Every so often, I hear a score that transports me to another time and place, a piece of music that stands out from all of the rest. The music written by Laurent Eyquem for Copperhead fits that description. When I was invited to a private screening of the film back in December, before the picture was locked, I spoke with director Ron Maxwell before the show, and told him something that I had to think about with much deliberation: this melancholy yet uplifting soundtrack may be better than the one for Gods and Generals…it may have even surpassed Gettysburg. Ron smiled and noted that he loved the job Laurent did, and was very happy with the finished product. We both agreed on something else, and that was how kind and down-to-earth this composer was. Sometimes musicians can be very high-strung, or almost detached, but Laurent is as good a person as he is a musician. When I introduced myself to him via email before asking for an interview, he told me that he had already known of my work, because he had been following my blog for months, and even linked some articles on his website. We then conducted the interview below, which took place this past spring, and followed that with a lengthy conversation about films and music, and also about Copperhead, as he was curious to know my thoughts since I had seen the film already. It was a very fun and interesting afternoon.
If you live in the New York/New Jersey area, chances are, you have already seen actor Bill Sorice and just don’t know it. That’s because he appeared in a New York Lottery commercial as “Lucky Two Fingers” (pictured in the above montage). Aside from commercials, though, Sorice has appeared in films and episodes of various television shows, but his most recent film-work is a dark comedy titled Matt’s Chance, which appears to be very intense and quirky, and stars Edward Furlong of American History X, as well as screen legends Margot Kidder and Lee Majors. This film will hopefully mark a new career era for Sorice, who has one of the lead roles. With his beard and manner taken into account, he reminds me of a young F. Murray Abraham, and the “gangster” style character he is playing as might event hit towards Abraham’s in Scarface. I had a chance to discuss this upcoming film with Bill, as well as his career, in our interview below:
Costume designers are extremely underrated members of any film production crew, because more often than not, we do not realize exactly how much work goes into fitting hundreds of cast-members, even though we find ourselves staring right at them on the screen. For a history-related film more than any other, it is of the utmost importance that the clothing the characters are wearing is correct, especially with a director at the helm who is known to go for an authenticity down to the buttons on a coat or shirt. While many of the background extras were members of the living history settlement where Copperhead was filmed, all of their clothing was not dated to the Civil War time period, as they portray 1800’s Canadian townspeople and farmers, not upstate New Yorkers from the 1860’s. Thus the tedious journey began, to not only design uniforms for the various soldiers who come in and out of the film (and whose uniforms are well-documented), but to come up with accurate renditions of the clothing “normal” people of the time would wear. The immense task of fitting the cast of Copperhead fell to Kate Rose, who has eighteen other titles of work to her name, spanning both film and television. Having seen the film already, I would like to comment that she did an outstanding job. It may be ironic, but sometimes it takes a person to not even notice the costumes to realize how great a job the designer did. What I mean is, because everything looked so real, both clothing and scenery wise, sometimes it is easy to forget we are watching a movie, and only when we step back do we say, “Wow”. Simple but elegant would be the proper way to describe her work. I had the chance to interview Kate by email. Our conversation is below:
The first actor I interviewed involved with Copperhead was Josh Cruddas, which happened right after filming began. We just went for the basics and he promised me another interview once filming ended, to give a better picture of his overall experience. Since I am lucky enough to have already seen the movie, I can say that Josh does a wonderful job in the role of Jimmy, who is kind of like the main character, Abner Beech’s, adopted son. Copperhead begins with Josh reciting the opening narration, setting the stage for the story to come—some of that narration can be heard in the voice-over on the trailer. As good of an actor as Josh is though, he is an even better person. We have remained in touch all this time, and I am proud to know such an aspiring young actor, who has such a bright future ahead of him. Though he has acted before, hopefully this will serve as his “big break”. At the end of our interview, Josh added, “All in all, playing Jimmy in Copperhead was a life-changing adventure for me, and I’ve made many new friends while creating a film that I believe will be something special. I need to thank Ron for giving me the chance to be in a picture like this, and I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received from everyone involved in the production and from folks back home and around the world. I feel very blessed.” Below is our full interview. Enjoy!
If there is a film that is going to be new and innovative regarding the Civil War or battle of Gettysburg, chances are its director is going to be Robert Child, the man behind Gettysburg: The Boys in Blue & Gray, Gettysburg: Three Days of Destiny, and the very popular Lincoln and Lee at Antietam: The Cost of Freedom. When I interviewed him two years ago, he hinted at what possibly might be coming for the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg, which he will be tasked with directing and producing the official commemorative film for, titled, Gettysburg: Final Measure of Devotion, which I guess you could say will act as the capstone to his unofficial Gettysburg documentary trilogy. The actual film itself is slated to be released on Remembrance Day in November, on Blu-Ray and DVD. There is also plans of a broadcast on PBS next year, in addition to it hitting local theaters in the fall.
For this next interview, I had the chance to talk to an actor named Michael Kennedy, who appeared in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln as the character of Hiram Price, a Republican congressman who he found out, through research, actually had a personal connection to his great-grandfather. Kennedy has also appeared in films such as Patch Adams, True Colors, and Evan Almighty, and has acted professionally since 1953, while “acting up” since 1943, as he said in his email. I think you will find that this is a very entertaining interview, as he elaborated on a lot of behind-the-scenes information, and what it was like to work with such a famous director. You can read about that, and much more, in our interview below, which was conducted by phone this morning:
As promised, I bring you an interview with a cast-member from Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, a man who I have chatted with once before, when I was in the middle of coverage of the Gods and Generals Extended Director’s Cut release back in July 2011, as he played Captain James B. Ricketts. The actor’s name is David Foster, who, once he landed a role in the highly anticipated film about Abraham Lincoln, promised he would allow me to interview him when the time was right. With major outlets like the Washington Post and others clamoring to talk to anyone involved with the film, David came to me first, and I thank him immensely for that. Aside from the two films mentioned, he is also going to appear in yet another Civil War related film, Killing Lincoln, a docudrama to appear on National Geographic next year, in the role of James Gifford.
In getting back to Lincoln, David had the opportunity to partake in two roles: one as a Radical Republican congressman, and much more importantly, the stand-in for Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. I have seen pictures of David dressed up as Honest Abe, and although we cannot yet post them, I must say that he looks outstanding in the role. So, without further adieu, I present my interview with David, conducted earlier today by email, shown below:
You just never know who may be reading through your blog, and in the past, we have had such a wide array of people become regular comment-posters here, one of which is Brad Clark, a Civil War buff from Iowa who decided to take his interest and enthusiasm to another level, by making a documentary film about the 150th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee. As Brad wanted me to point out, this is not a documentary about the battle itself, though there are plenty of details given early on, but rather the event that commemorated one of the war’s bloodiest battles. As for taking this program as an educational video, Brad notes, “This was not intended to be a History Channel episode presenting a detailed history lesson on the battle. They can do that better than I can.” Well, given the talent present in the making of this video, which will hopefully be the first of many presentations from his film company, Open Eyes Media, perhaps the ever-floundering channel he mentioned can’t. What we have here is a mammoth, two-disc feature running nearly three hours in length that perfectly captures the spirited essence of this reenactment and all those who took part. As someone who has been to many small reenactments, but only one big one (the 138th at Gettysburg), it was a pleasure to watch something so in-depth on something that was so grand of a scale. As was mentioned, there were more than 8,000 reenactors and 140 cannon present, the largest force assembled in Shiloh since the battle itself. More than 23,000 spectators also came by to watch the festivities during that overcast weekend in April.
When the producers of Copperhead signed Josh Cruddas, they probably did not realize they were getting someone with so many talents. A 21-year-old up-and-coming actor of many different mediums like theater, radio, television, and film, as well as writing music, the Canadian-born Cruddas now finds himself involved in the biggest project of his young career, fresh off a performance in the critically acclaimed Discovery Channel production Titanic: The Aftermath. For his latest venture, in Ron Maxwell’s Civil War epic, he plays the character of Jimmy, through which the story is told. I had the pleasure of speaking to Josh about his filming experiences so far, and he elaborated on his role, acting method, and much more in our interview below!
Most interviews are planned long in advance of when they are published, few are not. Normally, it’s the spontaneous ones that make for a more interesting back story, and this one here with Emmy-nominated actor Bill Oberst Jr. certainly fits the bill. A few days ago, I wrote an article giving my thoughts on when history gets turned into horror movies, given the highly anticipated Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and a newly released mock-up of that, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies. It just so happens that Bill, who played Lincoln in the latter, read my article and told me that he enjoyed it. He also agreed with my statement of, “If you are going to mess with history, do it in a light that cannot be taken seriously; do not mask it in the form of a documentary or feature film and insult our intelligence.” He also added that it is not often he gets to step out of character, because he is so associated with horror movies, given the amount of them he has appeared in. As for all his work, he has eclipsed 70 films in total, all in the last five years, including nearly 20 that are in pre- or post-production even as we speak. I figured that if Bill could come out of character for a comment, maybe he would be willing to do an interview, so I asked him and he agreed, all this happening in the space of about an hour, due to a break in his busy shooting schedule.