Tuesday, October 29, 2013

INTERVIEW: Twerking With Ari: TV STORE ONLINE talks with the original Jason Voorhees himself Ari Lehman

The first Jason Voorhees, Ari Lehman, talks with TV STORE ONLINE about being part of the FRIDAY THE 13TH mythos, bringing Jason to life from the depths of Crystal Lake as well as his rocking heavy metal combo of doom and badassery First Jason...

TV STORE ONLINE:  You have got to tell us what Ari Lehman was like a kid and where do you think your interest in movies and music comes from?

LEHMAN:  As a little kid...I wanted to be an actor.  It was just something I wanted to do. I loved movies.  I was a very upbeat and cheerful kid.  I had sort of red hair and freckles.   People used to call me "Danny Patridge" and "Mason Reese".    In high school, I got involved in the theater and I really enjoyed that.  But, when I did FRIDAY THE 13TH [1980] I was only in junior high school.  I was just fourteen years old.   I went to Bedford Junior School.   When I got cast in FRIDAY THE 13TH...I remember being out on the soccer field and trying out for the school's team, when this car pulled up, "We're here to pick up Ari for Sean Cunningham..."  I couldn't believe it.  I had no clue what was going on.  The coach of the soccer team said to me, "You know, you don't have to go with them..."    But I decided that I should go.  I remember now....That Sean Cunningham felt bad about taking me off the field at school because, as he told me later, had he not cast me in F13 and I wouldn't have left the soccer field that day, I may have made the team and that would've catapulted my life in a whole other direction...laughing

As for music...I was very strongly interested in music at a very early age.  By the time I did FRIDAY THE 13TH, I was already studying with a very famous jazz pianist that was living in Westport, CT.    I remember now, being in the car as I was being driven to the set of FRIDAY THE 13TH and telling the Production Assistant that, even though I was working on this movie, I really wanted to be a jazz pianist.
TV STORE ONLINE:  The set of FRIDAY THE 13th must have been a blast....

LEHMAN:  It was fun.  It was summertime and I got to hang out in those cabins with Tom Savini and Taso N. Stavrakis.    They were working on F13 but at the same time, they were working on the film that they were going to do next called KNIGHTRIDERS [1981].    There were a lot of people on the set that were fun and cool and interesting.   Even though I was just fourteen years old, the people on the set took a interest in me.   Because I had told everyone that I wanted to be a musician, crew members would play music for me.  They'd say, "Hey Ari...Come over here and listen to this music."   All of the people that worked on FRIDAY THE 13TH were all from New York.  It was 1979 and the film was made during the punk era, so crew members would play me Bad Brains, Sex Pistols and The Dead Kennedys.  There was a guy by the name of Braden Lutz that worked on the film, and he was really into Patti Smith, and he would play me her stuff.  Tom Savini has built this replica of his studio on the set so he could work on all kinds of stuff.  He had a pet Chinchilla with him that was named "Peanut".    It was such an easy job really.  I was fourteen and I got to hang out at a summer camp.    I got to be surrounded by incredible creativity.   It was very inspiring. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Developing that interest in music, and in particular in jazz...What kinds of jazz records were you listening to at fourteen years old?   Where you listening to Monk?

LEHMAN:   The first jazz record I bought was Miles Davis - Miles Smiles.   I saw that cover, and I knew that I had to have it.  He was smiling on the cover and no other jazz albums had covers where the musicians were smiling.   I would listen to Miles Smiles endlessly.  Then I got into Herbie Hancock's playing, then McCoy Tyner and John Coltrane.   I started to study that.  I got into Chick Corea.    I was really digging all of that stuff.    Pat Methany too. John MacLaughin as well.   I also got into keyboard players like Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman.    I was big into all of that stuff. I loved punk rock and at the same time I was studying jazz piano.     I had a great teacher named Gay Mehegan.  She was wonderful.  Her husband, John Mehegan, had been the one who literally created the school of jazz theory.   His ideas on jazz were adapted at Julliard and he went on to teach Dave Brubeck and Herbie Hancock.    He was the grand daddy of jazz theory.   Gay got me interested in Lennie Tristano and the avant-garde jazz scene.  He was a blind piano player from Long Island and we were in Connecticut.  So she had been involved in that whole be-bop avant-garde jazz scene of New York City in the late '50s and early '60s.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Let's talk about the grand daddy of soccer exploitation films MANNY'S ORPHANS [1978]...

LEHMAN:  Laughing...I've told the story of how I first met Sean Cunningham for that so many times...So I'll skip over that...but I did actually sneak into that audition to see Sean for that. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  I've heard you tell the story about staring into the water on the set of FRIDAY THE 13TH and having Kevin Bacon walk up and ask you what you were doing and you responded, "I'm getting into character..."   At fourteen years old, you understood that process?  Furthermore, did you treat your role in MANNY'S ORPHANS any different?

LEHMAN:  I guess so.  But FRIDAY THE 13TH and MANNY'S ORPHANS are films that exist in two different genres.  Was I trying to become Roger in MANNY'S ORPHANS?   I guess so.  Being a kid though, and just being handed that dialogue...I was used to it.  I was Roger's age.   In MANNY'S ORPHANS, Roger is always carrying around a Playboy Magazine.   Sean wisely provided all of us kids a stack of Playboy Magazines to kept us occupied between takes.  It kept all of us quiet on the set.   Irwin Keyes worked on MANNY'S ORPHANS too.  He was so great.  He would hang out with us kids and tell us jokes.   MANNY'S ORPHANS was a film about kids just hanging out.  I didn't see playing Roger as something different than me just playing myself.

When I was going to play Jason...There was a different dimension to that.    I did think about kids that are different or kids that are autistic or mentally retarded and how they're treated as if they're different than the rest of us.  In my opinion, when Jason jumps out of the water at the end of FRIDAY THE 13TH, that was those kids' opportunity to get a little bit of revenge for how they had been treated.  For me, it had nothing to do with the fact that one of the film's characters had just severed my moms head.  I was really thinking about those kids. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Wearing that Jason make-up....What was that feeling like?  Was it heavy? Was it sticky or itchy or anything like that?

LEHMAN:  Not really.  It was trick.  It was all about being Lon Chaney. It was about transformation.   When someone works on your face for four hours and you don't see what they've been doing, and then when you finally do see it, it really puts you into that character.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Still though, it's really fascinating in how you chose to jump from the water and grab Adrienne King....It seems like there was a choice made to scoop her the way that you did....Jason could've just jumped up and pulled her backward....

