become friends and we have a lot of fun and adventures together. I can’t wait for fans to get to know us and have fun with us at camp.

TrunkSpace: The Disney Channel has a long history of launching careers into the stratosphere. As much as you’re enjoying working on the series now, do you also see it as one step in a long flight of stairs that leads to your ultimate dreams?
Buie: Yes, I definitely do. I am so proud to be a Disney kid, and can’t wait to see what I get to do next.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of dreams, what is that ultimate dream? Where do you hope to see your career go? What do you hope to accomplish beyond acting itself?
Buie: I want to win an Academy Award one day for acting, and I want to be a famous car engineer and be the head of my own car company. I would love to meet Elon Musk or Jay Leno. I follow “Jay Leno’s Garage” on Instagram. My mom and dad say Jay Leno was an actor and comedian, and he’s also a car guy. I think I want to be like Jay Leno.

TrunkSpace: Are you a Marvel or DC fan, and if so, is there a particular superhero that you’d like to play down the road?
Buie: Growing up, I wasn’t a huge superhero fan. My favorite though is Marvel, because it’s a Disney company and because they have my favorite superhero movie, “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I would love to play a superhero one day, but a new superhero that doesn’t exist today. One that can fly and be invisible.

TrunkSpace: Finally, we read that you’re a big X-box fan? What are your go-to games or genres that you are most drawn to these days?
Buie: My favorite game is Forza Horizon 3. Recently I started playing FortNite, but my mom doesn’t like me playing that. (Editor’s note: Ninja aka Tyler Blevins is one of the biggest names in Fortnite gaming. He frequently streams gaming content to millions of subscribers. If you would like to learn more about Ninja’s Fortnite setup, take a look at this handy guide: www.bestgamingchair.com/ninja-fortnite-settings).

Season 3 of “Bunk’d” arrives on Disney Channel this summer.

Featured image by Storm Santos.

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