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Wingman Wednesday

Jonathan Lloyd Walker

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Photo By: Kevin Clark Studios

Jonathan Lloyd Walker has had a remarkable career trajectory, from actor to writer to current showrunner of the fan-favorite series “Van Helsing.” Although he has been performing since he was a kid, its his current gig as the man behind the series curtain that he is most excited about.

Interestingly, I get more personal enjoyment now out of showrunning,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “It’s the pinnacle for any TV writer as you get to influence and shape a project in the most significant way.”

Season 4 of “Van Helsing” kicks off on September 27 on Syfy.

We recently sat down with Walker to discuss showrunner duties, not messing up a good thing, and the emergence of Dracula.

TrunkSpace: Actor. Producer. Writer. Showrunner. That’s a lot of hats, but which one would you say you feel the most comfortable wearing? Which one do you get the most personal enjoyment from?
Walker: I’ve been a performer since I was a kid so there’s a certain degree of comfort and satisfaction doing that work. Interestingly, I get more personal enjoyment now out of showrunning. It’s the pinnacle for any TV writer as you get to influence and shape a project in the most significant way. I thrive on the pressure of it and, while taxing, the fulfillment of delivering something you’re proud of is second to none.

TrunkSpace: You’re currently serving as showrunner on the series “Van Helsing.” For those who aren’t familiar with the term, walk us through what your day-to-day duties are in bringing the fan-favorite series to the masses?
Walker: Showrunning doesn’t really have a conventional day-to-day schedule. For the early phase of the job you spend your time breaking and writing story in the writer’s room. That’s the really fun part, bankers’ hours knocking around ideas with a room full of passionate, funny, smart creatives. Then, as you get closer to shooting (prep) you spend a lot of time doing fairly bureaucratic, but vital things. Mostly meetings to orchestrate and plan how to get the scripts shot in the best possible way. The hours start to ramp up during this phase because there’s still writing to be done along with all the meetings. Then filming starts and things get even busier. Casting, shooting, post production, more meetings for the next episodes, network calls and on… and on. For those who really want to take a deep dive into the world of the showrunner there’s an excellent documentary about it. Here’s a link.

TrunkSpace: Because you are also an actor and have spent years working in front of the camera, do you think that gives you a unique perspective in the position that perhaps other showrunners don’t have? Where does that knowledge benefit you most?
Walker: I think showrunners in general have to have some understanding of what actors do and how they do it. It’s not really enough to just decide what you like and what you don’t like in terms of an actor’s craft. So, for me especially, I have a pretty well-tuned ability to communicate with my cast because I really intimately understand their craft. It’s always my hope to not just give the cast notes or explanations for why a line of dialogue is there or what the context of a scene is but also give them useable input, in their own language, that allows them to fold my thoughts into their performance. Beyond that, I’ve got an obvious soft spot for actors, especially the challenges of that profession both on and off camera, and I hope they know and feel the respect and love I have for them and their work.

TrunkSpace: You took over as showrunner on “Van Helsing” in its fourth season, which will premiere September 27. Is there less pressure taking on such a demanding position when a series is already established as it was with “Van Helsing,” or does a part of you feel pressure to not only carry forward with what has already been put into motion, but also to leave your own mark on the series?
Walker: I guess I’ll only know the answer to that once I’ve had my own show greenlit. From working alongside showrunners, I certainly understand the pressure they face starting a brand-new show. It’s often a process of trying to figure out what makes a series tick, what style and tone work best, what roles and performers jump out or fade away… and whether the network are happy and then whether the show finds an audience. Those are much bigger hurdles than simply taking over the showrunner seat. Meanwhile, I have a fairly large degree of pressure being a new showrunner on an established show… mission number one is to not mess up a good thing. Put your own stamp on the series (which I think I have) but don’t break what makes the show work. Ultimately you have to prove that you can execute the series at least as well as the previous showrunner. Nobody wants to take over running a show that’s had several seasons and then get it canceled.

TrunkSpace: “Van Helsing” has a very loyal following. What can you give them – tasty morsels of what’s to come – to get them excited for the upcoming season?
Walker: In Season 4 darkness dawns. It’s no secret that, after several seasons or hinting at it, Dracula returns (played by the remarkable Tricia Helfer). Now Vanessa Van Helsing and her allies have to fight not just vampires but the mother of all vampires. Some new allies will be joining the fight and some much-loved characters will say goodbye. We’re also going to take the storytelling in new directions by shooting in some remarkable new locations, episodes shot in ways we’ve never attempted before and an overall feel that the show is taking some risks and pushing the boundaries. I’m excited to hear what the fans think and I’m thankful for their support.

TrunkSpace: You’re no doubt in the thick of it with seeing Season 4 of “Van Helsing” finalized, but on top of that, you’re also set to star in the television adaptation of “Snowpiercer,” which will air in 2020. When you’re working on a project strictly as an actor, is it difficult to shut off your producer brain and focus on your own character and his journey?
Walker: Good question. It’s a challenge but because it’s where I started, I can totally just focus on the acting and stay out of the other work. “Snowpiercer” is a huge show, very complex both in storytelling and in terms of the big machine required to execute the series. Graeme Manson (“Orphan Black”) is a remarkably-talented writer and showrunner so it was very easy to just follow his lead and trust that everything was being dealt with.

TrunkSpace: I feel like we’re throwing a lot of “alsos” at you, but also kind of seems like your specialty. In 2019 alone you have “Van Helsing,” “The Murders,” and “Wu Assassins,” for Netflix. We hear people say all of the time in this industry that “when it rains it pours.” Would you say that is your experience as well, in terms of projects always sort of accumulating and being released around the same time?
Walker: I’ve had the busiest year I’ve ever had. I’m very fortunate to have been offered all this work and that the people involved were willing to share me and my time. But like anyone in this business you’re never that far away from unemployment. And when it comes you never know how long it lasts. So, I count my blessings regularly. In terms of all the work releasing around the same time… a bit of a fluke really. Having four shows all airing within six months of each other is an anomaly but… I’m glad to have a lot to talk about!

Photo By: Kevin Clark Studios

TrunkSpace: You have been acting since the early ‘90s. Do you still love it as much today as you did the first time you stepped onto a set?
Walker: I still love the craft and the excitement of being on camera. But nothing will ever come close to those early days of being on set. It was all new, exciting and the beginning of a journey. Now I’m a long way down the road but the journey is still an enjoyable one. I guess if anything has really changed it’s the degree to which I feel comfortable as an actor being on set.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Walker: I’d like to say they keep on coming! But if I had to pick I would say working as an actor on the feature film “Shooter.” It was my first really big role on a huge Hollywood movie. The director, Antoine Fuqua, was so supportive of me and gave me a confidence in my craft that I didn’t know I could have. The cast were incredible too. It was also shot over a summer during which I had a week off and got engaged to my wife in Florence, Italy so… many reasons why that project will live in my memory forever.

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?
Walker: I wouldn’t. Simple reason; it would cause issues either way. If I found out my career just kept on climbing and I was ever higher up the food chain making incredible work, I think it could make me complacent. There’s a certain spark that comes from not knowing what the next job will be, or if you’ll ever work again, so to lose that by knowing you have a bright future would perhaps jeopardize it all. If I got to the future and I was an abject failure or worse, deeply unhappy, then I think it would freeze me now in a state of total panic. So not knowing is likely better in both scenarios.

Season 4 of “Van Helsing” premieres September 27 on Syfy.

Snowpiercer” will debut in 2020 on TNT.

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Wingman Wednesday

Emily Haine

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Photo By: Farrah Aviva

With great writing and a chance to be seen by a loyal and loving fanbase, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is the kind of modern day television that actors are clamoring to be involved in. For Emily Haine, who made her debut as Elspeth in Season 2, that excitement began to build very early on in the auditioning process. Still ecstatic to have been cast in the bingeable Netflix behemoth, the Vancouver native says there’s something special not only about the series but the production itself.

Theres something in the air on set,” she shared in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “Sometimes fans stand outside the studio gates to catch a feel for it.”

We recently sat down with Haine to discuss the need for a wild streak, eating pistachios with the shell on, and why she’s advocating for more human honesty in midst of the social media age.

TrunkSpace: Season 1 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrinawas a huge success, both with fans and critics. Is there an extra surge of personal excitement when you are joining a series with so much buzz behind it?
Haine: (Laughter) Yes! The buzz for me started with casting. ‘Brina auditions bring out the best talent. Seeing my friends turn up, knowing theyre out there when I go into the room, electrifies me. At the end of the day we all want to be part of a show like this with great writing and the potential for being seen. You gotta be a little wild to do this job. I can put all I’ve got into auditions and hear nothing back. But the nos only make the yess that much sweeter. By Satans divine intervention this is one of the times they were into it! Im still freaking out!

TrunkSpace: Although still grounded in reality, the series is one where anything is possible. From an acting standpoint, is it fun getting to arrive on a set where you can do the kinds of things on screen that are inconceivable in real life?
Haine: Theres something in the air on set. Sometimes fans stand outside the studio gates to catch a feel for it. Its the palpable tension between exhilaration and working long hours. Somehow the mythical, magical and the mystical come to life when were filming. I really cant explain it.

TrunkSpace: Elspeth is a confident, cool as a cucumber character. In terms of her personality, how has she differed from past roles? What has she allowed you to do on camera that you have yet to be able to tackle?
Haine: I see Elspeths confidence as her shield. High school can be like a poker game. Dont show your hand too soon, especially when the dark arts are afoot. Theres so much of Elspeths inner life to explore. Ive never played a witch before – what up witches! What has she allowed me to do? Maybe reanimation… but Im pretty sure I do that every morning if you know what I mean.

TrunkSpace: Elspeth ages slower than normal people. Is that the kind of power you would ever want to have in real life, because in some ways, it feels like it could eventuallyas others around you become oldfeel more like a curse?
Haine: In the industry, and societally, we put a ton of unhealthy emphasis on looking young – Ive been told by previous agents to lie about my age. There are a lot more roles for younger females. For that reason its tempting… but Ive seen enough movies to know that we shouldnt mess with the natural order of things, so no.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer, the end product is always the most memorable, but for those involved in the project it must go much further than that. Whats the most memorable aspect of getting to work on Chilling Adventures of Sabrinathat youll carry with you through the rest of your life and career?
Haine: My biggest take away is the crystallization of certain beliefs Ive been harboring. That we do create the foundation of our reality with building blocks in our heads. Think it, be it. Be really super clear on what you want and then work hard for it. Take classes, read books, watch Ted talks, do whatever you can to clear the way for your dream to unfold. Believe in yourself more than anything else and you will shine! Fall down, get back up. Keep trying. It wasnt that long ago that I was a kid dreaming about being an actor. Now Im an actor dreaming about acting, playing piano, a claymation horror short I want to make…

TrunkSpace: You used to be in a punk band. Whats the most punk thing about you, now, at this stage in your life?
Haine: Well, as an artist you kind of abandon security and normalcy – this job looks bougie but most of us are living paycheck to paycheck for five minutes of screen time. Is that punk? I eat pistachios with the shell.

Photo By: Farrah Aviva

TrunkSpace: You recently made an announcement on Instagram that you want to be more transparent about your own mental health so as to create a safe sharing space and to help others not feel alone. People are always there to point out the faults of social media, which we totally understand, but its benefits do stretch beyond self-promotion. Could you feel how your declaration helped others, and in return, did their reaching out then help you?
Haine: Thanks for progressing the conversation. I wanted to create a moment that shattered whatever public perception people may have of me and challenge how I see myself. Its easy to post flattering pictures and I am proud to share my accomplishments with friends, but whats beyond that? To pretend that we dont face hard times is delusional. I feen for that type of honesty online, like Jameela Jamil, shes one of my heroes! Sometimes the best way out of a dark hole is a big jump. Im so glad I did it. Your stories, messages, DMs, calls and texts revive me. It turned whatever uncomfortable feelings I had about sharing into easily the best thing Ive done on social. Because of that Im currently penning a presentation on my personal experience with mental health for a volunteer advocacy speakers position with Mood Disorders Association of BC.

TrunkSpace: Were suckers for a good banana bread here, and from what we hear, you have the skills to turn those old bananas into a loaf lovers dream! Just how beyond ripe does the fruit have to be to make the bread the best bread it can be?
Haine: Ripe enough that you wouldnt eat ‘em.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Haine: This moment right now.

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?
Haine: What if Im not happy? Can I change the outcome? If yes, then fire it up! If not, then hellll nah. Ill come with you to look at your life though if you want! Ill bring my laser gun. Pew. Pew. Cause its the future.

Season 2 of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is available now on Netflix.

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Wingman Wednesday

Jill Morrison

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Photo By: Liz Rosa

Jill Morrison is kicking off 2019 right. With two projects reaching the masses in January – the UFO-themed series “Project Blue Book” at A&E and the recently-released sequel “Benchwarmers 2: Breaking Balls” – the British Columbia native is enjoying the contrast in tone of the two converging projects. And while delving into the real-life intrigue of the alien mystery was an enjoyable journey, “Benchwarmers” allowed her to do the thing she enjoys most… a trait she inherited from her dad… making people laugh.

We recently sat down with Morrison to discuss how being responsible with the truth feeds a performance, her opinion on life beyond the stars, and the importance of our funny bones.

TrunkSpace: You have kicked off 2019 in style with two big projects, the film “Benchwarmers 2: Breaking Balls” and “Project Blue Book” for A&E. Is seeing a series or film released just as exciting as doing the physical work or have you already emotionally moved on by the time they see the light of day?
Morrison: Filming and being on set is the best thing ever. But when the project comes out, it’s really fun. It can depend on the project and how excited I might be for that particular show. But it’s pretty wonderful to see your work come to light, and to be appreciated. Starting the year off with these two amazing contrasting projects feels pretty great. “Project Blue Book” is so complex and interesting. And “Benchwarmers” allowed me to do my favorite thing, making people laugh. So it’s really fulfilling to see that happen.

TrunkSpace: “Project Blue Book” is based on the true story of U.S. Air Force-sponsored investigations into UFO sightings that spanned decades. As an actress, does working on a project that is steeped in reality bring a different set of responsibilities in terms of performance?
Morrison: What a fantastic question. Yes it does. I think one of the most important aspects of being in a period piece is to pay attention to society at the time. A woman like Faye must have had to work very hard in the U.S. Air Force to have this position. Understanding the real Dr. Quinn helped me form the strength and intelligence his assistant would have. Being responsible with the truthful story feeds your acting. It’s fascinating. I want to be as loyal to that as possible, because I want the audience to believe I am that woman. The production is so incredible and thorough with being as truthful to reality as possible, down to the tiniest detail, that it’s impossible not to learn from that and to feel like you are in another world. On set I would feel like I was sitting in a museum sometimes. It’s beautiful the art behind this project.

TrunkSpace: What can you tell us about your character Faye and where she fits into the ongoing storyline of “Project Blue Book?”
Morrison: Faye plays the assistant to Michael Malarkey’s character Dr. Quinn at the U.S. Air Force base. One of the cool things that I loved about filming was the secrecy of it. I didn’t always know what Faye knew. I got to find out as filming went along. Which was such a cool process for me as an actor. She protected secrets and was very selective with the information she released. She is allowed to be a part of a small circle of people in this, and her part is to stand guard to her boss and her country.

TrunkSpace: We’re sure this is part of the playbook when you star in a project that revolves around aliens and it would be a real swing and a miss for us not to ask, SO, do you believe in life beyond the stars? Is the truth out there?
Morrison: I absolutely believe in UFOs! I can’t imagine that in this vast, incredible universe that we would be alone. I also think there is just too much proof, especially after being so educated from working on the show. I don’t want to meet one… but I believe yes, we are not alone….

TrunkSpace: Speaking of swings and misses, “Benchwarmers 2: Breaking Balls” is a baseball comedy. Looking back on your work in the film, what moment – in terms of laughs – are you most looking forward to an audience seeing?
Morrison: I’m really excited for the montages!! (Laughter) So fun to film. Shots of us being just terrible at baseball, and then when we improve! We had a blast filming this and watching each other get up there and be fun and silly. Some of us were nervous when we had to actually be good at ball, but we had practiced so much in between takes, that we nailed it!

TrunkSpace: Do you feel more pressure when performing in a comedy given that comedy, especially nowadays, feels very viewer-specific? Is it hard to find the beats and deliver on a joke that a broad audience will be able to laugh along with?
Morrison: I guess I just figure if the kind of comedy I’m doing isn’t up one person’s alley, I know there are a lot of people who will enjoy it. I myself love broad comedy, watching it and acting in it. I really crack myself up a lot, and am mostly just having a great time being silly. Feeling very grateful that I get to do this for a living, and mostly worry about all the people who will laugh!

Photo By: Liz Rosa

TrunkSpace: We’re suckers for “Supernatural” here, which is a series that you appeared in and has employed actors in and around the Vancouver area for well over a decade now. How important are shows like “Supernatural” and others that call Canada their home to the development of the talent pool in and around the city?
Morrison: I think the talent in Vancouver is pretty insanely versatile! So many talented people! The community here is very grateful for shows like “Supernatural.” We have all gotten to play so many unique kinds of roles on sci-fi shows like this. It’s our bread and butter. But, I also think they are lucky to have us! Dedicated, hard working, true actors in this town. As well as our crews. They are the bees knees!

TrunkSpace: Lots of characters have met their demise in “Supernatural” and often in memorable ways. Yours was no different. Have you had any other unfortunate on-camera endings that beat out death by photocopier?
Morrison: (Laughter) Death by copier was pretty fun! I have died in a number of ways. It’s for sure one of my favorite ways I have died! I have been shot, electrocuted, drowned, stabbed, neck broken… you name it! Though, I think I really enjoyed “Van Helsing” most. It was challenging to be shot in the head from behind and to have my body slump down. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. It was cooool! I also enjoyed being electrocuted because I got to fall down some stairs and shake about!

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Morrison: The highlight of my career? Wow! Well, I’m gonna have to say working on the sitcom “Package Deal.” It was the most wonderful time of my life working with Andrew Ornstein’s creative mind. Being in a sitcom has always been my dream. I was part of such a fun one, with the most amazing funny family. I miss them all the time. It was the best – I would drive to work with the biggest grin on my face. I loved my character, Nikki. I loved the format of the four camera, the excitement of the ever-changing script and the live audience. It was a special time, and I truly hope to be able to do something like that again.

TrunkSpace: Jim Morrison. Van Morrison. Matthew Morrison. Grant Morrison. And the list goes on. What is with all of the super talented/creative Morrisons?!?!
Morrison: Ah! That’s so nice! It’s a pretty cool last name isn’t it. Well, my favorite Morrison was my dad. That dude made me laugh, and taught me all about comedy by just being him – his silly self. Where would we be without our funny bones?

Project Blue Book” airs Tuesdays on A&E.

Benchwarmers 2: Breaking Balls” is available now on DVD and VOD.

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Wingman Wednesday

Miranda Edwards & Michael Jonsson

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Photo By: Erich Saide

We’re sitting down with Michael Jonsson and Miranda Edwards of “Arrow” to chat all things Longbow Hunters after joining up with the series in Season 7. Buckle up villain fans!

TrunkSpace: “Arrow” has a very passionate fandom and is based on characters and a world with a very rich history. When you’re working on a project that means so much to so many people, does it carry a little bit more weight? Does it start to feel like more than just your average job?
Jonsson: “Arrow” is WAAAAAAY more than just an average job. These fans are awesome and they observe and cherish every part of the show. Trying to live up to those types of expectations is daunting but I am going to try as hard as I can to do just that.
Edwards: I really do walk into every project with nerves. None of it is average to me. I want what I do to be as authentic as possible so I have a high standard for myself. But I found entering into this world to be quite freeing. Because I know that so many people watch and love the show. I’m really just thrilled to show up and have fun with this character. Of course, I hope the fans like what I have to bring but I’m pretty excited to bring it!

TrunkSpace: What would 10-year-old Michael and 10-year-old Miranda think if we were to zip back in time and tell them that someday they’d be playing supervillains in the DC Universe? Would they be surprised?
Edwards: Umm. 10-year-old Miranda thought she was already a superhero but she was actually exploring her wicked side. So she might be surprised to be a villain but my family would say, “No, that’s about right.”
Jonsson: Yeah! 10-year-old Michael always played the good guys. He was Luke, Indiana or a Goonie, which is funny, ‘cause my son is seven years old and he likes being Kylo Ren, Thanos or Darth Vader. The kid has the biggest heart and sweetest smile but wants the power to choke you to death.

TrunkSpace: You both joined the series for the first time in the episode “The Longbow Hunters.” What can you tell us about Kodiak and Silencer and how the two get caught up in the super shenanigans to take out Oliver Queen?
Jonsson: We do whatever Diaz tells us to do. He is the boss and it makes for some awesome fight scenes. *Spoiler* – The fight in our first episode in the train car was so much fun! Taking out a whole crew of A.R.G.U.S. was very satisfying from a supervillain perspective. BUUUT, it was that day I realized I need to start training those front kicks a little higher.
Edwards: Silencer loves any scenario where she can dispose of the annoying little obstacles in her path with a quiet quickness. The opportunity to assist Diaz in doing that suits her perfectly. Never hurts to have some partners in crime when you’re doing dirt. So we compliment each other well as the Longbow Hunters.

TrunkSpace: How closely do your characters resemble your comic book counterparts in terms of powers and abilities and did you visit the source material at all in your search for discovering who they are?
Jonsson: Kodiak, in the comics, is the leader of The Shield Clan and is part of the Outsiders War. He IS huge, is a meta with super strength and carries a badass shield. He is also sarcastic and pokes fun at Oliver. I hope we see a lot more of that. The big difference – he’s shirtless and wears an antler skull headpiece. It’d be cool to see an arc transforming him into that.
Edwards: Well, the Silencer has to be able to create silence – that is her thing so that’s an unwavering commonality. She is also adept at taking down her foes skillfully and efficiently both in the comic and on the show. I began reading the Silencer series right away! I was excited to see the backstory that was there for me to draw from.

TrunkSpace: What did you enjoy about getting to bring a comic book character to life? What was it about your character specifically that you liked getting to inhabit?
Edwards: I like the hero vs. villain relationship. It’s always high stakes. As Silencer everything I’m doing from moment to moment is life or death. What a great place to play in. Since she is the one who is deciding who dies and when – by the very nature of her job – she always feels powerful. And of course, in her eyes, she’s always right. Unless she’s being challenged, then she’s fighting for her life. Still life or death. Always interesting to play.
Jonsson: Being tough enough to punch people across rooms and through train doors is spectacular. I get to chuck a lot of people. That’s my thing… I chuck people. I have a cool sounding shield and I chuck people. That and the sarcasm. My humor is dark and sarcastic and is probably why I identified so well with him.

TrunkSpace: Both Silencer and Kodiak were created in what is considered the “New Age” of the DC Universe so there isn’t as much of them in print as there would be for some of the more iconic characters who have been around for decades. Does that take a bit of the pressure off, especially when you consider how the comic fandom has been known to dissect the portrayals of iconic characters over the years?
Jonsson: No way! These fans want and deserve the best and I’m going to work my tail off to make sure this is what they get from Kodiak.
Edwards: I love that she is a new character. I enjoy having the freedom to decide where to go with her. I think there is still mystery around what drives her to do the things she does. That leaves something for me to explore. I like that the fans care about these characters and I look at their attention as a positive. It’s what keeps the DC Universe alive.

