Jana On Camera

Hollywood stars interviews and movie news

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Women Power on The Last Jedi

IMG_4643.JPGOn December 3, I was able to attend the Star Wars: The Last Jedi press conference here in Los Angeles and two points called my attention was the women who bring balance to this universe. All of them was inspired by the first female heroine, Princess Leia, played by Carrie Fisher, who became General Leia in this new chapter of the successful saga.

What was the impact of Princess Leia had in their personal lives and they said,

The actress Gwendoline Christie, who plays Captain Phasma, stated that she was very significant because I was first shown A New Hope when I was six, and I remember thinking, wow, that character’s really different. I watched TV and film obsessively from such a young age but it stayed with me throughout my formative years, of she’s really interesting, she’s really smart, she’s really funny, she’s courageous, she’s bold, she doesn’t care what people think, and she isn’t prepared to be told what to do. And she doesn’t look the same as a sort of homogenized presentation of a woman that we had been used to seeing. So that was really instrumental to me as someone that didn’t feel like they fitted that homogenized view of what a woman was supposed to be, that there was inspiration there, that you could be an individual and celebrate yourself and be successful without giving yourself over, without necessarily making some sort of terrible, huge compromise. So it was a big inspiration for me.”


Laura Dern, who portray Vice Admiral Amilyn Hold, added that “endless thoughts and also you know, a profound impact that she made on me as a girl, and spoken so beautifully by Gwen, so I’ll just speak to this present experience, to say that as we always had with Carrie, not just Leia, her wisdom, and you know, people speak about people who are brave or fearless, but beyond that, I’ve known luckily a few people that would hold those descriptions, but not that they would be without shame, and that’s what moved me the most about the icon she gave us, but also what she gave us individually and personally which is to Carrie, who she was so directly and to be without shame, and to share her story, and to expect nothing less from any of us.

And Daisy Ridley, who reprises her role as Rey, finished saying,I don’t think I can really follow that, except to just say Carrie’s daughter Billie is I think all of those qualities. She’s smart and funny and shameless and I think Carrie bringing up a daughter obviously with Brian, bringing up a daughter who is all of those qualities and then some, in this world, if that’s what she did, you know, just her being her, I think it speaks volumes to what she did as her in the spotlight and also her as Leia.

The second point was the amount of female characters in this movie… and they said:

Daisy started saying “I think like as a girl growing up in London, obviously I knew there was a disparity in films but I wasn’t so aware of it, like growing up in a liberal household. I was never really made to feel any one way. So when I got involved I didn’t really – like, I knew it was a big deal, but the response was so beyond anything I could have imagined, that I’m still like – it was only afterwards I was like, oh, oh yeah. And it’s not like I ever took it for granted or anything but it was just so monumental, the response and how people felt about it, and obviously that’s a testament to Kathy, J.J., Michael, Larry, everyone who created the characters in the beginning, and I think what’s great about everyone is it’s not like she’s a girl, this is a guy, this is anything, everyone’s just, it’s just great characters that happily are falling into broader categories now, so I’m thrilled.

Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose Tico, added,I agree. I think that it feels like both an honor and a responsibility at the same time. I feel like from the beginning when I initially found out I got this role, I just felt like I wanted to do the whole thing justice, and I’m so excited that guys, the girls in this movie kick some butt. Every single one is so good, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.

According to Laura, shejust want to pay tribute to Rian for being one of the most brilliantly subversive filmmakers I’ve ever been able to bear witness to, and in the case of the look of my character, I was moved by the fact that he really wanted her strength to first lead with a very deep femininity and to see a powerful female character also be feminine is something that moves away from a stereotype that’s sometimes perceived in strong female characters must be like the boys. I thought that was a really interesting choice to get to witness.

Gwendoline saidI was so delighted. I wasn’t cast in the first Star Wars film yet when I heard about the casting, and I was utterly delighted to see that there was a more representative selection of actors that were going to be in these incredible Star Wars films, and that has continued. And you know, everything that my amazing colleagues say is absolutely right. You get to see women that are not being strong just because they’re acting like men. They’re doing something else. And also you’re seeing a developed character or at least a developing character, that’s showing some complex character traits. And I’m just delighted about that. I’m delighted that something as legendary as Star Wars has decided to be modern and to reflect our society more as it is.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15!


