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Wingman Wednesday

Jesse Moss

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Photo by: Kristine Cofsky

Haley Joel Osment isn’t the only person seeing dead people these days. With the new Syfy series “Ghost Wars” set to kick off tomorrow, the entire population of a remote Alaskan town is about to be spooked on a massive scale. With a cast that includes Vincent D’Onofrio and Meat Loaf, as well as a trailer that would make Vincent Price’s iconic voice crack, Major League Baseball isn’t the only fall classic set to wow people this week.

We recently sat down with series star Jesse Moss to discuss the impressive “Ghost Wars” creative team, where the real horror lies, and why people are continuously drawn to the idea of being scared.

TrunkSpace: The “Ghost Wars” concept is great. The producers are powerhouses. The cast is stacked. And there’s a side of Meat Loaf! From a project perspective, this is a dream gig. What were your initial thoughts when you booked the job and what are your expectations going into the upcoming premiere?
Moss: This was one of those times when it took awhile from the initial audition to actually book it. To be honest, I had just assumed they had gone another way, so when my agent told me I had the job I was quite surprised. I was really excited to work with Simon Barry and Dennis Heaton again. Like you said, they are creative powerhouses and the shows they make are always amazing. Then I heard who else was cast in the show and my head exploded. Between the writing, the cast, and the people putting it all together, I think this show is really going to excite a lot of people.

TrunkSpace: A lot of ghost-related series take a more comedic approach tonally, but this looks pretty damn frightening. Would you say the series as a whole is strictly horror, or does it have other genre elements blended in?
Moss: This show will definitely scare you, but it’s more than just a horror. It’s really about the relationships of the people in the town and how they deal with the events that are happening. Some believe that these ghosts are punishment for past sins, so there is a religious point of view, but there is also a science fiction aspect where some believe science can explain the afterlife. There are actually a lot of funny moments in the show as well. With all the darkness it’s important to have those moments of light.

TrunkSpace: In watching the trailer, the show gives off an us (the living) versus them (the dead) type of vibe, but is it more complicated than that? Do the people eventually turn on each other?
Moss: There is definitely an us versus them theme in the show, but the politics in the town were already divisive before the dead show up. As things become more intense, that divide only grows.

TrunkSpace: Where does your character Deputy Norm Waters fall into things, and without giving too much away, is it safe to say he’s in for a couple of rough days on the job?
Moss: He has a couple of rough days on the job to say the least. Particularly because it’s a job he doesn’t even want. At the start of the show, Norm is not especially heroic or courageous. Being a cop is just a job to him, and it being such a small town, a job he thought would be easy. When events force him into a position of responsibility, Norm has to overcome his fears and learn things about himself he never knew.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, did taking on Deputy Norm allow you to go to places that you have yet to visit on-screen with other characters? What was it about him that drew you to the character?
Moss: Without giving away any spoilers, I definitely go places I’ve never been or ever expected to go. Things get pretty crazy. I think the best part about playing Norm Waters was the arc of who he was to who he becomes. It’s a pretty epic journey with a lot of highs and lows.

TrunkSpace: In recent years you have done a number of Hallmark films, which tonally couldn’t be any further from “Ghost Wars.” As an actor do you purposely set out to create an environment for yourself where genre and character diversity is at the core of what you’re doing and the choices you’re making?
Moss: It’s always nice to have diversity in your career. I think one would get bored playing the same character over and over again. I wouldn’t say, however, that I purposely go after it. I go where the work takes me.

TrunkSpace: “Ghost Wars” has the feeling of a show that could very easily amass an impressive fandom, something that Syfy shows are known to do. From the perspective of someone who knows the project better than most, are the ingredients there to build a fan base that will make it the next, let’s say, “Supernatural,” a series you actually appeared in a few seasons ago?
Moss: I think the show is solid from top to bottom. From the script to the cast to the way it looks, I don’t feel like there’s a weak link. People are gonna love it. One can only hope that the show reaches a “Supernatural” level of fandom, and this show has as good a shot as any.

TrunkSpace: We’re suckers for some “Supernatural” here, a show that is brilliant in the fact that if you know it, you love it, and if you don’t, you’re not even sure if it is still on the air. In a lot of ways, it feels like a secret club. As someone who has appeared on the show, did it give off that vibe to you as well… in that now that you’re a part of the universe, you’re a part of the fandom?
Moss: “Supernatural” fans are some of the best fans in the world. They really love the show and know everything about it. When you are a part of the show, you feel like you’re a part of a family. They really welcome you with open arms.

TrunkSpace: In doing research for this interview, our fingers literally locked up scrolling through your extremely impressive film and television credits. It is packed with projects. As you look back over your career, what roles stand out to you in terms of those that not only meant the most to your career, but at the same time, to you personally?
Moss: The TV series “Whistler” was a big one for me because it was my first real lead on a series. I learned a lot on that show and I think I really grew as an actor. I not only learned what to do, I learned what not to do. “Dear Mr. Gacy” also stands out as a role that really allowed me to stretch as an actor. It challenged me and pushed me to places I didn’t know I could go.

Moss in Tucker and Dale vs Evil

TrunkSpace: We’re about to hit our stride for our month-long Trunktober event, which is basically our celebration of all things horror. Outside of “Ghost Wars,” you have also appeared in a number of memorable genre films, including “Final Destination 3,” and of course, “Tucker and Dale vs Evil.” As “It” has proven, people continue to love horror. In your opinion, what is that keeps people going to the movies looking to be scared?
Moss: I think people are fascinated with death. Watching a horror movie allows you to experience aspects of death from the comfort of your own home. Getting your adrenaline pumping and experiencing that thrill while knowing that you’re safe is very appealing to people. It’s the same reason people ride roller coasters. Although that didn’t work out so well in “Final Destination 3.”

Ghost Wars” premieres Thursday on Syfy.

Featured image by: Kristine Cofsky

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Wingman Wednesday

Crystal Lowe

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© Crown Media United States, LLC

Even though digital correspondence is the preferred method of communication these days, we all still love to open the mailbox and find a handwritten letter waiting for us. There’s something nostalgic about peeling back the seal of a freshly delivered envelope and discovering what is waiting for us inside. That’s why the concept of the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ ongoing franchise, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” is so ingenious, because it strikes a chord before you ever get past the opening credits.

A group of postal detectives work to solve the mysteries behind undeliverable letters and packages from the past, delivering them when they are needed most.”

As far as pitches go, it doesn’t get much better than that, and for the countless fans of the series who have followed along with it since it first began airing in 2014, the individual stories that make up each standalone movie back up the overall premise.

The latest installment, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Home Again,” premieres Sunday, September 24 at 9 pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. We recently sat down with series star Crystal Lowe to discuss how her character Rita was a welcome departure from previous roles, why she feels the franchise is resonating with audiences, and how she had to restrain herself from fangirling on Mandy Patinkin.

TrunkSpace: Early in your career you appeared in a number of horror films, including “Black Christmas” and “Final Destination 3.” Did you make a conscious effort to step away from that genre and focus on other things so as not to be pigeonholed?
Lowe: I actually did. It’s not that I don’t enjoy doing the horror genre, but no painter wants to paint the same painting over and over again. That’s what appealed to me as well. I think I’ve always said it would be a dream of mine that when somebody sees my demo reel, for them to not recognize me from role to role. I did appreciate the fans and the love that I got from that community because they’re a very tight community, but it was an ongoing joke that I wanted to live in a movie. Just one. “I just need to not die in things, that would be amazing.” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What is the key to successfully breaking out of a particular way of being viewed within this industry?
Lowe: I think for me it was that I hunkered down a lot and I studied and I studied and I studied. I was taking classes. I still take classes. I always will. I begged casting directors and people to just give me a shot. “Just give me a shot. Just see me in a different light. Just let me in the room and I’ll do something.” They were kind enough to do that. I did also have really good relationships with a lot of casting directors, so they gave me the opportunity to come in and just try new things.

TrunkSpace: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” must have been a welcome change when it came along in 2014?
Lowe: Huge change for me. When I auditioned for that, they sent me the sides and I called my agent and said, “You sent me the wrong sides.” He said, “No, no, they’re going to see you for this.” I was like, “No, they’re not. What? I’m not going to book this. This is not right for me.” (Laughter) And then they asked me to come back and I started laughing. I remember being in the room looking around at all of these girls, really nervous, and trying to get the part and I was like, “I don’t care. I’m not getting this.”

I had no idea who Martha (Williamson) was. I had no idea what kind of resume she had. I had no idea about any of it, so it was good because I went in there with no… I remember performing the character of Rita for my girlfriend, who was also auditioning for it as well, and she said to me, “Are you going to do it like that?” (Laughter) I was like, “I don’t know, but this is just how I see that character.” She was like, “Oh, okay. That’s not a choice that I would’ve made.” (Laughter) I had the offer that night.

TrunkSpace: We recently read how Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is one of the few networks that is actually growing its audience, which is really fascinating. As television continues to go down a gritty, dark path, the growth is evidence that many people want to feel good when the credits roll.
Lowe: Yes. I’m a strong believer in that light always overcomes the dark, but you need the dark in order to have light, right? Sometimes the pendulum swings and then we need a wake-up call and a reminder that in order to keep that light going we got to keep fighting for it. You can’t just be complacent and you can’t just hope somebody else is going to take care of it. I think our show offers that to people. I’ve never been on a show like this where the fans are genuinely thanking me for getting them through chemo treatments or losses of family members. There’s not a lot I can do, but if I can inspire, then that makes me so happy.

I always used to joke when we first started the show, because I was a huge “Dexter” fan. “You watch an episode of ‘Dexter’ and then you watch our show before you go to bed.” You’re like, “Oh my god!” and then you’re like, “Okay, everything’s going to be fine.” (Laughter)

You need to remind yourself that, yes, the world is chaotic at the moment, but there’s so much good. The average person, your next door neighbor and the people around you, the majority are good and want the best for people, so I like that our show is a reminder of that.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Home Again Photo: Kristin Booth, Eric Mabius, Crystal Lowe, Geoff Gustafson Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: David Owen Strongman

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, what has the journey been like for you in terms of exploring the character, because the project started as a series and then transitioned into an ongoing film franchise? Does the journey change at all in that regard, seeing your character’s arc from the perspective of a series to a two hour film?
Lowe: Yeah, it does because when you’re doing a show like ours, because there’s an A storyline, which of course is the POstables, and there’s a B storyline, which is the letter, you don’t have a lot of time to tell an entire letter story and propel the POstables. You can push them forward, but you don’t have a lot of time to push them forward. At first I was like, “What? The two hour format? No, I love the series!” And then we did the two hour format and I was like, “Oh, actually Rita and Norman get to really grow. We actually get journeys through this.” That would’ve maybe taken five episodes, which I now get to do in one movie. As an actor I get to make bigger leaps and bounds, which is awesome for me. I love that.

TrunkSpace: Even though it’s a film, does the process still feel like you’re shooting individual episodes just because of the episodic nature of it?
Lowe: Yeah, it does – like a two hour episode. They’re movies and they’re standalone and you can tune in and pretty much understand what’s going on, but to me it’s almost like the British version of television. It’s like a miniseries. You just get more time with it, which I think works for our show and Martha’s writing because her writing is so full. It’s so nuanced. It’s hard for me now when I get auditions or scripts because I’ve been working with good writing for a really long time, so if it’s not good writing, I know. (Laughter) There are lots of layers in there all of the time and the two hour format gives her the opportunity to really put those layers in and allow people to watch them over and over again and find them, like reading a book.

TrunkSpace: You’re shooting these as movies, but you’re still working in television. Does that mean you’re still working with the breakneck television scheduling?
Lowe: Yeah, absolutely. Sometimes eight to 10 pages a day.

TrunkSpace: Wow!
Lowe: It’s insane, but we do it. It’s dialogue heavy and we do it. Our crews are amazing, especially on these last two. Our crews were just an awesome bunch of people that are young and hungry in the industry and I love watching that too because people really love their jobs and care about them. We pound pavement. We make it happen. During it you’re always like, “This is never going to work,” and then after you’re like, “Of course it worked. Why wouldn’t it work?” (Laughter)

I worked on a movie this year called “Wonder,” which I’m really excited about. It’s coming out in November and it’s based on a book. It was so weird because when I shot that, the director was like, “What do you want to do? What do you want to try?” I was like, “I’m sorry, what? We have time to just try stuff?” (Laughter) In TV world, you’re like, “We got to go. We’re done.”

TrunkSpace: “Wonder” looks like very powerful storytelling, and again, is that feel-good story that it seems like we need as a society right now.
Lowe: That film is…

I got to work with Mandy Patinkin. For me that was a bucket list thing. It took every bone in my body not to be like, “Mandy, I love you! I’ve watched ‘The Princess Bride’ a thousand times and I love it!” I didn’t though because I was like, “Do not fangirl on him, he’s going to think you’re a weirdo!”

But the story was just so good. The writing was so good and it’s really, really necessary all over the world. I just recently moved to the United States and I think it’s really important in the United States, for many people, even in the highest positions, to learn about bullying. This is a good film and it’s necessary.

TrunkSpace: In our pre-interview quest for research we learned via your Instagram page that you were a big “Perfect Strangers” fan growing up, which got us to thinking… what makes Crystal want to do the dance of joy?
Lowe: (Laughter) This sounds ridiculous, but to those who know me, they’d be like, “Uh-huh!” Brandi Harkonen, who’s one of the producers for my show, she laughed and gave me a song, which is “The Lego Movie” song. She’s like, “That’s you! That song, ‘Everything Is Awesome’ encompasses you as a person!”

The happy dance comes really easily for me. I happy dance over the smallest of things and I happy dance over big things. I think what I would have to say is, seeing the people that I love smile makes me so happy. If I can do something that makes them laugh or if I can get them something that I know they really wanted or if I can take pressure off of them, it just makes me happy dance everywhere.

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