Michal Sinnott [Interview]

 

Photo by Braden Moran

Hello Folks! We have an absolutely brilliant interview for you fine folks today. We have some wonderful words from a person who is not only a gifted actress, but has recently added the credits of writer and producer to her list of talents with an very exciting project in which we shall discuss below. It’s Michal Sinnott, Everyone!

As most of you regular readers already know, we have a deep-rooted love for the world of gaming. And while the Fallout world may be where we occupy most of our time in the realm of video games as an art form, the insane world that is the Grand Theft Auto franchise is another beloved universe we love around here. And Michal Sinnott happened to play a major role in the latest installment of the GTA world, as Tracey De Santa in Grand Theft Auto 5. Michal is actually the third interview subject from this singularly brilliant game that we have had on the site (alongside our old friends Danny Tamberelli and Matthew Maher), but we actually spoke with them long before we learned about the beauty of this game. So, we are very excited that Michal was able to tell us a bit about what it was like to work her magic into this legendary release.

And as it usually tends to, we discovered that Michal has done just a plethora of amazing work in her time that we so excited to share with you all today. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the incredibly talented Michal Sinnott! Enjoy!

 

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I understand you started acting quite early, and even grew up with a mother who was also an actress. While I understand you may have had an obvious influence around, but what was it that drew you personally into the world of acting?

I was very shy as a small child. When I did my first commercial with my mom when I was seven, I instantly loved it. Honestly, I think it was exciting and safe to be someone else. There was a lot of unrest and chaos in my early childhood. The opportunity to play someone else in a different set of circumstances from my own was exhilarating. I loved everything about it – wearing different clothes, taking on emotions that weren’t my own or else having a safe space for emotions I shared with the character, having this space to take a break from my own life and embody someone else. And I was praised for it. I was good at it. So I’m sure that fed my love for it as well. I loved the safe space in which to play without consequence. Acting has always been the biggest breath of fresh air for me. Even the difficult characters are a joy because it’s just wonderful and peaceful to take a break from being Michal!

I love my life now and I love who I’ve become but it was a long road to get inner peace in my own life and acting provided a sanctuary from anxiety and a lot of complex circumstances that I didn’t entirely understand before doing a lot of self work as an adult. Acting is still an escape for me but now I don’t cling quite as tight. The present is pretty great too these days, so it’s a joy to be someone else because it allows me to think and feel in ways I might not experience otherwise, but life as me is pretty wonderful, too.

We have spoken with quite a few folks who have worked in the world of video game voice over acting. We actually featured both Danny Tamberelli and Matthew Maher on the site, but unfortunately it was prior to being aware of the beauty of Grand Theft Auto V. And now here you are! So I am curious to know what it is like to be a part of such a legendary franchise? Do you get the “your voice sounds familiar’ statement a lot?

Oh I love Danny. I loved working with him. It was incredible to be a part of something so big and iconic. And a lot of people don’t know this, but it’s actually far beyond voice acting. My voice is just one part of it. It’s performance capture, meaning we performed the scenes on a sound stage with 36 cameras that corresponded to our movement. We wore the suits with the balls so the movement of the characters is our movement and then they recorded our faces at the same time with a pin hole camera attached to a helmet we wore so you got our facial gestures and then those gestures were digitized by a team of animators who pixilated our faces for years. They did a body scan of us before we shot and then used that for the acting which became data for the animators. It was kind of like a mix of theatre, soap acting, and green screen work but entirely it’s own.

When I met some of the animators at The Game Awards when we won Game Of the Year, they stared at and chatted with me in the most intense way. Their job had been to animate my face for 3 years! It was surreal for all of us and made me feel both weird and so strangely honored. When I was a kid, I always dreamed about doing a part that resulted in being made into an action figure. In a lot of ways I got my wish. Tracey is like a cartoon version of me – but with a very different sense of style, thank God, and all my body parts blinged out a bit, too! Ha. I’m always tickled when I get sweet fan mail for Tracey. And it’s so fun when people learn that I played Tracey, especially if they’re gamers.

On a super rare occasion with a die hard gamer, they might say my voice sounds familiar, but for the most part I go around with my secret identity. I spoke in a nasal register for her, so I don’t sound quite as annoying as her, thank goodness! But it’s fun to go into her voice with a fan. People get a big kick out of it and I do too.

We have also spoken with a lot of folks who have worked in the world of Soap Operas. And you are no stranger to the breakneck world of acting within the world of Soaps. So I am curious to know what you thought about working in that world? How much did it differ from other types of sets you have worked on?

I loved having a recurrent on One Life to Live. I’m afraid I was a bit of a snob when I graduated from drama school, and I thought I was somehow above being in a soap in the midst of all that Shakespeare and Chekhov training. But you get out there in the real world and start slinging drinks at night as a waitress or bartender while you hit the pavement in the day for acting work and you quickly realize how lucky you are to book anything. And kudos to soap actors for memorizing so much copy every day. When I was on the show, we’d shoot 6 one hour long episodes in 5 days! Think about that. Grand Theft Auto V took 3 years to shoot. One episode of Law and Order takes 2 weeks to shoot and we’re shooting more than one episode of OLTL in less than a day! That’s insane. You have to be so on your A game. You get one take and if you flub a line, they just cut it. There’s no take 2. Soap actors get a bad wrap, but honestly I think they’re incredible. You have to be so good to move that fast. I was in awe of how quickly the machine moved along. I was just a small part of it, but the big soap stars who have all that dialogue and emotion going on, it’s a real feat to watch.