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Only The Brave – Cast tells us all

On Friday, October 20, Columbia Pictures Only The Brave hits U.S. theaters. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the film stars Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsch and Jennifer Connelly. The film, written by Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer, based on the GQ article “No Exit,” by Sean Flynn, is about all men are created equal… then, a few become firefighters. Only the Brave, based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, is the heroic story of one unit of local firefighters that through hope, determination, sacrifice, and the drive to protect families, communities, and our country become one of the most elite firefighting teams in the country. As most of us run from danger, they run toward it – they watch over our lives, our homes, everything we hold dear, as they forge a unique brotherhood that comes into focus with one fateful fire.

Josh Brolin;James Badge Dale;Taylor Kitsch;Alex Russell;Ben Hardy;Geoff Stults;Jake Picking;Thad Luckinbill;Scott Haze;Miles Teller

“Supe” Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin) leads the Granite Mountain Hotshots up the trail at Yarnell Hills (Photo by: Columbia Pictures)

Only one member of the firefighting team survived, Brendan McDonough, because he was assigned a scouting location apart from the rest of the team. Brendan was hired as consultants alongside with former hotshot Pat McCarty.

During a press conference that happened a couple of weeks ago in Beverly Hills, the actors recalled what it was like making such an emotional film that recreated the tragic events but also sheds light on the dedicated firefighters who regularly put their lives on the line to protect civilians and their cities, sleeping in the dirt without tents in the New Mexico, and much more. Let’s check it out:

Did you guys form a kind-of brotherhood like the real Hotshots when you were filming this on location?

Miles Teller – I think I underestimated the physical aspect of the job. I knew it was going to be tough but I wasn’t versed on Hotshot training before I showed up. I had seen some videos but it was tough, man, we were hiking and we shot in Santa Fe, which I also didn’t know was the highest altitude capitol in the country. It’s like 7,500 feet above sea level. We were filming some locations that were 10,000 feet above sea level. Josh (Brolin, who plays Eric Marsh, the crew’s superintendent) was giving everybody chlorophyll. I guess that was something that helps your body, your blood oxygenates better. But it was tough. It was a kick in the gut. I think the boot camp, as far as a cast rehearsal goes, I don’t think anything brings you closer together than collective suffering. It didn’t matter if it was somebody’s first movie because they looked like the actual guy or you’re Josh. Josh had an open-door policy and he really was the catalyst and energy behind this. He was our leader, top of the call sheet and he just carried that through the whole production. It was such a wonderful experience. I think anybody you talk to that was involved would echo that.

Josh Brolin;Miles Teller

“Supe” Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin) berates Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller) during training in Prescott National Forest (Photo by: Columbia Pictures)

Josh Brolin – There’s a lot to that but it’s such a personal experience what we went through. To talk about it, we want you to think we went through hell, in order to become a Hotshot but the truth of the matter is, it’s like what Dwayne Steinbrink (Bridges’ character) said at the end, “You’ll never be a Hotshot but we’re glad that you guys represented.” He made that very clear and it was nice to get that honesty from somebody who was there and trained these guys but I think, as actors, we put ourselves in a situation where there was no comfort. It was very uncomfortable and I made sure that it was as uncomfortable as possible. There were no laggards. There was no entitlement. Everybody had a lot of respect for the story so they were willing to give 150 percent and it was great.

What was the one thing you wanted to make sure you captured about these real people?

Taylor Kitsch- To go back to the training as well, to have Pat and Brendan there, it really is, to me, a small percentage of why we’re there. Serving Chris) MacKenzie and Steve and Marsh and McDonough and these guys, it’s a responsibility that I think all of us absolutely loved and were honored by. That’s where that communal comes in, where everybody goes through their own fear of wanting to make people watching MacKenzie or Marsh that didn’t know them, know who there are after this movie comes out. It’s our responsibility to show that story. Yeah, there’s that responsibility and I that’s what drives you as an actor, a storyteller with Joe. Having this relationship with Brandon and having him with me talking about MacKenzie was invaluable and sharing laughs and going through that whole full spectrum of that as well is why you do it.

only the brave 02

Brendan McDonough (Miles Teller) and Taylor Kitsch-(Chris Mackenzie) (Photo by: Columbia Pictures)

What was your favorite part of working with this cast?