TrunkSpace: What has been the most enjoyable part of your “Arrow” journey thus far?
Jonsson: Hanging with one of the best cast and crews around. Everyone on the show is so fun, especially my fellow Longbow Hunters. Miranda and Holly (Elissa) crack me up the whole time. They are not only talented and fierce actors, but they also have incredible personalities making them easy to get along with.
Edwards: Lot’s of action, fun cast, great crew and getting to watch the show and see how it’s received is fun too. Putting on a costume and becoming this other woman is THE most fun!

Photo By: Ellyse Anderson

TrunkSpace: We’re suckers for “Supernatural” here, a show that you have both appeared on throughout the course of its run. (Michael, you actually played two characters if we’re not mistaken?) Is it a bit of a rite of passage for Vancouver-based actors to make a stop in that world, especially given how long “Supernatural” has been on the air?
Edwards: I think so. When I was on and since, I’ve met so many actors who’ve appeared on “Supernatural” once or twice in their careers. It’s such a tightly run ship and everyone is so on top of their jobs that you just dive right in and go for the ride. It’s amazing what can be accomplished in just two short days. I was an angel, I killed, I fought, I died. I had a blast!
Jonsson: (Laughter) Yeah, sooner or later, if you are working in Vancouver, you will be on “Supernatural.” Playing the two characters, I guess I was on it sooner and later. Playing Gog was hilarious though… here are these two giant warriors from 2000 years ago, bickering in Canaanite while wearing diaper-looking loincloths.

TrunkSpace: What is your favorite thing about acting beyond the work itself? What keeps you excited to wake up every morning and pursue this as your career?
Jonsson: Getting to do something different and nuanced every time. I feel like I am always being challenged which is a necessity in everything I do. When challenged, you are forced to become better, find another part of yourself and expand. Isn’t that what life is about?
Edwards: The variety and the challenge. I love doing something different every day, it keeps things fresh and interesting, and there are plenty of challenges. I have to push myself to explore something I didn’t realize I was capable of doing. So I’m growing and learning as I pursue this career. I appreciate all of that.

TrunkSpace: You’re both no strangers to shows with passionate fandoms. Miranda, you’ve worked on “The Magicians” and “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.” Michael, you’ll be reprising your role as The Burier in the third season of “Van Helsing.” With so much great television being made these days, especially those shows that are geared towards an existing audience, is it just as interesting of a time in television for you, the performer, as it is for us, the audience?
Edwards: Yes! And, I am a member of the audience too. I love TV and you’re right, there is soooo much good stuff out there. So, when I have the opportunity to take a great a role on a compelling show, I’m doubly pleased. I’m taking part in the creation of something I’d want to watch and then I get to share it.
Jonsson: Following up on the last answer, it’s fantastic to have a lot to audition for. This means being able to play a bunch of different characters and testing your limits. I love it!

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?
Jonsson: No! I am a big believer in life being the journey, not the end goal. Every day we are presented with opportunities to better our lives. Sometimes we are aware of those little gifts and sometimes we aren’t, or we are aware but stop ourselves from accepting them. Or we don’t want to accept them cause we see the “gifts” as bad. If I know what is coming in ten years, I might not challenge myself to accept all the gifts. Being brave enough to accept more of life’s gifts, good and bad, is what it’s all about. That’s how we feel alive.
Edwards: Nooooo, I wouldn’t want to get in my own way. Knowing me I’d try everything I could to try to shape my own future and then ultimately mess it up. I know that there are great things in store and that there are challenges ahead. I’ll just wait to find out what exactly they are at the moment they happen. And I’ll still try to stay out of my own way.

Arrow” airs Mondays on The CW.

Featured images: © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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Wingman Wednesday

Jennifer Cheon

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Photography: Jeffery Fountain/Makeup: Caitlin Krenz with Opus Beauty/Hair: Felicia Rials/Stylist: Lauren Taylor

With her character Ivory set to see more action in “Van Helsing” when Season 3 premieres October 5 on Syfy, Jennifer Cheon is living out her Linda Hamilton dream. As a child, “Terminator 2” kick-started her desire to go full on-screen badass, and now thanks to the fan-favorite fantasy series starring Kelly Overton as Vanessa Van Helsing, that dream has become a reality.

We recently sat down with Cheon to discuss how viewers will get to see more of Ivory in Season 3, the reason actors are being drawn back to the city of Vancouver, and why shows like “Supernatural” and “The Flash” have been so important to her career.

TrunkSpace: What is it like being part of a series like “Van Helsing” where the fan base is so supportive? Is it almost more rewarding on a personal level than appearing in a show that pulls triple the audience but isn’t necessarily as invested in the story and cast?
Cheon: “Van Helsing” has the best fans ever! I am happy to be a part of a show that is diverse and full of good ol’ Vampire fun! It is super rewarding when people reach out and tell you they love and support, or relate to your work!

TrunkSpace: The series returns on October 5. What are you most excited about as you build up for the third season?
Cheon: I’m the most excited that people are getting what they ask for in terms of seeing more of Ivory.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Ivory this season, and on a personal level, what were you looking forward to play with on-camera as it relates to the character?
Cheon: Well, this season you see her around more characters that you may love or hate… you get to see her coming into her position more. Very exciting!

TrunkSpace: Is there a secondary level of excitement involved in being a part of a series like this when it drops in its entirety on Netflix? Is it nice to know that new people can continuously discover your work?
Cheon: YES! Yes! I am a binge watcher myself so I love that Netflix delivers it all so you can cozy up to your human or animal and enjoy the whole series.

TrunkSpace: You’re no stranger to fan-favorite series. You’ve appeared in “Arrow,” “The Flash,” and “Supernatural,” all shows that are important to viewers. But those shows are also important to your native Vancouver and the actors who call the city their home. What have those series meant to your career and how it has progressed throughout the years?
Cheon: Oh man, I had some of my first real lines on camera on those shows. I got the privilege to work with industry vets; some of the best, from actors to the crew. It’s funny how much of the industry is in Vancouver now. I lived in LA for a few years and ended up moving back home because the industry was booming (still is). Every experience on set has lead me to this moment. You never know as an actor what role will stick or which role will end up being more than a one liner… you have to really choose this career for the love because you never know.

TrunkSpace: “Supernatural” in particular, which is going into Season 14, seems like a staple for performers in and around the Vancouver area. Is it a bit of a rite of passage for actors to step onto that set and become a part of the “Supernatural” universe?
Cheon: It truly is. I remember I was fresh out of high school and modeling at the time. I needed a summer job, and my modeling agent suggested Background work… I had never heard of that being a way to earn money, but I’m so glad I tried it! It taught me set etiquette, and also gave me an inside scoop to what it was I really wanted to pursue. One of the first sets I ever walked on to was “Supernatural.” I remember saying to myself, “I am going to do that – I want to work with those actors, and be on this set with an actual role.” When it finally happened it really felt like a milestone for me, and what a great group of people to work with!

TrunkSpace: What is it that you enjoy most about performing? What is the internal drive?
Cheon: I LOVE it all. I love that I get to embody different people. I get a chance to understand how they think, whether they are fiction or real. I find it helps me put things into perspective. I love giving people a sense of comfort in the characters I play… comfort in the way they relate or comfort in the escape from whatever might be happening in their own worlds. I also love how the environment on set is so collaborative creatively. In “Van Helsing,” we get to fight with swords and be complete badasses… so much fun!

Photography: Jeffery Fountain/Makeup: Caitlin Krenz with Opus Beauty/Hair: Felicia Rials/Stylist: Lauren Taylor

TrunkSpace: We read that part of what sparked your interest in pursuing a career in film and television was “Terminator 2.” What was it about that movie in particular (and for us, we have to add that the soundtrack was pretty great as well!) that ultimately set you on this path?
Cheon: I’m humming the score right now. (Laughter) Everything about that movie and the making of that movie drew me into this industry. I love action films, and I love seeing humans do these crazy things with our bodies. I love how indestructible we become on film. With “Terminator 2,” not only was Linda Hamilton the first woman I ever saw on TV that was tougher than most men, but she was the real deal. I was such a tomboy growing up, and when I saw her it made me proud of it instead of always trying to conform to the way men tell us we should be. Also, can we talk about the costumes, and styling of that film? Ummm, epic! I think my entire wardrobe is a mix of all the characters.

TrunkSpace: In a perfect world – the BEST best case scenario – how do you see your career playing out? What bucket list items do you want to achieve?
Cheon: I want to be a Bond Girl. I have always been such a fan of those films. I would also die a very happy woman if I were to play Catwoman. I think it’s time for a mixed race female super hero. Also I would love to have more opportunities to direct.

TrunkSpace: What job have you learned the most from, the one where the things you absorbed on that particular set you still find yourself applying to your career today?
Cheon: I think I have learned these general rules from being on a set for so many years in many different departments: Stay in your lane, be respectful, say please and thank you, remember at the end of the day everyone wants to get the job done so don’t think you are the only one who matters. Just remember how lucky you are to be there, and most importantly have fun! This is entertainment!

Season 3 of “Van Helsing” premieres October 5 on Syfy.

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Wingman Wednesday

Rukiya Bernard

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Yes, we’re counting the days until wind chills are no longer a factor in our daily clothing choices and Nor’easters are Nor’more, but until then we’re embracing the sentimental glow of the season – warming ourselves at the foot of the fireplace, indulging in home-cooked comfort foods, and of course, settling in under a heavy blanket and watching Hallmark Channel’s Winterfest programming event.

Premiering Saturday on the network, “One Winter Weekend” tells the story of a surprise romance that develops between two unlikely people, played by Taylor Cole and Jack Turner, who find themselves double-booked and snowed in together while on their own individual weekend away in the mountains.

We recently sat down with “One Winter Weekend” star Rukiya Bernard to discuss her “One Winter Weekend” highlights, why her character’s story delivers a great message for women, and the crossover between the Hallmarkies and the Helsingers.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on multiple Hallmark Channel movies throughout the course of your career, the most recent being “One Winter Weekend.” Do you continue to return to the Hallmark Channel fold because of the people involved, because of the characters you get to portray, or a combination of both?
Bernard: I think it’s a combination of both. I enjoy doing lighthearted comedies and Hallmark gives me the chance to do that.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer, the end product – the completed film – is what becomes memorable, but for those who work on a project, there’s an entire experience involved. What for you were some of the highlights of your time on “One Winter Weekend?”
Bernard: There were a number of highlights in this movie such as eating fondue for work, figuring out how to do things while both hands were incapacitated and getting to know the cast. We’d go out after work whenever possible and it was great getting to know them.

TrunkSpace: When you first got a sense of who Megan was, what initially drew you in, and did you begin to enjoy different aspects of her personality as you spent more time with her?
Bernard: When I first got the role of Megan I enjoyed her free spiritedness, which contrasts nicely with her REALLY good work ethic. It’s maybe too good to her detriment. I enjoyed her playful side and that really drew me in.

TrunkSpace: What is Megan’s journey throughout the course of the film? Did you get to tackle something within the performance that you have yet to onscreen?
Bernard: Megan’s journey is one of learning to stand her ground and go after what she wants in life. I loved that aspect of her story. I think it’s a great message for women to hear – for everyone to hear, actually.

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel movies continue to grow in popularity and draw massive audiences week after week, season after season. As someone who has worked on multiple productions, what do you think the draw is?
Bernard: I think the draw is they are easy to watch and people know what to expect. They’re never going to make you uncomfortable and they’ll always put a smile on your face. Now more than ever, I think we need that and I think that’s a huge part as to why the numbers are increasing week to week.

TrunkSpace: As a star of “Van Helsing,” you’re no stranger to passionate fandoms. What we didn’t realize until we started really diving into Hallmark Channel content was that the films have their own really passionate fandoms called the “Hallmarkies.” In your experience, how do the Hallmarkies compare to some of the genre fandoms like what you have experienced firsthand with “Van Helsing?”
Bernard: You know what’s interesting is some of the Helsingers are Hallmarkies too! I was shocked to see the crossover when I started getting messages from fans. It makes me laugh as “Van Helsing” is a horror show – very dramatic and tragic with lots of blood and gore – it’s vampires! And then my Helsingers will change channels and enjoy a MOW I’m in with lightness and everlasting love and lots of fun shenanigans. I love it!

Photo: Rukiya Bernard, Taylor Cole Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Steven Ackerman

TrunkSpace: Speaking of fandoms, you have made two appearances on the series “Supernatural,” a show whose fan base continues to propel it forward, currently into its 13th season. You first guested in season 7, and just returned for season 13, playing two entirely different characters. What is it is like getting to play two characters within the canon of one popular series? Although not entirely rare in the “Supernatural” world, it is relatively rare in the industry as a whole, correct?
Bernard: Yes, it is rare to be invited back onto a show and I was honored that it happened. The SPN fans are super loyal too. It was fun playing both characters who were quite different in that, though both were counseling types (season 7 I played a fraudulent psychic and season 13 I played a grief counselor), the characters were very different and had different demises – I never died in the current season.

TrunkSpace: One of the great things about “Supernatural” is that from a storytelling standpoint, it’s this perfect mix of the fantastical and the relatable. In your season 13 episode, “The Big Empty,” you portrayed a shapeshifter who was dealing with some really heavy, human circumstances and emotions. That sort of perfectly sums up the unlimited potential of acting in terms of where you can go with the craft, does it not? Getting to play a “monster” who, in the end, is the victim, is a theme as old and as relatable as the story of Frankenstein, but at the same time, it’s not something you get to do while sitting in a cubicle at an office.
Bernard: (Laughter) Yeah, it’s not an average day at the office – though if you watch “Van Helsing,” my character Doc is a “monster” grappling with finding and proving her humanity again, so maybe it is another day at the office for me. I think the constant in all the characters I’ve played is that they are presented as one thing and through the journey they go on they endeavor to change. I love playing those characters because I think people need to see that it’s possible to change if you want to.

TrunkSpace: You have received both fan acclaim and critical praise for your work on “Van Helsing.” As you look back over your time on the series, what memories bring a smile to your face, both professionally and personally?
Bernard: I have many fond memories. “Van Helsing” is my first television series and I’m lucky that we’ve been picked up for a third season. When I think about my first few days on set, I was so nervous and was convinced that I was going to get fired, but I think back on those days now and they make me laugh. I also think about the friendships I’ve made and how lucky I am.

TrunkSpace: From what we read, your mother was an art store owner. Did you grow up in a creative environment where your own creative endeavors were supported and nurtured?
Bernard: You’ve done your research. Yes, my mom owned Toronto’s first African art store and though she wasn’t an artist she was a huge supporter of the arts and really helped encourage my artistic desires. Both my parents did. My dad was a graphic artist before becoming an entrepreneur and he’s a really good singer, too. I think I get my artsiness from him.

Bernard in Van Helsing. Photo by: Dan Power/Helsing S1 Productions/Syfy

TrunkSpace: Have your aspirations/goals changed from when you started out acting to where you are now?
Bernard: Not really. I just think my goals are more well-rounded because they now include my family and balancing my dreams and aspirations with my kids and my husband. We aim to support each other with the varying things we want to do in life.

TrunkSpace: We’re a few weeks into 2018. Did you set any resolutions for yourself in the new year and if so, how are you doing with them thus far?
Bernard: I didn’t set any resolutions. I kind of have a fear of them as they set you up for failure. However, I did decide to work out more even when I can’t get to the gym and have crafted workouts I can do at home and while I’m on the road. No excuses this year!

One Winter Weekend” premieres Saturday, January 20 (9 p.m. ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel.

Season 2 of “Van Helsing” arrives on Netflix today.

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Wingman Wednesday

Aleks Paunovic

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Just so we’re clear, TrunkSpace is not monkeying around with this interview.

And yes, while that was a terrible pun to lead into our chat with Aleks Paunovic of the upcoming “War for the Planet of the Apes,” we’re not going to apologize, and here’s why. As unfunny as it was, it actually applies. Paunovic is deadly serious about his craft, and even more so, he’s passionate about the work, right down to his memorable guest spot on the series “Supernatural.” The excitement he absorbs from playing his various roles, including that of Julius the vampire in Syfy’s “Van Helsing,” is apparent in every aspect of his delivery. This is a man who genuinely loves his job and is grateful for every opportunity he receives, which is a breath of fresh air in a world where it seems so many take so much for granted.

We recently sat down with Paunovic to discuss season 2 of “Van Helsing,” how he’d like to share even more, and how playing a primate means playing human.

TrunkSpace: We have to start with something that is a big guilty pleasure of ours here, which is “Supernatural.”
Paunovic: That’s awesome!

TrunkSpace: You guested as Gunner Lawless in “Beyond the Mat,” one of the more memorable episodes from last season and we’re curious if getting a small taste of that universe has opened you up to the very passionate fanbase?
Paunovic: Well, I was in two more episodes before that as two completely different characters.

TrunkSpace: That’s right. You actually played one of the skinwalkers in one episode, right?
Paunovic: Yeah! And it opened me up in that realm because the fans are so on point that it was surprising to me because I started getting people noticing me or contacting me and doing that whole thing because I was a part of the show. But then, Gunner Lawless and that wrestling episode, to me, was just a gift for a role. And everybody that’s a part of that show just embraced me with taking on such a great role. I got to learn the wrestling aspect of it and it was just a blast, man.

TrunkSpace: What’s so great about that series is that it’s sort of a hybrid of comedy and drama. When they do the comedy it’s gold and when they do the drama it’s heartfelt and that “Beyond the Mat” episode is a perfect example of that.
Paunovic: Yeah. I totally agree. I just love what they do with that show. There’s a reason why it’s going 12 years. I just love how they mix the drama and the emotionality with the humor of it. I just love how they make that work and not a lot of shows do that. So again, I was really blessed to be a part of that.

TrunkSpace: Going from a series that is often about vampires in “Supernatural” to a series where you play one in “Van Helsing,” from an actors perspective, we have to imagine that playing in that science fiction/genre sandbox must be a load of fun because you really get to step out of reality for a little bit.
Paunovic: That’s right on point. That’s exactly it. You nailed it. For me, it’s such a blast because you literally get to… when you’re a kid you play Cowboys and Indians or you play whatever your imagination can take you to. I’m kind of still doing it, so it’s kind of fun that I can jump into a show like “Van Helsing” and really kind of explore the “what ifs” and really drop it down into a reality based type of thing, even though it’s fantastical.

TrunkSpace: You’ll be returning as Julius in season 2 of “Van Helsing,” but do you have any idea where his arc will take you?
Paunovic: We’re in the middle of shooting it right now and all I can say is that I’m over the moon with the arc that has happened with my character. And even the show… the first year you kind of hope that fans connect to it, but as a well oiled machine, especially with Neil LaBute at the helm, we’re really gearing into season 2 and it’s feeling amazing. I cannot wait for people to see where Julius has gone.

TrunkSpace: In a time of leaks and spoilers, we understand why NDAs exist, but at the same time, it must be difficult to not be able to discuss something like that when you’re so excited about the work.
Paunovic: Dude, I’m busting at the seams. I’m rocking my mind about how much I want to talk about it or Tweet about it or Instagram about it because, no joke, when you see this season and what my character is going through, you’ll go, “How did he keep that in?” But for me, I get the surprise aspect of it and I’m really looking forward to the surprise and for people to kind of get blown away with a lot of the things that are happening with Julius. Yeah… I’m busting at the seams, man. I cannot wait for people to see this season.

TrunkSpace: Something else we’d imagine you’re pretty excited for people to see is “War for the Planet of the Apes.” When you landed that role, what was your initial thought with getting a part in such a storied franchise?
Paunovic: Well, it was a little trippy because, like you said, it’s such a storied franchise. I saved my audition side because I thought that was it. I was just celebrating the fact that I got an audition for it. I never thought that it would go anywhere further. To me, it was just like, “I got an audition for ‘Planet of the Apes.’ That’s awesome!” And end of story. That was it for me. And then it grew into about five auditions until I finally got the role and I was still shaking my head at it. And then going to work and… it’s next level.

Matt Reeves who directed it and Andy Serkis, who was phenomenal… Andy was an extension of Matt Reeves and them working on this project together was just a joy to be around. Being a part of it, again, is next level.

TrunkSpace: The last film in the franchise is, although fantastical, so grounded in reality. And the trailer for “War for the Planet of the Apes” seems to carry that torch forward while also playing off as very intense. It seems like a crazy ride.
Paunovic: It is. Honestly, the mood on set was never like the fantastical aspect of playing primates and playing apes. It was literally like, we’re telling a story and this is the story we’re telling in the most real sense. So there was no feeling of it being not in reality. That was the cool thing, especially with Andy. Andy took it all very seriously and helped everyone along with it. So, the new characters that were introduced… we got to basically be guided by Andy/Caesar, but the last thing we ever thought was that it wasn’t reality. That was the cool thing.

TrunkSpace: So in playing Winter, did a lot of it rely on the physicality aspect of playing a gorilla?
Paunovic: It’s interesting. You would think, and even when I was going to the auditions you would think, but the bottom line was the acting. It was the emotionality of the character and the story that these characters were telling. Each character has their own story and you cannot get away with… like, for instance… it’s emotionality and telling the story first, primate second. That’s just how it came down. When we first started, it was all about sitting and being vulnerable and open with the story that we were going to tell before we actually got up and did any physicality as a primate. Matt Reeves and Terry Notary were big believers in that it’s about story first and then everything else falls into it afterward.

TrunkSpace: Well, the key is that as an audience you stop seeing them as primates and start seeing them as characters, which was more than successful with “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”
Paunovic: Yeah. And that’s all Matt Reeves. Matt, Terry, and Andy… those three really helped everyone dive in. The last thing that we did was wanted to be apes. Everything first was story, so we got really lucky.

TrunkSpace: So it sounds like it’s more of a drama than an action tentpole?
Paunovic: Totally. Absolutely. Absolutely!

TrunkSpace: So with a movie of this size there’s obviously a lot of marketing materials and merchandising. Are we going to see Winter represented in any sort of cool merchandise and does it kind of blow your mind to see that kind of stuff?
Paunovic: You know what? You’re the first person to actually mention it to me and I just went, “Oh my God that’s right. I could actually be an action figure.” That just kind of blows me away. That would be cool.

TrunkSpace: I addition to your acting career, you have also been producing, particularly with one film that caught our attention called “Puppet Killer.” What is it that drew you to the producing side of the business?
Paunovic: One of the reasons why I love the producing aspect of the business, and I really got serious about it with a film called “Numb” that I was a part of, it’s the connection and relationships and troubleshooting on set that I really took pride in. Taking charge and jamming with the other producers and director and figuring out ways that we can make this work and make that work and help the story. I absolutely loved it. So when I had the opportunity to do that with “Puppet Killer,” which is a film coming out that happened to just be super fun… and Richard Harmon who is in “The 100” is a part of it also. We just had a blast shooting it and the producer role was basically one of those things where I just wanted to take on a little bit more responsibility and help the film along. I can’t wait for it to come out.

TrunkSpace: So is producing something you want to continue to pursue in your career?
Paunovic: Absolutely. I do love being a part of something more than just getting hired as an actor, do my thing, say bye to everyone, and then I’m out. I love the aspect of the long haul and being a part of it and building those relationships. Going through those trials and tribulations of making a film or a series and kind of everyone standing tall and believing what they put down. For the film “Numb” that I did, that was like four years before we actually went to camera. Almost five years before we went to camera. So that journey when we actually did go to camera and then we wrapped the last day… that was just way more emotional and rewarding than anything else where I just jumped in as an actor, so yeah, I’d like to do more.

War for the Planet of the Apes” arrives in theaters July 14, 2017.

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