I am very intrigued by your upcoming project Born That Way. It’s such a unique story that I am hoping we will get to see soon? Can you tell us a bit about this project? What inspired you to write this tale?

Thanks for asking about Born That Way! It’s been a passion project of mine for some time now. We’re in late Development with it now, meaning we’ve raised some of the funds and had a successful shoot of aerial and land footage in Tanzania, where the film opens. We are in the process of attaching name actors for the other lead roles and once we do that, we’ll be able to raise the rest of funds to shoot the rest of the film in New York City, where it largely takes place.

The film is about a lot of things but at it’s core, I think it’s about our lost connection to each other, and to the Earth, to something beyond the tangible, be it soul or otherwise. I call it A Magical Realist Present Day Fable for the People.

These are dangerous days. Born That Way is a film that speaks to many of the social justice issues of our time. It is a film that subtly challenges the status quo in all sorts of ways. It’s a small story between 5 people — but with the use of music & cinematography, it should feel epic in form. It touches on everything from the rights of the undocumented, to animals as sentient beings, to the displacement of indigenous people, to police brutality. It challenges our notions of gender & sexuality & what it means to love regardless of the physical form you arrive in to this world. It is in fact a protest of sorts. But it’s choosing love and forgiveness as the ultimate radical act. ‘For the people’ comes from the Constitution & reverberates in the Gettysburg address. It’s a call to our consciousness & our rights to freedom for all. Born That Way is a story about freedom from self & the cages we create for our spirits. It’s about judgment and all the ways that we judge ourselves and each other. It’s about our connectedness. I am you & you are me.

 

Photo by Meera Michelle

And in our selfie obsessed world, it feels like the kind of story I want to tell right now, the kind of story that I want to see. There’s still so much nihilism out there in cinema. And look, I get it. The world is really messed up and we’re in a hell of a pickle. But what are we gonna do about it? Stop naming it and start declaring that it’s not gonna go down like that! What we need is a blackhole. But what we’re capable of, is all the light in the universe. I want to see stories that look at what’s happening and offer solutions to make it better. That’s what I’m interested in.

About a 10th of the film is in animation. It lives in the world of Run Lola Run, or Amelie, or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with a nod to Moonlight or Beasts of the Southern Wild. It’s about a bunch of adults who never grew up, and now they have to.

You can watch our proof of concept that’s received over half a million views on FB on our website, bornthatwaythemovie.com

We hope to go into full production this year.

If you were given the opportunity to portray any historical figure in American history, who would you want to portray?

I just saw a documentary on Jane Fonda which really made me admire her so much. I didn’t know much about her. She made mistakes in front of the world for which she was vilified, but she also was so courageous and such an outspoken activist. I really identified with that devotion towards both film and political activism. She was a fearless trailblazer towards both the anti-war movement and second wave feminism, in the midst of contending with a very confusing and painful childhood. She was born into privilege but she really worked to make her own way. She had nine lives. It would be incredible to play her.

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

I’m co-directing my first feature in a few months with a wonderful friend, Alexandra Clayton. We’re organizing a very DIY shoot abroad with a group of friends. It’s a female driven ensemble comedy. I’m a co-writer with Alexandra and my husband Joseph Schollaert, and I’ll also be acting in it. So there’s a lot of hats at play! If it fails, we’ll still get a fun vacation out of it, so nothing lost no matter what! But I expect that we’ll create something really special together. It’s exciting to dive in and do something now because Born That Way is such a long term baby.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My nephew just turned one year old the other day. I FaceTime with my little brother Isaac a lot with him. He’s always all smiles. It’s wild to see your brother’s face in his little boy. I love it. I love being an Auntie. I love watching his enthusiasm for the world. And I love watching my brother’s love for his little boy. It’s all a ton of joy to witness.

David Rodriguez [Interview]

Photo by Parrish Lewis


Hello Folks! And welcome back to another exciting week here at Trainwreck’d Society. Today we have some wonderful words from another brilliant writer and filmmaker that I know you are all going to love. It’s David Rodriguez, Everyone!

In recent years, David has been working on some of the best television that is available today. As we have noticed over the last decade or so, TV is where it is at these days. Some of the best minds are telling some of the best stories in these modern times. Case in point: TNT’s Animal Kingdom, which is absolutely fantastic. And wouldn’t you know it, our incredible interview subject today happens to be one of the people bringing this truly original program to life. Also in the world of TV, David has directed a plethora of episodes for other amazing series such as Power, Chicago P.D., Queen of the South, and so many more, some of which will be discussed below.

But, beyond the world of television, Rodriguez is also an accomplished filmmaker, which is the actual main reason I was so excited to have him grace our digital pages. In 2013, he wrote and directed the modern mafia classic film, Once Upon A Time in Queens. I absolutely adore this film, and truly believe it should be ranked among the best of its kind. David called in heavy hitters of the genre, such as Michael Rapaport, Paul Sorvino, Chazz Palminteri, Steven Bauer, and more to tell this gripping tale of the mafia in the more modern world. Again, I love this film, and was so excited to talk to David about it, and so much more.

So, Folks, please enjoy this absolutely stellar interview with the modern legend himself, the great David Rodriguez!

When did you first discover your passion for the world of filmmaking? What made you decide that this was the world in which you wanted to earn a living?

Not to sound cliché but I had a passion for filmmaking from a very young age. My oldest sister Janet spent many summers is taking me to blockbuster movies like Jaws, Star Wars, and Rocky to name a few. Unfortunately, I did not know or have a way into show business. I also didn’t know what a director did. As a young kid I watched TV quite a bit and only knew what I saw on the small screen. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that there were many creative people behind the scenes and I feel like that heightened my desire to want to discover and ultimately pursue becoming a filmmaker.

What was your very first gig in the world of film or television? And did this experience help in any way to shape the artist you have become today?

My very first gig in the entertainment industry was being an extra in a Busta Rhymes music video. Not sure how much that influenced me or shaped my desire to become a filmmaker but, I can tell you that I was thoroughly embarrassed because we went to elementary school together and I couldn’t even look at them. Years later I directed my first feature, Push, which I wrote and produced and that is probably the experience that made me realize this was a worthwhile journey.

David Rodriguez & Michael Rapaport on the set of “Once Upon A Time In Queens”. Photo by Kelsey Bennett.

 

Your 2013 film Once Upon a Time in Queens is absolutely brilliant. It’s such a wonderful and compelling story with some amazing performances. So what inspired you to bring this story to the screen? What was it that compelled you to bring this story to life?

Once Upon a Time in Queens was an absolute passion project. Growing up in New York I experienced what it was like to see and come across major mob figures. They were revered, they were heroes, they were villains, they were people that many of my friends looked up to. I often thought about the danger of living a life like that. Years later when I began to write the screenplay I thought of the idea and what it must be like to spend 20 years in prison, get released, and come back to a much more progressive environment and society. The main characters daughter played by Renee Props was a role that I thought could really catapult the film into a space that was topical and new. Working with Paul Sorvino was a wonderful experience as well. He was so invested in this character. Unfortunately, the producers mismanaged the release of this film and it didn’t get the attention and acclaim we all thought it deserved. 

The hit TNT series Animal Kingdom that you have worked extensively on as a producer and director has really been gaining some traction over the last 2 1/2 seasons, and I understand it has already been picked up for a 4th! So what drew you to this project? What made you want to work on this brilliant project?

The Animal Kingdom subject matter is interesting to say the least. The characters are flawed, the stories are compelling, the matriarch figure is despicable but interesting. Animal Kingdom feels so real on so many levels but what really attracted me to becoming the producing-director on Animal Kingdom was the opportunity to work with John Wells. He’s such a generous and smart person to work for and at the very least, I find myself picking up lessons and nuggets every day we’re in contact.

I have also been hearing great things about the Showtime Original series The Chi. I’m also curious to know what drew you to this particular project as well? And what can fans expect to see in the coming season?

I can’t tell you what fans should expect for season two of The Chi as I’m no longer involved with the project but season one was certainly a thrilling and exciting experience. Growing up in the South Bronx and witnessing all that I did made The Chi very familiar to me. I guess you can say that I brought my personal experiences with me and that became the reason why I directed and produced the first season the way that I did. I poured my heart and soul into that project and I’m happy that my hard work contributed to it getting a second season.

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

Going back for another season of Animal Kingdom is what the future holds but during hiatus, I’ll be directing the season six premiere of Power and a new show from Mike Kelly, What/If, for Netflix.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I’m in Chicago directing an episode of Chicago PD so the last thing that made me smile was looking forward to the chicken parm at The Palm which is where I’m headed to right after I’m done here.

Cherie Johnson [Interview]

 

Happy Friday, Folks! I’m just going to go ahead and throw this out there for you all: Today is my birthday. I am 34 years old today. I bring this up not as a means to receive further acknowledgement for the “achievement” of simply turning a year older. No, I bring it up because I cannot help but think about what a wild ride this life has been, and more importantly how it correlates with the amazing person we have the distinct pleasure of showcasing with you all today. So, I will refrain from beating around the proverbial bush, and just come out and say it: Today’s interview subject was my childhood TV crush. From about the ages of 8 to 13 years old, Cherie Johnson was my favorite person to grace the television each and (hopefully) every Friday night. And if I were able to go back 20 years ago and tell 14 year old Ron that I would one day have a website where “Maxine” would be one day appear, I would have called myself a damn dirty liar. But alas, here we are!

Cherie Johnson is a legendary television and film actress, writer, producer, and as we learn within the text below, a wearer of so many different employment hats. If you didn’t quite get the reference above, she portrayed Maxine in my favorite TV sitcom of all time, Family Matters. And as I said before, she was the damn bee’s knees to a young, puberty-driven Ron throughout the 90’s. While the young boys and girls around me were fawning over Kellie William’s performance as Laura Winslow (which I will admit, was completely understandable, and I may have done the same from time to time), I will say with pride that I was more invested in Laura’s charming friend Maxine, portrayed brilliantly by Cherie Johnson.

And as we were so fortunate to learn through a series of questions that Cherie graciously answered for us, she is a woman of power who has continued to work diligently throughout her life. She came into show business at a very young age, and has continued to shine since her days of Punky Brewster. Johnson has a series of ventures pulling her this way and that, but continues to succeed at what she does best, which is what the youth of today would probably call, “being her best self.”

So, Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the even more wonderful human being, the great Cherie Johnson!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of acting? I know you started out at a very young age, and may have had some influence. But, what was it about this world that personally made you want to continue working in this profession?

I was inspired when my Uncle wrote Punky Brewster and used my name for one of the characters. It didn’t make sense to me for another little girl to play a role “I thought” was written for me. Honestly, I have always been little pushy… probably too self assured but after 7 auditions the then President of NBC Brandon Tartikoff was convinced it was written for me as well and my Uncle was able to give me the job. Which not in a cocky way but at 6 years old I knew it was mine anyway. I pretty much continued to work in the business because I looked up and it was 20 years in. I dropped out of college while working on Family Matters (they weren’t going to work around Urkles college schedule and everyone else) so my dream career as an architect was not going to happen. I did what most people do: stuck to what I know and expanded in different ways so I wouldn’t get bored to death.

Throughout the 90’s, you worked on my absolute favorite sitcom that the world of television has ever produced. Of course I am talking about your role as Maxine on the incredible series Family Matters. And full disclosure: I had a BIG crush on Maxine growing up. And I am certain I am not the only one. So, I am curious to know what your take away from your time working on this fine program? How was your experience overall?

Thank you Maxine appreciates the support. She was a fun character to play I mean who wouldn’t want to be a ditzy wild-child! Family Matters was really a family matter for me, LOL. My uncle was the producer, one of my aunts was his assistant, my mother catered and my older brother worked in the camera department. Shawn Harrison “ Waldo” is one of my best friends and Darius McCrary and I have loved each other before the show (We had the same agent) We are all a part of great TV history and for that I am thankful. Our Crew and Cast were all very talented people. Looking back on the experience it was a great show to be a part of. Punky Brewster and Family Matters are both Blessings.

Beyond the world of acting, you are also an acclaimed writer in your own right. You have a few books available, and are currently an assistant editor for Fever Magazine, which is extremely impressive! So, when did the writing come about? What made you decide to dip your proverbial toes into the literary pool?

I started writing songs and books when I was 5 years old. My mother told me the best way to go down in history is to write a book. So it has always been a goal since then before acting because living for eternity was a huge goal for “Little Cherie” hahaha. As I grew writing became a sense of relaxation and therapy. Professionally it started with my first film  I Do I Did then to authorship, next I was writing columns for various magazines and now I was promoted. Fever Magazine has been my writing home for 5 years I write the Pulse article (whispering I write about sex) how fun right. So the promotion is amazing. I am surrounded by beautiful women, we interview your favorite entertainers, I get to travel to exotic places, we have an amazing Wine and Dine article a show on our site “Foodie” it’s really a dream job that never feels like work. I play all day! I eat the best food and I am surrounded by beautiful people.

 

 

Also beyond the world of acting, producing, writing, you can throw entrepreneur onto your list of professional duties, as you have recently opened a spa in Hollywood, Florida. Kind of the same question: what made you decide to join the world of self care and relaxation? Is it something you have always been passionate about? And can you tell us a bit about your business, and what sets it apart from other spas out there?

Growing up my mother owned a gym, so self care was taught to me early in life. During my hiatus weeks on Family Matters I worked at my family owned gym and later became a nutritionist. Being on TV is kinda like working customer service so imagine never being about to take that costumer service badge off? Relaxation is essential to your mental health. There is nothing more beneficial to your mind, body and spirit than an excellent massage. Kian is really the brain child of my partner Alycia. She mentioned in October we should open a spa, and by my birthday in November we had keys!

Kian Spa is an appointment only spa. Which means it’s never crowed and our elite clients never have to worry about it being busy or sharing their relaxation time with other clients. We also feature one of the only Bella Shape Machines in the United States. Bella Shape is revolutionizing the dermatology world one session at a time. For patients seeking the best non-invasive aesthetic and medical procedures, Bella Shape is unlike all other options in the market. Bella Shape provides a multitude of aesthetic and medical treatments from one device, it streamlines the cost of providing beauty and medical procedures non invasively. All of our products are 100% natural and we offer a variety of nutritional services.

With over 36 years of experience in the world of entertainment, and having literally grown up within the world, I am curious to know what your opinion of the current climate in the world of film and television? With the advancements in technology, such as streaming capabilities, what are your thoughts on how art is created in these fields today? Is everything become oversaturated, or are more opportunities seeming to come available for many different people?

Well let me shake my head. We are in a time when people are famous with no talent. While they are making millions, many talented people are stepping back and kinda choosing not to work for the crack head wages that are being offered. Now under some of these new SAG approved contracts. Anyone can be a producer now, they are making films paying actors $100 a day…I come from a much different time.

With so much going on in your life, from writing, acting, business owning….how do you manage your time? And more importantly, what would a little “me time” look like for you? 

Thank you for having so much faith in me you believe my time is well managed hahaha. In-between homeschooling, taking my daughter to Tae Kwon Do 4 days a week I get some working in. Usually by multitasking, phone calls with a baby on the hip. I just cast a project last month titled “Black’ and found it was easier once I hired my 4 year old as my assistant. Giving her duties really helps my days run smooth Besides she thinks she works at Kians Spa and she is the official product tester for Kian and all of our products at www.Going2natural.com

I am a mother of small children there is no me time hahahah I am happy when I get a chance to sit down and write a blog entry for www.adviceformysistas.com or eat a meal like a real one, not the left overs off a kids plate.

