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TONI COLLETTE - HEREDITARY

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TONI COLLETTE - HEREDITARY

By Skye Huntington

Toni Collette was meant to be an actor. Born in suburban Australia in 1972, she found performing came naturally to her. So naturally in fact that she actually acted like she had appendicitis at the age of 11, and the doctors were so convinced they removed it. This triple threat became known worldwide when she skyrocketed to fame in the movie Muriel’s Wedding. She has been nominated for just about every award you can imagine and even has a second career singing lead in her band “Toni Collette and The Finish.” We all remember her Oscar-nominated turn as the mom in The Sixth Sense, and now she is venturing into the horror genre again with her new movie Hereditary. The movie, shot with a budget of 10 million dollars, is now set to gross more than a hundred million worldwide. Written and directed by Ari Aster, critics are hailing the film as this generation’s Exorcist. We got a chance to sit with this multi-talented actor and ask her about what it was like being a part of the chilling movie, and what we as audiences will take away from it once it freaks us all out.

STRIPLV: Tell us about your character.

COLLETTE: I play a woman who is experiencing an awakening of sorts. At the beginning of the film, you find her in a position of loss. Her mother has just died. You quickly realize that it wasn’t the idealized relationship that a mother and daughter shares. This woman missed out on a lot of nurturing, and a lot of what a kid really is owed when they are growing up. The film is about her coming to understand what her family means, where they come from, what their intentions are. What her own existence really entails and its really very confronting and shocking.

STRIPLV: Was there something unique you did to prepare for the role of Annie?

COLLETTE: The one thing that I would say is somewhat unique. I don’t think I have ever worked in this way before. It was so intensely emotional. As a younger actor I used to love the grit, and the more intense, the better and I’m just not into that at all anymore. I think it had such strength and spoke to me in such an intense way that it was more of a case of trying to avoid what I had to do until they called action. I think that was the only way I survived it. And I, since then, I’ve kind of wondered, geeze, what the experience would have been like if I’d really gave myself over to it. But, I don’t think it would have worked because it was just too much. I think this was kind of the only way to survive it. And to be able to give a reality to each moment when it was required instead of kind of existing in something that would have really rather exhausting to do 24/7 for a longer period of time.

STRIPLV: Where did you look for inspiration for the role of Annie?

COLLETTE: Really, I didn’t have to look further than the script. It was so brilliantly written by Ari Aster. He is a wonderful writer. Because I think he just gets what it is to be human. He understands the dynamics between human beings and how complex it is to literally exist. So, he created something so honest and so raw I didn’t really have to look beyond that. And if I did, I would always look up at his face, and I would have the answer if I did have a question.

STRIPLV: Your character, Annie, performs a couple of séances in this movie. Have you ever been a part of a séance?

COLLETTE: I remember being slightly excited about the idea of being a part of a séance when I was a teenager but it never eventuated, and I’m glad because they freak me out.

STRIPLV: What do you want audiences to expect and take away from the film?

COLLETTE: I never like, I think it is such a didactic thing to kind of tell audiences what they should expect. Because everybody comes to the cinema or any experience in life with their own experiences. So, you relate to things differently. I mean I hope that they understand that it isn’t just another horror film full of gratuitous scares; there is such a profoundly beautiful story within this and is very sad and very moving and it does become deeply shocking and upsetting. It is a rollercoaster, but it is an exciting new voice in cinema making a film in a very original way. And that in itself is worth seeing the movie. But, the content of the movie is also really really special, and I think it will excite people more, and it seems to be than it intimidates them.

STRIPLV: What was the most rewarding scene to film?

COLLETTE: Working with Ari is honestly such an incredible pleasure because he is very clear about what he wants at any given moment. He’s lived with this story for so long in his head and knows every single shot, cutting point, everything he wants from every actor, how he hears the line. However, he does leave room for interpretation and collaboration. There was one particular scene where it was a very very long shot towards the end of the movie where my character is quite maniacal and trying to convince her husband to help her sacrifice herself in order to save her son, quite literally, and there is a moment where I convince him to come downstairs and kind of explain what’s going on and ask for his help. It was a long scene, and the words that were written were not quite enough, and I was always very very loyal to Ari, and what he wrote and I did a take that way, and it didn’t feel right because there wasn’t enough on the page. And this scene was just so emotionally big kind of a begging scene really. A pleading scene, and a declaration of true, true love. I literally took a moment, and I thought I just have to fucking give it. I had to tell myself to get over whatever fear was in the way and just get it done. So we did it again, and it just felt so alive, and I didn’t stick to the exact dialogue, and it’s the only scene I improvised in, but it was so spacious and needed, I needed, that freedom to convey the reality of the moment. And the most gratifying exciting moment of the entire film I think was when I knew they were planning other coverage and sometimes when you get something, and you know that it’s right. And when you do get it right in that way that kind of feels very real that there is no way you can ever repeat it. It becomes like you are mimicking or replicating or trying to get it again. You can never actually get it again. And Ari said to me that was it we don’t need any more shots, and I was like thank you! (laughing) That was it.

STRIPLV: Milly’s character in the movie makes a tongue clicking sound. If you could describe this movie as a sound, what would it be?

COLLETTE: Oh, my god. Sound plays such a huge part in this movie too. It would vary. I loved that sound that Millie’s character makes. Charlie has just this weird tick which becomes so kind of spooky and haunting. But, I think there are so many changes within the film it’s probably a scream that starts somewhere and travels to so many different places, and that you never want to hear again once it’s uttered.

BENICIO DEL TORO - MAN OF FEW WORDS

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BENICIO DEL TORO - MAN OF FEW WORDS

By Skye Huntington

Benicio del Toro, born Benicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sanchez in 1967, is a legendary actor in his field. The Puerto Rican-born talent lost his mother and eventually moved to the states with his father at the age of 15. At his father’s recommendation, Benecio went to college in California to major in business. All it took was one banner turn in a drama class to have him get bit by the acting bug. He promptly dropped out of college and started studying acting. It started out small: A character bit in a Madonna video, guest stints of TV shows, and then he landed his break out role in The Usual Suspects. The actor has since won many accolades and honors, and even holds the title of the youngest actor to ever play a Bond nemesis. This summer, del Toro returns to the Sicario franchise to reprise the character of Alejandro. Sicario: Day of the Soldado continues the story of this man fighting the Mexican drug cartel with more action, and a look back into his past. It’s a gripping action film. We got the chance to sit with this celebrated actor and see what it was like to immerse himself in the familiar character again. 

STRIPLV: In this film, your character Alejandro has to relive his past. Can you tell us a little about that?

DEL TORO: In Sicario I think we learn a little bit about him and I think here he is put in a situation where we are going to learn more about the character. We are going to put him in an entirely different adventure where in a way he’s got to reenact what caused his rage.

STRIPLV: This script seems longer than the first film, and it gives Alejandro a bigger character arc. Is that what drew you to the project?

DEL TORO: The script is bigger. And by that, I mean much more ambitious. It has a bigger scope than Sicario. And it’s more unpredictable— he is very good at that. So that was exciting for me. It creates great characters. It’s got great dialog. That was exciting to get a script written by Taylor Sheridan. Personally, I thought that my character of Alejandro does have a different arc. When I first read the script, the script as a whole was very original. The opportunity to explore Alejandro’s evolution was very appealing to me.

STRIPLV: What was the rest of the cast like?

DEL TORO: Well, it’s one hell of a cast. With of course Josh Brolin who is really great to work with because he is super intense in front of the camera. He don’t lie. But then behind the camera, he is a lot of fun, funny and loves to have a laugh. Isabella Moner, you have to see her in this movie. She is 16 years old right there throwing elbows with the actors that have been doing this for a long time, and she is fantastic. She is one hell of a talent. Jeffrey Donovan is like Josh in a way, funny and also great in front of the camera. There is a whole cast of Latino actors: There’s Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, an actor from Mexico. He’s one of the bad guys; he’s great. Bruno Bichir, he’s the brother of Damien Bichir; I think he steals every movie he is in. The cast is great— there is Catherine Keener, also Matthew Modine. It’s a great cast and fun for an actor to be a team player with such an excellent cast.

STRIPLV: What effect does the character Isabel have on Alejandro?

DEL TORO: Alejandro is able to perhaps relive in some ways what probably happened to his daughter. So that starts to create and change something in him. Isabel being the daughter of a big cartel guy, maybe that relationship of him being, like, reenacting what probably happened to his own daughter with the daughter of the cartel leader maybe opens a window of, I don’t know, of compassion. He starts to have feelings towards the daughter of his enemy.

STRIPLV: Did the director give you and your fellow actors freedom to form the characters?

DEL TORO:  He’s flexible, which is good. I think Jeffery Donovan, Josh Brolin 

and myself, we did these characters in the last film, so he’s been very flexible in allowing us to be the interpreters of the characters and allow us to develop them in Soldado.

STRIPLV: What is the new assignment in Soldado?

DEL TORO: It’s a new mission, a new assignment and I think that Alejandro has been on hold somehow and then Mack comes in and tells him we got another assignment. It’s kind of like a new assignment but through that assignment, things are revealed, and characters are emotionally taken from A to Z really.

STRIPLV: How does the movie stay faithful to the original?

DEL TORO: Well, I think it maintains the tension and the action. The situations that the plot finds itself. And I also think it maintains the evolution of these characters. The character I play, Alejandro, and the character Josh Brolin plays, Matt, there is an arc, which is a little complicated. Because this arc is happening within explosions and running and diving and shooting and all that stuff. So you can’t have moments to milk this evolution. So, it has to happen within this plot thriller, and that was the tricky thing about this film. It was “How do we get these characters to show this evolution within?”. Because this movie takes place in real time in the story, it’s all happens in like three or four days, so it’s short and full packed with action. It’s packed with all sorts of interesting stuff. So, I think it has a great balance of thriller and the gut and the intellect of the film. It’s a good balance between characters and the action.

STRIPLV: Why should audiences catch this at the theaters?

DEL TORO: Well, because the screen is going to be a lot bigger than the one they have at home. (Laughing) Nowadays the chairs are comfier at the movie theater than some of the most comfortable sofas than a Lazy Boy. The sound is going to be better at a movie theater than in your living room. I think it is a movie where the scope of seeing it big will add to the experience. The sound, the screen is going to be much better than watching it at home.

BRETT ROSSI - #METOO

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BRETT ROSSI - #METOO

In 2015 Brett Rossi filed a domestic violence lawsuit against her former fiancé Charlie Sheen. And although many other women had come forward alleging that Sheen was violent or abusive, it was often Brett’s credibility that came under fire. Why? Because she works in the sex industry. I’m Amanda Knox, and I’ve seen how different media outlets mainstream media outlets respectable media outlets have dismissed Brett’s story as merely salacious. And only deserving of tabloid treatment. As someone whose sexuality has been treated as evidence of guilt and whose most intimate and most traumatic experience has also been treated have also been picked apart in the media I want to treat Brett’s story with the seriousness it deserves.

KNOX: What brought you to the adult film industry?

ROSSI: When I turned 18 that was when The Girls Next Door was really big, and so I wanted to be a Playboy model. I wanted to be a bunny. I went to the mansion, and I got hired as a painted girl for Hef’s parties. I got chosen to be a Playboy Cyber Girl. And it kind of just spiraled from there. And I was on every single men’s magazine cover, and I became a centerfold overnight.

KNOX: How did you actually first meet Charlie?

ROSSI: He pursued me for six months, and I kept saying no. So, during that time I had quit porn. I was in nursing school. Then this mutual friend calls me and says hey I’ve got this client that wants to meet you. It’s a high-end client I can’t tell the name, but you can make 10 grand. Most people would define that as escorting. I don’t really care how you define it. I was a nursing school student struggling, and I needed to pay my bills. I was paying for school in cash and who is going to say no to 10 grand? When he walked in he was just so charming and just very charismatic and very open and warm and friendly. The bond was as if we knew each other in a different lifetime and from that point on we were inseparable.  He got rid of all the girls that he would have hanging around and we were in love.

But it wasn’t long before Brett saw the darker side of Charlie Sheen.

KNOX: Can you tell me about how he would seem like two different people?

ROSSI: Yeah, it was Thanksgiving. I still have photos of us we were playing catch in this suite, this hotel and you know he drank a lot. And I went to sleep, and the next thing I know he’s pulling me like a rag doll out of bed. He puts me in front of this mini-fridge, and he is screaming at me. Why is there nothing to drink? Why is there nothing to drink? And he shook me, and shook me, and shook me. And he pushed me, and this person looked at me with such rage like you would look at someone you hate. With your greatest passion. And I said I’ve been sleeping I don’t know. And he shook me, and shook me, and shook me. And this was the pattern that would happen every single month. Every single month it was something.

When Brett had finally had enough of the abuse, the relationship ended. The tabloid feeding frenzy began, following her every move as she grappled with Charlie’s HIV status and struggled with depression.

ROSSI: Everybody loved him. And he is a terrible human being. So, when I would read what a terrible person I am. I would sit there and think what the fuck?

KNOX: You and I both know that the tabloids are full of shit. When I first came home, not only was the paparazzi following my every move trying just to make me look terrible. There were actually people out there that genuinely wanted to hurt me. And wanted to hurt me by exploiting my pain. And it sounds like that is exactly what is happening to you.

ROSSI: When I came out with my domestic violence lawsuit, it was the hardest decision that I ever had to do. Because my grandmother had to read in-depth details of things that happened to me that I never wanted her to know. And I was automatically assumed that I was a liar. Even though the person that I had the suit against had a 30-year history of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, abusing women, being convicted of abusing women.

KNOX: To feel so isolated that way. To feel, people were treating you like you were crazy.

ROSSI: For a year I told my friends, and my family and my psychiatrist that I was being followed. They convinced me that I was crazy. In March 2016 a tabloid released a transcript of my ex-fiancé having a discussion with a call girl and he said I will pay to have her head kicked in, and smashed, and killed. This person was so angry at me, for how dare I file a legitimate lawsuit? How dare I a porn star whore stand up to Hollywood royalty?

KNOX: Do you think that anyone has actually asked you or approached you asking you what is your experience? How have you grown? Has anyone actually approached you in that way?

ROSSI: No, the only time that I was given a platform to even slightly discuss my story which was basically to just say no I don’t have HIV. Which really sucked. What if I did? That’s not an appropriate question. What if I was sick?

KNOX: Has anyone ever approached you from the #MeToo movement? Has that ever been a part of your story?

ROSSI: Surprisingly no. I am once again an invisible entity. I am a porn star, a sex symbol. I am disgusting. I am pathetic. When you hear people tell you who you are so much, like every day. So much so that you start to believe it.

KNOX: When the world is telling you who you are. You feel so alone (tearing up) you might as well be crazy if you are that alone.

ROSSI: Where I find my solace is my animals.

KNOX: Why is that? What is it about animals that are so therapeutic?

ROSSI: I don’t really crave human connection, as sad as that sounds, as much as the love and affection of an animal.

KNOX: Someone that can just give and receive love from without like the complications.

ROSSI: No judgment. No complications. It’s totally just unconditional love. Tiny! This is tiny. (Brett shares her adorable little white dog dressed in a pink sweat suit)

KNOX: Will you be my therapist? (Cooing to the dog)

What gives me hope is that Brett still has a very open heart. She is still strong enough to stand up for herself and stand up for others. This is a moment that sex workers can seize to reinforce the idea that they are humans too. Women in the sex industry are more likely to experience abuse, assault, and murder than the general population. That’s why it’s imperative that the Me Too movement embraces them. And as the Me Too movement grows and evolves I trust that’s going to happen.

 

Charlie Sheen has denied Brett Rossi’s allegations. Rossi’s lawsuit against Sheen is still pending.

AMANDA SEYFRIED - GROUNDED

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AMANDA SEYFRIED - GROUNDED

By Jack Wellington

Amanda Seyfried, born December 3, 1985, broke into acting on the soap opera “As the World Turns.” At the age of 18, she landed the classic film Mean Girls. Seyfried followed the success of Mean Girls with a supporting role in HBO’s “Big Love,” which ran from 2006-2011. Seyfried film career really started to blossom with the films Jennifer’s Body, Mamma Mia!, Les Misérables and the risqué, edgy and critically acclaimed films Chloe and Lovelace where she appeared fully nude in love scenes with both men and women.

Seyfried has continued to take on a steady number of film roles including The Last Word, First Reformed, Gringo, and the sequel to Mamma Mia!, Mamma Mia Here We Go Again.

In 2016, she began dating actor Thomas Sadoski, her co-star in The Last Word. The couple married in March 2017 and later that same month, Seyfried gave birth to their first child, a baby girl. STRIPLV sat down with Seyfried a couple of times for this interview, and we found her beautiful, charming, warm and down to earth.

STRIPLV: You seem to enjoy playing a wide variety of roles. Is that your preference?

SEYFRIED: It’s hard to plan things, but I try to avoid playing the same kinds of women because then people tend to perceive you as only one kind of character and of course that’s the worst thing that can happen to you. So you wait for the right part to come along, and lately, I feel I’ve been very lucky and been able to work on many different kinds of stories. But I still think I have my best work ahead of me, and as I get older, I feel I’m going to be able to play more and more complex and interesting characters. That’s my goal.

