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Fear the Walking Dead

Wingman Wednesday

Danay Garcia

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Photo by: Louis Rodiger

Fans of “Fear the Walking Dead” know Danay Garcia as Luciana, one of the few survivors of the zombie apocalypse. Eagle-eyed SPN Family members may also recognize her from season 8 of “Supernatural” where she guested in a memorable episode called “Trial and Error.” Now the Cuban-born actress is adding another fandom notch to her belt as she’s set to star in the latest installment of the Sniper franchise, “Sniper: Ultimate Kill,” available today on digital, Blu-ray, and DVD.

Garcia, who says she grew up surrounded by pink and trained as a ballet dancer throughout her early years, found it both humorous and exhilarating that she was running around in military fatigues with gun in hand, hunting down bad guys. And while the exciting action scenes were one of the elements that initially drew her to the role of Kate Estrada, a DEA agent tasked with bringing down a Columbian drug trafficker, it was the strength she discovered in the character that she bonded to most.

We recently sat down with Garcia to discuss honoring strong women on screen, how she likes to add her slice to the overall performance pie, and why she didn’t have time to consider the enormity of her “Fear the Walking Dead” role when first cast.

TrunkSpace: Outside of the action, what drew you to Kate from a performance standpoint?
Garcia: I really loved working and developing her as a woman that is in charge and in control of herself mentally and physically. She’s a woman who uses her physical strength and her mind strength to survive. She’s very in control of her emotions, but she’s not afraid to let go either. She knows herself – physically and mentally, because she’s a leader and she’s a fighter too. I really had a great time discovering that balance in her. She can grab a gun and shoot, order around the place, and then the next day we can see her crying in an elevator.

I’m very grateful to have one of the best directors that I’ve worked with in Claudio Fäh. He just gave me so much with the role, and not just to perform, but to create ahead of time with him. We would Skype and go down page-by-page, beat-by-beat, and it really helped me so much to have the freedom to let myself go and be confident.

TrunkSpace: And she is a character that could have easily gone in a more predictable direction.
Garcia: It could be this predictable character – a kind of cartoonish character, which we avoided at all times. It could have been like, “Oh this is Wonder Woman and she doesn’t feel anything.” I just think this is a very specific time in history, in life, for women, every time we portray a character, we have to be very honest about it and honor that, because whatever is out there will be out there forever. The flaws. The good and the bad. And the things that are great about a woman in power – a woman in charge.

Garcia with Chad Michael Collins in Sniper: Ultimate Kill

TrunkSpace: Sniper is an established franchise and you came into the universe after many of the actors had already solidified themselves within the world. What were your thoughts about coming into an established film franchise that had already built up a fan base?
Garcia: You know, it came out of surprise. I remembered “Sniper” and when I was little, like a teenager, I remember watching them. We all love action movies. They’re going to live forever. You need them. They’re entertaining. When I auditioned, I just really loved the character. I never focus on the potential of the entire monster because I just feel like we’re a team. I focus on adding a little piece of the pie. This one is my piece and I just want to give you the best piece of the entire pie. If it tastes bad, it will not be my piece. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You also star in “Fear the Walking Dead,” which is known for its body count. The Sniper films also have their share of on-screen deaths. Does “Sniper: Ultimate Kill” live up to the body count of “Fear the Walking Dead?”
Garcia: I mean, they’re different, but the one thing that they have in common is the action and the surprise and the mystery of it all. You can’t really compare the two, but the ride is a similar ride. It’s like, “Oh my God, what’s gonna happen?” You just feel that inside of you.

TrunkSpace: With “Sniper: Ultimate Kill” you know where your character Kate is going start to finish. In something like “Fear the Walking Dead,” you not only don’t know where her story will end, but you don’t know when it will end either. From a performance standpoint, do you make different choices for a character when you can see their arc laid out in front of you?
Garcia: That’s a good question. When it comes to specifically “Fear the Walking Dead,” I think the only difference between one and the other in terms of the journey is that in Fear, you’re never relaxed. You’re constantly in an apocalypse. You’re constantly in danger. Anybody can kill you at any time. So, I always feel like there’s this speed in the way I talk and the way I walk. I’m always aware of my surroundings. I’m very focused, ready for a fight or ready for anything. You would never see Luciana or any character smelling the roses. It’s impossible. It’s not right.

