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Interview : Jenny Pellicer, star of Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich

Faces one of her biggest challenges ever in the comedy-horror film

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Actress Jenny Pellicer faced one of her biggest challenges ever in the comedy-horror film “Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich” in trying not to laugh at co-star Thomas Lennon’s antics.

The “Reno 911” star not only had Pellicer cracking up, but “in the best shape of her life” going to core power yoga every day. Pellicer, who had two aunts in the film business (one acted with Marlon Brando and the other acted with Tyrone Power) seemed to handle it all just fine. She plays a quirky girl named Ashley Summers who joins her boyfriend Edgar (Lennon) on a road trip that goes wrong – really wrong.

While Pellicer is dedicated to her craft now, originally she had studied law in the UK and graduated with a bachelors’ degree – she had every intent of heading towards a corporate job. However Pellicer’s heart had been with acting since she was young; she put on plays with her brothers in her native Norway (she’s half Norwegian-American and half Hispanic) and snagged the role of Rizzo in her high school production of “Grease.”

Pellicer kept telling herself it wasn’t practical, even after she graduated with a bachelor’s degree and even after studying acting in London – she took yet another year to think about it. She finally decided that acting was a huge part of her. After that decision, acting gigs came along in “The Bridge,” “State of Affairs” and “Cocaine Godmother” alongside Catherine Zeta Jones.

We caught up with Pellicer at Moviehole to find out how her trip through the film business has been so far.

 

Moviehole: How did you get started in acting?

Jenny Pellicer: My grandma in Mexico was getting older and I thought maybe I’d find my way and ended living in L.A. I had met my husband in Mexico and moved to L.A. and thought “I’m here, now what?” It was an entertainment city and my first time in an industry town — and it was the first time I’d said I wanted to act out loud and my family and husband were incredibly supportive, they had one moment of “Really? We told you this all along.”

I’ve been really lucky. I’m in the process. It’s always been a part of me; sometimes we hide our true passions. It’s been a wonderful time in my life.

 

Moviehole: How did you get involved with this film?

JP: Well, it was comedy horror, completely 80s style with heads exploding and to be honest I haven’t watched these kinds of films (laughing).  My manager had called me about this role and it was exciting because it was a lead and he fought for me to get the role.  I had to do this taped audition, my acting coach said make it as real as it can be made and a couple weeks later I got a call. The next week I flew out to Dallas for a month.

 

Moviehole: What was the toughest challenge on this film?

JP: To not laugh in takes in scenes together with Thomas Lennon. And at one point I was being strangled by the special effects guy and that was challenging, as he had this suit on and it was getting the right level of acting, but we were just having so much fun all the time. It was like going to the best camp as a kid.

 

Moviehole:  With Thomas Lennon being such a comedic actor, what else happened working with him?

JP: He has so much energy, he’s brilliant and stimulating, it was a lovely experience. He’s hysterical to think of a quip and a joke, he’s kind and generous as a fellow actor and lead, he couldn’t have been kinder. Michael Pare is also a lovely fellow but I didn’t work with him that much on set, while Thomas and I were together all the time. And Barbara Crampton obviously, she’s very loved and admired.

 

Moviehole: What is your method of acting, did you take acting classes?

JP: With Elizabeth Kemp. She was the dean at the Actors Studio Drama School, she had an incredibly interesting mix of methods; she did dream workshops and research on the character and yourself, and it changes for each character I’m playing. It depends on what I have to draw from and where I have to go. I write diaries as the character and I completely nerd out. You build this person and become this person. I’d call it the Elizabeth Kemp method – she taught Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Elizabeth was instrumental in my dedicating my life to the craft, I got to spend a week with her — my manager Rich Short had sent me to Elizabeth.

 

Moviehole: Who are your acting idols?

JP: Meryl Streep, Judy Dench, Audrey Hepburn, Cate Blanchett, Frances McDormand, Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo “I want to be alone” – she’s Swedish. Also Viola Davis, Annette Bening, Sally Fields and Maggie Smith.

 

Moviehole: Any advice for newbies in the acting business?

JP: To move slowly and not jump into things just because they seem shiny and bright. It’s a long process that requires patience; you should ask a lot of questions and try always writing or make short films, getting like-minded people to create. So many people just wait for that opportunity to come to them, you need to keep creating and it all needs patience and focus.

 

Moviehole: Please talk about your production company Red Jacket Inc (www.redjacketinc.com) and its projects.

JP: I formed it with my manager a couple of years ago. My intention was to do what I advised to new actors because sometimes between jobs, time can pass. I love to write and create, I want to look for like-minded people and find stories that appeal to me. It’s an exciting time for female story tellers, directors and producers and I wanted to get involved.

 

Moviehole: Upcoming projects?

JP: I have another movie called “Disrupted,” that comes out by the end of the year. Also, the directors from “Puppet Master,” Tommy and Sonny, are making another movie – “Old Shadows” – and it’s exciting as I love working with them. That’s in pre-production and right now I have a couple of projects but uncertain yet. With my production company, we are finishing a couple of deals for rights and we are looking to do things of our own. I also have a Norwegian arm of my own with directors and writers of my own. I am looking for excellent scripts.

 

Pellicer’s film was released this weekend on August 17th. The film will be the 13th installment of the cult-classic “Puppet Master” franchise that has been around for almost thirty years.

Interviews

Interview with 3 From Hell and Game of Thrones‘ Richard Brake

“Arya was always my favorite character”, says the actor behind The White Walker

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After killing Batman’s parents on screen, actor Richard Brake found the phone continually ringing with offers to play sinister rogues – but as the actor tells Moviehole in this exclusive interview, being known for such great sinister turns in the likes of “Batman Begins”, “Mandy”, TV hit “Game of Thrones”, “Doom” and now “3 From Hell” has given him a career.

A wildly entertaining horror jaunt that serves as a loud serenade of the genre, “3 From Hell” reunites the Wales-born actor with genre legend Rob Zombie, his director on “Halloween II” and “31”.

 

Are Rob Zombie films as fun as they are to make as they are to watch?

Absolutely, we have a blast. It’s like a big family getting together with all kinds of madness and mayhem.

 

How do you psyche yourself up to play a role like ‘Foxy’? – particularly when it’d seem you’re anything like him!

I’m just very comfortable exploring that dark side of myself. I think all of us have both sides, but most of us are afraid to listen to the thoughts and say ‘Oh, man, I just love to kill my boss.’ But as an actor, you don’t listen to that little sense there and just go there. And it’s great fun exploring the dark side. Especially when the writing is as good as Rob’s. Makes it very easy.

 

 

Did you have a backstory for ‘Foxy’, even if it wasn’t on the page?

I have a backstory for all of my characters, and I definitely got a good story for Foxy, for what led him to be the person he is today. But I never give it away. I always keep that a secret.

 

How had Rob changed since working with him on “31”? Anything different about working on those two sets, a few years in-between?

No – both of them are very different films and different ways that I approach the character. But in terms of working with Rob, it was just as fun this time as it was the last time. I absolutely adore working with him. He’s an incredibly creative man. It’s like a force of nature. So anytime you’re on a set with him, everyone is inspired to be their very, very best. It’s incredibly exhilarating as it was for 31, HALLOWEEN 2 and this time out with 3 FROM HELL.

 

Is there anything you found particularly hard to film in “3 From Hell”?

Nope, it was an absolute blast from the moment we started to the moment we finished. Really nothing was difficult. It was just great fun. I remember sitting around, we’re shooting one of the central scenes with all sorts of chaos and brutality, and just looking at all the lovely people doing it. Jeff Daniel Phillips, and Rob and Sheri. You know they’re just such lovely people. Bill. Just thinking how great fun it is making these movies.

 

You play these frightening, even sinister ‘characters’ on screen… I have to ask, has it gotten to the stage where people recognize you in the street and are even a little spooked when they encounter you?

Uh, yeah. People do meet me on the street and know me for different things. Fortunately they don’t recognize me from Game of Thrones. If they started recognizing me from that, I might have to go out and get a facial. Sometimes they’re a little spooked. Usually if I see them at HorrorCon and they’ve seen all my horror films, they can come up and say hi rather sheepishly and a little afraid I’m going to do something terrible to them. I’m actually a sweet guy at heart.

 

Did one role in particular lead to all these ‘sinister guy’ roles that you’re now well-known for?

Not really – one of the biggest roles that kind of moved things forward career-wise was BATMAN BEGINS. That character kills Bruce’s parents, which of course is not a very good thing, but I think careers are built over time. People see the work you do and appreciate it, and I think that was the case. Now Rob, and eventually getting in HALLOWEEN 2, and then of course DOOM was a huge impact in terms of my work in other horror films and films in general and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to play it. That was a huge part of my life as was BATMAN BEGINS and all the roles I’ve done. It’s been a great ride. Long may it go on.

We’d be remiss not to ask, what did you think of the Game of Thrones finale? Anything you wanted more of?

I was happy with it. A lot of people – there was all sorts of things going around the internet. They wanted to re-write it or something people were saying. Anything that comes to an end is hard. People grieve when things end. And I think no matter what they did, people would have been disappointed. So um you know that’s inevitable. I thought they did a great job ending it. I particularly liked the way they killed off my character. Arya was always my favorite character, so I was glad she got to do the deed. They did a great job developing her over a course of 8 years. Yeah I’m very happy with it. It’s a fantastic show and I’m glad to be a part of it.

**Tickets for the September 16th/17th/18th nationwide release of 3 FROM HELL are available at FathomEvents.com/3FromHell**

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A Mandy Moment

World Premiere Red Carpet : Ride Like a Girl

Mandy Griffiths

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Melbourne was home to the world premiere of “Ride Like a Girl” this weekend, the directorial debut from renowned Australian actor Rachel Griffiths that follows the true story of Michelle Payne; the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup.

Teresa Palmer stars as Michelle Payne alongside Sam Neill, Sullivan Stapleton, Magda Szubanski and Stevie Payne, Michelle’s brother who plays himself in the film.

We spoke to the stars, the inspiration and the director herself about bringing this film to life.

Why this story and why now

Rachel Griffiths: It’s hard to articulate – when my brain gets on fire, you just can’t put it out. It just didn’t go away. I thought this was one of those great ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ films – like “Hidden Figures” was. It’s so important that women have the opportunity to see heroines like Michelle that are unconventional, that have a dream in a man’s world but also realising the toughness, the resilience, the tenacity that’s required over a long period of time to realise it.

An actor’s director

Rachel Griffiths: I definitely think working with the actors was my talent. I think Teresa [Palmer] and Sam [Neill] give the best performances of their careers in this film. Stevie [Payne] had never acted before. I’m so proud of all of them. I think on my first day I had eight actors who had never acted on screen before. And I had a lot of people from the racing industry doing scenes and saying lines and they all nailed it. I’m particularly proud of that.

Sophia Forrest (Cathy Payne): Rachel knew exactly how to talk to an actor on set to get the right moment out of a scene. So every day on set was like a master class in acting [laughs]. Even if you only had one line, Rachel would give it as much respect as a two-page scene. It was great.

Zara Zoe (Maree Payne): She’s such a mega star, you know, but you she just made everyone feel comfortable. Everyone could just walk on set and feel like it was a creative, collaborative atmosphere. It was really nice.

Teresa Palmer can do it all

Rachel Griffiths: Teresa Palmer is spectacular in this film. One thing the industry has said is ‘oh my God I didn’t realise she could do that’ and I said ‘well no one’s given her the opportunity’.

On whether she always had Teresa in mind for the role. “Always.”

Michelle Payne: We spent some time together. She is just the most beautiful soul you could ever meet in your life and I was so happy she said yes to playing my part. And as an actress she has just absolutely nailed it. It’s just hard to believe there’s someone so good at their job – her and Sam Neill and everyone, the whole crew, I was just blown away by the cast that they had and I’m so proud of it.

Honouring their real-life counterparts

Sophia Forrest: I think it was definitely nerve wracking because you just want to do that person justice in telling their story. But the script was written with such deep respect and sincerity I feel like it carried the film from start to finish.”

Zara Zoe: There was a bit of pressure there as there always is in playing a real-life person but everyone was so warm and welcoming, it never felt tense, it felt like an accepting and wonderful environment. And the Payne family was so wonderful and open with us all.

Michelle Payne: This is the story of perseverance and resilience and believing in yourself. That’s anything is possible if you stick at it. Obviously, there’s going to be some tough times along the way and I think you really have to believe in yourself and follow your dreams.

When asked what was more nerve-wracking, racing in the Melbourne Cup or attending the premiere of a film about her life, Michelle did not hesitate: “Racing in the Melbourne Cup!”.

“Ride Like a Girl” gallops into Australian cinemas 26 September 2019. 

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Interviews

Interview : Rowan Athale on supernatural stunner Strange But True

An adaptation of the 2004 novel by John Searles

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Rowan Athale, director of 2012’s “Wasteland”, is back behind the lens for the suspenseful supernatural thriller “Strange But True”. The film, featuring a superlative cast including Amy Ryan, Brian Cox and Greg Kinnear, is an adaptation of John Searles’ 2004 novel and concerns a woman who surprises the family of her deceased boyfriend by telling them she’s pregnant with his child. It’s a skillfully-directed, constantly-compelling and brilliantly performed piece – the likes of which don’t come along too often. Moviehole spoke to Athale about the film, which is now in select theaters and on VOD.

 

When did you discover John Searles’ novel, Rowen?

Rowan: I read the script prior to reading the book. Fred Berger, one of the film’s producers, had been developing the movie for some time with John Searles and screenwriter Eric Garcia. Fred and I were acquainted, and we’d been trying to find something to work on together for a while. Fred sent me the script to see if it was something I’d be interested in. Half way through Eric’s excellent script, I knew I would be directing this movie.

I later read John’s book. And found I loved the story all over again.

 

How far into development was the film when you were attached yourself as director – or were you on from the get-go?

Rowan: Fred had been trying to put the film together for a few years. The script was well developed before I became attached. We continued development after I came on board, but the script was in a great place when I initially read it.

 

Having spoken to quite a few filmmakers who’ve adapted novels for the screen, the general consensus is that it’s quite difficult to do – – did you find it hard to decide what stays and what goes as far as the film goes?

Rowan: The book had already been adapted – beautifully – by Eric Garcia before I came on board. But it was a laborious process. Novels and movies are different mediums, of course. And the process of adapting one to the other is challenging. But to me the process is about distillation. Finding the essence of the story, the heartbeat of the characters, and putting them on screen. It’s challenging. But when you have a novel as strong as John’s, it’s more than worth it.

 

How involved in the film was John? Did he get his say as far as all that goes, too?

Rowan: John was involved in the making of the film. He was involved at the script stage, and even during production. John was on the set often – he was there on the first day of the shoot, and a number of days during production. John is such a warm, giving person, that just his presence brought a positive energy to the set. This movie exists because John created this wonderful story, and these beautiful, broken, yet strong characters. And I strongly felt that he should be involved in the film’s production. He’s actually in the movie, by the way. John plays an author who is introduced to an audience by Amy Ryan’s character in the library where she works.

 

I imagine with such big games as Amy Ryan and Greg Kinnear onboard that there was immediate interest – in terms of financing and production partners – but were there any hurdles you faced on the film before even a roll of film had been shot?

Rowan: Strange But True isn’t a sequel or a remake and in Hollywood today, that automatically makes financing your movie a challenge. The movie is a character-led mystery thriller, rather than say, a horror, so pitching the movie required a certain amount of nuance on our part. So the biggest hurdle we faced before making this movie was understanding that we would be making it with a huge amount of passion, rather than a huge amount of money! But we had the right partners backing us in MPC, and in Bankside/Head Gear films. MPC were very respectful of the process, and great to work with. And working with Bankside/Head Gear felt like working with family – they financed and sold my first film, Wasteland, and we’ve had a great working relationship since.

 

Kinnear, one of the most versatile actors of our times, is incredible as Richard. Do you recall any specific direction you gave him before the shoot – – or for that matter, during, on how to approach this part?

Rowan: I like working closely with my actors. And I find the best form of direction is to discuss. I have an open dialogue with the actors, and encourage them in in their performances. Working with such a great cast on this movie meant collaborating with brilliant artists, which is always a joy. With Greg specifically, I encouraged him to see the character as someone who runs away from his responsibilities, who puts distance between himself and the things that cause him pain, but who, in the course of the movie, has to find the strength to run at his pain head on. Greg and I were very much on the same page in terms of the character. And Greg is wonderful to work with. His passion, his energy, is something to see. 

 

What’s coming up for you Rowen?

Rowan:   Next up I’ll be directing Little America, a sci-fi action movie which is being produced by Michael Bay and Platinum Dunes. I also wrote the script, and I’m excited to take it into production. I also co-wrote Jaume Balaguero’s Heist movie Way Down, which is currently in production, and I co-wrote Netlix’s Outside The Wire, which is scheduled for release next year.

 

 

 

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