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Wingman Wednesday

Mark Gagliardi

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Photo By: Jenn KL

No one is more excited for the new action/adventure series “Blood & Treasure” than star Mark Gagliardi’s inner 10 year old. A lover of art who also enjoys spectacle, the “Drunk History” and “The Thrilling Adventure Hour” alumni jokes that he makes career decisions based on what his younger self would think is cool, but when you’re standing in an Egyptian tomb rigged with booby traps, anyone who grew up watching Indiana Jones crack his whip in exotic locales would be hard pressed not to want to jump in a time machine and tell themselves that dreams really do come true.

We recently sat down with Gagliardi to discuss quotingThe Princess Bride,” the need for the who, and why he likes to tell people he’s starring in a new adventure series for the Columbia Broadcasting System.

TrunkSpace: As a performer, do you feel pressure for a project to succeed? Does any of that come back on you with something like “Blood & Treasure,” which premiered last night?
Gagliardi: Yeah, of course it does. Everything I do, I want people to enjoy. I’m not going to create a show and be like, “Oh, man, people are going to hate this one.” I want it to go really well. I’m nervous about it because it’s a big show. It’s a big deal for me personally because this is my first time having a part this size on a show, and I personally love the show. It’s a show that I would watch anyway were I not involved. It’s very much up my alley, so I just hope people enjoy it as much as we did making it. We had a blast making it, and the whole time, we’re assuming people will love this show, because obviously we love having a great time, and we all love each other. We’re traveling all over and having this amazing experience, so hopefully that translates.

TrunkSpace: If it’s a show that you would watch if you weren’t involved, what would 10-year-old Mark think about you starring on a show like this?
Gagliardi: Man, I’ve thought about this so many times. First of all, one of my favorite movies is Disney’s “The Kid,” where Bruce Willis meets Spencer Breslin, who plays little kid Bruce Willis, directed by John Turteltaub… who directed “National Treasure,” so it all comes full circle.

I try to make my decisions based on whether or not 10-year-old me would think I was doing something cool and want to give me a high five. So, I think that 10-year-old me would see this show and get really pumped that 40-year-old me was in it.

TrunkSpace: And that’s coming from a guy who’s already voiced Batman, so 10year-old you has already handed out some high fives!
Gagliardi: Yes! Oh, man, I called 10-year-old me when I got the Batman job, too. He was really pumped.

That was a fun job. That was one of those where the first thing my voiceover agent said to me when she called me was, “Here, sit down. I have something cool to tell you.” So the fact that she knew, “Holy crap, it’s Batman!” was really awesome.

TrunkSpace: With so much content circulating today on so many different platforms, do you think a network like CBS feels less pressure for something to become a hit right out of the gates? Does “Blood & Treasure” have more wiggle room to build an audience now than it would have had 20 years ago?
Gagliardi: Yeah, I think that we have the benefit of a huge, major network, and a great lead-in, the “NCIS” season finale. So, yeah, I think there are so many screens now, and there is so much content now that you have a million choices of what to watch and where to watch, and there is some amazing television that is doing amazing things. “Game of Thrones” broke a million barriers. “Fleabag” now is a new one that is breaking all these molds. There are a lot of really great “break the mold” television happening, and I think one thing that CBS does really, really well is what we are doing… big, old school television for as broad an audience as we can make it for.

I like referring to them not as modern day CBS, and it annoys my friends, but I call it The Columbia Broadcasting System. That sounds so big and old timey to me. “I’m doing a new adventure program on the Columbia Broadcasting System.” It sounds like, “Hey, everybody, gather around your radios.” There’s something that feels very communal and old timey and family and big about the show.

TrunkSpace: And it also has that summer movie feel to it. With that said, is it no accident that it’s getting its run now in the summertime?
Gagliardi: No accident at all. We actually talked a lot about it while we were making the show that what we were making is a summertime adventure. It’s the book that you read on the beach that’s a little lighter. Maybe you’re on vacation, and you’re going to splurge and get the big meal instead of having the healthy salad. We knew going in. One of our great directors on the show – Steve Boyum is his name – and after every take – I’m paraphrasing because I don’t know if you swear in your publication – but after any great take, he would always say, “That’s the big movie stuff right there!” And that’s how we knew he had gotten the take that he wanted.

TrunkSpace: You’re kicking off the Summer TV season!
Gagliardi: Yeah. I like the idea that we’re beginning the summer movie season with a television show. That feels fun and groovy and subversive. Because any screen can show you anything now. I watch movies on an iPad before I go to sleep, so you can find a giant blockbuster popcorn story anywhere. I think that’s great. I think it’s fun.

Summer movies have always been my favorite season. I’m a huge Marvel MCU fan. I loved the “Lord of the Rings.” I love any big, epic thing. There’s a reason that I’ll go and see whatever giant, splashy Broadway show is opening because I love art, but I also love a little spectacle.

TrunkSpace: Well, and going back to 10-year-old Mark, that’s the kind of stuff that first draws us in.
Gagliardi: Exactly. There’s a reason that people cosplay at ComiCon in the costumes from the epic, fun, over-the-top stories. And those are the stories that always sang to me as a kid, and still do as an adult.

And one thing I love about the show is everybody involved in this show was high-fiving 10-year-old themselves in some way. We live in a world on this show where Indiana Jones movies exist, and Marvel movies exist, and we quote them, and we all watch them, and these are characters that nerd out for them. One of my most fun experiences reading a script for this was when I’m reading a script for an episode, and at one point, I quote the “Princess Bride.” I was like, “Oh, my God, I am quoting the Princess Bride. This is the greatest adventure show of all time.” 10-year-old me got a high five.

Pictured Mark Gagliardi as Father Chuck of the CBS series BLOOD & TREASURE scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Kharen Hill / CBS © 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TrunkSpace: The most memorable thing for the viewer is always the end product, but for those involved it must go beyond that. What are you going to carry with you through the rest of your life and career from your “Blood & Treasure” experience?
Gagliardi: Two things. The smaller of the two being that… I’ve always wanted to be an actor since I was 5, from watching the behind the scenes footage for “Temple of Doom” and watching behind the scenes footage for “Never Say Never Again” when I was a really little kid, and seeing these giant movie sets with all the big cameras and lights and everything. I thought, “Oh, that’s what being an actor is,” which I, of course, have learned through the years that it’s not quite just that. So that’s why I say that’s the smaller of the two for me… walking into a set that is a huge Egyptian tomb with missing sarcophagi… that is evocative and fun. They’re blasting smoke, and there’s guys one ropes rigging booby traps. It’s this crazy thing.

But to me, I think the more important is… I had an acting teacher once tell me, “A story is a who, a what, and a where, but it’s always about the who.” That’s the heart of your story. And I think that this show in particular, for me as an actor, getting to meet and work with everybody who is playing at this level, and is still the kindest people in the world… we all just fell in love with the work and each other while we were doing this. I think that’s something for a TV show, too. I think we can fill it with explosions, but unless the audience cares who gets blown up, it doesn’t matter. So I think that what’s going to sustain the show is some really, fun, cool characters that I’d love to hang out with in real life.

TrunkSpace: This is a business with no certainties. With that said, sometimes the things we don’t plan for are the ones that are the game changers. What has been the biggest surprise of your career?
Gagliardi: I think there have been so many experiences in my career that I didn’t know at the time that they were going to send me on a trajectory. At first, this was an audition. I audition for a lot of different things. This is one I was particularly excited about because I read the script and loved it. So I really stuck to my gut on this audition.

Several years ago… things had started off small that just got progressively bigger, and I had no idea that that would happen… I did a little show at M Bar in 2005 called “The Thrilling Adventure Hour” that became this juggernaut podcast over the course of 10 years. We had movie stars guest starring in it. We were sold out, and we were adding shows, and we went on tour to Australia and New Zealand. So that was a huge thing that changed my life forever.

