Rutanya Alda [Interview]

 

Happy Friday, Folks! We are wrapping the week and the month with some wonderful words from an on screen legend. It’s Rutanya Alda! With a career spanning over 50 years, and hundreds of credits to her name, Rutanya is an iconic figure who we are so damn pleased to have grace our digital pages today. I first became aware of Alda’s work when she appeared in one of my favorite film of the 90’s, which would be Paul Chart’s 1997 cult classic American Perfekt. And of course, I would then recognize her in a variety of roles, from horror classics like the late Larry Cohen’s film The Stuff or Amityville Horror II (co-written by our old friend Tommy Lee Wallace!), to legendary films like The Deer Hunter or 2001’s The Glass House. She’s all over the place Folks!

Rutanya has a wonderful story to tell, and we are honored that she was willing to tell some part of that tale on this very site. So without further ado, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Rutanya Alda!

 

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What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this first project?

 

my first paid work in being an actor, aside from summer stock and out of town theatre, was in  my first work as a background artist.  Up the Down Staircase, starring Sandy Dennis,  was my first job as a student in her class.  It was a wonderful experience, insanely interesting.  The film jobs as a background artist , and photo double for Barbara Streisand in Hello Dolly and Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby followed among many other films.  I did have a speaking line in Rosemary’s Baby as Dr. Hills answering service operator…a voice over when Mia is in the phone booth.

Then followed a line or two on television shows and my first starring role with Robert De Niro in Brian de Palma’ss Greetings (won the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival) followed by Hi Mom, with my infamous “Be Black Baby” scene (20minutes ) that Quentin Tarrentino called the greatest film scene in American cinema.  Richard Scheckel wrote up a whole piece on that scene in Life magazine.

One particular genre of film that you have done some incredible work in is our favorite genre around here, the world of horror. Especially in your incredible performance in the classic film Amityville Horror II. I am curious to know how you enjoy working in the world of horror? What is something about this genre that sets itself apart from the plethora of other genres you have worked in?

About Amiytivlle 2. I dont look at a film as a horror film, although I know it is that genre.  when I look at working on that film, I look at telling a story of the mother who is caught in circumstances beyond her control. I look at her as a human being and let the audience experience the horror of what she is caught in. I never play the horror.  That is playing the result. Fortunately the director, Damiano Daminai, felt the same way and we had a terrific work relationship. I think together we worked to tell a story in a real and truthful way.  I think that is why it still resonates with the audience today.
In 1997 you appeared in one of my favorite films, which happens to have been written & directed by friend of the site Paul Chart. That film was American Perfekt. So, what was it that drew you to this unique story? What was it about this project that made you want to become a part of it?
Paul Chart is a unique talent. Also he knew all the films that I had done. This was stunning.. he is very knowledgeable about film.  He is also a great writer, director and human. I would love to work with him again. He asked me to be in his movie and I was so glad to be a part of it.  i think it is an underrated masterpiece.
When you look back on your illustrious career of over 50 years, what would you say you are the most proud of? Not necessarily one individual project, but as a whole? What would you like the Rutanya Alda legacy to be in the future?
When I look back at the last 50 years, which i try not to do very often….but from the first time i ever saw a film at the age 6 in a refugee camp, and particularly in a camp for sick children…i found that i became  part of a magical world of stories. It was also showing me there was another world beside the  experience of suffering, hunger and devastation that World War 2 left in Europe. I was always fascinated by stories. I love stories and I consider myself a storyteller on film. I’m beyond thrilled when I have touched a heart with my work, or illuminated someone’s life. That is everything too me.
What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?
I am always still thrilled to act. I want to tell stories on film. The sad thing is that older women are the most discriminated in this industry. Hopefully writers will realize that there are mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles, grandparents in the world. Not just 20 year olds. And like the European films I see, older women are part of them. Older men too. I have written my one person show about growing up in the refugee camps and parallel in the play is my fathers journey of surviving the Gulags of Stalin. I hope to do it this year in NYC. It has been submitted for the Sundance theatre lab, but I wont know if i make the finals until April 1st. That would be great, but if not I will do it elsewhere in NYC. This story is my most personal one and after all these years I want to tell it.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
The last thing that made me smile is my cat Popeye putting both his paws on my hand to make me stop writing you and pay him the attention that he wants and deserves.

Tom Gibis [Interview]

 

Welcome Everyone! I cannot tell you all how excited I am about today’s interview. This one kicked off as another interview with a guy who happened to appear briefly in one of my favorite films of all time, so let’s learn more about them, as we often do around here. But, this…this became something special. This became probably one of the most inspiring interviews we have ever done. I learned a bit of insight into a very impactful film for me growing up, and a scene that guided me in a way to respect people for who they really are, good or bad. That film was 1996’s Beautiful Girls, a widely forgotten showcase of talent in the 90’s that was occurring quite often at Miramax, sadly while a lot of terrible shit was probably going down, involving some of the very people starring in the film. The film also has an admiringly Lolita-ish vibe that can be interrupted bizarrely if I’m being honest. But, the film shaped me as a 12 year old boy and throughout my formative years, so I have a hard time seeing it as anything less than brilliant.