STRIPLV: How is important is it for you to have an eclectic professional life?

SEYFRIED: Diversity you mean? It’s essential. I have to keep jumping from one to the next because I would be bored if it were consistently one thing.

STRIPLV: You’ve shown yourself to be pretty versatile regarding the roles you’ve been playing whether as Linda Lovelace or singing in Les Miserables or doing a comedy-drama like While We’re Young. Do you like to keep mixing things up?

SEYFRIED: It’s not always by choice. You have to be careful about the kinds of projects you choose because it’s a very competitive business and you need to keep having a certain level of success if you want to keep working and have the chance to find the best roles. I don’t think I’ve found anywhere near as many good roles as I’ve wanted to play. I feel like I haven’t accomplished what I’m capable of in terms of finding a great dramatic part where I can one day look back on and feel very proud of. But I’m going to get there.

STRIPLV: What kinds of films do you prefer doing?

SEYFRIED: My preference is more for indie movies, especially dramas, but I’ve also loved being part of films like Mamma Mia! and Les Miserables and TED 2. It’s so important to me that I am able to enjoy working with wonderful people and appreciating every moment of my time. I love acting and performing and being part of the creative process. When you are part of a film where you feel that a lot of talented people are all contributing and part of this collective artistic effort. There’s nothing more satisfying or fulfilling than that.

STRIPLV: Do you feel your anxiety issues are behind you?

SEYFRIED: I’m a lot better than I used to be and it’s something I’ve been working on the past few years. It took me a while to stop denying it or just trying to live with it. I finally saw that I needed to address my anxiety and stage fright more directly and that’s been the best thing I could have done for myself. I’m able to enjoy my life much more now although I still worry about things that I shouldn’t worry about. But I also have good friends and a great family who give me a lot of love and support. Going on stage has been a big test for me because when you perform in a play and go out in front of an audience every night, there are no escaping things. I was worried about having a panic attack on stage, and then my dad came up to New York to spend some time with me, and he helped calm me down. He would listen to me tell him about how scared I was about going on stage and ruining the play. Then he would ask me whether any of my fears and anxieties had ever come true and I would say, “No.” And it was that kind of discussion and reassurance that made a big difference to me, and I think I know now that I can do another play down the road and have a lot less anxiety about the process.

STRIPLV: Some people might be surprised that you suffer from stage fright when you’ve played a lot of risky roles like Chloe or Les Miserables or going on stage. You’ve never had a problem with appearing naked in some of your performances, for example?

SEYFRIED: I’m very comfortable with my body, and I guess I have a more European kind of sensibility. Nudity has never been a problem for me and if you’re doing a love or sex scene that’s just the natural way of being and people should find that beautiful. I’ve never felt embarrassed by sex scenes and sometimes I wish I could feel as comfortable and relaxed about things in general and be more fearless in everyday life. But it’s always been in my nature to overthink things, and I’m learning to just be more in the moment and have fun.

STRIPLV: Does playing in a film like Fathers and Daughters or getting up on stage in a very emotionally charged play like The Way We Get By help you deal with your own problems?

SEYFRIED: There is a cathartic and therapeutic side to the work. When you’re thinking about your character and trying to understand their way of thinking and perspective on their life, you start to compare it to your own way of handling things.

I’m usually very honest and hard on myself, and I like being very straightforward and open in my relationships with other people, so when I’m working it’s interesting to explore your character’s psychology and understand why some people behave the way they do and try to make sense of that. I also try to speak to my friends a lot because I think getting good advice and emotional support is a  healthy and beneficial thing.

STRIPLV: Well, when it comes to it, you’ve done so many things, and you started very young at 11. How do you choose the roles that you decide to go and work? Is it the cast, the script, the director?

SEYFRIED: The director is essential. The director has to have a really good vision and also, I kind of feel like things choose me, as well. At this point in my career I feel like if there’s an opportunity, and it has all of the right pieces, such as a good cast or if it doesn’t have a cast yet, but it has a really good director with a good vision and focus and a good story, then it’s probably something I’ll do. But I also look for; I’m just, I really want to do a comedy. I really liked filming Gringo. I did a comedy a few years back with Seth McFarlane and Charlize (Theron) A Million Ways to Die in the West, and it was really fun, and there’s not enough for me. I need more comedy in my life.

STRIPLV: What was your experience like working with Noah Baumbach on his 

SEYFRIED: Noah has a very interesting and specific way of looking at relationships and the personal connections between people. He’s so perceptive, and he has this very realistic and raw way of presenting his characters and making sure that the dialogue is very natural and not stylized the way you normally hear actors speak in Hollywood films. It was kind of intense, and I just thrived on getting into working with Adam (Driver, her co-star) and appreciating the way Noah tries to develop the story. We actually once lived a few blocks away from each other in L.A., so it was so great that he thought about me we finally got a chance to work together.

STRIPLV: You have a passion for stuffed animals and taxidermy?

SEYFRIED: My sister Jennifer and I are obsessed with that. We have this morbid fascination with things. We love animals, living and dead. I even have a stuffed horse, Antoine. We also collect heads of old dolls. I like to give things a chance for a second life. My mother spends a lot of time in the attic trying to figure out where to put all the stuff that we accumulate. Mom will send me text messages asking for permission to throw out something: postcards, photos of Julie Christie. I’m a hoarder. I always keep everything. I guess I’m very sentimental and I have a tough time letting go of things which have certain memories for me.

STRIPLV: When did you decide you wanted to be an actor and why at such a young age did you decide to use narration or to act as a way of expressing yourself?

