Archive for the ‘ Interview ’ Category

Second Day of Auditions 13 December

Wrapping up the first day of auditions, and looking forward to tomorrow. The Rex Team saw many talented professionals, and lots of fresh, and energetic hopefuls.

Didn’t think we would be rolling as much tape, but there was so much worth while to capture. Thank you all for your enthusiasm for the project, and what youbrought to the audition process.

Most showed on time, and Rex was able to get people in on time and, amazingly, out on time. Hopefully, no one felt rushed. Thank you to new Rexers Tess Whittaker, and Recel Bregaudit for keeping Norvell, Sarah, Emile, and myself on perfect time.

The interviews for crew have been amazing. Generation Rex couldn’t be happier with the turnout and the quality of candidates.

Monday, 7 November 2006.  

It’s 3 days before the start of the New York Independent Internaional Film and Video Festival.  Kelley Davis, SAMARITAN’s Mrs. Gredenko is sitting down for a little chatter over coffee.  

Kelley Davis:    Make me witty and adorable.

Ethan Marten:    Kelley you already are.

KD:     Gracias — I say that because that’s all the Spanish I know.  Actually, I know how to say cervesa as well, and donde esta el bano…

EM:      Sorry, I can’t type that enyae….Nice hat by the way, what is that — a herring bone railroad hat?

KD:    Thanks, it’s actually my husband’s, but I think it looks better on me.  I grabbed it anyway.

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On the waterfront with Kelley Davis.                                    Photo by EEM

EM:    You had a car accident about two months ago. You look great.  How are you feeling?

KD:    I’m finding you never really recover completely.  Rest isn’t an option, chiropracters, muscle relaxers, working out, but not necessarily in that order.

EM:    Muscle relaxers first?

KD:    Yes, but not before teaching classes.  (Winks.)

EM:    I know you’re only joking.  You were spot on on the shoot.

KD:    (Laughs, but admits nothing….)

EM:    Where were you born?    

KD:    Born in New Mexico — moved to Las Vegas when I was five.  Lived there for six years.   Kissed my first boy in Kindergarten (I went back when I was16!)  I shocked him.  I ran up grabbed him and then ran away.

EM:    See, you were born for the theatre!

KD:    I have one older brother, Greg.  We were raised in a military family, so we had to be close.  Always moving, losing old friends, and trying to
make new ones….Dad was a Luitenant Colonel in the Air Force. Greg and I are very different.    He is silently protective.  I am such a mind speaker -my friends have accused me of having an undiagnosed case of Teretz.  Anyway, he expresses how proud he is of me.  He’s a chemical engineer.  I tell him he has all the brains — I have all the looks.  He was very concerned when I started studying theatre.

EM:    I guess it confirmed his darkest fears —

KD:    That his sister was insane?  Possibly.  He’s a chemical engineer, what kind of career can a theatre provide?  He came to all my plays, but he saw me in Tennessee Williams’ Talk to me about the Rain, and let me Listen at (CNU) and finally smiled.  “Damn, you can actually do this.”  He didn’t worry about my ability to eat, pay my bills (and hit him up for money) after that.   

EM:    So you said you originally intended to become a social worker.  When did it hit you that you would rather act (and possibly need the services of a social worker) than be one?

KD:    Always, ever since I was little.  I just didn’t consider it a viable job.  I was misserable studying — so I took two years off of college.  Though Mom and dad were less than thrilled at the prospect — they supported me finding my way.  One night over a couple of glasses of wine with Mom (you know, wine equals truth,) Mom asked, “If you had it all to do over again, what would you do?”  No hesitation, first thing that came out of my mouth, “theatre.”  She said, “Then, why don’t you.”  Next day I registered at CNU’s theatre program.  Worked my little tushy off, and loved every second of it.

EM:    You earned a nickname on the set —

KD:    Ya — I think it was Swollen Ass.  I was trying to be all macho and do my — well I wouldn’t say macho — I’m all girlie — no I’m not —

EM:    Split personality maybe?

