Martin Freeman talks about his role on FX’s new series “Fargo”

Martin Freeman is known best by some as Tim Canterbury in BBC’s “The Office”. Some know (and love) him from “Love Actually. He has also donned the hat of Dr. John Watson in BBC’s “Sherlock”. Or if none of those ring a bell, he is also in a (quite unknown, rather small) trilogy called “The Hobbit” where he plays a young Bilbo Baggins. Either way, Martin has had such a diverse and incredible career to date and though his latest role could also be his best. He is making his U.S. television debut with FX’s “Fargo” playing the role of Lester Nygaard”. The show is an adapation of the 1996 cult classic movie. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Martin about the show, working with Billy Bob Thornton and his character.

Mike Gencarelli: What attracted you to the role of Lester Nygaard in FX’s “Fargo”
Martin Freeman: Well, just the fact that it’s well written. The script itself is well written, the whole thing, the whole first episode, which is what I based my decision on. It was a lovely episode. And with Lester I just got the feeling that this was going to be a role where you could give rein to a lot of stuff, to play a lot of stuff. Even within that first episode the range that he goes between is really interesting and so I knew that was only going to grow and expand in the next nine episodes and so it proved to be. In all the 10 episodes I get to play as Lester pretty much the whole gamut of human existence and human feeling. He does the whole lot and that’s exactly what you want to do as an actor. Noah [Hawley] treads that line very well between drama and comedy and the light and dark. I like playing that stuff.

MG: Talk to us about your character’s relationship with Billy Bob Thornton’s character in the show and how it developed over the 10 episodes?
MF: Well, yeah, again it was those initial scenes with Billy that really, really attracted me to doing the role because I thought they were just mesmeric. I really loved that it was like little doing plays, little two-handed plays. It develops without kind of saying too much and a lot off-screen. There are moments of on-screen development, but throughout the series it’s sporadic. But Lorne Malvo, I suppose, is a constant presence in Lester’s life because of the change that Lester has undergone as a result of meeting him. So, everything that Lester does, every way that he develops as a character, for good and bad, you could say is kind of down to that initial meeting with Lorne Malvo. So, there is a development. We don’t get as much screen time as I would like. I think we both really, really loved sharing actual space together and doing work together and we don’t get to do as much of that as we would want, but there is more to come.

MG: Did you do anything specific research about Minnesota or Minnesotans in preparation to play Lester?
MF: Not specifically, no. Ideally, what I would have wanted to do was spend some time there pre-filming because what I wanted to do was not, definitely not do a caricature and definitely not do something that was just comic or a way of going, oh, aren’t these people funny kind of thing. So, in an ideal world I would have spent a couple of weeks hanging out in bars or just speaking to people. The ideal world doesn’t exist and I wasn’t able to do that. But I worked very hard on the accent because, as I said, I didn’t want it to be like a comedy sketch. I wasn’t playing an accent. I was playing a character who happened to speak like that and to be from that place. So, not specific research. I listened to a lot of Minnesotans, put it that way. I listened to a lot of actual Minnesotans in an audio sense, I mean a visual sense. That’s why I didn’t really go back and watch the initial film with Fargo, love it as I do, because I wanted to, for my research of accent-wise, I wanted it to be actual Minnesotans and not actors playing Minnesotans. Any more than I would expect an actor who wants to play a Minnesotan should study me. They shouldn’t study me, they should study a Minnesotan. So, that was the kind of extent of my homework on that. So, rather than thinking what is it that makes Minnesotans different or specific or whatever, I think Lester is pretty universal. There are “Lesters” everywhere in every race and walk of life and country. There are people who are sort of downtrodden and people who are under confident and all that, so that was more a case of tapping into that in myself really.