SEYFRIED: I don’t think that I decided to, I guess I always was a performer of sorts in an annoying way to my family, and I think that I was young, and I wanted to model, and it was all very glamorous at 11. I was singing, and I felt that acting, too, would be fun. I was sent on auditions by a modeling agency and it kind of felt right, and now I am still doing it. I think that it’s the only thing that I can do. I was on “As The World Turns.” Probably 13, 14. It was that point where I made the decision with all my heart that that was what I wanted to do, but I had no expectation it would happen. And let’s be clear, it was about becoming an actor, like not “a star.” I didn’t want that. So many actors do, and there’s a difference between who I am and the type of person some other actors are, who know they were going to be a star from a young age. That comes with expectation, whereas I was always more realistic and practical.

STRIPLV: But you are a star now. Is it a bad thing?

SEYFRIED: I don’t think I’ll ever be a persona, which is a lucky position to be in. I don’t think the public will ever get to know me that way, and I don’t want them to because they stop believing in the characters you play, and I’ve fought too long to get to this place.

STRIPLV: Do you feel like you weren’t taken seriously in her early twenties as an actress?

SEYFRIED: Of course, I was totally pigeonholed as the dumb blonde after Mean Girls, and there were opportunities there but not as many now. It’s not a new story, so many go through it, but it’s different now.

STRIPLV: Mean Girls kicked off the dumb blonde associations, did you ever regret it?

SEYFRIED: No, not at all. Mean Girls was amazing for me. It gave me so much. It was my first movie, and it’s was hard because now, technically, I know what I’m doing, as an actor. I know what’s asked of me and what I have to do. I know I have the freedom to try different things. On that, I was so stiff, but I had the most fun because I was on set with Lindsay and Tina and Lacey. “This is amazing I’m on a movie set.” I was 18; I had no clue what to do with my life. It was either Mean Girls or college, so it gave me direction.

STRIPLV: You took opera classes when you were growing up before turning to acting. Was acting something you knew was a great creative outlet for you?

SEYFRIED: I knew that acting was this strange and interesting way for me to get rid of tension and negative energy. Acting was a great help to me that way, although that’s not why I wanted to do it. When I started acting, I knew instinctively that it was something I would always enjoy and that I could see myself doing it for the rest of my life.

STRIPLV: How did you find the experience of starting out in Hollywood? 

SEYFRIED: I worked hard, and I had some early success, but I was dealing with a lot of anxieties and insecurities when I was starting to get a lot of work. I was afraid of disappointing people, and I put a lot of pressure on myself. Even now I still worry about not being at my best when I’m starting to work on a new film but then that feeling goes away, and I can just enjoy my time on the set.

STRIPLV: You’ve said in the past that acting had been a form of therapy for you, does it still carry that benefit? 

SEYFRIED: Yes. When I’m playing a scene where I have to cry, it’s very easy for me to draw on those kinds of sad feelings that dwell inside me. I’ve also developed tools to help me overcome a lot of my fears. Studying Buddhism has been very helpful to me— it’s enabled me to overcome those moments where I might have an anxiety attack before doing a scene and help me regain my focus and be in the present. Being able to do that, it gives you so much satisfaction and a sensation of euphoria.

STRIPLV: In the past, you’ve spoken about having to worry about your weight and trying not to have to starve yourself to conform to Hollywood’s idea of female beauty?

SEYFRIED: I’m pretty comfortable with how I look. I would like to be taller, maybe, but I’m happy the way I am, which is something it takes a while to experience as a woman. We’re always looking at our flaws. What’s so strange is that even though a lot of magazine articles always mentioned my eyes, in school all the kids made fun of my big eyes. Children can be really cruel, that way. But when I started getting acting jobs, then my eyes became something that people loved about me. That kind of teaches you something about just accepting yourself and not being frantic about what other people think.

STRIPLV: I’ve heard you can’t watch yourself in movies. Why not?

SEYFRIED: For whatever reason. I’m too critical; it’s a problem with me. I really should be just doing plays because I’ll never be able to see it, I’ll just live it. It’s more where you are than what you’re doing as an actor. You can’t do anything about it.

STRIPLV: You looked like you enjoyed your time presenting at the 2018 Independent Spirit Awards. Is it better to write something or go off the top of your head?

SEYFRIED: I think everybody should always write something, especially me. I can’t go off the top of my head; I’m useless.

STRIPLV: You couldn’t freestyle anything?

SEYFRIED: I can’t. I would never do that to myself. I would sound like just an idiot. So no, you need to be prepared. Preparation, Period.

STRIPLV: You’ve said that you have a problem with confrontation. What troubles you about that?

SEYFRIED: I have an obsession with being authentic and truthful with myself and with other people as well. But I have trouble bringing myself to stand up for myself in certain situations where I feel I’m not being treated correctly. I have this fear of confronting people, though, and I don’t want to be hypocritical in situations where I’m unhappy— it’s something I’m still working on.

STRIPLV: In Gringo, you played Sunny. Do you consider yourself close to Sunny as a person, maybe a certain level?

SEYFRIED: I’m pretty wide-eyed and hopeful and also pretty optimistic, and I think yeah, that’s where I do connect with her. But I would never let any of that happen. I would ask too many questions where she doesn’t ask enough and even when she is asking, and he is dodging her questions, I would keep asking, and she didn’t. Because she wants to believe in the good of people and I do too. I’m super trusting in certain ways with certain people, and I do kind of let them get away with it, but not as much as Sunny.

STRIPLV: In Gringo, it’s not a traditional comedy as there weren’t funny lines, but it was more like the situations that your character experienced were so extreme. So did that make you comfortable with doing comedy?

SEYFRIED: Right. Yeah, exactly. It’s just the response, the reaction of the characters in these extreme situations that can be funny if it’s not dark. So that was fun, really fun to play.

STRIPLV: How was your experience with David? He’s a great actor, but it was the first time we’ve seen him playing a goofy character in a comedic role.

