Matt Lanter chats about voicing Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”

Matt Lanter is currently the voice of Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”. The show is entering its fifth season starting on September 29, 2012. He also co-stars as Liam on The CW’s “90210”. Media Mikes had a chance to meet up with Matt during the recent Star Wars Celebration VI and got to chat “Star Wars” with him.

Mike Gencarelli: When you are preparing to voice Anakin, what do you use as your inspiration to get into character?
Matt Lanter: Well we’ve been doing it for seven years now. We have been living with the character for a lot of time. So there is no ritual that I do to actually get into character. When I read the script, I just let my imagination take off into that world. The movies and the prior episodes are always in my head. When we go to record an episode, Dave (Filoni) is also there to give me notes. With Anakin, we always have an on-going discussing of where is he at right now. Has he changed as far as his awareness to manipulation. Is he losing patience for Obi-Wan or the counsel? Also how much do we want to show of them each season? There is a lot of that kind of prep prior to recording.

MG: Any new characters that you will be voicing this season?
ML: In the premiere episode this season, I get to also voice Hondo’s right hand man, a pirate called Jiro. He actually has a substantial role in the episode. He speaks with this Australian accent. I also have done a bunch of other stuff but you probably can’t tell since I really try to change it up. You just know Anakin’s voice so well. Dave is really letting me get in there and do more and more, which I love. It is great to be one of the James Arnold Taylor’s or Dee Bradley Baker’s on the show.

MG: Did you realize you had such range when voicing other characters?
ML: I think I learned more with going to different places and being around these guys. They talk about being elevate due to the acting part of it. But I am really elevated by them with the range of voicing that they can do. Like how to place with a pitch or tone for a voice, I have really learned a lot from them. I think if you look back through the series, I think you will be surprised that I have played numerous characters throughout. Bounty Hunters, Pirates and all sorts of cool things.

MG: You said you’ve watched the Star Wars Saga, Have you ever met Hayden Christiansen?
ML: No I have never met Hayden, no. He is about the only one I have met.

MG: Do you have a favorite character and can’t say Anakin?
ML: [Laughs] I love Han Solo. He is the man. He get’s the girl. He is witty. Han Solo has a big influence voicing Anakin for me. So I’ll go with Han Solo…and R2-D2.

MG: Do you feel that as Anakin gets closer to his role in “Revenge of the Sith” that it is becoming more challenging for you?
ML: Yeah, it will be a challenge. It is always a challenge though, but a fun challenge to accept to take him to that place. What is going to be challenging is how to show that in a natural way and not just go all the way out. we need to find the moments to show that stuff. Cause even in “Revenge of the Sith”, he is not a monster or anything. So we have to naturally segue that in. But with Dave and the great writing team with have, they have it under control.

MG: With fellow “Clone Wars”, Catherine Taber, Dee Bradley Baker and Anthony Daniels having voice roles in “Star Wars: Detours”, any chance you’ll appear as well?
ML: I would love to. I saw some of the stuff from the trailer and it looks like they are really having a blast with it. I am not sure what they would use me for but I would definitely love to.

MG: Do you own any of your own merchandise?
ML: Yeah, I do actually. I own a bit of Anakin stuff. I try not to get crazy with it. I got some really cool figurines form Gentle Giant. After a few seasons with the show, they gave us all a “Clone Wars” head thanking us for three years of service. That was really cool, especially since that was a cast/crew only thing.

MG: How is it for you going from such an intense role in “Star Wars The Clone Wars” to “90210”?
ML: Like I said, I have been doing both for a while now. It is just a different head space, when I am driving to work to “Clone Wars”, I am usually thinking about something that happened on a previous episode or a cool image or just being in a “Star Wars” state-of-mind. With “90210”, I have a long drive to that show. So I have a lot of time to think about that show and my character.

MG: If Liam from “90210” and Anakin from “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” met, what would they talk about?
ML: [laughs] Probably about fixing a car or a speed-bike. Cause that is Anakin and Liam in the first season was all about his car. So I think they would find some common ground there [laughs].


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Interview with Jodelle Ferland

Jodelle Ferland has been acting since she was two years old starting in commercials and making her film debut at the age of four.  Since then Jodelle has worked on many high profile projects such as “Silent Hill” and “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”.  She has also worked with cult favorite directors such as Uwe Boll and Terry Gilliam.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Jodelle about her roles and what she has planned upcoming.

Mike Gencarelli: You have starred in your fare of horror films, are you a fan of that genre?
Jodelle Ferland: I’m a fan of most genres, but I do like horror. For some reason I just love to be scared. Not in real life, but just while watching movies, since I know none of it is real anyway. And I do get typecast in horror movies quite a bit, but I don’t mind, because I really do enjoy making them.

MG: How did you get involved working with Uwe Boll on “Bloodrayne 2” & “Seed”? Did you enjoy working with him?
JF: As far as I can remember, I didn’t audition for Seed, I was just offered the part. Uwe later asked me to be in “Bloodrayne 2” as well. And yes, I definitely enjoyed working with him – that’s why I did two of his movies! [laughs].