And another one, of course, was sitting on my couch, getting drunk and telling a story with Derek Waters and Jeremy Konner, and now that sitting on the couch, getting drunk, telling a story has become “Drunk History,” and is in its sixth season on Comedy Central. So that just is mind blowing to me that that became a thing.

Blood & Treasure” airs Tuesdays on CBS.

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Wingman Wednesday

Lisa Durupt

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Photographer: Birdie Thompson/Grooming: Allison Noelle

Although she has had to take a few reflective deep breaths from time to time, Lisa Durupt never doubted herself or her ability to make a career in the arts. With an unwavering belief that her dreams would one day become a reality, the Canadian-born actress stayed the course. Now with her role as Paula Noble in the recently-released film “Breakthrough,” what lies ahead is becoming increasingly more clear as she continues to build on an already impressive 2019, which also includes a return to the series “Heartland” later this summer.

We recently sat down with Durupt to discuss taking life lessons from her costars, the unpredictability of acting, and “playing cold.”

TrunkSpace: “Breakthrough” is based on a true story. When there are real people involved in the journey that you’re taking audiences on – even with artistic license taken – do you feel like you have a responsibility to those who lived the story? Is there a different feeling on set with a project like this than something that is entirely fictional?
Durupt: Of course, yes. You want to be careful to honor their actual story but at the same time you need to trust that you were hired because you had the right type of energy from the start. At the end of the day if you focus on the facts of the story and on the relationships that the character had with everyone else, you can rest assured you are somewhat on track. The feeling on set was different than fiction in the sense that everyone wanted to get it right. There is always a sense of trying to make a great show, but when it is a true story, there is a little extra care that is taken, even if no one says it out loud.

TrunkSpace: Paula Noble is a real person. What was your approach to giving her life on screen? How much of who the woman actually is in real life is present in your performance?
Durupt: I had to trust that my gut instincts were on point, as I did not meet her unil the premiere. I met her husband Jason Noble on set but she did not make the trip. He confirmed that I was a great choice as she is just as sassy and spunky, so I felt pretty comfortable at the end of the day.

TrunkSpace: There’s a lot of heavy drama involved in “Breakthrough.” Was there a moment captured in the film that you feel shined a spotlight on a side of your acting that the world had yet to see? Were you able to go places as Paula that you hadn’t had an opportunity to with previous roles?
Durupt: I do get to do a fair bit of comedy in my career so a film like this was a nice change of pace. I think the one aspect that I had not tackled before was Paula’s unwavering faith. I grew up going to United Church until I was about 12, but due to sports on Sundays eventually we stopped going. Understanding her point of view about faith and religion was a new one for me, I learned a lot about myself in the process.

TrunkSpace: What would younger Lisa – the one who first decided to make a career in the arts – think about her future self’s performance in “Breakthrough?” Would she be surprised?
Durupt: I think she would have thought you were nuts, but, at the same time, totally believed it. I was a late comer to the game but I never doubted I would make a career in the business. Call it naivety or blind ambition but I always knew I would get to do exactly what I wanted to one day. I still do. Others might doubt me, but I always prove them wrong, sometimes it just takes longer than I would like.

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. What’s the most memorable aspect of getting to work on “Breakthrough” that you’ll carry with you through the rest of your life and career?
Durupt: The cast. I am a fan of them all so to get to know them on a personal level, as much as you can in the short time you work together, it was really special. They are all great people and sometimes in this business that is not always the case. I tend to take away a life lesson from each actor I work with and they gave me some of my most memorable yet. They are a special group and I wish them all continued success.

TrunkSpace: What has been an unexpected bonus or reward – something you could have never anticipated when you first started your journey as an actress – to a career in the arts? What is an aspect of your life that you wouldn’t have now had you not taken this path, but at the same time, one that you can’t imagine your life without?
Durupt: The relationships. The people I have met from all walks of life through work, they are talented, hard-working and creative beyond belief. It absolutely melts my heart to think about how spoiled I am to have them in my life. If someone had told me at 19 that I would have the circle of friends and extended family I have now, because of this business, I would never have believed it. I value those connections immensely and would never trade them for anything.

TrunkSpace: There are ups and downs in any career, but certainly the entertainment industry is known for delivering peaks and valleys. Was there ever a moment where you considered walking away from acting, and if so, what kept you on your path and looking forward?
Durupt: Oh man, yes! Every artist goes through that more often than they are willing to admit. Any other career, the amount of work you put in to auditioning, training, and managing your own career, you could be the CEO of the company. Acting is so unpredictable and out of your control. The reason I could never quit is my deep-rooted passion for what I do. Sometimes I do need to take a breath, shake it off for a few days and regroup. But quitting? Not an option.

TrunkSpace: We’re suckers for Christmas movies here and have seen quite a few of yours, either around the holidays or during our Christmas in July binge sessions. Is it a bit of a trip to shoot these movies and dive into that red and green festiveness months before the holly is hung in real life?
Durupt: YES! Murphy’s law: It is always so hot when we are shooting them and they are yelling (playfully) at you to “play the cold.” But I looove Christmas so I am happy to do it.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Durupt: It is hard to pick one. There are so many for various reasons. A really memorable one was working with Josh Lucas. I was such a fan of “Sweet Home Alabama” back in the day. All my girlfriends and I swooned for him as ‘Jake’ so to meet him and get to know him as a person was a big highlight. He is a total gem and not to mention an awesome dad.

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?
Durupt: No. I am a big advocate of trusting that you are exactly where you were meant to be in life. It is too easy to worry about enough in life already that stressing about what is coming next only distracts you from staying present in the moment. I am so excited about what is coming up, I am just getting started. I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

Featured Image Photographer: Birdie Thompson
Featured Image Grooming: Allison Noelle

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Wingman Wednesday

Derek Mears

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Photo By: Brezinski Photography

The coolest thing about Derek Mears isn’t that he’s getting to play Swamp Thing in the new original series set to premiere on the DC Universe digital subscription service May 31, but that he is so grateful to be doing so. As a fan of the iconic character himself, the California-born actor first picked up a “Swamp Thing” comic book as kid – before he could even read – only to find himself bringing the misunderstood creature to life on the small screen decades later. Full circle at its finest!

We recently sat down with Mears to discuss what his younger self would think of his latest role, the wearable art that is the Swamp Thing suit, and why he prepared by reading about everything from existentialism to botany.


TrunkSpace
: What would 12-year-old Derek think about getting to play Swamp Thing?
Mears: 12-year-old Derek just stares at a wall for his entire career going, “Are you kidding me?” I don’t understand how this happened, but I am in no way sad about it. If I had six guns right now, I’d be shooting them in the air. So, pretty excited.

TrunkSpace: Because it’s such an established character, did you feel pressure to make Swamp Thing your own?
Mears: For sure. Any role that I do, I approach it that way. It’s like handwriting. If you and I were to play Pinocchio, we’re going to approach it different. It’s our own kind of style and it’s naturally going to happen. But yeah, of course, I did put my own little spin on things, but also tying back the fan pressure… I wouldn’t really say it’s fan pressure, it’s… on my end, more of a responsibility. I‘ve been getting so many lovely messages on social media from people who have grown up with Swamp Thing being their guy, and they already have this personal relationship that has given them crossroads in their life, and given them answers, and given them joy. It means so much to these people that I knew I had that responsibility of making it right for them, because it’s almost like you’re babysitting their child and going, “Oh, I want you to be happy in what we’re doing, and be on board,” because you don’t want to ruin those memories. You want to make those memories that they have – and the love for the character that they have – flourish.