But in the movie, I feel like there’s a space for the character within the storyline to really have a second to think and then to act. There’s a time to think, readjust, and attack. I feel like that art is more defined in a movie than in a television show. Obviously when it comes to Fear, it’s more in your face because we’re talking about an apocalypse. You can’t afford to relax.

Photo by Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC – © 2017 AMC Film Holdings LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TrunkSpace: We talked about coming into the Sniper franchise after it was already up and running, but what was that experience like when you came into “Fear the Walking Dead,” a franchise that is easily the biggest television has seen in over a decade?
Garcia: When I started there I didn’t think about, “Oh my God, this has a huge following.” First of all, I never had time to think about that. I auditioned on a Wednesday, I knew I got the job on a Friday – meaning I was traveling to Mexico on a Friday – and on Monday I was on set. I couldn’t think of anything. (Laughter)

I was just more focused on this character and this situation and how I could understand her more because I had no information, at all, whatsoever, other than that she knows how to kill zombies and she has this guy. Other than that, I had no idea. And I was pretty focused the entire season to do my absolute best job to create this woman and give her lot of layers of life and to make her real to that specific time in an apocalyptic world.

So that was my goal. I couldn’t think of about it being a franchise or about Comicon or, you know, action figures. I was more like, “How can I get my day done well to the best of my abilities.” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Obviously “Fear the Walking Dead” has a huge following. The Sniper franchise continues to build its fan base. And then if we look a little further back in your career we’ll find a show that you guested on that really has a massive fan following in “Supernatural.” It has become a show where so many young actors have gotten their start, and from what we’ve been told by others, it is a set that welcomes newcomers with open arms.
Garcia: Yeah. It’s a show that, the moment you get to set – literally the moment you get to set – the one thing you do is you meet Jensen and Jared. And the moment you meet those two guys together, you understand why the show has been on for so many years, and why the show has been so successful for so many years. You understand it because those two, they are like brothers. They really are. They’re both Texans, they both started together in “Supernatural,” and they both get it. And they’re so humble. It’s this beautiful connection of brotherhood and friendship and, it just makes you want to stay, you know? It’s weird. It makes you want to stay. It makes you support them. It makes you give your best to the show.

Sniper: Ultimate Kill” is available today on digital, Blu-ray, and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“Fear the Walking Dead” airs Sundays on AMC.

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Wingman Wednesday

Lisandra Tena

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Photo By: Marc Cartwright

In the world of zombie apocalypse shows, the undead usually get the most attention. It’s not their performance that wows audiences, but the creative blood and gore associated with their death and eventual reanimation. It’s that very “what are we going to see next” that has become a staple of “The Walking Dead” small screen universe, which also includes the spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead,” currently in its third season.

While we revel in what the special effects makeup crew are capable of achieving in both of the ongoing series, it is the performances of the talented cast that compels us to care. On the surface we eat up everything that the walkers are eating (which is usually someone as oppose to something), but at the core we continue to tune in because of the human element and the more relatable villain, survival.

Lisandra Tena is one of the reasons we have been drawn to the latest season of “Fear the Walking Dead.” As Lola, the Water Queen, the New Mexico native has brought a new dynamic and apocalyptic point of view to the AMC series, and with only a few episodes remaining, she promises a big change is coming for her character.

We recently sat down with Tena to discuss how it took some time for the enormity of the job to hit her, what keeps her character alive, and why it’s important not to get too invested in Lola’s long-term possibilities.

TrunkSpace: You’re now a part of one of the most popular franchises in modern pop culture. How long after being cast did that hit you?
Tena: It didn’t actually hit me until after I was done shooting. (Laughter) And it didn’t hit me until I got my first fan mail. I thought that was pretty cool.

It’s a really incredible opportunity, I have to say that. I feel really, really fortunate to have landed this role. I’ve been getting a lot of mail, social media mail, and I think now it’s becoming more apparent. I had friends tell me, “Do you know how big this is?” and I was like, “Yeah, I do know how big this is.” But really, it didn’t hit me until after.

TrunkSpace: Is there anything that someone can do to even prepare mentally for that kind of life-changing career experience?
Tena: I feel really, really great and really guided when it comes to having a manager, and starting to learn about publicity, and stylists, and interviews, and talk shows, and things like that. I feel really good about having a team now, because otherwise, I would be freaking out – and I kind of was. (Laughter) I kind of was at first because you get all these new experiences, and I’m learning all these new things – all these different aspects about what’s next.

