Interview: The Magnetism of Billy Magnussen – ‘Black Mirror’ & ‘Game Night’

 

Billy Magnussen Exclusive Photoshoot“I find myself craving to live a character out on stage again.”

With renowned photographer Matt Doyle, BILLY MAGNUSSEN – a New York-native – took part in a photoshoot on a December winter’s day in the city for CROOKES Magazine. Having now been immersed in the acting world for a decade, Billy Magnussen has steadily steered an impressive and diverse range of roles in film, television and on the stage – that have become increasingly more high-profile as the years have gone on. “Each project is a building block. A different lesson is learned through each project, and I would be cheating myself if I didn’t honor each part equally.” A rarity in the industry, Billy Magnussen is achieving success in all three mediums. But whilst he would probably be best recognised for his work on the big screen (with performances in ‘Into The Woods’, ‘The Big Short’ & ‘Bridge Of Spies’), his roles on the stage have bought him the most acclaim. In 2013, Billy was nominated at the prestigious Tony Awards for Best Featured Actor In A Play for his role in ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’, for which he played Spike. When I asked Billy about his experiences on the stage, he was quick to exclaim his love of performing at theatres: “I find myself craving to live a character out on stage again. To just eat up and breath every human emotion within two acts and an intermission. Theatre is so challenging, but after a show, that bow, honor, gratitude, love – it is worth everything.”

 

“Receiving the opportunity to play, dream and imagine again is spectacular gift.”

Magnussen’s last performance on stage was back in 2014, in a critically acclaimed off-broadway production of ‘Sex with Strangers’ alongside Anna Gunn, directed by David Schwimmer at the Second Stage Theatre – for which he received praise for his ‘quirky comic lines’ and his ‘bouncy magnetism’. This magnetism has not gone anywhere in the most recent years, with his focus having been on film and television roles – most notably in the Academy Award winning ‘Bridge Of Spies’ and the Academy Award nominated ‘Into The Woods’, as well as the Emmy winning shows ‘Black Mirror’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire’. I asked Billy if he had a dream role – to which he replied: “Every role I get is a dream role. Receiving the opportunity to play, dream and imagine again is spectacular gift. To be working as an actor is an honor.”Billy Magnussen Exclusive Photoshoot

On the 29 December, Netflix dropped the entire season of the award winning anthology series ‘Black Mirror’. Every season, there inevitably seems to be one particular episode that gets every talking – and this year – that episode was the Star Trek-inspired nightmare ‘USS Callister’ starring Billy Magnussen. “This gentleman knows what’s going down” Magnussen said speaking of the show creator Charlie Brooker. “Are you asking me to play a space alien villain? Where do I sign?”. Billy also pointed out to me that he starred alongside Chris Pine (who plays the leading role in the most recent Star Trek films) in ‘Into The Woods’ only a few years ago, “Live long and prosper” he exclaimed. I asked him what would be his alternative title for ‘USS Callister’, to which he replied “Play Nice” – referencing the antagonist’s alter-ego that is inflicted upon those stuck in the Star Trek-themed virtual reality – including Billy’s character.

Billy Magnussen Exclusive PhotoshootThis February, Magnussen is heading back to the big screen as part of an ensemble cast in the mystery thriller comedy ‘Game Night’. In this hilarious comedy, Billy will star alongside Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams and Jesse Plemons – who he recently worked with before in ‘Black Mirror’. “I have to say, I gained a friend with that guy [Plemons]. He has a hardworking Texan heart. If he tells you he beat me at a game of pool, he is lying and he still owes me twenty bucks.” The story follows a group of friends who meet regularly for their game night, and one night they find themselves investigating an actual murder mystery. I asked Billy when he last had a Game Night – “Just rocked out a Game Weekend up in Wyoming.” Naturally intrigued as to what games he played, I asked exactly that – “There are too many I love: ‘Betrayal at House on the Hill’ – a lot of rules, but worth the stories, ‘Cranium’ – I’ve never yelled so much, ‘Running Charades’ – you can skip the gym that day and ‘Credit Card Roulette’ – you don’t want to lose.”

Then in March, Magnussen will be starring in satirical thriller ‘The Oath’. Set in a near-future America in which citizens are required to take a loyalty oath — follows a man trying to make it through the Thanksgiving holiday without destroying his family. “To work with Ike Barinholtz and Tiffany Haddish, who are hilariously badass gracious people, was such a pleasure. I laughed and enjoyed myself so much making that film with them.”Billy Magnussen Exclusive Photoshoot

Another project we’ll get to Billy in later this year will be Netflix’s ‘Maniac’ with Academy Award Nominee Jonah Hill and Academy Award Winner Emma Stone. “I got the role because I think I have one of the best and hardworking management teams out there. Thank you Dara Gordon, Esther Chang, Hanley Baxter and Charles Bodner. Cary Fukunaga and Patrick Somerville [Director and Writer respectively] made a crazy playground to play on. I truly cannot wait to see it myself.”

It’s a busy year for Billy and his team, but he shows no signs of slowing down, with a role next year in Guy Ritchie’s highly-anticipated live-action reimagining of ‘Aladdin’. I asked him what audiences can expect from the film, to which he simply replied: “To be surprised”. For my last question, I was interested to know who Billy Magnussen is keen to work with: “Dreamers – Damien Chazelle, Steve McQueen, JJ Abrams.”

’Game Night’ hits cinemas on 23 February

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATT DOYLE

INTERVIEW WITH ADAM CROOKES

GROOMING BY CECILIA ROMERO

STYLING BY CATHERINE PERIDIS

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Interview: Alex Lawther & Jessica Barden are teen-misfits in ‘The End Of The F***ing World’ on Netflix

Alex Lawther & Jessica Barden in Netflix Comedy The End Of The F***ing World

ALEX LAWTHER AND JESSICA BARDEN are a force to be reckoned with in this critically acclaimed Netflix comedy – ‘THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD’. Lawther is currently regarded as one of the most promising young talents on screen, with roles in ‘Black Mirror‘ and ‘The Imitation Game‘, his diversity as an actor is award-worthy. In this 8-part black comedy, Alex plays the character of James – a disturbed teenager who believes that he is a psychopath. James becomes acquainted Alyssa – a rebellious schoolgirl of the same age – whom he plots to kill whilst embarking on a roadtrip with her. Alyssa is played by Jessica Barden, who like Alex, has been taking the screen by storm with roles in ‘Penny Dreadful‘ and ‘Vera‘, Barden brings real presence in every scene, as the ‘says it as it is’, not to be messed with, teenager. I spoke to them both about their brilliant new show.

AC: How did you initially react to the title of the project?
ALEX LAWTHER: I think the title for me was explained by Chuck Foreman at the end of his comic, something along the lines of “of course it’s not the end of the world, they’re teenagers”. And reading that made sense of the stakes for Alyssa and James. Everything is do or die for them, literally. Everything is big, everything is important, everything is the end of the fucking world. And that’s a fun thing to play.

JESSICA BARDEN: I thought the title was really cool due to it being so shocking. I think it is the perfect title to represent the show, it tells you straight away that the show is going to be quite fearless.

Alex Lawther & Jessica Barden in Netflix Comedy The End Of The F***ing World

Did you read the comic before filming? How long did it take you?
ALEX LAWTHER: I read Chuck’s comic in a day before one of the first readthroughs. But the world we were playing in was Charlie Covell’s, and to me her James and Alyssa live in a sort of parallel British universe to that, and I felt it made sense to put my attention on tell the story she had written above all.

JESSICA BARDEN: I was sent this script about 6 years ago, so I read the comics before they were put together as one whole book. I found some and also my friend had some as he has been a fan of the comics for years. I don’t find comics take me long to read which is why I like them.

What was your favourite line from the script?
ALEX LAWTHER: In Episode 6, at the petrol station. “It’s a Glock 17MB. Ambidextrous magazine catch. Recoil operated. 19 rounds.” And then knowing in Alyssa’s head, in her voiceover, she was responding with “Yes James!”, which Jess had written all over her face.

JESSICA BARDEN: I loved everything I have to say! Charlie is such a brilliant writer, every line was so well thought over by her but at the same time she somehow managed to make it throw away, I feel like this is very true to how young people speak. She created a rhythm with her dialogue on the page and those scripts are always my favourite ones to act.

Alex Lawther & Jessica Barden in Netflix Comedy The End Of The F***ing World

What would your alternative title for the show be?
ALEX LAWTHER: “Not waving but drowning.” I think that sounds sort of catchy. It doesn’t have anything to do with the show, not really, other than poetically, maybe, but I love Stevie Smith and I think she’d get why Alyssa and James would steal a car and jump town.

JESSICA BARDEN: I think a good alternative title would be “Bye Marvin”.

Was there any improvisation at points?
ALEX LAWTHER: Not in the sense that we were making up lines as we went. There is a strict rhythm to this piece of Charlie’s writing, and if you start trying to naturalise it with ‘uhms’, and ‘ahs’, I found for me that messed it up. And James is not a man of many words. He seemed on paper, especially in the first half the series, to be allow himself to operate only in a painfully small box. A “yeah” or an “ok” is about as much as he can often muster.

THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD is streaming now on Netflix internationally.
 

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Interview: Milo Manheim on role in Disney’s ‘Zombies’

Interview: Milo Manheim on role in Disney’s ‘Zombies’

Milo Manheim PhotoshootMILO MANHEIM is following in the footsteps of his Emmy Award winning Mother – Camryn Manheim, making his first big splash in the acting world by starring in a leading role (alongside Meg Donnelly) in Disney Channel’s upcoming film ‘ZOMBIES’ which is set to be the next ‘High School Musical’. With an innate charm and charisma, Milo Manheim looks set to become the next teen idol. We chat with Milo Manheim about his time working on the film and his ambitions for the future.

AC: What was it like getting the role in Zombies? What was the filming experience like?

MILO MANHEIM: It was like a dream come true. A casting director saw me in a high school production of RENT. She tracked me down and asked if I would audition for Zombies. It’s hard to believe, but that’s what happened. Eight call-backs later, she called me to tell me I got the part. I was in shock. It was the first movie I was in. I grew up visiting sets because my mom is an actress, but I had no idea what to expect when I got there. It was amazing from start to finish. I loved the cast, the crew, the singing and dancing. It was as awesome as you would imagine it to be.

Milo Manheim Photoshoot 2018

How long did it take to learn the choreography for ‘Zombies’?

We rehearsed for a month before we started filming. We learned one big number a week as well as rehearsing scenes and doing wardrobe fittings.

Your hair was sprayed green for the role, if you had to permanently dye your hair another color, what would it be?

Hot pink. Go big or go home!

What are your football skills like in real life? Do you support a team?

I am a huge Packers fan even though my whole family are Eagles fans. I’m a pretty good wide receiver but I’m too slow and not very agile.

Milo Manheim Photoshoot 2018

If you could star in a music video, whose would it be?

Kendrick Lamar, because his past music videos have been brilliant.

Milo Manheim Photoshoot 2018

Have you been to Disneyland?
You mean the most magical place on earth? Yes!

What has your Mom taught you about acting?

Just to be real. Not to fake it. Just say it like you would in real life. And look at people in the eyes and listen.

Did she inspire you to becoming an actor?

I grew up around actors and I started doing theatre when I was 6 years old. It’s been a huge part of my life for as long as I remember. She definitely passed down her love of acting to me.

SUPER QUICK QUESTIONS WITH MILO MANHEIM

Last zombie movie you watched?
Warm Bodies.

Best show to binge-watch?
Friends

What’s the strangest food combo you’ve ever had?
I highly regret this, but a peanut butter & mayonnaise sandwich. Don’t ask!

What’s on your music playlist at the moment?
A lot of Drake and some Kendrick Lamar.

Favorite band?
The Beatles

Favorite solo artist?
Daniel Caesar

Everyone has like a cool app idea, what’s yours?
My app idea is Google Maps for Disneyland. It would tell what rides to hit and what rides had the shortest lines.

Advice to your younger self?
Take chances and don’t be afraid to fail. Your opinion is more important than anyone else’s. Trust your instincts. Don’t be friends with mean people.

Is there one thing in particular that you’re really excited about for the future?
Trump getting impeached!

A sport you wish you could play?
Basketball. It sucks when you’re my height and you can’t shoot hoops.

What was the last book you read?
The Great Gatsby.

Would you rather be at a mountain hideaway or a beach house?
Beach house fo’ sho’.

What is the farthest you have been from home?
Morocco.

Do you have an aim or a target for the year ahead?
Get straight A’s and go to college.

Zombies – a Disney Channel Orignal Movie starring Milo Manheim – premieres February 16 on Disney Channel

Interview: Disney’s Meg Donnelly talks ‘Zombies’ & ‘American Housewife’

Meg Donnelly Photoshoot 2018MEG DONNELLY is set to be one of the breakout stars in the entertainment industry today. At 17 years of age, Donnelly is quickly becoming known for her impeccable comedic timing on camera, and her refreshing, free spirit she brings to every project she appears in. Since 2016, she has been starring in ABC’s ‘American Housewife’ – centering around a new-to-the-block family – in which Donnelly plays the eldest daughter (Taylor) who is desperate to fit in with her peers. The show has been an absolute ratings hit for the past two seasons, with ABC ordering additional episodes and has given Meg a major platform to stand-out on.

Meg Donnelly is about to be seen as the leading actress in the new Disney Channel Original Movie ‘Zombies’ – the story focuses on cheerleader Addison (Donnelly), who befriends zombie football star Zed (Milo Manheim). With musical numbers and a ton of choreography, ‘Zombies’ promises to be a hit for Disney and Meg, as we talk about her career so far.

AC: When did you know that acting was for you?
As much as I chose acting, it chose me. I saw the sign at Annie’s Playhouse’s window at a time when I was no longer enjoying playing soccer. My parents wanted me to join an activity, but sports were not my thing (although I am a big sports fan). When I walked into Annie’s Playhouse and got on stage, my life was changed forever. From that first day, performing is all I ever wanted to do. Hopefully, I will continue to be blessed and given the opportunities to pursue my dreams.

Meg Donnelly Photoshoot 2018

What similarities do you share with your character Taylor [in ‘American Housewife’]?
Taylor and I are teenagers that love our parents but are trying to find our own independence and individuality as we navigate through our high school years.

Who’s the funniest person on set of ‘American Housewife’?
This is a hard question as everyone on set is funny. We are one big family and we joke around all the time. We are always laughing, which makes working on ‘American Housewife’ so wonderful.

Which other sitcoms actors do you look up to?
I have always looked up to and wanted to be Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Not only are they hilarious, but when I found out they wrote their own material, I was in awe. I aspire to be like my TV parents [in ‘American Housewife’], Katy Mixon and Diedrich Bader. They are both so gracious with their time, advise me in my acting choices and the various ways to approach each scene. But even more impressive is how they treat the cast and crew. They are both so kind and considerate. They make everyone on the set feel important and a part of the show. That is something I try to emulate each day on set.

Is there a show you’d love to make a guest appearance on?
I would love to be a voice on Spongebob Squarepants! One day I would also love to be the Guest Host on SNL! That would be the ultimate.

Meg Donnelly Photoshoot 2018

We’re talking to Milo Manheim soon who starred alongside you in ‘Zombies’, what was he like to work with?
Milo and I became friends during the audition process. We really hit it off as friends. As a result, we were already close friends when the shooting started. Milo is fun loving, kind and talented. It was natural working with him, as we both loved being a part of ‘Zombies’ and working with a new friend. We were both excited for each other and enjoyed being on set with the rest of the cast, dancers and crew.

Do you have any funny set stories from ‘Zombies’?Meg Donnelly 2018
Yes! To prepare for a big dance number on set, the “zombies” and the “Seabrook” cheerleaders would each chant back and forth to each other to get the energy up and create a fun rivalry. We would then all dance together in a big circle before breaking to start the scene. It got everyone pumped and ready to do their very best!

Did you ever wish that you got the green-dyed zombie hair on set?
Yes, I liked watching my friends be transformed into “Zombies” so it would have been cool to be a Zombie for a scene.

How did you find learning the choreography?
At first, I was a little nervous but the choreographers and professional dancers where supportive and took the time to ensure that myself and the other actors were comfortable with all the choreography. We had so much fun!!

SUPER QUICK QUESTIONS WITH MEG DONNELLY

Last movie you watched?
‘Black Panther’

Best show to binge-watch?
‘A Place To Call Home’ and of course ‘American Housewife’ [laughs].

What’s the strangest food combo you’ve ever had?
Avocado and vanilla ice cream – it was pretty good.

What’s on your music playlist at the moment?
A Tribe Called Quest, Bruno Mars, SZA, The B-52s, Bob Marley, Neil Young, Incubus, and Maroon 5 to name a few.

Favorite band?
A Tribe Called Quest

Favorite solo artist?
Bruno Mars

Everyone has a cool app idea, what’s yours?
I have an eccentric taste in music so I would like to invent an app that can organize and create playlists based on my song catalog and make suggestions for music I don’t have.

What is the nicest thing that anyone has ever said to you?
That I am caring and thoughtful friend.

What was the last book you read?
Wonder!

Would you rather be at a mountain hideaway or a beach house?
A beach house.

What is the farthest you have been from home?
Maui, HI from NYC.

Advice to your younger self?
Not to be concerned about doing what my friends are doing, such as wearing similar clothes so that we all look alike.

Is there one thing in particular that you’re really excited about for the future?
I am very excited about the premiere of Disney’s “Zombies” on Friday, February 16th. I think the fans are going to love it!!

Do you have an aim or a target for the year ahead?
I don’t have any specific target as I believe that it is about continued growth verses starting or stopping something. I learn from each experience and I hope I become better for it – good or bad. Having said that, I am going to focus more on my guitar playing and songwriting this year. And make sure I stay true to and supportive of my family and friends.

Zombies – a Disney Channel Original Movie starring Meg Donnelly – premieres February 16 on the Disney Channel
 

INTERVIEW WITH ADAM CROOKES

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Interview: The Magnetism of Billy Magnussen – ‘Black Mirror’ & ‘Game Night’

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Interview: Ray Panthaki on ‘Marcella’ Season 2 & being a BAFTA Breathrough Brit

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Interview: Disney’s Meg Donnelly talks ‘Zombies’ & ‘American Housewife’