Category Archives: International Actor

From the Pages of Magazines to his Most Recent Film “Il Sonnambulo” Rob McLoughlin Continues to Turn Heads

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Actor Rob McLoughlin featured in an ad for Spoke Pants

 

For English model-turned-actor Rob McLoughlin, the ability to embody a character comes genuinely and naturally. With a scope of work ranging from commercials to live theatre to feature films, this London based performer is grabbing the attention of industry leaders worldwide with his captivating charm and organic believability. Enthralled by the opportunity to get into the heads of characters both real and made up, McLoughlin has delivered memorable and unparallelled performances over the last six years that are enough to impress even  the toughest of critics.

McLoughlin’s roles have been as diverse as they have been challenging. He has played everything from the nerdy, hyperfocused computer technician in BBC’s Micro Men to a cheeky and daring journalist in the award winning feature film Il Sonnambulo and a hostage-taking, weapon-wielding gangster in Sam Walker‘s black-and-white noir film, Suspect 13.

While he currently works predominantly in film, McLoughlin’s roots began in the live theatre, where he worked for eight years at the Royal Opera House in London, where in addition to acting, he brought his stunt and combat skills to the stage.

“I’ve worked with world renowned director David McVicar many times,” McLoughlin recalls of his time at the theatre. “One of the things I worked with him on was Le Nozze Di Figaro, or, ‘The Marriage of Figaro,’ which won several awards. We actually devised an opening scene during the overture which has never been done in the two hundred years of its production, so there’s a little bit of history there.”

With talent extending from the stage and onto both television and film screens across the globe, McLoughlin demonstrates his versatility and depth of skill wonderfully in Il Sonnambulo. Having already won “Best Horror Film” at Vancouver Web Fest and both “Best Cinematography” and “Best Director” at Seattle Web Fest, Il Sonnambulo is sure to win even more awards in 2016 as it is slated to travel to Buenos Aires Film Fest, Toronto Film Fest, New Media Film Fest and Montreal Web Fest where it has been chosen as an Official Selection. You can get a taste of the film through the trailer below:

 

 

The film, whose Italian title translates to “The Sleepwalker,” is gaining momentum in the film festival circuit for its macabrely gripping storyline. The feature tells the tale of photographer Atticus Hurst, a distraught though numb father of a missing girl, as he teams up with reporter and all around badass Roberto Aurelio to chase the scent of Il Sonnambulo, an ominously threatening boogeyman-like murderer who has been taunting Atticus over the past twenty years.

Proving that nothing is out of his wheelhouse, McLoughlin breathes life into the complex and peculiar character of the reporter superbly and naturally.  Before the shoot, McLoughlin sat down with director Doug Rath to develop more of a backstory for his character. While the backstory would never be directly mentioned in the film, the work that goes into character development bleeds through into every scene of the film and is instrumental to the overall success of the project. In fact, it is in large part due to McLoughlin’s dedication to the project that it is being seriously considered by many networks in the United States to further develop into a series.

 

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Still shot of Rob McLoughlin as Roberto in “Il Sonnambulo”

 

Able to pull from his own experiences, McLoughlin relates to his character, comparing Roberto’s dichotomy to that of an actor feigning confidence. “Roberto thinks that Atticus is completely mad, that this is all some spooky crap that Atticus has made up after too many absinthes. However, it’s all too enticing and could get him back on track professionally. I mean, who knows that feeling better than an actor right? Pretty much everything we do is a shot in the dark.”

It is this very confidence, willingness to take risks, and belief in the art that has gotten McLoughlin to where he is today. Never type-cast, McLoughlin proves his range and flexibility as he tackles role after role, some serious, some funny, and everything in between. For instance, he played a hostage-taking, bar-robbing, roughed-up gangster in Suspect13 and, while he says it’s “fun to play the bad guy,” his talents don’t end there. McLoughlin makes for a genuine and believable hopeless romantic in the six-part Mark’s and Spencer Valentine’s Day commercials.

“I can scrub up ok,” McLoughlin says with a smile. “I can don a suit or scruff up quite easily for a role. My normal style is jeans and a t-shirt. I’m witty, I’m intelligent; I was given a good brain and I like to use it. I’m relaxed. Maybe too much sometimes but I’m also professional. I do my job to the best of my abilities every time.”

Stopping at literally nothing to live out his dream, McLoughlin can be seen in a recent Audi commercial, strapped to a car travelling at 80mph down an airport runway in a hundred degree heat, reading a newspaper. “That was so much fun,” McLoughlin admitted, “I wanted to do it all week.”

With a passion met only by his charisma, talent, and motivation to succeed, Rob McLoughlin is an actor whose portrayals will not soon be forgotten.  The ability to take viewers on an emotional journey while maintaining their credibility and telling a story is truly the mark of a good actor, and McLoughlin demonstrates this with modesty and enthusiasm every single time.

 

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‘Zero Button’ Holds Back Nothing in Delivering Absurd Impromptu Comedy

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Actors Stephan Bosch (left) and David Mihalka bring comedic genius to the YouTube series, “Zero Button.”

 

The idea behind the hilariously uninhibited YouTube series, “Zero Button,” is actually a hidden message conceptualized by actors David Mihalka and Stephan Bosch.

“On the TV remote, when you enter the zero button, there is nothing. The message is: the best program is the imagination,” Mihalka said. “That’s what we do! We take our wildest imagination – inspired through real situations – and the result is “Zero Button.”

The sketch comedy series is a riot. Mihalka and Bosch, who co-created the series, star as an assortment of larger than life characters who encounter zany scenarios and predicaments. “It’s like a contract from a lawyer,” Mihalka said. “There are the obvious jokes, but also the fine print, where you have to pay attention to the words and subtle things happening.”

Mihalka often plays gangsters and fools in “Zero Button.” “The challenge lies in not playing a clown,” Mihalka said, “but rather to be serious in the scenes and still funny. That’s the art.”

Bosch described the characters as, “real and imaginary characters under real and imaginary situations. We have no rules at all, and we are not planning on having them.”

The parody series is directed, written and produced by Mihalka and Bosch. It features a load of improv and overall comedic genius.

As to developing ideas for sketches, Mihalka said, “We don’t come up with anything. They come to us! There are so many situations in daily life that are funny. You just exaggerate and let your imagination flow, and you have scene!”

The latest episode – “The Typical Driver” – released Sunday and features Mihalka playing a driver with road rage who gets the favor returned by an angry pedestrian at the end.

Saturday saw the release of “LangWhich,” an episode where Mihalka converses with a passerby at a park who asks Mihalka if he speaks English. “No, I don’t speak English,” Mihalka says in perfect English. “I used to, but no, I don’t like it.” The paradox continues in Spanish, French, German and Sign Language – all of which Mihalka’s character can speak – and ends when the passerby suggests in sign that they have sex, prompting Mihalka to give the guy the middle finger.

There’s episodes where Mihalka plays robbers, thieves, bad guys, a therapist, philosopher and other ambiguous, side-splitting roles.

There are How To episodes such as “How to Solve ALL your Problems” (by drinking a glass of alcohol) and “How to Stop Smoking” that shows Mihalka lighting up a mouthful of cigarettes, then taking a bucket of water to the face.

One episode features an intellectual conversation regarding two percent milk. Another parody is titled “Citizen Pain.” Another shows a Rubik’s cube conundrum called “YouCube?” and there are cultural parodies such as the amusing “Bank of Armenia” episode.

“Our most views and likes are the scenes together with Stephan,” Mihalka said. “We have the same frequency, a good connection. It just works. I can’t explain it.”

The dynamic duo shine on the sketches “Hairdresser,” “Monk,” “Bench,” “Change is Good,” “American Impress,” “How To Solve All Your Problems” and “Pool.”

“If I think about it, David plays a lot of bad guys, which is the opposite of what David really is,” said Bosch, whose other acting credits include “Juventud” and “7 Days” from directors George Blumetti and Maurice Kelly. “He knows what he is good at. His life, plus acting experience, can easily be seen through his performances.”

Mihalka enjoys both current and classic comedy styles including the work of legends such as Steve Martin, Roberto Benigni, Peter Sellers and Jacques Tati.

“What makes something funny is the perception of things,” he said. “For example, recently I have been to a fancy restaurant to make a reservation for a special day. While making a reservation, I noticed behind me many cops with a dog entering the restaurant. They told the dog: ‘Search, Search!’ When I left the restaurant, I told my mum, ‘I know what happened! A guest had a cake with icing sugar, which left traces of sugar under his nose and they thought it was cocaine and called the police!’ A new scene is born.”

No stranger to film and TV, Mihalka, from Germany, has shined on screen in his numerous roles including in the John A. Mati feature Swiss comedies, “Monsieur Brucco” and “Monsieur Brucco 2.” He acted in writer-director Stan Harrington’s “Lost Angels,” which won four awards at the Indie Fest USA International Film Festival, and in Harrington’s four-time-award-winning feature mystery, “Perception.”

Mihalka’s other film and TV roles include in Mickella Simone’s “The WorkPlace,” Alex Lewis’ “Driverless,” director Emilio Ferrari’s “All I Want for Christmas” and “Difficult People” from director Jonathan Moy de Vitry. Theatrically, Mihalka acted in the Stella Adler Los Angeles production of “Margaret,” an original play directed by actor-writer-producer Tim McNeil (“Contact,” “Forrest Gump”).

Mihalka also doubles as a photographer with a premier aesthetic and captivating imagery. Check out his behind the camera work here: www.davidbehindthecamera.com

Keep up with the latest and greatest from “Zero Button” by subscribing to its YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/ZeroButtonFILMS

Says Mihalka: “Hit subscribe! A small step for man, but a giant leap for your laughing muscles. Hit it! What are you still doing here?”

For more information, visit: www.davidmihalka.com

Actress Jessie McLachlan Details her Journey to film and television Stardom

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Actress Jessie McLachlan

For Jessie McLachlan, the path to becoming one of Australia’s preeminent film and TV actresses began when she was just 6 years old. It was then she started to refine and perfect her skills by undergoing speech, dance and theatre lessons. Before her 8th birthday, she’d become a National Irish Dancer, and McLachlan found her groove by auditioning and performing in front of her Grandmother, Ann.

“I had found a home in performing,” she said. “It gave me a sense of euphoria, a high, but a certainty feeling.”

McLachlan parlayed those feelings and experiences into a coveted career many pursue and few achieve.

She’s accumulated an impressive filmography highlighted by her acting roles in more than 40 TV episodes for series including Village Roadshow’s “The Shire,” Seven Network’s 28-year running, award-winning drama, “Home and Away,” the hour-long comedy drama, “Packed to the Rafters” and Nickelodeon Network’s “Dance Academy.”

She’s starred in Dan Castle’s award-winning drama feature, “Newcastle,” and in Tom Simes’ feature family drama, “Run, Broken Yet Brave.” She’s been recognized for her singing, dancing and modeling as well that has collectively culminated into a rare package of a true do-it-all actress.

“It has given me a greater in-depth understanding of my passion to create,” McLachlan said. “It has allowed me to use each of my experiences in 20 years of performing to lend an emotion, movement, feeling or expression to a performance and do it with conviction.”

Performing often is a family affair and so was the case for McLachlan. Her elder sister, Zoe, studied film and TV in high school and college. Those choices influenced and paved the way for McLachlan’s introduction into acting.

“I was always in her films and projects,” she said, “so that really sparked my film interest. I’ve never wanted to do anything else.”

One of her early performances came in a play called “Parramatta Girls,” which was about women who had served time in Australia’s most notorious girls’ detention center as children. “It was a really powerful piece I did when I was 15, and something I am the most proud to have been a part of,” said McLachlan.

Inspired by the “Harry Potter” franchise during childhood and influenced by the on-screen work of greats such as Helena Bonham Carter, Daniel Day Lewis and Martin Scorsese, a shortlist of some of McLachlan’s favorite films include “Schindler’s List,” “Philadelphia” and “The Shawshank Redemption.”

She says the best actors are “those who protect their creative essence, especially in this industry. Those who use every scene as a lesson and find the growth and learning from each frame, even if they are an Oscar winner. Remembering passion is humbling.”

Continuing her specialized acting training into adulthood, McLachlan has studied under the esteemed tutelage at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (Sydney, Australia), Lee Strasberg (New York), Stella Adler (Los Angeles) and with the renowned acting coach Michelle Danner, in Los Angeles.

“I wanted to keep learning and be challenged by different techniques. I live my life by being ‘water’ flexible and being able to adapt and I want that to be able to carry over into each character I play,” she said. “Michelle Danner has been my favorite. She really challenges me to lose myself in a character, and she sets in motion out of the box perspectives.”

In 2006, McLachlan acted in her first film, “Spaced Out,” a sci-fi comedy directed and written by Scott Grenke. While 14 years old at the time, she played the role of an alien character in the cast. The experience proved valuable and guided McLachlan’s pursuit of acting for film and TV.

“I learned so much on that set and from my fellow actors,” she said. “It was also a moment of clarity and really affirmed my passion for film and the direction I would like to take my career.”

Two years later, McLachlan was starring as Rachel in the drama feature, “Newcastle,” that won a FilmOut Festival Award and followed the story of a group of Australian surfers. In 2009, she starred as Anna in the feature film, “Run, Broken Yet Brave.” From 2010-2011, McLachlan played the recurring role of Samantha Braxton for 27 episodes of “Home and Away” and she also starred as Jayde on “Packed to the Rafters.”

“I worked with Jessie throughout the third season of the Seven Network’s wildly successful family dramedy, “Packed to the Rafters,’” said Logie Award winning actress Brooke Satchwell. “Jessie performed the leading character of Jayde Smith, a worker at the yacht club owned by the Rafters and a former fling of son Ben Rafter. After taking a gap year following high school graduation, Jayde returns, still wanting and caring for Ben, who is now engaged. The role required an actress who could convey the emotional burden and yearnings of such a character, and Jessie not only thrived in this dynamic but also excelled in any expectations that were made of her and her character.”

McLachlan’s acted in leading roles in short films including in Jeremiah Cleman’s “Modern Day Saint,” Antonio Orena-Barlin’s “Suburbia” and Omer Zekirovski’s “Tibor – Your Not from Gosford Are Ya.”

McLachlan worked with Logie Award winning actress Jodi Gordon on “Suburbia,” a short drama about a man who gets his girlfriend a job as a florist, but later finds out the unassuming front of suburbia isn’t what it appears.

“Jessie’s leading performance as Monica was as impressive of a performance as it was crucial to the driving plot of the film itself,” said Gordon, who played Tara in the film. “I was thoroughly impressed with the way in which she translated Monica’s character traits from page to on camera. The film was nominated for Australian Film Institute Award for Best Short Fiction Film, an achievement that would not have been possible without Jessie’s extraordinary performance throughout the film.”

Comparing feature film roles to those of her TV and short filmography, McLachlan said, “The pace in filming has a different tempo. Morphing into the character is also a different process. A challenging aspect I found with short films is ensuring the layers of the character are portrayed. I put a lot of pressure on myself in really wanting the audience to feel the joy, pain or journey with the character.”

It is international audiences who have enjoyed the characters McLachlan’s portrayed and they’ve each been made possible through her own journey as an actress.

Actress Aleksandra Kovacevic Showcases her Talent Across Genres

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Actress Aleksandra Kovacevic shot by Travis Tanner

Hailing from Sarajevo, raised in Germany and trained in Los Angeles, trilingual star of the stage and screen Aleksandra Kovacevic has won over audiences on both sides of the Atlantic and become a mainstay in the industry.

In the play 4.48 Psychosis, Kovacevic takes on the difficult task of portraying both a therapist and the therapist’s patient. The play has a deeply tragic history, which is as important to the plot as the actual performance. 4.48 Psychosis was written by British playwright Sarah Kane who suffered from debilitating depression herself. After she completed writing the play, Kane committed suicide before its debut. The unsettling and grim context of the story makes it that much more powerful, and Kovacevic brought that sense of emotional magnitude to her performance in the play.

“The role of the patient was a paradox, like a free spirit trapped in her own prison. She suppresses her path and tries to reflect her fate on others,” Kovacevic said of the role. “She is Sarah Kane, and still can’t accept that she is ill. If she dies both of them die. My character is basically telling her not to give up on herself.”

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Flyer for the production of “4.48 Psychosis”

Kovacevic’s work is not bound by the conventions of genre; she is as at home in comedic roles as she is in psychological dramas. In the 2015 hit Netflix Original Series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, she plays a counselor who auditions for the Camp Talent Show. The series is directed by David Wain (Stella, They Came Together, Role Models), two-time Emmy Award-winning co-creator of the Adult Swim live-action comedy Children’s Hospital. The role sees Kovacevic act alongside an enormous all-star cast, including Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation, Saturday Night Live, They Came Together), who plays the camp counselor and brutal camp play director Susie.

In an incredible display of her talents as both an actor and a writer, Kovacevic played the lead role in Bertilda, a film she wrote herself. As the title character Bertilda, Kovacevic portrays a marionette, which serves as a symbol for the restrictions placed on women in the past and present. Throughout the film, Bertilda gradually begins to break away from those limits. Kovacevic spoke about the ways in which she planned and visualized the production from start-to-finish.

“I started thinking about the role of the female and what I could relate to,” she said. “Things like being seen as an object, being underestimated, men thinking females can’t have a position of leadership and women being seen as the weak link. The change of the female role, now and then.”

She spent countless hours studying not only the history of women’s struggles, but also the finer details like set design and of course, the style with which she would take on the role of a marionette puppet. It takes careful choreography and precise movements to perfectly embody and portray a wooden puppet whose movements are controlled and restricted by strings, and Kovacevic did so masterfully.

“I started to develop my character in her full motion when I started to practice with strings,” said Kovacevic, who actually used both bungee cords and ropes to help her become a living puppet. “To bring this project to life, I needed to practice a lot. A puppet doesn’t have a mind, her head is made out of wood.”

Everything – from the gorgeous set, painstakingly designed like an idyllic dollhouse and overflowing with symbolism to set the mood for observant viewers, to the ‘50s style of decor and wardrobe, down to the Nutcracker-esque living doll at the core of the film – are carefully and thoroughly planned and intended to create what Kovacevic calls “a fairy tale for grown-ups.”

Audiences can catch Kovacevic in the film Bertilda, and in Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp now on Netflix. Other upcoming projects include Sebudai, set to begin shooting in winter, and Animal Lovers Anonymous, a feature length mockumentary-style comedy set to begin production in 2016.

An Interview with Dazzling Polish Star Diana Matlak

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Still of Diana Matlak in the music video for Celeste Stoney’s “Kool” shot by Maksim Leonov

We over at Tinsel Town News Now recently had the pleasure of interviewing dynamic Polish actress Diana Matlak, the captivating star who played Deena Kravitz in Aditya J. Patwardhan’s dramatic film Red House by the Crossroads, which screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, Sarah in Allen Obisesan’s film Beneath the Surface and Jenny in Yi Zhang’s film Packing Up. In 2015 alone Matlak starred in more than eight films, each one showcasing a different side of her unparalleled talent.

The kind of actress that captivates her audience with little effort, Diana Matlak has also been featured in several hit television shows including Bones, American Crime Story, The Real O’Neals, Scandal, Black-ish and many others.

Back home in Poland, Matlak was landed a role on Na dobre I na zle aka For Better or For Worse, a highly popular medical drama that is one of the country’s longest running series, as well as roles in two national commercials for Zywiec Beer and Vanish, a massive cleaning products company.

Matlak’s successful film and television career places her in the upper echelon of Polish actresses currently working in the entertainment industry internationally. One aspect of her talent that separates her from others in the industry is her long history as a professional Latin dancer, which has endowed her with a rare level of grace and an ability to move through scenes like few others can.

To find out how this inspiring artist got to where she is today, and what’s next for her in terms of upcoming projects, make sure to check out our interview below!

  

TTNN: Where are you from? When and how did you get into acting?

DM: I was born and raised in Poland. I got into acting after I finished my dancing career. I am a professional Latin dancer. I have been training and competing for 15 years. I have the highest, international Class in Latin, and after I finished dancing I started to teach. Even though I liked it, I felt empty and I wasn’t completely satisfied. I knew I had to be on stage. So I started taking different acting classes: theater, acting for film, Meisner etc., and I fell in love with acting and I knew that this is it. I landed an agent and started going out on auditions. I did a couple of commercials in Poland as well as a TV show and in 2012 I started considering coming to the US.

TTNN: Can you tell me a little bit about the film, television and commercials projects you’ve done?

DM: In Poland I was in a national Zywiec Beer commercial, which aired on all of the main Polish TV stations, as well as a commercial for Vanish cleaning products. Both times I had a blast on set. I played a patient on the Polish TV series Na dobre i na złe, (For better or For Worse), a medical drama series broadcast on TVP2. The show is currently on its 17th season, and with over 600 episodes, it is the longest-running primetime drama on Polish TV. The show revolves around the lives of doctors and patients in a hospital in Leśna Góra near Warsaw.

I played Deena Kravitz in the film Red House by the Crossroads directed by Aditya J. Patwardhan. The film follows Ester Kravitz, my character’s mother, whose husband was murdered during the Second World War at the hands of a fleeing Nazi officer, and as fate would have it, that officer’s estranged son, Edward Melies, is her doctor. The story is about a man’s face-off with the sins of his father and a woman’s contemplation for finishing the cycle of revenge.

