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Chilling Out

Chris Conner

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Chilling Out is where TrunkSpace talks all things horror and genre with those who work in the projects that give us the thrills and chills to keep coming back for more. This time out we’re chatting with Chris Conner, star of the new film “The Harvesting,” which is available now on DVD and Digital HD.

We recently sat down with Conner to discuss the horror of isolation, playing in the fantastical worlds he loved as a child, and inventing Edgar Allan Poe.

TrunkSpace: The isolation of farmlands has been terrifying us since we first saw “Children of the Corn” way back in 1984. When you initially read the script for “The Harvesting,” what was the potential that you saw in it? Was it psychological? Was it jump scare-based? Something else entirely?
Conner: Yes, psychological. I think it was the feeling of isolation. It seemed that this family was at a breaking point and instead of communicating and working together, Jake retreats to the country. The farmland should be a place of quiet solace…

TrunkSpace: In the film you play that man, Jake, a husband and father who is enthusiastic about the idea of getting “away from it all” as he heads out to the country with his family. Is part of the terror in a film like “The Harvesting” the idea of helplessness as a parent to protect the family, because as parents ourselves, that’s certainly the vibe we felt in watching the trailer?
Conner: Sure. And the need to reconnect with our own childhoods through our children. If they can see where Dad grew up maybe they will understand him better. If everyone could just slow down and listen, the family could be saved.

TrunkSpace: Isolation certainly increases the creep factor in a horror film, but how does it impact production? In shooting the film, were you just as “away from it all” as the fictional characters themselves?
Conner: We weren’t too isolated as a production or as actors. It was made on a shoestring so we all were a big messy family shooting it. Dan (Shultz), our producer, was a little like Jake in the film, just keeping the family together.

TrunkSpace: What was it about Jake that you wanted to help bring to life? What aspects of him did you have the most fun inhabiting for the duration of the production?
Conner: It’s fun to play in the horror genre in general. Playing into certain tropes or against them is always a good challenge. And young dad roles are a new thing for me, so it was fun with the kids as well.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer, the final product is always what’s memorable when it comes to a film or series, but for those working on the project, we have to imagine that it is the experience that stays with you. For you, what was the most memorable aspect of getting to work on “The Harvesting?”
Conner: Lancaster, Pennsylvania is a beautiful part of the country. I’ll always remember the rolling hills and the kind folk there.

TrunkSpace: Horror as a genre seems to have a built-in audience. Is it appealing working on a project knowing that, in a way, you’re going to have eyes on it based on the interest in the genre as a whole?
Conner: Totally. I recently wrote a western and that is exactly why I did it. You watch things growing up and you want to play in those worlds. Sci-fi, horror, westerns – all those genres are places I want to play. They have an audience AND I’m a big fan.

TrunkSpace: We loved your character Poe in “Altered Carbon” and we were sorry to see him – spoiler alert – go. Is that one of those roles that comes along and you instantly know it has the chance to be special from a performance standpoint?
Conner: Yes and no. Poe wasn’t in the books and we had to “invent” him as we went along. Really great writing helped with that. And it seemed to click for me.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Conner: Poe in “Altered Carbon.” It’s a really special character. And my first time getting to contribute more of myself in something that ends up on screen. You mostly get that in the theater, but I got a chance to do it on a really big Netflix show and that is just awesome.

Conner as Poe in “Altered Carbon”

TrunkSpace: Is there a character that you portrayed – perhaps even in a guesting capacity – that you wished you had more time to spend with and explore further?
Conner: Most everything I have ever done! A lot of TV and film gets rushed and I always think about how I would have done it differently. But then you gotta move on and be in the moment for the next story to tell.

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?
Conner: Naw… I think being surprised along the journey is so cool. I turn to my wife all the time and say, “How did we get here?!” It’s been a helluva ride so far and in 10 years I’m sure I’ll be shocked at where I am.

Hopefully, in a good way.

The Harvesting” is available now on DVD and Digital HD.

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The Featured Presentation

Josh Cruddas

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Photo By: Tina Picard

After reading the script, Josh Cruddas fought hard to be a part of “Polar” – the new Netflix film based on the graphic novel by Victor Santos –  so hard in fact that he worried that he may have come on too strong when he first met with director Jonas Åkerlund and producer Jeremy Bolt. Calling the screenplay the most “exciting, badass, funny and promising” he had ever read, the Nova Scotia native’s tenacity paid off and he was cast as the assassin Alexei, proving that talent, when mixed with passion, is a powerful combination.

We recently sat down with Cruddas to discuss the universe he’d sell his car to be a part of, the terror of being trained in terrifying weaponry, and the unexpected benefits of his career as an actor.

