Interview with Alan Ritchson

Alan Ritchson is the star of Spike TV’s hit show “Blue Mountain State”, which is returning for season two this month. Alan also has a recurring role on The CW’s “Smallville” playing the character of Aquaman. Also little known fact, but he provided the facial image and movement for the title character in Robert Zemeckis’ “Beowulf”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Alan about his roles and his love for what he does.

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Mike Gencarelli: Tell me about your role in Spike TV’s “Blue Mountain State”, you play Thad Castle?
Alan Ritchson: Thad Castle is the overzealous captain of the team. People think he is crazy when they watch the show. I find the character as somebody that has a different set of logic. He cares about the football team and leading them, just in a different way. That is where a lot of the hilarity ensues. It is funniest character I have ever had a chance to play. Before we even shot the pilot, I am reading the script and I thought this is the funniest thing I have ever read. I thought there was no chance they would be able to keep some of the stuff in the show that made it so funny. There is no way you are going to be able to have a cookie race with oreos in your butt-cheeks and running down field. But there we were shooting the episode and I asked “How are we going to do the cookie race?”. They told me “You are going to wear a jock strap and run down the field”, [laughs] I was shocked. We are waiting to get to the point where the writers come up with an idea that basically is a challenge for Spike’s standards department. We haven’t been able to get to that point yet.

MG: With the show entering its second season, what is in store for this season?

Photo by: Philippe Bosse/Spike TV

AR: Oh man, there is some good stuff. It is a more explosive season. Some episodes we did were just so epic. I do not want to give away what happens but some of the situations we get into are just so crazy. All I can say is it is a hard hitting season.

MG: What has been the hardest part of working on the show?

AR: That is a great question. I do not think anyone has ever asked me that. It is such a fun show. It has such a great cast and crew, it is such a collaborative effort. We have so much input in the show. If I were to complain about something on the show, I have to be the worst person alive because there is really nothing to complain about. As far as difficulty, there was a scene we did where we were tunneling out of a facility in the ground. We are shooting this scene where we are coming out of the mud. They built this giant mud stage. It was physically insane. I was wondering if I was going to die in this mud. I had no idea how I was even going to get out. The rain was like two degrees, it was freezing. It had to be the most physically demanding thing I have had to do on the show. It was still fun though. I slept like a baby that night.

MG: Tell about about working on the show “Smallville” as Arthur Curry/Aquaman?
AR: It has been a really cool run for me. I started out as a little guest star. It has been really well received. I mean a show that has been on for ten years, are you kidding me? It is so rare.  As far as coming back for this last season. I think this is where is it going to get really exciting. They are finally starting to take some of those layers off and you are really getting to the gritty stuff. That is exciting for me as an actor. It is going to be really cool.

MG: Tell us about your involved with the film “Beowulf”, your were the character model?
AR: What you were looking at on the screen that was me. I didn’t get to do the voice though.  I was fresh into LA and would have loved to have been a part of that though. You have someone like Ray Winston to come in and voice it, which is great. The main difficulty for them is that he was the only actor voicing the part who didn’t look anything like their character. They brought me in to be Beowulf. It was great for me since it was one of my first projects. Getting to work on a Zemeckis film and getting to be around all the great talent. It was a really cool start. The process is so insane. They are photographing you moving, not moving, with clothes and without clothes. It was unbelievable.

MG: What else are you currently working on?
AR: I have worked on a couple of projects that have yet to hit. There is a comedy called “Spring Break ’83”. I do not know exactly when it will be done. That was a fun project to work on. It was sort of a Thad-esque character but in the 80’s. It is like a throwback to “Animal House” and “Revenge of the Nerds”.

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Interview with Erin Gray

Erin Gray is well known for her role in the short lived but cult classic sci-fi series “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”.  Erin also starred in the TV series “Silver Spoons”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Erin about her feelings on the shows popularity still after decades and what she is currently working on.

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Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved with the show “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”?
Erin Gray: Where do I begin?  I have just made the transition from being a model in New York and moved to Los Angeles.  Within a couple of months, I started working with Universal Studios.  Shortly after, I was starring in mini-series called “Evening in Byzantium” with Glenn Ford.   Once I finished production on that I was asked to come in and do a screen test for a project called “Buck Rogers”.

MG: Although any lasting two seasons are you supposed that the show was such a cult classic, how do you feel about that?
EG: It absolutely amazes that it has become such a cult classic.  We certainly did not know at the time that it would resonate for so many more decades.  Obviously “Buck Rogers” had a great history to begin with.  A lot of fans were familiar with the comic books and the previous TV series.  We brought a new look, feel and humor to “Buck Rogers”.  It still blows my mind that after 30 years it is still in the hearts of minds of so many fans.

MG: How was it switching gears from sci-fi “Buck Rogers” to “Silver Spoons”?
EG: It was a major shift.  As a matter, I didn’t realize what a shift it was until I meet fans and they don’t put the two shows together.  It is the same girl.  I guess it is a bit different.  For me I guess the idea of learning comedy was different.  I am more of a method actor and more comfortable in the world of drama. Comedy has its own beat, rules and process.  I really loved it.  I loved the live performances.  I loved my cast and crew I worked with.  It was a really enjoyable 5 years of my life, a really enjoyable mix of work and family.

MG: Tell us what it was like working on the film “Jason Goes to Hell”?
EG: It was fun.  “Friday the 13th” was a fun to work on due to the exuberant feelings of the cast and the crew. Working with Sean Cunningham was great.  He brings a certain sense of humor and a ‘don’t take life too seriously’ attitude to the set as well.  He talked me into doing “Friday the 13th” by telling me it was a dark comedy [laughs].  I usually don’t go to horror film or act in them for the reason that I am so easy to scare.

MG: What can you tell us about “Buck Rogers Begins” and your involvement?
EG: Yeah, that project was put together by James Cawley.  He put together the “Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II” webisode series that has had a certain amount of success.  He got the rights to “Buck Rogers.  He raised enough money.  The wrote a  beautiful script but we were able to complete half of it.  They are trying to raise more money to finish it.  It was a wonderful opportunity.  It was fun for Gil and I to play Buck Rogers parents.  I also got to work with my daughter, who played Buck Rogers girlfriend.  This was a prequel to the TV series.  It leads up to the start of the comic book.  This is who Buck was in the late 1900’s before he went into the cave.  It is a period piece and it was great.

MG: What else do you have currently in the works?
EG: I just finished an independent movie called “Nesting”.  I play a business woman who owns real estate.  She gets annoyed by a couple that nests on her property, let’s put it that way.  That will be coming out shortly.  I also have a couple of television commercials floating around.  My primary focus is my talent agent company “Heroes for Hire”.  I also teach Tai Chi 5 days a week.

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Interview with Michael McDonald

Michael McDonald is best known for his role in “MadTV” for almost a decade. He has created so many amazing characters for the show including Stuart Larkin. Michael is currently working behind the scenes writing and directing for ABC’s “Cougar Town”. Michael also has a stand-up comedy special on Showtime which premieres on Saturday October 9th called “Michael McDonald: Model.Citizen”. The special will also be hitting DVD on Tuesday October 12th. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Michael about his days on “MadTV”, his work on “Cougar Town” and his upcoming stand-up special.

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Mike Gencarelli: What was it like working on a show like “MadTV” for almost ten years?
Michael McDonald: It is so rare that you get a job that lasts that long on television. A lot of people asked me “Didn’t you get tired of it”. For me I came to the party late. It took me a long time to get a big break and I wasn’t anxious to throw it away. I had an awesome time doing it and ten years seemed like a nice round number. My scalp actually just couldn’t take the wig glue any more and I had to give it up.

MG: How did you come up with such notable characters like Stuart Larkin?
MM: A lot of the characters I did on “MadTV”, I originally developed on stage at a local improv theater in LA called Groundlings. Stuart, to name one, was what I like to call little dark windows from the past. The relationship between Stuart and his mother played so brilliantly by Mo Collins, was based on the relationship I had with my mom. I would often just take things that happened and put that into sketches. When I originally gave the script to Mo, she read it and said “Michael, this is really sick” and my response was “Well, the year was 1975”.

MG: How did you get a cameo in every “Austin Powers” movie?
MM: I actually met Mike Myers at the Groundlings theater. He did a guest spot during an improv night.  He very nicely asked me if I would like to be in the first “Austin Powers”. It was a very funny but memorable part.  I was the guy that gets run over by the steamroller. Rather than run away from it, I sat there and screamed for five minutes until it finally ran me over. Mike was kind enough to ask me if I wanted to be in every one of them. All of them were small kind of inconsequential parts. I think it was his sort of inside joke.