KD:    That’s why I am an actor.

EM:      Picking up the thread —

KD:    I insisted I didn’t need a mat for all the pratfalls…I didn’t realize I was going to hit the ground so many times.

EM:    We actually got the shot on the first take.  I think your nickname should have been Buns of Steel!

KD:    Oh really?!

EM:    Na — I’m just screwing with one of your personalities.

KD:    Which one?

EM:    The girlie one.  The macho one doesn’t care!  But like the Buns of Steel thing.

KD:    Girlie Personality likes it too.  Thank God Kimball (Director Kimball Carr) insisted I be safe and comfortable, and made me use the mat.

EM:    How did you hear of SAMARITAN?

KD:    Call from my agent at Atlantic Talent. She asked me if I wanted to audition for this film —

EM:    25-cent fine for the film comment!

KD:    Forgot about that — you need a jar!  I wanted to audition for this ground breaking high definition movie project that I knew nothing about.

EM:    So when you found it was another Indie pic — you couldn’t wait to jump on board!

KD:    I only hesitated slightly.  (Another wink, and more laughter). 

EM:    You were tentative?

KD:    Yes.  Good word.  I tell my acting students any experience is good experience, however, I’ve been around long enough to know you have
to develop a sense of what will help you grow as an actor.  You can have an experience that isn’t necessarily the best, but you still grow.

EM:    I imagine you might also feel that you get to a point where you might want your learning experiences to also be pleasant experiences.

KD:    Very true.  It was amazing.  Script was amazing.  At the audition — Johnny and I were discussing the intelligence of the script, and how rare
that is.  That sounds terrible, but it’s true, and how it didn’t reveal too much.  I think a lot of writers underestimate the intelligence of their audience.
I don’t want to speak for Johnny, but I think he felt the same as me.  SAMARITAN was really good, and it had the burden of “Indie movie.”  Truth about Johnny’s character — there were not a lot of actors that could manage that character.   The language was precise, and proper.  “No I do not,”  not “no I don’t,” small example, but indicative of the character.  Otherwise it would have rung false and awkward.”

With my theatre background I’m used to sticking to the written word.  It was a strange feeling moving into film, and having a little leeway with what was on the page.  Of course, with really tight scripts — I wouldn’t dream of improving or improoving what’s on the page, but let’s face it — when you start out — you get a lot of crap.  The key is to recognize this, stay true to your character — without being a pain in the ass on the set.  We have a job as an actor to make people believe that our words and actions stem from truth, and I think at times it’s harder to sell than at other times.

EM:    So Samaritan was a soft sell?

KD:    Because of the way you constructed it — the script, casting, direction — I loved the way Kimball directed — giving you something and then getting out of the way.  That could be taken the wrong way, what I mean is — he tells you what he wants and instills the confidence in you that he believes you can give it to him.  He was very courteous and respectful.  He was accomplished in his job and allowed you to execute yours.

EM:    See — witty, adorable AND intelligent!  Tell me a little bit about your character, Mrs. Gredenko.

KD:    I liked, at least, I wanted to portray some strength and obviously she’s upset (she’s been in the middle of a shooting) she could have been blubbery.

EM:    You showed a great deal of vulnerability, and yet your character had a great deal of strength.  That one look you give after Victor whispers in your ear — that was amazing.  I’m going to cross the actor’s line and ask what your secret was — what were you thinking?  What’s behind that look?

KD:    I was gonna say I never reveal my secrets, but I will say that it was meaningful to me as a person.  I had my own traumatic experiences to draw from.  There was more in the script to draw from for the actor than was put on the screen, so for me as a person — I’ve never had a Victor in my life or been a witness to a shooting or a robbery.  So if I actually had been through such a trauma, what would I want said to me to give me strength.  I always try and have my own secrets — my own internal dialogue to deliver a truthful character.

EM:    What was the biggest suprise?   

