Category Archives: TV

Interview: Elodie Yung talks ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard,’ ‘The Defenders’

Following her stunning turn as Elektra Natchios on the second season of the Netflix series “Daredevil,” Elodie Yung is in high-demand in both film and television. And as luck would have it, Yung has not one, but two projects coming out Friday. She will return as the newly-revived Elektra in Marvel’s superhero mashup “The Defenders, ” and in a pivotal role opposite Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in the high-energy action comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.”

A French actress whose work includes supporting turns in director David Fincher’s remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Yung’s breakthrough role in American cinema came as the lethal martial artist Jinx opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” With her skills and a burning charisma, Yung was also able to showcase her talents in “Daredevil” opposite the titular character played by Charlie Cox.

In a phone conversation from Los Angeles Tuesday, Yung said she’s certain her role in “Daredevil” and reprisal of it in “The Defenders” had something to do with her being cast in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” but not necessarily for the kick-ass skills she’s known for.

“One project is always linked to the previous one, but I’m not sure really how this is, but I guess the producers were aware that I could handle a physical part, although the part I have in ‘Hitman’ is not as physical as what I had to do as Elektra,” Yung said. “But I got that part, and I’m glad that I was part of a comedy, as well, which is a bit of a change for me. Still, I got to run and shoot people on this one, which I don’t do in ‘The Defenders’ because I use swords and sais for weapons.”

Yung stars in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” as Amelia Roussel, a French Interpol agent once romantically involved with ex-CIA Agent Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds). When her transport of a world renown hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) was asked to testify against a Russian dictator (Gary Oldman) at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Amelia calls upon her ex-boyfriend (now a freelance “AAA-rated executive protection agent”) to guard and transport Kincaid to the trial.

The problem with the transport is Bryce is still in a personal and professional tailspin from the breakup with Amelia. He’s also dealing with the fact that he was fired from the CIA after botching a major assignment, and maybe most troubling, the infamous hitman he’s guarding has tried to kill him 27 times before.

Perhaps the biggest departure on “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” from Yung’s previous work was not only that the film was a comedy, but that she had a chance to help create the laughs. Because Reynolds and Jackson are masters at improvisation, director Patrick Hughes and the actors invited Yung to be a part of it.

“It was great. A week before we started shooting, we had some rehearsals. Patrick said, ‘OK, we’re going to change a few things,'” Yung recalled. “But as we were going through things, we realized that we were pretty much changing everything. I realized, ‘This movie is going to be a whole different game and I’ll go with the flow, and I’ll have to be prepared to respond and go back and forth with my partners since I have the freedom to do whatever feels right for my character.'”

For her part, Yung said Hughes allowed her the freedom to speak in her native French, even using words to rival Jackson’s prolific use of the mother F-bomb.

“When I got the part, they didn’t ask me to have an American accent. They were very happy with my own voice. So, when Amelia gets into an argument with Bryce, I was like, ‘Listen, Patrick, if you really want me to be upset, and since we’re assuming Amelia is French, you have to let me swear in French. Let’s just try that. Let me be as I am when I’m in an argument with my boyfriend,'” Yung recalled with a laugh. “It was French swear words coming out of my mouth, which they thought was really funny, so we kept that running thing throughout shooting to make my character more real — I probably didn’t match Sam in the movie, but I still had the chance to say some fun French words.”

Photo: Netflix

While the swear words were flying between Reynolds and Jackson in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” (along with blood, bullets and a lot of punches), in reality, Yung said, you couldn’t find a pair of nicer guys to work with, which made her experience on the film even more enjoyable.

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“I felt very comfortable with them straight-away because they’re gentlemen and because they love their craft,” Yung, 36, said. “We have these ideas of actors being very famous and we put them on pedestals and are scared of that, but really, they have their careers because they love their job and love their craft and they are constantly looking for ways of improving a scene, but in a generous way. It’s not just about their characters, but about a scene. It was about everyone working together, and I was very comfortable voicing my opinion and trying things. It was a very safe and sharing work environment.”

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com.

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Still undecided? Ash Williams promises to make America groovy again

ash-2Forget Larry, Moe, Curly, Shemp or any of those other Stooges (leave any Fake Shemps out of it), there’s a presidential candidate who said he wants to make America groovy again with your vote for president this Election Day.

That, of course, would be one Ashley J. “Ash” Williams, the deadite slayer from Elk Grove, Michigan, who promises to cut — chainsaw on stump — through the crap (He really will. Check out the morgue scene in this season’s second episode).

Ash Williams Evil Dead II Sixth Scale Figure

Ash declared his presidential bid this summer as he was ramping up to the premiere of the second season of his flat-out frickin’ hilarious and extremely gory STARZ horror comedy “Ash vs. Evil Dead.”

The declaration came on his Ash4President website and posters for the series, where you could find the hashtag #Ash4President, and slogans “Hail to the Chief, Baby” and “Make America Groovy Again.”

“I swear to God, I hope that there are some actual write-in votes, where people go to the polling stations and they don’t vote for either one (of the candidates) and they write in ‘Ash Williams,'” Ash spokesman Bruce Campbell told me in a recent interview. “It’s gonna happen. There’s going to be somebody out there who’s going to do it, and I want to meet that person.”

Interview: Bruce Campbell talks ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ Season 2
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So you may wonder what party Ash represents? The answer is simple, that is, if you know Ash (aka “Ashy Slashy”).

“It’s the Party Hardy Party,” Campbell said.

If you want to see Ash in the flesh

, new episodes of “Ash vs. Evil Dead” air on Sunday nights on STARZ.

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Interview: Alfre Woodard talks Marvel’s ‘Luke Cage’

NetflixMahershala Ali and Alfre Woodard in “Luke Cage” (photo: Netflix)

It’s been an eventful year for Oscar-nominated actress Alfre Woodard, who had the rare opportunity to act in not one, but two different projects in the Marvel Universe. After making a brief but pivotal appearance opposite her longtime friend Robert Downey Jr. in the summer blockbuster feature “Captain America: Civil War,” Woodard is now playing a major role in the new Netflix superhero drama “Luke Cage.”

Woodard said the common denominator in the superhero projects was the novel idea of story first, then visual effects. Having characters with  superhuman abilities is all well and good, Woodard said, yet those abilities are less likely to enthrall a viewer unless there’s substance there.

“You can have all the special effects in the world and pour hundreds of millions of dollars into them, but so many times people walk out of these films and say, ‘Of all the execs involved, didn’t anybody read the script?'” Woodard said in a recent phone conversation from Los Angeles. “No matter how much technology we have, it comes down to the stories and storytellers.”

Now streaming on Netflix, “Luke Cage” is based on the indestructible Marvel Comics character who debuted in print in 1972. Having first made an appearance in Marvel’s New York City-set Netflix series “Jessica Jones” last year, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) returns in this new series to his Harlem roots to hopefully blend into the background and keep his superhuman strength and impenetrable skin a secret.

But when a vicious club owner, Cornell Stokes (Mahershala Ali), and his cousin, Councilwoman Mariah Dillard (Woodard), start wreaking havoc in the neighborhood, Luke has no choice but to emerge from the shadows to protect the innocent people they are targeting.

Woodard chalks the success of “Luke Cage” up to the show’s creator and showrunner, Cheo Hodari Coker, who studied journalism at Stanford — background Woodard believes helps inform the look and feel of

the series.

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“Cheo’s an amazing man. He understands, appreciates and revels in the culture and the history of Harlem,” Woodard said. “He’s also a hip-hop aficionado. He’s the first journalist to realize that hip-hop was not just a passing phase and would be a successful world culture for generations. He brings all that creative intelligence to telling the stories to ‘Luke Cage.’ That’s why I signed on, and I have not been disappointed any step of the way.”

Playing Mariah over the course of several episodes instead of in a movie is a dream for Woodard, who thrives on developing a character over a longer period of time rather than trying to squeeze everything about her into a two-hour frame. On the whole, Woodard, 63, doesn’t think Mariah should be flat-out labeled as a corrupt politician, but just a person who happens to be a councilwoman with ambitions — albeit ambitions she’s been blinded by.

“It’s not just politicians who are like this. The role is not about how much we are willing to sink (to get things done), but how much we’re willing to wager to do what we think is right or helpful,” Woodard said.

Also new on Direct Conversations.com — Interview: Tim Burton, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”

Ultimately, Woodard said, Mariah is far from being a one-note villain.

“I love Mariah because I think she is very complex, as we all are, and I love being able to play somebody that we all run into in real life. She has all the cuts and bruises, yet she has a sunny side,” Woodard said. “As an actor, I love that. I feel like she’s a real human being. In this case, people may feel like, ‘I can identify with them’ until the character’s life takes a dramatic turn and then go, ‘Oh, my God. I couldn’t go all the way there.’

“But that’s why we tell stories,” Woodard added. “To entertain, yes, but also to have audiences reflect and imagine themselves in these situations.”

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Interview: Groovy Bruce Campbell talks ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ Season 2

ash-3Back in the old days of the “Evil Dead” movies and “Army of Darkness, writer-director Sam Raimi used to take great pleasure in playfully torturing Bruce Campbell in any way possible, filming several exhaustive slapstick-infused scenes that would do the Three Stooges proud.

Of course, putting Campbell through the physical ringer wasn’t enough, so Raimi would proceed to drench his longtime friend with gallons of fake blood, always striving for the most repugnant result possible.

Fast-forward to 2015, where Campbell decided it was time for his character, Ashley J. “Ash” Williams, to share in the glory gory. For his outrageously entertaining  STARZ series “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” the groovy actor recruited a couple of sidekick deadite hunters, Pablo and Kelly (Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo), and a ambiguous nemesis, Ruby (Lucy Lawless), effectively ending his days of being the only goop-drenched punching bag.

And as Santiago, DeLorenzo and Lawless found out, Season 1 was only the beginning.

“Wait until you see Season 2,” Campbell teased in a recent phone conversation. “Pablo is going to have a really rough time, Kelly is going to be getting buckets of blood on her, and even the great Lucy Lawless is going to get slimed multiple times this season … nobody got off easy this year. I have a torn hamstring to prove it.”

Ash Williams Evil Dead II Sixth Scale Figure

Fresh off the Blu-ray premiere of Season 1 (Anchor Bay Entertainment), Season 2 of “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” which premieres Sunday on STARZ, finds Ash’s dream life in Jacksonville, Florida, interrupted by a deadite attack. It seems the Book of the Dead is too much for Ruby to handle, and they need to travel to Ash’s hometown of Elk Grove, Michigan, where Ash, Pablo and Kelly need to help get their enemy out of a hellish jam.

Also in Elk Grove is the newest “Ash vs. Evil Dead” cast member, Lee Majors, who plays Ash’s dad. Like Raimi and Campbell — who were born in the same hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan — the “Six Million Dollar Man” and “Fall Guy” icon is a native of the Wolverine State. Campbell said he takes pride in his Midwestern upbringing and work ethic, and Majors recognizes that.

“Believe it or not I think that’s why Lee Majors likes us,” Campbell enthused. “Lee has a great work ethic, too, that’s why he never leaves the set. He’s one of those guys who says, ‘I’m fine over here, just give me a chair.’ He doesn’t play any games. He was amazed that we (Campbell, Raimi and Rob Tapert) are still partners. It’s coming up on 37 years after we did the first ‘Evil Dead.’ I’ll walk into the office and there’s Rob Tapert, same guy. It makes working a lot easier. These shows are really difficult to do, and it helps to look across the table and see the guy you’ve known for years and years.”

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Needless to say, Campbell is thrilled that Majors is playing Ash’s dad. It only takes a mere glimpse at the veteran actor in “Ash vs. Evil Dead” to see he’s got the same square-jawed looks and “I don’t give a damn” swagger of his chainsaw-wielding, boomstick-carrying son.

“He’s absolutely perfect as Ash’s dad,” Campbell said. “He’s an ass grabber. Bigot. Socially unacceptable. He’s just perfect. He’s the guy we wanted from the start.”

Raimi, unfortunately, will not be directing any episodes for Season 2, Campbell said. Raimi, who went on to direct the Tobey Maguire “Spider-Man” trilogy, as well as such other hits as “A Simple Plan,” “Drag Me to Hell” and “Oz the Great and Powerful,” is instead staying behind-the-scenes as one of the show’s creators and executive producers.

Campbell said he was just happy that Raimi was available to help the production kick the show off in style last year.

“We were lucky to get Sam for that. He came down off the mountain top to help us out, and now he has to go back on top of the mountain,” Campbell said. “He’s a big movie director and his schedule doesn’t allow it, but he’s a great voice from above and he’s keeping his eye on the show, and that’s what matters to us. Plus, he gave us the street cred. He directed the pilot and set the bar very high and the tone for the other directors. He was glad to be able to do that.”

STARZNot just for laughs

While “Ash vs. Evil Dead” has its share of high comedy, Campbell said the idea of scaring audience members is not lost on the production. Episode 1 of Season 2 is proof of that, as Ruby’s evil spawn return — and they’re all grown up.

“The one thing that we do serious on ‘Evil Dead’ and the one rule that we enforce is, ‘Evil is scary. Evil is not funny,'” Campbell said. “Evil can be malicious, which is thereby secondary funny, but primarily, evil’s main goal is to mess with your head and kill you slowly if they can.”

MORE: Bruce Campbell talks Ash’s presidential run

While Season 2 has yet to officially get underway, Campbell said he wants to be back in “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” too, and not just for another season.

“I’m going for five. I’ll take five seasons,” Campbell said. “Five will give fans everything they need – pretty much the equivalent of multiple movies. That way, we can get all the character development out of it, and look, never say never — maybe we could turn around and go make another (‘Evil Dead’) movie. Success begets success. I have a bold theory that Season 2 is where this show is going to stick. I’m lobbying STARZ for Season 3 and 4 pickup to give the fans a vote of confidence so they can know that there will be a stream of shows coming. We’ve got your back. We’re going to give you what you demanded.”

NECA

One good sign that there’s a big enough fan base is the demand for merchandise tied into the show. New Jersey-based collectibles company NECA is getting ready to release “Ash vs. Evil Dead” 7-inch action figures — including Hero Ash, Value Stop Ash, and the evil entity Eligos – and Campbell couldn’t be more thrilled. In the past, the company has produced other “Evil Dead” merchandise, and also has a 7-inch “Ultimate Ash” on the way.

“People still like stuff to hold in their hands in this digital age,” Campbell said. “They like something they can shove on my tables at conventions and say, ‘Sign my Ash figure.’ I’ve signed a lot of myself.”

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