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Wingman Wednesday

Kirby Johnson

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Photo By: TJ Manou

Many aspiring performers dream of the glitz and glam that can come out of a career in front of the camera, but for Kirby Johnson, playing “the dead girl” in a series like “Dexter” was more on her to-do list, and thankfully for horror lovers, the Universe was listening. As the mostly-deceased star of the new film “The Possession of Hannah Grace,” the Florida native is bringing the jump scares to audiences everywhere this weekend, portraying the terrifying title character with the bendable body.

We recently sat down with Johnson to discuss the difficulty of playing dead, turning party tricks into a career, and why she’s a bit like Harry Potter to her family.

TrunkSpace: “The Possession of Hannah Grace” seems like it could be one of those defining moments for your acting career. How have you been handling the wait because it must be one of those things where you’re eager to see it released?
Johnson: Yeah, definitely. It’s been a really long process. We filmed about two years ago in Boston, so it’s been such a waiting game for me. I’m like, “Let’s put it out! Let’s put it out! Let’s put it out!” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Did it start to feel real when the trailer and poster were released?
Johnson: Absolutely. It didn’t even feel real until I woke up one morning and they released the poster. Then they released the trailer, and I’m a huge moviegoer – I go to the movies about once a week, I’m nuts – I went to the movie theater, and I’m walking down the hall, and my poster was hanging in my movie theater. I just lost it. I was like, “Oh, this is so for real!”

TrunkSpace: That poster is fantastic. It should be your holiday card. (Laughter)
Johnson: Well, thank you. Yeah, Halloween is my favorite holiday. This is very fitting for me.

TrunkSpace: It seems like you had to do some real heavy dramatic stuff, particularly in the exorcism scenes. Was it easy keeping that heaviness assigned to the set, or did the weight of it sometimes come home with you just because of the nature of the material?
Johnson: You know, you would think it would be some dark, and dramatic, and heavy to process for me, but it really wasn’t at all. I just approached it the way I would approach any sort of character – just the same as I would approach a young teenage romance. You just take the character in, and you just let it come to life, and then once the cameras stop rolling, you just have to let it go.

TrunkSpace: You’re playing dead – literally – for much of the movie. Was that difficult, just having to stay still and motionless for so long?
Johnson: Oh me, oh my! The hardest was keeping my damn eyes open for so long!

TrunkSpace: That has to be brutal because even if you’re not front and center in frame, you’re still in the scene, which means, no blinking!
Johnson: Absolutely. Just to hold it, and hold it, and hold it… and being in the scene, you know when the last words are. So I’m like, “I know we have a few more sentences until I can break and the scene is done.”

I could beat anybody in a staring contest at this point. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) Whenever you tell yourself to not do something, like blink, your mind starts to fight you and you end up blinking. It’s a viscous cycle.
Johnson: It’s so bad. Or even… I’m sure you’ve seen the trailer. My positions are not the comfiest, and I’m a contortionist, but to hold those for a long period of time, you get a muscle cramp. The other actors will be doing so well, and I’m like, “Damn it, don’t move! Just stay!”

TrunkSpace: You mentioned being a contortionist, and like you just pointed out, you got to show off those skills in this. How important were those serpentine bends and moves in terms of laying the foundation of Hannah’s creepiness, because it definitely plays off in the trailer?
Johnson: It’s so funny because everyone keeps saying, “You’re a contortionist! You’re a contortionist!” Yes, I am, but I’m not trained or anything. It was really, honestly, just some party tricks where I would be like, “Hey, I can pop my shoulders out of their sockets. Everybody check it out.” It wasn’t anything I ever studied or practiced, but I am the biggest horror movie fan. That is a huge part, to be able to do that creepy, weird, slow bending of the body. It brings the scare factor to life to be able to do that and not have it CGI. It’s so gross. It’s disgusting, in the best way.

TrunkSpace: To be able to turn party tricks into a job, that’s a pretty awesome thing!
Johnson: Yeah. The audition process was funny. They just wanted me to cry and do some weird arm movements, but I knew what they were looking for. I knew I was auditioning for a horror movie. I have seen them all, so I was like, “Oh, wait, let me show you what else I can do.” So, I got down on the floor and I was just crawling around in this very important casting office, crawling around the floor like a creep. It got me the job.

TrunkSpace: Sounds like you used your knowledge of horror as a tool in your toolbox.
Johnson: Of course. Do you know the show “Dexter?”

TrunkSpace: Sure.
Johnson: Okay. When I was living in Florida, before I had moved out here, I was watching “Dexter” and I was saying to my family, “I’ll play the dead girl. I’ll play the dead, naked girl on the floor. Oh my God, I would do that,” Then, BOOM, I manifested it, and then I got this job, which is hilarious.

TrunkSpace: Did you go back to any of the classic movies like “The Exorcist” for inspiration?
Johnson: Oh, of course. I mean, for me “The Exorcist” is such a classic. I obviously had to re-watch that one. That’s the start of it all, so I definitely pulled inspiration from that.

That’s kind of what you have to do. You have to take inspiration, and then try to make it your own – give it your own twist.

TrunkSpace: If we looked ahead 20 years down the road, maybe there’s someone watching “The Possession of Hannah Grace” and finding inspiration through your performance!
Johnson: That is so surreal. I mean, that’s mind-boggling to think that somebody could possibly be taking inspiration from me. That’s just heartwarming.

