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Kristen Stewart - 24

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The public has always had a love-hate relationship with Kristen Stewart. Though we loved her as Twilight’s Bella, it was hard to warm to Stewart, personally. She twitched and stammered her way through TV interviews, she seemed sullen and uncomfortable when making public appearances, and otherwise behaved like a very ungracious movie star.

This year, however, Stewart has chosen to respond to her critics in both word and deed. Not only has she adopted a more confident and articulate persona when speaking to the media, she has also delivered a series of outstanding performances in films like Camp X-Ray, and Clouds of Sils Maria, co-starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Juliette Binoche (where she’s received applause both abroad and at Film Festivals across the U.S.—due in limited theaters April 10, 2015) and most notably in her newest film, Still Alice, co-starring Julianne Moore.

An intense and moving drama, Still Alice sees Stewart play the troubled daughter of a college professor (Moore) afflicted with early onset Alzheimer’s and how their relationship evolves over the course of the illness. Critics have given both actresses rave reviews for their highly sensitive work in the film. Stewart believes that the role is “very close” to her own nature, and came at a time when she claims to have finally overcome her high anxiety over the trappings of fame.

“I feel a lot stronger and more comfortable with the process,” Stewart declares. “I’ve been working really hard and I’m really happy with the way things have been going. I’ve become a lot better able to deal with everything that my job involves and understanding the reality of it. I’m not overwhelmed by it all anymore and it’s easier for me to put it into context and talk about it and not let it [her celebrity] get to me.”

This kind of declaration is a measure of the 24-year-old Stewart’s refusal to be defined by a distorted perception of herself as a surly and ungrateful celebrity. Instead, she has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged the public to accept her as a highly independent woman who finally feels comfortable in her own skin—even though she admits to lacking the gift for self-promotion.

“I’m not very good at playing up to what people expect from me. I know I’m not good at doing TV, and the way I present myself… but it’s also not something that I aspire to being good at. I know that some actors fucking love doing that, but I’m not that interested in promoting myself. I would rather have people focus on the film and hope that people appreciate the work I do, rather than just have all the attention put on me.”

What we are witnessing today is Stewart’s transformation from a skittish nymphet into a confident, albeit still fidgety, movie star who has declared herself ready to assume the responsibilities of stardom and is no longer terrified of the limelight.

Ever since she exploded into the public consciousness with the Twilight films, it was plain that she was not your ordinary sort of movie star. In an age of Kardashian-style media mongering, Stewart hated the wave of attention that descended on her and turned her then-romance with Robert Pattinson into tabloid fodder.

Then her world came crashing down with the sensational revelation of her affair with Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, via photos of their secret assignations. Stewart was branded a cheater and a home-wrecker and a massive backlash followed in the wake of her split from Pattinson. Often caught unsmiling and shabbily dressed by the paparazzi, she became saddled with the image of the surly celebrity. Her Hollywood fairytale had turned into an ugly soap opera.

As fate would have it, Stewart has rebounded from her epic fall from grace by doing what she does best—acting. Her recent string of stellar performances leaves little doubt that Stewart is a brilliant actress with a bright future. Currently single and living in L.A., Kristen is now planning to take some time off to focus on working on short films, sculpture, and different ways of “being creative.” While filming Equals, a sci-fi love story co-starring Nicholas Hoult (Jennifer Lawrence’s ex-boyfriend), rumors of a real-life affair between Stewart and Hoult turned out to have no basis in fact.

THE KRISTEN STEWART FILE

ON HER NEW FILM, STILL ALICE
“I felt we were doing something important with this film, by drawing attention to Alzheimer’s, and it was a very meaningful role for me. It was one of those situations where you feel so lucky to be doing something you love and enjoying every moment of that experience. I live for these kinds of things.”

“[My character] definitely resembles me, because I didn’t try otherwise. There was no effort on my part to hide myself [in Still Alice]. All I tried to do with this part was to find myself and show myself. The best way to service this character was to be there honestly, so all affectations were meaningless. I could just have my own. It was selfishly a personal experience, but it had to be, so that the viewer would feel it as well. I didn’t need to play a character who was outside myself...I didn’t want to riddle her with shit that was going to distract you from the honesty of the relationship [with Moore’s character].

“It was amazing to watch Julie [Julianne Moore] work and create this performance. You could feel it on the set—everyone in the cast and crew was aware of how good she was. Julie was so prepared and emotionally invested in her character and that’s what the great actresses are able to do—they understand everything they need to know about the character and then let their emotions take over. With Julie, she’s completely in the moment and you can’t “see” the performance or the mechanics behind it, because it’s so seamless.”

“Julie is a very inspiring woman. Every day working with her was such a gift and a pleasure. I wanted to be able to get to the point where my performance was what was necessary to help Julie achieve what she wanted to do and what the story needed. In that kind of situation, you are so blown away about how good and intense the performance is that you feel an obligation to be as committed as you can be, and I wanted to make sure that I was doing everything I could to do her story justice.”

“Being pushed to that level was fun and that’s when actors are at their best when someone has this ability to work at such a high level and you’re feeling this rush of adrenaline that makes you want to work at the same level and not let her down.”

ON HER EVOLUTION AS TWILIGHT’S BELLA
“It’s very rare that you get to play a character over the course of so many films. Bella meant a lot to me and she will always be such a formative event in my career. I grew up with her and she and I have been on this great journey together. When she becomes a vampire, she is really becoming the most fully developed and expressed version of her human self. It was a transition that she was determined and even desperate to make.”

“People identify with Bella’s journey and how she finally arrives at that stage of her life where she’s not completely sure of what she’s doing, but she has this instinctive understanding of where she needs to go in life.”

“I also see many parallels between her evolution and my own, because I lived so many things along the way while playing Bella and having this connection to so many people involved in making the films over the years. It would be impossible for me to separate my world from Bella’s.”

“I was scared of so many things [during her years working on Twilight]. I was not overcompensating but just compensating.”

ON HOW SHE FEELS MISUNDERSTOOD
“I’m not saying that anyone’s impression of me is wrong (that would be a silly thing to say), but initially I was deemed very ungrateful, like I didn’t care. It’s a thing. Think anything about me—do NOT think that I don’t care. It was because I was nervous and I was freaking out that everyone was fucking staring at me.”

“Initially, [doing interviews] was just kind of impossible. When you’re put on the spot and you can’t think… it was a ridiculous version of that. It blew up in my face. It’s hilarious that the perception is that I don’t care, because when that was happening, I was like: ‘Oh my god, no one cares more than me!’”

“I feel [the eyes watching me], but it doesn’t freak me out anymore. I’ve trained myself to not worry about it or feel stressed by that, because there’s nothing I can do to change that, so I might as well be cool about it and not let myself feel uncomfortable.”

“I don’t try to control the perception of me or make people think a certain way about me... I don’t know how people do that. I don’t know how people tactfully traverse their careers. I don’t know how they choose, “Well, this is a different side of me people have not seen and so I will present that to them now,” [when doing interviews]. It’s like, ‘Why are you doing this for other people? You should be doing it for yourself.’ And so I’ve functioned from that position since I started.”

“It’s like a soap opera. I try not to let it mess with me, because my true personal life, as much as people think they know about it, they don’t know dick shit. Who could? Nobody knows what the fuck is going on. You’re going to die. You’re going to lay next to the people that you know the most in life, the people that you’re going to grow old with. But you’re going to lay next to them in the middle of the night deeply curious about them and who they are, because nobody fucking knows anything!”

“I understand that the media is geared to creating a narrative about the celebrities they write about, but people should understand that often the stories have very little truth to them, and that people have no idea what’s really going on inside someone else’s life. Unless you’re very close to someone, you know how difficult it is to really understand what’s going on in that person’s life. It’s also very rare that things are all black or all white. The truth is often very complicated and I try not to get upset when it comes to stories about me, because I know it’s simply the way the media operates.”

ON LOVE
“You don’t know who you will fall in love with. You just don’t. You don’t control it. Some people have certain things like: ‘That’s what I’m going for,’ and I have a subjective version of that. I don’t pressure myself... If you fall in love with someone, you want to own them—but really, why would you want that? You want them to be what you love. I’m much too young to even have an answer for that question.”

ON HER HATERS
“Honestly, I don’t care. It’s fine. I’m really happy doing what I’m doing. I’m sure there are a ton of people out there who would hate my movies even if they saw all those, just as I’m sure there are people out there who are obsessed with Twilight and say, ‘I watched the series, and she completely let me down, and then I watched every one of her other movies, and I fuckin’ hate her!’ And that’s cool! Just don’t watch my movies.”

ON DEFENDING THE NOTION OF FEMINISM
“Do you not believe in equality for men and women? [The backlash against the notion of ‘feminism’] is a response to overly-aggressive types. There are a lot of women who feel persecuted and go on about it, and I sometimes am like, ‘Honestly, just relax, because now you’re going in the other direction.’ Sometimes, the loudest voice in the room isn’t necessarily the one you should listen to. By our nature alone, think about what you’re saying and say it—but don’t scream in people’s faces, because then you’re discrediting us. [Some women say]: ‘If you want to make it in the film industry as a woman, you have to be a bitch.’ No, you are going to ruin any chance you have and give us a bad name. It’s the overcompensation to which our generation responds, ‘Relax,’ because it’s been easier for us, and because we don’t have as much of the anger, so it’s like we can’t get behind it and it’s a bit embarrassing. But that being said, it’s a really ridiculous thing to say you’re not a feminist.”

ON LOVING ACTING, BUT LOATHING FAME
“I initially wanted to get into this business by working on a film crew, like my parents did, and I loved being on a movie set. But because I was so young at the time, acting was my only way in, and things evolved from there. I love film so much that I didn’t think or care that much about the fame that sometimes comes with it. I love acting, but sometimes you would rather be able to live a more normal life and not have to worry about where you go.”

[Fame]: “That’s all I’ve really wanted. I’ve already had more attention than I ever imagined possible, and even when I was starting out in the business, I never wanted to be famous.”

“Even with all the success I’ve had, I don’t feel any different from the girl I was before I became famous. It’s hard for me to analyze it and compare how my life would have been if Twilight hadn’t happened, although when I look at where I am, I can at least say I’m pretty happy with how far I’ve come...”

“I don’t think I can ever step outside myself fully. It’s not the type of acting I want to do. I’ve been lucky enough to be allowed to do this. Everyone can tell me that I run my hand through my hair too much, and that’s fine, because I’m truly there and very present in these moments. With the roles I’ve been playing, especially recently in films like Sils Maria and Still Alice, the way to do those parts justice is to just really be them and to learn the things they’re learning. You’ve got to walk in their shoes for real and experience what they experience. In that regard, I didn’t feel like I was playing characters. They were so there for me, I just wanted to live in them.”

ON ONE OF HER FAVORITE ROLES – 
MARYLOU IN ON THE ROAD
“[When I began work on the film, On The Road], I asked myself: ‘Oh my God, how am I going to play such a bubbly person?’ I felt very different from her, especially from her outward self. Marylou was constantly smiling; she shined. As soon as I knew where that smile came from, it became much easier for me. It’s not a vanity thing. She was aware of herself physically, but she was able to throw that out. Whereas most girls who smile are smiling at themselves, she’s truly smiling at you.”

“It truly was the most absolutely loaded, richest, craziest, wildest time I ever spent on a set. It didn’t feel like we were doing a movie... We were exhausted. We didn’t sleep—ever. I don’t know how we did some of those scenes... It really felt spontaneous, like “on the road” should always feel. Our trip would have been worth doing, even if we weren’t filming it.”

“I was so dead. It was very hot in Montreal at the time, and we had 60 extras in the little room we were shooting. I was able to shake my nerves for all the other scenes, but for [the dance scene], I was very nervous, because I’m not a dancer. But it was my job to lose my mind. I wanted so badly to get to the point where I couldn’t see. Every single time I thought I was going to fall over, someone caught me. It scared the hell out of me, but at the same time it was the most fun thing I’ve ever done.”

ON FAME, TWITTER, AND NOT WANTING
TO TURN INTO A BAGS OF CHIPS
“With some people, you wonder why they’re still doing what they’re doing. What is driving you at this point? The job takes a toll. You’re giving so much of yourself all the time. It’s not something in your genetics that you retain. It can really kind of destroy you, constantly thinking about what people think about you.”

“People who want to be movie stars—it’s such bullshit. That type of life is a huge driving force in so many actor’s lives. But they won’t be happy people at the end, ‘cause they’re not doing anything for themselves.”

“What would I Tweet about? Who are you talking to? What are you saying? Imagine sitting here right now and thinking: ‘That’s a good thing to say to the world?’ (Glancing at her phone) What?! I can’t even understand it.”

“It’s annoying that people think, ‘Oh, is this the role where she’s going to show everyone how she’s grown?’ I’m not trying to show anyone anything... When I take on a role, I don’t care what people think about them afterwards. I really want the experience. I think a lot of actors—not good ones—are just product-oriented, as is the business. Never, at any point, have I sat down and plotted how I should proceed from here on. As soon as you start thinking about your career as a trajectory—like, as if you’re going to miss out on some wave or momentum—then you’re never doing anything for yourself anyway. Then you’re truly, actually, specifically working for the public. You’re turning yourself into a bag of chips.”

ON HER FUTURE 
AND HOW EVERY DOOR IS OPEN TO HER
“I have very much fallen into every situation, every creative and not creative experience that I have delved into based on gut. I can get any role with a snap of my fingers, and I don’t have to fight and struggle on my way up, like some other actors.”

“I imagine a huge map with lots of streets and roads, and the only thing I have to do is choose: Where do I want to stay? Every door is open for me. Everything I do, I do for myself. Blockbuster, art-house or Chanel commercial—it doesn’t matter. It could seem that, after a successful movie, I can allow myself anything. And you know what? I can! It’s incredible! I can do anything I fucking want.”

“I’m taking some time off, because I’ve been working for two years. I’m an actor and that’s my art form, and because I started that so young, I’ve always felt intimidated and insufficient when I think about other forms of art I want to create. I’m going to buy a work space in downtown L.A. and I’m going to make some [stuff] with my hands, literally. I made that decision a few weeks ago. I’m making a short film. I’m making a bunch of [stuff]. I don’t know how I’ll put it out. But I’m not going to hold it so preciously close to me.”

“Now, I really have no apprehension about anything, which is great. I can get behind all of my creative endeavors more so than ever before. I’m super-happy and challenged, and inspired and relaxed.”

Hugh Jackman - Family First

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HUGH JACKMAN - FAMILY FIRST

"This wouldn’t mean very much if I couldn’t share it with Deb and the kids. My father taught me that your family is your bedrock and you should always make that your priority. That lesson has never been lost on me.”

Hugh Jackman is a one-man show, no matter whether he’s raging as Wolverine, performing on Broadway, or walking down the street smiling at well-wishers and signing autographs. He relishes his success and remains fiercely ambitious while retaining his seemingly unshakable, good-natured demeanor. Enjoying life in New York City with his wife Deborra-Lee Furness and their two children, Oscar and Ava, Jackman is a dedicated family man who has never lost sight of what matters to him most.

In the meantime, Jackman’s career continues to soar. During the course of the last year, he earned some of the best reviews of his career for his work in the taut thriller, Prisoners, while X-Men: Days of Future Past, in which he reprised his iconic Wolverine role, earned a staggering $750 million at the worldwide box office. Currently Hugh is headlining the Broadway production of “The River” and thriving on stage, despite nearly slicing off his finger mid-show (he carried on, bloodied towel around his hand, for the rest of the performance).

His new film, Chappie, again sees Jackman indulging his adventurous acting tastes in a sci-fi thriller directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium). The story revolves around a robot with the mind (and innocence) of a child (played by frequent Blomkamp collaborator Sharlto Copley) and is set in a futuristic version of South Africa. Jackman co-stars alongside Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, The Newsroom) and Sigourney Weaver. Jackman was “thrilled” to have had the chance to work with Blomkamp, whose work he admires and has previously worked with in the robot-centered film, Real Steel.

The 46-year-old Jackman lives in New York, together with his wife and fellow Aussie, former actress Deborra-Lee Furness, and their two adopted children, Oscar, 14, and Ava, 9. Jackman has won the Tony Award twice and received a best actor nomination as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables (for which he won the Golden Globe) in 2013.

With respect to Chappie, Jackman laughed when asked about how his physique might overwhelm that of the lean Patel, even though they both stand 6’2” tall: “Good. Crush him! I’m not in it for a close call!”

STRIPLV: Hugh, you continue to indulge your passion for theater, as well as film. Is it important to keep returning to the stage in plays like “The River”, or the one-man shows you’ve performed in the past?
JACKMAN: I love performing. Whether it’s the theater or film, it’s part of the same process. Ever since I got started in this business, it was always my goal to be able to make the most of my opportunities, to do something I love, and keep doing it for as long as I can. Theater is special because of the connection you’re able to feel with the audience and the discipline it imposes on you. Being on stage makes me a better actor and I want to keep doing it because it keeps me sharp. It’s always a challenge to perform live and experience that added kick that comes from knowing that you can’t lose your concentration or focus.
STRIPLV: X-Men has been such a great success for you…
JACKMAN: I love playing Wolverine, even though the training is getting harder each time out. I owe so much to the success of that character and how audiences have embraced him over the years. I think I enjoy playing him more now than ever, because as you get older, you’re better able to portray that world-weary side of him—I mean, he’s been around for two or three centuries—and how that’s taken its toll on him. Wolverine’s a great character—he’s like a best friend who’s been at my side for my entire (film) career.
STRIPLV: What does your son, Oscar, make of Wolverine? How did he react to X:Men: Days of Future Past?
JACKMAN: He loved it. He had just turned 14 when it came out. He said, ‘Dad, I’ve got an idea for the next one. I think he should not be in any fights at all. I think he should just be a gardener, and he’s kind of cool, but he’s really at peace.’ And I said, “Now hang on—good idea, but I think the Wolverine fans around the world want to see one little fight.” He said, ‘No. I think we’ve seen enough. I think he should just be calm.’ (Laughs)
STRIPLV: You’ve admitted to having accomplished a lot of your acting goals after playing in Les Misérables. What worlds do you have left to conquer?
JACKMAN: Oh, quite a few, I hope. I’m looking to push myself further in the coming years. I feel much more confident about my work now than I did ten or even five years ago—and I want to play many different kinds of characters. I’m ready to challenge myself in ways that I wasn’t prepared or willing to do before and that’s kind of exciting for me. My wife thinks I have a strange fixation on wanting to keep inventing some sort of new mountain to climb and I have to keep assuring her that it’s just healthy ambition! (Laughs)
STRIPLV: You’ve made a very happy life for yourself together with your wife Deborra-Lee and your two children. Is that what counts most for you?

"They’re the basis of everything I do. It would mean very little to me to have a successful career and not be able to share it with my family. Work has its satisfactions, but it’s nothing compared to the joy you take in being with your family and looking after your kids. My father, even though he won’t really talk about it, still feels regret that he wasn’t able to spend as much time with me and my brothers as he would have liked, even though he had a very important job and he did his best after my mother left. When we talk, he never asks me about work, only about Deb and the kids."

STRIPLV: Did you know that Deb was “the one” when you first met her?
JACKMAN: There was something that clicked between us right away. It was the feeling you get when you sense this connection that tells you that this is the kind of woman you want to have in your life. You don’t even think about it—you just know that it’s going to work between you, and that’s exactly how it’s been ever since. I wasn’t even looking to settle down at the time—I was happily single. Meeting Deb has been a blessing. We have a beautiful life together.
STRIPLV: Have you ever paid attention to the age difference between the two of you? (Jackman’s wife is 13 years his elder).
JACKMAN: No. She worried at the beginning about it, but it was never an issue for me, or even something that entered my thinking. Deb has always had more energy than me and she’s always the first one up in the morning and immediately wide awake and expecting me to follow suit! (Laughs) It still amazes me that she is always so enthusiastic and never gets down about anything. She’s always there to keep me in good spirits. She’s also very good with the kids and has a lot more patience than I do.
STRIPLV: Let’s talk about your new film, Chappie. What drew you to the film?
JACKMAN: It was a great script and I was very excited about working with Neill (Blomkamp). I see him as a visionary kind of director and he creates this incredible world that draws you in as an actor and is very inspiring.
STRIPLV: Is it a very different kind of sci-fi film, compared to X-Men or Real Steel?
JACKMAN: It’s a very unique story. Neill has this underlying sense of humanity that comes through in his work, and underneath the sci-fi or futuristic elements, there’s this strong sense about what makes us human and what is really valuable and meaningful in life. It’s the kind of story that is going to surprise people and leave a lasting impression.
STRIPLV: You keep finding very different kinds of projects as an actor—from Prisoners to X-Men to Chappies and to Pan, where you play Blackbeard (to be released this July). Do you remember what first inspired you to become an actor?
JACKMAN: Performing has always been in my blood, although it was my sixth grade teacher who gave me a lot of encouragement and confidence. I remember coming home one day and being very excited: “Oh dad, I want to do this.” Chris (he calls his dad Chris) was like, ‘Great.’ But one of my brothers went: ‘You sissy, you poof...’ I actually didn’t know what (poof) meant at that point, but I knew that it was not good, so I never mentioned it again. But when I was 18, my dad took us to see 42nd Street. My brother came up to me and said: ‘I really want to apologize.’ “For what?” I asked him. ‘I remember when you were younger and I said that you were a poof for dancing. I was such an idiot. You should’ve been dancing for the last eight years. You should’ve been up there doing that.’ The next day I signed up for dance classes! (Laughs)
STRIPLV: You’ve spoken so much and so movingly about how you were affected by your mother’s leaving the house (she moved to England when Hugh was 8) when you were a young boy. What kind of influence and teaching did your father impart to you?
JACKMAN: He showed me a lot by example, even though I couldn’t appreciate everything at the time because I was angry and sad. My father taught me about responsibility and honor and respect. He also taught me a great deal about being passionate about whatever you do in life, because he believed—and I think it’s true—that passion is one of the greatest gifts you can have in life.
STRIPLV: Do you try to pass this along to your children?
JACKMAN: (Laughs) I do my best, although they’re still young. I try to teach them about being responsible and being respectful, but of course, kids don’t always appreciate those lessons! (Laughs) But they’re great kids—their father has to learn to be more patient! (Laughs)

JIMMY EMERSON - THE BIGGEST, BRIGHTEST AND BEST DRAG QUEEN

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Drag”:  When women were not allowed to be actresses in theater, William Shakespeare called it Drag when a male actor “DRessed As Girl” played the female part.

Drag Queen”:  A man who dresses as a flamboyant woman in order to entertain others.

 

 

We know about them, but do we really understand them?  For many heterosexuals, there ‘s a lot of terminology that is still misunderstood - namely terms like “Drag” and “Drag Queen”.  Who else to better define those terms than one of the best drag queens in show business:  Vegas’ own Jimmy Emerson.  Jimmy headed the talented cast of “An Evening At La Cage” for years in Vegas as not only one hilarious emee, but doing incredible female impersonations of celebrities like Wynonna Judd, Roseanne Barr, Anna Nicole Smith, and the outrageous trailer-trash bimbo, Tammy Spraynette.  Jimmy always had that kind of incredible sense of humor that drew you to him and made you feel like you’ve known him all your life.  STRIPLV interviewed Jimmy many times over the years - but this time we thought we’d get a little more personal, delving into some more intimate questions and hear his personal story about his first experience of transforming himself into a woman through makeup and clothing.  Opening up to us, he shares his accounts of coping through difficult times as he was tormented and bullied for being gay.  Through amusing tales and heart-wrenching affirmations, one thing’s for sure, Jimmy is a unique talent and a one-of-a-kind man that has made us laugh out loud at the world. 

STRIPLV:  In the beginning, when you were just a teenager, tell me what it felt like to transform yourself with makeup and look like a woman.

JIMMY:  I had a very good friend in junior high school, a little bit older than me, and he was the first drag queen I ever met.  He moved away and went to college while I was still in high school and he got involved in female impersonation.  As a kid, I’d gotten into my mother’s lipstick and eyeliner, and I can’t tell you how many of her poor shoes I broke running around the house in them!  She didn’t think much about it because I guess kids do that.  The first time I got put in drag, I was in college.  I’d moved in with my friend and we shared an apartment at La Marr University.  He was already performing at the local club as a drag queen with the stage name Monica Kristy.  I saw him all made up and I thought that it was amazing, and I’d never seen it done to that extent.  Just putting blush and lipstick on, that isn’t it.  Drag is slightly different than theater characters, because you’re also going for glamour.  He was the first person to teach me.  (Jimmy proceeds to hilariously mimic the entire makeup process)  “Take a Max Factor Pan Stick and just rub it all over your face and block your eyebrows, too.  Then you take a sponge and smooth it all out.  It’s moist, so you have to powder it all down with translucent powder and that makes a blank palette.  Then you can paint the eyebrows, the eyes, and the colors,” he said.  Then he did it for me.  I just sat and watched him do it.  (Jimmy becomes hilariously flamboyant, speedily yipping out the directions like a Chihuahua on crack)  He’d say:  “Now shut up and listen.  You take this and go like this, and be sure to powder, because some of these queens don’t powder, and you’ll look ridiculous if you don’t powder.  So powder, powder, powder.”  And he’s right, that’s how you do it.  Then he’d say:  “Observe the eyebrows.  Do you want thick ones or thin ones, straight ones or curved ones?  Your face is like this, you need hair away from your face, because you’re fat.  You need bigger hair, because it makes your face look smaller.  Bigger lashes, because it makes your face look smaller.”  (laughter)  Within two or three times of him helping me get in drag, I had it down.      

STRIPLV:  How did you feel when you looked in the mirror?

JIMMY:  I knew I had happened onto something and that I’d be doing this for a long time.  I saw a whole new character and a whole new reason to be me.  When I put that face on, I became a drag queen named Roxie Starr.  My first song to lip-sync to was All That Jazz from Chicago.  My friend, Monica Kristy, went to Catherine’s Stout Shop which was equivalent to Lane Bryant and found this dress on sale.  It had a single strand of fringe sewn around it.  Well, I thought I was gorgeous!  I borrowed my mother’s silver fox furs, and with this dress and big hair, did my first show, and the place went nuts!  They handed me a microphone, and literally, a star was born.  I was eighteen.  I’d been doing this schtick out of drag, doing plays and shows, but not as Roxie.  Then I became the emcee for every contest, every pageant, every talent night.  They wanted Roxie to host it, because I was funny.    

STRIPLV:  Do you think you would have been a stand-up comic if you hadn’t gone into drag?

JIMMY:  Oh yes, it was just born in me.  I get it from my dad, ‘cause he was always the jokester.  He always wanted to make people laugh.  After a hard day’s work, he’d come home and say the funniest things out of the blue.  Everyone loved my dad because he was jolly.  He was big too, and everyone called him “Big Daddy”.  He was just funny, just genuinely, naturally funny.    

 
STRIPLV:  Tell me the difference between a drag queen and a cross-dresser or transvestite (a person who likes to dress up in the clothes of the opposite sex).  Is it a sexual thing?
JIMMY:  I know that there’s a huge population of cross-dressers who are straight married men with children, and they’re doctors, lawyers, executives – all who like to put on women’s clothing.  We have a group coming to see our show in April.  The man who set the reservation is named Curtis and his girl name is Cynthia.  He called and said:  “Hey, Jimmy.  This is Curtis.  We want to come see your show.  You know, we’re the group of about 200 men that are professional cross-dressers.”  They strictly do it because it’s something they want to do.  It’s not sexual with this particular group.  Then there are what we call Trannies, who happen to be beautiful, thin, pretty men, who maybe feel they were born in the wrong body, but that’s another whole thing, and that’s a transsexual.  A female impersonator, which is what we are, is an actor who dresses up as a female for the purpose of performing.  That’s why the term Drag Queen became such a common term, because it throws everyone in one big group, like “You’re all a bunch of Drag Queens,” which means you’ve got women’s clothes on and you’re men.  I’ll say Drag Queen, meaning Female Impersonator, because I like to be funny about it.  But I’m not putting anybody down if I call them a Drag Queen, especially our show.  We’re a show full of female impersonators.         
STRIPLV:  You’ve told me you are openly gay.  How old were you when you realized you were first attracted to men?
JIMMY:  I was attracted to men at puberty, probably 12 or 13, but I never acted on it.  I was flamboyant, but I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.  In the South, the last thing you wanted to be called was “Queer”, so I fought against it.  I dated my high school sweetheart, Melissa, through my junior and senior years, and I was pretty sure we were going to be married.  My parents were very thrilled about that, because they kind of figured I was gay.  Everybody did!  I’d already started doing the Drag Queen thing.  My mother suspected, but she never got to see me perform before she died.  My dad got to see me perform many times.  It was right after Melissa went off to college that I had my first full gay experience with a man that I fell in love with.  I thought:  “This is ridiculous, I am totally gay!”  What the irony is, was that Melissa was gay, too.  She turned out to be a Lesbian.  (laughing)  We both realized we were trying to please our parents in high school.  It was a small town and finally we said:  “We are what we are, and we have to live our lives.”  We’re still very best friends. 
STRIPLV:  Did you ever experience any hate-related occurrences because you were gay Down South?
JIMMY:  Oh, God yes!  In high school I was horribly tormented, and I wasn’t even out then.  I was just flamboyant.  I took ballet, tap, jazz, and I was in all the school plays and musicals.  I was still being me.  In a different world, like today, I’d just be out.  I would have accepted my sexuality much sooner.  I’m glad we’ve made strides in the gay world and kids can now come out and be who they are, without having to pretend.  
STRIPLV:  What would you tell a young 14 to 16 year-old kid who was hesitant to come out?
JIMMY:  I’d tell them:  “Make sure that’s what you want, but don’t be afraid.”  That’s what we fought for.  My generation fought to make it okay to get rights, and now we’ve come a long, long way and we did it so that 14, 15 year-old kids don’t have to suffer like I had to suffer all those years.  It was very tough!  I was shoved in lockers, things were thrown at me, and I was very much bullied, but I always fought back with humor.  It was always my defense mechanism.    
STRIPLV:  I fully believe that being gay is genetic and you’re born the way you’re born.  Do you think that environment or learned behavior has anything whatsoever to do with someone becoming gay?  

JIMMY:  
No!  I just can’t believe that for a moment.  That whole issue about gay parents raising a child and that it will cause the child to become gay is nonsense.  That child is going to be who they are, whether two women, two men, or a straight couple raises them.  You just can’t make someone something that they’re not!  There’s always that 10% gay factor, and it’s always been there, and it’s always going to be there as far as I know.  It’s like if you’re born black and they want you to be white…how can you correct that?  It’s just who you are!  
 
 
STRIPLV:  Do you get exasperated with people who ask these kinds of questions?
 
JIMMY:  No, not at all.  I’m glad you ask these kinds of questions, because I think people should be asking them more and more.  We just have to talk about it.  

 

STRIPLV:  You have a partner named Jimbo, correct?
JIMMY:  I have a wonderful partner, Jimbo.  We’ve been together twenty years now.  We got married two years ago in San Diego, officially, but we’ve been a couple for twenty years.  He works at Citibank, and I’m under his insurance.  I had a hip replacement and they paid for it.       
STRIPLV:  Were you on his insurance just since you’ve been married?
JIMMY:  I’ve been on his insurance for about ten years now.  They accept domestic partners.  Levi Strauss was one of the first companies to allow domestic partners, then IBM did it, and then a lot of companies followed suit.  All you have to do is prove that you’ve been a couple, and we’ve had a joint checking account for fifteen years, and we’ve lived at the same address.  It was obvious.    
STRIPLV:  Now, out of your closet and onto the stage.  Tell me about the other impersonators in the show. 
JIMMY:  Brent Allen does Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand.  I think he’s one of the best in the business and always has been.  Ryan Zink does Reba, and then there’s Carlos Rodriguez who does Madonna and Lady Gaga.  He moved here a few years ago and was working the gay clubs here in town.  Carlos stopped by one night dressed as Madonna and said:  “If I can ever help you with your show, I’d love to.”  I told him to go ahead and do Madonna, and he went over big.  He was a really good find.  We have him doing Lady Gaga too, but his real look-alike is Jennifer Lopez.  It’s striking!  Frankie Kein, who does Lisa Minnelli and Marilyn Monroe, is amazing, and we’re thrilled to have him.  His real name is Frank Castro, and he’s Cuban.  Whenever he flies, he gets pulled aside, because his last name is Castro.  I guess that’s the world we live in, but he’s not related to Fidel. Kenneth Rex is our newest addition to the show and he’s wonderful.  He does a big variety of stars:  Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Cher and Dolly Parton.             
STRIPLV:  Have you ever read your reviews online? 
JIMMY:  I've received the best comments.  Most of the reviews are very kind and it’s nice to hear.  I want to be the star, I want to be funny, I want to be out there, but I don’t want that to be the only reason people come to see the show.  I’m happy sharing the spotlight.
STRIPLV:  When something upsetting has happened during the day, how do you bring yourself up before you come out on stage? 
JIMMY:  It’s funny you say that, because that happens more often than you think.  You can have a very stressful day, but I’ve done this show for so long now that I know that once I get on the stage and I get my first laugh, everything’s going to be okay.  It’s almost an escape, because I know that for the next ninety minutes, I have to focus on nothing else except the show, and getting out there, and delivering my material, and making people laugh, and bringing on the acts.  I think sometimes it’s saved people’s lives.  (laughing)  I really do!  It’s not an escape, because it’s what I do for a living, but it’s truly a Godsend some nights, that I have to stop and forget all the crap that’s happened all day and do the show, because I have to focus on that.  

 

STRIPLV:  What celebrity have you enjoyed impersonating the most?
 

JIMMY:  Until recently, I would have said Tammy Spraynet, because it’s always surefire laughs.  I think Wynonna Judd has become my new favorite.  Wynonna has become a new character for me that I have worked on and gotten her looks and mannerisms down.  I’ve actually met Wynonna now, when she was at The Orleans last year.  I get great recognition and people start pulling out their cameras.  I’m not used to that, because I don’t really look like anybody.  If you look like Roseanne, it’s no big deal, but if you look like Wynonna, it’s pretty cool.  People ask me every day:  “Why don’t you do Paula Deen?”  I’m from the South and I’m big, but Paula Deen is hard to put in a show like La Cage, because she’s a cook.  She doesn’t sing songs or act, and she doesn’t even dance.  How would you do Paula Deen…come out and fry some chicken and eat a stick of butter?  (laughter)  It would work great as an SNL sketch as Paula with some lines, but to come out and do three minutes of a Paula Deen routine…I’m not sure what I’d do.  Maybe:  “I like to eat butter, y’all, and I want some sour cream.  And be sure to put an extra stick of butter on it.”  If you’ve ever watched her show, if the recipe calls for three tablespoons of butter, she’ll chop off three tablespoons of butter and then just stick in the rest of the stick every time.  (laughing)        

 

STRIPLV:  What is your best attribute?  
JIMMY:  I think it’s my personality.  I can usually turn a bad situation around with whatever it takes.  Kill them with kindness.  
SLV:  What attribute do you wish you had?
JIMMY:  I wish I could play the piano.  I regret never learning it.  I had every opportunity, but I was just too lazy to sit and practice.  I also wish I could sing better.  I sing in the show, but I’m a belter.  
STRIPLV:  If you could have any item from a star’s dressing room, name the star and the item.  
JIMMY:  Barbra Streisand has a huge Art Deco collection that she started when she was a kid.  Art Deco is my favorite thing.  I love Erte, anything that’s from that era, and even Art Nouveau with the sleek lines.  I love all that!  Anything from Streisand’s collection, I’d love to get a hold of.  
STRIPLV:  What’s your favorite cuss word?
JIMMY:  Oh, my Lord…it’s not fuck…I don’t like to say fuck very much.  I think, it’s shit!  
STRIPLV:  Tell me what you consider to be a perfect day.
JIMMY:  A perfect day is when I don’t have to do anything and all the bills are paid.  (laughter)  
STRIPLV:  If you were to take a week vacation, where would be the perfect place?
JIMMY:  I would go to the South of France with Jimbo, and we’d walk on the beach, and we’d gamble, and we wouldn’t have to worry about money.  I’ve never been to France and I’ve always wanted to go.  I’m going to go one day soon.  
STRIPLV:  What makes you sad?
JIMMY:  Animal abuse.  Child abuse.  I can hardly take it.  It just makes me very sad.
vWhat makes you laugh out loud?
JIMMY:  Spontaneous humor.  When people do something that they don’t mean to do and it’s funny.  I don’t laugh just because people trip and fall down, I don’t necessarily think that’s funny, unless they were trying to fall down, and then I think it’s hysterical.  (laughing)
STRIPLV:  Do things you find personally funny work in the show?
JIMMY:  When I find things funny, I have to deliver it in such a way to make it funny for the audience.  I think everyday events are hysterical, if you tell it right.  Just driving to work…you can do a five-minute monologue just on that and have people on the floor laughing.  That’s what people relate to;  something normal.   
STRIPLV:  What is the best part of living and working in Vegas and what is the worst?
JIMMY:  The best part is that it’s a 24-hour town.  They say that New York City is the city that never sleeps, but I’ve been to New York many times and you can’t get a burger after 10 o’clock.  Here, you meet people from so many different places, and I’ve always liked that.  The worst thing about Vegas is the traffic, although it’s getting a little better and you learn how to deal with it.  Maybe the extreme heat in the summer, but I love the dry climate.  I grew up in the South and it’s so humid there, and I feel so much better here.  
STRIPLV:  Do you ever consider working in a city like San Francisco that has a large gay population?
JIMMY:  I wouldn’t be successful in San Francisco.  My act and my persona appeal to a straight audience.  I was told that years ago when I started doing drag.  The Queens that were doing their lip-sync acts were very popular.  I’d get the laughs and stuff, but I wasn’t as popular as they were.  My slapstick style of comedy appeals to straight people.  The biggest gay bar owner in Texas told me that in the ‘70’s.  He said:  “Jimmy, go to Vegas, work in front of a straight audience in drag, and you’ll be successful.”  He was absolutely right.   
STRIPLV:  I know you love to cook, but do you have a favorite restaurant here in Vegas?
JIMMY:  I like The Bootlegger, because I love anything Italian.  
STRIPLV:  What’s your favorite meal to make?
JIMMY:  Veal Sorrentino, which is veal parmesan with eggplant on it.  I make the best!    
STRIPLV:  Do you listen to music and sing at home?
JIMMY:  Oh, I do all the time.  Frank Sinatra, anything big band, anything Broadway, it makes me happy.  When I’m in a bad mood, I can put on a favorite Broadway album and be very happy.  
STRIPLV:  Do you ever envision yourself retiring and not being on stage?
JIMMY:  I see myself semi-retiring, so that I can take vacations, but I want to work right up to the day that I can’t work anymore.  I don’t know an entertainer that doesn’t want to.  I’ve never heard one say I’m retiring at 65, 70 or 80.  Look at Don Rickles, Phyllis Diller – they’re all still working.  
STRIPLV:  Is there something that’s on your “Bucket List”, besides the South of France?
JIMMY:  I’d love to experience working on Broadway in a Broadway Show, whether it was in drag or not.  Even if it was a bit part, I’d love it – and to live in New York City for a period of time, like six months or a year.  
STRIPLV:  How do you envision your tombstone?
JIMMY:  I saw the best tombstone down in Key West.  It said:  “I told you I was sick!”  (roaring with laughter)  I’m thinking that I’d like all my friends at my funeral to party, be happy and laugh.  I see lots of vodka cocktails, music, a band and karaoke.
 

An Evening at La Cage has closed since our interview with Jimmy, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.

 

60 SECONDS with VILLAGE PEOPLE'S FELIPE ROSE

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by THE COMMANDER

 

 

Commander: Felipe, it’s been a long time, haven’t seen you in ages.  How are you doing?

Felipe: I’m great.  I haven’t seen you since Katrina.

C: Well, we won’t go into that.  I think it’s actually a different Katrina that we’re talking about.

F: No, Hurricane Katrina. 

C: Oh, you saw me during Hurricane Katrina?  Was I on TV, floating around somewhere?

F: No, I saw you before that. 

C: Well, I was just wondering, because Hurricane Katrina was probably the greatest blowjob of my life.  

F: (laughing)

C: It took my house, my home, my car, my employees, my business, everything. 

F: No, I think I saw you two years prior to that at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. 

C: Oh, it was a different Katrina, got it.

F: Yeah, yeah, but we had a great time.  We were headlining at the Superdome.

C: Right!  For Endymion. 

F: Was it Endymion or Bacchus?

C: Maybe it was Bacchus, it was one of them.

F: We’ve done like, the Commander and the Village People... we go back I think 20 years, and he’s been to every one of the balls that we have all attended, alright.  So the future is we’re going to do more of this... I guess... right? 

C: Absolutely.  Cool.  So now that we’ve conquered most of the U.S., we have to conquer Europe, correct?

F: Yes!

C: So let me ask you a question that everyone wants to know…  Your oufit – you are the Native American Indian in the Village People…  Are you still using the same original feathers as you used 35 years ago?

F: No no, no, no...

C: How long do the feathers last?

F: This particular Double Trail Headdress that I’m wearing right now, it’s about five years old and I’m getting ready to retire it, and what I do is, I sign it on the inside and then I donate it to charity – breast cancer or AIDS or...  I have several causes, so I send it out for silent auctions and they raise a lot of money.  In California last year, I forgot the name of the organization, but the Headdress raised over $5000 for the Breast Cancer Foundation

C: You don’t have any cheaper knockoffs on eBay?

F: No, but I actually just retired a new thong G-string, and it went into a plastic bag here in Vegas, at Bare Essentials, and I bought two brand-new thongs – a jaguar print and just a regular brown one.

C: Oh, okay. 

F: That goes underneath the loincloth, you know that.  I don’t bare-ball anymore!

C: Okay, changing the subject... so has the show been going well?

F: The show’s been going well ... relatively, on an economic level for Vegas, 300 to 400 people every night at the dumpy...  (Commander’s note: the name of Hotel Casino has been deleted due to it being a dump)  We took the gig because we want to go into a theater.  We’ve produced a brand-new show:  videos, lights, the whole deal, so we needed a place to try it out.

C: Alright, now this is an interesting question.  You guys are responsible or attached to one of the most famous songs in history that will probably be known for the next Billennium.  Not millennium, but Billennium, long after we’re gone.

F: Way after you’re gone.

C: After you’re way gone...  after Vegas is crushed to the ground in a pile of dust, they’ll be singing... 

F: There is actually a time capsule I think... it’s out of Chicago, they actually put it in.  I think it was a CD of “YMCA” in a time capsule .

C: So here’s the question. When you originally recorded the song, did you ever T H I N K....???

F: HELL, NO!  I thought... well first of all, the story behind it was that on the CRUISING album we needed one more song.  We broke for lunch and the producer comes back and we’re in Chelsea in a recording studio and he comes back with his French accent and says to us:  “Qu’est-ce que  (French for:  “What is?) YMCA?”  And we say it means Young Men’s Christian Association, and he says “Bon,” which means “Good.”  We’re going to record a new song and I looked at him like... this fucking guy.  Give me a break... and he goes “Young men,” and starts singing... humming the song and we thought... ‘Oh, give me a fucking break...’ and you know what?  They wrote it in 15 minutes and when the album was finished and sent to Casablanca Records to the late Neil Bogart (President of Casablanca), what should have been the hit song on the album, he told them, “No.”  He said, “Here’s the song: “YMCA” –  This is the song.”  And of course, it became a juggernaut hit.

C: So all these years later, what do you think?

F: Outside of the digital download royalties that come in these days, more than the old days, um, it’s actually a...  we are in a class all by ourselves when you really think about it – sports stadiums, arenas, at parties, bar mitzvahs and weddings, etc.  You know there isn’t anywhere you can go, where you don’t hear YMCA, and that’s a blessing unto itself, you know that.

C: Now did you make up the hand signs for the YMCA or did the fans do it? 

F: No, actually, it was Dick Clark.  It was the dancers on Dick Clark.  Good question!  (giving the “thumbs-up” sign).   So we stole the... It was the spelling, using the arms. 

C: So you don’t take credit, but you do take credit...

F: Well, we have to give credit where credit is due:  Dick Clark, as well as Merv Griffin.  They were pioneers in breaking acts and music, and Dick Clark got behind us and he said…  Not behind us figuratively, or literally (laughing) he got behind us when he said:  “I am going to...  You guys are going to do this song live on TV,” and YMCA the organization was going to sue us, and he said:  “I still want you to do this song.  I will take care of all legal suits,” with his battery of lawyers, because that’s how Dick Clark rolls, and we went on and performed it and we sold 3.2 million records within one week of our performance.

C: Okay, last question.  If I could possibly set up a meeting with you and President Obama, what would be your answer to the current economic crisis that we are facing today? 

F: What I would say is:  “Why can’t you put more strippers to work?”  (laughing

 

Jude Law - Chapter 2

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Jude Law technically started off his career in 1990, acting on a British soap opera, but the industry didn’t take notice of Jude Law’s glistening blues until his devilishly charismatic portrayal in the 1997 film, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, opposite Kevin Spacey. But even after twenty years in the limelight, the actor feels like he’s been knocking around for far, far longer. “Sometimes I feel like I can’t remember anything else before this job, this life,” he says, speaking at the press junket for new movie, Black Sea at London’s Soho Hotel.

“And then when you step back, you realize, it’s not that vast an amount of time. Time ticking by, it’s a tricky concept.” In those tenuous years however, the 41-year-old has amassed huge success as one of the more diverse Hollywood stars. With two Oscar nominations, both for Anthony Minghella films: The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain, Law has gone on to enjoy a varied, dynamic career with starring roles in Gattaca, Alfie, The Aviator and Guy Ritchie’s successful reinvention of the Sherlock Holmes vehicle.

Over a year into his forties, the actor looks set to be entering a new phase of his career, away from the foppish, caddish roles of old—into meatier, challenging work, including his latest feature, Black Sea, a submariner thriller directed by Kevin Macdonald.

Unfortunately, Law’s personal life has always attracted the press, whom he enjoys a contentious relationship with. After the breakdown of his marriage to Sadie Frost, mother of his three-eldest children, Rafferty, Iris and Rudy, his subsequent relationship with Sienna Miller was hounded by the paparazzi and hit fever pitch when news broke of his devastating affair with his children’s nanny, Daisy Wright. However, it came to light that Law and Miller had both been phone-hacked by the News of the World, straining his relationship with the press even further. Nevertheless, they refused to back off when his brief fling with model, Samantha Burke, resulted in daughter Sophia in 2009. And more recently, all were shocked with reports of another child on the way from another failed relationship, this time with 23-year-old, Irish singer, Catherine Harding.

Jude, it seems, doesn’t make things easy on himself when it comes to the press. Exceedingly taller and far bulkier in person, wearing black jeans and a loose dark grey V-neck t-shirt, he discusses his ease with aging, feeling like a mentor, and finding his feet as an actor.

STRIPLV: So where did the story for Black Sea come from and why did you find yourself interested?
LAW: It came from the Kursk disaster ten years ago. Kevin [Macdonald] was interested by this Russian sub that went down. Most of the crew died in the explosion that sent them down to the bottom of the sea. Some survived in a pocket of air, but they too, all died before they could be rescued. And Kevin thought that was the most horrible way to go, and a great setup for a film. How did they get there? Where were they going? What were they doing? And he wanted to make the story about greed and references of the Treasure of Sierra Madre John Huston film. And that was it. He spoke to me about the plot and I was hooked, line and sinker, so to speak.
STRIPLV: Now, as Captain Robinson, your Scottish accent is gaining positive reviews.
LAW: Good, (laughs) I’m so glad. It was a bit of a risk. It made sense, because Kevin is Scottish. I wanted Robinson to have a grativas and dignity and a reference to maybe that he’s from a family that has suffered from mistreatment by a government or the banks—or his father was, I don’t know, a docker who’d lost his job, a generational thing where his father had been done by the system, just like him. He needed to be a workingman, a regional man, and the accent suited so well. Although we did look at Southern Irish also, because I’d played a sailor in “Anna Christie” [onstage] at the Donmar, but that didn’t really fit. Then we talked about Glasgow, but again, not right, so we headed towards Aberdeen. It’s a sea-faring city, big docks, and a place where a lot of submariners come from. So much of the film is about the workingman, the skilled man who’s spat out by society and being done over. And there’s something about the accent. There’s a solidity, and it has a Basque quality to it. It’s sort of very even, but has a poetry to it—a methodical nature—and that’s who Robinson is. And without that accent, he would have been a different character.
STRIPLV: Why not the Irish accent?
LAW: I played a sailor who came from the West coast of Ireland in “Anna Christie” and I think Kevin talked me out of it because of [co-star] Michael Smiley, who was already representing the Irish as it were in the crew. It would have been too much and he wanted to make it a tad more diverse. Maybe that sounds a little United Nations, perhaps. Poor Kevin though, he was surrounded by these tapes of my voice with an Irish accent, with a Scots accent—poor guy was probably driven demented by the sound of my voice.
STRIPLV: Why did Kevin cast you in this role? It’s not the Jude Law that we know.
LAW: Right, you’re so right. It’s not the Jude Law that anyone knows, not even that I know. Like, for this role, I had to completely change shape. If you’re going to command men in a role like this, you’ve got to have a certain presence. There’s only so much you can waggle your finger and shout. You’ve got to have some sort of physical presence, especially when they’re six-foot-five and Russian. You’ve got to know that you can maybe stare someone down and bite their knees, if need be. (laughs)
STRIPLV: How was spending time in a submarine?
LAW: I’m not someone who would ever say: “I submerged myself for months to create this character.” (laughs)
STRIPLV: Nicely done.
LAW: Thank you. (laughs) But it was an opportunity that was offered by the Royal Navy. They said: “Do you want to come?” and it just seemed like an amazing insight. There was a sense of… you become a submariner for life. You feel like you lose touch with the world up there. They spoke to me about feeling dysfunctional when they were away from their boats, and trying to fit in with married life again. I found that pretty fascinating to imagine. But spending a couple of days with them… like, their sleeping patterns, are weird. You sleep for six hours, you get up for six hours. You’ve got to keep it running. You’re sharing beds, and the proximity and environment is so close, is so tight, it’s almost like being in a prison. You can’t get out, you can’t get away from people that are annoying you. Like for a prisoner, you often don’t know where you are in the world. You’re just told.
STRIPLV: You turned 40 last year and spoke about looking forward to a new decade—a new staring block, as it were. Can you expand on that?
LAW: You feel slightly more confident and comfortable in who you are. And in the job I do, you suddenly realize that the complexities of a man in his forties and going into his fifties will benefit any part you may read for, because there has been layers and history. Sometimes younger roles are slightly more frivolous and light. When you start out, people are trying to box you in: “You’re this kind of actor. This is the kind of role you should be playing.” After escaping maybe ten years trying to avoid that, you get to your forties and can kind of start afresh, as it were.
STRIPLV: Is it weird that young actors see you as something of a mentor now?
LAW: Yeah, it is weird. You feel like, ‘Hang on, I’m not that old and I have nothing to teach anyone.’ I would never assume to give advice or take on that role, but only because I hate when people give me advice. Like with [actor] Bobby Schofield [who plays an inexperienced sailor in the film], everyone sort of took him under their wing. He had no film experience whatsoever, so we all looked after him. Ben Mendelsohn really looked after him.
STRIPLV: Did you have any mentor figures in your early days offering advice?
LAW: I think what you learn very quickly is the best advice is set by example. You follow people. I’ve always been a great believer in civility and manners and work ethic and turning up and being positive and getting on, and appreciating everyone around you because everyone is there to make each other’s job better and easier and it’s a wonderful opportunity. And art form, has to be… you need everyone there, otherwise it won’t work.
STRIPLV: Does it feel like you’re embarking on a new chapter now in your career, with films like this and Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur?
LAW: Well, that’s a rumor, by the way. I’ve just been told that today.
STRIPLV: Well, congratulations.
LAW: Ha (laughs) yeah, thank you. I don’t know about chapters, I hope if I keeping doing roles like this, I’ll be very happy. Black Sea is a game changer, because I wouldn’t have been able to play Robinson before. I wouldn’t have been old enough—it wouldn’t have been believable. So it’s another side that maybe people haven’t seen to me, so maybe it will open doors to more parts in this area. But I don’t know, I’m not a fan of repeating myself. I like the thrill of the curiosity of what I do... the variety and challenge. And I don’t like to repeat myself. But I feel I’m in a good place now. I’m not complaining. 

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