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Legends of Tomorrow

Wingman Wednesday

Adam Tsekhman

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Photo By: Shanna Fisher

Having never expected to spend quite so much time shirtless when he first signed on to play Gary Green of The Time Bureau in “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,”Adam Tsekhman is ecstatic to have been given the opportunity. Originally intended as a three-episode guest star, the Winnipeg native with a love for comedy has reveled in the expanded role, even when things got full on nipple crazy in Season 4. (No nipple spoilers for those who have not yet binged their way through it!)

We recently sat down with Tsekhman to discuss luring unicorns, Biff buzz, and peering into the future of “The Gary Green Chronicles.”

TrunkSpace: What would 10-year-old Adam think about his future self getting to play in the DC universe? Were you a comic fan and has your fanboy self come full circle?
Tsekhman: 10-year-old Adam would LOVE the fact that he gets to play in the DC Universe, however he would probably be a bit sad that he wouldn’t have any superhero powers. But adult Adam loves that he doesn’t have super powers (easier on the knees and hips). I wasn’t really a comic fanboy growing up. I wasn’t into comics growing up, but I was definitely into the comic book movies that sort of started for me with the Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson “Batman.” I loved that movie and I was hooked!

TrunkSpace: As we understand it, your character Gary Green was originally only supposed to appear in a handful of episodes. When did you get a sense that it would become more than that and did that open up the character for you in terms of getting to explore areas of him that you never thought you’d have a chance to when you first signed on?
Tsekhman: I only knew for sure that I would be on the show for three episodes so when they wanted me to be involved in more than that, my excitement levels shot up immeasurably. I was never really certain how often Gary would appear so I was both eager and hopeful to get more chances to play this fabulous character. This season has been particularly fun and challenging in terms of the areas we get to explore. For example, I didn’t expect to be shirtless so often. It’s very freeing! (Laughter) But I do think we will get to see more emotional depth with Gary – while still maintaining his gloriously sunny outlook on life.

TrunkSpace: As far as your own personal journey with the character, what have you enjoyed most about getting to inhabit Gary and see him developed out more and more over time?
Tsekhman: I am naturally drawn to comedy and I get such a joy out of all of the hilarious situations that the writers have created for Gary. The beautiful thing about Legends is that not even the sky is the limit in terms of where this show can go and it’s so much fun getting to read the scripts that our brilliant writers churn out every week. They are the real superheroes of this show!

TrunkSpace: Anything can happen in a world where time travel and super heroes exist. What’s been your biggest “pinch me” moment on set thus far where you had to stop and go, “Wow, this is really my life now”?
Tsekhman: Yeah, I think being topless, holding a pomegranate and luring a unicorn out of the forest would have to be a “pinch me” moment. Also, getting to work this season with Tom Wilson who is immortalized as Biff Tannen has been incredible. He’s a hilarious and amazing guy full of great stories!

TrunkSpace: Do you find that this business subscribes to the old adage of work begets work, and if so, do you see your portrayal of Gary on “Legends of Tomorrow” opening up more doors for you in the future?
Tsekhman: I absolutely agree with that old adage! I certainly hope that Gary does open more doors. Perhaps a spin-off? “The Gary Green Chronicles” or “The Legends of the Time Bureau.” Wouldn’t that be fun? But, seriously, the attention that the show has garnered will hopefully open more doors. I suppose only time will tell.

TrunkSpace: You have a degree in finance from the Wharton School of Business. Was pursuing acting a serious change of gears for you, and if so, did you have to convince yourself that you were making the right choice? How hard was it for you to take the first step on the path you’re currently traveling?
Tsekhman: Yes, I do have a degree in Finance from Wharton and taking that first step was challenging. I had an investment banking job offer from Lehman Brothers that I chose to forgo in order to pursue more creative endeavors. Luckily for me, my parents were very supportive of my decision, which I recognize is very rare and I’m extremely grateful to them. I was so in love with performing at that time that I may have been slightly delusional to think that I could succeed as an actor. Perhaps you have to have these delusions to choose to go into this industry. Who knows? The numbers are certainly scary, many more actors than jobs. You don’t need a finance degree to recognize that.

TrunkSpace: There’s a lot of rejection and self-doubt that comes along with a career in the arts. That said, does the creative space fulfill you personally more than a career in finance could have ever achieved – even if you had reached the pinnacle of success in that industry?
Tsekhman: I certainly think so. That being said, I did enjoy finance, but the fulfillment I get from acting and writing is immense. However, I am sure that reaching the pinnacle of the financial world would be quite fulfilling as well. I am biased because I chose this path and I am ecstatic with my choice. But maybe I would have been happy to stay in finance as well. Perhaps my positive outlook on life would have brought fulfillment regardless of career choice. At least if I stayed in finance, I would have kept my nipple intact! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Tsekhman: “LEGENDS OF TOMORROW,” BABY!

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?
Tsekhman: No, I wouldn’t take that jump because it’s the 10-year journey that is the fun part. Knowing the destination would make the journey less fun and it would take away the mystery and hope that comes from this business. You never know what opportunities might come your way tomorrow and seeing what things look like in 10 years might negatively influence your decision making today. Although, jumping 10 years into the future and right onto the set of Season 7 of “The Gary Green Chronicles” would be pretty cool!

Season 4 of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” is available now on Netflix. Season 5 will return to The CW later this year.

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Wingman Wednesday

Jocelyn Panton

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Photo By: Carly Dame

Not everyone can say that they’ve stood face to faces with a boulder made of hungry aliens, but then again not everyone is Jocelyn Panton, the talented actress who can currently be seen dishing out an intergalactic smack down in Season 1 of “Critters: A New Binge,” currently available on Shudder.

We recently sat down with Panton to discuss camping out in the campy, joining the “Critters” club, and the key to not getting lost in the chaos of a career in the entertainment industry.

TrunkSpace: We’re pop culture fanatics who grew up in the ‘80s so we have to start with the obvious. As far as life moments go, where does standing next to a giant boulder of Critters rank, because if it was us, it would be pretty high?
Panton: Ohh it’s pretty high up there. Standing right next to that furry ball of death goes down in the books for me as one of life’s epic moments.

TrunkSpace: The “Critters” franchise has always been campy on purpose, and “Critters: A New Binge” certainly plays up that fun for the audience. That had us thinking… does that heightened sense of reality make it fun for the performers as well? Are you able to arrive to work each day and say, “Well, today’s the scene with the boulder made of monsters… AWESOME!”?
Panton: For sure! It made every day all about having as much fun as possible. If you’re being campy, you get to be silly and just play around. It also makes for some great bonding experiences and on-set camaraderie. Watching that boulder be rolled out and the crazy makeup and guts, we were all like, “Woah, that’s so cool.” And it was super fun to be able to sneak a photo with it on my last day because I knew I would be holding onto that photo forever. We were also constantly getting surprised by the fun and crazy ideas being presented by the different departments on each day.

TrunkSpace: What was the biggest highlight for you in shooting “Critters: A New Binge?” What will you take with you through the rest of your career/life?
Panton: My biggest highlight was probably the scene where I got to (spoiler alert!) shoot a whole lot of them and kind of help save the day, but I felt it was still pretty badass in Ellen’s sort of innocent, kind of adorable way. That and the hairy balls scene. Getting to have lines like that was hilarious and fun. What I’ll take with me for the rest of my life, for sure the memories and the awesome reminder that I got to be involved in something so awesome.

TrunkSpace: As a genre, horror always has a bit of a built-in audience. Fans of the genre will tune in to see a film or series even if they don’t know that much about it, but with a project like Critters: A New Binge” there’s also an established brand attached to it. As a performer, is that exciting knowing that you’re going to have an audience – regardless of how big – when it is eventually released?
Panton: Yes, I feel lucky to be a part of it. In a way, I feel like I’m being welcomed into a club of sorts that has existed for a long time, which adds to the excitement and wow factor for me where I’m like, “I get to be on this awesome franchise called ‘Critters?!’” There have been so many moments along the way where I’ve stepped back with excitement and had those kinds of thoughts. I still do.

TrunkSpace: You’ve also worked on Hallmark Channel projects, which in a way, has a similar fan base to the horror genre in that people will tune in because they know they’re going to see the kind of storytelling that they enjoy. As an actress, are you finding that more and more projects you’re auditioning for are focusing on a particular audience as opposed to trying to appeal to everybody? Is there a change happening even at the network level?
Panton: I would say yes for the most part and especially here in Vancouver where I am based. We have “Supernatural,” which has the exact kind of audience you describe and then we have lots of the superhero shows like “The Flash” and “Supergirl.” And then every now and then there are shows/movies that you really don’t know what to expect, that does something new and doesn’t really fit into a particular mold per se. But then again, I guess that is kind of a genre in and of itself that appeals to a certain audience. I think networks are realizing there’s a market for everything and to be more specific makes things even more interesting. It’s kind of like staying true to who you are and with that brings more passion to the work and people can feel it. That’s why I think there are so many amazing TV shows getting released these days.

TrunkSpace: As you mentioned, you’re based in Vancouver. How important are networks like The CW and Hallmark Channel, both of which do a lot of filming there, to the talent who call the city home? Could it still thrive if those productions moved elsewhere?
Panton: Oh, sooo important. There are so many of my friends who rely on those shows for their bread and butter – and even me! In the last year, most of my gigs have been for The CW, Lifetime and Hallmark, so it would definitely be different and a lot harder if they weren’t here. They allow us all to pursue our passion. I have no idea what would happen if those productions moved elsewhere. I cross my fingers that it would never happen, but it’s always important to be working so hard, always improving your craft no matter how successful you get, so you can eventually get work outside of this city and are never dependent on things staying the way they are because we all know that things change and all things come to an end at some point or another.

TrunkSpace: At what point did you realize that acting wasn’t just a passion but a career path, and did you have to convince yourself to take the leap to commit to it 100 percent?
Panton: All my life I loved acting, from the moment I realized it was a passion of mine when I saw a musical as a kid – I just felt like something reached inside me. My dad was an entrepreneur growing up and told us to pursue our passions in life, but I think because we lived an hour outside of the city it still seemed a bit far-fetched to pursue it. After high school, I did broadcasting school which moved me to the big city and because I was doing that, which is still a bit more ‘out there’ than a lot of paths many people pursue, it made me feel one step closer to acting and that’s when I realized I can make it work and figured out how to get my foot into the industry. It didn’t take a lot of convincing, more just for a brief time when I worked at a bank I realized I wasn’t happy and I knew I couldn’t carry on doing something I wasn’t happy doing for the rest of my life.

TrunkSpace: There’s a lot of uncertainty that comes along with a career in the arts. What have you found to be your rock in terms of staying focused and on your path throughout the course of your career?
Panton: So many things. Having a support system is huge and I’m so lucky to have that with family. Not everyone gets that, but it helps even just being involved in the community – even if it’s taking acting classes and getting tight with everyone there. Also having other things that I love to pursue on the side, like planning trips or taking up another hobby. It forms you as an actor but is sometimes a distraction because it can get hard. Another thing that can help to stay really grounded is to be constantly reminding myself that, like anything, it takes a lot of hard work and to be really strongly skilled and to constantly be asking myself what is the next thing I need to do to improve myself.

Photo By: Carly Dame

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Panton: I would say playing Marilyn Monroe on “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.”

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?
Panton: No, I don’t think I’d want to take a glimpse of it. In this day and age when it’s so hard to be present with what we’re doing, I think it would make it even harder to focus on what’s in front of me without thinking about the successes or worries that await me in my future. I also think there are so many life lessons along the way that lead us to where we end up. It makes the reward in the end so much more valuable and cherished. I think I would value where my life is much more if I really understood the hard work it took for me to get there. If I knew where I was going to be, I think it would be much harder to absorb everything from each moment that I have to learn.

Critters: A New Binge” is currently available on Shudder.

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Wingman Wednesday

Falk Hentschel

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Photo By: MAARTEN DEBOER

Welcome to Marwen” may be one of the more visually unique projects to come out of Hollywood in some time, but the voice of the film – the story and how that story unfolds – is nearly just as rare. Harkening back to the movie-making days of the late 1980s and 1990s, the film is a feel-good, character-driven escape from superheroes and end of days disasters. For star Falk Hentschel, who plays “villain” Hauptsturmführer Ludwig Topf, that is the exact kind of project that inspired him to pursue a career in the creative arts in the first place.

We recently sat down with Hentschel to discuss hanging up his dance shoes, taking direction from Robert Zemeckis, and how “Welcome to Marwen” saved him.

TrunkSpace: Your professional career began in dance, but from what we understand, your dream was always to act. Was there ever a moment where you felt that acting was taking a backseat and is that what prompted you to pursue your dream with a new focus?
Hentschel: Yes, absolutely. From when I was 14 years old ‘til about 21 there wasn’t too much acting opportunity in my life. I had shifted my focus onto dance in the hopes that the journey would lead me back to acting. I always spent time on filmmaking somehow, whether it was practicing monologues, getting more familiar with different American accents, or studying my favorite movies over and over again, but dance was the bigger focus in those years. But there came a point, once I had been in LA for a little while, where I realized that I needed to shift my focus 100 percent to filmmaking. It came to me when I auditioned for Justin Timberlake’s “FutureSex/LoveShow” tour. That would have been the pinnacle for my dance career and it was pretty much the only thing left that I wanted to do as a dancer. When I didn’t get the gig, I decided it was time to go back to my childhood dreams and passions – filmmaking.

From one day to the next, I canceled all my classes at Debbie Reynolds (Dance Studio), let my agent know that I would no longer pursue a career as a dancer/choreographer and pretty much hung up my dance shoes.

TrunkSpace: Your new film “Welcome to Marwen” entertains, but it also is saying something, which to us, is always the most powerful form of art – one that can leave an impact in multiple ways. As a performer, what does it mean to be involved in a project that is accomplishing more than just ticket sales?
Hentschel: For me that’s the ultimate goal. It’s honestly the only type of project I want to be doing. Unfortunately it has become very rare to have a project like that come your way. Growing up, I have always been inspired to think, feel and act differently after coming out of a movie theater. Sometimes very significantly so, sometimes more subtly, but no matter what, most movies back then inspired me.

So to now be a part of a film that has the potential to really move people and make them think about things in a different way is something I’m very grateful for. It’s a dream come true and has set a new standard for me as far as what I’m looking to do in the future. I truly hope people are as inspired and affected by the film as I was making it.

TrunkSpace: The subject matter is heavy at times. Other than pronouncing your character’s name – Hauptsturmführer Ludwig Topf – what was the most difficult aspect of discovering and slipping into the skin of this particular guy? What did you struggle with throughout the process of becoming the “villain” of the film?
Hentschel: (Laughter) Yeah, the character’s name is a mouthful, isn’t it?

Quite honestly, Hauptsturmführer Topf was not the biggest challenge. Topf is an old-school villain and on top of that, a doll. That allows an actor to really play around and be larger than life. Also playing in the MoCap world brought a certain freedom to acting that I had not experienced before. Everything other than your fellow actors had to be created in your mind.

It was “the thug” that beats Mark into a coma that was the real challenge to connect to although he has less scenes and less “to do.” He was the one that occupied my mind most. I can not play a character without understanding and relating to them, especially in this case since it is a true story. I truly believe that all humans come from a source of love and that all of us are spending our lives seeking love. The “villains” not only in our stories but also in our lives are usually just very, very hurt people that are longing for love. It’s a sad thing if you remember that those villains were beautiful babies once and someone’s child and had all the potential for greatness. Long story short, I decided that my “thug” character maybe related much more to Mark than we think and that the reason he almost killed Mark was jealousy and longing. Mark had a courage to truly be himself, even in front of these dangerous men. The “thug” probably wished he could have been this courageous and honest himself. He felt threatened by Mark and therefor lashed out. It took a long time for me to find this angle. I’m chuckling now, ‘cause on screen it probably doesn’t matter but it mattered to me.

TrunkSpace: Helping to shape your performance throughout the course of the film was none other than director Robert Zemeckis, an icon of the industry. What did he help to teach you about yourself as a performer on this film that perhaps you didn’t know you were capable of before your first day on set?
Hentschel: Bob is an incredible communicator. He knows his story down to the smallest details. He gently guides you when needed but also lets you do your thing.

The best gift that Bob gave me ultimately though was trust. In both directions. It was so easy to trust Bob every step of the way. I mean, come on, he is my childhood hero, and yet at the same time, I felt that he trusted me to take care of my job, which is a big deal for someone who grew up on “Back to the Future,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Forrest Gump.” It makes you feel like you belong. He trusted his entire team every step of the way. It made everyone give their all every single moment of the shoot. You don’t wanna let someone down that believes in you. Often times people in Hollywood use fear to get people to follow them. It’s refreshing when it’s encouragement and trust instead. It was everything and more than I had imagined it being.

TrunkSpace: Visually the film is so unique. What was your reaction when you saw yourself brought to life as a doll?
Hentschel: I haven’t seen the film yet but from what I saw in my ADR sessions it was awesome. Very trippy. There are some sequences I have not seen yet that I can’t wait to see come to life.

TrunkSpace: For the audience, the most memorable aspect of a film is the finished project, but we would imagine for you, it’s the process of seeing it all come together. What was the biggest highlight of being involved in the film thus far – the moment that you’ll carry with you through the rest of your life/career?
Hentschel: In the second trailer for “Welcome to Marwen,” there is a moment where the song goes, “I got dreams in my head and they won’t go.” That sums up the whole experience to me. A little before “Welcome To Marwen,” I was pretty down about my career and about Hollywood in general. The type of movies that got me to dream of being an actor were no longer made and the experience to be a professional in Hollywood came with many aspects that are soul crushing. The flame of my dreams was dimming and I was very depressed. “Welcome To Marwen,” thanks to Bob, the producers, the cast and crew, delivered exactly what I had always thought Hollywood to be – creative playground for dreamers. Everyone playing together trying to create something beautiful. I walked away from this film having renewed belief in myself and the industry, singing, “I got dreams in my head and they won’t go” again.

TrunkSpace: You’re giving life to a bad dude in “Welcome To Marwen,” but you’re also familiar with playing heroes having portrayed “Hawkman” in The CW’s DC Universe. Is character diversity one of the draws of getting to be an actor? Does the variety keep it interesting, and is that why actors are so concerned about being typecast?
Hentschel: That’s a great question. Personally for me the answer is YES and YES. The whole point for me of being an actor is to be able to experience more than one life, even if it’s just for a brief moment in time. To get a little insight into someone other than you. To do things you would never get to do in real life.

The typecast thing is something I’ve always dreaded and have tried to avoid. Sometimes it’s nice to come back to a “type” because you feel like there is more to explore there than you were able to do before. But I don’t wanna get stuck playing the same thing over and over again. I long for new discoveries and new challenges, so I try to keep it fresh as much as I can.

TrunkSpace: Does “Welcome To Marwen” present you in a way that you think an audience – or those in a position to cast roles – have yet to see you in? Is Hauptsturmführer Ludwig Topf unlike anyone we have seen you inhabit thus far in your career?
Hentschel: I started my career playing villains, so it’s not a brand new thing to see me do. But I wonder how “Topf” will come across. After all, I’m playing a doll brought to life by Mark’s imagination, so of course I’m hoping that there will be little surprises here and there. Maybe I even get a few chuckles out of people at times. That would be lovely.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Hentschel: “Welcome to Marwen.” I’ve grown a ton through having had the privilege to work with such incredible talent, I’ve made wonderful life long friends and the experience revived my love for filmmaking. In a sense, it saved 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?
Hentschel: I don’t think I would. It’s like opening presents under the Xmas tree before Xmas. I would rob myself of the discovery process and then when Xmas comes it wouldn’t be as delicious anymore. I believe that we’re always right where we’re meant to be, ready for what’s coming to us, for better or worse. I want to trust life to deliver its goods to me at its own pace.

Welcome To Marwen” opens December 21.

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Wingman Wednesday

Hiro Kanagawa

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Photo By: Kristine Cofsky

While we used to look forward to “tentpole” films rolling into our local cineplexes every summer, now we can see the same production quality, marque names, and multi-layered world building appearing on our televisions every night, holding up the pop culture tent with poles steeped in rich, complex storytelling. In fact, it’s starting to feel like a new, highly-anticipated series premieres every week, and for those of us addicted to the binge, it’s a great time to consume.

The new Netflix sci-fi thrillfest “Altered Carbon” is the kind of show that not only has us excited, but it could very well usher in a new dawn of big-budgeted event series. Adapting a project like this, based on the 2002 novel by Richard Morgan, for anywhere other than a movie theater would have been completely unheard of even a decade ago. The cost alone to bring the futuristic, effects-filled story to life would have scared off every executive from network to cable, but now it seems, much like the technology that makes a show like this possible, the sky is the limit.

We recently sat down with “Altered Carbon” star and one of our favorite character actors Hiro Kanagawa to discuss how he brings his memorable characters to life, why the series could be a game changer for the industry, and the rock ‘n’ roll dream that still pecks away at him.

TrunkSpace: First thing’s first…we love us some you! Your work is always so rich in character and the choices you make with those characters are extremely memorable. What is your approach to tapping into a new character and making him your own?
Kanagawa: Thanks for the kind words. Acting is an ephemeral activity, even when captured on film, so it’s great to know that some of what I do is memorable. Creating these characters really depends on the circumstance, the style and content of the script, the people around you, the specifics of the character. When I was starting out I was coming from a bit of an arty physical theater background, so I tended to work outside-in: find the voice, find the walk, find the way this guy carries himself. But in film and TV, less is more – you really have to internalize things and work inside-out because something as small as a sideways glance or an arched eyebrow can be a big, big move. Also, everybody you’re working with is coming at things from different methods and training techniques and traditions, so I’ve found the most reliable thing to do as an actor is BE IN RELATIONSHIP with your other actors and your environment. I hope audiences appreciate my work as Captain Tanaka on “Altered Carbon.” I’m proud of it, and a lot of it comes out of being in relationship with Martha Higareda’s character, Ortega.

TrunkSpace: As you mentioned, you’re set to star as Captain Tanaka in the new Netflix series “Altered Carbon.” By any standards it seems like an extremely ambitious project, but by television/streaming standards, it feels like it could be the kind of project that forces others to rethink the way that they’re doing things. As you were working on the series, did it have the feel of something that could be groundbreaking within the industry itself?
Kanagawa: Absolutely. And it’s more than blind ambition, there’s a desire, an aspiration to make something really good. I could tell everybody on this project from the top down were dedicated to getting things right. I go into my first wardrobe fitting and a few days later I have another one because they’ve re-thought things. And then another one. I walk on set on my first day and my first reaction is, “Wow.” Same thing the next day when I see another set. And so on. I get called in to rehearse on a Saturday and with input from all of us actors, the scene gets rewritten. There’s creative energy. Everybody’s involved and engaged. Nobody was mailing it in on this one.

TrunkSpace: At this point, millions of people have already viewed the trailer online and the buzz continues to build around the series. As an actor performing within a show that is generating that kind of pop culture interest, does it place you in a position to put expectations on how it will be received and accepted, and in a way, alter your life/career in the process?
Kanagawa: I do have expectations that it will be well-received. I’ve seen bits and pieces and everything I’ve seen excites me. I’ve read the scripts, of course, and being a writer myself, I have nothing but admiration for the writing. I am aware that my work here as Captain Tanaka will probably get a lot of eyeballs and I’m happy about that because I feel good about it. If this creates more opportunities for me in the future, I’m ready. Bring it on.

TrunkSpace: For those who have never read the Richard Morgan novel, can you tell us a bit about Captain Tanaka and what his journey is throughout the course of the series? What did he offer you from a performance standpoint that you have yet to tackle in a project before?
Kanagawa: The series is in the same universe and follows the same general trajectory as the first book, but it’s a major expansion of that universe. Captain Tanaka, in fact, does not appear in the novel. What I can tell you is that Tanaka is a deeply-conflicted and compromised police captain tasked with keeping law and order in a world run by an ultra-powerful elite. He’s a good man in a bad world and he can either keep his head down and do as he’s told, or he can do the right thing. As an actor, you live for characters who are conflicted in this way.

TrunkSpace: From one talked about project to the next, you’re also working on “Snowpiercer” for TNT, a series based on Bong Joon Ho’s popular 2013 film. Both “Altered Carbon” and “Snowpiercer” come with a bit of their own built-in audiences seeing that they had established fan bases in other mediums already. Is that a gift for an actor, working on something that you know people will already be lining up to see, or does it also come with its own set of pitfalls knowing that some viewers might go in with expectations already in place?
Kanagawa: I think there are instances where the fans of a known, iconic story do not want what they know and love to be messed with. I don’t think “Altered Carbon” or “Snowpiercer” will suffer from that given both projects are re-interpreting the original for a different medium. If anything, I feel an audience expectation and excitement to see what new directions both series will go in.

TrunkSpace: You’ve performed in dozens of series and films over the course of your career. Looking back, are there any characters that you wished you had more time to spend with and explore further, and if so, why?
Kanagawa: Lt. Suzuki on “iZombie”, and the Yakuza boss Okamura on “The Man in the High Castle” both met untimely ends. There was a lot more to explore with those characters.

TrunkSpace: You’ve had some great runs on fan favorite shows adored by the Comic Con crowds like those two you just mentioned, and most recently, “Legends of Tomorrow.” But one thing a lot of people might not know about you is that you also played father of the first family of comics, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. What was that experience like, giving voice to such an iconic character?
Kanagawa: I don’t do a lot of animation, so it was a tremendous pleasure being in the room with artists who are the creme de la creme of that industry. And as an Asian actor, I thought it was fantastic that I had the opportunity to voice such an iconic non-Asian character. Reed, of course, is kind of the “straight man” in the family, so I didn’t have to move far from my natural speaking voice, but I had a great time with a couple of episodes where Reed switched bodies with Ben/The Thing as well as with Dr. Doom.

Kanagawa with Joel de la Fuente “The Man in the High Castle”

TrunkSpace: You also did an episode of “Supernatural,” which many in the fandom consider to be one of the most memorable in the series’ 13 year run. (“Changing Channels”) That got us to thinking… can you imagine yourself working on one character for such an extended period of time, in this case, 13 seasons, and is that something you would welcome?
Kanagawa: It really depends on the character I guess. I’ve been lucky to have a sustained career without being attached to a single character or show for longer than two seasons. But this is the golden age of the serial narrative and there is so much good writing out there in this medium that I would welcome the opportunity to explore a character over multiple seasons.

TrunkSpace: We read that you started your creative journey as a musician, composer, and writer. Are those areas that are still a big part of your life even as your acting career has continued to propel you forward in ways that you probably never thought possible?
Kanagawa: I am a playwright as well as an actor and I am very proud of the fact that I recently received the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Drama, one of Canada’s most prestigious literary awards. As for music, as anyone who ever played in a high school rock band will attest, I still dream of getting the band back together, taking my shirt off, and kicking some ass!

TrunkSpace: A lot of times our loves and creative outlets can end up feeling like “work” when those outlets become careers. Do you still love acting as much today as you did the first time you stepped foot on a set and began your career?
Kanagawa: I actually love it more now than ever. I feel I’m just starting to get really interesting opportunities, and that’s coming at a time when I’m starting to do my best work. All of that is extremely exciting. I’m chomping at the bit here.

TrunkSpace: Do you view the craft differently now than you did when you first began your pursuit of it?
Kanagawa: Completely. I’m always learning about myself as I journey through life. And acting is a craft you can learn so much about from watching people you’ve never met. You can watch actors who died decades ago and learn from them. You can learn from watching people at the food court at the mall. It’s endlessly, endlessly fascinating.

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you tomorrow with a blank check and said, “Hiro, go make the kind of projects that you want to make,” what would that look like? What kind of project would you develop for yourself knowing that money was not an option?
Kanagawa: Being a writer and having a couple of screenplays and series concepts, I’d use the money to get those things made. I don’t really write roles for myself, but if I had a blank check maybe I’d be tempted to write myself something. Might be tempted to write myself a part where I cross the desert, climb the mountain, and make it to the promised land.

Altered Carbon” premieres Friday on Netflix.

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Wingman Wednesday

Graeme McComb

GraemeMcComb_Wingman_wednesday
Photo By: Shimon Photography

“Legends of Tomorrow” fans will recognize Graeme McComb as the more youthful version of Martin Stein who the heroes stumble upon through their various time traveling exploits. The Vancouver native most recently starred in the Nickelodeon film “Tiny Christmas,” playing a fish-out-of-water elf who shrinks a pair of children, and naturally, holiday hilarity ensues.

We recently sat down with McComb to discuss the fun of playing Santa’s elf, one of his favorite holiday memories growing up, and how he approaches playing the younger version of a character who is already being portrayed by another actor.

TrunkSpace: There have been many great elf characters to touch down in Christmas projects and leave their mark on pop culture. In Nickelodeon’s “Tiny Christmas” you’re playing an elf named Elfonso. How does Elfonso rate in comparison to other elf characters who have come before him? What makes him fun and memorable?
McComb: Elfonso is memorable because at the start of the film, he has never left the North Pole and is terribly frightened by children. It’s amusing to watch his journey throughout the film and how he adapts to the real world and how he overcomes his fear.

TrunkSpace: When you’re working on a Christmas-themed project, does it feel like it comes with a bit of a built-in audience given that there is always a set of eyeballs who will tune in for some holiday cheer? In a way, it’s a bit like a brand, is it not?
McComb: Absolutely! I always loved watching Christmas movies as a kid and it was always a part of our holiday tradition. I’m very excited of the potential of creating some festive cheer through film.

TrunkSpace: We touched on a bit of what makes Elfonso great in comparison to other elf characters, but what made him interesting for you in comparison to other roles you’ve tackled in the past? Did you get to do anything as Elfonso on screen that you have yet to accomplish with previous projects?
McComb: He was interesting to play because I was able to incorporate my physical theater training to the screen, which was really fun for me as an actor. This was also my first experience with prosthetic ears, which helped me transform into character.

TrunkSpace: “Tiny Christmas” has the potential to become a part of the holiday traditions of future generations. Is there a particular holiday tradition from your family/upbringing as it relates to pop culture that holds a particularly nostalgic place in your heart?
McComb: My family and I would always watch “A Christmas Story.” I would act out scenes from the movie. At a certain age I actually wanted a BB gun. All my friends at school had bb guns which made me want one even more! Luckily, after a few months of begging my mum, she finally allowed me to get one. I had so much fun with it!

TrunkSpace: Cause you’ll shoot your eye out! (Laughter) Moving on, you also recently returned to DC’s “Legends of Tomorrow” to once again portray a younger version of the character Martin Stein, played in the series by Victor Garber. How do you approach the performance of a character who is currently being portrayed by another actor in a different stage of his life? It sounds very meta!
McComb: It was a challenge but also very rewarding. When I got the audition, I was lucky enough to have Professor Stein material to study from “The Flash.” I spent a lot of time studying his speech patterns and movements and when it came to the shoot, I tried to relax, have fun and speak from the heart.

TrunkSpace: You first appeared in “Legends of Tomorrow” way back in the pilot. Did you have any idea at the time that you’d be returning as Martin Stein throughout the course of the series?
McComb: I had no idea! When the first episode came out, I had some really great feedback about the character from fans, which made me think that there was a chance he would be back on the show.

TrunkSpace: Comic book fans are very passionate about their properties and characters. How has appearing on a show set in the DC universe impacted your career? Did it open you up to the fandom at all? Have you felt the impact through social media?
McComb: I for sure have. Last year I did an AMA on r/legendsoftomorrow on Reddit and had amazing feedback and questions about the show and my career. It’s really cool to connect with so many passionate people.

TrunkSpace: What’s fun about “Legends of Tomorrow” is that it all takes place in a world where anything is possible. Does that allow you to approach performance from a different perspective?
McComb: It does in a way because the first episode I appeared in was in the 70s, the second in the 80s and the third in the 90s. Being able to play the same character over three decades has definitely given me a different perspective on acting for sure.

TrunkSpace: We read that you originally wanted to play professional hockey for a living. Are there any similarities between pursuing hockey and pursuing a career as an actor? Do they intersect anywhere?
McComb: To be successful in hockey you have to have strength, skill, precision, resilience and imagination. You also need all of those attributes to be successful as an actor.

TrunkSpace: If someone gave you a blank check tomorrow and told you to go off and develop any kind of project you wanted for yourself, what would you greenlight and why?
McComb: I would love to see a “Band of Brothers” type episodic show about Canadians during WW2. Canadians were involved tremendously during the war and telling their story would be pretty cool.

Feature image by: Shimon Photography

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