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TV Interview: Charles Baker Pays His Respect to Breaking Bad


In the run-up the final episode, Cinema Chords recently caught up with Charles Baker who you will probably recognise as playing Skinny Pete in Breaking Bad.

In the interview he speaks about the popularity of Breaking Bad, the great on-screen duo that was him and Badger and why the show won at the Emmy Awards.

How did you get involved with Breaking Bad?

Well, I was in Fortworth, Texas and I was called in originally to play the skinny stoner in episode 4 of the first season. I read for the part and luckily they brought me in. Aaron Paul who plays Jesse Pinkman was supposed to die in the first season, but they decided he was too likeable to kill off and so they kept him. They made him a regular part of the show and decided that he needed friends and I was already established as a friend, so they kept me.

Wow, it could have been quite a different show if they killed Jesse.

Yeah, very much so.

Did you expect the show to be such a massive hit?

We knew it was going to be special, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted it to be as big as it was. We had a feeling that it was going to be something pretty cool and we all enjoyed doing it. Making it such a big hit was not necessarily what we were going for, we were just going for a love of the art and what we do. That’s one thing that Breaking Bad is, art.

What do you think it is about it that everyone loves so much?

Well, at least here in the States, a lot of people can relate. We don’t have a universal type of healthcare situation, and here we have a High School teacher who was able to support his family nicely up until the point where he needed healthcare. That’s what turned him, the knowledge that he was about to die and leave his family broke, or possibly in debt after having to pay for his medical bills. A lot of people here can relate to that. There’ also the drug aspect. There’s a lot of people in this country who are affected by drugs; they either know someone who’s into them or know someone who has been affected by someone into them.

Breaking Bad is great at presenting a wholly negative view of drugs. But, Miley Cyrus actually used the show as a way to imply she isn’t as ‘bad’ as a show that teaches how to make drugs. What do you think about that?

Like you said, we don’t promote drugs and we don’t actually show people how to make them. They do use a realistic process but they don’t use it exactly how it would be needed to make meth. Sometimes the ends do justify the means. We feel like we do a good job at portraying what happens when you get into this mess. Even my character, Skinny Pete, on the show, after people saw him play piano in one episode, this is what meth can do to someone who used to be a classical pianist. It changed him into an illiterate junkie who slings meth at rehab centres, you know?

How would you describe your character to someone who doesn’t watch the show?

He’s a very loyal, unfortunate person. I’d like to say he’s just a dumb street-dealer, but really he’s a lost guy just like Jesse. He had something going for him once, but something went wrong and he got in to this drug world. He’s a coward and isn’t quite sure of himself.

Why do you think he’s important for the show?

4500Matt Jones who plays Badger made a point in an interview recently when he said something that I thought was brilliant. He said that Skinny Pete and Badger are there to remind the audience what Jesse would have been if he hadn’t met Walt. Jesse was just like us and we were the three amigos in the beginning and, slowly, as he got more involved in the danger and the heavier side of the business, he started growing up. As you can see from  our last few episodes, Badger and Skinny Pete are still the same dumb, goofy guys who aren’t affected at all by any of it. It’s a good reason to have us there.

Do you and Matt Jones get along as well as you do off-screen as you do on-screen?

Yeah, we get along great. We see each other a lot more now, because I’ve just moved to Los Angeles from Texas. So I go see some of his shows and he’s a really great guy. He’s a lot busier than I am! He’s on a show on CBS and, also, has a live show that he does in LA which is an improvisational musical and it’s hilarious. He’s got a great singing voice, so I go and check out his shows when I can.

What was it like off-stage when you and Badger were filming? Most of your scenes were pretty hilarious.

Yeah, the whole cast and crew loved our jobs so much and nobody took it too seriously. Whenever Bryan and Aaron were off-camera they were having fun and joking and as soon as the cameras started rolling, they would  become the brilliant and dramatic actors that they are. All of us just joked around and had fun while we were on-set. It was like a working vacation for me!

What was your favourite episode?

To film, it was the one where Badger and I were discussing Nazi zombies at the beginning of Season 4. That was a lot of fun. It seemed as though we were making it up as we went along because the writers write so well! We understood the material so well, that we just went with it. We had to do it so many different times from so many different angles, that it became more and more fun as it went on.

Do you watch the show yourself, or are you one of those actors who can’t watch themselves?

Oh, I love watching the show! I’ve been a huge fan since the beginning. I’m really not like Skinny Pete at all and so I can disassociate myself from the character I play on-screen and just enjoy it like the rest of the fans.

As you’ve said, you’re obviously not like your character. But, do you share any similarities with him?

I try not to be like him in my everyday life; I have 2 kids and 2 adult children and I don’t want them to act like that, so don’t want them to see me being like it!

Do you know how the show ends?

I don’t, I know nothing! I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. I saw some of the script for the final episode, but only just a tiny little bit and the rest of it was blacked out. The crew, on the last episode, did a lot of joking around with the cast about how it ended and kept making up different endings so anybody who wasn’t involved really has no idea.

What do you think happens. or what do you want to happen?

bb2Wow, I’m kind of trying to avoid making up anything because I don’t want to be disappointed when something I want to happen doesn’t. The writers are just so good that you could never guess, and anything that you say will probably not be right. I saw it in the season that ended with the two aeroplanes crashing and they teased it in the season by showing the teddy bear in the pool, and the early cold openings of the show. At the end, after those aeroplanes crashed and everyone realised what that was about, so many people had their own ideas about what was happening that they actually got mad about what happened. A lot of them, after a while, thought “Yeah that was cool, I was just mad because I wanted it to be this…” you know? It’s not my show, let the storytellers tell it and let’s see what happens.

Did you expect Breaking Bad to win the Outstanding Drama award at the Emmys?

*Laughs* You know what, I did. The amount of love and attention this show has been getting lately. It had been passed up for Best Drama for years since we started so I think this was a way of saying, “Hey thanks for making the best show on television.” The writers definitely deserved it.

I have a question for you that someone posted on Facebook: Do you think if the present Walt could go back in time and tell Walt in the past what happens if he makes meth, do you still think he’d do it?

That’s a good question. I think because of his ego, I think he would have tried to make different choices but he still would have ended up in the same predicament. A lot of his choices, even though he kept saying, “This is for my family” you could almost see that it was more to do with his ego. Anytime somebody talked down to him or talked about him being a nice, smart, sweet guy, didn’t acknowledge him as being someone special, he somehow always brought himself back. When Hank thought that he caught Heisenberg in an earlier season and Walt was like, “Well..what if he’s still out there?” That was his ego talking and I think that’s what’s driving him. Even if he knew what was going to happen, he would try and change things and do it this time.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a new show for NBC called The Blacklist and stars James Spader. I play a character named Grey who is James Spader’s confidante and driver. It’s a really neat role for me; he’s the complete opposite of Skinny Pete. He dresses nice, he’s articulate, he’s well-groomed and he’s a positive help for James Spader’s character. It’s a really fun role and a great show.

We’d like to thank Charles for his time and hope he enjoys the final episode as much as we do this very evening as it airs on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9/8c on AMC.

We’ll leave you with one of our favourite recent scenes as Badger explains his Star Trek script idea to Skinny Pete.

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Exclusive Interview: Scribe Aaron Guzikowski Talks Prisoners


Having a script scooped up and bought is never as simple or as final as it may seem. Aaron Guzikowski wrote Prisoners years and years ago but only now has it finally been created after many start ups then drop offs.

Now it stars Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal in their respective roles. Hugh Jackman’s daughter and her friend go missing with his character becoming incessant in their rescue whilst Jake Gyllenhaal plays the detective searching for the same thing. The less you know about the twists and turns of the plot, probably the better, but there are plenty of reviews gushing over how suspenseful and intense the movie is. Aaron Guzikowski was a normal guy with a normal job until he decided that his path should be as a writer and, thankfully, his efforts have far been in vain, hitting huge Hollywood success with Prisoners, penning Mark Wahlberg vehicle from last year, Contraband and now in production on his TV show The Red Road. Below the man tells us about his film, how to write in Hollywood, his inspirations and what’s coming up next.

Prisoners has been around Hollywood for ages with loads of rumours, it almost got made once before back in 2010. Was it stressful or frustrating having it passed around but never produced?

Oh yeah. It’s interesting because at the very least it helped me start a career. It was a good calling card. It was frustrating at the time, of course, I very much wanted it to be produced. The script, once I sold it, had gotten me to quit my day job and got things going for me, career wise. It was very frustrating though. It went through previous incarnations and, like you said, it almost got made in 2010 so when that didn’t happen it was frustrating, but I also realised it was a dark script and the fact it sold at all surprised me.

Everything since then I’ve counted as a gift in terms of all that. At the end of the day, the incarnation that we ended up with, with Denis Villeneuve directing and the cast that we got and so on and so forth, benefited from the fact that it took so long to get all the pieces put together. Since I think the pieces that we ended up with are very strong, it had a brilliant outcome even though it was such a long, drawn out process and definitely difficult to wait for it. I tried to focus on other things and tried not to think about it too much. There was definitely a time where I was like ‘This is never going to get made and that’s not too shocking because of Hollywood’ so, yeah, I just consider it a lucky thing that it did get made.

I was going to bring up the talent that you’ve gotten on board now because I feel like this film has snuck up on audiences because it went quite quiet but now everyone knows about it. What’s it like seeing it made with top talent such as Denis Villenueve directing, Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo?

1237622_180897035427150_352118049_nIt’s really amazing. Actually quite surreal. They’re two huge movie stars playing the leads and not only that, all of the supporting cast is filled out with incredible actors and the work that Denis Villenvueve did along with Roger Deakins who shot it. They’ve made a really beautiful movie. I couldn’t have hoped for a better result than that. The director was extremely respectful of the screenplay and really great to work with. It was a dream scenario. I feel pretty lucky about how it all turned out.

Weren’t Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale previously attached as well?

Yeah they were originally, way, way back when. Mark Wahlberg was one of the first people that read the script and he really responded to it. There was a time where it was going to be Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale and Brian Singer was going to direct and for many reasons, that just didn’t work out. I got to make a movie with Mark shortly after that called Contraband which was a lot of fun to work on but oddly enough I actually wrote that after Prisoners but it got produced fairly quickly and got released a year and a half ago.

The story seems like a familiar one that we’ve seen before but you are getting incredibly glowing reviews. Did you try and do things differently or do the same things of the genre but do them “properly”?

1238096_173431422840378_1290345116_nI don’t know. I just tried to write the story that was in my head and I think trying to follow each character and get inside their heads rather than trying to plot the film then force the characters to work inside that plot. By doing that, things go a little differently than you would normally design a movie of this type of genre to unfold. I worked on it for a number of years. I think working on every minute detail took on a life of its own. I think it became a very complex narrative but it definitely wasn’t by design that I sat down and figured out that’s what I was setting out to do. It just kind of happened, is the best way of saying it.

It’s being described as an incredibly intense film and with a running time of 2 and a half hours, that’s impressive. How do you keep things tense?

It’s constant, everything is a revelation. Once you get inside the characters’ heads and you really start to get into their motivations and who they are, there needs to be enough mystery I think. Every scene should ask a new question. I think that constantly keeps the audience engaged. It is slightly on the longer side but, because of that, you never lose the thread and it keeps you locked into these constant questionings. Why are these people doing what they’re doing? What’s right? What’s wrong? It’s just constantly keeping those questions alive, asking new ones, when you answer them, it’s an answer that begs more questions and being as economical as possible with the story as you write it. Although it’s on the longer side, we tried to cut out as much filler as possible. A lot does happen but I think it’s very of the moment and important to the story. It’s just a very complicated story.

You said you’ve been working on it for two years. How many drafts did it go through?

Oh… wow… Quite a few, quite a few. It’s kind of hard to put a number on it. [laughs] I would say at least 10 to 15 drafts probably. Originally it focused more on the character that’s played by Hugh Jackman. It was seen mainly through his eyes, but as it progressed, the detective character played by Jake Gyllenhaal becomes a larger and larger presence in the story and it became more of a two-hander. That was the biggest evolution in terms of all that. The ending was always the same, the story more or less didn’t change too much but it was more how to tell it where most of the work took place.

I’m going to ask you a pretty vague question now: how do you go about your writing differently and how do you make it work? Do you have a routine?

In terms of routine I usually wake up really early in the morning, I think I do all of my best writing early in the morning, before anyone has talked to me and anyone is up. That’s usually the best time for me anyway. I think also trying to write things that I personally would want to see. Things I would find entertaining in my own mind, it’s all very selfish in its own way. I constantly keep that in mind. That informs what I write. I think that if there is a way I do it that’s the kind of question I would ask myself, ‘Is this something I would like to see on screen? Is this something I’m excited about?’ If you’re passionate about it and it does get you excited and you go ‘Oh wow, I really want to write this scene because I’d love to see it!’ That’s the key to writing good stuff.

Your advice to aspiring writers is to write something they’d like to see themselves then?