TrunkSpace: In many ways Swamp Thing has always represented what The X-Men have for people, which is, characters who are outcasts. For many readers who feel that in their own lives, that helps form a connection.
Mears: Oh, 1,000 percent. That’s a huge theme that we’re doing in this version of “Swamp Thing” where a lot of it is about acceptance that we can all kind of relate to. I’ll call it trying to accept, or struggling to accept, who he is as Swamp Thing. It’s something that we all feel, because at certain points, we feel we’re too tall, or too short, or too thin, or too wide, or our teeth just aren’t right, so there are elements of humanity that we all gravitate to with this character. So in a sense, he represents us.

TrunkSpace: In many ways, he was a more relatable character than the super-powered heroes. He was more human than some of the human characters.
Mears: Oh, absolutely. That’s what’s kind of beautiful about it. He’s such a balance. Where there’s good, there’s bad, but there has to be a balance and he strives to do the right thing. But as humans, we’re all fallible and we’re going to mess up somewhere. It wasn’t just the stereotypical black and white of things. There’s so much gray to this character, but the intention is to do good.

TrunkSpace: Were you nervous leading up to the first trailer being released and fans having their first look at what the series and the character would represent?
Mears: Honestly, through my own vision or through my own rose-colored glasses, when I first saw the concept for the character of how they were executing it, my mouth dropped. I was like, “Are you kidding me? That’s what you’re going with because that is pretty right-on!” And I kind of knew ahead of time because the buzz on the set has been sort of there the entire series. It’s one of those special jobs where the cast and crew get along so well, and there’s no hierarchy between the different departments. It’s like, “Oh, we all want to row the boat in the same direction to accomplish the best possible story that we can.” And once I saw how the suit looked, I went, “Okay.” Some people tear up over it. It’s like, “I can’t believe it.” Also, seeing that teaser shot, I go, “Wait until you see it in the different proper lighting, it looks even better than that.” And I’m not bragging because I’m in the suit, but I’m just trying to relate that as a fan myself, I get to wear art. And that art is pretty darn accurate. I don’t know how you could get much closer to the bullseye with that.

TrunkSpace: What’s so great about that is, with this kind of wearable art, you’re leaving a mark on pop culture and the suit could end up in a museum some day.
Mears: I’m thrilled about that. The work that the Fractured FX guys did, with Justin Raleigh at the helm, they put so much time and effort into this. There are some times where people kind of rush through and go, “Oh, what’s the minimum that I have to do to do my job?” I know for a fact that they went above and beyond, and went outside their own budget and used some of their own budget to make it right, because they knew how much this meant to fans and to themselves as artists. I’ve been so blessed to wear different prosthetic characters throughout my career, but I tell you, man, this suit is the Cadillac of suits. The way that you can emote so well through the face, the way that the prosthetics move and work… but it’s all within the design. It was done on purpose. So even like spending so much time in the water, they designed it to be a quicker drying suit than it normally would be. I’m looking at it in a mirror after wearing it I don’t know how many times… because after a while, you kind of get like, “Okay, that’s what I’m wearing,” but every time I’m suiting up, I’m staring at a mirror going, “Are you kidding me? I can’t see the lines on this, the way that it moves.” If I want to, I can kick over my head. It moves so well. So it’s really a pleasure. I’m not trying to pump it up more than it is, but just from my eyes, I’m really lucky to wear this. I can’t wait to see the fans’ reaction when they see it onscreen.

TrunkSpace: And you touched on it, but the suit’s ability to emote is incredible, which is so important for this character. From a performance standpoint, did this character require a different approach than other characters where you had to wear prosthetic suits?
Mears: Well, yes and no. I’ve been on producer sessions or what not for features or shows, and they’re like, “Oh, we need a big guy to wear a mask,” and I’m like, “Alright, have a good day, guys.” “Are you leaving?” I’m like, “Yeah, if that’s your mentality, I’m not right for this job.” Because there’s so much more that we do for this when you’re behind a suit. You approach it like it’s any other character. You have to add that emotional depth, and that’s why I think it’s so important to do a lot of characters like this practically and not just CGI. There’s the point where the two could marry with, say, they benefit each other, which is amazing, but you have to be able to emote the humanity of the character through that makeup. And especially with this character, there’s such a pathos to Swamp Thing, and the extremes of extreme sadness to extreme violence and anger, and the middle ground of that humanity, and trying to keep that balance that he struggles for. It’s such a challenge. But I prepared. I read so many different books on existentialism, and psychology, and philosophy. I even dug into different books on botany. But just kind of making up my own and… using the Alan Moore run from “Swamp Thing” as a flow chart to draw from. So just doing hours upon hours of extensive research, and to be able to hit some of the emotional depths of this character as he strongly deserves, and tie it into my own past and my own personal experiences, but molded him in a sense that they can be used through the limbs of the character to express. So, just the little, subtle things of something affecting you with the makeup, it really shines through and I don’t have to do much because of the prosthetic, because you can read what’s going on.

Photo By: Brezinski Photography

TrunkSpace: You had mentioned reading Alan Moore’s arc. In going back and looking at the books, was there any iconic imagery that you drew from, and how you physically presented Swamp Thing on camera?
Mears: Oh, for sure. They call it aspect. It’s kind of like Frankenstein. I mean, there’s so many aspects of making a character in general as an actor. There are the physical aspects, and the mental aspects, the emotional. There’s the subtextual, the parables, the metaphors that you try to add in. But on the visual side, absolutely. We’ve taken from the original series with Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson – Bernie Wrightson’s drawings, and we rely heavily, story-wise, through the Alan Moore saga, but there are elements of “52” in some of the design. It’s an amalgamation of all of them. And from time to time, being that I’m a nerd and I learned to read by collecting comic books as a kid, I would do little homages to John Totleben or Stephen Bissette, as well as Bernie Wrightson, so fans could be tied into the characters.

TrunkSpace: And those fans will appreciate that because they will be able to see that you’re just as in love with the character as they are.
Mears: Yeah. It’s weird, because growing up, I grew up on some of those comics. I remember when I was a kid, a little weird story was I remember not being old enough to read yet, and my mom would go get her hair done at a beauty salon or whatever, and every time she went, I got to go across the way to a 7-11 where they sold comic books. Our town didn’t have a comic book store at the time, and I got to choose different comic books to read while she got her hair done. And I remember being a big Batman fan, and I got this one comic, and I went, “Oh, this comic is issue #7 called ‘Swamp Thing’ with Batman in it? Well, Batman’s in it.” And I remember reading it, and being totally into this character, going like, “But he’s a good guy, but he looks so terrifying! Okay!” But I didn’t know what the words were, so later on, having developed to be able to read and understand what it was… and now as an adult, I completely forgot about all that, but when I was doing all my research and going through all the comics, seeing that cover, going, “Wait a second,” and having this rush of nostalgia hit me. “I remember staring at these pictures and trying to understand what was going on in the story, but not being able to read.”

What a crazy full circle to be able to play the character now as an adult.

Swamp Thing” premieres May 31 on the DC Universe digital subscription service.

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Wingman Wednesday

Jacob Bertrand

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With the release of the highly anticipated Season 2 of “Cobra Kai” now upon us, we’re taking an extended look at the fan-favorite series by sitting down with the phenomenal cast of young actors. This time out we’re chatting with Jacob Bertrand, who plays Hawk, to discuss the John Kreese influence, the mohawk affect on the masses, and which episode will have us on the edge of our collective seats.

TrunkSpace: “Cobra Kai” was so well received by fans and critics alike and in a way it seemed to catch everyone by surprise. Was there a different feeling on set heading into Season 2 given that there was more anticipation surrounding it?
Bertrand: Yeah. I mean, there is a ton of pressure. I know the writers definitely feel it. The whole cast feels it. Getting 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, you physically can’t do better than that, you know? We definitely poured a lot into this next season. It’s definitely bigger. We poured 110 percent into it. We did a ton of double-up days and long hours to make it work and I’m so stoked for the fans to see it.

