Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars
As a youngster in the 1960s (yikes) I have fond memories of several cartoon programs. For those of you reading this that may not remember, in the early 1960s several popular animated shows, among them “The Flintstones,” ran in prime time. Another one of those shows featured an unlikely pair of pals – Rocket J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose (the “J” in their names stood for their creator, Jay Ward). Titled “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” the program introduced many a popular character to kids of all ages. Among them were an incredibly smart dog and his adopted son; Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
We meet Mr. Peabody (Burrell) and Sherman (Charles) as the young boy is about to start the school year. The summer has been spent visiting amazing times in history, via what Mr. Peabody calls the WABAC machine. In fact, the two just returned from a trip to Paris, where they almost lost their heads taking in the French Revolution. It is while in history class that Sherman contradicts his teacher, maintaining that George Washington did NOT chop down a cherry tree. Later, while at lunch, Sherman is made fun of by a fellow student, who mocks the boy because his father is a dog. A trip to the principal’s office leads to a meeting with the other student’s parents. And then the fun begins!
Completely faithful to its source material, “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” is a delightful story that will entertain both the youngsters and their parents. With a script by Emmy and Pulitzer Prize nominated writer Craig Wright (and really, who else BUT a Pulitzer Prize nominated writer could do justice to Mr. Peabody), the film is a fun trip through history, where our two heroes, accompanied by Sherman’s classmate, learn the most important lesson of all. Burrell does a fine job as Peabody, giving him a new, yet familiar, voice. The same can be said of young Charles. Supporting work by such familiar names as Stephen Colbert, Dennis Haysbert and Leslie Mann is also spot on.
Director Minkoff gave us “The Lion King,” so it’s no secret that he has crafted an outstanding animated adventure. The 3D effects are ok but not spectacular, so no harm in seeing it at a regular screening. Make sure you get there early and catch the humorous short film, “Almost Home,” before hand.
Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars
When it comes to DreamWorks Animation, I am usually first in line for their new films. With “Mr. Peabody and Sherman”, I honestly do not see the draw for this film. I am not interested in the film at all. I wanted to get the art of book to see if it would entice me to see the film but it really has not done anything for me. I hope that audiences will be thinking differently since DreamWorks Animation could surly need a hit. The book is packed with concept art, character backgrounds, design inspiration, and other exclusive behind-the-scenes information.
Official Premise: Make way for Mr. Peabody and Sherman, DreamWorks Animation’s new comedy about a dog and his boy. Yes, you heard right — Mr. Peabody’s IQ is so high, this dog is actually the world’s smartest person! So smart that he’s even invented the WABAC, a time-traveling machine that he and his pet boy Sherman use to explore the world throughout the ages. Based on the beloved 1960s cartoon, Mr. Peabody and Sherman is a role-reversal reinvention like no other. Barreling through time, Peabody and Sherman explore the universe, crossing paths with the likes of Marie Antoinette and Leonardo da Vinci. But when Sherman uses the WABAC without permission and history starts to spiral out of control, the results are disastrous—and hilarious.
The author of the book, Jerry Beck has written over 15 books focusing around animation. Tiffany Ward is the daughter of Jay Ward, aka the creator of “The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show” and originator of the “Mr. Peabody and Sherman characters”. She is also the executive producer of the film and gives the book preface. Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”) gives the forward to the book and who voiced Mr. Peabody in the film. The book images were very sharp and crisp. The designs were very impressive but I still wasn’t really drawn to these characters, designs and overall style for this film. I would recommend this to hardcore fans only of the original animation and if you see the film and absolutely love it.
Jason Hook is the guitarist for the heavy metal group Five Finger Death Punch who in the coming months will be releasing their 4th as yet untitled studio album. More recently at this year’s NAMM convention held in Anaheim, California Gibson Guitars unveiled the Jason Hook signature M-4 Sherman guitar which is the first guitar to bear Jason’s name. Media Mikes was able to talk with Jason recently about the creation of the guitar and several of its aspects.
Adam Lawton: What was your first exposure to Gibson guitars?
Jason Hook: I remember reading the back of the Kiss “Destroyer” album where it said that Kiss uses Pearl drums and Gibson guitars because they want the best. I think that was in 1976. At the time I think the whole band was using Gibsons. I didn’t get my own Gibson until I was in my late 20’s. I bought it in Canada sight unseen. I think I paid about $900 for a used custom. I didn’t know anything about the guitar before I got it. I probably should have held on to that one.
AL: How did the opportunity come about to do your own signature model Gibson?
JH: I know several people who work at the company so I would periodically check in with them. I play explorers which not a lot of people play. I thought that this would be a good lead in to help push this through. It took me a little while to get that point to the right person. Everyone wants something from Gibson so they are very selective about what they give away and who they help out. I had to be patient.
AL: What was it that drew you to the Explorer model?
JH: I own several Les Paul models and they are great guitars however I developed a nerve issue with my right arm. On the Les Paul model there is a hard binding that comes across and falls under that right arm. This was causing my arm to burn while I was playing and really bummed me out. Idecided to try the Explorer and it was perfect.
AL: How much of the design process were you allowed to be a part of?
JH: Surprisingly they wanted to do exactly what I wanted to do. I started off asking them if I could do certain and things and they told me it was my guitar I could do what I wanted. They didn’t resist any of my crazy ideas.
AL: Can you give us the specs on the guitar?
JH: Everything is based off the stock Explorer. I changed the rosewood fret board to a granadillo fret board as it is a very hard and dense wood with not a lot of grain. I wanted a lower profile fret that was also wide. I looked all through the factory but couldn’t find what I wanted. After asking if they had anything else they showed me the wire that’s used on the Zakk Wylde Les Paul’s which was perfect. I literally stole the fret wire out Zakk’s material stash. (Laughs) We are using locking mini Grover tuners which is something different. We also did a bevel on the upper wing of the body as well as
scooping out a portion of the lower wing which allows the player access the higher frets. For pickups we are using a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge and a Duncan 59 in the neck. Other than the special paint scheme the last thing we did was this special wiring harness. This idea came out of when I was still painting guitars in my garage. I would take the pick guards off to paint the bodies and there is this channel that the wires sat in. I looked pretty gnarly the way it was so I started looking around and found some plastic conduit that I got at Home Depot to wrap around the wires.
AL: When you showed them the wiring what did they think?
JH: They told me that I didn’t have to have that in there as they could route the guitar differently so there would be no channel. I wanted to make it interesting. I think the more bizarre something looks cause people to take notice. I am a big fan of Eddie Van Halen and the stuff he did in the eighties. He was using these pieces of shit guitars that he was making in his garage but, he still played better than everyone else. (Laughs) That I thought was really unique and I said that if I ever got to operate on a professional level I was going to do something similar. My explorer was supposed to be the most unique, ugliest, beat up thing I could create.
AL: Can you give us an update where you are at with the new album?
JH: We are about 65% done. We are shooting for a deadline that is at the end of April, early May. We are working hard every day on this thing. I am at the phase now where I am laying down solos here at my home studio. Generally the first portion of the recording process I am writing and working on rhythm stuff. It’s not till the last quarter that I switch over to doing the other stuff.
Dale Dye is currently playing the role of Porter in TNT’s new show “Falling Skies”. Dale is also co-starring in this summer’s “Larry Crowne”, directed by Tom Hanks. If you have seen a movie in the war genre, it is most likely that he has worked on the film as the Military Technical Advisor. He supervised such films as “Platoon” to “Saving Private Ryan”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Dale about “Falling Skies” and working in the business.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your role as Porter in TNT’s “Falling Skies”?
Dale Dye: Porter is a recently retired professional military officer. He is a native of Boston. He has been called on to be the professional head of a resistance group that has formed around the Boston area. He has organized a of guys together into a milita group. It is like volunteers who arm themselves and undergo a little training and attempt to get some resistance going against the alien invaders.
MG: What drew you to the role?
DD: I guess it is typecasting at its best [laughs]. I am a former professional military guy for almost all my adult life, before I got into the weirdness that is show business. Of course I know Steven Speilberg very well from previous projects that I worked with him on. It just seemed like the the right role. It was an opportunity to be the steady guy in this absolute mess of aliens invading the earth. I thought here is a hero shot, it is a chance to be the old, wise and sage professional mentor to a bunch of guys who are doing there best to resist against this situation. I don’t want to say it was a no-brainer but I can definitely say it appealed to me. I could see myself for real in that role.
MG: Even though the show is about alien invasion, do you feel the show is realistic and focuses on the character development?
DD: It really does. Anytime you are talking about science fiction of this calibur with guys like Steven Speilberg and his team. There is always the tempation of just making a jaw dropper and make it all about the spectical and to hell with the story and the characters. I am not too interested in those types of projects. When you have Steven Speilberg producing, I can guarantee you that is not doing to be the deal. He is a consumate storyteller and I knew that coming on. For this project, I saw he was going after those human emotions or elements that make the story so appealing. It was all there in the scripts. Even though, I knew it was going to be a hell of a spectacle…the human story was still there.
MG: Tell us how has bit been working with the rest of the cast?
DD: It is always great to walk on the set and see a mixture of seasoned pros along with really anxious and talent younger actors. That is what makes this project so appealing. You got guys like Noah Wyle, he has been around for a while and is a really good actor. Will (Patton) also along with Noah were really pros. You have people like Moon (Bloodstone) and some of the other younger actors, I think their best performances are brought out when they are working with old pros. Everyone was excited about working on this show. We were shooting in Toronto. I could sense that excitement while walking on the set. This was a set in which there was a syngery going between both the veterans and the new actors, who were really trying to make their mark. That is the way that film business should be by my perspective.
MG: You have taken on the role of Military Technical Advisor on many projects, do you enjoy this task?
DD: That is a awful long story [laughs]. It was among my believe that Hollywood wasn’t treating military characters and war in general in an appropriate impactful way. You can do a lot of things when you are ignorant that people tell you can’t do. I came out and said I wanted to find a fix it. I was able to convince people how to get these things done. We succeeded very well in my first project which was with Oliver Stone in the film “Platoon”. Oliver let me do it my way and we won four Academy Awards including Best Picture. In Hollywood, nothing succeeds like success. I began to have people watching me train actors. They began saying “He is pretty convincing. Maybe if we put him in front of the camera, then he can do it on film” I guess they found some hidden talent in me somewhere. It is kind of like Oliver told me when I appeared as Captain Harris in “Platoon”, he told me “If you ever take an acting lesson, I will never hire you again”. So there must be something there, I guess I have been a performer in my life in one way or another.
MG: Do you have a favorite film in that genre?
DD: There are couple that stand out for me, “Platoon” will always have have a soft spot in my heart. This is due to the film success and the way I discovered to train actors and bring a certain performance to the screen. It was also my big break. I also love “Saving Private Ryan”. In the television world, I love “Bands of Brothers” and “The Pacific”. I think those films definitely stand out for me.
MG: You are featured in this summer’s “Larry Crowne” with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, tell us about working on that film?
DD: Tom has been a good personal film as well as a professional colleague. He kind of admires what I do. I am always whinning to him how typecast I am. I tell him “I can be a doctor, lawyer, or a politican…why am I always able to be stuck playing the military officer”. I think Tom listened to it for a while and said “Hey listen, you get those roles because you are good at it”. I said “Yeah Yeah but…Yeah Yeah but…” Eventually it came around that Tom wanted to see if I could do other things. So when “Larry Crowne” came around I got a call and he said “Listen I got something for you” and I said “Ok, what uniform do I have to wear now”. But in the film, I play his boss and I get to fire him in a wonderful little scene. It is ironic because he was hiring me. “Larry Crowne” is probably one of the best written romantic comedies that I have ever seen and Tom is a tour de force in it. I am glad to have a little shot at it.
MG: You are currently writting and directing your first film “No Better Place to Die”, what can you tell us about that?
DD: We are able to start shooting. I am making my feature directorial debut. It is, naturally, a WWII D-Day film about the fight that the 82nd Airborne Division had at a very critical bridge in La Fiere. I am looking forward to it. I have done a lot of second unit directing. I am also usually staging and choreographing combat. This is a story I wrote and everyone is very excited about the script, so I guess it is good [laughs]. We will see whether or not I have learned over last 20 years from guys like Steven Speilberg, Tom Hanks, Oliver Stone, Robert Robert Zemeckis and many others. If you are going to go to school, you definitely want those guys as your teachers.
Freddie Highmore is known best his roles in “Charlie in the Chocolate Factory” and Finding Neverland”, both with Johnny Depp. Next up, he is starring with Emma Roberts in the upcoming romantic comedy “The Art of Getting By”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Freddie about his new film and discussed about his career to date.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your most recent film “The Art of Getting By”? What drew you to this project?
Freddie Highmore: It was a fantastic film. New York was a joy to be in. What really attracted me to the film was the honesty of it. It doesn’t present the sort of stylized version of high school that you often get with some of these movies. It is incredibly real and it is actually quite refreshing. People will go and see the film and have it actually represent the feeling of growing up…feeling of that first love…feeling of that wanting to succeed and the pressure to succeed. The film encompasses all though things and in a real way.
MG: How was it working with Emma Roberts?
FH: Emma Roberts was fantastic. It was a real joy to get to work with her. The fact we got a long so well right from the start was incredibly helpful. It is great to get along with someone that you are working with especially with the more intimate moments, they felt more real
MG: Are you generally a fan of the romance genre?
FH: Yeah I am. I am, obviously. But some of them perhaps what they are lacking is the way the actor portrays it. They sometimes need to overdue it emotionally and make it too obvious to people. I think people really will enjoy our film and see that start they think George is a bit depressed and a bit deluished in life. But actually by the end they will find out who he is. I think people enjoy seeing that kind of movie.
MG: You’ve worked with so many A-list directors, Tim Burton and Ridley Scott for example, how was it working with first time director Gavin Wiesen?
FH: It was great. One thing that all directors seems to have in common is an amazing amount of energy. For Gavin, despite the film being somewhat based on real events and in fact on him, he is incredible open. He is open to the fact that it will be a movie and people will have various interpations of the story. It was really rewarding that he was able to give up a certain part of something felt attached to him.
MG: After working on the very large production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, how does working on a film like this compare to indie “The Art of Getting By”?
FH: I think on the independent film, each day was definitely more filled up. You definitely get through more in the day oppose to just doing one massive shot, which will take the whole day shooting. There is just something nice about working on the independent film. You are with a smaller crew and get to know everyonestraight away. Everyone is really willing to be there, excited and looking at the same goal. It makes it a really excited project to be apart of. We were just running around New York and grabbing shots on the go. Perhaps New York represents the aim for the film, not just going for the postcard picture of Manhattan. It is sort of the real New York and the people that live and work in it.
MG: What would you say has been your most challenging film to date?
FH: I think they have all been different. I am not sure if one has been more challenging than an other one. I have been lucky in that way. I have been able to play different character for different genres and not get tied up in one thing in particular. Every film should be a challenge and it keeps you popping and really focused about doing it.
MG: “Arthur and the Invisibles 2 & 3″ were just recently released, how was it working on those films not only acting but also voice acting?
FH: It was fun doing a voiceover in the film oppose to just acting. I think the people think it is always easier to do a voice but for me I thought it was more challenging. Since you are never really working with the people. You just sort of go off and make it up on your own. There is definitely a lot of preparation for a role like that.
MovieMikes has prided itself in speaking with some of the great voice talent behind many of Walt Disney’s beloved characters. From Winnie the Pooh to many of the classic Disney Princesses, our readers have asked and we’ve delivered. And if you’re talking about beloved Disney characters, there is none bigger or more known around the world then the one that started it all, Mickey Mouse.