MG: Tell us about working on “Tideland”, since it looks like it was a really intense role for you?
JF: For someone watching the movie, it would definitely look like that. But honestly, I was nine years old, and I didn’t even think of it that way. I’ve been acting since I was two, so it pretty much just comes naturally for me. I don’t want to make it seem like I didn’t know what I was doing just because I was so young – I took it seriously. But “Tideland” was one of the most fun movies I’ve ever done.  And it never occurred to me until later that the scenes I was doing were actually, as you said, were really intense.

MG: How was it working with (my favorite director) Terry Gilliam?
JF: Oh Terry…I loved working with him! He’s one of my favorites as well. We just had so much fun working together and I had a blast on set. He’s a fantastic director and it was an honor to be in one of his films.

MG: Where you a fan of “The Twilight Saga” before working on “Eclipse”?
JF: I’d read the books and absolutely loved them. At the time when I was cast, only the first film had been released, so that was the only one I’d seen. I wouldn’t say I was as much of a “Twi-hard” as some fans are, but I was a fan of the series for sure.  I was so thrilled to have the chance to participate in “Eclipse”.

MG: Have you been sucked into the whole “Twilight” universe since working on that film?
JF: I have, but I don’t mind. The Twi-fans are amazing, and I love doing all the events and conventions. I definitely would say being in “Eclipse” has affected my career in a positive way.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for “Eclipse”.

MG: Tell us about your upcoming role in “The Cabin in the Woods”?
JF: Nothing to tell really.  I’m afraid you’re just going to have wait and see! I’m currently sworn to secrecy.

MG: Were you a fan of Joss Whedon prior to working on the film?
JF: Um, yes! Buffy! Haha, I used to be so addicted to that show. I still watch the reruns on TV. It was amazing to be able to work on one of Joss’s movies.

MG: Do you currently have anything else in the works?
JF: Yeah, I’m staying pretty busy. During the summer I filmed a movie with Chazz Palminteri and Andie Macdowell called “Mighty Fine”. I also recently did “The Tall Man” with Jessica Biel, and an episode of R.L. Stine’s “The Haunting Hour” which will be out sometime in the Spring. Then there’s “Cabin in the Woods”, of course.  I also did a short film called “Monster”. There are also a couple things that I can’t talk about right now, but you’ll most likely hear about them sometime in the near future.

Interview with James Arnold Taylor

James Arnold Taylor is known best for his voicing of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Cartoon Network’s “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”. Besides voicing Obi-Wan on the show is also voices numerous other characters, including Plo Koon. James is a very talented voice actor who also does voices ranging for the show “Johnny Test” to Fred Flinstone commercials to Emmett Brown in the recent “Back to the Future: Video Game”. Fighting a terrible cold and with barely a voice, Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with James about his role of Obi-Wan in “The Clone Wars” and his various other projects. James was nice enough to bare with me through my lack of voice and provide one of the most fun and easiest interviews to date.

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Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you originally got started with “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”?
James Arnold Taylor: When I was first introduced into the “Star Wars” world and “Clone Wars” was for the micro series that Genndy Tartakovsky had done. I auditioned like many other people had. I thought it was just for a line here or there that they needed to replace. I had done some Ewan McGregor voice doubling in the past. When I found out I got the job and found out what it was, it was really quite a shock to me. I was so humbled by it all. We got to do that series which was great, then from that point I started doing video games. I did video game for “Revenge of the Sith”, which mirrored the film mostly. I got to see a lot of the movie as it was being made which was really cool, since I had to kind of redo what Ewan was doing in the film. Then I moved into the new series of “The Clone Wars”. I remember the first meeting with Dave (Filoni) and Henry Gilroy. I told them that I was just flattered to be involved. It has been about eight years since that I have been involved and I am just thrilled to be in it.

MG: Your character has a great storyline this season, can you tell us about it?
JAT: Season three has been so awesome. As a cast, we all have gotten to know each other better through the years. We are all very comfortable with each other. When we get into the studio to record each other it is like a reunion and a bit of a party. It was really a new direction this season. We are dealing with things that “Star Wars” has never really dealt with before especially with the “Mortis” episodes. We have the final one of the three part series airing this Friday. I can’t wait for everyone to see it and then we can talk about it more. Clearly these are new territories that we have never taken these characters into before. Not even in the films, we find out what the force is really all about and Anakin being the truly labeled as the chosen one throughout the galaxy now. So for Obi-Wan, it is kind of fun when we were doing these episodes. He had a lot of [speaking in Obi-Wan’s voice] “Yes…Well…I don’t know…Let’s check over here” [laughs]. I was wondering how it was all going to come together and then you see it and it is just brilliant.

MG: How does it work for you about getting the scripts in advance?
JAT: I was keep in the dark like everyone else. When we get the scripts, if we have more than ten lines we get them in advance by 24 hours. If we have less than ten lines we usually get them just the day of the record. For me what I try to do is not to read outside of Obi-Wan’s parts. I do not want to know the ending. I want to be surprised like everyone else and I have been really blown away. It is just a blast because we always work as a cast and is it a treat to be involved with this “Star Wars” universe.

MG: What is the most challenging part for you playing Obi-Wan Kenobi?
JAT: Yeah, actually that is a great question. I am always trying to give homage to Ewan McGregor, of course…but also to Sir Alec Guinness. I take [speaking as Ewan McGregor] ” a little bit of Ewan McGregor’s voice and” [speaking as Alec Guinness] “a little bit of Alec Guinness’ voice”. I try to combine them into my Obi-Wan. I have been watching so many of the episodes lately and listening to my performance, myself being the most critical. I see that I am not necessarily doing Ewan McGregor any more, I am just doing an “Obi-Wan” voice. I get a lot of feedback from my fans on my Facebook and Twitter pages. Everyone has been saying its great because it is just Obi-Wan. I tell myself to take that as a complement. I naturally want to be matching and give the actors the respect they are due. But it is pretty amazing to think that I have voiced more of Obi-Wan than any other actor now. It is fun to think that this character is a part of me now. I really am so thankful to George Lucas and Dave Filoni for giving me the ability to do that. Funny enough, I recently had a cold as well and I was in the studio and was having trouble getting some of the lines out. I have always said that Obi-Wan has had those two different kinds of voice that Ewan McGregor gave him. [Speaking softly as Obi-Wan] “You seem a little on edge, relax be patient Anakin”, he has that kind of calm and then he has [screaming as Obi-Wan] “You are the chosen one!!”, which has a little more knife to it to his voice. There are always those two different levels of Obi-Wan that you want to do and hit them at the right time. There is some pressure in that. The most fun is coming up with different voices. I try and challenge myself, so the people watching the show don’t go “Oh that is just James Arnold Taylor doing that voice there”. I love it when there is an episode where you do not know that it was actually me as another character and Obi-Wan having a conversation. I also voice Plo Koon, so when two of my voices are talking to each other it is cool. Plo has a life of it own and a fan base of its own as well. It is fun to challenge myself in that way.

MG: You also play various other roles for “Clone Wars”, do you ever find it difficult to distinguish between roles?
JAT: What I do is that I have my scripts and I will distinguish each of the lines. Obi-Wan gets a circle around all of the lines. Plo Koon gets a line on the left and the right and a scribble on the top and bottom. If there is a third character I will do something else. I will be able to look at the script and if they are all talking to each other I can distinguish it. Since I was about four years old, I knew I wanted to do voice over in general. My brain works pretty well in switching back and forth. Every once in a while you can get confused on a character. I do a show called “Johnny Test” and I was just recently doing one which featured three characters I voice talking to each other. You had [Speaking as Johnny Test] “Johnny Test who is right here [speaking as Darth Vegan] and you have Darth Vegan who is almost like a Darth Vadar character and [speaking in British voice] and then I was doing a character more like this”. So I was switching back and forth between the three characters and I did get a little confused at one point. I think I went to Johnny when I was suppose to go to Darth Vegan or something. It happens everyone once in a while.

MG: In 2010 alone, you not only worked on “Clone Wars” but also “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”, “Johnny Test” and a few others, do you have any free time?
JAT: Yeah [voice of Obi-Wan] “I am always on the move” as Obi-Wan would say. I am very blessed to say I am always working. Between the animation work with the shows you mentioned, I am actually even working on a pilot for a Disney show that is going to be for the UK, but I do not think I can give too much info on it yet. Then you have the video games and promo work. I do a lot of regular promo work for the Fox network [in announcer voice] “Coming up next, it is a full hour of “Cops” or for SpikeTV “It’s a thousand ways to die on Spike”. I have got all those things, so I try and juggle them all throughout the day. Luckily I am able to do a lot of my work out of my home studio. It makes it easier. I like busy though, it keeps you moving. It also helps people realize that voiceover work is not just standing there talking and thinking it is easy. There is a lot of work to it, but it is very rewarding and so much fun.

MG: You voice the iconic character Emmett Brown in the recent “Back to the Future: Video Game”, how was stepping into that role?
JAT: Boy, what an honor. I got the audition from my agents and they said “James, come on this is the “Back to the Future” game, you are a shoe-in for this”. I have a stage show I am working on and you can see bits of it on my YouTube page. I do a live scene from “Back to the Future” playing and switching between both Doc and Marty. [speaking as Marty McFly] “Well wait a second Doc, you built a time machine out a a Dolorian…[speaking as Doc Brown] The way I see it Marty, if you are going to build a time machine out of a car, why not do it with some style!” I go back and forth to picture. I sent them that. Then I got in touch with Bob Gale, who is the writer of “Back to the Future” and is involved with the game and I said I really hope to be involved with this project. I had actually done some much of Michael J. Fox’s voice doubling in the past. The young man, AJ LoCascio, who had been doing Marty in the game is just brillant. He and I have been in touch and he said to me “I hope you don’t mind me stepping on your toes” but I told him he is just great and sounds so much like Michael J. Fox. For me it fun to be a character was not so known then since it was Emmett Brown, the young Doc Brown at the age of 17. So I was trying to figure out what would he sound like. It gave me the opportunity as a voice actor to take Christopher Lloyd’s voice, who is actually voicing Doc Brown in his older normal age, and take that try and figure out what would he sound like as a kid. We played around with it a lot. It is tricky, basically I had to blend some of Doc that you know and love from the films.  So he might sound a little older at times than a 17 year old might but Doc Brown is an old soul anyway. So you get [speaking in Doc Brown’s voice] “Dr. Emmett Brown here and you know when [speaking in Doc Brown’s voice at age 17] when he is a little younger he gets a little more crack and squeek in his voice every once in a while”. It has just been great fun getting to do that and we are still recording some of it too. The folks at Tall Tale Games have been great. It has just been such a fun project. I have been successfully managing to work my into every big film franchise that I can. From “Star Wars” to “Back to the Future” to “Jurassic Park” to “Transformers”, whatever I can get in there. It is really cool.

MG: What has been your favorite character to voice in your career to date?
JAT: Well Obi-Wan Kenobi has certainly become the one that I have grown the fondest for. I guess for so many reasons, one being seven years old and seeing “Star Wars” for the first time. I never dreamed at that time when the first film came out that I would be Obi-Wan Kenobi. Especially because Alec Guinness was playing him and he was this old guy. So I would have never guessed. I like what the character represents and that means a lot. I have been so blessed, I got to tell you Mike, to be all of these very famous characters.  I am still doing some commercials for Coco Pebbles as the voice of Fred Flinstone, and then also you got Tidus from the “Final Fantasy” game series. It is like choosing your favorite child, it is just really hard. Leonardo from “TMNT” is also a favorite. I am looking out the window in my studio and looking at all different action figures I have lined up and I am just like “Wow, I get to be all these different characters”. I do not know if I have a favorite but I certainly love voicing Obi-Wan and Johnny Test is also great. As a voice actor, every day or every hour is a different time and a different character and different person to be and that is what makes it so much fun. At times it is a thankless job to be an voice actor because if we do our job right nobody knows we exist. I can’t tell you how many times I am in a restaurant and the kids at the table next to me have Obi-Wan and “Clone Wars” shirts. I just think [speaking as Obi-Wan] “If they only knew” [laughs]. I just love whoever I am voicing at the time. I am just grateful to be getting that opportunity.

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Interview with Janelle Ortiz

Janelle Ortiz is featured in Disney’s upcoming film “Prom”, playing the character Alejandra.  This is Janelle first feature role and she is really excited to be working with Disney.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Janelle about working on first film role in “Prom”.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about what made you want to get into acting?
Janelle Ortiz: Originally, I was an athlete and I had no intentions of being an actress whatsoever. What happened was that I was in my junior year of high school, I played softball and I was a catcher, and when I needed me to perform I was injured and I couldn’t play ever again. I was even been looked at by college recruiters. So I was freaking now because I was playing since I was eight years old. It was like your identity was kind of taken away from you. I started taken acting classes since I liked the idea of playing different characters each day. I ended up falling in love with it and I have kind of been doing it ever since.

MG: How did you get involved with the film “Prom”?
JO: I trained for about a year and half prior because I didn’t want to go and meet casting directors, not be ready and burn bridges. Once I felt comfortable, I went out for the audition for “Prom”, it was actually my second audition, and out of 1,500 I got the role.

MG: Tell us about your role in film “Prom”?
JO: My characters name is Alejandra but they call me Ally. I am 18 years old. I am the best friend of Aimee Teegarden’s character. I am the gossip girl of the school. I know everything about everybody [laughs].

MG: What was the best part for you working about the film?
JO: The best part since this was my first film was that I got to work with Disney. They were so accommodating and helpful. It was cool working with Joe Nussbaum, our director. He was great. I didn’t know a lot of the lingo and techniques. Everyone, the cast and the director, really helped me understand everything.

MG: Besides acting, what are your other interests?
JO: I am very into music. I still try to play a little sports. I play tennis sometimes. I give softball lessons to little girls.  Mainly though, music is my obsession. I listen to it 24/7. I even write a few songs myself, so it’s great.

MG: Who is the actor and director you would like work with most?
JO: I think the actresses I would love to work with most would be Sandra Bullock. Everyone says I look somewhat like her. I think the way she has taken her career and the characters she has played are fabulous. I have always been a fan of the mobster movies so for director, I would have to say Martin Scorsese.

MG: What is the next project you are working on?
JO: I do not have anything lined up right now. We are still working with a few things with “Prom” right now. I have two younger siblings and I am just helping out and spending time with them before all the publicity starts for “Prom”. But hopefully there will be something soon.

Interview with Charlie McDermott

Charlie McDermott plays Axl Heck on ABC’s new hit series “The Middle.” He has also been in movies such as “Hot Tub Time Machine” and “”Sex Drive” Adam Lawton had a chance recently to speak with Charlie his role on the hit show and some of his film projects.

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Adam Lawton: What made you want to get into acting?
Charlie McDermott: My neighbor had showed me “Star Wars” when I was about 5 years old. Ever since then I knew it was something I wanted to do. I wanted to be involved in not only acting but movies in general. Even though I was so young I knew it was something that I wanted to do.

AL: How did your role on “The Middle” come about?
CM: I had moved to Los Angeles about four years ago from Philadelphia. When I first got out there I auditioned for the original pilot. After a few auditions I didn’t end up getting the part. The original pilot went on to be shot however it was never picked up. Two years later I auditioned for the same role and show. It was a little weird. I went in and auditioned knowing that Patricia Heaton was attached to the project, so I really wanted the role. I did about five or six auditions before I got the part and was very fortunate that everything worked out and that the show got picked up.

AL: How is it working with such a great cast which includes actors like Chris Katan?
CM: Awesome! It’s really cool.  Chris was always one of my favorite SNL guys growing up so getting to work with him was really great. Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn are such great people.  They have both been in the business so long that working on the show is really a fun time.

AL: How well do you get along with your brother and sister on the show played by Atticus Shaffer and Eden Sher?
CM: Great! Eden is actually my neighbor as we live in the same apartment complex. We share a wall (Laughs).  Atticus is like having a little brother. For seven months out of the year we spend twelve hours a day with each other shooting. We have gotten pretty close and have some of the same interests.

AL: Do you have a favorite episode so far?
CM: I really liked the Christmas episode. However we did just finish filming an episode where my character Axl starts a band. It’s a good possibility that I may like that one the most!

AL: Are we going to get to see another season?
CM: Hopefully. We haven’t heard anything yet but the show has been doing progressively better in the ratings, so I really hope so.

AL: You have some classics lines in the film “Sex Drive” were those all scripted or did you get to improvise
CM: It was actually a little bit of both. They had given us some scripted lines but then we were allowed to go from there. Each take would just start with the scripted section and then add our own lines in. Usually they would just keep rolling until we ran out of material (Laughs).  That has been one of the most fun times I have had on set. Playing that character was really great.

AL: Any funny behind the scene stories from that shoot?
CM: I was there for about two weeks in this really weird section of Florida which is a story to itself but the whole cast was just really funny to be around. There’s a bunch of really great stuff on the bonus section of the DVD.

AL: Do you have any upcoming projects?
CM: Right now I am booked through March doing “The Middle.”  I have been attached to a few projects that are awaiting a green light. I really hope everything comes together as both I think are going to be really good.

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Interview with John Kawie

John Kawie is a Comedic Performer and Writer who has worked with Bill Maher, Dennis Miller and Howie Mandell to name just a few. After recovering from a recent stroke John has emerged with a new DVD titled “Brain Freeze.” John recently took the time to speak with Movie Mikes about his upcoming DVD release and also what it was like working with Robert DeNiro.

Click here to purchase your copy of “John Kawie: Brain Freeze”

Adam Lawton: What made you decide to get into comedy?
John Kawie: I was in the Aerospace industry for almost 20 yrs. At age 40 I decided that it wasn’t for me anymore and I had to get out. It was at the point where if I didn’t go out on my own the industry was going to make me go. I really hated it. It had been a family business that I got into after college and after my father passed away suddenly I took the company over. I just never wanted to be there and one day left and moved to New York City to pursue stand-up, which I was something I had always loved. Things started to move fairly quickly and I was making my way around to all the popular clubs. I then got a Comedy Central special and shortly after that I had a stroke. This put me on hold for awhile.

AL: How was it working with Bill Maher and Dennis Miller?
JK: It was really great! Bill Maher and I didn’t get to work with personally.  I would send material to him to use. However, I worked with Dennis personally in concert. He was great, just a really nice guy.

AL: Did getting to work with such big names early on in your career help ease your mind as to whether or not getting into comedy was a good idea?
JK: It did. It was validation. I was doing a lot of writing which was very important for me. I wanted what I was doing to be very sharp and smart similar to Dennis but with my own take. I had always looked up to Dennis so it was very helpful getting to work with him.

AL: Can you tell us about your DVD “Brain Freeze”?
JK: I was doing stand up prior to my stroke and then the stroke happened and it was devastating. I did not think that I would ever be doing stand up again. I was going through rehab at the Rusk Institute in New York and had some really great therapist. I wanted to still do stand up somehow. When you have a stroke it’s not just physical but cognitive as well. So during the whole recovery process no one ever said no to me about what I wanted to do which was really helpful. The people at the institute just kept telling me to keep pursuing it. They actually allowed me to tell a joke at the beginning of each session which was really cool. This allowed me a safe place to perform as I worked on a new joke each week. It was really amazing. When I would get the laugh from the others in therapy it gave me that jolt that I always loved. I started writing the show and being funny again which was amazing because I wasn’t funny for so long as a stroke isn’t very funny. I used a lot of my daily experiences and if something happened to me that was a negative I was able to write about it and make it positive. This was really great therapy for me! So I wrote the show as a one man type of Bogosian show. It’s a real roller coaster ride. I do all the characters in the show.

AL: What made you decide to do this type of project?
JK: It mostly all stems from my stroke however I had always wanted to do a one man solo show. Stand up is made up of shorter pieces with set up punch lines. I was getting into people like Spalding Grey prior to my stroke and I really admired their solo shows which took you on ride but still had that humor. I wanted to get away from the club scene and be able to do something more theater based.

AL: During your recovery you had a chance to work with Robert DeNiro can you tell us about that experience?
JK: It was fantastic. Robert is a very nice guy. The film is called “Flawless” and also stars Phil Seymour Hoffman. Robert filmed me during my recovery doing various things such as walking. He was really trying to learn everything he could about a stroke. Robert is amazing in the movie. He did a really good job.

AL: How did that opportunity come about?
JK: I think Joel Schumacher had gone to the Rusk Institute knowing that they had a rehabilitation center in New York.  I think Rusk knew kind of my back ground and suggested me to Joel. They came to me and asked if I wanted to work with Robert and I said of course!

AL: Was it difficult to get back on stage and perform?
JK: It was. I started doing sets again at The Improv after my rehab was done. The owner had me go up on Saturday nights and at first I would go up there and I would forget my material! I would just stand there and people in the audience would just stare at me. It was terrible. I was having just a real tough time getting jokes to land and to make people laugh. I had met with one of my therapists at Rusk and told them about wanting to do the show. She suggested that I contact my acting coach. I called her and she invited me to a workshop. I would write monologues but I couldn’t memorize them. One day after class I called my coach and asked if she had wanted me to drop out. She said of course not you’re just going to have to work differently to memorize your material. She said if you really want to do this show then you’re going to have to find a different way that works for you. I started recording the monologues and playing them over and over until eventually I learned them.

AL: What do you have planned next?
JK: I am working on the book version of “Brain Freeze” right now. I also have had thoughts of making this a movie. As for right now my focus is on the book which is turning out to be very visual. I think this could help with a screen play in the future.

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Interview with Art LaFleur

If you’re a fan of baseball movies then you have to be a fan of Art LaFleur.  He’s appeared in three of my favorites:  “The Sandlot,” “Mr. Baseball” and, of course, “Field Of Dreams.”  After college Mr. LaFleur, an Indiana native, moved to Chicago until a friend convinced him to try his luck in California.  He slowly built a resume that continues to grow today.  Mr. LaFleur took time out recently to speak with 日本のオンラインカジノ.com:

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Michael Smith: You played football at the University of Kentucky.  Any thoughts of going pro?
Art LaFleur: I was too small, even then, it seemed to me.  I was about six foot and weighed 210 pounds.  Halfbacks were bigger then I was! (laughs)  I held my own but they just kicked the hell out of us.  It was one of those things where I just knew it was not going to happen as far as the pros were concerned.  And actually I’m glad about it now because I can still walk.  There are guys I know that played pro ball, especially back then, that had their knees messed up.  Not a good thing.

MS: What made you decide to pursue acting?
AF: I came out to California in 1975.  I was 32 years old.  A friend of mine convinced me.  I thought I wanted to be a writer and the only person I knew out here was an actor that I had known in Chicago.  He convinced me that an acting class would help my writing.  So I started studying acting with that in mind.  And after about six months I just got more interested in the acting side of it.  In 1978 I got into my first union, which was Equity.  I did an Equity play at the Mark Taper Forum.  And within a couple months of that I got my SAG card and my AFTRA card, so by the end of 1978 I was in all three unions.  I was a working actor.

MS: You studied under Gordon Hunt (father of Oscar winner Helen Hunt).  What is the best advice he gave you that has benefited you most?
AF: Gordon gave us a lot of good stuff but I think one of the most positive things that Gordon did was…every once in a while Gordon would be talking to somebody on the stage…actors who had just done a scene or a monologue.  And every once in a while he would turn around to us, the class, and say, “Remember.  Acting is fun.  And an audition is a chance to act.  It’s not adversarial, because the people at the audition are hoping you’re going to be the one, because if you are the one that they’re looking for…their job is solved.”  He really introduced a very positive attitude toward acting that was great.  And it’s served me well through the years.