So it’s really fun, but I don’t think you can really prepare for it. I think one of the most important things to have is a solid team of people working with you, like an agent and a manager. Those are the people that are going to guide you and lead the way, and be like, “Okay, so we’re gonna do this, and this is next.”

TrunkSpace: And it must be nice to be on an ensemble show that already existed when you came into it because in a lot of ways, you can always fall back on your castmates because they have all gone through the same experience?
Tena: Yeah, that’s true. And there’s that pressure right away – this sense of pressure when you’re coming into something that’s already been established. The group is a family, the cast is a family, and they’ve been working with each other and you think, “Well, how are they going to take me?” I was very surprised because everyone was welcoming, and the overwhelming feeling that I had definitely just put me at ease because everyone was so welcoming, and really professional, and nice, and the cast was really warm towards me. They were really great. That made it really easy and then I could focus on other things, like my lines. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: It is probably really important for a set like “Fear the Walking Dead” to be welcoming because they have a pretty high turnover on account of all of the character deaths. (Laughter)
Tena: Exactly. They’re like, “Let’s just be friends now because who knows how long this is gonna last!” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Nearly all of the characters within the universe, both in Fear and the regular “The Walking Dead” are all strong in their own way, hence their ability to survive. From your perspective, what are Lola’s strengths and what will keep her alive as things sort of continue to deteriorate, as they always do in this world?
Tena: Well, I think one of her strengths is servitude, having this innate servitude of wanting to help others and not caring so much of the self, but caring for other people. I think we definitely need more of that in the show, to honestly care for another person. I think that comes genuinely to her more so because she’s been at the dam basically her entire time in this existence, and that’s her life now. That’s where she works. That’s where she lives. And so I think in turn, that also may be a weakness because she doesn’t know what the outside world is like at this time, in the apocalypse, and how people actually become – how they turn and how easy it is to make a bad choice or bad decision.

I think what will help her survive is her getting on that train quickly when it comes to taking, for example, Daniel’s advice, and really making some decisions that will be for the benefit of this thing that she has, which is the dam. It is very valuable and I think she’s starting to understand that. But in a world like this, you can’t be soft. You’ve got to be a little tougher and more realistic. You need to have some sense of grit. She’s not a violent person, so I think it’s a little tough for her.

TrunkSpace: And in a lot of ways, surviving in this world means not showing other people your weaknesses, right?
Tena: Yeah, exactly, because the only people here running the dam now is just Lola with Daniel at her side, and Efrain. I think that the people have this view of what the dam is like and the people that are running it, and they probably, in their mind, are thinking it’s being ran the same way as Dante was running it. So they’re becoming aggressive, and they’re frustrated and angry, and she’s like, “No, no, no, this is different. I’m a different person. We’re gonna run things differently now.”

TrunkSpace: So within all of that complicated, human nature conflict that the character is tied to, what for you has been your favorite aspect of Lola performance-wise?
Tena: That’s a good question. I haven’t been asked that question.

I can’t say what it is, because it hasn’t aired yet, but what I can say is that I definitely didn’t see it coming in the last episode of this season. What’s gonna happen, and the change that happens in her, is actually really, really nice to see in Lola. There is a huge change in her in the last two episodes, and I’m really happy with it.

TrunkSpace: Is it a change that you didn’t anticipate with the character when you received the first script?
Tena: Yes, exactly. When I got the sides, I did see a range in this character, which actually was what really attracted me to the role. We saw a sensitive side. We saw a strong side. We saw a variation – a playful side. What we see in the last two episodes is a drastic kind of extreme of her personality, something we maybe will not have expected.

TrunkSpace: So in a show where your character can become zombie food at any moment, does a part of you have to work at not being too invested in her long-term possibilities?
Tena: Correct, you have to be in the moment and that’s all you got to focus on. We don’t even get the scripts – we don’t get other episodes ahead of time. We get them the week of sometimes and it’s like, “Okay, this is what we’re shooting and this is what’s happening.” And that’s the way the world is too. In the apocalypse, you got to think in the now – where are we going today, maybe tomorrow, and we got to be listening to what’s going on. We got to be present, in the moment, because anything can happen. If you make plans, the universe changes those plans.

