Interview with Karen Lynn Gorney

Karen Lynn Gorney first earned attention with her role of Tara Martin on the popular daytime series “All My Children.” But it was her role as Stephanie Mangano in “Saturday Night Fever” that made her a star. As the object of John Travolta’s affection (both on the dance floor and off), she was able to pull of the rare feat of making a tough girl also appear very vulnerable. Defying conventional thinking, she took more then a decade off, concentrating on theatre and music while also teaching. She returned to the limelight in the early 1990s and has appeared in numerous film and television projects, even reprising her role of Stephanie in the “Fever” video game. While preparing for her next project Ms. Gorney took some time to speak with Movie Mikes about her career:

Mike Smith: Both of your parents were in show business. Did watching their experiences steer you towards a career in acting?
Karen Lynn Gorney: I got into acting because of my shyness. I wanted to be a songwriter like my Dad. But I was too shy to really sing my songs! So Ma said I should study acting.So eventually I sang and played guitar- I’ve recorded 3 CD’s…two of my original songs. one of song’s my dad wrote. (NOTE: Ms. Gorney’s father, Jay, was a popular composer and wrote the music for the classic depression-era song “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime.”)

MS: How did you come to get the role of Tara Martin on “All My Children?”
KLG: Many many auditions, like everything else. Just showing up time and time again.

MS: Do you still hear from fans of the show?
KLG: Oh yes. All the time.

MS: You’ve reprised the role twice. Any chance of Tara making another return to Pine Valley?
KLG: If they asked me I would do it. (NOTE: Since our conversation ABC has announced that this will be the last season for “All My Children.” Hopefully that fact will guarantee an invite back).

MS: You have a BFA from Carnegie Mellon and MFA from Brandeis University in Acting and Speech. With that kind of training how hard was it to nail Stephanie Mongano’s accent in “Saturday Night Fever?”
KLG: I have a good ear, being from a musical family. It came really easily. Dialects are fun for me.

MS: In the famous poster for “Saturday Night Fever” you are featured in a red dress. However, in the final dance competition you are wearing a white dress. Were there other dance scenes shot or was the dress altered for the poster?
KLG: We shot me in every color dress under the sun. They kept dyeing them until they settled on what you see. Red sells. I think that’s why it was used for the poster.

MS: One of the most touching scenes in “Fever” is when Tony and Stephanie are sitting by the bridge talking. During the scene, as Tony’s eyes begin to tear Stephanie kisses him on the cheek. Years later it was revealed that Travolta had just returned to the set after the death of his girlfriend, Diana Hyland. Was it tough to get “back to work?” And what moved you to give Tony the unscripted kiss?
KLG: We hadn’t stopped work for that long and John came right back into it. The character kissed him not me. It seemed the right thing to do – he looked so pitiful.

MS: Was there any talk of Stephanie returning in “Staying Alive?”
KLG: Yes, but the only character from the original “Fever” that appeared in “Staying Alive” was Tony’s mother. Stallone wrote us all out.

MS: Your father, Jay, was a successful songwriter and you yourself have written and produced several albums. Any plans to record again?
KLG: Not right now. The three Cd’s I’ve done, the “Trilogy,” seems enough for now. If I start getting HAUNTED again by words and music in my head, I’ll have to do more- but for now, I’m good. I do have a suitcase full of stuff I haven’t put together and recorded!

MS: What are you currently working on?
KLG: A new play. Starting to take meetings on it for Off Broadway.

For fans interested in ordering a CD or original artwork, or just wanting to keep tabs on her career, please visit Ms. Gorney’s web site:

Interview with Donna Pescow

As a young man growing up in the 1970s, one of the seminal films for me was “Saturday Night Fever.” No, I didn’t have the big hair or platform shoes. And while, thanks to drama and dance classes, I could cut a rug I was certainly no Tony Manero! But one of my fondest memories of the film is Donna Pescow, who played Annette, the girl who really only wanted to be liked by the boy she loved. It was her vulnerability that kept the film grounded. “Are you a good girl or are you a c*nt,” Tony asks her early on in the film. “Can’t I be both,” she replies. After “Fever” Ms. Pescow landed the lead role in the Garry Marshall produced television comedy “Angie,” earning a Golden Globe nomination for her performance. For the next three decades she has appeared regularly in both films and on television, including long stints on “Out of This World” with Burt Reynolds and on Disney’s “Even Stevens,” a role which earned her three Daytime Emmy nominations. Ms. Pescow recently sat down with MovieMikes to talk about her career:

Mike Smith: You’ve appeared in several popular daytime dramas (“All My Children,” “General Hospital,” “One Life to Live”). Is there something about them that keeps you coming back?
Donna Pescow: “All My Children” was presented to me as being a six week guest star. They were going to bring in the first openly gay character, which was really a fabulous opportunity for me to be in a groundbreaking role like that. I knew a lot of the people on the show…a couple writers and producers and a couple of the actors…and it was really just a wonderful opportunity for me to be a part of something so groundbreaking. I loved being a part of it. They won a couple of awards for it and, I think, opened up a real arena of something that hadn’t been explored. It wasn’t a stereotypical fluffy, fuzzy piece it was something that I thought was beautifully handled. “General Hospital” was another one that went on for a couple of months. They wanted me to do a character that was kind of like a 1940s style comedy – like Roz Russell. A fun but bigger than life kind of character. So again it was something unusual for that style of show. They asked me to do that and again I thought it would be a nice opportunity to do something different and work with some good people.

MS: You had to audition for both “Saturday Night Fever’s” original director, John Alvidsen and later, John Badham. Was there any difference in your character of Annette in each director’s vision? Did they maybe perceive her differently from one another?
DP: I don’t think so. I remember that when I auditioned for both directors I had never seen a full script. I was just starting out so I received what they call “sides,” which are excerpts from the script that your character auditions for. So I think the character was the same. What I did was I improvised a lot to get the tone of the character. Both of them were still trying to find the voice of the character. I don’t know if they were different or not but I’m sure each of them had their own specific take they wanted the actor to bring with them. There was a couple of months gap between the directors so I don’t know if the script was rewritten or not.

MS: How did the television series “Angie” come about?
DP: I got a call from my agent saying that Garry Marshall wanted to meet with me about an idea he had for a show. I was thrilled to get to meet with Garry, who is one of the funniest people on the face of the earth. And he pitched the idea – I think it may have come from another show he had thought about doing but he had tweaked it a bit – of a modern day Cinderella girl from the poor side of the tracks marries the boy from the rich side of the tracks. Now Garry pitching a story is almost funnier then the show! He has such a hysterical personality…he acts out all of the characters…I would have signed up right then and there in his office.

MS: You participated in the “Battle of the Network Stars.” I remember one year it was almost a grudge match between Robert Conrad and Gabe Kaplan. Was the competition really as fierce and competitive as it was made out to be?
DP: It’s funny that you mentioned Robert Conrad. He was there the year I was doing it. I would guess that if I’d ever joined the military it would have been very similar. He was really serious and really scary! And I was very happy that he was NBC and I was ABC because even from a distance he scared me. People were really serious about this and I was terrified because even though I was a dancer I was not an athlete (laughs). And I was so worried that I was going to let my team down and, most importantly, make a complete and utter fool out of myself. Which of course I did. I had to run the obstacle course and I think Howard Cosell said it was one of the slowest runs in the history of the games. So maybe I should take solace in that I did break a record! (laughs). It was a lot of fun but people were tremendously talented in athleticism and I just did not shine there. (NOTE: for readers who never experienced watching the “Battle of the Network Stars,” click here if you want to see the Robert Conrad/Gabe Kaplan match up I mentioned. Notice that Conrad keeps puffing on his cigarette before the big race:

YouTube – Battle of the Network Stars – Conrad vs. Kaplan

MS: You co-starred with Burt Reynolds (a recent MovieMikes interviewee) in the series “Out of This World.” How did that role come about?
DP: I like that you said co-starred. In the show I spoke to him through a candy dish! Again it was one of those lovely moments where somebody calls and says they have a show they think I’d like. All of the pieces seemed to fit. It kind of reminded me of a show I used to like when I was a kid called “Bewitched.” I just thought it was kind of fun to do the magic and the special effects. I was actually surprised that it went on as long as it did. Not that I didn’t like it, it’s just that you never know. It’s one of those things that will either hit or not. And Burt was great. I would have liked to have had a scene with him! But we were never in the same room. He was recording in one studio and I was in another.

MS: You’ve directed several television episodes. Is directing something you’d like to pursue more?
DP: I love doing it. I got to do some when I was on “Even Stevens.” I also did “Harry and the Hendersons” awhile back and I love it. Pursuing a directing career is like pursuing an acting career. You really have to give it 100%. I think if I’m going to do it again I need to make that commitment and pursue it as strongly as I do acting. I’m sure that the next round I do I’ll definitely stick with it longer.

MS: Getting back to “Fever,” was there any talk of bringing Annette back in “Staying Alive?”
DP: Annette WAS in “Staying Alive.” The character was in the script for quite a while. In fact, there was a section filmed where he (Tony Manero) goes back to Brooklyn and sees several people. But the script changed and they ended up taking that section out. But I did shoot a tiny scene where I was in the audience with my husband – I guess she got married – and we were watching the Broadway show Tony was performing in. But we only shot a little bit of it because they kept rearranging the script. I was sorry to not be in it but I understood that it didn’t really work.

MS: A lot of people pan that film but I think it was amazing how Stallone envisioned the Broadway musical of the 1990s. Lots of flashing lights and explosions and rock and roll scores.
DP: He really had a vision. Both John and Sly really did a great job. They had a very specific thing they wanted to accomplish and they did it and they did it well. It’s really iffy how the public react to things at times. I think they should take a second look at the film and see if they enjoy it more.

MS: You appeared on both “NYPD Blue” and “The Sopranos,” both landmark television dramas. Did you feel you were working on something special when you were filming?
DP: Yes. “NYPD Blue” I was a fan of so going into something that you watch and you like is almost like a little gift because you know going in the quality of the work. So I had a sense that I was doing something that was above average. And the cast and crew were tremendously talented to work with so I had a great time. “The Sopranos”…I was such a “Sopranos” junkie that I could not get enough of that show. I was glued to it every week…I never missed it. When they asked me to do it I really had a hard time separating being a fan from being an actress. I was really sort of star-struck when I went on the set. I got to meet everyone and I had to keep telling myself over and over, “Donna, be a professional. You’re here to do an acting job not sit and gawk at all of the people you watch every Sunday night.” But I was so excited and so thrilled…it was the last episode. So it was really an extraordinary thing for me to be a part of it. It was really an amazing thing to be a part of that show. And you know, when you look back on your career you think you’ve done all of these things that have been personally rewarding. But then you look at “The Sopranos,” which was very much a groundbreaking show in television history, and you’re proud to have been a part of that.

MS: What are you working on now?
DP: There are a couple of things happening. Of course I never know which of them is going to pan out. I’m talking to someone now about possibly coming back to New York and doing some theater there, which I’m kind of excited about. So we shall see!

Interview with Genevieve Farrell

Genevieve Farrell started acting at the age of 7. She has appeared in such shows as the Emmy Award winning “Zoboomafoo” as well as “American Girl on the Home Front”. Genevieve left acting in her teens and recently graduated from USC film school. Genevieve took time out her busy schedule recently to speak with Movie Mikes about her previous work and some of her upcoming projects.

Adam Lawton: What made you decide to get into acting at such a young age?
Genevieve Farrell: I was really shy when I was younger so I started to take acting and dance classes in an effort to meet people and get over some of my shyness. I really excelled at them and from there I got myself an agent and then went on my first audition which was for a McDonald’s commercial. I acted quite a bit before deciding to take a break to attend high school.

AL: How did you become involved with “Zoboomafoo”?
GF: That show was filmed in Montreal as well as New York. The casting director for the show had cast me in a few other previous projects and brought me in for an audition. I remember going in for one of the auditions and I had to talk about a plant. This was very different from many of the other auditions I had gone to. I had always been interested in animals and things that were talked about on the show so I think that really helped.

AL: You were also in “An American Girl on the Home Front” which was produced by Julia Roberts. What was it like working on that film?
GF: That was an amazing experience! I was just so excited to be apart a film that was targeted for young girls and also to be a part of something that has such a huge following. I also really enjoyed the fact that the film is based on the book and that they encourage reading. It’s great that you can watch the American Girl movies and learn about different things as the movie progresses.

AL: Besides acting you also produce films and model. Do you prefer one more than the other?
GF: I really enjoy making films. I graduated from USC film school last year and during the four years that I was at school I got to write, direct and produce projects which was really great. Getting to have my hands in all the different areas of the film making process made me understand the importance of each aspect. I really am most excited about making films and being able to contribute in any way I can. I do love writing and acting as well but it’s really great getting to bring your own projects to life as a producer.

AL: Can you tell us about your project “The Perfect Gentleman”?
GF: “The Perfect Gentleman” is a short film I did set in the 1950’s. It kind of deals with issues of the period and is based around my characters engagement party. It was a very interesting role for me to play. The film was shot on 35mm which gives the film a real vintage look.

AL: Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects?
GF: I am currently in pre-production on a short titled “Angela’s Light” which is about a high school student who makes a rash decision to cheat on a math test. The film is really about when you are in high school and you’re very sheltered. At that age everything is a big deal. If you don’t do well on a test its going to ruin your life and you won’t get into a good college and such. So the film points out the pressures during these times. We look to start shooting in mid May. I play Angela in the film and it is being directed by Mu Sun who is an up and coming director that I went to film school with.

AL: Are you producing the film as well?
GF: Yes besides acting in the film I also am producing. I felt since it is my project and I am very passionate about it that it would have been a shame not to produce the film. I have a ton of excitement for the project and I really want to inspire people to work on the film.

Interview with Alfredo De Villa

Alfredo De Villa is the director of “Harlistas: An American Journey” which premiers on the Mundose network Friday, May 27th. Alfredo took time out of his busy schedule to talk with about the film as well as his upcoming film release “Fugly!” which stars John Leguizamo.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind “Harlistas: An American Journey”?
Alfredo De Villa: I am primarily a fiction film director and this idea really started during the shooting of my last movie in 2008. I was doing research for set designs by going to different people’s homes. During these trips, I really saw how people lived and I found it very interesting. This was where everything really started but I knew I would need another point of connection. I chose motorcycles because I found that when someone decides to start riding a motorcycle it can often times bring about a lot of consequences. As a filmmaker this brings drama. The way I got into Harley’s is because of the mystique that surrounds the brand. It’s a brand that is very American and I just thought this would be a fantastic addition to the film.

AL: Are you a rider yourself?
ADV: I was not. I was solely coming from the story telling point of view. However once I started to get into the motorcycle world I started riding to help get the sense of what it was that I was talking about.

AL: What do you think was the most exciting thing to happen on your journey of shooting?
ADV: For me I think I would have to say that when I started shooting often times the scenes would turn into something far richer than I had originally envisioned and I really enjoyed that. The other thing I liked was getting to go to so many iconic places across North America and meeting the people who are very in trenched in each of the places I visited.

AL: How long did the project take to put together from start to finish?
ADV: The project took two and a half years. I actually am still cutting a version of the film that is going to be shown in Cuba in the coming months.

AL: What were the primary difficulties you found from directing features compared to documentary?
ADV: There were a lot of obstacles that I had to overcome. I had to really learn how to allow reality to change the material. When you are shooting fiction you can dictate what happens when and where you need that specific thing to occur. In reality you can’t force things and you have to really just let things happen as the happen. This was really the biggest challenge. I also found that shooting a documentary strengthened my listening skills. The way people reveal themselves is through talking. It’s something you can’t force and you just have to let the person talk and unfold at their own pace.

AL: Can you tell us about your work on “Fugly!”?
ADV: I am currently still editing that project and it should be done next year sometime. “Fugly!” was a really interesting film to do after shooting the documentary. I actually was still editing the documentary when I started work on “Fugly!” I think both movies will kind of reflect on each other. “Fugly!” was written and based on John Leguizamo’s life. John wrote this script so there is a lot validity and autobiographical insight behind the script. It’s very comedic and it allows you to laugh at John. When I was shooting I kind of applied a half documentary and half fictional approach to the film. I applied everything I have learned thus far to that film. I think the film is going to be very fantastic.

AL: Can you tell how you became involved with the project?
ADV: I had worked with John previously on a film called “Nothing Like the Holidays”.  John had been developing the “Fugly!” script for quite a few years and because we had gotten along so well together on our previous film he asked me to join the party. Working with John was an incredible experience.

AL: Besides working with John you also worked with Radha Mitchell and Rosie Perez. Can you tell us what that was like?
ADV: You are talking about two amazing knock out actresses. Rosie is a force of nature and you just kind of drop a line where her character is and let her go! She brings just so much to the table. Radha is incredible and has a different approach than Rosie. Radha has a much more studied approach combined with great instinct and intelligence which really adds to the character. Rosie and Radha play opposites in the film and it’s just wonderful to see them in those roles.

AL: Can you tell us when the two projects will be released?
ADV: “Harlistas: An American Journey” will premier Friday May 27th on the Mundose channel. It will also be getting different premiers overtime within the NBC family. “Fugly!” won’t be released until next year and it will be receiving a theatrical release.

AL: Do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
ADV: I am working on a film right now called “Without You I’m Nothing” which I think is going to be really amazing and we hope to start shooting in September.

Interview with Scott Thompson

Scott Thompson is one of the members of the cult favorite comedy troupe “The Kids in the Hall”.  Scott is working on his graphic novel “Danny Husk” and his stand up tour. Movie Mikes took a chance to chat with Kevin about working with the troupe and the new mini-series “Death Comes to Town”.

Mike Gencarelli: Did you have a favorite character to portray with “Kids in the Hall”?
Scott Thompson: In “Death Comes to Town”, I think my favorite character was Dusty Diamond, the coroner. I think it was the funniest thing that I did in the show. “Kids in the Hall” the original series, I can’t really say.  I mean I liked doing all of them. It also depended upon what I was feeling at the time. I did Buddy Cole the most, but I wouldn’t say that it was always my favorite. I really don’t pick favorites. I liked Dusty because it was the easiest for me to do. I didn’t have to wear and makeup or anything, he was just the way I was and that was really cool.

MG: How was it returning to TV with “Death Comes to Town”?
ST: It was wonderful. I have been waiting for this for a long time. It was difficult though because I had cancer. It was a great distraction and kept me going and I am very grateful for it. I knew I had to survive because I had a comeback to do [laughs]. It was incredibly rough for me but it would have been rougher to not have the show. When I was going for my chemotherapy, I told my doctors I am doing this and that is all there is to it. So when I did “Death Comes to Town”, it was like a reward for all the agony. When it finished I went right back into the hospital. But for nine weeks, I had this amazing experience between my treatment, where all I had to think about is being funny between action and cut.

MG: Why did you guys decide to do a mini-series and not a full series?
ST: I don’t think we wanted to do another sketch series because there is no way we could top what we did before. It has to be different. When Bruce (McCulloch) came to us with this idea we jumped on it, because it was different. If we did a sketch series, all people would have done is compare us, “Oh look at them they are old” and even though they still say that only we aged. Our fans are not aging. The one thing I learned from this series is don’t read your comments. It will only lead to pain [laughs]. Within two pages or actually within six comments you will read the word “fat” and “faggot” [laughs]. I don’t need to hear those words. But it allowed us to do what we did and that is to play wonderful characters and do something different as well. Also with “Death”, we were able to tell a long story. With “Brain Candy”, we only had like 90 minutes to tell that big story, but with this we almost had four hours. It was exactly what we needed.