TrunkSpace: What was your first impression of the direction Season 2 was headed in when you started receiving the scripts?
Bertrand: I loved it. At the end of Season 1 they talked to me about getting a different mohawk color, and I was so excited for it. And this season, with the mohawk color change, his demeanor changes a little bit. Kreese (played by Martin Kove) is in the dojo, so he has a big influence right there because he’s there all the time. Kreese is constantly with the Cobra Kai now.

TrunkSpace: Kreese hasn’t exactly been a great influence on people in the past.
Bertrand: (Laughter) Well, no yeah he definitely hasn’t, which we get to see a little bit of how he is with Hawk, so I’m excited to be able to do that.

TrunkSpace: What’s interesting about Hawk’s story arc is that he’s sort of a bit like a soda bottle that has been shaken up. Eventually when that cap comes off, it’s going to get messy. Is that fun to play because he’s the type of character who you can literally see the arc taking shape?
Bertrand: Oh it’s a rush. I am so grateful that this role was even written, and that I was able to audition for it. I had so much fun playing this character. It’s cool to be a little bit of a badass, villainous-type of guy. But Season 2 was definitely fun. Season 2 had a lot of fight scenes. There was a lot of cool Hawk material that was created for Season 2 and I can’t wait for everybody to see it and it’s just a total blast to get to play that character.

TrunkSpace: We know that you’ve done some extended work with characters before in television, but we’re curious what the journey is like for you, as an actor, getting to come back for another season and seeing how someone like Hawk develops out over time?
Bertrand: It was definitely weird going from my regular hair to that hawk cut, but once I got it, it was like, “Oh wow!” All these emotions and feelings started coming back like, “I’m this dude now!” It’s super fun. I honestly really love it. I couldn’t ask for a more fulfilling role. It’s just so much fun to play, and it’s really, really cool to be able to do that – to turn from Eli to Hawk – and I’m so grateful for everything that the writers give me. It’s awesome.

TrunkSpace: Have you had any fan interactions with people who let you know that they got a mohawk after being inspired by your character?
Bertrand: You know what’s funny is that I get tagged in pictures from a lot of kids that give themselves blue mohawks. For Halloween especially, I got a bunch of people sending me pictures of their kids with mohawks and stuff. I think that’s so awesome. I love that. I think that’s great. More power to them, because a mohawk, that’s a commitment. I mean, hey, it looks super badass so you might as well do it.

TrunkSpace: And what’s cool about that is that it shows that the series isn’t just being enjoyed, but that it’s having an impact on a pop culture level as well.
Bertrand: Yeah, I love that. That’s so cool. I’ve been in some Nickelodeon and Disney stuff, but I think it’s cool to see “The Karate Kid” die hard fans. I guess I didn’t really realize… I mean, I had seen the movies as a kid; I saw the first two when I was 8 with my little brother, but I hadn’t realized how religious the following was. I think it’s so cool to now be a part of that Karate Kid universe.

TrunkSpace: We’re all in our early 40s here, so we were kids when the first movie came out and it had a strong impact on us all. When we heard “Cobra Kai” was first being made, we didn’t really get too excited because remakes and continuations have let us down in the past, but this not only appealed to us, but younger generations as well, which is extremely rare.
Bertrand: Yeah, I definitely agree with you. I think that this series is for kids of my generation and kids below who are younger than me. It’s very easy to get into, just because it’s so realistic and natural of the times right now. I think it’s great having a very accurate glimpse of kids in high school. It’s all in how they act and then they just threw the ‘80’s-style Cobra Kai on them. I think that’s so great how natural and rounded everything plays out.

TrunkSpace: As someone who has been on the inside of seeing it all come together, why do you think the series has worked for both original fans and for new audiences?
Bertrand: That’s a great question. That’s one the writers should probably rattle off for you right away. You know, I think that it just has something for everybody. I think that’s what the main thing is. Ralph (Macchio) and Billy (Zabka) create some amazing leads, and then it also has the kids that come in. And it’s also just a badass, funny, dramatic show that hooks you in.

TrunkSpace: For the viewers the most memorable aspect of a film or series is the end product, but for you we’d imagine it goes much further than that. What’s been the most memorable aspect of your “Cobra Kai” journey thus far?
Bertrand: Honestly, something that I was really impressed with was how well everyone did. When we started stunt-wise and fighting-wise – because we do a lot of our own stunts – where we all started in our ability to do stunts and where we ended, there’s a huge difference. I’m honestly really proud of everybody who put in all the work and all the time and effort to make Season 2. So I think it’s the whole thing. There’s not a moment that I love. It was honestly every day that something awesome happened.

TrunkSpace: Finally, without dropping any spoilers on us, what are you most excited for people to see this season?
Bertrand: Just wait for episode 10! That is my favorite episode. Episode 10 is amazing! Just wait, it’s all worth it.

TrunkSpace: So there’s going to be a lot of binging going on?
Bertrand: Yes. When you get to episode 10, call me. (Laughter)

Season 2 of Cobra Kai” is available now on YouTube Premium. Episode 1 is available to free for everyone here.

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Wingman Wednesday

Tanner Buchanan

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With the release of the highly anticipated Season 2 of “Cobra Kai” now upon us, we’re taking an extended look at the fan-favorite series by sitting down with the phenomenal cast of young actors. First up we’re chatting with Tanner Buchanan, who plays Robby Keene, to discuss exploring his character’s story arc, why “Cobra Kai” has wowed fans of all generations, and what he’s most excited for people to see heading into the second season.

TrunkSpace: Your character Robby seems to be heading down a different path than we saw in Season 1. Are you excited for people to see where the journey takes him?
Buchanan: Yeah, I’m really excited for people to see Season 2. I keep telling people that it’s a lot more intense than the first season. There’s a lot more fighting going on. And where we left off with Robby in the first season… he’s kind of moved to the path of making a better person of himself. I like to keep saying to other people, Josh (Heald), Jon (Hurwitz) and Hayden (Schlossberg) do a really good job of making every character a human being, so with every character there’s going to be some things that you may not necessarily like that they do, and there’s going to be things that you like that they do.

TrunkSpace: And it’s always fun for a viewer to watch a redemption arc, but we would imagine for an actor it must be a blast, too, because you’re really getting to play both sides of a character?
Buchanan: Absolutely. It’s fun when your character actually has an arc and you’re not, you know, just the “rebellious teen.” (Laughter) You’re not just a rebellious teen for however many seasons and there’s an arc to the character. They live life – they go through hardships and they go through stuff that’s going to be great in their life. There’s an actual arc and it’s very satisfying to go in and actually start somewhere and end somewhere else.

TrunkSpace: The first season was really well received by both fans and critics alike. Was there a different feeling on set for you guys while filming Season 2 given the anticipation surrounding the continuation of the story?
Buchanan: No one expected the first season to be as big as it was. None of us did. We just weren’t expecting the reaction that we got, but extremely grateful with the reaction that we got. I think coming into Season 2, we knew we had to come in and do it bigger and better and that’s the main goal that we came in with. We wanted to make sure that the story was right. We wanted to make sure that the fighting was going to be even better than the first season. So, I would say, knowing that it needed to be bigger and better, there was a little bit of pressure, but we didn’t really come in with that pressure. We came in saying, “Hey, it was well received, let’s go in and do the same thing we did but let’s just make it a little bit bigger and make all the fans happy.”