Yeah, exactly. They have to write someone they themselves would enjoy to see. That’s where I think the passion comes in. Instead of saying ‘I’m going to write an exciting story!’ but what I think makes everyone’s writing different and interesting is their perspective on what’s interesting and coming at it from that angle.

Now that you’re an established writer and it’s your full time job, is that a liberating feeling or a scary feeling because you have to keep producing something?

Sure. It’s both, of course. You’re always nervous. ‘What am I gonna do next? What if I wake up tomorrow and I don’t have any ideas?’ but again that’s a part of the fun. Fear is a great way to make great art. If you have all the time in the world and no pressure that’s not usually how things get done. That fear and that idea if you don’t do something you’re gonna be poor and end up back on the streets [laughing] that’s a good thing I think for making art to be constantly under the gun.

As you said, you wrote last year’s Contraband, adapting that, how did that come about and what was the experience like?

I had met Mark Wahlberg through writing Prisoners and he read it and really responded to it – he’s actually an executive producer on the film. When that didn’t come together, he wanted to remake this Icelandic film called Reykjavík-Rotterdam which was almost like a comedic thriller and it had a really good throughline through it. Then I adapted it, reset it in the States and made it into more of a hard-edged crime thriller, like a movie like The Getaway or something like that. I tried to make an exciting action movie with really compelling characters and unique situations and stuff like that. It was a great deal of fun. In terms of production, I wrote the screenplay and it immediately went into production and it all happened very fast, especially by Hollywood’s standards.

Was that a solitary draft?

No, no, I think for any screenplay on any film it’s an inevitable there’ll be more drafts. Hopefully I think that once the movie goes into shooting you have a finalised script with some small exceptions. I think that’s the real goal to get something in front of the camera that’s a solid piece of work. I think until then you’re always trying to make it better and better and that’s what you’ve got to do.

Was adapting a new challenge?

Somewhat so, yeah. I usually like to write original stuff and start from scratch but it was also kind of liberating in a way because you know how certain aspects of the plot work and you can delve more deeply into the characters, trying to figure out that side of things and the world it takes place in. You think of that more, it frees you a bit. It’s definitely nice to adapt, especially if you feel passionately about the material and you want to get inside the world and see it in a different way or create different places to go in that world. It’s an interesting process and one I enjoyed more than I thought I would. Mostly I tend to like to start with a blank page but sometimes it’s nice to have a skeleton to build off. Like I said, you can delve into certain aspects more deeply because you don’t have to worry about the machinery of the plot.

How difficult was it getting your writing seen in the industry?

It’s tough. I didn’t have any connections at all. I was living in New York city working a regular job. I didn’t really have any way into Hollywood. I had gone to art school and I had made some short films, stuff like that. I’ve been writing on and off throughout my life and at some point, not all that long ago, I just decided I was going to do writing exclusively. Around that time I entered screenwriting competition in 2005 with the first spec script I wrote. I entered that and I was a semi-finalist or something like that, and that was encouraging. Then I wrote another screenplay after that and wrote some letters to random managers in Los Angeles. A guy named Adam Colbrenna, who is my manager today, responded to it which is kind of rare! Most of them end up in the trash or deleted if they’re emails but for some reason he responded to it. Then I went back and forth to his and the thing I started writing after he took notice of me was Prisoners so it worked out well. It was great he took a chance on me. That’s what it comes down to in a lot of ways. You’ve got to find someone who is willing to take a risk on an unknown quantity.

I know that this is a little off-topic again but I know your favourite movie is The Shining so I’m guessing you’re a horror fan. Do you have any plans to write a horror film?

I would love to, yeah! Actually the first script I wrote that got me my manager interested in my writing was a horror movie. I love elevated horror movies like The Shining or The Exorcist or The Omen, those old-school, high-end horror movies. So yeah it’s definitely a goal of mine to write a great horror movie one of these days. I think that’d be a hugely exciting thing for me.

Who are your writing inspirations?

It’s tough to say. Probably more novelists, I loved Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling, Richard Mattheson is another huge one, Stephen King I’ve always loved, guys like that. Herman Melville! [laughs] Moby Dick is probably my favourite piece of writing of all time. Just to name a few.

Then on the other side, who are your film inspirations or favourite films?

Favourite films, I’ve always loved Jaws. Steven Spielberg‘s Jaws is one of the most perfect movies ever made. It’s a thriller, the great characters, it is such a good adventure. It’s just so beautifully made that I could watch that movie over and over again. It’s just like one of those things. I love all of Kubrick‘s films, they’re hugely inspiring to watch and I can watch those over and over again. In terms of guys working today I love David Fincher, Darren Aronofsky I think is a genius, James Gray I quite like, who actually just directed an episode of the TV show that I created and I’m working on now. I love movies in general. There are just so many. My whole life I’ve just been watching tonnes and tonnes of movies, probably too many. [laughs]

Is the TV programme you’re working on The Red Road?

That’s correct, yes.

Is there much you can tell us about that?

I’ll just say that it’s the same genre as Prisoners. A thriller-drama with some kind of horror type overtones and it takes place in a small town in New Jersey near the Ramapo Mountains. It’s a place that actually exists, it’s like 26 miles outside of New York city where this tribe of Indians live, up in the mountains. They live close to this small town. Our main character is a police officer who works in this small town and has to police both of these communities. Something happens to his wife that he has to cover up and he gets involved in this very tense situation with people there. It goes on from there. It’s kind of Twin Peaks-esque in a lot of ways, David Lynch is also one of my huge inspirations but it’s also a thriller and the idea is to make every episode as tense, exciting and scary as possible. I quite like television, I think it’s an exciting medium, especially for writers right now. It’s a good time for it.

Your other project I believe you are working on is an Untitled Space War Project.

Right, right, right, well who knows with that one. That’s something I wrote for Warners Bros. that I quite liked but we’ll see. That was before they decided to make more Star Wars movies, it was kind of in that vein so [laughing] it may not get made now because of the behemoth that is Star Wars but I do love Star Wars. You know, sometimes that happens. You end up writing things for studios and it’s a great experience and what not but a lot of these things, for a lot of reasons, they don’t always make it in front of the camera but who knows? I’m still holding out hope for that one. It could be quite exciting.

Is there anything else you’ve got lined up for the future?

No, I’m pretty consumed with the TV show right now. I’m considering a few things in terms of my next feature. I very much want to do a movie about the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the ship that sunk at the end of World War II. Also Moby Dick is one I’m trying to push forward. Those are the ones that are kind of percolating right now. Who knows? We’ll see. I’m in production on this TV series that will be premiering in February and that’s taking up pretty much 100% of my life right now. [laughs]

Prisoners is released today in the UK and is currently garnering a lot of positive attention for its thrilling ride. Go see it and take a friend. Or multiple friends. Take everyone.

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Interview: Ed Gass-Donnelly Talks The Last Exorcism Part II


Following 2010’s sleeper hit The Last Exorcism, the studios decided to capitalise on its success and release a successor with Ashley Bell going head to head with the ever-present possession again. This time round the Canadian director Ed Gass-Donnelly stepped into Daniel Stamm’s shows as director for The Last Exorcism Part II produced by none other then Eli Roth. The original film was a found footage shockumentary that followed priest Cotton Marcus, brilliantly played by Patrick Fabian, who hasn’t returned, obviously. The focus now shifts to Ashley Bell and the seduction of the dark that is ultimately a choice for her now. Ed Gass-Donnelly generously took time out to speak to us all about the film, which hits DVD next week, the potential for a third entry in the franchise and how, although the title may say ‘last’, there’s no need to get all pedantic. Do read on as he provides some intriguing answers and talks like an AK-47 rattling off a full clip as he demonstrates sheer devotion to everything film related and then some.

Each horror film tends to have its own scare tactic. There always tends to be devotion to one specific strategy or another, whether that be jump scares or creepiness that haunts your for ages; what direction would you say you were aiming for in this film?

I would definitely say it has a bit of both. My instinct was to try and be a lot more restrained and creepy and create this sort of underlying sense of fear. There’s always a sense of dread, that ‘OK, we need a scare now!’ and trying to find that balance of enough moment to moment scares and startles but at the same time creating that larger, overreaching sense of dread. That is what I personally find all the more scarier – the fear of the unknown and waiting for it as opposed to that instant gratification.

Is there anything, thematically, you’ve explored in this second part since your work usually has a theme behind it?

I think I’d probably say the film is ultimately a metaphor for kids discovering their own sexuality and the idea of teenage sexuality as a taboo. The story is all about a girl who has lived such a completely religious, sheltered life, home schooled, wasn’t even allowed to listen to music. Now, [SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FIRST], after her family is killed and found feral in the woods, she’s put into a halfway house. It’s a dark coming-of-age story of this girl slowly discovering who she is and what she wants and finding herself slowly being seduced by these darker forces. The movie certainly deals a lot more with seduction as opposed to possession.

Did you find it somewhat daunting entering into this and making a sequel to a surprise horror hit that had the word LAST in the title? Surely you must have had some scepticism when going into it?

[Laughs] I was the first, and certainly not the LAST, to bring that up. I never really liked the title to be honest. Whilst we were actually shooting the movie was originally going to be called The Beginning of the End. That’s when I came up with the idea that, if there was eventually a third, it would be called The End. Then I was like “you can still brand it The Last Exorcism: Part Whatever” or however they wanted to do it. At the end of the day, the title is, quite frankly, the distributor’s choice. [laughs] So I kind of lost my opinion on that.

The title doesn’t bother me personally but people will draw conclusions from the name of it as it’s such a finite word. The Final Fantasy franchise is one of the longest running ever and it’s far from final. I think it’s on like 14 now.

[Laughs] Yeah, exactly. You just have to go into these films with more than a pinch of salt. You just know, especially online, that people are going to make fun of the title. That’s what the first movie is called and this is the sequel so inevitably they will. [Laughs]

You’ve said here that the idea is for a trilogy and the second ends on one of the biggest cliffhangers so is there actually a third in the works?

Yeah, who knows? That was always the plan but we’ll see. I certainly haven’t been told for sure if there’s going to be a sequel for this one. I’m sure in a few months, once they’ve seen what audiences’ appetites are like. I really like the idea of a third one. For me, I liked the idea that you’d make a trilogy of movies where the first one was a small, found-footage film; the second was a more elegantly shot, ’70s style, restrained, character-driven horror movie; and the third one was like quite frankly a balls to the walls violent action horror movie. Each one would have a signature look and feel. It would be completely different visually but following this character who was a supporting character in the first, the protagonist in the second and the [spoiler] antagonist in the third movie.

The original director didn’t return to the sequel, leaving the seat warm for you. Did you work with him on this or was it your own continuation?

I think he didn’t want to be tied to a franchise and wanted to do other things. I got to meet him at a sneak screening in LA so I finally got to meet him there [laughs] because I was a fan of his work but I’d never actually met him.

Eli Roth has his name as a producer on this. In fact on the poster and the trailers it says “Eli Roth presents…” Did he have a lot of influence and input on the film or did he give you total freedom?

He definitely had influence but at the same time was extremely respectful and kept his distance. I definitely never felt like I had someone breathing over my shoulder throughout the process. I was granted a lot of freedom while shooting it and cutting it but he was always there if I needed something. He was very supportive and had a lot of creative ideas and suggestions but at the same time was totally respectful. It was the perfect balance between being there when you needed them and leaving you alone when you didn’t. [laughs]

Was he on set often, since he’s been busy acting and directing abroad for both Aftershock and The Green Inferno, or did you keep in touch via other means?

It was more through Skype, he was shooting in Chile at the time. He was most days active throughout post, he’d watch the dailies and give comments and feedback. That’s the one thing about technology too. You shoot the film and they send the dailies out online to the financiers of Studio Canal from France. You’re shooting the next day and all your partners around the world are watching the footage.

the-last-exorcism-part-2-350x262Ashley Bell used “hyper mobility” in the first to contort her body into completely mental shapes. Does she do the same in this? Because those shapes look incredibly painful and broken.

It’s all her. That was such a iconic visual from the first movie. I didn’t just want to repeat it. I created one sequence where she has this sexualised floating where she’s not quite bent into a pretzel shape as a nod to what happened in the first without trying to recreate it. In the marketing material they do recreate it but that’s marketing. Again, that whole shot, I wanted to do it all in camera. [Laughing] In 20/20 hindsight it would have been a lot easier to do it on a green screen as opposed to actually making it all in camera. That was all Ashley. We had to have a masseuse on set because to do that once is one thing but to repeat it for like 16/17 takes starts to really take its toll. She’s in every scene of the movie practically. If she was injured or too sore the next day we would have been kind of screwed.

The release was originally delayed. Why did that happen and was it advantageous in the end?

You know, I have no idea. Frankly it was probably because when CBS bought the movie we were still amidst the cutting. They were all like “Oh now you have to finish the movie by this date” and it was suddenly a crazy race so I have no idea. I don’t get told frankly when the release dates are. I so know that when we were getting down to the wire for the foreign stuff there just was not enough time, not necessarily for the UK, but for France. They wouldn’t have had any time to do the translations. I think at some point Studio Canal just made the decision to delay because we just weren’t going to manage it in time. As opposed to making a movie where you know your release date a year in advance, this became a thing where suddenly CBS had a window and wanted to release it March 1st which created absolute chaos. I never want to have that kind of deadline. Even when you know from the beginning that you’re working towards it then suddenly there’s this deadline that you have to race to meet. It was just a horrible race to the finish line but we got there in the end and hope you enjoy the ride.

We’d like to thank Ed once again for speaking with us. The Last Exorcism Part II is released on DVD and Blu-ray this Monday, September 30. It’s available for pre-order here and we’ll leave you with a trailer for the film.

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Exclusive Interview: David Kwong Talks the Magic of Now You See Me

David kwong now you see me

Magic acts and movies surprisingly have a lot in common. They’re both made as a grand spectacle for us to enjoy, and sometimes rely on deceiving us in order to entertain. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the two can collaborate to great effect. The topic of magicians and illusionists is one only lightly explored by Hollywood, and even then very scarcely.

This year we’ve had two big releases mixing in magic, illusions, and trickery in the form of Now You See Me, and The Incredible Burt WonderstonePerhaps the beginning of some kind of trend? But, the subject matter of magic is not the only thing these two movies have in common. The other major similarity would be the talents of Mr. David Kwong.

David Kwong is a professional magician, writer, Hollywood producer and consultant that occasionally dabbles in crossword puzzles. In the interview below, David was kind enough to talk to me about his role on Now You See Me, and Burt Wonderstone. We also chat about his wider experiences of turning movies into magic, and magic into movies.

On Now You See Me

So, at what point did you become involved with Now You See Me? Were you approached with a script? What was your initial job?

That’s right, I was approached with the original script, and there were some very good ideas as to how magicians would rob banks. But, at first, it was much more ‘heisty’. I helped flesh out the script in terms of realism, and how magicians perform. They wanted a traditional heist movie under the premise of ‘magicians robbing banks’, and it was slowly driven to be more involved with illusion and tricks. I wanted very real principle illusions. I wanted to depict how conjurors approach their performances. Like the ‘rabbit box’ trick at the beginning, I wanted to extract that principle illusion and apply that to a larger scale. But to answer your question, yes I was involved from a very early stage. When the film got the greenlight, I flew out to New Orleans to help with the shoot, teach Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, and Jessie Eisenberg their sleight of hands, and such.

Would you say any of the actors were particularly good, or at first resistant to learning their sleight of hands and basic illusiony stuff?

jesse-eisenberg--644x362Jessie Eisenberg felt uncomfortable ‘lying’ in terms of magic. He couldn’t quite wrap his head around the concept of ‘lying’ as a profession. But ultimately I feel he enjoyed that experience. He would marvel at how comfortable magicians are with deceiving people. He felt the need to tell how he did a trick afterwards. He’s very grounded in reality.

Dave Franco spent a lot of time practising. By the time the shoot came around, he was probably better at flicking cards than me. He just completely dove into what he needed to learn, and he was a pro by the time he needed to be, really impressive.

Did you feel that you were happy with the film, that it was where you wanted it to be?

My part was simply having the magicians rob the banks as convincingly as possible. I was pleased with how that turned out. The response was fairly good. People who watched the film came away with thinking how ‘magic shows work’ several steps ahead, with the magician controlling all perspectives. We gave them a high-octane, illusion-based thrill-ride that I think did the job. Ultimately I think it’s comparable to the superhero movies of the summer, except it’s normal people pulling off super-human feats. It’s that level of amazement and astonishment, in realistic fashion.

On The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.

the-incredible-burt-wonderstone-carell-buscemi-la-12-19-12To what end were you involved with The Incredible Burt Wonderstone?

My involvement with The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was primarily with the script. I was working in storyline development at the time, at Dreamworks animation. Because I was working with writers, I was involved in a conversation about much in town, and obviously I’d been a professional magician. When that became a real project, I was approached by a producer from New Line Cinema to weigh in on the script. They wanted me to make it authentic, add some touches from my own personal experiences as a magician, to help flesh out Burt Wonderstone. Due to a cruel twist of fate, I couldn’t be there for both Now You See Me, and Burt Wonderstone, as they were filmed at the same time. Thus I had to choose, and chose to go be on set for Now You See Me.

On other experiences, and future projects.

So you mentioned you initially worked at Dreamworks before getting involved as an advisor/producer on many films in Hollywood. Can you tell us about that?

Dreamworks is an incredible idea factory. So rich in storytelling. I learned so much about characters, narrative, and story structure. It is such an incredibly creatively rich place. It was the perfect launching pad for me working on films like How to Train a Dragon, Kung Fu Panda 2, Megamind and Turbo.

Are you currently involved with any projects now you could possibly tell us a bit about?

Well The Immigrant is coming out soon. It stars Joaquin Pheonix, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner as a turn of the century magician, in 20th century New York. The idea is it’s a very classical form of magic, as opposed to modern stage shows. There’s also a sequel to Now You See Me in the works but it’s very early days. We’re just beginning to work on the basic story structure for that one.

Generally I’m working on quite a few projects, including a special something in the works with J.J Abrams‘ production company, Bad Robot, in a production role. I can’t disclose too much about that one though. Other than that, my company is the Misdirectors Guild, which is my elite group of illusionists who consult on film, television and theatre.  It’s my own real-life version of the Four Horsemen…

We’d like to thank David for his time and leave you to enjoy some of his very own sleight of hand in the video below:

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TV Interview: Jonathan Banks Pays His Respect to Breaking Bad


cast-and-characters-of-breaking-bad-2023301676-aug-10-2012-1-600x400Jonathan Banks’ 40-something-year career has been varied to say the least, but he’s never had such a great role.

He’s gone from drama to comedy. He’s played good guys (particularly memorable was his portrayal of FBI Agent Frank McPike in Wiseguy) and felons. But the 66 year young actor has never taken on such a role as nuanced or as stirring as Mike Ehrmantraut, the dead-eyed hitman who protects other bad guys for a living in the hit show, Breaking Bad.

With the show just days away from reaching its climax we spoke to Jonathan as he pays his respect to both his character and the show.

[Warning: the odd SPOILER may be found below if you haven’t seen some of the most recent episodes]

So, how did you first get involved with Breaking Bad?

Basically they brought me in to do a job, you know? They needed someone to play a cleaner to come in and I did, and I thought that I was just going to be in it for one show and then leave. But apparently they liked what I did and I ended up staying on!

Did you expect the show to be the big hit that it is now?

Nope, I had absolutely no idea it was going to be anything like it turned out.

What did you think of your fellow actors on the show?

Well, looking back after finishing my stint it was just such an enjoyable experience. In the beginning, when I came home I said to my wife “You know, I’m working with this kid [Aaron Paul] and I think he’s going to be really great.” And indeed I was correct.

If you had to describe your character, Mike in 3 words, what would they be?

Dangerous, lost soul.

We don’t really know much about Mike’s background even though it’s slightly hinted at. Did you ever imagine what his story was?

Well, I’m still doing that actually. All the actors thought about what Mike’s back story might be. Even if I could define him, I just would not express him because I really like the way the character was left. I liked the decision to just leave all that mystery surrounding his back story.

Are you glad that Mike had a “decent” death? It was quite a serene moment.

It was a very tragic death. It was a wonderful scene, it really was.

What was it like shooting your final scene?

The day that my character, Mike died on set everyone on set wore black armbands. It was a very emotional day because I love that show so much. I love those people and I knew that something like the wonder of Breaking Bad only comes along maybe once in a life time. I was well aware of that, so that will give you an idea of the intensity of the emotion on that day.

What was your favourite episode?

As far as just ‘fun’ goes, it’s when Aaron (Jesse Pinkman) and I are riding around in the desert because we laughed all day long.

Do you watch the show yourself?

Well, since my character was killed I didn’t want to know what happened on the last 8 shows, so I am watching it as an audience member as it comes to an end.

So you don’t know how it all ends?

I do not so there’s no spoilers coming from me.

What do you think happens?

I’m not sure. I always like it when, and I don’t mean this to be coy, I truly enjoy it when the writers surprise me. I think it’s great.

I think how they’ve left it, anything could happen.

I haven’t seen the most recent episode because I was at the Emmy Awards, so I have it recorded and can’t wait to see.

An article online criticised Breaking Bad for its unrealistic time frame. It was said that too much happens in too short an amount of time. What do you think about this?

*Laughs* It’s a story, what can I tell you? There are going to be holes in it, if that is indeed a hole. I think the story is told incredibly well in a wonderful time frame. I don’t think that’s a problem at all.

Are you going to feature in the spin-off show Better Call Saul?

I have no idea, nobody has spoken to me about anything yet.

Would you be interested in being involved in the project?

Well it would depends on what it is. It would depends on how it is written and what they intend to do.

559837_10151912155142722_1002143359_nHow was it going up against Aaron Paul for the Best Supporting Actor award?

I love Aaron Paul like a son. If anything, it’s humorous. Aaron couldn’t be pulling any harder for me to win it and I always wanted the best for him. So, if either one of us had won we would have been happy. Do you want to win? Sure, you want to win! But, is it a big deal if the other guy wins? No, I could have only been happy for him.

Were you surprised that neither of you picked up the award?

Well, Bobby Cannavale is a wonderful, wonderful actor and so deserving. So good for him and congratulations to him.

Did you expect Breaking Bad to win the Outstanding Drama Series award?

I don’t know if I was expecting it, but I definitely thought that it should.

Do you think Emma Gunn (Skylar White) was a worthy winner for Best Supporting Actress?

Anna is so good and so wonderful. She was so happy to have it. We had a great cast. I’ve done this professionally for 46 years and 35 in Hollywood, and this is as good as it gets. The actors, producers, the writers and the studio at AMC, all those wonderful people. We were all on the same page. We enjoyed each other and we had a great time. I will tell you this, that is a very rare commodity.

What are you going to be doing now that the show is over? Almost, anyway.

I’m doing the last season of a situation comedy called Community. I think I do 11 shows for them and that runs up to December 12th. It’s a comedy, so it’s a change of pace and it’s great fun. I have no idea what’s next. You know, I’m a journeyman character actor so I never know where the next job’s coming.

Well, that sounds exciting!

It’s also stressful at times, but yes, it’s certainly exciting.

We’d like to thank Jonathan and hope he enjoys the final episode as much as we do this very weekend when it airs on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9/8c on AMC.


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Interview: Kris Kristofferson Talks Deadfall


deadfall4At the supple young age of 77, singer–songwriter and actor Kris Kristofferson holds a place in everyone’s hearts, whether it be for his musical deftness or his acting chops having appeared in the best part of 100 feature films. Despite undergoing an elective heart bypass operation back in 1999 nothing was ever going to get in his way and to this very day he always has a plethora of film projects on the go. In whatever free time his he has outside his acting work he doesn’t stop, taking to the road with his band to play live music as often as is physically possible.

A sound example of his most recent acting work is the thriller, Deadfall which finds him in the shoes of Chet Mills, father to Jay (played by Sons of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam) and husband of June Mills (Sissy Spacek). Chet and his family’s Thanksgiving dinner is suddenly flung into turmoil when they find themselves accompanied by brother and sister (Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde) on the run in the aftermath of a botched casino robbery.

Kris was good enough to speak with us all about the film although, given the fact he is in such high demand and has so much on the go, he had to do his utmost to recall his on-set experiences.

So Deadfall sees its UK release very soon. I recently interviewed the film’s director, Stefan Ruzowitzky and he said that you were one of his first choices for the film as he saw you as this very iconic, fatherly figure. Would you say it was those particular features that drew you to this role?

Well *laughs* I really didn’t have much to do in this film as my character was just sat at the dining room table most of the time. Having said that, it was really cool to get to work with the cast and crew involved in the project. This was especially true with Sissy who is an actress I have always admired but, believe it or not, never had the opportunity to work with before.

Yes I heard you were keen to work with her, to say the least. Put me out of my misery here. Is it true that there was a cut scene of the two of you? I heard that the script read that you were supposed to just give her a quick peck on the cheek but for some reason or other that ended up going a little bit further than expected.

*Bursts into laughter* To be honest I couldn’t really tell you what happened there. When you get to my age most of those things have a habit of turning into a bit of a blur.

Alright, I’ll take your word for it. Let’s put it down to selective memory.

What works so well with this film is that although it has its fair share of butt-kicking there is so much more to it. Something that is very apparent throughout the film is that the female of the species plays the dominant role, as is often the case in Ruzowitzky’s films. This is certainly true for Sissy. Did she and yourself meet eye to eye when it came to deciding just how you wanted to portray your on-screen relationship?

Well, to be honest, this whole dominant wife idea came across very clearly in the script and it was great to find that Sissy had exactly the same approach to acting as me so we didn’t really argue about that at all. And I was totally in favour of Sissy dominating me so I had zero problems with that.