“Fear the Walking Dead” airs Sundays on AMC.

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Wingman Wednesday

Kelsey Scott

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Many young people with aspirations of becoming a professional actor dream of one day having their talents recognized with an Emmy nomination. Not many of those future award ceremony scenarios involve zombies.

The “Fear the Walking Dead” companion web series “Passage” was recently nominated for an Emmy in the new Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series category. Even more amazing than a genre show being recognized is that series star Kelsey Scott was also nominated in the Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series category, a well-deserved nod for a performance that will hopefully create a change in the way horror and science fiction performances are viewed on a critical level.

 


We recently sat down with Scott to discuss her “Passage” experience, her writer grandmother, and what she’d develop in Hollywood if presented with a blank check.

TrunkSpace: Did you ever think you’d receive an Emmy nod for working alongside of zombies?
Scott: (Laughter) I think you just take the ride. I can’t imagine that anyone would ever anticipate that, so you just go with it.

TrunkSpace: In all seriousness though, it must be nice to have your work and the format recognized. It’s great to see these short form projects getting critical attention, especially at this stage when they play like mini-movies.
Scott: Oh, absolutely. I said to someone at some point that short form has been like a pioneer of different stories of different narratives of different perspectives. It is now much simpler to produce in terms of content, so you get a lot of voices that maybe would not have been heard before because now they can actually get recognition. Now they can actually get their content distributed in some way. I think short form has become particularly important to an overall narrative for the industry.

TrunkSpace: And for a series like “Fear the Walking Dead,” these companion pieces are also a great way to build out the universe even further.
Scott: Exactly. Any number of people have seen a character on a show or even in film and wondered about their backstory or wished there was more to view with that particular character. This gives a chance to explore that type of stuff. It’s kind of a litmus test, I think, also for the larger brand in that they get to see what the fan reaction is to a certain type of character and then they can make some decisions about how much more to show in the actual long form.

TrunkSpace: What does the production schedule on something like “Passage” look like?
Scott: We spent three days in Santa Clarita and shot the entire 16 episodes in three days.

TrunkSpace: Wow.
Scott: Oh yeah! And we got bumped and bruised and scarred. It was so much fun.

TrunkSpace: Is it a situation where you get to spend three days with a character and then head home and wish you had more time with her?
Scott: Yeah, but it was great. I think the kind of compressed shooting schedule also just allows you to completely immerse yourself because it’s like, “All right, we’re just going to go hard for three days. Just get in there and do it.” It was great. One of the stories that Mishel and I talk about a lot is that on the third day, they brought in stunt doubles. We were like, “We’ve been doing all the stunts. Why do we have stunt doubles at the end?” (Laughter) We were like, “No, we’re good. We’ve already bled for this, so we’re okay.”

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) They bring them in right at the end to do a wide on the characters looking off into the sunset.
Scott: (Laughter) Right! “We’ve got this from here.”

Kelsey Scott as Sierra, Mishel Prada as Gabi – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 2, Passage – Photo Credit: Ron Jaffe/AMC

That was a lot of fun though because you don’t often get to do that kind of thing, especially as a woman. The opportunities to do action and to get all dirty and wield weapons and kick butt doesn’t come along as often as we would like. It’s nice to not worry about whether or not your mascara is running or just to get in there and really, truly, literally and figuratively, get your hands dirty.

TrunkSpace: After getting in there and getting your hands dirty, was it a pleasant surprise when you learned about the Emmy nominations?
Scott: It was. It was a very pleasant surprise. You know that you’re on the ballot, so you know there’s a possibility, but there are a lot of people on the ballot. (Laughter) You hope that you are one of the people that gets chosen for that select spot. Yeah, it was really, really nice.

TrunkSpace: And you don’t often see genre pieces getting recognized in that way, so it speaks to how views are changing.
Scott: Yeah, I think they’re getting much more character-based than anyone anticipated. They can no longer be dismissed in terms of their story, so I think people are latching on to that.