MG: You’re no stranger to shorter TV series formats, like “Sherlock”; so what did you enjoy most about having “Fargo” be a limited series of 10 episodes?
MF: Well, I think my general outlook on life is that things should be finite and things are finite. You know, we all die. Everything ends. And so for me the idea of things going on and on and on, I don’t always find very attractive. But if it’s a show that I love and it keeps going on and it retains its quality then I’m delighted to be a viewer of it. But I’ve never done things that have gone on and on. Again, like you say, “Sherlock” is a finite job. We spend a limited time of the year doing that. It’s not even every year. “The Office” was 14 episodes totally by design because precisely of what I’m talking about, the attitude of retaining quality and leaving people wanting more rather than leaving people wanting less. This 10 episodes was kind of a clincher for me. When my agent sent it to me it was with the understanding that she said, you know, “You don’t go out for American TV because you don’t want to sign on for something for six or seven years, but this is 10 episodes. See what you think”. So, that was a big attraction. And then I read it, of course, and thought, well, man, this is going to take up four or five months of my life rather than seven years and I’m in. I like moving on, I like going on to the next thing. I like having something else to look forward to as well. I do have a low boiling pressure. I just want to do other things. I think that’s basically why it is and I want to leave something, hopefully, leave something behind that people go, oh, that was great, as opposed to, oh, why did they carry on with this? It was good for the first three seasons and then it all went wrong. I’m well aware that some things don’t go wrong after three seasons. Some of my favorite things are fantastic for a long time. But, yeah, for me personally, I like the hit and run approach. I love doing this for a bit and then doing something else for a bit and then doing something else for a bit. That’s the way I’m hardwired I think.

Matthias Clamer/FX

MG: Lastly, was there anything about Lester that you added to this character that wasn’t originally scripted?
MF: I suppose, yeah, because I think there always is and I don’t even know what is specific, what I could answer to that. But my job I feel is to take a good script and somehow make it better. And that’ every department’s job. It’s the camera department and the design department, you know, to make this script, which is hopefully very good, to make it even better. So an actor’s job is to put flesh on the bones of the character because even though it’s fantastically written you don’t just see the script up on screen. You know, that would be quite boring if you just read the script. You have to flesh it out and just the physicality, the placement of the voice, yeah, I mean all of that stuff can only be done by an actor. Sp yes, the answer is I hope I would have brought a lot to it, but specifics, I don’t really know. But I mean everything that you see on screen, some of that’s Noah and some of it’s me.

Elijah Wood talks about Season 3 of FX’s “Wilfred”

Since his film debut in “Back to the Future Part 2,” Elijah Wood has grown up before our eyes. From the young boy dealing with life in films like “North” and “The War” to the adult hobbit Frodo in Peter Jackson’s Academy Award winning “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, he has never failed to impress an audience. This week he continues the third season of the highly popular television show “Wilfred,” which airs Thursday nights on FX. While promoting the show, Wood took some time to answer some questions.

Media Mikes: Do you sometimes have a hard time just holding it together and keeping a straight face when you film?
Elijah Wood: Oh yeah. I would say even more this season oddly enough than other seasons. For some reason I sort of busted up more this season because of what Jason [Gann] was doing than ever before. I’m so used to seeing him in the dog suit and to a certain degree the context of a lot of the situations I’m very used to but it still definitely serves to make me laugh. It’s a wonderful environment to work in. It’s something that all of us as a crew are kind of constantly laughing so it’s a pretty wonderful thing to go in to work to that every day.

MM: Do you think Wilfred should have a fixed ending point or can it just continue on indefinitely? EW: That’s a very good question. I think that the structure of the show that’s been created is such that it’s about a guy who is essentially in recovery and trying to figure out what his path in life is. This manifestation of ‘Wilfred’ has provided essentially a push for him to kind of figure that out. I think that can only really last for so long to believe that we are dealing with a man who is kind of struggling for answers to these questions and in this sort of existential question period of his life and in recovery. I don’t know that we can believe that for ten seasons. I think to a certain degree there has to be a resolve or a move in a certain direction, so I don’t know. I think…to the fairness of the construction of the show… I think it can only survive for so long. I would hate to make the show kind of carry on for too long and it not necessarily support what we’ve created, if that makes sense.

MM: Definitely. When you play Ryan, do you have in your mind an answer to why he sees Wilfred in order to help you play him?
EW: I do yeah. I have an idea. I’ve kind of made up my mind as to what I think Wilfred is. I don’t know that that’s reflective of what the character has decided though, and to a certain degree I think Ryan—when Ryan meets Wilfred in the first season it’s really within an episode in a way that he sort of accepts Wilfred’s existence. I think from there on out even though there are these questions and he does question what ‘Wilfred’ is—I think there’s a deeper level of acceptance and recognizing that ‘Wilfred’s’ purpose albeit uncertain as to where he’s manifesting from and what it means—his purpose is ultimately positive and that is helping him. I don’t know what Ryan has decided because I think Ryan is clearly questioning, but I have an idea. I think that perspective probably does help me in playing the character, but I think overall there’s just a sense of general acceptance for Ryan.

