Interview with Chelah Horsdal

Chelah Horsdal is currently co-starring in the hit film “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”.  She is also starring in the direct-to-DVD prequel “Marley & Me: The Puppy Years”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Chelah about her new films and also what she has planned upcoming.

Mike Gencarelli: How was your experience working on the film “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
Chelah Horsdal: Delightful…Rupert Wyatt is a quiet genius who ran a really great set. Both James Franco and John Lithgow are hard working and easy to be around. Mr. Lithgow is such a veteran in this business…he carries himself with true generosity and kindness towards everyone…very humbling. And watching Andy Serkis as Caesar was a site to behold…he’s got mad skills.

MG: Tell us about your role of Irena in the film?
CH: One of the themes in the film deals with Alzheimer’s and the effects on a small family trying to deal with the disease. I play a home-care nurse brought in to care for John Lithgow’s character. She does her best to help James Franco’s character adjust to his father’s disease.

MG: What did you like most about working on the film, “Marley & Me: The Puppy Years”?
CH: What a dynamite time we had….not only were we on set with well over 20 dogs…but the subject matter was so light and the cast/crew so funny that some days felt like being at the circus. Just joyful. I fell madly in love with one of the puppies…and 8 months later, here he still is, curled up on my lap as i write this. Michael Damian is such a kind man, and Janeen, his wife and co-writer, was just lovely to spend time with. Working with the dogs was a totally new experience…you can imagine trying to hit your mark, say your dialogue, juggle props, manage a puppy hitting HIS mark, creating natural gaps for the dog’s dialogue….oh, and meanwhile, act! It can be time consuming and, at times, frustrating…but when it all comes together it’s tremendously satisfying. The trainers were so darn good with those dogs…we would have been completely lost without them.

MG: Talk about how this film differs from the first film, since the animals talk in this?
CH: This film is completely unique to the first…tonality, storyline…everything. My character is John Grogan’s sister (Owen Wilson’s character in the first), and my son & I take the puppy for a few weeks while he & Jen (Jennifer Anisten) go on a writing assignment. That set up is really the only connection to the first film. Yes, the dogs talk…so you may have guessed it’s directed at a younger audience. The storyline is one of learning to both commit and follow through, how hard work pays off and how important it is we be there for each other as family. And it’s got some fun puppy gags. The overall cuteness is off the charts…these pups were so precious, you can’t help but utter a lot of ‘awwww’s.

MG: What was your involvement with the film “The Cabin in the Woods”?
CH: I had a very small role in this very large movie. Can’t say too much due to all the secrecy, but my character works for a large corporation….and the highlight was working with the wildly talented Richard Jenkins. The group of actors who had small roles on the film reads like a who’s who of Canadian talent: Terry Chen, Ellie Harvie, Patrick Gilmore, Peter Kelamis, Adrian Holmes..just to name a few. Likely the most over qualified group of actors in day-player roles in the history of time.

MG: You starred in the recently Hallmark Channel movie, “Three Weeks, Three Kids”, tell us about working on that film?
CH: What an awesome and rewarding experience that was. Mark Jean, who directed the movie, had done another film almost two years earlier, in which a played a supporting role. When this came around, I’m told he had me in mind….I read the script and immediately responded to the character. Mandy is a hard working stay at home mom to 3 kids, as the title implies. Her children are starting to grow up and she’s faced with what many parents face: the reality that she better reconnect with her husband and what’s important in her life beyond being a mom. Will deVry plays my husband, Brian, and Anna Chlumsky plays my sister, who swoops in to care for the kids while Brian & Mandy take a long overdue honeymoon. We shot on a really tight schedule, knocking off 10-14 pages a day (a lot, for those who don’t work in the business). Each day required an emotional rainbow & flipping through hair/make-up changes at the speed of light. I love working with Mark…and you can just feel that he really loves actors. Will was my rock…he’s so very supportive and i felt like the two of us were totally there for one another. Anna is so emotionally available it made being truthful in the scenes easy.

MG: You also have the TV movie, “Identity” upcoming, tell us about that?
CH: Identity is a pilot shot for ABC is Montreal earlier this year. I had just worked with director Gary Fleder on an episode on Life Unexpected, and Deb Spera produced the pilot for Criminal Minds, which had been one of my first big gigs. When i saw both of their names attached to this show i threw myself into the mix eager to work with them again. I’m glad i did…it was a joy. There was lots of action and awesome performances led by Orlando Jones & Angela Bassett. Sadly, the show was passed over by ABC, but there’s a rumor that it may air as an MOW…we shall see.

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