 

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

I will be coming back to internet radio this year with Cherie’s World. It will give me a chance to connect with friends who have supported me my whole career, while we use the platform to speak on current events, health, and everything entertainment. I have an awesome TV project in development with Antwon Tanner and Hilary Burton! You will get to see us in a different light.

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

Reading this made me smile. Thinking about my life, I couldn’t have imagined it being this good and my daughter. Her cute little face always makes me smile. It’s 4am and she just woke up to keep me company. I’ve learned to treasure every moment so I have to go now its snuggle time! Thanks for having me.

Bahia Watson [Interview]

 

Hello There, Folks! I am absolutely delighted to share this amazing interview with a wonderful young actress who is as impressive as she is talented. It’s Bahia Watson, Everyone! She is an incredible actress, who you can catch on the critically acclaimed Hulu Original series The Handmade’s Tail, and in so damn much more to come. Bahia has been doing some amazing work both on screen and on the stage, and we are so excited to have her grace our digital pages today.

Beyond acting, Bahia is also a wonderful musician, poet, and playwright who is determined to speak her mind and spread her talent across the globe. The limits in which a person of this much are seemingly endless, and we are so excited to see what the future holds for her. Which is why are so happy that we were able to get a few replies from her to share with you all today.

So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the even more incredible human being, the great Bahia Watson!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of acting? Was it something that you have always been passionate about? Or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

 

I guess I stumbled into this world. I’ve always loved stories and writing. I grew up dancing, but I never wished to make a career of it. After graduating high school I took a psychology course and fell in love with the human mind and how personalities and emotions are constructed. Around that same time, there was a large casting call for extras in my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba. I wandered into that and was thrilled by whole behind-the-scenes society involved in film and television making. And then I started auditioning and taking acting classes and kind of fell in love with the challenges that acting presents. I never dreamt this would be my life. it’s been a winding journey.

 

You have been a regular on a series that is truly one of the greatest available right now entitled The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s such a dark story that, sadly, doesn’t seem so unlikely to become the real world someday. Anyway, I am curious to know how it has been to work on such a wildly successful television series?

 

It’s exciting. I read the book in high school, and it has always stuck with me as a profound and frightening envisioning of the future. The world Margaret Atwood has created is so deep and thorough, and so being able to be inside of it and a part of bringing it to life, is a thrilling honour. When I first auditioned, I was blown away by the writing, and I continue to be. It’s such a strong group of artists working on this show, I’m happy to be in such exquisite company.

 

 

Although the subject matter can be dark, do you still manage to have a good time on the set of The Handmaid’s Tale? What do you do to stay loose and a bit less terrified on the set?

 

As comedy is often borne of tragedy, we definitely find the humour in the darkness. nina kiri, who plays alma, and i are totally the clowns on set. and ann dowd is a treasure. we have fun.

 

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

 

Oooh, interesting question… Josephine Baker, maybe? or Lorraine Hansberry.

 

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

 

I’ve open[ed] a play at the Soulpepper Theatre company in Toronto, it’s called The Virgin Trial, where I play a young Queen Elizabeth the first. On March 28th, I will be producing and performing a one night only variety show called MASHUP which i create with my friend liza paul, at theatre passe muraille in toronto. in the fall we did a short performance for TEDxtoronto under the theme of identity, you can watch that here: https://youtu.be/uxFoJ4Z3X5Q. it’s a kind of island circus ting. and… you might just catch me on another futuristic show soon too.

 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

 

Killing Eve. i’m obsessed with villanelle.

Jen Kirkman [Interview]

 

Holy hell, Folks, do we have an absolutely wonderful interview for you all to kick off this first week of February. Now, we have spoken with some of the finest comedians in the business over the years, even a few of my favorites in just 2019 alone. But, today we are so honored to have one of the most legendary and recognizable by name alone figures in the world of comedy we have ever probably ever had on the site today. It’s Jen Kirkman, Everyone!

Whether you have enjoyed Jen’s hilarious Netflix specials, or read her incredible New York Times best-selling books, you know that the name Kirkman is synonymous with hilarity. Jen has been entertaining the undeserving masses for over 20 years. And from appearances on Conan, The Late Show, Drunk History, and more, to her latest gig writing for the critically acclaimed Amazon Original Series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Jen continues to impress audiences across the globe with a wit and comedic style that is unlike anyone else we know.

Jen has been around the globe, and has worked in just about every aspect that is possible in a world centered around being absolutely hilarious. Yet, we are always fortunate to get more and more with each passing year. And I will be god damned if we were oh so fortunate to take some time from Kirkman’s hectic schedule to share some answers with us about the current state of comedy, the history of comedy, and what it means to be a hilarious individual in these modern times.

We are so excited to share these words with you all. Be sure to check out links at the end for your opportunity to see Jen live and in person. So without further babbling on my end, please enjoy these incredible words from the hilarious Jen Kirkman!

 

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When did you first discover that you were a hilarious human being and that you could make a living by making people laugh? Was it an early ambition, or did you just happen o find yourself in this world one day?

I started to do comedy because I felt weird being an audience member at comedy shows. I just knew I wanted to be up there. I didn’t think I was funny though.  I just wanted to be up there.  It made no sense. And I never thought about the money – good thing because I didn’t make any money doing comedy for the first fifteen years.

You have been doing stand up for quite a while, having really put in the work and earned every bit of success you have had. And in that time you have moved through various different stages of technological advances. The internet was new and somewhat daunting when you were coming up, but eventually became commonplace. With that, I am curious to know what your thoughts are on the technical advancements that have occurred in regards to stand up comedy. Is it mostly positive to have so many opportunities, or is the business becoming oversaturated?

Is this question your way of saying, “You’re old.  What were typewriters like?” And I want you to know that I wrote my first comedy bits on a word processor and I used to think that anyone who sent email was insane. “Why wouldn’t you just call someone?” Everything is oversaturated now and yet I’m getting more work than when things were undersaturated.  It’s working somehow.  The crazy saturation is working.  I have my audience and other people have their audience and most of America hasn’t heard of everyone else’s favorite comedian.

I always like to find out from traveling comedians this random question: What are some hidden gems of cities and/or clubs that the average person may not assume are actually amazing? Where are some spots outside of LA or NYC that have great audiences and an overall wonderful atmosphere, that you have enjoyed performing in?

Most of America is great for doing comedy.  My favorite cities that aren’t where the Coastal Elite Devil worshipping heathens live – Iowa City, Omaha, Nebraska, Bloomington, Indiana, Oklahoma City, Champaign, IL. I loved my gigs in those cities and return to them often.  I also have a specific type of people who come to see me.  So, in my mind, just based on my audience, America is made up entirely of men who wear nail polish, divorced women in their 30’s, hippie couples in their 40’s, lesbians, and anti-social millennials.

 

I understand that you have a monthly show at the Improv Lab in Hollywood entitled Story Lab. I am curious to know what inspired you to kick off this show? And what can audiences expect to enjoy about it?

I don’t know if anything I do comes from true “inspiration”. It’s just a show where I work out new material because I don’t write my act in a traditional way. I talk off of the top of my head, record it and see how it felt.  If I think there’s something there – I work on it further.  Audiences can expect that they won’t know what to expect because not even I know what to expect.  And that to me, is what live comedy is all about.  I mean, they can expect to be safe.  I’m not going to shoot flames into the crowd or anything.  Yet.  When I run out of ideas, I might.  But I assume they would have to put a sign in the lobby warning people.

Beyond the world of stand up, you are also an accomplished, New York Times Bestselling author. I am always curious to know about a writer’s process. Specifically, I am curious to know how you come to realize that you have completed a first draft? Like, how do you know when you have completed the meat of your narrative, and have something ready to turn in, probably get to chopped up all to hell, but still remain the meat of the work?

Writing is the worst.  The best part of writing a book is pitching it and finding out they’re going to buy it and then when it’s done.  The writing part is an exercise in being stuck in your own head and not being able to get the thoughts on to the page.  I know when I’m done with a first draft when the story makes sense, I’ve gone over it many, many times, read it aloud to myself, added some jokes where it’s not funny and added some heart where it needs the human touch and then thought, “Okay.  I’ve reached my full potential to make this better without the help of an editor who can point out where I can expand this or lose parts or explain it more.” And at that point it’s a relief to get it off of my desk.  I still say “off of my desk” as though I was working on a typewriter.

 

 

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

Readers! Come see me on tour in 2019! jenkirkman.com/tour

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Someone got rid of their Christmas tree but putting it in the middle of the road in my neighborhood and it stayed up for days.

 

Check out some tour dates to see Jen live below, and be sure to check out jenkirman.com for updates and additions and info on buying some sweet, sweet tickets. Or go up 3 sentences and hit that link as well. Either way, fucking do it. See Jen live!

February 8th – 9th, 2019: Arlington, Virginia @ Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse

February 14th, 2019: Seattle, Washington @ Neptune Theatre

February 21st, 2019: Los Angeles, California @ Hollywood Improv Lab

March 8th – 9th, 2019: Dallas, Texas @ Hyena’s Comedy Club

March 28th – 30th, 2019: Portland, Oregon @ Helium Comedy Club

April 24th, 2019: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania @ The Rex Theater

April 25th, 2019: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania @ Union Transfer

May 10th – 11th, 2019: Salt Lake City, Utah @ Wiseguy’s Comedy Club

September 11th, 2019: Brooklyn, New York @ TBA

September 13th, 2019: Boston, Massachusetts @ TBA

September 15th, 2019: San Diego, California @ KABOO Festival

Catherine Mary Stewart [Interview]

 

Today we have some amazing words from the renowned actress Catherine Mary Stewart who has been delightfully entertaining the world for the last 40 years. She has appeared in everything from cult classic films (one of which happens to include some old friends of ours!) to legendary sci-fi/fantasy films, and so much more. With such an uncanny on screen presence, it is extremely clear why Stewart has had a long lasting presence in the world of film, television, and the stage. She is also one heck of a nice person, which is always a plus!

Catherine was kind enough to take a look back a bit at some of the projects she has worked on that we are very fond of here at Trainwreck’d Society. We also delve in a bit into what she has been working on lately, and how she has become a favorite amongst the Con scene, especially in regards to her magnificent performance in the 1984’s The Last Starfighter, which has only grown in popularity in the 35 years since it was released. Yes, from blockbusters to indie darlings, Catherine Mary Stewart has had a truly commendable career that we are so happy to hear about here today in our digital pages.

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words form the legend herself, the great Catherine Mary Stewart!

 

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When did you first discover that you had a passion for the world of acting? What was it that initially drew you into this world? I understand you started in the world of dance, over here on this side of the pond in London. What prompted the transition?

What I discovered through dance was that I loved being on stage performing and expressing myself.  The first time I performed professionally as a dancer in a company, I knew without a doubt that that was what I wanted to do.  It had a life altering, tangible effect on me.  Along with my dance training I performed in lots of theatre projects in school and took acting and singing classes.  After I graduated from high school in Canada I crossed to your side of the pond and studied at a performing arts school in London.  It’s during that time that I got my first professional acting gig.  I auditioned as a dancer for this rock musical called “The Apple” and was asked to read for the lead female role. I ended up getting it.  It was all very new for me but in a way it didn’t feel overwhelming.  There was a sense of natural progression and with my background I had the discipline from my years of dance training to work hard, to learn the ropes quickly and enjoy the moment.

 

 

You are a renowned performer in just about every genre, from sci-fi to comedy to thrillers. In your professional opinion as someone who has worked almost 40 years in the business, what are some major common traits amongst the genres that you have noticed? And what are some vast differences between certain genres?

I think the similarities are that the characters in any genre have to be identifiable and to the audience on some level.  There must be a level of reality no matter how bizarre the story or the audience won’t invest in the character and as a result the film.  The differences are in the way the story is told or the genre, and what the overall effect is on the audience, emotionally, psychologically and sometimes even physically.

In 1987, you appeared in a wonderful film that was directed by our dear friend Penelope Spheeris and featured our new friend Daniel Roebuck, entitled Dudes. The film has achieved cult classic status over the years for very obvious reasons. And as somebody with experience working on the film itself, I am curious to know if you had any opinions on what it is that made this film such a classic? And when you were working on the project, could you tell you were creating something memorable?

Certainly two stellar people, both of whom I call friends along with Jon Cryer.  I think what makes Dudes stand out is it’s originality.  I’d never seen anything like it before and I haven’t seen anything like it since.  Again, I think the characters are identifiable for an audience on many levels.  The are relatable characters in an outrageous situation.  I love the concept of Dudes.  I was drawn to this independent, strong, gun-slinging, horse riding character of Jessie.  I’ve always had a romantic vision of westerns and I craved to be a part of one.  I love that it is unique yet for me my character really embodied my idea of a character in a western.  I loved working with Penelope, Jon and Daniel.  Everyone was 100% invested in this crazy thing and it shows on the screen.

 

 

And speaking of a filmmaker like Penelope Spheeris, who is one of our favorites, I am always curious to know from a performer’s perspective: what makes a great director to work with in your opinion? What sort of dynamic between filmmaker and performer do you believe needs to be in place in order for a project to be a success?

A director needs to have a clear personal vision of what the project is and what they want to say.  There must be unwavering belief in the vision, enthusiasm, integrity and communication with the cast and the crew to bring their vision to light.  Penelope knows what she likes, knows what she wants and knows who she is.  Those qualities are more than apparent in her work.

You have been known to make quite a few con appearances, whether it be for some of your cult classic appearances like Night of the Comet and Last Starfighter, which are HUGE in the sci-fi world, or maybe a Weekend At Bernies event. Overall, how has the fan reaction been to your appearances at these types of event? What type of folks have shown up to awe over your presence?

The fans at these events are the best!  There is no specific “type” that shows up.  Generally they are passionate about the genre, some dress as certain characters, but overall they are just big fans of the movies.  The impact these movies can have on people cannot be underestimated.  It certainly didn’t occur to me at the time we were making them.  I’m so proud of Night of the Comet and The Last Starfighter because I believe the impact they have had is positive and even inspiring.   There have been so many fans that I’ve had the privilege to meet that have shared their personal stories about how these movies influenced them as young people and through the years.  It’s truly lovely for me to hear all the accounts!

 

 

When you look back on your decades spanning career thus far, what would you say you are most proud of in a professional sense? What do you believe your legacy will be in the world of film and television?

I have so enjoyed my career and I’m proud of everything that I’ve done for one reason or the other.  I’ve never compromised myself for any project so looking back I have no regrets.  In terms of my “legacy” I have no idea and haven’t really thought about it.  What I do know is that I am not done yet so if there is any legacy per se it will change over time I hope.

When you are not on set somewhere across the globe, what would one find Catherine Mary Stewart doing for a little “me” time?

There is a lot of down time in this business so I have a lot of “me time”.  Mostly I’ve been planning what I’m going to do next.  I’ve been doing a lot of writing and working on getting a project or two off the ground.  I really enjoy the process of putting together a project and getting it to fruition.  I am looking to direct more and of course continue to act.

I love to travel.  I’ve travelled a lot in my life and I never get tired of it.  I find it fascinating to explore other places and cultures.  They are always so much more than you could ever read about in a newspaper or a book.  It is life expanding and educating on so many levels.  I encourage everyone to travel far and wide.

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

Specifically I’ve been working on several screen plays that I hope to either act in or direct or both.  I’ve also been working towards producing a play here in New York.

To keep up to date on everything that I’m doing your readers can check out my social media:

https://www.facebook.com/catherinemarystewart/

https://twitter.com/cmsall

https://www.instagram.com/catherinemarystewart/

http://catherinemarystewart.com/

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Well, I smile a LOT!  Life is good!  Probably the last thing that made me very happy was having my children over for dinner.  They tease me a lot and it cracks me up!  I always have a great belly laugh around them.  They inspire me every day.

 

 

Check out this lovely set of stills provide by Catherine herself from a variety of her work:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Jensen [Interview]

Today’s wonderful interview subject is what I would rightfully consider to be a class act of a human being. He has been involved int he world of film and television for over 30 years and as turned out some absolutely incredible roles, which we are so excited to share with you today. It’s David Jensen, Everyone!

I initially became aware of Jensen’s work when he appeared in the absolutely brilliant 2004 film that is often over-looked, but remains to be absolutely brilliant and one of my favorite films of all time entitled A Love Song For Bobby Long. You may remember us speaking about this film a few years ago when we had Grayson Capps gracing our digital pages, who had some incredible music to accompany the film, and who’s father happened to write the story in which the screenplay was eventually based upon. It’s a true love letter to the city of New Orleans, and the beat down souls who continue to occupy its space to this very day. And Jensen was a superb addition to the cast. And absolute damned delight, if you ask me!

And his career has had some very interesting and exciting at bats on many other incredible projects. We are so excited that David was able to take some time out of his schedule to tell us a bit about these projects and his experience as an actor and more over the last 30 years. He is a delightful person, and we are so very excited that he is here with us today. So without further babbling, please enjoy some wonderful words from the amazing David Jensen. You’re going to love this!

 

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When did you first decide you wanted to join the world of acting? What was it that initially led you into this world?

How I first got interested in acting was when I was in a 9th grade production of Cheaper By the Dozen and one day during rehearsals 3 or 4 of the girls in the cast started making out with the boys in the cast back stage.  The thrill was so compelling and illicit.  But somehow the cast kept it from the faculty and it continued thru the run of the show.  It was an innocent but transformative moment I will never forget.  I don’t remember telling this story often but I am sure what has kept me going from stage productions one after another is the chance that  something thrilling will happen again.

In 2012, we found you portraying a cannibal in This Is the End during the insanely hilarious scene at the end when we are reunited with Danny McBride. I will still go back and watch that moment very often. So how was your experience working on that scene? I don’t know how I could keep myself from laughing like a child. Was it as fun to work on as it was for us to watch?

My time on This Is the End was a long hot summer night next to the Mississippi River in New Orleans.  I don’t remember anyone holding sides or even bothering with a script.  Channing Tatum was in a full Mexican wrestlers mask and on a short leash Danny McBride was tugging on as McBrides’ sex toy/gimp.  I talked a lot to Jay Baruchel who I think is really talented. and Jonah Hill was very accessible.

 

In 2004 you appeared in one of my favorite films of all time in a very sweet role that I’ve never stopped thinking about. I’m talking about your role as Junior in A Love Song For Bobby Long. How was your experience working on a film like this one? Was there anything about that experience that singles itself out from the plethora of other projects you have worked on?

A Love Song For Bobby Long was another good summer experience in New Orleans before Katrina.  Elliot Davis shot the film, Shainee Gabell wrote and directed.  It’s one of those films that really captures the sense of place.  Many people tell me that it is their favorite film shot in New Orleans.  I play a saxophone jazz musician who fits in this small riverside community.  John and Gabriel Macht were terrific and Scarlett was flawless.

One genre that you have become quite familiar with is the world of horror and thrillers. Notably, you appeared in the classic film, The Mist from Frank Darabont! We are huge fans and supporters of the world of horror around here, so it behooves me to ask you how you enjoy working in the world of horror as opposed to other genres? What is something positive about working on a horror project?

I love horror movies, and Frank Darabont’s The Mist had a great cast, great special effects and every phase of production was a pleasure.  It was a big cast and you could get to know everyone for the 6 weeks I was shooting.  Marcia Gay Harden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, Bill Sadler all fun to work with.

After over 30 years in the business, and with all the advancements in technology over the years, I am curious to hear from an experienced actor what you find to be some core values of the world of filmmaking that are still as relevant today, even as me move into the online/digital modern times?

30 YEARS IN THE BUSINESS and it still comes down to honest truthful story telling.  Good people and a story well crafted. (Regardless if you are shooting Kodak 5248 on Panavision or digitally on the Amira, or on an iPhone 10).

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

Just finished Walk Away Joe, a film starring David Stratharne, that I think will get a lot of good notices and I’m in the new True Detective season starting in 2019.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

That is an easy question because i was just thinking what a good time to be alive.  How important it is for every artist to bring out the truth in whatever art form you are pursuing.  Truth matters and is what ultimately endures the test of time.  I got interested in acting because I thought I was a good liar.  And along the way I learned that truth was far more interesting and life vivifying.  It made my own craft and its’ pursuit more tangible.

And a good guide for structure in every project.  In looking back at the arc of my own life, it gives me satisfaction and a smile.

 

And check out this lovely collection of stills generously provided by David Jensen himself:

 

A Love Song For Bobby Long

 

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

 

 

 

Alien Tornado

 

Patriotville