MM: When you approach a character, as far as developing it, do you take a different approach as opposed to when you’re working on a film and episodic television?
EW: Not really. I mean the only real difference between television and film—I mean there are a few I suppose, but predominantly it’s the pace to which you work. But the development of the character or the process for playing the character isn’t necessarily different. The other main difference between film and television is that you have the opportunity to flush out a character over a longer period of time whereas a film you’re confined to two hours, three hours, whatever it may be. But really it’s very much the same approach that you would take when you play a character in any medium I think.

Louis C.K. talks about working on FX’s “Louie”

Louis C. K. is a stand-up comedian turned Emmy Award-winning TV star.  He writes, produces, acts in FX’s hit comedy series “Louie”. The show just completed it’s third season on September 27th.  Louis C.K is now touring doing stand-up and taking an extended hitatus before returning to Louis for season four.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Louis about working on the show and with FX.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your experience working with FX?
Louis C.K.: I love working at FX. I have never in my life enjoyed working at anyplace so much including going back to Kentucky Fried Chicken when I was 15. A great place to work. I recommend it to every creative person that wants to make television. You bring your best ideas there and FX makes them better. That’s the way I feel about it for real. The last three seasons have been just fun and work and stories, and it’s been great to share all this stuff, but I want to keep going and I want the show to keep getting better. That’s my goal and I don’t want it to be making the donuts. I want it to keep being something that comes from somewhere fun and important and I want it to make money. So, it’s a luxury that I ask for which is more time to take to create Season 4, which is already my job right now. But I’m going to take a whole lot of time to turn it in, so that’s why I wanted this time, wanted this break, and I’m excited about what we can do in the future.

MG: What were you most excited that was revealed and did it play out the way you wanted or as you had hoped?
LCK: Well, to me the “Late Show” trilogy was like the center piece of that. That was the thing that there were so many time relief bombs and it was like, those Dominos all set up and then there’s fireworks and a little balloon goes up. I was amazed that I was able to set it up without any of the Dominos falling over and that nobody opened the big doors until we were ready to go.  I was really grateful to FX for that because we were so loaded with guest stars, and they didn’t give away any of them. They let me hide a lot of stuff which is not easy for them to do. It’s asking them to forego a huge ability to promote stuff. But I think for the people that watched the episodes it was really fun to watch those go on the air and unfold, those especially.

MG: Have you and/or FX ever thought about doing, a “Louie” one hour, like doing a “Louie” movie?
LCK: Well, the stories that I did this year, the two stories that went over a few episodes through with the “Daddy’s Girlfriend” and then the “Late Show” trilogy were so interesting to tell stories in that way, and we’re talking about all kinds of ways to be a little more elastic with how the shows are aired. And that’s a work in progress for the next season, but I think that’s going to be part of how the show will be presented differently. The three-part thing was a unique watching experience I think for people because they had to wait so long between parts and it’s only 22 minutes, so it was like watching a movie in three parts rather than like something like “Shogun” or something. That’s how old I am that that’s a mini series. The thing is even within each episode it’s always been totally loose as far as how long it takes to tell a story. I mean, it started being elastic from the beginning, but I was able to tell 5-minute stories, 10-minute stories, anything up to 22 minutes. When I wrote this last season, I really wrote it as one cohesive season. It wasn’t so broken up. Like everything that happened last season had something to do with every episode, it felt like anyway, so I just let it all bore in. I took so many pages to write “Late Show” that I had to break it up. That’s the way I looked at it. I didn’t intend for it to be a trilogy. I took so many pages writing “Daddy’s Girlfriend” that it ended up being really one-and-a-half episodes. “Daddy’s Girlfriend” begins to be about something totally different. But so I think we’ll continue that, yeah, and get even more focused with how long a clip is. Who knows? Maybe there will be a six-episode story or maybe there won’t be. I still have to get it all out, but there is potential for that, yes.

MG: What are your plans for season four of “Louie”? Is it going to pick from when the season 3 ender with you going to China?
LCK: I want Season 4 to go somewhere new even if it’s only a small degree of shift. I’m looking back to when I did the first season and the time I took to approach the show and decide which direction to go in, which directions to go in, and I want that back again. I want a little breathing room, so probably for the first quarter of the year I’ll be doing some writing. It definitely hasn’t been decided yet, but I don’t go as far as China means I would have to go back to China, and while I had a pretty amazing time there it’s like, you write these things, and then at some point you realize, “Oh my God, I have to actually take my body to these places”. I had an amazing time in China, but I think if I go far away again that far from America I want to go somewhere else. Part of what I’m so excited about is trying to not think about it before I think about it because I know that’s where the best stuff comes from. If I was going back on the air this June I would be writing heavily right now and I would be back in production in just a few months.

MG: Any plans for another stand-up special?
LCK: I’m on tour right now all over the country doing stand-up, so whether I turn it into a stand-up special I haven’t decide yet. It’s probably likely though because when I’m done with this hour of stand-up I’m going to want to regurgitate it.  So I’ll probably make a special, yeah! I’m always doing stand-up, and a lot of the show’s material comes from the stage, so that’s where everything starts.

Harold Perrineau talks about his role on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy”

Harold Perrineau is currently playing the role of Damon Pope in FX’s “Sons of Anarchy”. He joined the cast of the show this season with it’s all-star cast. Harold is known for his roles in shows like “Oz” and “Lost”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Harold about his role and what we can expect.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you become involved in this show “Sons of Anarchy”?
Harold Perrineau: I knew they were looking for Damon Pope for a while. Kurt Sutter was tweeting about it and I followed him on Twitter. My wife is always reading it and one day she said, “You know, they still haven’t found Damon Pope, Maybe you should try to send Kurt an e-mail.” And so, I did and sent him an e-mail just to see if I could get a meeting with him and he took the meeting and we sat and talked about it. By the time I got home, he bravely said, “Let’s do it.” And so, there I am.

MG: Can you talk about kind of how you prepared for your role of Damon Pope and how you just go into that mindset?
HP: I had talked to Kurt Sutter a bit about the character. We talked at length a bit about his ideas about Damon Pope, some of the people that Damon Pope reminded him of; one of them being Frank Lucas who was the movie “American Gangster” that Denzel Washington did, was based on his life. And then, I started doing a bunch of research on my own about a different guys who took their sort of street life and then turned them into more legit businesses and that’s kind of how I sort of setup Damon Pope and how he might think or the way he may act in retaliation to things that are very emotional for him like that. So, basically, I just sort of pulledon these different sorts of businessmen and gangsters who I thought had similar kinds of backgrounds.

MG: Listen, so in this show, everyone’s a bad ass, how does it feel coming into this during its fifth season and playing the main baddie?
HP: It was a little daunting I have to say because they are a bunch of dudes who play bad asses. They’re great actors and they do really, really well. And so, I felt in the very beginning it was going to be sort of interesting trying to ingratiate myself into this group of guys while also keeping a bit of distance because I knew that my character is just going to be an adversary and I didn’t want any of my own personal feelings about liking them or any of that stuff to come across with Damon Pope because I think Damon Pope is very focused and serious about what he needs done and wants to do. So, it was a little tricky, but they’re a great cast of people and great actors. And so, they made it really, really easy.

MG: So, what was it about Pope that you liked?
HP: I like the show Sons of Anarchy. I like Kurt Sutter. I like the idea of this guy who’s not just rolling in as some gangster to be tough, but he’s a guy who just lost his child. One of the things that I felt like might be really challenging and kind of fun is to see if the audience members just go like, “Oh, he’s just a terrible guy” or if someone can go, “Hey, if somebody had killed my daughter for a frivolous reason that ‘Tig’ killed his daughter, what would I do” and actually have some empathy for “Pope.” I’m really curious about whether that will ever play out, or if it’s just going to be like, “He’s just a bad dude.” So, for me I thought that was an interesting thing to try to spot and then try to bring to the character.

MG: Have you had a chance to see any of the fan reaction to your character so far either from your existing fans who have followed you to this series or fans of “Sons of Anarchy”
HP: Because of all the social media stuff, yes. Right after the opening episode, the very first episode, I gained a whole lot more Twitter followers and people who were really excited about it, people who were really happy to see me, had seen me do other things before, people who had never seen my work before, people who were really mad at Damon Pope, but super excited about what was going to happen next. And so, pretty immediately I got to experience a lot of the “SOA” fans.

MG: What else can we expect from Pope in the coming episodes?
HP: You can expect a guy who is looking for satisfaction and he will not be denied. He wants some satisfaction for the death of his daughter and he won’t be denied, period.

Jason Gann talks about season two of FX’s “Wilfred”

Jason Gann is the co-creator and star of FX’s hit comedy series “Wilfred”. The show begins its second season on Thursday June 28th, 2012. “Wilfred” was adapted from an Australian series, also created by Gann. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jason about his role in the show, how he feels this differs from the Australian series and also what we can expect this season.

Mike Gencarelli: If you had to explain “Wilfred” to a person that hasn’t watched season one, what would you say?
Jason Gann: I would say it is like Mr. Ed on crack-cocaine. It is a messed up story about a suicidal dude that sees his next door neighbor’s dog, as a talking man in a dog suit who smokes bong and terrorizes him, though at the same time aims to save his life.

MG: Do you need to see the first season in order to enjoy the second?
JG: No, I don’t think so. That is why we did the special preview episode with Robin Williams prior to our season two opener. We needed to tie up the loose ends from the season one finale. We also wanted to reintroduce the show to a new audience. With the season two premiere episode, it is a nice introduction to the show. It is always a challenge to match each episode for people to be able to join on mid-way through. I am very aware of that though while working in the writers room.  If I feel that something going to alienate our new audience then I will try and steer it back. It is challenging as well because there is an arc that is happening with Ryan and Wilfred’s journey. So hopefully it is funny enough and then people will go back and watch the first season and catch up. It’s almost like every episode needs to be self-contained in its own right yet.  Though we still wanted to entertain and give a little more to the fans of the show. We tried to always leave little Easter eggs throughout the episodes for big fans of the show.

MG: Creatively for you, what is your process with developing season two? Are you looking to recreate from the original Australian series or start fresh?
JG: I didn’t want to do the same show again with American accents. I was very trepidatious about even playing Wilfred. Originally, I wanted someone else to play him. It is really the brain child of my manager Jeff Kwatinetz, who solved the dilemma. I play the role again but it be a different type of show. We met with show-runners and David Zuckerman came back with this fresh take which focused on Ryan’s psychiatric issues. That is something that we never really addressed, mentioning it maybe only one of twice in the Australian version. In the American series, it is really more about Ryan but the stories are still driven by Wilfred. Now that the show is in its second season, the Australian series seems like a high school version of the show to me. David told me, when he pitched us, that he was a big fan of the original and didn’t want to remake it. He wanted to make a different gig with the characters he loved and so that they can stand each side-by-side proudly. I think we used like 4 or 5 jokes in the pilot that came from the Australian series to help us set it up. We also only did 16 episodes of the Australian show and already we have done 26 of the American show. So I am really proud of this series.

MG: How has it been working with Elijah Wood this season?
JG: Elijah and I have always had this great chemistry from the beginning. It is funny because we are very different individuals and do not have a lot in common as men. But when we come together and work with these characters something really special happens. It is a bond that feels like family, really. In season one, I was a lot more polite. In season two, [laughs] well we all have a lot more fun. I don’t know if its because we can relax since we have an audience that loves our show already but we have purpose now and this great confidence. Originally, we really didn’t know who the character of Ryan was. But Elijah brought some much depth to his role. During our final screen tests with Elijah, I got into costume as Wilfred to give him an idea of what it would be like. While I was standing behind him, due to our stature, David said to me that it looks like Wilfred was his bodyguard. That really inspired me to bring out more of this protector in Wilfred that didn’t exist in the Australian version. Where as now Wilfred is trying to help Ryan become a man and survive in the world and it gives it more purpose. We just have fun and I hope it shows.

MG: Tell us about wearing your dog suit? Any behind-the-scene stories?
JG: People ask me if it is hard. I always say that it is as hard as it looks. Sometimes when I realize it is hard, I go through this euphoria…like this crazy state. People are telling me to take the suit off that I must be hot and I am just like “No, let’s do another! Let’s do another!”. Probably some semi-masochistic part of me, as I am losing my mind. It is like the pain when you are at the gym, it hurts but feels good.

MG: You guys must have massive amounts of outtakes, you ever find it hard to keep it as serious as you do?
JG: Actually last year Elijah only broke once and I think it was on the last day of shooting.  This year on season two, I think he broke on like day two and a couple of dozen times after, as did I though [laughs]. There is one thing in particular that happens between Wilfred and Ryan in episode seven, which I can’t say unfortunately. I couldn’t do a take without laughing. I had to shoot it separately without him. I told them we could do that scene 100 times and I will laugh 100 times. That was pretty funny!

MG: What do you enjoy most about working on this show?
JG: When Wilfred was with Raffi (the toy Giraffe) in season one, he was massaging her neck, then bending the neck backwards in order to give a blow job [laughs]. When we came up with that in the writers room, I said “I think we can safely say that nothing like this has ever been on TV before.” When we have moments like that I get really excited…and luckily we have several this year.

MG: Robin Williams, Rob Riggle, Steven Weber and Allison Mack all guest starred in season two’s preview episode, who else can we expect from season two?
JG: Unlike last year, when we just had one guest star per episode, Robin Williams and Allison Mack will also come back for a few episodes. We also go into Ryan’s work environment for a while, so that is different. We also have returning guests from season one like Chris Klein and Mary Steenburgen back. It is really humbling to get people that one our show. Also it wasn’t our intention to make this season more dark, even though I think it is funnier.  But it does get a little dark and I look forward to seeing that as well. I hope everyone enjoys it.


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Interview with Reggie Bannister

Bannister is known for his four barrel shotgun and his Hemi Cuda from the Phantasm series in which he starred alongside A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury and Angus Scrimm. Reggie is a talented musician and has released two albums, he has a track in “Phantasm IV: Oblivion”

I was able to get a chance to ask Reggie a few questions about his career, what he is up to now and what’s happening in the future:

Click here to purchase Reggie’s movies

Mike Gencarelli: I know you have released two albums, “Fool’s Paradise” & “The Naked Truth”. Have you always been involved with music?

Reggie Bannister: From the time I could talk intelligently, about 3yrs old I think, if asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I would say, “I wanna’ be a singer, an actor and a politician.” I sang and practiced an instrument first (actually it was a trumpet since my brother also played) and then I was in my Thanksgiving school play at about 8yrs old in the fourth grade I think. I sang in school choruses, choirs and special groups like barbershop, gospel choruses, Madrigals etc. from middle school through Jr. College. At the same time I worked in community theater and high school and college theater arts programs. I was really fortunate to have grown up at a time when those excellent programs existed in the public school system with instructors that were or had been professional entertainers free for nothin’. Folk music came along in the early ’60s and I picked up guitar and played in coffee houses in the SoCal scene…what a great time for music. I started off solo and then got together with a friend of my dads’ son by the name of Tom Robbins (actor Tim Robbins uncle) If you’re really interested in musical history Tom’s brother was Gill Robbins, founding member of the “Highwaymen” who already had a big hit with a folk tune called “Them Cotton Fields Back Home.” Tom and I put a trio together that we called the “Port Town Three” since we were all from Long Beach Ca. third largest port in the world. Oh yeah, in between my solo gigs and my thing with Tom I tried out for and became a founding member of the “Young Americans” and was very shortly working with Bing Crosby on one of his network specials. That was the first of numerous appearances on local and network TV as Tom and I became members of a group called “The Greenwood County Singers.” We toured all over the country and appeared on a Red Skeleton special, we appeared on “The Hollywood Palace” hosted by George Burns…we played local TV stuff with Stevie Wonder and did the network show “Hullaballoo” with the “Rolling Stones” and “Sonny And Cher.” The ‘Greewoods” made four albums with a single in the Billboard top ten or twenty with each album.

Mike Gencarelli: What happened to your band, Reggie B & The Jizz Wailin’ Ya’ Doggies? Did they merge into “The Reggie Bannister Band” for your latest album?

Reggie Bannister: There was a guy named Terry Svejda who lived in Plano Illinois who was eager to record me and convinced me to go to Chicago Land and record the album. When I showed up in Chicago in ’95, I had no band and no studio but the first place Terry took me to was a joint called “Riley’s Rock House” in Aurora. It was an open mic night and as I was sipping my gin and tonic I watched a rock trio take the stage minus a singer just instrumental stuff…they blew me away! When they finished their set I went backstage and hired ’em. We had to wait several weeks for Doug Agee (Alpha Sound) to finish putting his studio together in Geneva which gave me time to write some more tunes and rehearse with the band, Doug Hakes (guitar), Joseph Corzine (bass) and Jeff Kissel (drums). We got the album out in early ’96 and I wanted to take the band out on tour but the guys didn’t trust the guy who wanted to book us so I just came back to Ca. and resumed life in film.

The “Reggie Bannister Band” came about because of a phone call from a guy named Mike Scarfo, a great drummer and club owner in Pittsburgh (the Smiling Moose), who asked me to come out and play some music in his club…sounded like fun so I went. I met Paul Miser when I got there, one of the greatest bassists I’ve ever played with and so I hung out, then I went back and we recorded the nine tracks for the album “Naked Truth.”

Mike Gencarelli: Is there a possibility of a tour for “The Reggie Bannister Band”, perhaps on the East Coast? and future albums?

Reggie Bannister: No tour per se but we always offer up the band for my convention appearances around the country so we’ve performed quite a bit over the last couple years.

MG: The question you’ve probably heard a hundred times, how do you feel about coming back for another Phantasm film and what do you think the chances are that it will ever happen?

RB: Feelin’ good about it…keep fingers and everything else you’ve got doubles of crossed, eyes, tits, balls (‘specially balls), etc…..

MG: I read that there was a table reading for a sequel to Phantasm done a while ago with added special effects, do you think that will ever be released in any form?

RB: We did that! It was a lot-o-fun! Got together with everybody and just had a great night of it. It was really kind of just for fun but ‘ya know it’ll find light eventually.

MG: What is your feeling about Hollywood remaking every movie under the sun? If Phantasm was every remade, would you be behind it?

RB: Well, I never understood the remake of “Psycho” for instance. It’s like the master has spoken…isn’t it kind of rude not to sit in awe after that utterance? Guess somebody felt they waited long enough or…maybe it was the just money? Whatever, I can’t think of a remake I liked better than the original picture though I’ve seen some decent ones. I don’t think “Phantasm,” the original story, should ever be remade but I do think that variations on the theme will always be appropriate.

MG: If you had to choose any actor that you would want to work with, who would it be?

RB: Ahh man… I don’t really have space. Nicholson, Walken, Streep, Jeff Bridges, Don Cheadle man I don’t know…already worked with Chris Pine, John Hawkes, Lynn Shey, Robert Pine, Katheryn Keener, Dermot Mulrony, Lance Hendriksen, Ossie Davis, Bruce Campbell, shit!…just love working with pros.

MG: I know you did some assistant directing work on your some of your latest films, such as “The Quiet Ones”, “Carnies” & “Sigma Die!”, Do you ever see yourself taking the director helm?

RB: Directing is a total life commitment. You’d better be willing to give a project 100% of your time for the next 2 to 4 years of your life. I’ve actually known some people who’ve given more time than that to get their project completed…so, yeah, if something comes along that means that much to me I’ll absolutely do it.

MG: Your wife, Gigi Fast Elk Bannister, works with make-up & special effects on many films, have you ever helped her with that work?

RB: Yeah, there have actually been several times I’ve helped out. Gigi’s SFX are awesome and it’s really fun for me to help her put that stuff together. There have been times when a director would shoot my character out and for the rest of the shoot I’d be Gigi’s SFX assistant. Than again since I’ve had a lot of experience with stunt work, I’ve been able to direct the stunts that usually accompanie the SFX gags. She’s got some incredible tricks up her sleeve and it’s always terrific to see the end results.

MG: Do you enjoy doing conventions and getting the chance to meet your fans? What is the strangest fan experience you’ve had?

RB: Conventions are a lot like family reunions. People wouldn’t be talking to you if they didn’t feel like they already know you. We all have the films and music in common. If there’s a strange fan it’s really like dealing with your uncle Ted or cousin Billy. They may be odd but you love ’em anyway. No one has ever gotten really out of control with me…probably afraid I’d kick their ass.

MG: Do you have any exciting new projects that you are working on in the near future that you would like to discuss?

RB: Yeah, but there’s some stuff I can’t really talk about. There are some pictures coming out this year that I think are worthy of attention. One is called “Walking Distance” directed by Mel House, the cast includes Adrienne King and Glenn Mourshower. There’s one called “Satan Hates You” with Angus Scrimm, Larry Fessendon and Debbie Rochon. There’s a picture that we worked very closely with production wise called “Small Town Saturday Night.” Directed by Ryan Craig with one of the most incredible casts I’ve ever had the the pleasure of working with. It stars Chris Pine, his father Robert Pine is in it…Lynn Shey, John Hawkes, Muse Watson…go to the site it’ll blow your mind.

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