MG: Tell us about your experience with “Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy”?
ST: It was terrible experience but it is well in the past. It has been 15 years now. Art is not easy. We are very dedicated to what we do. I would never want to go through an experience like that again. Even though the new series I was sick, it still easier than doing “Brain Candy” [laughs].

MG: How do you compare the group from the early days to today, any changes in the creative process?
ST: Yeah, since with the new series it was completely different for us. We never had one person in charge before and Bruce was our leader. If we didn’t do that we would have never got anything done. That was big change. The story itself was created by Bruce, Kevin and myself and Dave and Mark came in later. That was different. But other than that once we are all together, it was exactly the same. The only other difference was, I was lying on a cot and slept a lot.

MG: What is the hardest part for you when creating a character?
ST: The beginning I guess is the hardest. The voice is always a challenge. Once you have the voice then you are launched. Then you focus on the way the person moves. For me usually the voice is definitely first. It takes years sometimes. Dusty Diamond took years to be born. I went through lots of incarnations of characters that were similar to that. It was only until I lost all my hair that Dusty was really born. The hardest part about Dusty was having cancer, that was the worst and most difficult part [laughs].

MG: Tell us about the new development for your character “Danny Husk” and its comic book?
ST: I started writing this over ten years ago as a screenplay. I was trying to write myself out of the box I was put in, which was I was only able to play gay characters. I thought in order for people to see me differently I had to write a vehicle to show people I can play everybody. Even though, I felt that “Kids in the Hall” had done that, it didn’t seem to matter. I decided I would write “Danny Husk” and firstly throw everything at him and try to destroy him and have him survive. That was my thinking and  Danny as a very strong survivor. He may not be the most exciting or brilliant human being but he never gives up. I also thought I wanted to write something that no one will ever turn into a movie. I wanted to write to a script that would appeal to the ten year old boy in me. I wanted to write something that a ten year old boy shouldn’t read but would read anyway. I wanted this book to be something that if you parents found, they would go “Oh that looks like a nice adventure” and they opened it and said “What the heck is going on here”. That is what I wanted. I spent years trying to get it made but it was just too big of a movie. So I figured then I would turn it in a graphic novel a few years ago and it was wonderful. As long as the story gets out it doesn’t matter to me what the medium is.

MG: Any plans for future books in that series?
ST: I am writing the second part of the book. It will hopefully be a trilogy and be three stories in that adventure.

MG: Are we going to see any more tours planned for the group?
ST: I don’t know if we do as a group honestly. But I do. I love would to do something as a group but it doesn’t seem to be in the cards. I do not think “Death Comes to Town” was that much of a hit. I think that as we got older we have become more culty. As most people get older they become more mainstream but it doesn’t seem like we did. I look at the series and ask myself “When are we going to mellow”. Maybe never. I still am very proud of what we did and I wouldn’t change anything in that series. I am trying to do a stand up tour by myself. I am also going to a lot of conventions for the book.

Interview with Kevin McDonald

Kevin McDonald is one of the members of the cult favorite comedy troupe “The Kids in the Hall”.  Kevin is by far the most energetic member of the members.  Movie Mikes took a chance to chat with Kevin about working with the troupe and the new mini-series “Death Comes to Town”.

Mike Gencarelli: Did you have a favorite character that you played in the original “The Kids in the Hall”?
Kevin McDonald: During the sketch show, my favorite character would be the King of Empty Promises. I only did it twice during the series because we never did the same characters a lot…besides the head crusher and the chicken lady. We never did the photocopier guy every Saturday. King of Empty Promises is the guy that promises things and says “Will do” and “Slipped my mind”. I am sort of like that, “Yeah you want that…Yeah I’ll get that for you”. I always forget and never do anything. My writing partner in the show Norm (Hiscock) said you have that evil trait and he said that it should be a sketch. So we wrote it up. Instead of me playing myself again, we decided I would do it like Paul Bellini, Scott (Thompson)’s writing partner. I am lousy at doing impressions but me doing Bellini’s impression is what became of the character in ‘Empty Promises’ sketch.

MG: “Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy” was one of my favorites of the 90’s, are you a fan?
KM: I am a fan of it. I am a little disappointed with the end with came up with. We tried hard and actually had a original ending that we shot but it didn’t seem to work with audiences. It probably would have been the right way to go but not in the terms of audiences. Once we got a little more money, we re-shot the ending as a little more mainstream and it would have been better but then took away half the money. So instead of it being eight scenes, it was four scenes and some of the details were lost. Monty Python is so smart. With their first movie it was a gag fest and an excuse for sketches in the “Holy Grail”. I guess we were ambitious, good for us, we jumped right into a real movie. It probably would have taken us two or three movies to get it right. Also learning to write together in the same room is hard. We have been writing sketches like two or three at a time and all six of us were in this board room writing and it was really hard.

MG: Would you consider that the bad time for the group?
KM: The group has had a series of downfalls and up falls [laughs], like any group of creative people. There is always creative differences and arguments. When it works it makes the work better and when it doesn’t work it cripples the works for a bit. When we were a club act before our TV show, we had an argument about what kind of comedy we should do and that was resolve by just doing it over and over. During the TV show, three of us did not like the producer in charge and two of us like him. That was horrible fight we always forget about. “Brain Candy” arguments are more in our mind now but that was a really horrible one which almost split up the group. What saved us originally is that we were canceled after the first season but luckily they changed their mind and then we ended up firing the producer. But “Brain Candy” was just hard for so many reasons Dave (Foley) was becoming a TV star with “Newsradio”. Scott and I had deaths in our family. It was so ambitious…not like “Ben Hur” or “Avatar”…but it was ambitious in the way we were trying to tell a story. I think the story took over the comedy and that divided the group. Dave actually quit right before we started shooting “Brain Candy” and then was still forced to do the movie since he already signed the contract. That part was horribly tense, especially because him and I are like best friends. The movie didn’t do well but in the meantime our show was showing on repeats and that is where we really got our audience. We stopped filming the show in 1995 but from 1996-2000, Comedy Central was repeating our show to death. We were talking in a reunion tour and that is why the troupe is still a troupe. I don’t think we will every split up until the first one of dies and my money is on Dave [laughs].

MG: Tell us about the groups return to TV with “The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town”?
KM: Before that we had the 2008 tour, which was a unique tour from our other tours since it was new material. Between 2006 and 2008, we did some shows at the Steve Allen Theater and we worked out some pretty good material. It was really exciting for us not doing the greatest hits like we had, but to do all new stuff. Led by Bruce (McCulloch), he had an idea for a movie called “Death Comes to Town”. I worked on it with him during the tour. It was so exciting that the new material was going over so well and we wanted to keep writing new stuff. We thought if we got a new TV show our tour, we will sell out every night. It sort of grew and grew and became a mini-series. We always thought mini-series, we never wanted to do a lot of seasons. The writing process was different again with Bruce in charge and I helped out with the writing, instead of all five of us. Then we all met up a couple of times in Toronto with the other three. I think the good thing about that we that we got it done quickly and easily. The bad thing was that I think we missed a lot of the troupes flavor.

MG: What else do you have planned for the future? Any more tours?
KM: The group is trying to get another tour together but it is really hard. We started planning for the Spring, now that isn’t going to happen. So maybe in the Fall now. Like the past year, I am just concentrated on coming to Winnipeg and become a good boyfriend and father figure to my girlfriends two children. But I am writing another pilot with now, which I was hired to write called “Homeland Insecurity”. I just did a TV show, which is 4-minute episode which will be online with plans for a 30 minute format later this year, it is called “Papillon”. It has nothing to do with the Steve McQueen movie but that is what it is called.

Interview with Tracey Walter

Tracey Walter is one of the great character actors of our time. He has been in filming ranging from 1989’s “Batman” to “Conan the Destroyer” to last year remake of “I Spit on Your Grave”. He is has worked with some amazing actors such as Danny DeVito, Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steve McQueen. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Tracey about his films and what he is working on currently.

Mike Gencarelli: How was it working on the remake of “I Spit on Your Grave”?
Tracey Walter: One of the unique things about the film was…although auditions are nice the drawback with auditions is that you might not get the part…what’s better is when they call your agent and say “I want to offer Tracey the part,” which they did. When I first got involved with the film it was called “Day of the Woman.” I was not familiar with the original “I Spit on Your Grave” movie. But I got a call from my agent who said “they’ve offered you a role in this film and they’ll be sending over a script tonight.” That happens all of the time in the movie business. Not just to a “Tracey Walter” – type actor but even to a “Brad Pitt” – type. I just finished a movie…a beautiful movie called “Savannah.” That happens to actors like Jim Caviezel. You’ll get a call and they want to start shooting tomorrow….I’m going to answer your question, I promise (laughs). And that also happens on “A” type films. On “I Spit on Your Grave” I got a call. They wanted to know if I was interested in playing the role. It was really the only character, other than the sheriff’s wife, that was not a really brutal and sadistic character. In fact what lead to his death was his concern for the woman. He calls the sheriff and the sheriff come by, takes him out to the woods with a bottle of whiskey and then blows his brains out. My character was the only decent character in the picture. I’ve been acting for 40 years and I always think I’ve seen it all. But this film was a new one because not only had I not met the director prior to filming, I didn’t even know his name when I showed up on the set (NOTE: his name is Steven Monroe). That was unique. The actors in that picture were really talented and it’s always interesting to work with actors who are not big names. You haven’t seen them before and it makes you realize how many good actors there are out there. If you saw the movie you know what Sarah Butler went through on that movie. No complaints. Same with the actor who played the Sheriff (Andrew Howard). I thought “he’s got a great southern accent.” At the end of the day we finish work, get in the car and drive to the hotel. And I realize he’s English! He pulled off a “Hugh Laurie” to some extent! Whether it’s a film or a TV show, how I get hired has a slight influence on my taking the job. Did they make it a three act play? Was there someone else they wanted to hire? Or, as in this case, did they call and make an offer? They were very respectful. With the conditions while filming and being with the other actors it became really a great experience. And I hope that set experience
does good things for Steve Monroe’s career.

