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Interviews
userpicHaley Joel Osment (INTERVIEW)
Posted by Kam Williams

Haley Joel Osment
The “Sex Ed” Interview
with Kam Williams

I See Haley, People!

Haley Joel Osment skyrocketed to fame at the age of 11 with his unforgettable, Academy Award-nominated performance in M. Night Shyamalan’s ghost thriller, The Sixth Sense. His portrayal of Cole, the little boy who uttered the iconic line, "I see dead people," left an indelible impact on audiences, as the picture grossed over $672 million worldwide.

In 2000, Osment went on to co-star alongside Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt in the Warner Brothers drama Pay It Forward. And a year later, he starred opposite Jude Law in Steven Spielberg’s 2001 sci-fi drama, A.I. which earned over $235 million worldwide.

Here, he talks about his life and career, and about his upcoming movie, a comedy called Sex Ed.

Kam Williams: Hi Haley, thanks for the interview.

Haley Joel Osment: Hey, how’s it going, Kam?

 

KW: Great! I really enjoyed Sex Ed. Before we start, I just wanted to say that I think you and my son have some mutual friends. He’s your age and went to Princeton. He said you were on a campus a lot when he was there.

HJO: Yeah, one of my closest friends went to Princeton, so I would come out to visit him occasionally, which was kinda nice because it was such a short train ride away from New York City. It was always great to get out to a non-urban environment.

 

KW: I’ll be mixing my own questions in with some from readers. Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: How did attending the Tisch School at NYU help you prepare for your adult career in film and theater? Is going to college something you would recommend to other child stars?

HJO: I think college is a good idea for most everybody, but it depends on the person and on what you want to be doing when you turn 18, whether you want to go away to school or if acting’s something you want to jump on immediately.

 

KW: Harriet also asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?

HJO: No, I would like to see more original films than remakes at this time. [Laughs]

 

KW: Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks: What interested you in Sex Ed?

HJO: It’s a film that [director] Isaac [Feder] and [screenwriter] Bill [Kennedy] have been trying to make since about 2007. I loved the script when I first read it in 2010, a funny fish-out-of-water comedy. Over the next four years we had a couple of near misses trying to get it made. Then, out of the blue, we got some money to shoot the movie in Florida, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise, since the location added a lot of flavor to the film.

 

KW: Irene also asks: What do you want people to get from your performance? Are you trying with this comedic turn here to get out from under the shadow of your iconic performance in The Sixth Sense?

HJO: I’m always just interested in whatever the best scripts are. This was just a bit of fortunate, coincidental timing. I really enjoy doing comedies, although I didn’t get to do a lot of them as a kid. I was on some network sitcoms. But it’s a really fertile time for comedy right now on a variety of platforms.

 

KW: Did you base your character, Ed Cole, on anybody?

HJO: Not on anyone in particular. He was originally based on a friend of Isaac and Bill’s who had been teaching English in Korea. But I never met that person, and wanted to create Ed from the ground up as his own man.

 

KW: What message do you think people will take away from the film?

HJO: Well, we didn’t set out to make a polemic. Where we sort of land is a mixture of respect for those parents who know what they want their children’s sex education to be like, and the reality that the information should be available for other kids whose parents are unable to inform them about the subject. 

 

KW: Aaron Moyne asks: At what age will you tell your kids about the proverbial birds and the bees?

HJO: Oh gosh, I don’t know. Kids are, at the very least, a long way off for me. I don’t know that there’s a set age. I guess it depends on the maturity level.

 

KW: Sangeetha Subramanian asks: How do you cope with those hard days on the set?

HJO: It can be grueling, particularly with an independent film like Sex Ed, when you have really long work days because you’re shooting the whole film in a short amount of time. It can get a bit tiring when you’re in virtually every shot of every scene. But having done some theater in New York, where you have to keep yourself fresh for eight performance a week, helps with endurance and keeping your energy up.

 

KW: Environmental activist Grace Sinden asks: Aside from your own work, what are you enjoying watching nowadays?

HJO: Well it’s a great time for television, along with Amazon Prime, HBO Go, and other ways we catch our shows. ! I’m a big fan of Veep, Game of Thrones, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Breaking Bad, which ended last year. As far as movies, I’m excited about Inherent Vice which opens in December, and I’m also looking forward to seeing Birdman which is supposed to be pretty cool.

 

KW: Grace was also wondering whether there are any particular actors or directors you have not worked with yet but would like to?

HJO: Certainly, Paul Thomas Anderson, in terms of directors. I’m a big fan of all his films. When it comes to actors, it’s hard to pick just one.  

 

KW: Finally, Grace says: Early acting success often leads to a distorted perception of what a good life is. Do you feel you learned any important life lessons in this regard from your own early success in movies and television? 

HJO: I think one thing that was really important, particularly in this industry which is so unpredictable and changing in profound ways, and I guess is contracting on the film side, was never to expect that it would always be a boom time. I was really lucky to be in such high-profile movies early in my career. But part of the reason for going to college was to make sure that my motivation for being in the industry was to do quality work, and not to be counting on giant blockbusters. In that regard, I am prepared for whatever the future holds. 

 

KW: What was it like to be nominated for an Oscar at 11 years of age?

HJO: The Academy Awards season was crazy! But what was kinda nice and reassuring was how Steven Spielberg warned me about two months before Oscar night that the best part of the experience would be how all these famous people would be nervously running around trying to meet each other during commercial breaks in the telecast. He was absolutely right about that. It was cool to see that everybody else was also in this excited place.

 

KW: Have you ever had a near-death experience?

HJO: No, and I hope that good fortune continues. 

 

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

HJO: No, Kam, I’ve been doing press for so long that I’ve heard it all.

 

KW: Would you mind saying something controversial that would get this interview tweeted?

HJO: [LOL] No, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised that the subject-matter of Sex Ed hasn’t ruffled any feathers so far.

 

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

HJO: I’m in the middle of “The Shadow of Great Rock” by Harold Bloom. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0300166834/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

And I just finished “The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus” by Richard Preston. Getting more information about Ebola did sort of help quell my panic.  

 http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385479565/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

 

KW: I know Richard. He lives nearby, and I interviewed him about “The Hot Zone” back then.

HJO: Oh, that’s right! He’s a Princeton guy. Well, it’s an interesting book to read now. All the science behind it is fascinating, from the standpoint of doctors who had no idea what it was they were dealing with during the initial outbreak.

 

KW: What’s was just as interesting as “The Hot Zone” was that at least five years before 9/11 he confided in me that the FBI was very worried about a possible terrorist attack by Islamic fundamentalists with a weapon of mass destruction. The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to? 

HJO: I just got Ty Segall’s new CD, “Manipulator.” I’m a really big fan of that album.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00KUIV2OK/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

 

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

HJO: That’s a tough one. One of my closest friends has a big backyard in Brooklyn. We like to grill brisket for hours and hours on Sundays for the football games. I’ve also been trying to perfect a really simple marinara sauce with good quality tomatoes you can find in the city.

 

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

HJO: I don’t know… I can’t think of a creative response to that one. [Chuckles]

 

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

HJO: To put an end to the Ebola outbreak.

 

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

HJO: My mom playing kids’ books on tapes for me as I was falling asleep in the crib.

 

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?

HJO: Part of the reason I enjoy doing press is because I don’t have to modulate my personality too much. I think I just speak louder on carpet, which is important when you’re doing interviews. [Laughs]

 

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: Is there a key quality you believe all successful people share? 

HJO: I think curiosity and open-mindedness are important in our business. But success is a hard thing to predict or pin down.

 

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

HJO: I’d say, just make sure that the work is your primary interest. It’s a really tough industry. I know a lot of really talented, good people who don’t succeed. So, I’d say find a way to do your craft in a way which satisfies you, and let the rest of the stuff, the success and recognition, come as a bonus.

 

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

HJO: For a wide variety of roles over a great many years.

 

KW: And finally, what’s in YOUR wallet?

HJO: [Laughs] A post-it note with my “To Do” list.  

 

KW: Thanks again for the time, Haley, and best of luck with Sex Ed.

HJO: Thanks a lot, Kam. It was nice talking to you.  

To see a trailer for Sex Ed, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-lauONf9F4




Plot for Peace
Film Review by Kam Williams

In 2009, I reviewed a movie called Endgame, a political potboiler which divulged, for the first time, the pivotal role a British professor named Will Esterhuyse played in the end of Apartheid. I remember feeling a little skeptical about the veracity of the alleged well-kept secret.

But here it is five years later, and we now have a Plot for Peace, a documentary staking a similar claim on behalf of another supposed critical figure who also ostensibly operated under the radar. This picture purportedly recounts how Jean-Yves Ollivier, a French businessman surreptitiously referred to as “Monsieur Jacques” in classified correspondence, orchestrated the dismantling of South Africa’s racist regime as well as the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.

Granted, Mr. Ollivier has many luminaries lining up to testify on his behalf, including Winnie Mandela, who says, “He never said one word about his contribution.” Then, there’s attorney and African National Congress activist Mathews Phosa who points out that Jean-Yves “wouldn’t have received a medal from Mandela if he hadn’t played a role.” Curiously, he’s the only person to be so honored by both the new and previous presidents.

What interested Ollivier in South Africa? He explains that he was a young expatriate living in Algeria during that nation’s independence movement. So, he saw the outcome as inevitable when civil war erupted in South Africa despite efforts of the United States and other Western countries to delay the inevitable by advocating the dubious “policy of constructive engagement.”

My only complaint about “Johnny Come Lately” productions like this and Endgame is the way in which they subtly minimize the contributions made by the revolutionaries who put their lives on the line in a very bloody, freedom struggle. These versions of revisionist history tend to marginalize such sacrifices while suggesting that the true hero was a lone wolf in a suit safely negotiating a resolution of the conflict from half a world away.

Regardless, the grassroots’ rallying cry remained, “Amandla!”

Very Good (2.5 stars)

Unrated   

In English, French, Portuguese, Afrikaans and Spanish with subtitles

Running time: 84 minutes

Distributor: Indelible Media

To see a trailer for Plot for Peace, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2A7EJUg1dSY        




Private Peaceful
Film Review by Kam Williams

Tommo (George MacKay) and Charlie Peaceful (Jack O’Connell) had a healthy sibling rivalry while growing up in Devon at the dawn of the 20th Century. The brothers were raised on a sprawling country estate owned by a family of aristocratic Brits.

Their father (Stephen Kennedy) was employed there as both gamekeeper and forester. In that capacity, he was able to afford to send his sons to a private school run with an iron fist by a sadistic headmaster (Richard Griffiths), a retired military colonel.

Everything changes when their dad dies in a logging accident. Since their homemaker mother (Maxine Peake) can no longer afford the rent or tuition, they soon lose the only life they’ve ever known. More importantly, the pubescent adolescents have to leave behind Molly (Alexandra Roach), a beautiful classmate both have a crush on.

Despite moving away, Tommo and Charlie venture back as teens to frolic in the forest with the irresistible object of their affection. A bit of a tease, Molly initially refuses to pick between her ardent admirers, instead only promising to marry one “Mr. Peaceful” while assuring that “We’ll be happy until the day we die.”

This is the premise underpinning Private Peaceful, a bittersweet love story based on Michael Morpurgo’s young adult novel of the same name. The book was previously adapted into a play which debuted at the Royal Theater in 2004.

Directed by Pat O’Connor (Sweet November), the screen version is an intriguing romance drama which takes a sharp turn about midway through when Tommo and Charlie enlist in the army and ship off to serve their country in Flanders’ fields. However, there remains concern about Molly who’d announced her unplanned pregnancy shortly before the outbreak of World War I.

Who’s the daddy? Will the Peacefuls survive? These are the pivotal questions left to be addressed between bombs bursting in air. Trench warfare as the backdrop for a tawdry love triangle about as incestuous as it gets.

Very Good (3 stars)

Unrated   

Running time: 102 minutes

Distributor: BBC America

To see a trailer for Private Peaceful, visit: http://www.privatepeacefulthemovie.com/




St. Vincent
Film Review by Kam Williams

Almost nothing is right in Vincent MacKenna’s (Bill Murray) life. The aging, Vietnam War vet is still suffering from PTSD. Plus, he’s fighting a losing battle against with booze, cigarettes and gambling, which has left him deeply indebted to a vicious loan shark (Terrence Howard).

In fact, Zucko is threatening to break Vincent’s kneecaps if he doesn’t come up with the cash in a couple weeks. Trouble is the miserable misanthrope doesn’t have a friend in the world, unless you count Daka (Naomi Watts), the pregnant prostitute he befriended at a neighborhood strip club. Unfortunately, Vincent can come up with no better solution to his money woes than wagering on long shots at his favorite haunt, Belmont race track.

Meanwhile, he’s also concerned about his wife, Sandy (Donna Mitchell), who’s been suffering from Alzheimer’s for the past eight years. He still visits her regularly at the elderly care facility, despite the fact that she no longer recognizes him.

The last thing you’d think Vincent might need would be a new, next-door neighbor who’s more of a burden than a help. But, that’s just what he gets in Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) a single-mom desperate enough for a babysitter that she’s willing to let him babysit her latchkey kid.

Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) attends Catholic school where the pint-sized 12 year-old is picked on by bullies. This makes the boy a prime candidate for the sort of toughening Vincent has to offer, lessons on everything from boxing to betting.

Written and directed by Theodore Melfi, St. Vincent is a bittersweet, unlikely-buddies flick which works more in terms of comedy than drama. There’s something a tad unconvincing about the ambitious adventure’s sentimental side.

The film has one glaring flaw, a rushed feeling resulting from the introduction of more plotlines than it has time to develop fully. So, when it asks us to empathize with this or that character’s plight, or to buy into the heartwarming resolution, there’s simply not much of a wellspring of emotion forthcoming.

Nevertheless, St. Vincent does work when going for the joke, especially Bill Murray’s tongue-in-cheek brand of humor. He’s in rare form, here, as an irascible curmudgeon who exhibits an endearing vulnerability for the sake of an at-risk tween in need of a father figure.

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, smoking, mature themes and substance abuse

Running time: 102 minutes

Distributor: The Weinstein Company

To see a trailer for St. Vincent, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5BVn-eyAxA    



Reviews
userpicGina the Dreamer
Posted by Kam Williams

Gina Prince-Bythewood
The “Beyond the Lights” Interview
with Kam Williams

 

Born on June 10, 1969, Gina Maria Prince-Bythewood studied film at UCLA before beginning her career as a writer for the TV sitcom, “A Different World.” In 2000, she made a noteworthy directorial debut with the critically-acclaimed Love & Basketball, which netted a dozen accolades during awards season, including a couple of NAACP Image Awards, a BET Award and several Black Reel Awards.

 

Gina’s next feature was The Secret Life of Bees (2008), which also earned its share of trophies, including Image Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. Here, she talks about making her third movie, Beyond the Lights, a romance drama co-starring Gugu Mbata-Raw and Nate Parker.

 

 

Kam Williams: Hi Gina, thanks for the interview. I’m honored to have this opportunity.

Gina Prince-Bythewood: Absolutely! Thank you, Kam.

 

KW: I have to start by asking: Why so long between films?

GPB: Well, I didn’t expect it to take this long. This one took a very long time. I started writing it in 2007. But I stopped to make The Secret Life of Bees, which took up a couple years, before coming back to this. Then, it was another four-year journey between the writing and setting it up. The project was turned down by everybody a couple times. I was fighting, fighting and fighting for it until BET and Relativity finally stepped up. 

 

KW: Beyond the Lights was obviously a labor of love. What was the source of your inspiration for the project?

GPB: A couple things. One, I knew I wanted to write a love story. And I’ve always wanted to write a music film. Some of my favorite films are musicals, like Walk the Line, The Rose and Lady Sings the Blues. I just love the way the music and the story fuel each other. I wanted to do that with Hip-Hop, since it had never been explored before. It was really marrying those two together. The next question was: What’s the story going to be? I was dealing with two things in my life at the time. Someone very close to me had tried to kill themselves, changed their mind halfway through, and was able to get themselves to the hospital, thankfully. Going through that with them, and researching suicide afterwards, I was amazed to learn that 60% of people who succeed at committing suicide try to change their mind. I thought that was a pretty important thing to explore. This character, Noni [played by Gugu Mbata-Raw], if she’d been successful on the balcony attempt, her life would’ve been over at that point. She could not see past all the pain she was feeling but, by having the second chance, she did get to change her life, find her voice and experience true love. I wanted to put out a movie that could let others in a similar position to take a chance know that there might be something positive past the pain. The other inspiration had to do with issues surrounding my finding my birth mother, who was white, and her not being the fantasy I expected, and my realizing what my life would’ve been if I’d grown up with her, in a home where I was loved and hated at the same time. Because I was black, her parents told her to abort me, and would not allow her to have me. I thought that was a fascinating thing to deal with, and served as the basis of Noni’s relationship with her mother [played by Minnie Driver].         

 

KW: So, who were you raised by?

GPB: I was adopted by two amazing people, a Salvadoran mother, and a white father who were incredibly supportive of me and my work. I am eternally grateful for them.

 

KW: Gee, I didn’t know any of that about you. This question is from Thelonious Legend. He says: I recently interviewed your husband [actor/writer/producer/director Reggie Rock Bythewood] and was very impressed with his passion for bringing diversity to film and with his using his talents for a cause bigger than himself. Do you ever feel a pressure from women or minority communities to “do the right thing,” and how does that influence your creative process?

GPB: I don’t feel any pressure because these are the stories I want to tell. People often ask me if I feel discriminated against as a black female director. I don’t. I’m actually offered a ton of stuff. But I only want to direct what I write. And I prefer to focus on black female characters. What’s most important to me is to put characters up onscreen who are not perfect, but who are human and flawed. 

 

KW: Sangeetha Subramanian says: I am a huge fan of Love & Basketball. I was just talking about the film the other day. The trailer for Beyond the Lights looks great, as well. She asks: Has your perspective of women’s struggle of career versus love changed over time?

GPB: [LOL] That’s a great question! Back then, as now, I want us to have it all, love and career. It’s a struggle sometime to achieve that, but I love the struggle.

 

KW: How did you come to cast Gugu in the lead? Did you feel like you were taking a big chance since she’s British and not a singer?

GPB: I found her in the auditions. My original plan was to go with a musical artist, but then I realized I needed an actress, given the depth of what her character goes through. She came in to audition two years ago, and she was phenomenal. I saw the movie when I watched her. She sang “Blackbird” as part of the audition, and she knocked that out of the park, too. After hearing her connection to the material, and her being raised by a single-mother, it became obvious that she was the one. It was a gut thing. I knew that she was a star. She just hadn’t been broken yet. That was exciting for me as a director, to be able to give her that opportunity. As far as Nate [co-star Nate Parker], I’d worked with him before on The Secret Life of Bees, and always felt like he was going to be the next Denzel. So, I’m really hoping that this is the breakout role for him, too. Once I put him and Gugu together, it was crystal clear that these two had amazing chemistry.

 

KW: I thought he also had great chemistry with Alicia Keys in The Secret Life of Bees. So, maybe you deserve a share of the credit for cultivating that between your leads.

GPB: Nate and I have a great trust with each other, and we had these live improvs on both pictures. I sent him and Alicia on a date in character that ended up lasting three hours and really connected them on such a deep level. With Beyond the Lights, we did a live improv early on in the process where I sent Nate and Gugu to a restaurant in character. I secretly told her not to take her sunglasses off. And I whispered to him to get her to take them off. They had no idea. I also hired about 30 paparazzi to show up and swarm all over her. They stayed in character and he protected her. The restaurant had no idea, either. They thought it was all real. That real-life experience bonded them throughout the shooting in a way that just rehearsing never would have.

 

KW: When I saw Love & Basketball, it was with an inner-city, all-black audience that yelled back at the screen. Did you get to see it that way?

GPB: Oh, my goodness! Yes, the very first time I played the film for an audience was at a mall in Crenshaw, so it was very scary. But once folks started talking to the screen, it was fun. It was great that the audience was that engaged.

 

KW: I included funny things people shouted out in my review. Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

GPB: [Chuckles] Not really.

 

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What music have you been listening to? 

GPB: Beyonce’s “Drunken Love,” which came out right when I was in the middle of editing the film. I never thought I’d be able to afford it, so the fact that it ended up in the movie was such a shock to me.  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00IM0M72O/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

 

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

GPB: Gone Girl. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0307588378/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

 

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

GPB: Salmon with barbecue sauce.

 

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

GPB: [LOL] Wow! I see a wife, a mom and a filmmaker.

 

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

GPB: Honestly, happiness for my children.

 

KW: The Anthony Mackie question: Isthere anything that you promised yourself you’d do if you became famous, that you still haven’t done yet?

GPB: I hate to fly. I’m deathly afraid of it. And I keep promising myself to take a fear of flying course because I have to fly around to promote each film, but I still haven’t done it.

 

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?

GPB: I’m much more comfortable at home.

 

KW: If you could have a chance to speak with a deceased love one for a minute who would it be?

GPB: Wow! I would say my Oma, my adoptive grandmother, who was Salvadoran but embraced me instantly despite my being black, and who encouraged my grandfather to follow suit.  

 

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

GPB: I remember standing up in a crib in an empty room. I think it was the first time my parents came to the orphanage to meet me.

 

KW: The Harriet Pakula-Teweles question: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?

GPB: No, a classic is a classic for a reason. Let’s try to create new classics. The idea of repeating ourselves drives me a little crazy.

 

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

GPB: Be passionate about your material, because you’re going to have to overcome a lot of “No’s,” and it’s that passion that fuels the fight. So, yeah, be passionate.

 

KW: Thanks again for the time, Gina. Best of luck with the film. Don’t take so long to make your next one. I look forward to speaking to you again in less than six years.

GPB: [LOL] Same here. Thank you very much, Kam. Take care.

To see a trailer for Beyond the Lights, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rvgJ2WbDsc



Interviews
userpicArcane, Urbane and Insane Bourdain
Posted by Kam Williams

Anthony Bourdain
The “Parts Unknown” Interview
with Kam Williams

 

Chef, author and world traveler Anthony Bourdain is an outspoken trailblazer with unique insights about food, culture and current events. Here, he talks about his life, career and his Peabody and Emmy-winning TV-series, Parts Unknown.  

 

Kam Williams: Hi Anthony, thanks for the interview. I love the show. I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.

Anthony Bourdain: Oh no, my pleasure, Kam.

 

KW: Congratulations on the his Peabody and Emmys for Parts Unknown.

AB: Thank you. It feels good.

 

KW: I told my readers I’d be interviewing you. So, I’ll be mixing their questions for you in with my own. The first is from editor/Legist Patricia Turnier who is French Canadian. She says: You have French background and you’re fascinated with French cuisine. Do you speak the language?

AB: Yes, badly. But my French definitely improves the more I drink, as I worry less and less about absolutely perfect grammar. [Chuckles] I do speak and understand the language, just not particularly well.

 

KW: Patricia also asks: Did you spend any summers in France with your parents growing up?
AB: Just a few. Two or three. Three summers, I think.

 

KW: Patricia says: you are an excellent writer. What is the best advice you have for young writers about cultivating a unique writing style with a sophisticated voice like yours?

AB: Wow! That’s hard to say… I just don’t know… Be true to yourself. I write quickly with a sense of urgency. I don’t edit myself out of existence, meaning I’ll try to write 50 or 60 pages before I start rereading, revising and editing. That just helps with my confidence. I listen a lot to how people speak. I’ve read a great many good books in my life. I had some excellent English teachers. Surely, those things were helpful.   

 

KW: Besides your books, the show is extremely well-written. Do you have a hand in that?

AB: I write the voiceover as part of the editing process, some of it beforehand. Working with the producer, we’ll sort of hash out the flow of each show, the sequence of events, and the general framework. And maybe there will be some writing as well that they can edit to. But much of it is done afterwards. It’s a long and interactive process that takes about 9 to12 weeks sometimes, per show. So, a lot of attention is paid. I’m very aware that we’re telling a story here, and that we want to tell it in the most compelling, honest and accurate way we can.

 

KW: I’m not surprised to hear that you wear several different hats on the show, since you strike me as one of these versatile, multi-talents like David Byrne.

AB: I wouldn’t want to compare myself to David Byrne whom I consider a genius, but what I think what we have in common is that he’s also a guy who is very interested in the world and who has a lot of passions beyond singing and playing guitar. Clearly, if you track his career, you see a great many collaborations with interesting artists, and his work reflects whatever’s turning him on that year. In that sense, what a great way to live, if you could always do things that interest you, and do them with people who interest you.

 

KW: Editor Lisa Loving says: This is tough because you have already been asked everything from your worst meal ever [unwashed warthog rectum] to the most disgusting food you ever ate [McDonald’s]. Would you mind comparing McDonald’s to some of the wildest dishes you’ve sampled on the show?

AB: I think it’s very hard to make an argument that a Chicken McNugget is either chicken or a nugget? If you’re eating unwholesome, street food in a country where they have to make do with whatever scraps are left to them, at least you know what it is, and generally have some sense of where it came from. Whereas a McNugget, to my way of thinking, is a Frankenfood whose name doesn’t necessarily reflect what it is. I’m still not sure what it is. Listen, Kam, when drunk, I will eat a McNugget. It’s not the worst tasting thing in the world, but it’s one of the things I’m least likely to eat, because I choose not to.    

 

KW: Isn’t there beef in the Chicken McNugget’s bread crumbs?

AB: They use a beef flavor that they spray or somehow add. I think it’s in the French fries, as well. Manipulating flavor, salinity and sugar levels is an important part of convenience food, snack food and fast food.

 

KW: Lisa also asks: What does your daughter Ariane like to eat? Have you cooked together yet?

AB: We cook together all the time. And since her mom and grandparents are Italian, a little Italian gets snuck in. She eats like a European kid in the sense that she’s very daring. She eats raw oysters, chicken hearts and yakitori and other Japanese food. She’s very curious about food and isn’t afraid to try new things. She loves to cook with me, and I love cooking with her. When we do cook together, we generally make ratatouille and pastas. Simple things. She’s 7, so I have to monitor her knife work very carefully. But I just gave her her first chef’s knife. 

 

KW: when you’re in the middle of nowhere, do you ever hesitate before eating something alien, fearing a negative reaction that might call for emergency medical attention that’s too far away?

AB: No, wholesome food is wholesome food anywhere. I may not like something but, generally speaking, if it’s a busy, street food stall serving mystery meat in India, they’re in the business of serving their neighbors. They’re not targeted toward a transient crowd of tourists that won’t be around tomorrow. They’re not in the business of poisoning their neighbors. I have eaten food that was clearly not fresh, that was dirty. I knew I was spinning the wheel of fortune there, but I did it because there was no polite way out. I saw it as the lesser of two evils, and I did pay a price. But it’s one I was willing to pay because turning your nose up at a genuine and sincere gesture of hospitality is no way to travel or to make friends around the world.

 

KW: Jeff Cohen says: I love that guy and his show. I want to know how I can get that job. Best job in the world!

AB: Hell if I know. I still don’t know how this happened to me. One minute I was dunking French fries, the next minute I had a TV show. I still haven’t figured it out. I guess not giving a crap is a very good business model.

 

KW: More seriously, Jeff asks: What fuels your passion to find out of the way places and cuisine, and how do you incorporate those experiences into your cooking?

AB: As far as the first part of the question, that’s just how I like to eat. Those are the places that make me happy, and they’re the most representative places, if you kinda want to get the flavor of what a place is really like and of who lives there. As to the second part of the question, it may come as a surprise to some that I do not incorporate those flavors that I discover or encounter around the world into my own cooking. I’m not so arrogant as to think that I can visit India for a week and then come back and cook Indian food. Just because I like sushi, doesn’t mean I can make sushi. I’ve come to well understand how many years just to get sushi rice correct. It’s a discipline that takes years and years and years. So, I leave that to the experts. When I cook, I generally stick with what I know, what I’m comfortable with, and what I feel I’ve paid my dues learning, and am good at.  

 

KW: Jim Cryan has a question related to one of his favorite episodes of Parts Unknown: What's the best street food to eat while watching cricket in India?

AB: Gee, I forget the name, but it was this very spicy, colorful, flavorful Rice Krispies-type dish.

 

KW: Cousin Leon Marquis asks: What's the strangest food you ever ate, and where were you when you ate it?

AB: I think I’d refer back to Chicken McNugget or a Cinnabon.

 

KW: Attorney/Pastry Chef Bernadette Beekman was wondering whether you have a preference for any particular type of cuisine.

AB: If I were trapped in one city and had to eat one nation’s cuisine for the rest of my life, I would not mind eating Japanese. I adore Japanese food. I love it.

 

KW: Bernadette would also like to know whether you will do other love stories to cities in period style such as you did with Italy? Loved the black and white “La Dolce Vita" feeling!

AB: That was one of my proudest accomplishments, and one of my favorite shows. I don’t know whether we’d do it in black and white again, but yes, I hope to do another richly-textured, carefully-designed, cinematic ode to a city I love and to its food. Sure! That’s always what I like to do, and when I’m at my happiest.

 

KW: Pittsburgh native Robin Beckham says: Parts Unknown is one of my favorite shows. She asks: Do you ever plan to visit the Steel City?                                                                                

AB: Very likely, yes.

 

KW: Robin goes on to say: Mr. Bourdain, through your show you call attention to the variety of food choices people are indulging in around the world. And on your journeys visiting various countries, you have a unique way of helping to break down religious, racial and ethnic barriers by presenting people in a light that forces an audience to think about other cultures in a positive manner (in a way they may never have in the past). When you return to the United States and witness the racial divide we have in Ferguson, what are some of your thoughts about what we need to do here in America to bring people together? What are the “Parts Unknown,” from your perspective, that can help to heal our country?

AB: Wow, that’s a big, big, big, big, big question, Robin. I wish I knew. We are, in many ways, a much more divided nation than we like to think or say we are. In some of the countries I’ve visited, like Malaysia and Singapore, people are mixed up, whether they like it or not. Here, it’s like a grid system, even in New York, where we like to think of ourselves as enlightened and multi-racial. It’s a complicated question that I certainly don’t feel qualified to answer. I could suggest that all that’s needed is for us to sit down and share a meal together, but I don’t know if that’s true. Certainly, to the extent that people can walk in each other’s shoes for a few hours, or even just for a few minutes, this can only be a good thing. Looking at Ferguson, Missouri from the outside, I would guess that the Police Department has a particular siege mentality, an “us vs. them” mentality, that’s not all that unusual in this world when you look at angry, disenfranchised, paranoid people. It’s a mentality that emerges in groups of people. It’s ugly and, frankly, I’m the last person in the world in terms of having a constructive clue as to what to do about it.      

 

KW: But you have a natural ability to relate to people and to reduce the human experience to a collective one. Add in food, and you’re a natural ambassador.

AB: It’s not my intention. I’m out there looking to tell stories about other cultures, places I go, and things I see. That’s all, really. I’m not trying to explain other cultures, or to give a fair and balanced account of a country, or the top ten things you need to know. I’m not trying to spread world peace and understanding. I’m not an advocate or and activist or an educator or a journalist. I’m out there trying to tell stories the best I can. I come back and make television shows that give as honest a sense of what I felt like when I was there. If that enables the audience to empathize with people they felt hostile towards or never thought about before, that is good and I feel happy about that. But that is not my mission in life. My mission in life is tell an entertaining, well-made, well-crafted story that is true to myself. I am proud and pleased when viewers report afterwards feeling some kinship with people they never imagined empathizing with before. I’m not Bono. I’m not on a mission.

 

KW: You’re doing something that resonates with the audience to come to CNN and become the network’s highest rated show almost immediately.

AB: I see Parts Unknown as an adjunct to the news in the sense that when you see something terrible or something good that transpires in Libya or Palestine or Iran or Congo or Southeast Asia, you know who we’re talking about, if you’ve watched this show. You’ve sat down with a family from the West Bank or Gaza. You’ve seen the daily routine of a Vietnamese rice farmer. You have some sense of whom we’re talking about in Congo, the next time a statistic pops up. We put a human face on places faraway from where we live. I think it’s useful. It may not be news, but it’s useful. 

 

KW: Do you think you’re helping to obliterate the “Ugly American” stereotype by being so sensitive to and appreciative of other cultures?

AB: I think many, if not most, of the people I’ve met in countries where you’d not expect them to be friendly, make a definite distinction between our government and us. They are extraordinarily friendly and welcoming just about everywhere, and are often cynical about their own leaders and government. So, the idea that they could disagree with many things about our government and yet still find it in their hearts to invite us to their table and to enjoy sharing their culture with us is not an unusual impulse, at all, in my experience. People everywhere have been very, very good to me, whether I’m with or without cameras.   

 

KW: Robin asks: Do you have any updates on a possible show in North Korea? AB: The state control is so tight there that there’s no way we could have anything resembling an organic or real experience. They really keep you inside a sort of North Korean Disneyland, and there would be no way, at all, of seeing how ordinary North Koreans live, and that, of course, is what we would want to show.

 

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

AB: Playing with plastic army men on the beach with my brother at around 3.

 

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

AB: I see a face full of lines, and every one of them has been earned.

 

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

AB: I love making Neapolitan style ragu of neck bones, oxtail and tough cuts of meat, and slowly cooking down with a tomato sauce into a ragu.

 

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?

AB: A bowl of spicy noodles, a beautiful beach, anything involving my daughter, a fat unread book, any number of film directors coming out with a new film, and seeing stuff that few others have seen. And Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I’ve been doing  lot of that lately, and it’s deeply satisfying.

 

KW: Sangeetha Subramanian says: I have really enjoyed and learned so much watching Parts Unknown. What advice do you have for vegetarians who want to travel to countries where it's a bit harder to find meals with no seafood and no meat?

AB: I’m sort of unsympathetic. I just think it’s bad manners.

 

KW: Robin asks: What do you share with your daughter about your experience connecting with human beings who welcome you into their very different worlds?

AB: She watches my show, and I try to bring the family along to one family-friendly location a year. She’s only 7, but she’s traveled pretty widely. I think it’s important for a kid, especially a privileged kid like my daughter, to see that not everybody in the world lives like her.

 

KW: How does she react to seeing daddy on TV?

AB: She doesn’t take it seriously. In my house, neither my wife nor my daughter are impressed that I’m on television, and they remind me of that frequently.

 

KW: If you could have a chance to speak with a deceased loved one for a minute who would it be and what would you say?

AB: Well, my dad. When my father passed, I was still an unsuccessful cook with a drug problem. I was in my mid-thirties, standing behind an oyster bar, cracking clams for a living when he died. So, he never saw me complete a book or achieve anything of note. I would have liked to have shared this with him.

 

KW: The Anthony Anderson question: If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?

AB: I’d like to play bass like Bootsy Collins. I’m serious. That would be my dream. Or I’d play with James Brown’s Famous Flames or with Parliament or Funkadelic.

 

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

AB: Show up on time and do the best job you can.

 

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

AB: I don’t care.

 

KW: Thanks again for the time, Anthony, this has been tremendous. All the best with the family, the new season and all your travels.

AB: Thank you, Kam. It’s been fun. I really enjoyed it. So long.

To see a trailer for Parts Unknown, visit:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=od09-RQo5Kw




The Best of Me
Film Review by Kam Williams

The real test of a good tearjerker is whether or not it moves you to tears. And this movie managed to make me cry in spite of myself.

As this film unfolded, I frequently found myself criticizing its considerable structural flaws, from the questionable casting to the farfetched storyline to one humdinger of a reveal. Nevertheless, as the closing credits rolled, I found myself wiping my eyes, a sure sign that this manipulative melodrama calculated to open the floodgates had achieved its goal.

Directed by Michael Hoffman (The Last Station), the picture is loosely based on the Nicholas Sparks best seller of the same name published in 2011. Sparks is the prolific author of 18 romance novels, half of which have been adapted to the big screen, most notably Message in a Bottle and The Notebook, with a couple more already in the works.

Set in Oriental, North Carolina, The Best of Me stars James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan as Dawson Cole and Amanda Collier, former high school sweethearts who haven’t seen each in a couple decades. Strangely, the teenage versions of the very same characters are played in a series of intermittent flashbacks by look-un-likes Luke Bracey and Liana Liberato.

The point of departure is the present, where we learn that Dawson, who never married or attended college, is employed on an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana. He subsequently barely survives a deepwater explosion that blows him off the hundred-foot high platform and turns the Gulf of Mexico into a sea of fire. Meanwhile, miserably married Amanda is living in the lap of luxury in Baton Rouge where she has stuck it out for 18 years with an abusive alcoholic (Sebastian Arcelus) for the sake of their son (Ian Nelson).

Fate brings the two back to their tiny hometown for the funeral of Tuck (Gerald McRaney), a mutual friend with a posthumous agenda. He named them both in his will with the hope of orchestrating a reunion of the star-crossed lovers he considered meant for each other. Sure enough, sparks fly, but will they share more than a one-night stand?  

A syrupy, sentimental soap opera tailor-made for fans of the Nicholas Sparks franchise.

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, violence, brief profanity and some drug use

Running time: 117 minutes

Distributor: Relativity Media

To see a trailer for The Best of Me, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrEvBiqoeRc        



Reviews
userpicOrgasm (BOOK REVIEW)
Posted by Kam Williams

Orgasm
Photographs & Interviews
by Linda Troeller and Marion Schneider
Book Review by Kam Williams

Daylight Books

Hardcover, $35.00

188 pages, Illustrated

ISBN: 978-0-9897981-3-6

 

Orgasm Book Cover“Due to the repression and shame imposed by patriarchy, we are still at the onset of exploration of female sexuality and eroticism. Not only does this book reveal the power, divinity, originality and necessity of female orgasm, but by giving women agency and voice regarding their sexuality, it becomes a deeply erotic work in itself.

Each woman, a brave sex artist mapping a landscape of pleasure, explosion and mythic delight. The project makes it clear that orgasms not only liberate women’s lives, but can save the world as well.

This book is an orgasm.” 

-- Eve Ensler (page 69)

 

Given America’s Puritanical cultural roots, it’s no surprise that it’s considered déclassé even to mention the female orgasm in polite society. Sure, we might have all laughed at an exasperated Teri Garr joking in the movie Tootsie that “I’m responsible for my orgasm!” Or at that hilarious deli scene from When Harry Met Sally where a matronly patron told her waitress, “I’ll have what she’s having,” after watching Meg Ryan climax while eating a sandwich at an adjoining table.

But other than such humorous asides, the climax is rarely the topic of casual conversation let alone of serious clinical examination. Now, thanks to photographer Linda Troeller and historian Marion Schneider, who in 1998 published “The Erotic Lives of Women,” we have a groundbreaking book blowing the sheets off (pun very much intended) the taboo subject.    

For this collaboration the pair found 25 women of every age and ethnicity and from countries as far apart as Holland, France, Israel, Germany, Colombia, Portugal and the United States who were willing to be photographed while answering questions about a most intimate aspect of their sex lives. They were all asked to recount their first and their most powerful orgasms, as well as their greatest fantasies and what orgasms mean to them.

The responses varied wildly. Co-author Marion describes hers as “the building up of energy focused on a certain point: my vagina” where “the energy buildup becomes so great that… it needs to discharge into the universe.” By contrast, Dragonfly, an African-American, sees hers as “a pleasurable reflex, much like a sneeze or a hiccup, or when you jerk your knee when the doctor hits it with the hammer.” Keren from Israel defines hers as “the release of tension… related to some kind of emotional overflow” after which she feels both “clearer” and “emotionally cleansed.”

An eye-opening project that plunges with abandon into the deep chasm of sexual freedom and sexual identity.



Interviews
userpicThe Sound and the “Fury”
Posted by Kam Williams

Michael Pena & David Ayer
The “Fury” Interview
with Kam Williams

Michael Pena was born in Chicago on January 13, 1976 to immigrant parents from Mexico . After graduating from high school, he answered an open casting call for the sequel to To Sir, with Love. He landed a role, relocated to L.A., and the rest is history.

Michael went on to deliver memorable performances in Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Babel and The Lincoln Lawyer. He also landed lead roles in World Trade Center and End of Watch, and played the title character in the biopic about Cesar Chavez released earlier this year.

Here, he and End of Watch director David Ayer talk about reuniting to collaborate on Fury, a World War II adventure starring Brad Pitt.

 

Kam Williams: Hi David and Michael, thanks for the interview. I really appreciate it.

David Ayer: Right on!

Michael Pena: Thanks, Kam.

 

KW: I loved Fury! Great job! Did you read my blurb about the movie?

DA: Not yet.

 

KW: I described it as a WWII tank flick you don’t so much watch as endure. Picture the sheer intensity of Saving Private Ryan coupled with the visual capture of The Thin Red Line, the harrowing claustrophobia of Das Boot, and the utter insanity of Apocalypse Now.

MP: I’ll take that. 

DA: That’s pretty damn good, bro!

 

KW: I’ll be mixing in readers’ questions with some of my own. Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: David, what is the most significant memory from your military service which continues to influence your writing today?

DA: Holy cow! Nothing I would care to say in public. [LOL] Actually, there’s nothing I could say in public, because of my security covenants. My proudest moment was being awarded my submarine warfare qualifications pin in the Philippines after a lot of intense studying.    

 

KW: David, given that you served in the Navy, where did the idea for Fury come from?

DA: I had one grandfather who was in the Army in World War II, and my other grandfather served in a Navy submarine during the war. And I had an uncle in the Army Air Corps. But I’ve always been fascinated by the war in Europe. And I kinda realized that no one had done a tank movie about it. It was sort of long overdue. So, I hope this becomes the classic American tank movie, the Top Gun for the Armored Corps.  

 

KW: I think you achieved that given how you make the audience feel like they’re right inside the tank and have us pulling for the crew at every turn. I was sweating bullets.

DA: It’s really intense.

 

KW: Bernadette asks Michael: Having appeared in multiple Ayer-written works, do you have an affinity for an Ayer script. Do you feel a certain rhythm to the dialogue in each film?

MP: Yeah, of course I loved Training Day and Harsh Times. I remember then reading the script for End of Watch and thinking: this is a great role, dude! I studied my entire life to make almost every performance as if I were doing a documentary. That’s my motivation. And David writes in that style, so I went, “Oh, this is so cool. I can actually delve in.” Not every director likes that. After I read the dinner scene, I couldn’t wait to do it. I remember on the day of the shoot, he asked me whether I wanted to warm up. But I said, “No, I’ve been rehearsing it for five months. Let’s go now!”   

 

KW: Bernadette asks: Michael, do you have a preference for roles in a certain genre? Is there a type of role you tend to seek to play?

MP: I didn’t go to acting school. Because I didn’t have a lot of cash, the way I taught myself how to act was by watching all of the early Inside the Actor’s Studio episodes. I watched Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire and Robert De Niro’s Mean Streets a hundred times. I prefer films that are very, very real, like Crash, End of Watch and now Fury. I just enjoy the basic human drama. 

 

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier asks: Michael, How did you prepare for the role of Gordo?

MP: It was tough because, although it was all there on the page, I wanted to represent more of a generational figure. So, I took from a bunch of other people. But as for the voice, David would talk to me in Spanish in kind of the same rhythm, because I could easily lose it, especially since we were filming in England where I was surrounded on the set by so many British accents. So, I needed a little more help on this one than usual. To me, the voice was a critical aspect of the character, because Gordo has a different sense of humor. He’s kind of a simple man. I thought about the way my dad is. He grew up in Mexico, and was a farmer. He’s a very simple, quiet, brooding man.  

 

KW: Patricia also asks: Michael, You recently portrayed Cesar Chavez?

MP: He means an awful lot, to be honest with you. My parents were farmers who came to the U.S. for the American Dream. They still grew cucumbers and peppers and corn in the backyard, because we didn’t have much money. They came to this country because people had taken advantage of them in Mexico. And here comes this small man by the name of Cesar Chavez who actually fought for their rights. It wasn’t the easiest thing for him to do, to speak up on behalf of people who didn’t have a voice. And he actually took it upon himself to do just that, and he made a big difference. So, it was an honor for me to be given an opportunity to portray him.

 

KW: Margaret Van Dagens says: You are both from the Midwest, and both originally from Illinois, my home state. I'd like to know how being from the Midwest has influenced your work, and whether being from there gave you a feeling of camaraderie as you collaborate on projects. This is not as superficial a question as it may sound. I feel that being from the Midwest has made a great difference in my work. 

MP: Honestly, I didn’t even know David was from the Midwest until this minute.

DA: Yeah, I bounced out of there as a kid, and pretty much grew up in L.A.

 

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: David, how do you walk the fine line between gore and gripping?

DA: You don’t want to take your audience out of the movie, and too much of the wrong thing can do that. Violence and violent images obviously have a strong effect. If it’s gratuitous, it ain’t good. It has to have a reason. For me, especially in this film, violence has consequences. And the violence is part of the environment this band of brothers lives in. These guys are like a family trying to survive in a violent environment. So, every violent act is reflected in these characters. And they have to process them and come to terms with them.

 

KW: Harriet has one for you Michael. She says: You’ve just done a biopic and an action film based on true stories—how is the preparation different from roles based on fiction?

MP: I don’t really think there is much of a difference. I try to do the same kind of work from picture to picture. The only time it’s different is when I’m doing comedy. Then, the main focus is on making people laugh. And then, secondarily, you try to find the drama in it. I grew up in the ghetto, and I remember not realizing I lived in the ‘hood until I moved out of there. Then, I was like, “Oh man, I used to live like crap. Holy cow!” The crackheads and heroin addicts weren’t cool, but other than that I had so much fun growing up.      

 

KW: Harriet also asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to direct, David?

DA: That’s hard for me to say. Because I’m a writer, it’s easy for me to generate material for myself. My big advantage as a director is that I’m also a writer. The way that markets work now, everything has to be PG-13, and you have to kind of go for a broader audience. So, the problem with remakes is that a lot of what made an original special can get watered down or lost.

KW: Thanks again for the time, guys, and best of luck with the film.

DA: Alright, Kam.

MP: Absolutely!

To see a trailer for Fury, visit:   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q94n3eWOWXM 




Fury
Film Review by Kam Williams

It is April of 1945, and the Allies are making major inroads across the European theater. However, Adolf Hitler has responded to the attrition in the ranks of his army by exhorting women and children to take up arms in a desperate fight to the death.

This is the state of affairs awaiting Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt) when he reaches Germany after engagements in Africa, Belgium and the Netherlands. Sergeant Collier is the commander of a Sherman tank that is part of a battle-hardened armored division being dispatched deep into enemy territory to help deliver the coup de grace to the Nazis.

We meet Wardaddy during a brief pause in the action taken to refuel, to restock ammo and to replace his recently-deceased “best damn gunner in the 9th battalion.” Now, he must make do with Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a private with no fighting experience just plucked out of the typing pool.

The other members of Collier’s motley crew include tank driver Trini Garcia (Michael Pena), Bible-thumping Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf) and a good ol’ boy who goes by Coon-Ass (Jon Benthal). Their next mission is to rescue some stranded GIs urgently in need of assistance.

But prior to shipping out, Collier wants to make sure his greenhorn is ready for the front. So, he forces him to shoot a captured SS officer in the head to show he has no qualms about killing.

That is the premise established at the outset of Fury, a fairly gruesome adventure written and directed by U.S. Navy veteran David Ayer (Training Day). Fair warning: this is a film you don’t so much watch as endure. Picture the sheer intensity of Saving Private Ryan coupled with the visual capture of The Thin Red Line, the harrowing claustrophobia of Das Boot, and the utter insanity of Apocalypse Now.

Brad Pitt exudes an endearing combination of confidence and charm as a calm leader who proves himself quite capable of generating a genuine camaraderie among his men despite the cramped quarters and constant close brushes of death. Moreover, he exhibits an uncanny ingenuity when forced by circumstances to survive by his wits as their resources dwindle.

The meat grinder that was World War II convincingly portrayed from the point-of-view of a band of brothers who were like sitting ducks stuck in a sardine can.

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for sexuality, graphic violence, grisly images and pervasive profanity

In English and German with subtitles

Running time: 134 minutes

Distributor: Columbia Pictures

To see a trailer for Fury, visit:   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q94n3eWOWXM 




Dear White People
Film Review by Kam Williams

The academics are tough enough at Winchester University, a mythical Ivy League institution. It’s too bad that black students there also have to worry about making themselves comfortable socially.         

That’s precisely the predicament we find a quartet of African-American undergrads facing at the point of departure of Dear White People, a sophisticated social satire marking the directorial and scriptwriting debut of Justin Simien. Earlier this year, the thought-provoking dramedy won the Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at the Sundance Film Festival.  

The picture’s protagonists are as different from each other as night and day. Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams) is gay and uncomfortable around his own people because blacks teased him the most about his sexuality back in high school. So, he lives in a predominately-white dorm where he’s ended up being bullied anyway.

Then there’s Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell), a legacy admission to Winchester courtesy of his father (Dennis Haysbert), an alumnus and the current Dean of Students. Troy’s dating an equally-well connected white girl, Sofia Fletcher (Brittany Curran), the daughter of the school’s President (Peter Syvertsen).

Political activist Samantha White (Tessa Thompson) sits at the other extreme, being a militant sister who lives in the all-black dorm ostensibly serving as a refuge for the “hopelessly Afro-centric.” She also hosts a talk show on the college’s radio school’s station, “Dear White People” where she indicts Caucasians about everything from their racism to their sense of entitlement.  

Finally, we have Coco Conners (Teyonah Parris) who just wants to assimilate into mainstream American culture. In fact, she’s more concerned with whether she might make the cut for the reality-TV show conducting auditions on campus than with challenging the status quo, ala rabble rouser Samantha.

So, the premise is set by establishing that the four lead characters have little in common besides their skin color. And the plot subsequently thickens when Pastiche, a student-run humor publication, decides to throw a Halloween party with an “unleash your inner-Negro” theme.

Now they share the prospect of being stereotyped by white classmates cavorting around in blackface dressed as pimps and gangstas, and as icons like President Obama and Aunt Jemima. En route to a surprising resolution, director Simien pulls a couple of rabbits out of his hat while lacing his dialogue with pithy lines (“Learn to modulate your blackness up or down depending on the crowd and what you want from them.”) and touching on a litany of hot button issues ranging from Affirmative Action to Tyler Perry.

A delightful dissection of the Ivy League that stirs the pot in the way most folks mean when they a call for a national discussion of race. 

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for profanity, ethnic and sexual preference slurs, sexuality and drug use

Running time: 106 minutes

Distributor: Roadside Attractions

To see a trailer for Dear White People, visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMgWMzbM2Pk




Addicted
Film Review by Kam Williams

I’m not sure whether in these more enlightened, politically correct times I’m allowed to call a movie a “chick flick” anymore. But when I went to see Addicted, the only other guys in attendance were the couple of buddies I invited to join me at the advance screening.

Furthermore, all the women were African-American. And as they exited the theater afterwards, out of curiosity, I polled about a dozen sisters to see what they thought of the picture. They all loved it. But we men had found it sheer torture, from the tame sex scenes showing precious little skin, to the Puritanical moralizing, to the over-the-top melodrama.

That being said, since the estrogen-laden ladies uniformly enjoyed the film, I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that testosterone heavily influenced my viewing experience. Therefore, fellow males might want to take anything positive I have to say here with a ton of salt.

At the point of departure, we’re introduced to Zoe Reynard (Sharon Leal). The attractive wife/mother/career woman has a thriving business and a sprawling house in the suburbs where she lives with a couple of cute kids and a doting husband (Boris Kodjoe) who just adores her. Jason showers her with affection and little reminders of his devotion like “I love you more than life itself,” and “Our love is forever.”

Trouble is he can’t satisfy her sexually, despite being a handsome hunk and giving it his best efforts between the sheets. Consequently, after they’ve made love, she remains so aroused that she slips out of bed to finish herself off with a huge dildo.

But she’s somehow still horny the next morning and, despite making mild protestations (“This isn’t right!”), easily succumbs to the seductive charms (“I just love the way your lips move.”) of Quentin (William Levy), an ardent Latin lover with an unintelligible accent that just screams “Subtitle this!” Meanwhile, the indiscriminate adulterer also indulges her illicit urges with a buff biker named Corey (Tyson Beckford).

All of the above unfolds flashback-style as recounted by the regretful protagonist in therapy sessions with Dr. Marcella Spencer (Tasha Smith). Unfortunately, the ineffective shrink comes off as more of a voyeur than a psychologist, given her vapid, incongruous responses (“We need to talk about your childhood,” and “We need to talk about your past.”) to Zoe’s couch confessions.

Long ago, I learned Newton’s law that bodies at rest stay at rest, and bodies in motion stay in motion. But what about a body hit by a speeding car at about 70 mph? You’ll have to see the movie to get that laughable lesson in cartoon physics.

Far be it from me to totally trash a seemingly-silly soap opera males (0 stars) might find laughable to the same extent it moves females (4 stars) to tears. Go figure! Consequently, with the wisdom of a modern day Solomon, permit me to play it safe by splitting the difference.

Good (2 stars)

Rated R for nudity, profanity, graphic sexuality and brief drug use

Running time: 105 minutes

Distributor: Lionsgate Films / Codeblack

To see a trailer for Addicted, visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdZ0lUxunbA



Reviews
userpicThe Judge (FILM REVIEW)
Posted by Kam Williams

The Judge

Film Review by Kam Williams

 

Downey and Duvall Square-Off in Character-Driven Courtroom Drama

Hank Palmer (Robert Downey, Jr.) is a very successful, criminal defense attorney with a good reason to hide his humble roots. After all, he was a rebellious kid who frequently landed in trouble with the law while growing up in tiny Carlinville, Indiana.

That juvenile delinquency only served to alienate him from his father, Joseph (Robert Duvall), who just happened to be the town’s only judge. In addition, one of Hank’s more egregious missteps left him permanently estranged from his older brother, Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio). And since their only other sibling, Dale (Jeremy Palmer), was mentally handicapped, Hank hadn’t been back in ages when he received word that his mother (Catherine Cummings) had died.

So, he only planned to make a perfunctory appearance at the funeral before quickly returning to Chicago where he had his hands full, between his high-flying career and a custody battle with his estranged wife (Sarah Lancaster) over their young daughter (Emma Tremblay). However, everything changes when Judge Palmer is suddenly arrested in the hit-and-run killing of a creepy convict (Mark Kiely) he’d publicly castigated in court before releasing back onto the street.

This shocking development conveniently forces Hank to stick around to represent his father, and simultaneously affords him the opportunity to mend a few fences. Plus, it gives him time to unwittingly seduce a woman he meets in a bar (Leighton Meester), who is not only the daughter of his high school sweetheart (Vera Farmiga), but might be the love child he never knew he had.     

Thus unfolds The Judge, a character-driven drama which is half-whodunit, half-kitchen sink soap opera that pulls another rabbit out of the hat every five minutes or so. A potentially farcical film remains rather well grounded thanks to Robert Duvall who plays the Palmer family patriarch with a sobering, stone cold gravitas.         

Both Robert Downey, Jr. and Billy Bob Thornton turn in inspired performances, too, as the opposing attorneys matching wits in a classic courtroom showdown. And the rest of the ensemble more than holds their own as well in service of a script that has a tendency to strain credulity.

A fanciful, thoroughly-modern variation on the parable of the Prodigal Son!

Excellent (3.5 stars)

Rated R for profanity and sexual references

Running time: 141 minutes

Distributor: Warner Brothers

To see a trailer for The Judge, visit:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TA5Y86yAo4



Interviews
userpicBoris Kodjoe (INTERVIEW)
Posted by Kam Williams

Boris Kodjoe
The “Addicted” Interview
with Kam Williams

 

Kodjoe Aglow!

From his big screen and television roles to his theater and entrepreneurial skills, Boris Kodjoe has proven to be one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents. He is probably best known for his role as Damon Carter on the TV series “Soul Food.”

He can currently be seen opposite Kevin Hart, Nick Cannon and JB Smoove on another hit sitcom, “The Real Husbands of Hollywood,” and will soon be starring in the upcoming series “Members Only” which will premiere this fall on ABC. And on the big screen, Boris was recently seen reprising his role as Luther West in the box office hit Resident Evil: Retribution, as well as in Baggage Claim opposite Paula Patton, Derek Luke and Trey Songz.

He was born in Vienna, Austria to Ursula Kodjoe, a psychologist from Germany, and Eric Kodjoe, a physician from Ghana, West Africa. They raised Boris, his brother Patrick and sister Nadja in Germany where he became one of the best tennis players in the country before earning an athletic scholarship to Virginia Commonwealth University.

While studying in Richmond, he was approached by a talent scout for Ford Modeling agency which he joined after earning his marketing degree in May of 1996. Immediately, he booked a dozen campaigns such as Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, Yves Saint Laurent, and The GAP. His career skyrocketed as he quickly became one of the most recognizable male supermodels.

Hollywood soon took notice. While studying with acting coach Janet Alhanti, Boris started guest starring on sitcoms such as “For Your Love,” and landed a supporting role in the feature film Love and Basketball. He also starred in Brown Sugar, alongside Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan, for which he was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. His other screen credits include Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion, The Gospel, Surrogates and Resident Evil: Afterlife.

Onstage, Boris made his Broadway debut in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, opposite James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad and Anika Noni Rose. Previously, he toured the country in the play Whatever She Wants with Vivica A. Fox and Richard Roundtree.

Boris and his brother Patrick have launched the clothing company ALFA (Affordable Luxury For All), bringing the luxury of custom-made clothing to every man and woman in America at affordable prices. The line can be accessed at www.worldofalfa.com. But his primary personal interest is to raise funds for Sophie’s Voice Foundation (www.sophiesvoicefoundation.org), a charity he started with his wife in honor of his daughter Sophie, who was diagnosed with spina bifida at birth.

Here, Boris discusses his new movie, Addicted, the screen adaptation of the steamy best-seller by Zane.

 

Kam Williams: Hi Boris, thanks for another opportunity to interview you.

Boris Kodjoe: Thank you, Kam.

 

KW: You know, I recently met Nicole at a charity function here in Princeton after one of her performances of Antony & Cleopatra.

BK:  Wow!

 

KW: That was a lot of fun after having interviewed her several times over the years. She’s even more beautiful and gracious in person. Now, let me ask you about the movie. What interested you in Addicted? Were you already a Zane fan?

BK:  I wasn’t as aware of her before I read the script. That’s when I began to find out more and more about Zane, her tremendous fan base, and all of her books.

 

KW: How did you like the idea of playing the aggrieved party instead of the hunk the female lead is after?  

BK: It was interesting to me, because he went from being a victim to being a protagonist, in a way, once he found out that his wife had been leading this parallel life. So, the character had to deal wiith all kinds of obstacles, and ups-and-downs that I found intriguing.

 

KW: Tell me a little about what it was like making this movie.

BK:  It was great. It was almost like a family affair. I’ve known [director] Bille Woodruff for years, as well as [fellow cast members] Tyson [Beckford], Sharon [Leal] and everybody. So, it was quite easy to trust my director. My job was basically to make Sharon feel comfortable and protected. She was so courageous and vulnerable, and did such an amazing job. And I was sort of the safety net for her to do all that.

 

KW: Was there any tension on the set between Zane, the author of the novel, and Bille in terms of their vision for the screen adaptation?

BK:  No, they got all of that out of the way before we started shooting. They had numerous meetings, and made sure they were on the same page. To make a movie like that, you really have to trust your director, and they were on the same page.

 

KW: What message do you think people will take away from?

BK:  It’s about communication, weathering the storms, and making sure you really understand each other. In a situation like that, especially where addiction is involved, that lines of communication are open for the spouse not only to understand but to be ready to jump in and help. In the film, you see how difficult it can be because there’s guilt, there’s blame, there’s doubt, and therapy comes into play, as well. And it encourages the audience to engage in conversation after seeing the movie, which is great, too.  

 

KW: You’re really busy on TV nowadays, between Real Husbands of Hollywood and Members Only.

BK:  Yeah, Husbands starts up on October 14th, that’s when Season Three premieres. And I just finished the first episode of Members Only, which takes a unique look into contemporary life at a country club, at a lot of scandal and other ridiculousness that transpires there. So, it’s been exciting for me to do both shows, and a diverse selection of work overall.  

 

KW: Do the series’ shooting schedules overlap?

BK:  No, it worked out perfectly, which things usually do when you relinquish control and give it to God.

 

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: How do you and Nicole balance your busy careers with being the parents of young children?

BK: It’s not about balance. It’s about priorities, and we make family our priority, and everything else sort of falls into place around it. When you do that, you don’t have the stress of trying to make things happen. They happen organically. Our kids are more important to us than any movie or TV show. So, we want to make sure they have what they need, and mostly that’s quality time with us.

 

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

BK:  An amazing book I read with my kids about the life of a child with a very rare and severe facial disfigurement, and about how his environment responds to him, and how he makes his life, his community, friends and school. It’s phenomenal. We’re reading it right now. The book is called “Wonder” and the main character’s name is August. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0375869026/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20  

 

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you at this point in your career?

BK:  Anything that’s new and different.  

 

KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?

BK:  Our new clothing line, World of Alfa [ www.worldofalfa.com ]. That’s our company.

 

KW: Let's say you’re throwing your dream dinner party—who’s invited… and what would you serve?

BK: My wife, my father, my brother, my mother, James Earl Jones, Sidney Poitier, Rupert Murdoch, Desmond Tutu, J.J. Abrams, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, John Stewart, Bill Maher, Chris Rock and Banksy. A big table.  

 

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

BK:  In Vienna, when I was a year-and-a-half or two years-old. I remember it because I remember the little blue raincoat I used to wear, and how the buttons felt. I liked to walk on the street in front of our house when it was raining, and jump into all the puddles. That’s weird, but that’s my earliest memory. I’m going to have to go to therapy to figure out what that means.

 

KW: The Anthony Mackie question: Isthere anything that you promised yourself you’d do if you became famous, that you still haven’t done yet?

BK:  No, I never dealt with fame. It was never a goal of mine to become famous. So, I never projected any goals associated with that. But I did have a bunch of goals I wanted to achieve when I was financially able to do so, but they had nothing to do with fame. When I set goals, they’re more tangible than becoming famous. You don’t build a company or a foundation for fame. By the way, October is Spina Bifida Month, so that’s a big deal for us.

 

KW: The Melissa Harris-Perry question:How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?

BK:  I had to make a decision about whether it would impact how I felt about trusting people, and I decided I wasn’t going top allow it to impact my outlook on trust, because I believe trust is a choice. And I’ve always given people the benefit of the doubt until they prove me otherwise. So, it just made me stronger in my conviction about that, but it also taught me never to put anything past anyone.

 

KW: Ausgezeichnet!

BK:  danke sehr.

 

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?

BK:  Just the way I dress. [Laughs] Otherwise, I’m the same person. I don’t put on a face. I’m the same guy every time you see me. I like to laugh, I like to smile, and I don’t take myself too seriously. I can be a goofball. When I come home, the only thing that changes is that I take off the suit and put on tennis shorts and play with the kids.

KW: The Gabby Douglas question: If you had to choose another profession, what would that be?

BK:  I’m always an entrepreneur, but I’d probably be a teacher. I like teaching kids, whether that’s tennis on the courts or history in the classroom.

 

KW: The Harriet Pakula-Teweles question: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?

BK:  American Gigolo.

 

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share? 

BK:  Conviction. Belief in yourself. What it really says is that we are willing to weather the storm of multiple failures to achieve a goal. We’re so convinced in the destination that we are able to let go of the reins and give it to God.

 

KW: The Pastor Alex Kendrick question: When do you feel the most content?

BK: When I’m with my family.

 

KW: The Pastor Alex Kendrick question: What defines who you are?

BK: My actions.

 

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

BK: Abort the mission, and build your own.

 

KW: Thanks again for the time, Boris, and best of luck with Addicted.

BK: No problem, thank you, Kam.

To see a trailer for Addicted, visit: http://www.lionsgatepublicity.com/theatrical/addicted/



Interviews
userpicJeremy Renner (INTERVIEW)
Posted by Kam Williams

Jeremy Renner
The “Kill the Messenger” Interview
with Kam Williams

Chillin’ with the Messenger!

Jeremy Renner starred in The Hurt Locker, which won a half-dozen Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow). For his portrayal of Sgt. William James, he received many accolades, including his first Academy Award nomination, in the Best Actor category.

The following year, he was again an Academy Award nominee, this time as Best Supporting Actor for his performance as James Coughlin in The Town, directed by Ben Affleck. Moviegoers worldwide also know him for his starring roles as Hawkeye in The Avengers, as William Brandt in Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and as Aaron Cross in The Bourne Legacy.

Jeremy’s breakthrough movie role was as Jeffrey Dahmer in Dahmer. And his other films include American Hustle; The Immigrant; Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters; The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; 28 Weeks Later; Take; North Country; S.W.A.T.; and Neo Ned.

Here, he talks about his new film, Kill the Messenger, directed by Michael Cuesta. The two previously collaborated on 12 and Holding which was nominated for the Independent Spirit Awards’ John Cassavetes Award.

 

Kam Williams: Hi Jeremy. I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.

Jeremy Renner: Thank you, Kam. My pleasure.

 

KW: I told my readers I’d be interviewing you, so I’ll be mixing in my questions with theirs.

JR: Okay, great!

 

KW: Editor Lisa Loving says: Oh my God! Oh my God! You made a movie about Gary Webb. Thank you. Wow! You are ripping my heart out right now. I am not going to cry. I just forgot what the heck I was supposed to be doing today. Jeez! I’m giving myself permission to cry a little. Jeremy, to me, this is one of the most important stories of the Modern Age. And the way Gary’s life was systematically destroyed—not just by the CIA but by the newspapers that mindlessly colluded with them—makes me weep for all time. His book, “Dark Alliance,” is one of my most treasured possessions. She asks: Mr. Renner, did either your role in Kill the Messenger or The Hurt Locker change the way you regard the world or our nation?

JR: Yeah, but not in a political sense. Just five minutes ago, I was talking to someone else about The Hurt Locker’s not being a political movie, whereas it could have quite easily been spun into one very heavy-handedly. Kill the Messenger is a little more obviously a political picture, but I didn’t really want politics to weigh-in on that, even though I might have my opinion and thoughts about it. I think politics and religion are personal belief systems that have nothing to do with anybody else. That’s where I stand. And I don’t like to make movies that try to force people to change their opinions. However, while the backdrop of Kill the Messenger involved politics and journalism, what was important to me was the underdog story. I love to watch an Everyman rise to the occasion under extraordinary circumstances, like in David and Goliath. I think that universal theme resonates with almost anyone, since most people are trying to do the best they can. Like The American way. I pride myself in sort of representing that, as an actor, especially with Gary Webb coming from the same area as I. It was a tragic situation all the way around, and a big story that’s impossible to tell in two hours, which is why we focused more on Gary Webb personally. 

 

KW: Lisa also asks: What did you learn by immersing yourself in Gary’s life story?  

JR: I’d always been on the other side of journalism, just being asked questions. This afforded me a chance to learn a lot about newspapers, satellite stations, and the work of an investigative reporter, and how they get a story. But what I still really enjoyed the most was learning about Gary Webb’s personal life as a father and husband, as well as a journalist.

 

KW: Lisa’s last question is: Do you think Gary committed suicide, or do you think he was killed by the CIA?

JR: I have an opinion about it, but I don’t care to address that on the record. I’ll let the movie speak for itself. What matters more to me is what other people think.

 

KW: David Roth thinks that since you’re one of the producers, you must feel pretty passionate about this project. He asks: Why do you think this story took a back seat to the Monica Lewinsky scandal?

JR: [LOL] The Monica Lewinsky story… [Laughs some more] and I do say this laughing… is just more entertaining to follow. Dark Alliance was talking about the CIA connection to cocaine and crack as opposed to blow jobs, which was a lot easier to swallow, no pun intended. [Chuckles]

 

KW: David also asks: Why didn’t you include Webb’s decline and death in the film, since it was under such suspicious circumstances?

JR: We did, actually. We have a very beautiful, long tracking shot. We replicated the morgue photo, and we originally had it bookending the beginning and end of the movie. But it felt too heavy-handed, and made what we were saying glaringly obvious, which wasn’t how we wanted the movie to be. So, we took it out, and put in a little text at the end saying what happened, instead of showing all that stuff. We wanted to be very delicate about showing what happened to Gary Webb as opposed to going, “Eff you, CIA! Eff you, government! Eff you L.A. Times and the San Jose Mercury News! It’s not about shooting all these other people down, because I don’t think there’s just one bad person to point at here, at all. The tragedy is really on Gary Webb and his being victimized by uncovering something that was ultimately true. 

 

KW: Sangeetha Subram says: Your performance in Kill the Messenger was sensational! I also loved you in The Bourne Legacy also. She asks: Is there one actor or actress that you would say has inspired you?

JR: Thank you, Sangeetha. Jeez! Most of the people I’ve worked with have inspired me. I’ve been lucky to work with so many great actors. Speaking of the Bourne Legacy, Rachel Weisz was someone I’d been trying to work with for so long. She’s amazing! I love Emily Blunt, too. She’s another one of my favorites. But there are loads and loads of them. It’s a long list. 

 

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles says: You’ve achieved leading figure status and you also do wonderful ensemble work—how different is your focus for each kind of different ‘space’ on the screen?

JR: The focus, I suppose, is the same. The requirement of time is not nearly as demanding, but the work is the same whether you work one day or a hundred days on a movie. You still have to bring a fully-realized, three-dimensional character to the screen. So, the work is the same, it’s just that the responsibility of carrying the movie is lightened.

 

KW: Harriet also asks: How do you put your own imprint on a movie that is based on a true story, you’ve done a bunch of them, when you already know your character’s motivation and outcome?

JR: I guess it’s a subjective thing. If I’m playing a real-life person, I’m beholden to the truths of who they are or who they were, if they’re dead. It’s easy, but then there are limitations to that, because they’re a known figure. If it’s something I’m creating, it’s free game. So, I guess truth is really the ultimate decider of what it is. 

 

KW: The Harriet Pakula-Teweles question: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?

JR:  I feel like we’re constantly remaking movies, but they just have different titles. I believe there are twelve stories that we retell over and over again thematically. I’ve never thought about remaking a film, but I’ve probably already done it. [Chuckles]

 

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

JR:  It’s usually the other way around. They ask a question I wish they wouldn’t ask. [Laughs heartily] But I welcome any opportunity to answer a question I’ve never been asked before. But I don’t know what that is. You’re asking me to divulge something I don’t really want anyone to know about me, but I don’t want anybody to know anything about me. [LOL]

 

KW: Here’s one you might never have been asked: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

JR: [Chuckles] I can’t tell that story. I was running around naked in my mom’s high-heeled shoes. I was a tyrant. I was always disappearing a lot, like a ninja.  

 

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

JR: Breakfast. Anything for breakfast. It’s my favorite meal.

 

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

JR: Flaws.

 

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you at this stage in your career?

JR: The same thing as ever. The same principles that did with my very first job: to be challenged to grow.

 

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?

JR: I suppose I can get a little loose on the red carpet, but I’m not wearing a suit at home where I’m relaxed and a bit more of a goofball. Who I am as a person is a pretty down-to-earth, simple, simple man.  

 

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

JR: To be with my daughter.

 

KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key qualities do you believe all successful people share? 

JR: Tenacity, perseverance and fearlessness.

 

KW: The Anthony Anderson question: If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?

JR: Flying is always a good one.

 

KW: The Gabby Douglas question: If you had to choose another profession, what would that be? You were a makeup artist before you got your big break, right?

JR: Yeah, I was a makeup artist for a little while, instead of waiting tables. I’d probably be a teacher, a musician or a real estate developer, which I’m already doing.

 

KW: What instrument do you play?

JR: Drums, guitar and piano, and I sing.

 

KW: Can I find you performing on Youtube?

JR: There’s some stuff from SNL and from when I was pressured to sing on some talk shows.

 

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

JR: If there’s anything else that makes you happy, please go do that. But if this is what you love, and what you want, make it your Plan A, and don’t have a Plan B. Don’t plan to fail.

 

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

JR: As complicated.

 

KW: Thanks again for the time, Jeremy, and best of luck with Kill the Messenger. And I hope to speak to you again about your next project.

JR: Yeah, yeah. I really appreciate it, Kam.

To see a trailer for Kill the Messenger, visit: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N2nuDtJX0M

To see Jeremy singing “Stuck in the Middle with You” with family and friends, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5TXSqGnLto




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