MG: Tell us about working behind the camera in the TV series “Cougar Town”?
MM: Well I am actually calling you from the set of it now.  The creator of the show is Bill Lawrence. He also created “Scrubs”. I worked with him on “Scrubs”, I directed and acted in about five or six of them. He asked me if I wanted to try “Cougar Town” last year. I was hired to just direct one episode. I was so nervous because Courtney Cox is so famous.  She is actually really kind. I was just nervous because she was Courtney Cox from “Friends”. I kept calling her Monica the whole week. I would say “And Monica you are standing over here” and she would go “Monica? What going on?”.  She just ended up teasing me about it all the time. We ended up hitting it off really well and now I am full-time. I write and work on the show full-time and I do stand-up on the weekends or on the hiatus.

MG: Do you enjoy behind the scenes more than in front of the camera?
MM: I have always written and directed along with acting. In the early days, it was really hard for me to get a job as an actor. So I needed to write myself into parts in order to get jobs and then hire myself. I always did that, even on “MadTV”.  I actually really like doing a little bit of everything. I think it is kind of an advantage for me because I am able to talk to actors because I am one. Most of them know what I do, so they trust me. I like that part of it a lot. I think in a couple weeks, I may be playing a small role in “Cougar Town”. It is that of a wine vendor. Which wine is a big part of the show, so I am really happy about that.

MG: Tell us what we can expect from your Showtime special “Michael McDonald: Model.Citizen”?
MM: I am really excited about it. After I left “MadTV”, I hit the road and did the clubs. I missed performing live. I thought it would be a fun new thing to get under my belt. So after a couple years, I had enough material. Showtime approached me to do a special and it premieres Saturday October 9th. It is called “Michael McDonald: Model.Citizen”. There is a period between model and citizen, because I am both. I am really proud of it.

MG: What is the hardest part of doing stand-up compared to sketch?
MM: I always think that stand-up is probably the hardest thing that anyone can do. With sketch comedy you have wigs and professional writers. You can do a second take and do it right. With stand-up comedy, you have one take and that is it.  It is a live performance. You are performing as yourself, there is no funny wigs, costumes,walks or talks. It is just you. Performing in front of a bunch of drunk people in a club is I think the most intimidating thing there is. But also it is very familiar to me because it is like a family reunion.

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Interview with Sam Trammell

Sam Trammell is well known for his role in HBO’s “True Blood” as Sam Merlotte. The blue-collared bar owner who also happens to be a shape shifter. Sam is gearing up for Season Four of “True Blood”, which should start filming early next year.  Movie Mikes caught up with Sam to discuss his role in “True Blood” and what he has planned for the future.

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Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you originally got the role of Sam Merlotte?
Sam Trammell: I got the script from my agent. It was going around town and it was Alan Ball’s new show on HBO. It was a hot commodity, everyone wanted to do it. I just went it and met with the casting director.  They taped me and showed it to Alan. They picked me for the final audition to go in front of HBO. There were about three other guys there for my part. I read in front of the president of HBO and all these executives. I found out four hours later I got the part, it was fairly quick turnaround.

MG: What is the best part of playing the character, it seems like it is made just for you?
ST: Thanks man, well I am from Louisiana originally. It is great to be able to play a character who you kind of represent and a guy from where I am from. I love that he is kind of a blue collar dude and that he owns a bar. I never worked in a bar but I always thought it would be fun to work as a bartender. The other part of it is that he is a supernatural creature which is a really cool thing to have under your belt and as a secret. Since I still get to be like a regular guy.

MG: How do you like the direction that your character has taken with being a shape shifter?
ST: The second half of this year was just funniest acting work that I have ever got to do. You see the dark side of him. You get to see a flashback showing him engaged in criminal activity. That was a blast I really enjoyed it.

MG: Where you familiar with the book series, if not have you read since?
ST: I wasn’t before I got on the show. But once I was cast I read the first four books to get a sense of the world and who Sam was. I read ahead basically and as the series goes I will keep reading them. I am just curious to see what Charlaine (Harris) is thinking for these stories.

MG: What has been the hardest part of working on the show?
ST: A few things, the nights are pretty difficult. When you are doing like four nights in a row and shooting all night. What is tough is not getting to sleep during the day. The first couple of nights are not that hard but then it starts to switch your whole rhythm and that is tough. Another thing is that sometimes you will have like a week off. We have a bunch of different story lines, you do not work every day. You have to stay on the character and need to keep you character up.

MG: What can you let us know about Season Four plans?
ST: Honestly, I do not know what is going to happen. I know we are going to follow the book to a certain degree like we have done. I know their are going to be some witches involved in the stories. The writers are figuring it out themselves right now. They are pitching stories and writing the first couple of scripts. Last year was a really big year for us because a lot more people started watching it.

MG: What can you tell us about your upcoming film “Guns, Girls and Gambling”?
ST: Yeah, it stars Christian Slater and Gary Oldman, Dane Cook and also Megan Park from “The Secret Life of an American Teenager”. It sort of a Tarantino-esque hyper reel Western. It sort of involves a bunch of people coming after Christian’s character who has stolen a Native American mask. It is really cool and a lot of fun. I am really excited about it!

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Interview with Kyle Gallner

Kyle Gallner is known for his recent horror roles in “The Haunting in Connecticut”, “Jennifer’s Body” and most recently “A Nightmare on Elm Street” reboot.  Kyle is currently shooting “Red State” which is Kevin Smith next film.  He also has a bunch of indie films hitting the festival through the coming months.  Kyle found time during filming “Red State” to talk with us to discuss his various roles, his love for horror and what he has coming up.

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Mike Gencarelli: Tell me what was it like working on “A Nightmare on Elm Street”?
Kyle Gallner: It was just really cool to work on it because it was a reboot of such an iconic series. It great to see Freddy come back to life and watch people reactions to seeing it was probably the best part about it.

MG: Are you a fan of the original “Nightmare”?
KG: I have never seen the original until we were already filming the movie. But you grow up knowing who Freddy is his, whether you are a fan of the series or not.

MG: Besides acting in it, Are you a fan of the horror genre?
KG: I am actually. I really like horror movies a lot. I like foreign horror movies a little bit more. I think American horror films sometimes glorify death and killing and sometime put too much humor in. In foreign horror movies they seem to take it a little more seriously. I think things are a little more real and brutal.

MG: Any favorite foreign horror films in particular?
KG: I really like “Matryrs”. “The Descent”. “High Tension”. I just saw one that was great called “Thirst”.

MG: Tell us a little about working on “The Haunting in Connecticut”?
KG: That was really cool. It was my first lead role. It was scary for me in the beginning but Virginia (Madsen) was really cool. She took me under her wing and took care of me and made me feel really comfortable and safe.

MG: Your performance in “The Haunting in Connecticut” was pretty intense, how did you prepare for the role of Matt Campbell?
KG: I watched the Discovery Channel documentary a bunch. I read up on it a lot. I read the script a lot and just prepped the best I could.

MG: What can you tell us about working on Kevin Smith’s new film “Red State”?
KG: I probably can’t say too much more than what Kevin (Smith) has already said. It kind of loosely based on Fred Phelps from Westboro Baptist Church and what happened in Topeka, Kansas with their debates about Iraq. It kind of touches on how people can be brutal to other people. Kevin choose to prove this point with a religious aspect.  We have been shooting for three weeks already and it has been really great.

MG: Are you excited to get to work with Kevin Smith, especially on his first horror film?
KG: Yeah, I grew up loving “Mallrats” and his other films. It is cool to be able to work with Kevin when he is going in such a new direction. He is shaking things up a bit, which is really exciting. He is a really great director…A REALLY GREAT DIRECTOR.

MG: What other upcoming projects do you have in the works?
KG: I got a movie called “Cherry” which is hitting up some festivals. I just got off this music movie called “Losers Take All”, which is about me and some guys in a punk band in the 80’s. I got another one called “Little Birds”. I got a bunch of indies in the can now. I am sure they will all be hitting the festivals real soon.

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Interview with Jamison Newlander

Jamison Newlander is known best for his role of Alan Frog in “The Lost Boys”.  Jamison and Corey Feldman are back for the return of The Frog brothers in “The Lost Boys: The Thirst”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Jamison about what was it like returning to the role and what we can expect for the future of “The Lost Boys” franchise.

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Mike Gencarelli: How does it feel to be reprising your roles as Alan Frog in “The Lost Boys: The Thirst”?
Jamison Newlander: It was really great.  Back when the first movie came out, the fans have always wanted a sequel.  Different times we felt like we got close to it, maybe 10-15 years ago but it never happened.  For me this return was really exciting.  “The Tribe” happened first and it was great that they were continuing the franchise.  I was happy to be involved with that but my involved was limited.  It is great to come back and really give some meat to my character.  It feels great fighting side-by-side with (Corey) Feldman and having the Frog brothers back together again.  Having the dynamic that we had back from the first movie for some really key moments for this film is really exciting for me.

MG: Do you feel that your character has grown through the series?
JN: Yeah, definitely.  It is a couple of things though.  It is different for Feldman because his character, Edgar, has a certain arc.  He has been getting better and better at vampire hunting through his life.  With me there was that part of history of my character between the first movie and now.  The other element that we chose to deal with in this movie, which makes reference to the comic book actually, of me turning into a half vampire.  That is a real challenge for me to wrap my mind around.  You think of Alan Frog…you think of this guy that hates vampires.  Now to be struggling with those feeling.  It is self-hated.  It is conflict.  That was some of the main emotions that were going on for Alan during this movie.  I think it was a big change for him.

MG: Any moments during the shoot of “The Lost Boys: The Thirst” that really stood out?
JN: Working with Feldman in some of the scenes that happen towards the end of the film, we really great.  We actually shot it though in the beginning of the shoot.  We really LOOK like the Frog brothers.  When we were in costume and getting ready to go on set, we were together and they were snapping some pictures.  We looked at them and we were just so excited to be back as the Frog brothers.  Probably one of the best moments for me.

MG: “The Lost Boys: The Thirst” is said to be a true follow-up to the first “The Lost Boys” and it has alot of heart, what can you tell us about that?
JN: It is an interesting aspect of the film.  When we shot it, we wanted to make it scary but also bring a new view on what “The Lost Boys” vampire has become.  I am sure that the writers were thinking about this, but for me it was a nice suprise for me how much heart there was in it.  Also, we even referenced Corey Haim’s character in it. Which was really touching I think.

MG: What can you tell us about the reference to Corey Haim’s character in the film?
JN: People are thinking that the stuff was put in for Corey’s character afterwards.  There is kind of an eerie similiarity with what happened with him in the movie compared what happened in real life.  We make reference that his character Sam dies.  The fact is that, that was already in there.  Corey Haim did a press conference saying that he passed on the third film but it looks like he could return for the fourth one.  It wasn’t added after the fact.

MG: After “The Lost Boys”, your career launched but tell us about you switch to theater and directing?
JN: I appreciate asking me that.  I feel that people always dance around that a bit. A lot of people from “The Lost Boys” moved on to their successful careers.  For me it was a tricky time in my life.  I was 16 when we shot the movie and was 17 in 1987 when they released it.  When it came out theatrical it did well but it was on video that it really became a cult classic.  But that point I was 18 and I already made the decision that it was worthwild for me to go to college.  I left LA and moved to NY and studied theater.  I ended up doing theater in NY for like 10 years after that.  I ended up doing smaller theater projects. It was really fulfilling.   I enjoyed it  a lot.  I was dedicated to the craft of acting.  As part of theater, I started writing plays.  I have since moved on to writing screenplays.  I am working on an internet project right now that I am trying to launch.  It is kind of like a web series but more of an user generated content site.  This forced me to get creative about the projects I was going to do.  Projects like “The Lost Boys” just weren’t coming my way.  So there was a bit a gap for me in Hollywood.  It is only a gap though in perspection for me, because I was busting my ass trying to get other projects done.  It is nice to be working again with Warners Brothers again.

MG: Do you think we will see the Frog Brothers return again?
JN: I do not know officially what the plans are.  What I do know is that everyone is really excited about this movie.  This is mostly due to the fans reaction to this film.  I think everyone at Warners Bros is excited.  Feldman was talking about maybe doing another trilogy.  It would go into more about the adventures of the Frog brothers.  I even heard rumors about a possible TV series, though I am not the official word of Warner Bros or the franchise.  “Lost Boys” is uniquely in touch with what the fans are looking for,  it is up the reaction of how this movie does.  Also how the fans want to see the franchise continue.  Either way it is exciting to hear news about seeing more of the Frog brothers.

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