MG: Are you generally a fan of the horror genre?
TW: Not only am I a fan but…Danny DeVito has for the past two years had a web site where he does tributes. The name of the website is And he has created really bloody and over the top tributes to the horror genre’. I did a couple of them. They’re about four minutes long and usually shoot in one day. One had me as a psychiatrist married to Carol Kane. She decides I’m no longer listening to her so she decides to shave my ears off! A real bloody mess. Another one I did I played a doctor who gets revenge on another doctor who has done some botched abortions in the past. That’s also bloody as you can imagine. We just finished another one. DeVito directs them. I haven’t done a lot of horror. I did do some episodes of “Freddie’s Nightmares.” But I love the genre.

MG: How did you get involved with the TV series “Monsters?”
TW: There’s really not a big story behind that. They made the traditional call to the agent and they offered me a part. I’ve still got a great 8×10 photo of me transforming into the monster.

MG: How long did the make up process take for that part?
TW: About two hours.

MG: What was it like to work with Jack Nicholson on 1989’s “Batman”?
TW: I met Jack in the summer of 1977. He directed and starred in a movie called “Goin’ South.” He played a character named Henry Moon and I was a part of the ex-Moon gang. He get’s sentenced to marry Mary Steenbergen and we (the ex-gang) try to get him to come back to the old ways. So I’ve known Jack since 1977. It was great shooting “Batman.” We shot in London. I’ve done two films in London. “Batman” and another one that was based on a book by Larry McMurtry called “Buffalo Girls” with Angelica Huston and Jack Palance. Jack (Palance) also worked on “Batman” but we didn’t have any scenes together. And we also appeared in “Cyborg 2,” though again we had no scenes. I’ve worked with Jack on four pictures, the fourth one being “City Slickers.” He played the sandpaper-faced cowboy and I was “Cookie,” the authentic western cook. The “Batman” experience, on a scale of 1-10 was about a 12! Tim Burton was fantastic to work for. I haven’t worked with him since but I’m surely not ruling it out (laughs). The entire film was a great experience for me. They even made an action figure of me. I’ve really been blessed. As humbly as I can put it, I’ve really been blessed with terrific success in films.

MG: Tell us about working with Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Conan the Destroyer”?
TW: That was an incident where I replaced another actor to play Malak. It was the classic call. My agent called me and asked “can you be on a plane to Mexico TONIGHT?” I was single at the time…no dogs or cats…so I was able to pack a duffle bag, get in the car they sent for me and head to Mexico. That’s how it happens some times. You can imagine how great it was working with Schwarzenegger. We’ve remained friends since. That’s the kind of genre’ that an actor likes to try at least once. Plus I’m a big basketball fan and Wilt Chamberlain, who was in the film, loved to talk. He wasn’t the type of guy who, because he was a basketball star and basketball was his big claim to fame, didn’t want to talk about it. I was reading a book called “Giant Steps” by Kareem Abdul Jabbar and I showed Wilt some photos that he was in. He could tell me, just from looking at the photos, what was happening…where the game had taken place. You know, even with the Internet, there are places that stars can go and not be recognized. Even Schwarzenegger…there are probably places in the world where no one would know who he is. But there was no where on the face of the earth where you could go and not have Wilt Chamberlain turn heads. He was just your average 7’2 millionaire that lived next door! It was a dream come
true for me to do that picture.

MG: Which projects really stick out as most challenging among the ones that you have worked on to date?
TW: Again, humbly, there have been many. “Batman” and “Goin’ South” with Jack Nicholson….”The Two Jakes,” which was a sequel to “Chinatown” that Nicholson directed. “Erin Brockovich” was another great film. Steven Soderberg is another great director. Edward Lachman (the film’s cinematographer) made me look good in that one. Another favorite is a western television series I did called “Best of the West.” I was in “At Close Range” with Sean Penn, Christopher Walken and a talented group of character actors. It’s hard to say what’s challenging. A smart man once said “if you like what you do you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Again, I’ve been very blessed. This last project I was involved in…”Savannah” with Jim Caviezel…has a wonderful director named Annette Haywood-Carter. She did a real rarity. When I got hired she called me at home to say “welcome aboard.” That’s beyond nice! Directors don’t usually call Tracey Walter – like character actors who appear in the middle of the film. When someone does that you’re ready to not only jump through hoops for them but make a complete fool of yourself. Another film that was a treat to work on was “Raggedy Man” with Sissy Spacek. I also appeared with Steve McQueen in his last film, “The Hunter.” Steve Monroe is a huge fan of McQueen so when I showed up for work that was the first thing he wanted to talk about. “How was he?” “Did he look good?” He died right after making the film but he looked fantastic. I was shocked that he passed away so quickly.

MG: Besides “Savannah,” what other projects do you have coming up?
TW: I just did something with director William Dear. I started working with him in 1981 on the movie “Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann.” It was a sci-fi western. We filmed in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We’ve worked together several times since then. He just took over a picture called “Love Obama: The Election of Barack Obama.” It’s a humorous look at the campaign…especially campaign headquarters. I play an aging hippie…it’s really a dream come true.

Interview with Ed Asner

Ed Asner is a legend in Hollywood.  Whether it is TV or film, Ed has done it all and is still doing it all.  He is known best for his role in “Mary Tyler Moore” and its spin-off “Lou Grant”.  Ed also worked the character of Carl in Disney/Pixar’s “Up” and played Santa Clause in 2003’s “Elf”.  Ed recently just completed working on CMT’s TV series “Working Class” as well an HBO film “Too Big to Fail”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Ed about his career and working on some of his well known projects.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about working on the film “Too Big to Fail” as Warren Buffett and working with such a great cast?
Ed Asner: Well it was a great cast but unfortunately every goddamn thing I did was on the phone [laughs].  All I heard was disembodied voices…probably our assistant director.  It was an honor to play Buffet, I have admired him and he didn’t screw up in this film either.

MG: Tell us about working on the TV series “Working Class”, was that a fun project?
EA: It was a very fun project.  It was big work load and I will give you an example why.  We did one episode of “Mary Tyler Moore” in five days and it was a relaxed country club.   We had to do TWO shows on “Working Class” in five days, so the work schedule was tough. But everybody involved was a gem of a person, producers, writers, and fellow actors.  I was surprise we were as good as we were.

MG: Can we expect more Hank Greziak in season two of “Working Class”??
EA: No, we won’t. CMT has given us the hook.  There has been some attempt to interest other networks but that rarely works. It is a loss to me that I will not be able to do more work with Patrick Fabian, Melissa Peterman and Steve Kazee.  They were wonderful to work with.

MG: If you had to pick a favorite between your award winning TV shows: “Mary Tyler Moore” or “Lou Grant” which would it be and why?
EA: You can’t do that to me.  Bigger people than you have asked me that and I have refused them [laughing].  “Mary Tyler Moore” was nothing but sheer delight. Getting the laughs and getting the points across was nothing but great pleasure. With “Lou Grant”, we knew we were the first show to ever show a newspapers as it approached being a newspaper.  We presented situations and problems that no one else in America was presenting.  We were presenting both sides of it and never the bad side winning of course. It is apples and oranges, you just can’t compare them. It was a lot more fun doing “Mary Tyler Moore”. “Lou Grant” was a grind but all hour shows are a grind. I was saved in many respects that I was chained because that goddamn desk.  Billie and Rossi had to go around covering stories.  When it had to do with stories in the newsroom that is where I came to shine.  It was more fun to do “Mary” but the honor was great if not greater to do “Lou”.

MG: You have won 7 Emmys, more than any other male performer and also only person to ever win Emmys for same character on two different shows, how does it feel to hold these records?
EA: It is insane.  I do not think you will find anyone capturing it again, in terms of winning it both ways.  The conversion of Lou from half hour to hour was a nightmare.  It was horrible.  Nobody did it before and no one has done it since.  It is two different worlds.  It is the dark and the light side of the moon for God’s sakes. You are doing a half an hour with three cameras and an audience that laughs every time you burp.  Then you switch over to an hour where you can’t hear any laughter and it breaks the wall of reality.  It is single camera.  For instance I was in therapy at the time and my shrink asked me, “Why do you grimace so much?” and I said “Oh”.  I realized we were a dramedy, but I felt that in places where I thought people should laugh, I would do the goddamn grimace to service a key to let go at home.  It was stupid and unnecessary.  If they are going to laugh they will laugh and they don’t need any cues from me.  But I was so nervous that I would do that.  When we were brought back for the second year, you may call it psychological but I was shaving with a two edge razor blade at the time.  I left it out to dry out and I was racing to go to work for the first day.  I raced into bathroom, late as usual, picked up the razor, brought it to my side burn and pulled down and sliced open my cheek.  I ran to St. Joseph’s Hospital and luckily for a plastic surgeon, he put in 20 smaller stitches and I worked that afternoon.  I figured I must have been doing that trying to avoid the frustration of the hour show.

MG: You have been known to do a lot of voice work on over 20 projects, do you enjoy voice work?
EA: Oh I love it.  I get carried away like doing any other job.  My God, what “Up” did for my career…I just love it.

MG: Looking back on playing your character Carl from Disney/Pixar’s “Up”, did you enjoy that experience?
EA: It was lovely.  [laughing] I actually had an accident working on that film too though.  I believe it was the sixth session, there was a rise level by the sound room and I was marching back to the mic room.  Well, I tripped on it and went crashing into a shield covered corner of the wall.  I opened behind my ear as my head hit the wall.  It took six staples to close it.  Well, I still went on to work and did the days work anyway [laughs]. Nothing stops me.

MG: You have been successful in both TV & movies; do you prefer one over the other?
EA: I think TV is a medium that is just as great if not greater than film, expect you have to do it faster and you don’t get the spoiled treatment.  I have done a slew of low budget films where conditions are certainly no better than TV.  TV you are on an express train and there can be no feet dragging.  For anybody to put movie actors over TV actors…are full of crap.

MG: You have played Santa Claus more than a few times most recently in 2003’s “Elf”, did you enjoy playing St. Nick”?
EA: I think that Jon Favreau created the definitive Santa Clause in “Elf”.  I love playing him in that film and I would love to do it again.

MG: What else do you have planned for the future? Any upcoming projects you want to talk about?
EA: I have been working on a film about the Spanish Civil War.  We almost had it financed but it just ran into issues, so we will see about that one.  It is a great film and Ed Harris is going to be in it.  I am suppose to do a film in Alaska, which I have high hopes for and we will be shooting that in October.  There is another film that I am waiting to hear back on which I will be playing a chairman of the commission that re-hears the 9-11 tragedy. So let’s hope.

Interview with Michael Gladis

Michael Gladis is known for his role as the Chief on Adult Swim’s “Eagleheart”.  The show was a hit in season one and already got renewed for a second season.  Movie mikes had a chance to chat with Michael about his role and his upcoming projects.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got involved with “Eagleheart”?
Michael Gladis: I was given the appointment for the audition and turned it down at first because the character description was for an “Orson Welles type in his late 50′-60’s”. Now, I’m an Orson Welles type, but definitely can’t play that old. My agent told me that the producers were really excited about talking to me about it, and urged me to meet with them, so I did- very last minute. The “meeting” turned into a sort of impromptu test- with the room filling up with not only the writers and directors but also other brass from the production company/producer types, etc. So I read the scenes, totally cold, and they laughed, which was nice- but we only talked a little bit about how this dude was supposed to be older, and in a position of authority, and how I was a baby-faced early 30’s actor. So, a couple days later I get the offer for the role- which was awesome, but I still didn’t buy me as Chief- I still felt like I was WAY too young for the role. So I asked for another meeting with the writers/producers, and this time we really got to talk. They’re all great guys- really down to earth and friendly and funny- and that’s where I pitched the idea of the prosthetics and fat suit- I figured, if we were going to send up Welles, let’s really do what he would have done- age me like he aged himself in Citizen Kane- which thankfully they were happy to indulge. So I took the role.

MG: How did you come up with your character of the Chief? Did you base him off anyone?
MG: Well, obviously a lot of the foundation for Chief is Orson Welles. Both in writing and appearance. Visually we were going after a “Touch of Evil” Welles, and I think we did a great job. In terms of performance, though, Chief kind of took on a life/character of his own, and deviated from an Orson Welles impression to become something else entirely- he’s a character I really, really enjoyed playing.

MG: Tell us about the makeup process for the character?
MG: 2 1/2 to 3 hours sitting in a chair watching a make-up artist reproduce a sculpture on your face with prosthetics glue, 17 different colors of paint applied with brushes, sponges, and an airbrush gun- just so we can tear it all off and throw it out at the end of the day. I have a very simple mind, so I’m always fascinated by the process, and I have such a respect for the make-up artists that do the work. It’s also turned into a way to get into character. I sit down as Michael, and get out of the chair as Chief.

MG: Are you shocked that “Eagleheart” is already greenlit for a second season?
MG: “Shocked” isn’t the word I’d use. “Elated” is a good word for it. I’ve only received really positive feedback so far- even my parents and their friends think it’s funny- which is a far cry from our intended demographic of college students ripping bong hits every time a gun is fired on-screen (if that’s not a game that’s played to our show in every university across this great land, it should be)- and I don’t think my parents or their friends are ripping any bong hits, so if they think it’s funny, the show should definitely be renewed.

MG: Do you think we will be seeing more of the Chief?
MG: I truly hope so.

MG: Do you have preference working in comedy or drama TV series?
MG: I love working in both- as long as they’re good. I was totally sold on doing Eagleheart when I heard that Chris Eliot was on board. I’ve been a fan of his since I was a kid, and working with him is so much fun. He’s amazing, as are Brett Gelman and Maria Thayer- they’re all so funny and such wonderful people, going work is really a joy- we laugh a lot.

MG: Tell us about working with Clint Eastwood on “J. Edgar”?
MG: Well, my role is a very small one- blink and you’ll miss it- but I’d be an extra in a Clint Eastwood movie. He’s really one of my Hollywood heroes. So I jumped at the chance to do it. I was warned that Clint moves very, very fast, and that I’d only get one or two takes- and that I’d probably only be on set for 45 minutes if I only had one line. I did, indeed, only get a couple takes, which was fine, but because I was playing the owner of the club where the day’s scenes took place, I actually had to hang out for about 9 hours to be in the background (see? be careful what you wish for)- but that turned out to be great, because I got to watch Clint work all day.

MG: Tell us about working with Joe Lynch on his new film, “Knights of Badassdom”?
MG: Joe’s awesome. Such a nice guy. Very positive- very supportive- and I think “Knights of Badassdom” is gonna be a kick-ass film. I can’t wait to see it.

Interview with Fred Sayeg

Fred Sayeg is the director of the new independent film “The Encore of Tony Duran”. The film is Fred’s feature film directorial debut and was an official selection at the 2011 Palm Springs International Film Festival. “The Encore of Tony Duran” stars Elliot Gould, Cody Kasch and Gene Pietragallo. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Fred about working on his first film and what is to come upcoming.

Mike Gencarelli: With the film “The Encore of Tony Duran” being your feature directorial debut, do you feel that you were able to add your unique experience and talent to the film?
Fred Sayeg: Yeah absolutely.  In fact that was the only reason I did it because I knew we had very little money and time.  I felt that I could do it, if I could do it my way…the way I envisioned it and without any outside interference.  Not from any ego standpoint, I just knew you do not have a lot of time to bicker and things can’t go all the way to jury with a little movie like this. I felt from the very beginning I knew that I could get it done well.  I was able to rely on myself for the decisions and I do not have any regrets. I feel very fortunate now [laughs], I wish I could make every movie I do like this.

MG: How did you originally become attached to the project?
FS: A guy I work with on my corporate films, Mitchell Cohen, wrote it based on an idea by our co-producer Terry Fraser. It was a semi-biographical piece about Gene Pietragallo, who we call Tony Duran. I would say that about 40-50% of it is true.  So when he told me about it and what they were trying to do and how they had a director but he fell out, the wheels started turning in my head.  I thought it was doable because the way it was designed.  I went over the script with Mitchell and reworked some stuff. I thought we can actually make this happen.  I felt so strongly that I said I would even help raise the funds and I did in a short time.  It sort of went rapid fire from that point on.  It felt like only a few short weeks from when I started to when it was finished.

MG: The film was shot in just 8 days, was that a grueling schedule?
FS: It was about 9 days [laughs], not that big of a difference. There was a day when I almost did 19 pages in one day.  It was a lot and I wouldn’t recommended it but it was simply this is what we had to do.  You can’t fall in love with a lot of scenes that you would like to cover a few times.  We had to say this is what it is and if we have it covered, then we would move on.  I trust my DP a lot that he got the shots.  We knew that later we might have some problems but mainly we got what we needed.  I needed to make sure we got continuity and luckily we did not run into problems.  There were a couple of things I wish I had more time for but I am sure that happens with everything.  We were lucky to finish in the time we did.

MG: How was it working with such a great cast such as Elliot Gould and William Katt?
FS: Elliot is such a professional.  He walks in the set and everyone stands a little straighter.  He has been around and he knows it all and heard it all.  He knows his lines and he is a professional and he expects everyone else to know their stuff. I had people with a lot of experience and I had people with little experience.  You can’t do a film in this amount of time with people who do not know what they are doing.  You can get the greatest director and crew in the world and it doesn’t really matter.  They guys did such a great job and they are the main reason that we got it done.  It was a great little ensemble we had.

MG: How do you feel about the buzz surrounding “The Encore of Tony Duran”?
FS: Yeah, it is very fun.  You look at each other on set and you don’t really know what you have. We all knew in our hearts that we have this little film with this big message. I think that might be the reason Mike that this resonates. We are in a time when America has some economic problems, everyone has a little Tony Duran in them.  They know somebody that has hit the bottom and thinks they cant get any lower and find maybe they can get out of this.  This is a redemption film but it is a real world redemption film that people can relate to. Tony is not a big ball player, he is just a guy.  He hits bottom and loses everything and thinks it is over.  His old friend Elliot says maybe says “You know what it is really not” and sometimes that is all it takes.

MG: You also started your own production company, tell us about that?
FS: One More Time Productions was formed just for this movie.  Then I also formed Mister Moon Media and will do other films like this under that with similar messages like in this film.

Interview with Kevin Tancharoen

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images North America

Kevin Tancharoen is the mastermind behind the short “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth” and its follow-up web series “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”.  Kevin has rebooted the “MK” franchise and has excited the fans with his amazing vision for the web series.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Kevin about his web series and also his plans for the future.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you come up with the idea for “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth”?
Kevin Tancharoen: There were two sides of it. The first was I always wanted to make a “Mortal Kombat” movie.  The other side was I had only been known for doing things in the performing arts world.  I always and always will want to do genre films.  Ever since I was a kid that was always the goal.  I got thrust into the world of performing arts, staging directing and that sort of stuff. I thought I needed to prove to people that I can handle that kind of material or know one will ever give me those opportunities.  I saw “Mortal Kombat” as a double sided adventure there.   I could either get the movie made or become known as the genre guy.

MG: What gave you the idea to make “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” in a web series?
KT: It was never planned.  I had no idea anyone wanted to do such a thing.  Of course the original intention was to do a movie, which I would still love to do.  After the short film came out, it was perfect time for E3 and they were going to release the trailer for the new “Mortal Kombat”.  They had known the video game was coming out and my short film got a lot of traffic online.  They decided to make more short films to promote the game launch, do them all live action and I was totally on board with that.

What was your process for choosing what characters where going to be in the series?
KT: Looking at the broad scope of the project and its budget and other stuff.  I wanted to take all of the characters that made sense and we easy to accomplish with our goal.  Also I wanted to make sure I took care of the most iconic characters in the game franchise.  That is why I chose everyone I did.

MG: Do you have a favorite character
KT: I have a few one I love but Scorpion has always been my favorite.  One of the characters I did not get to do was Kabal. I love Kabal and I think he has a really cool back story.  I really like his whole mask and the fact he was burned and has a respirator.  There is a lot of influence there from the either Tusken raiders or Darth Vadar. It is all pretty cool.  I wish we were able to do that episode. Maybe next time.

MG: Since each character has only one or two episodes, do you feel you are still able to give their stories justice in 10-12 minutes?
KT: I think that for the origin type of stories, it is working.  But I think that any director likes more time to flesh out a character or do more fight scenes or have more action battles. I think for the most part that this 10-12 minute mark was good for this first round.

MG: What is your biggest challenge working on “MK: Legacy”?
KT: I think it always comes down to budget, which ends up affecting time.  It ends up affecting your schedule and how much time you have to shoot fight sequence or having enough time to shoot a good dialogue scene.  It also affects the way you want to complete an entire episode the way you completely planned it out. There are always some alterations you have to make and balance you have to define when dealing with budget for a digital series. That is always challenging and possibly frustrating, but at the end of the day you have to tell the story in the right way.  I say that would be the biggest challenge is you have to act really quick on your feet and make changes when you have to.

MG: How can you reflect on the censoring of the episodes?
KT: That through me completely of guard.  I did not anticipate that at all because there are much worse things on YouTube.  What I think ended up happening is that we ended up becoming so popular that parents started watching it. An enormous amount of parents probably started to flag it and they acted like they are suppose to.  That kind of trickled down to us and all of the sudden we had an age gate up on our second episode out of nowhere.  That was quite the morning, I was frantic.  I mean it is “Mortal Kombat”, you can’t censor it.

MG: Do you have plans for a second season of the series?
KT: Right now it is all speculation.  I think everyone wants to see how it does. Our last episode “Raiden” is a different take on “Mortal Kombat”, it is more in vain of the original short I did with “Rebirth”.  Fans of the original short will hopefully really catch on to that episode and support the rest of the series.

MG: What can the fans to do help this get made into a feature film?
KT: Well they can just really pump up the series as much as possible.  We kind of ran the gamut when it comes to telling the stories this time around.  You can see that it kind of spans from gray realism to fantasy world and anime.  I would say if they could pass around the version that they like the absolutely best.  Whether it is the realistic stuff or the fantasy stuff and what would be the best thing to do.

Interview with Jeri Ryan

Jeri Ryan is know best for her role in “Star Trek: Voyager”. Jeri played the character Sonya Blade in the short “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth” and the web series “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”. She is also playing Kate Murphy Philadelphia’s first female Chief Medical Examiner in the hit TV series “Body of Proof”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Jeri about her new roles as well as her work on “Voyager”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about working on your new show “Body of Proof”?
Jeri Ryan: It has been a lot of fun. The cast is really great. Dana (Delany), of course is such an amazing actress but she is also really cool. She is kind of a broad [laughs], so we have a good time laughing. It is just a fun set. You get some goofy things happening on the set also because you are working with supposedly dead bodies played by actors. So, we had a body fall asleep in the middle of a scene [laughs]. It has just been a lot of fun. Also I am really excited to hear that “Body of Proof” already got picked up for a second season. So I am looking forward to that.

MG: What do you like most about your character Kate Murphy?
JR: What I like about her is that she is tough character. She is the first female Chief Medical Examiner in Philadelphia’s History. She care about what happens in her work and also the victims in the families and what they are dealing with. But also the people that work for her. I like that we are peeling back different parts of her personality as we go.  We are finding out new things like she is a Texas Holdem player [laughs]. There is a lot more to her and that is what I like.

MG: How did you get involved with “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth”, playing Sonya Blade?
JR: “Rebirth”, I did as a favor to friend of a friend. Kevin (Tancharoen), the director, is the boyfriend of a friend of mine. We knew he was putting together a project to show Warner Bros. his vision and to sell them on doing a new “Mortal Kombat” project. So we all volunteered our time. I didn’t know him very well before, I knew he did “Fame” and I knew he has a lot of choreography in his background. When you meet him, he is the sweetest, quietest and nicest guy and looks like he is about 14. So at first, I did not expect the project to be anything special. When it came out it was just amazing…amazing! His vision is incredible. He is a really talented director. When they approached me that they were doing a web series, I jumped at it. Again, it is a web series, it is not like they are backing up the money truck for anyone on this. Everyone is doing this because it is so cool and his vision is so amazing. We are all very excited about working on it.

MG: You also appear in “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”, tell us what is it was like playing that character and working on that series?
JR: She is a real kick ass broad, right? It is great to get to play that kind of character. The one downside of doing a web series, compared to a feature or TV series, is the lead time to get ready for it. I think I had a grand total of four maybe five days from finding out the project was happening to being on a plane to Vancouver and shooting the next day. It was literally that fast. There was no time to train and do fight training and things like that. Hopefully it will go further and we will get a second season or something else. Now I am on to them though and I know I need to start training on my own [laughs].

MG: How does it differ between working on web series like “MK: Legacy” to series like “Body of Proof”?
JR: It was really all about prep time. Even though you are doing a short, you may even have more time to shoot it then you do a TV series because you have a week to shoot a much shorter episode. So really we can take our time shooting it and we can get the cool shots and action and things like that, that they wanted to. His vision is just very cinematic and what he has done with this is just crazy. That part of it is great, you don’t feel a web series budget doing that. Just everything is very quick leading up to it.

MG: Going back to “Star Trek: Voyager”, tell us that experience and the aftermath it has had on your career?
JR: Well “Voyager” really gave me a career, it really did. It was my second series, after “Dark Skies”. This was really my launching pad for my career. That is a gift as an actor to be given a character that is so rich to play, interesting and has so much growth. That arc of growth on that character was so huge over the four year period. I mean she started out human and there is a lot of ground to cover. Then to have that character become so iconic is a really rare gift to be given as an actor.

Interview with Darren Shahlavi

Darren Shahlavi is know for his recent role in “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” as Kano. Darren has also starred with many great action stars Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung Kam-Bo in “Ip Man 2” and Steven Seagal in “Born to Raise Hell”. Darren is also in the upcoming SyFy original movie, “Aladdin: The Curse of the Jinn” this year and also has a role in “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Darren about his role in “MK: Legacy” to as working with his childhood heroes to what he has planning upcoming.

Mike Gencarelli: What made you pursue martial arts growing up?
Darren Shahlavi: I started training in judo when I was seven years old. When I was a kid my dad took my younger brother to class and I went along and I just enjoyed it. And after I saw my first Bruce Lee movie I was hooked. I wanted to be like Bruce Lee. So did a lot of kids. I wanted to kick so I moved away from judo to tae kwan do and karate…stuff like that. And since I was a little kid my dream was to be in movies. It was a combination of Bruce Lee films and “Star Wars.” I wanted to be Han Solo. I never dreamed of doing anything else in my life for my career. Actually, my judo classes took place in a drama theater. I’d get there early and see the actors performing… rehearsing their plays. So I kind of discovered both martial arts and acting together at the same time. It was the Hong Kong movies that really inspired me. I found the action in the American movies pretty boring compared to Hong Kong. I wanted to go to Hong Kong and train with the people that Bruce Lee worked with. Jackie Chan and Donnie and Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung. So I went off to Asia when I was 19 years old.

MG: How did you get involved with playing Kano in “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”?
DS: I’d been in touch with the films fight choreographer for a couple of years. There was another movie he was doing that I was going to be a part of but I had something else come up. He let me know he was going to be in Vancouver doing “Mortal Kombat” and I told him if there was anything I could do to just let me know. He spoke with the director and suggested me for Kano. So I met with the director, read for him and he gave me the part straight away. Again, it’s the good fortune of having somebody who has seen your work think you’re good for a part and suggests you. My friend had seen “Ip Man 2” and loved it so I thank him for recommending me for the part of Kano. And I like what the director has done with this rebirth of the “Mortal Kombat” legacy. It’s going to be really exciting.

MG: Where you familiar with the character of Kano?
DS: Absolutely. When I moved to Hong Kong I went over with my best friend. We had met each other 20 years ago at the Donnie Yen seminar. We hadn’t seen each other for a long time but, since we both loved “Mortal Kombat,” whenever we would see each other we’d say “hello baby, did you miss me?” Seriously, what the director got out of the actor playing Kano in the first movie (Trevor Goddard)…there are a lot of good layers to the performance. It was good, it was funny…truly a great performance. So yes, I was well aware of “Mortal Kombat” and Kano. I used to listen to the music when I was working out all the time. The first movie I ever did…a Hong Kong movie called “Guns and Rose”…Robin Shou was the lead in that movie and five years after that went on to play Liu Kang in the “Mortal Kombat” movie. Once I found out that Robin was doing “Mortal Kombat” I was thrilled for him. I’d followed his career and I thought he was wonderful in “Mortal Kombat.” Now I’m doing “Mortal Kombat.” It means a lot to me because the first film was something that brought martial arts back to the main stream public in North America as well as around the world.

MG: Do you think that the success of the web series will cause “Mortal Kombat” to be turned into a feature film?
DS: We hope so. Somebody has put my name down on IMDB but we’ve really had no discussions. I think they’re interested in doing another season of the web series because there are still a lot of backgrounds from these characters that you can explore. You can get the audience up to speed with the characters and their motivations and their intentions and then you can go into the feature film where we can do the tournament. This way people are invested in the characters and it’s not just all fighting. I think it will be cool to do another season, explore the characters further, and by the end of the season they’re all entering the tournament. I believe there is some kind of legal situation that needs to be cleared up but I think there’s a very good possibility of doing a feature and I’d be very proud to be a part of it. The series has so many interesting characters. I mean you talk to anybody and they each have their favorite character so there is really a lot to explore. I just hope that if they do another film that we can release it uncensored. This whole “censoring” thing is really a problem right now.

MG: How do you feel about the recent episode that was taken down so quickly because of the censors?
DS: It’s a problem for a number of reasons. Number one, “Mortal Kombat” fans want to see MORTAL KOMBAT. They want to see it as it was intended. Number two, there’s also the intention of showing Warner Brothers that there is a big demand for this. Fans want to see a new “Mortal Kombat” movie or a second season but not censored. We put the first episode on YouTube and it got 8 million hits. The second episode got 2 million hits. But it should be at 6 or 7 million hits. But the problem is that people have downloaded the uncut version and when they watch it we’re unaware. They’re watching it but not on YouTube because it’s been censored. If we’re going to do another season it needs to be released somewhere so fans can see it uncut. They can put a little warning before it stating that it’s “R” rated or mature…whatever it is. Because that’s what “Mortal Kombat” is. The filmmaker’s vision is what got everybody excited and to kind of quash that is not really fair to the filmmakers or the fans.

MG: How was it working with your childhood heroes Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung Kam-Bo in “Ip Man 2”?
DS: Sammo Hung and Yuen Woo Ping gave me my first lead role in a movie called “Tai Chi Boxer.” Yuen Woo Ping did all of the action in films like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Kill Bill” among others. “The Matrix,” of course. He and Sammo Hung have been the premiere fight choreographers in the world for so long. I met Donnie Yen 20 years ago. I was just a kid and I went down to London where Donnie Yen was doing a seminar teaching Hong Kong style film fighting. I lived in Hong Kong for awhile, then I came to North America and began doing films here. But unless you’re a name it’s not easy to get a good lead role in a movie. So I was doing a lot of supporting and smaller roles but not really getting the chance to use any of my abilities fight-wise. So I called a friend of mine who was a casting director asked him to please keep an eye out for me for anything in Asia. I hoped to get back there and really get to use my abilities as a marital artists. And very shortly after that he called me back and said they were getting ready to cast the main bad guy in “Ip Man 2.” Would I be interested in it? And, true story, I actually had “Ip Man” in my portable DVD player as I was on my way to the gym. I take my portable DVD player to the gym with me and I watch movies while I’m on the eliptical machine doing my cardio. So I watched the first “Ip Man” movie, called him back and said, “Listen man…anything I need to do to get on this movie let me know.” And they cast me pretty much right away. So it goes back to that first meeting with Donnie Yen. The first Bruce Lee movie I ever saw was “Enter the Dragon,” and the movie begins with Bruce Lee fighting Sammo Hung. I told Sammo that I’ve known who he was for most of my life. And to get to work on a film that’s about Bruce Lee’s teacher…with Bruce Lee being such an important part of my life…it was almost like going full circle. Getting to come back to Asia and work with two of my heroes in Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung on a movie about Bruce Lee’s master, Ip Man, it was really gratifying. I was thrilled to be a part of it. Not to mention the success of the film worldwide. It was the most successful Asian film of 2010.

MG: How did you get involved with working with Uwe Boll on his films?
DS: I had done a couple of films for a German filmmaker named Olaf Ittenbach, who is known for his splatter effects and quite hardcore depictions of physical violence. It’s very, very gruesome stuff but he’s very, very good at it. The first film I did for him was called “Legion of the Dead.” I’m sure the version you saw was the cut version that Artisan released here. Talking about censorship, when some of the more gruesome stuff was about to come up the screen would go black. So a lot of the stuff was actually taken out of the movie. The second film I did with him was called “Beyond the Limits.” It was censored almost every place it was released in. And I think the only uncensored versions you can find of it are in Germany and Austria. And Japan. So my agent let me know that Uwe was here and was looking to cast “House of the Dead.” So I went in and met with him. I don’t know what happened. He offered me a role but it wasn’t a big role so I went and did something else. Then “Alone in the Dark” came along and he asked me to do a part in “Alone in the Dark.” But what I understand is that I was going to be in a scene fighting with Christian Slater. But Stephen Dorff was going to be in a different scene and was willing to work for free to be in the movie more so my fight with Christian Slater got cut so I’m barely even in “Alone in the Dark.” Then there’s”Bloodrayne,” though I really didn’t get a chance to do alot in “Bloodrayne.” Then when “Dungeon Seige” came about Uwe gave me a script and told me he had a really good role for me. But when the time came to shoot the role he had already cast someone else in the part. Uwe was very insistent that he have “name” actors in all of his movies so that he could sell them. And if you look at “Dungeon Siege” you can see that those 10 big name actors got the movie $2 million opening weekend. So now he’s gone back to doing the movies he should be doing…smaller, personal films. Good actors don’t have to be movie stars if they can act. I like Uwe a lot. He’s really an intelligent guy. And he’s a good filmmaker. But I’ve done three projects and he’s never really used me properly…never gave me a good role. The stunt coordinator on “Dungeon Siege” said to me “if Uwe is not going to use you we can use you here” so I did stunts and ended up being Ray Liotta’s stunt double in the movie. In the end fight between Jason Statham and Ray Liotta that was me doubling Ray Liotta.

MG: How was it working with Steven Seagal in “Born to Raise Hell”?
DS: I was in China doing “Ip Man 2” when I got a phone call from Lauro Chartrand, the director, who said “I’m heading to Romania to direct my first movie with Steven Seagal and I want you to play the bad guy in it.” And I told him “I’m in China right now…I don’t think it’s going to work out.” But thankfully they were able to finish with me on “Ip Man 2” so I got on a plane from China to Romania, got a little sleep and the next day went to wardrobe fitting and began shooting. It was a very low budget movie, which puts a lot of limitations on what you’re able to do. I was happy with the way everything went, filming wise, but unfortunately they left the end fight between me and Steven for the end of the day. They kept shooting other stuff. So when it came time to do the fight scene Steven had to go off somewhere so we really only had an hour or two to shoot it because Steven had to go. It was really a shame that we couldn’t get a good final fight scene shot at the time but that’s the problem with low budget stuff. Steven was great. I really enjoyed working with him. He invited me into his trailer before I left and we had a really good talk about a lot of stuff. He was really cool. I don’t think he was too happy with a lot of the films he’d been doing recently and as a result I don’t think he really gives as much as he should be on a lot of the films he’s been working on. He could certainly help the film making process go a lot smoother and easier if he was able to give more time and commitment. He really doesn’t seem to have his heart in it anymore. Which is a shame because I think the guy still…he’s still very fast. He’s very good in his fight scenes. And he’s still a really good actor. He’s underrated in what he does. And I think that comes out in his commitment to the film and his character. He doesn’t want to put too much into it. But when it comes to the process he’s very natural. But I liked the experience. It was a chance to work with Lauro Chartrand, whose a good friend of mine. And I think that, with what he had to work with, he did a very good job. Because, seriously, it was not easy shooting a movie that quickly in Romania.

MG: Does one project stand out at being the most challenging for you?
DS: Well, there’s most challenging in a good way and most challenging in a bad way. Most challenging in a good way was working on “Ip Man 2.” I had to be in the best shape I could be in. That was a 72 day shoot and I shot for about 23 days. Pretty much every day I was fighting. I worked with Donnie Yen for 10 days. Sammo Hung for 7 or 8 days. All of the other guys in the ring. So that was very challenging. I was getting up at 5 in the morning, going for a run, coming back, having my breakfast. The driver would pick me up and drive me to the set. It would be an hour’s drive every morning and close to three hours drive back because of the traffic. So I was filming for 12 hours. Add in another 4 hours for travel. An hour for working out. I was on a really strict diet. So I was working out twice a day, shooting 12 hours, traveling for 4 more. By the time I’d get back to the hotel and Skyped for a little bit I’d go to bed. So I was working on about 4 hours sleep every day for five weeks. Then there’s challenging in a bad way, when you don’t really get to do much. Like not getting able to fight Steven Seagal at the end of “Born to Raise Hell.” We had no time. It’s tough just shooting things so quickly. We had a little time for rehearsal…Steven and I rehearsed. It’s a pleasure to work with people you really admire. It’s a lot of hard work. And sometimes it’s not enough hard work because there’s not enough time.

MG: What is your involvement in the upcoming “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”?
DS: Here again it’s another unfortunate incident that happens in this business. The stunt coordinator called me up and said they wanted me to come in and do a fight scene with Tom Cruise. I said, “I get to fight Tom Cruise?” They said yes so I said, “fantastic…I’m there.” Then I get to the set and it’s Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner and they’re going to be fighting three guys. I was going to fight with Tom and the other two were going to fight with Renner. Then Tom wanted to fight two guys so he was going to fight the two guys and I was going to fight Jeremy Renner. But the whole point of this fight scene was to show how good Jeremy Renner’s character was at fighting so the fight we’re in is very quick. It’s a nice scene. I mean I got to hang out with Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner for three days and watch them work, which was a thrill. Renner was fantastic. He picks up the fighting really well. He’s such a great actor. He comes across really well. Very strong and very capable. Trust me in the new “Bourne” movie he’s going to be awesome! Seriously, he’s going to surprise a lot of people. So even though it’s really just a cameo…you get paid good money and you get to hang out for three days with two of your favorite actors. It’s a great gig!

MS: Anything else on the horizon?
DS: I just got my first lead role in an American film called “Aladdin: The Curse of the Jinn.” It’s a SyFy original movie. They’re just finishing up the visual effects and I think it will air at the end of summer, first on SyFy then on a Blu Ray DVD release. I play Aladdin and it’s a very adult version of the story. The genie here is a real evil genie. He’ll grant your wish but whatever it is, he’ll turn it around so that you ultimately get killed. So the object is to get the genie back into the lamp and toss him back to hell. It’s a pretty good film. And it’s going to look good because we shot it on 35mm film and they’re taking their time on the visual effects. I’ve also got a movie called “Hanger 14” with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Plus it was nice to work with Michael Jai White again. It should be out by the end of the year, though it might have a new title…keep an eye out. (According to IMDB the film is now
titled “Tactical Force”).

Interview with Johnson Phan

Johnson Phan is currently appearing the “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” playing the character Shang Tsung. Johnson is appearing in the TV series “True Justice” with Steven Seagal, and also in Syfy’s “Sanctuary”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Johnson about his role in the series, what he hardest stunt was and what we have planned upcoming.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you got involved with “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”?
Johnson Phan: The timing of everything was perfect. With what was going on in my life at the time and “MK: Legacy” coming to Vancouver. I seriously felt it was a combination of the universe and my energy aligning with one another and of course.  Also it was the fact that I did my homework as an actor and was able to fully commit myself and connect to the material during the audition process. Then a few days before they started shooting “MK” the opportunity landed into my lap and I was prepared to handle it.

MG: How was it playing such an iconic character such as Shang Tsung?
JP: Mike, it was a surreal feeling Dude! I grew up playing the video game all day at the arcades and watching the movies so basically, I almost pissed my pants when Maria, my agent, called me about booking the gig. How fuckin’ awesome is it to be playing Shang Tsung?…one of the most bad ass villains out there! Come on it doesn’t get any cooler than that.  Once I calmed down… fear and nervousness kicked in. Shang Tsung being such an iconic character and I wanted to make sure that I was able to be honest with what I was doing in the reality of the “MK: Legacy” world. I know how many people love this franchise, so I of course “at the end of the day” want to entertain everyone and deliver the goods. Thanks to Kevin for all his support was able to connect and stay grounded to what I was doing

MG: How was it working with Kevin Tancharoen?
JP: Kevin Tancharoen, is one cool cat! It was an incredible experience working with him and I’m not just saying that so I could be in his next project [laughs]. He was super easy to talk to and work with. He was also very specific and detailed with what he wanted. It was great to work with someone who was so hands on with every aspect of the project from the set decoration stuff, to one of the actors hair styles, to another actors gloves, to the movement and mannerisms of an actor’s delivery. Kevin did all of his homework and has lots of passion for what he is doing, so the positive energy on set was very infectious. He is a very personable dude with a hella creative mind so watch out for him world!

MG: You are no stranger to web series format, tell us about “Chasing Mood”?
JP: “Chasing Mood” is basically a web series that kinda feels like “Seinfeld” mashed together with “Entourage”. You have a bunch of interesting characters that share the trials and tribulations of life together, sometimes supporting each other and for the most part just creating awkward moments. The show was created by the very talented Mr Leslie Birch and Mr Curtis Lum. “Chasing Mood” is one of the funniest experiences that I’ve had on set. The director and writer Leslie Birch gave us actors the flexibility to do lots of improv and play around with the written material. The creation of the show is what got me interested on being part of the team. You’ve got a talented group of people looking to create their own opportunities in the film industry by investing their own money and taking control of their careers. How awesome is that? How can I not jump on board and support this? When you love and have passion for something… Don’t let others control when you are able to do it, take the steps necessary to make things happen for you and control your own career and destiny.

MG: You’ve worked stunts on some big films, “Watchmen” & “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”, what has been your hardest stunt to perform?
JP: Hmmmm, When I think about this question…there is one specific project that comes to mind, that I’m hesitant to you talk about [laughs]. One of the main reasons being that, as a “Stunt Performer” you never really talk about your injuries or wine about things and with this experience I’m going to share with you today, it will sound like a little bit of both the people who are close to me will understand and know my intentions. Just sharing an experience here! Not complaining or no wining here, so here we go… STORY TIME! It all took place on Season 5 of the TV show “Psych” and I was hired as a stunt actor, so I basically was one of the main villains of the episode the Episode “Romeo and Juliet and Juliet”. As a stunt actor you are required to ACT and do your own STUNTS, think of it kinda like an action actor (Jackie Chan). My character Teno Tan had two fight scenes, both incorporating lots of action and martial arts fighting normally this wouldn’t be difficult for me… so here’s why it was my ”hardest stunt”. A month before this “Psych” show, I injured my lower back training. When I got the gig not only was I not fully recovered, but my muscles were stiff and joints were tight and because of the injury and condition I was in, it made filming for me very difficult the action sequences demanded a lot from me. One of the fights was with another stunt performer, and it was an all-out hand to hand with flying kicks in the fight scene. The second fight scene was the final fight with the lead of the show himself Mr James Roday. I had to chase him around a martial arts dojo and fight him with a sword and of course doing a fight scene with the lead of a show you have to be so much more careful, so the pressure was on like a mother fucker! Here’s where things get interesting…because of my lower back injury, my body was very weak and had to adjust and compensate and because of all of the strain and compensation, it threw my whole body off balance which led me to tare my left quad and dislocate my right shoulder during rehearsal. So now I’m broken all over the place and we haven’t even started filming yet. It was a five day shoot and I was gimped and there was no way I was going to quit or be recast. The role itself was a great opportunity for me and I couldn’t let it slip. So I did a lot of praying and eventually got through it all and delivered the goods. I thank the universe that I was working with such a talented stunt team and was able to finish filming. These guys all helped support me, and not only made me look good but made my performance possible because of all the adjustments. Thanks you Dan Shea, Jeff Ong and Brian Ho you guys ROCK! That was my Hardest Stunt!

MG: What other projects do you currently how in the works?
JP: I got a TV show called “True Justice” with Steven Seagal, where I play “Chai” the Yakuza gangster and most recently the TV show “Sanctuary”.

Interview with Aleks Paunovic

Aleks Paunovic is currently appearing the “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” playing the character Shao Kahn. Aleks is also appearing in this fall’s “This Means War” and “In the Name of the King 2”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Aleks about his roles in both projects and also what he  has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you became involved with “Mortal Kombat: Legacy”?
Aleks Paunovic: I was fortunate enough because I went out for a casting and I had a really good relationship with the casting director. Probably about a month after I got a call that I got the role.

MG: Where you familiar with character of Shao Kahn before this project?
AP: I was and I was apprehensive about doing that role.  I didn’t quite understand how I would fit in the mold. It was so great the route that Kevin took “Rebirth” and with “Legacy” opened where this project can go with his fresh vision. I was scared at first if the fans of “Mortal Kombat” would jump on board with me being Shao Kahn.   Once I understood the vision Kevin had I was very comfortable and confident playing him.

MG: What do you like most about the character?
AP: Kevin was one a shoe string budget and we were just trying to understand it. For me, just knowing the immense popularity of that role and basically the baddest bad guy.   In this we find in Kevin’s vision how bad Shao Kahn can be and how involved the character can do.  That to me was excited knowing that from the ground floor you can get some really good character development.

MG: You have worked with fellow “MK: Legacy” co-star, Tahmoh Penikett, a few times now with “Battlestar Gallactica” and “Riverworld”, tell us about that?
AP: I am pretty sure it was a coincidence but Tahmoh and I have been best friends for years, off screen.  We were just in Toronto to watch the biggest UFC in history.  We grapple around and hang out often.  Our biggest connection as friends is the fight games.  He is a phenomenal fighter.  So we train a lot together. He is one of my best friends.

MG: You have worked on a bunch of projects with SyFy, do you enjoy working in that genre?
AP: Oh man, I love the sci-fi genre!  It is an interesting world to be apart of because the fans are so dedicating and loving and they just want you to succeed.  When you get involved with the fan view of a project, I think that is the best thing as an actor to connect with fans.  They want these films to be good and they want to help your growth.  It has been awesome. I love that genre.

MG: What would you consider your most challenging project to date?
AP: Well there are two projects and they happened back to back. The first was a film called “Personal Effects” directed by David Hollander. Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates were in it. I played a mental challenged man, who ends up killer Ashton Kutcher’s sister.  In the film, I had to develop this different character.  I felt that the character I was playing was not suppose to work out, so I stopped. I didn’t even do a push up for a few months and ate as much as I could.  So I wanted to look really out of shape.  Besides that though the role was very dark and for me that was the hardest but it was also very rewarding. It was great getting to work with those actors and I was really proud of my role.  After that I did a project called “Fireball” and I had to switch it up and loose the weight and put on as much muscle as I could.  I was playing a steroid freak football player, who likes to set things on fire.  So both of those projects back to back were tough.  I find though that the most challenging projects I do are also the most rewarding.

MG: Tell us about your involvement with “In the Name of the King 2”?
AP: I got cast as the right hand man to the King played by Dolph Lundgren. I played a guy named Allard and I go on this mission with the King.  It was really cool experience.

MG: You appear with fellow “MK: Legacy” co-star Kevan Ohtsji in “This Means War” directed McG, tell us about working on this?
AP: That was so great. McG is quite a character with such immense energy. Tom Hardy, I am a huge fan of him.  I had a quick little cameo with him.  I want to get more involved with doing comedy.  I am 6’5 and 250lbs, so I get a lot of jobs kicking the crap out of people but I really love comedy.