Jason Stuart [Interview]

 

Hello Folks, and happy Friday to you all! To kick off the weekend with a good laugh, we have an incredible guest for you all. It’s the “swiss army knife” of actors, the wonderful Jason Stuart! Jason is that guy that I have been watching for years, as an avid TV and film watcher, but also as a huge fan of comedy. That’s right, we have another damn fine comic on our hands here at Trainwreck’d Society. And not only his Jason a fantastic actor and stand up comedian, he is also a god damned inspiration!

Jason Stuart did something that could have wrecked his career very early, based on the timeframe in which he did. It’s almost sickening to discuss in this day and age, but we simply cannot ignore the past. Jason Stuart came out as a gay man in the early 90’s, at a time where you just didn’t do that. Anybody who watched the 2018 film mid-90’s and refused to believe that some of the dialogue in that film wasn’t lifted directly from what was considered “appropriate” at the time – believe it. And while it is still not safe to say that things are “better now”, you have to understand that they sort of are better. But, the chance for regression in the changes that have been made is always there. But thanks to people like Mr. Stuart who pioneered the very simple idea of just being who you are and loving who you wish to love very early on, changes have been made for the better. He is commendable for his talents in the world of art and entertainment, and even more commendable for his actions as a human being.

And with that, Jason has a wonderful new book coming out entitled, Shut Up I’m Talking: Coming Out in Hollywood and Making it to the Middle. Without a doubt, it is going to be something that you simply HAVE to read. And we are so happy that Jason was able to take some time out of his numerous gigs to share some responses to some questions with us here today. So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the even more incredible human being, the great Jason Stuart!

 

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What inspired you to get into the line world of comedy and acting? Was it an early aspiration that you have had since you were young, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I started acting at a very young age. When I started getting laughs on stage doing school plays and community theatre, I knew this was what I wanted to do. At the time, I thought I wanted to be famous. But what I learned as I became more adept at the work, was that I loved the idea of being able to make people laugh, cry and touch people. I love the idea that you can go into the theater or see a movie or watch a TV show and I could change the way you feel about something.

 

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

I guest-starred on a TV show called The Life and Times of Eddie Roberts and played a ping-pong player who smoked pot in college. I thought, “This is it! I’m going to get jobs like this all the time!” So I quit community college … and didn’t get another job for two years. I really had no idea how lucky I was to get that job or lucky to get any job. So I just started to work hard and put one foot in front of the other until around 10 years later when I was able to start making a living.

 

While you are indeed a renowned actor, you also happen to be a hilarious stand up comedian. And we love stand up around here! So with that, I am curious to know how your experience has been in the world of stand up? Over the years, a lot of changes have been happening. In your own personal opinion, what have been some of the positive changes you have noticed over the years since you started?

 

Comedy has been very good to me. I’ve been able to work all over the country and actually learn geography! I went to public school. Lucky I learned anything! But to be honest, I was so bullied in school that it was hard for me to pay attention. One of the bigger changes is that people don’t go to comedy clubs as much as they did when I started out. My fans like to come to theaters or alternative spaces. So, that’s what I focus on now. Also, young people watch comedy all over the Internet now. So they are less apt to come to clubs because they have to talk to real people in real life.

 

One very specific project you worked on has me all sorts of intrigued, and I know it’s probably a weird one, but I gotta know….America’s Most Wanted. You appeared as a detective in 2011. How was this experience? It seems like it would be very different from other acting gigs. What do you remember about working on this project?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but it was just like any other job. The reason I wanted to do it is because I wanted to play the role of a detective. That role got me a number of other roles after I  put it on my demo reel. I have a supporting role “Detective Walter“ in the film Abducted coming out this year. Every job leads to another. You have to show people that you can play something in order for them to believe that you can do it. My good friends Billy Damota and Dea Vise cast me, as they have several times. They gave me the opportunity to play roles out of the box that I was offered at that time. I only played fussy managers or annoying Jews or funny gay guys. But because of people like them, I’m now considered for all sorts of roles ….most of the time.

I understand that you have a book that was recently released to the world. And you had a signing event that was hosted by our friend and past guest Alexandra Paul! Can you tell our readers a bit about the book? What can they look forward to learning about you and the your sometimes insane business?

The book is about this young gay Jewish boy who went to see Funny Girl starring Barbra Streisand. When I saw it I fell in love with Omar Sharif, her costar. And then thought to himself,  “If I love a man, who am I to be but Barbra Streisand, the woman. She’s funny on the outside and sad on the inside just like me. But she’s a not a guy.” This was very confusing to me as there were no gay role models in film and television in those days. It was very upsetting for a young boy at that time to come to grips that I might be gay. The book is about cleaning up the wreckage of my past and becoming a man. Dealing with a crazy family, a father who was in the holocaust, brothers and sisters who don’t show up for me and the ins and outs of show business. Also a lot of fun stories about everyone from George Clooney to Tiffany Haddish. And a lot about my very flamboyant mother, Gloria!

 

 

I am also very intrigued by a radio gig you have now entitled Riffing with Jason Stuart. Can you tell us a bit about this project? What compelled you to get into this game, and how can our readers find it?

The reason I started getting into hosting Radio, was that I wanted to get a boyfriend. So I wanted to find a job that would keep me from going on the road. I wanted to learn a new skill set. Just being funny wasn’t enough, I had to learn to interview people and I’ve been doing that for the last 10 years and for five different shows. What I really love about the job is you get to ask questions to people that you’ve known forever or work with, that you wouldn’t ask if you were just hanging out. So to me that’s a lot of fun.

 

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

Well my book is my main focus now. I have another film called Immortal coming out where I play a very intimidating private investigator. The film also stars Dylan Baker, Samm Levine, Robin Bartlett, and a lot of wonderful character actors. I also have created a new web series with Mitch Hara called Smothered, about two middle-age gay men who hate each other but can’t afford to get divorced.

 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Having my mom sit in the front row of my book signing, as she was smiling with joy over a book she was afraid I would tell too much in about her and the family ups and downs.  At one point she said “Don’t use my real name! Call me Goldie not my real name Gloria”. I said “Ma, I’ve been talking about you for over 30 years everyone, knows who you are.”  She said “Oh yeah, I forgot.”

The Listening Tree Interviews: Jordan Farrow [Interview]

 

 

Our dear friends and fellow TWS contributors Adam Mattson and Chris Eaves of the world-renowned podcast, The Listening Tree, did a fantastic interview with lead singer and guitarist for the kajui metal band Oxygen Destroyer, the great Jordan Farrow. And our friends were kind enough to allow us to share it with you all  here! Please enjoy, and listen to Oxygen Destroyer!

LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE TO THE LISTENING TREE ON ITUNES.

 

 

Check out more from Oxygen Destroyer on Bandcamp.

 

Also be on the lookout for the band coming to a city near you:

 

August 16th @ The Charleston in Bremerton, WA

August 22-25th @ Vancouver Island Metal Festival in Victoria, British Columbia

September 27th @ El Corazon in Seattle, WA

Oct 4th @ McCoy’s Tavern in Olympia, WA

 

Find more dates on the band’s Facebook Page.

 

Zoe Eisenberg [Interview]

 

Aloha Folks, and Happy Friday to you all. Today we have a wonderful interview that we sort of teased to you all during our Sunday Matinee this week, and one that you are absolutely going to love! It’s Zoe Eisenberg! Zoe is a writer, director, and producer of the incredible indie film we previously gushed over entitled Stoke. And in between the time of our coverage of the film and this interview, the film is now available! It is seriously one of the best films of the year, and an absolute must see.

And after checking out this lovely film, I simply had to reach out to the folks involved with the making of this genius piece of art, and Zoe was kind enough to take some time out of her busy life on the big island to answer a few questions. We discuss Stoke in detail, the film community of Hawaii, and what made her want to join the world of filmmaking, which we are so damn delighted that she did, as she is a rare gem in a sea of mediocrity and has been creating some of the best work in recent years.

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from an incredibly talented individual, the great Zoe Eisenberg!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of film? Was it an early aspiration you can always remember having? Or did you just happen to find yourself in this world one day?

I’ve always been interested in storytelling, and my formal education is in creative writing, so I entered filmmaking from the screenwriting side. My best friend from high school, Phillips Payson, is a filmmaker, and in 2013 he asked me to write a screenplay for him. I did, and then I ended up producing that film as well, because we needed a producer and I’ve always had a knack for project management. During that process I found out I love producing (and Phillips, it turned out, plot twist, we just got married). That first film we did is called Throuple, a weird dark comedy also set on Hawaii island, where we live. Since Throuple, we’ve done three more films together– a short, a documentary called Aloha From Lavaland, and Stoke, our fourth film but our second narrative feature.

What was your very first paid gig in the world of film production? And where there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that you still use in your work today?

My trajectory in film production has been pretty scrappy – most of the film production work I’ve had I hired myself for. I didn’t take the traditional route of becoming a PA and working my way up, I fell into filmmaking and have since worn so many hats. I’ve been a PA, AD, props, costuming, wardrobe, makeup, I’ve wrangled extras, I’ve done a lot, because in the kind of micro-budget filmmaking I do, you don’t often have a budget to bring on someone else, so you figure out how to do a lot yourself. My sets are not the kind of sets where someone says, as not my job. That said, I’ve always had a team of people to help me, and I couldn’t have done it without them–but typically I’ve been working with a team of 10 to 20 instead of 100 or more, like on larger films.

I recently had the pleasure of checking out one of your latest films, Stoke, which was absolutely amazing. So what made you want to tell this story? 

Thank you! Stoke is about an entitled, grieving tourist who hires two wannabe tour guides to take her to Kilauea volcano. It was actually inspired by the film before it, a documentary called Aloha From Lavaland, that followed my town of Pahoas reaction to a lava flow in 2014 that threatened to cut off our only major access road, which would essentially isolate the town from the rest of the island, and the world. While working on that documentary I was interviewing dozens of people about their relationship with the lava. Our town is located right next to Kilauea volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. We interviewed both people born and raised here, and people like me, transplants who knowingly, sometimes purposefully, moved into an active rift zone. As we were interviewing, we kept hearing the same thing over and over from the transplants: they came here for healing. For whatever reason, again and again this came up. They found the island’s volcanic energy healing. This made me want to tell a story about someone called to visit Hawaii island to heal, and why they feel the volcano–which destroys as it creates, simultaneously–can help them. This is the perspective I wrote our tourist character Jane from. And for our Hawaiian characters, their perspectives on lava tourism were also gleaned from the interviews we did with those born and raised here. How do they feel about so many people coming to see their volcano, and the industry that surrounds that tourism. Puna, where I live, has no hotels, so lava tourism is our only kind of tourism.Â

We also spent a long time casting our Hawaiian characters. In more mainstream cinematic history, Hawaiians have been white washed from their own stories, and we wanted to make sure the actors playing our Hawaiian characters identified with Hawaiian heritage. Even in my own previous work, in Throuple, there wasn’t a single Hawaiian character. I was new to the island and so I imported our entire cast and crew, and I’ve always regretted that, so we spent a long time trying to get that right with Stoke. Most of our cast and crew are from Hawaii, except for Jane, who we wanted to be a genuine outsider. And most of our music is also Hawaii-based. Our soundtrack has some well known artists like Willie K, Keali’i Reichel and Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu. Honestly I was very nervous asking to license their work for the film because I knew how important it was to have an authentic sound — and I couldn’t believe they said yes!

 

 

And how was your experience working on such a unique project?

We really had to go with the flow in order to safely shoot with an active volcano, and I couldn’t miss the irony about having to build our shoot around the volcano while telling a story about, among many things, reverence to nature and the contrasting human urge to try and control everything around us. There were things about the shoot I just couldn’t control.

Stoke, much like yourself, is based in Hawaii. In fact, the land is a pretty large character in itself I would say. So with that, I am curious to know what the film community in your area is like? I would guess that alot of films get made there, but what is the local scene like?

Most of our local film scene is over on Oahu, where they shoot some of the larger television shows like Hawaii, 5.0 and Magnum PI. The film scene on Big Island is much smaller, as we have limited infrastructure and only one film studio, three hours from me in Kona. That said, there is a tight knit film community across all of the islands. There has to be, because we are so isolated.

If you were given the opportunity to write and directed the biopic of any legendary figure in world history, who would it be? 

Oh wow. Great question. I would love to produce a biopic about Kahumanu, an extremely powerful figure in Hawaiian history and a women’s rights activist, but I would want to pull on a female Hawaiian director to spearhead it.Â

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

I’m currently working on a feature set in Hilo Hawaii that I plan to direct myself. I co-directed Stoke along with Phillips, so this would be my solo directorial debut. I am also the Executive Director of the Made in Hawaii Film Festival, and that keeps me pretty busy.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My husband, probably. He cracks me up all the time. He works hard at it, too, I think. I like to give credit where credit is due.

 

Larry Hankin [Interview]

 

Today’s interview subject is a prime example of why I started this little site in the first place. I love to get to know people, even if it’s simply through a digital means. People who you think you might know on the surface because you have been watching them for so many years on the screen. But, when you actually find the means and ability to ask them a few questions, they become a far more fascinating presence than you could have ever imagined. That is Larry Hankin, Folks!

I have watched Larry in so many different projects over the years and have appreciated his work as an actor for the entire ride. Yet, as it turns out, his acting work is only a side story to his incredible, and even Academy Award nominated, work as a filmmaker and storyteller. This interview is one of those rare occurrences where I wish I could take back a few questions I asked via e-mail, and just do it in person, as I would love to hear even more amazing tales from Larry. But alas, this is what I have, and I still think it is pretty fucking great, and you are going to love the gifts that Larry has given us today! We learn some sad truths about beloved projects, some reiterations of some things we already knew but are wonderful to hear, and some delightful antidotes about the life of an artist as a whole. He is a sweet and genuine man with so much to give the world in so many different capacities, and we are extremely fortunate to have him on the site today!

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the absolutely brilliant story teller, actor, man of the world, the great Larry Hankin!

 

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When did you first realize you wanted to join the world of performance? Was acting an early aspiration you had since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

 

I graduated Syracuse University with a friend I met there: Carl Gottlieb (later to write Jaws as well as several other major movies).  We shared an apartment in Greenwich Village – he immediately got a job reviewing movies for local papers, and I got a job scrubbing duckboards behind a bar after closing to pay my part of the rent so I was broke most of the time: I graduated as an Industrial designerer just to please my parents but I really didn’t know what I wanted to do and chose to scrub duckboards at night rather than working in an office 9 to 5.  I was deciding what my Next Move would be by frequenting the coffee houses on open mike night to see a free show for a cup of coffee and watched everybody who was later to become big stars: folk singers and comedians. I was a funny guy in high school so I figured I’d try a couple of open mike nights and weirdly, I was opening for Woody Allen within 6 months. So, that’s how I got into show biz.

 

What was your very first paid gig as an actor? And do you remember any sort of lessons learned from that project that still impact your work to date?

 

I auditioned for Second City in New York City and was hired to be in a company that was booked into the Crystal Palace in St. Louis, Missouri for two months and we were held over for 9 more months.  Lesson learned: I worked well with others and I had talent as a professional funny guy in showbusiness.

 

Beyond the world of on-screen work, you have also written and directed several projects as well, even receiving and Oscar nod for one of your short films. So, what sparked this interest?

 

Though I was a ‘professional comic actor’ I’ve always thought of myself as a stand-up-comic story-teller and a filmmaker-wanna-be.  I use acting to pay rent, purchase necessities and make films because people hire me as an actor and pay me to remember their words –  which isn’t fun for me, but my rent and films were more important and, lo and behold: I was learning to be an actor, so there was this free benefit. Cool. But at heart I’ll always be a funny story teller.

 

In 1993, you became the unsuspecting winner of sorts in the classic film from my childhood, the wonderful Billy Madison. As far as personal memories, this is where I believe I saw you first! I still love the film, not only for nostalgic purposes. So with that, I am curious to know how you enjoyed working on this film? Was it as much fun to work on as it was for me to watch both as a 9 year old boy?

 

Fun? Not in any way shape or manner.  I was a hippie and had hair down to my shoulders. I was running low on cash and my film short was in storage till I got money to finish post. My best friend was directing Billy Madison, but he wouldn’t hire me for the job unless I cut my hair. I cut it. Post-Production takes precedence. Adam Sandler and I had different senses of humor.  I didn’t get him at all (in person-jokes, I mean: mostly deprecating humor and pranks).  Then he fired my friend, the director.  He probably wanted to fire me but he’d have to re-shoot all the scenes I was already in: too expensive.  Not so, the director. Adam and I didn’t click.  He does, however, know what he’s doing. Artistic and comedic differences.  C’est la vie.

