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Sylvester Stallone & Tessa Thompson-CREED

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Film fans have been flocking to see Stallone’s films for almost 40 years, making Stallone one of Hollywood’s biggest-ever box office attractions. Stallone was born in 1946, to Jackie Stallone and Frank Stallone. His father was an Italian immigrant, and his mother’s heritage is half German and half French. Initially struggling in films, he got a crucial career break in the film, The Lords of Flatbush. Wanting to flex his writing skills and inspired by the 1975 Ali-Wepner fight, Stallone penned a film script about an unknown boxer given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to fight for the heavyweight title.  Released in 1976, Rocky, would go on to score ten Academy Award nominations, winning the Best Picture Award of 1976 and initiating one of the most commercially successful movie franchises in history. Stallone followed up with the sequel, Rocky II in 1979, and Rocky III in 1982. Riding a wave of amazing popularity, Stallone released Rocky IV in 1985 and Rocky V in 1990. In 2006, some sixteen years later, showing age had not exhausted the franchise, Stallone brought back the Balboa character to star in Rocky Balboa. Now ten years later, (and some 40 years since his hit screenplay debut), Stallone is playing a character reminiscent of the original “boxing trainer” role that Burgess Meredith initially played, with Michael B. Jordan playing the talented young boxer (who happens to be Apollo Creed’s son), seeking Rocky as his mentor in the hit new film, Creed. Sylvester Stallone has built an enviable and respected career, and has been a considerable influence in popular culture through several of his iconic film characters.

STRIPLV: Rocky’s your baby. I’m curious to your thoughts on the evolution of Rocky, and what it was like to play him now in Creed.
STALLONE: Well, it’s very biographical, if you know what I mean, because we’re at the same age—and when I saw Burgess Meredith for the first time, I said, “Burgess, is wonderful—but he’s definitely up there.” And here I am… and now I’m the same age as Burgess. (all smiles) What Rocky has afforded me that I think has been… and maybe never will be done again, is I’ve actually aged in the character, and it’s been the same performer throughout. I literally have brought along what has happened to me in my private life, and I think it’s shown. I’m totally different from what I was in Rocky I, than what I am now. Now he’s worldly, he’s kinda beaten up a little bit, you know, he’s figuring he’s all alone, he’s lost his love… And I think about a lot of people that when they face that, when their mate passes on: ‘What are they really going on for? What are they living for?’ And quite often, if you’re lucky, they find some sense of accomplishment in helping others. That’s why quite often they do charity work—anything that takes them out of their doldrum. Well, Rocky wants to see Adrian so badly, that he’s fine: “I’m ready to go.” And then this kid presents this alternative. And he thinks, you know: ‘Maybe this goes against what human nature’s all about.’ You are responsible, I think, as an adult, to leave as much behind that is useful for someone you love. Otherwise—what are you doing here? (chuckles) What’s the point? I mean, that’s what makes the world a better place is that you are gonna to take all the pain, all the wisdom, all the hard work and knowledge, and give it to him and say, “Look, I’m giving it to you. You may blow it—you may not pay attention, (which many people don’t), but this is my gift to you—my life.”
STRIPLV: You’ve done some great acting, but I think this is some of your best acting of your career, seriously. 
STALLONE: Thank you.  
STRIPLV: Tell us about Michael, and what it was like working with him.
STALLONE: Michael is kind of like in a situation that I was where, when you see me or you saw Michael, you didn’t think ‘boxer’ or this or that. There’s a certain kind of physicality to him, but behind the toughness, it’s a young man. It’s a fella struggling for answers. In other words, you like him, you embrace him, you trust him. And there’s so many men that have played fighters—and they’ve done it very well—but they’re missing what he has. And I can’t define it—you know what I mean? It’s what makes a star. It’s what makes you want… Like Denzel, if he had played it, you’d go: “I’m being pulled into his life. Even though he may have issues… I want to be his friend. I want to support him.” And he has that. But ninety-nine-percent of people, who are great actors…but [don’t have it]. And you don’t know until it’s there. When Carl Weathers walked on, (the man who plays his father), and I saw him in an office and he’s going: “You know, I could be a much better actor, if I had someone else to act against.” I go: “It’s me—I’m playing the part of Rocky.” (chuckling) He goes: “Oh, sorry.” But that kind of bombastic… but on film, he never came off as cruel. There was something so genuine. And I wish I hadn’t gotten rid of Carl Weathers so early on. And I think that’s one of the reasons they want Creed, like “Oh, he’s back!” …in some incarnation, “He’s back! Great!” because they love that character.
STRIPLV: Why do you think millions of fans are so attached to the Rocky films?
STALLONE: The people that have come up to me have used it [Rocky] to become inspired. I think it’s just inspiration. It wasn’t a master plan. I didn’t think along those lines when I wrote it. I was just writing what I thought worked for me. But I can see that everyone that I have witnessed going to the statue—they’re from Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Australia. I kept saying: ‘Why are you here?’ They said: “Rocky makes us feel strong.” “Rocky makes us feel I like I can do it.” “Right before I have a football game, I watch Rocky.” So it touches that cord—that: “I’m scared, but if he can do it, I can do it.” That kind of thing: “I’m gonna take this best punch.” So I think the word is inspiration. And determination.
STRIPLV: What’s the most important thing that director Ryan Coogler brought to this?
STALLONE: He brought absolute, unwavering love and passion—commitment. It was though he was on a mission that started when he was young, to fulfill his father’s and his destiny, that he feels has really helped his father get through a physical dilemma. And he was gonna pay homage to it. So it started many, many years ago. But what he brought to it was just absolute unwavering commitment, like I’ve never seen.
STRIPLV: And it shows on the big screen. Great film, Sly!

