Interview with Gregg Henry

Gregg Henry is currently co-starring in James Gunn’s new film “Super”.  Gregg has also worked Gunn on his last film “Slither”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Gregg about his new role and his returning role on  HBO’s “Hung”, which is returning for season two this year.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your role in the new film “Super”?
Gregg Henry: The new film “Super”…written and directed by the great James Gunn…it was a pleasure to work with him again. “Super” also stars Rainn Wilson, who plays a man whose wife has gone missing. He’s pretty sure she’s been kidnapped. He needs help from the police so he comes to me. I sort of listen to his plea…listen to his case…and follow up on it. I don’t want to give away too much about the movie but I’ll say that Rainn’s character tries to take justice into his own hands with sometimes comic, often violent and sometimes moving results.

MG: How was it working with James Gunn again after “Slither”?
GH: “Slither” was just so much fun. We had a gas doing that movie. It was first of all a tremendous script. James is such a special and unique talent. He knows how to blend the genre’s of comedy and horror. He can take little bits of all kinds of genre’s and make them a whole. Where often people get tripped up trying to mix things up, James is really quite a master of it. Plus we had the hilarious Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker…we had a great cast. We had a really fun time. Anytime James calls I’ll be there. I have a great belief in him. I think he’s a huge talent.

MG: We’ve also interviewed Michael Rooker and asked him this question: Was “Slither” a difficult production?
GH: Well, the production was (slows his speech) SU-PER low budget. We were just running and gunning and flying. It was filmed in Shreveport (Louisiana) with high speed cameras. James was doing 30-35 set ups a day. And we NEVER sat down! It was constant movement. The crew as well. The DP would have to set up the shots and he was scary fast. That made it a little dicey at times. But it was a great set…very congenial and great working conditions.

MG: Tell us about working with Thomas Jane on HBO’s “Hung?”
GH: You’ll get no spoilers from me! (laughs) We have a great time. The producers of the show also did “The Riches,” which I was on for two years. So I have a relationship with them. It’s always great to work with them. The show is…again…kind of a blend of things. You hear what the premise is and you think “this is going to be cheesy.” And it ends up being a really human story…very funny but, again, kindly oddly moving at times. And I have to give the credit to the great, great writing.

MG: How was it working with Joss Whedon on “Firefly” and “Dollhouse”? How did that come about?
GH: I got an offer to work on “Firefly,” which is where I met Nathan. We became great buddy so it was great to work with him time after time. And then on “Dollhouse” I got a call to come in. And I have to admit that I still don’t understand that series. I’d read the script four times and say, “I don’t get it…I just don’t get it!” But we had a great time
working on it. And I also think that Joss, too, is a very great, bright talent.

MG: Besides acting you are also a singer/songwriter and have recorded several albums. Tell us about that?
GH: I’ve always been a piano playing singer/songwriter, but I really started taking it seriously about 12 years ago. It’s a great part of my life. I have three or four CDs that are available on CD Baby. I use my full name for my music career, which is Gregg Lee Henry. I wrote a song called “The Back of Your Hand” that Dwight Yoakum recorded. The great, great Dwight Yoakum! He had a pretty big hit with it. The video went to #1 on Country Music Television and stayed there for about eight or nine weeks. The song is on his album “Population Me.” It’s still available and I urge people to buy it as a compact disc as the record company has some kind of hassle with iTunes (laughs). The singles that Dwight released from that album are not on iTunes. They were for awhile but there was some kind of legal problem. But I continue to do it. I’ve written a musical called “Little Egypt.” It’s was accepted into the New York Musical Theatre Festival. We ran it there in 2007 as well as a wonderful production at the Matrix Theater in Los Angeles. I have another musical I’m working on…it’s something I’m always doing. I play out at a couple clubs around L.A. about every other month to try out some new songs. It’s just something
I do.

MG: What other projects do you have upcoming?
GH: This season of “Hung” is just starting up so we’re shooting that. We’re pretty deep into that. I also have a movie called “Blood Brothers” coming out. There’s also another film rolling around called “Isolation” that hasn’t come out yet. It’s directed by Stephen Kay, who did the “BTK” killer movie I did for CBS. That was a difficult movie but
he did a great job.

Interview with Jesse Dayton

Jesse Dayton is a name still relatively new to the film industry. Jesse’s first on screen performance was in Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II” as the lead singer of Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures. Jesse however has been a staple in the music industry for quite some time playing with countless acts and releasing his own albums. Jesse recently spoke with Movie Mikes about his music career and how it led him to doing movies.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us how you first started working with Rob Zombie?
Jesse Dayton: I was going to a show one night and on my way there I received a call from Rob. Rob told me that he had heard one of my records and wanted to know if I would be interested in making a fake Banjo and Sullivan record for his film “Devils Rejects.” I didn’t fully understand what Rob was looking for until I got to Los Angeles. Lew Temple and I got together and wrote a bunch of songs. We played them for Rob one day in his production office and he fell out of his seat once he heard them. This was actually the first time I had met.

AL: Was this the first time you had met Lew Temple as well?
JD: I have actually known Lew for a long time. Lew used to come out to all of my shows when he was still a baseball scout for the Astros. We just got to be really good friends and we spent a lot of time together. Lew is the guy who passed my work onto Rob.

AL: How did your role as Captain Clegg in “Halloween II” come about?
JD: A little while after I finished the Banjo and Sullivan record I did some song for Rob’s “The Haunted World of El Super Beasto”. After that he contacted me about doing the album for Captain Clegg as well as being in the film. It really has just snowed balled from doing that Banjo and Sullivan record. After Halloween II was released I went out on the road with Captain Clegg opening forty shows for Rob and Alice Cooper which was just great!

AL: Were you a fan of the horror genre prior to working with Rob?
JD: Yeah I’m a fan. I am a huge film geek! I probably watch anywhere from six to ten movies a weeks. I have always been really into films. I was really proud of “Devils Rejects” when it came. I think Rob brought exploitation film back even before Tarantino or Rodriguez. The characters in that film are just great. Rob really puts a lot into not only the onscreen story of his characters but also the back stories as well.

AL: Has there been any talk about being in his new film “The Lords of Salem”?
JD: We have emailed back a fourth a few times but I don’t really presume that I have been officially asked to be a part of the film. We will have to wait and see. Rob likes to keep me in the loop.

AL: Can you tell us about “The Sinner” which you produced and have a roll in?
JD: We showed that film at the South by South West festival in Austin, Texas and were immediately contacted by some business people who asked us not to release the film. The idea is to make the film into a television show. We currently are in talks with some really big networks to put this out as a series. Aside from being a producer on the film I also play Reverend Roy who is a corrupt drug lord from New Orleans. The role really worked for me especially with my accent.

AL: What can you tell us about your upcoming film “Zombex”?
JD: We set up the production office last week and we are currently still getting all the cast nailed down. We plan to start shooting around May 3rd in New Orleans. I’m really excited about every aspect of this film. I wish I could tell you more about it however we are being very quiet till we have everything set to go.

AL: You just finished up a stage play correct?
JD: Yes I did. It was a play about Kinky Freidman. I had gotten a call from a play write in New York who had previously written a play about Patsy Klein. This play is actually the follow up to that entitled “Becoming Kinky”. I had heard about the casting for this play through some New York friends of mine and was able to get in touch with the right people. They actually came down to Texas so I could audition. After the audition they gave me the part on the spot. I had no idea how much work it was. The plan is to take the play to New York next which will be really great.

For more information on Jesse check out www.JesseDayton.com

Also be checking back for part 2 of our interview with Jesse when we check in with him from the set of “Zombex”

Interview with Alastair Fothergill

Alastair Fothergill is one of the co-directors of Disneynature’s latest film “African Cats”. Alastair also worked with Disneynature on their first film “Earth”. “Earth” was actually shot simultaneously with BBC’s “Planet Earth”, in which Alastair executive produced.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Alastair about working on “African Cats” and what it was like shooting in the Maasai Mara Nature Reserve.