TrunkSpace: “Polar” is based on the web-comic/graphic novel of the same name. Comics continue to be a well that Hollywood taps, both for film and television adaptation. As an actor, what is it like having that source material (and existing audience!) available to you, but at the same time, not having the pressure of stepping into a brand that the masses have been exposed to yet, like a Spider-Man or Batman?
Cruddas: To me, it’s incredibly exciting. New, quality IP in film is hard to find these days, with the traditional studio model less likely to take big-budget risks on content without a big built-in fanbase. I think Jeremy (Bolt), Keith (Goldberg) and the other brilliant minds at Dark Horse and Netflix have really stumbled upon a gold mine in Victor Santos’ graphic novels; here’s a fantastic comic world begging for a film adaptation, compete with some die-hard fans, but underground enough that the rest of us can still be surprised by everything when we see the movie version. And for me, as the actor, I can rest a little easier knowing that nobody’s comparing my version of the character to, let’s say, Daniel Day-Lewis’ 1994 Oscar-winning version, you know? That all being said, I’d sell my car for a chance to be in a Marvel movie.

TrunkSpace: The original comic was very stylized, and what’s great about the film adaptation is that a lot of that is carried over in terms of how it’s shot and the use of color. Visually, what makes the work you did on this project unique in comparison to previous roles?
Cruddas: I got VERY lucky in this film to work with Jonas (
Åkerlund), who’s a visual maestro, as well has his team of PäEkberg, Susie Coulthard, Lea Carlson and Emma Fairley. These people have created this brilliantly vibrant world that myself and the other actors get to live in. I think it’s a welcome rebuke of a lot of the grey, so-dark-and-shaky-you-can’t-even-see-the-fight-scenes cinematography style we see in certain big action movies and TV these days. The TV show I’m shooting right now is also very colorful too, but I’ve never done anything as stylized and sleek as “Polar” before. Usually the most colorful thing onscreen with me is the four strands of ginger hair I have left on my head!

TrunkSpace: The trailer definitely has that bad-ass, pump-you-up feel to it. Upon first glance, it’s sort of “Taken” meets “A History of Violence.” When you first read for the project, what excited you most about it and did it meet those first impression expectations when you called wrap?
Cruddas: I thought I had made a mistake, reading the screenplay before meeting Jonas and Jeremy last winter – it was one of the most exciting, badass, funny and promising scripts I’d ever read. So when I went to meet with them, I loved the role so much and was so desperate for the part that I thought I went completely over the top in my excitement for the job. Thankfully they gave it to me anyway, and I think the whole team (including our huge, incredible crew who worked longer hours and longer nights than I ever had to) really captured the magic I found in the script as we shot the film.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer, the most memorable part of a film or television series is the end product, but for those involved in it, we would imagine it’s the experience. For you, what aspects of working on “Polar” will you carry with you through the rest of your career and life?
Cruddas: Good point! There were a lot of memories I’ll take with me from shooting “Polar.” The A-Team (assassin squad) really bonded over the months, so we would go sing karaoke till the wee hours and post the results to our group chat… Johnny Knoxville once sank me in a game of pool by looking me dead in the eyes while he pocketed the 8-ball, and that kind of humiliation is something I’ll never forget. Also, being trained on the weapons was a terrifying and humbling experience – regular people like myself should have no access to those things! But more than anything, it gave me the confidence to play more action-oriented, stunt-heavy roles like this one in the future.

TrunkSpace: The film is a Netflix original. You also worked on “Cardinal” for CTV/Hulu, and will be appearing in “Wayne” for YouTube Premium. With so many platforms producing such incredible, character-driven content these days, how has that landscape opened things up for actors? Are there more opportunities today than there were even a few years ago?
Cruddas: Definitely. I was lucky to pop by on “Wayne” last summer and being in North Bay during the autumn for “Cardinal” was one of the coolest experiences of my career so far. It reunited me with my buddy Billy Campbell who was my first on-screen “dad” in “Copperhead” for Warner Bros back in 2012. So I don’t know if it’s just that I’ve finally figured out how to not be the world’s worst actor, or if there’s just more opportunity with Netflix’s incredible investment in Canadian productions and all these new streaming services (my next show is for another new streaming service) – but I’m just grateful to be working!

TrunkSpace: You’re also an award-winning music composer whose work has appeared in numerous projects. How do you balance your creative interests and do you view them as separate paths or one continuous path with different stops along the way?
Cruddas: I was super lucky that my parents decided to enroll me in piano lessons when I was six. I had an incredible teacher named Diane Krochko who didn’t punish me for not wanting to just play Mozart all the time. She actively encouraged creativity, along with a lot of other mentors in my early life, including my parents who home-educated me and my sisters who appeared in short films myself and my friends used to make. I think all of those experiences and people guided me to where I am hopefully going now, by giving me the chance to play – both musically and onscreen.

TrunkSpace: Creative people are always their own worst critic. Are you harder on yourself as an actor or as a musician?
Cruddas: Probably as an actor. But it’s fairly equal. I often think while I’m working on something that I’m the worst actor who ever lived and I’d be better off switching careers as soon as the cameras stop rolling. It’s only when I get up the courage to watch my work after it comes out that I realize it’s not abhorrently bad and I convince myself to keep at it. Musically, sometimes I’ll spend hours on four bars of a theme because it’s just not feeling right, but then I’ll often get carried away by the emotion when I’m writing – if I can make myself cry with a few notes, then I hope it can do the same for the audience.

Photo By: Tina Picard

TrunkSpace: What has been one of the most unexpected benefits of a career in the arts that you’ve experienced, but could have never anticipated when you first set out to pursue your dreams?
Cruddas: Cool question. Probably passing along the few things I’ve learned along the way. One of the greatest privileges of my life is my role volunteering at SickKids hospital in Toronto, reading stories and singing songs in the library there. I’m also very lucky to teach at a children’s performing arts/triple threat school called Stagecoach in Canada, and I never thought I’d enjoy that job as much as I do. I had turned down numerous teaching gigs in the past because I thought I’d be rubbish at it, but my talented friend Emma Smit convinced me to take over her class one day five years ago, and I’ve never looked back. I’m quite sure teaching acting has made me a better actor, and the kids keep me grounded – anytime I have to cut my already-receding hair for a role, I step into the classroom and get roasted more thoroughly than a Thanksgiving turkey.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Cruddas: That’s a difficult one! “Polar,” “Cardinal” and “Copperhead” are up there, as well as a film called “Duet” that I made a couple years ago with my best friend since age six, Andrew Coll. When I heard a violin section play music that originated in my head for the first time on a film called “10000 Miles,” that was insanely special too. And the project I’m shooting right now is extremely close to my heart but I’m not allowed to breathe a word about it or I’ll be dragged through the streets by my hair.

Hmm. I think more than anything, just being able to do what I love for a living is one of the greatest feelings in the world, and it’s not lost on me how lucky I am to be able to do that.

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?
Cruddas: Great question. I think I’d want to keep my career a surprise for future Josh (hopefully I still have one), but I would love to see the state of the world in 10 years. We’re in a scary, pivotal spot right now, with social media, fear-mongering and gerrymandering the enemies of truth, democracy and our planet at large. I hope more than anything that in 10 years, we’ve invited empathy and facts back to the table, and we’ve started letting smart and compassionate people make the decisions again.

Polar” premieres Friday on Netflix.

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The Featured Presentation

Annette Reilly

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Photo By: Ian Redd

Annette Reilly is seizing the day. The talented actress and director has overcome daunting obstacles on her quest for creative fulfillment, including a life-changing battle with colon cancer where she discovered silver linings in even the darkest of clouds.

The Alberta native can currently be seen starring as Sabrina’s mom, Diana Spellman, in the hit Netflix series, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”

We recently sat down with Reilly to discuss raising a teenage witch, instantaneous celebrity, and why her biggest hurdle in life was also her biggest blessing.

TrunkSpace: Raising teenagers isn’t easy. Raising a teenage witch… well, that’s well beyond our pay grade! For those who have yet to binge their way through “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” what kind of mother is Diana, and how has she influenced her daughter? Where do we see Diana’s impact the most?
Reilly: Diana, to me, is a strong willed yet gentle mother. She’s a bit of a mama bear. She’s protective of her daughter and will do anything to keep her safe. I think Diana, being mortal, is a huge influence on Sabrina. I mean, Sabrina was raised by witches. Her struggle is largely to reconcile the two sides of herself, mortal and witch, the mortal side being represented by Diana.

TrunkSpace: The series has been receiving an incredible response from fans. What has the experience been like for you, seeing it released into the world and watching the Season 1 reactions occur in real time?
Reilly: Oh my gosh. It’s been unreal. I wasn’t sure how the show would be received, and to be totally honest, didn’t really even know what I was getting into when I was cast. There was a fair bit of secrecy surrounding it at that point. The reception has been beyond anything I was expecting.

TrunkSpace: Being involved in a series like “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” does it have an instantaneous impact on your career as a whole? Does the buzz of one project lead to more doors opening on other projects?
Reilly: I would say, in general, yes. There comes an instantaneous “celebrity” status of sorts. I think, as a whole, the more you can get your name out there as an actor, the more rooms you can get into and, as a result, the more roles you end up getting cast in.

TrunkSpace: The series intro is fantastic. It’s nostalgic, and yet modern at the same time, while instantly setting the tone for what the viewer is about to watch. When you first read for the series, did that tone come through? Could you get a sense of what the series was going to look and feel like?
Reilly: Oh! Isn’t it wonderful?!?! I absolutely adore the opening. I saw it for the first time at the premiere and looked over to my partner and mouthed, “OMG.” It satisfies all my comic book fandom needs.

As far as the tone of the show goes… as I mentioned, there was some secrecy surrounding the project when I first read for the role of Diana. Looking back to the audition, I would say yes. The tone was definitely there when I first read. I really had no idea what they would do with it all though. For instance, the lenses they use to shoot this series are insane and give the show such a unique look. I could never have imagined what those would bring to the overall tone.

TrunkSpace: Your character’s future is a bit in limbo – literally. Do you yourself know where her future story is heading, or at this stage, is it just as much a mystery to you as it is to the fans of the series?
Reilly: This is TV! No one ever knows where the story is heading! (Laughter) Ok, I’m sure Roberto (Aguirre-Sacasa) has a pretty good idea… but it’s a mystery to me!

TrunkSpace: For the audience, the most memorable aspect of a series 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 series thus far – the moment that you’ll carry with you through the rest of your life/career?
Reilly: Oh gosh. There’s so many highlights. I’m really not sure I can pick just one! Doing the floss with Bronson Pinchot, Miranda Otto and Lucy Davis, all in a line, was a good one. I never in a million years thought that would happen. I’ve also developed a wonderful relationship with Georgie Daburas, who plays Edward, Sabrina’s dad. I’m always grateful when a friendship comes out a gig. But, the biggest highlight for me is actually something I can’t talk about yet. Stay tuned!

TrunkSpace: Chicken or the egg question. We know that you’re also a director and producer, so which love came first… was it working in front of the camera or behind it?
Reilly: My first love has always been acting. I started when I was a kid and knew instantly that it would be a part of my life forever. I started directing after I finished my acting degree and it was then that I realized I could use both my acting and artistic skills as well as my more logical, administrative side, all at the same time. They both fulfill me in very different ways. I’ve often thought that I should focus on one or the other, but I don’t have it in me to give up either. And then I do projects like my most recent short film, “A Typical Fairytale,” where I directed and starred (and also produced) and I realize that I CAN do both! Why not! Although, not sure if I would wear all three hats at the same time ever again. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What has been the biggest hurdle you’ve had to leap in order to get to this point in your career and what did you take from that experience that you apply to your career moving forward?
Reilly: My biggest hurdle was also my biggest blessing. I was diagnosed with Stage IIIb colon cancer back in 2011. I had surgeries, did chemo, the full meal deal. I’m not going to lie, it was tough. My daughter was a toddler at the time. There’s nothing like trying to potty train while you’re doing rounds of chemo. (Laughter) I learned a lot about myself from that experience. I truly believe that there is a silver lining to every dark cloud, if you choose to see it. My silver lining was that I discovered what I needed to do to live my truest life. I discovered my self worth. I discovered how fleeting this life can be and that I should seize every opportunity. That’s basically how I’ve been living ever since and it seems to be working for me!

TrunkSpace: We read that you love high level math, which is a skill set that probably helps in the role of producer, particularly when it comes to staying on budget. What are some other skills that people need – beyond the creative – to work in this industry?
Reilly: A tough skin. This is show BUSINESS. A strategic mind and tough skin will help more than you can ever know. You can’t take things personally, or you’re done. Especially as an actor.

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?
Reilly: Heck no! I’ve seen enough “Star Trek” episodes to know better than to mess with the space-time continuum. Also, I enjoy the adventure of life. Knowing an outcome before it happens takes the fun out of the journey. And why are we all here if not to enjoy the journey? I’ve been face to face with the end game. I’m good just riding this out as long as possible and enjoying every minute of it.

Season 1 of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is available on Netflix now.

 

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The Featured Presentation

Robert Longstreet

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There is a lot to get lost in when sitting down to binge the Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House,” a family drama/horror hybrid based on the 1959 Shirley Jackson novel and reimagined by filmmaker Mike Flanagan. The element of the nail-biter that most enamored us didn’t come from the scares or the story itself, but instead, the performance of actor Robert Longstreet, who took a supporting character in handyman Mr. Dudley and turned him into a memorable piece of an already-stellar ensemble. His mesmerizing monologue in the episode “Eulogy” was not only a highlight of the series, but one of the finest pieces of dramatic acting that we have seen in quite some time.

We recently sat down with Longstreet to discuss how he nailed the monologue in only four takes, why he’s happy to be peaking in his 50s, and the reason he can no longer leave the house without showering.

TrunkSpace: This must be a bit of a wild ride for you, from when you booked the gig as Mr. Dudley to now. What has the experience as a whole been like?
Longstreet: It started out so crazy. I got this audition and had that monologue for two days and memorized it for the audition, and then I got a call in the car driving home that they had booked me a plane ticket. I was on a flight at 5:30 the next morning and then standing in front of the mansion with Henry (Thomas) the day after that, so it was just a whirlwind.

TrunkSpace: So the monologue was what landed you the part?
Longstreet: Yeah, it was between me and a couple of people, and Anne McCarthy (the casting director) sent the takes to Mike (Flanagan), and he chose me, which was incredible.

TrunkSpace: There’s been so much love on social media for that monologue. For us, it was easily one of the most moving aspects of the season…
Longstreet: Oh, thank you so much. Yeah, I’m so proud of it. It’s overwhelming because I’ve heard from people that I haven’t heard from in years who have seen it, and I’ve definitely gotten some offers, but I’m being picky and chasing good writing. It’s just been unreal. And I’m not on any social media at all. In fact, Mike was so generous – he read me some Tweets on set last week. He said, “Do a Twitter search. There’s love for you all over the place.” And I said, I don’t even know what a Twitter search is, Mike.” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Well, that’s probably not a terrible thing because whenever there’s love on socials, there’s always a corner of the Web filled with negativity just for the sake of negativity.
Longstreet: I’m sure, and that’s the Devil’s bargain of that – if you believe the good stuff, you have to believe the bad, too. If I agree with a bad review or someone says something shitty about me, it crushes me.

TrunkSpace: With this project and your work in it, we have seen nothing but good things being said.
Longstreet: Oh, I’m so glad. Thank God. Yeah, I would just dissolve. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You mentioned that you’re chasing good writing. With this project in particular, beyond your monologue alone, it seemed like a real actor’s project. Every actor had their moment, their own monologue, and it just felt like this was a piece that was written for actors as opposed to – and especially in the horror genre – the acting being an afterthought.
Longstreet: Right. Exactly, and those are the things that you just don’t care about. If you go to a movie and you watch 50 million people get shot and you’re not invested in any one of them, it just becomes a bore. But Mike is a real actor’s director and in a way that is kind of shocking. He’s trying to build an ensemble and a family, and he brings people back, and he says, “I’m going to give you something completely and utterly different the next time.” And you can trust him because he really does it!

And the way that he directs actors is with such gentle care. He sets it up so easy and talks to you so calmly and sweetly and is usually joking most of the time with you to try to relax you. He’s really cognizant of what actors need, and he just gives you only active direction. He doesn’t confuse you. It’s very brief, but really succinct. He just knows exactly what he wants and exactly how to make an actor comfortable to get it.

TrunkSpace: With that in mind, and going back to your monologue, was that always intended to be shot without cutaways? Was it always supposed to be JUST you?
Longstreet: Yes! I think there was a safety built into it in case it didn’t work, but that was four pages long, and we did four takes, and the fourth take is the one that’s in the show. He (Mike) came up to me after I had botched three of them… every time I got to the daughter, it was so painful, my mind would just blank out… and so he came up to me, and he said, “We’ve got it. We have got this thing, and I can cut to Henry and cut to his reactions and do it, but if you get through it once all the way, it’ll be art.” And I was like, “Well, hell, yes, let’s do that immediately.” Then we did it! He completely took the pressure off of me and said, “Let’s just do it again for shits and giggles.”

TrunkSpace: Another powerful moment that you delivered on was in the very last episode when you’re carrying your daughter out of the house. There’s just something about your body language that is… it’s such a gut punch.
Longstreet: Oh, it’s just brutal. It’s the weight of the world, and her dead weight is just sinking me down beneath the floor boards. That’s someone who’s lost everything. I feel so bad for the Dudleys. I really do. They’re just in hell.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer there was this sense of there being something ominous about the Dudleys right up to that point where you delivered the monologue in the basement. Was that always the intention?
Longstreet: That’d be a really great question for Mike. I think so. I think it was, to have them be a mystery. They’re kind of caught up in this whole thing, too, and they don’t have a lot of options. I mean, they live right there on the property! They’re old enough where I don’t see them being able to change careers or do anything different. They’re not nefarious, but they have to be very careful to dole out their information as well as they think that the current occupants of the house can handle it, or we’d be out.

Longstreet in “The Haunting of Hill House.”

TrunkSpace: Right. If you came on too strong, you’d be out on your butts and then you would lose that connection to your first born.
Longstreet: Definitely, and I actually think there’s a loving part of them that they’re the caretakers of the house and also trying to be the caretakers of the occupants of the house because they know how bad it is. They’re playing tricks with the magic of it. They know if they get out before dark, they’re away from all the evil. We try to encourage people to pray. We try to encourage people to do little, subtle things to try to get a little more light into that house. We just have to be very careful, or we’d be out, and we’re the police of that place.

TrunkSpace: What’s so interesting is that while most of the characters had their story arcs wrap up, in a lot of ways, the Dudleys ending was really just the beginning.
Longstreet: Well, I’d better get my old ass there just in time, too. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Don’t drive any vehicles too fast!
Longstreet: No! God, I’m being very careful until I can make it up there myself.

TrunkSpace: Has this series been a game changer for you? Has it altered the way you’re viewing your career moving forward?
Longstreet: Oh, it definitely has. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve made like 70-something movies. Probably in the first three days, as many people saw this show as had ever seen my entire career of movies. (Laughter) So it’s a game changer that way… and becoming friends with Mike. He’s someone that I genuinely love and trust now, so that’s actually the biggest game changer. And he put me in “Doctor Sleep” immediately. He said, “We’re going to work on a million things together,” and everybody says that, and I was like, “Yeah, right, right.” And then in four months, I was working with him again, so I will never doubt that man again.

TrunkSpace: We’ve seen people call you an overnight success, but with more than 70 movies under your belt, there’s nothing overnight about that. Is that a little strange to hear, knowing how hard and how long you’ve been working?
Longstreet: Yes, but I think it’s always that way for people. I’m starting to take off in my 50s, which is so… I guess that’s better than peaking in high school, but it feels so strange. It definitely feels like it’s kicked into gear.

I would say like it’s a Sisyphean journey, but I’m Sisyphus who finally learned how to keep the rock at the top of the hill.

TrunkSpace: Peaking in your 50s has its benefits. So much of the early, adolescent self-consciousness is gone, which probably helps in this business.
Longstreet: Yes, and thank God. I didn’t start working until I had bags under my eyes. I had no character before. I looked like a doll, I think, and nobody knew what to do with me.

TrunkSpace: So was acting always the plan? Was there a plan B?
Longstreet: No. I mean, I loved music, and I wrote a lot of songs, and I did that, but if I ever got discouraged with acting, I would go back to working with the mentally handicapped. I was a medical counselor, and I loved that because it was nothing about me. The emphasis was all off me, and I could get refreshed that way through other people and then get back at it. I’ve stopped for periods of time and I tried to live in Wilmington, North Carolina, and be a normal guy for five years, but I’ve never been more depressed in my life.

TrunkSpace: Creatives tend to have a gypsy soul.
Longstreet: Yes, and you can put as many blankets as you want over it, but that gypsy soul will burrow right out again.

It was something that… I dared to dream, and the negative critic that we all have in our heads told me it would probably never happen, but I couldn’t stop. I was just too in love with it.

TrunkSpace: And thank God you didn’t stop. Your story is very inspirational. It’s a powerful message for people not to give up on their dreams.
Longstreet: I hope so. I would love it if someone could look at it and feel the same way, because I literally… 10 years ago, I felt as lost as ever probably. But I started doing it myself. I started finding scripts and executive producing things and giving myself really good roles in independent film, and that’s really hard. I don’t think I ever want to produce again, but if I hadn’t have done that, if I hadn’t made my own venue, I never would have even gotten to now.

TrunkSpace: Is success scary? Can it all become overwhelming at times?
Longstreet: Yeah, it is. That’s why I stay out of it so much. I try not to read anything and just live my own small life and hopefully am not cognizant of all that, because I think anyone can get sucked up and wrapped up in that.

I had a couple people point at me in the Atlanta airport, and I was like, “Ooh, that’s going to be a new thing.” (Laughter) I feel like a paranoid person anyway, so maybe it’s probably equal. Maybe it’s just sort of like leveled out now. (Laughter) But yeah, it’s a little shocking. Now you can’t walk out of your house after not showering for two days and go anywhere. You’ve got to be a little more careful.

Season 1 of “The Haunting of Hill House” is available now on Netflix.

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Trunktober

Trunktober: The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

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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: The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

Directed By: Not Listed

Starring: Christine McConnell, Colleen Smith, Michael Oosterom, Mick Ignis, Drew Massey, Adam Mayfield, Dita Von Teese

We Watched On: Netflix

Trunktober Approved Because: Part Food Network and part twisted “Fraggle Rock,” this is a series so quirky and unusual, it’s hard to imagine such a thing could even get greenlit, but we’re thankful it did. Imagine it this way… If Lydia Deetz from “Beetlejuice” created a show based on the writings of “The Handbook for the Recently Deceased,” and in doing so, became the Martha Stewart of the afterlife, this is what the show would look like.

Biggest Scare: This isn’t a scary show, but the elaborate curious creations that Christine cooks up in the kitchen are terrifying, mostly because we know our versions could never come close to looking as amazing.

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Trunk Stubs

Trunktober: Cargo

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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: Cargo

Directed By: Ben Howling/Yolanda Ramke

Starring: Martin Freeman, Simone Landers, Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter, Caren Pistorius

We Watched On: Netflix

Trunktober Approved Because: We were leery of this film at first. We didn’t want to dig it, even though we love Martin Freeman in almost everything he’s in. Like bread left in the toaster too long, we are thoroughly burnt… when it comes to anything zombie-related. But then something incredible happened. Howling and Ramke make a zombie movie that isn’t about zombies. Sure, they’re there, heads in the sand, but really this is a film about family, desperation, and the most nerve-racking ticking clock we’ve experienced for some time.

Biggest Scare: For parents, especially those with little ones, the biggest scare is the premise itself because it makes you wonder what you would do if placed in the same exact situation. If you were in a zombie apocalypse, and you had been bitten, how far would you go to make sure your child was safe before you turned into the living dead and tried to eat them? Seriously, it’s scarring!

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The Featured Presentation

Trevor Long

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PHOTOGRAPHY: James Lee Wall/GROOMING: Faye Lauren

There’s so much to love about the Netflix series “Ozark,” and like a gift that just keeps on giving, Season 2 saw Trevor Long’s role in the captivating storyline expanded. That was great news for the Rhode Island native who plays Langmore crime family patriarch Cade, but it was even better news for the viewers because everything he brought to the screen was 100 percent binge-worthy gold.

We recently sat down with Long to discuss the many “Ozark” surprises, how he breathed life into Cade, and why you won’t find him sitting down with a psychic for career advice.

TrunkSpace: “Ozark” took a lot of people by surprise and had them binging like they’ve never binged before. Was the success of the series a surprise for you or did you know that you were involved in something special even in the early going?
Long: It was definitely a surprise. That said, in the back of my mind there was this feeling that this could be great. Just knowing how good the writing was and, of course, the talent they had lined up, but I was pleasantly surprised how it took off.

TrunkSpace: What about in terms of your character Cade – did you know his role within the story would be expanded heading into Season 2 or did that come as a pleasant surprise?
Long: I really didn’t know too much. However, Jason Bateman graciously hinted at it when I saw him at the premiere after Season 1. He basically said, “Get ready to work, you’re getting out of prison.” So, from that I knew I would be at least in it a bit more than Season 1, but I had no idea that I would be in it to the extent I was until about a month out from shooting.