Tessa Thompson was born in Los Angeles, Calif., on October 3, 1983, and was exposed to acting and stage performance as a descendant of a family of performers. Her father is a singer and songwriter and her grandfather was an actor and musician.  She is best known for her debut role as Jackie Cook in the drama series, Veronica Mars. In 2006, she landed her first movie role as Scarlet in the thriller, When a Stranger Calls. This enabled her to work with Camilla Belle, Katie Cassidy, and Tommy Flanagan. She also appeared on the hit ABC medical drama, “Grey’s Anatomy”, and more recently starred in the film, Selma, and now, Creed.

STRIPLV: What did you know about boxing, before you got involved in this movie?
THOMPSON: Really—nothing at all. In fact, I didn’t really have much respect for the sport—mosting because… Well, I shouldn’t say I didn’t have respect. I just didn’t understand it. And it can be very bloody and brute, and so it was something that sort of intimidated me. But getting to know the real-life boxers that work in the film, like Tony Bellew and Andre Ward, and Gabe Rosado—and getting behind their narratives, I mean, so many boxers are family men. And there’s something about the sport—the camaraderie of it—that became really beautiful to me. And once I understood the sport, I was just obsessed with taking in as much boxing as I could. I went to a bunch of boxing matches here in Philadelphia. And now I’m really a big fan. So by the time I got to the scenes where I’m ringside, I had an incredible affinity for the sport.
STRIPLV: What’s it like to join this incredible Rocky franchise with the film, Creed?
THOMPSON: Yeah, I mean, it’s such an iconic American story. It’s arguably I think, Rocky I, the best storytelling about the tale of the underdog…about love, about perseverance, about self-determination… So joining something like that is incredible. And to work with Ryan Coogler… To me, it’s two things: You get to join this iconic franchise in a way, or a reimagining of it, and then to work with a really exciting, new voice of his generation, and the next Ryan Coogler movie. So I was sort of sold from the beginning.
STRIPLV: And of course, Sylvester Stallone. I mean, to meet him, to work with him, to be in this amazing film. That must have been quite an experience.
THOMPSON: It was. And you know, he’s such a cinephile—so he knows so much about film history. And of course, he’s such a huge part of it. And he is so different than with Rocky, that he’s created. It’s this character that you just sort of assume is going to walk into the room. And instead, in walks Sylvester Stallone. And then to get to see him put on this Rocky, this character that he just loves playing—it’s just exquisite. And then also to see the bravery that he had with taking Rocky into a new space, in a vulnerable space, that we haven’t seen him in yet… So I’m so excited for Rocky fans that have followed the trajectory of his story. And I’m excited for a new generation that aren’t familiar with Rocky. I think that after seeing Creed, hopefully they’ll be inclined to go back and sort of, you know, see his story unfold.
STRIPLV: Yeah, it’s great, because you don’t have to have seen the earlier movies—although it does help, of course.
THOMPSON: Not at all. Yeah, I mean there’s sort of jokes that you’ll have an extra sort of giggle at, if you are familiar with the Rocky movies. We pay homage to it in some moments. But I think it really is a new story that you don’t have to be familiar with Rocky at all to enjoy.
STRIPLV: Exactly. Also you’re very convincing as “Bianca”. The music aspect of it, the singing—talk about that little bit. Is that sort of a new thing for you?
THOMPSON: Sort of. I mean, yeah, I’m sort of a hobbyist. I came from a musical family. I sang in a band for a couple of years just for fun. But writing music was certainly something that was new to me. But I was lucky because we have an incredible composer who’s also a… you know, he produces records, in general. His name is Ludwig Göransson. So he worked closely with me and it was a unique challenge. Ryan Coogler is someone who really loves authenticity, so for him, whoever was going to play Biana was gonna to write the music—and I’m just so glad that it got to be me.
STRIPLV: You did a great job with it. 
THOMPSON: Thank you so much.
STRIPLV: Michael B. Jordan…
THOMPSON: (smiling with giggles)
STRIPLV: There’s so much to talk about here. First of all, the two of you as actor and actress, but also the relationship between Adonis and Bianca—very complicated, very interesting.
THOMPSON: We were excited to tell a story about what Millennial love looks like—that you have these two people that really feel for each other, but also are, you know, really after dreams that at various moments seem impossible to them and what that looks like. How do you navigate love, and friendship and family, and also trying to pursue something? And so we thought that that was something that young people could really relate to. And I think so often you get to see sort of the girlfriend, sports wife character, someone who just exists just to hold the male character up. And I think in this movie you get to see, hopefully, if we did our job right, the portrayal of a young woman who has her own life, her own dreams. And I’m hoping that that’s something that women can really get behind and relate to, and it will be an anchor for them, in what is otherwise you think might be just a very testosterone-driven movie. (laughter) I infected some estrogen and I just love the Adrien in the original Rocky movie, so it was fun to get to play sort of an “Adrien 2015” and what that looks like.
STRIPLV: You added estrogen in a terrific way in this film, let me tell you—absolutely. Philadelphia (you said this yesterday), is sort of a character in this film, and from your standpoint what was that like?
THOMPSON: It really is. I mean it was incredible, because I got to spend two months in Philly just getting to know the city. I had not stepped foot here before I made the film, and it’s an incredible city with just really, kind people. And it sort of feels like the backbone behind America in a lot of ways. And I think for us, Creed was an opportunity to show another side of Philly that you haven’t maybe seen in the previous Rocky movies. And then the enthusiasm from people here in Philadelphia, just little things… I mean, there’s a sequence in the film, (I don’t want to give it away), when Philadelphians saw that sequence, they were so excited because they felt like we were really portraying their city in such an honest way. So I think people that aren’t familiar with Philly will get to see a side of it that they’ll be really interested in.

THE LYBARGER TWINS JILLIAN AND JOCELYN

THE LARBARGER TWINS - JILLIAN AND JOCELYN

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Jillian and Jocelyn Lybarger are twins who are making a name for themselves in the world of combat sports, the women’s MMA.

The newly formed Invicta Fighting Championships (Invicta FC) is to female fighters what the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is for male fighters. Founded in 2012 by Shannon Knapp and Janet Martin, Invicta FC provides female athletes a platform for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fights and for developing future superstars of the sport. MMA is a full contact sport that includes everything from boxing, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu to kick boxing.
Both Lybarger twins have signed a three-fight deal with Invicta FC, and have gone from successful amateur careers to professional fights in the last few months. Jillian and Jocelyn Lybarger have been referred to as an unstoppable powerhouse. You will hear their names not only because they are motivated, work hard, and their goal is to win in the cage, but because the twins are also involved in a different fight. They are ambassadors for “It Ain’t Chemo”, an organization that provides cancer patients with comfort, care, advice and emotional support. “It Ain’t Chemo” was founded by Kevin Hoyt, a cancer survivor and Las Vegas resident. Jillian explained why they got involved: “In 2009, my whole family was being taken over by cancer. My grandmother passed away from breast cancer, my grandfather also passed away from cancer, my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and my mom’s best friend got liver cancer, so it was taking our family one at a time. Fighting opened the door to many opportunities and I wanted to show people that I’m not just a fighter trying to get rich and have the limelight. I wanted to do something to help other people.” Managing the Lybarger twins is Chris Irwin who we all know well from The Gun Store. STRIPLV sat with Jillian and Jocelyn and got some answers to our questions about why they love the sport.

STRIPLV: How did you get into the crazy world of MMA?
JILLIAN: It was about 4½ years ago in Phoenix, Arizona. I was driving down the street and I saw these guys doing this crazy workout. It wasn’t your typical workout. It was sledgehammers, big tires, big ropes, and it caught my eye. I pulled over and asked them what he was training for and he said a big fight. I knew about the UFC, but not about all these other smaller promoters and shows around the world. They said: “Come back tomorrow and workout with us.” So I said okay and went back the next day. Part of the warm-up was rope jumping for 5 minutes, like a boxer. I couldn’t even do it. I’ve been an athlete my whole life. I played basketball in college, graduated police academy, and I needed to be able to jump rope for 5 minutes. So that kept driving me to keep going back, day in and day out. Six months later the owner of the gym asked me if I wanted to take an amateur fight with a girl who was also doing her amateur debut fight in Tucson. I knocked the girl out in 32 seconds, and after that, I was hooked. It was the day before my birthday and my whole family was there except Jocelyn. My second fight was in Denver, Colorado, and after Jocelyn saw it, she said she had to do it, too.
JOCELYN: She lost that fight by a split decision, but I thought she won. It was funny, because after the fight, I was walking around and everyone was going: “Good fight, good fight.” I knew I had to do it, too. I was living in California and that Monday morning I started training and I’ve been doing it everyday since.STRIPLV: Were you always into sports, also?
JOCELYN: We were both raised to be very athletic, so we picked up the MMA very quickly. We still have a lot to learn and a long path to go down.
STRIPLV: So you are both professionals now?
JILLIAN: I just did my last amateur fight two weeks ago. I knocked the girl out in a minute forty-two of round one. I’ll be doing my pro debut in February. Jocelyn did her pro debut in July, and won by decision.
JOCELYN: It’s funny, she started first, but I went pro first.
STRIPLV: Tell me about growing up and your childhood?
JOCELYN: We grew up playing sports. The first organized sport our dad put us in was roller hockey. I remember him taking us to Wal-Mart and buying us all this shit. He didn’t buy us helmets like the boys had. He bought us bike helmets and then screwed this caging onto the helmet. We were in the parking lot of Wal-Mart, watching our dad screw the things together. (laughter) Then he said: “Now go out there, and there’s this puck and wherever it is, skate to it and then hit it.” (laughter) We were really close to our mom and dad, and we have an older sister. We went to church and were very active in our community.
JILLIAN: We played every sport – water polo, basketball, softball, swimming – and Jocelyn and I played basketball together on the team at San Diego College. College wasn’t really my thing. My dream was to be a cop, and you don’t need a degree to be a cop. We motivate each other, feed off each other to get things done. We’re best friends, best training partners and worst enemies at the same time. We’re in the same weight class.
STRIPLV: What happens if you have to fight each other?
JILLIAN: We get that all the time. Hopefully we’ll both just keep winning, and cross that bridge when it happens.
JOCELYN: Being a professional athlete, the answer would be yes.
STRIPLV: Is there any talk about changing weight class?
JOCELYN: I’ve fought in the 135-weight class and have fought in the 125 and 115.
JILLIAN: I feel so much stronger at 115. I’m taller and stronger than the other girls.
STRIPLV: What’s your walking around weight?
JILLIAN: 142, 143.
STRIPLV: Tell us the process of how you get down to your fighting weight.
JILLIAN: The last fight I was at 125 and did a six-week camp for that one. Your body is naturally going to lose weight because of how much we train, and our eating changes for six weeks. There’s no processed food, a proper amount of carbs, a lot of juicing, chicken and greens. You have to start drinking close to 2 gallons of water a day, and you’re constantly using the restroom and you’re getting all the bad toxins out of your body. On the day of weigh-in, I did two 5-minute sauna sessions and dropped 6 pounds of water weight.
JOCELYN: Ten days out before a weigh-in, I’ll cut out sodium. Everybody is different and you have to figure in that “time of the month” for us. You just have to figure out what works best for you. The last time I was down to 115, I didn’t feel well. I feel stronger at 125. I do CrossFit training, another level of training that helps you to use muscles that you haven’t used before. Jillian will start that, too. CrossFit is a training program that builds strength through extremely varied and challenging workouts. It is used for many police academies and military special operations units, as well as champion MMA fighters. CrossFit works to make you proficient in ten skills: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.

JILLIAN: I just moved here 4 months ago and train at Robert Drysdale’s Gym and I’m looking for a new strengthening coach. James McSweeney is my stand-up coach.
STRIPLV: How long is your contract with Invicta?
JILLIAN: Invicta is basically the stage for females. Janet Martin came up with Invicta, which is IFC, and that’s big stage, big paychecks, big audience, all female card. The men have UFC, which means all male, big stage, PPV and big paychecks. We were fortunate enough to sign a 3-fight, 18-month deal with them. They’re looking into putting us both on the April card, which is huge. It’s the first time in history that twins have been on the same card as professionals. So, we’re riding the twin thing right now. We’ve both quit our corporate jobs. When I quit the sheriff’s office, I worked for AT&T, and Jocelyn was at Verizon. I was making twice the money at AT&T than as a cop. Right now we’re chasing our dream. I’m giving myself four years to just go all out and see what happens. We have tons of offers right now, so we’ll see.

Read more: THE LYBARGER TWINS JILLIAN AND JOCELYN

Amy Poehler - Mischief

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Amy Poehler - Mischief

When Amy Poehler strides into a room for yet another interview, you immediately sense a bit of mischief to her wry smile and ebullient manner.  

It’s the same kind of cheeky bravado that propelled her to fame while serving on the popular American late-night comedy show, Saturday Night Live. That’s also where she became fast friends and frequent sketch partners with fellow comedian, Tina Fey. Their raucous chemistry earned them three consecutive hosting gigs on the Golden Globes awards, where they skewered fellow showbiz personalities with delicious delight.

In the film, Sisters, Poehler and Fey team up again, as siblings with wildly divergent personalities—and in the process, offer proof positive why they are America’s funniest women. The film marks their first movie together in seven years, since co-starring in 2008’s Baby Mama together.

“Tina and I have been friends for 20 years and she feels like a sister to me, a chosen sister,” Poehler says. “Neither of us have sisters in real life, so this film gave us the chance to create the kind of sisterly relationship that we never experienced.”

Directed by Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect), the R-rated comedy sees Poehler play the serious, sensible, and recently divorced Maura, while Fey takes on the role of eternal bad girl, Kate. After getting together for a sisterly reunion, they are left mildly shaken by their parents’ plan to sell their childhood home. When mom and dad assign them the chore of bringing their former shared childhood bedroom into more marketable shape, Kate and Maura take the opportunity to throw a wild party that produces plenty of chaos and hilarity. Sisters also boasts a formidable cast that includes John Leguizamo, James Brolin, and John Cena, as well as SNL alums, Maya Rudolph and Kate McKinnon. Previously, Amy Poehler has built her reputation in a variety of movies, including Blades of Glory and Anchorman 2, alongside former SNL alum, Will Ferrell, as well as in the cult TV series, Parks and Recreation. The 44-year-old Poehler had been in a relationship with comedian Nick Kroll for about two years, during which she appeared on his TV series, Kroll Show, but the two have since split. She was previously married for ten years to actor/comedian Will Arnett, with whom she has two boys, Archie, 6, and Abel, 4. This past summer, Poehler voiced the character, Joy, in the wildly successful Pixar animated film, Inside Out. These days, she’s donning auburn locks and a bit longer style than in her previous blonde incarnations. For our chat, she was wearing a print Stella McCartney dress.

STRIPLV: Amy, it must be very special to be able to work together again with your longtime friend and colleague, Tina Fey, on a project like Sisters…
POEHLER: It was a lot of fun getting to spend several months with Tina. We don’t have that much chance to see each other when we’re not working, so we love being able to catch up when we do a project together. We’ve always gotten along very well personally, and we have a wonderful shorthand working together. It’s such an advantage for us to know how to play off one another, and playing sisters gave us a chance to create a different kind of rapport from what we’ve done in the past.
STRIPLV: Even though you’ve worked on the Golden Globes shows recently, it took seven years for you to make another movie together after Baby Mama. Why the wait?
POEHLER: We’ve been doing our own individual projects and we were waiting for the right project to come along—and this was it. But we have this secret witches’ pact, where we have to work on a film together at least once every seven years, or one of us ages dramatically. (Laughs) What’s special about our collaborations is that we try to only do something that we really like and we don’t want to disappoint audiences, just like we don’t want to disappoint ourselves. We have such a good time when we get together that we only want to do something that excites us and we know we’re going to love working on.
STRIPLV: How would you describe the “sister” characters?
POEHLER: We’re playing two women who have kind of lost their way in the world. They had very different ideas of how their lives would turn out and neither is where they want to be in life. Both of us wish we had found the kind of togetherness and happiness our parents in the film have enjoyed. What was kind of ironic for me is that James Brolin and Dianne Wiest, who do such amazing work in the film, often reminded me of my own parents.
STRIPLV: Does it feel like you’re a female comedy team when you work together?
POEHLER: It’s very easy for us to know when certain things are working and other scenes or jokes are falling flat. We can read each other’s expressions instantly and that helps if we’re improvising, because sometimes you discover something completely new that is much funnier than what was scripted. Often we crack each other up and also we love being able to make the crew laugh. It just makes for a really happy atmosphere on the set. I love that about my work.
STRIPLV: How did you and Tina Fey first meet?
POEHLER: The first time I got to know her and her work, I thought she was an incredibly bright and sharp woman. We met in Chicago (at The ImprovOlympic workshop) and I heard that she once wrote a play about Catherine the Great fucking a horse. Anyone who has the kind of inventive and inspired comic sensibility to be able to do that kind of work must be pretty talented. That’s why I wanted to get to know her and start working with her while we were taking (improv) classes together. But an interesting thing about the beginning of our friendship and professional collaboration was that the improv scenes we would do together were basically dramatic and not funny at all. Neither of us ever imagined that we would make a good comedy team in some way or work together doing comedy sketches on SNL. It’s just wonderful that it all worked out that way.
STRIPLV: You both gained tremendous acclaim and attention for hosting the Golden Globes together. What was that experience like?
POEHLER: It’s been so much fun. Because we know each other so well from SNL, we can tell where our jokes are going to take us. Some things we’ll ad-lib, but usually we try to work about our lines together in advance, and the only tough thing about that is that we tend to want the same jokes. So we have to agree beforehand to divide the funniest lines between us. But Tina is so brilliant that I just love every moment working with her and also just hanging out together as friends.
STRIPLV: Why have you two decided not to do the Golden Globes again, after hosting the awards show for the past three years?
POEHLER: Sometimes you need to know to quit while you’re ahead or at least before things get much worse! (Smiles) We’ve accomplished pretty much what we wanted to do with the show and now it’s time for someone else to take up the challenge. But we’re very proud that we were the first women to co-host an awards show like that, and that’s a good sign that women should keep getting these kinds of opportunities.
STRIPLV: Have you always known that you have a natural talent for comedy?
POEHLER: When I began doing theater in high school, I saw that I could get laughs from people, but I didn’t really connect that to going on and becoming a comedian. I was interested in acting and while I was at Boston College, where I was part of an improv group, which had a long history and has been known as one of the best college improvisation groups in the U.S.—that’s where I started working on the kinds of skills that you need for comedy. It’s about being creative and learning to use your gift for being able to let loose and be very unselfconscious. It took me time though, before I was really able to get comfortable doing that.
STRIPLV: Why was that?
POEHLER: I had to come to terms with how I saw myself. I had to understand that I wasn’t pretty or beautiful like most actresses and that I shouldn’t care about whether other people found me attractive or not. It seems a strange thing, but once I was able to get past that kind of self-image problem, I was able to open up in my comedy work and just go all out, take chances, and have fun with the performance aspect of that.
STRIPLV: You’ve received great reviews for your voice work as Joy on Inside Out…
POEHLER: It’s been a lot of fun creating this character using your voice, as well as working in terms of the designs and drawings they show you in many cases where you have an idea of how to come up with a very distinctive voice. I also love being able to do something that kids and families can enjoy, because I have two children of my own and I want them to grow up watching all the fabulous animated movies and cartoons that I loved to watch as a kid.
STRIPLV: You’ve admitted to being a feminist. What does that mean to you?
POEHLER: Women need to take charge of their lives and be as dynamic and active as they can be. I know that some people feel that there’s a negative connotation to the notion of feminism, like it has some hidden ugly undercurrent. But it’s ridiculous. My mother was a feminist, and she was very politically-minded and always anxious to defend women’s rights and advance a lot of social issues for women. I just want to help other women achieve as much as they can in society, without restraints being imposed on us. It’s the most natural and normal thing to want to defend your rights to equal opportunities, equal pay for equal work, and everything that comes with that.
STRIPLV: Have you noticed whether your two sons have inherited some of your comic flair?
POEHLER: It’s still kind of early to say, although they sometimes get into mischief. But I would rather see them pursue careers outside of show business (where you need a lot of luck and patience and a lot of talented people never make it). I hope they become responsible citizens and maybe get involved in something that helps build a better and more just society.
STRIPLV: How is your life going these days?
POEHLER: I feel very blessed. I have the chance to do so much interesting work these days, in addition to enjoying my life as a mother and making my kids’ world as happy and joyous as possible. I think of this time in my life as one where I can just move forward and enjoy everything that’s coming my way.

Ryan Gosling - All Sides of the Camera

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Ryan Gosling 
All Sides of the Camera

It’s been a while since we’ve had a chance to see Ryan Gosling in a major movie.

He took some time off to make Lost River, which marked his directorial debut, while his partner Eva Mendes gave birth to their first child, Esmeralda.

Now the 35-year-old Canadian actor and ever-popular sex symbol is back in action with the new film, The Big Short, an insider’s look at the 2008 financial market’s collapse. In the role of Jared Vennett, a fast-talking Wall Street investment banker, Gosling serves as the film’s narrator and helps guide audiences through the complex chain of events surrounding the global banking crisis that resulted from the catastrophic plunge in the sub-prime mortgage market.

The movie is based is on the best-selling non-fiction book by Michael Lewis, The Big Short: Inside The Doomsday Machine, which explained how the mortgage-backed securities bubble developed and ultimately burst, panicking financial markets and plunging the world into a deep recession. The film focuses on some of the key players involved and exposes much of the greed and corrupt behavior that precipitated the crisis.

“This film was a massive education for me,” Gosling says. “Until I read the script, I never would have imagined that you could take audiences through these events and make a compelling movie out of it. But (director/screenwriter) Adam McKay has been able to create a rich film experience that will surprise audiences with how much they are going to learn about what really happened and how this financial disaster came about.”

Directed by McKay and co-produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, along with Paramount Pictures, The Big Short is a tour-de-force portrait of high stakes finance and the distinctive personalities who alternately contributed to and profited from the 2008 crisis. Pitt also co-stars in the film alongside Steve Carrell, Christian Bale, Marisa Tomei, and Melissa Leo.

Ryan Gosling lives in New York with his girlfriend of the past three years, Eva Mendes, 41, and their baby daughter, Esmeralda, now 16 months old. Next year Gosling, who received a best actor Oscar nomination for his memorable role in Half Nelson (2006), will be seen in the musical comedy, La La Land opposite Emma Stone, as well as the crime thriller, The Nice Guys.

He is about to begin shooting the highly-anticipated Blade Runner 2, co-starring Harrison Ford, the sequel to the cult 1982 Ridley Scott film.

STRIPLV: Ryan, wherever you go, it seems like the whole world loves you. How do you handle the attention and how has your massive stardom changed the way you relate to the outside world?
GOSLING: I try to enjoy my life and enjoy the experience of meeting people who appreciate movies and who also like my work. I don’t think I’ve really changed my way of looking at what I do or how I see my life. What changes is the way the world sees you and how they’ve already developed a specific impression of who you are—and when people meet you, they feel they know you personally. That’s a strange feeling sometimes, but I try to be as natural as possible when people come up to me and want to talk or just say hello. I don’t try to change my behavior to conform to any image or perception that people might have of me from seeing my movies or reading articles about me. I try to behave as normally as I can and be myself.
STRIPLV: What made you want to be a part of The Big Short?
GOSLING: I was intrigued by the subject matter and l discovered while reading the script and preparing for the film that, like most people, I didn’t know what was really involved in the (2008) financial crisis. It’s an important film in that respect and we should all know more about how the financial markets operate, because they have such an impact on our lives.
STRIPLV: How would you describe your character, Jared Vennett?
GOSLING: My character is loosely based on a real person, and he serves as a tour guide who helps take you through all the events and helps explain a lot of the complicated terminology and financial matters. He takes you along for the ride and gives you the information you need to understand the crisis as it was evolving and connect all the people and their role in what happened.
STRIPLV: Was it difficult to be able to understand the very arcane ways that financial markets operate and all the complex financial instruments involved?
GOSLING: (Laughs) You have to treat the financial world like this place where they’ve created their own code, to make it as hard as they can, so no one can understand what they’re doing! It was like learning another language. But once you get past the jargon and begin to grasp how different financial instruments were being bundled into giant packages and then being traded, then you can focus on how the game is being played.
STRIPLV: What role does Jared play during the onset of the crisis?
GOSLING: Jared was the one who knew that the credit default swaps were eventually going to lead to a collapse. He was someone whose job was to make money for the bank, but he also had a good instinct to know when things were getting out of hand. A lot of his colleagues and bosses weren’t interested in hearing him warn of the dangers involved and that’s why people were making fun of him and calling him “Bubble Boy” or “Chicken Little.” But he was right.
STRIPLV: The Big Short is not the kind of movie you would necessarily expect a filmmaker like Adam McKay (The Other Guys, Anchorman 1 and 2) to make…
GOSLING: No, but even though he’s best known for his wonderful comedies, he does something very unique with this story. At the same time, as the film is dealing with some very serious issues, there’s also a lot of humor that comes from the absurdity of how the financial markets operated and the people who were part of that process.
STRIPLV: Were you a big fan of Adam McKay’s comedies before you decided to make this film with him?
GOSLING: Adam McKay is someone I’ve wanted to work with for a long time because I love his comedies and his way of creating interesting characters who have this special energy. I’ve watched some of his movies over and over again because they’re that funny and that good. He is extremely talented and it was such a pleasure to make this film with him and work with so many outstanding actors.
STRIPLV: What was it like working with Steve Carrell again after working together on the hilarious 2011 hit film, Crazy Stupid Love?
GOSLING: Steve is probably the nicest person you could ever hope to meet. It just makes for a wonderful time on the set when you have someone that considerate and generous around. Steve is also a great actor and I think his performance in this film is very special. His character is based on a real person, and you would never know it unless you had met the actual guy he’s playing, but Steve’s performance is so accurate. He got the walk, the way of speaking, everything about the man, exactly right.
STRIPLV: You chose to spend a lot of time the past few years working on your recent film, Lost River, as opposed to acting. Why did you want to go in that direction?
GOSLING: I wanted to tell a story where I had control over the final product and bring my own vision into making a film. People who watch movies have this impression that actors are really the important part of the process, but in reality, there’s this little man behind the curtain who has an idea, a vision of what should be taking place in front of the camera. A film set is really a director’s world and I wanted to experience that, and now I’ve seen how hard a job it really is.
STRIPLV: What surprised you most about directing?
GOSLING: (Laughs) …that there’s always something going wrong. But you need to pretend that everything’s under control and project a lot of confidence. So you need to do a lot of acting as a director too, and look very much in charge and keep the atmosphere very positive and creative. You spend most of your time solving problems and often you only have a few minutes to figure things out—like a scene that’s not working and you need to finish the shot to move to the next location, but you can’t do that until you fix the dialogue or something else to make that scene play properly. Or your D.P. (cinematographer) is telling you that the sun’s going down, you’re losing the light, and you still have more shots left to do. (Laughs)
STRIPLV: What gave you the greatest satisfaction from being behind the camera?
GOSLING: It’s working with the actors, many of whom I had already worked with before and admired greatly, and seeing how they bring their own perspective and magic to the characters they’re playing. I saw a big part of my job as trying to create an environment where the actors could be as creative and involved in the process as possible. I wanted them to be able to bring their own ideas and experiences to each scene and feel that they were part of an artistic collaboration. I didn’t want it to be all about me and my vision and I wanted them to contribute in their own way and that the movie would be a collective work and not just mine.
STRIPLV: Did you ever imagine, as a young boy performing with your uncle, that you would get to this level as a performer?
GOSLING: I have no idea what I was thinking as a kid. I was just having fun. My uncle was a big influence, though. He was living with my family at the time for about a year and he had begun performing as an Elvis impersonator. Prior to that, the house was pretty ordinary. My father was working in a factory and my mom stayed at home. Suddenly you’re living with Elvis and your whole family gets involved. So one person is singing back-up vocals, another works as a bodyguard, and you feel like you’re part of this strange new world. After my uncle left though, life was pretty boring and I wanted to find a way back into that world. So I did everything I could to get there. I took singing lessons, dancing lessons, and then auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club. And that was the start of it. Really. Even though (the Disney people) thought I was a bad influence, I still had a great time there.

Le Reve's Benoit Beaufils' Dream

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BENOIT BEAUFILS' Dream

Le Reve Performer Fulfills his Own Dream

Le Rêve—The Dream has been playing in Las Vegas for 10 years, and has been named the No. 1 show in the city. It’s no wonder that this aquatic masterpiece at the Wynn Las Vegas is such a success. The remarkably talented cast performs synchronized swimming routines, dances in the water while aerialists fly through the air, and divers leap from up to 80 feet above the pool. They put on an absolutely breathtaking performance. During the 10 years Le Rêve has run, more than 5.2 million people from all over the world have seen it. 

Le Rêve’s multi-talented cast member, Benoit Beaufils, took a brief leave of absence last month to fulfill his own dream. He left for Kazan, Russia, to compete for his home country of France in the FINA World Championship for synchronized swimming. This is the first time that FINA, the international governing authority for aquatic sports, has added a mixed duet to the 2015 world championships, and a first for men, who can now compete.

Performing in Le Rêve nightly for 10 years as a swimmer and acrobat, Benoit Beaufils hasn’t competed nationally for 17 years. After performing on France’s national championship swimming team, and then realizing he could accomplish nothing further, because men were not allowed to compete with women in the Olympics, at the age of 18, he decided to move to the United States. Since he left France, no one has surpassed his skills, and he is still considered to be one of the top accomplished male synchronized swimmers in the world. When the mixed duet was added, Beaufils was contacted by France’s national team coach and asked if he’d be willing to represent France and compete with Virginie Dedieu. “I didn’t hesitate for a minute,” said Beaufils. Dedieu is France’s best and most decorated swimmer, plus she won the bronze medal in the women’s duet at the 2000 Summer Olympics. “It was 100 percent a dream come true.”

STRIPLV: How long have you been swimming?
BEAUFILS: I’ve been swimming since I was 7 years old. I competed for France until I was about 20 years old and I’ve been in Vegas since then. 
STRIPLV: With you working nightly at Le Rêve, and Virginie living and working in France, how do you train?
BEAUFILS: We have trained separately for nine months. We recorded our training sessions on video and sent them to each other via the Internet. We’ve had about five or six training sessions together. Getting into shape for the last nine months was a lot of work. I said yes without any hesitation, but a week after the workouts and doing the show at night, I realized what I had gotten myself into. Besides, when I said yes, my daughter was only a week old and I didn’t realize how complicated and demanding life would become.

“ Now I’m in better shape than ever. I have stamina, endurance, and strength like I used to when I was younger.”

STRIPLV: At 37, you are older than some of your challengers. Do you see that as a problem?
BEAUFILS: The youngest teams from Russia, Italy and Spain are in their late teens or early twenties. I remember my stamina when I was 18 and I was unstoppable. Now, we have to be a lot smarter in the way we choreograph the routine, so we’ll be able to run it all the way through. I think the difference with the older performers is that we have more experience as far as performing goes. Personally, in the last 17 years, I feel I’ve developed quite a good acting skill. That’s what we really tried to put in our number, basing the choreography about the relationship between a man and a woman, more than just applying just technique and same arm movements. Instead, we went for more of a “pas de deux” (dance for two) that you would see in dance. The younger teams will put a lot of emphasis on technique. I think our strong point is definitely our artistry. Virginie has always been known for how beautiful an actress she was in the water. I think that’s what also attracted our coach to me. Virginie has a unique form, and every time the coach came to see me in the show, she saw what a chameleon I was, because Le Rêve requires a lot of versatility in the acting. In some acts you’re a very strong warrior, then you’re a lover, the next you’re a jealous man. You have to put your acting skills to work. That’s why I’m very thankful for Le Rêve. The show has given me a lot of versatility in this aspect. 
STRIPLV: Nightly, when you swim in Le Rêve, what is the temperature of the pool and does that differ from the pool in which you will swim in Russia?
BEAUFILS: The pool here at Wynn is kept at 89 degrees. Some of us have to be in the water for the entire show, so it would be quite challenging if the pool was 82 or 81, the way they are in a municipal pool. In Russia, it will be about 80-81 degrees. 
STRIPLV: How tall are you and Virginie, and does the height present an advantage or disadvantage?
BEAUFILS: I’m 5’8” and I think she’s 5’6”. An advantage? Yes and no. If she was shorter, she would also be lighter, and with all the lifting that we do in the routine, it would be easier. She’s also so skinny. She’s very, very thin, even though she’s had two children; she came back in amazing shape. It’s easy to lift her, because she’s less than 100 pounds, so it’s not that difficult for me. 
STRIPLV: Who picked the music for your routine?
BEAUFILS: The song choice was a very important decision. The three of us: the coach, Virginie and I had a lot of input and decided on the music. Then it became very inspirational to our whole choreograph, in general. 
STRIPLV: What acrobatic things do you do in Le Rêve?
BEAUFILS: I don’t do the high diving; I do a lot of the high flying. I’m an aerialist, so I do the rope number, which comes from 80 feet up in the air. I do most of my routine at about 40-50 feet above the pool. Being a synchronized swimmer was great, and the next step was moving to an aerial job, and my favorite part of Le Rêve has been able to fly every night. Because of some of the high-flying acrobatics I do, I have to train at least once a week. 
STRIPLV: Do you have a special diet while you’re training? 
BEAUFILS: Getting older, your metabolism slows down, so I was trying to be very careful. The good thing now, swimming 4 hours a day, I’m constantly hungry. Now I can eat pretty much whatever I want and stay very fit. It’s probably going to be a big adjustment when I’m done with the competition. It’s going to be really hard to watch what I eat again. 

Beaufils and his partner, who performs in Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere at Treasure Island, have a 10-month-old daughter together named Siella. They will both be going to Russia to cheer him on. 

Benoit Beaufils says he hopes these championships open the door to mixed duet eventually becoming an Olympic event. “I don’t think it’s going to happen in time for Brazil. That’s only a year away,” he says. “But I think there’s a very decent chance for Tokyo (in 2020).”

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