Mickey Mouse has been voiced by four different men. Walt Disney himself provided the voice from the character’s introduction in 1928’s “Steamboat Willie” through 1947. He also provided Mickey’s voice during the 1955-59 series run of the original “Mickey Mouse Club.” Jimmy McDonald succeeded Disney and voiced the character until 1977 when he was replaced by Wayne Allwine. When Mr. Allwine passed away in 2009 he was replaced by Bret Iwan who, like Disney and McDonald before him, dreamed of being an animator long before he discovered his vocal talent. Born in September 1982, Iwan received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Ringling College or Art and Drawing in 2004. If you are looking for a good tool check out this for video editing. Shortly after graduation he sent off his portfolio, hoping for a job with the Walt Disney Company. While he was offered an internship at Walt Disney Imagineering he also received an offer of a full time position at Hallmark Cards. He took the Hallmark offer and soon found himself moving to Kansas City, coincidentally the city that stood home to Walt Disney’s first animation studio. As he approached his fifth year with Hallmark he learned from a friend that phone auditions were being accepted to voice Mickey Mouse. After several days of practice, Iwan called in, recorded his audition and waited for a phone call. Several weeks later, that call came and, after a few more auditions, Iwan was named the fourth official voice of Mickey Mouse.
While back in Kansas City to attend a fund raiser for the “Thank You, Walt Disney,” an organization created to help save the building that housed Disney’s original “Laugh O’ Gram” studios,” Iwan took some time out to talk with MovieMikes about his career and his unique opportunity.
Mike Smith: Since you used to live here I guess I can say “welcome back” to Kansas City.
Bret Iwan: Thank you. It’s great to be here.
MS: You studied to become an artist. What made you choose that path as a career?
BI: Early on what inspired me was watching the old classic Disney cartoons. My parents were always putting them on for me, everything from Mickey Mouse to Pinocchio. And while watching them they really caught my attention…how the drawings were coming to life. And so as early as I can remember I wanted to be an artist…more specifically I wanted to be an animator. So from grade school through high school through college that was my goal. That’s what I focused on. I didn’t quite make it there in the capacity I dreamed of but I did make it to Disney, which was a major part of that dream.
MS: How did it work at Hallmark? Would they give you the written copy for a card and ask you to design it?
BI: It worked a couple of different ways. That was one way. Other times the creator would have a specific card and a specific image in mind that they would come to us and ask us to create. And other times we would have an open brainstorm free for all! The illustrators would come up with concepts on their own or with concepts for whatever upcoming holiday they were working on at the time and then submit them to the designers for them to pick and choose from. So there never really was oneconsistent way of working. They always kept us on our toes. It was a lot of fun.
MS: What was the oddest or most memorable card you designed?
BI: It wasn’t one that I designed. I got to pose. I modeled for a card one time. I was holding two glasses of wine so it was just my hands. It was for Hallmarks’ “RED” card line (NOTE: the company’s RED card line was created to raise money. The proceeds from the cards were spent to combat AIDS in Africa.Mr. Iwan’s card caused some notoriety when a Delaware woman tried to have it pulled from shelves, claiming it promoted promiscuity). They went around the room and they chose me. I guess I had the nicest hands at the time. That was my one and only modeling job ever.
MS: What did your audition consist of to become the voice of Mickey Mouse? Did you have scenes to read, or did they just say “do Mickey happy…do Mickey sad?” Not that Mickey Mouse is ever sad.
BI: He could be. (laughs) The audition was basically a voice match. They provided an MP3 of clips from a couple of Walt’s cartoons and a couple of Wayne’s cartoons. And the audition was to do the best you could to match those voices. Walt’s clips included lines from “The Brave Little Tailor” and Wayne’s had clips from “The Three Musketeers” and also some stuff from the intro to the “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” that was currently on the air. So there was a great variety from where Walt had started and where Wayne had taken Mickey.
MS: Did you ever meet Wayne Allwine?
BI: No, sadly, I did not. When I auditioned they were looking for somebody to serve as an understudy for Wayne. So I auditioned thinking I was going to get to meet him and to learn from him. Get some good tips and techniques from him. Unfortunately that didn’t happen because in the midst of the process of finding an understudy he passed away. It was somewhat unexpected. I took over about twoweeks after he passed away.
MS: I know you’ve voiced Mickey on several video games. Is there any talk of bringing Mickey back in a full length feature film?
BI: I would love for that to happen. And I know a lot of the other voice cast members would as well. I haven’t heard anything official. I have heard from my fans on Twitter that there was an interview with one of the story men at the Walt Disney Studios where he mentioned that he had pitched a feature length 2-D animated movie featuring Mickey, Donald and Goofy. I don’t know what the future is for that but I would love for it to come to fruition so I’m keeping my fingers crossed because I think that would be great.
MS: In your short time doing this, what is the most unusual or strangest thing you’ve ever had to voice as Mickey Mouse?
BI: Hmmmmmm….well I don’t know if it’s the strangest but voicing for the “Epic Mickey” video game was interesting because there’s NO dialogue in the entire game. It’s all noises and reactions. So it was strange trying to communicate a plethora of emotions and actions just by little noises. That’s probably the oddest and most challenging that I can think of.
MS: Let’s say the proposed upcoming Mickey Mouse feature comes along and they’re going to do the animation the old fashioned way. If they offered you a job as an animator would you do it?
BI: I would love to. I would love that. That would be a complete dream come true. I’d have a lot to learn…I’m by no means an expert at animation. But with that being the driving force behind my initial dream I would love to be a part of that process.
For information on how you can get involved with the “Thank You Walt Disney” organization please click here.
Ashley Eckstein is best known for voicing the role of Ahsoka Tano in the TV series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”. The show is hitting warp speed and it enters its fourth season this Fall. Ashley is also the celebrity host, along with James Arnold Taylor, this year at Walt Disney World’s “Star Wars” Weekend. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat about “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” with Ashley as well as her hosting for “Star Wars” Weekend and even her own clothing line “Her Universe” which is also inspired by “Star Wars”.
Check back this weekend for an exclusive giveaway of an autographed shirt from Ashley’s ‘Her Universe’ clothing line
Mike Gencarelli: So lets start at the beginning, any idea you will be where you are today when you took the role of Ahsoka Tano in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”?
Ashley Eckstein: [laughs] No, actually I had no idea. I would have called myself more of a casual “Star Wars” fan before I got the “Clone Wars” job. I watched the movies when I was a little kid but it didn’t really go beyond that. I did understand the power of “Star Wars”. I thought knew just how iconic it was. But when I once I was cast on the show. I guess I didn’t quite comprehend JUST how powerful it was and how popular it was worldwide. So, obviously after working on the show and working with Dave Filoni you just become just a hardcore fan. We really have to understand “Star Wars” to be able to do the show. I think in order really to perform our roles to the best we can. Dave really helps us with that. Dave is such a huge “Star Wars” fan. He really knows it all and we get to learn from him. We have been working on the show now close to six year and have really become much more knowledgeable and passionate fans due to that. So I definitely never imagined the position I would be in today and how “Star Wars” has also affected my life and what it means to me. It really has changed my life.
MG: What do you like most about playing Ahsoka ?
AE: I think my favorite part of playing Ahsoka is how powerful of a character she is and a role model for young girls. That has really been a dream come true for me. I worked a lot of the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon before “Clone Wars”, mostly on-camera work. I really fell in love with children and family programming. First hand I saw the impact you can have on a child’s life by doing a children/family show. So, I really tried to gear my career in that direction. “The Clone Wars” came along and I wasn’t even trying for it. Literally, my agent got a call and I was asked to come in and read. So to get the role of Ahsoka who is such a strong and powerful character for young girls to look up to to and to even be a part of it is just such an honor for me. I am not one of these actresses that say I don’t want to be a role model or I never asked for this. I do feel that a child’s role model should be somebody that is in their life on a daily basis. But I also understand that by default as someone in the public eye you are going to be a role model whether you life it or not. So it is something I take very seriously. I want to be a positive influence and through Ahsoka I can do that. I am very honored to be given the opportunity to do that.