TrunkSpace: As Cade’s story has expanded, what have you been enjoying most about his path and how that has impacted your day to day on set?
Long: I really enjoyed the colors they brought in his story out of prison. It was a lot of fun to explore this sort of wildness and unpredictability that Cade expressed. The writers gave me a lot to play with for sure. Being on set was like being with family. It was always a lot of fun, even if the material was really dark. We just had to have that lightness when sitting around and waiting. It was a lot of heavy material to live out.

TrunkSpace: We read that you did a lot of research to bring Cade that “Ozark” authenticity that seeps throughout the entirety of the series. What was it about him that you felt needed the research to get right, and what was the most difficult aspect of that journey?
Long: I knew Cade was so different than who I am on so many levels – someone who was so destructive and abusive to his daughter was something I certainly had to face inwardly in my imagination and interior emotions. But the outward physical aspects of Cade were what really propelled me to research. His accent, for instance, and even how he moved physically. I knew I had to have his rhythms right, so I tackled this by watching a lot of documentaries and even movies such as “Winter’s Bone.” I also read a lot of books by southern writers that depicted low lives in order to catch their essence and to color my imagination. I love doing this kind of stuff as long as I don’t become too lost in it. I take what’s essential. I guess the difficult part was to truly embody Cade in a very truthful and honest way that brought me alive.

TrunkSpace: Many of the scenes in “Ozark” are very heavy, and we would assume, could be emotionally draining for the performers involved. Did you have days where you felt like you needed to do an emotional download after a particularly rough day of shooting?
Long: Oh, of course. I did that by hanging out with the Langmore’s off set. We were like a very happy, funny, and dysfunctional family. We became very close. Laughter was essential to keep from burning out.

TrunkSpace: What’s great about the series – and Cade in particular – is that there is a lot of gray area with the character for the audience to fill the gaps on backstory and internal motivations. Was that a conscious decision, to leave bread crumbs for the viewers to follow on their own?
Long: To be honest, yes, but that credit really goes toward the writers. They beautifully kept the audience guessing, and myself as well. It’s such a privilege when the writing is that good to just let it take you where it wants to. I just got to keep it as simple as possible and stay out of the way.

PHOTOGRAPHY: James Lee Wall/GROOMING: Faye Lauren

TrunkSpace: What can you tell us about your new film “Seeds,” which if we understand it, you also produced? There’s some freaky imagery in the trailer!
Long: I can say it seems to be a pretty uncomfortable film to watch, and that is something we tried to achieve. I did help produce, but that really entailed bringing together a lot of elements that I had access to from many years in the business, such as people I could call on and bring in to help the process.

TrunkSpace: Seeing you in “Seeds” reminded us of our own high school wrestling days. Did you have to suck some weight to play Marcus in the film? Was that something that the script called for or was it a physical trait that you brought to the character through your own journey of discovery?
Long: (Laughter) That’s funny. Yeah, I felt I had to lose some weight. It was not indicated in the script, but I instinctively came to know that Marcus should not look like this healthy, fairly strong guy. So, I dropped down to about 155 pounds. Normally, I am about 185 pounds, so the weight loss was pretty significant for me. I felt that this guy had to look and feel weak from his emotional decay and the actual physical anguish he inhabited. All of these things affect me as an actor in how I express another’s life. It can be as subtle as just a very different pair of shoes. I live for that kind of stuff.

TrunkSpace: The film takes place on the New England coast. We know you’re a New England boy. What is it about New England that makes such a great setting for horror films/thrillers? It just seems like a regional staple for genre projects.
Long: That’s an interesting question. I’ve never really thought about that, but now that you mention it I will start to. Maybe it’s that it has all those puritan roots, and there are certainly a lot of woods, and New England, as you know, in the winter can look and feel pretty downright depressing… spooky even.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years to see what your future/career held, would you take the trip, and if not, why?
Long: Really? That’s tough. I would have to say no. I’m very impressionable. If a psychic tells me I won’t work as an actor for the next three years, I would spiral into depression. I’m also a firm believer that everything unfolds in the only way it can at that particular moment, no matter how much we think we are steering the ship. It will be whatever so-called destiny has mapped out for my career 10 years down the road. I’m always in favor of being surprised.

Seasons 1 and 2 of “Ozark” are available for streaming on Netflix.

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Trunk Stubs

Trunktober: The Babadook

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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: The Babadook

Directed By: Jennifer Kent

Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman

We Watched On: Netflix

Trunktober Approved Because: Will Smith once sang, “Parents just don’t understand…” At the time, that may have been true, but now that the freshest of all Princes is himself a parent, he may understand all too well… at least in terms of that which makes “The Babadook” a terrifying concept. Parents have bad days, but what if those bad days had nothing to do with us? What if they had everything to do with a sinister storybook creature lurking in the shadows of your home?

Biggest Scare: The biggest scares exist off-screen. The thing that makes the monster so menacing is that you only see just enough of it to send your imagination off in directions you never wanted it going in the first place. Masterful and budget-friendly!