Taylor – We’re very lucky obviously to be in this craft and this job. I wasn’t exposed to these Hotshots. I didn’t know. To have these opportunities to breathe life into MacKenzie and meet this dad and have that relationship that I have with him now but also to learn these trades, to go in and work with these guys that have real jobs and sacrifice on a real level, that was something that hit me over the head when I was doing this. We had a great time going to work with these guys up in the mountains with Kosinski. We did have a lot of laughs. You don’t want to forget about that either. In the worst of times, the worst scenario, these guys are literally laughing. That’s just how you deal with it sometimes. I’d say there’s a bunch of good memories.

What was your biggest concern in bringing your character to the screen?

Jeff Bridges – Everyone in the company wanted to do justice to the tale that we were telling. It’s invaluable to have people who actually went through that onboard. Brendan was there just about every day. Duane, the fellow I play, was there often. He came out to my place and spent a couple of days helping me figure out my costume and talking to me about the emotions he was feeling. When Joe invited me onboard, one of the things I couldn’t believe, was that Duane also is a singer, and has a band called The Rusty Pistols, and we’re going to put that in the movie. So, Duane came out and we jammed together. There’s nothing like music to bring people together. My friend, T Bone Burnett, ended up producing the song that I sing in the movie, and we used the real Rusty Pistols as the band in the movie.

only the brave 5

Director Joseph Kosinski (Photo by: Columbia Pictures)

What previous knowledge did you have about Granite Mountain Hotshots and this horrible tragedy? Were you aware of what happened to them before you signed on for your role?

Josh – I knew about it because I basically grew up in a firefighting community. I became a volunteer Wildland firefighter when I was 21. Even though I was working at the time, I didn’t tell production that I was a firefighter. I preferred spending time with firefighters more than actors. I spent three years in Tucson working with that community. So, it meant a lot to me to play Eric Marsh and I know a lot of firefighters who went to the funeral. As an actor, you want to be involved in a story, when you choose a movie, that resonates. Playing Cable is fun, but this is something different. It becomes very personal. I think it was very emotional for everybody involved. Everything was forward moving, and there’s something wonderful about that.

only the brave

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Pantaya, the new streaming service in Spanish

Global content leader Lionsgate and Hemisphere Media Group launched PANTAYA, the first Spanish-language over-the-top (OTT) service dedicated to premium content for the Hispanic community in the United States. The target is the high growth Latin American markets.

The service features the largest, most current, and most diverse selection of Spanish-language blockbusters and critically acclaimed films from Latin America and Hollywood, the majority appearing exclusively on the PANTAYA platform.  The service’s deep slate of current and classic films will be complemented by documentaries, concerts and other original premium content.

I had the pleasure to sit down with Mexican actors Omar Chaparro and Maite Perroni, both spokespersons for the brand, to talk about this new service. Let’s check it out:

For only $5.99 per month after a 7-day free trial, PANTAYA is available through the web and on iOS, Android and the Roku platform in the U.S. and Puerto Rico as well as to Prime members on Amazon Channels in the U.S. To learn more about PANTAYA, please visit www.pantaya.com

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Cómo Cortar a Tu Patán – Interview

I’m very excited to share my interview with Mexican actors Christopher Von Uckermann and Mariana Treviño. We talked about the romantic comedy, Cómo Cortar a Tu Patán or, in English, How To Break Up With Your Douchebag.

 Amanda, played by Mariana Treviño, is a successful psychologist with expertise in ending destructive relationships… she is also great at keeping her distance from any emotional commitments.  The things most important in her life are her career and keeping her sister Natalia, played by Camila Sodi, safe.  When she discovers her sister is in love with a douche bag, played by Sebastian Zurita, she plots an adventure that forces her to face her biggest challenge yet… love.

Cómo Cortar a Tu Patán is now playing!!!

Let’s check it out the interview:


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NALIP brings the first Latino Media Fest

Latino Creatives Make A Strong Case for Media Inclusion

at the 2017 Latino Media Fest

The National Association of Latino Independent Producers, known by NALIP, brings the Latino Media Fest, the unique presenter of the best U.S. Latino content across all media platforms: from narrative short films, TV/streaming pilots, digital content, virtual reality, augmented reality and documentary shorts. But what all these talented people have in common: they are all latinos! The 2017 NALIP Latino Media Fest is taking place at the AMC Century City 15 on September 26 and 27.

According to Benjamin ‘Ben’ López, Executive Director of NALIP, “this is the perfect opportunity to check shorts, Latin American content and Latinos here in Los Angeles in all media platforms. It’s not just to celebrate our culture but also to celebrate the seventh art.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“They are so talented, the next generation of Latinos, they will be the next ‘Guillermos’ or ‘Cuarons’, they were raised here in the United States […] and we need to give them this opportunity,” said Ben during our phone interview last week.

One of the highlights of this first Latino Media fest is the Mexican filmmaker Jorge R. Gutiérrez. He will be taking part in NALIP’s Animation Master Class and will discuss the specifics of making animated features and the process of telling unique stories that are relatable to global audiences. Gutiérrez has worked on Book of Life (2014), the TV series El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera and his upcoming short VR film, Son of Jaguar.

The awardees that were voted in the four award categories will be recognized for their work behind the camera. The film Beatriz at Dinner, from Puerto Rican director Miguel Arteta, which has Salma Hayek as protagonist, will receive the award for Best LatinX Film. The Best LatinX Filmmaker awarded to director, writer and editor José María Cabral, for his film Woodpeckers. The Best Latin American Film awarded to Lemon, received by Janicza Bravo, director and writer of the film. And the Best Latin American Filmmaker awarded to Mexican director and writer Amat Escalante, for his film The Untamed.

The festival also serves to introduce new Latinos talents to the industry, which there are just a few artists on the market. “There is a lack of representation of our people in the stories,” added Ben. “and they just don’t include us as lawyers or doctors. we always play either the housekeepers or the criminals.”

With more than 60 million people, the Latinos community represents the first United States minority. “We are here but they just don’t see us, somehow it’s like we are the invisible community,” concluded Ben.

The NALIP Latino Media Fest attracts Latino content creators, industry executives and media from around the globe for invaluable learning and networking opportunities. The first annual Latino Media Fest is presented by Comcast NBCUniversal Telemundo and additionally sponsored by FOX Inclusion, MPAA, Labo Digital, El Rey Network and venue sponsor AMC Independent.

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Mirá Quién Baila returns on Univision this Sunday

Univision’s megahit celebrity dance competition, Mira Quién Baila (Look Who’s Dancing) premieres on Sunday September 17. The series will be light up with stellar performances from 10 celebrity contestants who have accepted the dance challenge to compete for a $50,000 donation to their charity of choice. Celebrities will do their best in hopes of helping a variety of causes, including childhood cancer, music education and animal cruelty, among others, which will be revealed during the first episode.

image001One of the contestants is the versatile Puerto Rican singer, actor, artist and Broadway veteran, Éktor Rivera, who moved from Los Angeles to New York to perform on the Broadway hit musical On Your Feet!, and now he is relocating once more to Miami for the next two months of competition.

“It’ll be a challenge because I’m not a professional dancer,” he said about the competition that will reunite with Puerto Rican Dayanara Torres, also a contestant.

“After a year doing Broadway I think it’s going to be fun and entertaining to be part of this show; and meet other Latinos on the Hispanic television to be able to expand what art is and the entity I represent,” he shared with me during our phone interview last week.

He also told me he could share his experiences in a book or on the big screen to serve as an example to others who are trying to make it: “from the age of fourteen I have had some hard experiences to live in art, high and low like all human beings, fallen to achieve the goals, but also that crossover when my English was very basic when I arrived here in the United States, and entering Broadway with a leading role. All these experiences help us rebuild ourselves as human beings, and I think I can help and motivate others, it would be very nice to be able to do so in the future. I think there are still many stories to tell,” he said.

For now, Éktor wants to focuse on Mirá Quién Baila, and after that “I will continue auditioning, because thanks to On Your Feet! the doors were opened to continue showing my art and my performance to the world. Mirá Quién Baila is a wonderful project and I will learn, enjoy and dance, but the most important thing is the institution I’m going to represent.”

Éktor chose Cabecitas Rapadas Foundation, which is an institution in San Juan (Puerto Rico) that offers economic support, emotional, psychological and financial counseling, as well as lodging and transportation to cancer patients and their caregivers.

The judges for this season are Roselyn Sánchez, Johnny Lozada and Poty Castillo, whom will provide critique and commentary based on their expertise on each dance performance. The judges, along with the fans’, votes will determine who continues in the competition for the chance to win a $50,000 donation to the charity of their choice.

This famous competition airs every Sunday at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT (7:00 p.m. CT) at Univision, and will be hosted by Chiquinquirá Delgado and Javier PozaJomari Goyso will have the latest from backstage and social media. Rodrigo Basurto is the choreographer who promises an innovative, contemporary and high-energy mix of ballroom, Latin and urban moves that will have viewers dancing along with the stars.MQB 2017_Contestants

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Cast talks American Assassin


Actors Shiva Negar, Michael Keaton, Neg Adamson & Dylan O’Brien. (Photo Credit: Christian Black/CBS Films & Lionsgate)

This is so exciting!!! American Assassin is finally here!!!The first film based on Vince Flynn’s hero Mitch Rapp published in 2010.

American Assassin follows the rise of Mitch Rapp, played by Dylan O’Brien, a CIA black ops recruit under the instruction of Cold War veteran Stan Hurley, played by Michael Keaton. The pair is then enlisted by CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy, played by Sanaa Lathan, to investigate a wave of apparently random attacks on both military and civilian targets. Together the three discover a pattern in the violence leading them to a joint mission with a lethal Turkish agent (Shiva Negar) to stop a mysterious operative, played by Taylor Kitsch, intent on starting a World War.

I was invited to attend the press conference here in Los Angeles with director Michael Cuesta, producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Nick Wechsler, and actors Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar, and Taylor Kitsch. American Assassin hits theaters this Friday, September 15. Let’s check it out some excerpts of the press conference:

How is American Assassin the first Vince Flynn movie adaptation?

Lorenzo di Bonaventura – Listen, Nick and I worked on this, I think it was 11 years. We were determined. In part, because we love the material but also because we became very friendly with Vince. Vince was very much a part of this process. We would run by almost all of our big decisions with Vince and make sure, if we were deviating from the book, why were we deviating, etc. So it was a great collaboration. To our disappointment, Vince passed before this movie got made and just made us all the more determined to do it.

Michael, what was it about this book that made you come back to film from television?

Michael Cuesta – That opening sequence is how he became what he becomes. I love action movies but when you don’t care, you disengage despite the fact that there’s so much action. So I think that opening sequence and you could see how this man’s world is completely flipped upside down is the thing that grabbed me. At that point, you can take me anywhere as a viewer. I’ll do anything and trust almost anything he does, even if it may be sort of the wrong thing, you’re still with him. You empathize with him and Dylan just really captured that so, so well. So I would say it was really reading the first 10 pages of the script. These guys brought it to me much later in the process. They were involved with it for many years as he said. So I was the newbie that came in. I came onto that, to see how a movie deals with terrorism and deals with tragedy like that in a personal way was really the thing that grabbed me.

How many days did you shoot the opening sequence?

Cuesta – Ironically, we shot it at the end so Dylan was able to cut his hair and eat pasta or whatever, gain some weight back. It was at the end of the schedule in Thailand, Phuket which was a fun way to end because we were in a beautiful place. It was about a week, a week and a half including prep but that sequence, the one take, the whole run from the bar to him reaching out to her took about two days.

Dylan, what was it like for you to play a man so consumed by rage and revenge?

Dylan O’Brien – The way I always thought about it was he’s obviously consumed by those kinds of things, immediately in the aftermath of what he goes through, his whole life getting flipped upside down like Michael said. Part of the arc of his character that I always loved was that kind of learning curve. He always thinks the revenge factor, the vengeance will be the answer and that’ll ultimately be what heals him. I think a big thing for me over the course of the film with his arc of the characters that he has to, at some point, decide or learn about himself that this thing he went through is never going to leave him. It’ll always be a part of him and nothing’s going to wipe it away. I think when he goes through that, he ends up seeing this other side of it where he can be an asset for his country and can kind of protect this from happening to other people. Ultimately, I think he realizes that he’ll have to learn how to cope with this, learn how to live with this thing the rest of his life, but serve and protect. That’s the right answer.


Michael Keaton as Stan Hurley in American Assassin. (Photo Credit: Christian Black/CBS Films & Lionsgate)

Michael Keaton, you’re a very politically engaged guy. Did American Assassin speak to you on that level?

Michael Keaton – It was a concern, actually. I think the result is good. I was a little nervous about how it leaned, frankly. I’m not one thing or another. I don’t really think most people are one thing or another. In terms of the terrorism issue, I would call myself a hardliner, to say the least, but maybe not so much in other areas. So I was okay with what the goal was in the books and in the movie. That said, I think I said this a bunch, Dylan and I and probably other people sitting here, one of our main concerns when we first read the script or were talking about making this movie, was that it wasn’t simplistic black and white. You didn’t go down the traditional, I would say stupid, path of these kind of people from this part of the world or these kind of people who are only these things and those things aren’t complicated. To Michael and Stephen [Schiff]’s credit, and whomever else was involved, they not only took our notes but I think Michael was a step ahead of us. What I thought he did, this always sounds superior when you say this, he created nuance. His idea just to create people, like the mercenary idea is just a great idea. People who don’t really have a philosophical or religious stake in things just makes it more interesting, for one thing. So I thought they really did a good job of making it a little more complicated, more interesting, not as clichéd. It was more palatable to me once they accomplished that.

What about the sequence where you torture the physicist in the trunk?

Keaton – Well, there’s that too. I love the way you ask me and go, “Yeah, right.” Yeah, there’s a scene where I torture a guy in the trunk of a car.

Do things like the virtual reality training system seen in American Assassin exist in today’s world?

Nick Wechsler – Augmented virtual reality is used in training. I think we added the element of the electric shock and we added the element of using this as a way to f*** with his head and see what he’s made of and maybe trying to break him. That was just us putting our heads together and trying to do something cool. Training sequences have been seen in a lot of movies and we just tried to do a fresh approach to them so that they would not feel overly familiar.


Dylan O’Brien & Sanaa Lathan. (Photo Credit: Christian Black/CBS Films & Lionsgate)

Sanaa, your scenes with Keaton in American Assassin are so tough. Did you ever want to just have one pleasant conversation with him?

Sanaa Lathan – I wasn’t really concerned with that. I love the complexity of their relationship. This is the kind of thing that I know that the producers and Michael Cuesta brought to the script, that layering. I know from just hearsay that she was kind of two-dimensional in the first script. I knew there was a deepening of her arc. Irene is in all the books, all 16 books so she is major. One of the things that I want to bring light to is the fact that she’s white in the books. I love the fact that they did nontraditional casting. Being a black actress in this business for 20 years, it’s kind of crusade of mine to see film start to reflect the world that we live in. TV is getting there. Film has a long way to go so kudos to you guys for hiring me. I love her. I love Irene and I love their relationship. I love the fact that he knew her as a little girl and that here she is giving him orders. It’s complex. It’s a thing that you don’t see in this type of genre, in this type of movie and I think that’s what sets this apart. There’s a depth that not only was I on the roller coaster as an audience member. I literally got chills. I got tears in my eyes at points because it was just so right on in terms of what’s going on in our world today

Shiva, what do you remember about shooting your emotional scenes with Dylan in American Assassin?

Shiva Negar – There’s a roller coaster to her. One of the things I fell in love with Annika was that there are a lot of layers to her. She sort of goes on this crazy ride. I loved her strength and I love the fact that she is in a field where it’s mostly dominated by men, but she’s right there getting down and dirty with them and she gets to play the same role as the men do. But at the same time, everyone has secrets, but at the same time she has a mystery to her. You can see the compassion in her, especially with Mitch. It’s almost like she’s been there, she’s been doing this and they sort of have a similar past. She understands him so that when you see that side of her come up, where she’s trying to make him feel a little more comfortable because he’s so guarded. She tries to get through to him and you also see her feminine side when it’s needed. She’s smart and she just knows when to use what card to get her way. I just love that.

Taylor, you have the most shocking, physical moments in this movie. Did any scenes come too close for comfort?

Taylor Kitsch – I think that was the first day of shooting too, for Ghost. You may as well just come in swinging, no pun intended. Never. No, I think it’s a heightened reality but to Ghost it is a matter of fact. Especially with everything that he’s been through, I think that’s what separates him from obviously where he was with the mentor father figure of Hurley to where he is now. That’s the scary part, that it was a matter of fact, that he does believe so thoroughly that this is the only way to go. So I love that motivation there and how personal it was.

When you do physical scenes with a chord around someone’s neck or dealing with fingernails, do you laugh it off after cut or have to stay in that place?

Keaton – I went and had my nails done.

Shiva – I couldn’t snap out of it right away. They were like, “Cut. So, what’s going on?”

Sanaa – And I’m over there staring at a green screen. That was really tough. Actually, it really was tough. It was like such an acting exercise and thank you, Michael Cuesta, who had all these amazing tricks, I guess because you had done movies like this before, to get me through it and get me to those high stakes.

Stan Hurley is one tough mother, almost like if Carter Hayes were a good guy, but unlike any character I’ve ever seen before. Was there a line you felt you couldn’t cross, even for an extreme character like Stan?

Keaton – There were a couple things. There may have been one moment where I can’t, no. There might’ve been something. Honestly, all kidding aside about the trunk scene, I’m not a believer in playing somebody who, for simplicity sake, if you’re playing “the bad guy,” like Ray Kroc. What Ray Kroc did at the end of The Founder, the agreement that John and I made was, I said I’m interested in one thing, we don’t pull back. I’m not a believer in if you’re a certain kind of person, I’m not a fan of justifying that it’s actually kind of lovable. I think it’s not the most courageous thing as an actor. He is what he is but also work within the framework what’s this story? What’s the picture? What are you trying to accomplish? By the way, there’s a lot of Stan Hurley I like a lot and I probably agree with. So when you say the trunk scene for instance, right then and there, that’s what this person, it ain’t me, is doing. That’s what he’ll do so you commit totally to that. I just don’t believe in the other. So I would say we discussed that torture scene quite a bit and Michael worked on that over and over again because he didn’t want to come up with anything that we’d seen before. I thought in terms of that, I think mission accomplished.

Cuesta – Also when you show Mitch the video. What he shows was, I think originally it was maybe some cell phone footage but we always left it a blue screen. We knew it was that event but honestly in post, we committed to the actual proposal which is cell phone footage from the beginning of the film. That, for me, seeing that’s so necessary but mean as hell.

Where did you start then with Stan Hurley, if you had hesitations about what American Assassin was going to be?

Keaton – Honestly, sometimes it’s not very complicated. To me, in this case it wasn’t really complicated. After talking to these guys down here at the end of the table and Michael, they were pretty clear on basically what kind of movie they wanted to make. So once you sign on to say I’m in that type of a movie, then you say okay, I’m all in. It’s foolish as an actor or anybody else in any department to say, “I’m going to make my own movie here.” You sign on for the movie, we’re all telling the same story. Right then and there, things get real simple for me. For instance, I did read the book. I didn’t think I was going to read the book because a lot of times I like to say I’m reading the text. The job’s here. This is the blueprint. It’s just the way I believe in working and also it’s just really practical. But, toward the end I said, “You know what, I’m just going to read this book because I want to get the essence of it.” It was actually quite helpful. So if you say, “How does this character function? What’s his function in the movie? What kind of movie are we making? Let’s be honest.” Then you do the basic work. Where does he come from? What’s his background? Really fundamental stuff honestly.

Did you sign on to this project with the idea of a franchise?

Keaton – You mean like in cartoons, did I get those dollar signs in my eyes? Kinda.

Sanaa – Have you seen that face?

Lorenzo – I think what grabbed us was he is the first hero to be formed essentially in the post-9/11 world. So it seemed like a very contemporary character who’s molded by real world events if you would. Obviously in a fictional way, but that brought a different distinction I think to how he’s going to operate, how he’s going to see things and how absolutely he can look at things. Absolute in the sense of he’s seen a lot of tragedy, including happening to him. So I think we talked about, first of all, we try never to talk about sequels because it’s bad luck. But yeah, you can’t also deny there are a lot of books out there. He’s a great character and there’s a lot of great things along the way that you can explore if we got lucky enough to do that.

What did you learn from working from each other?

Keaton – You know, I don’t believe in you only learn from older people. If something’s got something good to say, I don’t care if they’re 10 years old. I just pay attention. There’s a lot to be learned from, I think, a lot of people who are 90 because they’ve been around. He has a really good work ethic. I was reminded that that’s what you should do. A lot of times you have to mature into that. All these guys, Taylor as well, they were all about work. Since he and I are in the most scenes together, I gotta say we laughed a lot. He’s a pretty fun dude. We had a lot of laughs.

american-assassin-DFL_-021_C_rgbDylan – I think the biggest thing I can take away from working with Michael was working with someone who I’ve been watching as an iconic figure since I was a little kid, it’s even more so iconic when that’s how you were first introduced to somebody. They’re kind of always printed like that in your head in a way. Then working with a guy who’s been doing it for so long, and then when you meet him, he’s a cool, normal, smart guy who does the work and goes home. That’s ultimately the biggest thing I can take away from it really. I’m still young in this industry and I’m still working my way up, slowly but surely working with guys who’ve been doing it forever, since before I was born. To see that a guy who has had this long career and is still, I’m sure, the same cool guy that he always was… and he’s just gotten even cooler. That’s what I took way.

How long did it take to learn Arabic?

Dylan – Don’t be too amazed by it. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do for a movie. Going into it you always think too that you’ll be spending months on it. Whenever you see other people doing that kind of thing in a film, you’re like, “I gotta probably get started on that now.” I think we were in preproduction at one point and I was like, “When am I doing a dialect session?” So it was challenging to try to get down at the last minute. Even though obviously he’s not fluent in Arabic. The idea that we sculpted into the film is that we thought it’d be cool to add he taught this to himself as part of his mission in this past year and a half. I thought that was a cool thing, enough so to believably infiltrate these terrorist cells. I didn’t have to be perfect with it but I still wanted to be pretty damn good with it because it had to be viable that this guy was being trusted by these people. It was tough. I worked with several coaches. Whoever we could get to set on the days that I had to do it and always just tried to practice as hard as I could and had them record on my phone a little bit. I recorded them saying it so I could always have it in my ear, in my head and try to get a good ear from it. That’s about it.

How long was production on American Assassin and did you film on location in Turkey, Rome and Libya?

Nick – Not Libya. Malta, but all the London, Rome, Malta, Thailand. I think it was 60 days.

Did you get a warm welcoming from those communities?

Nick – Yeah. Everybody was very gracious. There was no spotlight on us. Well, there was spotlight in Rome because Dylan had too many fans that were waiting.

Cuesta – Except the one mom that gave me the finger because I was the one that was keeping him from the crowd. So blame the director. Oh yeah, she saw me. It was just like daggers. I can’t blame them.


Dylan O’Brien & Shiva Negar (Photo Credit: Christian Black/CBS Films & Lionsgate)

Shiva, what made you decide to be an actor after getting a degree in public relations?

Shiva – Well, that was something I always knew I wanted to do since I was a kid. I was always doing it on the side. I started with music. I was doing theater all through high school and I wanted to take fine arts in university. That wasn’t good enough, coming from a middle eastern family so my mom said, “No fine arts, just go get a regular degree.” Then I was trying to find something that was interesting to me so I did psychology. I wasn’t planning on becoming on psychologist but it’s something that can apply to a lot of things. That wasn’t good enough also. I had to do a master’s degree as well. There was one year of marketing and PR I did. It was kind of like being safe because I knew what I wanted to do and I was doing it on the side the entire time, but I wanted to have these. Once I got my degree, I’m like, “Here Mom, now just let me do my thing. I kept going until I was able to take away from those and pursue acting. That was always something I knew I wanted to do since I was really young. I just didn’t know how to go about it. No one in my family was in the business. None of my friends were in the business. Their goals and dreams were my nightmares. So it took a lot for me to be able to prove myself. Thank God now I think my mom is proud so that’s why the degree has to be a little different than the career.