Justin Kirk talks about new film “Last Love” and TV show “The Blacklist”

The first time I saw Justin Kirk perform he was naked! Of course, to be fair, I should note that all of the performers were naked. It was 1995 and I saw Kirk and a stellar cast, including Nathan Lane, John Glover and Anthony Heald, in the Tony and Drama Desk Award winning play, “Love! Valour! Compassion!” One thing that stood out about Kirk (no pun intended) was his bio in the Playbill in which he noted, among his credits, that he was “Michelle Pfeiffer’s dead brother in WOLF.” If truth be told, it was actually a PICTURE of Kirk portraying Ms. Pfeiffer’s dead brother but still, to say your first film starred Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer does look good on a resume.

Since then, Kirk has worked steadily, in both film and television. His real first feature was the film version of “Love! Valour! Compassion!” in which the entire cast, less Nathan Lane and Anthony Heald, recreated their roles. Lane was replaced by Jason Alexander while Stephen Spinella subbed for Heald. He has also appeared in popular television series like “Everwood” and had a recurring role in the Showtime series “Weeds.” He can also be found occasionally on the Emmy Award winning “Modern Family,” where he plays Mitchell’s boss, Charlie Bingham. He can also be seen in upcoming episode of the new show “Blacklist.”

On the big screen, Kirk has appeared in “Angels in America” (made for HBO), “Vamps” and can now be seen in the recently opened “Last Love.” Mr. Kirk took some time out of his schedule to sit down with me and talk about his new film, working with James Spader and how his photo got screentime.

Mike Smith: I’m not sure if the rep told you when I scheduled this interview but I had the great opportunity to catch you in New York in “Love! Valour! Compassion!” And if I didn’t say it then, let me say thank you for signing my Playbill.
Justin Kirk: Wow! That’s going back some. Talk about déjà vu…I just did an episode of the “The Blacklist” with…not one of the original cast but in the second string…an actor named Richard Beacon. I hadn’t seen him in 18 years. And I just got a text from Stephen Bogardus, who was in the original cast. I’ve managed to keep in touch with all of those guys over the years.

MS: Can you give us a brief introduction to your new film, “Last Love”?
JK: Sure. Well, an introduction from my perspective is that Michael Caine and I are an angsty father and son. It’s a movie about some lonely people trying to reach out to each other.

MS: What attracted you to the project?
JK: Well, right off the bat you’ve got Michael Caine…that’s a tough one to turn away. (laughs) I enjoyed the writer/director’s (Sandra Nettlebeck) first movie, “Mostly Martha.” I was a big fan of it. It was a great script. It all just came together and I decided I’d better haul my ass to Europe for a couple of months.

MS: You’ve done a lot of film and television work. Do you have a preference? And do you have to prepare for a role differently for film vs television?
JK: Not really. I think in this day and age the lines between the two are blurring. A lot of people will probably see “Last Love” on the same box they watched “Weeds” on. The difference pretty much is that in television there’s a different script every week…you don’t necessarily have your characters beginning, middle and end when you sign on to do the job. You don’t know what it’s going to be. Other than that it’s pretty much the same. They turn on the camera, look at the other actors and try to remember who the person is that you’re playing…what they do…and start talking.

MS: Do you know yet if you’re going to be back on “Modern Family” this year?
JK: Wow! Thanks for asking (laughs). I did two episodes for this year. The first has already aired where I hit on Haley. That was a lot of fun. And then there’s one more that hasn’t aired yet. That’s been a good one over the years. They usually have me back at least once a season or so. It’s not a bad show to be a part of.

MS: One of the things I remember most about you and “Love! Valour! Compassion!” was that in the Playbill you’re claim to fame was that you were Michelle Pfeiffer’s dead brother in “Wolf.” You’re actually just a PHOTO of Michelle Pfeiffer’s dead brother. How did that come about?
JK: (laughs) Someone actually sent me a shot of that scene and I was shocked at how young I was in the picture. That came about because I was doing a play on Broadway and the costume designer for the show, Ann Roth, is also Mike Nichol’s costume designer (NOTE: Oscar-winner Roth has designed the costumes for all of Mike Nichol’s films since “Silkwood”). I had never met him. One day she told me that she and I were going to take a ride about 45 minutes out of town and take some pictures. And later on, there it was in the movie. It pops up on the screen and Jack Nicholson says, “Nice face.” I rode that one for awhile! And then years later I worked with Mike Nichols on “Angels in America” and I continually had to remind him that I had worked with him before. He was fairly unaware of that. (laughs). But you know, you never know where things like that will lead.

MS: That’s like Bruce Willis trying to convince Paul Newman on the set of “Nobody’s Fool” that they had worked together before because Willis was one of the galley members during the courtroom scenes in “The Verdict.”
JK: Really? I didn’t know that. That’s a good piece of trivia.

MS: What else do you have coming up?
JK: I just did a pilot for FX called “Tyrants.” We’ll see what the life of that one turns out to be but it was a pretty crazy experience in Morocco. I just got home yesterday from doing an episode of “The Blacklist,” which is a hot new show with James Spader. That was a lot of fun, being a bad guy. And that should air fairly soon…they have a fast turnaround there because the show is doing very well so they have to make them quickly.

MS: I think it’s because of the characters he plays but I’ve always imagined James Spader would be the worse person you could ever want to spend time with. But having just said that I’m guessing James Spader is pretty cool.
JK: He’s super cool. I’ve been a fan of his since I was a teenager in Minneapolis and went and saw “Sex, Lies and Videotape” at the local art house. He’s been for me, and a lot of my generation of actors, much like Michael Caine. When the opportunity came to work with James I was like, “I’ve got to go act with Spader for a second!”

MS: That’s really all I had. Thanks again for signing my Playbill. Everybody at the stage door was mobbing Nathan Lane when you came out so I don’t know if I got to say thank you.
JK: (laughs) That’s great. I’m glad. Maybe we’ll get the chance to do it again in the future.

 

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Tim Kirk talks about producing “The Shining” documentary “Room 237”

Tim Kirk is the producer of the new documentary “Room 237: Being an Inquiry into ‘The Shining’ in 9 Parts”. The film takes a look behind the film “The Shining” and exposes some of the films deeper meanings. If you are a fan of “The Shining”, then you need to watch this film ASAP! Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Tim about the film and his thoughts on the theories.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you end up getting involved producing “Room 237”?
Tim Kirk: For several months a few years ago, my baby daughter could only sleep while being gently rocked in my arms. During this time, I completed the Internet. In the deep recesses I found a mind-blowing essay about The Shining. I sent it to my friend Rodney Ascher, knowing he would dig it and hoping that he was awake. He called 10 minutes later and Room 237 was born.

MG: Tell us how the documentary ended up being split into nine parts?
TK: When we sat down to structure the film, we had many sequences of varying lengths. We tried a number of structures and this one seemed to work the most. Numbering the parts was aimed at giving the viewer a sense of the shape going into it, and a way to keep track of where they are in the film as they are watching. It’s an unusual structure so we tried to provide clues along the way.

MG: The documentary is thought-provoking and intriguing; what was your biggest challenge with this project?
TK: I think the biggest challenge of making this film was that there is no map for making a film like this. That’s also why making it was so fun and liberating.

MG: How long did the film take to complete from conception to release?
TK: We spent a year researching. Another year interviewing and editing. Then another year in post.

MG: Some of the theories are a little bit of a stretch in my mind; which ones do you feel have the strongest case in the film?
TK: We tried to make the strongest case we could for each theory. Rodney once described the apparatus of the film as being “this persuasion machine.” I have completely believed each theory at one point or another. Right now, three some years in, I don’t know what to think any more.

MG: Are you shocked by the response that this film has generated since its release?
TK: I am blown away by the response to this film. At many times during the making of the film, Rodney wondered if he wasn’t Jack, typing away on his nonsense novel. In that scenario, I am probably Lloyd, pouring the drinks and urging him on.

MG: Is there any extra footage planned for the Blu-ray release? What other kind of extras can we expect?
TK: We have some deleted scenes, many audio, for the DVD. Some great theories and ideas that didn’t make it into the film. Let me just say “Big Dipper.” Also, some alt trailers and other goodies.

MG: Being a fan myself; what is your personal favorite scene in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”?
TK: I think my favorite scenes are when Jack is at the bar, talking to Lloyd. We get a glimpse into the sort of novel Jack would be writing if he could. He clearly fancies himself a working man’s writer, using crass and derogative language. His spells of angry eloquence here and on the stairwell are in real contrast to the phoney we meet in the interview scene.

MG:What do you have planned next after this film?
TK: Working with Rodney is great and we have a couple of documentaries in the works. There is a narrative project I’m working on. I’m also hoping to become a fierce soccer dad.

Blu-ray Review “Star Trek: The Next Generation – Season One”

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, LeVar Burton, Marina Spirtis
Number of discs: 6
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed by: Paramount Home Entertainment
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Running Time: 1184 minutes

Season One: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

I have to first admit that I am new to the whole “Star Trek” universe. Earlier this year, I have completed watching the Original Series, the Animated Series and currently I am halfway through Season Six of “The Next Generation”. Let me tell you I am completely immersed in this series and I feel like I have been living and breathing “Star Trek” over the last few months. I have purchased shirts, iPhone cases and even baby onesies to only enhance my trek into becoming a full on “Trekkie”. I feel that my review would actually provide a unique perspective to this release, especially since I am not your typical hardcore fan. When I recently watched the first season of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, courtesy of Netflix, I couldn’t help by thinking how terrible this series looked and it really needed an HD upgrade bad! Well, all of our prayers have been answered because this release brings the first season re-mastered beautifully in high-definition and just in time for the show’s 25th anniversary.

Firstly, when they say that this season has been restored, they are not saying that lightly. This show looks like it was ran through the cleaners and it is super pristine with proven before/after results. It is also is presented in the original 4:3 ratio, which should be a must for fans. Those who think that it would be better widescreen should know that this show was specifically shot for full screen ratio and wouldn’t even be able to be converted to widescreen without distorting the picture. Even though the first season isn’t the most highly regarded in the series it is still a great start and only a sample of what we can expect for future seasons. One thing that I was hoping for though was a better case presentation, the season’s 25 episodes are spread out among six discs delivered in a slim BD case with a slipcover. I liked “The Original Series” Blu-ray packaging way more than this but nonetheless fans of “Star Trek” couldn’t have asked for a better high definition jump to warp speed for this classic sci-fi series.

Let’s talk a little bit about the video presentation for season one of “The Next Generation”. These episodes haven’t been just remastered from the existing film masters, they actually went back to the original 35mm camera negatives and redone all the visual effects, all in high definition. The special effects are completely updated and revised, sort of what Lucas did with the “Star Wars” trilogy. The 1080p transfers of each episode are extremely sharp and are very impressive, summing up a really excellent restoration. There are two audio tracks included on this release. There is a mind-blowing DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track and a retro Dolby Digital 2.0 track as well. Personally the 7.1 track completely trumps the 2.0 track, the clarity of the sound is super clear and also completely restored. You honestly feel like the action is happening all around you and you are flying through space with the USS Enterprise.

Click play to watch the incredible side-by-side look at the transformation of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” into high-definition.

This release also includes a bunch of exclusive special features including never-before-seen archival footage, many brand new interviews and much more! Honestly the special features are worth the purchase alone for any true “Star Trek” fan. The extras are split over the 1st and 6th discs. Disc 1 starts off with a promo for Season Two of “The Next Generation” on Blu-ray, which I was very pleased to see that they are planning these seasons back-to-back. It is even more exciting since it revealed that it will contain a brand new, high definition 75-minute roundtable with the cast of “The Next Generation”. You can really tell that they are looking to please their series fans and not just cash in on a high-def release. There is the retro 1987 series introduction trailer, a season one vintage promo, three more launch promos as well as three episode promos. The real draw for this disc though is a brand-new 25-minute documentary titled “Energized: Taking The Next Generation to the Next Level”, which focusing on the remastering process and how they went to the original camera negatives and restored the visual effects in HD.

The rest of the special features are included on disc six, mostly vintage extras from past DVD releases but still worth checking out. Included are four production featurettes, “The Beginning”, “Selected Cast and Crew Analysis”, “The Making of a Legend” and “Memorable Missions”. It covers quite a bit of ground. Next up is a great three-part 95-minute documentary called “Stardate Revisited: The Origin of Star Trek: The Next Generation.” It provides some really comprehensive information about the series. The first part is called “Inception” , the second is “Launch” and last is “The Continuing Mission”. Don’t miss this for sure! Lastly there is a great 8-minute gag reel. “Star Trek: TNG” has always had a great sense of humor and this shows it. There is also another teaser for season two on this disc as well. I really am looking forward to what they are planning next, especially after this already amazing release.