SEYFRIED: It was good that he was able to have this opportunity to be fun and goofy and I imagine he doesn’t get that very often because he’s such a good actor and of course we all want those theatrical parts. But he’s also really good at having fun and getting it, getting the joke. He’s in on the joke. So, he’s a perfect Harold.

STRIPLV: How was your experience with Nash and Joel considering that they’re siblings— and also there’s something about Australian culture that is very attractive or very warm? Did you feel that?

SEYFRIED: Yes, of course. They’re close, and they’re good friends, and they have a very similar vision. I didn’t work with Joel on Gringo, actually. There were no scenes with us together, but I know Joel, and I’ve known both him and Nash for a long time since I did another movie a while ago and we were in the same town shooting two different movies, years back. It felt very much like family. Nash is very calm and collected and knows what he wants, and as a friend and a director, it’s always a little weird but he made a beautiful set, and we were traveling around a lot. We were in Mexico City and Veracruz, and we were in Chicago for a second and he’s good, he’s outstanding. His brother, Joel, seems to take excellent direction from Nash as well.

STRIPLV: In Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, does the story again revolve around Meryl Streep’s character Donna?

SEYFRIED: Yeah, her character Donna is the heart and soul of Mamma Mia!. So, luckily, it’s not just, we know Meryl as Donna, but we don’t actually know Donna as a young woman. Which is why it’s so good that we have a prequel aspect to the sequel because it is a sequel but it’s also a prequel, and Lily James comes in and like blows everyone away with her Donna.

STRIPLV: However, there’s something about everybody?

SEYFRIED: Oh, everybody’s very much in the movie and then some.

STRIPLV: Some viewers thought that Donna had died in the previous movie.

SEYFRIED: Oh yeah. But don’t, nobody should worry.

STRIPLV: It is all ABBA songs, right?

SEYFRIED: It is. It’s not like we’re going to add like, you know, a Jimi Hendrix song in there. It would be nice, but no, it’s all ABBA. We were married to ABBA, and it wouldn’t be right any other way. We have songs that people don’t know very well, and we’re bringing more of the old stuff back into the game, into 2018.

STRIPLV: You looked like your character in the film was best friends with Cher. Would you like that to happen in real life?

SEYFRIED: Cher would be a great best friend and believe me, I am working on her!

STRIPLV: Is there a text message group right now?

SEYFRIED: No, no, no. But that’s a good idea. She’s a woman’s woman, and she’s everything. She is so awesome; she’s so awesome. Everybody should want to be friends with Cher, and few are lucky actually to be friends with her.

STRIPLV: And you’re one of the few?

SEYFRIED: No, not just yet. But maybe.

STRIPLV: You’ve taken the brave step of recreating the role here.

SEYFRIED: I know people say “never go back” but this was such a wonderful project to be involved in, and I think I’ve matured and grown enough as a person to be able to come back and put a different slant on things. The character is older and so am I, obviously, so there’s a natural combination and an opportunity to show how character and actress have grown. My character, Sophie, has become a business owner, she’s got herself a partner. She’s fiery, confident and independent, but also touching and beautiful, and that’s a lovely combination to try to do justice to.

STRIPLV: It must feel good to be a part of such a significant franchise now?

SEYFRIED: I’ve said it before, but it feels magic. To be in something surrounded by song and such brilliant music feels entirely different for a typical film. There’s so much to invest, and I think the real difference is the music makes this film stay in your head for so much longer than a typical movie. That’s really powerful.

STRIPLV: You also seem very grounded, and that seems difficult because being in the public eye, one can lose perspective.

SEYFRIED: It’s not that hard to have a realistic perspective. It’s not that hard to believe that most of it is bullshit and that everything is fleeting. So, if you have good morals and values, and you have good friends around you to keep you sane, even when you go off the rails a little bit, whether it’s insecurity, or you’re working too hard and not sleeping, or you are anxious about the energy of what you’re experiencing in Hollywood, you can get derailed for a second. So when you meet assholes, you know that life is much easier when you’re not an asshole. When you realize that you’re not the only person, that you’re not more important than everybody else then it’s super easy, I think.   

STRIPLV: Have you always enjoyed having pets or animals around you?

SEYFRIED: I grew up on the outskirts of Allentown, Pennsylvania, and even though my family lived in a normal apartment we often went on vacation in the Hudson Valley. There were a lot of farms in the area, and I always dreamed that one day I would live on a farm full of animals. Then a few years ago I found a beautiful farmhouse in the area, and I bought it. It’s turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I don’t like loud places or having a lot of activity around me. Crowds make me uncomfortable and airports are probably the most stressful places for me. I find it hard to deal with all the people rushing in different directions, and I get very anxious in those situations. That’s why living in the countryside is such a joy for me and also for Thomas. We have this lovely little grocery store near us, and it’s so much fun shopping there and also buying fresh vegetables at the local farmer’s market. I also have my own vegetable garden where I grow lettuce and blueberries and tomatoes.

STRIPLV: Do you always try to keep your personal life private?

SEYFRIED: Not religiously. I mean I’ll talk about what’s going on.

STRIPLV: You seem more relaxed than others when it comes to that.

SEYFRIED: I like to talk. Maybe that gets me in trouble, and you’ve got to be smart when it comes to that stuff. But I’ll never hid away. I know its simple math to do so, but I never want to be in that position. There was a time though when I would speak to journalists and talk about personal things thinking they were my friend and then it’s something that comes back to you over and over. Taken out of context, all that shit. I think I learned a lot from Meryl Streep in putting up a barrier. Not a barrier, just being good at separating life from career, and god, then she’s still lovely and funny and charismatic and charming. There’s a way of doing it.

STRIPLV: Do you dislike the interview process then?

SEYFRIED: No, I like it. I sometimes feel like I learn something about myself. Not all the time. And they can be really funny too. Especially if it’s something that makes journalists a little shy or uncomfortable. When I was doing interviews for Lovelace, I told one guy that to prepare I gave as many blowjobs as I could. (Laughs) And he was like, silent. He actually believed me. It was really funny.

STRIPLV: Did he write about it?

SEYFRIED: I don’t know. Maybe.

BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD

0718brycedallashowardfeature

BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD

By Jack Wellington

Some stars give you the impression that they love the glitz and glamour. Others, like Bryce Dallas Howard, would rather confine themselves to work and let others be part of the hype. The vivacious 37-year-old actress, daughter of director Ron Howard, has built up an impressive body of work in Spider-Man 3, The Help, 50/50, and the first incarnation of Jurassic World, the third-highest grossing movie in history. She also played opposite Robert Redford in the 2016 film Pete’s Dragon. She is currently starring in what is sure to be the newest summer blockbuster, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

When she’s not acting, though, the smiling and talkative redhead lives in LA but stays out of the limelight, retreating to the comfort of home with actor husband, Seth Gabel (Salem) and their two pre-teen children, Theodore and Beatrice.

“Even though I spent a lot of time on film sets with my father, I was raised in a home that was very caring and normal,” Howard says. “I love my work, but I also want to make sure my kids grow up with traditional American values the way I grew up.”

STRIPLV: So Jurassic World again. You must be a reptile fan?

HOWARD: Oh my gosh. Not particularly, only when they’re fantastical, especially when they’re friendly. When I was five years old, I had a birthday party at a petting zoo, and my mom is a total tomboy. My grandfather was in aerospace engineering, and he would like, he was raised in Louisiana, and he was this really fun, logical, intellectual, he was the oldest acrobatic pilot in the world and the first white man to climb Mount Fuji Ramn in the winter and survive. So he was like, had tremendous courage and he made a huge impression on my mom. And all of us. So she was really tough because of him; he would take on anything if his life was in jeopardy and she is just like that as well. And, when I was five, I was at this birthday, and someone came out with a big snake and I, understandably was terrified and ran and hid and he was like, “OK, not my daughter.” And that day, she took me to a pet store and said, you can have any snake you want.

STRIPLV: Wow, lucky you.

HOWARD: I know, not any puppy you want. Any snake you want! So I had this corn snake, and I named his Jovis. I had a lisp, and I didn’t know how to say Joseph, and he was the exception, and he would just sit around my wrist or around my neck like a necklace. He would never squeeze me. I wore him to school as often as I could, like I could hide him under my sleeve and then bring him into school. I was a cool kid for that. (Laughs) So he is the exception, I love Jovis.

STRIPLV: With regards to your director for the film, you go back a bit without actually working together don’t you?

HOWARD: I have wanted to work with J. A. (Bayona) ever since he did The Orphanage and we actually met each other years ago and had this incredible, incredible meeting and we were trying to figure out something to do together and so I have wanted to work with him for years and that it was this, it’s amazing.

STRIPLV: What is the best of J. A.?

HOWARD: You know what, he knows so much about cinema, and he’s so passionate about it, but ultimately he is a little boy who loves movies and has so much fun with it. So he has this perfect combination of being very sophisticated but he’s not arrogant with his film-making. He’s very collaborative and fun and light-hearted. I think that’s just the perfect combination for a director.

STRIPLV: And Chris?

HOWARD: Working with Chris is the best. He’s a great individual, a remarkable talent, hilarious and you know, not too bad to look at either. He’s a really, really awesome guy.

STRIPLV: In Jurassic World, you were kind of like a reptile yourself— hear me out— shedding the corporate skin of Claire and becoming a real gutsy woman. You got a fun character arc for you.

HOWARD: Yeah, it really was. Because it’s like playing someone who is courageous and ferocious and ambitious and that’s a fun character to play in general. But then to get the kind of journey where she is all in white and by the end, I am just covered in mud. I just wanted to throw mud at her in the first scene, so it was this great situation where it’s a character that I really love and a personality that I really love and yet this story, the first Jurassic World, brought her down to earth and then she was kind of her best self from there. It’s like that was her journey to becoming who she is meant to be.

STRIPLV: Of course people made such a massive deal about you running through the movie in heels. Are we going to see the heels in this movie or is it RIP?

HOWARD: Well there’s no running in heels. No, no. No, no. No, no. That was for Claire - she was dressed for a day at work, she was dressed for her corporate career, not to sprint about in the jungle. So, this time it’s different because this time there’s an event that’s happening on the island, there’s an extinction level event which is threatening the lives of all of the dinosaurs, and we’re choosing to go back to save them. It was a case of us saying: “Do we allow nature to take its course and do we allow these animals to become extinct again? Or, do we save these animals, therefore potentially putting the whole planet in jeopardy?” That’s the difficult kind of reality that we’re facing in this story. So it is very dangerous, and we do know what we’re facing, and therefore I am wearing shoes that I can safely run in! So yes, I certainly didn’t choose to dress in heels for that.

STRIPLV: Did that come as a huge shock?

HOWARD: Pretty unexpected, I must say. Where is this coming from? Honestly, I thought it was difficult to run in those heels because it was difficult to run in those heels; it was not a party. Never did I think anyone else would notice it. I mean, these were the only shoes she had, what was she going to do, run barefoot through the jungle? It was the best of a bad situation.

STRIPLV: Are you a feminist when it comes to your work?

HOWARD: I like playing female characters who have a purpose, beyond, I’m going to say this very respectfully, beyond oh I just can’t, beyond the eye candy. That’s is not who I am. I’m a character actor. That’s not to say I feel unattractive, I’m happy with everything, but that’s not my strength. The sexy girl, that’s not my strength. But getting into the mind of someone who’s, where the character really could, it’s like, things don’t need to be gender neutral but that’s it’s not specifically just about being a woman, but it’s about being a fully realized human being with 

a purpose, with a history, who plays a significant role in the journey of the story that’s being told. That’s what inspires me.