TrunkSpace: We’re in our early 40s, so the first film in the franchise came out at a time that was very significant to our pop culture upbringing. When it was first announced that “Cobra Kai” was happening, we admittedly didn’t have very high expectations because we had been burnt on remakes or continuations of our favorite projects before. However, “Cobra Kai” somehow managed to not only appeal to our generation, but younger generations as well, which is pretty amazing.
Buchanan: Absolutely. And that, I give credit to Josh, Jon and Hayden because like all the fans, they’re super fans of “The Karate Kid” movies. So I think having writers come in and be super fans and knowing what other fans would want – just like them if someone else was doing it – they knew what other fans would want and what they would want themselves and they came in with a good mindset of how they were going to accomplish it.

TrunkSpace: Not only did we enjoy watching Ralph (Macchio), William (Zabka) and Martin (Kove) reunite, but yourself and your younger castmates have incredible on-screen chemistry that drew us in. When you all assembled for the first time, did you feel like you had something special with the cast as a whole?
Buchanan: I keep saying it but this is probably the best set I’ve ever been on. Everyone gets along. Everyone is extremely nice. There’s no drama on set. Everyone comes in, does their job and it’s such a pleasure to go to work because everyone does get along so well. So, there’s no beef between anybody. There’s no drama between anybody. So, yeah, I think for sure it correlates to on screen because everyone gets along so well. I mean, everyone will go out. We have game nights. We’ll go see movies. We’ll go out to dinner. Even though we’ve spent hours on set with each other. (Laughter) We get along so well that I think it just shows up on the screen and it’s incredible that we have that connection between everybody.

TrunkSpace: Well, hopefully that doesn’t ruin you for future sets. (Laughter)
Buchanan: (Laughter) No, it won’t. You know, sometimes on sets there can be stuff that’s not so good, but that’s okay. You just work through it and you figure it out.

TrunkSpace: While you said the success of Season 1 came as a bit of a surprise, at any point during filming did you think to yourself that the series and the role of Robby could be a career game changer?
Buchanan: No, I think we just came in as if it was like any other job. You go in and do your work and if you’re happy with what you do, then I think you’ve accomplished something amazing. Whether people like it or not or if it’s seen all over the place, as long as you’re happy, honestly, that’s all that matters to me. So, I think that’s all we’re really focused on is making sure that we go in, do our best work and at the end of the day that we’re happy with it.

TrunkSpace: You’re two seasons in. What’s been the highlight for you thus far that you’ll carry with you through the rest of your life and career?
Buchanan: Like I said before, I think the fact that everyone gets along so well and that there’s such amazing chemistry between everybody on set and there’s no drama. I think that entire experience of actually wanting to go to work and be excited – and even on our off time hanging out with each other – that’s what is going to stick in my mind. It’s just how amazing the people are on set.

TrunkSpace: Finally Tanner, without giving too much away, what are you most excited about for people to see as they sit down to binge Season 2?
Buchanan: We saw last year where everyone kind of left off. It’s 34 years after that karate tournament, and this year, there’s just more insight into what the world actually is. The world is expanding and this is stuff that people have never, ever seen before. So I think people are going to be really excited to see that world expand and what they’ve been waiting 35 years for.

Season 2 of Cobra Kai” is available now on YouTube Premium. Episode 1 is available to free for everyone here.

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Wingman Wednesday

Fiona Gubelmann

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Prior to booking the role of Jenna Mueller on “Wilfred,” Fiona Gubelmann had considered walking away from acting and returning to college. Fate stepped in, however, and her on-camera career has been rising steadily ever since. The California native, who was once pre-med, is currently starring as Dr. Morgan Reznick on ABC’s “The Good Doctor,” and she can also be seen as the lead of the recently-released romantic comedy, “The Way We Weren’t,” available now on VOD.

We recently sat down with Gubelmann to discuss putting your best foot forward, comfort-inspired risks, and why her younger self would be surprised by how much comedy is listed on her resume.

TrunkSpace: “The Way We Weren’t” is a modern look at the classic romantic comedy. In a way, it feels like a bit of a throwback. As a performer, what appealed to you about the project and getting to navigate the narrative as your character Charlotte?
Gubelmann: When I read the script, I thought it was not only hilarious, but it also had heart. I really connected to Charlotte and her need to try and change who she is in order to fall in love. And the emotional growth she had in the film.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that’s great about the film is that it’s relatable. We have all exaggerated or embellished things about ourselves while trying to appeal to the opposite sex. We upsell, basically. While Charlotte obviously went to the extreme of that concept, was that something that Fiona could look at in retrospect, perhaps while reading the script for the first time, and find some common ground in? Did it kick start any memories of your own dating fibs and allow you to be both the performer and the audience?
Gubelmann: Yes, exactly. We all want to present ourselves in the best light, whether it’s when we meet someone we are attracted to, new friends or even when looking for a new job. And it’s something that is becoming more and more embedded in our every day lives. When you flip through social media accounts or magazines, we are being presented with these idealized realities that aren’t always reflective of what’s actually happening. This film is definitely relatable.

TrunkSpace: You were recently upped to a series regular on “The Good Doctor,” which was renewed for its third season. You’re the lead in a romantic comedy that was released in time for Valentine’s Day. Has it felt a bit like “when it rains it pours” lately in terms of good news/happenings for your career? From an outside perspective, this seems like a really great run of career-defining moments.
Gubelmann: Yes, thanks! It’s been amazing! Working on “The Good Doctor” has been a dream come true! It’s such fun and challenging job and I’m very lucky to work with people who are not only incredibly talented, but also some of the kindest people I’ve met. The cast and crew are truly a family, and I’m absolutely loving it!

TrunkSpace: So much of the success of a romantic comedy goes into the chemistry between the costars. How do you personally try to find and establish that on-screen rapport with your costars, and in the case of “The Way We Weren’t,” with Ben (Lawson) specifically?
Gubelmann: Oh yes, chemistry is very important. Not just in terms of a love interest, but with everyone you work with. Often times, the more comfortable you are with one another, the better your performances will be. When you’re relaxed, you’re more willing to take risks and make choices that can be scary. Ben is not just a talented actor, and ridiculously funny, but he’s one of the sweetest people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. We had actually worked together on “Modern Family,” and when I was cast in “The Way We Weren’t,” I thought of him for the part and mentioned him to casting, so I was thrilled when they cast him.

TrunkSpace: For the audience, the most enjoyable part of a movie or series is the end product, but for those involved in the project, we would imagine it is the experience. For you, what will you take away from the production of “The Way We Weren’t” that will stay with you going forward?
Gubelmann: From “The Way We Weren’t,” I definitely take with me the memories and the friendships that I formed and strengthened. A few of my friends were cast in the film, and so it was great getting to work together. The cast really bonded and became friends. I still keep in touch with a lot of them, which doesn’t always happen.

TrunkSpace: We read that you fell in love with your “The Good Doctor” character Morgan right away. Does that personal connection to a character translate on-screen? Can the love you have for a character directly influence your performance?
Gubelmann: Of course! When you love your character, I think your excitement and enthusiasm drive you to work harder and explore more. You spend lots of time thinking about why your character does certain things, trying to understand them, coming up with fun choices. It’s great!

Gubelmann with Ben Lawson in “The Way We Weren’t”

TrunkSpace: Is there a character that you wished you had more time to spend with, even a guest spot that you would have liked to explore further?
Gubelmann: Oh, yes. Most of them. Guest stars go so quickly and you always want more. I loved working on “Mad Men” and wished we’d had more time. And on “Telenovela” I had the best time playing Crazy Kelly! I wished we could have done more with her.

TrunkSpace: There are a lot of ups and downs in the pursuit of a career in the arts. Was there ever a moment where you thought about walking away from acting, and if so, what kept you on your path?
Gubelmann: Yes, right before I booked “Wilfred,” I was considering going back to college. But then I booked “Wilfred,” and things have been a dream since then.

TrunkSpace: Would 12-year-old Fiona be surprised by how her career has played out thus far?
Gubelmann: Definitely. I wanted to be a dramatic actress, and can’t believe that most of my career has been in comedy. I was also pre-med in college and find it pretty funny that I’m now playing a doctor on TV.

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?
Gubelmann: Yes. No. Maybe… (Laughter) Probably because I’m impatient and hate surprises.

The Way We Weren’t” is available now on VOD.

The Good Doctor” airs on ABC.

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Wingman Wednesday

Juliet Landau

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Photographer: Deverill Weekes/Makeup & Hair: Shanna Cistulli/Stylist: Rebecca Penton

Growing up, film and television became an outlet for Juliet Landau. By immersing herself in the lives of those characters that she followed on screen, the former “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” star felt less alone in the world. It’s why she became an actress, and now, a filmmaker.

Her directorial debut, “A Place Among the Dead,” has been receiving rave reviews at private screenings around the world, but before it reaches the masses, she will be joining the cast of “Bosch” in Season 5, which is available now on Amazon Prime.

We recently sat down with Landau to discuss joining the well-oiled “Bosch” machine, how a single line can become the core mantra of a character, and why her directorial debut “A Place Among the Dead” has proven to be so personal to both herself and audiences.

TrunkSpace: We previously sat down with a number of your “Bosch” costars including Lance Reddick and Amy Aquino. Are there nerves involved when joining a series that already has an established on-set tone? Does it take some time to discover where your place is among that existing groove?
Landau: It’s wonderful to come onto a set that runs like a well-oiled machine. It’s a family of extremely talented people, who engender being creative and collaborative. This is how it is on the “Bosch” set. Everyone in the cast and crew loves what they do and is excited by the show they are making. I loved the working experience and I made genuine, lifelong friends. Also, I was so fascinated and invested in Rita Tedesco, the character I play, that I didn’t think about anything else, including being nervous. I was deeply engaged in the idea of bringing her story to life.

TrunkSpace: Is there something kind of exciting about joining an established series that has a loyal fan base behind it, knowing that there will be eyeballs on it when it airs?
Landau: Yes! Sometimes, you play a character in an Indie you believe in, but it’s a roll of the dice. You don’t know how many people will see it. It is similar to when you play a part in a black box theater because touching even a small audience is profound. It’s nice when there’s a passionate fan base. I’ve experienced this from the Buffyverse and from Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood” and even from a black box theater experience, which stimulated massive repeat viewership! Now I’ve been engaging with fans of the “Bosch” series and books, which has been fabulous! It’s easy to get bewitched by “Bosch.” Harry is a character we all wish really existed. He has an unwavering moral compass. As it turns out, my eyeballs will be seeing Season 5 at the same time as everyone else’s! What I do know from the scripts and the shoot, is that Season 5, like 1 through 4, rocks!

TrunkSpace: In the series you’re playing a court reporter who will have a secret teased out over the course of the season. Without giving too much away, what were you most excited about in terms of tackling Rita?
Landau: Rita had a hold on me from the first line I read on the page. I immediately became intrigued by the dichotomy of her life, by the risks she’s willing to take and the price she is paying. I delved into a ton of research about the secret part of her life, which I can’t divulge yet, but I can say it is one of the most interesting paths I’ve explored as an actress. Sometimes, a certain line becomes almost the core mantra of the character. With Rita, there were a few because she has the persona she shares with the world and a very different private persona. I learned a lot, even from the practical, court reporter aspect.

TrunkSpace: “Bosch” found a home with Amazon and built up a loyal fan base through the streaming platform. Netflix. Hulu. CBS All Access. The list goes on and on. As an actress, how has the popularity of streaming platforms changed the industry for you? Are there more opportunities now because there is more of a need for content?
Landau: The landscape has certainly changed and continues to do so at lightening speed. There are more opportunities. It is especially nice for actors and creators, when streaming services use their platforms for character-driven material.

Landau with Johnny Depp in “Ed Wood.”

TrunkSpace: Aside from your on-screen work, you’re also a writer, director and producer. Does this “content is king” world that we currently live in impact the Juliet who wears those hats?
Landau: It does and in a positive way. I love having an idea and taking it from inception to completion. Generating content is a two-way street. It’s about opening a dialogue with your audience. I became an actress and now a filmmaker, as a way to connect and communicate. Growing up, movies and TV made me feel less alone. They helped me process things I was grappling with and gave an outlet for my feelings. Like the adage, “If you build it, they will come,” if you craft a powerful story, whether it be drama or comedy, content is king and there will be viewership for it.

TrunkSpace: Your film “A Place Among the Dead” is extremely personal for you. Does that closeness to the material make it harder to relinquish control and release it into the world, or is it easier to see it off because you’re eager to share it?
Landau: I’m eager to share it. My husband, Deverill and I, have put a lot of passion and work into the process. It’s been an incredible journey. “A Place Among the Dead” is about the repercussions of growing up under the sway of narcissism and evil. It questions, if you come from evil, will you continue to go towards the dark side in life, or can you make a change and go towards the light?

I chose to make my directorial feature debut penetratingly personal, to invite the viewer to do the same. As they say, the more personal, the more universal. As I touched on earlier, all great work provokes conversation and can even provide healing. This is the stuff I am after with this movie.

It’s scripted as a meld of fact, fiction and the fantastical. I play an alter-ego version of myself, as do the following actors who have what I like to call, “cameos on steroids”: Gary Oldman, Ron Perlman, Robert Patrick, Lance Henriksen, Joss Whedon (my old boss from Buffy) and Anne Rice, appearing for the first time ever in a film.

TrunkSpace: What was the most enjoyable aspects of your “A Place Among the Dead” journey thus far? What made all of the blood, sweat and tears worth it?
Landau: We recently held in-house screenings and this has been the most exciting part! The response has been so powerful and beautiful. It’s everything we’d hoped our special movie would illicit. We did one for a theater full of young people from the Midwest. They were inspired and galvanized by the film. The Q & A was electric. They kept asking if their teacher had told us the inner thoughts they’d confided in him and if that’s why he brought them to see the picture. He didn’t even know what the movie was about and of course, hadn’t shared their private affairs!

We held three other sneak-peek screenings in LA, London, and NY, which included industry notables such as Rian Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”), David Greenwalt (“Grimm”), Jim Kouf (“National Treasure”), Jodie Foster (“Money Monster”), David Grossman (“12 Monkeys” TV series), April Webster (“Star Trek Beyond”), Eryn Krueger Mekash (“Ratched,” “American Crime Story”) and many more!

The entire audience, many who came out crying, stayed to talk about the film unprovoked for an hour and a half afterwards. Every time discussing the nature of evil, their experiences with it, their own childhoods, their parenting, their unhealthy relationships, the voices in their heads which drive them, and the times they’ve ignored red flags. I truly have never experienced anything like the cascade of intensely personal stories shared at a movie before.

