Margaret Cho - Sexy PsyCHO


Margaret Cho
Sexy PsyCHO

By Brittany Santos
Photography by Austin Young

Margaret Cho has been making people laugh for many years with her gutsy brand of comedy. I’ve been a fan of hers for quite sometime and we got the opportunity to talk with this powerhouse performer and three-time Emmy and Grammy nominee about her PsyCHO tour and her return to E!’s “Fashion Police”.

STRIPLV: I recently read an article that said, “When Margaret Cho first launched with her “All-American Girl” sitcom, the world wasn’t ready for her.” Do you think that is true?
CHO: Yeah, yeah I think so. But now things are much better. I definitely think I paved the way for a lot of Asian actors, comedians, writers, and personalities. So now it’s exciting. Now there are two Asian American family shows on the air like, “Fresh Off the Boat”, and now “Dr. Ken” coming to ABC this fall and I’m actually a part of it. So that’s great.
STRIPLV: You play his sister on the show, right?
CHO: Correct.
STRIPLV: What was he like? Had you worked with him before?
CHO: I have worked with him before, but not for at least 20 years. He was doing medical school or just about to start medical school. He was pursuing comedy then. He was just so in love with comedy and really wanted to just express that side of himself, even though he was going to be a doctor. And so he was very active in bringing comedy to his school. So he brought me to his school so many years ago. It’s great and I’ve worked with him since then. He’s just a great guy, so talented and so funny, and I’m very proud of him.
STRIPLV: What was it like for you to be a part of the PBS documentary, “The Women’s List”?
CHO: I know, it is really cool. I just kind of tapped into it. It was a very easy, very quiet shoot. I didn’t get to meet the other women that were in it. But it was a very cool thing to do.
STRIPLV: One of the things I love about you is that you don’t seem to care what people think about you. Can you pinpoint where you finally found that confidence to say: “I truly don’t care what the fuck you think about me, basically…”
CHO: Well, because no one ever noticed anyway. You just can’t think about that kind of stuff. And also, when I started this was before the Internet. So you never really knew anyway what people were saying or thinking. This is a relatively new development in show business. You never really got the sense of what people were thinking or saying. Now it’s a different world. So I just got used to not paying attention to it when I was younger, just cause when I was really young, most of it centered on my looks—like, people always thought that I was too fat or too ugly. Most of my television interviews in the beginning were always very derogatory. For whatever reason, I think it may have been racial, it may have been racism or sexism, or whatever. That’s kind of inherent in comedy. So I just learned not to pay attention to any of that stuff and to not let it bother me, and certainly it’s good to now have that attitude, because it’s so hostile out there online right now when you are a woman and you don’t fit that sort of male gaze that the Internet has. It’s a pretty narrow view of what beauty is or who should have the right to speak. It’s really disgusting. 
STRIPLV: In the age of social media, it is so easy to get cyber-bullied, and it’s tough on kids. Do you ever talk with kids and teach them to rise above it?
CHO: Yeah, you try to. But then, at the same time, it is very hard to prepare anyone for what they are going to face. And also, I think kids today have a way thicker skin than people who grew up in my generation. Kids today have grown up with the Internet their whole lives. They know how abusive it is. They know how stupid it all is. 
STRIPLV: Tell me about your #BeLikeRobin campaign that you started after the death of your friend, Robin Williams.
CHO: It continues on. It is something I allow anyone to do. It’s not an official charity or anything; it’s just something anyone can do. It’s helping homeless in your community. And it is very much in the spirit of Robin. He was very dedicated to helping homeless people throughout his career and his life, with different charities and events that he was on—and also speaking to congress about improving the life quality for people that are living on the street. Whatever form that takes and however you reach out to people in your community, I think it’s positive. 
STRIPLV: I heard you are hosting “Fashion Police” for the VMA’s, is that true?
CHO: Yes, on Monday night for the VMA’s. So that’s really exciting. I love Melissa, and I loved Joan. I think actually that was the last time I saw Joan, was when I did “Fashion Police” last time. It will be beautiful to come back. 
STRIPLV: How are you going to host with all the controversy that was swirling around the show?
CHO: I have a different view of fashion. I have a different take on everything. I definitely prefer art over elegance. I love when people take risks. I always strive to be the worst dressed at any event. So I’m going to be cheering on the underdog. 
STRIPLV: So basically, you would love the Bjork “swan dress” that everyone still talks about?
CHO: I want that dress!! 
STRIPLV: So who inspires you musically?
CHO: I am really inspired by a lot of different people. I am making a record right now with Roger Rocha from 4 Non Blondes, who I met through Linda Perry, when I was working with her for some benefits for the gay and lesbian center in L.A. It’s an album that is very exciting for me. I’m inspired by all kinds of music all over the place. 
STRIPLV: Coming from a music label background, I had to learn to like music that wasn’t really my thing, like hardcore rock, but you do learn to see the beauty in it, even if it isn’t your thing.
CHO: Oh yeah, I mean I love different things, like Norwegian black metal—it’s like a scrubbing of my ear. It’s a loud cleansing kind of thing. I never thought I’d like metal. And now I really do love it. 
STRIPLV: What’s your take on the EDM movement?
CHO: I actually like some of it. I just put out a music video on this song with John Roberts called “How Close is Glenn Close”. So, it’s really being chased by Glenn Close memes. It is just so ridiculous, but it’s just kind of word play and then beats. I also just did a series of videos with Peaches. I love her approach to music. It’s just very cool and very different. There are just so many forms of it and there’s stuff that is pretty inventive and exciting. I don’t know much about Skrillex, but I do like Diplo. So I think I’m a little bit well-versed on it, I think. [laughter]
STRIPLV: So how is your new PsyCHO tour going to be different from past tours?
CHO: I think I just want to make it very immediate. I want to make it very much about the situations of the moment that we are dealing with: gun violence, police brutality, and this insanity that there is so much violence against women that we have to have 50 women to come out against Bill Cosby to be believed. It is insane; it’s about navigating our way through this culture. That’s why I want it to be very immediate and very different and very much concerned with: “How are we going to live in this world and continue living in this world?”
STRIPLV: When the Bill Cosby stories first broke, were you shocked, or had you heard rumors about him?
CHO: I had heard stuff, but I wasn’t sure. I mean, I wasn’t sure. I think that he had his legacy in comedy and it was complicated, because he had such anger towards younger, especially comedians of color, that had grown up with him. He had such disdain for them—really derogatory and really demeaning towards people that I love, like Wanda Sykes. He just hated comedians of my generation. There wasn’t really the understanding of why—all of these people who grew up with him. Also, I was close with the Richard Pryor family, who always had issues with him. In a sense, you could either be friends with the Pryor’s or the Cosby’s, and I wanted to be with the Pryor’s. Bill Cosby was never a mentor, except when it came to television, which was sort of outside my understanding of myself, because when I was doing “All-American Girl”, he brought African-Americans to television, like never before. That was something to aspire to. Certainly, as a comedian, his style was never as appealing to me or as dynamic. 
STRIPLV: What haven’t you done that you want to do? It seems like you have such an incredible body of work. What is next?
CHO: Well thanks, I am working on trying to do producing, after I finish this tour. Hoping to get behind the lens after I finish this tour.
STRIPLV: So do you get along with the members of “Fashion Police”—that you will know how this appearance will go? 
CHO: I only know Giuliana a very little bit, but I haven’t met anyone else. But I am very good with Joan’s head writer, Tony. We have been friends for over 30 years. I feel like I will be with family.
STRIPLV: So I know that you only have a short time in Las Vegas, but what will you do here when you visit?
CHO: Oh, I don’t know, I guess just eat. That’s major; the food there is just so spectacular. Eating anywhere is great. I always like going to the employee cafeteria wherever I work. I think food is a drug for me. I eat, like constantly. I always think about food. I always want to just eat. It’s not even about being hungry. I just want to see what the food is. What can be done with it? A huge employee cafeteria at one of those big casinos is like my dream, because you have every kind of food happening. I love it. My favorite thing is to go to restaurants and stay through lunch service to the staff meal, because that’s where the best cooking is. That’s like my fantasy of what I like to do. It’s just really fun. Las Vegas has just become such a Mecca for food, and it’s pretty exciting, because it wasn’t like that before. Now it’s like a wonderland for it. Everything gets flown in fresh from all over the world. The best chefs are there working in the different places; it’s just a dream.

After I had the pleasure of speaking with Margaret about her upcoming tour, she appeared on “Fashion Police” and completely gave life to the show that was indeed in a swirl of controversy. She actually had the nerve to say about Miley Cyrus and her dreadlock look she wore during hosting duties at the award show: “I feel that, that hair probably smells like pot and patchouli,” as Giuliana Rancic looked on. Rather than back away from last year’s controversy when Giuliana made those remarks, Margaret was smart, and of course funny enough to confront the elephant in the room and bring the show back with the exact same comments that caused the controversy to begin with. Bravo, Margaret! And I hope the tour is a smashing success.

To get more information on how to buy tickets and to attend her PsyCHO tour, visit:

Felicity Jones - Bare-Faced Honesty


Felicity Jones
Bare-Faced Honesty

An Oscar nominee with a forthcoming lead role alongside Tom Hanks in the latest Dan Brown adaptation film, Inferno, not to mention starring duties in a mega-budget Star Wars blockbuster… somewhere along the way, fortunes took a turn for the best for Felicity Jones.

Or simply plain luck—according to the pillow-lipped A-lister? “I think fate and timing and luck—and all those uncontrollable elements, have so much to do with what is deemed as success, in any industry, not just acting,” the 31-year-old sage explains, “…which is why you count your lucky stars for opportunities that come your way.”

Acting for nearly twenty years, the Oxford educated beauty cut her teeth as an adolescent in BBC’s tween hit, The Worst Witch, before more grownup roles followed in Northanger Abbey, Brideshead Revisited and Flashbacks of a Fool, starring Daniel Craig. A breakthrough in Phil Traill’s Chalet Girl gave Jones valuable marketability, leading to credible indie fare in Like Crazy and Breathe In. Success however, appears to have been born from Felicity’s innate ability to embody real-life characters, both historical and contemporary, breathing life into what has come before. First came a lauded performance opposite Ralph Fiennes in The Invisible Woman as Nelly Ternan, young mistress to Charles Dickens. Then came her stunning portrayal of Jane Hawking Wilde, tireless, devoted wife of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. The role brought her a slew of award’s recognition this year, including Best Actress at the Oscars.

And now a million miles away from the glitz and pomp, the actress—single since splitting in 2013 with sculptor Ed Fornieles after ten years—stunned audiences with a bare-faced, pared down performance in the chilling mystery, True Story. Based on real events, she plays Jill Barker, partner of New York Times writer Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) who becomes disturbingly obsessed with mass murderer Christian Longo (James Franco) resulting from their meetings in prison. Consequently, their encounters start to have deep ramifications on Michael and Jill’s relationship, with detrimental effects.

While chatting about this harrowing portrayal, Jones waxes lyrical on the awards circus, her reaction to the Oscar nom, Star Wars figurines, running in heels with Tom Hanks and shunning the glitz of Hollywood.

STRIPLV: You’ve been having a big year, haven’t you?
JONES: Yeah [laughs] pretty big. It really has been quite an extraordinary year, and extraordinary time. You sometimes think: ‘How is this even happening to me?’
STRIPLV: But you’ve worked long and hard for it.
JONES: Doesn’t necessarily mean you’re due any certain amount of success. I am very grateful though and never want to be complacent.
STRIPLV: Did you ever think that one day, you would be and Oscar nominee working on billion dollar blockbusters?
JONES: Maybe not that specific [laughs].
STRIPLV: When did you first decide you wanted to be an actress?
JONES: When I went to theater group, outside of school from when I was maybe eleven. I had a teacher, Colin Edwards, who was singlehandedly the reason I am where I am now. He taught me that I could strive for this crazy dream, that it could be a reality. He was someone who instilled with the sense that this was available. He didn’t patronize you. That was someone who took you seriously at a young age, especially as I didn’t go to drama school.
STRIPLV: Obviously the Oscars was the biggest moment for you this year. How do you look back at that crazy time?
JONES: It went by in this very bright, blinding blur [laughs]. It was like nothing else I’ve experienced in my life ever—that amount of interviews and red carpets. Was that really me there? Was it actually a dream? What surprised me the most was the sense of community throughout the entire period.
STRIPLV: Between the nominees?
STRIPLV: So you’re best pals with Rosamund and Reese and Julianne?
JONES: They’re so lovely. I know it sounds insane though, to be even speaking with these women, but yeah, there was something like a community. It was weird.
STRIPLV: Quite disappointing to hear. As a journalist, it’s a better story to hear you all vying and bitching about each other.
JONES: I know, that would be the better story. It wasn’t the case, I’m sorry to report. [laughs] You keep bumping into the same people over and over. And by the end of it, you’re all really good friends. It felt like there was so much camaraderie between us. It’s a very strange group to be a part of and it felt really uncompetitive, which is really, really nice. I had such respect for all those actresses, and Julianne Moore is so phenomenal. It felt like we were all supporting each other, very much.
STRIPLV: Who did you meet that made a big impression?
JONES: So many. Meryl Streep was so lovely and complimentary… That took a moment, or week, to set in [laughs]. Patti Smith was amazing. I just felt so grateful to be in the same room with these people who are so passionate about creativity.
STRIPLV: What was it like when you found out you were nominated for Best Actress?
JONES: Oh, my God—it was manic. A lot of running around, screaming and wailing and hyperventilating at the same time. It’s one of those moments you dream of and so, it’s so exciting. And then I just thought: ‘I’ve got to try a ton of dresses on. I want to find something enormous,’—because it’s the Oscars. You’ve got to go for it.
STRIPLV: What attracted you to the film, True Story?
JONES: Aside from working with Rupert and Jonah and James, it was this moment when I first read the script and knew nothing about their story before. That made me want to do this film.
STRIPLV: What was the story about?
JONES: It gripped and frightened. The overwhelming dynamic between these two men and then, ultimately, the affect it has on Jill and the power that Christian had over them, over Jill and Michael, is astonishing.
STRIPLV: Did you get a chance to meet Jill, herself?
JONES: Yes, she was so accommodating and open.
STRIPLV: Is it uncomfortable at all? You’re prying into their lives, in a way.
JONES: A little, initially. I feel like you’re trying to get that person’s blessing and I don’t set out to impersonate, I want their essence more than anything. And with Jill and I, we had such a long conversation, and got on really well, spent a long time talking about it—incredibly helpful for my research.
STRIPLV: It’s a stunning scene between you and James that builds up throughout the film—almost more significant than the dialogue between Jonah and James.
JONES: That was actually the clincher for me. That one scene was why I wanted to do the film in many ways. It was one of those scenes that I knew was coming up and it really became this fascination for me, something I played out in my mind over and over before I actually did it. But it was interesting to learn how black and white she felt about Christian and how he is the personification of evil and she isn’t scared to tell him.
STRIPLV: The tension between you and James feels so real.
JONES: Because it was, kind of—it was there. James and I didn’t meet up before the film.
STRIPLV: Why’s that?
JONES: Because, I think for that scene, we wanted to maintain a certain degree of the unknown and that spontaneity. And I think it worked. He’s an incredible person, so passionate and intelligent. I really enjoyed working with him.
STRIPLV: Is there an incredible responsibility playing these real life people, like Jill and Jane Wilde Hawking? Is it a daunting prospect?
JONES: Yes, [laughs] very daunting. It stays with you. It lives with you. You go home thinking about it, and because you know they’re real events, it definitely gets inside of you. Also, when you’re playing a real person, it can be quite cleansing for them to go through the experience again and talk about it, which is always incredibly helpful for my research. But without a doubt, it’s a daunting task, mostly as it’s charged with this huge responsibility. You feel connected to that person in some way. You’re being allowed into their life, which is a very special thing. It stays with you, it emotionally affects you. You can’t walk away from it.
STRIPLV: Makes sense then, why your next two films are fantastical blockbusters grounded entirely in fiction. Were you simply looking for a break from reality?
JONES: I wish that were the case and I simply clicked my fingers and cried: ‘I’d like this part now, or this other movie.’
STRIPLV: Star Wars: Rogue One—have you been nervous?
JONES: Very exciting.
STRIPLV: What does it mean to you?
JONES: Well, it’s exciting, simply because it’s part of iconic history.
STRIPLV: Were you a fan when you were younger?
JONES: Not especially. I do remember going to see the films with that classic intro with my cousins and brother, and when I think about that now, it just seems so daunting, but exhilarating at the same time. But unfortunately, I can’t say anymore, really.
STRIPLV: What about the casting process and how it came about?
JONES: I can’t... I can’t talk about the casting process, I can’t talk about production. Everything is under lock and key.
STRIPLV: It’s going to be pretty cool that you have your own action figure, though.
JONES: It’s something I haven’t given much thought to, but I think, should it happen, that’ll be on the mantelpiece for certain. It’s Star Wars, I’m sure that’s pretty much a given. I’ll report back if or when it happens.
STRIPLV: Inferno—you shot on location in Italy. What was that like?
JONES: Well, it was Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, Dan Brown, filming in some of the most beautiful cities in the world, like Florence and Venice. I’ve certainly had worse jobs.
STRIPLV: Were you a fan of Dan’s books?
JONES: I’m a big fan of his work, like the millions and billions around the world, and now getting the opportunity to participate in the pure adventure of inhabiting his world, his grasp on such rich historical tapestry, is nothing I’ve ever been involved with before and so refreshing as a result.
STRIPLV: What sort of research did you do for Sienna, seeing as you didn’t have a real person to consult with or guide you?
JONES: I know, it’s a different process [laughs]. She’s this genius ER doctor who’s so far removed from anyone I’ve ever played before. I actually spent time with a real ER doctor in New York, kind of shadowed her for a short amount of time, and it was so interesting to see how these people work in such a short space of time. Everything is so quick, so life and death. They think on their feet, it’s really intimidating.
STRIPLV: How was Tom Hanks as a leading man?
JONES: Tom is wonderful. C’mon, it’s Tom Hanks [laughs]. He brings such humanity, not only to his work, but to everyone he’s working with, and that’s a real special quality to have. And he knows the name of every single person on set and says hello to each one in the morning, and there’s a real sincerity there. And that’s rare, that’s the mark of a wonderful person, who uses this commanding presence and warmth to welcome.
STRIPLV: Running on the cobbles of Florence and Venice in heels was an issue?
JONES: I actually thought I was going to break my leg [laughs]. How I didn’t do any damage was a miracle. Tom was lucky, in the nice, comfy shoes, and I was sprinting along. It’s certainly been the most physical role I’ve had—or at least one of them.
STRIPLV: Imagine Star Wars should top that?
JONES: I suspect there will be no heels involved.