TrunkSpace: You are a director and writer as well. When you’re focusing on a project strictly from an acting standpoint, is it hard for you to take off those other hats and not think like a director or think like a writer?
Scott: Not really. I think that it’s most difficult to separate those individual specialties when I’m writing, because when I’m writing, I’m writing as a writer, as an actor and a director. When you’re in front of the camera, then I think it’s really about delving into the character. I always think so highly of actor/directors who can direct themselves. How do you step outside of yourself when you’re on camera? I have the utmost respect for people who can do that. No, when I’m acting, I’m all in it.

TrunkSpace: Where did the bug bite you first?
Scott: It was definitely in the acting. From my first step on stage, though it was to sing not to act when I was three years old, so I’ve been doing the performing thing for awhile. My mother was very happy to refocus my energy out of her hair. (Laughter) She was just like, “Could you please do something with all of this energy that’s productive?”

I started on stage in Atlanta when I was just a child and then it grew from there. It was definitely acting, but my grandmother was a writer. That’s actually where I got the writing bug to begin with, when I was six years old.

TrunkSpace: That’s really cool.
Scott: She wasn’t a writer by profession, it’s something she loved to do. After she would write something, she’d let me read it, and sometimes I would actually go and perform her pieces around the community. She really sparked that in me, and then I kept going with it professionally.

TrunkSpace: It was great to have that focus so early in your upbringing because nowadays it seems more important than ever for actors to diversify and be able to create, write, and direct.
Scott: I could never have imagined the gift she gave me in sparking that interest in me because, absolutely, like I said, there are so many more opportunities to tell so many stories now, so you also need to be able to tell those stories. You can’t just depend on being in front of the camera, you have to be able to wield the pen. And that’s obviously a metaphor because nobody really writes out longhand anymore. (Laughter) You have to be able to figuratively wield the pen.

Then, if you’ve got even more skill sets in terms of the directing or the editing then that puts you in an even better position. The more you can do in-house, then I think the better the advantage you have.

TrunkSpace: Does being a writer/director also help you be a better actor and vice versa?
Scott: I think they all complement each other. Everybody talks about how theater is collaborative. That’s on somebody’s bumper sticker. I don’t know that people emphasize that as much in film and television, but it’s the exact same thing. None of this can be done on an island, so the more you know about the different aspects of the process, I think it just strengthens you in another area.

TrunkSpace: So if a studio came to you tomorrow and handed you a blank check to develop any kind of project that you wanted, what would it be?
Scott: Wow! A blank check? I’ve only ever seen those in movies!

Well, interestingly enough, because I am also a writer, I do have projects that are in different stages of development. You give me a blank check, and all of a sudden I’m financing a whole bunch of stuff. Oh yeah, I’d have so much fun with a blank check. Now you’ve got me dreaming!

TrunkSpace: So instead of putting it all into one project, you’d spread the wealth across multiple projects?
Scott: You did say blank check! (Laughter)

Watch “Passage” here.

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Wingman Wednesday

Mishel Prada

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Photo By: Louis Oberlander

In a post-apocalyptic world, being a survivor is not always a good thing, particularly for those attempting to outlast a zombie-geddon. Mishel Prada knows all too well about weathering that flesh-eating storm after being cast as a lead in the “Fear the Walking Dead” companion web series “Passage” where she portrays Gabi, one of the last hopes for humanity.

We recently sat down with Prada to discuss Emmy praise, her surprise casting, and immersing herself into the physicality of the role.

TrunkSpace: First we just have to say that it is extremely cool to see a genre series like “Passage” get recognized by the Emmy folks.
Prada: I know. It is really cool. I think the coolest part about it is that it’s part of this new media that’s coming out. I feel like new media is like this new generation’s rap music. People are like, “What is that rap music?” and then it ends up actually changing the game. I think new media and the online market, online web series and magazines, is the future. There’s an interesting change that is happening. It’s really cool to be a part of that.

TrunkSpace: Did you put more pressure on yourself as an actor stepping into something like “Passage” where you’re basically being folded into this massive universe/franchise that already has a huge fanbase?
Prada: I didn’t even know what I was getting into. (Laughter) I auditioned for it not knowing what it was at all and then didn’t realize what it was until the fitting. And then I didn’t realize that I was meant to be one of the leads of it until I got the script. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Wow. That’s a pleasant surprise!
Prada: I was like, “Oh, me and Kelsey are carrying this whole thing? Awesome!”

