Holland Taylor on acting, favorite roles, auditions and “Kepler’s Dream”

Best known as Professor Stromwell in “Legally Blonde,” Bunny in “The Wedding Date,” and Evelyn Harper in “Two and a Half Men,” Philadelphia born Holland Taylor attended Quaker schools, then majored in drama at Bennington College. After fifteen years of “disappointments and near misses” in New York and California, Holland was cast as Ruth Dunbar in the 1980s sitcom “Bosom Buddies” with Tom Hanks. It was Holland’s breakout role and it led to many TV and film offers, including her role as Kathleen Turner’s book publisher in “Romancing the Stone” and her Emmy winning performance as Judge Roberta Kittleson in “The Practice.” Read more

Jenn Gotzon Chandler talks Faith & Healing in “Unbridled”

Award-winning actress and international model, Jenn Gotzon Chandler got her career break playing President Nixon’s daughter, Tricia, in the five-time Oscar Nominated “Frost/Nixon.” She went on to star in a variety of award-winning films, including “Doonby,” “God’s Country,” “The Sacred Eternal,” and “Julie and Jack.” In “Unbridled,” Chandler is Felicity Clawson, a counselor who runs a healing ranch for troubled teens by teaching them to care for horses. The film exposes the evils of sex trafficking in suburbia and chronicles the journey of 16-year old Sarah Miller (Téa Mckay) as she struggles to find solace away from her alcoholic mother and criminally abusive stepfather. In this one-on-one interview, Chandler reveals some insights about the film, her faith, and what she learned about the healing power of horses. Read more

Charlotte Sullivan on the sci-fi thriller “RADIUS”

Known for her role as officer Gail Peck in the police drama “Rookie Blue” and more recently as Anna Turner in “Chicago Fire,” Toronto born Charlotte Sullivan has starred in “M.V.P,” “Across the River to Motor City” and in “The Kennedys” as Marilyn Monroe. She has also appeared in the dramas “Fever Pitch” and “Mary Kills People.” Read more

Katie Burgess on Teen Angst and Gremlins

A talented young actress, Katie Burgess has appeared in Object Eleven, The Lamp, and can soon be seen in the futuristic sci-fi thriller The Jurassic Games. In Gremlin, Burgess is Anna Thatcher, a troubled teen with an attitude who confronts an evil entity. In this one-on-one interview, Burgess reveals what drew her to the film, and the challenges she faced in portraying a complex teen forced to deal with a horrific presence. Read more

Interview with Yaiza Figueroa on the sci-fi thriller “Anti Matter”

Hailing from Puerto Rico and trained at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, Yaiza Figueroa is noted for A Beautiful Death, The Befuddled Box of Betty Buttifint and the lead in Grace and The Showreel. In Anti Matter, Figueroa is Oxford PhD student Ana, who finds herself unable to build new memories following an experiment to generate and travel through a wormhole. The taut sci-fi thriller follows Ana’s desperate efforts to understand what happened, and to find out who—or what—is behind the rising confusion in her life. In this one-on-one interview, Yaiza reveals what attracted her to this intellectual thriller and what she drew upon to bring Ana to life. Read more

Interview with Angela Dixon on the thriller “Never Let Go”

Known for nail-biting thrillers like Offensive and Dead End, award-winning actress Angela Dixon won Best Actress at the Artemis, Women In Action Film Festival in LA and has garnered much praise from critics and audiences alike; ‘a towering tour de force’, ‘electrifying central performance, ‘powerhouse performance’, ‘superb lead turn from the totally committed Angela Dixon’. Read more

Interview with Sophie Vavasseur

Known for Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Evelyn and Becoming Jane, Dublin born Sophie Vavasseur has also appeared in the historical drama Vikings. In this sixth installment of the popular Bring It On franchise, Vavasseur is Hannah, a key member of the Rebels cheer team. Challenged in a smack down by a rogue team called “The Truth,” the Rebels also face the U.S. Northern Elite Gymnastics & Cheer team and 19 squads from around the world. In this one-on-one interview, Sophie reveals what drew her to this film and how she feels about the various roles she’s had to play. Read more

Interview with Parisa Fitz-Henley on “Midnight Texas”

Best known for her role as Reva Connors in the Marvel Netflix series Jessica Jones, Parisa Fitz-Henley has appeared in several films and television programs, including The Jane Austen Book Club, House of Cards, Blue Bloods and Grey’s Anatomy. In Midnight Texas, Parisa is Fiji, a powerful witch who joins a close-knit family of vampires, psychics and assassins in a small town offering safe haven to anyone who is “different.” In this one-on-one interview, Parisa reveals what drew her to the series and insights about her character, Fiji. Read more

Interview with “Ice Cream Truck’s” Deanna Russo

Known for Burning Love, Being Human and Two and a Half Men, actress/producer Deanna Russo has amassed an extensive body of work. In The Ice Cream Truck, Russo is Mary, a mother of two, housesitting her new home, awaiting her husband and two children. In returning to her hometown, Mary discovers an off-kilter mix of overly nosy neighbors, overly sexed teens and an ice cream man overly dedicated to serving scoops of blood with his Rum Raisin. In this one-on-one interview, Russo reveals the challenges she faced in making Mary such a believably complex character. Read more

Interview with Clare Kramer on her new inspirational documentary, “Joyrider”

On June 13th 2017 André Kajlich was the first person to hand cycle coast to coast in the Race Across America. His journey is featured in Joyrider, a documentary directed by Clare Kramer (Glory, Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Courtney, Bring it On). Joyrider chronicles the journey of the first and only handcyclist to qualify for the grueling 3,000-mile, 12-day race crossing 12 states. The film captures the true athleticism and history making drive of this para-triathlete as he triumphs over his double leg amputation. In this one-on-one interview, Kramer explains her passion and the challenges she and her team faced in creating Joyrider. Read more

Interview with Alexis Carra on “The Answer”

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Alexis Carra is best known for her roles as Cynthia McDermott in the TV Series Recovery Road and as Jessica in Mixology. She has also appeared in Grey’s Anatomy, Castle, The Mentalist and Anger Management. In The Answer, Carra is Charlotte Parker, a smart, sassy office worker who helps introvert and mysteriously gifted co-worker Bridd Cole (Austin Hébert) figure out who is hunting him and the secret to his true identity. The award winning film helmed by newcomer Iqbal Ahmed unites mystery, sci-fi, fantasy and romance into a nail biting thriller. In this one-on-one interview, Alexis reveals the joys and challenges she faced in bringing Charlotte to life.

Alexis Carra

What attracted you to the role of Charlotte?

Alexis Carra: I liked that she was more than just a love interest for Bridd. To be more than just the sexy vixen that makes Bridd look good. I liked that she had a complicated past, which enabled her to help Bridd get out of his own way to see the things that he needed to see. It was a real partnership. Their love story was really the C story that evolved. I liked that she was a badass. Read more

Interview with Stefanie Estes on “If Looks Could Kill”

Based on true events, If Looks Could Kill follows Faith (Stefanie Estes), a rookie cop eager to prove herself in law enforcement. She joins old flame Paul (Tomek Kosalka) on the force, but is soon crestfallen and grows increasingly troubled when Paul becomes romantically involved with Jessica (Summer Spiro). A lethal beauty obsessed with stardom, Jessica harbors a criminal past and a future sure to leave dead lovers in her wake. It’s classic good vs. evil in a twist and turn nail biter as Faith struggles to build a case against Jessica—before the body count reaches Paul. In this one-on-one interview, Stefanie reveals the challenges she faced in portraying a rookie cop and how she brought the character of Faith to life. Read more

Interview with Monica Engesser on “The Covenant”

Known for Krampus: The Reckoning and Blind People, in The Covenant, Monica Engesser is Sarah Doyle, a troubled woman who returns to her childhood home with her estranged brother Richard (Owen Conway) after the tragic deaths of her husband and daughter. When Sarah begins to experience violent and hostile supernatural phenomena, Richard enlists the aid of a paranormal investigator who confirms that Sarah has become possessed by a powerful demon. Together, the three men fight to save Sarah’s soul. In this one-on-one interview, Engesser reveals what attracted her to the role and the challenges she faced in making this chilling film. Read more

Interview: Kate Siegel & director Mike Flanagan on HUSH

Kate Siegel
Kate Siegel

Best known for her portrayal of Marisol in the spine tingler Oculus and for Jennifer in The Curse of the Black Dahlia, Kate Siegel is an accomplished actress with an impressive body of work. In Hush, Siegel teams up with Oculus writer/director Mike Flanagan to create the terrifying thriller of a deaf woman stalked by a psychotic killer in a woods-secluded home. In this one-on-one interview, Siegel and Flanagan reveal the insights and challenges they faced in bringing Hush to life.

Mike Flanagan
Mike Flanagan

Hush is both highly visual and visceral. Where did the concept come from?

Mike Flanagan: Kate and I were talking about thrillers we love over dinner—films like Wait Until Dark—and I mentioned how I’d always wanted to do a movie with essentially no dialog. She reminded me of her recurring anxiety about waking up at night and seeing someone outside her window. By the time we got to dessert, we pretty much had that “aha” moment and that’s were the concept was solidified.

Maddie senses an intruder
Maddie senses an intruder

How was the collaboration between you two? Did you outline together? Write the script together?

Kate Siegel: It was deeply collaborative. Mike would go outside our house and try to break in and I’d have to find a way to escape from him. We’d try out these things in real time, so we nailed down what to do on both ends—Maddie on the inside and the Killer on the outside. When we found something that worked, we’d stop and write down what we liked. After we turned in our first draft, we got some notes from our producer. We then took the script to the Stanley Hotel in Colorado—in room 217 in honor of Stephen King’s The Shining. We went down to the bar and hammered out the second draft.

Maddie senses someone at the door.
Maddie senses someone at the door.

There’s not much dialog, but the sound added so much to the film’s tension and terror. Can you go into the sound design of the film?

Kate: Jonathan Wales—our sound mixer—is an amazing genius who created a soundscape like nothing we’ve ever heard. Even the silences you experience have about 50 different sound levels.

Mike: It was clear going in that the sound design would be crucial for this movie. It was expensively more complex than anything else I’ve worked on. Typically, when you’re doing sound design, you want it to advance the story without calling attention to itself. Good sound design is meant to be processed almost subconsciously in most movies. For Hush, it was the opposite. Sound would be front and center, which meant that noises you typically want to bury in a sound mix—like footsteps, wind or crickets—would be the only thing the audience could hold onto sonically. So we had stretches of the movie where we wanted to imply what it’s like to be deaf. The first instinct would be to simply pull the sound out. But if you do that, all you hear is popcorn being chewed or coughing, and that takes people out of the movie. So our silence from Maddie’s perspective was actually an incredibly dense soundscape meant to give the impression of silence. Some of the noises we used were ultrasound, heartbeats, and the slowed down sound of glacial ice cracking.

Maddie confronts her tormentor
Maddie confronts her tormentor

How did you go about casting Maddie’s tormentor? His icy demeanor and explosive anger turned Hush into a cover-your-eyes nail biter.

Mike: We knew that the mask wouldn’t be on the Killer’s face too long. We wanted to see the human being behind the mask. When the mask came off, it was really important that the person underneath be someone who you wouldn’t think was capable of this. It had to be someone you’d bump into at the supermarket or street.

Kate: And John Gallagher Jr. was a tremendous talent. I was thrilled with his theater work. He was someone you’d never expect as a Killer.

Mike: He’d never done anything like this before. He could always pass as the nice guy. So he was really playing against type. When his name came up for the role, we said, that’s the guy.

John Gallagher Jr.
John Gallagher Jr.

Much of Hush was filmed in what had to be perceived as a totally dark house. What challenges did you face in shooting and camerawork?

Mike: The trick in a house with a lot of windows, and you’re shooting in the dark to light a face, is to basically turn every window into a mirror. So we had to choreograph the camera very specifically. If we deviated from the choreography by even a few inches in either direction, we’d see the camera operator or the boom operator reflected in the window. It’s one of the blessings and curses of a contained movie like this. You have to plan a visually dynamic moving camera in this limiting space without exposing the crew. A lot of filmmakers find working around windows and mirrors very difficult. And that applied to this movie in particular because once you remove dialog, and all the pressure is on the actors to perform without words, Hush became a high wire act for us.

Maddie struggles to survive
Maddie struggles to survive

There’s a saying among soldiers who finally find the courage to fight to survive: “The wolf rises.” What did you draw from to communicate that emotion without words?

Kate: The two years before Hush were very difficult times in my life. So when I approached Maddie, I saw her deafness and muteness as a characteristic. As someone who’s neither deaf nor mute, the only thing I could relate to was the internal struggle of wanting to be heard. I wanted to tap into that very human, very female feeling that the world around you won’t listen. And they won’t let you speak. At a certain point, you say, screw this, I can’t live the rest of my life not being heard. I was feeling that a lot leading up to the production of Hush. So when the time came to “awaken the wolf and let it rise,” I tapped into that feeling of needing to be heard by those around me.

Maddie fights back
Maddie fights back

Mike: There’s a moment in the movie where she kind of rises off the ground, which illustrates your analogy beautifully. We basically shot the movie in chronological order. So by the time we got to that scene, Kate had been working 16 weeks, all nighttime shoots, working in the cold woods of Alabama.

Kate: Unable to make any noise.

Mike: When we filmed that sequence, Kate was already very much in that mindset.

Kate: There was a great trust between Mike and I. I would turn to him after takes, and I would be so angry and uncomfortable that I couldn’t be myself. And Mike would look at me and say, you’re in the exact right place. One thing I like about Maddie: there was this deep well of strength that she captured for the first time and her joy at finding that inside herself.

Maddie has had enough
Maddie has had enough

What were your favorite scenes?

Kate: The scene with Samantha Sloyan, a warm, giving, open actress who played my neighbor. The dialog scene with her was such a joy. It’s a turn from the rest of the film, and it creates a sense of who Maddie really is and how she interacts with people around her.

Samantha Sloyan
Samantha Sloyan

Mike: Mine was the rooftop scene. It was the hardest to film because we had to move the camera on several different levels to make the scene kinetic. But I loved it because the actors did their own stunts. And that put everyone, especially the cast, into this whole new mindset. It was also one of the first times we got out of the house we’d been trapped in. It was a tough night but a good time.

Maddie on the roof
Maddie on the roof