LEHMAN:   That was all worked out....I said, "I'm going to put this hand on the boat so I can lift myself up..."   FRIDAY THE 13TH had wrapped in August and there was no scene shot of me jumping out of the water at the end.   Then in October, Sean Cunningham called me and said, "We need you to come back..."

Sean wasn't happy with the ending and he had seen Brian DePalma's CARRIE [1976] and wanted to shoot a new ending.    That's why when you watch the film now...The leaves on the trees on the lake have changed color.   It was supposed to be a dream sequence.  Savini called the sequence "Alice's Dream".     I never thought it was a dream sequence though.  I considered it then, and still consider it, the point where the monster gets his vengeance. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  We've heard about some sort of rock opera that you've been working on called "The Curse Of Crystal Lake"....

LEHMAN:  I'm not working on that anymore.  What happened with it was that it got pitched out as a television series and for a minute it looked like it was going to happen.  A few names got attached to it and they were going to give me some money to create a sort of "sizzle" reel to get it started and then it fell apart.    I've been thinking about telling the story in graphic novel form now.   There's a new FRIDAY THE 13TH film coming out soon.  Hopefully we'll see some sort of origin story there.     I've also just recently sat down with Victor Miller, who of course, was the screenwriter of FRIDAY THE 13TH, and we've been talking about the possibilities of a origins story for Jason as well.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What's your favorite sequel in the F13 film franchise?

LEHMAN:  Probably Part 7.   Part 4 is really strong, but Part 7 is more of my kind of movie because it just goes so far out on a limb.    I love when the burning roof falls on Jason's head and he just looks at the psychic girl.   She blows his mask off of his face.  It's just so unbelievable wonderful.

TV STORE ONLINE:  One thing that your fans may not know about you...While you were studying music at NYU post FRIDAY THE 13TH, you befriended a couple young filmmakers by the name of Alex Winter and Tom Stern and did the musical score for their amazing short film SQUEAL OF DEATH (1985)....

LEHMAN:  Where did you see that? On YouTube?   Alex and Tom were hilarious.  If you hung out with them all you would do is laugh.  You would laugh until you couldn't breath any longer.  All I really remember about it now is that Tom Stern came to me and said, " We've got this movie and we'd like for you to come and do the music and sound effects for it."    We just did it at NYU film school and with the most basic equipment.  We had to time sequences out with stop watches and pray that they would turn out alright.  I used a DX-7 Yamaha Keyboard.  Miles Davis played one of those too.    One thing I remember about Tom Stern...He was in the same dorm as I was...I remember he covered his entire dorm room in 8x10s of Larry "Bud" Melman.   I swear...You'd walk into his dorm room and there must have been at least 500 8x10s and they were all perfectly tiled as well...laughing.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Before we talk about First Jason....We should discuss the Ari-Ben Moses Band....Where does that interest in Reggae music come from ?

LEHMAN:   I was studying jazz at NYU...At a point, I started exploring World Music on a few different levels.  Eventually it became an easier way of getting more work.   A lot of the bands that would come to America to play from Africa or the Caribbean couldn't bring in all of the musicians in their band due to visa issues with the government.  So I started working with them and I just became the kid that these bands would call when they came to The United States.   I started working with a band from Nigeria and I ended up touring with them for ten years.   They were called Maja Sasek and The Prisoners of Conscious.   They were on Interscope Records at the same time that Dr. Dre was there.   I played the Jamaican Reggae Sunsplash shows. I played the Reggae circuit for a while.  I got to open for great Reggae artists like Rita Marley even.

TV STORE ONLINE:  So how did First Jason come into being?

LEHMAN:  I was out on tour playing.  I was in Chicago playing and I met my future wife Elaine.   We got married and I ended up moving from NYC to Chicago.     One day, I got an email from this guy who informed me that he purchased my autograph on a photo of Jason jumping up in the lake from FRIDAY THE 13TH off of Ebay.   I hadn't signed any photos.   After some investigation, we discovered who this guy was and we found out that he had sold dozens of these photos.  To make a long story short, we busted him and he ended up paying out a bunch of money to me.   From there, I started to get invited out to all of these horror conventions.  I'd go to those and I'd take with me CDs of The Ari-Ben Moses Band.   Fans would come up to me and say, "I don't listen to much Reggae, but this is good man..." (Laughing)  

These guys at the horror shows all listen to metal or punk.   So I decided that I needed to re-access what I was doing.  I realized that I hadn't yet found my true sound.  I went back and started to listen to that stuff that I had been introduced to on the set of FRIDAY THE 13TH.  I went back and listened to stuff like The Misfits, Reagan Youth, and Minor Threat.  I had also become interested in heavy metal as well.   Listening to all of those bands really inspired me, because each of those bands really developed their own unique sound.    I knew that was what I needed to do.   Being that I love jazz piano and keyboards and such, I set out to try to develop a heavy metal guitar sound via keyboard.   Who knew that all these years later, I'd be touring all around the USA, screaming these songs out on stage about Jason Voorhees  and playing a keytar that is attached to a machete...laughing    I really think that there is something to this. I really think this is were I was always intended to be.

TV STORE ONLINE:  The keyboard sound of First Jason is incredible.   When I listen to First Jason's album Jason Is Watching!  I hear Booker T. Jones type of tones.   Some of the tones of the keyboards on Jason Is Watching! remind me of Booker T. and The MG's  "Green Onions". It's like Booker T. on crack....
LEHMAN:  Awesome!  Thanks.  It's all blues stuff.  There are some blues on Jason Is Watching!

TV STORE ONLINE:   When you play the keytar...The keytar has been the butt of many jokes over the last twenty years...Yet you've managed to make it cool...

LEHMAN:   C'mon man...  Don't forget about Edgar Winter!

TV STORE ONLINE:  Sure, but was Edgar Winter really that cool ?!?!

LEHMAN:   Laughing...  I don't know.   I think that I'm actually using the keyboard how it was intended to be used.   I'm playing the bass line and the guitar on the same instrument.   People eat it up!  They go crazy for it when we're out playing.    We take our music seriously, but we don't take ourselves seriously.  We just like going out and playing.   We're getting out there.  We're playing every weekend.  We're playing horror conventions and festivals.  We've played in Europe.  We've opened for GWAR and Phil Anselmo.   It's getting crazy man.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   Listening to First Jason...One hears a eclectic mix of possible influences.  It seems like you can hear traces of bands like Living Colour and King's X in the First Jason music....Even Reggae as well....

LEHMAN:  Right on.   Yeah I think so.  I think you can hear a little Jimi Hendrix in there too. Hopefully some Slayer and NOFX as well.   I think that's just the way that music evolves.  When it starts out, it shifts and conjoins and then when it coagulates it becomes all-in-one.  That's the alchemy of metal.   Everything blends together.  Heavy Metal does have elements of classical music and funk in it as well as many other styles or genres of music.   Metal is also the home of the great virtuoso musicians of our day.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Slayer is classical music!

LEHMAN:  Absolutely.    All done through that amazing hardcore thrash sound.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What are some of your all time favorite albums?

LEHMAN:  I have so many favorite albums.  Probably one right at the top would be Jimi Hendrix's Axis: Bold As Love.    Then Sly & The Family Stone - There's A Riot Goin' On.   A Love Supreme by John Coltrane.  Survival by Bob Marley.    Miles Davis - Decoy.   Metal Bands that I listen to all of the time are, Kings-X, Gojira, The Deftones, Machine Head, and Macabre.

TV STORE ONLINE:   The song writing on First Jason - Jason Is Watching! is cool because the songs seem to be a manifestation of some sort of inner monologue for Jason Voorhees himself....What was the idea or process behind deciding to go that direction with the lyrics and songs for the album?

LEHMAN:  That was what I was trying to do with the songs.  I wanted them all to be about internal struggle and about the inner demons of Jason.  "Red, Red, Red" for example is about being a predator and what it feels like to be a predator.  "Machete Is My Friend" comes from a very righteous warrior place.   I tried to write songs that offer up a universal idea of what it might feel like to be Jason Voorhees.   When I was in college at NYU I read a book called "Grendel" that was written by John Gardner.   I really loved this book because it told the story of Beowulf but from the monster's point-of-view.  It wasn't about the hero.  I think that was what I was trying to do with the songs on Jason Is Watching!    It's funny too, because I'm not a huge guy.  I'm a little guy with a funny mustache that goes up on stage and tries to invoke these violent feelings of Jason Voorhees.   We don't get violent, our music gets violent and our rhythms get brutal.

TV STORE ONLINE:  And your songs are pop songs too!

LEHMAN:  Oh yeah. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Just as The Misfits, The Ramones and NOFX write pop songs....

LEHMAN:   Sure.   The harmonies you hear on any NOFX album, you can hear us doing stuff like that in First Jason.

TV STORE ONLINE:    What do you think that says about Ari Lehman?  Ari's a guy that has studied jazz for so many years, yet he also has this terrific pop sensibility about him as well...

LEHMAN:   In my opinion, the greatest achievement for any musician is to write a great melody and a great lyric.  I think that's what I'm trying to do in my own little way.     Plus, I think that I'm trying to streamline things as well in First Jason.  Because we are just two guys up on a stage, I need to be able to play bass and guitar on the keytar yet keep the songs minimalized so I can sing them directly and emotionally at the time.  
TV STORE ONLINE:   After having not acted in many years after FRIDAY THE 13TH...You've recently returned to it.  What has it been like returning to it after not having done it for so long?

LEHMAN:  It's funny.  Every time I've done something...I've gotten really excited for it to be released and most of the stuff that I've done hasn't come out.     I did a film recently called EASTER SUNDAY and I'm certain that that's going to come out.  I play a Postman in the film.   People have seemed to enjoy the photos that I've posted up on Facebook of me in the Postman's uniform.    People tell me that I'm doing a great job on set.   I don't know if I'm always the best actor for the roles I'm getting though, but I do bring an great enthusiasm and moral to the set when I'm there.   

TV STORE ONLINE:   Looking back now on FRIDAY THE 13TH...What's been the best part of the whole experience for you?

Just that I'm part of the mythos of it all.    The best part about it, is that I'm associated with the history of the Jason Voorhees character.   That really means a lot to me.     I'm not associated with the big and brutal character, but the young, green and slimy figure of Jason. Without taking it too seriously, I get to play around with it, and I really have a lot of fun with how much people enjoy that young Jason character.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Young Jason was the first twerker too! Compare Jason coming out of Crystal Lake with Miley twerking and...

LEHMAN:   Laughing...Post that picture on Facebook for me!

For more with Ari Lehman please visit his official website HERE:
Follow Ari on Facebook HERE:

Upcoming First Jason Tour Dates:

Winnemucca Convention Center - Winnemucca, Nevada
Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Westminster, Colorado 
Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An interview With The Toxic Avenger's Bozo Gary Schneider

Gary Schneider from THE TOXIC AVENGER and CLASS OF NUKE'EM HIGH talks with TV STORE ONLINE about the cult classic Troma film.

TV STORE ONLINE:   It's been almost 30 years since you shot THE TOXIC AVENGER [1984] and CLASS OF NUKE'EM HIGH [1986]...All these years later, what are your thoughts on the fact that these films have become so popular over the years and continued to gain a following to this day?

SCHNEIDER:   What's interesting about it is that these movies have followed me around wherever I've gone.  No matter what changes I've made in my own life, they are always there.  So that's really great.  It's really cool, and I like that about it.   When we made the THE TOXIC AVENGER, I had just gotten out of school and TOXIE was the first thing I ever did.  I was just going along for the ride.  The fact that people still remember the films today and consider them cult classics is wonderful and surprising.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Coming out of New York...What was it like to be an actor there in the early 1980's?

SCHNEIDER:   I was a struggling actor just like everyone else.   It wasn't easy, and I have a feeling that it is just as difficult today as it was back then.  It might be more difficult today  even.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Did you have audition for the part of "Bozo" in THE TOXIC AVENGER?

SCHNEIDER:  I did.   I auditioned for Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz.    I had heard about the casting call from the girlfriend of a friend of mine who was working in casting for Troma at the time.  So I went down to Troma and it was a cattle call.  There were hundreds of people there auditioning.   I went in and read and I got called back.   Then I got called back again.  I think I got called back like eight times for "Bozo".   It was emotionally exhausting.    Then I heard that they had given the part to another actor.   Vincent D'Onofrio had worked with Lloyd and Michael a year or two prior to this.   I was really upset, because I really wanted that part.  Then about two weeks later, I got a call from Troma telling me that they wanted me for the part, as Vincent D'Onofrio had dropped out to work on another film.

TV STORE ONLINE:   When you auditioned had you read the script or where you just given a scene or two?

SCHNEIDER:   They gave me some scenes.  Or what are called "sides".  I don't think I ever read the script in its entirety.