So now you’ve worked with one of your favourite actresses, is there anyone on the long list of great actors that you still haven’t worked with who you would like to tick off that bucket list?

Aww, listen, to be totally honest, I really couldn’t care if I never do another film now. I mean, sure I’d love to work with any great actors…….. and even some bad ones *laughs*. I’m just really happy to be able to keep on doing something that I enjoy so much.

Definitely, considering your age and the amount of different projects you’ve got going on constantly, I don’t know how you manage it. Although you say you aren’t bothered about doing any more films there are a few things you have in the pipeline such as a festive film coming out this Christmas with Harry Connick Jr called Angels Sing?

That’s right, but let me just check when that is coming out for you….

(He calls out to someone on the other end of the line with him to ask when that film is out as he cannot remember).

Yeah that’s right, it’s supposed to be coming out this Christmas.

Kris you seem to have so many things going on I’m not surprised you can’t remember them all!

Oh I do! My old brain just isn’t what it used to be, especially after all that boxing and football. It’s all catching up with me now but as long as I can still sing my songs I’ll still carry on.

So you can still remember your lyrics but how do you manage when it comes to remembering all your lines in film scripts? You seem to be on the ball in all the recent films I have seen you in but would you say that too is getting harder with time?

Well no, not really. I mean, when I’m doing films it’s not like being in a play where everything has to be so much more exaggerated in front of an audience. When I find myself in front of the camera it is so much easier to become the character and create it realistically so I really don’t suffer any problems regarding the scripts.

Kris proves this point regally in Deadfall which you can pre-order on DVD right now. We’d like to thank Kris for his time and we’ll leave you with a trailer for the movie. Doon’t forget you can read our review right here also.

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Exclusive Interview: Director Brad Anderson Talks The Call


Last Friday saw the UK release of the cautionary tale/thriller The Call which follows an emergency service phone operator, who gets over-emotionally involved with a call. Directed by Brad Anderson (The Machinist, Vanishing on 7th Street) the films boast a brutal and unorthodox script.

Having already lost the life of one PR (person reporting) Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is determined to not let lightning strike twice when Casey (Abigail Breslin) is abducted from a shopping mall by murderous psychopath Michael Foster (Michael Eklund) and calls 911. The Call is certainly an unpredictable thriller and is sure to keep you tethered to your seat.

Having spoken to Eklund all about playing aforementioned psycho killer we decided to speak with another prominent name in moulding the film, director Brad Anderson.

One of your earlier and most renowned films is The Machinist. Can you tell me a little about your intent making the film?

Erm, thinking back to the movie, I think we were really interested in making a really dark psychological, suspense thriller a la Hitchcock, Polanski. Both of those film-makers were in mind when I made the film. I tried to make a really intense psychological profile of a guilty, guilty mind. So the inspirations were many, like any movie. Movies that take you into a place of dread and menace. That was the intent with The Machinist.

Christian Bale’s probably one of the industry’s best method actors, what was it like working with him?

He was great. He was a great consummate professional, a real great guy, and actor. He just submits himself to the role completely. He brought a lot to the character, like losing all the weight, something that I wouldn’t be able to ask him to do. He’s just one of those guys that you’d really want to work with, that really bring commitment and professionalism to each part of the play.

Talking about your most recent release The Call, Michael Eklund told me that you and him had quite a rapport as actor and director before The Call. How did Michael catch your eye as an actor when you worked together on Fringe?

Yeah we worked on Fringe, that he was great in. It was clear we wanted to work on something else. It was clear we wanted him to be the bad guy in the call. He was willing to do it. He’s a great guy.

As I also brushed over with Michael, was it a challenge getting across the character of Michael Foster? Obviously you only have about 15 minutes of screen time to establish him as this brooding villain, and that’s quite tough. How did you go about doing that?

THE CALLYeah, well I mean he’s one of those guys who immediately resonates on screen, and he’s just fascinating to watch, all these weird little nuances. He can just do these little actory things that just mean so much ultimately. In the script you didn’t know anything about the character, so we needed an actor able to characterise Michael Foster through the very little things. In Fringe he played a mentally imbalanced character, and like Christian Bale in his ethic, he’s very committed: he writes a little diary, he’s very caught in the details, in the role. He doesn’t have much screen time, but he very much pops on the screen. He’s a despicable character, but there’s still an element of empathy, guilt, and he’s aware of the consequences of what he’s doing. He has a family, two kids, and a wife. He lends a seemingly kind of normality to the role, yet he’s so twisted. He’s one of those actors that with everything he does, he’s just so fascinating to watch, like Christian Bale in many respects. Particularly when you’re playing characters that have so much emotional, or psychological baggage. They can really chew on that a lot in different scenes.

What was your initial reaction to the The Call‘s script, and taking on the project?

The original script had been around and had had quite a few directors attached to it at that point. I just really liked the script. And a 911 call centre hadn’t really been depicted on film. I liked the idea of a non-stop thriller that kind of keeps going. That notion of doing a kind of genre movie, just the agonizing suspense of finding a way to keep the suspense and drama alive and intense, even though much of the story is set in the back of a trunk of a car, and in a call centre, finding ways to visually show that and the challenge of doing that. In that sense I said let’s do it and then Halle Berry came on board and it just came together very quickly after that.

The ending is quite an atypical one isn’t it? In this era we’re seeing a lot more good guys with moral ambiguity, and there’s definitely some of that in Halle Berry’s character as the film concludes.

We wanted to keep that, you’re right. I guess the ending in the movie – the ending’s always part of a film – you’re always battling out to find a balance. Our sense was that you could kind of go either way: is she taking this into her own hands as a vigilante or just letting him stew down there for a while?

As a movie, as a character, there are not a lot of shades of grey. She knows what’s right and what’s wrong, she’s out to get the bad guy and save the girl. She may do certain things that are against the rule book to save the girl, but that’s part of what makes her good at what she does. In some ways, it’s not a very complicated story. There may be some complicated motivations in what Halle Berry’s character is doing, but there’s a fairly straightforward journey that she takes. She feels she needs to redeem herself for messing up before. This is her chance to prove to herself, to let her make up for her failing. This was her second chance, so she was really gun-ho about not letting this girl down. Beyond playing a 911 call operator, that was interesting. Halle was able to understand the ins and outs of dealing with this kind of crisis on a daily basis, she was driven to save this girl, and give her a second chance. I think the movie turned out well. We shot the film in twenty days and didn’t have a big budget. In that measure, it worked out pretty well.

How hard was shooting The Call, and what challenges did you have to face?

Like any movie, this was a particularly gruelling shot, oddly enough. It wasn’t a particularly big movie but it was a hard shot. At one point we had an accident on set and Halle was injured and we had to call 911 on the day we were shooting this scene with Halle taken to hospital. We were on the phone to 911 ironically, when Halle bumped her head but it turned out to be fine of course. It was a life imitating art, art imitating life situation.

Shooting in the trunk of a car was the hardest part. Shooting in a tiny set and trying to make that feeling of claustrophobia work. How do we shoot in the trunk of a car? Could Abigail Breslin really make it feel like she couldn’t get out? These were questions I asked myself. Beyond that, it was a fairly straightforward shot. It was fun learning about how the 911 centres operate. We listened to some of the 911 calls on the day, real situations. Just figuring out how these operators deal with the intensity of the job, you’ll go from this call about a cat stuck in a tree to this woman who’s child has stopped breathing. How do you carry this incredible intensity of an everyday job, and put it behind you so you don’t die of stress. It’s such a stressful job yet they’re so calm and collected. That’s their job, to talk you down from your crisis and help you takes a certain type. The same is true for any first responder, where they aren’t physically with the people, and they still have to figure out how to negotiate crisis, and figure out that situation. It’s a really interesting world.

eliza-graves-posterOf all the projects you worked on, do you have one that you’re particularly fond of in retrospective?

They all bring a certain level of creative interest. Of course, each one is not the same. Eliza Graves is a period piece, something I’ve never done before, and that was so satisfying. Creating this world in Medieval England with the costumes and creating this whole world.

In The Machinist it was just seeing Christian and how he operates. Of course they all satisfy me in different ways. I mean, they’re your children. You can’t say “I like my daughter more than my son,” Y’know? You love them equally in different ways. But the ones I’ve written, I tend to have a greater connection with because their ‘my’ films, all the way through.

You’ve worked in both TV and Film, and while they’re constantly compared, obviously they both have their ups and downs. Which do you feel most suits you?

I think films are probably more satisfying because you’re more involved in a movie. It could be 6 months, a year out of your life developing it, writing it, casting it. Television is more of a gun for hire situation, working on The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, taking a couple of weeks directing it and my job is done. For that very reason, you’re kind of like getting the chance to practise your craft without the huge level of commitment, without as big of an investment. There’s more at stake with film. More of your time but you’ve grown it from the ground up with a film. But it is good to do TV shows between movies. I hope to do some more TV stuff, maybe a pilot between films to mix things up a bit. Another thing television has given me a chance to do is different stuff, like episodes of Fringe, Boardwalk Empire… Just to do stuff in a world I’m not familiar with myself. The great thing about Fringe is that every episode you’re doingthe most outlandish crazy stuff. In one episode you’re working with a crazy human mole man…every episode is a fun challenge to see if you can make it work. But movies are a bigger thing altogether. But they’re both very challenging. With TV you have a very tight schedule whilst with film you have more to work with. But with TV you have to work more efficiently.

So how did you actually break into the business?

It’s not like I grew up wanting to make movies. I always loved films. For me it was a process of knowing how to do it, learning how to do it, and getting more invested. I went to London International Film School for a while but my process mainly came from editing films, from other people’s projects. That was the best training for learning how to take a story apart; learning what fits as a puzzle and what doesn’t. That’s how I started, and then I started writing my own scripts. I never intended to work my way up the hierarchy. I always intended to do it independent film making style. I didn’t want to join the corporate ladder. My first project was a privately funded feature, with friends and family that went to Sundance film festival. That was the moment, and the movie, that helped me understand that I could do it. Maybe I could find people to give me money to continue to do it.

And then Next Stop Wonderland was sold to Miramax and then I had a real bankable movie out there and everything else fell into place. Then you’ve got your agents and people approaching you with projects. From then I’ve just been making my own films along with finding projects you want to direct together with my own pet projects.

My career’s just been a tale of incremental gain, getting more and more into the business. From an angle, I do this because it gives me creative satisfaction, not because it gives me a pay check. There’s always a financial consideration, but it’s got to get my creative juices flowing, to get me pumped creatively. I think of my self as a filmmaker, not a director. I like the process of making a movie, writing a script, funding the movie, casting it, filming it, editing it, composing it – the whole soup to nuts process. Directing it is just one part of the puzzle. I mean, I’m still an indie director. I’m not working on studio financed films. It makes the process enjoyable. I’ve passed on certain movies that were studio based and I passed because I would have been giving up creative control and that was not something that interested me.

And can you let us in on a few of your future projects?

There’s a couple things brewing. There’s a historical epic drama which I’m trying to get off the ground called The Mapmaker’s Wife. It’s about trying to go down to the Amazon river in the 18th century. I find myself drawn to things outside of my wheelhouse. Eliza Graves is a Victorian drama based on an Allan Edgar Poe story in a Victorian asylum. Kate Beckinsale, Michael Caine… It doesn’t have much of a connection to The Call, or The Machinist, but that’s what I wanted to do.

I don’t have anything set in stone for my next movie. The process is you finish one movie, you start to see the next one. I don’t currently have any long term projects set in stone.

And are there any actors you’d love to work with, or any whose styles would really mesh well with your own?

It’s hard to narrow down. I’d love to work with some epic legend like Pacino, or De Niro. Just being in the same room as those guys. But I don’t know, I’m not like one of those star struck people, that I have to work with a certain person. Some of these guys I’d love to work with are character actors like Paul Giamatti and Michael Eklund. He’s not well known but he’s so interesting and fantastic. It’d be great to work with Harrison Ford…but these character actors give it their all and aren’t ‘just’ about doing their job. I worked with Michael Caine on Eliza Graves and just listening to his stories like working with John Huston, you realise so many of these guys are just total legends.

We’d like to thank Brad for his time and urge you to head over and see The Call which is out now in the UK.

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Exclusive Interview: Demetri Martin Talks In a World…

Demetri Martin’s Wikipedia page says he is “an American comedian, actor, artist, musician, writer and humorist,” which we can all agree is a lot of things (and that’s without mentioning the fact he can ride a unicycle). He plays the role of Louis in current comedy film and the feature-length writing/directing debut of actress Lake Bell, In a World…

The film, set in the male dominated world of voice over work, won Sundance’s Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award — 2013’s best U.S. screenplay and sees Martin play the role of Louis, a sweet, supportive sound engineer who falls for Bell’s lead character. I’ll be honest; Demetri Martin is one of my comedy heroes, so I didn’t ask enough questions about the film. I mean, there’s some, but I mainly asked things I really wanted to know. If you ask me, it makes for a better interview, but you didn’t ask me, so we’ll crack straight on. I called Demetri at 9am his time, we exchanged niceties and the interview started from there….

