Rising actor Woody McClain talks exclusively on the We Blab Entertainment Podcast about, working with Kevin Hart on the new Laugh Out Loud series "Stories With Kev". Also Woody speaks about portraying R&B superstar Bobby Brown in The New Edition Story.
Watch Stories with Kev only on the Laugh Out Loud App.
Be sure to check BET's miniseries The New Edition Story on BET.com
Nine-year-old child star Sage Correa talks about filming the thriller "Kidnap" starring Halle Berry, and getting thrown into a car by Chris Mcginn. Also Sage tell us about voicing Pig Pen in "Peanuts" TV show.
Congratulations on your leading role in the film “Kidnap.” It’s exciting you got to play Halle Berry’s son in this action-packed thriller! Tell us about your role and the audition process for this film.
The character I play is named Frankie. He is 6 years old which is what I was at the time. He's a good kid and very close with his mom. One day while they are at the park, he gets kidnapped. His mom sees and chases the kidnappers down. There is a lot of action. It's crazy! The audition process was intense. It took lots of callbacks and a chemistry read with Halle herself. The whole process took about one month.
You filmed for multiple months on location in New Orleans. What was it like filming in New Orleans, and can you tell us some fun stories from filming “Kidnap” and from exploring New Orleans?
I loved the time I spent in New Orleans! The food, the people and the music were amazing! My favorite part was spending time with my family that lives there because that is where my family is originally from. I got to eat red beans and rice almost everyday which is my favorite food and hear some great jazz at Preservation Hall. A lot of people think that Kidnap was scary for me to film because I was so young and it's a thriller.
Actually, I had a lot of fun on set with the crew and other cast members. The funniest thing happened on the first day of filming when Chris Mcginn had to throw me into the car. She played one of the kidnappers. After she threw me in the backseat, I cried and cried. She was so worried that I was actually hurt, but when they yelled "cut", I jumped out of the car with a big smile on my face!
You got to work alongside Halle Berry. What are some of the things you learned from her, the cast and crew, and from your experiences while working on this film?
Halle was super nice and fun to work with. She talked to me about how to get into character and really become Frankie. She said I needed to think of things in my real life that make me scared. That was hard to do because I'm not scared of a lot of things! I also spent a lot of time with the kidnappers, Chris McGinn and Lew Temple when we were not filming. That helped me to feel comfortable to work with them. I actually wasn't afraid of them at all!
You also voice Pig Pen in “Peanuts.” How did you prepare to voice such an iconic role?
I wasn't actually prepared for how much work it was going to be! Peanuts is a really big show and they wanted all of my lines to be just perfect. I had to sound exactly like the original Pig Pen character. I was surprised to find out that voice over actually takes a lot of energy out of you. It's a lot of work to get the lines just right. The finished product is pretty awesome though so it made it all worth it!
What differences do you find between doing onscreen roles and voiceover roles? Which do you prefer and why?
The main difference is that you are not working with the other actors when you are doing voice over roles. You are in a room by yourself or with the director. Sometimes you run into the other actors in passing but that's about it. I prefer doing onscreen roles so I can interact with more people. I still love voice over jobs though. It's really awesome to hear my voice on such a famous character!
You are a normal, everyday kid that is getting some very special acting opportunities. What do you like to do for fun and what is a typical day in your life?
Yes, I am a very normal kid! I love sports, especially basketball! I have a lot of friends and I enjoy talking to them on the phone and playing computer games or video games. A typical day for me involves going to school, auditions and homework. On the weekends I get to play video games and have play dates. That's what I enjoy doing,
Do you have other interests that you take classes for, like martial arts, voice or piano lessons, or painting, etc.?
Over the years I have taken many different classes and lessons. I studies kung fu for some time and I started playing tennis when I was 3 years old. I have also taken capoeira and I take dance classes pretty regularly. Mostly I focus on acting classes. There are so many different types of classes like improv, theatrical, voice over, scene study and commercial. Right now, my favorite class in Improvisation. It's a lot of fun!
What can we expect to see you in next and what is a dream role you’d love to play?
There is nothing coming up that I can talk about right now, but I am up for some nice roles. I always stay prepared because you never know when the next big opportunity is coming! My dream role is to be a series regular on a weekly show. Any show will do, but it would be awesome if it were basketball related!
Actress Karin Konoval discusses blockbuster "War for the Planet of the Apes", and the motion capture process
By: Rachelle Henry | PHOTOS COURTESY Twentieth Century Fox
Doane Gregory, and Gordan Dumka
- Los Angeles, California
Actress Karin Konoval discusses playing Maurice the ape in the blockbuster "Planet of the Apes" series, and clues us in on the motion capture process for Warner Bros. Also Karin talks about training for "Planet of the Apes".