Pierce Brosnan - A Grand Life



After enduring his fair share of disappointment and tragedy in life, Pierce Brosnan has attained a measure of serenity in his sixties that he never expected to find. He’s been happily married for over two decades, he’s recently become a grandfather, and he’s enjoying a pleasant resurgence in his film career, alternating between playing dashing romantic leads, as well as menacing Bond-like government operatives, as he did in last year’s, The November Man.

This September, Brosnan finds himself playing both kinds of character, showing proof of his enduring appeal and versatility. In the film, No Escape, he plays a former spy who uses his special skills to help a vacationing American couple (Owen Wilson and Lake Bell) escape from a militant uprising in Southeast Asia. For the romantic comedy, Some Kind Of Beautiful, he finds himself in the role of a Cambridge professor involved with two sensationally beautiful women: Jessica Alba and Salma Hayek. For Brosnan, work remains an abiding, although secondary, passion in life.

“I still love making films,” Brosnan says. “It’s wonderful to be on a film set and it’s fun playing different kinds of characters that feed my creative instincts and allow my imagination to run wild. I also still think I can be better with each role, adding layers to my work that benefit from my own experiences and whatever wisdom I’ve gained with each passing year. The only drawback is that I find it stressful to be separated from my family for several months at a time. I have a very close relationship with my wife and children, and it hits me as hard as ever when I’m not able to spend my days at home with my family. I miss them so much every day I’m away.”

In the meantime, the 62-year-old Brosnan continues to maintain a lavish home in Kauai, Hawaii, where he and his wife Keely Shaye-Smith spend several months each year. Their 17-year-old son, Dylan, began working as a model for Saint Laurent Men’s Collection line last Autumn, after being spotted in Malibu by creative director, Hedi Slimane. Pierce and Keely are also are parents to a younger son, Paris, 14.

