Olds News

Felicity

Interview with Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen. Photo © Dorri Olds

Every once in a while a person just has to scream it loud, “I’m a journo and I’m proud!” The following is a sampling of celebrities I have interviewed, talked to, and photographed at New York City red carpet events,Q&A press events, and exclusive interviews. Oh, and as of today, my YouTube Channel stats are up to 1,089,950 minutes watched and 937,714 views. Not bad for a self-employed writer, eh?

Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore. Photo © Dorri Olds
Glenn Close
Glenn Close. Photo © Dorri Olds
Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe. Photo © Dorri Olds
Laverne Cox
Laverne Cox. Photo © Dorri Olds
Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf. Photo © Dorri Olds
Rosario Dawson
Rosario Dawson. Photo © Dorri Olds

A–G

Woody Allen, Moran Atias, Alec Baldwin, Roseanne Barr, Kim Basinger, Angela Bassett, Jamie Bell, Mayim Bialik, Prince Lorenzo Borghese, Kate Bosworth, Lorraine Bracco, Abigail Breslin, Jeff Bridges, Adam Brody, Albert Brooks, Zlatko Buric, Gerard Butler, Rose Byrne, Lizzy Caplan, Patricia Clarkson, Glenn Close, Laverne Cox, Billy Crudup, Penélope Cruz, Rory Culkin, Willem Dafoe, Paul Dalio, Rosario Dawson, Robert De Niro, Kirsten Dunst, Aaron Eckhart, Peter Facinelli, Michael Fassbender, Abel Ferrara, Ralph Fiennes, Isla Fisher, Ciaran Foy, James Franco, Antoine Fuqua, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Julia Garner, Paul Giamatti, Alex Gibney, Terry Gilliam, Domhnall Gleeson, Shep Gordon, Ryan Gosling, Maggie Grace, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster on the red carpet at Tribeca Film Festival. Photo © Dorri Olds
celebrities
Dorri Olds interviews A-list Celebrities. Photo © Dorri Olds

H–N

Paul Haggis, Tom Hardy, Lucas Hedges, Katherine Heigl, Jonah Hill, Emile Hirsch, Katie Holmes, Gavin Hood, Vanessa Hudgens, Holly Hunter, Oscar Isaac, Allison Janney, Richard Jenkins, Felicity Jones, Jason Katims, Zoe Kazan, Catherine Keener, Jack Kesy, Sir Ben Kingsley, Luke Kirby, Kevin Kline, Steven Knight, Shia LaBeouf, Christine Lahti, Peter Landesman, Frank Langella, Jill Larson, Juliette Lewis, Liana Liberato, Ray Liotta, Justin Long, Kevin Macdonald, Dylan McDermott, Mads Mikkelsen, Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Erroll Morris, David Morse, Viggo Mortensen, Cillian Murphy, Kumail Nanjiani

James Franco
James Franco. Photo © Dorri Olds
Edward James Olmos. Photo © Dorri Olds

O–Z

Edward James Olmos, Elizabeth Olsen, Ellen Page, Josh Pais, Vanessa Paradis, Nate Parker, Aaron Paul, Bernadette Peters, Oliver Platt, Carrie Preston, Richard Pryor, Jr., Kathleen Quinlan, Daniel Radcliff, James Ransone, Jeremy Renner, Jason Ritter, Eric Roberts, Ray Romano, Paul Rudd, Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Peter Sarsgaard, John Sayles, Liev Schreiber, Adam Scott, Kristin Scott Thomas, Michael Shannon, Alia Shawkat, Alexander Skarsgard, Stellan Skarsgard, Christian Slater, Mira Sorvino, Paul Sorvino, Steven Spielberg, Kristen Stewart, Sir Patrick Stewart, Jerry Stiller, Juno Temple, Fred Thompson, Uma Thurman, Lily Tomlin, John Turturro, Sofia Vergara, Alicia Vikander, Sam Waterston, Naomi Watts, Forest Whitaker, Michael K. Williams, Patrick Wilson, Nicolas Winding Refn, Nat Wolff, Elijah Wood, Evan Rachel Wood, Bob Zappa

Nat Wolff
Nat Wolff. Photo © Dorri Olds
Julia Garner
Julia Garner. Photo © Dorri Olds
Lily Tomlin
Lily Tomlin. Photo © Dorri Olds
38.Cast
Paul Sorvino, Debi Mazar, Robert De Niro, Lorraine Bracco. Photo © Dorri Olds
Oscar-Isaac-Alicia-Vikander2
Oscar Isaac, Alicia Vikander. Photo © Dorri Olds
Michael K. Williams
Michael K. Williams. Photo © Dorri Olds

 

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Kirsten Dunst

Kirsten Dunst is the topic for the cover article of Honeysuckle Magazine. This tribute piece is in the print issue titled “HERS.” We are celebrating women. Check out the fabulous design by Naomi Rosenblatt, Editor-in-Chief.

Hollywood has convinced so many women to fix their “imperfections.” Not Kirsten Dunst. When the actress showed up on the set of her first Spider-Man movie, she was told to get her crooked teeth straightened. Dunst refused. “I was like, ‘No, my teeth are cool!’” Now, at age 35, Dunst has once again delivered a fi rm “No” to a filmmaker’s request. She was asked to drop some pounds for her role as Miss Edwina in the new Southern gothic thriller, The Beguiled, but Dunst said (I’m paraphrasing here), “Nope, not gonna happen.”

The Beguiled
Colin Farrell and Kirsten Dunst in The Beguiled. Photo © Focus Features.

Oh, the irony—it was her close friend and long-time collaborator, director Sofia Coppola, who asked Dunst to slim down. Yet it was also Coppola who advised a sixteen-year-old Dunst never to change her teeth during their first work project, 1999’s The Virgin Suicides. That was the film that some would argue really put Dunst on the Hollywood movies map. In 2006, Coppola also directed Dunst in Marie Antoinette.

The Beguiled is Dunst and Coppola’s third time making a film together. It is a remake of the 1971 movie starring Clint Eastwood, and both films are based on a novel by Thomas Cullinan. The scenes are lusty and tense, and loaded with director Coppola’s love of atmosphere and high drama. It’s a thriller that takes place in Virginia during the Civil War.

In the opener, young Miss Amy (Oona Laurence), is out picking mushrooms when she spots a Yankee soldier, Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell). He is suffering with a badly wounded leg. She feels sorry for him and helps him back to a plantation that used to be a boarding school for girls. During wartime, it has become a shelter for six women. Dunst’s character, Miss Edwina, is a school teacher. Miss Martha, the headmistress, is played by Nicole Kidman, who teeter-totters between seemingly very good and kind, and capable of dastardly deeds. Elle Fanning plays one of the students.

With six women living under duress, McBurney’s arrival creates quite a stir. He’s not a particularly good guy in that he manipulates the women and pits them against each other by using his seductive wiles. While the women tend to his wounds, a houseful of sexual electricity sizzles. I must say, it is so refreshing to see a female director’s decision to keep all of the women clothed, but turn the man into a bare sex object. There is humor amidst the intensity.

Recently, Dunst appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. After congratulating her on both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her role in the FX series, Fargo, Fallon urged Dunst to dish on her engagement to Fargo co-star Jesse Plemons. A blushing Dunst said that she really wanted to keep things private—especially because her fiancé and their families were watching. She confirmed the engagement and added that she was glad that she and Plemons had become really good friends first.

Fallon, continuing to press for more juicy deets, pointed out how amazing it was that by agreeing to work on that television show, Dunst met the guy she is going to marry. The actress threw her arms up in the air in mock exasperation and said, “Yes, that is amazing. I’ll name my kid Fargo Season 2.”

Viggo
Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen. Photo © Dorri Olds.

Her great sense of humor and quick smile are endearing and I feel lucky to have witnessed them up close when I interviewed Dunst myself on a few occasions related to her earlier movies. In 2014, I chatted with Dunst, alongside her sexy co-star Viggo Mortensen. That film, The Two Faces of January, opens with Colette (Dunst) and her husband, Chester MacFarland (Mortensen) looking very well-off, gorgeous and Great Gatsby-ish. We see them enjoying a carefree vacation in Greece, looking happy and in love. While sightseeing at the Acropolis, they meet Rydal (Oscar Isaac), a young American working as a tour guide. Rydal is dazzling gullible tourists right out of their dough, when suddenly he spots Colette and Chester. The opportunist first noticed Collette for her beauty, but then immediately sizes her up as another potential patsy. What Rydal doesn’t realize is that the slick and dangerous Chester had already been spying on the conman.

When I interviewed The Two Faces of January director and screenwriter, Hossein Amini, I asked him how he had chosen Dunst to play Collette. “I’d seen her in so many movies,” he said. “What I was really struck by is how smart she is. She has this extraordinary intuitive sense of a scene. She knows what’s going to work and what’s not. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up being a fantastic director. There’s an intelligence and sensitivity and almost telepathic understanding of the people she’s working with.”

Oh, how right Amini was! Dunst will be making her feature film directing debut in 2018 with The Bell Jar, an adaptation of the only novel by poet Sylvia Plath. Dakota Fanning will play the lead role of Esther Greenwood, the semi-autobiographical Plath character who descends into mental illness. Dunst and Nellie Kim co-wrote the screenplay. She has cast her fiancé Plemons to star opposite Fanning.

Dunst told me one of her reasons for doing that film was that she’d met Viggo before. Dunst shot him her signature dimpled smiled and said, “We were also both in On the Road, but we didn’t have any work together.” She mentioned that Mortensen also knew her then-boyfriend, On the Road co-star, Garrett Hedlund. She added that she’d also already known Isaac. “I immediately felt like I trust, and feel comfortable, with these people, which is very rare to happen.”

When I asked about challenges during the making of that film, Dunst said, “Sometimes for me, I felt like it was all about the boys. Sometimes Colette is objectified, since she’s the only female. But I wanted to be a part of this film because I loved the script so much, and Viggo was already attached.” She explained, “I wanted to make Colette as much of a character as I could. But it’s also about the guys, so that was probably the hardest thing for me—I wanted to make her as full as possible, when she could have easily just been a throw-away character.”

She added, “What’s interesting is that when I watch movies that are only about boys, and there aren’t any interesting female characters, I don’t really end up liking it that much.”

An earlier time I met with Dunst was in 2012, a year after she had finished Melancholia and really wanted to do a comedy. “I hadn’t done one in a while,” she said. “People don’t see you in that light unless you’re a comedic actress,” she said. “I didn’t want be pigeonholed in any type of mood, because I got a lot of scripts after Melancholia that were heady, weird, depressing. I’m like, I’m not gonna repeat this again. It’s boring for me and for everyone else, too.”

That’s how she decided on the edgy Bachelorette, which was released the following year. “I got this script, Lizzy [Caplan] was attached to and met Leslye [Headland, the director] and then I was like, this is hilarious and I would love to go completely opposite and be in this project.”

bachelorette
Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher, Kirsten Dunst. Photo © Radius-TWC.

Due to the title of the movie, she mentioned the reality television show, The Bachelorette. “I like those TV shows,” said Dunst. “They’re just so ridiculous; everyone vying for a rose.” She laughed, flashing that awesome smile. “It’s so dramatic,” she said. “It’s just amazing trash television that you can watch with your mom and grandma on a Monday night!”

Dunst enjoyed her character in Bachelorette. “We look like a mess in the end of the movie,” she said. Isla Fisher chimed in, “We’re bad people doing bad things and, frankly, it’s not glossed over.” Dunst agreed and said, “I think that’s refreshing.”

Bachelorette won Official Selection at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and also starred Isla Fisher and Rebel Wilson. When I interviewed director Headland, she bounced right into a midtown Manhattan hotel room, talking fast with her blonde hair flying. She has a deep ballsy laugh yet also projects an endearing, almost childlike, vulnerability. Headlund said, “Meeting Kirsten was nerve-wracking. I remember driving to meet her and I’d smoked like 37 cigarettes and had like 18 shots of espresso. I just really wanted her to do this movie and I didn’t know what I should do to get her to say yes. Directors that I look up to—like Kubrick and Altman—have reputations of being manipulators but I’m so not like that. I’m such an open book. I thought I was going to really have to talk her into doing it.”

Much to Headlund’s delight, Dunst happily signed on. “It was a gift from God that Kirsten, who I was a huge fan of, liked the character,” said the director.

Dunst is doing all right for herself, eh? This A-lister began her career as a three-year-old child fashion model for TV commercials. She signed on with Ford and Elite modeling agencies. At age six she was in her first feature film, New York Stories, where she appeared in Woody Allen’s section titled, Oedipus Wrecks. A year after that, she co-starred with Tom Hanks in 1990s Bonfire of the Vanities. Her biggest movie breakthrough came in 1994, when Dunst was 11 and played Claudia in Interview with the Vampire with Brad Pitt.

Kirsten Dunst
Kirsten Dunst stars in Woodshock. Photo © A24.

On September 15, you’ll be able to catch Dunst in A24’s arty and haunting thriller, Woodshock. She plays Theresa, an isolated, grief-stricken woman who becomes paranoid after taking a powerful, reality-twisting drug. The film is the directing debut for Los Angeles fashion designers and screenwriting sisters, Kate and Laura Mulleavy. Until its release, you can check out the movie’s psychedelic, trippy trailer.

“It’s kind of your job as an actress to define what kind of things you want to do, and the types of people you want to surround yourself with,” Dunst told me. “It’s really your taste and what you want because everything is out there. It’s just how you go about your own process and what’s true to who you are and what you want to put out in the world.”

For all of her strength, smarts, and success, we celebrate Kirsten Dunst as the woman with the HERS spirit for this issue of Honeysuckle Magazine.

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Senior Dogs

Susie’s Senior Dogs is the Best Facebook Page Ever!

Published March 2014 #ICYMI

One woman launched a movement to save senior dogs. Her name is Erin O’Connell, she’s 29 and lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Five weeks ago Erin created a Facebook page called, “Susie’s Senior Dogs,” with the tagline “Matching humans and senior dogs one bond at a time.” Word spread fast and now the page has 139,000 likes and is responsible for 25 senior dog adoptions. I wanted to find out what had inspired this great effort so I clicked “Like” on the page and sent a private message asking for an interview. Erin graciously agreed to talk about her instant-soup campaign success.

Dorri OldsWhat gave you the idea for Susie’s Senior Dogs?

Erin O’Sullivan: The first part of my story is about my boyfriend Brandon Stanton. He runs a project called “Humans of New York.” He takes photos of random New Yorkers. Brandon lives in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, and three years ago he spotted Susie the dog and her previous owner. He took a photo of Susie, who was 11 then, and posted it to his blog with the caption, “This is the best dog.” Soon afterwards the owner contacted Brandon and asked if he could adopt Susie because his new wife said they couldn’t keep the dog.

Brandon was hesitant at first. Friends said he’d be crazy to take the dog; a senior dog would die and he’d be better off getting a puppy. Who doesn’t love a puppy, right? But Brandon felt bad for Susie. He didn’t want her to go to a shelter so he took her in.

Susie is Brandon’s dog?

Susie is technically Brandon’s dog because he adopted her and if Brandon and I were standing next to each other Susie would jump inside of his lap  but I love Susie so much, too. She really is the best dog in the world. Just for fun I started a page called, “Susie The Dog.” It started getting likes and I wondered how to take that already engaged audience who loved Susie and make it more than random meaningless posts. I didn’t really plan anything out but I had this vague idea and made the new Facebook page, “Susie’s Senior Dogs.” Within 48 hours the new direction took hold.

How do you think you got so many followers so fast?

It’s really thanks to Brandon. He had been building his own big audience by taking photos of people he interacted with in New York City. His audience got so big he even has a book now. His Facebook page is up to 3.5 million likes so I asked him if it would be okay to post a link to Susie’s Facebook page. I told him I’ll do all the work and he’d get lots of love. So he said okay. When I’d posted a photos to my Susie’s page I got 400 likes but when Brandon shared it on his page, Susie’s Senior Dogs got 100,000 likes in one night!

What breed is Susie?

We’re not sure what breed she is. Her ears make her look like she’s definitely part Chihuahua and the poof frizz of hair on top of her head makes her seem like she’s part Chinese Crested.

Did you know things were going to catch on this fast?

We were on ABC World News and we’ve been filmed by Animal Haven. It’s been a whirlwind. I just hope we keep spreading the word to encourage people to adopt a senior dog. You know, you can plan and plan in life, but sometimes an idea just comes to you and it works. This was like that.

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Women Who Kill

Simone (Sheila Vand) and Morgan (Ingrid Jungermann) in Women Who Kill.

Photo: Diane Russo — Written for Honeysuckle Magazine • HERS issue • PDF  

Women Who Kill is a feature film written and directed by Ingrid Jungermann who also stars as main character Morgan, a commitment-phobe. While screening the film, I fell in love with Jungermann’s striking face. Angular and piercing it grabs you and becomes more and more intriguing via her black-as-soot humor and deadpan delivery. Her long, lean model build is perfect for a movie screen but it’s her wit and quirks that stand out most of all.

I was thrilled to land an exclusive interview with Jungermann. It was right after the July 4 holiday when she returned to her native NYC. Despite exhaustion—and directly due to my pleading—the rising star made time for the interview. It did not take any convincing for my editors to say she was perfect for this HER issue of Honeysuckle.

Ann Carr
Jean (Ann Carr) and Morgan (Ingrid Jungermann) in Women Who Kill. Photo: Diane Russo

Women Who Kill debuted at Tribeca Film Festival in 2016 and received the jury award for Best Screenplay. Indiewire described it as the “Best Lesbian Horror-Comedy Ever.” I have to agree. The film racked up a slew of awards at film festivals: Best Screenplay at Outfest; and Weekend. It won Best Narrative Feature at Indie Street; Seattle TWIST Queer; Melbourne Queer; and Oslo Fusion International. It also received Honorable Mention for Outstanding First Feature at Frameline.

It is a love triangle between two ex-girlfriends, Morgan and Jean (Ann Carr), who still live and work together. They’re true crime podcasters with a show about female serial killers. The exes spend so much time together, it has impeded letting go of the relationship. The heat dial turns way up when Morgan meets beautiful new love interest, Simone (Sheila Vand). Soon the high drama kicks in when the podcasting lesbians obsessed with murders begin to fear that Simone may be one. Now, let’s get to the interview!

Dorri Olds: Want to tell if she is a murderer?

Ingrid Jungermann: I can’t. [Laughs]

What planted the seed for this story?