 

Another terrific, yet very different, project that you worked on was the legendary series Breaking Bad. We have had quite a few folks from the show featured here on TWS, as it is an absolute classic. So, same sort of question. How was your experience working in the world of Vince Gilligan?

 

Total opposite. Vince Gilligan is an amazing writer-director-storyteller.  And, for me, among the best at all.  He cleared the way for everybody on the set to do their best work.  His writing is easy to learn and say and believe and get into.  His sets are focused and creative and helpful.  I had the best time as a paid, serious actor in front of his camera.  Mr. Gilligan is the real deal.

 

 

You have done so much amazing works in the world of film, television, the stage, and beyond. With that, I am curious to know what your favorite field to work in is? If you were destined to only work in one field for the rest of your career, which would you prefer?

 

Visual storyteller: Woody Allen, Buster Keaton, Jacques Tati, Cantinflas, Fernandel, etc…. All clowns, all filmmakers, all writer-director-actor-producers – all had something new to say; then to create and control the narrative, the joke: the telling and the timing. Basically, a standup comedian showing the realities of his tale, fleshing out his stories on a screen and the challenge of entertaining a room full of homo sapiens.  When it happens, it’s amazing.

 

After a varied and absolutely stellar and decade spanning career, I am curious to know what you tend to look back on with the most pride? Not necessarily one project persay, but as a whole?

 

I come from a very anti-education, anti-art, upbringing.  Extemely reactionary. I look back on making a living doing and making stuff I love to do and make despite that background; to travel and meet people I never would have met any other way.

 

I look back on my own personal work on stage, my film shorts, standup routines, stories and fables. That journey, which I’m still on, that’s the coolest thing to me.  Who’da’ thought, back then, in high school, I’d be typing this to you?  Not me, or a million monkeys.

 

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

 

At the end of November, I’ve got a book of funny short stories, fables, political satire, and doggerel poems coming out called The Loopholes Dossier.  It’s how I look at the world through satire and comedy.  It’ll be on Amazon and Kindle and a lot of other outlets -It’s quirky and funny. You got to at least check it out.  Also I’m in this really big-time movie that’s coming out also at the end of November that I can’t discuss it’s so big (I had to sign a Non-Disclosure-Agreement – true). It’s gonna be big and released through Netflix, I believe.  It’s great.  I got a cool part.  You’re gonna want to see it. Right now, I’m in the middle making a series of “Homeless Rants” which I’ll be putting up Youtube along with the whole slew of shorts of mine that are already on there.

 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

 

A little 5-year-old girl trying to direct her mother’s eyes to exactly where the bird in the bird’s nest was that she’d discovered in the tree they were standing under.

Kurt Braunohler [Interview]

Photo by Adrian Aguilar

 

Hello Folks! Do we have a very exciting interview for you all today, is a question you are probably asking. And the answer is: yes. Of course. Why the hell would you ask such a stupid question? Our interviews are always amazing aren’t they? Well, okay, regular readers will know that I may call out this over-emphasis but, trust me Folks, today’s interview subject is an incredible human being and I am sure most of you are already here knowing him by name. It’s motherfuckin’ Kurt Braunohler, Everyone!

Kurt is an absolutely hilarious stand up comedian, improv mastermind, and delightful actor. This cat is just an absolute delight to look at whilst doing his craft, and has an incredible brain that moves a mile a minute and only puts out the best to the world. I know that this sounds something like Trump talking about himself, but I swear to you all that it’s true. I have admired Kurt’s work for so long, and it is quite the honor to have him grace our digital pages here at Trainwreck’d Society. I don’t entirely get into it in the interview process, but I have a quick story to tell about Kurt, that I did not dispel to him prior to writing this introduction. Here it goes:

I was on a plane from London headed back to Portland watching The Big Sick when Kurt appeared just about the seat back tray ahead of me, and I literally exclaimed “Holy shit! It’s Braunohler!” It was in this very moment that I realized that I was a true comedy nerd.

Alright, I know that for a lot of you, this is not a real crazy story. But trust me, for those of us who have to face the real world, day to day, and socialize with normies each and every day, this was quite the revelation. Also, the elderly lady sitting next to me wasn’t entirely pleased by my exclamation.

So Folks, I really can’t fully explain how excited I am to have Kurt on the site today. So, I will just shut my stupid mouth, and let Kurt speak for himself. He has some amazing A’s to our Q’s that I am so excited to share with you all right now. Enjoy!

