Cathy Ladman [Interview]


Welcome back to the Trainwreck’d Society Comedy Showcase! We are kicking off this week with some words from an absolute LEGEND in the world of comedy. She is one of the first comedians I remember truly loving when I was first getting into stand up comedy at a pretty young age. In the 90’s, it seemed absolutely impossible to not catch Cathy at least once a week. Especially if you are a pre-teen to teenage boy obsessed with Comedy Central. From Win Ben Stein’s Money to Dr. Katz, or her stand up specials, she was always around! Not to mention her reoccurring role on the highly underrated sitcom Caroline In the City, which I was oddly very into at a young age.

And as the years moved on, she has continued to absolutely dominate the stage with her stand up comedy and her theatre work. She’s written for shows like The King of Queens, has a reoccurring role on the brilliant Showtime series I’m Dying Up Here, which we will discuss below! And with no sign of slowing down, she has continued to be a force to reckon with in the world of comedy. And one of my absolute favorite comedians of all time. And I am so honored that she was willing to share a few words with us during our Comedy Showcase!

So please enjoy some great words from the legendary comedian, writer, and actress Cathy Ladman!

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

I was about five years old or so. I started doing an impression of my elementary school principal, Miss Carroll, which got big laughs. Then I pranced around my parents’ bedroom, wearing my mother’s one-piece strapless bra/girdle. (Foundations!) More big laughs. I knew I was onto something. 

When I was about eight years old, I began listening to my parents’ comedy albums, in particular, Nichols and May Examine Doctors. I memorized the entire album, and, at bedtime, after I said prayers (!!!), I used to do selections off the album for my mother. She didn’t know quite what to make of it. But that was the seed that was planted for me, and it meant the world to me.

You had a wonderful re-occuring role in Showtime series I’m Dying Up Here. Although the series is set a bit before your time, I am curious to know in your expert opinion, what is this show getting right about stand up comedy? What would you consider to be the most accurate substance of the show in regards to stand up comedy?

I think that the show captures the passion and hunger of the comics, how comedy was so all-encompassing. I remember, when I started out, that standup was everything to me. I wrote things down all day, and then I put them onstage at night. It was a very simple, focussed existence. Life was simpler back then! I think that we had more fun than comics on the show. We had a lot more laughter. The show is capturing more of the drama, the dark stuff. Even the lighting is dark on much of the show. Standup takes place in the dark and comes from some very dark sensibilities.

And how have you personally enjoyed working on I’m Dying Up Here? With so many funny people around, what is the set life like on a show like this?

I have loved working on the show. It’s great to cross paths with so many of my colleagues whom I don’t get to see very often these days. Melissa Leo and Brad Garrett were great to work with, and, of course, working with Rick Overton is always a treat. 

I am always excited to ask comedians this one question: What are some of your favorite places to do stand up? What are some cities that people may not instantly think of as comedy towns, but are some “hidden gems” to perform in?

Some of my favorite places to do standup have been (many are defunct now): Catch A Rising Star in Cambridge, MA, The Comedy Store in Las Vegas at The Dunes Hotel, Main Street Comedy in Ann Arbor, MI, BARK! Comedy in Pasadena, CA, The Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, CA, and almost any theatre. I love doing theatres. Everyone is facing forward, and there’s no booze and drink service.

After all of your time in the world of stand up comedy, with the plethora of digital advancements with social media, podcasting, etc., what do you believe has been the biggest change in the scene? Is it better than you remember, or is it becoming oversaturated?

It seems to be all about Twitter followers now. I am not on the scene the way I used to be anymore, so I can’t answer to it being oversaturated. I know that when I was coming up, in the ’80’s and into the ’90’s, those were some of the best days of my life. The community was really tight, and it was home to me. I got to see a lot of the country and the world. I’ve been really lucky.

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

I’m currently developing and rewriting my solo show, Does This Show Make Me Look Fat?, which is about my journey with anorexia, perfectionism, and standup. I’m about to start rehearsals for a play I’m doing in LA, titled, Jews, Christians, and Screwing Stalin. And Mindy Sterling and I are going to get our podcast back up. We’re reworking it, and we’re really excited about it.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My dog.

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Shane Torres [Interview]

Ohhh great! Here we are again!

Welcome to another amazing interview here at Trainwreck’d Society for our crazy fun Comedy Showcase. We have another interview with an absolutely brilliant stand up comedian who is a treasure of the modern times. His name is Shane Torres, and he is just about as good as it gets in the world of stand up comedy. He is just so damn funny, and honest, and as real as you can get these days. I seriously cannot say enough great things about this cat. His album, Established 1981, was on our list of great comedy albums last tuesday, and I would add to that by saying that it is one of the greatest comedy albums I have ever heard. I seriously love this guy so much. Although, Shane….please get a haircut. For you, for everyone!

As many of you who follow the in’s and out’s and in’s again of all things TWS, I am a huge fan of the podcast known as All Fantasy Everything. Shane has been a frequent guest on the show, and is a dear friend (or “enemy”) of the show that features our dear friends and past guests Sean Jordan and David Gborie, and frequent guest of the pod, Amy Miller (*cough* Ian, what the fuck? answer my e-mails! Corden won’t care! *fake cough again*). This is actually where I discovered the glory of Shane Torres. And I am so happy that I have. So many of my favorite folks in the world of comedy have had Conan sets, and we have talked with a lot of them in the past including some of aforementioned comedians in this very piece. Hell, we even spoke with current Conan writer, Laurie Kilmartin! But, I will make a stand right now and say that Shane Torres as officially had the greatest nine-ish minutes in Late Night comedy history when he has appeared on two different Conan sets. He’s just so amazing at what he does, and we are so excited to have him on the site today. It’s such a blessing to have him in our digital presence.

Also, it is worth noting that there is currently a large bounty out on Shane’s pony tail by the folks at All Fantasy Everything. And I would like to reiterate what the host and co-host of the show would say….DO NOT DO THIS! Please, do not find a way to sneak up on Shane, cut his pony tail off, and hand deliver it to the Good Vibes Gang at the Roost in L.A. to receive your reward. DO NOT do this. If you are even contemplating do this…please purchase Established 1981 first, go to a his live shows if you can, and decide if you really thing this is a good idea.

Alright, all jokes aside (or are they?), please enjoy some amazing words from one of the finest stand up comedians of this generation, the amazing Shane Torres!!

When did you first realize that you were a hilarious human being, and you wanted to make people laugh for a living? What drew you to the world of stand up comedy?

Thank you, I don’t know if it was the first time I did stand up that I thought I was funny, but I did know after I did it that I wanted to do it for a living. Fell in love with right away.

You will forever been embedded into the legendary Portland comedy royalty alongside our past guests like Matt Braunger, Sean Jordan, and Amy Miller, and (hopefully future guests) Ian Karmel, Ron Funches, & more. What was the PDX scene like at that time? Did you realize at the time that you were a part of something special?

I think what I would say about the Portland scene at the time is that it was drunk and we were all trying so hard and we made it each other better. Just by trying to be good at comedy. It was a really special time in my life for sure and I think we all realized that we had some potential. in those early years though no one was on TV or anything yet so we were just loving it.

The scene was filled with brilliant people that you may not know about Christian Ricketts, Whitney Streed, Phil Schalberger, Gabe Dinger. Andy Wood,  Kristine Levine, Dax Jordan and of course the generation before us Auggie Smith and the rest of them. There were also people who put o shows and produced festivals that helped the scenes a great deal and made opportunities happen.

The aforementioned folks all decided to move down south to LA, you went east to New York. What made you decide that New York was a better fit for you? What was it about that scene that drew you to it?

No one wanted me to move to LA at the time, the industry I mean and I had always wanted to live here in NY.  I missed my friends a great deal and still do, but I knew in New York I could get stage time and do more stand up. Get much better at stand up and try to really learn more about the craft.  Plus its New York fucking City, you don’t really need a reason to want to be here. It’s incredible in so many ways.

 

How has the fan interaction been since becoming the legendary “friend of the podcast” on All Fantasy Everything? How often are you offered sampler platters? Is it about weekly?

It’s usually pretty good, there fans are wonderful, Most of the time they just call me Sampler Platter and come to the show. Hey are sweet but fuck my friends who are on the podcast what a group of assholes. I get about one sampler platter a club weekend maybe a little more, Which is more than enough I don’t think people coming to my show need to send my well fed ass a plate of fried food every show.

You have been performing like crazy all across the land for the last decade. With that, what are some your favorite places to perform comedy? What are the places you go to that you know you are going to do well? And what are the more challenging places?

I really love The Earl in Atlanta for a non club show and Club Cafe in Pittsburgh as well. They have great teams that work hard to push your shows. As far as clubs go, my home club, Helium in Portland, is very special to me. The people there have known me since early shows, so they really root for me. Comedy on State [in Madison, WI] is where I did my album and remains an incredible standard in every facet of how to put on a show and treat people. Acme of course is another gold standard club in Minneapolis.