TrunkSpace: Between the color of your skin and the veins, it looks like you had to spend some time in the makeup chair. What was that process like for you?
Johnson: A huge process, but let me tell you… I had the most fun in the makeup chair. I spent four hours every day in that makeup chair, and my two makeup artists were absolutely incredible. They made me so comfortable and they made it so much fun that the time just flew by.

TrunkSpace: And as a fan of horror, the end results when you step out of the makeup chair must make it all worth it?
Johnson: It was incredible. I mean, just to see yourself, it’s disturbing, but it’s beautiful because it’s so… the attention to detail of the makeup that they did was incredible. Watching this, I’m like, “Wow! That blood looks so great! Wow! I look disgusting!”

TrunkSpace: We talked about what you thought of it all when the trailer and the poster dropped, but what has your family thought of it all?
Johnson: Oh my gosh, my family is so supportive of this. Okay… my dad, he cried when he saw it. He’s like, “Oh my God! This is so exciting!” My mom is just jumping for joy, and my sister just thinks it’s the coolest thing ever to have me playing a dead girl. My whole family is so supportive of me being the dead girl of the movie. It’s almost like Harry Potter when they’re like, “We have a wizard in the family.” They’re like, “We have an actor in the family.”

TrunkSpace: Do you plan on sneaking into any public screenings when the movie opens and watching the reaction of an audience in real time?
Johnson: Of course. Are you kidding me? That’s going to be so exciting. I mean, I have to go on Friday night. That’s when most people go. I’ll sit in the back and watch all these people scream and jump in fear over myself.

The Possession of Hannah Grace” opens tomorrow.

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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

Annette Reilly

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Photo By: Ian Redd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Reilly: Heck no! I’ve seen enough “Star Trek” episodes to know better than to mess with the space-time continuum. Also, I enjoy the adventure of life. Knowing an outcome before it happens takes the fun out of the journey. And why are we all here if not to enjoy the journey? I’ve been face to face with the end game. I’m good just riding this out as long as possible and enjoying every minute of it.

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

 

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Wingman Wednesday

A.J. Buckley

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Photo By: James Dimmock

Being a child of the 1980s, A.J. Buckley grew up playing with G.I. Joe action figures, so it comes as no surprise that his inner child is gung-ho about getting to portray a gun-toting soldier with swagger on the hit CBS series “SEAL Team.” As the cowboy Sonny Quinn, Buckley has ventured far away – in a Black Hawk helicopter no less – from those previous characters who thrust him into the spotlight, including Ghostfacer Ed Zeddmore from the long-running genre series “Supernatural,” which he hopes to one day find some narrative closure with.

We recently sat down with Buckley to discuss dreams come true, beard functionality, and why the SPN Family needs to Tweet out #bringthefacersback.

TrunkSpace: You’re in your early 40s, which means you were a kid when “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” took off in the ‘80s. What would eight-year-old A.J. think if he was told his future self would get to play an on-camera G.I. Joe one day?
Buckley: I would play for hours and hours with G.I. Joe. Me and my cousin, Alex, had pretty much every one of them. All the tanks, every character – I was obsessed with it. And as a boy running around the neighborhood playing guns, doing all that sort of stuff was really part of my childhood, so this in a sense is every little boy’s dream. I get to show up to work and fly around in Black Hawk helicopters and shoot big guns and blow things up. It’s a dream job, it really is.

TrunkSpace: Is it one of those things where you show up on set and there’s a new set piece or prop and you get just as excited as you did on your first day?
Buckley: Oh, without a doubt, and we haven’t even touched half of it. I got to drive on top of a Hummer firing a 50-cal and blowing things up. I got to shoot live rounds out of it. Not during the filming, but just to understand what it felt like to shoot a live round. My character carries all the big guns, so it’s really fun to show up and they hand me the gun and a big pack of ammo and I just unload on something. I don’t know how I ended up so lucky but there’s not a day that I don’t drive to set thinking, “Holy shit, this is the greatest job in the world!”

TrunkSpace: And you get to have a beard, which is pretty awesome for an on-camera gig!
Buckley: Yeah, it’s true. Last season it was a little more crazy because when Navy Seals deploy – our tech advisor for the Seals said that you don’t shave at all. You don’t cut your hair and you don’t shave. One, to blend in, but two, it’s sort of like a badge of honor to how long you’ve been there. So depending on how long your hair is and how long your beard is, it shows the length of time that you’ve been over there.

We went, I think, seven months without shaving once… any sort of trim or haircut. And my hair and my beard were so long that my daughter… one night she had put a LEGO person in my beard and I totally forgot about it. I got to set the next day and the lady’s combing my beard and she was like, “What is that?” And I reached into my beard and it was a little LEGO person.

