Thursday, June 20, 2013

Remembering The Final Scene in Star Wars: Actor Derek Lyons Puts TV STORE ONLINE there...

Actor Derek Lyons talks with TV STORE ONLINE about his first  job as an actor when he was cast in STAR WARS...

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did you come to work on STAR WARS (1977)?

LYONS:  I was studying drama at university and I had gotten a call from my agent and I was asked to go out to Shepperton Studios.  I went out there and they took some Polaroids of me and then STAR WARS Assistant Director Terry Madden chose me for the part and I ended up taking two weeks off from my schooling to do it.  I ended up being one of the two medal bearers in the final scene in the movie.   The other actor that they chose to be in the scene with me was this guy named Robert, and I sadly can't remember his last name now.  Robert was a ballet dancer but he wasn't particularly coordinated.   When we started to rehearse that final scene in the movie Robert started tripping about. It was quite comical actually.  It was like something out of Jerry Lewis movie.  So they had to replace him.

This was my first experience on a film set so I was very lucky to be there.   The Massassi Temple Set was on H Stage at Shepperton Studios.  It was a massive set.  There were about two hundred supporting artists or background extras as you may call them dressed in all of those costumes as Rebel Guards and  X-Wing Pilots and such.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Being in that scene...It must have been an incredible vision to be up on that stage and look out at all of those people dressed in those costumes that we see in the final scene...Or was that an insert shot ?

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Available at TV STORE ONLINE
LYONS:  Actually...It was empty.  All I saw was a half empty soundstage.   There wasn't anyone standing there.   They were all off having their tea.   It really just depended on the angle that they were shooting.  For example, when they were shooting the scene from Harrison Ford's angle you can see everyone in the background, so in that situation everyone was in place for the scene.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Were there a lot of rehearsals for that scene?

Actor Derek Lyons [Far Right]
LYONS:  Yeah...Everything was specific.   We had to hit our marks perfectly of course.   Originally I was supposed to be in the middle of the scene and we had rehearsed it that way, but then I went off to lunch and when I came back they had asked me to change where I was with the other medal bearer.   The medal that I carry in the scene was the one that was given to Mark Hamill, who of course was Luke Skywalker.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you get to spend any time with Mark Hamill?

LYONS:  Yes I did.  I got on with him very well because we found out that we shared the same birthday.   Because of all of the supporting artists in the scene the studio's canteen couldn't support everyone at once, so they put up some massive tents outside the soundstage.  Behind the STAR WARS set there were the sets for one of THE PINK PANTHER movies and also the set from the movie, OLIVER! (1968) One day were were having lunch and I told him that I was going to bring in my camera and take some photographs.  So Mark and I and Peter Mayhew went and walked around those sets and I took some wonderful photographs...

Mark Hamill and Derek Lyons on the set of STAR WARS (1977)

TV STORE ONLINE:  You got to spend time with Peter Mayhew as well then?

LYON:  Sure.  I had lunch with Peter Mayhew most days at the Shepperton pub. We had pub lunches outside as it was a very hot summer. He told me about his past and what he did and how he got the part of Chewbacca.  He had told me about the size of shoes and how he used to be a porter in a hospital...

Unknown Actor, Mark Hamill, Derek Lyons and Peter Mayhew
on the backlot at Shepperton Studios in England

TV STORE ONLINE:   Did you get to spend anytime with Carrie Fisher?

Final Scene in STAR WARS (1977)
Massassi Temple Set Shepperton Studios England

LYONS:  She was very nice.  Harrison was very nice but he seemed sort of miserable.  I was only eighteen years old when I worked on the film...And in that final scene...Carrie was very sexy.   Her costume was sort of see through when you got close up to it and she wasn't wearing much under it.    During the close-up in the scene, Carrie seemed to be in some discomfort with her foot.  I was very shy in those days, but I offered to help her.  She told me that her foot was hurting, so I got down on one knee and looked at her foot and I noticed that she had a splinter in it.  So I removed it for her.  She asked me what my name was and I told here.  Then she kissed me on the cheek and said "Thank you Derek, that's very kind of you." I then went as red as the Emperor's Royal Guard!

TV STORE ONLINE:  What's your favorite memory now of having had the opportunity to work on the first STAR WARS movie?

LYONS:   Just that I was lucky enough to have been a part of it!   My favorite memory would be just when I would arrive at Shepperton Studios and then walk onto the Massassi Temple set in my costume and makeup.   It seemed so realistic and I became totally immersed in the STAR WARS universe.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

TV STORE ONLINE talks with actor Oscar Torre about his role in The Hangover Part 3

TV STORE ONLINE:  Hi Oscar... We're really excited to talk to you about THE HANGOVER PART 3.  What was the whole shooting experience like?

TORRE:  It was a lot of fun.  Whenever you get the opportunity to be part of a proven franchise, like THE HANGOVER films... It is a good day!  It was a real pleasure working with those guys and Todd Phillips, the director.  He creates an environment on the set where you feel like you're playing...You're also not afraid of trying things or making mistakes.  

