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UNFORGETTABLE - INTERVIEWS WITH ROSARIO DAWSON AND KATHERINE HEIGL

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UNFORGETTABLE - INTERVIEWS WITH ROSARIO DAWSON AND KATHERINE HEIGL

This isn’t your typical girl on girl thriller. The highly successful producer Denise Di Novi steps into the role of director to bring audiences this complex look at mental illness, relationships and demonstrates a genuine meaning of female empowerment to theater goers everywhere in this fast paced and stress-inducing production, which brings together two powerhouse female actors: Rosario Dawson and Katherine Heigl. The movie delves deep into the sometimes trivialized and sometimes marginalized abuse of women. It profiles the dangers of not treating and getting help for a mental disease, and the horrible after effects if the disease remains untreated. No one woman or man want to be labeled “crazy,” and for that reason, alone, many never seek treatment for past traumas or current mental problems that they can’t seem to deal with on their own. STRIPLV got a chance to sit down with the two stars of this project and ask them about what drew them to their respective roles, and what they hope audiences will take away from it once they have seen Unforgettable.

INTERVIEW WITH ROSARIO DAWSON

STRIPLV: So, let’s start with your character— can you tell us a little about her?

DAWSON: I play a woman named Julia Banks who has a very dark past. She had an alcoholic father and an abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend. She even sought psychological help afterward. Her best friend is her boss; she doesn’t have a lot of friends or people in her life. And that often happens times with women from that type of background. But now she is in a new chapter. She’s fallen in love with this wonderful man who is a father of an eight-year-old little girl. They are going to get married, and she is going to co-parent with him. And everything is looking very rosy and amazing, and then the ex-wife shows up. It becomes very clear that everything isn’t going to go as smoothly as she would have hoped. (laughing) To put it nicely.

STRIPLV: What attracted you to this role?

DAWSON: At first I had actually turned down the role. I think I was nervous about it. About how tense it was and the darkness of it. I’m on the board of V-Day an organization dedicated to stopping violence against women and children. And I’m on the board of Lower Eastside Girls Club, and I’ve done so many campaigns with anti-violence organizations, and I play a lot of these types of characters. And I didn’t know if I wanted to go there again. It was just really clear that what we were doing something really special. It wasn’t just like a lot of the other thriller films. It wasn’t us using these different things to be exploited. We really wanted to investigate these moments. And then I got super excited about it. Because of the range of these women. It wasn’t just she’s the bad guy, and that’s the good guy. It was kind of like the real spectrum of us and how we can all go a little bit crazy. My character I got help. It wasn’t like I didn’t have mental issues or trauma in my past, but I got help for it, and that’s what we all want, deserve, and need. And because we don’t communicate it we end up having these insane dramatic moments. But in reality, you know these women could actually have so much more in common, and I just loved that. I loved that it wasn’t just hitting the tropes of a thriller but really showing compassion for all these characters the humanity of it, the difficulties of it all with co-parenting and all that kind of stuff. So, I just got super excited about all of that, and I think it really works. When I watch this movie I’m just really moved by everybody, and I love everyone’s journey, and I can relate to everyone.

STRIPLV: Speaking of relatable, how relatable do you think this is to modern relationships dealing with divorce and everything?

DAWSON: I think it’s very interesting, and we were talking with Allison about it; she’s one of the producers. She was saying that when they first came up with the story, they were really like they didn’t want to do that the first wife was just neglected or under appreciated. And it’s like the new wife coming in, and she’s young and this and this. It was like we’ve already seen that before let’s show a different kind of dynamic oF a woman who is unhinged and people around who are not communicating properly with her and the loss that is there. Because here is this little girl lost in the center of it somewhere and if we aren’t communicating properly with each other then we are just not taking it seriously. I just really loved the approach of this whole movie.

STRIPLV: Do you think people are going to watch this and think, what would I do if I was in that type of situation?

DAWSON: If people recognize that and see it and just kind of go ugh, I’ve been there, and I knee jerked reaction. I did that, but if I had done this then maybe this could have happened. And if you want to end that cycle of violence whether it is physical, emotional, spiritual, verbal those traumas we have to finally look at, not dismiss not, deny not ignore, but really look at that man in the mirror kind of thing. Really look at it, and then you can move on. When you see Julia’s journey the only reason that she is able to thrive in the way that she can is because she has actually looked at what had not worked in her life. She went, and she sought psychological help, and she learned tools to use. If we don’t use those tools properly, not as crutches or as weapons, then they are really useless, you have to learn how to really use them. It’s just an incredible ride, it is super entertaining, and there is some real heart in this film. I just really hope that it sparks conversations with people. I can hear the people yelling at the screen, but I really hope it translates to after with them to talk to each other about it. Because I feel it could be really enlightening. 

INTERVIEW WITH KATHERINE HEIGL

STRIPLV: Let’s start with your character: who do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about her?

HEIGL: I play Tessa, and she is, um, oh man there i, just so much about Tessa. She is a very complicated woman. And she is a very damaged woman. But she was very fun and juicy to play. It’s always fun as an actor to play these really complicated characters. 

STRIPLV: What attracted you to the part? Was it that she was this very complicated woman?

HEIGL: Exactly! That was exactly what brought me to Tess. It was just the levels and the layers. And she wasn’t just this one-dimensional villain or just the monster. She is very human, and I think what she is going through and what she is feeling the heartbreak and the fear is all relatable. It’s just that she goes a little too far with it.

STRIPLV: You do so much in this role without even saying anything. Did you go into any deep preparation to prepare for it? How did you get into this woman’s psyche? Because you did so well.

HEIGL: Oh well thank you. That is very nice of you. I think for me to get into it I almost always start to see if I can emotionally understand the character. If she was just too much of just a bad guy, I have to have some sympathy and some compassion for her, and it’s sort of weird but as I am playing her so I have sympathy for myself. I think Tessa is heartbroken. She is so incredibly terrified of being alone. All of her value for her she has decided that all that makes her valuable is this man and whether he loves her. And that’s a terrible position to put yourself in, especially when that man has moved on. I could get into it by first starting with feeling compassion for her.

STRIPLV: Let’s talk about where this all came from: her relationship with her mother. They do show a little bit of backstory, and I thought that was very interesting and said a lot with a little. Can you talk about that?

HEIGL: Right, I think the relationship between Tessa and her mother is just incredibly important. There are just those few brief scenes, but they are very important to inform the audience on why Tessa is the way she is. And it’s not all the mother’s fault because we always blame the mother. But certainly, her mother is very responsible for where Tessa has ended up. And she is obviously not well. She has had mental illness issues since she was a little girl that were not treated that were not taken care of in any way, that were not even addressed at all, so that I do put on her mother. But at this point, she is just like a pot that is about to boil over.

STRIPLV: What did you think Tessa’s first impression of Julia was?

HEIGL: I think her first impression of her is just what she says to her in that scene over margaritas. She is just so effortlessly beautiful. She is so vivacious in her own way, and I think Tessa admires her for that in her own way. I think she is intrigued by it. But that turns very quickly into being threatened by it. Because Tessa is so not that she can’t conceive of the man that she loves moving on with someone that is so different than her. It just makes her feel like who she is, is just wrong. It would almost have been easier for her to see him move on with someone just like her. Then she would feel like, oh he is just trying to replace me great, he can’t replace me. But to see him with someone so completely different makes her think, oh did he ever really love me? Am I not even his type? I certainly think that by the end she really respects her because she doesn’t play the victim and she brings it just as much. (Laughing) And Tessa, she needs to be challenged.

STRIPLV: This is obviously a very female-driven film directed by a female director. Can you tell me about working with Denise De Novi?

HEIGL:
Denise De Novi is just such a powerhouse of talent and emotional evolution. I just loved working with Denise, and I just trusted every moment of it. Because she knew exactly what she wanted she was so prepared, and she had really thought through very carefully how she wanted this story to unfold, down to details like the little necklace that Tessa wears with her initial on it. No charm for her daughter— that’s Tessa— and all of that was Denise. That level of detail and preparedness gives me as the performer so much freedom it is such an odd juxtaposition that you know the rules, you know what you are doing, and now you can play and explore and kind of break the rules and go for it. Denise was just so amazing about supporting that and allowing that collaborative. And obviously, she is just an incredible talent. She has been such a successful producer for years, and she just stepped into directing like it was no big thing. What a great inspiration that is for us all, if you just walk into it with passion and confidence, maybe you can rock it. You know? (laughing)

STRIPLV: The film has a lot of deeper things going on when you watch it. What do you hope that audiences will take away from viewing this film?

HEIGL: I think from my perspective, I hope women walk away from it knowing that their value has nothing to do with the man that they are with or their partner in life. It is about you have to be just as fine alone as you are with someone else. In fact, you probably have to be better at being alone than who you are with somebody else. Because you can’t evolve emotionally if you are so concerned about what other people think, or whether you are loved if that’s your value by a man. That’s sort of a very unconcise way of putting it. (Laughing) But I hope women walk away from it thinking, I will never let a man define me.

7 QUESTIONS GOOFING WITH THE ROCK

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7 QUESTIONS GOOFING WITH THE ROCK

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson comes from a long line of professional wrestlers. His dad, who was better known as Rocky Johnson, had a pretty high profile career as did his cousins, and maternal grandfather. A turn on the wrestling circuit and being named the most successful professional wrestler might be enough for any one man’s career, but The Rock didn’t stop there. Entering the acting world in The Scorpion King in 2002, he was named the highest-paid actor in the world in 2016. There is just a general likeability to the guy. His movie producers and several directors commented about him in a recent GQ interview about why he was such a bankable Hollywood actor. They explained that Dwayne appeals to all demographics, all ages, and both sexes. Basically, all of us want to be best friends with him. He recently took the iconic role of Mitch Buchannon from the TV series “Baywatch” and made it into a movie with fellow heartthrob Zach Efron. We got a chance to sit down with him for a few questions and get a sense of how fun it must have been to work with this guy on set. His warmth and sense of humor made for a fun, quick seven-question interview.

STRIPLV: Why did you want to be a part of this film?

JOHNSON: It is the most successful TV show in the history of TV. So to be able to take this incredible IP and retell its story in the format of a movie and try and put our spin on it and create it in a way that is still grounded all while winking at the audience, letting them know we are all in on it for the fun.

STRIPLV: How did you want it to honor the original “Baywatch” show?

JOHNSON: We really wanted to pay homage to the original spirit of the show. The spirit of the original TV show was that you had these characters who were exceptional at what they did. They looked great on the beach, they look moving in slow-mo, but they were awesome at what they did. So, it’s still the spirit of that. Because you really want to root the story in a nice reality and base it on a nice foundation that has some quality and some depth to it.

STRIPLV: How would you describe “Baywatch” to someone?

JOHNSON: “Baywatch” is a group of individuals who are willing to go above and beyond for what’s asked of them for the protection of something much bigger. And the protection of something much bigger than them is our natural resources our beach, is our water, is mother nature, and the people who enjoy the beach the water and mother nature. We are there to serve and protect.

STRIPLV: Tell us about the character you play in the movie.

JOHNSON: I play a guy named Mitch Buchannon, and of course Mitch Buchannon was made famous by the iconic by the G himself the OG himself David Hasselhoff. What’s he like? My version is a guy who cares deeply about his beach. A guy who cares deeply about the people on the beach and families on the beach and he just wants people to have fun.

STRIPLV: What did you think about the cast of women in this movie?

JOHNSON: Every girl was perfectly cast. Every girl is the perfect girl for that character. And every single one of our woman is strong, smart, awesome, funny, cool, and relentlessly sexy. Relentlessly sexy that’s how you got to talk. So there is sexy and then when you are relentlessly sexy, then it’s game over. (Chuckling) I love all those girls. All the girls are great; you know Zach included. All great girls. 

STRIPLV: Did you add in the slow motion running that “Baywatch” made so famous?

JOHNSON: That’s obviously the most iconic things about “Baywatch,” and we couldn’t wait to do it and put it in our movie. Everything is better in slow-mo (laughing).

STRIPLV: What do you think audiences will enjoy while watching this movie?

JOHNSON: I think they are going to see women who are just incredible, powerful, strong, and smart. You are going to see the great guys Zach, Jon Bass you get to see all of them in there. But you know what here is the thing. I think the number one thing people are going to enjoy when seeing this movie is um I gotta say that is me. Yep. (laughing)

RUBY ROSE - TRANSFORMATION

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On the set of her first film, XXX: Return of Xander Cage, Ruby Rose tortured her fellow Antipodean co-star Toni Collette. 

“I couldn’t help myself. She’s one of the biggest stars at home, and I consider her one of my icons. You want to be respectful, but I just couldn’t help myself. I kept shouting out, “You’re terrible Muriel. I’m surprised I didn’t get a slap.” 

Life’s good for the 30-year-old former MTV presenter/model/DJ who, via a stint as a duplicitous inmate in Orange Is the New Black, has reinvented herself as a rising Hollywood action star with three mega blockbusters.

She took a turn as a murderous assassin in Keanu Reeves’ revenge saga sequel, John Wick 2; a gun-toting zombie killer in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and is now celebrating her latest release, XXX: Return of Xander Cage. But despite her overnight success, Rose is reluctant to stereotype her abilities. Warm and grounded, she stuns in a simple black sweater and white shirt combo, with her black locks, slick and parted, providing the perfect frame for those elfin features and dazzling blue eyes. 

And her appeal is all the more irresistible thanks to her utter disbelief in her surroundings. 

“I still find this all so surreal,” she tells me. Full of chat, she opens up about her involvement in XXX and her best friend relationship with co-star Vin Diesel. She also talks LGBTQ representation in the media, her struggles to make it in Hollywood and her Orange
Is the New Black
 future. She doesn’t show any signs of slowing down either.  We were lucky enough to interview her on her first press tour for XXX: Return of Xander Cage now available on DVD.  She will be gracing the silver screen again soon in the cult comedy franchise Pitch Perfect 3 later this year, and will star in the highly anticipated action horror film about a giant shark called Meg directed by John Turtletaub scheduled for release in 2018.

SANTOS: Is it weird being in the celeb seat and not the interviewer?

ROSE: It’s still very strange yeah. This is my first press tour for a movie, and I’ve been interviewed before, but it doesn’t stop me feeling like I need to be asking the questions. 

SANTOS: Well we don’t have time for that, unfortunately, so we have to focus on you instead.

ROSE: Ah.

SANTOS: Acting seems to have happened out of the blue for you. How did it come about?

ROSE: Funnily enough, acting was my first love and what I wanted to do with my life when I finished high school. I went to VCA, Victoria College of the Arts but literally within the first semester, one of my first auditions— because they encourage you to do that and get rejected so you can talk about your experience—  it’s literally a module in the syllabus, ‘Get Rejected’ (laughs). But the one I went for was MTV, and I ended up getting it. And it was literally like, shit, what do I do now? I was in shock; they were in shock. They basically said, well you’ve got a decision to make. So I obviously took the job, thinking, “Great, this will probably help me get into acting at some point down the line.” Which it didn’t. It ended up having the opposite effect. And I couldn’t get a job, an acting job in Australia to save my life. Nobody would touch me because I was too well known. Or at least, that’s what I like to tell myself. Ah, the stories we tell ourselves (laughs). So I moved to LA, to start fresh and ended up unemployed and sleeping on an air mattress with my dog for two years. With no work, no discernible income, going “what the hell was I thinking?” And then I got a life-changing call from Jenji (Kohan, creator of Orange Is the New Black) asking me if I’d like to audition for Stella. And against all the odds, I was offered the part, and literally, my life changed overnight. That’s pretty much me over a decade in a very messy, cluttered nutshell, which I know you didn’t ask for.

SANTOS: Were you literally unemployed for two years?

ROSE: More or less, yeah. I was getting offers for presenting jobs and worse, reality shows. That was the first thing I got put in front of me, which I kindly declined because all that defeated the whole purpose of moving out to the States in the first place. I wanted to pursue acting, which is always very easy when you

don’t have a manager or agent (laughs).

SANTOS: You were sensational on Orange Is the New Black, but we only saw you for like 30 seconds in season four. Are you coming back for the new season? Do you even have the time?

ROSE: Well I will always make time for those ladies. Whatever Jenji wants. She says jump; I say how high.

SANTOS: There are rumors that your character is going to come back and seek vengeance against Piper for the whole deception, throwing her in maximum security prison thing. And you’ve picked up some skills from these movies, so that could be interesting. 

ROSE: I could take her out with one shot five miles away, she better watch out (laughs). I mean, I don’t know, it seems like the next logical step for someone wronged in prison, but I think Stella has too much love in her heart and she doesn’t strike me as the vengeful type. I could be wrong.

SANTOS: So you are coming back?

ROSE: (shrugs shoulders). I just want to know what happens next. Even while I was shooting my first season, Jenji would drip feed us the scripts. I was like an addict, always wanting more! 

SANTOS: You seemed, well you all seemed like, you were having a ball on this movie XXX: Return of Xander Cage.

ROSE: I feel like it’s become a bit of a love-fest, this press tour, because we’re all gushing about each other, declaring our love for one another. It’s so mushy and relentless, but it’s the absolute truth. We had so much fun together during filming, I mean, going to Toronto and the Dominican Republic, doing these incredible stunts with people who were like my instant best friends. It genuinely felt I’d known them all my life. Because I will know them all my life. I’m so very confident in that statement. They’re the family I didn’t know I needed.  

SANTOS: You seem to strike a particularly strong bond with Vin, who by the way, has nothing but awful things to say about you.

ROSE: He’s the worst. 

SANTOS: The worst (laughing)!

ROSE: Vin is like my big brother. He’s my best friend, he’s my fake boyfriend. I love that man so much I can’t even tell you. And the irony is that I idolized him watching the first XXX, the first Fast
and
Furious
. He was smooth and charismatic and did these mind-blowing stunts, and he had this amazing smile— he was just the coolest guy to me. The voice, that laugh. I had his poster on my wall, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be him and everything that he was or have him as my best friend (laughs). I knew I would have him in my life in some way. And here we are, best friends. And he was instrumental in getting me cast as Adele. He pushed for me and fought for me, and that meant a lot. Oh, and he got me seven birthday cakes for my birthday!

SANTOS: OK, that’s probably a few too many.

ROSE: I know right? And they were these unreal creations; one was in the shape of decks, which fooled me it was so good, I actually thought they were decks. And he got me another in the form of a rose, which was too beautiful to eat.

SANTOS: But you did right?

ROSE: Oh yeah, of course, it was delicious!

SANTOS: You do a lot of stunts in this movie, which look so natural for you.

ROSE: A little too natural. My agent was like, “why do you keep agreeing to these insane acts of lunacy?” And I’m like, “They’re not asking me, I’m begging them to do it,” which I keep to myself (laughing).

SANTOS: You also look mighty relaxed with a rifle.

ROSE: This is such a weird territory for me to be tackling because I am completely gun shy. I am the ultimate pacifist. I’m about love, not war, and I only touched a gun for the first time when I started doing films and then all of the sudden, I’m doing six weeks of sniper training and hauling around these massive insane weapons. But it’s such a powerful tool to pull you into character, and I almost had to have that because these are people who couldn’t be further from me.

SANTOS: You’ve been ruling the theaters over the past few months with John Wick 2, and now people are calling you the new action queen. Is that exciting or is it suddenly feeling like it’s boxing you in?

ROSE: If people are calling me that, I am beyond humbled and also at pains to convey, that I should be so lucky. You know, I idolized Vin, wanted to do what he got to do with these set pieces and action sequences and now I’m getting to do all that, or at least get a taste of what that’s like. It’s been my dream, and I’m 

going to take these opportunities with both hands. And while they may be in the action genre, there’s huge variations and sub-genres. XXX has a very extreme sports element to it, while John Wick is very underworld, assassin-centric, very dark and stylized and when you get the chance to work with Keanu Reeves, hell yes! Then Resident Evil, I grew up on these movies, and I’m so drawn to that dystopian, apocalyptic environment. And this was the last one, so who would say no to that? Mila Jovovich, she is the queen of action. But, and there’s a but, I am also conscious of the fact that I don’t want to be pigeonholed, especially this early on because I’m only a newbie really and that wouldn’t make sense. After doing Orange, I want to do more drama, but then I also want to do a comedy.  I want to experience as many genres as I can because I want to show that there’s more to me than guns and tattoos and stunts. Don’t get me wrong; I am incredibly fortunate to be getting these chances. Chances I would have killed for when I was lying on my deflated Target blow-up mattress, dreaming of any job. And I hold on to that mentality to a certain extent, that I can’t say no to a job or an offer. I just think that’s so ungrateful to those who would give them left arm for a chance like that. I just have to be considerate in what I do next. 

SANTOS: Do you find you’re just getting the bad ass tattooed action roles offered your way? 

ROSE: Yeah, for the most part. I think it’s like when you’ve done something that’s been received well. After I did Orange, I got offered three different Stella’s, and I’ve got a lot more to give as an actor than repeat what I’ve done before over and over. That’s not me; I don’t like to repeat the same day if I can help it.

SANTOS: You’re a role model for so many, as an actor in Hollywood from the LGBTQ community. How do you think of the current representation in the mainstream media?

ROSE: It’s very gratifying and mind-blowing that I get to be part of what I see right now, a movement in society, bolstered and motivated by the media and popular culture. There’s a constant conversation about gay, lesbian, trans, gender fluidity and so much of that has come from shows like Orange and Transparent and what Laverne (Cox) and Caitlyn Jenner have achieved. And to be part of that or to contribute in any small way, to this wave is so very special. We’re watching more and more characters, realistic characters, most importantly, from the community portrayed on screen in mainstream media and for young kids out there watching, that is extraordinary and has an incredibly positive impact.

CHARLIE HUNNAM - KING ARTHUR

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Charlie Hunnam has shared the screen with Idris Elba, Clive Owen, and Nicole Kidman. But none compare to his latest sparring buddy in latest flick, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Mr. David Beckham. “I’d be quite friendly with him now. He’s not on speed dial, but I’d have a drink with him. He’s a great guy.”

There’s a gracious flippancy to Charlie Hunnam’s humble bragging— if you could ever call it that. He crumples and blushes at the mention of any flattery; it’s just not his style, which makes him stand out from the rest of the Hollywood ilk. 

Typically handsome in a white shirt and jeans, his blond hair cropped and tufty, his matching beard bushy and gnarled, he’s in relaxed, composed humor while chatting about his latest venture, and arguably his highest profile role to date as King Arthur. But rather than the traditional Camelot culture of valor, Hunnam is playing Guy Ritchie’s Arthur, a cheeky everyman, raised in the slums, unaware of his royal lineage until he drags the fabled sword from the stone, which poses a problem for Jude Law’s dastardly king. 

In polished, chatty manner, the 36-year-old talks banter with Guy Ritchie and bulking up for the part of King Arthur Which he claims is the last time. He also discusses his future with Sons of Anarchy, trusting in the stars and what he learned from Fifty Shades.

STRIPLV:  I Imagine -[Arthur] was quite a contested role in Hollywood, how did you land it?

HUNNAM: Fuck knows. Fuck knows because he didn’t want to see me. He wanted nothing to do with me. So, no idea but I’m very glad I did. Think it was just in the stars. It all clicked into place, so it felt like, yeah it’s aligning nicely, maybe this will go my way. I was shooting Sons [of Anarchy] when I heard Guy was looking for actors. He was doing his search in London. And I thought, "I’m out of contention there, all tied up." And then I got a week off from production, and I flew to London but yea, Guy was not interested. So, I was going to make him interested. I’m a likable guy. Got to his house, sat down with the man, he’s a great man, just talked and talked and after 90 minutes, I realized we had been talking exclusively about the California medical marijuana initiative. I thought, go with it, he’s still talking with me. And we went on for another hour or so. And when I left, I thought, Shit, we never said a thing about Arthur. But it worked, he called me the next day, I read for him and c’est la vie. 

STRIPLV:  And what is Guy like to work with?

HUNNAM: This was honestly one of the best experiences, just for pure fun and adventure and really letting go, that I’ve ever had on a film set. Ever. You know, Guy would say to me, "Before we do this, the one thing I want from you, I want you to show up every day and have fun because if we’re having fun. The tone is where we want it to be and the audience will have fun." Like they always do in a Guy Ritchie film.

STRIPLV:  So Excalibur had a big influence on you as a kid?

HUNNAM: Yes, though I was way too young to be watching it. I think I was like five, or six; I used to see it all as a kid. I watched an enormous amount that was highly inappropriate. Which I think is cool because kids are so infantilized these days, wrapped up in cotton wool. I just got, I loved the legend, loved the odyssey 

nature of that journey. As a kid, I was into the sword fighting and horse riding. That just captured my mind. That’s what encouraged me to be an actor. I thought how wonderful it would be to be able to do those things, live out fantasies, and do those things that would appeal to a child. Ironically, I am an actor and the things that appealed to me as a child are the things I least like about my job now. But it was an entry into this concept of living a life in film. 

STRIPLV:  What doesn’t appeal to you now that appealed to you as a child?

HUNNAM: The sword fighting and that— it all requires immense preparation which is very labor intensive. It’s not as fun as it looks like a kid. It’s a lot more mental than it is physical as well. For the final scene, it’s maybe a seven-minute scene, but you need to learn 700, 800 beats and know how that goes in succession, in the dance. And then you’re swinging around this sharp piece of metal that could hurt someone pretty bad. Which didn’t happen (laughs). But yeah, I found myself quite obsessed with running those sequences over and over. Now, what appeals to me the exploration of the human condition. For instance, Arthur is very big glossy, commercial film. But at the heart of it, Guy and I were really trying to explore some interesting things that were really appealing to us about the human condition. What it requires to overcome fears and trust. Our sense of hope, or our perception of personal identity and overcoming conflicts, and the conflicts are only getting worse through a perception of self, through the prism of our fears. What is a challenge and a conflict to one person, isn’t always to another because of the prism of your experience and how that experience manifests an emotional response in you.

At the heart, that’s what the story of Arthur is. Overcoming those personal hurdles, in order to rise to the challenge of conquering the insurmountable odds of becoming the King of England and fighting in this incarnation, in a literal sense, the demon at the castle walls. 

STRIPLV:  Critics are calling this the first modern King Arthur because there have been many others versions. did you watch any to prepare?

HUNNAM: Not at all, I’ve only really seen the John Boorman version. I haven’t seen any other incarnations. I’ve read Once a Future King. I think just in the sensibility of Guy as a filmmaker, it’s the most contemporary, gritty version that’s been committed to on film so far; I’d put money down that that’s accurate. You know I think reinventing something for a modern audience in this environment of filmmaking required someone like Guy to make it feel fresh and new and have something to say that hadn’t already been said. It’s no accident that the studio picked Guy as the man to realize this vision. This is one of the oldest stories; people have been telling it for 1,500 years at this point, so for him to take it and create this fresh, brittle outlook in his very signature way, very punchy, gritty, cheeky, just excited me from the first time I heard he was doing it. Guy compartmentalizes the filmmaking process and applies himself to things he’s excited about and lets other things be what they’re going to be until they’re not exciting to him or interesting to him and then he steps in. Specific to the fighting, surprisingly, he had no opinion about that. I think that he’d obviously had conversations with the stunt teams and the choreographers, and they had defined their aspirations for what these would be, but I had very few conversations with him about that. As is the case with productions of this size, we shot a lot of that stuff on the second unit. That sword fight at the end of the movie, Guy wasn’t even on set, during that. He would watch the rushes and stuff, which was a pain in the arse, because he would inevitably have an opinion and we’d have to reshoot it all. But that’s how it goes in these big films.

STRIPLV:  David Beckham did an incredible job too! What was he like to work with?

HUNNAM: Oh my god, It became so clear to me within 

the first hour or working with him, that he’s one of the, you know, I see, that’s why you’re one of the biggest, most celebrated football players. There was a work ethic and determination; he wasn’t just there to have a laugh. He was determined; he was serious about doing a good job. He’d been working with an acting coach and been taking it so seriously. It speaks volumes to his work ethic. I got a taste of what his whole career has been about, relentless practice and hard work and that’s how he got to the place where he is.

STRIPlV:  Did you find yourself awestruck around him?

HUNNAM: For me, he didn’t have the epic aura about him because I’m not, and have never been a football man. I’d never, yeah even now, I’ve never seen him play football, obviously, I’m acutely aware of who he was, everyone knows who he is, and he has that star power about him, you can’t deny it. I wasn’t dumbstruck the way others were on set. You know the film crew, in particular; they’re these butch manly men, the sparks, the gaffers, the electricians all those boys, these hairy, bulky men all turned into 15 year old girls at a Justin Bieber concert because Beckham was on set. I was like, pull yourselves together. 

STRIPLV:  You got physically ripped for this movie. You’ve always been in great shape, but how did you get so big and bulked up for this role?

HUNNAM: I was just trying to keep up with all these burly, beefy guys around me. They were literally everywhere; I couldn’t let the side down, I was fucking Arthur. So I turned it up, got up to about 180 and that is not easy to carry around. 

STRIPLV: You look like you‘re doing ok with it?

HUNNAM: I’m way smaller now, and I’m happy for it to go that way. I’m a naturally very slim, skinny guy; I’m nothing like a lot of the characters, particularly ones of recent that I’ve played, Physically, I’m so far removed. The next role I did after Arthur for Lost City of Z, I dropped down maybe 40 pounds. That’s getting closer to who I really am. And I like that; I feel comfortable at that level. Not this freakish, abbed up, gym dude. 

STRIPLV:  It’s been three, four years since Fifty Shades, how do you look back at that time and what do you think you’ve learned?

HUNNAM: What have I learned from it? Ooh, I don’t know, if I learned anything. Maybe I’m not that enlightened a person. So when I think back on all that, I don’t know what to think. You know, decisions are very very difficult to make for everybody. I know I really struggle with indecisiveness. We have this abundance of choice in modern society, and I think that it has a tendency to create a lot of misery. The paradox of choice, you think on the surface, an abundance of choice is an incredibly positive thing, but actually, it creates a lot of discontent. If you do this, what if you don’t do that, you make one decision, but you have all these other things hanging out from there. I am in a position, by far and away, the best position I’ve ever been in my career regarding the opportunities that are being given to me. But I feel more neurotic now than I ever have, because of all these fucking decisions I have to make all the time. There are now stakes to what decisions I make. Fuck that; they’re shouldn’t be. I can’t handle that in my life. It’s only our perception I guess, I hope. Sometimes you think, fuck, I should have done that. I am very labored in my decision-making process,  but once the decision is made I force myself never to look back.

STRIPLV:  Have you seen either of the (Fifty Shades of Grey) the movies?

HUNNAM: Haven’t seen them. 

STRIPLV:  Did you do that intentionally?

HUNNAM: Yeah, so I wouldn’t have to have an opinion when people ask me in situations like this. Yeah, I stay away.

STRIPLV:  Do you have any regrets at all? 

HUNNAM: I have no regrets, really I don’t. I try not to. You know, this will sound so high flatulent and wanky, But I really try to force myself to live in the present and not project happiness and perceived happiness on the past or future events. Certainly, I don’t look backward in any of my current happiness as a result of current decisions made. I always think ultimately, I genuinely feel everything happens for a reason and I put a lot of stock on that. I do. You know, I got to know Dakota kind of a little bit and grew to like her enormously, and I got to know Sam the director, very well, made good friends with her. I am just really just delighted that it’s been so successful for them, and so very helpful both to their careers. But I didn’t feel any sort of sting or anything.

STRIPLV:  Sons of Anarchy. Will you be making an appearance in any future projects?

HUNNAM: Probably not, being deceased and all (laughs). I know it’s TV land, but it’s not JR Ewing here, death means death. 

STRIPLV:  But there’s the prequel show is there now!

HUNNAM: There is (laughs)? 

STRIPLV:  So you could show up in that?

HUNNAM: Again, I don’t know because it’s based more around the Mayans than the Sons, and they’re planning to place it in the fifties and sixties so yeah, I don’t know how I’d fit in there. I’m pretty sure I’m done. Moving onto new pastures. This is looking at the origin of motorcycle culture, the genesis of outlaws, it’s going to be pretty cool.

 

JAMIE DORNAN - FIFTY SHADES DARKER

0417jamiedornan

JAMIE DORNAN - FIFTY SHADES DARKER

By Frank Ariveso

STRIPLV:  Do you think you amped it up in Darker?

DORNAN:  I think we did amp it up in this movie.  I think we had to.  I think it’s a big part of making a sequel is that you have to develop everything and there needs to be a progression in every aspect of the picture— whether it be the actual story or the sex or the characters and their relationship— everything has to be ramped up.  So, I feel like we did that with Darker and I think that the fans will be excited by that.  You know, I think it has got more for the fans than the first film had, which I think is cool.

STRIPLV:  I’m sure when you did the first movie you didn’t expect it to be such a phenomenon.  Now that the dust has settled, are you excited to re-explore the character and define the character again? 

DORNAN:  It’s very exciting going back to something that I’ve experienced before.  Dakota’s never experienced it before because she’s never done television.  And I’ve done multiple series of television, and you get to go back, and jump back into the character and see the same crew and for the most part, it’s an exciting thing, and it’s like family, and it’s like coming home.  And so, there’s an element of that this time around, and the fact that shot Darker and Freed together, by the end, it was a long time— nearly six months with this group of people and it is like a family.  It’s great, great fun.

STRIPLV:  The film is so decadent with scenes such as the masquerade ball and Anastasia walking into every woman’s dream closet.  Do you have a favorite element of the film?

DORNAN:  I mean, we change quite a lot of stuff since the first movie regarding how it looked.  We made it slightly warmer, I think even for Christian’s apartment. Just like little touches that Nelson, our set designer, came up with, our production designer, that just makes it more human I think, which is a cool thing.  I really liked Christian’s apartment this time around.  We don’t get to see a huge amount of it in Darker, but in Freed we do. It felt like somewhere I’d want to spend time, rather than the first movie, just by adding a few little pieces here and there.

STRIPLV:  In this film, it seems as you and Anastasia have a real relationship and that you are growing in it. Can you tell us about this as well as some of the villains and the thriller aspects of the film?

DORNAN:  I mean, there’s so much more going on in this film.  It’s much more than just Anna and Christian’s relationship.  You know, that’s obviously a big part of it and seeing that relationship develop and seeing Christian making sacrifices and compromises and changing for love was just a very important thing.  And again, a very relatable thing I think.  So we see that, but there are other elements that come into Darker, you know, Jack Hyde is introduced and he provides this whole new energy and shakes things up, yet he has a massive effect on the relationship, and going forward and going to Freed we will see how that develops.  You know, when it ends on him, it gives you an idea what’s planned for the third movie.  But again, I think that’s all an advancement, and that’s all the fact that it’s a sequel and it’s darker.  And we’re trying to wrap things up, so there’s definitely more at play in Darker.

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