The Featured Presentation

Mark Rolston


This week we’re taking an extended look at the new movie “Glass Jaw,” chatting with the creative minds responsible for bringing the gritty drama to life. Arriving in select theaters and digital HD on Friday, the film is a story of redemption set in the world of boxing and stars Lee Kholafai, Korrina Rico, Jon Gries, Mark Rolston, Jaime Camil, Malcolm David Kelley, Vernon Wells and Steven Williams.

First up we’re chatting with Mark Rolston to discuss working in independent film, “Rocky” overtones, and what role he’d literally eat a shoe to return to.

TrunkSpace: “Glass Jaw” is not the first independent project you’ve worked on. As an actor, is there a bit of a leap of faith involved with signing on to work on an indie, not knowing when (or even if) a particular film will see the light of day?
Rolston: Well, in addition to “faith,” there is a lot of serendipity. I had been preparing for another film when the call came, so in addition to reading it first, I have to gauge what the character will require and ascertain whether I can pull it off. Of course, you never know what film will actually make it, but “Glass Jaw” had an atmosphere on set, and with Lee Kholafai and Korrina Rico being willing to fight for it; look where we are. Theatrical release is the icing.

TrunkSpace: What was it about “Glass Jaw” and the team behind it that gave you the confidence to jump into the work and take on the character Frank?
Rolston: Frank spoke to me the first time I read the script. I knew I could create a character. I didn’t hardly know anyone on the crew, but when I saw real professionals on set like Scott Eddo (Makeup and Hair) and Charlie Picerni (Stunt Coordinator), I knew the production was real.

TrunkSpace: When you first read the script for “Glass Jaw,” what was the initial draw for you in terms of wanting to be a part of the project? Was it the overall narrative? Was it the character? A combination of both?
Rolston: The script had a lot going for it. The dramatic tension was palpable. Of course, the narrative has “Rocky” overtones. But the story was unique with enough drama to sell it, to me anyway.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to independent films, is there more freedom for character discovery and trying out different ways of delivering lines or emotion within a scene, or does a limited budget mean a limited schedule and a breakneck pace that doesn’t allow for real time experimentation?
Rolston: Independents by nature allow for a lot of creativity, because you have to create on the spot and respect that you don’t have all day to shoot three pages; YOU HAVE TO SHOOT EIGHT TO TEN! The indie atmosphere is one where you have to just bring and throw down. Like a boxing match.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the work you did in “Glass Jaw?”
Rolston: I am most proud of my character. I found the perspective of the character. I found the space to just let Frank talk.

TrunkSpace: For the audience, the finished work – the end product – is usually the most memorable aspect of a film. For actors, we assume it is the experience of making it. What is a memorable moment during the production of “Glass Jaw” that will stick with you?
Rolston: It was the set up of the pivotal scene between Frank and Travis. Our DP – legend Jeffrey L. Kimball – created a magnificent tracking shot that lands on a very intimate scene between the two men; and Lee/Austin and myself/Frank just talked like real people. Did I say it was Friday night and we were shooting until midnight after a full day? Glamorous, huh?

TrunkSpace: You’ve been acting professionally for decades. Do you still love it as much today as you did when you first stepped onto a set to start your career?
Rolston: Absolutely! I want to follow in the footsteps of the great French Dramatist and Actor, Moliere, and die on stage or on a set for that matter. (Laughter)

Rolston in “Saw VI.”

TrunkSpace: What has been the biggest surprise of your career, the thing that younger Mark who was starting out his career would be extra psyched to hear about in advance?
Rolston: Without question; being called at my home, to be told by writer/director Frank Darabont that I had landed the role of Bogs Diamond in “The Shawshank Redemption.” I thought I had lost it. Frank was my angel, and fought for me to get the role. Indebted Forever, Frank!

TrunkSpace: You’ve given life to so many great characters over the course of your career. Are there any that you wish you had more time to spend with and explore even further?
Rolston: All of them really. Shooting a film is fleeting. You shoot and it’s over. So the rehearsal and preparation – “the work” – has to be done beforehand.

TrunkSpace: We’re suckers for “Supernatural” here. When you first signed on to play the demon Alastair – a character who plays an integral part of the overall series lore – could you have ever imagined that the show would still be chugging along a decade later and that you’d be asked about it?
Rolston: That was one of the most enjoyable characters I ever created. I will never understand why I was replaced. I would literally eat a shoe to play Alistair, “Demon of All Demons,” once more. May the show chug on forever and I will get the chance!

Glass Jaw” arrives in select theaters and on digital HD this Friday.

You can also hear Rolston as Norman Osborn in the new Spider-Man game for the PS4!

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Trunk Gaming

Marvel’s Spider-Man


Marvel’s Spider-Man

Initial Release Date: September 7, 2018

Developer: Insomniac Games

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Genre: Action-Adventure

Platforms: Playstation 4

Why We’re Playing It: Aside from the fact that we’re all big web slinger fans here at TrunkSpace, we also have a lot of faith that Insomniac Games, known for titles like “Rachet & Clank,” always puts out not just a quality game but one that swings a story or two above the others in terms of quality. It was clear early on, from the first footage of gameplay, that this installment of Spider-Man would be the closest you’ll ever get to putting on the webbed suit and zipping across the New York skyline.

What It’s All About?: When you’re not swinging around town as Spider-Man, stopping crime with the help of Detective Yuri and the NYPD, you’re working alongside Dr. Otto Octavius in his lab to create upgrades for your suit. Without giving away too many plot spoilers we’ll just say your first boss battle is with Wilson Fisk as you learn the mechanics of the game play. From there you get mixed up with Mayor Osborn, Mary Jane, Electro, Rhino, Scorpion, Vulture and Mister Negative… and do you really think Dr. Octavius is just going to stay good ole’ doc? We’ll see after Osborn seizes all of his research!

That’s Worth A Power-Up!: It’s hard to pick just one thing that stands out in this game – there are many! – but the web slinging and fight mechanics are truly innovative. You can glide and parkour through the city so seamlessly you won’t want to stop. If you were Forrest Gump, you would just swing across the entire country. Oh, and we can’t forget to mention, when you start swooping through the city on a web, an epic soundtrack starts to play, making you feel like you’re actually playing within a Spider-Man movie. For die-hard Marvel fans out there, you can even get a custom made Spider-Man controller, making gameplay just that little bit more exciting!

Bonus Level: We found the open world gaming really refreshing. A lot of games are jumping on this bandwagon, and it is very freeing to be able to choose your path through the storyline and environment. The way that Insomniac Games pulls this off and sets itself apart is all in the details, literally. Pick a building to climb on and you’ll notice your reflection. You’ll also be able to see that they not only designed the interiors of these buildings, but they have people that are moving and interacting with one another inside the skyscraper you’re perched on. This attention to detail blew our minds and it will you as well!

And that’s why this game is a certified quarter muncher!

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Trunk Gaming

Marvel Strike Force


Game: Marvel Strike Force

Initial Release Date: March 2018

Publsher: FoxNext

Genre: RPG

Platforms: Android and IOS

Why We’re Playing It: MARVEL! Need we say more? We’ve been impatiently waiting for this one to hit the app stores ever since we saw the first trailer of Wolverine thrashing some bad guys. This is an RPG style game, so it works well on mobile devices, but it looks like an action-packed fighting game once you give your character the attack command. The app is free, but it will cost you something… ALL of your free time. This is addictive and fun, especially if you’re into RPGs. Nuff said!

What It’s All About: To keep this synopsis spoiler free, we’ll just say that you start by playing as Spider-Man, working for Nick Fury. Kingpin has captured other heroes in orbs throughout the city, and it’s up to you save and recruit them for your team. As you play more into the game, you unlock abilities and powers for your superheroes to use in their fight against evil.

That’s Worth A Power-Up!: One of the best aspects of this game is getting to see some of your favorite heroes team up for combo attacks. For example, you can “taunt” with Luke Cage, then on your next attack, he will team up with one of the other characters, like Spidey, for a devastating combo… and it just looks so cool!

Bonus Level: Lately, there have been more obscure comic book characters finding their way to mainstream moviegoers and gamers. Long-time comic book fans knew who the characters were before, but remember when you’re mom or grandma did not know who Star Lord was? Well, Strike Force delivers on this front as well. Sure, you get to play as some of the classic Marvel heroes, but they also have some lesser known characters thrown into the mix, and it’s a nice bit of diversity.

And that’s why this game is a certified quarter muncher!

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The Featured Presentation

Michael Chernus


Michael Chernus inhabits a role in a way in which very few actors have the ability to do. He commands your attention, but does so without crowding the scene. He has that mysterious “it” that creative folks spend their entire lives hoping to tap into. He works within a spotlight that you cannot look away from and it is a light that he himself generates, powered by an unrelenting commitment and passion to his craft.

In a few months Chernus will be entering the Marvel Universe under the villainous guise of The Terrible Tinkerer, but before “Spider-Man: Homecoming” swings into theaters, the “Orange is the New Black” star will be appearing in “The Dinner” opposite Richard Gere, Laura Linney, and Steve Coogan.

We recently sat down with Chernus to discuss why it is important that movies like “The Dinner” continue to get made, the history of his Marvel character, and how saying too much could in fact lead to his untimely death.

TrunkSpace: This week your latest movie “The Dinner” is going up against a big Marvel blockbuster in the form of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and yet, soon you too will be in a big Marvel blockbuster.
Chernus: (Laughter) That’s true.

TrunkSpace: You really can’t be too upset about that!
Chernus: I have nothing to complain about, my friend.

TrunkSpace: When you’ve done a movie and it’s set to be released to the world… do you worry about the competition on opening weekend or because it is ultimately out of your control, do you just let what happens happen?
Chernus: It’s a good question. I think it probably depends on the project, but mostly, I don’t think about it because, like you said, it’s out of my control. And, they’re very different kinds of movies. If somebody is going to go see “The Dinner” they’re… not that they wouldn’t see a Marvel movie… but it’s probably a different audience. Also, I’m sure if I were Richard Gere in “The Dinner” or Steve Coogan or Laura Linney, maybe I would be thinking about those things more. I’m not the big movie star whose name is above the title, so how well the movie does doesn’t really depend on whether I’m in it or not.

TrunkSpace: It does seem that in this day and age a film like “The Dinner” is labeled a “small movie” and yet the cast is stacked. It really feels like a sign of the times when a movie like this falls into that very broad category.
Chernus: Yeah. It’s kind of wild. It’s interesting. As exciting as everything is in television in terms of Netflix, Amazon and all the new streaming platforms and how big of risks you can take in terms of storytelling on that platform… yeah, there’s not the same demand for movies that are more just about people talking to each other than there used to be.

TrunkSpace: From an art standpoint, how important is it that movies like “The Dinner” continue to get made and distributed?
Chernus: Oh, I think it’s super important. I’m always very grateful to the independent producers and financiers who make these “smaller movies” and put their money and their heart and soul into making sure that these kinds of stories get told. It’s very important. And just personally, I grew up watching all of those great movies from the 70s that were big mainstream movies that had big movie stars but were, for lack of a better word, simple movies about people’s lives. I’m thinking of movies like “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Terms of Endearment,” or “Ordinary People.” Movies that are about relationships and families. Not that they still don’t get made, but they don’t hit the mainstream in the same way that they used to. So yeah, I think it’s very important that these movies still are being made and being seen.

Michael Chernus in “The Dinner”

The great thing about the independent film festival circuit is that these movies will get screened at festivals and then get bought by giant distributors. “Manchester by the Sea” was at Sundance and had a big sale. I’m just glad that those kind of movies are being made still.

TrunkSpace: Obviously the bigger the budget the bigger the production, but from how you work as an actor on a movie, what is the biggest difference in performing in something like “Spider-Man: Homecoming” compared to “The Dinner” and movies of that size?
Chernus: That is a very good question. In some ways… I’m going to contradict myself here in the midst of this answer… but in some ways there isn’t much of a difference, to be honest. There’s a lot of similarities from working on a Marvel movie and working on “The Dinner” to even working on a Netflix show. At the end of the day, a set is a set and there is a way of approaching storytelling as an actor that doesn’t vary too greatly no matter what the budget of the movie is. And so, I would say that once the cameras are rolling, working on “The Dinner” is very similar to working on “Spider-Man” and very similar to working on “Orange is the New Black.” You’re there, you’re playing a character, and you’re just trying to live moment to moment and listen to your scene partner and just serve the story in the best way that you can.

That being said, and I can’t give away too much of anything until the movie comes out, but I will say that I’m very, very impressed by everyone who works at Marvel and everyone who works at Sony, who was also producing that movie. The Marvel way of making movies is really fun and really exciting. They put so much thought into these films and anybody who is a Marvel fan knows the effort that they go to to please their fan base and put little Easter eggs in the movie and little hints. There are all kinds of things and you can watch it and have never read a comic book and not know anything about Marvel and you have a good time. And if you’re the biggest geek in the world who knows everything about the universe, you also are satisfied because there are all these little inside jokes everywhere. And that’s really fun to dig into that world and be like, “Oh my God, there’s three meanings to this line I was saying.” This simple little line that I had, to people who really know, there’s so much more going on there.

And they really have the time and the money and the resources to make sure that the movie works. On a smaller budget indie, you have so few days. Sometimes you have something crazy like an 18 day shoot schedule or a 21 day shoot and you’re behind before you even get started. On the Marvel movies you don’t feel the same kind of pressure. There’s a different kind of pressure, but you don’t feel the same kind of pressure of, “We have to get this and we have to get this right now and we have to get it right.” There’s a little more room to be like, “Okay, this isn’t working so let’s think of a different way to approach this scene.” So that’s really nice.

TrunkSpace: Well, when you’re shooting a movie like “The Dinner,” that’s the movie that you’re shooting, but when you’re shooting a Marvel movie, you’re also shooting parts and pieces of movies yet to be. Maybe not physically, but at least you’re setting the table for that.
Chernus: That’s absolutely right and I didn’t realize that. I knew a fair amount about the Marvel world and I read comic books as a kid, but yeah, these movies are so intertwined in such a major way. You shoot something and then they all go away and discuss it and I’m sure there are committees where it’s like, “Oh no, we can’t say that and yes, we can say that.” It was interesting to start to learn how we’re all part of this greater Marvel fabric. We’re all woven into this bigger story, which is the story of the Marvel Universe.

TrunkSpace: And what’s fascinating about that for you is that The Tinkerer has been around longer than many of the characters who are already appearing as part of the cinematic universe. There’s a lot of history on your shoulders.
Chernus: Oh yeah. Totally. He’s an OG villain. (Laughter) The Tinkerer is old school Spider-Man. It was fascinating. When I got cast and in looking at some of the old books… those first issues of Spider-Man where both Vulture and Tinkerer are there, it’s really cool. It’s really cool to feel that history in small ways and in large ways. I was very honored. I mean, obviously it’ll be a slightly different character in the fact that I don’t look like a bald old guy. (Laughter) So, visually it won’t be the same character, but I’m happy to carry the torch.

TrunkSpace: Many in the world grew up on a diet of Spider-Man, and again, what’s cool about The Tinkerer in the history of the character is just how much he played into the creation of other characters. He was the villain’s villain in that he gave them the power to be who they ultimately become. So being cast as a character who COULD be part of that fabric going forward must have been an exciting thing?
Chernus: Absolutely. And I’m not saying that I know that that will happen. Nobody has said that I’m coming back, but I’m hopeful for that. There’s definitely potential for him to be involved with many different villains if they choose to do that.

TrunkSpace: Performing alongside of so many acting heavies in both “The Dinner” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” must have also been very exciting, so we’re curious what was one memorable moment from each that you’ll carry with you moving forward?
Chernus: From an acting standpoint, on “The Dinner”… and this relates to the question you asked about what’s the difference. Although “The Dinner” was very heavily scripted, it’s based on a worldwide best-selling novel and Oren Moverman, the director, wrote the really great adaptation of that. That being said, Oren is very great about including the actors in terms of like, “Okay, what do you want to say here?” or “What would you do?” or “What do you think is interesting?” And he let us do a fair amount of improvising and so there’s this monologue I have where I describe a cheese course. Instead of being broken up into acts, it’s broken up in courses because it takes place over the length of this dinner. So we shot nights in this old mansion outside of New York City that we converted into a restaurant and we would start at like 5 p.m. and wrap at 5 a.m. So there were these sort of grueling night shoots and maybe we were there for a week or a little over a week. And on the last day of shooting at that location Oren was like, “Just a heads up, the last shot of the night I want you to describe the cheese course and it’s not written, so I want you to go into the kitchen…” We had a kitchen on set where we had great chefs who were actually making the meal every night. He said, “Go talk to Jay and Paul and just see what cheeses they have because I know they have some great cheeses, learn about them and write up some stuff about each cheese and then be ready to talk about it on camera.” Oren and I went over it and made up some jokes and created a structure for it, but essentially, I sort of improvised/wrote on the fly this cheese course monologue and shot it at like 5 a.m. That was so fun and it was such a great acting exercise. When he said it to me, I was like, “Oh, God, that’s terrifying and I’m going to screw this up and it’s not going to be any good.” But we just sort of went for it and I’m pretty proud of how it turned out. I think it’s this weird, funny little moment in the movie and on a bigger budget movie, you might not have the freedom to do that because things are just a little more structured.

And on the “Spider-Man” movie, again, I know it’s annoying, but I can’t really…

TrunkSpace: You don’t have to explain. Totally get it. The NDAs are probably super intense.
Chernus: Already, telling you what I’ve told you, I feel like they’re going to come murder me. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: We’ll talk about it again once it’s out.
Chernus: Yeah. Once it’s out, I’ll tell you everything! (Laughter)

But, just working with Michael Keaton was so fun. He’s such an icon and growing up and seeing him as Batman and Beetlejuice and all of his films… I’m such a fan. And now of his later work like “Spotlight” and “Birdman.” He’s so down to earth. He’s so cool. He’s so funny. He’s really generous. We really hit it off and just laughed so much on set. Any time we weren’t shooting we were just sort of cracking each other up, so that was really fun to be able to spend time with him and pick his brain about the business and to get to know him a little bit.

Michael Chernus in “Orange is the New Black”

The Dinner” will be served to theaters this Friday.

Spider-Man: Homecoming” swings into theaters July 7, 2017.


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