TrunkSpace: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was a phenomenon and would be extremely difficult to replicate in any time period, but certainly today because audiences are more segmented than ever. When you first stepped foot onto that set, could you have ever envisioned you’d still be approached by fans eager to discuss the series 20 years later?
Landau: I did know that we were making something special. I knew Joss Whedon’s voice was exceptional and that Drusilla was a unique and complex role. The day I was cast, Sarah (Michelle Gellar) was on the cover of TV Guide for Buffy for the first time, so I felt that there was a bit of a ground swell starting to stir, but I had no idea about the impact and longevity. Also, when you are shooting, you kind of are in this little bubble of creativity. You are having your experience and what happens after it airs, is everyone else’s.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Landau: I am very excited about everything happening now, both as an actress and as a director. Deverill and I are in the midst of working on another project called “The Undead Series.” Envision Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.” This is “Vampires In Coffins Getting Blood!” All of the people who worked with us on “A Place Among the Dead” came back to work with us again. We have 26 additional interviews including Willem Dafoe, Tim Burton, Nathan Fillion, and oh, I have to mention some of the comic book talents we have since you may want to know! They include Steve Niles (“30 Days of Night”), Marv Wolfman (“Tomb of Dracula,” “Blade”), Georges Jeanty (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Superman”) Also for “A Place Along the Dead” we use Mark McHaley’s artwork (“X-Files”) and our composer Monica Richards is married to Steve Niles. He actually plays some guitar in the score!

We’re in prelim talks with a few of the biggie distributors on these two projects. The interest and momentum is exciting, but what’s most important is meeting everyone to decide the right home for our babies!

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?
Landau: It ‘s funny cause we ask a similar question in a way to each of our interviewees in “The Undead Series.” We ask if they would choose eternal life if they could. The answers are compelling. Hmm… A time machine… N
o, I just want to be in the present, experiencing the journey as it unfolds. There’s enough to relish that way!

Season 5 of “Bosch” is available now on Amazon Prime!

For more information on the future release of “A Place Among the Dead” and “The Undead Series,” follow Landau at Twitter and/or Instagram.

Featured Image By
Photographer: Deverill Weekes/Makeup & Hair: Shanna Cistulli/Stylist: Rebecca Penton

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Wingman Wednesday

Jocelyn Panton

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Photo By: Carly Dame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo By: Carly Dame

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

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Panton: No, I don’t think I’d want to take a glimpse of it. In this day and age when it’s so hard to be present with what we’re doing, I think it would make it even harder to focus on what’s in front of me without thinking about the successes or worries that await me in my future. I also think there are so many life lessons along the way that lead us to where we end up. It makes the reward in the end so much more valuable and cherished. I think I would value where my life is much more if I really understood the hard work it took for me to get there. If I knew where I was going to be, I think it would be much harder to absorb everything from each moment that I have to learn.

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

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Wingman Wednesday

Corin Nemec

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Having grown up somewhat alongside Corin Nemec – he on our television screens, we sitting in front of them – the Arkansas-born actor has entertained us for decades. From the ahead-of-its-time “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” to the small screen adaptation of “The Stand,” as well as some of our favorite episodic science fiction, “Stargate” and “Supernatural,” he has surprised us with his versatility time and time again. Perhaps no role has been more surprising however than the half man/half bunny of “Rottentail,” the new horror/comedy mashup that is sure to become a cult classic. Based on the graphic novel by David C. Hayes and published by Source Point Press, the film is available now in select theaters.

We recently sat down with Nemec to discuss career longevity, where he is most at peace, and why he hopped at the opportunity to play the film’s title character.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been working in the industry for decades. What would be the biggest surprise to 10-year-old Corin if he was able to sort of catch a glimpse of how your career has played out? What would the younger version of you be the most psyched about?
Nemec: Well, the fact that I’ve been in the industry for over 30 years and I’m still working.

TrunkSpace: Did you have a long-term plan in place when you were first dreaming of becoming an actor?
Nemec: It’s tough to say. This industry is such a roller coaster, you know? Like I answered before, it’s pretty amazing that I’m still working consistently year after year because there’s plenty of actors that started when they were kids at the same time that I did who never worked again once they became adults, much less in their 40s. It’s just a huge blessing that I’m still able to compete and continue doing what I’ve always loved to do. There’s ups and downs – it’s rare that there’s real consistency. Even with people with huge careers, there still can be major ups and downs.

TrunkSpace: Was it a matter of putting yourself in the right place at the right time?
Nemec: I think that a lot of it is because at a certain point in my career, when many other actors would probably not audition as much, I realized that it was more important to put ego aside and be willing to audition for films, television shows or whatever else in order to continue working on a regular basis and to compete for jobs that wouldn’t be offered to me. I think that that had a lot to do with it because there were other actors with careers similar to mine, and they were more thinking that they should be in “offer-only” kind of situations for parts. For me it was about always being willing to compete for a role, win or lose. I think that that was a big part of my longevity throughout my late 20s and into my 30s. I think that since then it’s also been relationships that I’ve made as I’ve gotten older, with producers, directors and casting directors. I’ve made some decent relationships with a number of them over the years that I end up working with on a semi-regular basis.

TrunkSpace: Would you say that you still enjoy working in the industry as much today as you did when you first started out?
Nemec: Oh yeah! It’s strange. I feel more at home and more at peace… and more in my own skin… when I’m sitting in a trailer in-between scenes or on a set than I do anywhere else in my life. It’s just I feel that I’m participating in what it is that I love to do. It’s a great blessing, and I certainly do not frown upon it at all. I know some people in the industry who they just have oddly bad attitudes even when they’re working, and even when they’re not working. When I see people with bad attitudes on set it’s like, “Do something else.”

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, you’re a big comic book fan. Did that play into your initial interest in “Rottentail” seeing it started out as a graphic novel?
Nemec: Although I hadn’t read the graphic novel, I was familiar with the graphic novel previous to getting the job. It was a bit of a cult hit. I do a lot of conventions – Comic Con-style conventions mostly – for my work on “Stargate” and “Supernatural.” I end up hanging out with a lot of the comic book artists and stuff like that. I usually pop by all the comic book stands, where they have everything set up, and have a chat and check out what’s going on. I’m an artist as well. I’ve drawn my whole life, and I was totally addicted to MAD Magazine and Heavy Metal magazine. Those are my two favorite magazines, and the art in both of those is always really great. I was also into the regular comic book stuff, and then later on, checking out some of the graphic novels. I always loved the idea of translating graphic novels into features because there’s some just amazing stories in a lot of those graphic novels, especially with the more avant-garde publishing companies. Not everything is DC and Marvel, let’s be real here. There’s just far more content out there than DC and Marvel.

So I was very excited when I heard about it. I got a copy of the graphic novel and I was like, “Oh wow! This is hilarious!” And then I got a hold of the script and met with Brian Skiba and had a chat about it. I was just excited that it was going to be a horror/comedy because I think that if we had gone straight horror with something like “Rottentail,” a half man/half rabbit – without the funny in there – I don’t think that it would have come across nearly as well as it has because it’s so ridiculous. Without that comedy I don’t think that people would have believed in the world as much.

TrunkSpace: They comedy certainly helps viewers suspend belief. When we first watched, because of that comedic side to it, we thought, “This has the potential to be a cult classic.”
Nemec: Yeah, it definitely is in the running to be a cult class. Absolutely it is.

TrunkSpace: Is that something that you consciously think about when you see a concept like this, which while not for everyone, you know there will be a certain segment of movie fans who will get it?
Nemec: Yeah, I think we knew once we did the makeup test and did a mock up of one of the scenes. William McNamara came out and we did a little piece of one of the scenes just to see how everything played and what the character was like. I think that was the real “Aha!” moment for Brian Skiba and I. It was like, “Oh yeah, we definitely have something here.” The makeup looks absolutely amazing. The character came together right away and it looked great on film. Once that happened, the excitement level and the enthusiasm definitely went up. The budget on this is under $300,000 and we spent over $60,000 of it on special effects makeup. If you do the math, you can see how much was left for principal photography and we only had 16 days to shoot it in. This script was not a slice of life film. There is a lot happening in it. Brian Skiba, being the great director that he is, was able to pull it off. I think a lesser director would have just collapsed under the pressure.