But, that being said, the incredible Tom Gibis is here with us today! Tom portrayed a character named Peter in a scene towards the end of the film that still to this day is incredible impactful. So much so that I went on the hunt to try to talk to “Peter the Eater” (the “Eater” part, I would like to retract from my memory after reading the words below, but you can not disregard the past, you can only move forward from it), and lo and behold he was kind enough to give us a very detailed description of the a classic scene of a classic film (to me) and how it was almost completely ruined, right up until the very last go around of shooting. It’s an amazing tale, and I know you are all going to love it.

And beyond this one scene-stealing moment, Tom has had a wonderful career on TV, film, stage, voice over work, and beyond. He’s an obvious talent, and we are so excited to have him join the TWS family. Brace yourself Folks, this one is an emotional journey that we should all probably partake in, and I am so happy that I was able to showcase it with you all here today. With that being said, please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Tom Gibis!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of performance? Was it something you aspired to do since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be an actor …that’s not entirely true I wanted to be an astronaut, a fireman, a police officer, Doctor etc. but being an actor allows me to be all of those things and more. When I was 15 my goal was to be a forest ranger.  I was a scout and a Jr. naturalist at the local nature center. I did a lot of camping and outdoor survival trips. (even spent a night in an igloo that I built). I was involved in theatre but thought I could never make a living at it. I never met anyone who was an actor or entertainer. When I was in high school, I discovered that a forestry degree requires a lot of math (not one of my strengths) I also discovered that the US forest service only hires a few people a year. So, I thought well why not do what I really want to do and be an actor. 

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And where there any sort of lessons learned from this gig that still affect your work to this day?

Not sure I remember my first paid gig … 1) money has never been that important to me.  2) I just wanted to act …some things paid, somethings did not. Over time I did more and more paid things. Then I joined the union and as far as TV and film I really can’t do unpaid work. As far as theatre I still do free stuff from time to time if it’s a favor or it’s something I want to do. There is a saying and it’s goes something like: You have to love the arts so much that you would do it even if they did not pay you.…because chances are they won’t. 

In 1996, you made a very memorable appearance in one of my favorite films of all time. The man who brought Darian Smalls down a very pegs in the brilliant film Beautiful Girls. You were incredible as Peter the Eater? So if you wouldn’t mind, can you tell us a bit about your experience working on this legendary film? Any fun moments you can recall about your time on set?

When I first auditioned for the role I was in Minnesota. I was known around town as a comedian and I had been working at Dudley Riggs Brave New Workshop. (kind of like 2nd city in Chicago) so When they brought me in the casting director explained they had brought me in for this funny role in a new film that was being shot locally. She went on about how I would be perfect for this because I was so funny. I read the sides and found nothing funny about it. I could relate to the role I was picked on in high school I was short, chubby, was in theatre, choir and was awful at sports. I didn’t cry in 7th grade but I got where this guy was coming from.

In many ways, I was this guy. My first read the casting director was stunned. I think I caught her off guard she hadn’t seen the drama of the scene. She asked me to do it again but play the comedy of the scene. The direction was to lighten it up. That these stories of Peter being picked on were funny. I made the adjustment and she was pleased. I walked out thinking “If I don’t get this part I don’t care” as I did not like the direction of the scene. They called me back this time for the director Ted Demme. I did it again. I must have pulled a little of the drama back in because his note was to lighten up. He felt all Peter’s past teasing was “water off a duck’s back” I tried to explain that if it was “water off a duck’s back”, why does Peter bring it up all these years later? It obviously bothered him.  I was not winning this argument they wanted it funny. I did the scene again and they thanked me. And I thought “well, I did not get that one” and I moved forward with my plans to move to Los Angeles. They called me back again.

The director really liked me but wanted to see if I could really dial in the funny. I did as he asked. Then I didn’t hear anything. I moved out to LA and month or two later I got a call that they wanted me for the part. I returned to Minneapolis on my own dime to shoot. (FYI: I joined SAG on this film so with the initiation fee and the airfare It cost me money to do this movie) At the wardrobe fitting Ted stopped in and really tried to hammer home the comedy aspects of the scene I laid out what I thought the scene was about. He disagreed but was friendly about it… I had given him something to think about.

We get to the shoot date.  It was in March and there was still snow on the ground in Minnesota. I show up on set and they take me to my trailer. On the door it says “Peter the Eater”. The assistant AD felt the need to point that out and how funny that was. In the script the first line is “Darian Smalls? Peter Gropeman.. you made me cry in 7th grade? “I say my name in the first line. Shouldn’t the door say Peter Gropeman or just Peter? We got ready for the first set up. The establishing wide shot. We block out the scene. I meet Lauren Holly she seems nice enough. We go through the scene and I recall one of the crew members leaning over to me saying “you know what would be funny? If you were eating a sandwich in the scene”. I nodded and smiled in my head I was thinking “Yea that’s funny, cause ya know, fat guys eat all the time.” WTF??

