The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017): Having a Christmas Bawl

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Adopted from the Les Stanford book; the screenplay by Susan Coyne, The Man Who Invented Christmas is Bharat Nalluri’s seasonal offering. This “bio-comedy/drama” elicits chuckles and a lot of tears in this telling of how Charles Dickens creates one of the most popular Christmas tales ever. Only the most cold hearted “Scrooge” of a viewer will not “bawl” his or her eyes out at the film’s story.

Dan Stevens is Dickens, Christoper Plummer is Scrooge, Jonathan Pryce is the feckless father that Charles Dickens loves to hate and newcomer Anna Murphy is Tara; the Irish maid who becomes, to a degree, Dickens’ muse. The cast is full of splendid English character actors who are all familiar faces to those across the pond and each helps to bring this tale to brilliant life.

In The Man Who Invented Christmas the once celebrated author has had three flops in a row and he is suffering writer’s block. A chance incident provides inspiration and while his erstwhile agent and friend  (played by the brilliant John Edwards) supports the increasingly desperate writer.

There are elements of melodrama in this Christmas tale about the miser who changes his ways after being visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve. Nalluri gives us a Dickens with a bootblack background who interacts with the character’s of his books as he works toward a satisfactory ending.

The sets, the costumes and the actors all go toward recreating London in the early 1840s. Dickens is a tortured soul with more than enough “Scrooge” in his soul to upset everyone who loves him. His wife suffers his mood swings and foul temper as best she can and Charles’ father tries too hard to atone for his past sins.

Despite the drama, there are many amusing elements to the film and with the cream of English filmdom applying their trade almost effortlessly, there is no doubt that this new “take” on “A Christmas Carol” will also become a classic. All the performers work seamlessly  making  their characters fit together  perfectly.

Personal favorite Simon Callow  plays Leech, the illustrator with his usual flair and the delightful Miriam Margolyes, as well as Morfydd Clark and Ger Ryan, prove that the ladies in this cast are no shirkers in the acting department either.

The Man Who Invented Christmas contains enough glimpses, and nods and winks, to the tale that has been made into plays, films and television adaptations,  that fans of the story will be moved to tears repeatedly. This drama/comedy with its biographical overtones may be an imaginative and somewhat fanciful look at how Dickens created Scrooge and, indeed, all his characters but it works beautifully.

Having seen the late Albert Newly bring Scrooge to life in 1994 on a London stage and turn in a performance that was, in a word, brilliant, it was just as impressive to see what Plummer does with this famous character. The Canadian octogenarian makes the miser his own and bestows a sly wit upon this curmudgeonly workhouse fan.

The Man Who Invented Christmas is a tearful 5 star effort. If watched in the cinema, the viewer should brings copious amounts of tissues and prepare to be embarrassed by all the fluid streaming down their face.

This one is a winner.

Debbie Reynolds Dead at 84: A Life Well Lived

A young Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds an Oscar nominated star of the ’50’s and 60’s has died one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died from a heart attack aged 60. Todd Fisher informed the press after Ms. Reynolds was admitted to hospital earlier on Wednesday, 28 December with breathing problems.

Reynolds, who started off her career as a major film star by impersonating  Betty Hutton, became America’s sweetheart after playing roles like Tammy, in Tammy and the Bachelor (which spawned a million selling single for Debbie Reynolds; “Tammy’s in Love”).

It was after appearing in the  1952 Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor film Singin’ in the Rain that Reynolds’ career really took off. She went on to make a number of hit films, including  The Unsinkable Molly Brown  before she turned to television.

Ms. Reynolds did not completely leave the cinema however. She voiced the spider in Charlotte’s Web in 1973. She worked steadily in television and did more voice-over work including the popular animated kid’s show, The Rugrats. (She voiced Lulu Pickles.)

Mary Frances Reynolds was born on April Fools Day in El Paso Texas in 1932. Throughout her long life and career, she married three times, one husband; her third,  squandered her money away and left her $3 million in debt. A massive amount that she paid off by performing at Las Vegas and Reno Nevada.

Debbie was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Molly Brown in the 1964 film “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” At the end of her career, she accrued 17 awards and a further 36 nominations. One of the awards received was the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in  2016.

Reynolds’ first husband, Eddie Fisher; father to Carrie and Todd, left her for Elizabeth Taylor in 1958 in a move that shocked the world. Carrie Fisher a product of that union died on 27 December age 60 after a heart attack.

Social media, already reeling from the death of an icon, is now trending on Twitter with #RIP Debbie and Carrie. The world has lost a legend and her iconic daughter. Both women who lived life to the fullest and were, in their own way, bigger than life itself.

Ironically, it was on a Debbie Reynolds TV movie that Carrie got her start in the business; Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children.  Both women were strong, witty and not backward in coming forward. The two shared a sometimes tempestuous relationship which Carrie wrote about in her semi-autobiographical novel Postcards From the Edge.

Todd Fisher, Debbie’s son, reported his mother’s death on Wednesday, 28 December.  Ms. Reynolds had been rushed to the hospital earlier in the day for breathing problems and suspected stroke.

Mr. Fisher said, in a statement, that his mother wanted to be with Carrie. Ms Reynolds is survived by her granddaughter Billie Lourd and her son Todd, a TV commercial director.

Debbie Reynolds has died suddenly after leading a life “well lived.” She will be remembered for a long and varied career that, like the Unsinkable Molly Brown, could not be held back or down. She was also known to a legion of “Star Wars” fans as Carrie Fisher‘s mother.

Carrie Fisher Dead at 60 – A Life in the Limelight

Shot from Star Wars

The news of Carrie Fisher’s death aged 60 came as no surprise to many. When the public learned that the Star Wars star suffered a heart attack mid flight from London, Heathrow on 23 December this year, social media blew up with well-wishes and many telling 2016 to leave their Princess Leia alone.

2016 has been a bitter year for fans of David Bowie, George Michael, Mohammad Ali, Prince and John Glenn to name but a few of the celebrities, famous and infamous who left this realm for another.  Now Carrie Fisher has joined their ranks amid the cries of pain from her legion of fans.

Carrie Frances Fisher was born into the limelight. Her mother, Debbie Reynolds was a star as well as a household name and her father was Eddie Fisher, the man who spent so much time helping Elizabeth Taylor when her husband died that he left his baby and wife for “Liz.”

With such beginnings it was, perhaps, written in the stars that baby Carrie, who entered this world on 21 October 1956, would have an interesting life. The young Fisher started working in the world of celluloid in 1969, ironically in a Debbie Reynold’s made for TV film – Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children.

Next up was the iconic Warren Beatty film Shampoo. A film role that was quickly overshadowed by “a little science fiction movie that should be fun” Star Wars: Episode IV – A New HopeThe rest, as they say, is history.

Those horrific double hair buns of Princess Leia did little to hide Fisher’s beauty or her acting skills and millions of young men and women fell in love with the character and in turn with Carrie.

Life was a constant struggle to control the drugs, her bi-polar disorder and the fame. It was as though her father’s departure all those years ago put a curse on Fisher. The star wrote a number of fictional books but it was not until she performed the cathartic act of writing her memoirs that Carrie became an author of note.

Postcards From the Edge  was her first autobiographical novel, turned into a film with Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine in the leads, and it took some of the varnish off the image of Debbie Reynolds. Despite this rather unflattering portrayal of her mother, Reynolds and Fisher got on quite amiably.

In terms of roles other than those for the Star Wars franchise, Fisher seemed to pick parts that poked fun at her heroic image, or at least fell far from the role that made her a household name.

In the 2009 horror film Sorority Row, for instance, she played a rough talking, shotgun wielding sorority house mother. Wes Craven cast Carrie in Scream 3. She was a “Carrie Fisher” lookalike who managed the publicity vaults of a fictional film studio. The gag was that her career was ruined by the “one who slept with George Lucas.”

Away from the film screen, Carrie Fisher was an outspoken woman who took no prisoners. When there were complaints that Princess Leia had not aged as some of her fans thought she should have, Fisher set them straight on social media.

“Deal with it” was Fisher’s message and she meant it.  Now this strong woman who fought battles with her weight, mental illness, those drugs and, above all else, that famous upbringing, is gone.

Carrie died Dec. 27 in hospital with her daughter Billie Lourd attending. Lourd informed People magazine after it happened. Carrie Frances Fisher was 60 years old and an icon.

Alive she was a inspiration to generations of young women. She was also a pinup to a host of youngsters who thought her wardrobe in the 1983 sequel Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi was the epitome of sexy.

Throughout her career she had 90 credits under her belt with roles so diverse it amazes. From playing a nun in The Blues Brothers to playing herself onThe Big Bang Theory, Carrie had range for days.

Actress, author, script doctor, mother and daughter, Carrie Fisher will be missed by some and her death mourned by all.  May a host of prayers be heard by her friends and family.

Carrie Fisher
RIP Carrie Frances Fisher

 

Casey Killoran Talks Viral Beauty (Interview) [Update]

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[Update] Casey has informed us that the film is premiering at the Frozen Film Festival, 1 – 4 February, 2017. Viral Beauty set to be screened on Friday, Feb. 3 @ 9pm- Weyerhaeuser Auditorium.

On December 20, the star of Viral Beauty; Casey Killoran took time out of her busy day to have a chat with Mike’s Film Talk about the film.  We talked about altering your appearance for a role  and the challenges of wearing two hats on a project; executive producer and actor.