 

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When did you first discover that you were a hilarious human being and that you wanted to make people laugh for a living?

I was 5 years old. I shit my pants and thought, “That’s a killer closer.”

What was your very first paid gig in the world of comedy? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that you still incorporate into your work to this day?

My first paid gig in comedy was: I was paid $250 to dress up in this monkey costume with a huge dick and try and sneak into the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a huge TV producer’s gala. At the time, my rent was $500 a month and I was living in Brooklyn, so $250 meant the world to me. This was in 2000 I think? During the first big tech boom in NYC. There was dumb money flying everywhere. This start-up’s mascot was a small monkey with a blue dick. So the owner of the company had an $8,000 monkey costume custom built for me specifically. Then they packed it into suitcase, rented me a tuxedo, and bought me a $700 ticket to this producers’ gala at the Met. The idea was that I’d run around and get my picture taken with people, and then the photographer would hand them a card where they could go online to see their picture with the monkey – and it was the company’s website. The security at The Met, of course, would not let me in with a suitcase. So I just got to go to this very fancy party for free. I assumed the gig was a bust. I ate free sushi and drank free drinks all night long.

Then at 12:30 am the guy was like “Alright we’re gonna go to this afterparty, and you’re gonna do it there.” And I was already very drunk but was like OK. Then we get to the afterparty and he’s nervous not enough people are there. So again I think the gig is over. I have more drinks at the afterparty. Then at 2 am he’s like “Get into the monkey!” I go to the bathroom to change and I’m so drunk I just get fully naked and then get into this monkey costume. Now I’m running around, wasted, as this monkey with a huge blue dick and I’m just dancing and people are taking photos, and I’m nude inside. It was so surreal.

But the weirdest part was at 4 a.m., when the gig was finally over, I changed back into my tuxedo and was walking to the train. A Lexus pulls up next to me and the window rolls down and a beautiful woman who’s driving the Lexus propositions me for sex. Then she spreads her legs and reveals she’s got no pants on. Like no pants. I found out later that after Gulliani cleaned up Times Square, apparently some prostitutes would rent high end cars and drive around the far west side and proposition men coming back from conferences at the Jacob Javitts center and shit. I asked her if she would drive me to Brooklyn. She refused. I said no thank you then and went to get on the subway. Because even though I had $250 in cash on me, I couldn’t afford a cab.

As somebody who has toured all across the country, I am curious to know what may be some places around the country that are exceptionally great to do live comedy in, but people may not realize it on the surface? What are some more obscure places in which you have performed that you were pleasantly surprised to work in?

Lexington KY. When I drove into Lexington for a one nighter at a punk bar I was like, “Oh no, I’ve made a mistake.” But it was honestly one of the funnest nights of comedy I’ve ever had. Packed house. Everybody having fun. The bartender gave me a bottle of bourbon at the end of the night. That’s a good night.

 

 

In 2017 you appeared and worked on the award winning film The Big Sick, which is still one of my favorite films of the last 10 years hands. I am curious to know how your experience was working on this soon to be considered classic film? In the making of the film, did you get the feeling that you were a part of something very special that would go on to receive such acclaim?

We had no idea. Honestly, I didn’t know if the movie would even get a wide release. I thought maybe we were just making a small indie film that would be a blip on the radar. But to have it do so well, and be so many people’s favorite movie of that year. Well, it’s ruined me. That was my first movie. Nothing will ever compare to that.

In that same year you co-host the absolutely brilliant podcast Emotional Hang, alongside our friend and past guest Joe DeRosa. I learned about the podcast from Joe, and absolutely fell in love with it. Can you tell us a bit about how the idea came about to do this show? And how was your experience creating such a gem of a podcast?

Joe and I became friends after we both moved to LA. And we realized it’s so rare to become friends as adults, so we decided we should just do a podcast about adult friendship. It fell apart when I had a family and Joe started splitting his time between here and NYC, but it still holds a special place in my heart. As does Joe.

 

 

Can you tell us a bit about your weekly show Hot Tub with Kurt & Kristen? I have heard several murmurs on several podcasts that I love about this show? How did you come around to teaming up with Kristen Schaal to make this show happen?

This is how I started doing stand up and sketch and writing in general. I’d been doing improv for 7 years, I was 29. I wanted to start writing for myself but didn’t know how. I figured I’d start a variety show. So I asked the artistic director at the PIT in NYC, who at the time was Arian Moayad, now a very accomplished actor  (he’s great in Succession on HBO) about doing a weekly show. He mentioned Kristen Schaal had just asked him the same thing. I didn’t know Kristen at the time, but had seen her perform once. I walked backstage and was like “Hey you wanna do a variety show with me?” and she was like ok. And then it turns out, we really clicked. That was 14 years ago. We still do the show every Monday.

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

I’ve been working on a ton of stuff – multiple TV shows, I just wrote a movie, I’ll be on the second season of Black Monday on Showtime, and I’ve got a new podcast coming soon, but it’s all too early to mention names and places.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My daughter this morning.

 

Check out Kurt’s weekly show, Hot Tub at The Virgil in Los Angeles, especially this coming Monday as it is my daughter’s 10th birthday, and our friend and past guest David Gborie will be there! Maybe David and Kurt will give a shoutout to Lelaina if one of you asks ever so nicely.

 

 

Max Mackenzie [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! Welcome back to another wonderful week here at Trainwreck’d Society! If you can rack your brains, and go back to about three months ago, you may remind a little gem of an indie film entitled Just Say Goodbye that was absolutely fantastic and still one of our favorite films of the year. Of course you remember it. Or at the very least, it is 2019 and you just clicked the link provided and gave it a gander and will soon know the love yourself. Either way, we are so excited to have the lead man from this project, and several other amazing pieces of work, gracing our digital pages today. It’s Max Mackenzie!

Max is an incredibly talented individual who we are so excited to have with us today. He has a great story to tell about his work in the world of performance, his work on the film we love so much, and what the future holds for this star on the rise. So Folks, please enjoy these wonderful responses from the even more wonderful performer, Max Mackenzie!

 

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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? 

It was the Summer of 2014. Wanting to act is something I think was building up inside of me my whole life without my direct knowing, but it really was just like a one day thing where I realized this was something I wanted to try. Best decision I’ve ever made. 

What was your very first paid gig as a performer? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that you still use in your career today? 

My first paid gig was in the Summer of 2015 in Boston, MA. I made a WHOPPING 40 dollars for a photo shoot that was supposed to be used as a concept for a music video, but it never got made. At the time, I’m not so sure what I learned from it. But it’s nice to look back on stuff like that though and remember how excited I was to be getting paid anything to do this stuff, even if it was just 40 bucks. Although for the sake of my team, I can’t take work that pays so little anymore, thinking back reminds me of my roots and keeps my ego in check. It’s a beautiful thing, honestly. 

The film, and your performance within it, Just Say Goodbye, is an absolute masterpiece, in my opinion. It’s such a beautiful tragedy of a film that still sort of haunts almost 2 months after I saw it. So what are your thoughts on the final product that was the film? And what initially drew you to this project to begin with? 

Thank you so much, I appreciate that. I’m truly amazed with what we pulled off on such a minimal budget. I was drawn in by the subject matter, as I lost a friend to suicide my Sophomore year in high school. 

 

 

What has the audience reception been to the film since it was officially released this last May? Do you have any stories of people telling you what an impact it had on them? 

Quite a few! I’ve received so many messages from random people from all around the world who wanted to share the impact it had on them. Knowing my work has effected people in such a way is such a beautiful thing, and I’m so grateful for it. 

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

Tough question. In my mind, I’m thinking who I would actually be considered for based on my appearance, but if that didn’t matter TOO much I’d probably like to take on Tom Ford. He’s one of the most influential figures of international fashion AND film today. His career has been such an interesting turn of events from acting to fashion to directing. He is probably about 25 years out from having a biopic about him made, so let’s just put a pin in it for now. 

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

I just wrapped on a new show for Amazon called The Hunt, starring Al Pacino & Logan Lerman where I play a character named Markus Roth. Keep an eye out for it in the next year! 

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

This question! 

 

Check out the trailer for Just Say Goodbye below, and use the Google machine to figure out how you can see this gem of a film for yourself.

 

 

Danika Golombek [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! We are wrapping up the week with not only more coverage of the incredible film we have spent some time with the last week, the brilliant Wade in the Water, but we have some words from the amazing performer who brought the film’s most interesting character to life. And that would be the wonderful Danika Golombek!

Much like our interview subject from earlier this week (Tom E. Nicholson) I would have to regretfully say that I was not aware of Danika’s work in the world of performance. But just like Tom, I have become just so damn intrigued and believe that she is one of the best young performers out there in the world of acting right now, and for a long time coming. I am extremely excited to see what the future holds for this amazing star on the rise.

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the incredible Danika Golombek!

 

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

I was an extremely anxious kid. The kind of anxious that resulted in a nearly paralyzing fear of being my authentic self in any given situation. So my mother had always tried to nudge me a bit outside of my comfort zone. I was taking singing and ballet lessons, so she figured I might find solace (and maybe some confidence?) in the theater. She signed me up for a community theater program around age eleven and that was it. Here was a place where I could tell someone else’s story. It was a way to get out of my own head for a little while, and it became incredibly therapeutic.

I went on to pursue acting at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington. From the get-go, I was drawn to performing in small studios/black box theaters. The intimacy of the space made me feel so much more connected. I loved dialing it down and finding the nuance. So naturally, the interest in film grew more and more.

What was your very first gig in the world of performance? And where there any sort of lessons learned from this first project that you still insert into your work today?

My very first show was the musical Annie, at a small children’s theater in Bend, Oregon. I had a teeny part with a teeny solo, but I was hooked. Being in an ensemble taught me at an early age just how vital every person involved is to the production. The same is absolutely true on a film set.

You gave an absolutely amazing performance in one of my favorite films of 2019, entitled Wade In The Water. Can you tell our readers about this project, and what drew you to be a part of it?

Well, thank you! I appreciate that very much. Wade In The Water is not your typical vigilante film. Our lead man (played by Tom E. Nicholson) is an awkward, angry loner with a dark past who’s personal demons catch up with him when discovering a package in his mailbox that wasn’t meant for him. He takes it upon himself to enact justice as he sees it. In doing so, he meets Tilly. The daughter of his intended victim.

I had the pleasure of playing Tilly. When we meet her, she’s going through the most difficult period of her life very suddenly and has trouble allowing herself to feel an ‘appropriate’ reaction. Her nonchalance is a little unsettling, given her circumstances. These two characters form the most unlikely bond, but through it find a way to cope with each other.

I was incredibly drawn to this project because of how it confronts grief in a real and complicated way, because grief is just that. Very complicated. It varies from person to person. The way we mourn is so personal to who we are individually. It’s more interesting to watch, I think. I have felt so humbled to have had the opportunity to tell this story, because it’s so deeply human.

 

 

 

You also recently had a role in mini-series that we excitedly covered in detail here at TWS known as I Am The Night. How was your experience working on this very strange tale? Any fun antidotes being on this set?

It was super exciting to be apart of something on that large of a scale. I was only there for a day, but it was quite the full day. We shot our scene in this warehouse. Very creepy, very cold, and very cool. We had filmed over a year ago before it released. I got a call from my mom screaming “you’re on t.v.!” and it took me a moment to realize what she was referring to simply because so much time had passed.

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

Gertrude Ederle, Dorothy Lawrence, Margaret Hamilton are some women who come to mind that I could realistically play. I’ve known about Margaret for some time, but Gertrude and Dorothy I’ve only read up on recently. Not only are these examples of women who have paved the way for other women, but women who have made huge strides in their field and haven’t received the attention they deserve. Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to swim the English channel. It took her 14 hours, beating the previous record held by a man for whom it took 16 hours. She had only a few months of acknowledgment before being overshadowed by Charles Lindbergh, who flew a plane across the Atlantic Ocean soon after. I was swimming competitively for the first big chunk of my life, so to be able to play someone who’s sport I have a genuine appreciation for would be incredible.

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

Well, given the opportunity I hope to be telling unconventional stories more and more going forward.

Chris Retts and Mark Wilson (writer and director of Wade In The Water) are my guys and I intend to work with them until I die. We’ve got ideas currently in the works. So you’ll be seeing a lot more of us in the coming years. Just you wait.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

This really incredible banana cream pie that I had on the fourth of July. The perfect ratio of banana to whipped cream, meaning like 85% whipped cream. My smile was impenetrable. Tears were shed.