MS: You had a brief part in “Any Which Way You Can,” which starred Clint Eastwood.  Later you worked with him in “City Heat.”  Did he remember you?
AL: I’ve worked with Clint on three different films and he’s always been very nice.  But because I had small parts I didn’t really know him that well.  It’s not like I could walk up and say, “Hey, Clint, how are you?” and he’d say, “Hey, Art, how are you?”  Finally on “City Heat” I had a little bit more to do.  Clint kept to himself and of course I didn’t want to bother him.

MS: You worked with Stallone on both “Cobra” and “Oscar,” two very different films.  How was his approach to the two roles?
AL: When we worked together on “Oscar” we had already done “Cobra.”  When we did “Cobra” he was nice.  He was aloof…he was falling in love.  His girlfriend at the time (later Stallone’s wife, Brigitte Nielsen) was appearing in the film so he of course had his own agenda.  But then when I did “Oscar” I walked onto the set the first day and he was sitting at a table, in between takes.  I saw him from a distance and when he saw me he said (in a great Stallone voice), “Arthur.  How you doing, man?”  (laughs)  He’s always been very nice to me.  I like Sly.  He’s a very intelligent guy.  You know, we had just finished the first week of “Oscar” here (California) at Universal when they had a big fire on the back lot.  It completely burned the whole set.  We were shooting on “New York” street, where they had all kinds of antique cars.  They lost everything.  So I was put on “force majeure” for about a week and then we moved the production to Universal and Disney in Florida.  (Readers, “force majeure” is a clause in a contract that covers unexpected problems, including “acts of God,” which the fire would be classified as.  In this case, had the production of “Oscar” been cancelled due to the fire, the studio would not be liable to pay the actors or filmmakers the balance of money owed).

MS: You played Chick Gandil in “Field of Dreams.”  Did you have any sense about the effect the film would have on the public when released?
AL: You know, it was a really great script.  I mean they didn’t change hardly anything.  There was one scene, where James Earl Jones gets ready to go out into the corn, where they changed the lines a little bit to make the scene work better.  But other than that, as far as I know, it was pretty much shot as written.  It was such a good script that we knew it really had a chance of doing well.  But did we know it was going to be as well received as it was?  No.  We didn’t know that but we knew we were doing something special.  When I went to audition for the film, after I read for the part, they had all of the guys that were being considered to meet at a park at nine in the morning and try out…play some baseball so they could see how we handled ourselves.  There were maybe 10 or 12 of us and they were looking for three or four actors…Ray Liotta was already cast as “Shoeless” Joe so they were looking for another three or four guys.  They gathered us up on the infield and told us to go the base that we felt most comfortable at.  They hit us some ground balls and had us throw the ball around so they could see how we could play.  I immediately ran over to first base and there was one other guy, who was younger than I was…he was going to be my competition.  There was just the two of us at first base.  They hit a ground ball to me and I fielded it and threw it back.  They hit another ground ball and I fielded it and threw it back.  Then it was his turn.  They hit him a ground ball, he fielded it…but the guy couldn’t throw.  It was like he never played baseball before.  And I remember standing outside the baseline watching and thinking to myself, “I think I’m going to get this job!”  (laughs)  We got to use modern day gloves then but for the film they had us report to Iowa about ten days before we were supposed to start shooting and we practiced using the older stuff.  Wood bats and older gloves.  And the old gloves were like holding a piece of leather.  Someone threw a ball to you and it was like putting a piece of leather between you and the ball.  So we put these big foam pads inside the mitts.  Chick Gandil was known as “Iron Hands” because, in order to make ends meet, when he wasn’t playing baseball he was a fighter.  There were times when Chick would be at first base and there would be a ground ball to the infield.  He’d go over to cover first base and the ball would be thrown out of reach of his glove hand.  But by stretching he could catch the ball barehanded in his other hand.  Of course, everyone back then had to have iron hands because the mitts were nothing.

MS: Another film that is cherished by baseball fans young and old is “The Sandlot.”  Were you nervous about stepping into the Babe’s spikes?
AL: When I went to read for the part…I had just read “The Babe,” a biography of Babe Ruth.  So when I went into the audition I went in “as” Babe.  I wore a newsboy kind of hat.  I went in with a cigar…the Babe always had a cigar.  Babe Ruth, when he would see kids, he would always say, “hi keed.”  He would always use the word “keed” for kid.  And he had a habit of slurring his words.  When he would talk about baseball he would say “baysh-baw.”  I went to read for Mickey David Evans (the writer/director of the film) and about halfway through he said, “he’s the guy!”