We go through the scene again and they send us off to makeup. I ask Lauren if she would like to run lines and discuss the scene. I was hoping to at least get some validation perhaps another actor could understand how to approach the scene. But no, she said she had to get ready and did not have time to talk about the scene. She kinda blew me off, she was nice about it but it was clear she did not think there was anything to discuss. I get out of make-up return to set and we break for lunch. I go to the lunch area get my food and look for a place to sit down I went over to Lauren Holly’s table thinking, “Great we can talk about the scene”, but no she said that the seats at her table being held for other people. So I sat down at a table in the corner by myself. I was then joined by a couple of extras and my stand-in. As I sat there I had the thought that this is High School all over again. I was so annoyed.

So, lunch is over, and we head back to set. While we waited for everything to get set I would just hang with the extras. So, after an hour of setting lights and such, we are finally ready to shoot the first take. We shoot it. “cut. That’s great let’s get another one for safety” everyone goes back to their first position. The director comes over gives a few small notes. I ask him “since we got the version you wanted on the first take…. can I try one the way I think it should be? He says sure but “keep it light in the beginning and then go there”. I agree. We set up and do it again. “action” we do the scene….”and cut” the room breaks out into applause. I am not kidding applause. Ted (The director) sort of drops his head like “shit, that IS the way to play the scene.” He knew I was right. Lauren runs over to him and says, “is that the way he’s going to play the scene it makes me look like too much of a Bitch?!” He says “yes, that is the scene”.

From that point on we set up for all the other angles and closeups we did it my way. And the strangest thing happened, the crew started calling me Tom. The guy that said I should be eating a sandwich said “man that’s what every guy who got turned down by a girl in high school wishes he had said. And later between shots Lauren called over “Hey Tom, come sit with us”. I replied “Nah, I am good here with the extras. “In the end it was a great experience because I did the task asked of me and at the same time I stood up for what I believed was the way to do the scene. I almost thought Ted had intentionally had everyone treat me that way on set to get a great performance out of me, but that’s a little paranoid. To me the whole scene and perhaps the movie boils down to one fundamental truth: Life is going to knock you on your ass, is it easier if that happens when your 13 or 30? 

And what are your thoughts of the film as a whole after a couple of decades have gone by? In your own personal opinion, does it hold up? Why or why not?

I have not watched it in a long time. Not so sure the Natalie Portman, Tim Hutton relationship would play the same way today. Although, I remember thinking it was a little weird back then. 

We have spoken to several folks who have done some amazing work in the world of voice overs, and you are no exception to that! You’ve worked extensively in the field, even alongside our dear friend Ogie Banks in the Naruto franchise. So I wanted to ask something we are always curious to know: how do you personalize a performance in the world of voice over work? How do you put a bit of your own personality into your voice over roles?

For me acting is acting …if it’s stage or film, dub or original, TV or Improv Comedy, voice or live… There are different requirements for each but at the core is acting. As far as putting your own personality into thing I think it’s almost impossible not to. It’s similar to music…. you can play Mozart on a piano or a trumpet.  The piano will give it a different feel. My voice, my instrument it is unique to me. How my instrument plays a role is different than how someone else would. 

If you were handed the opportunity to create and appear in, or do the voice for, the the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

I love history, so many great figures it’s hard to pick one. Ok if I have to pick one Ben Franklin comes to mind. I just think I could pull it off. Plus no one  knows what he sounded like. Teddy Roosevelt if I was looking for voice match, he had a high nasally sound that I could recreate for sure.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

That’s the thing about being an actor you never know what is around the corner. I continue to work on Boroto and just recorded a few new episodes of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My dog Trixie. She is a clown. 

 

Kathy Searle [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! All of you regular readers out there are going to really get a kick out of this wonderful interview I have to share today. And for those just logging in, I’m actually jealous of you, because you have some wonderful catching up to do. If I could harken back to long ago, early Fall of 2019 that is, some of you may remember a Saturday Special we did for a brilliant film entitled Empathy Inc. It is an exceptional film, and landed itself in the top half of our Top 50 Films of 2019. It’s a masterpiece of psychological thrillers, and I still can’t recommend it enough.

And one of the main reasons that the film was as good as it was, is owed to the brilliance of one of the film’s leads, the great Kathy Searle! And wouldn’t you know it, we are fortunate enough to get some kind words back from this amazingly talented person and are sharing them with you all today! I’m so stoked to get to know Searle a bit more. Kathy has done some incredible work in the world of film and television and stage, and beyond that she talks a bit about in the incredible responses below. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that I actually failed, and forgot to ask Kathy about some other specific work she has done, which would be providing the voices for local populations in two of the biggest video games of all time with Read Dead Redemption II and Grand Theft Auto V. I’m slipping in my old age!

But, Kathy does give some amazing answers, and we are so happy with this wonderful interview that she has given us. And we are so excited to continue to watch her career flourish with each new project she appears in. So Folks, please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Kathy Searle!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something you have always dreamt of doing as a youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

If you ask my family I came out of the womb wanting to be an actor!