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Trunk Stubs

Trunktober: Train To Busan

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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: Train To Busan

Directed By: Sang-ho Yeon

Starring: Yoo Gong, Yu-mi Jung, Dong-seok Ma, Su-an Kim

We Watched On: Netflix

Trunktober Approved Because: For those who don’t mind subtitles, this zombie flick from South Korea is a wild ride, though admittedly not quite as wild as those the fictional characters from the film are forced to take as passengers on a besieged train from Seoul to Busan. We don’t blame you if you feel burned out on anything related to the undead, but this movie has something that so many others in the genre do not… heart. (Probably because zombies are more focused on brains.)

Biggest Scare: There aren’t a lot of jump scares to lift you out of your seat, but the sense of impending doom is enough to make you uneasy for the duration of the film, particularly for those watching who are parents and would have to traverse the undead landscape with kids in tow.

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The Featured Presentation

Rebecca Knox

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A modern day Marilyn Monroe with a gritty edge, Rebecca Knox is an actress who demands your attention by the way she commands her space in any given scene. Memorable by making the most of every moment on-camera, her gaze itself could one day win an Emmy thanks to the way her eyes reveal so much about those she is inhabiting. Currently the New York native can be seen as inmate Tina Swope in Season 6 of “Orange Is the New Black,” available now on Netflix.

We recently sat down with Knox to uncover her kinship with Tina, what she’d miss the most if she were behind bars, and why personal branding is so important.

TrunkSpace: Do you view your role on “Orange Is the New Black” as a career game changer? Has Tina Swope opened up more doors for you within the industry?
Knox: Being on such a monumental award-winning show is definitely a game changer! I have made some great friends and contacts through this experience for sure.

TrunkSpace: When you first read for Tina, you instantly had a kinship with her. What was it about the character that you felt connected you to her?
Knox: Her attitude!

TrunkSpace: Tina is tough, but is any of that exterior a facade? Is there a part of Tina who is tough because she has to be due to her surroundings and those she associates with?
Knox: Definitely. She has to be that way to survive – although I think a part of her loves the fight.

TrunkSpace: We’ve seen how Tina deals with life in prison, but how do you think you, Rebecca, would deal with it? How would you handle the experience emotionally?
Knox: I’d like to say I would find a way to survive. Maybe not as violently as Tina does, but I would make the “right” friends, I guess. It’s hard to answer this question – I am so far from that place and I hope to always be. I can’t really fathom it.

TrunkSpace: Life behind bars means a life without a lot of things we probably take for granted. What would you miss most if you were in Tina’s prison-issued jumpsuit?
Knox: Spending any amount of time with my family. Open grassy fields and the beach where my parents live. My freedom.

TrunkSpace: We read that you were a fan of the show before you booked the role. Having been a fan, what was that first day on set like? Was it all one big “pinch me” moment?
Knox: It took a few episodes where I had that “pinch me” moment. I was definitely nervous at first but work is work so I pushed through.

TrunkSpace: There are so many great actors involved in “Orange Is the New Black.” Did you view your time on the series as just as much an education as you did a job? Who did you study and try to absorb from most?
Knox: Well, I am still on the series and we are currently filming, so I am still drinking it all in. I love being on set. I always learn so much.

TrunkSpace: The great thing about a career in the arts is that each day can be completely different and in many ways it’s impossible to plan for tomorrow. Is there something exciting about that whole “anything is possible” outcome? On the opposite side of that coin, can that same excitement give way to uncertainty?
Knox: Yes! If you are lucky, you can audition for so many different types of roles, try on their shoes and play. I think people get caught up in the nervous jitters and pressure of booking an audition that they forget it’s still an opportunity to act. There are always opportunities to act. I would be lying if I said it’s easy. Sometimes I am down on myself, and can be my own worst enemy – thinking things like, “I’m not good enough,” but a way I combat those feelings is with compassion for myself, and connecting with other actors around me. It helps a lot to have a community of people who understand those feelings.

TrunkSpace: You have such a memorable look. As soon as we caught sight of you on camera you were etched into our brains and we thought, “I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HER!” That is not something you can quantify. Do you think that personal branding is important for actors to consider and is it something that you have worked to achieve within your own career?
Knox: Wow! Well I’m blushing, thank you! In terms of personal branding, I only became more aware of it when I had to. Personal branding is definitely important. I found what worked for me and it has helped me. The more specifically you can present yourself, the more memorable you become.

TrunkSpace: Like we said, we want to know more about you. You have a very mysterious, edgy vibe that has us intrigued. So give us some good insight into who that mysterious, edgy person is. What are some fun facts about Rebecca Knox?
Knox: Thank you! I love being called mysterious. Hmm, well let’s see. I am a New York City native. I ran my very own record label, Jet Boy Records, when I was 18. I managed a punk band whose members were around 8 to 10 years my seniors. I was a really shy kid, and dealt with a lot of bullying growing up. I sort of came into my own when I was in high school, first to fit in, and through that process found myself… my edgy self. (Laughter)

Orange Is the New Black” is available now on Netflix.

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