Alex Castillo [Interview]

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Twitter: @castilloalex Instagram: @castilloalex2000

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

The thought of my upcoming vacation in the Caribbean.

 

 

Danny Woodburn [Interview]

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was the last thing that made you smile?

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

DeJuan Guy [Interview]

Hello Folks! Today we have another incredible interview with another legend in the world of acting. Today’s interview subject has been giving incredible performances in both film and television since before most of us could even imagine what we wanted to do with our lives. It’s the great DeJuan Guy! DeJuan has had a plethora of notable roles in his career, many of them will be discussed below. What was also just as fascinating to learn about what was some of the roles he may have been hand-picked for but sadly didn’t get to work on, but would make up for it a decade later. We will also discuss this below with the legend himself. Whether it is beloved sports films for 90’s kids, thought-provoking hood movies, or classic horror cinema, there are very few areas that DeJuan hasn’t spun gold within with is clear and obvious talent

We are so very excited to have this multi-faceted actor gracing our digital pages today. Mr. Guy has a wonderful story to tell, and we are so happy that he was able to carve some time out of his busy schedule to share a few words with us today. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the great DeJuan Guy!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of performance? I understand you started pretty early in life? What drew you to this life?
My very first memory is of me doing improv with my aunt Pinky (Irene Nettles). I guess that was my introduction to acting. We would base our improvisations off of the Cosby Show. It was from that moment on that I was drawn to perform or entertain whether it was on camera for home videos, rapping happy birthday songs on top of a table at a restaurant or performing Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” at my uncle’s wedding. The feeling it gave me to be in front of an audience drew me into this buisness.
What was your very first paid gig in the world of performance? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work today?
When I was 8 years old I was discovered by the late John Singleton while portraying the role of Travis in A Raisin in the Sun for a scene study my aunt Pinky was doing for a class in which John was also a student. After watching the scene, John asked me to audition for the role of Trey in Boyz N the Hood . I read with Laurence Fishbourne and as far as John was concerned, the role was mine. However, due to the nature of the role and language content, the studio decided that I looked to young to play the role intended for a 12 year old. As a result, John was forced to cast me in a smaller role that was later edited from the film. That was my first paying gig. I learned from this experience, that just because you get on film does not mean you will make the final cut. That has stuck with me ever since.
One of your earlier works was in one of my favorite films when I was young known dearly as Little Giants. I am curious to know what the set life was life on this film? Was it as fun to work on as it was for me to enjoy as a kid?
What I remember most about Little Giants is going to audition for Steven Speilberg at his office that had a cool arcade in it. I spent a lot of hours on set and sometimes I didn’t even get to shoot, but I had fun and the food was amazing! It was such an honor to work with a legend.
Another incredible film you worked on, that I enjoyed at older age, is the John Singleton 2001 modern day classic film Baby Boy. So what was it that drew you to this project? I understand you had already known Singleton for quite some time?
My neighbor told me John was casting for Baby Boy in Leimert Park, which was not far from where we lived. I felt very comfortable crashing the audition by pulling up and requesting to see John Singleton. After given the “run around”, I told the secretary that I saw John’s car in the parking lot (not knowing for sure, it was just a guess). John was happy to see me and had me read for Jody. Later I was cast in the role of Looney Toon and the rest is history.
I understand you have a new project coming out soon entitled Eviction Notice that sounds very interesting. Would you mind telling our readers a bit about this project? What will be have the pleasure of seeing you do?
Eviction Notice is set to release next year. I play the role of Cash Clay, a record producer from Atlanta. The film is based around some college girls who have hit some hardships and need to raise money for rent. Cash Clay is interested in one of the girls and wants to help them in any way possible.
If you were handed the opportunity to appear in the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?
I would love to be in a biopic film about the legendary Nipsey Hussle. Growing up in LA and in an area close to where Nip grew up, I can relate to his music and see and appreciate what he did for the people in the community. I strongly believe his music and message should be spread for years to come. The marathon continues. My homeboy Larrance Dopson produced a lot of music for Nip, so I have been following Nip long before there was a “Victory Lap”. I cannot think of a biopic that would have more personal meaning for me than this one.
What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?
You can look forward to seeing me directing as well as acting in the near future. I will continue to perfect my craft.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
Seeing my daughter Mia laugh, was the last thing that made me smile.

Caitlin Holcombe [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! As we near the end another week of the newly grounded year 2020, we have another wonderful interview to share with you all with another incredibly talented performer, which was definitely the theme this week, was it not? Today we have some incredible words from the great Caitlin Holcombe!

