Video Q&A: Jonathan Bennett on his ‘MEAN GIRLS’ cookbook

Over a decade ago, JONATHAN BENNETT received his breakout acting role with ‘MEAN GIRLS’ – a comedy film which has since gained an international cult following.

After a sudden spark of inspiration, Jonathan began developing a cookbook inspired by many of the catchphrases featured in ‘Mean Girls’. In an exclusive Video Q&A, Jonathan answers the burning questions about his new book.


Interview: Synnøve Karlsen – Autumn’s Rising Star on ‘CLIQUE’ & ‘MEDICI: THE MAGNIFICENT’

Autumn couldn’t be a more exciting time for SYNNØVE KARLSEN. Having just returned to ‘CLIQUE’ – the hit BBC drama series which put her on the map as a rising star just over a year ago.

Synnøve stars in the central role of Holly McStay – a student who is drawn to a clique of confident but troubled girls – in what has been one of BBC Three’s most-watched programmes in recent times.

Very shortly, Synnøve is set to star opposite Sean Bean and Daniel Sharman in the new Netflix series ‘MEDICI: THE MAGNIFICENT’ – set for a worldwide December release – which follows the Medici family in Florence, during 1470.

AC: ‘Clique’ has just returned for a second series – what do you think fans can expect from the new season?

SYNNØVE: We follow Holly again but this time through her second year at university. Broadly speaking I think this series is exploring identity: idividual and group mentality in our current political climate. I think people will really love the twists within the story and the journey she goes through this series, its very psychological and personal but it is set within this politically charged and exciting, young setting that really draws you in.

Do you think that ‘Clique’ – in many ways – is a cautionary tale?

I’m not sure it’s cautionary so much but more of an exploration of opinions. She finds herself in dark places, she is somewhat unhinged at points but I don’t see that as a part of ‘beware this is what could happen to you..’ but more a reality of what it is to be a young person right now, discovering yourself and negotiating your way through different experiences in the wake of social media and the immense pressure to show yourself in a certain light. Jess puts every political opinion on the table and Holly guides us through these questions that are raised. We see the world through her eyes and in that we see her make mistakes but ultimately its just about a girl’s journey (albeit heightened) through university as all of these questions are posed to her in the wake of traumatic events.

“I think ultimately, [‘Clique’] is about relationships, especially the way in which you relate to yourself.”

Do you feel that you can relate to Holly from your own teenage years?

Absolutely. I remember reading series one and just immediately understanding her. I think there was something especially personal to me in it being set in Scotland as that is where I was born and raised until the age of twelve. There is a lot of reference to her growing up in a small seaside town on the coast but being drawn to something bigger and more exciting, which is incredibly similar to my own experience of childhood. And in terms of its exploration of that time in your late teens I could really relate – maybe less so to the trauma – but I think ultimately this show is about relationships, especially the way in which you relate to yourself. I was very lonely, trying to exist within a specific group but also really trying to get to grips with who I was as an individual. It’s a very specific, solitary point starting university and is one nobody really prepares you for. I think this what is so beautiful about Jess’s writing, very rarely to you see a young woman at that age in such a closely explored way coming to terms with her own identity.

How much can you tell us about ‘Medici: The Magnificent’?

‘The Magnificent’ is coming to Netflix in December, following its release in Italy. It has been such an exciting project and it follows the story of Lorenzo De Medici (Daniel Sharman), the leader of the most powerful family in Italy during the renaissance. I play his wife Clarice, who was very influential in uniting Florence and Rome politically at this time. It was such an interesting part to play, and to explore youth at that time which I don’t think has ever really been explored in this way, I think its very easy for us to forget about young people when we look back historically. Florence was a very trendy, liberal place and Rome, very traditional and Papal, so it was the total opposite and I am playing this very religious woman who is suddenly sent into an arranged marriage with a young man from Florence. Sean Bean plays Jacopo Pazzi, a rival to the family, and the series follows his attempts to destroy the Medici rule. I’m currently filming the next season which follows our marriage and will come out next year.

“I don’t believe in fate but I think it’s important to not doubt in what you are doing”

Comparing both ‘Medici: The Magnificent’ and ‘Clique’ – were the vibes on the sets completely different?

Yes, in a way. ‘Clique’ we filmed mainly on location and is very young and contemporary so there is a freedom there, whereas ‘Medici’ we filmed mostly in a studio and you are in a very alien world with huge dresses and hair pieces so I think that definitely informs the atmosphere on set. But ‘Medici’ was wild, we had a lot of fun shooting that. Living in Rome for four months and all being in this foreign city together makes everyone really become a family, especially after two seasons.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Oh thats a tricky one. I have been given lots of advice, but I guess to trust what is happening, I don’t believe in fate but I think it’s important to not doubt in what you are doing and commit to everything fully. My mum always tells me that all of the right things for me won’t pass me by, so I think I remind myself of that very often.

QUICK QUESTIONS WITH SYNNØVE KARLSEN

Last show you binge-watched?

‘Maniac’ on Netflix.
Oh, and I’m working with Johnny Harris at the moment so I have been freaking him out by finally binge watching all of ‘This Is England’ on Channel Four.

Strangest food combo you’ve ever had?

I like peanut butter and Nutella on toast. I would see that as pretty normal, but I get some strange looks.

What are your five go-to tunes right now?

Lily Allen – ‘Apples’
Amy Winehouse – ‘Take The Box’
Cigarettes After Sex – ‘4’
Amy Winehouse – ‘I Heard Love is Blind’
Leonard Cohen – ‘Chelsea Hotel 2’

Everyone has a cool app idea, what’s yours?

I have zero cool app ideas. I really need to have a big think about why that is…

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

Either. But I like the sunshine.

What is the furthest you’ve been from home?

I went to Cambodia with my best friend when I was eighteen and spent a week in hospital after getting Dengue Fever, and I can safely say I have never felt so far from home in my life. But I think yes geographically that is probably the furthest away I have been also.

Last book you read?

‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney.

One thing you’re excited about for the future?

I’m excited for the day when my niece and nephew start talking to each other.

‘Clique’ Series 2 is available on BBC Three via BBC iPlayer now

PHOTOGRAPHY: JOSEPH SINCLAIR

INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES

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Interview: Jamie N Commons on Paper Dreams & Los Angeles

JAMIE N COMMONS has just released his brand-new single ‘Paper Dreams’. The 80s synth pop-inspired track is the first release from Jamie since ‘Skyscraper’, which he wrote for Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s most recent blockbuster-hit of the same name.

‘Paper Dreams’ is a far cry from what fans might expect from Jamie N Commons. Having moved to LA to pursue his now hugely successful songwriting career and therefore spending the majority of his time
writing for and with others, he found this new situation and environment having a profound impact on his personal creative output.

AC: Growing up on both sides of the Atlantic, what kind of artists were you drawn to at a young age?

JAMIE: Well I moved to Chicago just at the peak of Britpop so got to grow up during the great Blur versus Oasis war which was amazing. When I reached the U.S. everyone was still listening to grunge so went straight into that. So I got to experience both in a way which was cool.

Many of your songs have been attached to trailers for films, games and events. Do you think your music has a cinematic quality?

Yeah! I’ll often stick on a great visual film with the sound off when writing, so I’m always thinking visually as well. Helps me tell a story somehow. 99% of songs take place in a single moment… a thought you have for one second… that takes 3 minutes to explain with lyrics and music… so a single frame in a film can get you there writing wise sometimes.

Your new single ‘Paper Dreams’ is very different from your prior work. What inspired this progression in your sound?

Honestly doing a lot of writing for other people and other projects, having to write modern pop and dance music. Once I got into I realised there was a big cross over with this 80s music I’d always loved like Steve Winwood, Peter Gabriel etc. I’d always wanted to do something in that world, and thought where sounds are at in current pop, now must be the time.

How has moving to LA influenced your music?

It’s an intensely lonely place. A quote most people say is “When you move to LA you won’t have any friends for the first year, but it gets better after that”. Everyone’s so ambitious it’s hard to find people to relax with and be human. So if you can bare it, this is a fantastic place to write.

Can you tell us about the meaning behind the song?

‘Paper dreams’ is just a simple metaphor I thought up ages ago, maybe after watching ‘Blade Runner’ – from that line “lost, like tears in the rain”. Paper dreams fly away easily, maybe I’ll do a sister song ‘(something heavy) dreams’.

Do these themes continue on your upcoming debut album?

Yeah there’s a lot about ambition, dreams, life and most importantly romance – which is a pretty good summation of my life actually saying it out loud.

At this point, what can you say about the debut album?

We have an insane amount of songs written for it, so hopefully I can keep a steady vision and choose the right ones. It’s a good problem to have though I suppose!

QUICK QUESTIONS WITH JAMIE N COMMONS

Last show you binge-watched?

‘The Haunting Of Hill house’ – got a bit iffy when they started doing the Shakespeare quotes – but good overall.

Strangest food combo you’ve ever had?

Was thinking about this the other day – Black Pudding is pretty weird isn’t it?

Your five go-to tunes right now?

Oliver Tree – ‘Alien Boy’

Steve Winwood – ‘Back in The High Life Again’

Rainbow Kitten Surprise – ‘Fever Pitch’

Laura jean Anderson – ‘Thinkin’ Bout You’

Ida Mae – ‘My Girl Is A Heartbreak’

Everyone has a cool app idea, what’s yours?

I want Shazam to have a “I shazamed this song because I want to know who created this piece of shit so I never listen to them again” button. I reckon fifty-percent of some of these Shazam numbers are people going “what is this crap?”.

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

Beach house

What is the furthest you’ve been from home?

Every day in LA [laughs].

Last book you read?

Just re-read ‘The First Law’, which is a series by Joe Abercrombie – he’s incredible.

One thing you’re excited about for the future?

New music finally coming out and getting to play the new songs live.

Advice to your younger self?

Super baggy jeans are not fucking cool.

INTERVIEW: ADAM CROOKES

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Interview: John Magaro on ‘OVERLORD’ & ‘JACK RYAN’

JOHN MAGARO is at the height of his powers. You may recognize John from his roles in critically acclaimed films such as ‘The Big Short’ and ‘Carol’, or for his roles in smash-hit television shows like ‘Orange Is The New Black’ and ‘The Good Wife’.

John’s role in the new JJ Abrams-produced war-horror ‘Overlord’ is getting major box-office buzz. The film follows American soldiers who get stuck behind enemy lines after D-Day and discover secret Nazi experiments.

Alongside this, John Magaro is also starring in Amazon Original Series ‘Jack Ryan’ – supporting John Krasinski who stars in the titular role of a CIA Analyst.

JAIMEE: You’re starring in JJ Abrams’ new film ‘Overlord’ – which looks intense, to say the least. Can you tell us a bit about your character?

JOHN MAGARO: I play Tibbet, who is a hard ass, tough talking New Yorker. He is a good soldier, but is no nonsense and does not trust Boyce, whose up to the job at hand.

What kind of training did you endure for your role?

We were lucky enough to take part in a week long boot camp. Once we arrived in London, we were sent out to the country where we were trained by Sargent Freddie Farnsworth. It was an uncomfortable, alien situation where we had to rise or sink as a team. He did everything he could to whip us into shape as 1940s elite soldiers. My knees still feel the pain of those endless miles of humps up and down hills.

What excited you about the script when you first read it?

Killing Nazis, the ultimate bad guy! I also was drawn to the element of super soldiers.

Some early fans are calling the movie “Inglorious Bastards with Zombies” – how would you describe it?

I think that is a fair way to describe it, but would also throw in Indiana Jones, Alien and Saving Private Ryan into that mix. It’s like a buffet of classics with a little extra spice.

It’s bad enough to be in a war zone, but then to come across some crazy secret experiments would be absolutely unnerving. How would you have reacted if you were thrust into this situation?

Run! Run away fast! Although I will never forget what Sargent told us: that some of the worst soldiers in his unit are actually the ones who rise to the challenge and show extreme courage and bravery – so I hope that would be how I would actually react!

Does it ever take a bit of a toll on your well being dealing with such emotional and at times painful subject matter, as within war zones? If so, how do you keep morale up?

Luckily we are actors so we get to go home at night and sleep in a beautiful hotel and eat amazing food, so I could never even begin to compare myself to a real soldier. Every role takes some sort of toll on you simply because of how much emotion goes into each role. When telling a story about soldiers all I can hope for is that we honor them in an appropriate way.

What was the most challenging part about getting into your role?

The equipment. It’s heavy!

When you were a kid in Ohio, what was one role in a film or play which helped inspire your love of the art form?

Two things, first Brando, Pacino, and Cazale in ‘The Godfather’. That film changed what how I saw acting. And when I was in school in Pittsburgh a production of ‘Top Dog Underdog’. An amazing actor Ray Anthony Thomas blew me away and made me realize how honest and vulnerable and actor can be. I still try and apply those lessons to my work.

You’ve played a wide variety of roles in your career already and starred alongside some of Hollywood’s most renowned, but what’s still on your acting bucket list?

I’d love to direct and produce. I am now starting to dip my toes into that world more. I never talk about who I still want to work with because I worry I will jinx it. I guess I’m just too superstitious.

You also play Victor in ‘Jack Ryan’. How has it been working with John Krasinski and the rest of the cast?

My story was a bit separate from John’s but he was lovely when we did chat. Carlton Cruse, Graham Roland, and Patricia Riggen but together a fantastic group of people and were so committed to telling that in an exciting way. Plus, shooting in Montreal and Morocco was such a thrilling thing.

You play a drone pilot; at this point, is it safe to say you have a bit of a love affair with war stories?

[Laughs] You could say that. I mean it is many little boy’s dreams to play soldiers. We did that as kids in the woods of my neighborhood, Playing war. I think its just a coincidence that currently I am playing a lot of soldiers I never set out to play so many soldiers, but I think a large number of film roles for guys my age just so happen to be soldiers. Ten years ago I only played students and in ten years from now I’ll probably be playing mostly doctors or lawyers. I guess that’s just how this business goes.

What’s one thing you’ve learned in your career this year that you would share with up and coming actors?

I always tell young actors to work hard, Read as much as you can and watch as many great films and theater. A smart and well rounded actor is a valuable thing.

Is there one misconception you think people may have of you or actors in general?

I think people tend to think of actors as almost alien, unapproachable, aloof, selfish. But, I have found most (even the biggest of names) to be kind, real, and extremely generous. Actors for the most part are pretty normal folks.

What’s your favourite horror film of all time?

‘Rosemary’s Baby’. B-Film: ‘Killer Klowns from Outter Space’.

What’s one series that’s premiering soon that you can’t wait to see and why?

I just saw the first episode of ‘The Romanoffs’ and now I am hooked. I need to see the rest.

PHOTOGRAPHY: JAMES LEE WALL

INTERVIEW: JAIMEE JAKOBCZAK

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