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‘Westworld Season 2: The Door’ Is Coming To 4K Ultra HD On December 4th!

‘Westworld Season 2: The Door’ Is Coming To 4K Ultra HD On December 4th!

The gravity of a limitless world continues to pull fans in for the second season of HBO’s sci-fi hit series Westworld, nominated for 21 Emmy® Awards across a range of categories including Outstanding Drama Series. Today, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is announcing Westworld Season 2: The Door is coming to 4K Ultra HD ($64.99), Blu-ray ($54.97 SRP) and DVD ($49.99) featuring all 10 riveting episodes plus exclusive immersive bonus features on December 4, 2018. Both the Limited Edition 4K Ultra HD and standard Blu-ray release will feature a Digital Copy of the series.

Westworld Season 2: The Door will also be available to own on digital July 23, 2018. Consumers can enjoy all 10 episodes in high definition and standard definition (retail $38.99/$28.99) along with never-before-seen bonus content.

Created for television by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and based on the film written by best-selling author Michael Crichton, Westworld is produced by Kilter Films and Bad Robot Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. The award-winning HBO series is executive produced by Nolan, Joy, J.J. Abrams, Richard J. Lewis, Roberto Patino, Athena Wickham and Ben Stephenson.

Westworld: Season Two features a star-studded cast led by Golden Globe winner Ed Harris (A Beautiful Mind), Golden Globe and Emmy® nominee Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler), and Golden Globe nominee Thandie Newton (Crash) along with Jeffrey Wright (Boardwalk Empire), James Marsden (X-Men Days of Future Past), Tessa Thompson (Creed), Indgrid Bolsø Berdal (Chernobyl Diaries), Clifton Collins Jr. (Pacific Rim), Fares Fares (Zero Dark Thirty), Luke Hemsworth (The Reckoning), Katja Herbers (Manhattan), Louis Herthum (Longmire), Simon Quarterman (The Devil Inside), Talulah Riley (Inception), Rodrigo Santoro (300, The 33), Angela Sarafyan (American Horror Story), Gustaf Skarsgärd (Vikings) and Shannon Woodward (Raising Hope).

In Season Two, viewers are welcomed back to Westworld, where the puppet show is over and the newly liberated “hosts” are coming for humankind. Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) takes charge, Maeve (Thandie Newton) is on a mission and the Man in Black (Ed Harris) is back. Chaos takes control in this dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness, the birth of a new form of life and the evolution of sin.

The second season of Westworld has earned 21 Emmy® Nominations* including: Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Ed Harris and Jeffrey Wright), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Evan Rachel Wood), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Thandie Newton) and Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (Jimmi Simpson).

“We are thrilled to release the second season of HBO’s critically-acclaimed series Westworld on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital” said Rosemary Markson, Senior Vice President, Television Marketing, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. “With a riveting plot showcasing the evolution of artificial intelligence, the immersive capabilities of these viewing experiences is a perfect complement, and the plethora of all-new, behind-the-scene extras adds to the replay and collectability of this extraordinary show.”

The Limited Edition 4K Ultra HD discs of Westworld Season 2: The Door will feature Dolby Visionä HDR that dramatically expands the color palette and contrast range and uses dynamic metadata to automatically optimize the picture for every screen, frame by frame.

Also, the 4K Ultra HD discs and Blu-ray discs of Westworld Season 2: The Door will feature Dolby Atmos® soundtracks remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead. To experience Dolby Atmos at home, a Dolby Atmos enabled AV receiver and additional speakers are required, or a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar; however, Dolby Atmos soundtracks are also fully backward compatible with traditional audio configurations and legacy home entertainment equipment.

*Additional 2018 Emmy Nominations for the second season of Westworld include Outstanding Production Design, Outstanding Casting, Outstanding Cinematography, Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes, Outstanding Hairstyling, Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media, Outstanding Main Title Design, Outstanding Makeup (Non-Prosthetic), Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup, Outstanding Music Composition for a Series, Outstanding Music Supervision, Outstanding Sound Editing, Outstanding Sound Mixing, Outstanding Special Visual Effects and Outstanding Stunt Coordination.

DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES**

  • Bring Yourself Back Online (New)
    • Reflections on Season Two – Dolores, Teddy and Bernard
    • Of Love and Shogun – Maeve, Hector and Lee
    • Journeys and Technology – Stubbs, Logan and Clementine
  • The Buzz: On the Red Carpet
  • Return To Westworld
  • Creating Westworld’s Reality
    • Creating Westworld’s Reality: An Evocative Location
    • Creating Westworld’s Reality: Fort Forlorn Hope
    • Creating Westworld’s Reality: The Delos Experiment
    • Creating Westworld’s Reality: Shogun World
    • Creating Westworld’s Reality: Inside the Cradle
    • Creating Westworld’s Reality: Chaos In The Mesa
    • Creating Westworld’s Reality: Ghost Nation
    • Creating Westworld’s Reality: Deconstructing Maeve
    • Creating Westworld’s Reality: The Valley Beyond
    • Creating Westworld’s Reality: The Drone Hosts

4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY AND DVD SPECIAL FEATURES**

Includes all digital special features plus:

  • Paved with the Best Intentions: The Evolution of the DELOS Corp. (New)
  • Violent Delights Have Violent Ends (New)

**Special Features are subject to change

 

10 ONE-HOUR EPISODES

  1. Journey Into Night
  2. Reunion
  3. Virtu e Fortuna
  4. The Riddle of the Sphinx
  5. Akane No Mai
  6. Phase Space
  7. Les Écorchés
  8. Kiksuya
  9. Vanishing Point
  10. The Passenger

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Francesca Eastwood, Natalia Leite & Leah McKendrick On Bringing ‘M.F.A.’ To Life!

Francesca Eastwood, Natalia Leite & Leah McKendrick On Bringing ‘M.F.A.’ To Life!

When director Natalia Leite (“Bare”), writer/actress Leah McKendrick (“Bad Moms”) and leading lady Francesca Eastwood joined forces to bring the ‘M.F.A.’ to the masses, they had no idea of the incredible bond they would form during the process. The hauntingly powerful film, which was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the 2017 SXSW festival, tells a gripping story of a young woman forced to take action to protect herself in “perhaps the bravest, rawest rape-revenge thriller yet” (No Film School). Noelle (Francesca Eastwood, “Final Girl,” “Outlaws” and “Angels”), an art student struggling to find her voice, is sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate. Attempting to cope with the trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker, leading to a violent altercation culminating in his accidental death. Noelle tries to return to normalcy, but when she discovers she is only one of many silenced sexual assault survivors on campus, she takes justice into her own hands. A vigilante is born – retribution is the inspiration she needs. Directed by Natalia Leite from a debut screenplay by actress Leah McKendrick. McKendrick also co-stars in the film along with Clifton Collins Jr. (“Westworld,” “Knight of Cups”).

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught with the inspiring women responsible for the success of this powerful film  — Natalia Leite, Leah McKendrick and Francesca Eastwood. In the interview, they discuss their passion for the film, the challenges they faced in bringing it from script to screen and the lessons learned along the way.

It’s great to have you all here today. Tell us about what sparked the initial idea for this film and what made it a story you all wanted to tell.

Leah McKendrick: It started from me feeling very frustrated by the things I was seeing in the media. There were stories on constant repeat about girls being assaulted on and off college campuses who the system had failed. I was feeling frustrated, hurt and angry, so I started writing this script. Eventually, I got it to a place where it wasn’t so dark because it had been very dark originally. I tried to infuse some humor and levity into it along the way. It wasn’t long before I was on the hunt for the perfect director. I knew in my mind that I needed someone who loved it and had a connection to it. To be honest, that’s not that hard to find as most women have experienced something and would feel a connection to a story like this, so that wasn’t even the hard part. For me, the hardest part was finding a director who understands it and knew what to do with it. I’m not a writer that wants to direct. I’m a writer that loves directors and I want a director to make it their own. That’s the most important thing to me; that it’s someone who is going to share your baby. Natalia was that person! I had seen her work and I had felt that she had a very intimate connection in film. I also felt that she could be the perfect addition and the perfect person to helm the ship. That’s when she came onboard.