TV STORE ONLINE: Had you been a fan of the previous HANGOVER films prior to becoming part of this new HANGOVER film?

TORRE:  Just like you guys...I'm a big fan of THE HANGOVER films.  I've seen the first HANGOVER about three or four times, so when I was invited to be part of the third film, I was thrilled!

TV STORE ONLINE:  I'm sure you've got a funny story or two from working with those HANGOVER guys...Can you share anything with us?

TORRE:  As you can imagine, there was a lot of laughter on the set. I do know that a moment that might make the blooper reel is when I'm outside the police station and I'm trying to light a cigarette. The wind was blowing hard and on my cue...I was supposed to be lighting this cigarette and a limo appears in front of the police station to pick up the guys and there are a ton of background actors walking by the street and take after take, I couldn't light this cigarette!   In one of the takes, I was so frustrated and determined to light the cigarette, that I forgot about the scene and didn't answer Bradley Cooper's character when he asks me,  "What is this?"He is referring to the limo picking them up outside the police station in the scene.  So Bradley Cooper says a second time, "Excuse me, what is this?" And I looked at him very intensely and said, "This is me trying to light a fucking cigarette!" Then, I proceeded to throw the cigarette on the ground in frustration...laughing  It was the first scene I shot in the film, and I was having a horrible time shooting it because of that stupid cigarette!   Luckily my other scenes were a lot more fun.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What are you watching on television these days?   What are your favorite shows and why?

TORRE:  I have a few shows that I'm hooked on, but I'm currently watching Orphan Black. It's a BBC America show and I must say it's terrific. The lead actress, Tatiana Maslany, plays about eight different characters.  She's really amazing to watch and as an actor and is very inspiring.

TV STORE ONLINE: Many fans were disappointed with THE HANGOVER 2.  For those that haven't yet seen Part 3 that may be reading this, what can fans of the franchise expect with this final installment?

TORRE: This third installment stands on it's own.  You don't need to have seen the first two films to enjoy this one.  Although, if you have seen them, you'll find that the third one ties loose ends up that you might have not even noticed while watching the first two.  Obviously, I'm a little biased, but as a fan of the first two films, I really enjoyed the third one. It is a good ending to the trilogy.

TV STORE ONLINE:  So I've just watched the trailer online for PRETTY ROSEBUD (2013).  How did this project come about for you?

TORRE: This is a film that was written by my wife, Chuti Tiu, who also stars in it.  I remember first reading the script and thinking that it was very well written but it might never get made because the lead character was very flawed, and her actions could make her unlikable if not handled correctly.  It's the story of a woman in an unhappy marriage, and in the process of finding herself and her happiness, she makes unconventional choices and breaks societal taboos. 

We decided to produce the film ourselves, so we began looking for a director, and the more we talked about it, my wife felt that I'd be the best person for the job.  She trusted me to tell this story, because I realized that even though it's a story written about a woman, it could be about anyone who doesn't have the freedom to be themselves.

TV STORE ONLINE: Growing up with an interest in acting and I'm sure directing, what were some of the films that may have influenced you and who were some of the directors that may have influenced you?

TORRE: I became involved in acting while attending college.  I took an acting class as an elective and was soon hooked.  At the time, the directors that  I became attracted to the most were Martin Scorsese, Francis Coppola, and Arthur Penn. Their films were edgy and the actors seemed real, as if they weren't acting.  I also loved that the characters in these films seemed like roles I could play.

TV STORE ONLINE: It's become so easy to gain access to digital film equipment these days and to find an outlet for your film too.. But how much of a challenge is to get your film actually seen?  Great films slip through the cracks often...What steps are you taking to make sure that PRETTY ROSEBUD gets seen by it's real audience?

TORRE: We started by identifying who our target audience is.  In our case, women or anyone who feels trapped in their lives because of family, cultural or religious pressures.  Then with social media, we start targeting these groups. This is just one of many steps we're taking to get the film seen. We just started submitting to film festivals.  Obviously, we'll also be seeking distribution, but if that doesn't happen, with the internet we have many options for self-distribution.  We're just starting this process, so we'll see where this road takes us, but the one thing that I'm confident of is that the film will be seen.   

TV STORE ONLINE:  PRETTY ROSEBUD'S subject matter isn't something that we normally see in the US mainstream in the multiplex in 2013.  When I watched the film's trailer, it reminded me of some of the wonderful  and important work that Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono is producing in terms of subject matter.    Do you think that there is a different cultural aesthetic in regards to certain films subject matter?  Sono tells these brilliant stories about females and we don't see that here in the US....

TORRE:  Sono is a terrific filmmaker I have to say.  It's really just a different aesthetic between mainstream Hollywood films and independent films. Hollywood films are driven by commerce.  The first question a studio asks when green lighting a film is, "Can it make money?"  And this makes a lot of sense, because they're investing a lot of money in making them.  Independent films, for the most part, are motivated by story first.  It starts with a filmmaker wanting/needing to tell a specific story, despite knowing it might not make a penny or ever get distribution.  There's also a certain freedom in that, because you're more willing to take chances. The downside is that you might be limited by budget, but this also forces you to be creative and tell your story in a entertaining and interesting way.  

Chuti Tiu with “Pretty Rosebud” Director Oscar Torre
Photo Credit: Domenic Yov
Two of my favorite directors are Steven Soderbergh and Wong Kar Wai.  I love the realism in Soderbergh's films and the poetic visuals in Wong Kar Wai's.  You'll find that in PRETTY ROSEBUD. I try to incorporate both.  I tried telling the story as simply as I could.  Many times throughout the story I found myself getting rid of dialogue and using an image to replace the words.

While shooting PRETTY ROSEBUD (since it's the story of a woman), I made it a point to have as many women as possible be part of our team. My producer, assistant director, line producer, director of photography, editor, production designer, costume designer, make-up and many PA's were all women.  This brought an energy to the set that I wanted.  I wanted the lead actress (Chuti Tiu) to be able to be as vulnerable as she needed to be, without shame or judgement. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  What's next for you?  Any plans on directing another feature?

TORRE: I'm attached to several films that are scheduled to shoot this year, as well as a film entitled  LUNARTICKING  that I co-wrote with a friend and my wife, Chuti.  I'll play the lead role in that one.  As for directing, I have a few projects in mind.  This is something that I will definitely do more of.  I enjoyed the experience a great deal.  I love the challenge of telling a story in a creative and entertaining way.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Walter Jones talks with TV STORE ONLINE about his role on The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Walter Jones talks with TV STORE ONLINE about playing 'Zack' on the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers television series.

TV STORE ONLINE: What types of things were you watching as a kid that gave you the bug to pursue an acting career? 

WALTER JONES: Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Good Times....These were all shows that I saw and thought... I could do that. 

TV STORE ONLINE: How did the Power Rangers series come to you? 

WALTER JONES: I auditioned. They saw over 800 people for the cast. Myself and my co-stars were chosen because we were the ones that had the chemistry to make it work.

TV STORE ONLINE: I've talked with other Power Rangers about this, so I have to ask you about some of the strange social/racial undertones in the first couple seasons of the show. The Yellow Ranger was played by an Asian actress and then you played The Black Ranger, was this something that you too noticed when you were cast on the show? Talking to actress Karan Ashley, she told me that the shows writers would try to get her to use more ethnic or sassy types of dialogue for her character. Was that your same experience? How do you combat something like that as an actor? 

WALTER JONES:  Well,  you should know that in the pilot for the show, the girl cast as the Yellow Ranger was a Latina. That still left me as the Black Ranger though, and at the time it was not a huge deal. Due to contractual details the original Yellow Ranger, Audri Dubois, was recast and the role went to Thuy Trang, who of course, was Asian. Then things seemed a bit odd. The writing was a little stereo typical but over all the racial undertones on the show were no issue.

Black Ranger T-shirt Costume

TV STORE ONLINE: Prior to being cast on the show..... How much martial arts training did you have and working on the show how much did that progress your interest in dance or martial arts for example? 

WALTER JONES: I had a brown belt in Isshin-ryu Karate. I had been the Michigan Pee Wee State Champion growing up in Detroit. Then after Power Rangers, I worked with stunt guys and grabbed knowledge from lots of different styles of martial arts.  

TV STORE ONLINE: The show in it's day was criticized by some that thought that it was too dark for children. Being an actor on those first few seasons, can you remember experiencing such criticism and how if at all does it effect you as an actor on the show, and why do you think that people felt that way about the show in the first place? 

WALTER JONES: I just know that kids were emulating the martial arts and some kids were getting hurt. We changed our fighting styles on the show at a certain point, and that's why you only see body blows. I personally always recommended people to put their kids into martial arts training.  Kids were interested and they just needed the discipline. I will tell you this, there are a lot of trained fighters walking around today because of the Power Rangers show. So bullies beware! 

Walter Jones Today

TV STORE ONLINE: I've read and heard rumors about why you left the show, or why your character was written off the show. Of course people have read about the cheapness of Saban in regards to what he paid his actors, but how does that type of stuff effect the actor when you're trying to bring a character to life? 

WALTER JONES: Well, business and creativity don't always work hand in hand but until I left the show creating my character on a daily bases was easy. 

TV STORE ONLINE: With the voice over stuff you've done on The Power Rangers, and then also on the video games you've done, what do you find more satisfying as an actor, and is there any true difference in the work in terms of voice over versus on camera work? 

WALTER JONES:  I enjoy working period. But I do prefer on camera work. There's so much that can be said without speaking a word! 

TV STORE ONLINE: Why do you think that the Power Rangers had such an effect on kids of the early 1990's? 

WALTER JONES: Come On!  It was just the right time and the right formula.  Jurassic Park (1993) had just came out then, and then also Jackie Chan's movies were starting to get popular in the States.  We were heroes that were fighting silly villains.   It just happened at the perfect time I think, and I'm happy that it's part of my legacy.  I was the first live action African American superhero!  It's Morphin time!

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