TrunkSpace: It’s like a wallet!
Buckley: It was a long beard. I found toothpicks in there too. We’d be on the Black Hawk and my character would have a toothpick. Because you’re all geared up; it’s hard to reach into your pocket, so I would just put them inside my beard and then if I lost one I would just pull one out of my beard. It was very useful.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned having the Navy Seals as advisors. How important was it having access to them to sort of not only secure the realism of the series, but to understand who Sonny was?
Buckley: We would 100 percent not be the show that we are if it wasn’t for the men and women that are veterans on our show, who have now become producers or veteran writers, or are behind the camera or in various different departments on the show. Sixty percent of our crew are veterans and they’ve gone out of their way to do that, so there’s a real sense of pride in the show that we’re making. And I feel that with our executive producer, Chris Chulack, he sort of set the tone that said we want to have the authenticity of what these guys do. Although we’re making a TV show, we want to be as authentic as possible. And our veterans on the show, our tech advisor producers, they have the ability – which never happens – that if a guest director is shooting something or any director is shooting something and if it’s not the way that we would move or it’s not the way that we would do it, the veteran has the ability to step in and say, “Cut.”

Buckley in “SEAL Team”

TrunkSpace: You mentioned the love of coming to set, but what is it about Sonny himself that you’ve enjoyed throughout these first two seasons?
Buckley: He’s a real cowboy. It’s such a fun character. I’ve never played a role like this before. There’s a guy that my character’s loosely based on, and I got to spend some time with him and he’s got this kind of swagger to him, this cowboy, and he’s got the one liners and sort of that dry sense of humor. He’s a fun, whiskey-drinking, beer-drinking, red meat-eating cowboy that kicks some ass. It’s kind of a dream role for any guy.

TrunkSpace: Did it come with a bit of pressure when you first signed on, knowing that he was specifically written for you?
Buckley: Yeah. Ben Cavell, the writer of the first season, when I spoke to him he had said, “I wrote this with you in mind for the character.” And knowing that this is based on a real group of guys and that they’re with you every day on set, yeah, there is a certain amount of pressure. But I like the pressure because it keeps everybody on their toes and it’s our responsibility to portray this group of men and women in a certain light… and portray them right by giving them the respect that we should and honoring them in that way, so it’s a good thing.

TrunkSpace: You’ve played a lot of diverse characters over the course of your career… guys with different internal ways of thinking. Was that a conscious decision… trying to keep each new role different from the previous one you portrayed?
Buckley: I think so. I would say more in the second part of my career. I always like to find each character I get to kind of push the envelope or create something that’s really different from who I am. Coming off of “CSI: New York” and “Supernatural” – I was a regular on “CSI: New York” and a recurring on “Supernatural” – I was fearful when the show ended that I was going to be typecast. And for me, my favorite character growing up was John McClane, that sort of every man that can do the impossible. And that’s where I wanted my career to go, so I really had to put the time in and shift gears in the sense of being laser focused on the roles that I choose, and physically how I looked. It became really a nine to five job where I had to hire a nutritionist, Kevin Libby, to really dial in sort of who I was and the characters I wanted to start portraying.

TrunkSpace: Was part of that physical transformation an extension of getting executives and casting people to see you in a different light?
Buckley: Yeah, it was. And I think it was for me, too. I needed to feel that way, to kind of get there. In a sense you kind of become the character a little bit or whoever this idea you have… it’s obvious if you’re a superhero or an action hero, you’ve got a good chance of working, and pudgy little dad bod wasn’t going to cut it. So I said, “Fuck it!” and I just decided that I was going to put everything I had into it, and in a sense, manifesting this next chapter.

Supernatural — “#THINMAN” — Image SN916b_0278 — Pictured: AJ Buckley as Ed — Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW — © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

 

TrunkSpace: We had read that your “Supernatural” character, Ed Zeddmore, was one of your favorite characters that you’ve ever played. What would Dean Winchester think of Ed if he showed up all jacked? Dean’s such an alpha male, how would that play out?
Buckley: He’d be terrified. (Laughter)

I always thought it’d be really funny because the Ghostfacers are the longest living characters. And Travis Wester, my partner on that, on Ghostfacers, who plays Harry, he also started doing a lot of crossfit and he got pretty jacked. I always thought it would be funny if they brought us back, and through the years that they hadn’t seen us, we come back and we are who we are now and sort of give the boys a run for their money. I think it’d be fun. Those guys, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, are two of the nicest human beings you could possibly meet. For our characters, when we came on the show, we kind of took over it. It became the Ghostfacers show, and some actors wouldn’t be cool with that, and they were just… they’re as successful as they are for a reason, because of just the types of guys that they are and how open minded and cool they are. They’re just a good group of guys and I would love for our characters to go back and at least… like kill us or do something, because it ended just so oddly. We separated and we never came back.

The Ghostfacers were Eric Kripke, who was the original show writer, they were kind of like his babies. Him and Tre Callaway were the writers who gave birth to them, so to speak. Eric Kripke really got behind us and kind of gave us our spinoff. We got to write it and direct it, and it was a whole thing, but once Kripke left, we both felt that the new showrunner wanted to take the show in a different direction, which happens and that’s totally cool, but Ghostfacers just wasn’t on that direction train.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been on a bunch of high profile projects over the years. Do any current fandoms compare, at least passion-wise, to the SPN Family?
Buckley: There’s no other fans like “Supernatural” fans. “Supernatural” fans are the most loyal fans that are out there. They’re diehard. Our characters, the Ghostfacers, became who they were and we got that spinoff and that incredible run because the fandom really got behind us and talked about it.

The fans, if they’re reading this, they should do this thing and hashtag #bringthefacersback.

SEAL Team” airs Wednesdays on CBS.

 

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Wingman Wednesday

Troy James

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When you get to terrorize both the Flash and the pop culture-loving audience, you know you’re doing something right. Troy James, the actor with the self-described “freakishly bendy body,” is having himself quite the year, from giving Simon Cowell the heebie-jeebies on “America’s Got Talent” to playing the nightmare-inducing Pretzel Jack in the latest season of “Channel Zero” for Syfy. Most recently, the flexible thespian made his debut as the villainous Rag Doll on “The Flash,” a new favorite of ours in the hero’s small screen (and always expanding) rogues’ gallery.

We recently sat down with James to discuss the best type of typecasting, going full sociopath, and why his real-life superpower is jumping to the worst possible conclusion in a single bound.

TrunkSpace: You have a self-described “freakishly bendy body.” With that said, has there ever been a role more suited for you than that of the villainous Rag Doll?
James: Usually actors loathe being typecast, but honestly, I don’t mind getting to play fantastical creatures that flip and twist about. That I get to be a supervillain with awesome red hair, a terrifying mask, and get a one-up on Barry? Well, that is just icing on the cake.

TrunkSpace: Rag Doll has been a fan-favorite villain for DC Comics readers for a long time, but he is not one of those iconic characters that comes with a lot of on-screen baggage. In many ways, he’s a clean slate for TV viewers. Did that allow you to take some ownership in him and make him your own?
James: Bittersweet. On one hand, I didn’t have to match anyone else’s portrayal of Rag Doll, so I didn’t have to worry about being endlessly judged against them. However, he still is an established villain. It meant I had some serious shoes to fill if I wanted to do him justice.
When I was doing my research, I came across Peter Merkel Sr. and his son, Peter Merkel Jr., who also donned the Rag Doll mantle. I took pieces of both when playing the character. Sr was born naturally flexible without augmentation like me, but Jr is an utter psychopath with family issues. Looking back, I wish I played up Rag Doll’s degenerate nature a bit more, but it was my first time on a show as big as “The Flash;” I was on my best behavior! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You’ve played a lot of creepy, scuttling characters over the course of your career. From a performance standpoint, what did Rag Doll allow you to do on-camera that you have yet to tackle before?
James: Talk! Rag Doll speaks. I’m used to playing silent, creepy-crawlies that let their bodies do the talking. This time I get to taunt our heroes while I do it, and you really get a sense of how little empathy Rag Doll possesses. What a sociopath! I relished every minute of it. (Should I be troubled that I slipped into character so easily?)

TrunkSpace: “The Flash” has a huge, loyal following. What does it feel like to join that world and get to interact with the fandom firsthand?
James: Holy cow. When it was revealed that I was to play a role on “The Flash,” I think my social media following increased by 33 percent overnight. People really like this show! I love how excited everyone is, and I am too, but I’m also super anxious about it. I think I’ll calm down after the episode airs.

TrunkSpace: Were you a comic book fan growing up? What would 10-year-old Troy think of his future self getting to play in the superhero sandbox?
James: 10-year old Troy? Try Troy, circa-2017! I still can’t believe this is real. I loved video games growing up, and I have a few comic book collectors in my family. (Great for research and character notes!) This is pretty much a dream come true. If I could go back in time and tell myself this would be happening now, I wouldn’t believe myself.

TrunkSpace: We recently read an interview with “Channel Zero” creator Nick Antosca where he said he specifically created the part of Pretzel Jack in the latest season, “The Dream Door,” for you. As an actor, what does that mean to you and your career when people are creating characters specifically for you?
James: It’s a good thing! It means I’m doing something right… right? What an honor. (Thanks Nick for taking a chance on me!) Then again, my real-life superpower is being able to leap to the worst conclusion in a single bound. I used to worry about my non-traditional acting background. Now I’m hearing people say, “Pretzel Jack” and “iconic horror monster” in the same sentence. What a thrill!

James as Rag Doll in “The Flash”

TrunkSpace: Pretzel Jack is straight up nightmare material. There’s got to be something kind of cool about being able to bring out these visceral reactions from people as a performer – the kind that stay with you long after you turn off the television?
James: Guilty pleasure meets natural instinct. I love making people nervous and squirmy. Perhaps I honed the skill when I used to work at a theme park during the Halloween season; it was literally my job to scare people. Grant Gustin teased me about how fiendish I was when the cameras were rolling, only to revert to happy, non-scary Troy immediately after cutting.

TrunkSpace: This seems like a very exciting run for you, with both “The Flash” and “Channel Zero” hitting at the same time. This truly is a business where work seems to beget work. With that being said, is the hope that high profile projects like these two will open more doors as larger audiences see what you’re capable of?
James: And that’s just the stuff I’m allowed to talk about! Next year the real action happens when a few of the feature films we just wrapped hit the big screen. It’s funny. I’ve been catapulted into this life of an actor/performer, and I’ve spent more time than I’d care to admit wondering how this all happened. The dust is settling though, and no one is telling me to go back to Human Resources. I’m doing alright!

TrunkSpace: You appeared on “America’s Got Talent” earlier this year and made Simon Cowell very uncomfortable, which is not something many people can stake claim to. For you personally, what was the best thing that came of your “America’s Got Talent” experience?
James: People know my name! I travel. I go out to eat. I walk around… and people recognize me! I get stopped on the street. I didn’t make it to the finals of AGT, but I guess I made an impression. When I got to set on “The Flash,” everyone in production had already seen my audition and they were very excited to see what I would do. Just this past week, for Halloween, I got to perform in Orlando, New York City and New Jersey. Can you imagine that I almost didn’t audition for AGT because I was so nervous?

TrunkSpace: What’s next for you beyond “The Flash?” Where should we keep our eyes peeled for future Troy James sightings?
James: I wish I could give you the good stuff. A horror film is coming out next year where I really push my movement to the limits. The downside to playing scary creatures in movies is that you can never tell anyone without ruining the reveal. But you haven’t seen the last of me yet. I promise.

The Flash” airs Tuesdays on The CW.

Channel Zero: The Dream Door” is available on Syfy.

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Wingman Wednesday

Sydney Viengluang

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PHOTOGRAPHY: JSquared/HAIR: Jaycee Mnirajd/MAKE-UP: Aly Barr/STYLING: Sky JT Naval

As part of the ensemble cast of “Z Nation,” Sydney Viengluang has helped to bring life to some unbelievable storytelling, but it’s her own family’s journey from refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines that is even more incredible than those on-screen zombies that she faces. While the actress is enjoying her science fiction ride in a post-apocalyptic world, she looks forward to telling more of her own story and has been thinking of ways to build a cinematic narrative around the displacement of Loatians following the Vietnam War.

We recently sat down with Viengluang to discuss her most surreal “Z Nation” moment, getting to interact with the fandom, and why she hopes to show that “other” is not something that should be feared.

TrunkSpace: “Z Nation” seems like the kind of show where you’re not only working hard, but you’re having a good time while doing it. What has your personal experience been like getting to work on the series for the past three years? How has it changed your life?
Viengluang: Definitely. It’s such a fun show to be on. I look forward to flying up to beautiful eastern Washington to shoot for the summer every year. It’s just been a great experience to work with an easy-going cast and crew that don’t take themselves too seriously. My life hasn’t really changed much from day to day, but it’s really nice to have a growing fan base. Getting to interact with fans on social media is always exciting, especially knowing that I’m inspiring some of them.

TrunkSpace: There is always some crazy, over-the-top (generally zombie-related) moment that occurs in our favorite episodes of “Z Nation.” What has been one of your more surreal, “pinch me, I’m dreaming” experiences while playing Dr. Sun Mei?
Viengluang: I think my very first episode in Season 3 was my “pinch me” moment. I distinctly remember waiting on set to be called in for the big scene where my whole crew dies, and I had a moment where I said to myself, “It’s happening. I’m here getting paid to be an actor. I can’t believe it.” I had done other TV roles, but it was a major recurring guest character and on an already established popular show. It was surreal.

TrunkSpace: When zombies are involved, there’s got to always be that little voice in your head second-guessing if you’ll be on the receiving end of a bite each week. Do you breathe a sigh of relief after you receive each script, happy to see that the Doctor survived another episode?
Viengluang: (Laughter) Yes, exactly. I think the fans out there have a saying, “Never trust the Z Nation writers” or something to that effect. Nobody is immune to getting killed off. I guess that makes it a bit exciting and nerve wracking for the viewers.

TrunkSpace: As we mentioned, you’re now in your third season of “Z Nation.” What has the experience been like for you to get to play a character over an extended period of time?
Viengluang: It’s been great to evolve with Sun Mei and see how she’s evolved herself over the years. The great thing about Sun Mei this year is she gets to do more of the scientific stuff with the Talkers and I think I get to show her softer side. It’s been quite a journey for her and I’m glad I don’t get to just play a normal doctor in a hospital or lab all the time throughout all three seasons.

TrunkSpace: “Z Nation” has some very passionate fans. Were you surprised by how supportive people were of the show after you started working on it? How soon was it after your character premiered that you could feel the reach of the fandom?
Viengluang: Oh yes! The fans are what make the show. I didn’t realize how passionate and hardcore zombie/horror fans were until I was starting to get fans reaching out on social media from the very beginning of the promos being released for Season 3. They were already making memes and videos after my first episode. They’re some of the most loyal and nice fans out there.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, you first got involved in the film industry on the business/finance side. Do you think having that knowledge of how things work behind the scenes has helped you better navigate your career in front of the camera?
Viengluang: Definitely. As an actor, you have to be the CEO of your own “company,” so business acumen has helped me throughout my career.

TrunkSpace: You work in an industry where incredible stories are told day after day, but you have an incredible story of your own. Just reading about what your family had to overcome, and how they did it, it’s really amazing. Have you thought about turning your own journey into a film or series?
Viengluang: Yes, very much. I have a few ideas that have been brewing in my head for a while now. I definitely want to shine a light on the Secret War and the displacement of Laotians after the Vietnam War era. There are so many stories to tell that have yet to be told from our perspective.

PHOTOGRAPHY: JSquared/HAIR: Jaycee Mnirajd/MAKE-UP: Aly Barr/STYLING: Sky JT Naval

TrunkSpace: You spent the first two years of your life in refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines before your family relocated to Kansas. When you see what’s happening now – the political and social divide that is continuing to form over how people are coming to this country – how does that make you feel given your own family’s experiences?
Viengluang: It hurts my heart, honestly. It’s hard not to turn on the news and read about these horrific things done to refugee families, all because they wanted a better life for themselves. It hits close to home and I try my best to do some good by giving a face and name to the term “refugee” and “immigrant.” I hope that just by living by example I can show people out there that being “other” is not something to fear. I think the world would be a much better place if we all try to show a bit more compassion to those that don’t look like us.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far and why?
Viengluang: I think playing Sun Mei for three seasons and to grow and evolve with her has been a highlight. To be able to reach fans and people across the nation and world is one of the reasons I do what I do. Playing Sun Mei has given me the privilege to use my platform for topics outside of industry related issues that I’m passionate about.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question! If you could jump ahead a decade and get a glimpse of what your career looks like 10 years from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Viengluang: I don’t think so. I think the exciting part about life is creating goals and getting to experience them manifest and unfold. It would take the fun out of it if I knew exactly how everything would turn out.

Z Nation” airs Fridays on Syfy.

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Wingman Wednesday

Lindsey Gort

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Television can be a cruel place these days. While shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” have prepared audiences for the “no one is safe!” approach to character consumption, we still can’t help but be disappointed when our favorite performers meet their fictional demise. That was very much the case when Lindsey Gort’s Amy Rohrbach took a surprise exit from “Titans,” leaving many fans of the DC Universe series to speculate if it was all just some twisting ruse.

Unfortunately, it looks like Amy, a character with such great potential, is permanently on the slab.

We recently sat down with Gort to discuss why she doesn’t take no for an answer, how the worst day on set beats the best day in the hospitality industry, and the artist whose lyrics she once considered tattooing on her body.

TrunkSpace: You and your husband recently opened a restaurant in Los Angeles. Between that and “Titans” debuting all at the same time, it must be a bit of a “when it rains, it pours” situation?
Gort: Yes. There’s never been a dull moment in our house. (Laughter) We’ve been working on this restaurant for a couple years and we’ve opened up two other ones before that. We still haven’t taken a honeymoon because of this. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: There must be parallels between filmmaking and opening a restaurant because as much as you can plan for things, something always happens that sends you for a loop.
Gort: Yeah. For our restaurant, for instance, it was scheduled to open in July and then it got pushed and it got pushed and it got pushed. It’s sort of the same thing with television pilots. You just can’t ever put all of your eggs in one basket. You never know what’s going to happen, what the schedule will dictate. You kind of just keep moving forward.

TrunkSpace: As an actress, is part of protecting yourself in that process not getting too attached to a character or project in the early going, just in case it doesn’t move forward?
Gort: Yeah. It’s definitely a learning experience because I was lucky that my first real job on a television show was on “The Carrie Diaries” and it was my first time testing and I sort of was naïve at thinking, “Well, everything works out.” (Laughter) It’s sort of a joke that when something doesn’t move forward, I still don’t take that as a no. I think it’s just a maybe. “You just never know!”

But I’ve worked now enough on pilots that were 100 percent going forward and then suddenly, they don’t go forward. And you never know how things will come out in editing or for shows that are on the air. I always find that the best part is just showing up to set. I’ve worked in every department of hospitality before this, so I’ve been a bartender and a waitress and a hostess and a reservation agent, and my worst day on set is better than my best day working in hospitality. If I look at it like that, there’s no loss, no matter what.

TrunkSpace: For the audience, the end product is always what we remember, but for those involved, it’s like you said… it’s the experience and the time on set that you take with you for the rest of your life.
Gort: Yeah, and there’s so much for “Titans.” For instance, I don’t even know how much I’m supposed to say, but my character had a different storyline when we first started and then certain things happened with the way they decided to move forward with the series. I don’t want to give anything away, but my character had to sort of be chopped down into something else, which I think is why people still don’t believe that she’s dead because it just seems so sudden. For me, watching it was much different than what I experienced shooting it.

Pilots are always so fun because, like with “Titans,” even though it was a go, it’s still the first time people are seeing characters and seeing this vision come to life. To be a part of that is fun and everyone’s excited. It’s like Christmas morning everyday because everyone’s just like, “Oh my god, it’s so cool! Look at this! Look at this new set!” It’s like summer camp. It’s like hanging out with friends and creating something, but you really do have to just let it go after that because you just never know what happens once you leave.

From Gort’s Instagram: @lindseygort

TrunkSpace: Is there a different kind of energy in the early going when you’re working on something that you know has an established audience?
Gort: I think so. I think that there is such a fantastical element to it that isn’t necessarily found in a multi-cam or a procedural. There’s something very childlike about doing a superhero show because it’s what little kids dream they are. You have a lot more make believe and fun, and the drama’s heightened. For that, it’s really fun, but it is also a responsibility to the people who loved the comic books and have very strong feelings about these characters and who they are and what they represent to them in their own life.

At least for my character, I knew that they were creating her much different than what the comic books were. My Amy was going to be a former Marine and she had tattoos and piercings. I was excited for that because I don’t normally get to play that kind of character, which is more of who I am as a person, so I was excited about that. But yeah, I do think there was a heightened element of excitement for doing a superhero show.

