Friday, February 24, 2017

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All about last night's Oscar Wilde awards

Honorees included Zachary Quinto, Ruth Negga, Glen Hansard, and Caitriona Balfe.

Last night the most talented Irish actors and musicians in Hollywood dressed themselves to the nines and headed the most prestigious awards ceremony for Irish artists in Hollywood, the Oscar Wilde awards, hosted by JJ Abrams. This year's recipients of the awards included Oscar nominee Ruth Negga, Caitriona Balfe, Martin Short, Zachary Quinto, and Glen Hansard. The event included performances from Hansard, including a rendition of "This Land is Your Land," along with poet Stephen James Smith reading his poem, "My Ireland."

Abrams opened the ceremonies by paying tribute to his departed friend and former Oscar Wilde award winner Carrie Fisher. The rest of the night included memorable speeches about Irish identity and the inspiration each artist received from their ties to Ireland. With a star-studded cast of presenters, including Chris Pine, Catherine O’Hara, and Cameron Crowe, as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Amy Shiels, Diane Keaton, Jon Hamm, and Sarah Paulson, the event quickly became the party of the night. With a full Irish menu including fish and chips with a side of Guinness, the event was a perfect celebration of the creative collaboration

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Battlegrounds, Stagecraft and the Twittersphere: life according to Scott Kyle! An interview conducted by your Aussie Blogging Lass

Outlander Homepage Originals By Susie Brown

When Jamie and Claire Fraser left France behind them in season 2 and headed home to Scotland, Outlander fans were introduced to the character of Ross, one of the men of Lallybroch who had come to join the highland army. For the actor who portrayed Ross, it was the beginning of an amazing journey. Not even 12 months have passed since his character first appeared onscreen, yet Scott Kyle has now amassed over 100 thousand Twitter followers, earned a coveted blue tick and used his social media profile to benefit his beloved Regal Theatre. We first interviewed Scott during season 2 and he kindly agreed to this return interview, to update us on how his life has changed.

To say that 2016 was a big year would be somewhat of an understatement. 
“It's all a bit of a blur to be honest,” Scott said. “The support has poured in from all over the world and there are so many great things that have happened. If I had to pick a moment that really stood out, I loved seeing the children's faces at the theatre when they got to see their new mirrors for the first time.”

Many of the Outlander cast are on Twitter and Scott is no exception. But there is one big difference that sets Scott apart from the others - he follows everyone back. While this might be an easy feat for your average Twitter user, it’s a different matter when you have tens of thousands of followers! 

“Stephen Walters persuaded me to go on Twitter and he was my first follower, so obviously I followed him back,” Scott explained. “Then four people followed me so I followed them back..... and here we are and it's now 83,500 and counting.” (NB. Since conducting this interview, Scott’s following has surpassed 110,000 - and true to his word, he has followed them all in return.) “I try to get back to everyone who has taken the time to tweet or message me,” he added, “as the audience are the most important ingredient in the whole process of acting and storytelling, without them we are nothing.”

With such a following, it’s not surprising that a coveted blue tick now sits beside Scott’s name, but gaining it wasn’t exactly an easy process. Rumour has it that legendary actor William Shatner had a hand in its appearance, something that Scott didn’t exactly deny in his enigmatic answer to our question. 

“The blue tick? I have an angel amongst the stars to thank for that and it was a huge trek to get it!” he joked.

Whilst appearing on Outlander, Scott’s many fans started a #saveRoss campaign and “We did not run” became a common phrase on social media. We wondered if Scott could give us any update on his involvement in future seasons.

“ I was only ever in season 2 for a few episodes and nothing beyond that was ever promised or expected,” he said, “so I think we have seen the last of wee Ross. But the fans have been great and I owe them so much. Collectively they have raised over £50,000 for the Bathgate Regal and that is mind blowing. Almost a third of the income is from SAVE ROSS or KYLANDER merchandise, so it's incredible to see that level of support for an extra with a few lines. The Outlander fans are now a part of the theatre’s history which stretches back almost 80 years.”

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, as Scott explained. 
“2016 was a really tough year for the theatre, as we had a lot of unplanned maintenance (the roof fell in for example) and we have been chasing our tail a bit. Looking ahead there is always uncertainty, because it's getting more and more expensive to run and grow the business while funding grants etc are being cut all over the arts. We look forward with hope and a belief that we can survive for another 80 years, but to do that, we need the support of the local community and our new international community too.”

This is where Outlander fans can help! 

“I'm trying to support the development of youngsters @BathgateRegal,” said Scott “and I’d love people to consider donating & supporting the work by going here:

And if you’d like to see the kids in action, check out the links below.

Scott Kyle working with the kids, full video

So what’s next for Scott Kyle in 2017?

“Throughout January, I was involved in a development workshop for a new play with the National Theatre of Scotland,” Scott said. “I'm also doing ‘BAB - The man who took too much’, an animated movie with Fraser Murdoch. There is always lots to look forward to.”

We’d like to thank Scott for taking the time to give us another interview and for the support he continues to give to his many fans. 

This interview was conducted by Susie Brown, a teacher-librarian and writer who lives in Australia. She feels that if there is any karma, Regal Theatre should go on for centuries and Ross should reappear on Fraser's Ridge in future seasons!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Interview Magazine catches up with Tobias Menzies

Interview Magazine 


For the full article


Tobias Menzies, it seems, knows how to pick a project. Over the last few years, the RADA-trained British actor has appeared in a string of mammouth television hits, playing Catyln Stark's hapless brother Edmure Tully in Game of Thrones, an evil MI6 suit in The Night Manager, a tactless OBY-GYN doctor in Catastrophe, and two distinct characters—a ruthless, 18th-century army captain nicknamed "Black Jack" and his rather more docile 20th-century descendent, Frank—in Starz's fantasy series Outlander, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination. Then there are his film roles in both festival-friendly indies (such as Una, which premiered at TIFF last September) and blockbusters, like the recently-released Underworld: Blood Wars, in which he plays stringy-haired Lycan villain Marius.

"Underworld is, obviously, a huge genre piece with a very particular kind of aesthetic," Menzies explains over the phone from London. "In a way, [it requires] a very type of performance to make that material work," he continues. "They can be complicated things to rattle with, because there's obviously so much story to link in with prior films, and the pressure of the genre and the audience."

Next up, Menzies will star in the series The Terror about a Royal Naval expedition to the Arctic alongside Ciarán Hinds and Jared Harris. "We did five weeks before Christmas and I'm about to go back," he tells us. "It's an amazing story. I'm really, really excited for what we're making."

EMMA BROWN: What did you want to be when you were five years old?

TOBIAS MENZIES: My great passion as a child was tennis. I spent most of my childhood playing competitive tennis—a lot of tournaments. That was what I was nuts about, what I used to dream about. The brutal truth was I probably wasn't quite good enough. It can be a tough profession. In my mid to late teens I got interested more in girls—puberty [laughs]—and then suddenly I wasn't playing so much.

BROWN: How did you end up at RADA?

MENZIES: Initially, I didn't specifically want to concentrate on acting. When I left school, I was really interested in theater-makers, companies like Complicite and Shared Experience who were devising their own work. That's what I was very excited about. I was also watching a lot of dance-theater and contemporary dance. I tried to go to the Lecoq school in Paris, which is where a lot of the Complicite lot went, but I couldn't get the money together for that. What I could get a grant for was drama schools in England, and so I thought, "Maybe I'll start with that." When I got to RADA, I was surrounded by a lot of people who had wanted to be actors since they were yay high and by the time I left, I'd really caught the bug for acting, the bug for straight performance. I didn't come out and make my own company, which was what I had planned to do when I was younger. The training was very orientated towards theater, so I think I naturally assumed that I would do more theater, especially early on.

Interestingly, my first job out was a screen job on long-running medical drama here called Casualty. I got a semi-regular part, so it was a great emergency training in screen [work]. It meant that I could immerse myself in that medium and get a lot of exposure to being in front of a camera.

BROWN: Of your recent characters, is there any one character that feels closer to who you are as an individual than the rest?

MENZIES: I don't quite know how to answer that question. The type of acting that I'm interested in, that I aspire to, is where I try and drag a lot of myself into whatever character it is. They can be very different types of characters, [but] at the heart of it, I always wanted to be a very, very believable and rooted in reality. One of the ways of doing that is to root it as much as you can in your own experiences and then tint those with different hues, different colors to give the different characters their way. The real thread through it is trying to drag as much of myself into these things. If you are playing a very dark character, that can humanize them and make them relatable, which is an interesting thing to do to with a character who is on the surface highly immoral and reprehensible. It makes it harder for the audience to discount them—they have to engage with them more. Then maybe doing the opposite with more seemingly likeable or honorable characters, making them a bit more complicated. I think the example of Outlander is an interesting one, because I was asked to play two different characters. On the face of it, Frank, I would say, is much closer to who I am as a person, and Jack is a stretch, but in both cases I'm hopefully cross-fertilizing those two to make them more interesting, more rounded portrayals.

BROWN: Have you ever been turned off by that—thought about playing a character, but felt that you didn't want to tap into the side of yourself?

MENZIES: No. I really enjoy the darker side of things. It's the type of work that I like to watch. I know some actors do—[they feel] fearful of how they'll be viewed. But invariably, I find dark material can be very, very rewarding to inhabit and investigate. That's never really been a concern of mine.

BROWN: When you are playing a more supporting role, how far beyond the script do you go in terms of finding common ground with the character? Do you create an entire backstory?

MENZIES: It really varies. If you have the luxury of a longer lead-time, then you have more of that background work. It can be some of the hardest work you do, actually, just going in for just a matter of days or a day on a project. It's hard to get your feet under the table and get the tone of the piece and what everyone's trying to do. I remember going in and doing just one day on the film Atonement. It was the scene with James McAvoy where he meets my character on the Normandy beaches—just one scene, and probably a page and a half. I arrived to be told that that page and a half was at the beginning of the three-minute, single-track single shot, which would take in the whole beach and 2,000 extras. It was a huge crane shot beginning with this dialogue between James and I. [I'd] only just met everyone, so you have to be so fleet of foot. It was a big thing to go into. You really earn your money on those days.

Time is the most precious commodity during filming and everyone's kind of fighting for it. Someone famously said, "You get paid to wait and the acting is free," and you have these intense bursts of concentration where you have usually just a few handfuls of takes to get what you need. With a lot of TV, that can result in actors having to arrive already having planned what they are going to do, and the possible danger of that is it's a bit pre-packed. One of the great luxuries when you have a bit of time is that you can give yourself a few different routes through a scene and that gives more options in the edit. You hear tales of actors like De Niro getting 50 takes—I've never come even close to that, so I look forward to that day. [laughs] Maybe I'd be freaked out.

BROWN: You just need to work on a David Fincher movie.

MENZIES: I would be profoundly fascinated to know what that would do—I suspect you would probably stop acting so much, because you would become tired and maybe bored, and you'd go through various different stages. Then maybe something more intuitive and unconscious would start to kick in. Did you see Blue is the Warmest Color? It's a remarkable film, and [the director] just completely wore those actors down by doing so many takes. They would go through various stages of frustration and boredom and fury, and eventually their minds would be off of their performance and something alchemical would occur.

BROWN: As an actor, would you find it worth all that?

MENZIES: Yes. In that you get these remarkable performances from them, and it is because it seems remarkably raw and there seems no artifice about it. So whatever was going on, it did pay creative dividends. That would definitely be something I would be fascinated to know—I'm always wanting to get beyond one's own tricks and surprise myself.

BROWN: Have you ever had to really fight for a role?

MENZIES: I feel like I should have one of those "I wrote a letter and delivered it to their door" kind of stories, [but] all the times I have done that, they have bore no fruit whatsoever. [laughs] All the work I've got is through a pretty standard route. I remember as a very young actor doing a play at the Almeida, a Chekhov play, and I heard in the dressing room that the late, great Robert Altman had seen the play that I performed. Someone said that he was staying in a hotel in Knightsbridge, and so I wrote a letter, put my CV and my photo in it, and went on foot and delivered it to his hotel. I don't know whether he ever read it.