A challenge can happen anywhere really. So it’s hard to answer that in a way, I don’t want to seem ungrateful in any way for a place that has let me work their room, but I can think of a few that have made it harder than it had to be. Looking at you Myrtle Beach.

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

There are a few things in the works. I will have a podcast coming out in a few months that I am excited about and tour dates. Maybe some other stuff.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

This interview?

Tommy McNamara [Interview]

 

When did you first decide that you wanted to make people laugh for a living? What was it that drew you into the world of stand up comedy?

When I was a kid I wanted desperately to be Chris Farley. I watched his Best of SNL DVD a million times. I started doing improv at around 12 or 13 years old. It was me and like 6 other kids playing short form games in a Potbelly’s sandwich shop at Old Orchard Mall. I think all the time about what a nightmare it must have been for the people who were just trying to eat a sandwich in peace and had to watch these adolescent hams imitate Whose Line Is It Anyway. I was also into theater at the time, and always played comedic supporting roles and really loved it. In high school, I got way more into music, and played in a lot of bands and recorded a lot of (extremely embarrassing) music in my basement. In college, I started playing cover songs in bars (almost exclusively by 90s female singer songwriters). I loved doing that, but I realized that the entire time I was just trying to be funny, making jokes between songs, etc. I just thought about how much I loved comedy and decided that’s what I really wanted to do. It also didn’t hurt that the first live comedy show I ever saw was: John Mulaney hosting, Janeane Garafolo featuring, and Patton Oswalt headlining. It’d be impossible not to fall in love with the form. 

You have done stand up in several different venues across the country. I am always curious to know what comedians believe are cities that get slept on as terrific comedy towns. So in your personal experience, what are cities that you have worked in that people may not immediately consider to be good for anything, let alone comedy?

Bloomington, Indiana! I’ve been 4 or 5 times in the last few years and I really love it. The Comedy Attic is one of the best clubs in the country and Limestone Comedy Fest is incredible. Also, I love the comedy scene in Boston. So many great shows and I always have an amazing time there. Recently, I’ve really liked going down to Philly as well. There’s also a great show in Manchester, New Hampshire at Shaskeen Pubs Wednesday nights that everyone who lives in the area should check out. All that being said, Chicago will always be my number one city for comedy and life and if you’re there check out the Lincoln Lodge! 

And I am also curious to know what each comedian’s method is for dealing with hecklers? So what is your process? And does it change when you are in different regions of the country?

I feel like the problem that comes up way more often than hecklers for me is drunk people talking to each other or trying to encourage and be positive. It drives me crazy! Especially in New York, my thought is always, “you could literally be in any other bar and talk and not pay a cover and not ruin anything!” But those people always exist. I try to not engage as much as possible. I really just like to tell the jokes I’ve written. If it gets to the point where I have to respond, I always try to be funny but succinct and let them know I’m not interested in a conversation. I’m not out here trying to *own* people I just want everyone to have a fun night. 

Your podcast Stand By Your Band that co-host with our past guest Tom Thakkar is absolutely brilliant, and incredible original. I seriously can’t get enough of it. So how did you and Tom come up with the concept for the podcast? What are your thoughts on what the podcast has become?

Thanks so much, man! Tom gets all the credit for that! I was co-hosting his old podcast Girl’s Night, which was just a super silly show where we would do characters, etc. Then Tom thought of this idea to do a show where people talked about bands they loved that they got made fun of for, stemming from his love of Coldplay. He was going to do that one on his own, and recorded some episodes but then decided to kind of merge the two and bring me in. I’m so happy to be a part of it, it’s been a blast.

What would you consider to be your favorite moment on the show thus far?

Ok, this is an off air moment but it made me really happy. When we were doing the Will Smith episode I had this idea to write a Men In Black/Wild Wild West style Will Smith rap but about Pursuit of Happyness. Then Steven Castillo, the guest that week, showed up and said, “Hey just so you guys know I wrote out this Wild Wild West style rap about Concussion”. I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy we had the same idea. During the episode we did them back to back and it made me laugh really hard. Also, it’s incredibly embarrassing for me, but I think of me asking Patton Oswalt “Is Phil Collins from Los Angeles?” as a definitive moment.  Also talking about Aqua with Liza Treyger was such a blast. And Good Charlotte with Blair Socci when she kept saying “Who among us…”!  It’s hard to pick!!!