It’s funny, when I first watched the film at Tribeca, and throughout the whole finishing process, and then over the months of screening at festivals, I saw that the movie was clearly a personal film about my own struggles with relationships. It was my version of a romantic comedy in a twisted way. The new script that I’m working on right now is a romantic comedy, but it’s a satire about the genre.

It’s like a queer person’s first experience with love, especially with a religious background, which is not a positive experience because you’re working through feeling all these dark emotions, when you really should just be feeling the pure emotions.

What religion were you brought up with?

Jehovah’s Witness.

I’ve heard the followers are judgmental.

Yeah, exactly. I came out as soon as I left home at 17, when I went to college. That year I realized I was gay, or at least became more comfortable with it. I was probably one of the last people who realized I was gay. I don’t think it was a big surprise to many people. I grew up in Florida and there is no language for it. No allowance for the feelings. You walk around with a secret. I worked at Blockbuster Video and I remember seeing the queer section and that was one of the ways I could put language to how I was feeling, but I still didn’t realize at that time that I was gay.

Ingrid Jungermann
Ingrid Juntermann (Writer, Director, Performer), Women Who Kill. Photo: Diane Russo

Did you experience any self-loathing?

People in the arts can be more sensitive and are naturally gonna question things about themselves, where other people might not. Certainly, self-loathing was part of it. Internalizing some of those views, yeah. That’s something that takes many years to get at and hopefully unravel. Then you come out on the other side, understanding that self-loathing was really unfortunate. I feel we’re trained to be that way. It takes a long time to get out of that. Then years of therapy.

How do you feel about the vitriol in America right now thanks to Trump?

I definitely feel the hatred. He’s given people a free pass on that kind of language. The vitriolic language and darkness everybody is feeling is at an all-time high. We are experiencing a collective depression.

Anything new and exciting on the horizon?

Yes, I’m in development for my next feature with QC Entertainment, who worked with Blumhouse on Get Out.

Great movie!

Yeah. So, I’m writing this satirical romcom. It’s formulaic except it’s a commentary on formula. I like formula and structure and playing with the genre, and shaking it up and making a joke of itself.

Any nod to classic movies?

This was inspired by Tootsie. That idea of dressing up as someone you’re not. I’m also studying films from the 40s and 50s—going back to see how romantic comedies started and what they became. It’s fun.

 

Women Who Kill next screens in New York, July 26–August 1 at IFC (wwkmovie.com).

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Holly Hunter

Holly Hunter
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Academy Award-winner Holly Hunter (The Piano) continues to hit it big. With a career spanning 35 years, she remains an electrifying force. In our sadly still-patriarchal society, it is impressive to see any actress past 40 still landing the high-quality and sought-after parts. At 59, Hunter is holding her own in an industry that hands over longer shelf-life to male counterparts.

Written for Honeysuckle Magazine’s “HERS” issue

Hunter’s voice still has that sweet-Georgia-peach twang, even though she has long been a New York City resident. But her Big Apple attitude gets her to where she’s going.

It was a thrill to meet her recently at Manhattan’s Four Seasons hotel. She was there to talk about The Big Sick, the runaway hit she has a starring role in. The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20 to glowing reviews. It was picked up by Amazon Studios and Lionsgate and given a limited release on June 23. The critics are still raving. It opens nationwide on July 14.

Hunter plays Beth, a wife and mother, married to Terry (Ray Romano). Early in the film—not a spoiler, it’s in the trailer—the panicked couple rushes to the emergency room where doctors need to put their daughter Emily (Zoe Kazan) into a medically induced coma to save her life.

Labeling The Big Sick as a romcom is a tad misleading—not because it isn’t funny. It is. And the plot is about a romance, but, if we were gazing at a dating site, the box checked would be: “It’s complicated.” The story is based on the odd, real-life love affair between Pakistani-American comedian Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) and his now-wife, Emily V. Gordon, a former therapist. The couple co-wrote the script but went through many rewrites. It was really a group effort and took three long years until it was ready.

SEE ALSO: ‘The Big Sick’ NOT Just Another Ho Hum RomCom

The Big Sick

 

Just before speaking with Hunter, I had a private chat with The Big Sick’s handsome co-producer, Barry Mendel (Trainwreck, Munich, The Sixth Sense). I asked him what it was like working with Hunter.

“Uh, a little bit scary,” he said. I laughed and asked why. “Because she’s kind of like a very, very good bullshit detector. You really have to be on your game and ready to answer questions like ‘Why are we doing it this way?’ Or ‘Why is the story done that way?’ You have to get up to her level and when you do, it’s exhilarating!” He smiled, and then whispered, “But, it’s a scary proposition.” To clarify, I asked if he meant that she’d made suggested changes to the script. He nodded his head emphatically. “Yes,” he said. “A lot of suggestions. Many things in the movie came from her own experiences. She contributed a lot of herself to the movie.”

Hunter expressed a lot of respect for the producers, her co-stars, and especially for Gordon and Nanjiani. “It was interesting,” she said, “It’s a testament to the kind of overarching confidence that just manifests its way through the whole movie.” She explained that it began with the co-producers Mendel and Judd Apatow. Then she praised Nanjiani and Emily: “They did this, Kumail and Emily. I mean they walked through fire in some ways to put this down on paper. I would imagine it couldn’t have been an easy thing to accomplish. Then we come along and we’ve got all these ideas, you know, Barry and Judd, Zoe and Ray and I, had tons of ideas….Then there was this kind of open-armed process of accepting all those ideas. Seeing if they might fly.” She described an intense rehearsal period discussing ways to rework the script to make the scenes even richer.

“That’s not always received as openly as it was with this project,” Hunter said. “There was just this whole other act where it was like,” Throwing her arms up she said, “It was like ‘Come on, you guys, what’ve you got?’” Then she compared it to theater: “Like in a play, and working it into shape to fit it on stage.”

She described that what she loves is “to make a movie feel lived in, which I think is a very hard thing to do. With a lot of movies, you watch them and it’s pretty easy to feel like they’re fake. I think the things that we strived to do, and that because the acting was so good, we were able to [make it] feel lived in and real—like the wheels.”

You gotta just love the way this woman expresses herself.

The true story behind The Big Sick is when Nanjiani met Gordon ten years ago. He was a fledgling stand-up comic and she heckled him from the audience. They ended up spending the night together, intending it only as a one-night-stand. Complications ensued, however, when accidentally they fell in love. Nanjiani’s traditional Muslim parents wanted him to marry a Pakistani woman and being too chicken to oppose them, he broke up with Emily.

The high drama kicks in when Nanjiani finds out Emily is in the ER and realizes how strong his feelings for her really are and he rushes to be by her side. It is in the hospital’s waiting area where he awkwardly meets Emily’s folks for the first time.

Hunter is getting tons of awards buzz for her exquisite portrayal of an incredibly pissed-off mama bear. Beth can’t stand even looking at Nanjiani because she and her daughter are close and Emily had confided in her. Knowing that her daughter had been dumped in such an abrupt and cowardly way, makes Beth despise him. That scene comes across very realistically—if I had been Emily, my own mother’s loyalty would’ve made her behave in much the same way! I am not usually a big fan of romantic comedies; I’m drawn to darker fare like twisted psychological thrillers. But this is not a typical story, the acting is stellar and it is a very satisfying film.

Hunter and I also spoke about her upcoming HBO series with Alan Ball (Six Feet Under). “It’s called Here, Now,” she said. “I’ve done one episode so far.” She plays the lead, Audrey Black, who was a therapist before switching gears and joining the corporate world to make more money. Her husband Greg, played by Tim Robbins, is a philosophy professor who is questioning his life and purpose, sliding into depression. It’s a much-anticipated 10-episode series that revolves around this middle-aged couple who adopted children from Colombia, Somalia and Vietnam, then have their fourth kid while they’re in their forties. Audrey’s marriage is straining at the seams and one of their kids, begins seeing things that may—or may not—really be there.

She also spoke about her movie Strange Weather, which premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. Hunter had nothing but great things to say about writer-director Katherine Dieckmann.

The indie is a portrait of Darcy Baylor (Hunter), who is forced to deal with her son’s death many years after he had committed suicide. Hunter told Deadline Hollywood that her character, Darcy, “really uses revenge as the gasoline that she puts in her car to drive it.” Despite the heavy subject matter, Hunter has once again found a film with a lot of humor in what she referred to as “very unexpected places.”

For anyone not familiar with Hunter’s background, her career has had an amazing trajectory since she began in the early 80s. Her first big hit was 1987’s Raising Arizona. She played an ex-cop named Ed, who was the love interest of Nicolas Cage’s character, an ex-con. When the two find out they’re not able to conceive a child, they steal a baby. The quirky comedy is the brilliant brainchild of the fabulous Coen brothers—hence, it is hilarious.

Holly Hunter
Holly Hunter stars as Beth in The Big Sick. Photo: Nicole Rivelli

Also in 1987, Hunter had another huge hit with Broadcast News, another romantic comedy drama co-starring William Hurt and Albert Brooks. Hunter’s big Oscar win came in 1993 for The Piano when she played Ana, a mute woman in a steamy drama about love, music, and an arranged marriage. It is worth mentioning the other Academy Awards the film raked in: Anna Paquin won Best Supporting Actress as Ada’s daughter. The 11-year-old Paquin had beat out 5000 candidates and it was her first acting role. If you’ve never seen Paquin’s acceptance speech, check it out. It’s precious). The Piano also won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and writer-director Jane Campion became the first woman to ever win the Palme d’Or, the highest prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

So, yeah, for being strong, sassy, and awesome, we knew Holly Hunter had to be included in Honeysuckle’s “HER” issue.

The Big Sick is now playing in theaters nationwide. Comedy, Romance, Drama. Rated R. 119 min.

Strange Weather opens in theaters, VOD and digital platforms on July 28. Drama. Rated R. 92 min.

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Egg

NEW YORK, NY – July 17, 2017 – Indie film production company OVER. EASY. LLC announced today that Alysia Reiner (Orange Is the New Black), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), and Anna Camp (True Blood, Pitch Perfect) will star in Egg, an unflinching comedy about why we choose motherhood, why we revere it, fear it, or delegate it, and why some of us choose to forgo it.  David Alan Basche (Equity) and Gbenga Akinnagbe (The Deuce) will also star.  Written by Risa Mickenberg, author of the twenty-year best-seller Taxi Driver Wisdom, the dark comedy will be directed by Oscar short listed, Emmy Award nominated filmmaker Marianna Palka (GLOWBitch, Good Dick). The film will be produced by Reiner, Basche, and Michele Ganeless, former President of Comedy Central. Egg will shoot in New York later this summer.

“We are thrilled to throw another stone at the glass ceiling of Hollywood, by hiring more women than men, while telling this darkly comic stereotype-breaking story about parenthood,” said Reiner.

(Christina Hendricks, Photo by Tony Duran)

When fearless conceptual artist Tina (Reiner) and her passive-aggressive feminist husband (Akinnagbe) invite her eight-month pregnant art school rival (Hendricks) and power-hungry, new money husband Don (Basche) to their loft in the Bronx for dinner, they surprise them with Tina’s new work-in-progress: a radical alternative to motherhood. But when Tina and Wayne’s, non-traditional surrogate Kiki (Camp) arrives in short shorts, the truth outs, and the patriarchy fights to hang on to its teeth.

Marianna Palka is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, actress and four time Sundance Film Festival alumnae.  Her directorial debut, Good Dick, which she wrote and starred in with Jason Ritter, premiered in dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival. Palka is represented by United Agents UK.

(Alysia Reiner, Photo by Tito Trueba)

Alysia Reiner is an award-winning actress who moved into producing with last summer’s hit film Equity, in which she also starred.  The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2016 and was quickly snapped up by Sony Pictures Classics.  In front of the camera, she won a SAG award playing “Fig” as part of the cast of Orange is the New Black, is in all 5 seasons, and also plays “Sunny” in Better Things on FX.  She also just starred in Broad City, Odd Mom Out, and Younger. Reiner is represented by Abrams Artists Agency and Affirmative Entertainment.

Award winning, and six time Emmy Award nominated actress Christina Hendricks is best known for Mad Men and recently starred in The Neon Demon. She was just announced as a lead in the new NBC series Good Girls.  Upcoming films include Candy Jar, for Netflix, with Helen Hunt, Crooked House, based on the Agatha Christie novel, opposite Glenn Close, and The Burning Woman opposite Sienna Miller, directed by Jake Scott and produced by Ridley Scott . Hendricks is represented by ICM Partners and LINK Entertainment.

(Anna Camp, Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

Camp is one of the industry’s most exciting, scene-stealing talents on stage and screen. She can next be seen starring in the third installment of Universal’s hit film series “Pitch Perfect,” which releases December 22, 2017.  She’s also had memorable performances in Woody Allen’s film “Cafe Society,” as well as in the Academy Award-nominated film “The Help.”  On television, Camp recently starred in Amazon’s critically acclaimed 1970s newsroom drama, “Good Girls Revolt.”  She also received rave reviews for her work in the recurring role of “Deirdre Robespierre” on Netflix’s hit comedy “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” created and produced by Tina Fey, and is widely known for playing the vampire-hating role of “Sarah Newlin” on HBO’s “True Blood,” for which she earned a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.”  Camp is represented by UTA, Authentic Talent and Literary Management and Schreck, Rose Dapello, Adams, Berlin & Dunham.

Michele Ganeless was most recently President of Comedy Central.  Under her leadership, zeitgeist-shifting shows including Broad City, Inside Amy Schumer, Key & Peele and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart fueled the growth of Comedy Central to the number one brand in comedy across all platforms.  Ganeless left Comedy Central to concentrate on creating content for, by and about women.

Actor, director, producer David Alan Basche has worked across all platforms, from leads in series like The ExesLipstick Jungle and The Starter Wife, to feature films including Equity, The Adjustment Bureau, United 93 and the upcoming Sidney Hall. Basche is represented by Abrams Artists Agency and Industry Entertainment.

Gbenga Akinnagbe will be seen this fall in the series The Deuce with James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal and recently wrapped the Kathryn Bigelow film Detroit.  He is represented by APA and Zero Gravity Management.

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Written for Sniff & Barkens

Empty the Shelters (ETS) recently had its fifth pet adoption event in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A whopping 2,631 pets were rescued! That number includes adoptions that took place in the week leading up to the event plus one glorious day when 1571 pets were adopted—726 dogs, 827 cats, and 18 other animals.

ETS is the loving brainchild of the BISSELL Pet Foundation (BPF) founder, Cathy Bissell. She is a former journalist turned philanthropist and part of the 140-year-old company, BISSELL Homecare, Inc. BPF also raises money for shelters throughout the U.S. Cathy told us her inspiration for starting the foundation.

puppy

“I’d been working on fundraising for the local Humane Society,” she said. “A Black Lab was brought over to me. He was this gorgeous, regal six-year-old, beautiful beyond belief. His family had given him up because they wanted a puppy instead. I was so mad. I mean, who does that?!”

Thanks to this one big-hearted woman, we have sweet stories to share. One family with a handicapped daughter and three sons adopted a Pitbull at last year’s ETS. This year, they returned to adopt another Pitbull so he’d have a companion. The two dogs became fast friends, and the family is thrilled.

Another success tale is about a boy, an only child, who came before the big adoption day. He met a Black Labrador that won his heart. Cathy said, “His mother drove him two-and-a-half hours so they could be the first in line. That’s how badly this boy wanted that Lab.” Since then, Cathy heard from his Mom who said the two immediately became best friends.

Eastwood, named after the actor, is a Golden Retriever who was born with a deformed leg. It would’ve cost thousands of dollars to fix. “This sweet abandoned dog, found as a stray, was the last dog left in the shelter,” Cathy said. “He was adopted by a fantastic family that has six cats and another dog—all rescues and the father happens to be the head coach of the Detroit Pistons basketball team. So, I like to say that rescue was a slam-dunk.”

Read more

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The Big Sick

Call it a romcom or a dramedy but I confess, what really drew me to this movie was hearing that Holly Hunter and Ray Romano were in it. I had a vague notion of what to expect from the star—comedian Kumail Nanjiani—based on his role in HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” So, I knew what he looked like and that he was funny, but could he carry a whole movie?

The answer is a big resounding YES.

The Big Sick is based on Nanjiani’s true story of his rocky romance that led to marriage. He co-wrote the script with his now-wife, Emily V. Gordon, who is played by the talented actor-playwright-screenwriter, Zoe Kazan. The co-producers are big names: Judd Apatow and two-time Academy Award-nominated Barry Mendel. Hunter shines as Emily’s mother, Beth, and Romano shows his acting chops as her father, Terry.

Technically, this film falls into the genre of romantic comedy but that label seems limited here. So many rom-coms bore us to tears with formulaic ho-hum-ness. This flick is not one of those. There are tears but they’re for the right reasons. It is a dramatic tale that explores everything from the ignorance behind the ridiculous fear of Muslims to being too chicken to stand up to family pressure.

Kumail Nanjiani
Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon • © Dorri Olds.

Kumail and Emily lived through a strange route to romance. It began with what was intended as a one-night stand. Without meaning to, they fall for each other. Life throws in big obstacles, which creates the high drama and deliciously dark humor.

SEE ALSO: Hats Off to Holly Hunter as She Continues to Blow Us Away with Her Career Choices

The movie begins with Pakistan-born Kumail struggling as a stand-up comedian who is playfully heckled by audience member Emily. The two hook up after the show and end up in bed. Kumail and Emily experience strong feelings for each other but Kumail’s Muslim parents have even stronger feelings about who he should—and shouldn’t—marry. Every time he goes for a meal at his parents’ home, they try to fix him up with Muslim women. Watch for scene stealer Kuhoo Verma who plays Zubeida, one of the eligible Pakistani bachelorettes Kumail’s mom invited to dinner. 

Kumail Nanjiani
Comedian Kumail Nanjiani © Dorri Olds

When Emily suddenly falls ill with a mysterious sickness, Kumail realizes how much she matters to him. He rushes to the hospital where he awkwardly meets her parents for the first time during this medical crisis. For a third of the movie, Kazan’s character, Emily, is in a doctor-induced coma. In her absence, a fascinating and entertaining relationship is portrayed to perfection by Nanjiani, Hunter, and Romano.

Directed by Michael Showalter (“Hello My Name is Doris”) and also starring Anupam Kher, Shenaz Treasury, with David Alan Grier and Linda Edmond.

Look for my Holly Hunter feature article in Honeysuckle magazine’s issue, “HER.” In the meantime, here’s my short clip:

The Big Sick is now playing in theaters nationwide. Romance, Comedy, Drama. Rated R. 119 min.

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