Mike Gencarelli: How much planning went into “African Cats” before shooting started?
Alastair Fothergill: A lot of planning. We chose to film in the Maasai Mara Nature Reserve because we know it very well and have worked there for over then years. We know the lions and cheetahs very well and as individuals actually. One of the key decisions was to find out who our stars were going to be. We really wanted to make a really emotionally gauging story. We didn’t want to make a documentary. Choosing the stars was very important and also a difficult decision. It was relatively easy with the cheetah because we found a cheetah we knew who was a good mother and just had five tiny cubs. We knew all of those cubs would not survive, so that was an immediately easy decision. Choosing the right lion was probably harder. There are twenty or thirty prides in the Maasai Mara. We finally choose the pride we ended with because we knew Fang was on the way out, he was a single old guy who didn’t have any supporters. We reckoned that within the two or three years we had for filming something dramatic was going to happen. In the same pride we find Layla, who was the oldest lioness and already in the beginning of our filming she was limping and she had a perfectly aged six month old cub. We knew that their would be something happening there. Those where the big decisions.  Then we also had to do other logistical things like setting up the camera, camps and vehicles, but we do that all that time. The main challenge was choosing the stars before filming.

MG: Since the film is referred to as a “true life adventure”, did you find it difficult to tell a story with the wild life animals?
AF: We have been very specific in suggesting to Disney what subjects we were going for. I think that there are only a few animals stories that are strong enough for the cinema. A lot of things in our film are very hard to film and do not happen that often. Lions do very little most of the time to be quite honest. We wrote a classic movie script, a forty to fifty page script, on what we hoped would happen. We were constantly rewriting the script to make sure we were coming up with a really strong story line.

MG: What was it like shooting in Kenya at the Maasai Mara National Reserve?
AF: It is a tough place if you do not know what to do. We are very experienced in it. We had specially adapted vehicles that had jacks so we were able keep them up in storms, they had doors that were able to be taken off for the cameras. We also had special rain covers. There are a lot of things to do when working in that place. The main thing is patience. These guys were out dawn to dusk, dawn to dusk, dawn to dusk for two years.  The moment when Carly and his sons attack Fang was a half an hour in two years of filming. If you missed that half an hour we would have missed one of the main dramas in our movie. A lot of patience I would say was critical.

MG: How long did it take to complete shooting?
AF: It was just over two years of filming, but it was spread over three crews. We had one crew with the lions the whole time, We had one crew with the cheetahs the whole time and a third crew coming in and doing other work. So overall it could have been more like five years of filming.

MG: What was the most exciting moment during the shoot?
AF: I think the two attacks of the lions were very dramatic. Lions very rarely actually fight. They usually roar at each other and decide by the power of the roar who is the boss. Those moments are very special. Equally for me though, some of the tender moments are amazing. I love the moment when Layla handed over Mara, that amazed me. I love the moment when the cheetah cubs where in the rain. All of the cheetah drama amazed us. We knew that the cheetahs would have problems with the hyenas but we did not expect them to be attacked by the lions. Even more, we did not know when the cheetah cubs grew up that they would try and beat up the lions themselves [laughs]. That was truly foolish and did not last very long. The two male lions crossing the river and being almost eaten by a crocodile…that has never been filmed before. Even us who have spent years and years working there were delighted. One of the good things about having a movie budget is you have the time to really spend and wait.

MG: Where you every nervous of getting too close during the filming?
AF: To be honest with you, if we get into danger that means we disturbed the animals. You get out of the vehicle you get eaten by a lion, you know? [laughs] We had tricky moments with the weather and the vehicles got stuck. We had one occasion when an elephant came into our camp and turned over one of the vehicles. Our job though is to keep out of danger, if you are in danger you are not doing your job.

MG: How does this film compare to working on “Earth”?
AF: “Earth” was a very different movie. Not sure if you are aware or not but “Earth” came out of the TV series “Planet Earth”. I made “Planet Earth” and in parallel I was shooting the movie “Earth”. “African Cats” is different since there was no TV series. We were shooting just for the movie. We were going for a stronger storyline. “Earth” is a fantastic spectacle movie but it doesn’t have anything like the strength of storyline like “African Cats”.

MG: What made you get Samuel L. Jackson to narrate?
AF: That was suggested to us by Disney. We were very pleased with the choice. We knew he had a powerful voice and we knew he would do the baddies well. What we were most delighted with was how well he did the soft parts. This film is really about mothers. I think he really captured the soft moments and the emotional moments with cheetahs very well. He just has such a great voice. You know also, he really loved doing it. He has been to Africa and has seen the lions before. You only have so much time with a guy like Jackson. He turned up and was really fired up for this. I think he did a really great job.

MG: Tell us about your next film with Disneynature “Chimpanzee”?
AF: Chimps are really fantastic animals. They share 99% of our genes. If you look into the eyes of a chimpanzee [laughs] you cannot help but get emotionally engaged. It is a great story. We have been filming a little guy named Oscar. We started when he was one year old and he is nearly four now. There has been some real dramas in his life. I think “African Cats” is an action movie and “Chimpanzee” is a domestic comedy. It is really intimate and very funny.  I know Disney wanted to release a film every Earth day, but I think it is important that every time people go to one of these that is a completely different experience. I think personally chimps are more engaging than big cats but they don’t do as much. It is filmed in a jungle and is much more different world than the Savannah.

Interview with Steven R. Monroe

Steven R. Monroe is known best for recently directing the 2010 remake of “I Spit on Your Grave”. Steven has also directed a number of films for Syfy Channel i.e. “Ice Twisters” and “Mongolian Death Worth”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Steven to ask him a few questions about his latest work as well and his past films.

Mike Gencarelli: What was the most difficult task in directing “I Spit on Your Grave” remake?
Steven R. Monroe: During the production the most difficult task was making the sure the film was dark, disturbing, raw, upsetting and bleak as it should be for the fans of the original.  Then also trying to address possible new fans, trying to make sure both sides of the audience that would see this film would get what they wanted and then some.  Lastly also trying to be sure I was delivering the film the producers and distributors needed and wanted. Once the film was finished and people were seeing it, the most difficult thing was dealing with people that didn’t get the film at all and probably should never have seen it in the first place and then listening to them making judgments on me personally because they were offended. I don’t care if people take issue with what I have done as a filmmaker, I’ve been at it a long time and you get thick skin, but when people make personal attacks when they know nothing about me or who I am, it can be pretty aggravating and more difficult to just brush off.

MG: Did you feel any pressure to live up to the original?
SR: Yes, absolutely. There are very passionate fans out there of the original and it was my responsibility to do everything I could to be sure they got what they were hoping for or not hoping for. The original stirred up a lot of emotion and a lot of anger, it’s a handful, but a welcome one to try and deliver something that lives up to all that. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

MG: What was your process for casting the lead of Jennifer?
SR: I just wanted someone that was not a name first and foremost. And I wanted someone with a natural beauty, a bit of naivety, a bit of strength. I wanted certain resemblance’s to Camille Keaton in our new Jennifer. As an actress she needed to be fearless and to understand the magnitude of what we were doing and be able to handle what would come at her down the road. Sarah Butler had all of those. She was perfect no matter what anyone says about her, I know the right choice was made to cast her.

MG: Tell us about your film “Complacent”, which you wrote, produced and directed?
SR: “Complacent” is very close to me not only because it is the only film out of 15 that I have directed that I directed, wrote, and produced but also because there are many elements of that film that were inspired by both my life and my wife’s. The film is a study of my perspectives of different events of our lives some that happened together and many that happened to me before we met. A lot of it is very close to her and a lot is very close to me and I wanted to put it all in a dark, sad, funny at times somewhat satirical bag and shake it up together. Most people that have seen it have said to me that they saw part of themselves in the film within at least one of the characters. The cast was amazing and brought all these suburban white Americans to life big time for me. We did the film for literally no money and it was all passion that got it done. I am indebted to everyone that worked on that project.

MG: You have worked with Cerina Vincent on three films now, how did this relationship start?
SR: Cerina is now a very dear friend. My wife and I love her very much. We first met about seven years ago when I was directing a horror film for Stephen J. Cannell and we were trying to cast the lead. He came in the office and said, how about Cerina Vincent from “Cabin Fever”… Without thinking I said “yes”. We hit it off on that shoot, became friends and then she did a Syfy film for me “Devil On The Mountain” (which Syfy changed the title to “Sasquatch Mountain”) then we did “Complacent together”. She is a very underestimated actor, drama or comedy, horror or action or thriller she can do it all.

MG: You have worked with Syfy Channel on quite a few films now i.e. “Ice Twisters” and “Mongolian Death Worth”, tell us about working on those films?
SR: The TV movie world is very different than feature films. For the most part people do not understand that in television directors do not have a whole lot of say in a whole lot of things. Even though I am seriously poked fun at all over the internet for doing TV movies and then “I Spit On Your Grave”, I don’t care because I am actually very fortunate to be able to jump formats like that and shooting a Syfy movie is like being eight years old again and making my sci fi and action films with my super 8 camera. You have creatures, stunts, guns, blood… Come on, it’s a blast. Funny thing with internet critique is that if the people that were goofing on me for the TV movies I did before “I Spit” actually did a moment of research they would see that I have also done six other feature films.

Interview with Candy Clark

Candy Clark has always been a free spirit. Born in Norman, Oklahoma, the family moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where she graduated high school and then headed to New York City. After scoring a small role in the John Huston directed film “Fat City,” she won the part that she will forever be remembered for, slightly ditzy Debbie Dunham in George Lucas’ look back to 1962 “American Graffiti.” For her performance, Ms. Clark was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress. She finished the decade of the 1970s with roles in such television shows as “Banacek” and “The New Dick Van Dyke Show” while appearing in such films as “The Man Who Fell to Earth” with David Bowie, “The Big Sleep” with Robert Mitchum and Jonathan Demme’s “Handle With Care” (also known as “Citizen’s Band”) which reunited her with her “Graffiti” co-star Paul Le Mat. The two joined forces again for the underseen sequel “More American Graffiti.” In 1983 she appeared opposite Roy Scheider in “Blue Thunder.” Other notable films include “Cat’s Eye,” “At Close Range,” “Radioland Murders” and David Fincher’s “Zodiac.” On television she has appeared in such shows as “Magnum P.I.,” “St. Elsewhere,” “Matlock” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” where she played Buffy’s mom.

I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Ms. Clark a few years ago at a celebrity event where she very graciously signed a few items for me and shared some stories about her past. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with her again for MovieMikes.

Mike Smith: What led you to pursue a career as an actor?
Candy Clark: Well it was kind of given to me on a silver platter…my first job. And after that it became really difficult. But once I was in the game I got hooked. My first role was in a film called “Fat City.” I didn’t really want to be an actor…I was kind of made to do it. I was given an audition by this casting director…really all I wanted to be was an extra. But once I did that role I was hooked! I was on my own and it took me a year to get my next job. I’ve never been very good at auditioning…that’s always been my weakest point.