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

The next thing I want to do is to record an album! I’ve been talking to my favorite comedy record label and hopefully I’ll be able to record later this year! So definitely be on the lookout for that, and keep listening to Stand By Your Band! 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Detroiters! I watched all three episodes from this season today and I think it’s my favorite show right now. It’s so funny and fun and Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson are perfect together.

Wanna catch Tommy telling jokes near you? Check his website, tommymcnamara.com for tickets and details, and find him at the following spots:

August 4th: Philadelphia, PA @ Big League

August 8th: Manchester, NH @ Shaskeen Pub

August 9th: Portland, ME @ Laughshack

August 10th: Boston, MA @ Hideout Comedy

August 29th: New York, NY @ Caroline’s Comedy Club

September 13th: Brooklyn, NY @ Cherry Tree Bar

December 23rd: Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Lodge

 

Matt Braunger [Interview]

Welcome to our first interview in our showcase for the wonderful world of stand up comedy. We are kicking things off in a major way by sharing some words with the absolute legend in the world of comedy, the pride of Portland Oregon, the amazing Matt Braunger! This is a guy who has been entertaining audiences in so many different formats. Whether he is headlining clubs across the country, or just being all around hilarious on television, Braunger is an absolute legend!

And to know that Matt hails from my own backyard in the Pacific Northwest is such a damn good feeling. In fact, coincidently most of my favorite comedians are either from the Northwest, or have spent years working in the Portland comedy scene specifically. Some of them have already been mentioned in this showcase, and will most likely be mentioned again! But even these young cats in the game that I love so much would be the first to tell you that Matt is a wonderful influence on the world of comedy for very obvious reasons.

Also as just a side note, Matt was the key subject to one of the greatest episodes of Getting Doug With High that I have ever seen! Seriously folks, he gets high almost INSTANTLY alongside a skeptical Jim Jefferies. I can not recommend it enough. Also, he is another TWS guest who appeared on an amazing TV show that was taken off the air far too early! That show was Up All Night, and we will definitely discuss that below.

So Folks! Please enjoy some great words from the brilliant Matt Braunger!

When did you first discover you that you wanted make people laugh for a living? What drew you to the world of comedy?

Being an old child class clown as a child. And later, in Chicago, I just found I was good at it and that it was something people did. I tended to think of it as this esoteric thing, even though I was an actor at the time.

I’ve come to learn that you are one of the folks responsible for the incredible Bridgetown Comedy Festival in Portland, Oregon. I’ve only heard wonderful things about this festival and some of my favorite comics have been there. So, what inspired you to start this festival? And what was it like getting it together that first year?

It was a labor of love with a lot of great people. Andy Wood (the co-founder) used to open for me back in the early aughts. One night he just asked if he should start a festival and I said, “Yep, and I’ll help all I can.” That first year was just so grass roots and nobody in the city paid it much mind. Now, though it’s currently on hold, it’s the comedy event of the year there.

I always like to ask comedians a little bit about their life on the road. So, when it comes to cities you have worked in, what are some amazing cities to do comedy in that might surprise people?

Fort Wayne, Indiana has a great little scene and some cool folks putting on shows. And Madison, Wisconsin has one of the top five comedy clubs in America.

 

Photo by: Colleen Hayes/NBC

 

Your performance on the far too short-lived series Up All Night was absolutely phenomenal. I loved the show, right to end when I was holding back happy tears when that montage with The Weepies song. And then I was so sad when it didn’t come back. But, for when it was happening, how was your experience working on this project? Was it as fun to work on as it was for me to watch?

Thanks, Man. It was a dream, especially because Jean (who played my wife Terri) and I were only supposed to do one episode. The writers liked us so much that they wrote us in again and again. I loved playing with Christina, Will, Maya, and everybody else. Honestly, I just think it wasn’t promoted correctly, because ‘parents who still want to party’ (which is what the show was) is a huge demographic.

After all of your years in the world of comedy, I am curious to know what your thoughts are on all of the changes that have occurred within your business since you first began doing stand up?

Jeez, where to begin. I’ll just speak on stand-up. There are more platforms to watch stand-up than ever before, and that’s a good thing, but thankfully you can never fully recreate the live experience. That’s where stand-up lives and breathes. Some comics think the stand-up bubble’s going to burst, but people still come to shows, still need that release of being in the room when it happens. So I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

And also after all of these years, what is it that you still love about the world of stand up comedy? What keeps you motivated beyond monetary compensation?

I love that it even exists, and that I get to be a part of it. I’m grateful every day of my life that I’m a comedian. Even though I never tell lyft drivers why I’m going to the airport.

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

My podcast Advice from a Dipshit with Matt Braunger is a thing I’m really proud of right now. People call 323-763-0228 and leave a message, my producer Amanda picks the calls, and I listen to them during the podcast recording and answer them as best I can. It’s kind of a Dear Abby for Millennials (and everybody else) from a guy who’s made a ton of mistakes. It’s funny, but I’m honestly trying to help. Also, my new special Finally Live From Portland will come out later this year.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

A photo of a wiener dog in a beekeeper’s outfit.

Matt is always moving around the country making people laugh and smile, which we have established is a good thing. Check out some dates below, and be sure to check in at mattbraunger.com for updates and other cool stuff he has done.

Dates:

September 25th – 26th in Ontario, Canda @ Just For Laughs Comedy Festival

November 1st – 3rd in Appelton, WI @ Skyline Comedy Club

December 28th – 31st in Burlington, VT @ Vermont Comedy Club

Check out this absolutely hilarious promo for Matt’s special Big Dumb Animal that is just fucking perfect:


Haviland Stillwell [Interview]


 

Hello Dear Readers! We have an amazing interview for you fine folks today. We are not only once again diving into the absolutely incredible Fallout 4 voice over cast list, but we are making a new friend with an amazing and talented human being. That person is Haviland Stillwell! I will be the first to admit that I was mainly aware of her work as Mariner on the Far Harbor DLC for Fallout 4, but would soon realize that she has always been around, doing amazing work, and I’ve been a fan of hers for quite a while.

Obviously we delve into the FO4 world a little bit, but we learn so much more about Haviland, and I am so excited to share some amazing answers from her right now! She’s an brilliant singer, on screen performer, voice over actor….there really isn’t anything that she can not do! She will soon be appearing in a brand new SyFy film and has a lot to share. So let’s get into it! Please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Haviland Stillwell!

When did you discover you had a passion for the world of performance? Was it a deep-rooted yearning you have always had since a youth?

Absolutely. I think I always knew, but it especially sunk in when I saw Bette Midler in Big Business, the classic zany 80’s comedy. I thought “I’m like THAT.” And then, on my first set, Fried Green Tomatoes, I knew the world of entertainment and art was my life forever. Never have questioned that decision – bc it was more of an acknowledgement. Like, yes, this is me. And I just kept going.

What was your very first paid gig you can remember working on? Was it a nerve racking experience? And do you have any sort of lesson learned from this experience that you still incorporate into your work today?

My first paid gig was a workshop of a play in the Southeastern Theatre conference called Low Country Boil. It was amazing and fun and I was SO young, maybe 5 or 6 years old? I was just obsessed with every part of it. To this day, each time I book something, I make it a point to get excited and be grateful for it. It’s such an amazing thing to be able to get to do the thing you love so much, and that you know in your heart you’re supposed to do.

In the voice over world, you have appeared in a one particular video game that we greatly adore, and have actually spoken with about a dozen folks who have also worked on it, which would be the brilliant Fallout 4. You appeared as Mariner, a crucial citizen of the town of Far Harbor, in the DLC of the same name. So how was your experience working within this legendary franchise? Was there anything about it that sets it apart from other work you have done?

The Mariner is similar to all my characters in that she is a very strong woman. What sets her apart is that she is torn about her illness, and so I tried to layer her voice with the many layers of whats happening for her internally. She’s also a lot more reserved than most of the characters I play. There are a lot of women who hold a lot of their feelings inside, and I wanted to be truthful to that, while also making sure to give her the vocal complexity she deserved. It was so much fun and I’m honored when people approach me and say they are touched by her story and my performance.

 

And have you had any fan experiences since Mariner was introduced to the world? Have you encountered any Fallout fanatics out there?

Oh yes. People LOVE Fallout! A guy helping me at a store recognized my voice and was fully fanboying. I think thats really fun and love when people like what I’m doing. At the end of the day, you want to reach people, entertain them, and hopefully make them feel more connected, so I always love talking to people about projects they love that I’ve worked on.

Beyond just acting, you are also an accomplished pop singer, with an album available now. Although it seems like a reasonable transition, it’s actually not that common. So what inspired you join the world of pop music? And why this genre specifically?

I love singing. I am a trained classical singer and have a degree from NYU in vocal performance. I used to sing opera, and I have done two Broadway shows (Fiddler on the Roof and Fantine in Les Miserables), but I’ve always loved all types of music. My favorite album right now is Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae, and I grew up listening to everything from rap, R&B, old school disco, 80’s pop, 90’s alternative…I like a lot of music, and I like to sing all kinds of things. It’s like if I were a visual artist – I wouldn’t just be a painter. I would sculpt and paint and use markers! (As a side note, maybe my only hobby is collaging, but thats beside the point!)

You have worked in just about every type of performance possible, from voice over work to the Broadway stage. So with that being known, I am curious to know what you would call your favorite method to perform would be? Should you be destined to only work in one field for the rest of your career, what would it be?

It would be television, no doubt. TV is such an expanding frontier, with all the new streaming opportunties. The rule book has been thrown out, so the opportunities are endless. I want to play a superhero, and the president, Madonna and Gloria Steinem. And if I’m playing them, they can all sing. Who doesn’t love a TV musical?!


You appear to be wearing so many proverbial hats in the world of entertainment, it seems like you are just consistently working! But, what about the occasional downtime? What would we find Haviland Stillwell doing for a little bit of me time?

I’m very politically active, so I spend a lot of time reading news, current events, analysis and history, and watching sources I trust. (Shout out to Rachel Maddow!) I also love writing, researching style and coming up with new ideas for characters, voices and costumes and things like that. I watch a ton of TV for fun and for work! I also really love the beach and my family, so the combo of those two is key for my calm.

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

My movie Santa Jaws comes out August 14th at 9 p.m. on the Syfy Channel. I play “Georgia” and she is absolutely hilarious. I’ll be live tweeting during the premiere, so definitely check out my Twitter, @MissHaviland, and my Instagram @haviland for more info on that.

Also, a new anime show I’m in Screechers Wild is out now, and there are many more episodes coming. I play Ann, who is sort of a modern day Lucy from Peanuts! I have two films out now on the festival circuit: Freelancers Anonymous and Brannan and the Monosexuals and a big announcement coming very soon for the show I did a few years ago, Unicorn Plan-it. ALSO…a couple of things that I can’t talk about yet but please do follow me and I’ll make sure you’re in the know. I love connecting with fans.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Honestly, my 4 lb. maltese, Fanny, is curled up next to me right now, and I’m kind of living for her low key slay!

Check out this amazing music video for her single “Muse” from her album Sparks:

Cristos [Interview]

 

 

Today we have a great interview with a man I have been hoping to have on the site for a very long time. He has been involved with so many amazing projects, many of which we have talked about at length here at Trainwreck’d Society. Not the least of which would be our beloved film Hell Ride! He’s also had done some brilliant work as an actor in films like From Dusk Till Dawn, Desperado, Drillbit Taylor, and so many more.

And in recent years, Cristo has established himself as a man of the industry having not only starred in so many amazing projects, but also chocks up writing and producing credits. He is a fascinating person that I was so excited to learn more about. And Cristos was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to do just that! He dives into some of his back catalogue and tells us what the future holds for him. So please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Cristos!

When did you decide that you wanted to work in the world of film and television? What initially drew you this life?

Back in the 70’s when HBO originated, They had a some kind of Behind The Scenes episodes where they showed how films were made and how the cameras and the dollies operated and what consisted of making a feature film. I had never seen anything like that, and was very intrigued by the whole process. I started watching it every week. So, I borrowed a camcorder and began shooting and making my versions of films that I made up and wrote.

Actors and films that I was impressed with early on were Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry and Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. In the late 80’s I wrote, produced, and acted in a short action film that cost me a couple thousand dollars to complete.

I experienced editing in a real studio and working with other actors on the set. It was a lot of fun to say the least. For the first time, I got a small glimpse of the whole production process.  I knew it excited me, being involved in that realm especially back in Pennsylvania  where the entertainment industry wasn’t a common thing. I started taking acting class shortly after. I got my first set of headshots,  a talent agent, and started getting work in Pittsburg and New York City.

I knew that it would be a long road and a lot of work, but I wanted to be a part of that lifestyle as much as possible and make a career of it no matter what it was going to take to be in that world. I moved to LA in 1992. I felt I needed to fullfill and a dream . I finally had the opportunity to turn into a reality.

And what keeps you wanting to create in this world? What makes this world one in which you enjoy working within?

It’s not the  same reasons from when I originally started as far as acting goes. I think in the beginning, you want to just be in front of the camera , be seen, be acknowledged , prove yourself. Later I realized it’s more about wanting to express yourself  as an artist. You can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of it all, get stressed trying to survive in the this industry  and lose sight of what it’s all about . I had to step out of it for a while to catch my breath and re-evaluate it .

In the end you realize it’s an art. Its a lifestyle of being creative and expressing yourself through words , emotions and actions. It’s a passion .

 

One of your earliest moments on screen came in 1995 with your appearance in the classic film Desperado. And I have to say, it features one of the most gruesome leg breaking scenes I have ever seen on screen (or in real life for that matter). How was your experience working under the guise of a filmmaker like Robert Rodriguez in an amazingly well done fight scene?

Thank you for the compliment. That film and working with Robert was one if the most memorable and greatest experiences I’ve ever had in my career. Desperado was my first studio film and even though it was over twenty five years ago I still get excited when I think about it . I was very  grateful and fortunate to be a part of it .

In 2008, you appeared in our friend Larry Bishop’s film Hell Ride, alongside our other friends Laura Cayouette and Alyson Sullivan. This film has always been an absolute joy to watch, so I am curious about what it was like to work on this project? What was the set life like for you on Hell Ride?

Great set ! In the middle of the desert. Extremely cold at times and sandstorms. Very authentic the real deal as far as sets go.

I had the opportunity to use my own bike in the film , a lot of fun. It was a kicker with no electric starter. So it was an interesting experience. Trying to get it started every time  they called action, lol.

I always wanted to work on a biker film. So I finally got my chance , thanks to Larry. Everyone was great to work with I really enjoyed it. It was an honor working along side of Dennis Hopper. The man is an icon. Watching him work was truly educational. Another extremely memorable experiences!

In 2013, you manage to add the titles of producer and writer, to your resume with the crime/thriller Tunnel Vision. What inspired you to take on these roles the world of film?

I had this story in my head I wanted to tell I was passionate about making it come to life. I wanted the opportunity to create my own film and give myself the freedom to do my own thing as an actor without limitations. The majority of the time your doing other people’s projects with their ideas and concepts which is great.  I thought this time it would feel good  and be a challenge to do my own I learned a great deal from the process It made me look at films in a new light

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

I have a new film project I’ve written and that I’m working on. An action suspense thriller. It’s The Fast and the Furious meets the Zodiac/a biker film. I am in the process of trying to produce It and  get it made.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I have four dogs that I rescued. One of them had puppy swimmer syndrome. A year ago and his legs didn’t work. He was paralyzed. Now he’s fine and runs like a champ. My other dogs had some major issues as well. When I watch my dogs run and play in my yard and see them happy it puts a huge smile on my face !

Tate Donovan [Interview]


Happy Monday Folks! We have an amazing interview for you fine folks today here at Trainwreck’d Society! Today we have some amazing words from the man I like to call “That Guy”. Yes, we have the amazing Tate Donovan, who is indeed, that guy that is in EVERYTHING. He’s a man in everything, because he can do practically everything! From TV dads to action fueled heroes, there really are no limitations to what this cat can do. I first discovered Donovan in the early 00’s as a cast member of the insanely popular television series The O.C. But, it would be a few years later that I would see him portraying a legendary American figure, which we will discuss in detail below, and that would solidify Tate as one of the best actors of our time.

And Tate is not only an accomplished actor, he has done some magnificent work behind the camera, even earning an Emmy for his work on the popular 30 for 30 series and directing some dynamite television. One thing I was completely unaware of is that he is also the voice of Hercules in the 1997 Disney film! Which is pretty damn cool! I don’t believe we have had anyone the site who was a lead role in a Disney animated film. So thanks for breaking that ground, Tate!

So Dear Readers, please enjoy some amazing words from one of today’s finest performers and artists, the great Tate Donovan!

When did you first realize you wanted to join the world of acting? Was it a deep-rooted ambition that you have always had?

I was 4 years old. My parents had taken me to a movie at the Bergen Theatre in Tenafly NJ. I wanted to sit away from them for some reason, and when I looked up at that screen, I said to myself, ‘this is what I want to do’. It was a movie about Medieval knights, forgot its name, but I also thought ‘jeez, if I want to do it so badly, everyone must want to act as well’.

It wasn’t until college (USC) that I realized there was so much to learn about acting, theatre, voice, film production, directing and much to the chagrin of my parents, I threw myself into it.

You are also known for getting behind the camera in the director’s chair from time to time. What inspired you to move into this gig as well?

I’ve always been the kind of actor that hangs around the monitors to see what the director and camera crew were up to, so when I got a recurring role on The OC, I asked to shadow a director. I was there from the first day of prep, all 8 days of shooting, to the final day of editing and LOVED every minute of it. After several months of shadowing different directors, the producers were kind enough to give me a shot and I’ve been directing ever since. Mostly episodic (shows like Damages, Glee, Bloodline , Madam Secretary), but I’ve made a few documentaries, one of which won an Emmy. It was for the ESPN series 30 for 30, called “Arthur and Johnnie”  about the tennis star Arthur Ashe and his brother.

In 2016 you appeared in the amazing film Elvis & Nixon, written and featuring our past guests Joey Sagal & Hannah Sagal. This was such a unique story, and just an overall wonderful film. I am curious to know how your experience was working on this film? Were you aware of this infamous meeting prior to becoming a part of the project?

I loved working on Elvis and Nixon.  We shot in New Orleans, which is always fun, and the cast and crew were really fun and nice. I had seen the picture that it was based on but not until I read the script did I learn what led up to it.  Hilarious, and I thought Micheal Shannon and Kevin Spacey gave great performances.  Happy to have been a part of that one.

In 2007 you gave an amazing performance as Neal Cassady in the film of the same name. Cassady has always been one of the most intriguing people in American history to me. What was it like to take on a role as Neal? Where you a fan of the Beats prior to being casted as Neal?

First of all, thanks, that’s nice of you to say and thanks for even seeing Neal Cassady. Not a lot of people did.  I had read On the Road so I knew about Neal and Jack Kerouac but when I got the role, I concentrated my preparation on the later, Magic Bus years. Cassady recorded hours and hours of his rants and I listened to them over and over. I still do for fun from time to time. Most of them are drug fueled ruminations, but never was the English language so pushed and pulled so creatively and passionately than by this dude. Amazing mind.  He was a fantastic character to play, so much fun but so much work.  I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard on a role.

Tate Donovan as Neal Cassady.

I’ve heard actors complain about how their performances were ruined in post, but I’ve never experienced it myself until this film. The editor was very young and didn’t know anything about the Beats. Both Glen Fitzgerald (who played Kerouac) and I had beautifully written scenes, with crazy fun dialogue and it was all hacked away. I think they were afraid of how verbal these guys were, that it wasn’t cinematic enough, but it was tough to take when we saw the final cut. Also, Neal could juggle sledge hammers and I practiced every morning and taught myself to do the same. Trust me, learning to juggle hammers is tough on the toes and deck, but the way they shot it, you couldn’t even tell it was me, or that I was juggling. Heartbreaking.

What would you consider to be your favorite field to work in as an actor? If you were destined to only work in one of them for the rest of your career, what would you choose?

The best experiences I’ve had have been mostly in the theatre. Some films, like Argo, Good Night and Good Luck, Memphis Belle have been wonderful to have been a part of, but for actors, the theatre is where its at. Rehearsing for a month, working with writers and directors to shape the play, and then getting to put it up in front of a packed house every night is an indescribable joy.
In the theatre you really get the time to investigate the part, to mine all of the moments or laughs. Night after night, you learn something different. Theatre is really the actor’s medium. Its just you and your scene partners up there and is up to you to capture the audience. Plus, in NY, there is a great community of actors who do theatre. We all rub elbows with each other after our shows and there is a comradeship that you don’t get in film and television. Its a lot of fun.

 What would you say you are most proud of?

That’s a tough one to answer actually.  Pride isn’t something I associate a lot with my work.  I feel proud when I’m directing and I’ve finished the day on time, and the cast and crew are happy with their work.  I feel proud to have acted in a scene or play where I played my part well enough to make my cast mates, the director, writer and crew feel as tho they are part of something of quality.I feel fortunate more than proud. That I get to do this for a living.

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

I just finished a great little film called Nomads about an inner city Rugby team in Philly. Very talented cast of mostly unknowns (although the wonderful Tika Sumpter stars) and it was cool to learn about the great sport of Rugby.  The real life coach I play turned out to be one of the most upbeat characters I’ve played.
Also, if you find yourself at home Friday nights, I recur this season as MacGyver’s dad and master spy on CBS’s MacGyver. Definately a fun gig.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Our two pups crack me up every day. Maddie is 14 years old and only has 3 legs and Biggie is just 4 months, but already a real character.  Lotta laughs with those two.