Virtual Beauty follows Marsha Day, an average young woman who advertises for a date on the Internet and ends up getting millions of subscribers. We are privy to her ups and downs as fame comes courting and we learn that there is a price to be paid regardless of where fame comes from.

Ms Killoran gave us some background on the film. It was written by her one time flatmate Elizabeth Lam, who is the sister of the film’s director David Tyson Lam.

The Interview:

Mike’s Film Talk: Hello Casey! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I’ve got to say that I loved the film, its message,and what you brought to the role.

Casey: Thank you.

Mike’s Film Talk:  No problem! Now right off the bat, I’ve got to ask you what, apart from aspect of producing and starring in the film,  drew you to the project?

Casey: I think that the message and the story of the film is something that is so current and so “right now.” We were working on it over two years ago and even then it was something that was just starting.  I hadn’t seen anything like that before. The emersion of the Internet and one person’s journey that was so personal. You get to really follow their journey and learn what happens to someone who stumbles onto fame versus actively searching for it.

We see what happens to them when they become famous and this is happening right now online. People promote themselves and do that sort of thing. Once they “hit” and their stuff goes viral, they are catapulted into this stardom and it is so different from what it used to be.

Mike’s Film Talk: Yes.

Casey: Stardom used to be a secondary thing. People who wanted to act or sing focused on their craft. They worked at being good at what they did. They practised to become proficient at their passion and the fame came later. Right now, fame has become warped.  Which is what drew me to the film.

Mike’s Film Talk: I think the film shows that brilliantly. The film really shows that this is the “era of the Kardashian.” No talent needed, we’ll just make you famous to sell all these products. (Casey laughing.)  So how did you prepare for the role of Marsha?

Casey: The film actually started life as a short. I started working on it three years ago and then the short was put on pause. I went away and started doing my own stuff. The writer then went away and was working on her own thing.

I actually lived with the writer for three months.  She got to see me and how I navigated being an actor and producer in New York City. She picked up a lot because, while she is a writer,  her expertise is in the tech field. She does tech security. She thought it was interesting seeing me navigate the entertainment industry and she (Elizabeth Lam) was inspired to “sort of” make Marsha based off me and my experiences.

I was much heavier then and when she left, I lost a bunch of weight. I lost a significant amount of weight and that was when we stepped away from the short. She then came back and was “I wrote this whole feature length film, do you want to do it?”

I read it and was, this is so good but I can’t play this role, I’m not overweight anymore! What am I going to do? So the director; David, approached me and asked, very kindly, “Would you gain weight?”

(Casey laughing.)

It was a real battle for me. I tried several approaches. “Can we re-write it? Can she have another problem besides the weight? Isn’t there something we can do?” And they were like, no. They did say that they were not asking me to gain all the weight back but, a significant amount had to be put back on.

The reason was they needed me to look overweight enough that people would notice. My character could not be “celebrity thin” she had to be a slightly overweight girl. Heavy enough that people would say, “Why the ‘F’ does she get to be so popular.”

So I said okay and gained so much weight in about two and a half months. I ate oreos and just really messed up my metabolism. My poor body was like, “What are you  doing to me?” I had lost all that weight and then put it back on and now I’ve lost it again…

Physically the transformation was a huge part of it.

Mike’s Film Talk: Yes.

Casey: It was also interesting that as I was physically changing myself…I gained over 30 pounds, I noticed that I was being treated differently when I got so heavy over such as short period of time. I took all the pent up hostility and animosity that I was getting and brought it to the role.

Mike’s Film Talk: I was going to ask about the weight thing and about how hard it was to do it. You seem to have worked out a system…

Casey: It was still a lot of work and a lot of focus. Then everyone steps away from the production when it finished filming. And I was like, “Oh great. I now have about four months to lose all that weight again!” (Laughing.) Now I have to go to the gym everyday…

Casey Killoran as Marsha Day

Mike’s Film Talk: Well you certainly couldn’t relax and take time off.

Casey: (Laughing) No I couldn’t.

Mike’s Film Talk: I was reading in the film’s notes that you ate real cat food…

Casey: Yes.

Mike’s Film Talk: Was that a last minute request by David or did he give you some time to work up to it.

Casey: It was always a kind of joke that was thrown around. And I was like David… The thing is, it was only in one scene. We never really sat down and discussed it but I was invested so I thought, “If I going to do it, I’m doing it.”

It really did help the scene though.

Mike’s Film Talk: I agree!

Casey: It’s become a talking point. People ask, “What was it like?” I always answer, “what do you think?” So it was funny.

Mike’s Film Talk: I found myself wondering what brand of catfood it was under the “fake” label. I decided it was “Fancy Feast.”