TV STORE ONLINE:  So what did you think about the whole concept when they first told what the film was going to be about?

SCHNEIDER:   At first, I didn't get the fact that this was a live action cartoon. All of the characters are over-the-top cartoon characters.  The coolest thing about TOXIE was the fact that it had all of these big action car stunts in it.   Not many independent films could afford that type of intense stuff.    Basically, I didn't really know what to expect from it when I was cast.   I just went along for the ride, and I tried to approach Bozo with what I had learned in acting school.   I tried to give him some depth, even though he was a very one dimensional character.  I gave Bozo a back story even.  I just wanted to make the character work for me.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Bozo is such a fun character.    You get the sense that  he's secretly into New Age stuff because he's always talking about karma....

SCHNEIDER:   Laughing...I think it was pretty clear that Bozo was very angry on the outside.  I approached it from the aspect that he had a lot of deep hurt on the inside.  Dealing with that pain inside was his biggest obstacle in life.  I also thought of him as a rabid dog.   He was crazy and I pictured him always being like that.   I saw him acting that way when he was sitting down to read the newspaper (even though he probably never read the paper) or standing in the bathroom as he was brushing his teeth.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Where was the Tromaville Health Club that you shot the film at?

SCHNEIDER:  It was in Brooklyn.  It was called the St. Georges Health Club.  We took it over for a period of time and we would go in and shoot there all night long.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Did you and Lloyd Kaufman work together on some of that funny dialogue?    Or was stuff like "You're stressing me Julie..." improvised by you?

SCHNEIDER:   The script for TOXIE has a lot of Lloyd Kaufman in it, but most of that great dialogue came from the screenwriter Joe Ritter.  He was the one who came up with the "You're stressing me..." line.    All the credit really goes to him for that stuff.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Could you tell me about shooting that great scene were "Bozo" and "Slug" are in the Tromaville Health Club and their doing the sit-ups and passing each other a cigarette?

SCHNEIDER:  That was done out of improv...laughing   There was another scene that came out of that.   There's that bit where I'm laying down and bench pressing and I go into those crazy facial expressions...Again, at the time, I didn't understand that Bozo was supposed to be a cartoon character.    I didn't want to do the scene that way as it appears now in the film. Lloyd compromised with me, he said, "OK.  Let's do it this way, and then we'll shoot it the way you want to do it."  Of course, he used the first take....laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  You're in Roger Corman's BEACH BALLS [1988] and you're doing those weird crazy Bozo faces there too....

SCHNEIDER:   Well, that sort of ties into Bozo because BEACH BALLS was directed by Joe Ritter.  You can look at it as if you've just seen the evolution of Bozo.  He goes from the Tromaville Health Club to being a homeless guy who bites the bottoms off of bottles on the Venice Beach boardwalk...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  The scene in THE TOXIC AVENGER with Bozo and the others driving around at night and running over that little boy on the bike is pretty vicious..

SCHNEIDER:  Supposedly, that scene or the idea for that scene was based on a real news story where some kids actually drove around and played what they called "Pedestrian Polo".   I don't know to what degree these people did that, or if they actually killed anyone, but I know that is were either Lloyd or Joe got the idea for it.   We shot that on my first night actually, and I can remember being really nervous now.   It was fun because I was able to use my own nerves to help with the craziness of Bozo as he was driving over that little boy.

TV STORE ONLINE:  You said that at first you didn't catch on to the fact that you were playing a cartoon character...But while you were shooting, did you pick up on all of the black humor in the script?   For example: After you've just run over the little boy, there is talk of running over another person and Slug says, "I can't.  I gotta go home.  I gotta go church in the morning..."

SCHNEIDER:    Yeah, we all got that stuff.

TV STORE ONLINE:   There's that great scene...Bozo and Slug play a trick on a little old lady to steal her car...Interestingly, your character tries the same thing again in CLASS OF NUKE'EM HIGH (1985)....

SCHNEIDER:   The old Alka-Seltzer trick...laughing   That funny.  I've never considered that! It's funny that that idea appears in both of those films...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:   Was TOXIE the usual Troma production...Were the actors helping out with lighting or doubling as Production Assistants?

SCHNEIDER:  No actually!  I really appreciated that too.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Was there any life imitating art?  Did Bozo or Slug hook up with any of the girls from the Tromaville Health Club off camera?

SCHNEIDER:   I didn't.   But Robert Pritchard, the actor who played Slug eventually got married to the actress who played his girlfriend in THE TOXIC AVENGER, Jennifer Babtist.   

TV STORE ONLINE:  How about working with "Melvin The Mop Boy" actor Mark Torgl?

    Mark was great.   He worked a bunch on the production end for Troma.  He was great as Melvin and I hope he enjoyed the experience as much as we enjoyed watching him play that part.

TV STORE ONLINE:   What are you memories of shooting CLASS OF NUKE'EM HIGH?

SCHNEIDER:  NUKE'EM was originally going to be called ATOMIC HIGH SCHOOL.   It was going to be written and directed by Richard Haines, who was the editor on THE TOXIC AVENGER.   It was a completely different story about a family of cannibals.  I was the young college-age son and I had a sister, and sometimes we'd bring dates home and have them for dinner...laughing  It was supposed to be produced by Troma and Richard Haines was set to direct it.   Something happened and I can't remember why this happened now, but Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz got more involved in the project and they took over the direction of it.     I didn't audition for it.  They just offered the part to me.   I enjoyed it, because it was more relaxed and by then I was comfortable with how Lloyd and Michael worked.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Did you have any input into that crazy costume that you wear in NUKE'EM HIGH?

SCHNEIDER:   I didn't.   It was funny.   I was wearing long johns and a kilt.  But I couldn't fit into the kilt.  It didn't go completely around my waist.   We didn't call it a kilt, we called it a "kill".   If you see any pictures of me as that character you'll notice that the kilt doesn't go around me all the way.  I got total enjoyment out of wearing that costume and it helped me to get into the character too.   "Pete" was obviously a very different character than Bozo. I think Bozo would've ate him for lunch if the two ever crossed paths.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  So a costume can really help you find a character....

SCHNEIDER:  For sure.  What I wore in TOXIE really helped me.   I wore that chain around my neck in TOXIE.  That was mine actually, but it really helped me with the character.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Where was the high school in CLASS OF NUKE'EM HIGH that you guys shot in?

SCHNEIDER:   It was in New Jersey.  I can't remember the town it was in now.  I think it was a closed down school, but I'm not sure now.

TV STORE ONLINE:  After TOXIE and NUKE'EM came out on VHS...Did you experience any sort of notoriety for your work in those films?

SCHNEIDER:   I did.  THE TOXIC AVENGER became a midnight movie and it was a huge success at the Bleeker Street Cinema in Greenwich Village in New York City. I think it played there for like six months or so.  When it hit video in 1987, I got a lot of attention at that point.  I had a lot of great experiences because of that too.  I remember, I was at a video store in Long Island standing on-line and the guy in front of me was returning  TOXIE.  He was talking to the clerk about the movie and how this character Bozo "drives his car over people and just goes crazy..."    He had no idea I was standing behind him.  I tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around.  I said, "You're talking about me.  I was Bozo."   He looked at me and said, "Oh Yeah?"  He didn't even connect with me.  He just turned around and kept talking about the movie...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  After BEACH BALLS you decided to stop acting?

SCHNEIDER:   After BEACH BALLS,  I was cast in 1988 in a play in New York City called Tony n' Tina's Wedding.   I was in that play from 1988 until 1993.    It was the longest running play in the history of off-Broadway.  In 1993, I decided that I didn't want to pursue acting anymore.   I miss it today.  I started a business, and along with my partner, we supplied entertainment at children's events for fourteen years.  We would book clowns and magicians for parties and perform ourselves as well.   In THE TOXIC AVENGER I played Bozo, and when my partner and I would go out and do a show I would play this sort of clown.   So I've come full circle in some respects I think.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

INTERVIEW: TV STORE ONLINE talks with Ginny Gardner from Glee and The Goldbergs

Actress Ginny Gardner talks with TV STORE ONLINE about her work on Glee, The Goldbergs, Hart of Dixie as well as her work in the upcoming Michael Bay produced Sci-Fi found footage film, ALMANAC.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Where do you think your interest in acting comes from?

GINNY GARDNER:  I can't tell you if there was something specific that got me interested in acting.  I've always been drawn to it.  Growing up, my mother was a newscaster and I used to go into the studio and watch her work.  That was pretty inspiring to me.  When I was little too, I used to have this play set that my Dad had bought me.  I used to spend hours with that pretending that I was in a movie when I would play with it.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Growing up, were you a fan of movies?  Were there movies that inspired you even after you had made the decision to pursue acting?

GINNY GARDNER:  I really like I AM SAM (2001).   I grew up watching Dakota Fanning and she was really inspiring to me because we are about the same age.  So when I saw her in movies I realized that maybe acting was something that I could do as well.  Plus, I AM SAM is about autism and my brother is autistic so that particular film is very inspiring to me.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Tell me about working on Hart Of Dixie [2011]...

(L) Gardner as "Young Lemon" on Hart Of Dixie
GINNY GARDNER:  It was fun!  I had a small role in one episode and I played the young "Lemon" in a couple flashbacks.  It was really cool because I got to play a younger James King.   It was fun to be on that set, and I'm originally from the South so to play a southern role was something that I really enjoyed.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What about Disney's Lab Rats [2012]....What was that experience like working on that show?

GINNY GARDNER:  It was a blast.  I had auditioned for the show a couple different times but they put me on hold until the right part came up.   It was really fun though. Tyrel Jackson Williams, the actor who played "Leo" was hilarious.

TV STORE ONLINE:   As a younger actress who is coming up the ranks...Are you experiencing any sort of bias or type casting because of your age or because of the fact that you've done some modeling?

GINNY GARDNER:   Yeah, there is a lot of that actually.   Today, for example, I went on an audition and while I was there I read for a role of a nerd scientist.    And that type of stuff is my favorite.  To play the awkward nerd is something that I really love to do.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Then how about your work on Glee [2013]?

GINNY GARDNER:   Glee was so much fun. I got to work with a bunch of amazing people.   Of course Cory Monteith just passed away.  I got to meet him, and talk with him briefly and he was so nice to me.    I actually hadn't seen much of the show before I was cast on it.   I didn't have to do any singing or dancing on the show, but they all work extremely hard on that stuff.   It comes across in the episodes too.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  Of course, you were in one of the standout episodes from this season...The episode "Shooting Star" where we saw a school shooting happen at McKinley High School...

GINNY GARDNER:   Right.   That show was a bit different then the other episode I worked on.   Blake Jenner did all of the singing and dancing in the scenes that I was in with him and he was just incredible.   It took about eight hours to shoot that sequence and it lasts for about three minutes in the episode.   The amount of work that goes into that show is just amazing. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  It seems like that scene could've been a challenge to play....I mean, your character has to just sit there for those three minutes and more or less just stare at "Ryder" while he sings to you...

GINNY GARDNER:   The direction that I got was that the door should be open for Ryder with my character. Even though my character wasn't the person who was "catfishing" him, she was so impressed with him that she would've been interested in dating him.   It wasn't really a challenge, but there was an awkwardness to it because you have to just sit and watch as he's singing to you. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  That brings us to The Goldbergs [2013]....You've got a great part on the show and the episodes that feature you are airing next week...

GINNY GARDNER:   It's so cool.    I was texting pictures of my costume to my Mom.  It takes place in the 1980's and I play a JcPenny's model.   It was so much fun.   I think my episodes of the show start airing on Wednesday Oct. 29th.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What can you tell us about the film that you've just shot that was produced by Michael Bay, ALMANAC?

GINNY GARDNER:   It's really exciting, and it's really fun.   I think it's coming out in Feb. 2014.  I can't say much about it now, but I can tell you that it's about five kids who discover a time machine.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Things are taking off for you..In the future what kinds of characters do you think that you're interested in playing?

GINNY GARDNER:  I'm always open to anything.   If a project comes along that is exciting to me regardless of it's for movie or television I'm going to do it.

TV STORE ONLINE:  What's one thing that no one knows about Ginny Gardner?

GINNY GARDNER:   I have a black belt in Tae-Kwon Do!

TV STORE ONLINE:   So what you're saying... Is that you're dangerous?

GINNY GARDNER:  Incredibly.  Don't mess with me, because I can kick your butt.

Follow Ginny On Twitter HERE:
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Viva La Wolf Boy! TV STORE ONLINE talks to actor Jaylen Moore

Actor Jaylen Moore talks to TV STORE ONLINE about ESCAPE PLAN, THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE as well as his work on the television series Homeland and The Tonight Show.

TV STORE ONLINE:   There's probably not a chance in hell of one getting a little  "Wolf Boy" out of you today....

JAYLEN MOORE:  Laughing...What are you talking about....(Wolf Howl)

TV STORE ONLINE:   Nice!  That's it.    I've got to ask you about your appearances as Wolf Boy on the The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien [2009-2010] from a few years back...You stole those skits from Conan!

JAYLEN MOORE:   Thanks! Let me just say that it was so sad when they took back The Tonight Show from him.  I just want to say that.   Because Conan is a great guy.  I worked on seven episodes with Conan and all of that was improved.     The concept was just that they wanted to spoof Taylor Lautner from TWILIGHT [2008-2012] and that I was going to play "Wolf Boy".  When I heard that, I was in.   I think I got to come back so many times because the writers loved me because I made Conan break.  After that first appearance, one of the writers came up to me and said, "Conan never breaks in a sketch".    So I took that as a compliment.       Conan is hilarious and anything he does just makes the audience laugh.    If you watch Wolf Boy, he does this thing with his hands.  I didn't know what I was doing.  I just put them up on instinct.  I just went to this other place and I started staring at Conan.   Finally he broke and said, "Look at the way that Wolf Boy is staring at me!"    I just locked in on him.   When the director yelled "Cut",  I just dropped to the ground and I lost it.  I was cracking up.  Afterward, Conan came up to me and shook my hand and said, "That was great. The fact that you didn't break on that...I don't know how you didn't."  Being Wolf Boy on Conan was one of my favorite roles that I've done actually.

TV STORE ONLINE:    What about the stuff with Conan and your chest muscle flexing?   Didn't Conan call your muscles "Chesticles"?

JAYLEN MOORE:   Laughing....I just did it.  It was just a choice I made.   The Director loved it.   They liked it because Conan and I could play off of it.    It was just all improvisation.   What was really funny about it though was how Conan would make that very "grossed out" face when I would do it,  but afterward he would say, "Hey, How do you do that"?

TV STORE ONLINE:   Do you do research for the roles you get?

JAYLEN MOORE:  Absolutely.

TV STORE ONLINE:   How many hours of research did you do for Wolf Boy?

JAYLEN MOORE:  Laughing...Hours and hours!   I had been preparing for Wolf Boy my entire life...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  ESCAPE PLAN (2013) comes out tomorrow and we're so geeked about it here....We've gotta ask you about working with Sly and Arnold?

JAYLEN MOORE:  Listen...The script for ESCAPE PLAN is great.   It's so well written.  I mean, it's about an underwater prison.  It's a great idea.  Originally it was going to be called THE TOMB but they decided to change the name.   Stallone, of course is awesome.  Arnold is awesome.   I grew up just like you. I grew up loving these guys.  This is 'Rambo' and this is 'The Terminator' in the same movie.    My character is 'Console Guard Clemmons'.   They gave me a name tag that read "Clemmons" and I thought that was a really cool ass name.  They could've named the character "Jones" or "Smith".      I got to work really close with Jim Caviezel.  He was really great to work with.    He was kind of a quiet guy at first, but then we started to have some fun.   Arnold was really fun to watch work because he's always telling jokes to the cast and the crew. It was like watching him as if he was campaigning to be Governor again.   

Also, I got to work with Vinnie Jones.   He was great.   He's a total crack-up.  He's so funny because he would be in the middle of telling you a funny story and then the director would call for him to shoot a scene.  In his scenes, he would turn into this sinister character and then when the Director would say "Cut", Vinnie would walk back over to you and without missing a beat pick back up where he had left off in his story...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:   You'll appearing in a few episodes later this season of Homeland on Showtime.....

JAYLEN MOORE:  I have two favorite shows on television.  Homeland [2011-Current] and Game Of Thrones [2001-Current].  After I finished watching Season Two I asked my manager if there would be any way if I could get on the show.   So after waiting for the right role to come up, I went in for an audition and I play a character that will be coming up later this season named "Eric Baraz".    That's all I can tell you right now, and if you're a fan of the show you don't want to know anything else about it anyhow.  So make sure you watch.

TV STORE ONLINE:    Is "Eric Baraz" a terrorist or is he C.I.A.?

JAYLEN MOORE:   I can't say...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:   You got to work with Director Keith Gordon on one of the upcoming episodes of Homeland...

JAYLEN MOORE:  That's right.   He's such a cool guy.   Now remember, Keith comes from an acting background and he worked with Rodney Dangerfield in BACK TO SCHOOL [1986].    When I met him for the first time I pulled up a picture from IMDb of Keith and Robert Downey Jr. from BACK TO SCHOOL and he got really embarrassed.   He said, "Where did you find that? "  I said, "It's the internet."  He was great to work with.  He really knows what he's after and I learned a lot from working with him.

TV STORE ONLINE:   You also have a role in the upcoming THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (2013)...How did that come to you?

JAYLEN MOORE:  Well, the truth is...I'm a very physical actor and I like to do my own stunts.   So I got hired on THE HUNGER GAMES because they needed actors who could do their own stunts.   My role isn't really a secret.  It's on IMDb.com and they have my character listed as "Peacemaker" but his name is actually "Peacekeeper".    I worked with Patrick St. Esprit who plays "Romulus Thread" and while I'm dressed up in a helmet and cool threads I'm his right hand man.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Rewinding a bit....Where do you think your interest in acting comes from?

JAYLEN MOORE:   My dad grew up in Afghanistan.  He told me that when he was growing up there that they couldn't get their hands on American movies fast enough.  So he's a big film buff.     Growing up we watched everything together.   He loved all genres of film.    For me, what sparked my interest in acting was when I went to see Tim Burton's BATMAN (1989).  I was just blown away by Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson.     Did you know that Nicholson went to a asylum and studied what goes on in a place like that to prepare for that role?    I was so inspired by BATMAN that when I got home from seeing it, I ran upstairs and got into my mom's make-up and painted myself up like Nicholson.  My dad came into the bathroom to see what I was doing.  He went and got his video camera.  My sister was involved in dance, so she had all of these costumes around.  I found a costume and my dad and I started to reenact scenes that we had just seen in BATMAN.  We did it until midnight.  I remember my mom saying, "C'mon, it's time to go to bed."   My Dad said, "What do you mean?  We're filming Batman right now."     That was it.  That was what sparked me.    From there I did pretty much everything performance related that I could do. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  What do you think that you saw in that Jack Nicholson performance in BATMAN that was so inspiring to you?

JAYLEN MOORE:  I don't know. It was probably that I saw my Dad in him.  My Dad has a laugh that's very big and he's really good at facial expressions just like Nicholson.   My Dad wanted to be an actor as a kid when he was growing up in Afghanistan, and now he's living that dream through me.    My Dad is really my hero.   Someday when I have some power over casting on a project I'm gonna put my Dad in a movie and give him a couple lines.  He can say them in English or Farsi or whatever.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Being a Nicholson fan...What are your Top Five Favorite Jack Nicholson movies?

JAYLEN MOORE:    That's tough. He's done so many great movies.   I'd have to include BATMAN of course.   Then, THE SHINING [1980] and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST [1975].   I loved him in CHINATOWN [1974].  I really enjoyed him in ANGER MANAGEMENT [2003] as well.   I don't know, because that list could go on forever.  I'm such a fan of his work that I feel like I know him.

TV STORE ONLINE:  With all of these great things that you've worked on in 2013....Where do you think it will take you?  Do you have any optimism about that or hope?   What would you like to happen next?  Are there roles that you really want to get or character types that you'd like to play?

JAYLEN MOORE:   I don't know where it's going to take me.   It's taken so much work to get here that it's almost better to just submit to the power of the universe and see where it takes me.   My dream though would be to have a career like Hugh Jackman has had so far.   I mean he's so great because he can do everything.   He can do something like LES MISERABLES (2012) and then go and do WOLVERINE (2013) and then go and do something so phenomenal like PRISONERS (2013).  He's incredible in PRISONERS.  He does it all.  I like that he can go from a musical to a big action movie.   That's really awesome, because I love musicals too.   I did a bunch of musicals in high school and I've always loved them and I'd love to do more of them.  I'd really like to be on Broadway.    We'll have to see where all of this leads.   It's been a fun ride.  I mean,  I didn't know that Wolf Boy was coming and look what happened there....laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  Hopefully what will happen soon is that Conan O'Brien will have you on his show as a guest and then after you're done with the interview he'll invite to do Wolf Boy as an homage to the good old days....

JAYLEN MOORE:  It's funny...I was just talking about this the other day with my wife.  I said to her that I'll know when I've really made it once I'm a guest on Conan's show...laughing     I'd love to be on The Ellen Degeneres Show [2003-Current] someday too.  I love Ellen.  I think she's so funny.  I try to watch her show every chance I get.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Would you dance with Ellen if you went on there?

JAYLEN MOORE:  Of course!  I already have it planned out.  I'd be a dancing machine on her show.  I just love her.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Then what about AZTEC WARRIOR (2013)....You've got a great role in that upcoming action comedy.   What can you tell me about that?

JAYLEN MOORE:  Nothing!  I want to tell you so bad but I can't.    It's going to be a big film.   I worked with Luis Guzman on it.  It is this cool graphic novel good vs. evil kind of thing.      It's going to be one of those awesome fanboy films.  It's done by Scott Sanders who did BLACK DYNAMITE [2009].   People are going to love it.    

For more with Jaylen Moore please visit his official website HERE:
Follow Jaylen Moore on Twitter HERE: 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

INTERVIEW: Michael Grant talks with TV STORE ONLINE about The Secret Life Of The American Teenager

 Michael Grant, "Ethan" on ABC Family's The Secret Life Of The American Teenager talks with TV STORE ONLINE about the series, as well as his work Private Practice and most recently, Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

TV  STORE ONLINE:    Michael, has anyone ever told you that you look like Sam Rockwell?

GRANT:   No!  But he's a really cool guy.  So I'll take that comparison.

TV STORE ONLINE:    I know you grew up in Tennessee....What were like a little kid?

GRANT:   Yeah I did.  I lived in Tennessee  before I moved out here to Los Angeles a few years ago.  I think that I was a good kid.  I didn't get into too much trouble.  Tennessee is really great.  It's a great part of the country, and there are so many beautiful forests and it's really quiet.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   Growing up...What do you think it was that inspired you to pursue acting?   Was there a film that you saw that really influenced you for example?

GRANT:   There were a few things....When I was growing up I was studying to become a classical pianist and that kind of led me to one thing and then another.    I took some improvisation classes.  I did a few things back home in Tennessee.    I got hooked up with a local talent agency. Then I took some acting classes, and not long after that I got an agent out here in Los Angeles, and eventually moved.   As far as performances go....I really love Johnny Deep's performance as "Jack Sparrow" in the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN [2003-current] movies.  I also really liked what Heath Ledger did as "The Joker" in THE DARK KNIGHT [2008].     Those performances are absolutely incredible.

TV STORE ONLINE:   What do you think inspired you in those performances? 

GRANT:   Just that they were and are phenomenal performers.   And I think that I saw that they really believed that they were those characters.   At least for me, when I saw Heath Ledger as The Joker I didn't see Heath Ledger, I just saw that character.    The same with Johnny Deep as well.   It looked like they were having so much fun.  Those characters have such a range too.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Going back to something you mentioned a moment ago....You grew playing the piano and started to compete as a pianist at such an early age...How easy did the piano come to you?

GRANT:  When I was really little.... I think I was only two or three years old at the time when my mom enrolled me in a kids music class.    When I was four years old I went to my mom and asked her if I could learn how to play the piano.  My mom let me try it out, and I just stuck with it.   I don't know how easy or natural anything came to me because with anything it takes a lot of work to learn to play.   I'm still playing today even though acting has become the focus in my life.

TV STORE ONLINE:   Do you enjoy listening to all types of music?  Or are you one of those musicians that sticks to what they play?

GRANT:  I listen to a lot of classical piano, but I like a lot of different stuff too.  I like Coldplay, Kings Of Leon and Jack White.  The White Stripes too.  Those are some of my favorite groups.  I like to listen to Bill Evans.  I love listening to jazz pianists.  I enjoy flipping through the radio stations often.  Recently, I've really gotten into Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis.  Those guys are really great.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  Your musical experience has seemed to integrate itself into your young acting career and in the characters you've played....

GRANT:  Right, it really has.   That was especially the case for that episode of Private Practice [2011] that I did.   I remember reading the breakdown for that part at the audition and thinking about how I would be a perfect fit for that character and  about how much that I really wanted that part.  

TV STORE ONLINE:   Your performance in that episode was really great....  Plus the whole storyline served as such a moral dilemma...

GRANT:  Yeah, absolutely.    It was an interesting experience.   It was great to work with that cast.   The character was facing the choice of not being able to walk or not being able to play the piano.   I think it also speaks to the character's priorities too.  He was so focused on playing the piano, and also, it came down to that connection that he had with his grandfather, and how he thought that if he couldn't play the piano any more, his grandfather wouldn't love him.    His grandfather was his last living relative.  I don't know if I can relate exactly to that scenario myself, but I understood the priority of the character and the risks that character was willing to take.

TV STORE ONLINE:  That scene when your character is being operated on while at the same time playing the piano is pretty interesting...

GRANT:   I was actually playing that little keyboard in the scene.   It was interesting, because up until the night that we shot that, they hadn't decided what the piece of music would be that I should play in the scene.   When they decided, I was fortunate because I was already familiar with it so it all worked out.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How did The Secret Life of the American Teenager [2011-13] series come to you?

GRANT:   That was such a blast to do.  It was really lot of fun.  I auditioned for "Ethan" and was fortunate when Brenda Hampton, the show's creator, cast me as a reoccurring character for Season Four and then as a regular on Season Five.     The character just grew and he started to have relationships with some of the other characters and it just grew out of that. 

TV STORE ONLINE:   I really appreciate your work on the series...I really liked how they started "Ethan" out as this troubled kid that had some darkness in the eyes and then grew him into this quirky kid with a big heart.   There was a great storyline there for you too....When Ethan gets involved with the pregnant "Kathy"....

GRANT:  Thanks.  I did a lot of work on Ethan.   Especially for his back story.  I really put a lot of thought into him, because unlike Ethan, I was lucky to have two loving parents growing up.   They had given me a note in one of the auditions that they wanted Ethan to be more "street".  So I went out and spent some time on the street just to see how that would feel.   I did little things like that, so I could try to get into his head space and see what it would've been like to grow up as he did.

(L-R) Julian Acosta with Michael Grant
TV STORE ONLINE:   The Secret Life of the American Teenager was a series that was very heavy on moralities...As an actor are you aware of that stuff?  Do you see those things in the scripts?  Or do you not pay attention to those types of things to focus on the character work?

GRANT:  Reading the scripts...You pick up on those messages and different themes and the other things that the writers were trying to bring to the forefront of the show.  As an actor, I try not to involve myself in that because it's really from the writer's world, and it was their show.    I just focused on the character and how he was interacting with the other characters.

TV STORE ONLINE:  How about that episode near the end of the series?  The episode where you had to dress up as Santa Claus...

GRANT:  Right.  That was fun.   It was Christmas In July on set.   We shot that episode in July.  It was really hot.  I had never really been dressed up in a full Santa suit before that and I really considered it a privilege.  Not many young actors can say that they got to play Santa Claus on television.

TV STORE ONLINE:  As moral as Secret Life of the American Teenager was...Not only can you tell others that you got to dress up as Santa, but that your character Ethan also got to proposition a girl for sex with money, play keyboards in a musical number, and survive getting stabbed in the calf...

(L-R) L. Scott Caldwell with Michael Grant
GRANT:  Yes!  That's right...laughing

TV STORE ONLINE:  What do you think that you, Michael Grant, brought to that character of Ethan that wasn't already in the script?

GRANT:   Well, originally Ethan was written as a cocky kid.   I think that was because there was a lot of stuff that he was trying to cover up.   I think that I tried to bring as much heart as I could to it.  Without trying to sound too cheesy or anything, I hope that I brought heart, connection and love to it.    It's not always written on the page, but I think that Ethan was really looking for acceptance and I hope that I was able to help him with that.

Cierra Ramirez and Michael Grant
TV STORE ONLINE:   There seemed to be a great chemistry between yourself and Cierra Ramirez as Kathy...How important is it for you as the actor to have chemistry with someone who you're working with?

GRANT:  For me, I always like to have chemistry with the person I'm working with.   Working with Cierra Ramirez was really wonderful.   We got along with each other very well.    Having chemistry with the person that you're working with always just makes everything easy too.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Same thing with L. Scott Caldwell who played Ethan's foster mother on the series? The two of you seemed to really connect.    Being such a young actor yourself and having the opportunity to work with great veteran actor like L. Scott Caldwell, do you learn anything from the experience?

GRANT:  So much.  On set training is so valuable.    It really helps you stay on your game.  Chances are, if you're feeling tired , the crew is as well. So you suck it up and give it your all so everyone can go home together.    Working with someone as great as "Scotty" you learn about focus and priorities.   

TV STORE ONLINE:   Where do you see yourself going from here?   You've had these great roles on Private Practice and The Secret Life of the American Teenager...But how and where do you want to be challenged next as an actor?   Is there a type of character you'd like to play in the near future?

GRANT:   Well, I really love watching what Leonardo DiCaprio does.  I love the stuff he did in films like THIS BOY'S LIFE [1993] and THE BASKETBALL DIARIES [1995].   I really want to move in that direction.  I want to do films like that.  I want to sink my teeth into films that have great stories and have great casts.  That's the ultimate goal.

(L) Andre Braugher (C) Michael Grant with
(R) Andy Samberg as "Lt. Jake Peralta".
TV STORE ONLINE:  How about your recent appearance on Fox's Brooklyn Nine-Nine [2013]?

GRANT:  That was so much fun.   It might have been the most fun I've ever had on a set.   The character I played "Trevor" was a fun part.   Working with Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher was so much fun too.  Those guys were so great.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Your character is a graffiti artist that draws a penis on a cop car...Did you have to practice drawing a penis?

GRANT:  I did.  They had a professional graffiti artist there and he was so cool.  I really gained a lot of respect for graffiti artists. I thought those guys were  just spray painting  the side of a building.  He taught me how to hold a spray can and where to spray...Then afterward I got to practice spray painting penises .  Who gets to say that they did that at their work?

TV STORE ONLINE:   You are a big football fan aren't you?

GRANT:  Totally...I'm from Tennessee so I'm a huge fan of the Titans.  I love the Titans through and through.  

TV STORE ONLINE:  Will the Titans make the playoffs this season?

GRANT:  I feel like we can make a wild card spot this season.  We were looking pretty good before Jake Locker got injured.   I think if Jake Locker comes back after our bye week and starts to throw well, then I think we can get that wild card spot.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Last question....What do you have coming up next?

GRANT:  I finished an indie film called ZOE GONE that should be coming out in 2014.  The director Conor Allyn just wrapped up another film with Mickey Rourke.  So I hope people will watch for that and check it out when it is released.

For more with Michael Grant please visit his official website HERE: