It’s almost 2015, bitches. Let’s do this.
“Guess why I smile? Uh, because it’s worth it.” – Marcel the Shell
- “I have arms. I’m a pretty good fighter.” – Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard.
- “You have to have Darth Vader, you can’t just have Obi-Wan Kenobi.” – Inherent Vice scene stealer Josh Brolin!
- “I can’t look at myself in the mirror if [my] standup sucks; that’s like being a chef and cooking a fake cake or something.” – my longtime hero Jenny Slate, whose fantastic performance in Obvious Child would have my vote for Best Actress.
- “He’s just a totally fucked-up mess for the rest of his life. But a strong one.” – Logan Lerman on his character in the WWII thriller Fury.
- “Until I can find the emotional truth of the character, by sitting with people and hearing their experience—that’s the only way I can find how to emotionally connect.” – the faaabulous Michelle Monaghan (just Golden Globe-nominated for her work on True Detective) on her indie showcase Fort Bliss.
- Director JV Mercanti offered some useful advice I’d never heard before…
- Eric Tucker of up-and-coming theater company Bedlam is making some truly tremendous theater to get himself and his friends on the map…
- Micah Stock gets to share a stage with Nathan Lane and Stockard Channing every night in It’s Only a Play…
- Curious about how some of 2014’s best movies were cast? Check out The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s Douglas Aibel, Pride‘s Fiona Weir, Interstellar‘s John Papsidera, A Most Violent Year‘s Tiffany Little Canfield, & Selma‘s Aisha Coley…
- And most importantly, 33 pieces of advice from actors who chatted with Backstage this year!
Posted in Jack, Pop Culture, Theater
- Tagged Acting, Backstage, Broadway, Criticism, Film, Jenny Slate, Josh Brolin, Marion Cotillard, SmartReads, Theater
For my second Backstage cover story, I sat down with Emily Blunt (at the Four Seasons New York, no less!) to chat about her work as the Baker’s Wife in the big screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. It was truly one of the highlights of my 2014. In addition to the topics I was able to include in the article, we talked about how annoying it is that some high schools skip the musical’s second act, what project she’d like to tackle next – a Western! – and the embedded nerve she got from filming Edge of Tomorrow while wearing an 85-pound metal suit. She is every bit as charming and down-to-earth as you might imagine, and her performance in Into the Woods, as with all her other movies, is superb. Don’t miss it!
Photo source: Matt Doyle
Posted in Jack, Pop Culture, Theater
- Tagged Acting, Backstage, Criticism, Emily Blunt, Film, Into the Woods, Meryl Streep, SmartReads, Stephen Sondheim, Theater
Bylines are not clickable on Backstage unfortunately, so these little updates are the best way to check out what I’ve been up to writing-wise. Do what I do when browsing a writer’s body of work: spend 4.3 seconds scanning for juicy buzzwords, and click what tickles your fancy. Here we go!
Photo source: Janice Yi/NPR
- Say you prefer cute listicles and slideshows (who’s got the attention span for anything else, amiright?): famous actors’ former day jobs, inspirational film monologues, and yet more Robin Williams in recent commercials featuring famous actors.
- What about famous theater personalities? Turns out, they’re just like us! We’ve got the amicable John Gallagher Jr., the colorful Seth Rudetsky, the gregarious Celia Keenan-Bolger, the hilarious Tracee Chimo, and especially playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, who gave probably the best phone interview ever. (“I’m just saying, like, praise be to you all who have made plays over the years! Here I am now following in your footsteps.”)
- Looking for a web series to invest some internet-dawdling time with? Try Capitol Hill (silly), or Video Game High School (epic), Augie Alone (hysterical), or really any of these.
- Or perhaps you want some practical advice, Backstage-style? There’s Stefanie O’Connell and her wonderful finance website, Carmen Zilles, who is now performing at the theater at which she interned, up-and-coming superhero B.J. Britt, the Naked Angels’ fabulous reading series Tuesdays@9, Ryan R. Williams and his real talk, and the Lincoln-quoting David H. Lawrence XVII. Lots of great food for thought.
- Random, but still worth a look: I interviewed one of my heroes at NPR, Michel Martin, after a fascinating panel about racial diversity on Broadway with four awesome playwrights, as well as the creator of vegan ballet slippers, and the head of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. This holiday season, donate!
I have long been a fan of the great T-Pain, king of auto-tune and creator of the best song no one’s ever heard of. But for some reason it never occurred to me that the guy could actually sing:
Yeah. All the hairs on my arm are sticking straight up too.
I guess I assumed – I’m sorry, T-Pain, truly I am – that the use of auto-tune has always been a bit of a crux. Now it seems auto-tune was just the guy’s thing, a branding method. This performance at NPR Music’s tiniest of desks was, from what I understand, completely unplanned. So T-Pain has accidentally set the internet on fire with the grand epiphany of his gorgeous, soulful voice, and must now face the question: why not try getting rid of the auto-tune altogether? What if T-Pain were to re-brand?? He could fill the hole in the pop music industry that douchebag Cee-Lo left behind!
I could go on about why the powerhouse vocals of Sharon Jones & the funkalicious sound of the Dap Kings and how they never fail to put me in a good mood…
But I got better things to do.
Just in case we ever forget what acting’s really about:
You heard the man.
I don’t know what this world is comin’ to!
The fact that Paloma Faith has never been featured on this blog – which professes to love all things fabulous, divalicious and, well, British – is sacrilege! Released in March but soon to be presented as a repackaged version, A Perfect Contradiction is Faith’s newest album and the strongest declaration of her specific brand of pop artistry. Before now her sound has always resonated on a nostalgic level, drawing from the smoky jazz lounges of the 50s and irresistible Motown beats. “Upside Down” has been a longtime favorite of mine because it takes that vintage sound and, in its music video, gift-wraps it in the kind of candy-colored cheekiness I so adore.
A Perfect Contradiction firmly plants Faith in darker, weirder territory: Amy Winehouse’s trauma mixed with a Gaga-esque attention to striking imagery. Fabulous and haunting, the album echoes Faith’s greatest musical influences, retranslating those styles through her astonishingly capable voice. “Take Me” is pure Earth, Wind & Fire , while “Impossible Heart” channels Diana Ross and Cher. “Mouth to Mouth” is straight out of the 80s too – is that a cowbell I hear? And “Taste My Own Tears” is my second favorite (after “Can’t Rely On You,” of course) because it quasi-samples Sam Cooke and is just plain fun. But it doesn’t get much better than Faith’s emphasis-on-the-power power ballad, “Only Love Can Hurt Like This,” written by the great Dianne Warren. Treat yo self this lazy weekend to the song and video that is surely Miss Paloma at her peak: