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Wingman Wednesday

Barry Nerling

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There have been a sundry slew of fan-favorite characters to claw and scratch their way into the hearts of “Supernatural” fans throughout the course of its 14 seasons. Last night’s episode, “Mint Condition,” introduced us to a new dead darling that our slasher-loving lips can’t stop quoting, Hatchet Man.

We all do bad things sometimes!”

We recently sat down with the actor who brought the memorable boogieman to life, Barry Nerling, to discuss hatching Hatchet Man, fortuitous barbecues, and “farting” in front of Steven Spielberg.

TrunkSpace: We are suckers here for “Supernatural,” particularly with the quirky, monster-of-the-week episodes. One of our new favorites is “Mint Condition,” which aired last night. In it you played Hatchet Man. What does it feel like to be a part of such a memorable episode of this long-running series?
Nerling: It feels pretty dam cool to be honest. I started on the show back on Season 1/Episode 3 and they have had a lot of memorable characters along the way. “Supernatural” has always been about hunting monsters and telling cool stories. Their so called “standalone episodes” are always so much fun, like “ScoobyNatural” – one of my favorites. I just hope the fans like this character so he to can join the ranks of all these great character creations spawned by “Supernatural.”

TrunkSpace: Hatchet Man is a great agglomeration of celluloid slashers, particularly those from the ‘80s we grew up with. How would he fare against some of cinemas deadliest like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Freddy Krueger?
Nerling: Honestly, I think all of those guys are great. I think we would all look at each other and just nod. You know, like, “I feel you brother, respect.” Although, Krueger likes to try to get into your head, so I think Hatchet Man would have to be careful of that.

TrunkSpace: In the episode, action figures come to life and all hell breaks lose. Did you get to keep any versions of your own mint condition Hatchet Man self as a keepsake? What would you think if actual Hatchet Man figures ever found their way into the collector’s market?
Nerling: Well, sadly the only copy was the life-size version in the comic shop, so no, I did not get a mini version to put with the rest of my collectibles. I for one would love to see the Hatchet Man action figures. If they need me to pose, I am available.

TrunkSpace: Did wardrobe and makeup sort of dictate your performance? Did you just BECOME Hatchet Man when you slipped into his physical skin, so to speak?
Nerling: Playing these types of characters, you always draw from or lean on the makeup and wardrobe, for sure. It is the starting point. Of course, you can not help but draw from the icons of horror as well. I was fortunate to have Special Makeup Effects Artist Mike Fields at the helm for this character and his work is like being in your own skin, so you can really work the character. He designed both the mask and the actual prosthetic makeup I wore.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on the series in the past as a stunt performer. Was this a special experience given how featured the character is and how much potential the episode has to remain memorable within the fandom?
Nerling: Yes, this one for sure stands out for me. I have had so much fun doing everything I have been able to do on the show, but yes, this character is very special, for sure. It was also the first time I actually get to fight Jensen (Ackles). I always seem to end up fighting – or should I say, dying at the hands of – Jared (Padalecki), so it was a nice change.

Did I mention how much I love both of those guys? They really are awesome.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of the fandom, there are very few shows out there that have the kind of loyal audience that “Supernatural” has. You’ve seen how the well-oiled machine works both behind the scenes and on camera. What do you think keeps the “Supernatural” train chugging along, currently in its 14th season?
Nerling: First and foremost, the fans are what keep it going. As long as they want to keep watching, the crew will keep making it. Those guys have a lot of fun on that set. They really like each other and it helps that the boys have not changed since day one.

© 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TrunkSpace: You’re based in Vancouver. How important are shows like “Supernatural” and “Arrow,” which you have worked extensively on, to the city and the industry there?
Nerling: These shows are so important to our local industry. They employ a lot of people behind and in front of the camera. They give all of us a chance to show off Vancouver’s talent pool and believe me, we have so much here.

TrunkSpace: You started your career in film and television much later than most. What was it that prompted you to take that leap, because for many people, it’s easier to shelf the dream than it is to pursue it?
Nerling: For me, it was a chance meeting at a barbecue in Vernon that got me here. An agent was there from Vancouver and he liked my look. I took a chance and started doing extra work to get the feel for it and realized I had a performer living in me. So I moved down and started to pursue it more seriously taking classes, getting a principal agent and learning from others around me. Never too late to go for it – whatever you want to do.

TrunkSpace: As we mentioned, you’re also a stunt performer. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done on-camera – the thing that made you go, “Am I really doing this?!?!”
Nerling: I did a gag on “The BFG” where the character I was doubling takes a drink and my pants get blown off from a fart and then I get shot up into the air and crash back down on the table. Looking down and seeing Steven Spielberg giving me direction was definitely one of those moments.

TrunkSpace: One of the things about movie slashers is that they always come back for a sequel! If Hatchet Man came back in the future, would you be willing to pick up the hatchet once more?
Nerling: Absolutely! Anytime they want me to swing the hatchets, I will be ready to slice and dice!

Supernatural” airs Thursdays on The CW.

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Trunk Stubs

Trunktober: Supernatural

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

Title: Supernatural

Episode: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester”

Directed By: Charles Beeson

Starring: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Ashley Benson, Robert Wisdom, Don McManus

We Watched On: Netflix

Trunktober Approved Because: You didn’t think we’d get through an entire spooky season without throwing our favorite monster-hunting series a bone, did you? In this episode, the Winchester brothers get into some demon-raising trouble on Halloween, which could mean a whole lot of evil being let out into the world unless they can stop it. Which of course, they do!

Biggest Scare: Boiled alive while bobbing for apples. Kind of puts a damper on a perfectly good Halloween party.

Here’s a look at this week’s brand new episode.

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Wingman Wednesday

Jordan Claire Robbins

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Usually when new characters are introduced into the “Supernatural” world, it doesn’t necessarily end well for the Winchester brothers. With more enemies than allies, Sam and Dean will probably have wished they steered clear of sisters Jamie and Jennie Plum, a pair of witches who make their debut in tonight’s episode, “Various & Sundry Villains.”

Jordan Claire Robbins plays Jamie (Jennie is played by Elise Gatien), a character whose personality she identified with almost immediately. In addition to her “Supernatural” debut, the Bermuda-born actress will next appear in the highly-anticipated Netflix film “Anon,” which is scheduled to premiere later this year.

We recently sat down with Robbins to discuss what it was like coming into the show during its 13th season, the handsomeness of its handsomely handsome stars, and why she’s committed to focusing on what’s directly in front of her.

TrunkSpace: You’re set to guest star in tonight’s episode of “Supernatural,” a show that has built up a very passionate fandom over its 13 seasons on the air. What are your thoughts on getting to enter into the “Supernatural” universe and be a part of such a rich world with so much story already having been told?
Robbins: “Supernatural” has one of the best fan bases of any show, and I think it’s amazing that after 13 seasons the Winchester brothers are still going strong! I was incredibly excited to get to jump on board with the show and to get to be a part of Dean and Sam’s story. Because everyone on the show has been working together for so many years, it felt like one big family and the energy on set was extremely positive and welcoming. It was a joy to be a part of and I was sad when we wrapped the episode!

TrunkSpace: In the episode you’re playing a witch, a type of foe the Winchester brothers have had to take on numerous times as Hunters. How does your Jamie Plum compare to those witches that came before? How powerful is she?
Robbins: Well, you’ll have to tune in on Thursday to find out exactly what Jamie is capable of, but I will say that committing to the “Supernatural” world and casting spells made me feel very powerful as an actor! It was a treat to get to play a witch, especially knowing the brothers’ loaded history with them on the show.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, what did you enjoy most about Jamie Plum? Did she allow you to go anywhere new that you have yet to go on-screen with a character in the past?
Robbins: When I first auditioned for the part, I remember being most excited at the thought of playing a character who has so much fun. Jamie has a sense of humor that is very similar to mine, and it felt like a very natural character for me, probably more so than any I have played before. I also loved her confidence; she doesn’t shy away from her power, which was a really fun thing to play with.