TrunkSpace: Discovering unexpectedly that you’re a lead in a high profile gig related to “The Walking Dead” seems like it might bring on a sudden panic attack. (Laughter)
Prada: (Laughter) Yeah, but it’s also exciting because as an actor, it’s fun to get to just dig into these stories. In addition to obviously being part of this big franchise, Lauren Signorino and Mike Zunic did an incredible job of writing a story that I felt really connected to. On set Kelsey and I really felt strongly about that, which was women coming together, doing their damn thing, and just surviving. In addition to being part of the franchise, it was this beautiful icing on the cake to get to also be part of telling stories that I think are very poignant for this time.

TrunkSpace: And from what we learned in talking with Kelsey, you guys got to do your own stunts as well, which must have made for some post-apocalyptic fun?
Prada: 100 percent. We had stunt people, but you kind of just get so deep into the characters that it almost doesn’t make sense to let somebody else take the fall or to feel the pain or whatever it is. In the moment, it was really just all-immersive. And then afterward, Kelsey and I went and had a margarita and we were sitting there just going, “Well, what was that?” (Laughter) We were all bruised and we went and had a spa day.

TrunkSpace: Much of the series looks claustrophobic. Did the shoot itself have that feel?
Prada: It wasn’t claustrophobic in the sense that you feel trapped, but it was definitely close quarters. The smoke and the dust and everything was very real. In between takes, we were having to wear these breathing masks. Just trying to also stay in it, which is the biggest thing because a lot of times an actor, you can kind of step away from the environment, but there’s also a beauty to sitting in the uncomfortableness of it because that is reality for the character. So there was a sense of making sure that you’re still honoring that.

TrunkSpace: Humans are always scarier than the zombies in “The Walking Dead” universe, but was it kind of weird to see the zombies standing near the crafty table in-between takes sipping a latte or whatever? (Laughter)
Prada: (Laughter) The makeup is amazing. The effects department does a really great job. They cast these characters with these really beautiful, interesting faces so that they kind of accentuate the angles. Yeah, it is a really cool thing to be a part of and see.

TrunkSpace: What’s amazing is that a lot of times these companion shorts/web series can sometimes feel like they’re shot on the cheap and not fully immersed in the umbrella of the universe, but with “Passage,” it seemed like they pulled no punches to make it look and feel just like what fans of “The Walking Dead” or “Fear the Walking Dead” have grown accustom to.
Prada: Yeah, the cinematography was incredible. They did a really great job. I remember seeing a lot of the stills and just thinking how beautiful it looked. We weren’t really wearing a lot of makeup and it wasn’t really about the women looking beautiful or looking poised. A lot of it was just about whatever the action was that was going on and the beauty of the sets, which was really cool.

TrunkSpace: When you learned that you would be one of the leads in “Passage,” did it feel like it could open more doors in your career?
Prada: As with anything in life, it’s always good to just experience what you’re experiencing right at the moment. I suppose that is the luxury of not knowing what the future is with the project. All that you know is just that moment and all of us could kind of take a lesson in that… just to really focus on what’s in front of you and whatever you’re feeling and tend to that.

Mishel Prada as Gabi – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 2, Passage – Photo Credit: Ron Jaffe/AMC

TrunkSpace: Since it aired, have you felt the reach of “The Walking Dead” fanbase?
Prada: Yeah, the fanbase has been really cool. I have a friend that’s on “The Walking Dead,” Alanna Masterson. I’ve seen what has happened with her being on the show. It never really occurred to me when we were shooting it that it would be something that would carry over in that way.

I think what’s cool about “Fear the Walking Dead” is that it really embraces a lot of diversity with the way the Latin community looks at death in a different way. Whereas, in Mexico and most of Latin American, death is celebrated. It is feared to some extent, but it’s just a transition. There’s a compassion in a way.

TrunkSpace: It’s almost more of an acceptance of death and not fighting against it.
Prada: Exactly, and having to live with that death as opposed to being able to bury it away and forget about it.

TrunkSpace: Earlier in our conversation you mentioned that it is cool to be a part of this new media generation. Do you think the various platforms that are now available to viewers has enabled content creators to take a more creative approach to storytelling and tell the story they want to tell?
Prada: Oh yeah, 100 percent. That’s why it’s so incredible that there is this place that just eliminates the excuses of, “Oh well, a studio’s not giving me money so…” Even if you only have an iPhone, you can tell a story and put it up, and people might resonate with it.

Watch “Passage” here.

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Wingman Wednesday

Michael Mosley

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Photo By: Riker Brothers Photography

Regardless of the genre, Michael Mosley owns every scene he’s in. The Iowa native can deliver laughs with ease, as made apparent in shows like “Sirens” and “Scrubs,” or he can drop a major dramatic anvil on the heads of viewers, which he’s doing with his latest string of projects, including “Ozark” and “Seven Seconds,” a pair of high-profile Netflix shows. He is versatile, relatable, and in the opinion of this publication, one of the most underrated actors working in the business today.

We recently sat down with Mosley to discuss the emotional heaviness of his recent roles, his approach towards comedic performance, and how his 12-year-old self would have been super psyched about getting to kiss Margot Robbie.

TrunkSpace: We have some unrealistic expectations for this interview because you’re one of our favorite people to watch onscreen, so we’re expecting nothing but insightful responses and wittiness. (Laughter)
Mosley:: (Laughter) Okay. Well here we go. Just throw a pitch and I’ll knock it out of the park.

TrunkSpace: Your new Netflix series “Ozark” is some dark storytelling and your character has gone through some heavy life stuff. When you’re performing in a character-driven, emotionally drenched project like this, does the material trickle into your own headspace? Does it become a heavier job when the material itself is heavier?
Mosley: Yeah, it definitely does. And the world is heavier, so it all kind of feeds into itself. The last couple of years… I was on “Sirens” and I was telling dick jokes in an ambulance, so to come to this and have everything be so heavy and weighted, I was really very nervous about it. I haven’t done heavy shit like that in awhile. When I was on “Castle” playing this killer, that stuff would get a little thick at times, but this guy was a victim. He’s often kind of high on his horse about where he saw himself spiritually and where he saw others spiritually and stuff like that, but he was not a bad guy or anything. This is happening to him and he was just kind of navigating through it.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how you haven’t done this type of heavy work for awhile. Did you put yourself in a position to step away from comedy after “Sirens” in order to distance yourself from being seen in that light?
Mosley:: Not at all. When I first started out, I was kind of the serious actor. One of the first gigs I got was for a drama on NBC where it was this really heavy show, and then I started getting these comedies. Bill Lawrence picked me up to do a pilot for him and then he put me in his last season of “Scrubs” and then all of a sudden I was this funny guy, which is great. It’s so much fun. It’s a fun way to make a living because you’re just on set with your friends busting each others’ balls all day and they roll the cameras and you try to crack each other up. I don’t know what happened. I shot a comedy pilot last year that didn’t go, and then I got in this movie with Rob Reiner coming out called “LBJ” with Woody Harrelson, and that was heavy. Then I don’t know… this year has been a heavy year. I don’t know why. With “Ozark,” and then the next thing I’m doing “Seven Seconds,” which is on Netflix and we already shot… that thing’s fucking dark, man.

TrunkSpace: Not only dark, but it’s also very politically and socially timely, right?
Mosley:: Absolutely. I guess that’s the darkness of that conversation in our lives right now is that it is very real, very poignant, and yes, it’s definitely the backdrop of what we’re doing on “Seven Seconds” in Jersey City.

TrunkSpace: You said you started out as the “serious actor” and then things veered into the comedy lane. From our standpoint, comedy is either a “get it” or you “don’t get it” situation because those beats and the timing can be difficult. Did you find that it just came natural to you?
Mosley:: I think with anything, you’re as good as the guy in front of you or the girl in front of you. With “Sirens,” me, Kevin Daniels, and Kevin Bigley were a little rock band. We all had our instruments and we knew how to play, and by the second season, they were just letting us rip and go to town and go crazy. Timing to me is with another person. It’s like the timing that the two people or three people or four people have is kind of unique to them. That’s as far as I can speak to it because I don’t really know why some of that stuff works. I’ll go in for something and they’re not laughing at me at all as I’m auditioning. Sometimes I’m flat, and then sometimes somebody gets it.