MS: Your next feature film was “American Graffiti.” Did you have any idea that this little film would strike such a chord with the public?
CC: I knew that it struck a chord with ME. I really identified with the characters because they were doing exactly what we were doing growing up in Ft. Worth, Texas. In high school we used to drive around…go to Carlson’s Drive In then drive to the Lone Star Drive In then back to Carlson’s then back to the Lone Star. Everyone would just go round and round all evening. It was exactly what we did. So when I read the script for “American Graffiti” I was like, “wow…I get it!” I was really happy to get a part in the film. Like I said, auditioning has always been my weakest point…I had to do a screen test for the film. I didn’t have to audition, thank God, but I did have to do a screen test where I had to memorize a scene. It was kind of a cattle call of all of these actresses. We were all in one room in a warehouse. Charles Martin Smith already had his part so when I met him I thought, “I’m not going to get this…he’s a lot shorter than me. I’m too tall.” But lo and behold I got picked…and I think our height difference made it more funny and charming…and cute.

MS: You received an Academy Award nomination for your performance as Debbie in “American Graffiti.” What was it like being recognized for your work so early in your career?
CC: I highly recommend it to everyone (laughs)….to be nominated for an Academy Award! Two weeks prior to the awards, after never having gotten patted on the back side before, it was flowers, telegrams…that was back in the day when they HAD telegrams. I was the center of attention and I really loved it. I knew I wasn’t going to win so I didn’t prepare a speech or anything. I thought for sure that an actress named Sylvia Sidney was going to win. She’s been around for a long time and she was up for a film called “Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams.” But lo and behold Tatum O’Neal took home the award. She walked away with it…a nine year old! (NOTE: Tatum O’Neal was actually ten years old when she became the youngest actor to win a competitive award for her role in “Paper Moon.” The other nominees that year were Linda Blair for “The Exorcist” and Madeline Kahn for “Paper Moon.”)

MS: So, is it really an honor just to be nominated?
CC: (laughing) I think so! I certainly didn’t mind it.

MS: Why did you wait almost three years to do your next feature (“I Will I Will…For Now”)?
CC: That was my next big role. I also had a great part in “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” But sometimes you have to take little parts here and there for money…I’ve never been averse to receiving money for work, that’s for sure.

MS: In my opinion, “More American Graffiti” is very under appreciated. Do you have any ideas why it wasn’t as well received as “American Graffiti?”
CC: I felt all along that…I did the film because I was the one that pitched George Lucas to make another “Graffiti.” I thought for sure that we would just pick up where we left off. And I think the audience was looking for that too. But the second film got very dramatic…it wasn’t as comical and fun. The Vietnam War…all of that stuff. It was just a little too off the beaten path for most fans. I think if they’d just picked it up where we left off…the film was so complicated because they kept interweaving different years AND different film styles. It became a film you really had to see more than once because it was so complicated. And in my section, it was all split screen—we were postage stamp size. In some of the shots your eyes didn’t know where to go on the screen. It was a very complicated technique they used with that movie. (NOTE: “More American Graffiti” follows the lives of several of the first film’s main characters. The film techniques Ms. Clark refers to is the way the film was shot. For the Vietnam sections featuring Charles Martin Smith’s Terry the Toad character, the film was presented like a documentary. For Ms. Clark’s section, which takes place during the hey day of psychedelic music, the majority of the action was told in multi-screen takes and very bright colors.)

MS: You co-starred with Robert Mitchum in “The Big Sleep.” Were you apprehensive about working with an actor of his, for lack of a better word, stature?
CC: Not at all. I’ve never been “wowed” by meeting or working with someone. I’ve worked with David Bowie…who was a big superstar. Roger Daltrey (lead singer of the Who) was my neighbor for a while. I’ve always approached them as people…not somebody on a pedestal. It’s just a knack that I have…it probably comes from all of the improve classes I went to. He was very nice…very down to earth. He told great stories about “old” Hollywood…back in the day. He was really a very approachable actor. Not at all intimidating.

MS: You appeared with my all time favorite actor, Roy Scheider, in “Blue Thunder.” What are your memories of him?
CC: He was another person that was very down to earth and approachable. He was very easy to work with. He wasn’t as tall as I expected him to be (laughs). He was very wiry. But when he was being filmed he had this bigger than life persona. He was very photogenic…you liked looking at him when he was on screen. He had a great face.