TrunkSpace: What must have been a bit freeing for you is, while Amy is an established character in the DC Universe, she isn’t as iconic as those some of your co-stars were portraying, so there’s a bit less pressure involved in having to deliver on fan expectations.
Gort: Yeah, my first experience was playing an iconic character, Samantha Jones. There’s not more pressure on anybody than to be that person. (Laughter) I really do enjoy playing, recreating, famous characters. I don’t know why, but I do like doing that.

I wanted to sort of do some kind of homage to the comic books in some way if I was able to, but at the same time, I was excited to create a totally different backstory – they felt the freedom to do that, to give her a military background and make her a little bit tougher than just a “girl detective.” She was going to be a very strong female in the police force, and that isn’t necessarily always seen.

Gort with Tom Ellis in “Lucifer”

TrunkSpace: You mentioned that Amy got to rock some tattoos. What was that experience like, getting to look down and see a big forearm tat that wasn’t there before? Did it take some getting used to?
Gort: When I was 18, I moved to New York to be in a punk rock band. I had a bunch of tattoos. My ears are actually still gauged. I had always wanted tattoos and I would draw them on myself. I look back now and if I had gotten the tattoos I wanted, I would never have found a husband. (Laughter) They were horrible tattoos, like so emo. The band AFI? I wanted quotes from them.

And I’m sorry if you have quotes from that band. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Scribbling them off right now!
Gort: (Laughter) “I’m making an appointment at LaserAway.”

But that is sort of more true to who I am. When I moved to LA, I thought I wanted to be an actor, but I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. I’m primarily a singer and I went to an acting class and I had long, black hair and I wore all black. The teacher was like, “You’ll never be the most alternative person in a room, so if you want a shot at acting, you’re going to have to be blonde and try to be a leading lady. Take out your piercings.”

At first I was like, “Fuck her, she doesn’t know anything!” Then, I tried it and it worked and now it’s sort of a running joke that I mostly play strippers and prostitutes, or highly-sexualized women, which is not who I wear on my sleeve. And Geoff Johns actually… when they offered me the role of Amy, he had seen my work from playing a stripper on “Lucifer,” so to see me playing that and think, “Oh yeah, she could play this other character,” was awesome. I was really excited.

New episodes of “Titans” debut every Friday on the DC Universe streaming service.

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Wingman Wednesday

Adam Carbone

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This week we’re taking an extended look at the inspirational indie “Randy’s Canvas,” a moving tale about a young man with autism who is on a journey of love and self-acceptance. Starring Adam Carbone, Kevin G. Schmidt, Scout Taylor-Compton, Massi Furlan, Michael Emery, Richard Riehle and Marycarmen Lopez, the film is available now on digital HD.

Next up we’re chatting with star Adam Carbone to discuss fighting for the role, proving through his performance that he was the right choice, and why he’s hoping “Randy’s Canvas” will serve as a multi-layered calling card.

TrunkSpace: You began working on “Randy’s Canvas years ago.” Why was it important for you to be a part of this film and get the story out into the world?
Carbone: I think it is very important because, at least to me, it gives more of a mass understanding of autism in general. Even myself, before I started the movie, I didn’t really know too much about it. I knew friends who had it, but I just never understood it. Once I started researching for the film and studying with kids from the Autism Project, I really started to grasp what it was and really understood what it’s like to have autism, or to be anywhere on the spectrum. It’s very different. It’s not just a broad stroke, which is what I thought before. It’s individuality with autism sprinkled on top, and at all different levels and with all different capabilities. I think it’s important for the world to know that these kids, or anybody with autism, can still function and have a normal life. I think that’s the main point of the movie for me, to educate people.

TrunkSpace: Did you gain a better understanding of how Randy saw the world by sitting down with the kids from the Autism Project?
Carbone: Yeah, I did. Actually, a lot of them are still my friends and I do other films with them and stuff now, too. It was really cool, because they all have their own quirky personalities, and they’re all good at something. It’s just really cool to see the differences in them, and really realize that they’re just people who just happen to have autism at different levels of it. That was the eye opener for me, because I just didn’t know too much.

TrunkSpace: Randy is a big character to tackle because of the size and scope of the role. Did you feel pressure carrying the title character of the film?
Carbone: Yeah, definitely, because to me, when I first read the script, it was a lot of dialogue and I always consider myself to have a bad memory. I was like, “Oh, this is gonna be so hard!” (Laughter) But, it actually wasn’t. I kind of got right into it and I just became Randy. I literally just blocked everything outside of my mind, and I just got into it. One of the things that Sean (Michael Beyer), the director, taught me was just to listen to the other people’s lines. “Just listen to them and you’ll react accordingly.”

But still, it was little bit overwhelming because it’s the anchor of this film, and it’s all about Randy. It was very important to me to be accurate with the autism, and not to let the people at the Autism Project down, or anybody with autism, or anybody that wants to learn about autism. But, something deep down inside me knew I had it, and it was almost to prove people wrong, because I’m kind of a newcomer when it comes to drama acting. A lot of people didn’t believe in me. They were like, “Oh…” They were kind of questioning the director. To me, it was like, “Oh, that’s a challenge!”

TrunkSpace: You had a relationship with Sean prior to working on the film together. Did that make it easier for you… more comfortable… to just jump in and hit the ground running?
Carbone: I think that was the key to it. Sean just knew that I was right for the role. I think we both knew that, because I’m kind of quirky and strange like Randy is, in person, as well. Yeah, it definitely helped knowing Sean before. We had a working relationship for years.

Carbone with Richard Riehle in “Randy’s Canvas”

TrunkSpace: You mentioned that a lot of people didn’t believe in your ability to carry the role of Randy, but Sean did and he really fought for you. Was that a confidence boost?
Carbone: Yes, it was, because I felt like the whole world was against me being Randy, and then Sean was like, “Just trust me on this one. He’s got it.” That definitely helped. So that’s deep down when I knew that everything was fine, especially after we did my first scenes. I think the first scene we shot was when I freaked out at the gallery. Just in that scene alone, that was when I even felt it, because I was like, “Wow. Okay, I get who Randy is now. I get how he ticks and how he works.” It was another person and I was almost like a vessel for him – it wasn’t even me. It was like autopilot.

TrunkSpace: You served as producer on the film as well. Is it your hope that “Randy’s Canvas” will serve as a calling card of what you’re capable of, not only as an actor, but behind the scenes as well?
Carbone: Yes, absolutely. I think that would definitely help me in my career, because I definitely want to do more. I come from a comedy world – I do a lot of standup comedy and comedy sketches – so to me, just to prove even to myself, “Look what you did. Look what you can do.” It kind of gives me hope for the future stuff, especially producing. I wear many hats. I produce, I direct, I act, I write, I edit – all that stuff. So it’s exciting just to show the world, “Look, hire me.” (Laughter)

Randy’s Canvas” is available now on digital HD.

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Wingman Wednesday

Robert Longstreet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Longstreet in “The Haunting of Hill House.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wingman Wednesday

Booboo Stewart

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Photo by Bob D’Amico/Disney Channel – © 2014 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

This week we’re taking an extended look at the new movie, “#Roxy,” a modern romcom-reimagining of “Cyrano de Bergerac” starring Jake Short, Booboo Stewart, Sarah Fisher and Danny Trejo. The adaptation with a cyber age twist arrives on digital HD today.

Next up we’re chatting with Booboo Stewart to discuss finding comfort in the heartthrob, being drawn to the immortal Eric Draven, and what his ultimate creative passion is.

TrunkSpace: You’re playing the class heartthrob, Christian Newville, in “#Roxy.” Is that a role you’re comfortable with – the object of affection – or is that outside of your comfort zone? We would imagine that it is something you experienced personally in your own life, particularly after “The Twilight Saga” was released into the world?
Stewart: Through the years I’ve learned to be comfortable playing roles like that. Yes, “Twilight” played a big part of it.

TrunkSpace: Christian is also a high school student. You’re currently in your mid-20s. Is that a gift for an actor, getting to be able to play outside of your own demo? Does it allow for more opportunities when it comes to available roles?
Stewart: Sure, it’s great to still be able to play a teenager.

TrunkSpace: “#Roxy” is a classic story with a very modern spin. Did you go back and look at any of the previous takes on the story or was your focus on “#Roxy” and what this particular script had to offer?
Stewart: I did both – watched the original along with the Steve Martin version. Of course, the script was the main influence.

TrunkSpace: Digital communication plays a big role in the plot of the film. What is your own personal relationship with social media? You have a digital presence, but is it more a necessary evil than a passion?
Stewart: Yes, I thought it was sweet and funny. It was a great new look at the classic and a good standalone film.

TrunkSpace: The thing that interests us most about the world of independent cinema right now is that it seems like the only place where original stories are being told in the medium. Big studio films are all massive franchises and superhero installments and that leaves very little room for new POVs. As an actor, is that part of the draw in working on a film like “#Roxy,” that while a reimagining of a classic, it’s still original?
Stewart: I love doing both studio and independent films. They both have a lot to offer.

TrunkSpace: As much as we love the indie world, we also love superheroes. We grew up on them and getting to see them in a live action setting remains a great way to spend a few hours. You got to play Warpath of the X-Men back in 2014, and you recently voiced the villain Jack O’ Lantern in the “Spider-Man” animated series. Are there any other heroes or villains you’d like to bring to the big or small screens?
Stewart: Yes… THE CROW!!!

TrunkSpace: You’ve been working professionally from a very early age. Have your professional goals changed over the course of the years or do you feel like you’ve always been on the same path?
Stewart: I just love creating. The older I get, the more I see and want to experience. But ultimately, films are my passion.

Stewart with Jake Short in “#Roxy”

TrunkSpace: “Descendants 3” is due next year. Does the popularity of that project continue to surprise you, and while we know you can’t say much, what’s on tap for your character Jay in the upcoming installment?
Stewart: I was a little surprised. It always catches you a little off guard how popular something can be.

Yes, I can’t say much, but…

TrunkSpace: Art as a whole seems to be a very important aspect of your life. Outside of getting to express yourself through the various platforms that you channel your creativity, what does art do for you personally and emotionally that keeps you putting your thoughts and feelings out into the world?
Stewart: I’m now getting back into music. It’s a great way to express myself…That Band Honey.

#Roxy” is available today on digital HD.

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