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TOM HARDY - DARK SIDE

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TOM HARDY - DARK SIDE

By Kyle Levy

Tom Hardy has always given the impression of being a little dangerous. He admits to drinking so much in his early twenties that he has few memories of that time in his life. But he’s long since atoned for his hell-bent past and in recent years has emerged as one of Hollywood’s top stars with performances in The Revenant (for which he earned an Oscar nomination), Mad Max: Fury Road, and his new BBC TV series, Taboo, on which he did double duty as producer and star, and which has just been renewed for a second season.

Next up, however, is Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated WWII drama in which he stars as a spitfire pilot. It’s the third time Hardy has collaborated with Nolan, having starred in Inception and The Dark Knight Rises and he believes that Nolan has crafted a masterpiece.

“Chris has made a classic film; it has the epic quality,” Hardy says. “It was a huge production to be part of, and you feel the responsibility of telling a story that left its mark on everyone. You grow up hearing so much about it. Dunkirk was a big turning point in the war.”

The film also co-stars pop star Harry Styles who will doubtless add to the hype preceding its summer release date. Hardy didn’t have any scenes with the “Sign of the Times” heartthrob but speaks highly of the former One Direction front man. “I met him once, really briefly. It was lovely, big hug. He’s very polite and just a sweet guy.”

Hardy, 39, lives in London with his actress wife Charlotte Riley and their 18-month-old son. They began seeing each other after working together on Wuthering Heights in 2009. He also has a son, Louis, 8, from his previous relationship to Rachel Speed.

On working with his father Chips Hardy on Taboo, it all came down to Hardy’s desire to have a greater say in the creative process: “I did Taboo because I had that drive to be a bit more than just an actor. Not just because I want more meat in a hamburger or I to want to be heard; it’s that I really care about problem-solving. I can do the acting relatively easily at this point, so my energy is kind of, ‘Oh, how can we make it better? I want to help the team.’ But the team just wants you to ‘shut up because the team needs to think.’ (Laughs) It’s like, ‘But I’m on the team! I want to help you think.’ ‘Just fucking shut up, OK.’ So now I have that place where I can go.”

STRIPLV: Tom, Dunkirk marks your third collaboration worked with Christopher Nolan. What do you most appreciate about him as a director?
HARDY: Chris has complete command of the operation, and you feel very secure working with him. It’s great working with a man who’s got everything under control. He’s also open to ideas, which is a sign of a confident director, and I know I’ve been irritated some directors because I’m always trying to make things better and I feel I can contribute something more. But with Chris, I wouldn’t even think of arguing with him. He’s the kingpin.
STRIPLV: How do you compare developing, producing, and acting in Taboo where you were responsible for basically everything to being an actor on a mammoth undertaking like Dunkirk. Were you able to relax more?
HARDY: I usually don’t relax when I’m working. (Laughs) What was easier about doing Taboo is that shooting in London meant I was able to go home every night and spend time with my family. My youngest was born three weeks before we started shooting Taboo.
STRIPLV: Did it give you a special feeling to able to work with your father Chips who co-wrote Taboo?
HARDY: Yeah, I wanted to work with my dad. Chips has a lot of great ideas, and I saw him as my partner in crime on this. It was also a chance for me to tell a story the way I wanted to and work in TV where you have much more time to develop the characters and unfold the story. I liked the idea of returning to my roots and going back and working with the BBC the way I started out when I did Oliver Twist, and I wasn’t sure if I could make a living as an actor.
STRIPLV: How did your father help you regarding specific things you wanted to bring to Taboo?
HARDY: He helped me try to break with the way a lot of historical dramas tend to be done in Britain. They’re usually too ideologically correct, ceremonious and false. I wanted to break with that and do something more visceral. What we wanted to do was tell a story that felt more authentic and departed from that classic kind of storytelling without losing that sense of history and those elements that formed our society and culture.
STRIPLV: You had a turbulent relationship with your father as a teenager and as a young man. It must be comforting to have sorted out things between you two?
HARDY: That’s water under the bridge. I’m nearly 40, I have two kids, and my relationship with Chips has changed radically. As an only son, I had this deep need to rebel against daddy. While I was growing up, my father worked very hard and usually came home late, and I didn’t see him very much. Then I was sent to boarding school, and for a long time, I was looking for a father figure. But my mistake was that I chose the wrong people to hang around with who I thought were giving me a sense of security. My father and I only started to talk again and become close during the last 14 years or so. I needed to learn a lot about life and having my own children changed me forever. Now Chips and I are able to sit down and talk about everything, and when we work together it’s not like father, and so, it’s more like the spirit of two artists collaborating.
STRIPLV: Has it been a source of pride for you to have accomplished so much as an actor that your father can appreciate what you’ve made of your life?
HARDY: I like being able to impress him. I also have so much respect for him, and I’m grateful that we’ve been able to grow closer together again and in a completely different way from when I was growing up. We can have conversations that are more like two men talking to each other and also like father and son.
STRIPLV: How has having children changed the way you see or appreciate your father?
HARDY: It’s made me see my time growing up and that part of my life with my dad in a completely different way. It’s opened up my eyes, and things have become much clearer. When you start raising your own kids, you learn very quickly how fucking hard it is! (Laughs) There are no guidebooks that are going to tell you how to be the perfect parent, and it can be really tough. But it’s also the most awesome and rewarding experience of your life.
STRIPLV: You are noted for playing dark and dangerous characters. Is that your preference?
HARDY: (Laughs) I have a weakness for the darker side of things. I’m very suspicious of people who present themselves as noble and virtuous. I hate that kind of sanctimonious posturing and those kind of people are often putting on a mask to hide. I also believe that the protagonist needs to be a more paradoxical figure filled with contradictions and ambiguities even though his underlying strength is his nobility. That’s what makes truly great characters.
STRIPLV: You’ve described your family as your sanctuary. Is it a relief for you to be able to escape playing villains and get away from the dark side?
HARDY: I’m not dark at all in my own life. I love my family, my home life, and I love my dogs. If I’m working on a film, I live in that world that I’m creating through my character, and that’s where I need to be. But once it’s over, it’s like the stroke of midnight, and the carriage turns into a pumpkin, and I get to go back to my real world which is my family.

KEVIN BACON - I LOVE DICK

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KEVIN BACON IS DICK - I LOVE DICK

By Frank Ariveso
When he was a young boy, Kevin Bacon had an obsession with hats. “I
loved them,” he tells me in an airless hotel suite. “My mom set up a
rack in my room, and I had them all lined up. Hats to me represented
characters, cowboys, firemen, whatever they were. Anytime I put one
 on, and I was transported. And that’s what I do today; I put on a
different hat every job I take.” 

It was a solid start for the icon
of American pop culture. Acting for nearly 40 years, Bacon is easily
one of the most celebrated figures in Hollywood thanks to his endless
string of performances from Footloose, Tremors, Diner, JFK, Murder in
the First, Sleepers, Apollo 13 and Mystic River.

And the star has never toyed with complacency. Recent roles in Crazy
Stupid Love and Patriots Day have complimented his ground-breaking
move into television, with the success of dark saga, The Following and
his new Amazon series, I Love Dick.

As the man states himself, he’s constantly seeking change and
evolution in his career, which in person, breeds a shocking level of
self-deprecating behavior. Today, in a black cardigan and jeans, his
trademark pinched cheeks and sharp eyes framed by loose, flowing brown
hair, Bacon is engaging and grounded as he reflects on an astonishing
40 years in the business. 

He touches on his initial fling with fame after the success of 
Footloose and why he then struggled to find his feet in an industry
 that grappled with his intense gifts and talent. His latest series, I
Love Dick, from the intelligent makers of Transparent, sees a
crumbling couple (Kathryn Hahn and Griffin Dunne) relocate from New York to small-town Texas where they encounter the enigmatic, intoxicating Dick who becomes a focus of obsession for the marriage. It’s a tangled study of relationships and sexuality that spoke to
Bacon’s desire to constantly step beyond the boundaries, something he
admits will always be his primary goal in life. Fun and chatty, he talks about the depiction of masculinity in film and television and
why the female gaze is a powerful perspective. He also opens up on
screen nudity, rejection, career pitfalls and rejuvenations, fame,
public breakdowns and why his daughter defied his wishes. Bacon, 58,
lives with actress wife Kyra Sedgwick in LA. They have two kids, Travis, 28 and Sosie, 25.


STRIPLV: You read the title, what was your first reaction?

BACON: I did this just so I could say, I Love Dick. It’s so I can say
to you, “What’s the title? I Love Dick. And people flinch and squirm
and it’s given me boundless entertainment. I basically read the title
and I was done, I’m on board. I Love Dick. (Laughs) That was an easy
sell. It was an easy yes.”

STRIPLV: Were you a fan of Transparent and Jill Soloway’s work?

BACON: My whole family is, and they were like, “there’s no way you can said no.’” I consider Jill one of the auteurs of filmmaking. But then you have Kathryn Hahn, easily one of the best actresses working
today, both comedically and dramatically, which is a rare combination,
that doesn’t happen often. She’s known more for her comedy, but there’s
an intense depth there. Everything fell into place. And this was funny and romantic, it’s sexy, it’s uncomfortable, it’s
pushes the envelope. It’s about a heterosexual couple who become
obsessed with a man, which is something you don’t normally encounter
on any show, movie, whatever. And it turns the idea of the male gaze
around. We’re focusing on the female gaze, with women as the subject.
And I get to be the object, which at my age is a winner for me. I get
to play an object and I get to play a dick— a different type of dick.
(Laughs)

STRIPLV: You get naked again, which is something you’ve proudly advocated in
the past. Does it ever unnerve you?

BACON: It doesn’t scare me, no. Here, it works for Dick. He’s very
comfortable in his form and it’s a tool, if you will, for the
story and progression of the character. It’s not gratuitous. I don’t
think I’ve ever found any of my nude work to be gratuitous.

STRIPLV: Did the idea of exploring a different aspect of sexuality appeal?

BACON: There’s a dissection of masculinity and sexuality here that’s
rarely presented in this way, and it’s very loaded, it’s so cool, and 
it’s a unique voice coming from an edgy, offbeat environment which
I’ve always been a fan of in my career. And I found here, as a bonus, and something that really made me go,
”huh.” I kind of get that, was this notion of celebrity, something I
myself am very familiar with, and that concern of fading relevance and
removing yourself from the ocean into a small pond, which is what Dick 
does, in order to restore his notoriety. Clinging on in a way. I
 understand that, having been famous for more of my life than not.

STRIPLV: Do you still like fame?

BACON: Yeah, I like being known. I like people coming up to me, I like
when they say hi, they tell me they love me. That’s all really nice to
experience. They give you free stuff without even asking. (Laughs) I’m not saying my life would cease if I wasn’t famous but I’m so used
to it now, it’s entrenched in who I am, so for that to ebb away, I can
understand chasing that high. I’m not saying I would do it myself,
perhaps I’d let it slip away without any action.

STRIPLV: Was fame what you always wanted?

BACON: For sure. And any actor who says otherwise, they’re lying. It’s
a primary factor in motivating you. Fame, money, all that, it’s what
motivates them but then it happens and you realize fame is something
else than you expected.

STRIPLV: Your son and daughter have both followed your footsteps but in different ways.

BACON: I feel like they came at two sides of my life and carved it up
between them: you take music, you take acting.

STRIPLV: Focusing on Sosie, who’s now starring in 13 Reasons Why, how did you 
feel about her going into acting?

BACON: We weren’t into the idea. It’s not what we wanted for her, but she’s
always known her own mind and above anything else we’ve encouraged
that. And it wasn’t like a talk, or directly addressing our
reservations, it was delivered more subliminally and she picked that
up. I did maybe send out the wrong message when I was directing a movie
when she was 11 or 12 I think. I needed an actress to play a daughter. Kyra was in it, and she was kind of resistant. She didn’t want to miss
school; it was going to get in the way of whatever she had going on.
 I convinced her eventually, and she did an amazing job, which I knew
she would. I think I knew this was her path, I could see that spark.
 But she kept her distance, said this wasn’t her thing, that was the
 plan as far as I was aware and we were pretty content with that.
 Thought we dodged a bullet.

STRIPLV: What changed?

BACON: She went to school, went to college but then four, five years
ago, turned around and said, I actually want to give acting a try,
professionally and that’s my decision and I’m sticking to it. And I 
said to her, “Where did this come from? You said you didn’t want to
act.” And she says, “I’ve always be drawn to it, I just knew you and
mom were against it so I wanted to respect that.”

STRIPLV: Is it easier or more difficult being the child of established stars?

BACON: She’s got the right attitude. There was never trading of the
name, never any expectations or demands because of who her parents
 were. And that’s something to be admired in an actor in her position
 because there are certain perceived advantages coming from a family
 with that connection. But she’s never utilized that approach, she’s 
been very astute in her choices, and doing great work. I'm very proud.
STRIPLV: What was your biggest concern for her going into this?

BACON: I didn’t want her to experience rejection all day, every day.
If you can’t accept that, you’ll never survive and we didn’t want her
to go through that. And it never ends. I get no’s even now. I’m always
hoping and wishing things were better for myself.

STRIPLV: Really?

BACON: Most actors, barring the .001 percent, still hear no. It
 doesn’t matter how much success you’ve had. I tend to get
 frustrated very easily, frustrated why something I want isn’t coming 
to me. But I’m still here; I’m still realizing some of my dreams, I’m experiencing new ones I never knew about.

STRIPLV: How did you get into acting?

BACON: I had a very traditional, one could say, the traditional route
into acting. Did some community theater as a kid in Philly, moved to
New York, was a busboy, waiter while I did acting classes. It’s total
cliché. And my apprenticeship, it stood by me. I did extra work on soap operas that fed into a year-long job on
 Guiding Light. Did some very off-off-Broadway stuff. I like to refer
 to it as toilet bowl theater. (Laughs) And then eventually landed an
 agent and it slowly started to shift ground from there.

STRIPLV: Footloose was huge for you but it took nearly another decade to get
back on track. How do you look back on that time in your career?

BACON: A mistake a lot of actors make, is judging and deciding based
on the size of the role, the budget attached, the salary, and if you
 do that, your window is this big (holds thumb and index finger close
together). I made the mistake. Or at least the people guiding my decisions did. After Footloose, I had to be the lead in the next movie. I couldn’t 
take anything less. And a lot of these weren’t working, they weren’t 
taking off, and I wasn’t getting what I wanted. They were bombs, yeah
 they were, bomb, bomb, bomb. I had this pop star fame from Footloose
 that wasn’t working to my advantage. Getting the lead, that seems 
like the pinnacle, and for many, it is. But those character type 
characters, with the compelling side story, who weren’t carrying the 
action, they are the character, rather than a varying embodiment of 
who the actor is, and who the actor chooses to play repeatedly because
 it works for them. I wanted to become the character in front of me, not the persona of
 Kevin Bacon, star of Footloose. And JFK did that for me. For the first
 time, it clicked and even though there were only a few scenes, that
 was enough to redirect that trajectory and point me towards a place I 
actually wanted to go. That lead to Murder in the First, Apollo 13,
 it put things back on track for me and trained my process now. I love working. I’d rather be working than not, that’s always my purpose. I want to work. I want to play different characters and 
challenge myself with new experiences. All I’ve ever done is thrown
shit at the wall, constantly throwing shit at it to see what sticks.
 And I’ll never change. That’s the gamble. Some sticks and a lot
 doesn’t. (Laughs)

STRIPLV: The Following was your first gamble on TV, was it a tough transition for you from movies?

BACON: I came from a generation of actors where if you ended up on TV,
 that’s where you stayed. You were dead. There weren’t the stretches 
and crossed boundaries. Television was safe and uninspiring compared to film. And then you got shows like The Wire, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under,
all these shows changed the landscape, and now, it’s really gratifying 
to see how the industry has adapted and evolved for the better, where
 an actor who’s had a level of success in movies, can move into
 television without it being a reflection on their status. And
 creatively, what you get from doing television, I saw this first when 
Kyra was on The Closer. What you get from it creatively, what she got
 from it, was a full breakdown of the character, something you never
 witness in a film. There isn’t time. And when I finally relented, told my agent, alright, get me some
television scripts, and Amazon, Netflix. None of that was around yet—
Netflix was like these tokens you got in the mail. I said put me up 
for something on television. And within a few days, I got sent the 
best scripts I’d read in years. That’s when the ball dropped. That’s 
when I figured out what so many already knew – the best writing in on
television. I was late to the party.

STRIPLV: Is Footloose still what you get recognized most for?

BACON: Yeah easily, but you get thrown curve balls all the time. Tremors
 happens a lot that one has entered modern day folklore, which when we
 were making it, it didn’t have that feel, so it’s interesting how these
things materialize.

STRIPLV: There’s talk of a sequel, isn’t there?

BACON: There’s something happening. And honestly, that is the only
character I’ve played, where I would like to go back again. I’m not
someone for looking back. I don’t like it. When I’m done with a
character, with a movie, I’m done. I never watch my movies. But
Tremors, for some reason, it’s 25 years later and I want to see where 
he’s at, if his delusions of grandeur paid off. Who would he be now?

STRIPLV: And this is the movie that caused your breakdown wasn’t it?

BACON: I stood on the street, had a full blown panic attack in
Midtown, fell down on my knees and cried, “I can’t believe I’m in a
movie about underground worms!”

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

rubyrose feature

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.

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