STRIPLV: Pierce, No Escape is another action film that comes on the heels of your work in The November Man and Survivor. Do you feel you’re having a second coming as a Bond-like figure?
BROSNAN: I had stayed away from the genre for many years, because I wanted to try my hand at all the other kinds of characters I wanted to play. It wasn’t easy for a time to find those roles, but I’ve worked very hard to carry on and do interesting work. But I always felt that there was unfinished business in getting back into the action genre and I enjoy the tension and physicality involved. It’s also a good excuse to stay in decent shape.
STRIPLV: You seem to be working more than ever these days.
BROSNAN: This business has a tendency to be feast or famine. I’ve enjoyed working with some outstanding directors like Susanne Bier (Love is All You Need) and Roman Polanski (The Ghost Writer) and being part of a lot of great stories and wonderful casts. When you’ve lived a good part of your life on a movie set, you never get tired of the camaraderie and the spirit that comes with the job. It’s been pleasantly surprising to be working this often. At one point lately, I had done seven movies in two years, which is more than I’ve ever worked. It makes you hungrier for more.
STRIPLV: You’re also playing another Lothario-like romantic figure in Some Kind of Beautiful. What can you tell us about your amorous professor?
BROSNAN: Richard has two passions in life: romantic poetry and beautiful women. The latter pursuit is the more dangerous one, which leads to a lot of confusion and complications, which are mostly his fault—all of which show the absurd roads that love often takes. He gets into a lot of trouble, most of which is his fault, because he’s an incurable womanizer who has difficulty curbing his romantic urges. Love can often lead us down some absurd roads and my character’s life is a case in point.
STRIPLV: Did you ever go through a womanizing phase in your own life?
BROSNAN: When I was younger perhaps. But I was never interested in one-night stands or having a lot of superficial relationships. I’ve also been married twice and have enjoyed raising two sets of children, and all that takes up a lot of time. I’m a man who’s very comfortable with the idea of marriage. I lived for 17 years with my first wife, Cassie, and now I’ve spent 21 years with Keely. That speaks for itself. Keely and I live a very beautiful and calm life together, and she has never objected to the fact that I spend a lot of time away at work, and not even if I’m working with beautiful co-stars like Jessica Alba and Salma Hayek! (smiles)
STRIPLV: Do you find marriage easy, as compared to other couples whose relationships seem to fall apart, especially when it comes to Hollywood couples?
BROSNAN: I think I’ve been blessed twice in my life by meeting very intelligent and resilient women. I never expected to fall in love again the way I did with Cassie, but then I met Keely and I knew I had found someone with whom I could share my life. With Keely, we’ve been able to solve our problems in a very comfortable way without ever letting things get out of hand. Every couple needs to find an accommodation that allows them to live happily and harmoniously together. But you have to work at it and be very attentive to keeping the spirit and passion alive.
STRIPLV: Are you a better father today than ever?
BROSNAN: I’m wiser and more attentive to certain things that you notice about your children as they grow older, especially during their teenage years, which are the most complicated. I’ve also had Keely by my side, who holds our home together and is a very smart and caring mother. She’s a strong woman who has helped make my life so much richer, and together we’ve been able to enjoy a wonderful life together with our children.
STRIPLV: What kind of effect has spending time living in Hawaii had on you?
BROSNAN: It’s a form of paradise on earth. We have a very beautiful cottage by the sea, fairly isolated, and very peaceful. I like to describe it as Ireland, except the heating is turned on! I get up a six o’clock, I make myself a cup of coffee, sit on the terrace and watch the waves roll onto the beach. Then I’ll have breakfast with Keely and the boys and spend the rest of the morning painting. Then it’s lunchtime, maybe a few hours of surfing, reading, relaxing in the sun, and then before you know it, you go: “What’s for dinner?” It’s a very simple and peaceful life. There are very few things that can trouble you, not even my occasionally dour Irish soul.
STRIPLV: What has your marriage to Keely meant to you?
BROSNAN: Much more than you can describe in any short answer. She’s a very strong woman who has been a truly loving and caring partner in life. She’s made me a better father and man, and we’re so blessed to have been able to share our lives together. She allows me to be myself and we’ve been able to build our relationship over the years, and together with my children, that’s my greatest accomplishment in life.
STRIPLV: You’ve often spoken about how your Catholic faith has been very important to you. Do you still have that same faith today?
BROSNAN: Yes. Even if my whole world were to fall apart tomorrow, I would still remain devoutly Catholic. I’ve always tried to enjoy life and make the most of things, even during the lowest and most gut-wrenching moments where you feel very lost. But you need to find a way to pull yourself through, and your faith and your will are what’s going to drag you up out of the darkness. We all want to be happy, but it doesn’t come easily.
STRIPLV: Do people often come up to you and strike up a conversation when they recognize you?
BROSNAN: It happens, sure, and when it does, I try to be very open and natural and talk about everyday things. I enjoy the ability to push away all the fame crap and just enjoy the moment and I hope people come away with a good feeling. That’s the good side of being recognizable—you get to meet so many interesting people. You don’t want there to be any strangeness that exists between you and someone who may have seen your work and wants to just have a chat or say hello. I appreciate the good wishes. I never want to feel isolated from the world, and so I love being able to wander about in London or Paris wherever I like. I just have to put on a cap and sunglasses and try to look very anonymous. (laughs)
STRIPLV: Your son Dylan has recently embarked on a possible career as a model. How do you feel about that?
BROSNAN: His mother and I are very happy for him. It’s an opportunity that came at the right time just after he graduated (from high school) and before he begins his studies in film school (in Los Angeles). It all came about by pure accident. He was discovered by Hedi Slimane (Vogue Magazine) while sitting at a juice bar coffee shop in Malibu. He took some photos, and gave her his phone number. The next thing we know is that he’s doing a big fashion shoot for Vogue. But this is really a temporary job, which gives him the chance to earn some money for himself and meet some interesting people. Dylan is also a talented writer and his real aspiration is to become a director. I’m very proud of him.
STRIPLV: Your life has been marked by both great and tragic moments. When you look back, what do you make of it all?
BROSNAN: There have been tragedies, yes, but I’ve also had great fortune in life. I aspired to be in the movies, I wanted to become a movie star, I wanted to be Bond, I wanted all the grand things that came with that life. I got it all.

Emily Blunt - The Perfect Balance


Emily Blunt - The Perfect Balance

Emily Blunt has always had a relaxed attitude
towards her acting career. 

She doesn’t take herself that seriously and she doesn’t live or die with every role. That has made her time as a top Hollywood actress all the more enjoyable and that is why she seems to be smiling all the time. She is comfortable in all sorts of film genres and roles, and films like Edge of Tomorrow, Looper, and The Adjustment Bureau have shown that she can play very determined and strong women.