My character was responsible for her mother, who was struggling with the illness and who couldn’t forget about what happened during the war. Deena was also responsible for her mentally sick, younger brother. My role was very demanding, because Deena was supposed to be a very strong young woman who helps her family, in fact she is responsible for the family, but it was a challenge because of all of the obstacles in her life, for example: the situation in the house, no father, a mentally ill younger brother and a sick mother. Deena was actually very sad and overwhelmed, but she never shows it.

In the film Stay directed by Yining Yan I played Lady in Red. The film has two parallel stories, one where a pregnant woman is having contractions with her husband standing by her side, and the other where the husband, who dresses like a detective, chases a drug-dealer. In the film, as the wife’s time-line goes backwards into the past, the husband’s time-line goes forward with the ending revealing that the detective actually died in the mission and chose to stay with his wife as a ghost. My character, which is the couple’s neighbor, watches the sees the detective get shot and does everything she can to save his life.

I played the leading lady in the music video for Gaurav Bhatt & Shikha Bhatt hit song “Katra- Katra,” which was directed by Aditya J. Patwardhan. The video revolves around a girl who finds unfinished sheet music on the beach. She is very intrigued and curious about the composer that created it and she wants to finish the piece. She is almost obsessed with finishing it. She meets a friend and tells him that it looks like the composer couldn’t express the feelings he wanted to, and when she finally finishes the music, she meets the composer.

In the film Bring me flowers directed by Siru Wen I played the lead role of Emma, a former photographer who works in a brothel. Emma suffered from depression for years; and when her boyfriend, the biggest love of her life, breaks up with her she doesn’t know what to do, her depression only gets worse until she finally decides to start working in a brothel. She hates it. She is very unhappy, and doesn’t know how to deal with all of the issues she has. Ultimately she wants love and understanding. Sage comes into the brothel and develops feelings for her and slowly falls in love with her. But she still thinks about her ex boyfriend. Emma likes Sage but everything reminds her of her ex boyfriend. Emma is overwhelmed and she doesn’t know what to do, and finally depression wins. She decides to finish her life committing suicide. While Sage is in her room she jumps out of the window.

I was also in the films Mac Daddys Vegas Adventure directed by Mac Jay, Perfect Illusion, a comedy directed by Allen Obisesan, Dead Heart directed by Ogemdi Udegbumam, Speak Softly, a dramedy directed by Chad Figuredo, Something good and Packing up directed by Yi Zhang, With You directed by Colin Yan, Beneath the Surface directed by Allen Obisesan, Touch directed by Rishab Gulati, Shameless directed by Monique Oberholzer, Bethany directed by James Cullen Bressack, Buddy Solitaire, a comedy directed by Kuang Lee, Cans and Candles directed by Tarak Ojaghi, Restoration, a horror film directed by Zack Ward, Coincidental Romance directed by Joseph Brandon and Roller Coaster directed by Bradley Howkins.

I’ve also been featured on the television shows Scandal, Bones, American Crime Story, The Real O’Neals, Black-ish, Heartbreaker, Rosewood and Grace and Frankie.

In terms of commercials outside of Poland, I’ve been in major international campaigns for Greetings from Europe – EXPO 2015, Heineken Beer, and a Super Bowl commercial for Chambord. I was also in music videos for the artists Arash, and Neo.

TTNN: They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?

DM: All of the projects are very different, but they have one thing in common – all of them are very interesting. The scripts are well written, the stories are exciting and the people working on these projects are fun to work with, but at the same time very professional.

TTNN: You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?

DM: I always read the script first, and then if I like the story and my character, most of the time I’ll want to do the project. For me stories are very important.

TTNN: What has been your favorite role so far and why?

DM: It is a very difficult question because over the course of my career I’ve played a lot of challenging roles. But there are some roles that because, either they were more challenging than others, or because I had more fun with them, they became my favorite.

I enjoyed playing the depressed girl from Bring me flowers because it was really challenging, it was so dark and I had to find these dark situations within my character. I am not a pessimistic person, instead I am super optimistic and I always trying to find a positive side, so it was really challenging to play this character, because she is so different from who I am. I stayed very focused on set– always with headphones on just trying to get into my dark place… I had a lot of fun and it was a great lesson for me.

My second favorite role was Hannah from Coincidental Romance. This role on the other hand was very challenging, because the character was very similar to me. Hannah is a dancer and she wanted to pursue her dancing career in Los Angeles, but after her boyfriend breaks up with her and she gets depressed, it is very difficult for her to move forward… It was really very interesting to play this role, because even though the character and I had a lot of in common, Hannah is a different person, she’s not me. I remember when I was preparing for the role I had to find Hanna’s motivation and her unique objective in life.

TTNN: What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?

DM: I like all genres. I worked on comedies, horrors and dramas, and I’ve had fun with all of them. Comedies are always fun to work on because the atmosphere is really great. When it comes to dramas, I like to get really deep into my character, so many times I listen to music on set so I can stay focused and concentrate…I’ve worked on two horror films so far, and I would like to work in this genre more as well.

TTNN: What separates you from other actors?

DM: I think that every actor is very unique and exceptional. I know I have a lot to offer as I am a professional Latin dancer, as well as a fitness, aqua aerobic and snowboard instructor. I have trained as a downhill skier for 8 years and I also studied Physical Education at the Academy of Physical Education in Warsaw. I am a sports teacher as well. I have been training Stage Combat for a year and I am really fit. I speak several different languages including Polish, German, English and basic Russian, and I can also do Russian, German and Polish accents.

TTNN: What would you say your strongest qualities as an actor are?

DM: I think the fact that I am committed and hardworking, and that I always prepare for my roles really sets me apart. I am not afraid of preparing for my roles, and I really take my time. I use different acting techniques to create the best character I can. I love to rehearse. I’ve also travelled a lot, and got to know different cultures and interesting people, which I think is very important for actors, because we have to portray people that are often so different from us. I am always open to learn, I observe people and try to learn from them and understand their behavior.

TTNN: What projects do you have coming up?

DM: In December I will be in a music video, directed by Aditya J. Patwardhan. I worked with Aditya on two projects, and I think that he is a great director. I can’t wait. Red House by the Crossroads, a drama that I was in, which was written and directed by Aditya J. Patwardhan, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015. I am very excited to start working with Aditya again. In January 2016 I will be playing one of the leads in Lotta-ditsy flirt, a film directed by Stephanie Nauli.

TTNN: What are your plans for the future?

DM: My plans are to act, act and act. I love being on set, and I plan to work as much as possible, and of course audition, because without auditioning getting a role is pretty hard. I still take classes at Ivan Chubbuck Studio and I want to continue taking classes, because I think as an actor it is very important to work on your craft all of the time.

TTNN: What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?

DM: I would love to make beautiful movies, tell amazing stories and work with great actors and directors. I would love to get challenging roles.

TTNN: Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?

DM: I must say that I never thought that I would become an actress, but acting chose me, and I am very happy that happened. I love my job. I love everything about it: studying the roles, working on sets and even the entire audition process. The best part is, that I get to portray different characters

Spotlight on Child Star, Alexander Davis!

Alexander Davis
                                       Alexander Davis on set of the film “Niko”

While it takes many actors years to develop great range, at eight years old, child actor Alexander Davis has continued to demonstrate his extraordinary talent in a variety of genres through leading roles in theatre and film; and his career has continued to flourish as a result.

Alexander was born in Russia, and placed into the care of an orphanage as an infant. When he was 16 months old, he was adopted and moved to Canada to live with his parents and older brother, Richard.

It was Richard who inspired Alexander to pursue acting. “My brother is a professional actor, and I wanted to be just like him,” Alexander explains. “When I was three years old, I had a chance to be in a film with my brother… My parents could see I had a ‘gift’ for acting as well.”

The film he describes was In Lieu of Flowers. While this was Alexander’s first time appearing on film, it was far from his last. In this film, Alexander’s character was used as a plot device for the pregnant lead actress to ponder the life of her unborn child.

This experience excited Alexander, who began begging his parents to let him try acting, just like Richard. His parents agreed to allow him to start auditioning for roles when he turned five, and Alexander has been working non-stop ever since. He says, “I started working regularly that year… with people calling my mother, asking if they could use me in upcoming films.”

In the last three years, Alexander has excelled as both a dramatic and comedic actor on film through his roles as Thomas in A Long Way Home, Alex in Senior Drivers, Jacob in Volition and many others. He has even proven to have quite the proclivity for horror films, terrifying audiences through his portrayals of the title character in the film Niko and young Charlie in the film Neighbour.

As Niko, Alexander haunts the babysitter who murdered him and his mother, eventually driving her into an insane asylum, where he continues to torment her.

Besides acting in the film, Alexander recalls how he particularly enjoyed the special effects in the making of Niko, “It was so much fun to find out how horror films are made. I think the make-up artists in horror films have an awesome job… if I wasn’t an actor, I think it would be cool to do this.”

Alexander continued to send shivers down audience’s spines as Young Charlie in the film Neighbour. In this classic haunted house story, Charlie interrupts the lives of the new owners of his childhood home, who soon learn about the house’s sordid past.

Volition, which screened at the 2013 Grand River Film Festival, takes audiences to a more dramatic genre where Alexander’s character Jacob encounters a terrorist who plans to attack the train on which they ride. However, after meeting Jacob the man is overwhelmed with uncertainty over whether to continue with his plan. To find out if Jacob’s innocence is enough to detour the man away from committing this act of violence, you’ll just have to watch the film.

A more accurate representation of Alexander’s true personality emerges in Senior Drivers, where he played Alex, the grandson of an elderly couple who are late in taking him to his doctor appointment. Senior Drivers allowed Alexander to express his sense of humor, which was appreciated by critics and audiences alike, evidenced in his 2014 Young Artist Award nomination for his performance in the film.

Alexander learned the meaning of hard work in his role as Randy Parker in A Christmas Story, in which the cast staged 48 shows in six weeks. To commend his work, Alexander received the 2015 Young Artist Award for Best Performance in Live Theatre for his role in A Christmas Story.

Most recently, Alexander landed guest starring roles as the voice of Brownie and Checkers in the PBS television series Super Why!, which is scheduled to be released later this year. Confirming yet again another of his many talents, Alexander will also give audiences a chance to hear his singing voice in the series.

Alexander Davis has already soared to great heights in the entertainment industry; and with the upcoming release of Super Why!, and several more projects on the horizon, this little cutie will undoubtedly be touching the hearts of audiences everywhere for years to come.

From Syfy’s “Lost Girl” to the miniseries “Gangland Undercover,” Actress Jessica Huras

Jessica Huras
Actress Jessica Huras shot by David Leyes

The vast array of roles played by Canadian heartthrob Jessica Huras speaks to her incredible ability to not only blend into any character, but to stand out among star-studded casts. She has become an inimitable asset to countless productions, and with more new projects lining up each day, she is certain to be a household name among audiences the world over.

In the award-winning SyFy channel original series Lost Girl, Huras’ recurring performance as a mischievous receptionist proved so impressive that she earned a role as the acting double for Anna Silk, who plays the main character of Bo in the series. Huras, as Silk’s double, took on the role of a supernatural being who fights against her insidious roots to try to become a champion for righteousness.

Her exceptional charm and talent caught the attention of the makers of the Lifetime Network’s original series Missing, on which Huras gave a stirring performance that helped to launch her career. The show follows a detective, played by MTV and BET award-winning actress Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill Volumes I & II, Independence Day, Batman & Robin), as she searches for missing persons in Washington D.C. Huras plays a missing teen, and worked directly alongside Fox during the shoot. Huras’ character was a transgender youth, a potentially controversial challenge, which she took on with a sense of pride and personal conviction.

“This role was a ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ type of role, and I prepared intensely for the job,” said Huras, a consummate professional and equal rights advocate. “It’s an important issue and I wanted to find an honest portrayal of the struggles transgender youth face.”

Recently, Huras played the role of Natalie, the wife of a man tasked with infiltrating a criminal motorcycle club in the 2015 hit History Channel miniseries Gangland Undercover. Her husband Charles, played by Damon Runyan (On the Other Hand, Death; Cheaper by the Dozen 2), is a hardened member of the notorious Vagos biker gang. Charles, is caught by the police and made to choose between hard time in prison or turning on his former comrades and becoming an informant.

“Natalie was a wholesome young woman who got dragged into the lifestyle of her meth-operating husband,” said Huras. “Over the course of the series we see how her choice to marry Falco and get into drugs ruined her life.”

Of his time working alongside her and portraying her husband, Runyan said Huras was critical to the plotline of Gangland Undercover.

“My amazing onscreen wife, Jessica Huras, is at the heart of [the story arc],” Runyan said of their work together on the miniseries. “Tune into her fine work on Gangland Undercover.”

Huras has several exciting upcoming new projects for audiences to eagerly anticipate, including Teeth, an independent film which deals with the male-centric state of the entertainment industry in New York. A heavy-hitting examination of a perennially relevant and critical topic, Huras said she felt right at home playing the lead character.

“I felt I could heighten my current experience into a kind of surreal, somewhat psychologically broken down version of myself,” she said, “and that was fun and scary at the same time.”

Teeth is currently in post-production and will be released on the festival circuit this year, where her role will no doubt leave a lasting impact on audiences once again.

Actor Spotlight: Dynamic Australian Actress Alli McLaren!

Alli McLaren
                                               Actress Alli McLaren shot by Jen Allison

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, actress Alli McLaren’s impressive acting performances in a variety of genres, both on stage and screen, are demonstrative of her vast range and skill.

With acting in her blood, as both her mother and grandmother are acting coaches; McLaren began honing her craft at an early age. Although facing many setbacks throughout childhood, McLaren has developed her acting talents by channeling these challenges to further her understanding of characters and their emotions.

Although McLaren states that “drama is her favorite genre,” and while the majority of her performances elicit strong emotions from viewers she is much more then an outstanding dramatic actress.

McLaren proves her genre flexibility in the action packed comedy film Writer’s Block, where she plays the starring role of Sophie. With a light and boisterous comedic undertone, Writer’s Block is packed full of exciting scenes and fast paced choreographed action. As the star of the film, McLaren inhabits the role with perfect comedic timing and impressive action skills.

A stark contrast from the majority of her past performances, McLaren found herself engaging in combat and using weapons throughout the film, which was a new experience for the young actress, but something she found extremely exhilarating.

“I always love to change up what I do to challenge myself both creatively and artistically, thus it also makes it more fun for me” says McLaren.

Due to the immense popularity of the film, which was produced by White Night Films, a sequel is currently in the works.

Return of Greta, which was written and directed by Boardwalk Empire star Victor Verhaeghe also showcases McLaren’s comedic chops as a beauty contestant who must overcome the often silly and surreal drama of pageant life. The film Return of Greta is a tremendously poignant and satirical look at a real life institution.

Under the direction of Emmy Award winning actress Blanche Baker, McLaren delivers a stirring dramatic performance with a strong core as Gretchen in the film Infidelity.

In the film, which is a brilliant 21st century re-imaging of the French script La Despute, McLaren plays a scientist attempting to discover the cause of infidelity in couples; and it is up to her to tie together all the dramatic threads of love and loss between the couples she researches. McLaren’s performance in the film is as thought provoking as it is powerful.

“For me, its very easy to find a connection to a character and then go and watch people in real life who are like that character, to build a foundation from,” admits McLaren.

With the rare ability to listen to both a persons words, and body language, McLaren has the skills to bring real, heartfelt emotion to any character she plays.

My Year Of Silence, a film written by and starring McLaren, is proof of this. As the character of Callie, McLaren craftily weaves an emotional journey based on her own life experience, a performance that is highly anticipated.

The open minded and always hungry for something new approach to acting that Alli McLaren brings to the table is as refreshing as it is skillful.

“I feel like working with so many different people and in so many different genres makes me a better actress,” says McLaren.

Breathtaking Spanish Actress, Maria Luna

Maria Luna
Maria Luna shot by Brandin Photography

One of Spain’s most sought after exports, Maria Luna is a dynamic and multifaceted actress who brings complexity and diversity to her every role.

Active in theatre since a young age, Maria Luna was chosen to participate in a number of international drama programs, advancing her education on and understanding of her craft. With a dream of helping to create a global artistic collaboration through acting, Luna’s humanitarian nature is the driving force behind her strong performances.

Starring as Lucy in the film Dada, which wrapped production earlier this year, Luna tackles the very real and concerning plight of human trafficking. Set in Kenya, Luna’s character of Lucy finds herself thrown into a dangerous world she does not understand. The experience forces her to embark on a journey where she transitions from naivety and fear to empowerment, compassion, and freedom. To further the authenticity of the role, Luna prepared by living in Kenya, doing volunteer work, and educating herself on the subject through the real life stories of others.

In the 2014 film Romanian Fairy Tale Luna played the film’s integral role of Sara, a women who wishes to leave her life behind and start anew. Sara finds a kindred spirit in Timo, a young boy on the run from an abusive father. Luna’s character guides Timo through the labors of growing up amidst abuse, and emotional neglect. Sara develops through the film’s progression into both a friend and a mother to young Timo, saving the boy in mind, body, and spirit.

Maria Luna appreciates all genres of film, from the dramatic, to the comedic, or in the case of the 2015 film No Solicitors, the dark world of horror. In Emmy nominated director John Callas’s disturbing and unique tale of a simple solicitor at the door spiraling into a terrifying situation, Luna’s character Martha stands out. Luna plays a woman whose family must come first, at any cost. The terminal illness of her young son forces Luna’s character to push beyond past social acceptability, while still remaining very human. Luna brought this amazing character to life in a seamless manner that exposed her emotional range as an actress layer by layer.

Whether playing a struggling mother, a woman on the run, or a Pentagon Special Agent in 2015’s The Sheriffs, Maria Luna proves she can create a real character of depth in any role. As Mariana in veteran sci-fi director Neil Jordan’s Starship: Rising and Dawn of Destruction, Luna plays the catalyst in an intergalactic struggle for survival. The role as the sister to the film’s hero Lt. John Worthy, places Luna at the heart of the dazzling science fiction series, even having her play a robot version of herself as part of the twisted enemies’ plans.

Summing up her perspective perfectly: “I love everything about acting, doing the research, getting into character, and finding how I can relate to the situation, expressing in a way which I can connect to the rest of the world,” said Maria Luna.

Luna’s greatest desires in her acting career are to bring people together, form new collaborations, and affect change through her roles as seen by audiences across the world.

Providing exemplary performances in a variety of genres, and with such realism and heart, actress Maria Luna is undoubtedly one of the most talented Spanish actresses working in Hollywood today.

Alex Luukkonen, A Phenom of the Stage!

Alex Luukkonen
                                                          Alex Luukkonen shot by Bryan Wriggle

A great actor is more than an entertainer, more than an artist, more than the sum of their roles. A great actor has a rare form of empathy—he or she is a student of humanity, a philosopher who uses their understanding of the world and the people in it to become somebody else, even it is only for a little while. Originally from Finland, actor Alex Luukkonen has spent his entire life traveling the world, meeting people from Scandinavia to Japan, China to L.A., Poland to London. He has used his worldly experience to become a master of his craft, and in so doing he has worked alongside visionaries of both stage and screen.

In Slavs!, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America), Luukkonen plays the lead role of Yegor Tremens Rodent. Set during the collapse of the Soviet Union, Slavs! explores love and loss in a rapidly crumbling empire, examining the lives of characters who are suffering from radiation poisoning caused by the USSR’s nuclear programs. Rodent (Alex Lukkonen) is a bureaucrat dispatched to Siberia, where he bears witness to the agony of a family torn apart by the effects of the radioactive waste left behind by the brutal communist regime, which has neither the resources nor the will to protect its own people.

In the Clifford Odets’ 1935 classic Waiting for Lefty, Luukkonen took on the role of Miller, a lab assistant who grapples with the moral issues of a promotion he is asked to accept. The new job would see Miller working with, and secretly spying on, a chemist who is designing a new chemical weapon for the imminent war in Europe. Having lost family in World War I, Miller refuses to become involved in what he views as a wholly unethical project. The production of Waiting for Lefty was directed by Academy Award-winning director Milton Justice (Down and Out in America) and staged in Los Angeles.

“In Lefty, I played Miller, an honest to-a-fault researcher who loses his job due to refusing to compromise on his principles,” Luukkonen said, lending his personal insight to a character with whom he became intimately familiar.

Out of all his work though, Luukkonen’s stage presence shined through with unseen magnetism during his performance as Inspector Ruffing, the lead in Ravenscroft, written by Don Nigro and directed by May Quigley (Murder C.O.D., Picture Perfect). The play, which was adapted into the 1999 hit The Manor, is an Agatha Christie-esque comedic mystery. Luukkonen’s character is dispatched to the Ravenscroft manor to investigate a murder at the secluded mansion.

“Inspector Ruffing is a sure-of-himself Sherlock Holmes-type detective who comes to the Ravenscroft manor to investigate an apparent murder,” Luukkonen said of the character, joking that the character’s impressive investigatory skills are dulled by drinking as the play unfolds. “Throughout the investigation, his sureness in his own instincts slips from him at the same rate as his sobriety does.”

After his arrival at the Ravenscroft manor, Ruffing begins to examine the mysterious death of a man who suspiciously fell headfirst down a flight of stairs. Surrounded by a group of five femme fatales, each of whom is a suspect in the death with their own motives, Ruffing begins to dig through the facts in a story that leaves the audience in suspense until the very last minute.

The intercontinental phenom’s talents on stage are just one facet of his incredibly diverse creative skillset, and his ever-growing repertoire of roles has ensured his place in the zeitgeist across cultural and national boundaries.