MS: What film gets you recognized most: “Field of Dreams” or “The Santa Clause?”
AL: It used to be “Field of Dreams,” then later “Santa Clause” but lately it’s been “The Sandlot.”  You know it’s funny, every once in a while someone will come up and say, “Hey, you’re Art LaFleur!”  They’ll use my real name.  And I’m so shocked at that.  I can understand somebody recognizing me from one of those films we’ve talked about but knowing my actual name?  When they say, “you’re Art LaFleur, aren’t you,” I’m always surprised.  I’m always recognized for “The Sandlot.”  In fact, just yesterday, I had somebody say, “Hey, Babe Ruth!  How ya’ doing, Babe?”  I was at Wrigley Field in Chicago with my family many years ago.  It was like one of the hottest days ever in Chicago.  The Cubs had won that day, thank God, and we were downstairs after the game in one of the men’s room.  Inside there is a big circular hand washing trough and people were putting their heads underneath the spray of water because it was so hot.  So I put my head under and when I take it out I start drying my dripping face with paper towels.  And I look into the doorway and catch three guys all looking at me.  Finally, one of them says, “Hey, you look just like that guy from “Field of Dreams.”  And with a dripping head I look up at him and say, “well, I was in that movie.”  And the guy says, “Nah!  But you look just like him.”  (laughs)

MS: You worked on “Hill Street Blues.”  The producers never revealed what city the show was set in, though I’ve always thought it was Chicago.  Any idea?
AL: No.  I’ve always assumed it was more like Los Angeles but it’s interesting that you say that because that’s an aspect I never really thought about.  It never came up.  Interesting.

MS: You appeared in my all time favorite episode of “The John Larroquette Show.”  Which do you prefer doing: comedy or drama?
AL: I like comedy and, if it’s the right script, I like drama.  I think when playing comedy you have to play it just a little more broadly.  You need to really be assertive and convinced that you’re the person when you’re playing comedy.  And the more sincere you are…that makes you a little more broader.  But the more sincere you are and the more convinced you are doing the right thing…if it’s funny it’s funny and if it’s not it’s not.

MS: Would you prefer to spend several months on one film role, developing the character or to have several television roles in the same period?
AL: Obviously I think that the more time you have to spend with a character the more you find out about him.  When I did the movie “Air America” I had time before each audition…I did like three or four auditions for that film…and finally, on the last one I read with Robert Downey, Jr.  and I got the part.  But I had three auditions leading up to the last one and each time I had the time to explore the character…to make it my own.  And then when I got the part I had a few weeks prior to us going to Thailand.  Then we did the cockpit stuff in England for five weeks.  So I think the more time you have the better.  You can make the character more interesting.

MS: As a former football player did you give the cast any tips on “The Replacements”?
AL: No. (laughs)  Alan Graff was the second unit director and also the football coordinator and adviser on the film.  When all of the good hits happened on the field, he was the guy behind them.   Alan had played for USC and was on one of the national championship teams of the early 1970s.  I had known Alan because I had seen him on commercial auditions for the past 15-20 years prior to shooting the film.  So one day Alan asked me if I’d like to come out with the second unit.  So we went out and he had all of the different outfits that were worn depending on the team that we played.  Alan would have me get in wardrobe and stand on the sidelines with all of these extras and he would have me go through all of these different gyrations…the ones a defensive coordinator would go through.  Sending signals, that kind of thing.  They would have me throw my hat down…I was elated…I was pissed off.  So I’m in these different outfits and he shot almost little vignettes of me doing different stuff on the sidelines.  The only thing I asked was that he make me look like I knew what the hell I was doing!  Because playing football is one thing.  Being a coach is another.  I’ve always thought I was a good football player.  Football coach…I’m not so sure.  But I was very committed to looking like I knew what I was doing.  We worked on some hand signals and had fun with it.  And when the final film came out they used a lot of it.  During the games they would cut to me and I’d either be happy or sad or whatever.  I was very grateful to Alan for that because he made me look like I knew what I was doing. Having played the stuff where I’m on the sled and yelling at the players…I already knew how to do that!

MS: What do you have coming up?
AL: I just did a pilot presentation called “The Guy Suave’ Project.”  What they are doing more and more is something called a pilot presentation.  Rather than having a $15 million budget to shoot an actual full hour pilot, what they do is take a couple million bucks and have a three day shoot where they shoot a 10-12 minute version…a short scenario of what the show could be like.  “The Guy Suave’ Project” is for the Cartoon Network.  It was a four day shoot and it’s a live action spoof on the spy genre…the 007 genre.  When I first read the script I saw there was a lot of foul language.  The first scene has Guy Suave’ parachuting into some compound and as he’s landing he’s shooting the guards.  And as he shoots the first guard he says, “F*** you!”  Boom.  “Asshole!”  Boom.  And when I read it I thought, “what the hell is this?”  This is never going to make prime time…”Pussy!”  Boom.  (laughs)  There was all of this foul language.  So I called my agent and said, “What is this?”  And he told me it was a legitimate thing for the Cartoon Network.  It will only run late at night for adult viewing.  So I went and auditioned for it and then I did the call back and I got the job.  So I’m waiting to hear on that.  And I’m also getting ready to do a webisode project…a short scenario that the writer/director will take and try to sell.  And I’m still auditioning for commercials and whatever comes up.  I’m looking for work!

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