Natalia Leite: The script came my way and Leah reached out to me. I read it and really loved the script. Honestly, I just felt that I had to make this movie. I was really drawn to the concept and thought the writing was really strong. We had some conversations where I told her what I would do. I felt that we were a really good match and the film would be a good way to talk about a social issue that I care a lot about in a way that is so accessible to people and can be entertaining while still opening up a bigger conversation.

What went into finding the right mix of actors to bring these characters to life on screen?

Natalia Leite: In terms of casting, we had to cast very fast because we had access to Chapman University and we had to try to shoot it before school started. We hit the ground running as soon as I signed onboard. Francesca Eastwood’s work came my way through our casting director, Arlie Day. Arlie sent over some materials and I loved Fran’s work, so we met for lunch and talked about what I was going to do with the film tonally and what she would bring to it. We wanted to make sure we were on the same page and that we were gelling together. It was perfect! Once we found her, no one else could have fit the role! Peter Vack is someone who I’m friends with and Leah had also thought of him for that part, so he came on. A lot it came from reaching out to people we had some connection to and thought could be good for the part. Clifton [Collins] came onboard somewhat last minute but was fantastic in the role!

Leah McKendrick, Natalia Leite and Francesca Eastwood.

You all came together to make this film and you all saw it from different angles given your role in the production. What was the biggest challenge you faced on the project?

Francesca Eastwood: I think the biggest challenge for me was the subject matter and the timing. While it wasn’t something I had initially thought of when I read the script but my mom said to me, “Wow. You really go through a lot physically in this film.” It was a very physically demanding role in terms of running around, long shoot days and shooting every day relatively quickly. That was a challenge but it’s also part of why this project is so awesome! The challenges were all good things! It was just as emotionally challenging as it was physically challenging. It was an extremely rewarding project to be a part of.

Natalia Leite: For me, it was a lot about tone. Like Francesca said, it’s a very sensitive subject matter and a controversial film. Finding the right balance between making it feel very realistic, yet not having it be a sad story all the way through was a challenge. It came down to making good informed decisions on how we would talk about this issue while still having moments of being entertaining and thrilling.

Leah McKendrick: I think the hardest thing for me was getting over the idea of the script being your baby. It’s just one thing and it’s going to change. A lot of things may end up on the cutting room floor and you have to get over the initial vision you had when it was just you and no one else involved!

Natalia Leite: Yeah, that was a difficult thing for me as well.

Francesca Eastwood: Yeah, as an actor reading it, that was hard for me too.

Leah McKendrick: I think, as an actor, when you pick up a script and are reading it, you become attached to the vision you have in your head. Maybe that comes from being an actor; becoming very attached to the journey that the characters go on. If one character gets cut out or whatever, your vision starts to feel incomplete. I think the strongest writer is the writer who can get over that. My mentor, Shintaro Shimosawa, who is also a producer on this film, is a writer. He is so un-precious about his work. He is always all about the best idea. I think while you can think you just want the best idea, I think you can be emotionally stunted by the fact that you’ve only been seeing what you have in your head and can be cutting yourself off from greater possibilities. Sometimes you’re just not seeing straight and you just want what is in your head. Getting over that and realizing that what can be created is better than what was in your head or on the script is definitely a lesson I’ve learned. It took me two years to write my script. There are points where it is just you alone in the coffee shop with your vision and you have to fight for it. Every step of the way you are fighting for that vision, so as it gets dismantled it can be heartbreaking. With that said, I’m very proud of our film and how it changed because of Nat and Franny, the producers, performers and creators on the film. I’m really proud of the end product!

It’s cool to see you all working together in this capacity and creating such an awesome film as the end product. What did you bring out in each other creatively?

Leah McKendrick: Building off of what I just said, I would say that Nat forces me to see my work in a completely different way. An example is that, as a writer, I use a lot of my real-life experiences. The scene where Fran’s character, Noel, is being peer-critiqued was different initially. In the original script, it was a conversation she was having with her professor and her professor is saying, “This isn’t good enough.” Nat came in and said, “I went to art school and a big part of art school is being critiqued by not only your professor but your peers.” I thought, “Oh my god! I love that!” I would’ve never thought of that because it wasn’t something that occurred in my real life. I went to school for acting and there is also peer-critique but, in my mind, I was remembering these moments where professors would pull me aside and say, “This isn’t good enough.” So, to answer your question, I think that Nat brings this whole world of experience to my work. I love the sense of judgement that it brings to Noelle’s early life in the film. She feels so naked initially. I really love that Nat is always forcing me to come up with the weirder, more unique, intimate and vulnerable version. Another great example is with the pool. Initially, after she went through her trauma, she ran and got in the shower because that is where I go when I feel very alone and very vulnerable and I need to feel more in touch with myself. Nat said, “I want her to do something weirder, more unique and more off because she is feeling off.” So, we had her walk into the swimming pool. That’s some of my favorite footage in the film. I think that another director might have just taken my script and made it the way it’s written, where I think Nat has challenged me to get a little weirder. With Franny, I think you are right in that we just trusted her and you ran with it but I love that! When I watch the film, sometimes she looks like a little girl to me, especially the scenes with my own character, Skye. I feel like we look like little girls and that is something we bring out in each other but, at the same time, there are times where we are vicious to each other, crying, upset and angry. I feel, as an actress, I’m able to both love and hate her at times in the film. In real love, I have the most love for you! I think we played it really well from both sides and it’s something that comes across really well. I think that is why people say to me so often that we work well together in the movie because it’s so sad, loving and all of these things. I think that is because we have that chemistry in real life?

Natalia Leite: I would add to what Leah said about pushing her to a certain place, I feel that you also did the same for me. I have a tendency to linger in these moments and I’m sure from an outsider’s point of view, I seem like a pretentious artist to sit in this scene for so long! [laughs] Leah would be like, “No, no. We’ve got to move. We’ve got to get to the point. We don’t just need to sit here. We get that she’s in pain.” I think that gave it more of a commercial appeal and made it a little more hard-hitting and faster, which was really good. It was such an amazing collaboration between the three of us because we are all strong women with strong ideas and all felt very invested in this story and film. There were times where we had to hash it out. I might think something should be one way in a scene but someone else felt it should go another. We would have to figure it out. For me, as a director, I’m also like, “OK, if you feel really strongly about it being this way that I didn’t really envision, convince me.” I’m always open to hearing someone else’s opinion about something, especially when it’s not my writing and ultimately Fran is the one who is living the character. It was a really awesome collaboration in that way.

You are inspiring females. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey as artists?

Natalia Leite: Thank you for calling us inspiring females! [laughs] I love that! Thank you! I almost dropped the phone. [laughs] This film had a small, small budget and we really had to be a team and work together to make it happen. We had to really trust each other. Starting out, we didn’t even know each other when she sent me the script. Since making the film, we have all become friends, which is awesome! I think the lesson is that we all need to do it together!

Francesca Eastwood: I would say the most important lesson is to take risks, to do the things you believe in and also the things that you’re afraid of. If you believe in it and your heart’s in the right place, it’s a pretty good feeling getting to share that.

Leah McKendrick: If somebody would look at my career, I would hope it would inspire more women to take things into their own hands. No matter if they want to be directors, writers or actors, they shouldn’t be afraid to create their own work. You don’t need to wait for the industry to give you permission. As many leaps forward as we are making as female filmmakers, there is still so much work to do. I think you’re in trouble if you’re waiting for permission. For a long time, I felt so frustrated by the industry while trying to get work as an actress. That’s when I started making my own work. I’m glad that I did because not only can I make my own roles but I can make work that I believe in and speaks to the sort of issues in the world I feel need to be spoken on. I hope more women will do that!

That’s an awesome way to look at things! Thank you all for your time today! We can’t wait to see what you all have in store for us in the years to come and wish you continued success!

Dark Sky Films’ will release the haunting thriller,’M.F.A.’, in theaters, VOD and HD Digital October 13, 2017.

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Dark Sky Films To Release ‘M.F.A.’ Starring Francesca Eastwood on October 13th

Dark Sky Films To Release ‘M.F.A.’ Starring Francesca Eastwood on October 13th

Dark Sky Films has unveiled the release date of M.F.A., a critically acclaimed powerful thriller starring Francesca Eastwood in a stand out role. The film, from female director and female screenwriter, takes on the searing current issue of sexual violence on campus. M.F.A. will be released on October 13th.

M.F.A., which was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the 2017 SXSW festival, tells a gripping story of a young woman forced to take action to protect herself in “perhaps the bravest, rawest rape-revenge thriller yet” (No Film School). Noelle (Francesca Eastwood, Final Girl, Outlaws and Angels), an art student struggling to find her voice, is sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate. Attempting to cope with her trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker, leading to a violent altercation that culminates in his accidental death. Noelle tries to return to normalcy, but when she discovers she is only one of many silenced sexual assault survivors on campus, she takes justice into her own hands. A vigilante is born – retribution is the inspiration she’s been waiting for.

M.F.A. was directed by Natalia Leite (Bare) from a debut screenplay by actress Leah McKendrick (Bad Moms). McKendrick also co-stars in the film along with Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld, Knight of Cups).

The film received glowing reviews upon its world premiere at SXSW. Variety‘s Andrew Barker said, “An unapologetically feminist, female-centric take on the oft-problematic (and oft-male-gaze-dominated) rape-revenge thriller genre … Leite directs with a bracing, assertive style.” Brad Miska of Bloody-Disgusting called it “intensely engaging, thought-provoking, and also mesmerizing.” “Spectacular, risky and wonderfully realized by Natalia Leite,” said We Live Entertainment’s Nick Casaletto.

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Dark Sky Films To Release High-Octane Thriller ‘M.F.A.’ On October 13th!

Dark Sky Films To Release High-Octane Thriller ‘M.F.A.’ On October 13th!

Dark Sky Films has announced the release date of M.F.A., a critically acclaimed powerful thriller starring Francesca Eastwood in a stand out role. The film, from female director and female screenwriter, takes on the searing current issue of sexual violence on campus. M.F.A. will be released on October 13th.

M.F.A., which was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the 2017 SXSW festival, tells a gripping story of a young woman forced to take action to protect herself in “perhaps the bravest, rawest rape-revenge thriller yet” (No Film School). Noelle (Francesca Eastwood, Final Girl, Outlaws and Angels), an art student struggling to find her voice, is sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate. Attempting to cope with her trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker, leading to a violent altercation that culminates in his accidental death. Noelle tries to return to normalcy, but when she discovers she is only one of many silenced sexual assault survivors on campus, she takes justice into her own hands. A vigilante is born – retribution is the inspiration she’s been waiting for.

M.F.A. was directed by Natalia Leite (Bare) from a debut screenplay by actress Leah McKendrick (Bad Moms). McKendrick also co-stars in the film along with Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld, Knight of Cups).

The film received glowing reviews upon its world premiere at SXSW. Variety’s Andrew Barker said, “An unapologetically feminist, female-centric take on the oft-problematic (and oft-male-gaze-dominated) rape-revenge thriller genre … Leite directs with a bracing, assertive style.” Brad Miska of Bloody-Disgusting called it “intensely engaging, thought-provoking, and also mesmerizing.” “Spectacular, risky and wonderfully realized by Natalia Leite,” said We Live Entertainment’s Nick Casaletto.

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TRIPLE 9: Check Out The Red Band Trailer And Poster For The Film

TRIPLE 9: Check Out The Red Band Trailer And Poster For The Film

One of your most anticipated films of 2016, is John Hillcoat’s TRIPLE 9. The film is an action-packed thriller starring Oscar®-nominees Woody Harrelson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Winslet and Casey Affleck, along with Aaron Paul, Gal Gadot and Anthony Mackie. Directed by John Hillcoat (“Lawless”).

Check out the Red Band trailer and Poster for the film below.

Based on a screenplay by Matt Cook, Triple 9 will be released by Open Road Films on February 19, 2016.

triple9-2015-1

TRIPLE 9 Official Social Channels

OFFICIAL INSTAGRAM:  https://instagram.com/Triple9Movie/
OFFICIAL FILM SITE: http://Triple9Movie.com
#Triple9

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The Ballad of Clifton Collins, Jr.: The Man On Life, Philanthropy & ‘Prison Ramen’

The Ballad of Clifton Collins, Jr.: The Man On Life, Philanthropy & ‘Prison Ramen’

clifton-collins-jr-feature-2015

When Clifton Collin Jr. first came onto our radar, about six years ago, he was generating a buzz in Hollywood. With high profile roles opposite some of Tinseltown’s biggest names, he quickly turned the heads of fans and critics alike. His credits are as eclectic as the characters he plays in films such as “Traffic,” “Boondocks Saints 2: All Saints Day,” “Star Trek,” “Transcendence” and Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim.” With each passing day, his creative fire burns more intensely as he continues to shine in every project he takes on. 2016 will surely go down in the books as Clifton’s breakout year with roles in John Hillcoat’s “Triple 9” and HBO’s highly anticipated new series, “Westworld,” starring Ed Harris, Ben Barnes, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Clifton’s drive and determination goes further than the silver screen. His latest and most ambitious challenge is as an author. “Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars,” hitting stores this November, is a collaboration with his long-time friend, Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez. A unique and edgy cookbook, “Prison Ramen” takes readers behind bars with more than 65 ramen recipes and stories of prison life from the inmate/cooks who devised them, including contributions from celebrities such as legendary guitarist Slash (Guns n’ Roses), Shia LaBeouf, Samuel L. Jackson and many more. Truly a labor of love, a portion of proceeds are donated to Homeboy Industries, a charity for which Clifton has an unending admiration. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Clifton Collins Jr. to discuss his unique career, the genesis of “Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars,” the challenges of bringing it to life, his upcoming projects and much more!

It’s been about six years since our last interview. It was right after your role in “Star Trek” and right before “Boondock Saints 2.” How has life changed for you in that period of time?

That is a very big question! How much time do you have? [laughs] It has been huge. I never thought I would see myself as a published book author for starters, so that is pretty exciting. The charity involved with the book is even more exciting.

Let’s touch on that first. I know from following your adventures online you are very involved with Homeboy Industries. How did you get involved?

Goose and Clifton

Goose and Clifton

I was first fascinated with Father Greg [Boyle] when I was in high school. I was 14 years old and some of the mandatory reading was his award winning book, “Tattoos On The Heart.” It is a book that demonstrates so much compassion and empathy, the likes of which I have never understood until recently. We all grow up certain ways and learn certain things that we agree with or don’t agree with. Father Greg reminds me of the Spencer Tracey character in the old classic “Boys Town” with Mickey Rooney. He is really that guy. I went to visit my buddy Gustavo Alvarez, who we call Goose, in Chino Penitentiary after their big riot and he came off of lockdown. I had just finished shooting “The Experiment” with Forest Whitaker and Adrien Brody, which was around five or six years ago. We had our little riot, a fake movie riot that we were shooting in Iowa. After shooting it, I saw that my buddy Goose was in a real riot in Chino. I was petrified and was hoping he was OK. When I got back to LA and they were off lockdown, I saw him. He pitched me this idea of wanting to do a cookbook — a ramen in prison cookbook.

Ramen, in prison, is a staple food. It is also currency where each ramen is worth a dollar. The thing about ramen is that these guys get together and do big spreads. A spread is where you put a few ramens together. Anyone who happens to have any commissary vegetables, extra seasoning or any extra stuff will come by and put it in. You basically get to sit down in what is essentially a family environment and, obviously, in prison you are going to be missing family a lot. Visitation is a very big thing. When the riot was over, they wouldn’t let any of the black guys back into their cells and left them out in the cold to freeze. Even though the riot involved a lot of the Mexicans and the blacks, there was still compassion. Believe it or not, there are a lot of beautiful rules in prison that I wish civilians in the free world exercised because this would be a much prettier place. Goose got all of this extra commissary and made it for the guys out in the cold. He made a bunch and he wanted to feed them all and give them some kind of comfort because the guards weren’t letting them back in. Most of the guards were already gone, they took off. [laughs]

I said, “Damn! This is a great idea! We can make the ramen book but how do we sell the message of compassion? You were just in a giant riot and almost lost your life and now you are cooking a meal for these guys. Everyone is trying to help each other now that it’s over but how do we convey that message?” It led me back to Father Greg and Homeboy Industries. I hadn’t seen him in forever. I went down to Homeboy and I didn’t even know he was there but when he saw me, he got up and gave me a big hug. He said, “Son, what are you doing here? It is so great to see you! What have you been up to?” It was such a profound heavy moment. Mind you, the moment before that was me walking into Homeboy Industries and seeing all these rival gang members interacting. Let me tell you, in my younger days I would have been on one side or the other and certainly not in the middle! To see everybody there, had it been a dream, I would have been waiting for someone to start the rumble. It was anything but a rumble. If it was a rumble, it was a rumble of love and compassion. I saw everyone helping each other and sharing a kinship and a deep, profound desire to become better people and not hate one another. It was so moving to me. Going in there really touches your heartstrings.

Judd Nelson, Father Gregory Boyle and Clifton Collins Jr.

Judd Nelson, Father Gregory Boyle and Clifton Collins Jr.

How did you and your friend/co-writer Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez originally cross paths?

Goose and I have been friends since we were 15 years old. He was gangbanging at a younger age. At the time, I had affiliations with friends from Inglewood, Culver City, Watts and 83rd Street. Some of these people I am still really good friends with today. I grew up in a broken up family. My dad was an alcoholic and my mom wasn’t present. When my stepdad came into my life, my sister and I became the B family. My grandfather, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, picked up the slack when he could, which was pretty much any time I needed it! He was always, always there. Not everybody has that. It was comforting to have them as a support group. For me, it was never a neighborhood thing, it was just my group of friends. I knew they would fight for me. When I ran away from home, they gave me food, money and made sure I stayed out of trouble and stayed in school.

Speaking of friends, Goose and yourself have some amazing contributors to “Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars.” What can you tell us about those and how it ties into Homeboy Industries?

'Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars'

‘Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars’

We have been so blessed! We had Mr. Cartoon, who is a famous L.A. tattoo artist. He does so many great things. It started out with him, Danny Trejo and Estevan Oriol. Then I went to one of my number one mentors, Samuel L. Jackson. I got on the phone with him and said, “I could use some help with this.” The book really just started out with Goose’s stories but every ramen recipe, and they are all real ramen recipes, has a story. Each story has a little insight on life. It shows you how to be grateful or thankful for what you have because once you are locked up it’s a little too late. Hopefully, it is a way to deter these young kids from taking the wrong path. In LA County alone, it costs $100,000 to $150,000 a year to incarcerate a juvenile. That isn’t including mental health, educational services or any of these other things. For adults, it is $45,000 to $65,000 a year. With privatized prisons there is no incentive to rehabilitate for the people who own the prison because they don’t want their cash cows leaving the prison and becoming contributing members of society. They would rather keep them down and have them come back and visit. It’s like Motel 6, “We’ll leave the light on for you.” Right? In this case, Homeboy Industries does rehabilitation, education, tattoo removal, anger management and more. It is the most successful rehabilitation and reentry program in America. They are doing what prisons were supposed to be doing in the very beginning. The root word of penitentiary is penance but that is long gone because the corrupt, greedy people want to make money off of the privatized prisons. Father Greg is the exact opposite. he wants these kids to come out and be successful. He will put rival gang members together and it shows that you can overcome your greatest obstacles. If you can love your enemy, who is also your brother, that is a big challenge. I don’t know of many people in my business that hate each other that would overcome those kind of obstacles.

Everyone has really come to bat. Danny Trejo gave me some beautiful stories. I have known him since I was about 15 years old, before I even started acting. It’s funny because he has some very close friends that he has done time with and are family to him and to all of us really. When he is telling me this story, his shorthand is so tight. He will be like, “Hey Manny! Make sure you give him that recipe. You know, the one we used to eat over there in the corner of the other wing.” That was all he had to say. He didn’t have to say the ingredients or anything! Manny was like, “Yeah! I got it homie! Don’t worry!” I literally have the recipe handwritten over here on my board right now! It was the most fascinating thing! Those guys have been out of the penitentiary for a long time now but you touch on one little memory associated with food and they can pull the recipe out of the air just from that memory! It was amazing to me! [laughs]

There were so many great contributions to this book. Taryn Manning stepped up and gave me some stuff. Shia Labeouf gave me a beautiful, heartbreaking story about his craft and how he could have lost it. Clancy Brown has played a juvenile in the pen in “Bad Boys” with Sean Penn to the famous CO in “Shawshank Redemption” so his perspective is as an actor who has been on both sides of the story. That isn’t even taking into account the research he has done on the prisons, which is really insightful. Father Greg also gave me a great spread. We have a story from a correctional officer who ended up serving time because she got into a relationship with somebody. There are a lot of really heartfelt stories. There are also some really funny ones. For example, Jacob Vargas did a spin. Troy Duffy and I did one for Romeo from “Boondock Saints.” Actually, the Romeo story in this cookbook is actually one of the scenes from “Boondock Saints 3.” I think you might be the first to be hearing this! It’s not a secret now that I have said it to you! It is pretty dope! Troy didn’t know about spreads and once he was here and heard about the book Goose and I were writing, he got turned on to it and next thing you know he wanted to incorporate it into the story. Troy is going to be doing a couple interviews with Goose and myself in regards to the book. They will be little three-minute clips that talk about the story.

Clifton Collins as Romeo in 'Boondock Saints 2'

Clifton Collins as Romeo in ‘Boondock Saints 2’

When can we expect the release of the book? I know it is available for pre-order through Amazon, as I pre-ordered it myself recently.

You’re a rockstar, Jason! I love ya! [laughs] Yeah, the release date is November 3, 2015, which also happens to be Goose’s birthday!

Will you be hitting the road for any promotion when it comes to the book? What are you looking at there? I know you have been super busy with your acting work.

Clifton Collins, Jr. is no stranger to the red carpet.

Clifton Collins, Jr. is no stranger to the red carpet.

For sure! I have been very busy. I have “Triple 9” opening in Berlin. “Man Down” with Shia LaBeouf and Gary Oldman in the Toronto Film Festival and it opens in Venice. There is a lot of great stuff going on. I also have the new HBO show, “Westworld,” which I am very excited and proud about. I have to tell you, you will be excited too! With that all said, everyone around me is really supportive of this book and its charity. Homeboy Industries has their 5K run coming up in late October and I am going to be there. I will also be doing the New York Comic Con, which is October 9, 10 and 11. I will be doing a book signing there, so they are letting me out for that. I am a big believer in Homeboy Industries and Father Greg. I have never met a man with so much love in his heart. This whole world could use a lot more love!

Writing a book is an intense process. What is the biggest thing you took away from the process not only as a writer but on a personal level?

Wow, you know, it has been a lot. Goose and I sit back and laugh. When I was first starting the project, Slash gave us a great story and a recipe. He had totally forgotten about it. When I initially told him about it and mentioned ramen, his eyes lit up. There are a lot of fond memories that come with the days of struggling and you find out later, now that they have money, they will still do it. One of the things that Slash told me was, “Clifton, you can’t look at the mountain, bro. You have to take one step at a time.” He started telling me about the “World On Fire” album, which he is on tour with right now with Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators. He said, “You think I could have finished this album if I looked at the mountain as a whole? It is so daunting. I couldn’t have. I started with a riff here and a lick there and I build on to it.” I directed the video for it called “Gotten,” which features Adam Levine and Slash. When he first played the song for me, all I heard was the guitar because at that point it was all he had written. That was way before I had any intentions of directing the video and I had no clue I would.

One of the biggest projects you are a part of is HBO’s “Westworld.” I am sure you can’t tell us too much at this point. However, I am curious to hear what you can tell us about what you’ve been putting into the role both physically and mentally?

Oh, man! So much has been going into this project. As you know, my grandfather was a contract player for John Wayne. He did a lot of Western’s like “Rio Bravo,” “Chisum,” “Strange Lady In Town” and all those pictures he did back in the day. This is my first real opportunity to dig into something real for me. It’s a Western! I mean, I am riding a horse with fuckin’ Ed Harris! [laughs] I was telling one of my study partners yesterday, as we were going over a really big scene for a really big episode for my character and Ed’s, that I never stop having those moments where I want to pinch myself. Ya know, Ed will be talking to me and I will have a moment when he is talking to me where I kinda zone out and look at him. I kind of shake my head and think, “Oh, my god. Is that Ed Harris as a cowboy?!” [laughs] He is such a badass! To be able to do this is a really magnificent experience.

Clifton's saddle holds a special tribute.

Clifton’s saddle holds a special tribute.

There is a lot of love and awareness for my legacy, specifically my grandfather and his connection to the Westerns. There are a lot of things coming in from that and it is fascinating to get lost in these western towns and be on horseback. With the type of acting I like to do, I really like to be seduced by the world and be taken into it, so much so that it is easy to forget there are crew people standing around. I love my crew to death and they are my family and I would do anything for them. They would do the same for me but, in those moments when I am actually doing it, I like to pretend they are figments of my imagination. To be sitting there and doing all of these things, I have to tell you, makes it a true dream gig. It puts me back into bed with JJ Abrams and that family, which I absolutely adore, along with people like Chris Nolan and Jonah Nolan. There is so much passion for this project, I think everyone is seduced by it, truth be told! It doesn’t matter if you are on camera or not! Both JJ’s crews and Nolan’s crews, a lot of these guys I have worked with before on many projects, so it is always great to work with so many talented people. It is also a challenge because it is a very ambitious project. I think it is HBO’s most ambitious project. That said, I have never been a part of a project that was this ambitious with this many hard workers. There isn’t a single person on set I can’t count on. They are all A+, top of the chain and working overtime even when they aren’t on the clock. That is a special thing!

Clifton Collins, Jr. in the drive's seat.

Clifton Collins, Jr. in the drive’s seat.

Let’s take a second to focus on your grandfather. Was he one of the catalysts who made you explore the craft of acting? Was there a specific moment that lit the fire in you?

Yeah, there was actually. Sometimes, you are so deep in the forest you can’t look at the trees, smell them or know they are there. I have always been a natural class clown, which I think makes me a good candidate for the business I chose to go into! [laughs] They tried to get me in when I was a kid but I just wasn’t having it. There was a moment when I was teaching martial arts with my cousin as a teenager. I had all of these kids coming up to me asking me if I was an actor. I had such low self-esteem because of my immediate family, my mom, my father who was no long present and my stepdad who was a complete asshole. There are always doubters and naysayers and we have to all go through that as human beings. My mom told me I would never make it and I would starve to death. She said, “Don’t call me when you need money.” My aunt and uncle laughed in my face. Not the uncle who is my grandfather’s son, as he has always been there for me come hell or high water. My grandfather was the one voice that was constant. Truth be told, I was a little embarrassed to even ask him. I was 17 years old, hungry and needed some kind of mentorship. My grandpa was complaining how nobody followed in his footsteps. I just thought my cousin or sister could do it. He said to me, “Son, you can do it.” I was taken aback and I said, “You think I can do it?” He said. “Yes.” That was all I needed to hear!

That is amazing! Look how far you have come, Clifton!

There have been some struggles, Jason! Don’t get me wrong! There have been plenty of moments! [laughs] I was talking to Goose just yesterday. I was telling him about when I was doing “Capote,” I was sitting in that jail cell thinking, “Damn. What else can I do if this whole acting thing doesn’t pan out? I can run cable. I can carry flags. I can set up those lights! Maybe I can get out of this cell and shadow one of these crew guys because I do like being on set!” [laughs] That is when I got into directing with the music videos and stuff.

Clifton Collins, Jr.

Clifton Collins, Jr.

What is next for you behind the camera? Do you have your eye on anything specific?

Yeah, feature work. Goose and I actually just turned in our first real novel that is not a cookbook! It is loosely based on some of his experiences in prison. Obviously, you have to bend some of the truths and combine characters together. This is something I gave to Samuel L. Jackson years ago, before the last two times Goose got locked up! [laughs] It’s great now because he is two years clear, is completely legit and has book money and stuff like that. Samuel read this and it is something he wanted to produce and it is something I want to direct. It is something I am very, very passionate about. We just turned the actual book in two weeks ago to the agency, so now we are going to start the screenplay. I hope to be done with it in a few weeks. We turned that book over in about two weeks and it was a 500-page book! I was hustling! [laughs] The guys on set asked me what I was doing over Labor Day weekend and if I was going out. I was like, “No. I am going to stay at home and finish writing this book.” They were like, “You are writing a book? The cookbook, right?” I said, “No! We are done with that! This is an actual prison novel!” They were a little surprised when I had plans to finish it over a weekend! [laughs] And I sure did! You hump it! You get up at 5 a.m. and start writing and write all day. You shut off the phone, get in the zone and hunker down. I just keep writing and didn’t let any distractions get in the way. It’s a beautiful thing when you are passionate about something and you get to make your living on it. It may be a struggle but you are still having fun. Even when you are a kid having hard times, it’s not going to stop you from playing. If you are passionate about it, it is kind of like playing.

As you mentioned, you and Slash are friends. You recently did a series of interviews with him for his upcoming horror flick, “The Hell Within.” What can you tell us about the project?

Slash and I are dying to get into something. He sent me a script recently. However, “The Hell Within” is something he is very passionate about. His director, Dennison Ramalho, is an amazing talent. I have seen some of his work and clips from his reel. Slash, obviously, is Guitar God. He is the Ghandi of Guitar Gods. He is so zen. [laughs] He is masterful in so many other things as well. Film is certainly one of them. He is such a student of the horror genre. He blows my knowledge out of the water! This guy knows the music, the score, the directors, how they did it, the black and whites, the colors, the new ones and the old ones. He found this badass and when he was telling me the story, I knew it was going to be really good. They are doing a little fundraising project for it and the fans are going to be involved. It is really dope. Slash is one of those people who is so good to his fans. It is something that my grandpa did and Danny Trejo does but it is so great to see someone like Slash have the kind of love and interaction he does with his fans. I am constantly learning from him because I can be so much better and I am longing to be. I am so grateful to have these great examples around me to help me out! I can definitely tell you Slash is very passionate about this project and it is going to be badass. I can’t wait to have another conversation with you about the actual film when it is done!

Clifton Collins, Jr. and the amazing cast of 'Stung'

Clifton Collins, Jr. and the amazing cast of ‘Stung’

I am looking forward to it! Speaking of horror, I have to tell you, I loved your work in “Stung” a few months back!

That was great! That was like my version of “Them.” That was a classic, practical effects, very little CG flick. Obviously, the little things flying around were CG and that was a funny thing to shoot and watch as all these German extras are running around like things were chasing them! It was hilarious! [laughs] The practical effects and puppeteering were amazing. Talk about a mind-fuck when you are shooting! To make that crew disappear and sit there and pretend there is a giant wasp in there as I am feeding a larvae to Matt O’Leary with Lance Henriksen was crazy! I was like, “Did I really steal that transporter from Star Trek and end up somewhere in Berlin with this house with wasps? What the hell is going on here?” [laughs] I had quite a few of those where am I moments on that project.

I had the chance to talk with director and Lance Henriksen, who both had a blast as well.

Yeah! Lance is a legend! Lance was so much fun to hang out with. He dragged me to a place in Berlin to do an autograph signing. I was going to go into Berlin and explore. He said, “Yo, kid. Why don’t you come with me. They would love to have you and you are going to make some cheddar. Come with me!” [laughs] I was like, “How am I gonna say no to you, fucker! Let’s go!” [laughs] I took off with him on a train and we went to a signing. I hung out with him that weekend and it was just awesome!

Clifton Collins, Jr. lights up any screen he is on.

Clifton Collins, Jr.: A man capable of lighting up any screen he is on.

Looking back on your career and evolution as an artist, what is the best lesson to be learned from your story and experiences?

I would say to focus on your passions. Focus on you and just go for it. Never underestimate yourself. My grandfather said, “Clifton, always have confidence in yourself.” I have been blessed to have the mentors that I have along the way reiterate those things, be it Samuel L. Jackson, Slash or Joe Mantegna. I have been so blessed to have so many wonderful people around me who support me in different ways. It is so easy to start doubting and think we can’t do it. That brings me back to Homeboy Industries. When I walked in there, any problems I had were out the window. When you get the perspective of kids who have way less than you and have been left on Skid Row at 7 years old, to see these kids come out of that is amazing. Some of these kids are coming into Homeboy at rock bottom. Maybe they are in a wheelchair or have tattoos all over their face. You think, “Wow. This is the moment where you decided you can actually do something with your life? Not when you were walking around, ditching school, gangbanging or whatever other trouble you were getting into?” The triumphs of the human spirit, it’s determination and resilience, is a beautiful thing. There are people who are willing to let all their past conditioning and negativity go to become productive members of society. It is really a testament to who these kids are and I admire them in so many different ways.

Clifton Collins, Jr. exploring the world.

Clifton Collins, Jr. exploring the world.

As we wind down here, what should we be on the look out for over the next few months?

I have to be honest, this is the first year where I haven’t had 12 films on deck to come out. However, this is the first year where I have had something like “Man Down,” which reunites me with Steve McAvey, who produced “187” with myself and Samuel L. Jackson. Then I have “Triple 9.” Are you aware of the cast in this movie?

Absolutely. Kate Winslet, Norman Reedus, Aaron Paul, Gal Gadot, Woody Harrelson and yourself. It goes on and on! Not too shabby in my opinion.

Yeah! It’s gangbusters! I have already seen the film! Working with John Hillcoat was a true joy. To be working with Nolan and Abrams again, along with the entire cast and crew on HBO’s “Westworld,” truly is amazing. With these projects, the cookbook and giving back to a charity in a way I have never been able to do before, I have a full plate! I couldn’t be happier about it! I have some hard work that is fueling my heart and it had brought me to a whole new level. I am truly blessed!

It is awesome to hear that! You know it is funny. When we spoke six years ago, I believe the title of the piece was “The Hardest Working Man In Show Biz.” It looks like I am going to have to duplicate that title!

Yeah! I absolutely remember that now! I love it! Thanks for your time, Jason I really appreciate you!

The pleasure was all mine and we will keep spreading the word! I am sure we will be talking again sooner than six years!

We absolutely will! Talk to you soon, brother!

For all the latest developments from Clifton Collins, Jr., visit his official website at www.cliftoncollinsjr.com. Connect with him on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Pre-Order “Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars” on Amazon. The book hits stores on November 3rd, 2015.

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ICON VS. ICON PRESENTS: Acid Pop Cult Podcast – Episode 158: Now and Later Gators

ICON VS. ICON PRESENTS: Acid Pop Cult Podcast – Episode 158: Now and Later Gators

acidpopcult-podcast-2015

It was been a busy week for the guys at the Acid Pop Cult Podcast. Jeremy and Jason kick the show off with some fancy footwork, which leads to a discussion on some ridiculous footwear. Talk then turns to the content Jason has been turning out for Icon Vs. Icon. The duo discuss the latest interviews with EG Daily, Clifton Collins Jr. and NHL Superstar turned country artist Theo Fleury. As they dive deeper, they take a look ahead at what is on the horror movie slate with ‘Spit On Your Grave 3’ and ‘The Final Girls.’ Jeremy reveals his plans on wowing the neighborhood children this Halloween before schooling Jason on the history of the legendary Ghostface mask from the ‘Scream’ franchise. As the reach fever-pitch, they dive into the worlds of ‘South Park,’ The Simpsons’ and ‘Scream Queens.’ As always, it is an eclectic and edgy show, custom fit from head to toe. Download, listen and spread the word! Woooooo!

Download the latest episode of Acid Pop Cult on iTunes!

Rate and review the show on iTunes!  Send us some feedback on Facebook or Twitter.


Acid Pop Cult on iTunes – Click here!
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Jeremy on Twitter – @almostgothim
Jason on Twitter – @iconvsicon

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ICON VS. ICON PRESENTS: Acid Pop Cult Podcast – Episode 157: One With The Force

ICON VS. ICON PRESENTS: Acid Pop Cult Podcast – Episode 157: One With The Force

acidpopcult-podcast-2015

This week on the Acid Pop Cult Podcast, Jeremy and Jason have a lot on their minds. Jason gets the party started by revealing some of his plans for the Fall Tour he is currently scheduling and offers a look at Icon Vs. Icon’s upcoming interviews; which feature Clifton Collins, Jr. (Boondocks Saints 2, Pacific Rim), Josh McDermitt (Eugene from AMC’s ’The Walking Dead), EG Daly (Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Powerpuff Girls) and more. Talk soon turns to his experiences during the latest phenomena in the Star Wars Universe — Force Friday! The usually even-tempered Jason gives us the low-down on what got his blood boiling during the big event. However, he turns the frown upside down with a look into the world of underground alternate movie poster art and the magic of Gordo’s Plush. Jeremy offers up his pick of the week in the form of Wes Craven’s ’SHOCKER,’ while Jason focuses in on ‘Kingsmen: The Secret Service.’ The duo bob and weave their way through another action packed episode and hope you will download, listen and spread the word!

Download the latest episode of Acid Pop Cult on iTunes!

Rate and review the show on iTunes!  Send us some feedback on Facebook or Twitter.


Acid Pop Cult on iTunes – Click here!
Acid Pop Cult on Twitter – @acidpopcult
Acid Pop Cult on Facebook – facebook.com/AcidPopCult
Jeremy on Twitter – @almostgothim
Jason on Twitter – @iconvsicon

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LANCE HENRIKSEN: The Iconic Actor Talks ‘Stung,’ The Movie Industry & More!

LANCE HENRIKSEN: The Iconic Actor Talks ‘Stung,’ The Movie Industry & More!

lance-henriksen-stung-2015

It’s summertime and nothing says summer like a good, old-fashioned creature feature! If the thought excites you, look no further than director Benni Diez’s directorial debut, “Stung,” arriving in theaters and on VOD on July 3. The film focuses on Paul (Matt O’Leary) and Julia (Jessica Cook), young party caterers who are trying to make ends meet. Adding fuel to the fire, they are also hopelessly in love – although neither is willing to admit it for fear of rejection. They find themselves headed to the countryside to work an upper-class garden party at a remote country villa. It seems like your run-of-the-mill gig until a group of violent spider wasps crash the party. Things are not as they seem as the wasps take partygoers as hosts to spawn even greater terror — 7 ft tall predators with an insatiable appetite for destruction. It’s up to Paul and Julia to stop the creatures, fight for their lives and, incidentally, get their stumbling romance in order. The film co-stars the iconic Lance Henriksen as Mayor Caruthers, who adds genuine excitement and solidifies the ambitious cast. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Lance Henriksen to discuss his role in “Stung,” his passion for acting and working with young filmmakers, his recent autobiography and his iconic role in the cult television series, “Millennium.”

'Stung'

‘Stung’

When it comes to work ethic, no one has anything on you! One of your latest projects is Benni Diez’s creature feature, “Stung.” He spoke very highly of working with you!

I couldn’t speak more highly of him! He is a director we’ll be hearing from a lot in the future. When you think about what happened with these guys, it is really inspiring. All the guys had been in film school together. They came up with a script with Adam [Aresty] and decided they would be the crew, producers and do it all. It turned out to be one of the most creative situations I have ever been involved with. I love those situations! All of these young guys are out there putting their hearts on the line and it was great and it really shows in the movie. The editing and the choices they made were so subtle and cool. Their level of humor was quite sophisticated in a lot of ways and there are things that are funky and down and dirty as well. There is really something for everyone in this movie.

You have done a lot of work with young directors in recent years. What appeals to you most about working with these young creatives?

Even though I just turned 75 and my body isn’t what it was during my 30s, it is still a skin-bag holding the young Lance. He didn’t go away! I have that youth in me! It didn’t go away and it won’t until I kick the bucket. The point is that I resonate that people who have an open mind, not simply ambition, when they are going after something they are passionate about. I can relate to that completely. I am not some jaded actor who is like, “Oh, where is my trailer?!” [laughs] I am still very much interested in creating and collaborating. It is the lifeblood of any actor.

I am sure you read a lot of scripts but what was it that spoke to you when “Stung” came your way?

I loved the idea of playing an alcoholic, loser politician that is running for re-election! [laughs] Hey man, to be honest, the only way to get back at injustice in the world is through your art. If I could play this guy and show the rough cog that exists in these guys who are pretending to be kings, princes or princesses, I am happy. It is an expression. I thought, “I can handle this!” The script itself was very ambitious and you can see that in the finished film. It was something I knew I wanted to be there for. I had also never been to Germany, so I thought it could be really cool and it was. The actors who are in the film were also a big selling point. Matt O’Leary is a really funny guy and Jessica Cook is an amazing young actress. It just made the whole project so cool. Everybody was on the same course. I really like the movie when I saw it, I really did, and I was glad to be a part of it.

Matt O'Leary. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jessica Cook and Lance Henriksen

Matt O’Leary. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jessica Cook and Lance Henriksen

I am sure you take a little something away from every film you work on. What did you take away from your time on this project?

I have to tell you something, man. That is the hardest question in the world because if I took something away from every movie I have done, I would be a psychopath or a psychotic! [laughs] The only way for me to handle it is, when I finish a film or see it when it is done, to leave it behind me like a cat leaving a kitty litter box! [laughs] They don’t look back! They do it and go! You have to or otherwise you will spend your life in a slight delusion. When I get on a set, it is all fresh and new. It is like I am starting from zero again.

The movie industry changed in so many ways since you first started out in your career. What are your thoughts on the art of movie-making today?

I guess it happens at some point in every generation, but I am aware of something. If Benni and those guys could make “Stung” for whatever the budget was, I don’t know and I don’t care, is kind of a smack in the face of corporate obsession. They are not making movies for audiences anymore. They are making movies to wow a potential audience, if you know what I mean, with all the CG and everything else. I am really proud of young moviemakers for taking on the corporate mind. I really am. I would love to see any movie they make. I know from a personal relationship that Jim Cameron puts every dollar on the scene. It’s not a matter of proving it anymore. He wants to make his movie, so that is not the kind of corporate I am talking about. I am talking about the endless superhero films with CG to the point you are inundated and don’t know what is reality anymore. It is like staring into a cell phone for 10 hours a day. You know what I’m saying? I would rather be at the other end with the guys who are doing plays and movies. They don’t have giant budgets but they are making good movies and good statements. I sound like I am on a soapbox! It sounds a bit like Caruthers trying to run for office! [laughs]

I wanted to ask you about your recent autobiography, “Not Bad For A Human.” Did you have any reservations about that project?

A must read biography.

A must read biography.

Ya know what? Seriously, I had a deal with the guy who co-wrote it with me. The deal was that if we got halfway through and I felt like it was a lot of bullshit, I would throw it in the trash and never look back. I am not afraid to exert labor if there is a goal and I don’t get disappointed if the goal doesn’t work. We tried and that was the main thing.

We got halfway through it and I said, “We have to start over, man. The last story that I told you, I felt so good being honest, I would like to go back and start over and work our way through it.” That is what we did! I felt very liberated by it. It was a solid year-and-a-half of going to a confession every day! I have never killed anybody and the worst things I have ever done don’t stack very high on the list of no-nos. I just struggled. That is my whole thing. I struggle until I get the answer. I have more of a boundless energy which is a gift from my mother.

If you could go back and give a younger Lance Henriksen some advice as a young actor starting out on his journey, what you would say to him?

Oh, buddy! I think I did it just the right way for me. I had a lot of skins to shed, like a snake, that came from outside of me. In doing that, I learned who I really was, what I really think and what I really feel. My success came from the help of a lot of very generous people along the way, especially in the early days. I never went to high school and I hated school, so I had to face a lot of stuff and a lot of revelations about who I really am and where I really fit in all of this. If you can do that, you are good. You don’t have to spend $500 an hour for a shrink! [laughs]

Lance Henriksen as Mayor Caruthers in Benni Diez's 'Stung'

Lance Henriksen as Mayor Caruthers in Benni Diez’s ‘Stung’

It seems we are moving into the revival age of television. Two great examples are “Twin Peaks” and “The X-Files.” Is Frank Black of “Millennium” a character you have interest in revisiting?

I would love to revisit the character. It would be a major challenge because that was 20 years ago. I was with Megan Gallagher recently because Mark Snow, the guy who did the music for “Millennium” and some of “The X-Files,” was releasing a new album. I hadn’t seen her in 18 or 19 years. Finally, there she was and she looked exactly the same! I didn’t say it but I thought, “Are you a vampire?!” [laughs] She looked exactly the same. She looks great! It was a fun moment. Looking back on the series I think it was a strong series. It was very good television. I really do believe that if we had gone on another year or two with it, it would have found itself, if you know what I mean. One of the issues with “Millennium” was that the producers changed every year during that show. With each change came a different energy. I loved doing the show, I just wish it could have gone a little further to find itself. The reality of what would ever happen from a thing like that is going to come directly from Christ Carter. It is very wrapped around him. Shit, I should have just given you the simple answer, which is, “Yeah, I would love to.”

Thanks so much for your time today, Lance! I look forward to our next encounter and wish you continued success!

Thank you, Jason! It is always a pleasure!

‘Stung’ hits theaters and VOD on July 3rd! Check out the trailer to see what all the buzz is about! Become a fan of the film on Facebook.

Check out our in-depth interview with Lance Henriksen from earlier in 2015. We discuss his unique career, his creative process, longevity and more! 

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STUNG: Director Benni Diez On The Buzz Surrounding His Directorial Debut

STUNG: Director Benni Diez On The Buzz Surrounding His Directorial Debut

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Each year, summer brings us a ton of new films loaded with action and adventure  If you are looking for a little something outside the box, perhaps a modern update of the ’80s creature features we all know and love, ‘Stung’ is the flick for you. Directed by Benni Diez with a screenplay by Adam Aresty, the film offers a seamless blend of CGI and oozing practical effects. The film stars Matt O’Leary, Jessica Cook, Clifton Collins Jr. and the iconic Lance Henriksen. The film centers around an extravagant garden party hosted by Mrs. Perch at her remote country villa. Unbeknownst to the host and her guests, her illegal fertilizer has infested the surrounding countryside and transformed a local species of killer wasps into giant, mutant predators, on the hunt for prey in which they can lay their eggs. It falls to two of the party’s catering staff to stop the monsters and save the day. ‘Stung’ is a rollercoaster ride that offers up both laughs and scares. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Benni Diez to discuss his unique career path, his influences, the challenges of bringing ‘Stung’ from script to screen and what the future may hold for this director on the rise.

Director Beni Diez

Director Beni Diez

Let’s talk influences for a moment. What films had a big impact on you as a director and “Stung,” your debut feature?

One of the most important films to me was “Aliens.” It is funny because when I talked to Adam Aresty, the writer of “Stung,” for the first time, we realized this was one of his influences as well. We had that in common. The entire film owes a lot of its style and homages to movies like “Aliens,” “Jaws” and “Tremors,” the old-school creature films of the ‘80s and ‘90s where there are a lot of practical effects that bring a lot of warmth to them. Even the most gruesome effects had a warmth to them as opposed to the cold, bleak CGI-overload from recent years.

What can you tell us about your career path and what ultimately brought you to helming this film?

It started with me being an enthusiast of visual effects when I was around 14 years old. I taught myself how to do computer animation on the very first computer animation program. Later on, I realized it was something I could study and do as a profession. I always did my own movies and directed my own stuff but I was never really interested in studying effects and seeing where that would take me. I wanted to still be able to make my own movies but I wanted to study the effects to understand the technical side because I found it so interesting. I studied visual effects and animation at a German Film School in Ludwigsburg, Germany. That turned out to be a good decision because, later on, I had that as a selling point. I wasn’t just someone who was trying to make a movie but I actually knew how the effects worked from the technical side, which for a creature movie is a plus! I think it gave investors a better feeling than usual!

What was it about the script for “Stung” that made you want to bring it to the screen?

Initially, it spoke to me on a lot of levels. The most important one was the boy in me who had seen movies like “Aliens” way too early in his life and was messed up in the brain by it! [laughs] I also felt this was a movie I could dare to try to make because it had elements I was comfortable with. Had it been an ensemble drama, I would have felt differently, but it had one location with a couple of actors and a very compact plot. Those are the elements that excited me. All of the effects that existed within the script were things I had done in a smaller way at some point in my life. It had a lot of stuff that made me want to do it and made me feel like I could actually pull it off.

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Was there anything you hadn’t attempted in the past you aimed to try with this feature?

Absolutely! That was actually the dialogue scenes. One of the moments where I was most afraid during the shoot was when we had a scene with the four actors in the basement. It was only dialogue, reading lines, conveying emotion and fleshing out the characters. On that scale, it was something I had never done before. I was very anxious leading up to that day. I was very happy with how it turned out because I was able to rely on such great character actors — Lance Henriksen, Clifton Collins, Matthew O’Leary and Jessica Cook. I could always learn from them and ask them to kind of teach me how to direct because they had all, in certain capacities, done character work and knew what they were doing. It was a very inspiring experience. It was an experience that really cemented in me the feeling that this is the job I want to do for the rest of my life.

The cast was truly terrific. Was it difficult to find the right mix of actors to flesh out the characters?

Yes. It was difficult because when you ask people with a certain name and standing if they want to star in a movie about 7 foot tall wasps attacking people, you really have to convince them! [laughs] We didn’t have a casting director, so it was a very tedious process to get them involved and convince them that this was a project worth pursuing. I was more than happy and lucky to have this great bunch of actors. I couldn’t have asked for better actors because they were so terrific.

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What went into the design and functionality of the creatures in this film?

We really looked to nature, the wasp and everything that is happening in nature. Laying eggs into other creatures and having them hatch from the host is something based in nature. I am guessing a lot of monster movies are based on that concept as well. There are a lot of insects who take other animals as hosts for breeding. We really went back to those actual species, the closest one being the Tarantula Killer Wasp, who actual stuns the tarantula and then lays eggs in them. They have a very slick, alien like design. They are very dark, have very thick legs and wings. They almost look like a war machine. We based our designs on that and then expanded on them to give them more character and expression to give them some emotional quality.

You mentioned your love for “Aliens” and the sci-fi genre. Lance Henriksen plays a huge role in this film. What did he bring to the project?

It was such an exciting moment to know he was going to do the movie. Imagine getting that phone call, “Hey! The guy from your favorite movie in the world is going to star in your first feature film!” That, by itself, was totally insane! Having him on set and having him turn out to be such a great collaborator and a warm-hearted, generous person was amazing. He was really willing to give everything and help me as a director to get the best out of every scene. I couldn’t have dreamt of a better way to get into the higher classes of the movie business than working with someone like Lance and learning some of the old guard are really the real deal. He is such a gentleman and a great guy to have around on set because he was so funny and always ready to tell a story. He really lifted up the vibe on set. I couldn’t have asked for more!

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Obviously, there are a lot of moving parts in making any film, let alone your directorial debut. What was the biggest challenges you faced on this project?

Getting the whole thing off in 24 shooting days was a big challenge. Creating a shooting schedule that allowed us to put everything that was in the script in the shoot and still get away with scenes having quality was a challenge. We had very short shooting days and couldn’t do any overtime because of contractual obligations, so it was a very difficult thing to pull off. In the end, it benefited us because we were very relaxed and well-rested because we weren’t doing 20-hour shoots. It was a very collaborative and laid back atmosphere on set with just 24 shooting days. The other challenges were getting all the many different things, the practical effects, the CG effects, characters that you don’t want to abandon due to technicalities, all into a coherent movie. You always want to work with the actors to ensure the emotional through lines and make sure they really work. That was only possible because I had a great team behind me. Everything I knew about effects were always handled by my supervisors, who I have worked with for years. It was very important for me to have people around me that I could trust in every department. My director of photography, for example, saved my life every day! He is very experienced and, in every situation where I didn’t know what to do, he pointed me in the right direction. It was like that with every department. There was one year of very tedious post-production processes and only a few people there to do it. I owe a lot of the movie’s final quality to my sound designer and musicians, who were there with me for months to elevate this movie to what it is now.

Where do you see yourself headed in the future as a director? Anything in the works at the moment?

'Stung'

‘Stung’

There is nothing specific I can announce right now. I have a few projects cooking on different heat levels. Now is the phase where the movie is coming out and I am very consciously trying to use that momentum to meet as many people as I can and get the feelers out. It would be great to collaborate and I am always looking for new people to work with. I am never afraid to try new things. When you do a movie, you are in the process for a few years and really want to spend those years with people you know you can trust, people you love to work with and are inspired by. The main priority is to find good people. I have a few ideas under my belt that I would like to expand on but it depends on the next team I gather and work with. I am definitely still interested in genre films. I wouldn’t necessarily want to do another horror movie right away to avoid being pushed in that corner. I have spent the past three-and-a-half years with giant wasps, so I could really do with a nice thriller, maybe set in space with some robots. That would be cool!

The industry changed exponentially since you started your career and continues to evolve with each passing year. What excites you most about filmmaking at this point in time?

As everyone is right now, the concept of virtual reality intrigues me. It seems to pose a lot of new challenges from the storytelling standpoint. It will be an interesting new way to consume media because it is much more immersive and not as linear. We are used to going into a theater or sitting in front of a TV and watching something for one-and-a-half to two hours and then the art is finished. It seems VR will change that a lot because, much like video games that have become more narrative, it will open the door to multi-dimensional storytelling. I have no idea how it works but I am very interested in seeing what happens with that and learning more about it. It definitely won’t replace moviemaking but it will be an exciting new field to play in.

Thank you so much for your time today, Beni. I really enjoyed the film and it is definitely an impressive debut! We wish you continued success.

Thank you, Jason! I appreciate it!

‘Stung’ hits theaters and VOD on July 3rd! Check out the trailer to see what all the buzz is about! Become a fan of the film on Facebook.

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