Ever since I was little I always wanted to make people laugh, I used to stand on this little rock by my family’s house and do silly voices and little plays for anyone who would listen! So my mom and dad knew that this would be my path, they were very supportive. Because they knew I wanted to be in the entertainment industry they let me watch reruns of the not ready for prime time players aka SNL, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, SCTV, etc. I would listen to Steve Martin albums and learn from the best! I was so inspired by these phenomenal performers, and in many ways they were my teachers! I’m so grateful to my family for their encouragement!

I always knew this was my path and calling, the sound of laughter was the most enjoyable sound I had ever heard and I knew I wanted to make people feel that way!

  

What was your very first paid gig as a performer? And where there any sort of lessons learn from this experience that you still utilize in your work today?

The very first job I did was a commercial for Seamans furniture when I was 12 years old! I played the daughter and I remember working with a couple who played my mom and dad in the spot, I remember watching how they treated everyone on set with kindness and I knew that was the type of actor I wanted to be. The one that made everyone feel important no matter what your job was. I also relearned that years later working with Kelly Ripa, Faith Ford, and Ted McGinley on Hope and Faith they knew everyone’s name, were respectful to all. I was a guest star of only one episode and they made me feel like I was a part of the cast not just there for the week. It was such a great reminder in my 20’s to continue being that type of an actress and person.

Kindness goes a long way and when it comes from a genuine place it makes working on sets so much more fun!!! Still to this day I ask everyones name and try to make everyone feel special and important, it takes a village to make TV and film magic and we all play such a specific role in that process, we are all in it together and should be treated equally :).

 

 

Recently you appeared in one of my favorite films to be released in 2019, the psychological thriller Empathy Inc. It was so great, and you were especially fantastic in it. So what drew you to the role of Jessica? What really grabbed you about this story that made you want to work on the project?

Thank you for saying that and seeing Empathy Inc!!! That was one of my favorite films to shoot. I truly love that movie! It was the first sci-fi thriller I have ever done and hopefully not the last!!!

I recently did a Q&A after a screening and opened up about when I had gotten the audition. It was a very slow time for me, and sometimes as actors when we’re not working you can fall into feeling like “you’re never going to book again, should I stay in this business, am I talented etc.” Our minds play cruel tricks on us!

Harley Kaplan the casting director had reached out to me and had said he read the script and thought of me, I was so flattered because it’s a type of role that a lot of people wouldn’t have given me a chance to audition for….people think of me as just a comedic actress. I loved that Harley was thinking outside of the box! I knew by page 2 that this was the type of film I wanted to sink my teeth into!

I really worked the material before the initial audition. When I went into the room and met Mark, Yedidya and Josh it solidified me wanting the role even more. They let me play, they collaborated with me, “Jessica” came alive. I went to the callback about a week later, worked with my acting coach and told myself if I book this film it’s a sign to keep going in this business, to not give up (no pressure on myself, right!?! Hahahahaha)

At the time I was working at a little jewelry boutique in Manhattan, and there was a beautiful ring that I was coveting it spelled out in gemstones “to thine own self be true,” I loved the meaning, I loved the quote, and I loved that the character of Jessica says that line in Empathy, inc

I remember staring at the ring when I was at the store, suddenly my phone buzzed and it was Harley to let me know that I had booked the film, I would get to say that line, yay!!!!

I was beyond thrilled, but most of all I loved that this film helped me keep going on my path to follow my dream of being an actress and never give up on myself or my journey in this crazy industry! After all, it’s my calling! Sometimes we just need a reminder. And what an awesome reminder this was, body swapping film…That’s an actor’s dream come true!!! So damn fun and challenging!

I later bought that ring as a gift to myself to always stay true to who I am and every time I wear it I think of the movie and the character with such love!

  

And now that the film is out there in the world, what are your thoughts on the final product? Is there anything about it that sets it apart from the plethora of other work you have done? Even in a minor way?

I love the movie, it’s like an episode of Black Mirror! It’s thrilling, has moments of comedy, it’s a total roller coaster at the end!!

Going to different film festivals and getting to see it and watching it through each characters eyes and see everyone’s journey has been awesome! And I love hearing the audiences reactions throughout!!

The whole cast is phenomenal! Zack who played my husband did such an incredible work carrying this film, Jay, Eric, AJ killed it!

I was so impressed with everyones work. Sometimes I got so lost in watching the movie I forgot that it was me in it, that’s such a testament to the cast and crew where we as actors can watch it and forget that it’s us up there on the big screen and take the journey just like an audience member seeing for the first time!

For me this film was a gift, it was very meta playing an actress in the film questioning her own abilities. I learned a lot from Jessica, she was strong in her beliefs and was incredibly supportive of her husband. She was not the type of woman to give up, and I have taken that with me. I love when you can walk away from a film taking pieces of a character that inspire you to be better. I would say that that’s what sets this film a part from some other work that I’ve done 🙂

Courage over comfort, she took me out of my comfort zone in the best way!