Everyone should recognize Holcombe as the lead role in one of our most beloved films of 2019. That film would actually be one of our Top Ten Films of 2019, the brilliant and personal journey of a film entitled Stoke. Caitlin was absolutely incredible in this film written and directed by our new friend Zoe Eisenberg. I was extremely excited to have Holcombe on the site to discuss her work on this incredible film, and obviously so much more. And I am now extremely excited to share her words with you all today, and to have Caitlin become a member of the TWS legacy. We are absolutely honored to have her here.

So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from one of the modern age’s finest performers, the great Caitlin Holcombe!

 

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

I started acting when I was in first grade. I was Mother Goose in the school play. Movies were always an inspiration to me. When I was young I especially loved old Hollywood. James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Stewart. I wanted to do what they did.

 

What was your first paid gig on the world of acting? And where there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work today?

My first paid gig was an industrial I did for a loan company! We all start somewhere, right?

I recently really enjoyed your performance in our new friend Zoe Eisenberg’s film Stoke. I am curious to know what drew you to this role? What made you want to work in this world?

Thank you! Zoe is a wonderful writer. I will do any project she asks me to do because I trust her skill and talent implicitly. She writes complex, juicy characters, and Jane is no exception. When Zoe emailed the script I read it and envisioned the whole movie. I loved the idea of a road film taking place over the course of one day, and on the Big Island, c’mon. What a dream to go on location in such a gorgeous place and make a movie with incredible people. I was drawn to Jane because I thought I had something I could offer to the role. I felt I could identify with her.

 

 

The rest of the cast of Stoke was also absolutely phenomenal as well. I am curious to know how the filming process and set life for you was on this project? It seems like it would be a great group of people to hang out with?

Honestly, I had the best experience on this film. Zoe, Phil, and our AD, Jordan, are to thank for that. They each brought joy and positivity to set every day. When you have people leading with heart and passion for what they do, it makes a big difference in the filming process. The cast and crew on this film were absolutely wonderful. Everyone did such a great job. Everyone led with their heart. I feel so grateful for the experience. To go away and work on a film is absolutely amazing because it becomes a bit like camp. You’re in this bubble working long hours, and sometimes it’s a really late night and the scene is really emotionally intense, and if you get on with one another, then the bond happens so quickly. You kind of skip the getting to know someone part and just get to the heart of things. Also, food is so important. We were so well taken care of in that department, and lodging. When you’re well fed and get a good night of sleep, everyone is happier.

If you were handed the opportunity to create and star in the biopic of any well known figure in American history, who would it be?

I love this question! Patti Smith. I think she’s so brilliant and so earnest in her pursuit of music and art. Plus she had relationships with Robert Mapplethorpe and Sam Shepard. What a woman. Also, the New York City she describes in her book Just Kids is the New York of my dreams, late 60’s early 70’s.

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

Who knows what the future has in store? I am grateful for whatever that may be. Christmas is here and I love this time of year. I am going to visit my family in Texas and there’s a million of series I want to binge while I’m there. Creatively I am cooking up a couple of things that I will keep you posted on 🙂

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My toy poodle Morrissey. He’s currently begging me to wrap this up so I can give him my full attention.

Vince Lozano [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! A happy Wednesday to you all! Today we have a great interview with one of the hardest working people in Hollywood. It’s Vince Lozano, Everyone! Vince has been in the game for 30 years now, and has a plethora of amazing credits out in the world as an actor, producer, and more. Lozano made his big break in the international blockbuster film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, in which portrayed the lovable (sort of) pirate, Jacoby.

Since the success of Pirates, Vince has gone on to work on some wonderful films and television series both in the mainstream world, as well as some delightful indie projects. One of the latter happens to be the 2018 film we loved so much that it ended up on our Top Films of the Year list, which would be Fear, Love, & Agoraphobia. Vince was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule and tell us a bit about his time on set of Pirates, his work since, and what the future holds for this incredibly versatile and highly talented performer. We are delighted to share his words with you all today. So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the great Vince Lozano!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of performance? I understand you started pretty early in life? What drew you to this life? 

For me it was trying to find something that challenged me and fulfilled me. I was 17 or 18 trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life some of my ideas were: (paramedic, police officer, real estate, computer programming) I was a street dancer at the time taking classes performing I got real joy from that. I knew I wanted to be a part of the arts in some way. That’s when I was hanging out at Karamu House taking acting classes I was approached about auditioning for an original play. They needed a kid who could dance play basketball sing and act. I was really good at two out of the four. I was just started learning how to act. Booking that play changed my life. At the end the run of the play I knew I found my calling…(lol not trying to sound cliche) if I never became actor I would of never moved to Cali, met my wife made the wonderful friends that I have today and my beautiful amazing son. Have this pretty cool career I’m blessed. 

What drew you to this life? 

The adrenaline the natural high and excitement that I feel when I feel that I rose to the occasion and killed that performance on screen and stage. It’s just great place to release all this angst, intensity, passion, love that I have… 

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

Was eight dollars a show at the Karamu House. My lesson was it is better have a decent job to support myself. I can make a living as an actor…lol…that was always challenging. 

It has been 15 years since you gave your legendary performance in the modern classic film Pirates of the Caribbean. I am curious to know how your experience was working on this now legendary project? Any fun an¬dotes you could share? 

It was amazing I pinched myself everyday going to set and so blessed to work on a film that will hold its own for years to come and to work with wonderful actors: Johnny, Geoffrey, Keira, Orlando, Zoe, Kevin, Treva, Lee, Marty, Jonathan! I’m still good friend with a lot of some of the Pirates. I talk to once a week. 

All I can say the Brits can truly drink lol…we play poker until 4 a.m. Beer, wine, whiskey all gone only thing left is “ Vinny’s rum” .“Hey Mate can we have some of your rum?” I always say why is the rum always gone? Lol 

 

 

In 2018 you appeared in and co-produced one of our favorite films of the year, the amazing Fear, Love, & Agoraphobia. I am curious to know what drew you to this brilliant and unique project? 

Alex the director is one of my closet friends out here in LA. I read a lot of original drafts of the script. I helped out with notes on script and also on the film edit. He wanted me to be a part of it we worked shopped my scenes originally White Eagle was written for two actors but we lost the other actor due to work. We combined the role I thought it worked well. I helped out anyway I could as a producer. Alex did a brilliant job of pulling some amazing performances out of all the actors involved. I’m really proud of the success of the film. 

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

I wanted to play a boxer named Johnny Tapia he just lived a crazy life. He had nine lives but he used them all up. If I could sing I lwould ove to play Phil Collins, lol. L. Ron Hubbard could be very interesting to play him. He died all alone in a trailer, all of the ups and downs and twists cons he pulled off. 

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

Have a couple documentaries I’m working on: Brothers Broken: When the Music StoppedHave a TV show coming out called: Golden Revenge which I’m a regular on. Film called: Promising Young Woman.  Newly released film called: Trauma Therapy. 

I see myself acting and directing. Been co-producing & directing a boxing docuseries called Ten CountAnother docuseries called HOD I’ll be directing and producing this year. 

Whatever else the Universe brings to me. 😊 

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

My son getting his first hit playing baseball and just seeing his eyes light up running to first base made me smile. 

 

Lana McKissack [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! If you all could bring yourselves back to think all the way back to the year 2019, you may remember a wonderful interview we did with the co-creator and co-star of the incredible series Dark/Web, one Michael Nardelli. Well, we are so excited to share with you all some words from another brilliant star from this series, and so much more, the incredible Lana McKissack!

Prior to Dark/Web, I was honestly unaware of Lana as a performer, but needless to say that after seeing her in this incredible story unfold and her incredible performance within it, she has quickly become a favorite and is definitely somebody to watch out for in the years to come. She has been in the game since she was but a child, and has quickly progressed to be one of the best in the game. She has an exciting new project coming to you all soon from the world of horror which we all know and love to so much. We are so happy that Lana was able to take some time to answer a few of our questions. So Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the brilliant Lana McKissack!

 

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

Being born and raised in Los Angeles, it was kind of a given that I would at least dip a toe into the entertainment industry. Most kids I knew at least went on a few commercial auditions before deciding if they wanted to take it any further. I fell in love with performing from the time I remember being alive. My parents were incredibly supportive of me and enrolled me in the youth program at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute when I was five. I’ve never looked back!

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

I did a handful of commercials when I was a toddler, but the first paid gig that I have concrete memories of was a Hershey’s commercial. They kept telling me that I didn’t have to actually eat the candy bar, but as a child, I obviously completely ignored that and ate bar after bar. I was horribly sick (and wired) that night. I’d say I learned my lesson, but I did literally just polish off a Snickers…

 

 

At a very young age, you appeared in my favorite segment of my favorite anthology films of all time, the great Four Rooms. How was it working under the direction of Robert Rodriguez at such a young age? How was your experience overall working on this project?

I loved every moment of working on Four Rooms. I was ten years old, and I got to play on set for three weeks with a bunch of amazing actors and one of the most talented directors in the world. I have very fond memories of chatting with Quentin Tarantino at craft services, doing karaoke with Tim Roth at the cast party, and Robert Rodriguez taking us on a Toys”R”Us (RIP) shopping spree when the movie wrapped. Robert was, and is, such a creative, brilliant, and kind person. We still chat from time to time, and I continue to be amazed by his work. I am also still in contact with Danny Verduzco, who played my little brother. He’s not in the business anymore because he’s out there making the world a better place, but he’s still as fun and sweet as he was as a kid.

I was recently made privy to a series you worked on entitled Dark/Web that it is absolutely brilliant. We have previously spoken with your co-star and one of the show’s co-wrtier/producers Michael Nardelli actually! So, I am curious to know what drew you to this very surreal and insane story? What made you really want to break this thing open and be a part this world?

When I auditioned for Dark/Web, I had never seen anything like it. It’s such a unique story in a format that, as far as I know, had never been done on TV. It felt so new and fresh, and also quite mysterious. The cast of the main narrative was not given the scripts to the anthology episodes, so while we were told the gist of each story, we were kept in the dark about much of the show. I know so little about the actual dark web so watching the whole series legitimately freaked me out. Having said that, it was such an amazing thing to be part of and I’m so proud of how it turned out.

 

 

One genre of film that you have done some amazing work in is the world of horror, including the forthcoming film Countdown from writer/director Justin Dec. We are huge fans of the world of horror around here. With that, I am curious to know what you enjoy the most about working in the world of horror? And what sets it apart from the several other genres you have worked on?

Honestly, my favorite thing about working on horror sets is the lunch break. Nothing tickles me more than standing in line with a monster and a few corpses, watching a partially-severed arm attempt to use salad tongs. It’s surreal and bizarre, and I love it. Apart from that, I wouldn’t say it’s hugely different from other genres I’ve worked in. No matter what the tone, I think most actors try to take every project seriously, while still recognizing that our jobs are ridiculous and usually quite fun.

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

What sick world is this in which I can only choose one?! I’m gonna loophole the hell out of this. Okay, so…I really love doing theater, and I do love music, but both of those mediums can somewhat be combined into tv/film. I could do a live taping of a musical on tv, so HA! Oh but wait, I still want to do movies too. So maybe I can be in a meta film about the live taping of a musical on tv? Yes, I’m sticking with that.

 

 

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

Hands down, Mariah Carey. I look nothing like her, but I just love her so much and I find her fascinating. I really want to reenact that episode of Cribs, in which she works out on a VersaClimber in stilettos. What. A. Legend.

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

Hopefully more of the same! I have voiced several very cool animated characters in projects that will be coming out in the next year. Animation takes a long time and is usually shrouded in secrecy, so I can’t give any specifics, but know that fun things are on the horizon! If you’re still in the holiday spirit, you can rent my film A Christmas Movie Christmas on iTunes/Amazon/YouTube/Google Play. Countdown is available now on digital and on Blu-ray/DVD on January 21st. And please keep your fingers crossed for a second season of Dark/Web. We all really want to do it!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

That Snickers bar I just ate. They don’t sponsor me, but if they want to…

Derek Wayne Johnson [Interview]

 

Hey Folks! It’s officially the end of our first week back in 2020, and we are pulling no punches when it comes to making a triumphant return! Today we have a man who I would have once mistakenly far too simply called a brilliant documentarian. Which I have learned would be absolutely foolish, and I owe our guest a serious apology for this. Sorry Derek! It’s filmmaker and actor Derek Wayne Johnson, everyone!

To be fair to myself, Johnson has done some pretty great work in the field of documentaries, including the film that first drew my attention to him, which would be John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs. It’s a MAGNIFICENT film. I went on the hunt for films like this recently after having the wonderful opportunity to review a brilliant doc about the now late and always great filmmaker Larry Cohen. And what I discovered was a wonderful produced film in Underdogs, and was very anxious to get the film’s creator to grace our digital pages.

And as it often comes to be, we learned so much for about Johnson that we ever expected, as he was kind enough to give us some very insightful and thoughtful A’s to our Q’s. For a little insider knowledge, we never really know how Folks are going to respond to our (sometimes intrusive seeming) questions, and we are ALWAYS delighted when these incredibly talented (and obviously very BUSY) artists are willing to give so much thought into what we had to ask. Needless to say, Derek does not disappoint in this absolutely wonderful interview I have for you below!

So, Folks, please enjoy some incredible words from the brilliant Derek Wayne Johnson!

 

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

I’ve been wanting to make movies since I was 3 years old. The first movie I remember seeing at the cinema was The Karate Kid Part II and I was mesmerized. Growing up on VHS tapes, movie rental stores and cable TV, there were so many influences. Something about movies and storytelling captivated me. While most kids were doing whatever it is that kids do, I was dreaming up scenes, shots, characters and stories while my imagination ran wild.

I started making short films in high school and that carried over to film school at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, LA, the productions moved upstate to Shreveport. Being an hour and a half away from Shreveport while making films at SFA, I got my foot in the door on Hollywood and Indie productions.

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

I wasn’t paid to make a movie until I was in my 20s, but my first official paying job was taping football practice every day my senior year of high school. The summer in between high school and my freshman year of college I was offered a job at my local radio station as a Radio Producer, to which I accidentally kept the phone lines On-Air one night and the whole town listened in as I talked to one of my buddies about girls and how bored I was. Thankfully an honest elderly lady called the station and alerted me of my mistake.

But I would say my first gig on a higher scale in entertainment, and certainly my first Hollywood gig, was as a recurring extra on a TV show called Thief starring Andre Braugher, Clifton Collins, Jr. and Mae Whitman. I was a senior in film school at SFA at the time and would drive over to set and absorb as much knowledge as I could. The main thing I learned from this experience was to never tell your friends and family that you were an extra, being that when they tune in to see you on TV and only see the top of your head out of focus in the background, it’s disappointing.

A couple of years ago you had an incredible documentary come out entitled John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs. I am curious to know, although it seems somewhat obvious, about what inspired you to develop this project about the legendary Mr. Avildsen?

l never intended to make documentaries but have always been a fan of them. For example, I loved I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale and The Kid Stays in the Picture and His Way, among others. I stumbled upon John Avildsen’s YouTube page while studying interviews of some of my favorite directors while preparing to shoot my fourth feature film, as a way to get inspiration and learn a few pointers before production began. While listening to an old interview of John I noticed it was posted from his personal page, so I sent him an email. The email was half fan/half business as he was one of my directing heroes and made my two favorite films of all-time, Rocky and The Karate Kid. I couldn’t believe it when he emailed me back.

From there, we began a friendship to which I offered him two scripts to direct. He turned me down, but not before I paid him $1,000 to script doctor the first one. Realizing the opportunity I had in my hands and not willing to give up, I asked him if I could make a documentary about him. He said yes, and then we were up and running. He and his films completely changed my life so this was a way for me to repay him for inspiring me as a kid and as a filmmaker. By the way, he told me a couple of years after I paid him $1,000 to script doctor that he never expected me to actually follow through, but he kept his word and critiqued and tweaked every page. It was the best investment of my life.

 

 

You have done so much incredible work as an actor, writer, director, producer, and more. So with that, I am curious to know what your favorite format is to work in? If you were only allotted the chance to work in one field for the remainder of your career, which would it be?

I am first and foremost a director and that is the field I excel in and would choose if I could only choose one. And it would be in narrative feature films. Don’t get me wrong, I grew to love documentary filmmaking, but my true calling and passion is narrative feature filmmaking. As a kid, I wanted to be an actor and a director, but I realized that acting was more of a way for me to make connections, get an agent and get noticed.

I always say this: As a kid I wanted to be Indiana Jones. As an actor, I wanted to play Indiana Jones. But what I grew up to realize is all that time I really wanted to be the filmmaker who MADE Indiana Jones. To me, telling a story in 90 to 120 minutes is a high art form, but I don’t mind an occasional documentary if that is the medium the story would work best as. Case in point, my latest three documentaries: John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs, 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic and STALLONE: Frank, That Is. But, I cannot wait to get back in the director’s chair on a narrative feature.

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

This is a tough one. Since I no longer am an actor, I must say that as a filmmaker I would want to tell the story of…geez, I just can’t think of anyone at the moment! Haha.

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

Recently, my producing partners and I formed Cinema 83 Entertainment, focusing on feature films, and Cinema 83 Documentary Films which focuses on documentaries. We intend to balance productions in both mediums of narrative features and documentaries and I am currently hard at work on rewrites on my feature scripts. However, we do have a couple of documentaries releasing this year including 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic, narrated by Sylvester Stallone, and STALLONE: Frank, That Is about Sylvester’s Grammy and Golden Globe nominated brother Frank.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I was going through some emails this morning and found one from Sylvester Stallone from a few months back where he said to me, “You are a man with the soul of an artist.” That made me smile and it reminded me to keep moving forward and tell stories that need to be told in the way that only I can tell them.