Terry Dale Parks talks about roles in “Terminator Genisys” and “Maze Runner: The Scorch”

Terry Dale Parks has appeared in numerous television series and films. Some of his work includes appearances on “Homeland” and “Prison Break” to “Thor” and “Olympus Has Fallen”. Terry recently just finished work on “Terminator Genisys” and “Maze Runner: The Scorch”. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Terry recently about his work on the two films as well as some of his other upcoming work.

Adam Lawton: What can you tell us about your work on “Terminator Genisys”?
Terry Dale Parks: That started off kind of funny. I had started out thinking I was going to New Orleans to work as that’s where a lot of the film was shot however at the last minute I ended up going to San Francisco. I do some stunts in the film as well as playing a character. The role I play is actually that of a guy who is in charge of one of the cybernetic research facilities. This was such a great film to work on. The thing Director Alan Taylor wanted to do was to make this film feel like the original James Cameron “Terminator” films. The film is sort of picking up where the originals left off. Having Arnold back in the film and getting to work around him was really a treat for me.

AL: What was your take on the “Terminator” series prior to working on it and how do you feel it fits in with the previous films?
TDP: I grew up with “Terminator” and the first 3 movies are really what I consider to be it for me in the series. Growing up in the 80’s and with that classic “I’ll Be Back” phrase that’s really where I see this new film fitting in. It really goes back to the originals. There’s a lot of heart in this film and it’s not just constant CGI effects. That’s the thing I loved about the original films was that all the characters had these dynamic relationships. Genisys has some great surprises and I think people are really going to like the film.

AL: You also are going to be appearing in “Maze Runner: The Scorch”. What can you tell us about that project?
TDP: I had never really heard about the first film. I ended up going to see the film one day not knowing what to expect and ultimately I found the film to be really interesting. What I loved about it is was how the relationship between the kids in the film developed. As the film went on it felt like they were this little family. So literally the next day after seeing the first film I got a call from my agent asking if I would be interested in reading for the film. I actually read for several different roles when I went in. I ended up landing a role where I am in charge of a facility where the kids are taken. I can’t really say much more than that. “The Scorch” literally picks up where the first film ended and it’s almost like watching your favorite Sci-Fi series and this is the next episode. What I found with working on this project is that the kids in the film have such a great relationship off screen that it seems to carry over to on screen. They are all great kids and it was a real pleasure working with everyone.

AL: You have a pretty extensive television resume as well. Do you find it difficult to transition between television and film roles?
TDP: There are long hours and hard work that go into both.  Sometimes when you are working on a television show you might be working on 4 different scripts which are being shot on a couple different sets all in one day. With a film you’re working on one thing so you are only focusing on certain scenes each day. With the television stuff I have to spend a little bit more time making sure I have everything set and am on the right page so to speak for each shot as like I said before a lot of times were working on multiple episodes at one time.

AL: Since were on the topic of television can you tell us about working on “Astronaut Wives Club”?
TDP: That was such a great and fun cast to be around. The show is going to be a 10 part mini-series on ABC. I think people are going to find this show very appealing as I think it has something that appeals to all demographics. For the guys the astronaut angle I think will be very interesting. At times the show also has a “Desperate Housewives” feel to it as it showcases a lot of the drama that these guys went through. When the ten episodes are up I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t order more. It’s based off of a series of books so there are more options if they choose to continue on with it.

AL: Are there any other projects you have in the works that you would like to mention?
TDP: I did a project with Kyra Sedgwick titled “Big Sky”. That’s should be an interesting film that I think people will like. It’s definitely a thriller and also stars Bella Thorne and Frank Grillo. I am very excited for that to come out.

Terry Gilliam discusses Monty Python at Tribeca Film Festival

Iconic British comedy group Monty Python reunited at New York’s Beacon Theater on April 24th to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of their film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The showing was part of a celebration of all things Python, including screenings of Life of Brian, The Meaning of Life and the new documentary The Meaning of Live at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Beacon Theater attendees were treated to a showing of the classic comedy and a post show discussion between group members Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin, John Cleese and Eric Idle with moderator John Oliver. Along with the Pythons themselves, other famous audience members that came out for the group included original Broadway Spamalot cast member Hank Azaria, comedian Rachel Harris and A Fish Called Wanda co-star Kevin Kline.

On the carpet outside the theater, I got the chance to speak with the always-animated director, Terry Gilliam who braved the crowded carpet to share his tongue in cheek thoughts on his co-conspirators, New York audiences and comedy at large.

Terry Gilliam: Hello this is a nice quiet part of the carpet.
Lauren Damon: How are you doing?
Gilliam: I’m doing fine, it’s nice down here. They’re all [the assorted Pythons] just making fools of themselves. It’s awful when you’re past seventy and they’re just desperate for any attention!
LD: How does it feel to be here with the film in this festival?
Gilliam: Well. It feels like I’m here for the festival. That’s what it feels like, nothing more, nothing less!
LD: When you were making the film back then–
Gilliam: Yeah we knew we were gonna be here. We knew we were gonna be here 40 years on. Every day we were shooting we said ‘I CAN’T WAIT! Forty years from now, we’ll be at the Tribeca Film Festival! C’mon boys, action! Cut! Action! Cut!’ We’re ready to go. And here we are. We were right.

LD: Having debuted Spamalot here [Eric Idle’s smash 2005 Broadway musical based on the film]–
Gilliam: Spamalot? Horrible! It was a terrible thing! Eric did that, he ripped us off. He ripped us off and he’s made a fortune on our hard work. Yeah.
LD: But it capitalized on a whole New York audience that you’re back with tonight.
Gilliam: I love taking advantage of New York audiences. They’re fantastic. They’re too rich. They’re too smart. They MUST be taken advantage of!

LD: How did working in Monty Python help you with your directing career?
Gilliam: Well it taught me never to work with the other Pythons. That was the most important thing to my career. Because they’d been obviously holding me back for all those years Python was alive. And luckily once I got away from them, my career shot. Pew!

LD: Do you think comics are too nervous about offending people these days?
Gilliam: Offense is a very important part of life. And people who are afraid to offend obviously aren’t saying what they really think. I think people have got to learn to develop thicker skin and start learning to laugh again. That’s what’s so funny. People are frightened of saying what they think anymore and offense is crucial. People gotta just learn to live with it–“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me…It a dangerous business, comedy. Just because there’s lunatics out there, you shouldn’t change the way you think about life. I mean the fact that there are more religious lunatics out there than there were when we did “Life of Brian” is not my fault! [laughs]

LD: If you had to cast a “Holy Grail” or “Life of Brian” with today’s comedy stars, who would you choose?
Gilliam: Oh, I don’t even know what’s going in the world anymore. I’m in my own little world, I’m a hermit now. I live at the bottom of the garden and I’ve got a nice little place. I only am allowed out every ten years like this! [laughs]

Terry Gilliam and Lucas Hedges Work Out “The Zero Theorem”

Now available on VOD and in limited  theatrical release, Terry Gilliam returns to his Brazil-dystopic roots with Zero Theorem. The highly energetic director and member of Monty Python gleefully joined young actor Lucas Hedges to discuss the film at length in New York.

Zero Theorem finds Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) in a neon-lit Orwellian nightmare. He is a cog in a massive corporate machine, Mancom, who is desperately awaiting a phone call that will reveal the meaning of his life. Counterproductively his menacing boss, referred to simply as Management (Matt Damon) charges Qohen with proving the Zero Theorem which states that the entire universe will eventually collapse in on itself rendering all existence meaningless.

While Zero Theorem arguably completes a trio of dystopian films after Gilliam’s own Brazil and 12 Monkeys, it now joins a host of modern future-set films that are increasingly Orwellian or apocalyptic rather than hopeful, I asked Gilliam what he thought of this trend of humanity not exactly looking towards The Future as idealized. The director cheerfully threw his arms open and “defended” Zero Theorem’s busy, candy-colored vision of the future:

Terry Gilliam: “This is not a dystopia! It’s Utopia. It’s a wonderful world! C’mon! Everybody’s out there, they’re dressed smartly, they got a lotta color. They’re bouncing around the place, cars are zipping back and forth–Shopping is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week–what more do you want?! I mean, the workplace, Mancom is FUN. Roller blades, scooters, zippy clothes, lots of primary colors. It’s a fantastic place. There’s only ONE guy who’s the dystopic element [laughs], miserable guy, called Qohen. And he needs a kick in the ass. And [Lucas] is one of the kicks!”

Lucas Hedges: “Yes.”

Gilliam: “It’s really that. I mean everyone keeps referring to it as dystopia. If you think the world we’re living in now is a dystopia, then you may be right! But we’ve been looking forward to this time for so many years! We got all the goodies.”

Hedges: It’s a matter of what perspective we see it from. And we see it from Qohen’s perspective and he has a–I guess his perspective is very much nihilistic and dystopic and sad.

Gilliam: “That’s really it. He’s the odd man out.”

Hedges: “I’m sure there’s a way of looking at the world we’re living in now from a certain perspective that makes our world look dystopic. I mean, maybe it is or maybe it isn’t but it depends on whose eyes you see it from.”

Gilliam: “I mean my tendency in films is to see the less good things in society. And the world we’re living in. Because at least those are the things you can criticize and possibly comment on and possibly it might change something in some small ways. Not likely [laughs] but we can pretend we have some potency in our ability to help change the world. [Lucas has] got to believe things like this . He’s got a whole life ahead of him, I’m old, I know the truth! [Laughs]”

Gilliam later elaborated on the world as it is today, where the amount of clutter is not exactly far off from his designs in Theorem.

Gilliam: “My complaint, it seems we’re becoming more and more infantile in the fact that ‘Oh! there’s something interesting! I’ve got to put that in my mouth!’ We don’t, but it’s effectively that ‘I WANT IT NOW’ not, I’m not going to work towards it, I’m not gonna wait. I need it now. And that’s in fact infantile. But that’s what we’ve become. I mean a lot of the film is a resistance to that, to escape it. I mean for me, coming to New York, it’s like Qohen going out his front door. I mean it’s just like WHAT?! In London we’re overwhelmed with stuff but it’s provincial and pissy-small compared to walking into Times Square.

And you think, ‘what is this about?’ and where do we fit in to it. I mean are we just these little dots that connect around the way? Are we just becoming social insects like worker bees? You  know our job is to keep tweeting and connecting, spreading those pheromones, they sort of go through the ether as opposed to antenna going [wiggles fingers at Lucas]…So nobody really has to have an individual opinion, people are sort of constantly communicating ‘Should I say that? Is that right? Have I gone too far? Have I offended? Am I rude?’ All these words keep coming up and mine are just FUCK THIS! People have got to start being individual and offensive.

I’m obsessed about offending people [laughs] Because it’s when you get a discussion going now, maybe. You might start talking about things rather than ducking and diving. I’ve watched my daughter say ‘oh that was very rude’ AND? [laughs] What do you think about that thought? You wanna talk about it?”

Hedges plays Bob, Management’s teenage son who is there to speed along Quohen’s progress. From this press conference, it was obvious that teenage Hedges and Gilliam were so pleased to be working with each other, and they elaborated on how he was cast in the film:

Lucas Hedges:  “I sent in a tape to Terry as an audition and then a week later I got cast. Which is very strange. Especially for a role of this proportion…that doesn’t happen. And we arranged to talk on the phone and [Terry] called me up…we spoke and it was–his energy was absolutely incredible. It was absolutely incredible! And he was insane! Absolutely insane and he was going on about what was going on in [Bucharest, Romania, where the film was shot] and about Vlad Tempish and about Dracula and it was lovely. And it was clear right off the bat that this is a man who doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. Really. And he’s an individual artist and I guess that’s my origin with Terry…Meeting Terry–I mean hearing [him] for the first time was something I’ll never forget.”

Terry Gilliam: “When I saw him in Moonrise Kingdom, there was one guy that kinda popped off the screen for me. And it turned out to be this one. I’d never seen him before or anything and then [he] sent that tape in. I had only taped one kid in London. There was one kid who was kind of interesting, he was the only person I started putting on tape. And Lucas’s tape came in and I said that’s it! Done. Magic. It was simple as that. I didn’t have a single doubt. He just cracked it, boom. That’s the character. Then I called him and I tried to frighten him off and I failed. [Laughs] And it was wonderful I mean [he] was really thrown in the deep end with someone like Christoph.”

Hedges: “Yeah and it was a scary transition both from Brooklyn to Romania to working with Christoph and in a world that was very foreign. Both from a filmmaking standpoint and a social standpoint. But it really became a home and it really worked out.”

Up next for Hedges is playing Jeremy Renner’s son in Kill the Messenger.
Meanwhile, the internet has recently stirred up a renewed interest in Gilliam’s long-gestating Don Quixote project which was last addressed in the 2002 doc, Lost in La Mancha. Unfortunately, this conference took place just a couple days too late for hopeful news:

Gilliam: “Today, I don’t know. I knew two days ago. Today I don’t know anymore. I got an e-mail the other night. So I’m not gonna say anything. Things are [Gilliam wavers his hands in the air]…gone liquid again. We shall see. It’s something for me to think about when I don’t have a job. That’s the important thing. A man’s gotta keep the mind occupied. And pretending is the best way there is to go through life.”

Terry Brooks talks about latest book in the “Legends of Shannara” series called “The Measure of the Magic”

Terry Brooks is a fantasy fiction writer and has had 23 New York Times bestsellers and over 21 million copies of his books in print. He is known best for his book “Magic Kingdom for Sale…Sold!” in his “Magic Kingdom of Landover”, which is a six book series.  His other well known series for the “Shannara” series, which currently is a 24 book series with 3 more on the way.  Terry’s latest book in the “Legends of Shannara” series is called “The Measure of the Magic”, which was released August 2011. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Terry about his books, his movie adapation plans and his process for writing.

Mike Gencarell: Let’s start with the “Measure of Magic”, which just came out. Tell us about how you came up with the idea for the second book in that series?
Terry Brooks: Well it wasn’t too difficult. I write in groups of books anyway. They’re all historical sagas so they take place in different time periods.  I’m in the midst now of working on a set of what will be probably 9 or 10 books on the pre-history of the Shadow World. So when you sit down to start a project, you sort of plot out what the story is gonna be and as you work on it it tells you before you even get started on your writing, for the most part, how many books it’s gonna be. So, I’ve actually known that this was gonna be a two book set for about three years. It helps if you think ahead on these things, otherwise you spend a lot of time trying to play catch-up.

MG:  So you mentioned that you have the next chapter for the trilogy coming up. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
TB: Anybody coming in to this series will take one look at this thing and say “Wait a minute, this guy has 18 books that take place in 15 different time periods, and he is still writing? What the heck! I won’t live that long.” And it is confusing, and part of what I do to make it easy is to list all the books on the front and put them in chronological order and also put them in groups.  So every new reader can say “Well I can start with book number one of any set.” And it wouldn’t be a problem. It doesn’t matter if you read all the stuff that went before or all the stuff that is gonna come after, you just want to not be reading in the middle of a set. So with that said, I have been writing with “Bears in the Black Staff” last year and now “Measure in the Magic”.  In that two book set I’ve been writing in the pre-history of Shadow Realm which takes place long before Sword, which was the seminal book because it was the first one published. Now with “Legacy”, I am writing in the future of that world, many hundreds of years in the future, and I am working on a three book set that basically plays off of the work that I did in about six books before that. Although they are not directly connected, they work off of that history and it’s going to run for a three book set.  I’m going to publish in 2012 and 2013.

MG: What would you say would be the most difficult part of writing “Measure of Magic”? Anything that stands out?
TB: You know, I will tell you…I have been around long enough that I mercifully forget most of what is difficult from one book and the next. All I can tell you is that there is two things that happen with every book. There is a period in there where you come up against something you weren’t expecting and you have to thrash your way through it. It doesn’t matter how much you plan…doesn’t matter how much time you put into it ahead.   Somewhere along the line you will come up against a wall and you’re going to have to figure out what you are going to do about it and how you are going to get through it. The other thing that happens at some point, maybe half way to three quarters through the book, I become convinced that I have written the biggest piece of crap in all humanity. I’m just sure of it! I look at it and I think “This is not only no good, it is beyond being bad. No one is going to buy this, this is the end of my career right now!” So I go out and I settle down after a couple days and things get back to normal. But it never fails, at some point I’ve just decided “I took a wrong turn, this is not working out, I don’t like it” You know, one of those. You know I am trying to think about what it is about “Measure” that was difficult in particular…and I can’t. The problem is that I am publishing the book today that I wrote two years ago, and I’ve already written two new books since then so I am thinking about the books where I am today, so answering questions about the specifics of this book requires a lot of brain activity and I don’t have much to offer [laughs].

MG: That is funny, because us talking about the books is like the time line in the books, how they span across different time lines.
TB: I am always amazed when I get these kids, 13 or 14 year old kids, sometimes younger, and they say “You know, I’ve read all your books!” Well you know, everybody says that, so I said “Oh, ok.” And they insist they have. So then I ask them a couple questions, and they have everything memorized. They will proceed to tell me this thing in book four on page 300 I wrote this thing. I’ve learned not to argue with it because they are always right and I am never right [laughs].  I’ve decided that is the future and to just let it go.

MG: One of my favorites is “Magic Kingdom for Sale: Sold!”. Do you ever see that being made into a feature film at all?
TB: God did someone pay you to ask me that question? I mean jeeze, this is great! I’ve had that particular series of books under option on and off over the past 20 years and it has just gone under option again. I can’t talk about the specifics of it because it is right at the crucial final few points of negotiation and contracts, so I have to wait for that first. But what I can tell you is that it will be options by a major motion picture studio and production company and that they are saying they want to do a series of movies based on that whole series. I’ve talked to people from both the production company and movie studio and they seem to be real fans of the books.  So I am trying to get used to the idea that everyone in Hollywood grew up reading my books, which is hard for me to accept because I don’t like the idea that everyone is so much younger than I am but they seem to be committed to it.  So we’ll see and  that would be great. I have always figured that “Magic Kingdom” would be made into a movie because it’s the easiest book I’ve written to get made into a movie. I think with all the stuff with “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” using CGI that it is much easier these days to figure out how to do special effects than it was, say 10 or 15 years ago.

MG: Do you think once they make “Magic Kingdom” into a movie that you will write a sequel to “Princess”?
TB: Oh yeah. I will probably write the sequel anyway at some point but I would like to hold off until they actually get the point where they are doing the movie to help push the book. I also have so many projects on the board that “Magic Kingdom” at the moment isn’t the most pressing one.

MG: Who, or what, inspired the design for the main characters in “Magic Kingdom for Sale: Sold!”? Is there anything specific?
TB: I don’t normally base characters on real people, they are usually combinations of different people I know or different characteristics, that sort of thing. “Magic Kingdom” is different though because it is very autobiographical in a way. That whole series is about my transition from being a lawyer to being a writer. If you can read between the lines you will see what some of that is about. I based the main character, Ben Holiday, on myself. He is very much like myself, except the part about boxing because I don’t box. Abernathy, the dog who is a character that was a man that was turned into a dog by the wizard by a mistake, that dog was my dog. That dog used to come in there every day while I was working and it would lay there on the floor and nap while I was working and I thought “You know, this dog is worthless, there must be some way to get something out of this dog.” So finally I decided I would have a character based on this dog, that was also a soft coated wheaten terrier. I figured that way maybe I could make some money off of him anyway.

MG: So who do you think you identify with, out of all of your characters, the most?
TB: Well you can certainly say I am closer to Ben Holiday than any other characters, but I think when you are a writer, there is some part of yourself in all of your characters. You have to understand how they think and how they work. Even the really bad ones. You have to have some sense of what they are all about, so there is some piece of you in all the characters to a certain extent. I guess Holiday is the one who’s pretty much closest to who I am.

MG: Other then “Magic Kingdom”, do you have any plans to get any of your other books made into films?
TB: “Shannara” has been under option too, on and off over the past 20 years, and it was an option up until about a year ago. It is back out there. There is still interest, there are people that still talk about it. The big thing is that because I’ve been around so long and because I’m getting old and mean [laughs], I’m not going to give anybody anything unless I am happy with what I am hearing. If the studios come around and show interest I will ask them to tell me something different…tell me something good about what they will do. If I like what I hear I will be more interested in thinking about making a movie. A long time ago I said “What’s going to happen to me is exactly what happened to Tolkien; It’s going to get jacked around and 30 years after I’m dead it’s going to get made.” Then my kids will benefit and I won’t be there but that’s the way it goes.

MG: So who or what are you currently reading now? Are there any favorite artists or inspiration?
TB: Oh yeah, I read all the time. That’s pretty much all I do. I’m kind of a boring person. My sister is a writer too, I am reading her latest book right now what she is presenting to a division of Random House. At the moment I’m reading Lev Grossman, “The Magicians” sequel. I’m going to read “The Last Werewolf.” My publisher keeps me well supplied in a lot of books that are new because everyone wants a quote. So I get to read a lot of science fiction-fantasy that comes from all over the place that is new. I like to read new writers and see what is new that is out there, and what is interesting. I read a lot of mysteries, contemporary fiction and a lot of history.

MG: Do you find that your writing process has changed?
TB: Oh yeah, it changes. I always thought it would not change when I started out, I don’t know why I thought that. I figured I would keep working the same way. But when you get older it changes. I used to work night and now I work from 6am in the morning until noon or  2pm in the afternoon. That time frame that I work is all together different. I used to work every day, I don’t do that anymore. What used to take twice as long I can do in half the time now, and that’s just because I’m more experienced. You write 35 books and you learn something. That’s one of the good things about it because I’ve become more comfortable with it. I don’t spend a lot of time agonizing over stuff like I did in the past because and I don’t have to since I know what the process is. The main thing that you have to do is stay hungry, and it’s hard after 35 books in 35 years. I have to spend time thinking about stories that interest me and plots and themes that will interest me for a whole year if I sit down to write them so I don’t get bored halfway through. That really is the thing I have to work the hardest at these days in order that the books stay fresh and interesting and they don’t put people to sleep.

MG: Are there any projects that you scrapped because you got bored with them?
TB: The trick is if I am starting to get bored…it’s time to make a change. That’s the main rule. If I get to the point where I am working on something and that’s the way I’m feeling about it then I have to get rid of it and start over and find out where there is a better place to be. But it happens to every writer in some point in every book. You write your way into a place where it’s not very interesting and you need to get yourself out of it.

MG: Do you have any advice for any aspiring writers on how to get published or write their own novel?
TB: You know I am so far removed from that. I probably don’t have a lot of good advice on how to get published. In the old days I had lots of advice on it because I was closer to the subject matter and I knew a lot of writers getting published. What I kind of know is because the publishing landscape has changed and everything is getting published through ebook and online publishing. There are a lot of new avenues for people to get published these days. You have to kind of think outside of the box. The traditional approach still works but it’s not the only approach anymore. There have been a lot of very successful authors that have simly offered their stuff free online. They develop a following and then took all of that to a publisher and said “Look, I have 100,000 people out here who will read my stuff, how about we do a book?” The publishers are looking for that sort of thing. I guess the biggest piece of advice for people who are trying to write a book is that if you don’t love the process more than you love the money, or the idea of the money, or the idea of being famous, or the idea of whatever, then you are in the wrong business. This is a job like any other and you should really love this job. You should be really fascinated by what’s involved in doing it if you want to be successful for more than one book or in the long run. It’s the thing that’s kept me going more than anything else. It’s fun to sit there and look at the books on the shelf once in a while but mostly I don’t care. I’m mostly interested in what am I going to write next, or how am I going to make this next book work, or how am I going to make this next book better then anything I have ever done before. That is kind of what I think you need to feel that you’re going to do every time out.

MG: Do you have anything you might want to announce exclusively to us?
TB: Well I will tell you what, the first news I get about the movie, I will make an arrangement and we will have another interview and we will talk about it in more depth.


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