 

 

You have done so much incredible work in the world of television, film, stage, and more. So with that, I am curious to know what your favorite medium is to work in? If you were only allotted the chance to work in one field for the remainder of your career, which would it be?

You are so kind, thank you so much. My dream has always been to do a multi camera sitcom!! Ever since I was a kid I love the idea of doing a 22-minute live play for an audience! There is an artform to that medium and when it is done well it’s so fun to watch!

Funny story, I never thought I would do film, I didn’t think I was “pretty enough”.

Years ago I had the pleasure of working with Jeffrey Tambor in a Sabra hummus commercial, I remember when the makeup artist came over to do touchups on me, he looked at me and said “you know you have the face for film.” I almost cried, one of my heroes at the time was telling me that my face could be on a big screen!?!? And then wouldn’t you know the following year I started booking films!!!

I really fell in love with that medium, it’s incredibly challenging to do page 101 on day one and then page 3 on day 2. Especially if it’s a romantic comedy and it’s like “hey I’m Kathy I’m playing this character and we’re in love with each other nice to meet you”

It’s a great mental challenge of trying to keep your characters arc throughout each day when you’re filming out of sequence! I love it!!

So, if it’s Sophie‘s choice of choosing one, sadly I can’t…it would have to be both TV and film, both equally challenging and rewarding!

 

If you were handed the opportunity to portray any legendary figure in American history in their biopic, who would it be?

Great question!!

Years ago right after Joan Rivers had passed away I had played her in a musical version of a story about the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I spent a lot of time studying her, learning about who she was, and truly became inspired by the woman and the comedienne. Her discipline was awe inspiring, her joke catalog was amazing. She was a master of comedy.

I would love to pay homage to her. Show the world who she was at her core, how she paved the way for so many of us, her philanthropic work and that she was a beautiful woman inside and out!

I’m so grateful to Joan Rivers and so many other incredible comedic women who allowed people like me to have the opportunity to work!

I will say many of my friends have dreamt that they will make a movie about Clara Bow or Gracie Allen, people say I was not born of this time period and have a vintage look/vibe.

And after doing empathy Inc. I can tell you I love the way I look in Black and white film, everyone looks so beautiful and soft!

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Hopefully continuing to work, so if anyone needs a quirky 30 something actress, I’m available! Hahaha. I’m really excited about a film I did last year called 8 Slices, it will be out in theaters on March 27th! It’s a beautiful family film! And a true ensemble dramedy. This cast is sooooo talented!

I’m still very close with the cast. It was like lightning in a bottle when we all got on set together, we became a family and you see that in the film. 8 Slices deals with social media, bullying , lost souls trying to find their way, and beautiful deeper symbolism with famous philosophers that inspired our characters. It’s also got this really cool Empire Records meets Mystic Pizza vibe about it!!! At many of the screenings teenagers got the underlining meaning and messages of the movie.

And parents told us this is the type of movie they want their kids to watch and learn from!!! So I can’t wait for the world to see the film! We are all really proud of it!!

 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was my sweet dog Lily Tomlin aka Lil who when she saw me crying watching a movie she jumped on my lap and started licking my tears away!! It was just the sweetest thing and my tears turned to laughter 🙂

Sunday Matinee: Quezon’s Game [Film]

 

“As WWII loomed and the 1930s drew to a close, desperate Jewish refugees seeking to flee German/Austrian ghettos and the escalating atrocities of the Nazi regime found little help from countries around the world. More than 10,000 miles away, over weekend poker games at the Malacanañg Palace, prominent Jewish businessman, two-for-a-nickel cigar maker Alex Frieder, implored his friend “Manny,” Filipino President Manuel L. Quezon, to assist him in establishing asylum for refugees in the tropical, island country. Also helping devise the dramatic rescue plan was American diplomat Paul V. McNutt, who labored to overcome oppressive U.S. objections to the plan, imperiling his own political career and presidential aspirations. Willing to risk it all, it was a moral obligation the Filipino leader was determined to fulfill … despite astronomical obstacles, the Philippines struggling, U.S.-reliant economy and his own gravely failing health due to a relapse of tuberculosis.

 

Instrumental as well was an ambitious, young U.S. Army Colonel, future president Dwight D. Eisenhower, then chief aide to General Douglas MacArthur, serving in the Philippines, a U.S. territory at a time when Filipinos (even diplomats and officials), like African-Americans, were required to use “Colored” bathrooms at the White House. Although Quezon’s intent to rescue 10,000 Jews was abruptly curtailed by the Dec. 8, 1941 invasion and three-year occupation of his country by the Japanese, he, his wife, Aurora, and daughter, Baby, succeeded against all odds to welcome more than 1,200 refugees, initially housing them on his own family’s property, Marikina estate. Yet in his final days in 1944, as president in U.S. exile, he regretfully turned to Aurora and asked, “Could I have done more?” – Greenleaf & Associates PR

 

 

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Oh Folks, do we have a great Sunday Matinee for you all today. First off, my sincerest apologies for the very long descriptive quote right up top. As many regular readers would know, this is usually a very brief overview of what the film is basically about. And while this one isn’t nearly as “brief” as they normally are, please understand that Quezon’s Game is a film that is littered with so much complexity and anxiety-driven content that I felt it was necessary to go long. This is a powerful film, Everyone. I know that words like “powerful” and “moving” seem to get thrown around very willy nilly like these days, but in the case of this masterpiece of cinema, these are pretty accurate descriptors, and I will stand by them.

 

I will be the first to admit something that I’m sure many other people would think simply in reading the description of this film….I HAD NO IDEA! It’s almost damn near shameful how much I did not know about the events that occur in this film, or the involvement of the Philippines in World War II. But after seeing Quezon’s Game, I simply cannot stop talking about it! I would hope that this would speak volumes to the work that filmmaker Matthew E. Rosen and writers Janice Y. Perez and Dean Rosen have put into showcasing the bravery and courage, let alone other the desire to simply do the right thing, that this incredible cast of historical characters managed to a show during such a frightful time.

 

 

We mentioned last week that we may have found the first great film of 2020 with the likes of Adrianna Maggs’s Goalie, but I am now here to say that it took less than a week to find yet another wonderful film of this year, with it only being January! Seriously Folks, I can’t imagine a world where we are not talking about Quezon’s Game a year from now when we are wrapping up our favorite cinematic pleasures of the year. It just doesn’t seem possible.

 

Quezon’s Game recently saw a wide release in theaters across the U.S. and Canada this last Friday, and are currently showing NOW! More theaters will be showing the film this coming Friday as well. See more details below:

 

 

List of U.S. + Canadian Markets

For theater locations, visit: https://www.quezonsgame.com/screening

 

United States

Opening Jan. 24, 2020

Hawaii

Honolulu

 

Illinois

Chicago

 

New Jersey

Bergenfield, Elizabeth

 

Nevada

Las Vegas, Reno

 

New York

Brooklyn, New York City

California

Berkeley, Elk Grove, Los Angeles, Roseville, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco

Virginia

Alexandria, Norfolk, Virginia Beach

United States

Opening Jan. 31, 2020

 

Alaska

Anchorage

 

Arizona

Mesa, Chandler, Phoenix

Colorado

Denver

Florida

Orlando, Jacksonville, Tampa, Miami

Georgia

Atlanta

  

Maryland

Baltimore, Gaithersburg

Massachusetts

Boston, Danvers, Framingham

Michigan

Detroit

Minnesota

Inver Grove Heights, Minneapolis

Missouri

West Olive

Mississippi

Jackson, Southfield

Ohio

Cleveland

Oklahoma

Tulsa

Oregon

Portland

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pittsburgh

Texas

Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Grapevine, Houston, Plano, San Antonio

Utah

Salt Lake City

 

                                                                             Washington                                                                                          

Olympia, Seattle

 

Washington D.C.

Metro

Canada

Opening Jan. 24, 2020

Alberta

Calgary, Edmonton

British Columbia

Vancouver, Surrey

Manitoba

Winnipeg

 

Ontario

Mississauga, Scarborough, Toronto

Quebec

Montreal

Canada

Opening Jan. 31, 2020

 

Alberta

Grande Prairie, Red Deer

British Columbia

Kelowna, New Westminster, Victoria

Ontario

Kitchener-London, Ottawa, Vaughan

 

Saskatchewan

Regina, Saskatoon

 

Yukon

Whitehorse

 

 

http://a%20href=

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/377850707“>QUEZON’S GAME OFFICIAL INTERNATIONAL RELEASE TRAILER</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/quezonsgamefilm“>Quezon’s Game Film</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com“>Vimeo</a>.</p>

Saturday Special: Kill Ben Lyk [Film]

 

“Three people have been murdered in London, all by the name of Ben Lyk. Scotland yard decides to gather together all the other Ben Lyks located in London until they can figure out who’s after them and why. One of the Ben Lyks is a young Youtuber, he thinks this attention on his name could finally be his shot at becoming an internet celebrity. What would you do if your namesake had been killed ? Is Ben Lyk the most dangerous name since Sarah Connor?” – October Coast PR

 

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Folks, I have something for you all today that I think you are truly going to enjoy. We are featuring a film that is, well, to keep it simple….so damn much fun. Much like in the vein of a previous film we showcased earlier this year (Reality Queen), this is a film that takes a somewhat satirical look at a very real problem, makes it sort of terrifying, but most humorous. The film is Kill Ben Lyk, and think it is fantastic. I’ve been known to have a slight amount of disdain for the world of the YouTube elite out there, so many I am simply in love with the idea of watching someone portraying one of these figures getting hunted down and possibly murdered. Or is that too dark? Either way, the concept of the film is simple in nature, but it’s truly amplified in a wonderful way when a lovely dose of narcissism is peppered into the scenario. In fact, it’s what really made me enjoy this film.

Another descriptor I might throw out there to describe what occurs in this wonderful film is…WILD. And it starts almost directly from the beginning. In fact, I mean the VERY beginning. I seriously found myself laughing out loud in the first two minutes….just before two lives are taken. Yes, it’s that sort of dark humor that we honestly could use more of in this world today.

 

 

Director and co-writer Erwan Marinopoulos has also created something very unique with the likes of Kill Ben Lyk. For those who may not watch a thousand movies a year, the seamless transition that the film makes from hide and seek thrill ride into a who done it type mystery may not be very obvious. And I suppose that is what would make it seamless, and again, so much fun! The cast feels like an effortless ensemble, and huge kudos to Simone Ashley who is so great in this film, and has single-handedly made me want to check out the Netflix Orginal series Sex Education which she appears in. Which should be no surprise when I think about how a wonderful performer can take on a wonderfully written and complex character and make it all their own.

So, do it up Folks! If you looking for a fun hour and half of cinematic joy, Kill Ben Lyk will not let you down. I simply cannot recommend it enough.

 

Kill Ben Lyk is in select theaters now, and will have a VOD release coming early this year.

 

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Alex Castillo [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! We are here to end the week with a banger of an interview to share with you all. To say that Alex Castillo is a star “on the rise”, could seem a bit belittling, as he has put a good 20 years in the business, working on so many projects you know and love. But in most recent years, his career simply seems to be exploding! Especially with his appearance in the new critically acclaimed film Clemency, which we will learn more about below. Beyond the on screen world, Alex joins our incredible cast of voice over acting characters that we have been honored enough to have featured on the site. Alex’s voice over credits include working on the hit Disney film Coco, huge Hollywood films such as Clint Eastwood’s The Mule and Stefano Sollima’s Sicario: Day of the Soldado, and right back to one of our favorite films of 2018, the brilliant Silencio.

On screen, Alex has appeared on just about every television drama you have come to know and love over the years. Seriously Folks, the list is insane. To name just a few for time’s sake: 24, The Shield, The Unit, General Hospital, Monk, JAG….and dozens more.

And again, this is just a spattering of some of his best work. With that, we are so very excited to have Alex grace our digital pages here today. We are honored to have him join the TWS family, and couldn’t be more excited to share his words with you all here today. So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the great Alex Castillo!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it something that has been ingrained in you since you were a child, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day? 

I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in entertainment but didn’t have the courage to do it early in my life. So, after college I worked in marketing and brand management in the consumer products industry for many years for some of the biggest companies managing some of the biggest brands in the world, but something was always missing. Eventually I had the courage to admit to myself that I needed to make a change. I left that career and moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and shortly after founded my production company, Castle2000 Films.

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work today? 

My first paid gig in entertainment was as the “Mexican Farmer” in the Walt Disney hit movie Holes starring Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight and Shia LaBeouf. The biggest lesson I learned from that experience is hard work pays off. Two other lessons: there are no small roles, only small actors and enjoy the ride.

I have recently become aware of a film you worked on that looks incredible, the 3x Spirit Award nominated film Clemency. Can you tell our readers a bit about this project, and what made you want to get involved with it? 

Clemency is writer/director Chinonye Chukwu’s award-winning death-row drama. It’s about prison warden Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard) and the toll that years of carrying out death row executions have taken on her. As she prepares to execute another inmate, she must confront the psychological and emotional effects that her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill. I play Victor Jimenez, an inmate on death row facing execution and whose story opens the film. Chinonye’s exceptionally well-crafted script is what drew me to this film. After I auditioned, I knew I had to be part of this film. I needed to help her, and the filmmakers, tell this important, timely story.

Another wonderful project that you did some voice over work in was Silencio, which was one of our favorites of the last year. So, sort of the same question, what was it that drew you to Lorena Villarreal’s incredibly unique story? And how was your experience working on this project? 

Lorena Villareal is a talented filmmaker. A good friend asked if I could work on the film and after reading the premise I said yes. Lorena is incredibly collaborative with a clear vision which made the experience a great one. Any time I can help an emerging filmmaker, schedule permitting, I am there.

 

 

If you were handed the opportunity to create & star in the biopic of any legendary figure in history, who would it be?

Brazilian musician João Gilberto who developed bossa nova music and helped turn the style into a worldwide craze. I would the challenge of bringing his incredible life story to the screen.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? How can our readers follow you on social media? 

I’m currently promoting Clemency ahead of its December theatrical release. The film will continue to open theatrically around the world throughout 2020. Up next for me, roles in two indies: Kate Johnston’s Turn Left and Jason Gurvitz’s In the Desert of Dark and Light. On the producing front, I am currently in development on two feature films: Nick Oceano’s Finding Albie Finch and Bill Deasy’s Ransom Seaborn under my Castle2000 Films banner.

Twitter: @castilloalex Instagram: @castilloalex2000

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

The thought of my upcoming vacation in the Caribbean.