TrunkSpace: Those Winchester brothers are very handsome. When they’re running around the set trying to murder your character, do they lose some of their handsome luster? Is there any situation… any bad lighting… food-on-their-face moment where they’re not as ruggedly good looking as reflected in the series?
Robbins: Well… I hate to break it to you, but they are indeed as ruggedly handsome offscreen as they are onscreen! They also are both very kind, and VERY funny – the time in between takes was usually spent laughing and as you can imagine this made for really enjoyable shoot days. They are not only good at what they do, but they also have a blast doing it!

TrunkSpace: Speaking of good looking people, you’re very beautiful yourself and in addition to your acting career, you’re also a model. Do you feel like you have had to convince people within the industry that you’re not a model who wants to act, but an actress who models? Is that a hurdle you have faced?
Robbins: Why thank you! I got into modeling almost 10 years ago while I was studying at University, and it has given me many great opportunities to travel and meet wonderful people. While acting has always been my biggest passion and dream, modeling gave me the chance to get very comfortable being on camera and practice taking direction. When I decided it was time to put more energy into acting, my modeling agents were extremely supportive. I think at one time or another most actors, with or without a background in modeling, have felt a sort of pressure to prove that they are serious about wanting to act. I have been fortunate enough to study with some amazing acting teachers and to learn from experience, and I am grateful to have both modeling and acting as creative outlets.

TrunkSpace: Do you envision yourself playing a character when you’re modeling, even when there isn’t dialogue involved? Are you tapping into someone else within yourself?
Robbins: Well at the risk of sounding like Derek Zoolander… yes. In the same way an actor onscreen can say a lot with only their eyes, I think a photo is always much more interesting when the model is present and genuinely feeling something. I often play with different emotions during a photoshoot to keep myself engaged – there is a difference between a forced smile and a smile when someone is happy and enjoying themselves. Plus it’s more fun that way!

TrunkSpace: As your acting career continues to grow and branch off into new and exciting directions, do you anticipate modeling still being a part of your life or is it something you see yourself leaving behind as new opportunities present themselves?
Robbins: I see photography and acting as being intertwined forms of art; I have always loved the collaborative efforts that go into creating a great photograph, and I think as my acting career continues to develop I will continue to enjoy doing both.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of opportunities, you’re set to appear in the upcoming Netflix movie “Anon” starring Clive Owen and Amanda Seyfried. With that cast, and the Netflix brand behind it, do you view the project as a bit of a career game changer?
Robbins: Shooting “Anon” was definitely an amazing opportunity and big learning experience. Most of all, it was a complete gift to be able to work with a very talented and seasoned group of people, and made me feel grateful and excited to keep working with actors of that caliber. Clive was lovely and having been a fan of his for a while, it was very happy to get to work with him!

TrunkSpace: What did you take from your “Anon” experience that will stay with you for the rest of your career?
Robbins: Andrew Niccol, the writer and director of the film, has a brilliant mind and unique attention to detail that translates beautifully into all of his films. The style “Anon” was shot in presented some technical challenges for me as an actor, and while shooting I felt relieved that I had emotionally prepared for my scenes enough so that when taking direction I could let go and trust in myself. That was an important lesson to learn – that the biggest gift I can give myself is to show up prepared in every possible way, so I can let go in that moment and the work is free to take on a life of its own.

Pictured (L-R): Jordan Claire Robbins as Jamie Plum and Jensen Ackles as Dean — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, you moved from Bermuda… sunny, warm Bermuda… to Toronto. Are the winters are reminder (particularly this winter!) of the warmth you left behind? Don’t get us wrong, we love Toronto (Go Blue Jays!), but… BERMUDA!
Robbins: I see your point! I may be biased, but I think Bermuda is truly the most beautiful place on earth and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes long to be there when I’m away, especially on the coldest of winter days. But I can’t complain because I am doing what I love over here, and luckily it’s a quick flight from Toronto; it’s reassuring to know that I can get home even for a few days to recharge when I need my fix of ocean and family time. I’ve been living in Vancouver for much of the last year, which is very different from Bermuda but stunning in its own way; I definitely feel most like myself when I’m close to ocean and/or mountains!

TrunkSpace: People change throughout the course of their lives. The core you is always the same, but interests and motivations find different nesting spots. Today, in 2018, what motivates you to continue to pursue acting and other creative endeavors?
Robbins: I’d say my biggest motivator right now is self-growth and really stepping outside of my comfort zone with each role I take on. The last year has really been about learning to be kinder and more patient with myself, and to let go more so things can unfold in their own way. (I can be a bit of a control freak!) The more I work, the more I realize how much there is to learn and discover about who I really am and how I can give of myself more deeply if I take my ego out of the equation. It excites and humbles me to get into the life of a character so much that I learn and discover new things about myself and new ways of perceiving the world, which then gives me more to work with. Being a good artist is impossible to do if you’re not in touch with yourself in an honest and nurturing way, and I’m most excited to keep growing into a better human as my career continues.

TrunkSpace: As you look forward, down the road that lies ahead, what type of career do you hope to have when all is said and done? If you could choose your exact path, what would it look like?
Robbins: When all is said and done, I want to be able to look back on my career and know that I never held back or shied away from a challenge, and I want my work to have had a meaningful impact on people. It’s important to me that I take on roles that scare and intimidate me in some way, because if I’m resisting something it probably means I need to throw myself into it. Last year I wrote and produced a short film called “Driver Is Arriving Now,” and I really enjoyed being behind the camera – I would love to keep exploring that side of things. Directing has always intrigued me so I hope to delve into that one day too. But for now, the goal is to not think too far ahead so I can give my full commitment and attention to what is in front of me!

Supernatural” airs Thursdays on The CW.

Anon” arrives on Netflix later this year.

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Wingman Wednesday

David Haydn-Jones

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There are thousands of working actors. Many of them are good. Some of them are great. A few of them can steal a scene in a way that elevates a project and increases the interest factor for an existing fanbase of a particular series or film.

David Haydn-Jones is that rare actor. When he was introduced as the mysterious Arthur Ketch of the British Men of Letters in season 12 of “Supernatural,” many fans of the show were left wondering (and hoping) if the character would be sticking around beyond a short guest stint. Thankfully, not only did Mr. Ketch play a strong role in the season’s throughline story, but his character, in large part to Haydn-Jones’ portrayal, has become more and more dynamic as the season has gone on.

While the fate of Arthur Ketch beyond season 12 has yet to be revealed, one thing is certain. David Haydn-Jones is an actor worthy of keeping a very close eye on.

Supernatural –“There’s Something About Mary” Pictured (L-R): Samantha Smith as Mary Winchester and David Haydn-Jones as Mr. Ketch Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

We recently sat down with Haydn-Jones to discuss how he tapped into the character, the most electrifying day on set, and his surprising discovery of the extremely loyal “Supernatural” fandom.

TrunkSpace: We just have to say that your career has touched on two of our favorite guilty pleasures… “Supernatural” and holiday movies, so we thank you for that.
Haydn-Jones: (Laughter) Yeah. There’s a big Venn diagram crossover there.

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) From an acting standpoint, it seems like your character Mr. Ketch in “Supernatural” would be pure fun to inhabit and we’re curious what brought you to discovering him from a performance standpoint?
Haydn-Jones: Yeah. Totally. As you say, having lived in Hallmark land, nice guy world… it was really fun to transition into such an interesting character. I can only speak for myself, but I think a lot of actors like to move between eclectic roles, so to just inhabit a guy that was so pimp on the page and just hit all of the trappings of James Bond with the “Supernatural” monster twist, it was just delicious.

And also, I’ll just tell you for a little “Inside Sports,” it was a big mystery to me because they don’t really reveal to you… because they’re so worried about spoilers and they also don’t fully know where the guy is going yet… I was only booked for like three episode originally, so I was kind of unraveling the guy as I went. But what was nice was that some of my early choices really tracked. It was really fun.

TrunkSpace: It’s got to be a crazy ride when you’re playing a character whose full personality isn’t being revealed to you at the time of you diving into him.
Haydn-Jones: Oh yeah. Exactly. I would get a new script and then they would, what’s called “pinning” me for another episode or two in a row. I’d be like, “Oh, good!” And I’d always race to the back of the script and be like, “Is he dead yet?” (Laughter) I would literally jump to like page 62 and be like… Ketch, Ketch, Ketch. And what was nice was that on my PDF viewer… because I would get my first scripts digitally… I would just put “Ketch” in the search field and just go to the last page. I’d be like, “Ketch it winking and sneering and driving off into the distance. Yes! There’s maybe another job coming my way!”

TrunkSpace: Well, the interesting thing about “Supernatural” is that nobody really ever stays dead, so even if Ketch died, you’re never fully out! (Laughter)
Haydn-Jones: Well, fingers crossed. Who knows!

But yeah, I tried to make him with a big mask at the beginning. I called him the butler assassin, this sort of posh, British guy who was trying to be charming and jovial and all that stuff. Because I knew just from story arc and story theory that there was probably going to be unraveling that happened. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I knew if I sort of played him as that soldier… that trained guy… that would play out well and now we found out that he and Mick were conditioned and brainwashed and probably, one could argue, abused. So, that all tracks nicely as the mask and the poshness sort of starts to get stripped away.

There’s definitely a stripping away of the English gentlemen for sure. Beast mode is beginning.

TrunkSpace: So did the writers give any indication that they always envisioned Ketch playing this larger role in the season from the start?
Haydn-Jones: Honestly, the writers don’t tell us anything until you get the script. There’s a lot of mystery involved and I know why they do it. There’s too many leaks, especially digitally now. Also though, I will say that the actors job is always to do detective work. The actors job is always to fill in the blanks from the cues on the pages. And the writing was all there and if you know story arc and story theory, you can sort of do your detective work. But then also, your job as the actor is to fill in nuance, backstory, and just kind of the choices that you’re making about the history of this guy. That may not necessarily be literally true for the headcanon, but will still play on the day because you’re just going scene to scene. That’s the only way you can really work as an actor, from an improv background anyway. You can’t know too much. You can’t play too much. All you can do is play the information in the scene, so in a way you’ve got to keep it simple and trust that the writers and the producers are taking you on the journey.

Supernatural –“There’s Something About Mary” Pictured: Samantha Smith as Mary Winchester and David Haydn-Jones as Mr. Ketch Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: During the course of this season, was there a particular scene that you worked within that allowed you to flex the acting muscle and go to places that you didn’t expect with the character?
Haydn-Jones: Yeah. I would say, and this is not a spoiler now because it’s out, the fight scene with Mary (Samantha Smith) was incredibly challenging, very technical, and it was really fun, just as I say, to strip off the English gentleman and get into the beast mode with the guy. Show them that this guy has a really dark, physical underbelly to him. And just the technical things… the planning of a fight like that with throwing people over desks and taking punches and all that sort of stuff… you have to hose it down with all of this coverage. I think the fight lasts maybe a minute or two, the whole scene, but to shoot it was almost seven and a half hours. And you’re physically putting yourself in that position and throwing punches and falling on the ground and snapping your head and all that stuff, so physically it was really taxing. I’ve never done a full, hardcore fight scene in that way. And there’s a part of you that’s like, “Well, I’m fighting with a woman, but she’s supposed to be a badass hunter.” And Sam could not have been more generous and more trusting. We just gave each other hugs and were like, “We’re here for each other.” It was just one of those great days when you’re like, “I have the best dance partner in the world, we have total trust, and we are bringing it physically.” We were being safe but we were also pushing the envelope a little bit with each other. It was just electric. And Richard Speight Jr., he’s such an actor’s director, and he was just there for us and pushing us and yelling at us. That was an electrifying day as an actor.

TrunkSpace: And having Richard involved as a director, somebody who is so familiar with the series and the world itself, it must be very helpful considering how invested he is in “Supernatural” and the characters?
Haydn-Jones: Totally. And also, I would add to that too, he just knows the audience so well being such a cons guy and just knowing the fandom and what the audience loves and wants to see. And by all accounts, the fight really landed with the audience.

TrunkSpace: When you came into “Supernatural” you were stepping into a show that has spent over a decade establishing itself and the tone on set. Yes, it’s an ensemble show and actors come and go, but many of them have been there since the beginning or close to it. Was it intimidating coming into it as essentially the new guy on campus?
Haydn-Jones: So here’s where a little bit of research is good news and where a little bit of ignorance is really good news. (Laughter) I had no idea how worldwide or rabid this fandom was. I knew the show. I respected the show. I had auditioned for the show six times prior in the last 10 years. I knew it was popular and I knew it had carved out this space, but when you’re an actor in Hollywood and you’re just going from job to job to job, you can only do so much research on any given show. You’ve got to get a taste of everything and you sort of move on. So I had no idea about the whole convention thing or the SPN Family. So that was good that I didn’t know that because it’s been a really fun, wonderful discovery for me to enter this universe and sociology, so to speak. It’s been amazing. The other side of it is that Jared and Jensen, no joke, and the whole culture there, is an extremely welcoming family. They gave me hugs, big handshakes, and just, “Where you from, Dave? Who are you? Welcome.” Day one! Like, minute one! And when you have leadership like that, from the top… all the directors and Phil Sgriccia, the executive producer who was my first director. That guy is so in love with his show still, 13 years later, it’s just infectious. And it’s so rare to come to a set like that where 12 or 13 years in, people are still having a blast, still having a laugh, and welcoming their guests into their home with such grace. I think it’s that Texas, southern hospitality. They were just like, “Welcome to the show!” There’s a lot of gratitude on that set.

Photo: David Haydn-Jones, Danica McKellar Credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ryan Plummer

TrunkSpace: And you just touched on it, but the way that this show has resonated with its fanbase, to the point that it doesn’t only hit the convention scene but has it’s OWN conventions, it’s just amazing.
Haydn-Jones: Don’t I know it! And I’m booked for two already. The show has allotted me… I already did Fantasy Basel, my first one ever, in Switzerland. And I’m going to one in London and I’m going to Rome next week. So it’s just like, Holy Hannah! It’s exploding in a way that I never could have imagined last summer when I auditioned for the role.

TrunkSpace: As a series it also sort of defies the life cycle of popularity. Shows get big and then the audience fades, but “Supernatural” has and remains this slow burn with an unwavering fanbase.
Haydn-Jones: It’s incredible. It’s really record breaking TV in all metrics. Phil said, other than like “Law & Order,” it’s the only show in this genre that has done this many episodes and this many seasons, so I think it’s in record breaking territory now. And it will continue to be, especially now that it’s gotten renewed for 13 and maybe beyond.

TrunkSpace: Do you hope that playing a character like Mr. Ketch will open the eyes of casting directors and producers in the industry in terms of seeing you in a different light as an actor?
Haydn-Jones: Yeah, I really hope so. I’m definitely going to try to take as many clips from the show as possible and edit something tight together to showcase because it stretched me in so many ways. I’m totally grateful for the wheelhouse that I have, which is sort of the everyman, widowed dad Christmas guy… and those are all great jobs and I love them and that audience too… but when you get something like this, which is rich and meaty and mysterious and you get to wear suits and use grenade launchers and drive Bentleys… the little boy that wants to play James Bond is just like, “Oh yeah! Let me live here for awhile!”

“Supernarual” airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.

Featured Photo Credit: Theo and Juliette Los Angeles

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