TrunkSpace: Regardless of how a project is ultimately received by viewers, do you view each one as a success based on the experience you had working on it and what you learned about yourself as an actor?
Mosley:: Yeah, for sure. “Ozark” was fun. And it was weird as hell and unique. We’re down in Atlanta out in the woods floating around in lakes and shit. It was really great. I didn’t really know what was going on in the show very much. Watching the show, there’s 20 storylines going on all the time… different people and different things. There were so many trailers on set and Mason, my character, never knew what was going on outside of it. We all had our own worlds and Bateman was kind of stringing it all together.

Working with Bateman was a blast. He’s really good in the show because he’s such a good actor, and I don’t think we’ve seen him like this… when he’s pleading for his life in the pilot, it’s unreal. He also has this kind of natural likeness about him as we’ve always known him to have. So it was really wild getting to act with him and doing this really intense, epic stuff, and then they call “cut” and he’d be cracking jokes and busting balls with the crew. The more I’m in this business, you kind of run into these people who are effortlessly in control of themselves… folks that have an ease and you trust them. They’re like a good quarterback.

TrunkSpace: “Seven Seconds” is based on a Russian movie. It seems like a bad time to be involved in anything Russian.
Mosley:: (Laughter) Yeah, right?

TrunkSpace: In all seriousness, the show is very topical as we previously mentioned. Did that put extra pressure on everybody involved to make sure the show hits the right tone and point of view knowing that it’s meant to say something specific about what is going on in our society today?
Mosley:: Absolutely. We were so careful, and I hope we did it. With something like “Seven Seconds,” we just want to make sure at every point we’re not taking anything for granted… not making any assumptions and that nobody’s opinion is coming out in a way that’s not there to encourage discussion and discourse and to protect those that aren’t being currently protected right now.

TrunkSpace: Both “Ozark” and “Seven Seconds” are Netflix shows, which means they’re rolled out, per season, all at once. For an actor, how does that experience differ for you than something like “Sirens,” which took a more traditional approach?
Mosley:: Well, a couple of things. When you’re doing a network broadcast, you kind of have to beg people to show up to the party. You’re on Twitter saying, “Hey, please watch my show. It’s on Tuesday at 8:00.” With the streaming, you don’t have to do that. It just kind of lands. I haven’t been on any social media begging anybody to watch “Ozark” or anything. It’s just there.

Photo By: Riker Brothers Photography

Also it’s a premium subscription, so their pedigree is just a little bit different. They’re not afraid of anything over there that I can see, so that’s great. You get to do kind of crazy stuff.

TrunkSpace: Well, and like you mentioned previously with “Ozark,” there are so many storylines going on at once that being able to stream it all at once helps keep everything tight for the viewer.
Mosley:: Yeah, there’s that too. Also, with network broadcast TV, they’ll change the show as it’s airing based on how well it’s doing or how well the show next to it is doing. So as you’re shooting episode 6 on a broadcast network television show, episode 1 is airing and if episode 2’s numbers drop, they’re going to go into the writers’ room and episode 8 is going to be completely different and now the show’s completely different. They have to get in there and tinker with it, whereas on Netflix, there’s none of that. They let creators take the ball and run with it.

It’s great because it allows creators to find their sea legs and figure things out and it lets the cast get comfortable with themselves, lets the crew get tight, and everybody becomes completely cohesive by the end of the process. The real vision gets to be honored, which is kind of difficult in broadcast television.

TrunkSpace: What aspect of your career would 15-year-old you be most impressed with? Is there a particular project or somebody that you worked with that young Michael would be super psyched about?
Mosley: I don’t know. Getting to kiss Margot Robbie on “Pan Am” was pretty cool. (Laughter)

You know, you play cops and robbers and you get to fly an airplane… you get to do all this crazy shit that you never expect to do. That stuff is just super crazy, like going out to Jersey City and spending a week hanging out with the homicide detectives and having dinner with them, talking to them, listening to their stories, and cracking jokes with them. And meeting the homicide detectives and vice detectives and cops in Manhattan and having dinner with them. These are crazy, wild things that you never would expect that you get to do. Or when I was in “Pan Am,” we went to a flight simulator and I was flying a plane with Mike Vogel. Not a real plane, but a computer plane that moved and stuff. Or going to Mozambique, shaving my head, and hanging out with a bunch of marines. This is the stuff that’s just kind of crazy and wild and fun about the job. Hitting your mark and saying your lines is one thing, but where the plane takes you is bizarre.

“Ozark” is available now on Netflix.

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