I read a review that says, "thanks to an evocative story and the most realistic anthropoids you'll find outside a zoo, this third Apes is the strongest yet." Congratulations on playing fan-favorite, Maurice in the last three "Planet of the Apes" films! I also read that you almost didn't go to the audition for the role. What changed your mind and what was the audition/callback process to play a mature male orangutan? You went and studied orangutan behavior, specifically studying Towan from Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA. How did Towan influence your role as Maurice, and how did he impact you personally?
The first audition call-out for the film was "Untitled Feature Film Casting For Mimes." I thought: I'm not a mime so I'm not going. Then I was told it was for actors to play chimpanzees, and I thought, now I'm REALLY not going! But then I decided I'd be a good sport and go to it, nothing would come of it and that would be that. But after the first audition I was called back to a lengthy ape movement session under Terry Notary's expert guidance, and after that I was called back to audition for an orangutan. I knew nothing about orangutans and did a lot of research fast. It was at the third audition that Rupert Wyatt, the director of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes", told me that the character he wished me to play was Maurice. Once I was cast, I did a great deal more research - books, videos, sound recordings - and the training and practice for quadrupedal walking was intense.
On my own time I travelled to Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle where I observed Towan -- who in turn chose to come and study me. It was in the twenty minutes that we were eye to eye on other side of a window that gave me the heart and soul of Maurice. I didn't meet him again until after "Rise" opened, when I was invited for a personal introduction to him and the rest of his orangutan family. I went, and that was the beginning of a personal journey for me that continues today. How did Towan impact me personally? The answer to that could fill a book! In brief I can only say that his name translates as "Master", and for the six years I was privileged to know him he always was that to me.
This franchise uses a lot of motion capture and Vogue magazine just did a feature about why you and Andy Serkis should be Oscar nominated for your roles in this instalment. You bring such a powerful and brilliant performance and it would make Oscar history. How did you train for such a physical role? What kind of preparation did the studio provide vs what preparation you did for yourself? What are some of the biggest differences you find between motion captuure and regular live action roles?
The physical training to portray a mature male orangutan has been intensive and necessary both in advance of and throughout all three films. Not just to gain skill and ease with quadrupedal movement on arm stilts, but flexibility, strength, etc etc. My personal practice has included gym and weight training, cycling, yoga, many things on a daily basis. This is all stuff I have done on my own, intensively and extensively throughout. Also a great deal of vocal research and practise to achieve as much resonance as I could for the sounds I make as Maurice, to achieve the depth of voice, to get as much of an orangutan "long call" into my voice as possible. Terry Notary originally trained me in quadrupedal movement and has been a great support to me throughout all three films in terms of being a second eye -- reminding me to keep heavy if I was getting too light in my movement, things like that.
The studio provided a month of daily horseback riding training for the third film which was very helpful for me in particular, as we needed a level of horsemanship on "War" that I didn't have, and I'm very grateful to have had that time under Danny Virtue's guidance. In answer to your question about mocap and live action roles: there is absolutely no difference. None. I approach and play Maurice in the same way I do any other live action role. What's different between playing Maurice and playing other roles is playing a mature male orangutan in all of his psychological, physical and vocal integrity.That's one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges as an actor I've ever had.
You are a published author and painter. Your work has been featured in solo gallery exhibits. Your first illustrated children's book "Jeffrey Takes a Walk in December" was published in 2015. What is the inspiration for your literary work and painting
I simply love to tell stories, whether as an actor, a painter or a writer. All of my solo gallery exhibits are full stories or series in paintings --- the story unfolds from canvas to canvas around the room. While I had short stories published before I began painting, I've really enjoyed the journey of painting and writing coming together over the past years. Whether the words or the artwork come first changes constantly, but always towards a singular storytelling.
You've had such an extensive career in TV and film, and have received numerous awards for your work in theatre, performing lead roles in over fifty professional theatre productions. What type of roles do you find challenging and why? Do you have any dream role you'd love to play?
This is quite easy to answer: the more challenging and interesting a role, the more I love to play it. I've had the opportunity to play a wide range of roles both onstage and in film and television. I've never been type cast in any particular way, and that has proved to be a great blessing, one that keeps growing. Do I have a dream role? No. To have the opportunity to work on a well written script, in an interesting role, with an excellent director and cast -- that's all I wish and dream for as much more of as possible!
What are you working on right now?
I'm currently filming a recurring role in the BBC series "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency." It's a delightful role and a great show to be part of through season two!
Actress Debbie Sherman talks The Vault starring James Franco, and returning to acting after having kids
Actress extraordinaire Debbie Sherman talks filming The Vault starring James Franco, and returning to acting after having kids. Debbie also talks about getting education while pursuing your dreams.
You have three high-profile films releasing in 2017! Congratulations! One of the film "The Vault" is a horror/thriller starring James Franco, Taryn Manning, and Francesca Eastwood. You play the character of Lauren. Tell us more?
Thank you so much! I can't wait for all three films to debut this year! The Vault was the very first film of my career and the first step of what I hope will be a very long career in this industry. Lauren was my debut supporting role. In this film, two estranged sisters are forced to rob a bank in order to save their brother, but this is no ordinary bank. Just watch and see!
Horror films are interesting type of medium because, of how much emotion goes into the character. Can you tell us how you approach these types of roles?
The horror genre often goes hand in hand with very emotional and terrified characters. I always do my best to fully immerse myself in the moment while filming and take on the emotions that the character would be experiencing throughout the scene. This is quite intense and can lead to me feeling pretty exhausted after shooting. Needless to say, I sleep like a baby after filming scenes like that, due to the sheer energy it takes to give off that much emotion scene after scene. Honestly, I love every second of the process!
You will appear in The Forgiven with Forest Whitaker and Eric Bana. You play Linda Coetzee. Tell us more about the film and the character of Linda?
This was my largest role yet and man, was I excited to film with such legends and on a film that radiates so much truth! The script made me feel so many emotions when I originally read it and I knew I had to be a part of this film. I am beyond blessed to have been given the incredible opportunity to work on this movie. I had the most wonderful experience filming. Everyone from the makeup department, to the whole cast and fabulous crew made my experience one of a kind. The whole team was top notch and I can't wait for the premiere of this film!
You graduated with a Bachelors in Business Administration. You started your career as a talented singer before becoming an actress. Did you use singing as a way in? Did you take any acting formal classes?
I have always had a love of the arts: singing, dancing, acting, etc. I am a performer at heart and I love to perform. I took singing and acting classes throughout my schooling years. After college I had an opportunity to start singing in a group with one of my best friends. We had the time of our lives writing original songs and performing them. We even had a music video that I will forever cherish. I look back so fondly on that special time in my life.
My first role had nothing to do with my singing career. After having my two daughters, I wanted to get back into the entertainment field and a good friend of mine is an actor. He was able to introduce me to some wonderful producers who I had the opportunity to audition for and, from there, I was able to secure my roles. I feel blessed to have met so many wonderful people in the industry. I always relish the opportunity to read for a new role in a film that takes me on the story of someone new. That is the beauty of acting: you are never the same person twice (unless you are in a sequel of course).
What advice would you give young actors looking to break into acting? Do you think it's important to have an eduction to fall back on?
Knowledge is power. It always has been and it always will be. Having a degree is necessary, in most cases, in today's world. You can pursue your passions (acting, starting a business, singing, etc) while earning a degree. There are so many online options these days as well. My advice is to go for you dreams! Don't let anyone tell you that you're not good enough. Don't let anyone make you feel silly for pursuing your passions and chasing your goals. You are your own worst enemy and your biggest fan. Make a conscious decision before you enter this industry to put your faith in yourself and let other people's unwarranted opinions go in one ear and out the other.
Can you tell us what types of roles do you hope to be cast in moving forward? What's your dream role?
I'd love to have opportunities to play strong women, women of character, role models. You know... fun, classy, independent, loyal, courageous women who aren't afraid to stand up for what's right. Women that are multifaceted, because that is real life. We are so much more than just beautiful, or just funny, or just strong, or just anything. We are women of many talents and treasures and we should be portrayed this way on film.
We're interested in finding out what you enjoy doing in your free time? What summertime activities do you enjoy?
I just got back from a one month summer holiday in Prague. I had the best time exploring a new city with my husband and two girls. We have a passion for travel and it has certainly rubbed off on my little sweet girls. We will spend the rest of our summer swimming, spending time at the beach and exploring our local farmers markets. And since I am a travel addict, we may have to fit in one more trip before the summer ends. Oh, and let's not forget reading scripts and filming! My summer wouldn't be complete without some lounging by the pool with a good script in my hand. The one I am currently reading has me on the edge of my seat. I could barely put it down to do this interview! I literally have it on my lap right now!
Do you have any upcoming projects that we can talk about here?
I am working on some films and I am really excited about them. The roles are new and unlike any I've done before. I am also launching some new content on my website (www.debbie-sherman.com). I will be sharing more about my travels from around the world and my experiences filming in different countries. I will be combining two of my greatest passions, acting and travel!