IAW-7NK0090So, you play the role of Louis in this film, what drew you to the role?

I received the script from my agent and I know Lake Bell, we’re friends, I hadn’t seen her in a while and my agent said, “Hey Lake’s written this movie, she’s gonna direct and she’s starring in it,” and I said, “oh, cool,” and once I read the script, I liked the script, I liked how the storylines wove together and I thought, “yeah, I could play this guy.” It seemed it was within my, somewhat limited, range, so I thought “Yeah, this’ll be fun.”

It was a quick shoot, it was made for not much money, I dunno how much the budget was, but I know it wasn’t big (SB: I checked later, it was around $2 million) and once everyone else got paid a lot, I didn’t. We shot it around LA, it was 20 something days, it was cool. Also, it was nice to be in a film, where you could see someone you know acting and directing, doing the whole thing, saying  their own words, and changing things as they feel they need to along the way. It was kind of a clinic.

Was that different to what you’ve experience on film sets in the past then? Say, working with Ang Lee for example (on Taking Woodstock)? Was it more fun?

Yeah. Yeah, I think it was. It was a privilege to get to work with Ang Lee, but that was a different vibe, yeah. More serious. I think I knew one person going into the Ang Lee film, whereas here I knew a group of people, so it was a bit looser. At the same time, you know with Ang Lee you’re working with someone who has this body of work behind him, and here you’re working with someone who’s newer, so it is a whole different game. At least it seems like it going into it, and after working for a day or two you realise okay, it’s not that different, we just have different players and a different budget. It’s different enough.

Do you think the different vibes on set cause any difference in your performance, or do you just go into the performance in the same way?

Well in this movie I was able to improvise and it stayed in the film. In the Ang Lee movie I was told specifically, “no improvisation,” and the script supervisor made sure if I changed anything, on any take, or forgot a word, I was told, “hey, you need to say ’and’” so yeah, that was a big  difference.

Do you find it harder then, acting, rather than doing comedy, as you have less control, or did you get used to that very quickly?

The first bigger part that I had was in the Ang Lee movie, and there, for the first week or two, I felt kind of frustrated because, yeah, I think I’m more of a writer, so in stand-up I come from more of a writing place, where, for me, for the majority of my stand-up career so far I’d say, it’s mostly about communicating ideas that I’ve had. In the last two years, I’ve improvised more on stage and I think maybe it’s a little bit more in the moment or a little more present than it was, for the bulk of what I’ve done. So yeah, mostly for me, performing is about communicating ideas that I’ve had or have prepared or are ideas that I can change quickly. So in that sense it was more frustrating.

But about two or three weeks into the Ang Lee movie I was talking to Imelda Staunton one day, and it was a pleasure to get to work with her, and I don’t remember the details of the conversation, but it dawned on me that there was a lot of creativity involved interpreting someone else’s words and giving a performance and there’s quite a lot you can do, and she’s an excellent actress with a lot of experience. So there I started to learn about the joy of acting as an interpretive task and how creative you could be, so it’s the long answer to say I do find acting more difficult but it’s enjoyable in a way that I didn’t expect. I realised how fun it can be to act and how creative you can be as an actor without changing the words, not just delivering your own writing ideas, it really is interpreting someone else’s.

Are there things that you transfer then from acting into comedy and vice versa?

I think so. I think lately what I’ve been thinking or noticing more is the importance for me of emotion in comedy, not just maybe cognition. I really like jokes and I like writing jokes that don’t have that many words and I like the kind of intellectual exercise of jokes, composing them and delivering them, but it is pretty powerful when you see somebody like Richard Pryor. It’s just so emotional, it’s not really so much about having one liners or cleverness or something, so yeah, acting I think intersects with that idea. A great performance has such emotionality to it. It’s great and as a stand-up it would be nice to someday evolve to that level of emotion on stage. In one man shows I think I’ve had glimpses of it where I talk about very personal things but I gravitate more towards less emotional fare and more kind of thinking based stuff.

Yeah, though in your show If I (won the 2003 Perrier Comedy Award, and later filmed as a one-off BBC television special) there’s a lot of really subtle emotion in there, the personal things in there are amazing and it’s very well crafted. Do you think that show would be different now that you have done more acting?

Thanks. Yeah, it probably would and maybe there was more of a rawness or a naïveté as a performer who had mostly done one liners, when I did that show, that was a departure for me, because in the States, however many years I’d been doing stand up, up to that point, I’d been doing mostly short jokes, one liners. I found it hard to get stage time beyond ten or fifteen minutes tops, so it was difficult often to get too deep into anything and now I’ve had the luxury of doing longer shows. So yeah, it probably would be a bit different now.

What was it like for you in this film playing a love interest? Was that weird for you?

IAW-7NK0359Yeah, it was a little weird. I don’t particularly enjoy getting my picture taken but I still wanna act and I like being in things so it’s one of those weird tensions. I need attention for some reason. I’m not sure what my problem is but I’m drawn to performing. So as a person who’s not that thrilled about having my photo taken and posing, when you add making out with someone on top of that, yeah, it’s a little uncomfortable, but I’m not complaining, it was great work if you can get it. What I think was really educational, for me, was to be in a movie where the guy is the love interest and the woman is the protagonist. The woman is the comedy engine for the story and the movie, so that’s interesting because I realised I’m in the role that women often have. I’m the love interest, more than the joke deliverer.

You’ve also had the film Will in the pipeline for a little while now, where are you at with that?

That one, jeez, I think I sold that idea when I was, I dunno which Edinburgh Fringe of the four years I went, but this goes way back to when I was coming to the festival, I sold that idea to DreamWorks. And I wrote a couple of drafts of that script years ago and then it just languished. It came back to life a couple of years ago with a different production company, different studio and it almost got made. This is over two years ago now and we had the directors of Little Miss Sunshine, who I’ve since become friends with ‘cos I worked with them for six months on the script and I thought it was gonna get made and it went away again. And then just a few months ago it came back to life and now Michel Hazanavicius, the director of The Artist is attached as the director, so I’m about to do another draft of the script, to address his notes and the studios notes. So long story short, it could get made in the next year but I’m not holding my breath.

Well, that brings us nicely to my next question, what’s up next for you?

I’ve done two books, I’m writing my third one now and this is a book of short fiction. It’s all short stories and I’m trying to write a movie that I can direct and star in that I would hope to shoot next summer. It would be small and cheap, independent and I need to figure out what it is and hopefully I can do that in the next month or so, so I can get it together for next summer, and shoot it probably somewhere around Los Angeles. I’m hoping to do that, and it would be a comedy.

One question I really wanted to ask, going from the comedy world to the acting world, who do you find a weirder scene of people?

I’m far more used to comedians, so for me spending time with actors is weirder. I had an actor friend in New York, he was a new friend and we went to dinner and we were talking about comedy and acting and whatever, and I said, “Hey, my friends are having a party. It’s a Karaoke party down in Chinatown.” And it was all comedians at the party, and I think he knew a couple of them, so he said “Oh cool, you wanna go?” I said, “Yeah, let’s go down there.” He said, “Hey, you know what, we’ll take my Vespa.” That was the first time I thought, “Alright, none of my comedian friends have a Vespa.” So then we go to his garage, we get on this Vespa, we have the helmets on and I’m holding on behind him, thinking, “I’m gonna get crucified if my friends see me.”

There’s certain things, I know it doesn’t quite connect what I’m saying, but if you wore a nicer shirt one day down to the comedy club or something or new sunglasses, it’s just the whole topic of conversation, you can’t get away with anything, you can’t really put on airs, not in the crowd that I ran with in New York. It’s all about eviscerating everybody and taking the piss, bringing them right back down. With some of my actor friends, that doesn’t happen the same way. I’m sure plenty of actors do that, but I found people were very……you can get away with more, in a strange way. You can kind of play this role in life, like wearing sunglasses at night. With comedians, I don’t know that many who get away with that kind of thing, it doesn’t really happen.

You were attached to the film Moneyball for the role that ultimately went to Jonah Hill, which he got an Academy Award nomination for. Do you ever wonder what might have been under different circumstances?

No. You know I still haven’t seen the movie. I didn’t see the movie probably because I would have thought, “Oh, I wish I could have been in that movie.” So I don’t know what his performance is like, maybe it was great and cool, he got the nomination. But I do think, I’m guessing, maybe the last few years would’ve been easier for me, or something different if I had been able to be in Moneyball, whatever Moneyball would’ve become with me in it, just because, hey, maybe I could’ve gotten to the next role in a studio film or something off of that if I had a little bit of momentum there.

At the same time, I have to honestly say that my expectation has always been that I’ll have to write my way into whatever films I want to perform in and I’m moving more slowly than I expected. I was hoping by now I would’ve made my first film but I’m a procrastinator and in stand-up there’s a very satisfying quick feedback loop which has been great and satisfying and crippling because I just escape back into stand-up and I go do shows on the road. And I like to draw, like writing jokes, I just draw all the time, when I should be working on larger things. A drawing is quick and a screenplay takes so long. So, it was nice when I got to be in an Ang Lee film even if it wasn’t the most successful movie and then when I thought I was gonna be in Steven Soderbergh’s version of Moneyball, I thought, “Wow, this is great.” Those seem like lottery tickets to me though. It seems much more about luck, where you get to win these different sized lotteries by getting cast in films. I’m sure there’s tonnes of talent, and super talented actors out there, but there’s so few parts and so many actors. But I can write one thousand scripts if I just discipline myself and do the work. That’s not so much a lottery ticket. That seems more like work.

And one final question Demetri. If you could recommend one film to watch, to whoever’s reading this, (that’s you), what’s your favourite film that you go to the most, or one you recommend?

Oooh, I dunno if I have a favourite film…..(SB:just a couple then?)….I’m a big Woody Allen fan (SB:Yes!) and a big Albert Brooks fan so maybe if I could recommend two. Hmmm, your readership is not American, y’know, Lost in America I think is a pretty great Albert Brooks film, I love Defending Your Life too, I love all of his films. As an American, Lost in America’s pretty funny, it’s really funny. And for Woody Allen I like a lot of his big ones that people like. I saw Bullets Over Broadway recently, It’s just excellent, that’s really such a great film. So I’d say maybe those two lately. I have a long list but they kind of go in waves, something draws me to one or the other, and I say, “Oh, let’s watch this,” and then we’ll check it out and say, “Yeah, that held up.”

You know what’s great in both of those films maybe, and it does kind of relate to the film I was just in, is that women are funny. Julie Hagerty, Dianne Wiest, there’s just these great performances from women and I think as a male film maker if you can learn to, or find a way to write funny roles for women and find funny women to be in them, you only help yourself. I think everybody wins when you give women an opportunity to shine. That’s what’s cool about Lake’s movie.

And so the interview drew to a close, Demetri and I said goodbye and I went and re-watched Woody Allen films, as you should too.

You can see Demetri Martin in In a World… NOW (well, check your local cinema listings, it might be four in the morning as you’re reading this, I don’t know). It was released in cinema’s Friday 13th September and we’ll leave you with a clip with none other than Lake and Demetri.

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Interview: Director Andrew Douglas Talks UWANTME2KILLHIM?


Following a more than successful career in photography for magazines of the caliber of Esquire and The Face, director Andrew Douglas moved on to try his hand in the world of music videos and commercials where he cut his teeth before finally making his mark in the movie business.

Douglas’ first foray into filmmaking was the musical odyssey Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus (2003) which he swiftly followed up with his first Hollywood feature in 2005, the genre remake The Amityville Horror starring Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George. Now, with the release of his third feature film, uwantme2killhim? on DVD we spoke to the director all about his latest tale of two young friends and their descent into the world of incestuous chatroom relationships, a true story which he, and producer Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects), ripped right out of the news headlines…


So this is a quantum leap from your previous movie, The Amityville Horror, which I assume was a foot in the door movie?

It was completely that. I had been making TV commercials for years and years and in America there is a route through from commercials to making feature films. But you have to go through the genre films. It was a boot camp education, going from king of your own set to being very low on the totem pole in a studio movie. You do it to get to the next place. So I made The Amityville Horror but in truth it felt like making another commercial. I was not as proud of it but I was proud to have survived it. I went there as a mechanic, as a shooter, and I was glad to have done it and it did well. So to some extent it gave me some kind of credentials in America but I got offered the same films. I jumped on another one, Priest, and developed that for six months and then realised it was the same film. So I jumped off, which is not a popular thing to do. Then I looked around for something of my own – and it was this. It came about in a strange way. Bryan Singer grabbed the article in Vanity Fair but we saw it at the same time and went for it. He developed a script and I took a meeting on that script, but I had my own ideas percolating and I suggested a different flavour. I had never seen a story like it.

Was there ever a suggestion that the story should become American?

I think if Bryan had made it, it would be American. Anyway, I got a call about developing the take that I had on the material. I said yes and found a writer in Britain.

What research was done before filming?

We had the article, which was really the template for everything and the material was compelling. A year ago there was an opera called Two Boys which was the same material and in a year or so there may be something else based on the material. I felt the only sway that I’d get a film made was if it was a genre film. I had learned that much. I wanted to figure a sway of framing it as a genre film – a thriller – and I also felt the way to tell the story was to make the journey with Mark, whom I thought was the more challenging character. On paper Mark was very credulous and I was keen to tackle that and look at the film from his point of view. There are precedents for his kind of story telling – The Usual Suspects, A Beautiful Mind, and on on. Our reference material was the article and I got a look, slightly informally, at the transcripts. One of my regrets is that I did not quite get the scale of the transcripts. I would try to do that if I made the film again. The transcripts were night after night, hour after hour…eight hours at a time. At some level I knew this was a story of addiction – a story of people who could not get what they wanted at home, so went out to look for it and to escape into fantasy. And the Internet was that fantasy. Anyway, the transcripts were just vast and the scale unbelievable. And they are all in the odd, almost Orwellian language. Beyond that research we couldn’t really move because legally we could never get to the boys. I hope at some point I meet the boys because I hope they see the film. It would interesting to hear what they thought. I like to think that the film is very even-handed. I very genuinely emphasised with both characters. I’d like to think that I found something dramatically credible in each character.

How hard was the casting of the principal characters?

I saw dozens of dozens of boys. I am such a big fan of Shane Meadows and at first I thought this was going to be like a Shane Meadows’ film. In the sense that I was going to find a young Tommy Turgoose. So I went to Manchester – which is where the true story happened – and did a real people casting. But I quickly realised that although they looked real and authentic, we had written such complicated characters and real people casting could not get anywhere near them. So we started casting conventionally and it took three months.

uwantme2killhim_eiffI saw Toby [Regbo] and Jamie [Winstone] a couple of times but thought that they were both too pretty. They are so handsome! But they were head and shoulders the best actors with the best grasp on the material. Originally I read Toby for both characters. But then I realised when I had all these faces in my mind that it was Toby and Jamie. So we did a kind of make-up test which little more than shaving Jamie.

Were you ever concerned about the two leads looking young enough on screen?

We shot at a school in Harlow and we cherry-picked school kids on the older side of 16 and when you surrounded Toby and Jamie with those kids they fitted in. I think we got away with it.

There is good screen chemistry between Amy Wren and Jamie.

She and Jamie are an item. We did not know. We had them romping around for a scene and when I wondered why the scene had taken so long, Jamie said it was because he fancied her like mad!

Why is the policewoman played by Joanne Froggatt pregnant?

It was a little something. She comes in so suddenly and undeveloped as a character and I wanted to give her something so that in a shorthand way it shows that she’s dealing with a 16 year old whom she doesn’t understand and she’s about to bring a baby into a world that she doesn’t have an understanding of. I wanted that to be a layer for her and the film. She’d be so conflicted – she’d be angry with this kid and then she’d stay with the case longer than normal because she was grappling to understand something that was bewildering. The pregnancy gave the character this reason for doing what she did.

It’s surprising that Joanne Froggatt took on a film in which she only has a handful of scenes.

I think she was intrigued. I don’t know why she did it but I am so grateful that she did. It is a dense character. There is another whole film that would be set in the police interview.

A nice coincidence of course that Joanne’s first TV role was in The Bill?

She didn’t say but almost every actor has been in The Bill.

All the twists must make the film difficult to talk about without spoiling things?

There is a risking of giving too much away. And it doesn’t cheat. It all tracks, you could go back to the start and see the connections. Once I had decided on the device, I used The Usual Subjects and Fight Club and A Beautiful Mind. All those films drop beautiful clues. I felt if I was going to use the device I could not cheat.

In one scene there is a porn film showing on TV.

Yes, I shot a real porno for that. I got a porno director and porno stars and we shot it. It was the most shocking experience of my life. We needed to make our own porno film because for the plot the actress in it has to say certain words.

Do you know what you might tackle next?

No because I have been concentrating on this. It has been a long haul. It is a great film and it will have its moment.

Based on shocking true events, UWANTME2KILLHIM? is available now on DVD and we’ll leave you with a trailer for the film.

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Exclusive Interview: Screenwriter Kyle Ward Talks Machete Kills


136744Machete stands as one of director Robert Rodriquez‘s more acclaimed films in his rather diverse filmography. Said film perfectly captured the low budget, trashy, and incredibly explicit style of many films of the ’70s and ’80s, meanwhile managing to be an incredibly entertaining spectacle within itself. Packed with gore, blood, guts and sex, many praised it for it’s enthusiastically cartoony style and pulpy consistency.

For the release of Machete Kills we spoke with screenwriter Kyle Ward as he reveals what we can expect from Robert Rodriquez’s newest film, out in cinemas next month.

On Machete Kills:

So, how did you first become attached to the role of screenwriting Machete Kills?

I was initially approached by my agent. It was a process at first where Robert wasn’t sure he was going to direct the sequel.
He was just looking for someone to write it. Being a fan of grindhouse movies, and being a fan of the first Machete, and all of Robert’s movies, I just saw this as an opportunity to do something a little different. I raised my hand
at that point, they flew me out to talk with Robert who had a document with some broad ideas and we just started riffing. I think the first time we talked lasted about 3-4 hours. We were just brainstorming and riffing back and forth, throwing ideas
off the wall. Every idea got crazier, and crazier. And then it escalated and everything got far over the top, and that’s where we wanted it to be.

z_sadlerObviously Machete, and a lot of Robert’s movies are quite satirical in their use of homage, reference, and casting of older veteran actors. Does Machete Kills follow this trend?

There’s definitely satire in the movie. For me it’s just having fun with that genre. Drawing from the old action films of the 70’s and 80’s, exploitation movies too . I wanted to go over the top, at the beginning, and keep going over the top. For me it’s one of those movies where you’re in on the joke, or you’re not.

Do we see the character of Machete change or develop at all, as we might come to expect from a sequel?

The thing with Machete, especially in this movie, is that you don’t have to weigh yourself down with character development.
We did play with some character ideas, and revenge arcs, and he definitely loses someone close to him at the beginning,
not to say too much. That being said, a big characteristic of those movies that I’m drawing from don’t arc. In the tradition of the genres I’m drawing from, the characters don’t change from film to film because audiences want to see that character in the same context.

Was writing Machete Kills a difficult task, or did you find it easier because of your enthusiasm for the project? Could you talk us through your creative process at all?

Absolutely, to be honest it was probably one of the easiest things I’ve ever written, and that’s because it was so fun to write. Just having watched those movies when I was younger, and when I started writing I dove back in, watching those movies again. Films like Coffy, Rolling Thunder, all the Grindhouse classics. When I got ready to sit down and open the front over, I just started writing and it just flowed.  All of these characters were larger than life, all of these crazy colourful characters, and they just leapt off the page. And that’s what I love to do. It was just fun. It was just a blast to write, all the way through, I think I wrote it within a month. Robert did have certain ideas, and we just took the blueprint, and worked off of that. He said here’s the ingredients, and with that we baked something cool.

So obviously you pulled from a lot of genres, could you tell us about specific influences for Machete Kills, and the general gist of the story?

In a general sense we pulled from those movies that were classified by sex and heavy violence. Just the crazy
stories they were about, and the wacky unpredictable plotting. They always had a low production value film to them. I just feel it’s the overall sense of that genre. We wanted it to feel like an authentic ‘Mexsploitation’ film.

lady-gaga-machete-kills-la-chameleonI personally pulled from a wide variety of movies that I love, for example Kubrick‘s Dr.Strangelove. I just said to myself ‘Okay, this is a scene from a movie that I love, how can I do a similar kind of thing, and plug it into this crazy grindhouse movie that we’re doing.’ The challenge would be doing the weird over-the-top version of that; flipping it, and putting a spin on it. For Robert he would reference that he wanted the first half of the movie to feel like ‘An ’80s Rambo movie’, where Machete would find a fugitive and get him to the border. So the story would be this action-packed ’80s movie, and gradually it’d bleed into this wonky kind of ’70s science fiction story – Moonraker was thrown around a lot as an inspiration.

A sci-fi movie!? Moonraker!? Machete in Space!? Care to elaborate on that slightly? 

So, when I first saw Robert’s From Dusk till Dawn I was in high school. When the movie first starts, it’s a crime movie. Then by the end, we’re in a vampire movie. How did we get there? That’s what we tried to replicate, at first. The president gives Machete a mission and by the end of Machete Kills, we’re in a wonky 70’s sci-fi movie, hence the Moonraker reference. It’s one of the most over-the-top things I’ve ever done. The third one is going to be called Machete Kills Again…In Space? It does sound crazy, but the third one is going to take part in space, and Machete Kills is the bridge which sets up how that’s going to happen.

On film preferences, future projects, and early experiences. 

A cliché question I know, but one I always tend to ask: What are some of your favourite movies?

Apocalypse Now, I still love E.T to this day, I love Scarface, I love Godfather 2. I’ve always loved Carlito’s Way, it doesn’t get as much appreciation as it really should. That was a big one for me. My taste is everywhere really, just name a genre and I could give you my top five.

How did you get started as a writer, and when did you first realize being a screenwriter was what you wanted to do?

I knew that from a very early age I wanted to tell stories. I was always writing short stories. I would day dream, drifting off in class scribbling comic book stories. Then I engaged with film at around the fifth or sixth grade, I started going to the movie theatres religiously and kind of became a student of film. By high school I knew for definite. I didn’t know how I was going do it, but I knew. How a story evolves from the script to the screen was what really drove me. I loved movies and wanted to tell stories, and knew I wanted to be a writer, and the two became intertwined. Then I moved out to L.A and was determined enough to make that happen.

What was the first real project you worked on?

Director Michael Bay
Director Michael Bay

The first real project I did was called Fiasco Heights, that was a script I sold to Universal in 2007, with Michael Bay attached to produce. It got compared to Sin City, and was mainly based on all of those short stories I wrote. It was kind of cool to base something on things I’d written ten years earlier and be able to sell it. It was like film noir on speed. I was a big film noir fan. It was also inspired by those buddy cop movies, Lethal Weapon, etc. It was like ‘I’m going throw Lethal Weapon into the blender, with Out of The Past, and see what happens.’ That was the first one for me, got me in the door, got me working.

Would you like to direct somewhere down the line, if given a chance?

I’d love to direct later in my career, down the road. I’ve definitely considered it and I think that’s a goal for me. I’m currently happy writing and it’s still a learning process. It’s been great because it’s opened that window, you see all the great new actors and how they handle your story. I kind of think I write like a director – I see the movie, visualise it in my head. So I know I definitely want to be behind the camera, but for now I want to absorb from directors, see how they make their movies, and learn that process.

What are you currently working on now?

I wrote a movie recently called Kane and Lynch, the thing I’m working on at Universal is called Arabian Nights. It’s a story based on a lot of lore from Aladdin, Sindbad, all of those characters. It’s a merging of all of those stories heavily based on Arabian lore and is a big, fun project for me to do.

We’d like to thank Kyle for his time and urge you all to catch Machete Kills when it launches in UK cinemas this October 11th. In the meantime we’ll leave you with the latest trailer for the film:

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Interview: Nicolas Wright Takes Us On a Tour of the White House


Before the American premiere of White House Down, we got the chance to chat to Nicolas Wright about his upcoming role alongside Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. It seems that this experience has led Nicolas Wright to a lot of potentially great future projects, finding collaborators here and there, as well as keeping a watchful eye on proceedings to really learn as much as he can while he can. That’s the type of guy he comes across as, he romantically talking about his involvement in the business with a positivity and optimism that should be sold as a drug. For the second White House invasion of the year, this sees Channing Tatum as the John McClane of the moment, rescuing Jamie Foxx and the world from villains and their sinister plan. Whereas Olympus Has Fallen went for a more serious style and a lower budget, White House Down is more comedic with a chunky budget for Roland Emmerich to destroy the White House yet again.

Before I’ve even asked a question, Nicolas is ready to gush and gush about the movie, really loving his involvement and what Roland Emmerich tries to do with it, some of which was missed out because the recording hadn’t yet started.

It’s like a resurgence of the summer blockbuster movie, it’s just fun action. It’s a great summer movie. It’s got a lot of heart, he’s really good at that, Roland is really good at injecting his characters with a lot of heart making people care about them. It gets people invested in the film. Anyway, I’m blabbering. [laughs]


You play Donnie Donaldson who is a White House tour guide. Did you originally go into casting for this part or a different one?

I went in for this one, it was a very quick process because I went in, Roland wasn’t there, the producers weren’t there, I just went in for the casting director, read one time and that was it. Three weeks later I got a call saying “You got it!”, I was pretty surprised. Usually for something like this you’ve gotta go through a bunch of hoops so it seemed to just happen very, very quickly so I was very grateful that I got that call.

Why were you so surprised to get the call?

[Laughing] I think when you’re an actor you’re always surprised when you get a job. Normally we just deal with so many nos that it’s nice to get a yes. Especially with this scale and pedigree. It was absolutely surprising because you go on so many auditions… yeah, it was a refreshing thing to hear yes.

Would you say your comedy background helped you get the role?

It did, yeah, absolutely. I have a background in a lot of comedy; I did a lot of sketch comedy, a lot of improv. A lot of the jobs I get are comedic in nature and I think it was very helpful because Donnie Donaldson prefers a lot of the comedic relief in the film. It’s a very intense film. There’s a lot of action and intense moments . Especially with Channing’s daughter who is played by Joey King who is fantastic in the film. There are a few times where the terrorists have a gun to her head, it’s quite chilling to watch but they were able to masterfully weave in these comedic elements that allows the audience to breathe and relax. Just “uhhhh” releases the tension. They’re very good at that. I think my character provides a bit of levity. I’m also kind of a steward of one of the main characters in the movie, the White House. The White House is one of the main characters in the movie and I’m sort of a protector [laughing] of the White House and the history and the dignity, preserving this beautiful landmark. They’re shooting it up. Machine-gunning walls, shooting portraits, smashing vases, smashing down walls and setting the place on fire. [laughs] Then there’s Donny, who’s such a passionate historian that he’s just like “No! No! No!” [laughs] It’s funny.

The film has been compared to Die Hard in the White House, is it actually Die Hard in the White House? I read in Empire that it was like that whereas Olympus Has Fallen said it wasn’t like that all even though it featured beat-by-beat recreations of it.

I actually haven’t seen that movie [Olympus Has Fallen]. There are a lot of similarities to Die Hard and I think that mostly has to do with the situation: there’s one man, there are terrorists that seize the building. I think it’s more compared to Die Hard because of the tone. The original Die Hards there’s quite a lot of comedy even though it’s an intense film. Bruce Willis is hilarious, Reginald VelJohnson is hilarious as the cop and the relationship they have on the walkie-talkies is very funny at times. Even Alan Rickman and the coked-out guy [Harry Ellis played by Hart Bochner] walks in there like “I can tell you…” and there’s a lot of tongue in cheek and catty humour in Die Hard. I think the reason it’s compared to that is because it has incredible action and the tone. They’re able to bring that comedy to it.

When I saw Olympus Has Fallen, I thought it was a grittier, dirtier version of what White House Down looks to be. It does have some humour in it but it’s a lot more serious than what White House Down looks to be.

Yeah, I haven’t seen it but that’s how it came across in the marketing, a very serious and very intense film. I’ll probably watch it later in the fall season when things have calmed down. I’m curious to see it because I haven’t seen the script or anything so it’s interesting to see. Eventually I’ll find it.

James Vanderbilt wrote the script and he writes quite sharp scripts, was there any room for improv?

Yeah, that’s another great thing about Roland that a lot of people don’t know about, he’s a real actor’s director and he cares deeply for his actors. Which is another great thing to see him orchestrate on set, all the sets, the special effects, a huge crew, yet he takes the time to foster an atmosphere of creativity and openness with his actors. They definitely foster all of that improv and they definitely love actors coming in to do their thing. I think Roland, James and Brad Fischer [producer] hire people that they know can bring that element to it, their own creative twists to the characters and indulge them in their own unique way. They’re very, very encouraging about it. There are some funny moments that did make it into the film which I’m pretty happy about, it was quite thrilling to see that they kept some of that fun stuff that we did. I’m excited about that. They’re all very open. Jamie is a such a great collaborator. He’ll totally get involve with you and again if you have any questions or are confused about anything he’s got no ego, he’s the most down to earth, humble guys I’ve ever met. Like you said, he’s already a sharp writer, you’re already working with that material and to be able to embellish it and add your own stuff is a real treat.

You spend most of your screentime with Joey King who is in The Conjuring, Oz the Great and Powerful and so on, and you spend a lot of it with Channing Tatum, was it weird spending so much time with big names? I don’t mean that in a condescending way either.

No, no, it was very surreal. I remember one night, we were shooting at 3 o’clock in the morning, it was raining in White House, there was fire everywhere, grenades going off [laughs], it was the definitely one of the most surreal moments of my career, it was definitely a highlight. I was thinking “This is the coolest moment of my life.” [laughs] Roland Emmerich was there, it was weird. But at the same time it’s never uncomfortable, it’s never weird because Channing is such a decent grounded dude. He’s just such a nice guy that he never makes it weird, he never makes you feel uncomfortable, he’s just another guy, there’s no ego, he makes you feel super comfortable. He’s a great actor to work with because he’s so playful and so present. He’s so good at the physical stuff, it’s amazing how talented he is, it’s incredible. Like I said, there’s no ego, so it’s surreal to be around that but at the same time you’re like “Wow, he’s just a guy” and he reminds you of that, he’s like “I’m just a dude, I’m not special.”

Joey is the sweetest girl and she’s so talented – she’s so talented it’s ridiculous. She’s 13 years old and she’s way more talented than I’ve ever been in my life [laughs]  and I’m 31. “Joey, how the hell did you get so talented?!” She’s a joy to work around, such a positive spirit, making people laugh all the time. They got along like gangbusters. It was fun to see them hang around on set too, just playing together, their secret handshakes and all the stuff they’d do together. It was a lot of fun. They really made for a fun environment on set.

Roland Emmerich really does have something against the White House
Roland Emmerich really does have something against the White House

Did you actually get to shoot anything inside the White House or was it all on a set?

It was all set. Everything was done in Montreal. Kirk Petruccelli is the production designer, he’s a real hero of the movie because he recreated 60% of the White House from scratch. They did the Great Hall, the State rooms, the Senate Hall, the Presidential Bedrooms, the Oval Office, the West Wing; there’s so much work and they nailed it. To be on those sets was absolutely incredible. We were in Montreal the whole time, the whole shoot happened in Montreal, with a few visual effects shot elsewhere. It was all shot in Montreal but you’d never know it. His attention to detail was incredible. All the portraits in there were all legitimate portraits. What I’m saying is he redid all the portraits so they’re hanging on the wall where they are in the White House. The furniture is all the same. Even the wallpaper! They went into such detail with the research the execution is flawless. Then it’s so sad to see it blown up! [laughs] All these gun shots, all these bullet holes in the walls, it’s such a beautiful set, then they just rip it down, set it on fire. All this work! But you know that’s what they built it for so.

We see you around with a shotgun at one point, right?

[Laughing] Yeah…

Did you ever just get the urge to destroy everything when you were running around with that shotgun?

It was really strange. It’s very heavy. That was another surreal moment. “What is happening right now?! I’m running towards a camera holding this shotgun!” It’s very, very silly but very funny. [laughs] It wasn’t the most natural thing to come to me, I’m not a gun guy. It took a bit of getting used to. Hopefully it plays well, it was a lot of fun, that’s for sure.

Do you see yourself as a big action hero from now on?

[Laughs] Oh boy… that’s a good question. I don’t know, man, I won’t rule it out but I’m not betting on it. Anything is possible, let’s put it that way. [laughs] They’re not definitely not breaking down my door for G.I. Joe 3 or anything like that, but in the future who knows? Anything is possible.

You did a lot of background work on the White House as well. Did you study for a month on it?

I got the role late July or early August and we started shooting pretty quickly after that. I had about 3-4 weeks to really get ready about it and wrap my head around it. I knew this character would know like every single detail about the White House because he’s such a passionate historian. I thought that if Roland ever asked me to improvise about any part of the White House I better be able to come up with something. I spent about 4 weeks diving into research. I watched documentaries, I read books, I immersed myself. It was really thrilling actually because I’m a Canadian so we didn’t really learn that much about American history as we did about Canadian history, obviously. It was thrilling to dive into that through the lens of the White House because of all the historically relevant things have happened in this country. It was nice to get into that, gain a greater understanding of how this country is made and all the history that has happened in that house. It’s a really special place.

That’s really impressive dedication from yourself. Apparently you took people on tours around the set, is that true?

[Laughing] Yeah. I remember when I got to set and everyone realised that I knew quite a bit about the White House, it became a running joke on set like if anyone had a question it’d be “Oh ask Nic! He’ll know!” [laughs] There were a few days when press would come visit the sets and one day the publicist asked “Hey, could you give them a tour of the set since you know it so well?” [laughs] So I said “Yeah, sure!” and took them around with Kirk Petruccelli. He and I did a tandem tour but he knew way more than I did, he did way more research than I did. I was there to provide some entertainment I guess.

I hear you’re a big fan of movie soundtracks as well. Did you get to see Harald Kloser at work?

That guy’s a renaissance man. He produced the film, he was involved with the editing, he did the score, there’s nothing this guy can’t do. I’m a big soundtrack nerd and I asked him early on “Listen, I would really appreciate the chance to see you guys score this movie” because I don’t know how many more chances I’ll get to be involved in a production of this size. I wanted to make the most of it and learn as much as I could. He invited me one day to go to Fox where they were scoring and I got to sit in this room with a 92 piece orchestra and get blown away. Watching them score it live in front of me was really incredible. He’s amazing and the score is incredible. It was a real privilege to get to be able to do that. I was very grateful he indulged my request.

Aren’t you a DJ as well? Did you learn anything while there that you could implement into your sets? Mixing and so on.

I don’t know. He’s more of a composer. Anybody who’s musically talented I love to learn from. When I DJ, I like playing music that I love. I don’t do anything spectacular or special, I’m not like DJ Shadow or any of those guys, the mixologists or the cut chemists. I love those guys but I know how much dedication it takes to get to that level and my focus is more on acting and writing. When I DJ I play good music that I love, I don’t DJ that often, once a month maybe. At a party, at my house if I have a party or a bar or something. It’s nothing too fancy. I’m not reinventing the wheel. I just have a great appreciation of musical minds in general because it’s something that I don’t really do so to me it’s like magic when they come up with these melodies. I don’t know how their brains work but I think it’s incredible. I’m fascinated by the whole process. I think the closest I’ve come to playing a musical instrument is being a DJ [laughing] which is kind of lame, but it’s the only way I get to express myself musically is to play music I love. Maybe one day I’ll learn that instrument and maybe then Harald will teach me a few things because he’s certainly got the knowledge to teach that’s for sure.

I know that you have plans to work with Brad Fischer and James Vanderbilt again, is anything set in stone? Is there anything else on the horizon for you?

Right now we’re developing a show so hopefully we can sell that this year and also with Harald’s company as well we’re developing a TV project and there’s  feature film we’re trying to get off the ground. We just got some money to write another feature film script in Canada which is pretty exciting. So it’s a lot of writing, it’s been a lot of writing for the last two months actually. Now we’re just going to push and see how much of it we can get off the ground as we can. That’s really what the focus is for the next four weeks, polishing all of our projects up and taking them out to market and hopefully selling them. That’s the next phase. I did a pilot for Fox as well this year which didn’t get picked up but was a great experience. It was the producers of New Girl, Katherine Pope and it was written by Michelle Morgan, it was a great experience. I was sad it didn’t get picked up but I was happy I got a chance to do the pilot, it was a lot of fun.

Is there anything you can tell us about those feature films: plot, genre or?

Umm, no, not really, not yet. One of them, I’ll say, is an historical comedy which we’re very excited about. We’ve had this idea for a long time and it’s about a specific moment in Canadian history that’s never really been told on film so we’re excited we might get a chance to crack that nut. And, again, we’re trying to bring the same tone. I learned a lot working on this film so I’ll hopefully be able to apply it to this one we’re writing; bringing the levity to it, bringing the comedy to it. It’s a subject matter that has been treated in the past with a lot of… uhh… like gritty, real and intense. We’re going to take the opposite approach, we’re going to go kind of swashbuckling Pirates of the Caribbean style, a lot of jokes, a lot of fun, instead of sticking to the gritty reality of what actually happened. It’s going to be another opportunity to dive into the pages of history and conjure up a story. Hopefully it’ll go well. We’re starting work on that in 3 weeks [This was back in July so they’re probably working on that right now or perhaps even finished]. It’s a lot of reading that I’m gonna have to do! I’m excited about that. It’s going to be fun.

Are they both comedies?

Yes, they’re both- well one of them is kind of not actually. One of them is definitely a comedy and the other one is sort of a dramatic comedy. It has more serious tones, it’s about- I can’t get into it because we’re still trying to sell it. One of them is more comedic than the other so I’m excited to see those come to life.

What’s your personal writing process then?

I have a writing partner actually, James A. Woods, not James Woods, but he’s another actor friend of mine, his name is James A. Woods and we’ve been writing together for 5 years. I’m literally only half of the brain when it comes to writing. I’m definitely a big collaborator. I need collaborators to bounce ideas off of. He and I work very closely together, we bounce it around until it’s right. We just love it. We’ve been acting together many years so we have this kind of chemistry and repartee between us that really brings it to life when we’re working on it. To be honest, it’s so hard to write that it’s great to have someone there to make someone laugh and go through it together with someone. I much prefer doing it with someone because doing it alone I just can’t imagine. I don’t know how writers do it by themselves. I definitely need someone there to make me laugh when it’s not working – which happens a lot.

Please tell me you sing the James Woods song to him from Family Guy.

[Laughs] I love him in Family Guy. It’s such a funny recurring character and the fact that the high school is named after him, it’s a stroke of comedic genius. I’m so happy he did that. It shows you what kind of guy he is. He’s got a great sense of humour and he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s like that in real life [James Woods, not James A. Woods], he’s just a laugh to hang out with, he has all these stories. I learnt a lot from him too actually. It was pretty incredible.

White House Down is released in UK cinemas on Friday the 13th. We’d like to thank Nicolas Wright for taking the time out to chat about his role and more even right before he had to leave for the première.


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Interview: Danielle Bisutti Talks Insidious Chapter 2


danielle-bisutti-headshotThe famed horror duo, director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell, have reunited with the original Insidious cast to bring us a terrifying sequel to the esteemed horror film, following the Lambert family as they seek to unravel the mysteries behind a childhood secret that has left them perilously connected to the spirit world.

With the release of Insidious: Chapter 2 only one day away, Cinema Chords caught up with one of the film’s stars Danielle Bisutti. In this extremely open and honest interview, Danielle speaks about her experiences with astral projection, how she sees James Wan as Willy Wonka and why she believes too much violence in video games and films can have negative effects on you.

I’m going to guess you’ve seen the first Insidious?

I have and it terrified me. I couldn’t sleep for 2 weeks! James Wan shows very little..very little blood, I mean it’s definitely not a bloodbath or a slasher movie. It’s just what could happen if that spirit realm came into the realm of the living. The probability of it is so much more greater and that is what is so terrifying. He touches on that fear that we all have. For example, you’re walking through your house at night to get a glass of water and you think you see something in the corner. I mean, was that a spirit, a ghost? I have had some moments in my life like an outer-body experience. I’ve had a few moments where that has happened to me so the idea of it and the scope of it didn’t seem far out of reach. It actually felt like “Oh God, I actually feel like I’ve done that.” *Laughs* Like, can you imagine yourself at a red door about to go into The Further?! It’s just horrifying.

I’ve had a few lucid dreams where I’ve realised I was dreaming and done all this crazy stuff because I knew it wasn’t real. I haven’t astral projected, I think that would be scary.

It is cool, it’s sort of a scary feeling but it’s an interesting sensation. I’ve had that experience of lucid dreams as well, where I’ve been like, “Oh I know I’m dreaming, so now I’m going to fly and jump off a cliff and fly round the world..!”

So, how did you get involved with Insidious Chapter 2?

I auditioned. It’s funny, because when I got the audition I was shooting an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and my manager called saying, “They’re only seeing girls today before 6pm, can you make it?” And I was like “No, I just gave birth on Grey’s Anatomy and I’m about to shoot my scene!”

He talked to casting and asked if I could put myself on tape tomorrow and send them the tape. James Wan was having a very challenging time finding an actress to play the role that I have in the movie and was going to take the weekend to look at the footage from that Friday. So, I wrapped Grey’s Anatomy, ran to my friend’s birthday party and ran home to look at the slides, went to my coach and I just went for it!

Insidious 2 trailer  (Screengrab)The character that I play, her name is Michelle – the way they have her listed in IMDB is ‘Parker Crane’s Mother’ because I don’t think they ever call her Michelle in the movie. I am a memory, not necessarily a ghost, but you know when people go into The Further and they get stuck? Well, when I auditioned, I didn’t know that’s what she was. I thought I was some ghost who tormented this family. What James Wan asked for was a very grand, authoritative, theatrical and evil Disney character type of presence and vocal quality.

Well, here’s a bit of trivia about me: When I was 18 years old I played Cruella De Vil at Disneyland. I would walk round as the Glenn Close rendition of Cruella with these thigh-high red-heeled boots and I would walk around with my long cigarette stick and my coat scaring children all day long. It was just so fun! The parents loved it, too! So, in this tape I was as evil and creepy as I could be. James saw the tape and he was just blown away by it, originally they wanted someone older so they were like, ”OK this is a bit different from the original vision.” But there was something about what I did on that tape that made their minds change. My character is the lead spectre and the reason why this family is getting haunted; it’s due to some issues my character had in her past. So yeah, I got the phone call and I got the job.

I’m so jealous of your job to be Cruella De Vil, that must have been so much fun!

That was a highlight, for sure, for me in college. I was a college student by day working in the theatre department and moonlighting as Cruella De Vil at night.

Like you said, your role in the film looks to be very ghost-like, you walk through a wall and look generally very scary. Did you have a lot of fun playing your role in the film?

Absolutely! I think it’s always fun to be the “villain” and the one that’s putting you on edge. The way that I talk about my character is that she’s that ghost that you think is sitting in the old rocking chair in your living room. She’s the woman that you never want to see at the foot of your bed when you wake up from your lucid dream and you think you see someone. James Wan really touched on that elemental and childhood fear of seeing a woman in white walking into your closet.

In your opinion, how does Insidious Chapter 2 compare to the first one?

Well, what’s really fantastic about the second one is that it is a continuation of the first one – when you find out that Patrick Wilson’s character has come back from The Further and spirit potentially grabs on to him, right? What is so satisfying about the second one is I think that it’s equally as terrifying and a great continuation to the cliff-hanger.

Like in Chucky, you’re not quite sure why this spirit chose their son to torment. Why does a spirit need to be living through this child’s life? Well, there’s a very specific reason why this ghost, who is my son as an adult, is trying to re-live his childhood through somebody else’s. His childhood was horrific and filled with terror and abuse.

If the sequel answers all the questions from the first one, does this mean we won’t be seeing an Insidious Chapter 3?

I think there’s a sense of completion with the Lambert family and you will get a sense of “Oh, I know what’s happening with the family and here’s the sense of resolution.” I think you know that they’re going to be OK, but you also get a sense that this life in The Further is not done. The ghosts that are stuck there, they could potentially be doing this to other families and other families have the potential to astral project.

Would you like to see another Insidious film?

You know, I’m a big ‘fraidy cat! I don’t rush to the cinema to see scary movies. Do I want one because I think that James Wan is an absolute genius? Yes! Right now with The Conjuring and the second Insidious he is only getting bigger after his legacy with Saw. Everything he touches turns to gold so, in that sense, I would love to see another. Obviously, I have a vested interest now that I have a stake in the movie, I probably would see it. *laughs* But it would go against every fibre of my being, because I’m such a ‘fraidy cat.

It would be great if James Wan stayed as director. In my opinion, the Saw movies got worse and worse when he left the franchise. I’d hate for that to happen to Insidious.

That’s very insightful of you, yeah. I think James was proud that he was at the genesis of this long-lived legacy of Saw, but it really was just the first one that has his stamp as a director and a visionary on it. I think that it did detract from the brilliance of what it was at the beginning. I don’t think he would let go with Insidious like that, but I have no idea. He’s now directing Fast and Furious 7 and has jumped ships into, not a completely different genre, but it’s cars, hot girls, action and fast-paced. I’m not sure what his temperature is..whether he leaves horror for a while and then goes back to it.

What was it like working with James Wan, would you work with him again?

I would work in any film he wanted me to! I liken him to the Willy Wonka of directors; there’s something innocent and childlike about him and then there’s a glisten in his smile and a twinkle in his eye that can be a bit sinister. *laughs.* You know he’s in charge and you trust him. Like, you know the boat scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where the rowers are rowing and the lights are flashing and you think it’s fun? And then, all of a sudden, you enter this tunnel and the lights are shadowy and he starts singing this really weird song and you’re like,”What’s happening, what’s happening?! I’m in this boat and I’m scared!”
I’ll never forget that moment when I first watched the original! That was really scary.

It was very scary and that’s what it was like for me to work with James Wan in this movie! I always knew he had my back as a director, but he’s so brilliant that I think he’s in this other world. Sometimes I was in awe and other times I felt very much on the same page and plane as him. What was so great was that as I had to play a ghost, I had to step out of the mortal realm, I had to go into this other world where different rules applied. It was like a lawless land where I was almost in a groundhog day and on a repeat of this moment with my son. I was able to go to the depths of my own horror, sadness, anger and what was happening inside me as an actor; I could let it all out. We had a wonderful working relationship and very much trusted each other. I’d work with him in a heart-beat.

I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but there’s not too many original horrors out there at the moment. Many are sequels or remakes. I think Insidious is one of very few modern horrors, especially one that has been so positively received. What is it about Insidious that everyone loves so much?

It’s Interesting that you say that and that’s another great observation. Insidious broke so many records at the box office, I think they made it for just over $1 million and it made close to $100 million. I don’t know the exact numbers, but it’s something that dramatic.

1236776_543985915655266_313396594_nThe Conjuring, another original and directed by James Wan, had a similar situation. They made it on a fairly modest budget and it just crushed at the box office. I think it holds the record for the highest opening weekend for any original horror, ever. Under the guidance of James Wan..I mean, what is it about this guy?! It’s because with him less is more. There’s a very specific choreography and the reveal that takes you by surprise. One second you’re looking at someone and you cut to someone else and then back to that person, and there’s someone creepy standing behind their shoulder. It’s those jolty moments that you’re totally not expecting and he has one foot in reality and one in the spirit realm. There’s not a lot of blood and there’s not a lot of gore, but there’s absolute terror.

Another thing I’ve noticed about horror is that there has been either an audience shift in interest or a shift in what directors want to portray. Think back to the beginning of the 2000s where there were loads of torture and gore-centred films like Saw and Hostel, and now in 2013 we have loads of supernatural horrors and possession films. It seems that directors, instead of trying to be as gory as possible, like they were previously, they’re trying to be as creepy as possible. Why do you think this is?

Well, humans have been murdering each other since the beginning of time. And as of late, especially in the US I would say specifically, there have been loads of random horrific acts including the murder of children. Basically, individuals that have lost their minds and go on these killing sprees and I wonder if because we’re so saddened by that, so maybe even hardcore horror devotees are trying to take the focus off the torture of human beings and putting it more in the terror of the spirit realm or alien realm, you know? I personally resonate more towards that. It’s very hard for me to watch too much torture of human beings.

I think that’s actually a very good point. Maybe films have decided to not glorify the torture of human beings anymore in the hope it might stop these horrible crimes.

We’re all affected by what’s happening around us. Specifically, if you’re an individual who is constantly watching very aggressive films then that is going to affect your brain chemistry. I would actually point the finger – I don’t know if this going to come back and bite me – but I think video games are having the most profound negative affect on children. This is especially the case when parents don’t regulate when their young children who are still in their formative years – forming ideas about who they are and those around them – are playing Call of Duty as these mass-murderers and these snipers… Kids’ imaginations are limitless at that age. They don’t understand the scope around picking up a gun and walking into a school and doing these mass murders. I don’t want to go off on a tangent but, yeah, I think maybe that’s why things are moving. Also, we’ve been in this war with first Afghanistan and then Iraq; there’s this weird Cold War where men and women are still over there in the Service that are dying. I mean, I don’t know whether film-makers are making a different choice or the audiences are dictating it, but I don’t think there is a unilateral decision. Everything affects everything, you know?

We could definitely talk about that topic for a long time. But let’s end on a positive note as I ask you what kind of films you’d like to do next?

Good question! I would love to work with J.J. Abrams on television. I think he’s brilliant. I was a huge fan of Lost; he does sci-fi but it is very character-driven and clearly he was such a master at rebooting the Star Trek franchise. He has a real sensibility about the emotional human experience. Also his take on the supernatural and alien life forms; are they really out there? Do they already have a pull on humanity? Are they infiltrated within the society without us even knowing? I love all those types of questions and I just think he’s masterful with his relationships with characters.

Film-wise, I’m very happy that I have a comedy coming out as a follow-up to these movies clearly in the horror genre. As human beings, none of us like being pigeon-holed, but I absolutely, with pride, wear the crown of the Scream Queen right now. I think a great step would be to go in to sci-fi and I would do a sci-fi film or TV show any day of the week, but I just saw the movie The Way, Way Back and it has a Little Miss Sunshine sensibility to it. You know, an indie-smart kind of film. It has fractured people and flawed characters doing their best. I’d love to be part of a film that has that in it. Not super glossy, but just real character-driven, steeped in reality and maybe a little neurotic *laughs*.

We’d like to thank Danielle for her time and urge you to head over to the cinema to catch Insidious Chapter 2 tomorrow. We’ll leave you with the latest featurette for the movie as James Wan and Leigh Whannell explain how they were able to pack so many more scares into the sequel compated to the 2011 original.

Watch this space as Danielle also stars in the soon-to-be-released Curse of Chucky which we also spoke to her about.

Find all UK ticket details for Insidious Chapter 2 right here.

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