 

 

Danny Woodburn [Interview]

 

Happy Wednesday Everyone! I am so very excited to share this incredible interview we have for you all with the incredible actor Danny Woodburn. Danny is the man that you know and love, you has worked in just about every genre and field imaginable. Possibly most notable would be his appearances in the hit sitcom in which we have managed to have several writers, producers, and stars here on this very site, which would be Seinfeld. But, as we are compelled to do around here, he is yet another of the cast of wonderful characters to have a reoccurring role on our beloved sitcom, Becker. That’s right Folks, we HAD to ask about Becker. And you will not be disappointed with what he has to say about working on our favorite series.

Of course, there was so much to discuss in regards to Danny’s inspirational and multi-faceted career in the world of performance, as well as his selfless advocacy work for performers with disabilities, which he will discuss below. With that, I feel like we should just jump right into it! Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Danny Woodburn!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an early aspiration you have had since a youth, or did you simply find yourself in this world one day?

My choice to begin my career came in my early 20s.  I had always aspired to be like the comedians I saw in the day and 70-80s (from Flip Wilson to Don  Rickles and Cosby Carson,  Carlin to Pryor,  Winters to Williams;  the list goes on and on.   But, at first I did not see it as a career choice.  Hollywood did not seem attainable. In my mind it was some other.  But I always had the bug to perform as far back as age 4 when I used to act out the songs on a Woody Guthrie album called Songs to Grow On.  To try to get a laugh from my mom.  But after high school, once I decided to study acting, it was all over, that was where I was headed.

What was your very first paid gig in the world of acting? And where there any sort of lessons learned on this specific project?

On stage in an improv troupe called Loose Change.  We headlined at a bar/club in New Hope, PA called John and Peters.  I got $7 after we split the door.  The lesson I learned was that improv troupes did not make money.

First TV role was an episode fo Hunter in 1991.  I played a thief who hit bars after last call.  What I learned here was that it is very easy to look like you are overacting if the director never yells cut.

In 2001 & 2002, you made a couple of appearances on one of my favorite TV series of all time, one that we have actually just showcased a full week of interviews about, which is the absolutely wonderful show Becker. We are compelled to ask anyone who has ever worked on this program in any form, including the show’s creator, what they thought about working on the set of Becker? And was there anything about this show that set itself apart from others you have worked on?

I had a great time and being asked back to any show in my view shows a real sense of family by the creators and lead cast.  Ted and the gang there were very welcoming and I loved the smart ass nature of my character.  I liked the fact that this was a real character, a person and not some exaggerated version of little people that so often was posed for me to play.

 

 

Now, I know that Becker may be my favorite show, but I know that you have worked on other more legendary programs. Another one of which we have spoken with many writers from, is perhaps one of the most legendary sitcoms of all time, which would be Seinfeld. You had a brilliant reoccurring role as Mickey Abbott. So again, what was it like playing through the mind of folks like Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David?

Seinfeld was my first sitcom and maybe only my 4th or 5th TV show.  I was thrust into the work day immediately after my audition, so I felt I had to really be on my game.  The show ran very smoothly in my novice opinion and the cast was a terrific group to work with.  My scenes with Michael were always a highlight for me and he was such a perfectionist in his craft it inspires a young actor to be at his best.  Coming back again and agin has been one of the great stories of my career and I was honored to have been a part of such a legendary TV show.  It changed my career.

In 2014, you portrayed one of my childhood heroes in the 2014 film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The film was very CGI heavy, but I know there is still has to be a lot of work that goes into portraying the legendary Master Splinter, even if you had somebody else doing the voice over work. So, how was this experience for you? What sort of work goes into making a film like this?

It was a new experience for me working in Mo-caps suits all day.  It is meticulous work and scenes are filmed many more times than in a traditional film shoot.  We all had Tobe on our acting game and create a physicality and expressiveness worthy of out character.  But it was strenuous work to be sure.

When you look back on your career that spans almost 30 years in this business, what would you say you are most proud of? Not necessarily one specific project, although it could be, but as a whole what do you look back on with the most pride? 

To work directly with legends like Angela Lansbury, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, James Earl Jones, Anne Francis, Billy Barty  James Garner, Gene Wilder,  Eddie Albert Jr., Vincent Schiavellli, and of course Robin Williams.

Probably my greatest joy working on a sound stage came while working on Death to Smoochy.  Under Danny DeVito’s direction who was like the papa on that film surrounding himself with a comedy family was truly one of the greatest privileges. And to have scenes with Robin and work with him every day, for someone who saw him as an inspiration of comedy, was something I will cherish; all the more now that he is gone.

Also to be able to be an advocate for actors with disabilities is where a great deal of my passion lies.  I continue to try to make strides for performers with disability to be given equal opportunity to employment.  This is of the utmost importance to me.  This is why I work as SAG-AFTRA Performers with Disability co-vice chair, with the Ruderman Family Foundation,  the ReelAbilities Film Festival and the National Disability Theater Company

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Today in addition to acting and advocacy, I write and direct and am creating my own content with my wife of 21 Years, Amy Buchwald.  We have a short film we just finished recently and are posting now.  Also I just acted in a movie called Faith Based which will be out soon.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Re-binging The Office and just watched the Michael and Holly proposal scene.  Sadly I did not really watch it while it was on and now that I have worked with and met a couple of the cast I am hooked.