KD:    I just wasn’t expecting to have so much fun.  I knew I liked your personalities and your audition process off the bat, you seemed genuinely nice; but when you guys explained what you were trying to do with this
project — how much we had to do — in such a short window (81 set ups, 2 nights) — I was expecting a bunch of pissed off, cranky people!
EM:    I thought you were going to say you thought we were out of our fucking minds.

KD:    Well, that too. 

EM:    So instead?

KD:    One, everyone was so nice, and two — I don’t think I saw one person blow up even once.  You just don’t find that on any set, really.  That peaceful nature in such a dynamic atmoshphere.  I was expecting complete stress.  Not me per se, but I thought  — I was shocked.  I thought there was no way in hell…Oh God what have I gotten myself into?

EM:    Now we’re getting to the ugly underbelly! 

KD:    (Laughs)  Maybe an extra day or two of shooting will work in my favor!  The hair and makeup, the lighting people — the chiropractor — all so nice!

EM:    Dr. Dan — the chiropractor isn’t gonna like hearing about the muscle relaxers.

KD:    Tell it to macho personality — a Girlie Girl has got to do what a Girlie Girl’s got to do.

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“A Girlie Girl gotta do what a
Girlie Girl gotta do.”  —  Kelley Davis         Photo by EEM

EM:    Give me a preview of your Oscar speech.

KD:    Really?  Oh my Goodness.  Oh Wow, More than anything in the world I would have to thank my parents.  They are the only reason in the
world I have been to sustain this.  My courage and belief in myself stems from their belief in me.  Any time I have lost faith in myself — their belief in me has helped me have the strength to believe in myself. 

EM:    Don’t you want to know which category you were nominated in?

KD:    Oh Good Lord — WHAT– OH no!

EM:     You tell me.

KD:    Well, I would win for best kiss. 

EM:    Lucky Wendell. (The hatless husband.)

KD:    Lucky me….

EM:   Good save since you didn’t thank him in your Oscar speach!

KD:    (More giggles)  Hmnn…Best suppooooortiiiing — I’m underestimating myself —

EM:    What would Mom and Dad say?

KD:    Awww.  Cutest Actress in any film.

EM:    Awwww.

KD:    But I would say, “Best Ass-Fall in a Drama.”

EM:    You’ve got my vote.  Speaking of which — you hit the polls?

KD:    Of course.  Vote, but vote for the right people!  I’ve got my views — but that’s a whole other interview.

EM:    You looking forward to New York and the Festival?

KD:    Yes!  I love N.Y., and to have my movie in a NY Festival — I called all my family and friends.  People’s reactions were animatedted.  I’m feeling overwhelmed. It was as if I had progressed to another level in terms of the acceptance of my work. It’s slightly scarey, because I don’t like watching myself on screen, but I’m proud.  From the moment I read that script — I wanted the part.  The actors cast, J. Michael Hunter, Johnny Alonso — great resumes, great talent.  Great script.  That’s why I wanted it.  Did I get paid?  Yes.  Was I treated well, and with respect on the set? Yes.  Did I think I’d be having a premiere at a prestigious New York festival?  No.  The rest of
it — the chiropractor the pay, the catering (really good).   Especially the festival, I thought — this is wrong — this can’t be happening!  Not because I didn’t believe in the project, but because it was so surreal — it was a big deal. 

EM:    Okay, I think we’re about done, not that I’m throwing you out of the house or anything….Should we do the Barbara Walters thing?

KD:    What’s that?

EM:    If you were a tree — what kind would you be?

KD:      A Dogwood.  But do I have to say why?

EM:    You do now.

KD:    I don’t know.  I have one in my yard that needs to be planted! 

EM:    C’mon —

KD:    Okay, because they look  just like ordinary trees, but then they blossom and have these beautiful flowers.

EM:    That’s a very beautiful sentiment.  Of course then winter comes….

KD:    (Laughs)  Jerk!  (More laughs)

EM:    Barb knows what she’s doing.  What kind of animal would you be?

KD:    A chihuahua — owned by me, because that pup has a gooooood life!
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Puppy Love…“She’s not really
that spoiled…well maybe a bit.”

EM:    If you had to wear superhero underoos — which would they be and why?

KD:    I had Wonder Woman ones when I was little.

EM:    How long ago was that?

KD:    Two years ago.  I don’t know who I would wear wear?  I’m my own superhero?

EM:    You trial ballooning that?  I didn’t know that this would present such a challenge.

KD:    I’m afraid of heights — so I don’t want any flying superheroes.  I would love to be invisisble, but that would present its own problems —

EM:    Sure, and then how would you find your underwear, anyway?!

KD:    Very true.  Audrey Hepburn!  She was an extraordinary actress who overcame her own insecurities and then spent most of her life giving back.  She was UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador.  I would like Meryl Streep underoos, too.

EM:    You’re on a roll now!

KD:    She is just an amazing actress.  I love her.  She loves me, too…she just doesn’t know it yet.  She would be at the top of my list for actors I want to work with. 

EM:    Me, too.  Well, Kelley Dear, Buns of Steel, Macho and Girlie Girl — it was wonderful having all of you over today.

KD:   Thank you for the opportunity and for the nuts and cappuccino.  See you in N.Y.!!!

EM:    Almonds.  We don’t want the kids to get the wrong idea!

KD:    The foam was great, too.

EM:    You are witty and adorable to the last.

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Visit Kelley’s My Space:

Its amazing how much preparation can go into a 48-hour shooting schedule. SAMARITAN has been a well-orchestrated, well-executed production from concept to script, right through wrap. Johnny Alonso, who stars as the enigmatic character Victor, reflected from the Toronto set of Blu where he was shooting with Robert Deniro and Orlando Bloom.
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Ethan Marten: Hey Johnny.

Johnny Alonso: Paisan! How’re ya doin Kid?

EM: Feel great? Hows Kelly and the kids?

JA: Everyones happy and healthy, thanks.

EM: We have a screening in Norfolk this weekend at The City Arts Festival. If you werent in such demand —

JA: Im with everyone in spirit! Give everyone a big hug and kiss from me.

EM: Done.

JA: So how do you want to start this thing?

EM: Im gonna give some skinny on why youre such a big star.

JA: I wish.

EM: Paisan youre modest. Here we go

Johnny got his degree in acting from N.Y.U.s Actors Studio. A scout from ABC caught Mr. Alonsos improvisational technique and asked him to audition for a role the studio had not been able to properly cast for the better 2 months.

The result, Johnny landed a 1-year contract role as Seth, a pine valley high school student and Susan Luccis nephew on All My Children, straight out of the Actors Studio.

JA: Not a bad first gig.

EM: Not bad. Not done. From there many gigs have followed: a guest starring role next to Ned Betty and Andre Brauer on Homicide; a 2 episode guest starring contract on Buffy, The Vampire Slayer you worked with Sarah Michelle Gellar right before she left All My Children didnt you?

JA: Yes.

EM: Aaah! SNAKES ON MY BLOG! You landed a contract role next to Samuel L. Jackson in Rules Of Engagement.

JA: A real gentleman.

EM: Then Axe, the bass player/boyfriend to Rachel Leigh Cookes character in Stateside.

JA: Thats when things really picked up. I was cast in a recurring role on the last season of Dawsons Creek —

EM: Jimmy Franco?

JA: A snide junior stockbroker next to Joshua Jackson and Katie Holmes. Originally a 2-episode contract (directed by Joanna Kerns from Growing Pains/Lifetime) became an 8-episode run.

EM: I hear you earned a place in Guinness for this.

JA: I hold the record for the only actor to audition 28 times for a series on the WB before landing a job!

EM: You were the Susan Lucci of Dawsons Creek! I heard you didnt actually get cast. In fact, you were there auditioning so often they thought you were already part of the cast! Meeting Joanna Kerns was fortunate, yes?

JA: Call it fate to have worked with Joanna. She said we’d would work together again one day well, right after Dawsons Creek came to an end, my agent got a call from ABC and Disney. I got the chance to work with the original cast from the series Growing Pains in Growing Pains II Return Of The Seavers as Mickey Chrissys r-n-r, bad new boyfriend.

EM: You spent 1 month on location in New Orleans Co-starring with Kirk Cameron, Ashley Johnson (Chrissy), Joanna Kerns, Traci Gold, Alan Thicke….

JA: It was wild working with a cast that I grew up watching as kid after school. Joanna told me that if I auditioned for her when the show was still running, that I was a dead ringer for the Mickey character she always wanted for the series. How wicked is that! That always getting into trouble character left a lasting impression with the viewers poll as a cool/upbeat story line/change of scene and pace from the usual Seaver issues.

EM: Then the Disney summer special Stuck In The Suburbs the WB series One Tree Hill with the recurring role of Joey D. Again this was a 2 episode deal which extended to 9 episodes! Youre the only actor to segway from Dawsons Creek to One Tree Hill (which took Dawsons Creeks place). How many auditions?

JA: This time — only once — this time!

EM: Okay, lets rattle some off. Other co-starring and Guest Starring credits include F.B.I. Files, The Adventures Of Young Van Helsing, Johnny Come Lately, Night Cry, The Tango Dancer, The Passing the list is getting heavy!

JA: I didnt realize how much I had done in 8 years.

EM: Your odometer must be spinning like crazy?!

JA: Call me Road Warrior.

EM: So how did you first hear about SAMARITAN?

JA: Karen Whitlow- Jones of Atlantic Talent. She mentioned it to me on the set of One Tree Hill.

EM: What were your initial thoughts before the audition?

JA: How badly I wanted to ride my skateboard on the newly paved parking lot outside across from where the auditions were being held. (Laughs).
EM: I remember that skateboard. It had an awesome look — it almost got cast in the lead!

JA: Johnny and the skateboard are a package deal! Really, I saw how serious some of the competition was in the holding area — so I got my game face on, Zenned out, and pulled it all together — the way an actor should.

EM: This is cool. Ill tell you what was going through my head when I first saw you, and you can give youre impressions. You already got the job, and we cant edit around you so go for it! As an actor Im always wondering what the hell theyre thinking on the other side of the table.

JA: You’re the best, Paisan! That’s why we roll the way we do. Actors should know they’re called in basically on looks through a glossy, and maybe what ‘s seen on a resume. But, once you’re there, it’s your attitude, your personality — you’re star quality that puts ink on paper. Plus, you have long hair too, which makes you cool in my book.

EM: Yes. Everyone in the company’s calling me Johnny, Jr. now, which is cool with me. Victor called for a disciplined actor who could be in control of any situation with a Zen-like quality; be any age, and maybe not of this Earth. We needed a subtle intensity that could be both benign and deadly without being campy or boring. You nailed it. So it ends up being a love-fest. You gave your all — and scored a Toronto shoot with Bobby D. and Orlando Bloom (Blu). What’s the difference between a big budget with Bobby and our modest Indie?

JA: There are many differences between a big budget production with name stars and signing to an Independent project like SAMARITAN. First of all — a ton of money, the names, a roster of 100 or more working on set and in the production office — making sure every detail is going as planned. On SAMARITAN we had — what — ten? That included the director — Kimball Carr — efficiently doing the work of 100! When you make your way onto an Indie –everything I just mentioned has now been downsized to actors willing to work for scale and demo footage. The locations are usually donated with limited — very limited — and odd hours for use.

EM: Ten! I dont remember having that many!

JA: Remember, before the money people decided to back up the script, that script too was an independent. And technically it could have been shot with the small budget, but time, locations, set up, man power and power-talent requires cash and thats always been the problem. With new ways of filming, cutting down wasted energy on set ups, dailies, post, money on stock, rentals, and over time – the independent way of filmmaking will eventually become the industry standard. With a decent independent budget, which is always leagues lower than the big budget films, you can now afford a named actor which will help sell your project. Then everyone benefits from it.

EM: So how does all this effect the actor?

JA: As actors that have worked both sides of the celluloid, we generally hunt for well-written scripts. There’s a lot of crap out there. When you find one like SAMARITAN that has been put together with focus, energy, and that certain something — which can lead to great things — some things never found on the big budget films. I can’t stress how important that is to us actors. Hands down, a script any actor on any level would have been willing to work on. I’m just glad I got one of the leads!

EM: You earned it. Can you remember a moment from SAMARITAN where you got to play?

JA: Definitely. In the interrogation scene with J. Michael. I’m a very animated actor — lots of hand and body movement. I had to find something to cool me to make this character work. I broke it down to an actor’s exercise I learned at NYU’s Actor’s Studio. I played with my language and my eye contact. My eye movement and pregnant pauses became my sole movement and expression. It wasn’t easy — Paisan, believe me — but I like how it turned out. Victor became something not of this Earth. I dig it!

EM: We knew you had it at audition. When you brought your homework onto the set — we were ecstatic. When you saw the scene at the first screening what went through your head? What were you generally thinking when you were watching? Do you think I like these guys I hope they didnt blanking make me look like sh*t?

JA: Dude — positive all around! Your crew worked like any other big budget production I’ve ever been on — in fact — better than some. You guys were totally on point with time — no wasted energy. No waiting around in the trailer for four hours. We’re there to work, to create — without being idle for so long, all your heightened energy is ready to go! that’s where some of your best energy comes from.

EM: How did you approach the character of Victor and his relationship with the Detective?

JA: Victor – where do you begin? If anyone has ever been typecast in their acting career like me rebel with a heart, Mr. Rocknroll, troubled boyfriend type Victor was one character that enabled me to show diversity and acting skills that weren’t tapped yet. This character is really like no other. Ive never read for a character like this before, and I jumped at the possibility of booking it.

How many of my collegues can say they’ve played someone not of this earth with Zen like qualities? Kimball (Director Kimball Carr) really helped me get there. I knew in order to reach that level I had strip down the usual TV/film choices I have in my acting arsenal. Plus, working with seasoned vet J. Michael Hunter put me one on one in the actor’s boxing ring – a challenge. With a good director, script, and talent all around you can get anything accomplished. Im proud of what we captured in those 2 days long nights of shooting. I trusted you, Kimball, Richard and company that it would be there, and it was.

EM: What made the chemisitry?

JA: My producers Ethan E. Marten, Richard S. Marten are from Manhattan,

EM: Dont get formal on me now!

JA: Paisan, cmon!

EM: Oh Johnny you had me at Paisan —

JA: Did you know the human head weighs eight pounds?

EM: I heard that.

JA: Anyway, Actor Humberto Gettys is from Brooklyn, and myself Queens New York, even our “Roc Doc” (Dr. Daniel Cohen) was from the Queens – that made me feel at home. I was familiar with J. Michael’s work and have respect for him not only as an actor but now as a friend. It was fantastic working with Kelley Davis (Mrs. Gredenko) who I’ve known from the audition circuit. Finally getting to see her in action was really something else. This doesn’t usually happen on the big sets. on the big set for the first season of shooting, its strictly business — to see whos being asked to stay or getting replaced, after that its comfortable. the Indie sets have a personal, easy, home-like feel immediately. Its easier to work when everyone is on the same team. Its family – that means a lot.

EM: Well, you are family. Im looking forward to Baltimore September 20 at Gardel’s. I hope you have a couch worthy of a big time actor/producer.

JA: Paisan for you only the best couch will do!

Visit Johnnys site at: