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Wingman Wednesday

Josh Blacker

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Photographer: Noah Asanias/Stylist: Joanna Kulpa

For those of us who grew up in the 1980s watching “high concept” television like “ALF,” the idea of a series as big in scope and as deep in character as “See” would have been inconceivable at the time. Television has come so far in the years since the dials were controlled by only three networks that nowadays every night can be spent watching a summer blockbuster in the comfort of your own home. And for the actors who bring amazing projects like “See” to life, it’s no different behind the scenes.

It felt more like being on the set of a big budget blockbuster than traditional episodic television,” said series star Josh Blacker in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Blacker to discuss embracing the fantastical wardrobe, bringing the sightless experience to his performance, and the role that was a dream come true.

TrunkSpace: A new series. A new streaming service. High-stakes storytelling. How excited are you to finally have “See” going out wide into the world and, we would imagine, finally having the freedom to share that excitement with people once you don’t have to worry about sharing any spoilers.
Blacker: I’m thrilled that people will finally be able to enter into the epic world of “See” that Apple has brought to life. It’s beyond anything I’ve ever been involved in and I think people are going to be blown away by the scope of this series. I can’t wait to hear people’s thoughts about the show and share some of my experiences making it.

TrunkSpace: Not a lot has been revealed about the series yet as much of it be being kept under wraps, but knowing what you know about “See,” what are going to be those must-see elements that you feel will not only pull audiences in, but keep them enthralled for the duration of the season?
Blacker: Oh, man, there are so many elements to “See” that will have people engrossed from the beginning. The talent involved at every stage and in every department is truly remarkable. The scope of the world building is truly epic. The sets built into the middle of nowhere in the wilds of British Columbia are a majestic backdrop to a truly unique story that has all the things people love in a good show. Love, death, secrecy, betrayal, action, and so much more. Our writer, Stephen Knight, is remarkable.

TrunkSpace: Upon last check, the trailer for the series has nearly 28 million views. Does this feel like the kind of project that could be a game changer for you in terms of your career moving forward?
Blacker: I certainly hope so!

TrunkSpace: From what we’ve seen so far of “See,” it looks less like a television series and more like a big budget tentpole film. As an audience, it’s amazing to see how far television has come since our days of watching ONLY the three major networks, but from someone who works inside the industry – and specifically this project – do episodics have that “movie” feel behind the scenes as well?
Blacker: Oh absolutely! From my very first wardrobe fitting to the moment I walked onto set for the first time you could just tell that Apple had spared no expense in creating the world of “See.” It felt more like being on the set of a big budget blockbuster than traditional episodic television.

TrunkSpace: Let’s talk wardrobe for a minute. We hear “dystopian future” and we think, “YES, 10-year-old us would be so excited to be dressing up like Conan.” When you’re working on a project that exists in a heightened, fictional reality, is there a bit of wish fulfillment for you and your inner 10-year-old? Having grown up watching this kind of action, is it surreal to now be performing it on-camera?
Blacker: That’s so funny because it’s exactly what I thought when I first saw the wardrobe and visuals for my character, the Witchfinder Warrior. It was a little overwhelming at first, but as soon as I finished getting into wardrobe and makeup, I looked in the mirror and the 10 year old in me was over the moon. This is the type of project I was transfixed by as a kid and to be able to be a part of it has been a dream come true.

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 “See” thus far that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Blacker: There are SO many amazing memories from the eight months of shooting. But, I think the one that stands out the most is the two-month boot camp we went through at the very beginning and working with our amazing blindness consultant Joe Strechay. He is such an incredibly warm and kind man and his guidance and mentorship in helping me bring the sightless experience to screen authentically was something I’ll always remember.

Photographer: Noah Asanias/Stylist: Joanna Kulpa

TrunkSpace: What are your views on fame as it relates to your acting career? Is it part of the package that you have come to terms with it, or, would you be comfortable focusing on your craft and never having to be recognized outside of the work itself?
Blacker: I think ideally it’d be nice to have a balance between the two. It’s a bit of a catch 22, in that having a degree of ‘fame’ allows you to work on bigger and more exciting projects but it can come at a cost – the loss of anonymity. However, the longer I work the more I enjoy hearing from fans and engaging with them online. Most of them are so sweet and kind and it really does fill me with joy to hear how something I’ve been in has affected them in some way. So if fame means working a lot on really good projects and being recognized by more and more people for that work, I’ll gladly take it.

TrunkSpace: You’ve appeared in a lot of fan-favorite shows over the years, including “Arrow,” “The 100” and “Travelers.” Are there any characters that you wished you had more time to explore given how interesting they were to you personally?
Blacker: I love working on the fan-favorite shows. The fans of those shows are so educated and so supportive it really makes me wish I could explore all of those characters for much longer. I’d love to have had more time with all of those characters, but if I had to choose one, it’d be Magee on “Arrow.” He was supposed to appear in more than one episode, but we had a conflict with the schedule so unfortunately that didn’t happen. He was such a dark, conflicted person and I’d love to have been able to explore his world a lot more.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Blacker: There are so many! Although, working with Jodie Foster on “Elysium” was a dream come true. I’ve admired her work for so long and to finally share the screen with her was an honor.

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?
Blacker: I love the idea of time travel! Someone, please put me in your time travel film or show. But, in real life, I try not to look ahead or back too much. I love the surprises that life and particularly life in this business brings, so I think I’d pass on the journey to my future. The joy I get every time I walk on set for the first time is something I want to experience as it happens.

See” is available now on Apple TV+.

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Wingman Wednesday

Bandits on the Run

BanditsOnTheRunFeatured
Photo By: David Katzinger

Self-described misfits, the members of Bandits on the Run – Regina Strayhorn, Adrian Blake Enscoe and Sydney Shepherd – have found creative kinship as a trio. From busking in the New York City subways to traveling the world, they’re now bringing their three-part harmonies to the digital space with their new EP, Bandits Live at the Power Station, available now.

If you’re listening to the EP while waiting for the train, you may actually get a glimmer of what it’s like to encounter us alone one fall night on a deserted G train platform,” they said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “And that’s exactly what we want.”

We recently sat down with the band to discuss the energy of live invention, mutual understandings, and creating a shared moment with their listeners.

TrunkSpace: Your recent EP, Bandits Live at the Power Station, seems like the best possible way to enjoy the band, which is, in as live of a setting as possible. Does going into the studio require a different approach creatively to the music the group makes, because again, it seems like you’re all most at home on the stage?
Bandits: We are definitely most at home on the stage. The three of us are actors as well as musicians/writers, so performance comes naturally for us. When recording in studio as opposed to a live performance, it’s sort of like film acting vs. stage acting. Everything is under a microscope in the studio, every creak and breath is captured, which is delicious and exciting, but also challenges us to be more specific about what we are doing and the sounds we want to make. With something like the Power Station EP, we feel we found a bit of a middle ground. Because we are performing everything live, playing/singing together all at once, that energy of live creation is there, but captured in a very intentional way.

TrunkSpace: We read in a previous interview where you referred to yourselves as misfits by nature. Outside of finding a connection between yourselves as individuals, does music give you an outlet to channel that misfit energy through?
Bandits: Bandits is the primary outlet for our misfit-ness. We are so lucky to have found in each other a small family of creators who are hungry to make our true voices be heard. Everyone is used to being put in a box, but sometimes performers even moreso. There’s so much people assume about you based on the way you look or the energy they perceive from you, and we love inviting folks in for a closer look, encouraging them to dig deeper beneath the surface. We’re inspired by so many genres and so many of our collective and individual experiences, and we refuse to adhere to one sound. We have yet to find someone who can really nail us down into a genre, so we feel like we’re succeeding quite a bit in breaking down boundaries. We also understand each other’s voices to a point where we can really lift each other up and support each other, and celebrate our uniqueness not only as a band but as characters within the whole.

TrunkSpace: There are amazing three-part harmonies throughout your music that just seem to fit together in a way that transcends chance. Do you believe in creative love at first sight, and when you three first came together, was the creative connection – and the ability to blend them together seamlessly – apparent right away?
Bandits: In a word, yes. We do believe in creative love at first sight. Sydney and Regina began creating together many years before bandits – it started as a project where Regina would write a poem and Sydney would set it to music, and quickly escalated to both of them writing words and music seamlessly flowing one to the other. When Adrian and Sydney met years later – listen to “Love in the Underground” if you want the story of how – the energy was much the same, vibrant and symbiotic. When Regina moved to New York City and we tried our hand at singing all together, there was an undeniable and electric alchemy stronger than any of us had felt before. We were instantly a band. It was the weirdest thing. We’ve only grown stronger in our ability to collaborate and gel with each other. Even though our voices are so unique on their own, they somehow fit together in a way that defies logic. There are some recordings where we truly can’t tell each other’s voices apart, and we love it.

TrunkSpace: As a group, you seem to write from the perspective of outside storytellers… watchers of humanity. How have the journeys of others inspired you to turn their uniquely-taken paths into songs? Is it as simple as witnessing someone on the street and giving them a narrative?
Bandits: It’s so interesting that you say that, because many of our songs are actually deeply personal. Or if they’re told from an outside perspective, it’s usually an imaginary person we are infusing with our own stories and personalities. Sure, Regina’s never watched her cowboy lover ride off into the sunset like in “Cowboy on the Run,” Adrian’s never haunted the walls of a gal’s house like in “Funky Ghost,” and Sydney’s never turned her lover into a crow like in “Bonnie Jean,” but these stories are tales that are based, whether loosely or closely, on similar feelings and experiences, even if those experiences are daydreams.

TrunkSpace: What could someone learn about Bandits on the Run, both as artists and as individuals, in sitting down to listen to Bandits Live at the Power Station front to back?
Bandits: We’ve always been about synergy when we perform live, amongst ourselves and our audience, but also within whatever space we’re holding up. We actually began our journey busking on the NYC subways – always playing unplugged, and just soaking in the majestic acoustics of this space that most people think of as solely utilitarian. Our mission was to break up a mundane commute with a little spark of color and soul. When we snuck into the Power Station that night, we actually found ourselves in a familiar vibe to our late-night busking days… in this beautiful, cavernous acoustic environment with only ourselves and our instruments, there to make our own tiny mark on this space where the history is palpable. We played our hearts out to the room in what felt like an echo of our origins. If you’re listening to the EP while waiting for the train, you may actually get a glimmer of what it’s like to encounter us alone one fall night on a deserted G train platform. And that’s exactly what we want.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the EP?
Bandits: Honestly for us the best part of the whole thing is having a recording that sounds exactly like us playing live and unplugged. There’s always the temptation when you get in the studio to embellish, polish, and elaborate, but we’re really proud that at our core we’ve got a very full and detailed sound – which we can make completely organically and acoustically. This process taught us not to shy away from that. We were recording on some amazing analog equipment with a really incredible team (producer William Garrett and engineer Ian Kagey) which really set the scene for us to be at our most natural. It’s a 100 percent accurate recording of the moment, the room, and of the song in the room. Neil Young says that when he plays a song he is the song, and we want to use our songs to be present right next to you and share a moment with you, even through all the technology and 1s and 0s in between us. With this EP we found trust.

TrunkSpace: What do you get out of being in a band, particularly this trio, that you can’t achieve in a solo capacity? Creatively, what keeps you writing and performing as a unit?
Bandits: It’s very difficult to three-part-harmonize as one person. We jest we jest! But really. It’s hard. Truly, we’ve made our own rules for Bandits. There are some tunes that are so heavily written by one person that they could almost be solo numbers, and some written by all of us in the room building something brick by brick all at the same time. When you’re writing by yourself you don’t have that option, you’re all on your own.

Another wonderful thing about writing together: accidents. Sydney may hear a melody a certain way in her head, then while singing it Adrian may play a different chord on the guitar that she never thought of but somehow makes the song blossom, Regina may change a few words in lyric offhandedly that turns out to hold the key to a song’s true meaning, the list goes on. And of course it isn’t always magic, we’ll experiment and fight and change things and work on a line a million times, but that process is a trial by fire that often ends up in a song exceeding what we thought we were capable of.

TrunkSpace: Can you envision a day where music is not a part of your day to day life or will it always be present in what you do, even if the method changes?
Bandits: Music will always be with us. No matter what. We can’t fathom a day where we won’t play music together. It’s part of our identities and our love for each other and the way we interact with each other and with the greater world around us. We truly don’t think that will ever change. We’ll always be open to experimentation and growth of course, but so far we’ve always been on similar wavelengths, and we’re really digging this ride together.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Bandits: Travel! Adventure! Serendipity! In the past few years, through equal parts gritty determination and dumb luck, we’ve been afforded the chance to travel beyond NYC, from the west coast to Western Europe. Every time we find ourselves in a new city, we’re given the chance to introduce ourselves with our music, playing in the street, at bars, in bookstores and coffee shops, outside of cathedrals, on boats, on beaches, on mountaintops and rooftops. We’ve encountered so many interesting people and experienced so many unique places, we could spend a whole night telling you only our favorite stories (and trust us, we will one day), but getting to explore the world this way is the real highlight of what we do.

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?
Bandits: Oh, no. The great unknown is far too exciting and inspiring. We trust that wherever we’ll be in 10 years, it’ll be full of beauty and madness and creation and adventure in even greater capacities than we could ever imagine. How we get there will be the fun part.

Bandits Live at the Power Station is available now.

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Wingman Wednesday

Kim Shaw

KimShawFeatured

If you’re like us, you swap out your pumpkin-flavored everythings for peppermint the day after Halloween and begin your slow holiday burn. Thanks to Hallmark Channel, those festive vibes are gifted to us in regular rotation as part of the annual Countdown to Christmas event. Tonight we’re unwrapping “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” starring Kim Shaw and Kevin McGarry, and we’re not the only ones sprinting into the season.

I’m happy to take the holiday charge, I think about Christmas year-round so it feels like the rest of society is just catching up,” said Shaw in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Shaw to discuss on-screen chemistry, shooting in her home country, and why she has comedy in her sights.

TrunkSpace: Your new movie “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” premiers only a few days after Halloween. With our slightly-sunken Jack-O-Lanterns still out on the stoop, do you feel like you’re leading the holiday charge because, quite honestly, the festive vibes have already taken hold of all of us here?
Shaw: I know, right! My Stories on Instagram today went from dancing in my Halloween costume straight to Kevin and I with Christmas lights above our heads! I’m happy to take the holiday charge, I think about Christmas year-round so it feels like the rest of society is just catching up!

TrunkSpace: We’re suckers for Hallmark holiday movies here, and the popularity around the Countdown to Christmas event continues to grow. In your opinion, what is it about movies like “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” that continues to draw such big audiences for the network?
Shaw: Hallmark is at the top of the game for making feel good romantic movies. I think the Countdown represents the countdown to spending quality time with family, eating rich foods and being cozy on the couch, so who wouldn’t want to start that in November?

TrunkSpace: So much of what makes a movie like “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” work is the chemistry between its leads. In your case, that was Kevin McGarry. How much time did you two have together prior to arriving on set to play with that chemistry and see what worked/what didn’t?
Shaw: Mr. McGarry and I worked together on an episode of “Saving Hope” a few years ago and had an instant rapport. It worked perfectly for our characters in “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” to have a smitten history. Kevin is a really funny, witty guy, so I was very happy to get to work with him again.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, Hallmark movies shoot at an incredible pace. When you’re shooting so many pages in a single day, does it require a different preparation for the material than you would normally take?
Shaw: I try to start memorizing the material as soon as we have a locked script. Sometimes we shoot 10 to 12 pages a day and when it’s only two of you in most of the scenes it’s an inordinate amount of lines.

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 “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Shaw: I love shooting in Canada. I was born there but grew up in the States so it’s always a treat for me to get to go back to the motherland. And of course Kevin. We laughed so much shooting this, it’s not often a costar is so silly.

TrunkSpace: Is it difficult to find a connection with a character when you’re inhabiting them for only a short period of time? Is the experience different for you than, say, something like “Saving Hope,” where you spent 31 episodes with Dr. Cassie Williams?
Shaw: That’s a great question! You have to make bigger initial choices when you only get to play someone for a short period of time. You have to create the layers yourself without dozens of storylines. I learned something new about Cassie every episode of “Saving Hope,” which helped create a deep, well-rounded personality for her. Playing Belinda in “Christmas Scavenger Hunt,” I had to make strong choices for her from one script.

Shaw and McGarry in Christmas Scavenger Hunt

TrunkSpace: Is there a character that you have portrayed over the course of your career that you wished you had more time to spend with, and of so, why?
Shaw: I had a lot of fun playing Tina in “I Just Want My Pants Back” on MTV. She was quick on her feet and always got into trouble. It was extremely fun to mess around inside her head. And why not Belinda from “Christmas Scavenger Hunt!” It would be fun to see what happens with her and Dustin after they find their happy ending!

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you tomorrow and said, “Kim, here is a blank check, go and develop any kind of project that you want for yourself,” what type would you greenlight?
Shaw: Comedy! I want to do more comedy. Something that I could cast my friends in and other people I admire. Film and TV is such a community and I would love to highlight and support the people I’ve met along the way.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Shaw: Honestly, I am happy to have worked on everything I’ve been a part of. This business is a hustle and I’ve been lucky to play some really interesting people.

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?
Shaw: (Laughter) That’s a funny idea. Hm. I think I’d rather wait and see what happens! Hopefully it will be a career I can be proud of. Filled with more successes than setbacks and more laugh lines than tears.

Christmas Scavenger Hunter” premieres Sunday November 3 on Hallmark Channel.

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Opening Act

Jordan Sommerlad

JordanSommerlad

Artist: Jordan Sommerlad

Latest Album: Your Favorite Palindrome (Stream/Purchase HERE)

Hometown: New York, NY

TrunkSpace: You have said that music helps you separate from “the worries of the day.” As an artist, is it your hope that an audience can do the same by listening to your music? Is your creative escapism meant to be passed on to the end user?
Sommerlad: I definitely get that feeling of escape when I’m working on music, but I don’t know if that applies as a listener so much. I turn to music when I want to explore whatever I’m feeling or thinking about, not so much to escape from it. I think movies, books and other art forms might be better for that. For me, music provides a unique kind of clarity to what’s going on in your life. The best kind of musical experience is when you’re listening to a song that feels like it was written just for you in that moment you’re going through right then.

TrunkSpace: You released your debut solo album, Your Favorite Palindrome, on October 4. What did it mean to you to achieve this creative accomplishment given how long music has been a part of your life?
Sommerlad: This was definitely the most work I’ve put into any musical project. I’ve released lots of music under different names and bands over the years, but I think the idea to release this under my own name was in part because the music spanned a big chunk of my life. I also think this is the most personal my music has been, so that played into it as well. There’s certainly a feeling of catharsis now that it’s out because it had been in the works for so long, but I’m mostly just excited to get back to the writing process.

TrunkSpace: What could someone learn about you as both an artist and as a person in sitting down to listen to Your Favorite Palindrome, front to back?
Sommerlad: I hope they would be surprised. Something I try to do is create a different sound for every song. I don’t start with templates of other songs I’ve written, I try to use different tones and styles for everything new. I don’t want someone to hear one song of mine and feel like they’ve heard them all.

TrunkSpace: There are nine songs on the album. Are those songs a snapshot of who you are now, or do some of them go back years and have only now seen the light of day?
Sommerlad: All in all there’s a span of three years of songs on this album. The first track “Shake Me” was written shortly after I moved to New York, so that one has been hidden for a very long time. That being said, everything that went into these songs was recorded at the earliest over a year ago, it’s been a lot of mixing, mastering scheduling releases, etc, so in some sense I feel like I let these go a while ago, but still not nearly long enough to have a good sense of perspective. I’m excited to revisit these in a few years and see how much of it still resonates.

TrunkSpace: When you set out to record this album, what were the creative expectations you placed on yourself, and now that it is out into the world and you have some separation with it, do you feel like you achieved everything you set out to?
Sommerlad: I really just wanted to make something that I liked more than the last thing I made. I think that’s always a good goal to have, and might be more achievable than making something that is “better” than the last thing you made since that’s kind of up to other people to decide. I also wanted to make this one a more collaborative process than previous projects, so I outsourced the mixing and mastering to someone who actually knows what they’re doing, as well as recruiting a drummer for all of the tracks. So in both of those senses, I think I did what I wanted to.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Sommerlad: At the end of the track “Another Tomorrow” there’s a string-based outro. I worry that I have a tendency to take shortcuts in the writing process and once a song is structured I don’t explore to see if it can develop further, but on this one I think I pulled off an unexpected turn that I’m really happy with. I also had a violinist come in and record the parts, instead of just using synthesizers. That outro is probably my favorite part of the album, and I could have easily just let that song end after the last build, which would have worked, but wouldn’t have been nearly as good.

Photo By: Lizzy Miller

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist and did that manifest during the creation and recording of this album?
Sommerlad: I think the hardest thing to overcome is the idea that sometimes the good stuff is in the imperfections. Especially in the music I love, it’s the human elements that keep a song alive after many listens. Stuff that’s set perfectly to a metronome and 100 percent pitch perfect can be catchy and fun at first but I find those songs don’t stick around. But songs where you can hear the little mistakes have a much longer shelf life. But when you’re making something it’s hard to get past the fact that other people won’t hear those little mistakes the same way you do.

TrunkSpace: You’re based in New York City. Artistically, there’s always something going on in the Big Apple. How does that melting pot of creativity impact or inspire you as an artist?
Sommerlad: It’s definitely a sensory overload pretty much every day. With so much going on there’s never a shortage of humanity for inspiration. I also stay up late – I like going on night walks reviewing recordings I’ve been working on – so it’s a perfect place for that.

TrunkSpace: If you sat down with your 10-year-old self and gave him a glimpse of his future, would he be surprised by where his musical journey has taken him thus far?
Sommerlad: Yes. At 10 I had just taken piano lessons for a few years, never played guitar, definitely couldn’t even pretend to sing. At that point I had just started writing music, but just little things on the piano. Not to mention back then it was a lot harder to record anything at all. I got my first 4-track recorder from my Aunt a couple years later after I started playing guitar and that really opened things up.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of whatyour career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Sommerlad: No, I don’t think so. There’s nothing more exciting to me than hearing a recording when it’s first starting to take shape, so I don’t think I’d want to spoil that. I also just might want different things 10 years from now than I do now, but keeping the dream alive in your imagination is important. You have to be a little delusional to think your music might ever make it past your immediate social circles – I’d hate to ruin that fantasy.

Your Favorite Palindrome is available now.

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Trunk Bubbles

Alfred Rodríguez

AlfredRodriguezFeatured2

Name: Alfred Rodríguez

Website: HERE

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Spider-Man and Batman.

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Death of The Endless and Emp, from Adam Warren’s Empowered.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your writing style? What kind of writer do you hope to be?
Rodríguez: Well, the first question is a though one. I would say that I truly care for the dialogue as much as for the action shown in each panel. And I like to break the story down in rough thumbnails, in order to get a sense of the rhythm and space available to the artist.

As for the second one, that’s easy: I hope I could be a writer capable of conveying emotions in the reader. If they put down the book – or the device of their choosing for that matter – and keep thinking on the characters and the story they’ve just read… well, I think I could say it was a job well done!

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for writing?
Rodríguez: Comic books were always around since I was a little kid. My parents used to buy them for me to keep me busy while we were in the waiting room of a hospital, for example. In those prehistoric times, internet wasn’t around to offer hours of entertainment at your fingertips, therefore, reading comic books was the best way to make your imagination fly to strange and fantastic worlds.

As many kids, I also wanted to make comics, and I used to think that a single person did all the work I read in those pages. I wasn’t really aware of what the job of a writer was in terms of comics until I was maybe 12 or 13 years old, and I started noticing familiar names in the credits pages. Names like J.M. DeMatteis, Dennis O’neil, David Michelinie, among many others.

Then, I read my first Sandman collection by Neil Gaiman, and that’s where I truly understood what a comic book writer could do.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Rodríguez:Yes! I fell in love with all Spider-Man titles of the early 90’s. I loved that sense of a shared universe with other Marvel characters, and I felt the same way when I discovered Batman and the DC universe as a whole.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Rodríguez: The X-Men. I think Stan Lee described them perfectly: The Strangest Super Heroes of All. That’s what they are to me. Yes, they do some super hero stuff, but they are much more than that. They are family, and their adventures are a soap-opera as much as a super hero story.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is your greatest strength as a writer?
Rodríguez: I think I’m fairly capable of understanding the characters and finding behavioral patterns. That helps me to keep the characters consistent with their actions and their dialogue; and I think that is something the reader appreciates, perhaps even in a subconscious way.

TrunkSpace: You are stepping in as guest writer on the Neymar Jr. Comics series Social Monsters with the Day of the Dead Special, set to debut October 31. Did you feel pressure working on a title that has such a big, universally known talent involved in Neymar Jr.?
Rodríguez: Well, yes…and no.

“Yes”, because when I started typing Saber’s dialogue I went like, “Wait a minute! This guy is a Neymar Jr’s proxy! A proxy for the football star my dad watches on TV every week! I have to make him sound cool!” And that’s real pressure there, you know?

And “No”, because I knew I had the guidance and mentoring of seasoned comic book pros- like Head Writer and Editor in Chief Jason M. Burns – who are always taking good care of such an important IP as the Neymar Jr. brand. I knew that I could count on them to provide me with the best insights and direction for the story I wanted to tell.

TrunkSpace: What was your approach like as a whole when you started working on the issue? What did you want to achieve?
Rodríguez: Since it was a Day of The Dead Special, I knew I wanted to take our characters to my country, Mexico.

The “problem” was that we have hundreds of museums and items to choose from to create an entertaining and educational story, so I had to narrow my options down to those related to the “Day of The Dead” or “death” as a concept. And then I remembered that we already have a classic “monster” to fight with. One that our typical “super heroes”, the Luchadores, have fought before: The Mummies of Guanajuato. So in a way, I wanted to convey that feel of the classic Lucha Libre movies, with our heroes fighting the mummies; while paying homage to a city that means so much to me and my wife.

TrunkSpace: Although grounded in reality from a historical sense, the Social Monsters series is very much the kind where anything is possible. How much fun is it writing in a world where there are really no boundaries to what you want to put on the page as far as your imagination goes?
Rodríguez: It’s liberating! But at the same time, it poses quite a challenge, because in a world where not even the sky is the limit, it is tempting to “abuse” that power in terms of story, and there’s always the risk of making the story too far out, or the characters too powerful for the reader to even care for them and their exploits. And that’s also the fun part, you know? To find the best way to tell a fantastic story but keeping our characters close to the reader.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with your work on Social Monsters?
Rodríguez: The fact that I could have our heroes coming to Mexico, because that way, I was able to share a little bit of our culture with our readers, while keeping true to the essence of what Social Monsters is about: entertaining and educational content for readers of all ages.

TrunkSpace: You also run a podcast about all things comic books. Can you tell us about that and how it came into creation?
Rodríguez: Sure thing!

I started toying with the idea of hosting my own podcast while listening to the very scarce comic book-related podcasts in my country, back in 2012. One day, I was invited as a guest in one of those podcasts, and I took mental notes on how it was made. So, I started out recording audio on my mobile phone and mixing it (poorly) with a simple audio edit software I found online. That’s how El Café Comiquero (The Comic Book Coffee Shop would be the most accurate translation) came to be.

The first 10-15 episodes were… not bad, but far from “good”, since it was only me, talking non-stop for an hour or so. Until I found my partner in crime: my own brother, Raul. Not only did we grow up together (obviously), but we also grew up reading, mostly, the same comics and watching the same movies and TV shows. So, one day I asked him if he would be interested in co-hosting the show with me, he said yes, and 329 episodes later, I can tell you that this podcast have become an essential part of our lives.

In this podcast we talk about all kinds of comic books, movies, TV shows and pop culture-related topics. You can find us in almost all major platforms such as Spotify, iTunes or Google Podcast under the name “El Café Comiquero”. And, you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as “El Café Comiquero” as well.

If you speak Spanish – or if you are taking Spanish lessons – and want to practice it a little bit while listening to some nice geeky content, give it a try and tell us what you think.

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Wingman Wednesday

Ashley Newbrough

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While Ashley Newbrough’s holiday movie “A Merry Christmas Match” premiered BEFORE Halloween, the Rhode Island native starts her own festive celebrating after the trick-or-treaters have all removed their masks and collected their candy.

I don’t start putting up Christmas decorations until November – I like to give each holiday their moment, Christmas being the grand finale,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Newbrough to discuss Hallmark’s seasonal success, peanut butter cup cravings, and seaside stress relief.

TrunkSpace: Your most recent project, “A Merry Christmas Match,” kicked off Hallmark’s Miracles of Christmas event. What is it like being the unofficial ambassador of the holidays season!?
Newbrough: I’m a huge Christmas fan, I was happy to kick off the season.

TrunkSpace: What’s amazing about the premiere is that it actually took place BEFORE Halloween. What are your thoughts on getting our Christmas on before our pumpkin-shaped peanut butter cups have even been fully devoured?
Newbrough: Now I’m craving peanut butter cups! While Christmas is my favorite holiday, autumn is my favorite season. I don’t start putting up Christmas decorations until November – I like to give each holiday their moment, Christmas being the grand finale.

TrunkSpace: We’re suckers for Hallmark holiday movies here, and the popularity around the Miracles of Christmas event continues to grow. In your opinion, what is it about movies like “A Merry Christmas Match” that continues to draw such big audiences for the network?
Newbrough: Hallmark knows how to create the ultimate Christmas and they deliver it right into your living room wrapped in a red bow. Their films set the tone for the holidays and the heart they put into every story serves as a reminder of what the true meaning of the season is all about. It’s a safe place for people to relax and enjoy. It’s like an escape into a snow globe from the stresses of every day life.

TrunkSpace: So much of what makes a movie like “A Merry Christmas Match” work is the chemistry between its leads. In your case, that was Kyle Dean Massey. How much time did you two have together prior to arriving on set to play with that chemistry and see what worked/what didn’t?
Newbrough: We didn’t get any time to do anything prior to be being on set. The first time I met him was right before we shot the last scene of the movie. I got so lucky with Kyle Dean – he’s an absolute dream to work with. During the first week we both ended up at one of the diners in Idyllwild so we had breakfast together with my mom, who was in town visiting. My mom loved him instantly. I was won over after he filled me in on the fact that he was a part of “The Book of Moron” workshops! He’s very humble, so I thought I’d throw that one out there… needless to say, I adore him and we became friends immediately.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, Hallmark movies shoot at an incredible pace. When you’re shooting so many pages in a single day, does it require a different preparation for the material than you would normally take?
Newbrough: You really have no choice but to dive in and hope they like what you’re doing. Thankfully I work well under pressure. It’s very much a team effort.

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 “A Merry Christmas Match” that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Newbrough: I will take the cast with me. After getting to know them I made the mental note of keeping them in my life long after we wrapped, whether they liked it or not. I love Idyllwild too – it’s beautiful and the town mayor is a golden retriever named Max!

TrunkSpace: You were extremely interactive with fans on Twitter while “A Merry Christmas Match” was airing for the first time. How does that real time interaction with viewers change the acting experience for you when it comes to television? Does social media allow for a more – almost theater-like experience given the ability to hear from people as the performance/piece is being seen?
Newbrough: Live tweeting is an exceptional experience. It can be overwhelming but it feels like you’re in it together with the viewers. Hearing their thoughts scene by scene offers a fresh perspective and makes it more fun to watch. Their support is always appreciated too.

TrunkSpace: You’re originally from Rhode Island. What is something that is undeniably New England about you that you can’t shake no matter how long you’re away from the Ocean State? (And as a bonus question… can you tell those who aren’t from Rhode Island what coffee milk is?!?)
Newbrough: I moved from Rhode Island when I was three so I didn’t get a chance to develop any New England tendencies or learn what coffee milk is! Now I have to look that up. I find walking along the beach – being close to the ocean – is one of the best stress relievers. It can work some serious magic… I like to think being born of the Ocean State has something to do with that. Plus, New England is famous for their vibrant falls (which is my favorite season). LA doesn’t get fall and it breaks my heart to miss it.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Newbrough: All of the opportunities I’ve been grateful to experience have added up to a many highlights. One that stands out would be when I was cast in ‘Privileged’ alongside Lucy Hale and JoAnna Garcia Swisher. It was the role that got me to move to Los Angeles – it changed my life. Getting to work with legends like Rod Taylor and Barry Bostwick are also big stand out moments for me.

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?
Newbrough: And ruin all the surprises??? I wouldn’t dare.

A Merry Christmas Match” will air throughout the holiday season on Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.

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Trunk Bubbles

Dustin Evans

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Name: Dustin Evans

Website:
www.neymarjrcomics.com
www.dustinart.net

TrunkSpace: You have visited us at TrunkSpace before, so we’re going to change up the format a bit and come right at you with questions. BAM! You’re spearheading the writing AND art duties on the Social Monsters: Halloween Special 2019 (Ghoul Slayers) for Neymar Jr. Comics, so we have to ask, did you feel any pressure going creative Kung fu on an entire issue by yourself?
Evans: Thanks for having me back! It’s great to be back in the Trunk! Honestly, I was having so much fun writing and drawing the Halloween special of Social Monsters, I did not even consider feeling pressured or stressed. I was familiar with the characters and it just felt very natural to put Saber and Davi in the middle of a haunting situation. The toughest part was trying to decide which creepy museum monster would be the star of the Halloween special!

TrunkSpace: As a series, Social Monsters is very episodic and reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons from the past. What did you hope to accomplish in the 8 pages you were working within, and when all was said and done, do you feel like you accomplished those goals?
Evans: I love that Social Monsters has that Saturday morning cartoon feel to it, so for me, I wanted to sort of pay homage to a few of my favorite cartoons from my childhood. In particular, there is a Scooby-Doo-esque style chase scene that takes place as well as some other Easter eggs in the story. I also wanted to capture the style and look of an animated show with the way I drew the story. I feel like I accomplished a lot of what I set out to do with the story while also staying true to the formula that makes up Social Monsters.

TrunkSpace: Which Dustin had more fun on this issue – Writer Dustin or Artist Dustin?
Evans: It’s tough to separate the two for me, because I tend to write with my sketches, if that makes sense. I will see the story in my mind, sketch it out like a storyboard, and then I find the words later. That is, unless I think of great dialogue as I’m sketching it out, then I just write it on the page. So, to answer your question in the most decisive of indecisive ways, I think writer and artist Dustin had the same amount of fun, which was a big ole’ trick or treat bucket full of fun!

TrunkSpace: We started our conversation talking about creative pressures. As an artist, can it be stressful taking on a character who is based on someone’s actual likeness – in this case, international soccer star Neymar Jr.?
Evans: Oh, absolutely! That is always tough starting out. You want to make the person whose likeness you are creating happy, but you also have their millions of fans that will be viewing your work and judging it. I feel very comfortable with it now, because we have worked with Neymar Jr. and his team for quite a while on multiple books that are coming up. I feel like we all have a good understanding of the look and style we need to pull off to achieve a comic book likeness of Neymar Jr. that everyone recognizes and enjoys.

TrunkSpace: You have done some amazing work for Neymar Jr. Comics both with interior art and cover art, always utilizing different styles based on the tone of the book itself. How much does artistic diversity help you in your behind-the-scenes role as Art Director?
Evans: As an art director you may be tasked with wearing a lot of different hats from concept artist to colorist to cover artist, so it really helps to be able to pull off a wide range of styles. It’s beneficial on so many levels including establishing a look and tone for a book. You may be working on a post-apocalyptic comic like Red Card one day and have to switch gears to the Saturday morning cartoon look the next for something like Social Monsters.

TrunkSpace: Again, you’re tackling the Halloween Special, so does that mean you’re a fan of the spooky holiday as a whole?
Evans: Halloween courses through my blood like the pink goo in “Ghostbusters II” flows through the sewers of NYC! Yes, I love everything about Halloween and the time of year it is synonymous with. Scary movies, haunted houses, pumpkin carving and fall-flavored treats are the things this guys’ dreams are made of! I’ve been drawn to Halloween ever since I was a kid, and I think at the core of it all, it’s because there is so much imagination that encompasses the holiday.

TrunkSpace: There are some great monsters in the series, which is a big part of what makes it so much fun. You’re tackling the infamous Moth Man, which is actually a bit different than most of the monsters in the series because, at least in theory, Moth Man is an ACTUAL monster. Did that give you more creative inspiration to pull from?
Evans: Oh yes, definitely! I knew we needed something a little different for the Halloween episode of Social Monsters, so what’s better than a folklore monster that has his own museum? I always find stories like this fascinating, because the mystery and story are rooted in real, factual events, but… it’s up to the individual what exactly to believe about the story. It sort of hearkens back to the “Unsolved Mysteries” era, and those always made me think and creeped me out at the same time! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Beyond this one issue, you’ve also contributed colors and covers to the Social Monsters universe. What do you think are the biggest selling points of the series as a whole to readers both young and old?
Evans: I think it’s that this book is just so much fun! It has that great cartoon formula. You know you’re going to see your heroes duke it out with a monster each episode, and you know it’s going to have great puns and action with a bit of knowledge tucked away in there. And with Saber’s neural energy power, you never know what he will have to come up with, which is the coolest part. It’s like if a super hero could have a different super power when they needed it for a particular moment in the story.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with your work on Social Monsters?
Evans: Part of what I’m most proud of is actually the concept artwork of creating the Social Monsters. When I get the script from Jason M. Burns, he gives me the direction to go, and I have to find out how to create these monsters from actual artifacts. We’re giving life to inanimate objects, and that can be tricky at times, so it’s like a puzzle. It’s challenging, but when you get it just right, it’s very satisfying to see. Also…THE COVERS! ‘Cause you get to see all of the monsters and Saber and Davi looking cool!

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?
Evans: It depends on the time machine. If we’re talking a DeLorean time machine, I’m going, because who could turn down a ride in one of those? Joking aside, I know I would not go, because no matter what is on the other side, I would be a paranoid mess. If I was successful or unsuccessful, I would probably just be paranoid that every choice I was making in the present would lead to my rise or downfall… but then again, if they have floating skateboards in 10 years, and I could bring one back, I’m going!

 

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Wingman Wednesday

Nick Hounslow

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Model and fitness trainer-turned actor Nick Hounslow never imagined a day when his face would be featured on a movie poster, but as the star of the “Christmas With A Prince” franchise, that unforeseen dream has become a reality, now twofold thanks to the sequel, “Christmas With A Prince: Becoming Royal,” premiering November 3 on UPtv.

I never thought I would be on the cover of a movie poster and DVD box,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “That’s just mind-blowing to me!”

We recently sat down with Hounslow to discuss seasonal entertainment, accepting his fictional lineage, and working on the mental as well as the physical.

TrunkSpace: First off, we’re suckers for a good Christmas movie here at TrunkSpace. In your opinion, what is it about seasonal selections like your upcoming film “Christmas With A Prince: Becoming Royal” that continues to draw audiences in year after year?
Hounslow: I think people love a feel good movie, one where they can sit with the whole family and enter this wonderful world of Christmas. Who doesn’t want that? As busy as we all are and as diverse as all our jobs and interests, this genre of movie provides a common ground everyone can get on board with and enjoy.

TrunkSpace: “Christmas With a Prince: Becoming Royal” is a sequel that comes directly on the heels of the first film, which was released in time for last year’s holiday season. When you first signed on to play Prince Alexander, did you know this would be a multi-installment commitment to the character or was it a pleasant surprise to find out you’d be returning to the part?
Hounslow: It was a total surprise. A great surprise! The first movie did so well that the network really wanted to get a jump on a sequel.

TrunkSpace: The tag line to the sequel is “The Fairytale Continues.” When you look at your career, do you feel like you’re living out a bit of your own fairytale in terms of how everything is progressing professionally?
Hounslow: (Laughter) Well, I wouldn’t say the entire journey has been a fairytale but for sure the last couple of years I am finally seeing the hard, tireless work pay off! I was once told it is a marathon not a sprint… and ain’t that the truth! I am so excited for what’s to come. There are already some amazing things in the pipeline.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to Prince Alexander, is he someone who you could see yourself hanging out with in the real world? Was it easy for you to find a connection with him in order to give life to the character on screen?
Hounslow: For sure! He likes to have a laugh and doesn’t take life too seriously (most the time). I can relate to that. You can’t take it all too seriously otherwise what would be the point?! However, when it really matters, Prince Alexander can stand up to the plate and is learning to balance both sides of his life/career. Again, I can relate to that. I do think he’d be an easy guy to chill and have a beer with!

TrunkSpace: Speaking of people you hang out with… what do your long-time friends think about you playing a prince? Do they like to poke fun at you for taking on royalty?
Hounslow: Oh yes, I hear NO end of jokes and fun poked at me. They threw me a huge party when the first movie premiered and had everyone attending stand in and recreate the movie poster cover (the role of Dr. Tasha) so by the end of the evening I had a collection of alternative Princess brides in tiaras and a fur shawl. It was hilarious. On the other hand, they mostly believe that, as I am British, I must be at least 176th inline to the throne anyways!

TrunkSpace: You started your career as a model. When you decided to transition into acting, did it take some convincing of people within the industry that you weren’t a model who wanted to act, but instead, an actor who happened to model? Did you have to reinvent yourself?
Hounslow: In the beginning, yes, I was worried it would be hard to convince people of this. However, I quickly learned that you just have to do your thing, believe in your abilities and what you bring to the table, and if people don’t realize it then that is their loss. I remember everyone saying as an actor you have to do this and this and cut your hair more like this and act less ‘modely’. I got so lost in trying to be something different that I became inauthentic and that reads in a casting room. So I just came back to myself and said this is me, yes I modeled and I still do (I just shot a hair campaign for American Crew products) and you either get me or you don’t. It was very freeing and I started booking more roles.

TrunkSpace: Beyond your time spent on-camera, you also work behind the scenes as a physical trainer, working with other actors like Gal Gadot and Julie Benz. With all of the various types of projects you take on, do you view them as part of the same career and all leading to the same finish line, or are they separate in terms of how you manage them?
Hounslow: I love all aspects of my careers. Fitness has been a lifestyle choice since a very early age. I actually found fitness as I was an overweight teen who wanted to change. I taught myself everything I know. I don’t think you need to define yourself by one label or box. Julie and Gal are such wonderfully strong, kind, women who definitely embody having strong careers and a commitment to fitness and health. I love that! I really admire The Rock. He pursues both versions of himself. From fitness game shows to major blockbuster movies. The trick is managing them together. It is a major juggling session week after week but somehow it always works out!

TrunkSpace: We all have our own personal hang ups when it comes to our bodies. As a physical trainer, what advice do you give those clients who have a hard time seeing past what they feel are their faults, and instead, focus on their strengths?
Hounslow: Training is so much more than just the physical gains/losses or what your exterior looks like. I always try to work on the mental aspects of training. I still don’t always see a true reflection today. It has taken a lot of work and acceptance to get past the heavy kid that was bullied when I look in the mirror. Fitness comes in many shapes and forms. I tell clients to focus and find something that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. Whether that is running, spinning, swimming, weight training, yoga, Pilates…. because once you find the activity you love, it doesn’t become a chore it becomes part of you daily life. Then, and only then, will you start to see true results and love what you see. It might not be what you perceived to be perfect based on unrealistic social media images but it will be your perfect and unique to you and I promise you will be happier in the long term.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Hounslow: The Prince movies have been such a dream! I never thought I would be on the cover of a movie poster and DVD box! That’s just mind-blowing to me! There are so many highlights I’ve loved! Working on the Shonda Ryhmes/Shondland show “The Catch” was incredible. The showrunner Allan Heinberg was amazing and so great to work for, coincidentally he wrote the first “Wonder Woman” movie starring Gal Gadot. I trained Gal earlier this year and my sister was personal makeup artist to Chris Pine. I love how small this world is – it is all intertwined. In high school art class we had to pick a female celebrity to paint. I chose supermodel Claudia Schiffer. Cut to 11 years later. I book a L’Oreal commercial with Claudia. She was amazing and so nice! The day we were shooting in LA my sister was on a night shoot in London for one of the X-Men movies being directed by Claudia’s husband Matthew Vaughn! What are the chances! I love these kind of moments.

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?
Hounslow: I would not. I like to live in the present. You cannot look back as that time is done. I don’t want to ruin the surprises for the future. Right here right now I am sitting in my house in Los Angeles typing about a career I couldn’t have dreamt possible when I was younger. I still have moments where I’m like, “How did this happen?!? This is WILD.” So for now, I shall not use a time machine and stay here very content.

Christmas With A Prince: Becoming Royal” premieres November 3 on UPtv and is available for preorder here.

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Sit and Spin

KaiL Baxley’s Beneath The Bones

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Song Title: “Beneath The Bones

Single Sentence Singles Review: Soulfully subdued, it is a sonic walkabout for those of us who have a bodiless journey – free of the anchors we lay beneath ourselves – while listening to music.

Beyond The Track: Look for this tune to appear on KaiL Baxley’s third album, Danger Eye, set for release in early 2020.

And that means…

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Trunk Stubs

Zombieland: Double Tap

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Title: Zombieland: Double Tap

Rated: R

Genre: Horror, Comedy, Action

Release Date: October 18, 2019

Run Time: 1 hour 39 minutes

Directed By: Ruben Fleischer

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Rosario Dawson, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch

Reason We’re Watching It: Like so many others, we loved the first “Zombieland” and we’ve been wanting a sequel the way Tallahassee wanted a Twinkie in the first movie. The long wait is finally over and the original cast is back in action 10 years later.

What It’s All About: Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita and Little Rock are all living in apocalyptic harmony until Little Rock decides to hit the road in search of a companion more her age. With the emergence of a new breed of zombie, dubbed the T-800, the group fears for Little Rock’s well-being and go after her to make sure she is safe and sound.

Whoah! Rewind That!: As with the first “Zombieland,” there are a lot of “Rewind that!” moments, but our favorite involved Rosario Dawson’s character, Nevada, behind the wheel of a monster truck in a pit of zombies. The results are exactly what you would expect.

Watercooler-Worthy Tidbit: Bill Murray may have been double-tapped in the first film, but stay for the end credits to see how the zombie apocalypse all began while Bill Murray was doing a press junket for “Garfield 3.”

And that’s why we’re giving it…

 

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