TrunkSpace: It reminded us of something like “Bubba Ho-tep” in terms of its cult classic potential.
Nemec: Yeah. I think that it’s similar to how maybe the first “Chucky” movie was, although I think “Chucky” took itself even a little bit more seriously than we’re taking things. There’s a lot of great one liners… a lot of great comedy to it. It’s a character that isn’t really taking itself too seriously. I really think that for the genre and for the budget that we had and the shooting schedule… I really think that we knocked it out of the park. Our hope is that it does well enough to get us another, a “Rottentail 2,” which of course we would preferably have a real budget for so we can show people what we can really, really, do.

TrunkSpace: Rottentail is such a memorable character, but you’ve played a lot of memorable characters on screen over the years. Who is a character that you wish you had more time to explore further?
Nemec: I would definitely say the role on “Stargate” was cut short in a way that was unexpected and I really think that it was unfortunate that that character wasn’t utilized a lot more in the episodes after the character was written out of the show. I was pretty surprised that they never chose to bring the character back again or figure out what happened when he left. “Is there anything else?” There was just zero follow up. They wrote the character out and never returned to visit it.

Rottentail” is available in select theaters now.

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Wingman Wednesday

Josh Stewart

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Josh Stewart had a story to tell about his home state of West Virginia, and instead dividing up the duties to see that narrative through to the end, he chose to tackle as many responsibilities as possible in order to maintain creative control. The end result is “Back Fork,” a dramatic character-driven film about addiction and how it impacts family life, which the “Criminal Minds” actor not only wrote, directed and produced, but also starred in alongside A.J. Cook and Agnes Bruckner.

Back Fork” arrives in select theaters tomorrow and will be available on VOD April 9.

We recently sat down with Stewart to discuss creative compromise, nailing the first take, and why his familiarity with West Virginia makes him the perfect person to tell the story.

TrunkSpace: “Back Fork” had an incredible journey to become a reality. What made you stay the course, confident that you could get the film made in the way that you envisioned it?
Stewart: Well, I think the biggest thing is for me, when I decided that I wanted to start writing and directing, it goes back to the old Hollywood adage of you do two for them and one for you. So, making this film, I was only going to do it that way. I was not interested in doing it in some other fashion or on someone else’s terms, and if that meant just holding out until the time was right then so be it.

TrunkSpace: Does that then play into future projects as far as writing and directing is concerned? Because you didn’t compromise on this one, does it put you in a place to fight for that kind of control on the next one?
Stewart: Yeah, absolutely. I think anytime you’re going to set out to do that, and if you’re going to write it and if you have a story to tell, there shouldn’t be a compromise on it. The compromise to me comes from when there has to be an understanding that, okay, if I do want to do it my way and I do want to have creative control over it, the compromise is going to be more than likely on budget. Or in resources. So it’s just understanding how far back you can take that, what you can compromise in budget and in physical production to still get the story told and to have the ability to do it the way you want to do it.

TrunkSpace: With with that in mind, did what writer Josh wanted and what director Josh could achieve given budget and time constraints ever clash?
Stewart: Well yeah, but to be honest with you, I’ve been working as an actor for almost 15 years, and I’ve been on films as high as $250 million down to nothing, and the problems are always the same. It’s getting your day done. Obviously they’re on a different scale, but you still have to make your day. To stay under budget, or to stay on budget I should say, and to meet all the time requirements, you’ve got to make your days. So you have to understand going into it, “During the day I’m going to shoot this many scenes, and where can I compromise and where can I not? Where does the time need to be spent today and what can I just get through?” So, as long as you have that sort of idea in your head before the day starts, then it works out.

That fight is constantly going to happen, I don’t care if you’ve got $250,000 or $250 million. Obviously if you have $250 million, someone’s gonna be more apt to let you go over, but those movies that I’ve worked on with that amount of budget, those filmmakers are pretty steadfast in getting it done and turning the film in because they want to continue making movies for $250 million, so they don’t want to spend more than what the studio is giving them.

TrunkSpace: And we would have to imagine too, once you’re on set and you start shooting, it becomes more clear as to what can be trimmed in order to tell the store in the most streamlined way.
Stewart: Right, man. And look, every story, if the scene is not pertinent to the story and it doesn’t progress this story then it doesn’t need to be in the script and it doesn’t need to be shot. Obviously, being on set with some of the greatest filmmakers in the world, you learn that you don’t overshoot things. And I think that comes from people not knowing what they want or they’re trying to find it or figure it out on the day. And that’s just a recipe for disaster, whether you’re a producer, a director, an actor, or whatever the hell you are doing. I think if you know what you want you just go and do that. You don’t overshoot shit. That’s where you fall into traps.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, does it help you tap into a moment quicker if you know you are only going to get one or two chances at a take?
Stewart: Well, look man, yes, yes it does, but I think as an actor you have to approach everything that way. I don’t care if you’re working with David Fincher who’s going to give you 50 takes, or someone who’s going to give you two takes. Take one has got to be usable. From an acting standpoint, the way I approach it, I’m not down with half-assing it for an hour until I figure it out. I should know what I want and I should know what the director wants before I show up there. That’s my job. I’ve played sports and you don’t take a play off. So that’s just the way I’ve always been trained and always approached it from an acting standpoint.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been involved in so many facets of the creation of “Back Fork.” With this part of it, the promotion of it all, is it easier and more meaningful to go out and talk about a project when so much of you is touching all stages of the production?
Stewart: Well, it definitely adds a different level of care, I guess I could say for sure. When you’re involved from every standpoint of it and having the control over it, then yeah, it just makes it easier to speak about it because I have been a part of it at every phase. From the writing, to the prep, or from writing, to getting the financing… to everything. So it definitely makes that easier and makes it more meaningful.

TrunkSpace: Your home state of West Virginia has been hit hard by the prescription drug epidemic. Do you think a film like “Back Fork” and art in general can shed light on problems like this in a way that journalism and documentary filmmaking can’t?
Stewart: Well, Pablo Picasso said, “Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” So yeah, absolutely. I think it’s just another way to bring any sort of issue to the forefront of the conversation. It’s certainly a different way. And frankly, it’s the only way I know how to do it, you know? I just saw a story there, and that’s all I can do is go and tell the story and it’s out of my control at this point what people take from it. Of course we want everybody to respond to what we do artistically and what have you, but acting for almost 15 years, you learn that there’s really nothing you can do about it once it’s done. People are going to take from it what they’re going to take from it… good, bad, indifferent and everything in between.

TrunkSpace: Well in a way, that’s what makes art beautiful, right? We could get something from the film and the person next to us could pull something different from it.
Stewart: Right, man. I mean, look, it’s no different than hanging a painting on the wall and asking a hundred people what they think about it. You’re going to get a hundred different opinions about it. And that’s why I’m also not a big fan of sitting and talking about themes and talking about what my process was because honestly it really doesn’t matter. What I had to do to tell the story is what I had to do, and what I take from it is not necessarily what you’re going to take from it, or your wife, or anybody else. So all I can do is go tell this story I want to tell and then sort of just let go of it.

TrunkSpace: Does being from West Virginia and knowing people who are impacted from the subject matter firsthand give you a unique perspective in telling the story more so than if a director from somewhere else, a West Virginia outsider, stepped in and told the same story?
Stewart: Yeah, absolutely. We write about what we know, correct? That’s what we do with, I think, inherently a feeling or just an understanding about the way life works on a day to day basis there and the way people think, the way they handle situations, the way they handle circumstance, the type of people they are. You’ve got a handle on that with regards to the people from your hometown, and the community, and the way they see things, and the way they do things, and the way they handle things, you know? So it does give someone a unique perspective when you can draw from that. There’s an authenticity with that that somebody, maybe, will not have or will not find not being from a specific area, region, or telling a story about something that they know so intimately.

Back Fork” arrives in select theaters on April 5 and will be available on VOD April 9.

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