Casey: (Laughing) I’ve actually forgotten what brand it was. We picked it up from our corner bodega so I can’t tell you. I don’t really want to know. Going into the store and seeing the stuff and thinking “I ate that.” (Laughing)

Mike’s Film Talk: So…How was it? Was it really horrific or was it not that bad?

Casey: It was like, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. It wasn’t like I would eat it again. (Laughing) It wasn’t completley gross, it was more the thought of eating catfood that actually made me gag. It just tasted like a really bad pâté or something which I don’t like anyway. So it was so gross. I’ve always had a cat so…

Mike’s Film Talk: Yes I’m a cat person as well. Fun facts aside, how much of the film was actually scripted? Was there a certain amount of improvisation going on?

Casey: Well, we had a pretty full script when we started. I came to set, off-book, everything memorized and was ready to go verbatim, word-for-word, but as we went on, we noticed somethings just cropped up. For me though, I pretty much delivered everything that the writer had down for my character.

There were things that were added on as time went on. On the days when I was not working in front of the camera, I was producing and, I have to say, I never tried to blend the two functions. I was never both.

What happened was the writer wrote everything for the other characters but on the day, David was like, “Okay not do it this way, or that way.”  Which was good as you got to know the person almost automatically. They had a two second intro but you knew who they were immediately.

Mike’s Film Talk: I was also going to ask, I cannot find the original source, about filming the movie. I read somewhere that a variety of devices were used, like smartphones and laptops, to record the film.

Casey: It’s funny you should ask. We did do some practise runs where we recorded things with a laptop camera.  But in the real takes, everything we used was film with our very nice cameras. Each shot was “downgraded” so it looked like an iPhone or a webcam.

Mike’s Film Talk: Oh brilliant!

Casey: Yes our DP Edna Luise Biesold who did an amazing job. She would come in before the script was done and say, “Okay we need to study the lens of the phone and the laptop, what are the dimensions and dynamics, lighting (is it more green) and all that.

I have to thank her for getting everything so right. Everything was downgraded to make it look just right. She gave each shot a little bit less quality, after shooting  so well, to give us what we needed. She did a brilliant job making it all look so real.

Mike’s Film Talk: I agree. It all looked spot on. I remember the first scene where Perez Hilton shows up, his nose is red and he seemingly has no makeup on. It certainly felt like iPhone footage. The way the film ends…it seems to be hinting that there could be a part two?

Casey:  Yes, it kind of has, but we’re not sure if we want to venture down that road just yet. The open ended place where we leave the characters i open for discussion. I mean the director is still coming up with ideas! David will say we can have them do this…He has about a thousand more ideas, he still says, “Oh we can have them do this.”

The writer is already working on other projects. One of which is another feature length film. We are looking at our next feature, which has nothing to do with “Viral” but there is always the possibility of going back.

It would be a different scenario. In this film we did not have a “blockbuster” budget and if we came back, the world would be that bigger so maybe we could increase our budget to match that. Of course that would all depend on how well Viral Beauty is recieved, and it actually is being received very well…

We have discussed it but there is no script as yet.

Mike’s Film Talk: If people want to see the film where can they find news about where it may be premiering?

Casey: They can follow our Facebook page, we have an instagram account, a twitter account and we update the big news all the time.

Mike’s Film Talk:  I just wanted to ask you, looking at your credits, this looks like the first time you’ve been in the role of executive producer. How did you like it?

Casey: Well, I’ve executive produced before, for shorts, but this was my first feature length film and I loved it. It is a lot of hard work but it is such a different quantity of work. A short is roughly over a couple of months, here and there, while a feature is over two years. It is a big chunk of your time and it is constant until someone buys it.

I’m really glad I liked the story so much. I did learn very quickly never to try doing the producer’s job while I was acting and vice versa.  That was my number one rule and the other producers all agreed with it.

When we had business meeting it was the business side of things that were discussed and not the acting. I was part of a team and I really enjoyed the aspects of producing. I really like details and have no problem talking to people I don’t know.

David has other things that he does better than I do so I left those things to him.

Mike’s Film Talk: Looking at your other credits, you’ve got Gross People, a short, that is in post production. Have you got anything else coming up in the near future?

Casey: Hmm. In the near future. We have that, Gross People we are working on another project, minus Liz as an executive producer but we are adding on the DP on Viral Beauty and we are working on a new piece right now. We have been writing for close to three months now but it is still in “baby form” now.

Edna is taking a short sabbatical right now but the topics we’re turning to now are more about taboo subjects and bit more serious and darker.  But, we will still have comedy in there because the three of us will naturally err on the side of levity. Although we’re also very intense (Laughing) so we don’t mind taking really dark subjects and shining a light on them.

The Wrap Up:

The interview ended with a look at that “lighter note” and we asked Casey which comic scene was her favorite in the film.

She responded that it was not the cat food scene  and while she did like acting with her cat, her favorite bit was getting egg smashed in her face. Casey also like the “racist rant” which is, she says, so far from her. She also liked dancing with her cat.

We both agreed that not only was the Internet moving ahead at frantic speeds but that gaming and technology are also advancing at amazing rates. Virtual Reality was discussed and the idea that not only would robots become a daily thing but that the Star Trek Holo Deck was only one step away.

For those who have not seen the trailer, have a look now and see what we have been talking about.

Taylor Hickson Talks Aftermath, Ryan Reynolds and More (Interview)

 Aftermath - Season 1

Taylor Hickson is currently working on the apocalyptic SyFy thriller Aftermath. She plays Brianna, a headstrong teen that is struggling to survive the end of the world with her family. Taylor’s co-stars are Anne Heche, James Tupper, Levi Meaden and Julia Sarah Stone.

Taylor was born and raised in Kelowna, BC Canada. She started working age 12 traveling and singing with her father on stages across British Columbia. As time progressed, Taylor began writing her own songs and graduated from high school a year early to work on her music career.

She stumbled into acting when a relative talked her into auditioning for an agency at 16. Taylor started landing roles right off the bat; she worked opposite Anthony Hopkins, Ray Liotta and Julia Stiles in the psychological thriller “Blackway.”

Next Taylor landed the role of Meghan Orlovsky in the blockbuster film “Deadpool” where she worked opposite Ryan Reynolds. She then starred in the biopic film Hunting Pignut. The film is based on writer and director Martine Blue’s life and follows the life of Bernice (played by Taylor) a 15 year old runaway who is trying to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance.

Ms. Hickson stars in the indie thriller Residue (produced by Motorcycle Boy Productions and XLrator Media) which will hit cinema screens in early 2017. The film follows James Clayton’s character, P.I. Luke Harding. The private investigator reads a book with somewhat sinister overtones and inadvertently puts Luke and his daughter Angelina (Hickson) in danger. Angelina has to fight for their lives and souls.

Taylor also has roles in the MGM film “Everything, Everything” and “Incident in a Ghost Land” working with Mylene Farmer, Crystal Reed and Anastasia Phillips. The horror thriller was written and directed by French filmmaker Pascal Laugier.

In “Aftermath,” Taylor plays Brianna, the fiercely independent teen daughter of Karen (Heche) and Joshua (Tupper) who is initially separated from her family and struggles to meet back up with them in the new apocalyptic world.

Taylor spoke with Mike’s Film Talk on Friday 18 November.

Photos by Ryan Orange Photography

The Interview:

Michael: Hello Taylor! Thanks for speaking with Mike’s Film Talk today.

Taylor: (Laughing) Well thank you for speaking with Taylor Hickson today!

 Michael: (Laughing) Right since the feeling is mutual, we’ll get right down to it. So, how did you get cast as Brianna? Did “Deadpool” or “Hunting Pignut” play a part?

Taylor: Wow… That’s a good question. I don’t think either one played a part. “Aftermath” was a new audition and it was really a bit nerve wracking thing for me. They didn’t know who I was… I kind of came out of nowhere, I was really new and they were willing to work with me. They saw potential and that is something I’ll be forever grateful for.

 Michael: Well you do a brilliant job on the show, in my own humble opinion. I love the character and love the arc Brianna has gone through.   Oh. I’ve got to tell you, I was speaking to Levi yesterday and he says “hi” and can he have his Bowie shirt back please?

Taylor: (Laughing) That’s fantastic. Oh my gosh I love him so much. I really miss him and he really was my older brother and Julia really was my sister. We totally have a sibling dynamic on and off screen. It made everything so easy and smooth and it was awesome.

Michael: He said much the same; that you all got on really, really well, on and off camera. So what’s it like working on the show. It really is pretty grim subject matter, isn’t it?

 Taylor: Yes it is quite a grim subject matter…

Michael: Do you have any favorite scenes?

Taylor: Absolutely! Most of my favorite scenes are the sibling scenes. I think there’s one coming up in the very next episode. There is a scene between Dana and me and a lot of pent up stuff comes out on the table that really needed to be said and everybody gets called out. It was one of my favorite scenes to shoot because she did such an amazing job. Julia is so talented and she made me feel like I was in real fight with my sister. Everything was so real that it was unbelievable she is just amazing.

Michael: I have to agree. I like the “kids” on the show. I am a huge Anne Heche and James Tupper fan, but the thing that has really stood out in the show has been the kids.

Taylor: Really? That’s awesome.

 Michael: Who has been your favorite cast member?

Taylor: Ooh…As a person or as an actor?

Michael: Both please.

Taylor:   Wow. That’s really hard…Actually there are pieces of all of them that I would use to build a favorite character or cast member. They are all such a huge contrast to each other but I have to say that I’m kind of in love with all of them.

 Right off the bat, I knew I was walking onto a project with a lot of respected artists who had long resumes and a lot of experience. I knew I had a lot of work to do. I also had a lot of studying to do. So I started watching them and the way that they worked and the way that they felt and the way that they spoke and moved.

 I learned a lot just by studying them as people and studying them at work. Anne (Heche) I watched a lot. Mostly because I felt that my character takes a lot from her. So I was watching her for a character aspect because she is incredibly talented.

Michael: Yes.

Taylor: I learned a lot from her and she mentored me a lot through the show and I learned so much. She pushed me to get better and work harder and that was something beautiful. She is not soft about it. She is not like “Oh nice try sweetie. It’ll be better next time. She is blunt and to the point but  because of the industry I’ve learned not to let my feelings get hurt and I found it to be very helpful. I pushed myself and we would go out for dinners and stuff and she’d sit down and talk to me.

 The whole cast are all so beautiful and it would be impossible to pick out just one favorite.

 Michael: You all seem to have a brilliant rapport and there is a splendid bit of give and take on the show. The way the show is set up, your character seems to take after her mum and Dana (Julia) takes after her dad. It all works out really well. Now your character has gone through an awful lot…

Photos by Ryan Orange Photography

Taylor: (Laughing) That’s an understatement…

 Michael: Yes it is, very much so. So how do you prepare for the heavy-duty scenes? Say, for instance, Dylan’s death or the death of Aunt Sally?

Taylor: Wow. You don’t. You don’t prepare for that. How could you prepare for someone’s spontaneous death? I think that is the aspect that you have to walk in with. You have to walk in that day and think ‘this is going to be some heavy sh*t,’ and you never know how it’s going to play out or what the director is going to ask you to do.

 There have been countless times that I’ve walked in with an idea or an interpretation of how I think the scene, or the mood of the scene is going to be. And then quite often find  that the scene will be rewritten. If that happens we all sit in the tent before hand with the director and the writer. Then if we’re not agreeing on something it’s “Okay go.”

 Then we all just spin out ideas until we find something that matches and find something that works. There are other things too; there was something I saw Anne do as an actor. The way that she would break down scenes was just incredible. She would catch stuff that blew me away. I was like,” How did you see that?” It would be something that I just read right past and because she is so on the ball she gets it.

 Plus she’s a mother; her son would be there quite often and working with her husband… She has so much on her plate. She was flying out and taping other shows at the same time. And the way she managed to keep her head in the game was so inspiring.

 Michael: She is a true professional.

Taylor: For example, the Aunt Sally [death scene] Anne said come on guys we have way too many women crying over this. She said, “I’m not going to do it.” What I watched her do shocked me, maybe even confused me and at the end of it, I thought, ‘wow, that is freaking brilliant.’

 She just lay down beside Aunt Sally and just; she almost had no emotion… What it made me think of was my grandma who had been very, very sick with cancer. She suddenly went from having three months to live to three weeks. I couldn’t quite understand, or cope. I think everyone goes through that at one time in their life, and when you’re not prepared for someone’ death it is a shock to the system.

 I was out with friends at around three in the morning and we were around the corner from my house, and we were listening to music in my friend’s truck and laughing and my dad called me at three in the morning. And my parents are very caring, they care a lot, and they knew where I was, just around the corner, and my dad called; he was in the gas station right behind me. He told me, “Your Gran has died.”

 I had seen her just three hours before, stroking her hair and she was telling me that she was ready to go. Life is so funny that way… I had no emotion at all and I stepped out of the car and walked over to an empty parking lot and just started walking and walking. Then I started sprinting and then I just fell down and I cried like I’d never cried in my life.

 So when Anne did that with Aunt Sally, I thought, she gets it. Then when it came to the crying part, she left that to me; to cry over Devyn’s body. That was a very hard scene, crying over Devyn and I’ve heard from other people on other shows that when they find out another character is going to die they say, “I can’t do this. I’m going to leave the show, I can’t do this.”

 I understood then what they meant. It was very, very hard.

 Michael: Quite emotionally taxing I should imagine.

Taylor: Oh absolutely. It’s like this show I’m working on now, I’m constantly fighting for my life in this movie and I’m just drained. It makes “Aftermath” look like a fun game. And I’ve been exhausted on “Aftermath.” This industry really beats you up but it makes you proud of the result when you look back.

 Michael: Definitely. On a slightly lighter note… You’ve used a number of weapons in the show. Although not quite as many as Matt or your mum. Did you get any special training for all that?

Taylor: (Laughing) No. They told me when I first got cast, “Yeah we’ll send you to all these shooting arenas and you’ll get some practice. We’ll do training with all of you and we’ll get you shooting like a Marvel villain. I was like, “Wow that’s going to be awesome.” I was thinking of them like “real” guns and that somebody was going to get hurt.

But things started happening so fast that we wound up having one day that was kind of like rehearsals. They said, “Okay! You’re all family now. But I never really got to shoot “proper” guns.

 Nerf guns and water guns were as bad a** as Taylor gets. I’ve never been paintballing or anything like that. So when we started the show I didn’t know how to hold a gun; the props people had to show me how. They were like; think about it, Brianna wouldn’t know how to hold a gun.

 And if you watch the show from the beginning she is just holding the gun and her arm will go flying when she starts shooting. Since that isn’t working, in Brianna’s mind she’s thinking, ‘now what have I seen in movies.’

 So then her other hand will start holding her wrist so it’s like “almost.” She finally figures out your hand goes under your other hand. As the season progresses you watch Brianna build her skill and confidence with guns.

 Michael: It tracks very well. Stepping away from “Aftermath” for the moment; are you still filming on “Everything, Everything?”

Taylor: No I’m working on another show right now. I’ve finished on “Everything, Everything.”

 Michael: So what are you working on now?

 Taylor: I’m working on probably one of the scariest, most horrible scripts I’ve ever read… In like the best way

 Michael: It sounds interesting.

Taylor: It’s raw and terrifying and beautiful at the same time. I’m working with Pascal Laugier and he is the most visionary director. I’ve never met anyone with the eye that he has, and the patience he has. We’ll spend two days shooting one scene, so taxing is a great word to use. It is very physically, emotionally and imaginatively draining and demanding.

 I’m very proud to be working with such amazing people. It’s got Crystal Reed from Teen Wolf, Mylène Farmer who happens to be the Madonna of France. She is an incredible, beautiful and amazing lady and the project is called “Incident in a Ghost Land.”

 I can’t say too much about it but if you look it up on the Internet, it’s just been put up on IMDb.

 Michael: It hasn’t been put against your name yet. It still shows “Everything, Everything” as filming.

Taylor: Well I’ve definitely finished my work on that film. I shot my part in Vancouver and then the company went down to, I believe, Mexico. I’m now working on Ghost Land.

 Michael: You had the starring role in “Hunting Pignut,” when will that be hitting cinemas?

Taylor: I don’t know. That one is still running through the festival circuit. I haven’t even seen it, if you want to know. Over half of Canada’s seen it and I haven’t even seen it. I asked for a link and they said, “No we want you to see it at the Whistler Festival premiere. So I’m like “Okay. I’ll wait.”

 All I’ve seen so far has been on the monitors or when we did ADR, that’s the most I’ve seen. It should be interesting; I’m not sure whether they’re going for theatrical release. Maybe in a few select theatres; like maybe in my hometown or one in Vancouver or something… It’s very Canadian so it may only be released in Canadian theatres. I’m not sure what the distribution plan is.

 Michael: You’re very busy right now; on screen at any rate. You’ve got Residue coming out in 2017 and I’m guessing “Incident in a Ghost Land” will be coming out either late in 2017 or 2018. Of course the big question goes all the way back to Deadpool, the first thing I ever saw you in, if they find a new director, will you be coming back as your character Meghan Orlovsky? Have you heard?

Taylor: I haven’t heard anything so I’m not sure. I believe they might have a new director; I’m not sure, there are lots of rumors. I’ve heard a lot of Marvel conspirators say that the character is in the comics. They say “your character is Megan Gwynn, aka Pixie, so you’re a Marvel character.” And I’m like, “I don’t think so… They didn’t tell me that.” And they go no you’re a superhero.

 So all the forums are convinced that I’m going on but I haven’t heard anything. But it would be fun to have another tiny appearance with another cast of Deadpool.

 Michael: I’ve got to ask… What was it like, working with Ryan Reynolds?

Taylor: Oh it was amazing. You know I’d been on a few smaller sets before because I was originally focused on music and it was massive. I didn’t really know how badly I wanted to work as an actor until “Deadpool.” I had worked with Anthony Hopkins before in my first role and that was incredible but it was just… I’d never had a chance to talk on screen and I didn’t really understand and I was trying to find my footing I thought it might just be a fun thing I did on the side. That was the thing that changed my life.

 There are all these people running around you and they all have different tasks, and a routine and here was this awkward teenager who knew nothing about anything and the atmosphere was very anxious. It was everything that would turn me off of acting and yet it pulled me in.

Photos by Ryan Orange Photography

 We spent an entire night with a scene and it was very playful humorous. Ryan is very low key and nonchalant about the whole thing and I think that helped because he didn’t add to the anxiety so I just started speaking with him, he was a producer as well, and he was throwing out all these suggestions: “What if Meghan came up and hugged me and I was like, “Yeah that’s great.”

 I would start teasing him, “Aw, I have to hug you again.” We were doing “pick-ups” and I had to start by hugging him already and he would say, “Shhh. Listen to the sound of my heartbeat.” He was so weird and funny that it made everything loosen up. Later, as I was still awkwardly holding him he said “Shhh” and started patting my head.

 It all seemed totally weird and he says, “I never noticed those things told the time before.” He was talking about the things; I don’t even know what they’re called that’s how new I am to the business. I called it a clapper…

 Michael: Yes…

Taylor: That’s what I call it. And he was saying he never knew it told the time. He was saying he knew that it had times on it to sync the camera and the sound but never knew it told the time. And he says, “I’ve been doing this for how many years and never knew these things told the time.”

 So I was singing this song by Salt N Pepa, “Shoop” because the scene originally started with us all singing “Shoop” we were sitting there and like rapping the song at the start but they cut it out. It was taken out for pacing since they wanted everything to click along. A lot of lines were taken out to make it move faster.

 My two friends in the scene were also both cut out.

 So we had to sing the song again and again to get it exactly right, they were playing the real music for sound and then had to pick it up later, which is probably why they didn’t use it. I said to Ryan that this song is going to be stuck in my head for two months and he says, “This frickin movie is going to be stuck in my head for two years.”

 Michael: That’s funny. To wrap this all up, I know you have some favorite charities. Would you like to give them a shout-out?

 Taylor: Oh yes, thank you! Definitely IJM (International Justice Mission), they are incredible. They do a lot of things for young people in third world countries and they save a lot of children who are sold into slavery, and sex slavery, and they are absolutely incredible. I’ve been doing work on and off with them since I was 13. They are amazing.

 Another one would be Craig and his brother Marc who do We. [Free the Children] Have you ever heard of We Day?

Michael: No I’ve never heard of it.

Taylor: It is amazing Craig and Marc Kielburger, the charity’s founders, do all these things to help children and their families. I’ve donated and worked with them to fundraise for so many things. We got one village a school. I’ve done lots of work for them over the years.

 They do it all over the country, they’ve been held in Toronto, or instance and they always have loads of celebrities and singers attend. The aim is to help the children and their families across the world.

 Craig and Marc started the charity when they were young children and I’m so proud of what they’ve achieved and I’m very proud to be part of Movement.

  Michael:   So what does your schedule look like right now? Are there any other projects you want to mention?

Taylor: Well, I’m working on the film right now (Incident in a Ghost Land) and that will take me up to December and then I’ll be attending Whistler Film Fest for “Hunting Pignut”. I’m auditioning for tons of things and I’ve gotten an offer for something in January.

 In March or April I’ll be doing a film called “GLO,” it’s short for Giant Little One and it’s a beautiful script. It’s a brilliant film that we’ve been trying to do for a while. If Aftermath is brought back, there may be a conflict, we won’t know till January.

 There will be another movie, called Dry Swallow, written by Joel Thomas Hynes who played Pignut in “Hunting Pignut.” So there are lots of open doors and projects to look forward to.

Photos by Ryan Orange Photography

 The Wrap Up:

 Taylor finished with her feelings about Aftermath and her onscreen family. She pointed out, quite rightly, that as the season has progressed the audience learns more about the Copeland’s and the show is evolving. We also talked about the “flying dragon” and what it was really called (Quetzalcoatl and not a dragon, as Levi Meaden pointed out in an earlier interview) that her character calls “the Q thing.”

Ms. Hickson also talked about the basis of the show. It is based on the Book of Revelation but since each culture has their own version of this apocalyptic series of events, these were included in the show, hence the Quetzalcoatl and the Japanese man eating plant.

She would love to see a second season of Aftermath be approved as her on-screen family have all gotten so acclimated to one another that she feels the show would be even better. Taylor mentioned the series was shot out of order and how odd it was to see the final product afterward and the difference between watching it and “living it.”

We also talked about the mythology that went into the creatures that appear on the show (like the Q-bird) and Taylor mentioned that after each episode the YouTube channel “Geeksiders” do a complete rundown on all the creatures and cultures of each Aftermath episode. Taylor revealed that the channel is incredibly thorough: “They knew more about the show than I did”

Taylor Hickson is a very busy young woman who is enthusiastic about her job and the business. A talented young actress that had high words of praise for her co-workers.

Aftermath - Season 1
Taylor and Julia Sarah Stone

We also spoke of muppets and fraggles and how Julia played a prank on her with some M&M’s.

There are two episodes of “Aftermath” left in  this season.  The show airs Tuesdays on SyFy and Space in Canada.

Note: Unless otherwise stated the images used are by Ryan Orange Photography or Eike Schroter.