MG: Having this character really opened up the “Star Wars” franchise to a more female audience, can you reflect on that for us?
AE: When I was growing up, I was a bit of a tom-boy. The only girl on the baseball team. I didn’t want to wear a dress. Had my hat on backwards [laughs]. Having a character like Ahsoka, I wish I would have had Ahsoka to look up to. Not every girl wants to be a princess or wear a dress. Some girls want to carry a lightsaber and pretend to be a jedi. I think it is really cool to have her character. “The Clone Wars” has kind of become the watercooler show for kids on the playground. Whether you like “Star Wars” or not, it is the show that everyone talks about. Even the girls are starting to watch it just so they are in the know. Now when the kids play it on the playground, the girls have someone they can be. They do not have to pretend to be Anakin, Captain Rex or Obi-Wan. I have so many little girls coming up to be saying “Yeah I am Ahsoka and my brother is Anakin and we play “Clone Wars” all the time”. I think that is so cool that their is a character that the girls can be. Not even just Ahsoka, there is Asajj Ventress, Padmé Amidala, Sha’ak Ti and just so many powerful females in “The Clone Wars”.
MG: What has been your favorite part of hosting Star Wars Weekend in Walt Disney Resort this year?
AE: I think it is the ability to interact with the fans, especially the kids. “The Clone Wars” sort of introduced “Star Wars” to a new generation. It is funny because “Star Wars” is the “The Clone Wars” to many kids today. Many kids haven’t seen the other movies yet. They have only seen “The Clone Wars. To have that impact on a new generation of kids to me…I can’t even fantom it. To see some of the expressions from their faces and I get a chance to meet them. It has really been an honor [laughs], I really don’t have another word for it.
MG: Tell us about your show you are hosting “Behind the Force”?
AE: Of course, I think it is a fun show. “Behind the Force” takes you on a behind the scenes look at our job as voice over artists and recording the show. The first part of the show we have a special guest, in our upcoming last weekend we have Tom Kane, who is the voice of Yoda, the narrator of the show and many others from the show. So we introduce our audience to him and I ask him a couple of questions and then our audience get a chance to ask him some questions as well. Then we go into a live demonstration of us going into the studio recording an episode. Then we audition people from our audience to be an honorary cast member of “The Clone Wars”. The person that is chosen gets to come up on stage and do a scene live with us on stage. It is really exciting and puts the audience in the studio with us and get a chance to see what it is like.
MG: How many times have you rode the new “Star Tours” this month since its opening?
AE: That is a great question [laughing]. I think I have rode it eight or nine times…I think nine times by now. It is such an amazing ride. They did such a fantastic job on it and it is almost like a completely new ride. They revamped the entire thing. I also got to do a series of videos with Disney showing the behind the scenes look on the making of Star Tours. It just awesome. If you ride with me the chances are you will get Hoth [laughs], that is the one planet I keep getting over and over. I have only gotten Naboo twice and to me that is definitely my favorite. I even got picked as the secret spy one time, which was fun.
MG: Tell us about your “Star Wars” inspired clothing line, Her Universe?
AE: Thanks for asking about that. I created Her Universe and we launched about a year ago this June. It is the first “Star Wars” / sci-fi line JUST for women. We are only for the female fans. Close to half of all sci-fi and “Star Wars” fans are women. “Star Wars” is the story of hope and that transcends gender. I got the idea a little over three year ago. Actually when I first got cast for “Clone Wars”, I did a search for merchandise for women because I wanted to buy stuff. But I really came up empty handed. I was able to find one shirt and the rest was either on backorder or sold out. There was very little for women and NOTHING for little girls. It just didn’t make sense to me. I go to all the events and “Star Wars” weekends and there are women everywhere. I was thinking “Why are you giving us nothing to buy when 85% of the consumer market is women?” I have to give LucasFilm credit because they were the first company to give me a shot. They really want to recognize their female fans. They gave me the license and trusted me [laughs]. I have always been into fashion decision, so they trusted me to design clothes and accessories for the female fans. So I am really excited about that. Disney, again, I have to give them credit that they gave us the opportunity to sell it during “Star Wars” Weekends and we have been selling five different shirts in the merchandise tent, Jabba’s Hut. I have been doing signings there also every day. It has been great. One more thing, I have to thank SyFy because we just closed a deal with them and starting in July we are coming out with SyFy merchandise for the brand and also its properties. We are starting with “Battlestar Galactica” and “Warehouse 13”.
MG: What can we expect from season 4 in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” this Fall?
AE: Sure, I can definitely tell you it is actually called Season 4: Battle Lines. It is going to take you right into the heart of the battles of the Clone Wars. They have been going on for over two years now. The war is really taking its toll on its characters. There are going to be epic battles that are going to be bigger than anything we have seen to date on the series. There is also the return of some classic characters from the “Star Wars” movies including some bad guys but also some good guys. So also look for that trend to continue and look for some really epic battles. They are really raising the bar.
Ahmed Ahmed is a standup comedian who has also appeared in several films and television shows. His newest project is titled “Just Like Us” and documents Ahmed and several other comedians’ tour across the Middle East. Ahmed took time out of his busy schedule to talk with Movie Mikes about his new project.
Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your film “Just Like Us”
Ahmed Ahmed: “Just Like Us” is a documentary film that I came up with after doing comedy shows around the Middle East. Around 2007 I toured the Middle East with a group we put together called “The Axis of Evil Tour” which was filmed and shown on television over there. In 2008 we toured there again but not as a group and we didn’t film anything. In 2009 we had a tour that lined up with the International cast and that’s when we actually decided to shoot it.
AL: So the idea came about after touring over there a few different times?
AA: I had started a company with my business partner called Cross Cultural Entertainment and under that umbrella we created Cross Cultural Productions. This would be the portion that would physically produce and put on projects. After doing this my partner asked me what my next plan was. I told him I was going to go to the Middle East and he said I had to shoot it. The timing was great and the topic was relevant so that was part of it. A couple years prior I had done a comedy tour with Vince Vaughn called “The Wild West Comedy Show” which was also turned into a documentary film. From that I sort of had an idea of how to make a documentary. Another thing that kind of brought me to making this project was when I would come back from the Middle East a lot of my friends would ask what I was doing over there. I would tell them comedy shows and they would ask which military base. I would tell them we played theaters for Arabs in English and they get it. The film came out really great and I think people will enjoy it.
AL: What was it like touring and filming at the same time?
AA: I kind of bit off more than I could chew! At first I was going to just be the host for the shows however the promoters started asking me to bring comedians. I in a way started to become a talent booker as well as being relied on to do press. I didn’t have to set up the shows but I did a lot of the grass roots work in setting everything else up and promoting. When we started to shoot that’s where I started to turn into the producer/director (Laughs) It was literally 4 days prior to leaving for the tour that my partner said we should shoot it. I didn’t think we had enough time but he was very adamant about finding camera operators which we did. Once we got back to New York we started almost immediately in post production. We set up an office, purchased the editing equipment, hired two editors and began transcribing everything. We had about 200 hours of footage that we cut down to about 72 minutes. I didn’t really know what I was getting into at the beginning but the film has unfolded into this beautiful project that has taken on a life of its own.
AL: When is the film going to be released?
AA: We did a deal with Lion’s Gate Entertainment and the film is going to be available as a digital download through places like Netflix. My company is also going to release the film independently in select theaters. We hope to get the film into about 10 cities. If it catches wind in its sails we will add more cities. We want as many people as possible to see the film.
AL: Do you have any funny stories from working with Vince Vaughn?
AA: Everyday on that tour was a funny day. It went by so fast that we didn’t have a lot of time in each city but just being a part of that tour was really inspirational and eye opening. That tour really prodded me to make my own film. There were just so many funny things that happened. I can’t think of one that really sticks out.
AL: Had you known Vince previously?