Actress Nikki Leigh talks being cast in dramatic roles, and filming new feature Ay Lav Yu Tuu. Also Nikki shares breaking into the business
By: Daniel Hoyos | PHOTOS COURTESY
- Los Angeles, California
Actress Nikki Leigh talks about being cast in the dramatic roles, and filming the new feature film Ay Lav Yu Tuu. Also Nikki talks about breaking into the entertainment business, and advice for aspiring actors.
You grew-up in Cypress, California and later moved to Los Angeles. How did you first get started in the entertainment business?
My decision to make the move to Los Angeles came about because I was hosting a radio show Monday to Friday on Sirius XM and it only made sense to get a place where I was working every weekday. Plus I had just graduated college and it was time for me to move out of my parents' house!
During your career you've been cast in films including The Wedding Ringer and Open Marriage. Which do you find more challenging: comedic or dramatic roles?
I find dramatic roles more challenging, but not challenging as in hard for me to do exactly. It is more challenging in the sense that with drama there is a lot of emotion and sometimes you have to take your heart and feelings to a dark place. Or maybe it's a place that you have already tried to overcome.
What can you tell us about your upcoming film Ay Lav Yu Tuu with Steve Guttenberg?
I am super proud of that movie! I can not wait for everyone to see it! It is so funny. Think of it like a 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' type humor, where the funniest parts are the cultural disconnects that happen in the film. I can also tell you that I speak Turkish in this film. I am one of the leads and I went over to Turkey not knowing I was filming this in their language either. I auditioned in English and, when negotiating the role, there was no mention of me speaking a foreign language. Thankfully I had the best language coach. But unfortunately I only got her for the first two weeks, not the whole two months I was there. This meant I really had to learn it. No messing around!
We often talk with people who are interested in breaking into the business. What advice would you give aspiring actors?
Don't take things personally. This industry is all about rejection. You develop super thick skin because you go into these audition rooms and you basically get told what you are not and it really tests the individual. You just have to keep remembering that there is a perfect role for you and you alone and you might need to do a long search before it manifests. But don't give up! If you feel this is what you are meant to do then the more you believe it the more others will believe it!
A large part of the audition process is rejection. How do you personally handle rejection?
I just don't take it personally. I understand that there is a role out there for me and the casting directors, producers etc, are looking for something specific so if I'm not their vision then that's okay. I am just grateful that I got to go into the room and have a chance. I got to go in and show people what I can do. Every audition I walk into I make sure to do my best and then I leave it in the room. I usually throw my sides out after the audition so that I don't go back and think about what I did in the room.
Actors tend to get overwhelmed when seeking out representation. How did you find the right agent?
I had to go through a lot to finally get the agent I have today. Finding representation is very difficult and you will go through quite a few frogs before you find your prince. But keep believing in yourself and you will find that agent who believes in you like you do. The goal is to find someone who is excited about you and wants to work for you. Do not just settle. This is your career, your life.
What are you working on now that you can tell us about?
I am working on a show called Sangre Negra where I play a race car driver named Amanda Bolt. The filming has had a lot of space in between each film day but it's coming. I am thrilled to play a driver. Amanda is a bad ass driver and a strong female in a male-dominated world. I'm not sure you know this about me but driving is one of my favorite things! I keep asking production to let me do all the driving myself! I am trying to make sure that I get race car driving school or something out of this!
Young starlet Rachel Eggleston talks feature film Bastards, working with Brad Garrett, and filming with Animals
By: Daniel Hoyos | PHOTOS COURTESY Kenneth Dolin
- Los Angeles, California
Young L.A. starlet Rachel Eggleston talks about her feature film "Bastards", and working with Brad Garrett on the sitcom "How To Live With Your Parents For The Rest Of Your Life". Also Rachel tell us about her experience filming with animals on Mutt & Stuff.
Congratulations on completing your role in the feature film “Bastards” starring Owen Wilson, and ED Helms. Can you tell us about your character Elizabeth?
Playing Elizabeth was great! She’s a lot like me, she’s super comfortable with adults and so am I. The movie isn’t out yet and I wouldn’t want to give anything away but Elizabeth is sweet & spunky. She has a great connection with Ed Helm’s character and it was so fun shooting on location in Atlanta and Miami.
At just 12 years old you have already had guest roles on hit TV series including “Austin & Ally”, “Justified”, and “Castle.” Can you tell us how you prepare for an audition?
Whenever I have an audition and I get the lines to study, I try to read between the lines and see what's really going on in the scene(s) I try to imagine how the characters in the story are feeling. Oh, and let's not forget the lines, it's pretty important to know the lines.
In 2013 you had a co-staring role in the short-lived sitcom “How To Live With Your Parents For The Rest of Your Life” opposite Brad Garrett from “Everybody Loves Raymond”. What was it like working with Brad, and did he give you any career advice?
Working with Brad was amazing. I was just seven years old when I worked on that show but I can remember how funny and sweet he was. I always had fun with him on set. I can remember an episode when he was going to be doing a big singing number in a play we were performing. He was practicing in the hair & make-up trailer while we were getting ready for the scene. He has such a big voice, everyone was laughing and smiling. He’s such a big sweet guy and a good singer.
People have described you as an old soul because; of just how young you were when you entered the business. How did you get started acting, and did your parents play a big role in supporting your career?
People used to say I was an old soul A LOT when I was younger. Mostly, I think because I liked hanging out with adults more than kids back then. I always liked talking to the grown-ups. Now, I like being around kids my age and adults. People were always telling my mom that I should be in show business. She would respond by saying, “Maybe one day, if we meet the right person”. And then one day that’s exactly what happened. We met my manager, Sheila Russo with SR Talent Management. She introduced us to my agents at Coast to Coast and things moved quickly after that. I booked the first commercial audition that I went out on. It was a national commercial for Coke Zero. Theatrical jobs came a few months later. It was an exciting time! As far as support from my parents. I don’t think any child actor could do this without 100% support from their parents, it means everything.
Going to school while having a full time acting career is no easy task for a 12 year old. How do you juggle school with your acting responsibilities?
It’s a group effort for sure!! I’ve been so lucky to have a school and parents that support me and my love for acting. I’m also a good student who cares about school and getting my work done, which probably has a lot to do with why people are willing to support me. But there certainly are those times when the juggle is a struggle.. lol.
You appeared in multiple episodes of “Mutt & Stuff” on Nick Jr. as the Animal Rescuer, which is a show that features a lot of live dogs, and rabbits. What was it like working with all these animals on set? Do you have any dogs or others animals at home?
Working with the live animals on Mutt & Stuff was DEFINITELY something that drew me to the Annie the Animal Rescuer character. I love animals and loved the idea of working with the dogs and all the animals that were guests on the show. My favorite was a baby kangaroo. It was so cute and soft and bigger than I thought it would be. At home I have a lot of animals. We have a great dane named Auggie, a golden retriever, a cat, 5 chickens & some fish.
You also stared in the FX sitcom “Married” with Nat Faxon, and Judy Greer playing the role of Maya Bowman. Can you share any personal and fun memories from the set?
I really enjoyed playing the role of Maya Bowman on FX. That show had a lot of adult content, so I couldn’t watch an entire episode. That was kind of funny because my mom would record the show and fast forward to the parts that I could watch. But I loved the character that I played and the kids who played my sisters on the show. Maya was funny and feisty. I really liked an episode called “Gymnastics” where Maya was in a gymnastics competition. It was fun to film because I got to use some of my own gymnastic skills during the shoot.
What advice would you give kids looking to break into acting?
I think if I met a kid who wanted to be an actor I would say tryout for the school play or sign up for a workshop. You have to try something to see if you like learning lines and being on stage or in front of a camera. If you love it then you have to work hard and give it 100% just like with sports or other activities. Sometimes you miss out on some of the normal stuff with your friends or school events, but when you miss a few things and you know you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, that’s when you know your doing something you were meant to do.
Can you tell what your currently working on?
I recently finished shooting a pilot for Nickelodeon called The Bugaloos. Sid & Marty Krofft created this show along with many more in the 1970’s. This is a reboot of the one that aired in the seventies and is also produced by the Krofft brothers. I play Joy in the Bugaloos. It was an exciting project to work on because I get to sing and use a British Accent. It’s currently being tested and I can’t wait to find out if it will be picked-up to series!!
By: Rachelle Henry | PHOTOS COURTESY Birdie Thompson
Hair/Make-up: Allison Noelle
- Los Angeles, California
Rising star 19-year old Dana Gaier chats exclusively with We Blab Magazine, about Despicable Me 3 and working with pop singer Miranda Cosgrove. Also Dana talks about working towards her fight against bullying.
Congratulations on playing Edith in the Oscar-nominated, BAFTA, winning, Despicable Me franchise! Despicable Me 3 is going to be released June 30th, and you and your minions are as popular as ever! How did you go about creating the lovable tomboy, Edith?
The idea for the character was all the writers' and creative teams' doing. I just brought her to life. She's a lot of fun to voice because she's really versatile. She may be sassy one moment and protective the next.
Your IMDb has 7 Despicable Me titles listed. Which one of the Despicable Me films/shorts is your favorite, and why? Why, do you think, people connect so much to your character, as well as the franchise?
Training Wheels would have to be my favorite. Agnes is just so cute in it and the girls are so protective of her. I think people connect so much to my character and the franchise because both are very family-centered. No matter how mischievous Edith is being she is always there for her family.
What has it been like working with Miranda Cosgrove and Elsie Kate Fisher? Do you see each other outside of when Despicable Me premieres and enjoying the Minions Mayhem ride at Universal?
Miranda and Elsie are so great. A few years ago actually Elsie's school had a minion-themed day and Miranda and I went as a surprise to the students. It was a lot of fun! Everyone who works on the movie is really just so kind and it is so nice when we get to see each other.
You were discovered when you went with your sister to her audition. Had you been interested in acting before that opportunity, and what made you realize that you wanted to pursue acting professionally?
I was definitely interested in acting before that day, I just wasn't sure that I wanted to do it professionally. When I went in on that audition with my sister I walked out more excited than I've ever been. That's when I knew that I wanted to try to act professionally.
What's your advice to young people who see your success and want to pursue acting or something in the entertainment industry?
I think that there's a lot of rejection in the industry and it's so important to just keep persevering and never lose sight of why you love acting. If you do that, you will never feel defeated.
You recently filmed the horror short film, The Ice Cream Truck. Do you prefer acting in live-action films or doing voiceover and what can you tell us about the film and about your character, Brie?
I don't really have a preference. I think that they're so different that you can't really compare them. The Ice Cream Truck is about Mary, who moves back to her old suburban town and notices something strange about the ice cream man. My role, Brie, is small, but important and I'm really excited for people to see me in my first onscreen role.
I love that you just finished your second year at UCLA! Can you tell us about your plans with your sociology and communications degree coupled with a minor in film studies?
It's definitely a challenge, but I'm really excited about it. I want to make sure that I don't limit myself and that I use my time at UCLA wisely. I have such an amazing opportunity to study at one of the greatest universities and I'm not going to waste it.
You have music clips on your website, www.danagaier.com and are passionate about the bullying social issues that people are experiencing. I know you are working to bring about change and make a difference. What advice would you give those that are being bullied?
I would tell them to find somebody they feel comfortable confiding in. Having a person to vent to is everything and it's important not to close yourself off regardless of how sad you feel. I also think it's important to branch out and find something that makes you feel happy. Do not let other people define you. They don't get to do that.
Despicable Me 3 will be released in theaters on Jun 30th, 2017.
Follow Dana on Twitter, and Instagram.
Director Adam Rifkin premieres Dog Years at Tribeca, talks Ariel Winter, and advice for breaking into the business
By: Daniel Hoyos | PHOTOS COURTESY Kara Croke, Tinseltown, Feature Flash Photo Agency, Shutterstock.com
- Los Angeles, California
Director Adam Rifkin premieres Dog Years at Tribeca Film Festival, discusses casting Ariel Winter outside her bookworm role on Modern Family, Legend Burt Reynolds, and advice for breaking into the film business.
Dog Years is the story of Vic Edwards, an aging former movie star, who is forced to realize his glory days are behind him. Can you tell us how you came to write this film?
I've always been a huge Burt Reynolds fan. In fact, he was my hero growing up. Not only was he cool and funny and self deprecating, but he always struck me as being such a down to earth, great guy. I also always felt like he rarely got his proper due as an actor. He's so natural and at ease in front of the camera that people didn't even think he's acting. Which is a tremendous compliment but it's also tragic because I feel he's been under appreciated for all the fabulous work he's done throughout his career. Burt is a brilliant actor and I wanted to give something back to Burt for all of the years of enjoyment he's given me and so many other people. So I wrote DOG YEARS specifically for Burt and Burt alone.
Vic Edwards is an interesting character that's different from Burt's past roles. How did you go about casting Burt Reynolds?
I had never met Burt prior to writing DOG YEARS but I rolled the dice and wrote it anyway, hoping he would spark to the material. It was a warts and all kind of charter so I was nervous approaching him. We called Burt's manager and I said to him that I wrote DOG YEARS for Burt and nobody else. I said to please tell Burt that if he didn't want to play the part I wasn't going to make the movie. I know it was a gamble but I just couldn't conceive of anybody else playing Vic Edwards other than Burt.
Imagine my elation when Burt called me the next day. Burt Reynolds called me and told me he loved the script and he wanted to play the part! I was over the moon! And man, did he deliver. He gave such a brave and heartfelt performance, stripped of all vanity. For a guy famous for his swagger he had no problem digging deep and exposing his most vulnerable self. He blew us all away.
The feature also stars the talented Ariel Winter from Modern Family, who plays Lil. Can you tell us how you cast Ariel Winter?
The role of Lil required someone young enough to be believable but experienced enough as an actress to be able to pull off such a fragile and emotionally unstable person. Ariel is literally a veteran of the craft at the tender age of 18. She's been acting her entire life, so I knew Lil would be in good hands. She's also known for playing the bookish Alex Dunphy and I though it would be exciting to see her play completely against type.
This is a very adult role for Ariel and she played it brilliantly. Lil is a troubled girl who's been making a series of questionable choices in life up to now. She meets Vic while teetering on the precipice of complete self destruction and the adventure they find themselves on together forces her to reassess her direction. People who are only familiar with Ariel from Modern Family are going to be shocked when they see her here.
An interesting part of Dog Years is the use of archival footage from Burt Reynolds real life filmography. How did you go about achieving this effect in the movie?
At its core, DOG YEARS is a story about growing old and how fast the years fly by. I thought an effective way to explore this visually was to see footage of young, virile Burt juxtaposed against current day Burt. As a result I included some fantasy sequences where Vic confronts his younger self and tries to convince him not to live so recklessly. The way we achieved it was merely through standard movie magic but the end result had a very emotional effect. Once we saw the visuals coming together we were moved in ways we didn't anticipate.
When casting a film, what qualities do you look for with actors?
That always depends on so many variables. What the character should look like and sound like based on the description in the script. How the character would react in a crisis or would respond to a challenge. I can honestly say I look for something wholly unique for each and every role, each and every time. That said, I suppose an overarching quality I'm always keenly aware of is an actor who never feels like their acting.
Burt told me the the best advice he'd ever gotten as an actor was from his old friend Spencer Tracy. Tracy once said to him, "Kid, never let them catch you acting". Remarkably simple yet amazing advice. And I can definitely relate. When I'm casting, if someone feels like their acting, no matter how good they may look for the role, they'll never get the part.
We often talk with up-coming filmmakers who are interested in breaking into the business. What advice would you give them?
My advice is two fold: Firstly, for anyone who's pursuing a career in film, or any of the arts for that matter, you're undoubtably going to experience a lot of rejection. Don't let it slow you down. It's easy to take rejection personally and start to second guess yourself but do everything you can to fight that urge. Don't let rejection even be a blip on your radar. Everyone who's ever achieved success in this insane business has experienced tons of rejection so you're not alone. Just ignore it and keep trudging forward. Secondly, don't wait for permission to make a movie. Technology has finally caught up to people's ambition.
You can now make a movie for next to nothing. Talent is the cheapest production value in the world. Make a movie for whatever amount you can. If you only have a few hundred bucks, figure out a way to make the best movie ever made for a few hundred bucks. Shoot it on your phone. Edit it on an app. Do whatever you need to do get your story told and your voice heard. Take inspiration from maverick filmmakers like Giuseppe Andrews and go out there and just make a movie that nobody has seen before. If it's good, really good, and bold and unique and original, it will change your life.
Dog Years will be screening at the Tribeca Film Festival from 4/22 - 4/30. Check out the official Tribeca website for the complete list of showtimes.
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Nine-year-old Ashlyn Casalegno makes big screen debut in Marvel's Logan, and gives advice for booking roles
By: Daniel Hoyos | PHOTOS COURTESY Allyson Casalegno
- Los Angeles, California
Nine-Year-Old actress Ashlyn Casalegno, shares her experience filming Marvel's Logan. Ashlyn also talks exclusively with We Blab Entertainment Magazine about, advice for booking roles in Hollywood.
You’re older brother Gavin is also an actor whose credits include, The Vampire Diaries. So how did Ashlyn get her start in acting?
Growing up, Gavin was always in acting class, filming or auditioning. I would always try to watch, and do what he did. Once I could read, I started classes and was hooked!
Congratulations on landing the role of Charlotte in Marvel’s Logan. Can you take us through the audition process for Charlotte?
It lasted several weeks actually. I read for more than one role and Charlotte was the best fit for me. I did my part and my agent took over from there. It wasn’t long until I was on set after that.
We always hear if you want to pursue a career in acting move to Hollywood. Can you give us some real world advice on how to book studio roles in Hollywood?
It helps if you have a really great team (agents, managers, etc.). These days you can tape your auditions and film just about anywhere in the world. It’s more about practicing your craft and being prepared. ALWAYS follow your dreams. Never give up.
Logan starring Hugh Jackman is currently in theaters nationwide. Please tell us where your character Charlotte fits in the storyline?
Charlotte fits in with a group of mutant kids that were raised in an institution and escaped from the bad guys.
You attended the New York Premiere of Logan at the Rose Theater. What was it like walking the red carpet for Logan?
It was such an honor to be there. There was so much excitement in the air and I can say it was a great experience for me. One of my best.
Actors tend to get overwhelmed when seeking out representation. How did you find the right agent?
It’s important that they are a good fit. For me, I was fortunate to already have a foundation through my brother. As I’ve grown we’ve added more members to my team. I love all of my team, every one of them work hard to help make my dreams come true!
Hugh Jackman is one of the biggest leading males in Hollywood. Can you tell what it was like meeting Hugh Jackman?
It was super cool! We had a lot of fun, and he’s so nice.
Lastly can you tell our audience what you hope to achieve in the world of acting?
I hope to always keep growing as an actress. Making movies is so much fun and I never want to stop!
Female director SJ Chiro surprises SXSW, dishes on making Lane 1974, and that special Seattle connection
By: Daniel Hoyos | PHOTOS COURTESY Sebastien Scandiuzzi
- Los Angeles, California
Female director SJ Chiro, brings the Clane Hayward memoir to life in Lane 1974, dishes on casting lead actress Sophia Mitri Schloss from (The Kicks), and talks about the South by Southwest experience.
Lane 1974 is the story of 13-year old Lane who, grows-up in a Northern California commune with her hippy mom. Can you tell us where the storyline come from?
The film is based on a memoir by Clane Hayward, The Hypocrisy of Disco. I adapted the story infusing it with what I knew from my own similar childhood, growing up on the communes of Northern California.
The star of Lane 1974 is Sophia Mitri Schloss, from the Amazon original series (The Kicks). Can you take us through the process of casting Sophia to play Lane?
Oddly, I first met Sophia Mitri Schloss at a party for my alma mater, Bennington College. She was with her parents who introduced me when they realized I was making a film about a young girl. Unfortunately she was only ten years old at the time, and too young for the role. But fundraising is a long process and by the time I was ready to cast she was 12.
My casting agent, Amey Rene, brought me and producer Jennessa West to Los Angeles where we saw many wonderful girls for two days straight, but none of them had the quality I was looking for in Lane. Amey still had a Seattle girl for me to see, and it turned out to be Sophia Mitri Schloss, one of the most versatile, subtle, talented and hard working actors I've ever had the pleasure to work with.
Over the last few years in Hollywood we have seen an uptick in period films from the 70's like Dairy of a Teenage Girl. What do you think is so appealing about 1970's culture?
It probably varies for every filmmaker. Some seem to just love the fashions. Some films set in the 70s seem like they don't need that era to be told, but other stories, such as Diary of a Teenage girl, are based on personal experience specific to the '70s. The '70s were a unique time in history, particularly around coming of age. For me, 1974 was such a specific and important year to the story I put it right in the title. It's not overt in the film, but from my point of view it was essential.
Before Lane 1974 you directed a series of short films still, most people don't know much about your background. Can you tell us how you got started in the film business?
I started theater in middle school. I was very shy, and initially I saw theater training as a way to learn to express myself. Love of theater continued into high school and through college, where I spent an intense time in London studying. My major was interdivisional: French Lit and Theater, so I also spent time in Paris. This was a particularly lonely time for me, and I spent a lot of time in the many and various movie theaters of Paris seeing all kinds of films.
After graduation I moved to Seattle and became ensconced in the fringe theater scene, acting, directing and even becoming the AD at Annex Theatre, but filmmaking began calling to me. I applied to USC film school, was accepted, but life intervened and I wasn't able to go. Later I began to study in Seattle and make my own films.
Katherine Moenning from, the TV series (The L Word) also stars in Lane 1974. When casting a film what qualities do you look for with actors?
For the role of Hallelujah I knew I needed someone with a fierce independence and a voice that belies no trace of wanting to please. It's more difficult than you might think to find. I was thrilled when I found Kate, and over the moon after our first conversation. In general, I insist on thoughtful, collaborative actors who are committed to digging deep into their characters, and who respect me as a director.
Congratulations on the premiere at the 2017 South By Southwest Film Festival. What was the whole experience like attending the festival?
A world premiere at SXSW was a dream come true. We had three screenings, two sold out and the third larger venue very well attended. We felt embraced, respected and well attended to by the staff. We loved being surrounded by so many exciting, innovative filmmakers and their films. There's so much to do and see at SXSW, it can be overwhelming, but in a good way!
We often talk with up-coming filmmakers who are interested in breaking into the business. What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in filmmaking?
Make sure you believe fully in what you have to say. Be very clear as to why you have to make this film. Find like minded collaborators. Treat each other with honesty, dedication, and respect.
Lane 1974 has a special northwest connection to Seattle. Can you tell us more about the relationship with Seattle?
It's difficult to imagine getting this film made from a different city. Seattle is unique in the way it accepts and even embraces female filmmakers. The connection to collaborators runs deep. Seattle has a professional filmmaking community with a deep commitment to art. If people believe in your film, it's incredible the kind of support you can get. Of course, it's a two way street. We all support each other to get work done. I used to assume this culture existed in most cities, but I've come to find out Seattle is a very special place.