In her new film, Sicario, (Mexican slang for “hitman”), Blunt plays FBI agent Kate Macer, who is transferred from the hostage rescue division into a covert CIA para-military unit assigned to wage war against the Mexican drug cartels. Is this confirmation that Blunt thrives on tough female roles?

“I get told that a lot,” Blunt observed. “But I don’t really see them as tough. I think there are plenty of strong women out there and I don’t think they can be compartmentalized as being one thing. ‘You’re tough.’ What, because I have a gun? I found [my Sicario] character strangely quite damaged and vulnerable, and she is struggling with this role of being a female cop. Certainly, the morally questionable things are that she is having to experience with these guys—it’s not safe. And you see this girl going through pretty much the worst three days of her life and trying to maintain face through most of it...

After doing one scene, I couldn’t sleep for three or four days afterwards. It was a tough story to tell.”

The 32-year-old Emily Blunt initially hesitated about taking on the role because, as a new mother, her “head wasn’t in that space,” but ultimately Quebec film director, Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Incendies) convinced her to take on the difficult role when they met four weeks after she had given birth to her daughter, Hazel, now 20 months old. “I was feeling the opposite of the character [and] it seemed like a bad fit for me to be doing at that point in my life... I thought: ‘This is really good to put [this character] out there for my daughter for her to see...’ It’s not only a really fantastic role for a woman, it’s an intelligent argument.”

Josh Brolin co-stars as Matt Graver, her FBI boss determined to unleash hell on the Juarez cartel leaders, while Benicio Del Toro plays a ruthless agent and master torture/assassin. The film has enjoyed very positive reviews and its September release has been highly anticipated.

Emily Blunt lives in Los Angeles together with her husband, John Krasinski (The Office) and their baby daughter, Hazel. They were married four years ago at their friend George Clooney’s villa on Lake Como, Italy, after Krasinski starred in Clooney’s football comedy, Leatherheads. 

Emily took a moment to sit with us, away from the festivities of promoting her new film, Sicario, which was making its world premiere as part of the competition at the Cannes Film Festival. 

STRIPLV: Emily, what were your impressions of your FBI agent character in Sicario?
BLUNT: She’s a very complex woman. She has many different sides to her. One aspect to her personality is this steely exterior and this strong sense of justice and approaches her work with great integrity and serious sense of purpose. But she also has a shy, lonely side and she has to find the strength to deal with suddenly being thrown into this totally new assignment. She finds herself dealing with this incoherent and very violent world [of the Mexican drug cartels] and she feels very vulnerable. She was never trained for this kind of a job and she finds that unsettling.
STRIPLV: What were your impressions when you were first offered the role?
BLUNT: When I read the script, I saw immediately that it had an uncompromising and dark tone. It’s an interesting movie where you have a complex female character like Kate and it’s wonderful to play someone with a moral quandary. It’s also unusual to see a film present this kind of a female character. Even though there are a lot of women working in law enforcement, you rarely get to see their lives explored the way this film does.
STRIPLV: The part was originally written for a man. Were you aware of that?
BLUNT: Yes, I knew about that, but it didn’t affect the way I played the part. This woman experiences the three worst days of her life and tries to hold up under the pressure. She is very vulnerable and struggles as a woman in a very masculine environment. I never thought that I needed to make her appear tougher to suit the film. Of course, in her job, there are more men than women, and she has to adapt to that environment.
STRIPLV: Did you speak to other female FBI agents in preparing for the film?
BLUNT: Yes. I had a friend who had a connection with the FBI and I spoke to three or four female FBI agents, to see what that life as a woman in a male-dominated organization would be like. They helped me understand how your marriage suffers, how much sleep you get, and what your emotions are when you prepare for a SWAT team assault... What was also interesting is that I discovered that these women... are like me: they go home at night and watch Gosford Park and Downton Abbey! (smiling) They are great women. You want to have a beer with them, and those discussions helped me identify with this agent.
STRIPLV: What was it like working with Benicio Del Toro playing his very fierce role?
BLUNT: I have known Benicio for eight years and we had already worked together (The Wolfman - 2010). I also knew Josh Brolin (who plays her boss in Sicario) and it was a real pleasure working with them. It’s a dark story, but we had great fun on the set. Denis Villeneuve [the director] was like the head of a kindergarten and had to tell us to shut up all the time! (laughs)
STRIPLV: You’ve said in the past that acting is one part of your life and you keep your perspective as a woman and mother very separate. What drew you to acting?
BLUNT: It’s hard to say. I was originally set on going to university when I was 18, but then I got a call from an agent who had seen me in a school play and wanted to represent me. That’s how it all began. But my interest in acting probably grew out of that fact that I once had a really bad speech impediment as a child, (stuttering), so I used to do impressions all the time, mimicking family members or teachers. I found, whenever I did a silly voice, I could speak more fluently. I had a teacher who saw that and encouraged me to take acting lessons and that helped even more. There was something quite liberating about being able to throw yourself into another character, not having to worry about whatever was going to come out of your mouth next... I confess, though, that being on the phone can still be agony for me sometimes, but drama classes were an enormous help and I do recommend them. I’ve also been part of the American Institute for Stuttering for years, too, and I always point people in their direction; they have done some remarkable, revolutionary work for children and adults.
STRIPLV: You seem to have a very positive and gregarious attitude towards life. What’s your secret?
BLUNT: (laughs) I don’t know. I suppose I get that from my family. I grew up in a house where we were always entertaining each other. But apart from that, I’m enjoying my life and the way my career seems to be evolving. I don’t find myself suffering very much anxiety anymore about waiting for the next job to come around. When you’re starting out, you’re so determined to get the really good stuff, the best roles that are out there. So it’s very reassuring to find yourself in a position where you are able to be part of really good films and do interesting work. But it’s also important to have a life apart from your work and that’s the best kind of balance you can have to things.
STRIPLV: What’s the downside of celebrity for you?
BLUNT: It’s not celebrity per se, but the fact that as an actress you’re always expected to look perfect, wear the latest design, and always look your best. Sometimes you want to wear a T-shirt and jeans when you go to the grocery store or to a café and read a book or magazine.
STRIPLV: You’ve described yourself as having both a practical and a dreamer side?
BLUNT: I have this very practical, rational side, which enables me to take stock of things and make good decisions without letting emotions get the better of you. I find it’s a good quality to have, especially when you’re making your way in a very unpredictable kind of business. But I also have a very hopeful and optimistic way of looking at the world. I like to dream big, and I think as an actor you need to have a vivid imagination and throw yourself into your characters with complete abandon. So you need to dream big, but also be able to organize things and work to realize those dreams.
STRIPLV: In many of your films, you come off as very sassy and energetic. Is that an appropriate description of you?
BLUNT: (laughs) I’m quite a positive and energetic person, although I’m also overly sensitive. I’m someone who will start sobbing at different moments in sad or especially romantic films at all the key sentimental moments. Even when I watch the news or an athletic competition, I can get very wound up and emotionally involved in the moment. I also worry too much about all sorts of nonsense, but I won’t tell you about what!
STRIPLV: You’re someone who’s known for having a very ironic sense of humor and relaxed attitude about the film business. Is that your way of cutting through all the hype and superficiality of Hollywood?
BLUNT: Yeah, and even though it can creep up on you sometimes, I find it quite easy to disengage from it. The job is what I do, it’s not who I am. It never has been, and so I feel like I do have somewhat of a jewelled existence in some way. I’ve always managed to see acting as a very magical job that I’m very lucky to do. Some of the bullshit you have to develop a thick skin for, so that it bounces off you, you know?
STRIPLV: As a young mother, what makes you happiest these days?
BLUNT: If I were to choose a perfect day, actually, it’d probably be something very quiet, having a barbecue with my little one and my husband (John Krasinski) and a few good friends. And a margarita. I do love a good margarita.

Lance Burton - Billy Topit


Billy Topit

Lance Burton has been hailed as: 
“The most brilliant magician of the century.” 

He was named “Magician of the Year” twice by The Academy of Magical Arts, and in 1994, he was given the honor of having the “Mantle of Magic” passed to him from Master Magician, Lee Grabel. In 1994, The Monte Carlo Las Vegas built a $27-million theater for him to perform in, and that’s where he continued to astonish fans for 13 years, entertaining over five million people. 

Burton retired in 2010, and has been enjoying his time away from the stage in front and behind the camera—filming a screenplay that he wrote, directed, produced, as well as acted in. The independent comedy that took over five years from conception to theatrical release and has been Lance’s labor of love is titled, “Billy Topit Master Magician”. It will be released to theaters this September 24, 2015—with its World Premiere screening to be hosted at Brendan Theaters at Palms Casino Resort. The film features an enormous celebrity cast, full of many of Lance’s friends making cameo appearances, including: Louie Anderson, Mac King, Robin Leach, Johnny Thompson, Criss Angel, and more—all of whom can be expected to be seen on the premiere’s Red Carpet.

The story is about a struggling Las Vegas magician named Billy, who performs at children’s birthday parties and is excellent at performing magic, but his career has not been very successful. He convinces the woman of his dreams to be his assistant, but when local Mobsters try to make him disappear permanently, he has to call on his best friends to help out. 

We were invited to Lance Burton’s incredible estate, located in a remote area of Henderson, where the legendary magician graciously sat and sincerely discussed his lifelong friendships, his true love for magic and the joys of his moviemaking process.

STRIPLV: After 15,000 shows, have you been enjoying your retirement?

After performing 15,000 shows, I can’t think of any entertainer that had more fun on stage than I did. I had a blast! I did it for 31 years. It was a great way to make a living and a wonderful thing to do. 

While still working at the Monte Carlo in 2009, Michael Goudeau and I wrote the screenplay for Billy Topit Master Magician. We filmed some of the things that I did on stage and incorporated them into the movie. Michael and I met at the Tropicana in the early 1980’s, when we were both performing in the Folies Bergère. When I opened my own show in 1991, Michael became my special guest star and was with me for 19-20 years. He’s also an Emmy Award-winning writer. Michael and I wrote the screenplay as something we could shoot here in Las Vegas. There have been many films and TV shows with magician characters and some were good, but I felt I could bring something that was genuine; something based in reality. Oftentimes, the magic in movies doesn’t come across on screen. They are not using techniques common to magicians. They are using CGI or trick photography. I strongly felt Billy Topit Master Magician needed to be made by someone who understands magic. We didn’t have to do any research for the movie… Michael and I lived it. A lot of it is Billy hanging out with his buddies after work. Basically that’s what we did after work at the Tropicana.

I really enjoyed being involved in the whole process of making Billy Topit Master Magician, because I got to learn more. I’ve done roles where I’d come in and just act in a scene, and that’s great and also fun, but I’ve always been interested in what goes on behind the cameras. In 1985, I played an evil magician who was an assassin on an episode of Knight Rider, and I remember being very interested and looking at the cameras, and the cameramen would let me see what was happening. It was during this filming that I met Mark Wilson, who was the magic advisor on the show, and he encouraged me to continue on with magic in movies. Mark had also been a magic advisor on the Bill Bixby TV series called: The Magician, that I had loved as a kid, so I took his advice to heart. 

STRIPLV: In Billy Topit Master Magician, you have a large cast of your friends, magicians, comedians, and actors. How did you choose them and how did you convince them to do the movie for free? 

Yeah, they did it for free! My friends are all cast in the movie, because I could go to them and say: “We are shooting a movie and I have a part for you,” and they’d go: ‘Oh, great!’ and I said: “And here’s the best part, there’s no pay.” They all knew it was going to be fun. I think every magician in town is in the movie. Criss Angel is very, very funny in the movie. He pops up in a dream sequence and is hilarious. Louie Anderson plays a security guard and he ad-libs some hilarious stuff. I met Louie back in 1985. We were both in a show in Washington, D.C. at the Ford Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Ronald and Nancy Reagan were sitting in the front row. They invited all the entertainers and crew to the White House later for a reception. Louie and I were the only ones who brought in our instamatic cameras. No one was taking pictures, but I said: “Louie, how many times are we going to be in the White House? Take my picture here in front of the painting of Nixon.” He took mine and then hands me his camera to take his. Louie gets this big grin on his face, and goes like this V V with his first two fingers making the peace sign, and we’ve been friends ever since. Michael Goodeau, Michael Holly, Tom Lang and Russ Merlin, all those guys are professional stage performers. They all do comedy and they’re all really creative. You get them all in a room and you start shooting a scene and things are going to happen. Frankie Scinta plays a poker player. Mac King and I have known each other since we were 14 years old. I met Mac at the Louisville Magic Club. I got to Vegas in 1982 and he moved to Los Angeles and had a good career going. I convinced him to come to Vegas, and in a couple of years he had opened his own show and the rest is history. Johnny Thompson has a major role in the movie as the ex old mob guy who’s the father. He’s 81 and still out there working and helping guys with their shows. Jeff McBride, Fielding West and Rory Johnston also make appearances.

STRIPLV: Besides the part you filmed at the Monte Carlo, where did you do the majority of the shooting of the movie? 

We filmed all over Las Vegas. We filmed here at my house, which was Johnny Thompson’s home in the movie. At the Klondike Sunset Casino, owner John Woodrum and his son Mike are friends of mine and they just gave us free rein, and we shot in the coffee shop and in the casino. We shot at Criss Angel’s warehouse and at Magic Magazine’s parking lot. We also used several of the cast member’s houses. The filming took almost five years and some of the cast were concerned that they would look different from the beginning scenes to the end scenes, but nobody changed drastically. I learned the moviemaking process by doing it. You make mistakes and you learn. It was nice to be able to just shoot on weekends. Most of the cast still work, so most of the time it would be a relaxed 4-5 hours. I made sure I had food there for the cast and crew and everyone was happy. The most difficult thing I encountered was when I was acting and directing at the same time. I love acting in scenes and I love directing, but doing them both at the same time is incredibly difficult. You have to be incredibly focused and that is really a hard thing to do. That was the most challenging part of the whole process. The happiest and most fulfilling part of the whole thing was getting something great on camera. You look at it and go: “Wow!” Sometimes you have something in your mind and then you shoot it, and sometimes it meets your expectations and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s actually better than what you thought it would be. Usually, that’s because the actors brought something to the scene that you weren’t expecting. It’s a group effort. 

STRIPLV: What are your top five books and top five movies of all time?

The books would have to be: 1) Tarbell Course in Magic by Harlan Tarbell 2) Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice 3) Born Standing Up: A Comics Life by Steve Martin 4) The Wizard of Oz 5) Our Magic by Maskelyne and Devant. The movies would be: 1) Groundhog Day 2) Citizen Kane 3) The Godfather 4) The Godfather II 5) Star Wars. I just got to watch The Godfather series this last year. It came out in 1972, and I was 12 and wasn’t allowed to watch that kind of movie. 

STRIPLV: You’ve always been a philanthropist, and now you are going to donate all of the funds raised by the World Premiere and Limited Engagement run of “Billy Topit Master Magician” at Brenden Theaters to three charities close to your heart. 

I am so honored to be able to donate all of the funds to Variety, The Children’s Charity of Southern Nevada, (they have schools and take care of mentally and physically challenged kids, and I have been involved with them for at least 20 years), Las Vegas Shriner’s, (who are raising money for their transportation fund to transport the kids with severe burns and orthopedic problems for treatment from Vegas to the Shriner’s Hospitals in Los Angeles), and finally The Nevada SPCA that runs a no-kill animal shelter here in Las Vegas.

—Lance has settled into the fantastic home he built here in Las Vegas and said that since he retired, he’s become even more of a homebody. He’s never enjoyed traveling and would rather stay home with his TiVo and his animals. He laughingly told us that we’d see him at the World Premiere, smiling and getting his picture taken, and then: “Poof,” we’d never see him again. He loves the city of Las Vegas, and he loves his friends and animals. What more could a man ask for?!

Billy Topit Master Magician World Premiere
A Film by Lance Burton
Brenden Theater at The Palms
Sept. 24th, Red Carpet at 4pm, Premiere at 6pm.

Proceeds benefit:
Variety The Children's Charity, Shriners Hospitals for Children and the Nevada SPCA.

Tickets: $25 /

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