AA: I have been friends with Vince for over 20 years. He had come to a lot of the comedy shows I was involved in which exposed him to the other comedians. He then just had this idea to take it on the road and film it. It was great to be a part of that and we are actually doing some follow up shows in June.
AL: Do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
AA: The film has opened up a lot of doors. I was actually invited to attend a dinner at the White House last year because of this film and that opened up some doors for us which took us to Palestine, Syria and a few other places to do some shows. During this time we accidentally shot a sequel and we will probably start going through that material in the fall. Releases for “Just Like Us” are going to be spaced out from city to city and that will probably take us through July. I travel quite regular and have had a lot of inquiries to go to a lot of different countries that have recently opened up.
Getting a chance to interview Kane Hodder, a horror legend, in person is one of the reasons why I started this website. Sitting in an office in AMC Pleasure Island 24 in Orlando, FL, we got a chance to chat in person with one of the horror legends. Kane is one of the coolest guys I have ever met, this time though he promised not to choke me (see picture below). Kane is known for his role as Jason Voorhees in Part VII-X. He is currently traded the knife for a hatchet in his newest character, Victor Crowley. Kane is currently starring in Adam Green’s follow up “Hatchet II”, which is currently in theaters. Victory Crowley has already turned into a horror icon. We got a chance to talk with Kane about his role as well as a few of his other roles.
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Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about working on the “Hatchet” series”?
Kane Hodder: It has been fucking fantastic because it is Adam Green. Not just because he is such a good director and so talented as a writer. He always challenges me every time we do a movie. He gets me to do something in my character that I have never done before each time. “Hatchet”, I have never really cried on screen. I did that and it opened up a bunch of other doors. Now I am doing a lot more of dramatic roles. “Hatchet II”, he called me I was in Montreal and he said “I got the script done, you are going to love it” and hells tells me I have a sex scene. I said “Yeah, ok sure, what is the script really?” and he said “you have a sex scene and a love scene”. I was shocked. It was exactly the case. We just did a new project, one part of an anthology, and he has me [hesitating]…dancing. Which I have never done before either [laughs]. He always comes up with something.
MG: How the character Victory Crowley changed or evolved in “Hatchet II”?
KH: I have tried to make him consistent because the second movie picks up exactly where the first one ended. So I didn’t want to change what he was doing too much, since it is the very next night. Even though they changed the makeup and the actress. I wanted to keep Victor consistent. I think they changed the actress for the good though because Danielle Harris is fantastic and really good in this role. Tony Todd is in it a lot more also but that was always the plan even during the first film. Victor has become even more murderous in this one, with more than twice as many kills.
MG: Tell us about the makeup process for creating Victor Crowley?
KH: Well, they streamlined the makeup for “Hatchet II” to make it less bulky. The face and the body looked good but a little too puffy in the first film. It meant I had less facial movement. Now with the makeup streamlined, there is a lot more movement to the face. But at the same time that makes the applicable process take way longer. It took three and a half hours to put on for this movie and a good hour and a half for removal. That is the longest removal time I have ever had on a movie. The whole top in the first movie, the foam latex goes down into the overalls, so there was no blending. In “Hatchet II, it ended here (pointing to just under neck level) and every part of it had to be blended to my skin and that is what takes so long.
MG: How was it moving from playing Jason Voorhees to Victory Crowley? Is one harder than another?
KH: Boy, I would say that they were pretty equal as far as difficulty. The makeup was roughly the same. To work in the makeup it is never easy when it is all glued to you. It is very similar physical stuff I had to do in each character. I do not know if either one was harder than the other. “Jason X” was probably the easiest. The makeup didn’t take to long and wasn’t that uncomfortable.
MG: How do you feel about Victory Crowley already becoming a classic horror icon?
KH: People have really latched on to the character. I believe they have done that because these movies are so well written. All the scenes in between all the violence are just as enjoyable to watch. Adam is very good in casting people that can really pull off their characters well. Instead of just going through the motions and waiting for next kill. It is fun to watch the whole movie.
MG: What has been the hardest project that you have worked on to date?
KH: It has to be some of the makeup roles. It is one thing to go into work and do some difficult stunts but when you have to do the stunts in makeup like that with limited vision, its hard. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood probably has to be the most difficult one I have done. So many stunts happened to Jason because the character Tina had those powers. It made it really difficult. One eye was completely covered and the other had a yellow contact lens. We have to do fire stunts, roof fall down on your head, going through windows, doors, and all kinds of shit. Then also the last two days of shooting the movie was the underwater scenes. Fucking absolutely exhausting. I was underwater for four hours at a time, without ever coming up. They cabled my leg to the bottom of the dive pool. I was underwater about four feet. With the makeup I floated but if I wasn’t held down I would have floated to the top. I had to hold my breath so many times, over and over. When they would cut, I would get the regulator to breath. Catch my breath and do it again, over and over for two days. It was a really hard way to end a show. So that might have been my most difficult physically. Most difficult working conditions was probably “Frozen” because it was so fucking cold. No matter how somebody describes it you cannot believe how cold it really was. We were at 7,500 feet in February/March in Utah at a ski resort. You are out in the open with the wind hollowing. When you are outside for so long and can never go inside, you get so cold through your bone, as they always say.
MG: Tell us about some of the other projects you have coming up?
KH: I have several movies coming out. One called “Sickle”, where I play the sheriff of a town and I kill who comes to my town. Another one called “Old Habits Die Hard”, I play a guy that runs a mortuary and kills people to stay in business. Another one called “Exit 33,” where I run a gas station in an out of the way place and kill people [laughing] that come to the gas station.
MG: I am seeing a pattern here, Kane.
KH: That is why I have killed more people on film that any other actor. We (referring to himself and friend and co-author Michael Aloisi) are currently writing my book and telling my story. Mike and I are working together, he is a writer and I am not. We are writing a biography. The website is http://kanehodderkills.com. This is kind of a really cool thing. I have always wanted to do it and finally decided it was the time to do it. I have my stunt career, my horror career, my other acting side, my burn injury…which is a book in itself and I grew up on a tiny island in the South Pacific. Right now we are calling it “Kill!” because of the tattoo in my lip.
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Tim Roth is well known for his role of Mr. Orange in “Reservoir Dogs”. He also steals in the show in “Pulp Fiction”. Tim is really good at playing very different and interesting roles in his films. He plays villains in the the “Planet of the Apes” remake and the “The Incredible Hulk”. Tim is currently starring in Fox’s TV series “Lie to Me”, which is heading into its third season. Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Tim to discuss his hit TV show and go through his amazing roles that he has played.
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Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you originally got involved with Quentin Tarantino?
Tim Roth: I have only just arrived in LA and really didn’t know anybody. My agent at the time had me look at this script. I think Quentin had seen me in “Vincent & Theo” and “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead”, since he is very film savvy. He knew the stuff I had been doing over in Europe. I think the note on the script originally said to look at Blond or Pink characters. I looked at it and loved Mr. Orange. I knew he was on to something special and I quickly reached for the phone. We met and got along very well. Then him and Harvey Weinstein were trying to get me to read and I wouldn’t do it. I am really bad at auditioning. I will meet anybody but I won’t read for them. Eventually Quentin got me drunk and I ended up reading every character like five times in my apartment. Faced the fear. And that was that. I think it was a very great relationship we made, along into “Pulp Fiction” as well.
MG: Between “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction”, both huge cult classics, do you have a favorite?
TR: I think “Pulp Fiction” is a comedy. It is a brilliant stylish comedy. I think “Reservoir Dogs” is a much more serious film. I find them both very different film and love them both. I was watching “Pulp Fiction” the other day and thought it was hilarious. At first I would have to say though “Reservoir Dogs”. Since that when we were all very much raw…trying out new things and experimenting. “Reservoir Dogs” is also the beginning of me not taking myself so bloody seriously as an actor and just enjoying myself.
MG: Tell us about working on “Planet of the Apes”, was it a difficult shoot?
TR: I had the best time doing that film. It was fantastic work with Tim (Burton). We really didn’t get to make the film we wanted to make. It should have been a very dark and twisted film, but we were under a lot of constraints. The makeup started out at around five hours but got it down to around two and a half, which isn’t bad. But that was just to get it on. The shoot I believe was five months long and I ended up getting the flu. I would just put myself into the mood, fool around and enjoy myself and it would distract me from what was actually happening. I really enjoyed making that film.
MG: How do you feel about the prequel that is doing CG apes?
TR: I suppose that is just reflects what today is with films. It is great we have the technology to do that. There is something about the original film especially and even the TV show, the fact that it is a person in makeup that makes those films special. I just don’t known if with it all CG if it will be as special.
MG: How was it working “The Incredible Hulk”, it seemed like a pretty intense role?
TR: I really really had a great time [laughs]. I just enjoyed myself. I did it really for my kids. I wanted to be in a movie that they would get a kick out of when they see it. Originally I know what they planned to do and it would have made it a better film. There was some very good sequences that I think the audience would have loved. I usually like to throw myself into these things. I like the idea of doing very different things as for as being an actor. Experimenting with different kinds of film and now working on TV, I enjoy that.
MG: Tell us about your hit show “Lie to Me”, what can we expect for season three?
TR: I think we have the strongest of the writers from last year stepping up. Alexander Carey is now taking over the running of the show with David Graziano. They form a very solid team. The script this season shows a great consistency of that. They feel like little movies for TV. There is a lot of looking into Lightman’s relationship and the things with his daughter. There is also new women in Lightman’s life as well, it kind of opened up everything really. We have a lot of fun stories. We have all kinds of different stuff which is what good about the character, you can really go anywhere with it.
MG: How was it been playing Dr. Cal Lightman?
TR: What is interesting about doing TV for me is that I didn’t I would like it so much. But I am really enjoying it and a lot of that comes down to these two guys that are running the show. The character is season one is quite different and he gradually gets built up from season two to now season three. In the one end, you are playing the same guy but he is changing all the time. That is what is refreshing about doing TV, you can expand the character as you go. I know he is a bit of a dick but I quite [laughs] love him really. I just do not know how he survives. I would imagine him getting shot pretty quickly. Unfortunately for the bad guy, I get away with murder. I just find him fun to play and he makes me laughs a lot. I just sort of build on the guy from week to week.
MG: What is the best part of working on the show?
TR: I like the hours. Well actually not so much the hours, more so that you are working so much. Where in film you are doing three pages a day, we are doing seven here…just running at it. I actually like that. I do like a day off occasionally though, which happens very rarely. You are busy all the time and I really enjoy that. Working with the writers and working as a producer, I sort of enjoy that as well. I found it very difficult to adjust to at first. Gradually as I have met people that are talented and passionate about it, it has become a lot more pleasurably.
MG: Any other projects in the works?
TR: I have a couple of films I want to direct. So hopefully after this TV show is done, I will have a little bit of money in the bank. Then I can take some time off and direct…cause their is no money in that. There are a couple of really good scripts, that I have come across. They are very unusual and interesting. I do not want to say what they are but they are very well written and hopefully will have some time to do those.
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Adam Green has become on of the biggest names in Hollywood in what seems like overnight. He directed “Hatchet” starring Kane Hodder as the instant horror icon, Victory Crowley. The film has become such a cult classic already that Adam make “Hatchet II”, which will be in theaters on October 1st unrated and uncut, courtesy of AMC Theaters. Adam not only cares about his job, he takes pride in it. This show in the fact that “Hatchet II” is actually better than its predecessor, which is rare for a slasher flick. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Adam about his road to stardom and his work on his “Hatchet” films.
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Mike Gencarelli: When you originally made the first “Hatchet”, did you think it was going to be as successful as it has been?
Adam Green: Absolutely not! It was the type of thing that we got a bunch of friends together who liked this type of stuff. It was a very selfish movie because we made the type of movie we wanted to see. The reaction in the industry to the script was interesting. My agency at the time was sure if it was funny or scary. They didn’t really understand the tone of it. I told them it is both, it is just a fun movie. They said nobody is doing this type of movie any more and that it went out of style in 1989. They sent it around and one of the first major studios to respond said “We really enjoyed this. The writing is brilliant. However this movie is not going to get made because it is not a remake, not a sequel and not based Japanese film.” I used the rejection letter as part of the poster in the festival tour. For a lot of fans that is what drew them in. Once the movie actually came out though, Anchor Bay took that off the poster and really pushed it as really serious scary movie. I wasn’t happy about that. We premiered at Tribeca and all of the sudden our slasher movie was getting good reviews. Audiences were standing up and cheering. We were winning awards. It was crazy. It was a dream come true.
MG: With the sequel “Hatchet II”, you were able to get an unrated and uncut theatrical release, that must feel good to get that great accomplishment?
AG: It does and it doesn’t. With “Hatchet” when they gave it an NC-17, we were absolutely shocked. We keep re-cutting and re-cutting and they kept giving us an NC-17 for violence. I eventually went to trial against the MPAA because I didn’t feel we were being treated fairly. During my trial, I sited a lot of other movies that were out at the time. My biggest one was “The Hills Have Eyes” remake, which I really liked. But I was saying to them though, here is a movie that has a scene where a women is raped in front of a baby, they sucked on the mom’s tit till she lactates only to shoot her in the head, bite the head off of parakeet then drink its blood and follow-up by running off into the night with a stolen baby they are going to eat while daddy is outside crucified and on fire….and that is ok? But a swamp monster with gas-powered self sander killing a bunch of comedians like Monty Python is too much? I asked them where are there standards? The fact is we were an independent movie. We weren’t paying their salaries. That is their jobs to keep the studios films in the spotlight and bury films like ours. They will deny it but it is true. There is a great film by Kirby Dick called “This Film Is Not Yet Rated”. If you see the movie, those are the exact people I had to deal with. When we submitted “Hatchet II”, they gave us an NC-17 again for violence. I cut two whole minutes out of the movie just of gore and told them I wasn’t going to fight with them again. They still gave us an NC-17. So then Dark Sky Films, who was distributing, brought the movie to AMC because they knew the head of AMC was a “Hatchet” fan and is in the Hatchet Army. They showed him the movie and he loved it. They asked him how would you feel if none of the kills were in the movie. He said “You can’t do that”. It was really them who made the decision to release to the movie unrated. It hasn’t happened with a horror movie is over 25 years. It is very exciting. But I am officially like a marked man by the ratings board. I didn’t want any of that, I was just standing up for myself. It would really mean a lot if the fans actually show up and support this movie. What the industry looks at is those per screen averages. If we make enough noise and enough people see this, it is going to start blowing the winds of change at the ratings board. This is a very pivotal movie in the history of cinema. I wish it wasn’t my movie. I wish it was somebody elses because then I would be campaigning like a fucking politician. But I have to watch what I do because I do not want to be conceived as a car salesman, who is just trying to show his product. Hopefully the fans show up. If they like it hopefully they go twice or three times and bring their friends. They need to cast their vote that they agree with what we are doing.
MG: I know the second film is just coming out but do you think we will see Victor Crowley again?
AG: I am personally looking to make other films. Pretty much what I did after “Hatchet”, I did “Spiral”, I produced “Grace” and I did “Frozen”. Then I was ready to do “Hatchet II”. They wanted a sequel right away but I needed sometime to spread my wings and do other things. So I wanted to come back to this with the same excitement and passion that I had the first time around. We will see what happens, if “Hatchet 3” ends up taking several years to make, maybe I will come back to helm. If they want to go right away, I will most likely pass the torch and stay as producer and hopefully hand pick who they will choose to carry on the series. I kind of feel like I have done my part with this at this point. Victor Crowley can always come back. One of the cool things about the 80’s slasher franchises is that we saw so many great writers and directors got their first chance by doing some of those sequels. I would love to watch someone elses career get started with a “Hatchet” movie. At the same time I know for a fact that “Hatchet II” is better than the first one and if they make “Hatchet 3”, I would want it to be better than this one. I would love to have a slasher franchise that actually gets better as they go and not just spiral out of control.
MG: Most of the films you directed are from your own script, do you find that easier as a director?
AG: As a director, I get more excited about the things I write because I am writing them for me to direct. I get submitted scripts all the time from my agents with offers to direct them. Even though they are good scripts, I just don’t get that feeling. I already have like ten of my own things that I am working on and that I am much more invested in and excited about. There are other directors out there and all they do is direct and look for that good material. I am not really the guy to be sending stuff too. One of the hardest things of writing and directing, it was also one of the best lessons from “Hatchet II”, was at some point the director has to take over. The writer in me is always so concerned about the script and not cutting anything. I am always making sure the character arcs the way I designed them. At some point you have to trim and edit and it is so hard to do that when you know that it is hurting the writing but in return making the playability of the film better. Joe Lynch is one of my best friends, he is also a director. He saw “Hatchet II” a couple of time and I told him I know there are a couple of moments that I know the film is dragging but if I cut those the characters do not have the same arc. He said “Dude it is “Hatchet II”, no matter what…nobody is going to respect the writing…no matter how good it is”. He told me to go for playability and make the movie move as fast as I can without completely sacrificing it. I cut like four minutes of dialogue and character stuff out and it really helps the movie flow better I feel.
MG: Ok, I need to ask about this crazy fact I read, how did you end up posing as Dr. Zaius on the cover art for Fox’s Planet of the Apes 40th Anniversary box set?
AG: That was one of my highlights of everything that has happened so far. At once point Robert Pendergraft, who did the makeup effects for “Hatchet I & II”, he was working at a shop that was hired to high resolution of the apes for the “Planet of the Apes” Blu-ray release. A lot of the actors are not around anymore, though. Maurice Evans who played Zaius is dead. He told me that from looking at the costume, it looks like the same size as me. He asked me to come in and try it on and he said “if it works, we will put you in the makeup”. They told me I couldn’t tell anybody because they want the fans to think it is Maurice Evans but I will be in his costume. So there I am like two days later, they are pulling out all of the old costumes and prosthetics. It was like a five hour makeup job. You can tell when you look at the eyes, it is me. Somebody finally at Fox admitted it was me and now it is out there. It was such an honor to have worn that man’s costume. I am such a huge “Planet of the Apes” films and I can’t even tell you what that day was like for me.
MG: Tell us about what your next film will be?
AG: Due to the success of “Hatchet”, if I have a movie that could be marketed in that genre, people are always throwing money at you to make it. I hoping that something like that happens with the film I have coming up called, “Killer Pizza”, which is a kids adventure movie. I am working on it with Chris Columbus. Hopefully that will open some more doors for me. In a perfect world, I would do a big movie and then come back and do something like “Hatchet”. Independent movies are our movies. I get to work with the same crew. I get to work with my family. On a studio movie you really do not get that. I am very picky on what I am going to do. As much as I get calls to come in for these big budget remakes and things. I am not going to do one unless it is something I really want to do and believe in it. I am very fortunate that because of “Hatchet”, I do not have to base my decision purely on finances. I do have my own company and I can make my own films. I actually have people that want to finance these now. “Killer Pizza” was definitely the right one at the right time. Just getting the chance to work with 1492 and Chris. I mean Chris Columbus is giving me notes on my script…that is just so amazing.
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Bill Plympton is an animator best known different approach to animation. Bill has created such feature films as “I Married a Strange Person!”, “Mutant Aliens” and the upcoming “Idiots and Angels”. He also has worked on various short films including “Your Face”, which was nominated for Academy Award. Bill is also the subject of the upcoming documentary from filmmaker Alexia Anastasia, called “Adventures in Plymptoons!”. Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Bill to discuss his work, his inspiration and his current projects.
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Mike Gencarelli: Out of all the characters you have created, do you have a favorite?
Bill Plympton: Well the “Dog” is a particular favorite. I was shocked with the reception the “Dog” got when I first screened “Guard Dog” at a Baltimore Film Festival. The audience went crazy and they all mobbed me afterwards. They just loved the “Dog”. I never had that kind of experience before. I thought it might be nice to do a sequel. So I did the film “Guide Dog”. That was equally well-loved. I did “Hot Dog”, where he worked in a fire department. “Horn Dog”, when we fell in love. We are doing a new one now called “Cop Dog”, where he sniffs out drugs in an airport. You know that is going to turn bad. Throughout his life, he is looking for love, affection and someone to take care of him but he always screws it up. That film will not be done till next year though, they take a while to make them.
MG: What has been your inspiration for your work?
BP: I have been influenced by so many people, both teachers and fellow animators. Certainly Walt Disney and Tex Avery have been huge inspirations. Preston Blair, Charles Adams, R. Crumb, Milton Glaser…I could do on and on.
MG: Tell us about your latest short “The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger”?
BP: It was inspired by a trip I took a couple of years ago in Oregon. I was driving through this cow country. I saw thes cows eating grass and I was taken by how intensely these cows were eating this grass. It seemed like they were trying to buff themselves up in order to make themselves as good of a hamburger as possible. I thought that could be a funny idea for a film. When I got back I started playing with that idea. I thought about it for a year or so. Last fall, I started Bill Plympton’s School of Animation and I was teaching a class, and I thought it would be a great teaching tool to show the process of me making a film from beginning to end. I wanted to show the students the process a filmmaker goes through in creating a film. I used “The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger” as a teaching tool. Each week we would have a different step in the process. One week was doing storyboards, then layouts, then character design, then backgrounds etc. They loved it and thought it was great. The only problem was the original ending I had did not work very well. It was not a good ending. So I went back to the beginning of the film and realized the beginning actually held the secret to the ending. It was the mother’s love. That is how I came up with the ending. People, especially women, think it is so emotional and all about love. People have really responded well to the film.
MG: What is your creating process for coming up with these ideas?
BP: The ideas are just haphazard. Like I said it could be something I see through my travels. The idea for the “Dog” films came when I was running around Madison Square Park and I saw this dog parking at a bird. I wondered why is this big dog afraid of such a tiny bird. A lot of these ideas are sparks by mysteries of life. Why is this? Why did this happen? Why do people do this? How does this come about? Answering those questions always leads to very wacky ideas.
MG: How do you feel about computers and CGI taking over animation world so to say?
BP: I think a lot of that computer films are quite nice. I loved “How to Train Your Dragon”. “Kung Fu Panda” was fabulous. “Toy Story 3” was great. I think there is room for all sorts of styles of animation. There is Nick Parks and claymation. Then you have Henry Selik and Tim Burton with stop-motion. You have Japanese (Hayao) Miyazaki with drawn animation. I think there is room for everybody.
MG: Tell me about the documentary “Adventures in Plymptoons!” directed by Alexia Anastasio?
BP: I have known Alexia for around ten years, maybe longer. She works with a friend of mine, Esther Bell, who is a filmmaker. We keep running into each other in film festivals and Comic-Cons and things like that. Last year, she came to me and said “Someone should do a documentary about you, you are a interesting creature. You are single handedly making these animated feature films when no one else can do it”. I said “Yeah that would be really cool. I would like that”. So she has been following me around for about a year. Not just me, she has been interviewing a lot of important people in my life such as filmmakers and actors that know me. The list is pretty impressive, Terry Gilliam, Gus Van Sant, Sarah Silverman, Matt Groening and Michael Moore. She also has interviewing my family, my brothers and people I went to high school with. I think she has about 70 or 80 interviews. It will be very comprehensive. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
MG: Do you have any plans to make another feature film any time soon?
BP: I am actually working on two feature films as we speak. One film is called “Cheatin”. It is about these lovers who become jealous of each other and try to kill each other. It is sort of along of the lines of “The Postman Rings Twice”. It is a great dark film, very noir. It is very similar in style to “Idiots and Angels”. The other film, I probably should talk about much it is very early in stages, but it is about a whale named Tiffany that wants to be a super model.
MG: Tell us about the upcoming release of “Idiots and Angels”?
BP: This is the newest animated feature I just finished a few years ago. It has been doing the festival circuit for a year or so now. We are very excited about it finally getting released in the states. It got a great release in France, Germany, Spain and Portugal. America is very difficult to understand animation for adults. They certain love Pixar and rightfully so. Dreamworks as well and all the other sorts of kids animation. But once you start putting adult topics in feature animation a lot of people are afraid, especially the distributors. They feel there is no big success for something like that. They feel that animation is primarily a children’s art form. That really pisses me off because there are so many great ideas you can do with animation and adult topics. Especially with love, jealousy, fighting and sex for example. I am hoping I will be able to break through this sort of ignorance about animation as an adult art form. It is strange Quentin Tarantino, who is a genius filmmaker, can have all sorts of sex and violence in his films. I try and put the same thing in an animated film and people are like “Oh my God, you can’t do that. You are going to destroy kids brains”. I am trying to fight that stereotype with “Idiots and Angels”. I think that this is my most mature film to date. It is very spiritual. It is a morality tale. It also has great music. We are very excited about this film. It open in NY and LA starting October 6, then platforming into Chicago and across the country throughout the Winter and Spring.
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Olesya Rulin is known for her role of Kelsi Nielsen in Disney’s “High School musical” series. She is currently starring in “Expecting Mary” which was recently released. Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Olesya about her working with Disney and her new movie.
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Mike Gencarelli: Tell what it was like working on the “High School Musical” series?
Olesya Rulin: It was the best 3 1/2 years of my life and was a really great experience. I got to meet some amazing individuals. Working with Kenny Ortega, the rest of the cast and the amazing choreographers was amazing. It was an opportunity of a lifetime. Plus I didn’t walk at my high school graduation ceremony, so doing “High School Musical 3” allowed me to have that same experience. I lived a lot of my personal life through those films as well. I enjoyed every minute.
Mike Gencarelli: Your role got bigger with each film, did you enjoy playing Kelsi Nielsen?
Olesya Rulin: I liked playing her a lot, but I am definitely not a musically savant. I have never played the piano in my life. It was really fun to step in those shoes and pretend to do the things she could. I do where glasses and a lot of hats in real life, so I just got to wear things I like every day. It was really fun. I was pretty nerdy in middle and high school, so I think my own personal characteristics came through.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your recently released film “Expecting Mary”?
Olesya Rulin: It is a wonderful film. It is about a girl that kind of loses her way and is very much alone. She goes on a journey to try and find her dad in Los Angeles. While on journey hitchhiking from east coast to LA. She gets picked up by Elliot Gould’s character, Horace. He takes her to this truck stop/Indian casino, where she meet some of the best characters and changes her life. They teach her what love is, what faith is and what a family can be. It doesn’t have to be blood related, it can be your friends and people that love you. It is really great and emitts a wonderful moral. It’s hilarious as well. Cloris Leachman does a great job of putting a lot of comedic relief in there.
MG: Is it excited to have a starting role in the film?
AR: Yeah! It was really exciting. It was a very short shoot. We shot the whole movie in 18 days. It was insane. We had a small budget. But we had such a wonderful crew and cast. Everyone was so professional. It was seamless. Their was no problems or issues. Dan Gordon, our wonderful writer and director, knew exactely what we needed to get at the end of the day. We moved through the script very quickly. It was long hours but it was really fun. You really can’t complain when you are working with Elliot Gould, Linda Gray and Cloris Leachman [laughs]. Being the star is a different territory for me. I just had to make sure I was on top of my game. Linda Gray would help me every single day. Same with Dan, if I had a question with the script or if one of the lines didn’t seem like something Mary would say. They made it really easy for me.
MG: What was like working with such a fantastic cast?
AR: I auditioned for the film and got a call back. I had no idea the cast will be made up with such great individuals…such great Hollywood legends. I was blown away that Linda Grey and I would be in almost every scene together. On my first day I met Elliot Gould I was shaking, I said “Hello, Mr. Gould, I am Olesya” and he said “Don’t call me Mr. Gould, its Elliot”. He is such a wonderful person.
MG: What else do you have planned next?
AR: I just shot a movie called “Apart”, which I play a scizophrenic. That should come out probably around December/January. I shot an episode of “The Mentalist” which comes out in October. I’ve got a movie shooting in January called “The Family Weekend”. I am keeping busy [laughs].
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Stephen Root is most known for his role of Milton in Mike Judge’s “Office Space”. He is one of the most amazing character actors in the business. Stephen has worked on worked in comedies “Dodgeball: An Underdog Tale” to drama in HBO’s “True Blood”. He also worked a lot in voice overs starting from “King of the Hill” to the upcoming “Rango”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Stephen about his roles and what he is currently working on.
Mike Gencarelli: How did you start working with Mike Judge and play the role of Milton in “Office Space”?
Stephen Root: I worked on “King of the Hill” starting in 1996, so I worked with Mike about a year before he decided to do “Office Space”. I ended up doing the table reading for 20th Century Fox with Mike. He was originally going to read the character of Milton and he told me to do it last minute. I read Milton, the psychiatrist, one of the Bob’s and a whole bunch of other roles. He liked Milton and thought it was best for me and from that he cast me in the role.
Mike Gencarelli: Did you have any idea how popular of a role that would be?
Stephen Root: It just keeps going on and on. I think it resonates with the soft underbelly of America. Every two or three years there are these guys doing that exact job in a office, just like the movie. It keeps getting discovered by broader audience and keeps growing. I think it is a timeless story.
Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with “Finding Nemo” and do the voice of Bubbles?
Stephen Root: Well, John Lasseter really enjoyed the “Office Space” role and wanted to stick me in what he was doing at the time. He actually wanted to have the Milton voice animated up to Bubbles’ voice. It wasn’t done exactly. I was very happy to be involved with the movie. I think Pixar makes incredible pictures. Their storytelling is just phenomenal. I was very happy to be involved with anything thing that they are working on.
MG: Was it fun being a part of the “True Blood” series playing Eddie Gauthier?
SR: When I had done that show, it it was not as popular yet. I did it during the first season and it wasn’t quite there yet. They weren’t sure whether the show was going to be a success or not. I was happy to come on board. I have always wanted to work on a Alan Ball show. I was really a big fan of “Six Feet Under”. I like doing arcs on shows as oppose to getting stuck on one [laughs]. When you are doing like three or four episodes, you have more freedom to other projects like movies or other shows. You look for people that you want to work with and Alan Ball was certainly one of those for me.
MG: Do you have a preference perhaps works in voice over compared to on screen roles?
SR: No, I like to do it all. I started out in theater and worked in that for twelve years. I have done a lot of TV and there is different kinds of TV. There is audience TV for when you are doing a sitcom or single camera TV when you are doing drama. The later is more like when you are doing movies. I enjoy doing all of it. I try to mix it up doing a comedy then something serious. I am character actor that is what we do.
MG: How do you usually prepare for each role you do?
SR: Same way, whether it is animation or live action or sitcom. You find out what out what your character is like. You find out how you would feel comfortable in his skin. The same way you prepare for any role. Obviously animation is all about the voice, you need to be very specific about that. You are preparing pretty much the same way.
MG: You also start production on Kevin Smith’s “Red State” this month correct?
SR: Yeah that’s true, we are going to start in October. Melissa Leo is one board and a whole bunch of other people I can’t say yet because they are not officially signed.
MG: Tell us about the upcoming “Rango”?
SR: “Rango” is going to be a big film. I did a couple of roles. I play Doc’ and Merrymack in “Rango”. One is a banker and the other is a degenerate drunk. It is two different characters in one movie. Gore Verbenski was tremendous director. We actually filmed a lot of the movie on set just for reference material for the animators. That way they could use some of the body motions for us. It was a great project to work on as well. Johnny Depp was great and so was everyone was great. You have a lot of character actors in that movie as well.