STRIPLV: The role of Grace Meacham in one of your previous films, Pete’s Dragon - she’s probably far more on the side of feminism than Jurassic?

HOWARD: David Lowery is a feminist. He would always be like, “I don’t drive a lot. I get intimidated on the road,” and he’s always like “Bryce you’re driving, move over Wes, in the passenger seat,” and it was just yeah, I was in the passenger seat with Robert Redford who told me he learned to drive when was seven and drove across country when he was maybe 9, it was under 10. He drove across country, can you imagine? I was shaking; you’ve been driving for decades, so yeah, there was an awareness.

STRIPLV:
The fact that Jurassic World is now the fourth highest grossing franchise has that put a pressure on you to match its success in your future films? How do you pick them now?

HOWARD:
I always focus on the process. that is something I can be invested in and have a stake in and hopefully you know, help make it a positive experience. When I leave the set, I really leave the set; I have to let go of the results. When it doesn’t turn out well, as a film, that’s incredible. And in addition to that, if it’s financially successful, it’s a really good feeling, because you also don’t want the studio to lose money. But there’s no formula. I also, when I step off a movie, I let go of everything. When you’re part of something so tremendously successful, you have to thank your lucky stars and let go of that. If you get hung up on trying to replicate it, you just can’t; you just got to go with the flow. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t.

STRIPLV:
You grew up in a showbiz family. Does it ever seem surreal that you’re continuing a family tradition?

HOWARD:
My parents made it all very comfortable and natural for me regarding how they raised my siblings and me. When I was five years old, my dad (director Ron Howard) made the movie Willow in New Zealand, and I was there with him. My family was there. I have vivid memories of New Zealand and loving my time there. And then, 30 years later, I got to shoot Pete’s Dragon over there, and I was able to have my kids experience that and get to go to school in New Zealand and be on set with me. Now, this is something they were excited about. It’s been incredibly meaningful. It was so beautiful being able to have my own kids enjoy the same kind of adventure that I had gone I was a little girl with my own mom and dad.

STRIPLV: You never went the child actress route. How do you handle your own kids’ relationship to your exotic kind of profession?

HOWARD: Done right, it’s a full-time job. You have to keep your kids grounded and not become part of the celebrity side of your life. And my dad had a full-time job. And my mom had a full-time job taking care of my dad and four kids. (Laughs)

STRIPLV: Would your father Ron Howard talk to you and the other kids about his films a lot?

HOWARD: Oh, all the time. My dad used us as a kind of test audience, and he would constantly be taking us through the stories of his films. He talked to us a lot about The Grinch and also about Willow. I loved those moments where I felt that my imagination would get so caught up in the magic of those films and I think it was important to him to be able to gauge the reaction of his four very bluntly honest children to the stories before he would start filming.

STRIPLV: Do you talk to your children about your films?

HOWARD: It depends on the film, of course. Pete’s Dragon was something very special that I could talk about and also parts of Jurassic World - although my youngest child obviously isn’t going to see that until she’s older. (Laughs) This was the first film of mine that they’ve ever seen. It was as exciting for me to see their reaction as it was for them to see me in a film. I was really emotional 

about finally being able to show them their mom’s work!

STRIPLV: Is it important for you that your children be close to your world the way you were to your own father’s world?

HOWARD: Yes. I wanted them to treasure their time on the set with me just like I did with my own father and mother. It was also wonderful that this was a movie that they could watch and look back on many years later and recall their time in New Zealand and what that meant to them.

STRIPLV: Have your children worked on any of your films thus far?

HOWARD: My son (Theodore) was an extra in Pete’s Dragon, and he was so thrilled when the trailer for the film came out, and he saw himself in one of the scenes. He just screamed out. “There I am, mom!” But we were all watching at the same time, and we didn’t see him. But after playing it over and over again we finally saw the top of his head! (Laughs) It’s such a joy to see your child get to be part of your world and truly enjoy those kinds of moments.

STRIPLV: You are known to take your kids filming with you.

HOWARD: I took my kids to New Zealand when filming Pete’s Dragon. They went to a local school there which was really great, but my son, who is a very quiet kid, just recently revealed to me that the first two weeks he didn’t understand what anyone was saying. And I was like, “Aww babe, you worked it out.” But it’s like, we basically we shot in a lot of different places in New Zealand, just classic tourists. We would do to the geysers, and we were living close to Mount Maunganui, so we were near the beaches and the ocean. And then on the South Island, near Queenstown, it’s just, there is natural beauty there.

STRIPLV: And that’s like when you went on location with your dad when you were younger?

HOWARD: Yes, I had been to New Zealand 30 years before when my dad was shooting Willow there, so it was very circle of life that I was bringing my kids there. And I had so many memories of being on sets. And just like in the kindest way and I hope that with my kids growing up and traveling with my husband that I travel with my parents. I hope they get to experience and the wonders and magic that I got to experience in my childhood.

STRIPLV: And on Jurassic World, you’re still working with kids. How do you enjoy that aspect?

HOWARD: It’s probably my favorite thing to do because I don’t know, I just find, of course, this is just not, I have happened to have had entirely positive experiences working with young actors. I know others who may not say the same. I shouldn’t make some sweeping generalization myself. But my experiences with working with people who are minors, there is an excellent level of professionalism and preparedness and also a sense of ease. They don’t have all the hang-ups that adults have. They don’t worry about people liking them. “I hope I don’t seem stupid.” The kids that I work with, that’s never been a consideration. Like with my kids, I can say “lava” and they’ll instantly jump on the couch; it’s available instantaneously, but as an adult actor, I went, I spent a lot of money on college just trying to stop myself of things so that I could learn to connect to kind of that innocent sense of play and wonder and imagination that you have often have as a child. So it’s really inspiring to working with children.

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