Friday, 10 October 2008

Taylor Kitsch on Friday Night Lights

By Christina Radish

Hailed as one of the Top 10 shows of 2006 by Time Magazine and Entertainment Weekly, the critically acclaimed NBC drama Friday Night Lights has returned for a third season, first airing solely on Direct TV. An industry first, as part of a deal to finance the critically adored but seriously under-watched series, the 101 Network will air all 13 new episodes before their premiere on NBC in early 2009.

Expanding on the hit feature film and best-selling book, the series centers on the small rural town of Dillon, Texas, where the Dillon Panthers have faced many challenges with Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) at the helm. Picking up eight months after last season left off, Lyla (Minka Kelly) has ditched her Christian boyfriend (Matt Czuchry) and is back in the arms of bad-boy Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch). Canadian actor Taylor Kitsch spoke to MediaBlvd Magazine about how excited he is to be back for another season, and what fans can expect from Riggs.

MediaBlvd Magazine> Are you excited about getting to come back for another season?

Taylor Kitsch> I am, to say the least. I’ve learned a lot. I’m just excited to play Riggs. Playing him is so much fun. The freedom we have on this show is nothing like anything I’ve ever done. To get back into the shoes of Riggs is great.

MediaBlvd> Does this new deal for Friday Night Lights even enter your head, or do you just focus on the season?

Taylor> From the get go, we’ve always been on the ropes. Chands (Kyle Chandler) is a huge influence, seeing how he acts and reacts to all of it. It’s going to be the same thing this time around, and it’s going to be that much better ‘cause we’ve all grown as actors and as people. We’re excited to chip away and see what we get.

MediaBlvd> What is it like when you get a script and you see some of the interactions you’ll have? Are you always surprised?

Taylor> I don’t know if I’m surprised. From Season 2, I learned that I have to trust the writers and where they’re taking the character because they have the whole arc and I don’t. I don’t like to know too far ahead, so I can just play the scene. It’s exciting to get the scripts. I would love to work with Kyle more, but everyone in the cast would say that. I’m excited just to get another season.

MediaBlvd> What do you think about Riggs and Lyla being a couple?

Taylor> Riggs has been with Lyla for a good majority of the series. He was going through so much, he reached back into his past for answers, and Lyla helped Riggs shine some light on other things. I’m interested to see how it’s going to play out. I have no idea. I’m excited for it. I’m excited to work with Minka again. It’s fun to work with every one of my castmates. I’m excited just to see what they have for me.

MediaBlvd> Are you rooting for them to be together?

Taylor> I don’t know if I root for anything. I try not to have these pre-disposed ideas of what I want for the character. Trusting the writers is everything. You can put me with anyone, and I’m still going to have a lot of fun

MediaBlvd> Is Riggs still in school and on the team?

Taylor> From what I heard, yeah. I’m pretty sure he’s on the team. I think it is his last year.

MediaBlvd> Riggins had some tough times in Season 2. Was that challenging to play?

Taylor> I’m drawn to that part of Riggs. I love getting into it. I love the challenges they give me, with the writing. I hope I get even deeper into that, this year. There were parts last year, in Mexico, where it was heavy, but there were also some comedic, dry moments, which I love to play. Hopefully, I’ll get to do both. It’s really fun.

MediaBlvd> When you’re filming in Texas, do you have people tell you that they know someone like this guy?

Taylor> Oh, yeah, absolutely. And, I understand it because I used to have that correlation, that the actor is the person. If I do go out and listen to some live music, or anything like that, they think I am like Riggs, and that I want to get absolutely hammered or pick up some gals. But, everyone is super-gracious and excited. There is nothing but great people there in Austin, in my experience there.

MediaBlvd> Did you get a chance to do anything else during your break since last season?

Taylor> Yeah, I went to Australia and did Wolverine. It’s kind of like X-Men 4. It’s the story of Wolverine and his origin.

MediaBlvd> Who did you play in that?

Taylor> I played a character called Gambit. He’s just another comic book character that has kinetic energy. It’s a fun role. You’ll have fun watching it.

MediaBlvd> How familiar were you with Gambit before you got the part?

Taylor> I knew of him, but I didn’t know the following he had, and I’m sure I’m still going to be exposed to that. I love the character, I love the powers, and I love what they did with him. I didn’t know that much, but in my experience, it was a blessing to go in and create my take on him. I’m excited for it, to say the least.

MediaBlvd> Is it fun to play a superhero?

Taylor> Absolutely! It’s a great ride. I had so much fun in Australia.

MediaBlvd> Was it very different to do that, compared to the show?

Taylor> I think anything I do is going to be different from Friday Night Lights because it is such a rarity. You take what you will from each gig. I’ve learned so much from Friday Night Lights, and from a guy like Hugh Jackman.

MediaBlvd> Is there any common ground between Tim Riggins and Gambit?

Taylor> I think so. Both have a lack of parenthood in their lives.

MediaBlvd> How would you compare Friday Night Lights fans to X-Men fans?

Taylor> I haven’t bombarded yet, for the X-Men stuff. I’ve been told enough about them that I’m excited for it. I feel the project went incredibly well, and I’m excited to see the result. I’d say Hugh Jackman is a huge influence on my life, as a person and as an actor, and it was an amazing experience.

MediaBlvd> How is he a huge influence on your life?

Taylor> To be honest, it’s an aura that, in this business, I’ve never come across. He’s incredibly disciplined and free. There’s just something about him. You walk away and he hits you. He’s just this person that’s so grounded and so open that you question whether it’s real or not. I’ve met nobody like him. The way he welcomed me on set, it was just a huge influence.

MediaBlvd> Would you like to do Broadway, like he has?

Taylor> I can’t sing like Hugh, but I’d love to do theater, one day.

MediaBlvd> Is playing such different characters something that’s important to you, as an actor?

Taylor> Absolutely, it is! From the get go, you don’t want to get typecast. You don’t want to dig yourself into a hole where everyone is just throwing these same roles at you. Through the writing of Friday Night Lights, Gospel Hill and Wolverine, I’ve had such great opportunities. The biggest thing that I aim for is working with the best, like getting the opportunity to work with Angela Bassett, Liev Schreiber, Hugh Jackman and Kyle Chandler. All I want to do is just keep learning and growing, through the roles and the experiences with those other actors.

Scouring for treasure in all the trash


An army of volunteers from The Bower at Marrickville "mine" the council pick-up days, like bower birds collecting shiny baubles. Steve Dow accompanies them on the road.

If this is Monday it must be Bexley, in the Rockdale council area. Greg Nabke, his grey hair tied in a ponytail and long beard grown past his chest, drives a 15-year-old trusty Mazda truck running on biodiesel and scours the footpaths and nature strips for treasure among the trash.

His volunteer colleague, the laconic Tait Burrows, who hit the snooze alarm twice this morning before tumbling out of bed, sits in the cabin beside him, wearing wrap-around sunglasses and sipping a large coffee, scanning the opposite side of the streets.

Oh, the things Sydneysiders will throw out on council hard-rubbish days: kayaks, acoustic guitars, kitchen sinks, antique dressers, wardrobes. And how about that 1950s chunky dentist's chair left in the gutter, only to be eagerly bought by a dicey looking brothel in Marrickville. Who knew tooth extraction could be kinky?

This morning's first find: a white windsurf board and its sail, still intact. That should find a home when it is taken back and priced at The Bower, a nine-year-old co-operative centre at a former army base in Addison Road, Marrickville. Its shopfront, in Sydney's first commercial building made of strawbale, is open to the public.

The Bower - "traders of the lost artefact" - has a strong reuse and recycle ethic. A dozen councils encourage residents who think their junk might have resale value to ring The Bower, and Nabke, its paid driver who has been a member of the co-op for eight years, will come and pick it up.

The makers of the Hugh Jackman film Wolverine did just that, and Nabke found himself picking up spooky mannequins and a consignment of size seven steel-capped boots after the film shoot finished. Movie and theatre designers often scour The Bower's shelves for period props, alongside sly second-hand dealers on the prowl for bargain collectables such as rare dinner sets.

Mostly the gems are found on the side of the road as The Bower's truck combs the streets on hard-rubbish days. This means if The Bower does not get there first, resaleable stuff gets picked up by council trucks and crunched into landfill.

Sydney, incidentally, dumps 1.5 million tonnes of waste into landfill each year. That equates to the weight of 30 Sydney Harbour Bridges.

"It's a bit of a race," Burrows says. "You also see people with their vans driving around the streets looking for the same stuff at the same time." These people include retiree hobbyists hunting for new projects, or people convinced they could make a go of collecting and selling scrap metal.

By the time The Bower's truck makes Blakehurst, many of the streets seem bare. "Jeez, the council must have been early this morning," Nabke says.

On cue, a Kogarah Council truck comes over the horizon. "Speak of the devil," Burrows says. "Oh, shit," Nabke says.

Onto Allawah, near Hurstville, to pick up a wardrobe phoned in by a resident - it is chipboard but in good condition, so Nabke and Burrows take it, although such cheap woods, veneered or not, are usually rejected because they age poorly and the glues that hold them together can be toxic if prized apart.

The Bower also usually will not take electrical goods such as computers or TVs - little resale demand - nor white goods such as microwaves and washing machines, which are too time-consuming and difficult to test to Australian standards.

The rejects - a rotted ladder, a holey bucket, a rusty barbeque - seem great this morning. But by the time The Bower's truck reaches Oatley, there have been good roadside finds: a bathroom sink, a small trolley, a white gate, a suitcase, a punching bag.

Pieces of timber are left on the roadside for council to take to landfill. Unfortunately, many councils tell residents to cut their wood into small pieces; The Bower however says wood for the resale market needs to be at least one to two metres long.

The final destination this morning is a storage facility a little out of the way at Padstow. A middle-aged man and woman meet The Bower's duo at the gate, and show them their offerings: all the shop fittings from their former Surry Hills CD store, Sound and Fury, which went bust because it could not compete with the buying power of the bigger stores.

Nabke politely tells the couple he cannot take the shelving because it is made of chipboard, with virtually no market for such custom-made fittings. The couple smile wearily, and then tell their story of how, in this instance, the corporate goliaths had defeated David.

Nabke and Burrows take away two boxes of CDs for the shop. The spoils of the vanquished retailer should provide a little cash register music to the ears of their non-profit cooperative, at least, and help fund The Bower's planned library of books on sustainability.

The Bower is at building 34, 142 Addison Road, Marrickville, 9568 6280

Producer Lauren Shuler Donner Teases Wolverine... and Deadpool?


The secrets behind the origins of Marvel Comics' most popular mutant Wolverine remained murky and mysterious in the comic books for decades, and the filmmakers behind X-Men Origins: Wolverine have also been working furiously to keep the curtain drawn on Logan's cinematic beginnings before the movie bows next May.

But Hype! had a red carpet encounter with the film's producer, Lauren Shuler Donner (who also oversaw the "X-Men" films as well as a diverse assortment of features, from Pretty in Pink to Free Willy to You've Got Mail to the upcoming The Secret Life of Bees), and with a minor pop of the claws in her direction she gave up a few details on Logan's first solo outing on the big screen – and a possible spin-off for the "Merc with a Mouth," Deadpool.

CS/SHH!: What's the latest you can tell us about "Wolverine"?
Lauren Schuler Donner: May 1st, 2009! I guess it's closer to the first "X-Men" in tone because it's a little darker, but there's a lot of action. It's his origin story. It's really good. I've been in the editing room the last couple of weeks and I think that it's good and that audiences are going to like it. But it's a little darker.

CS/SHH!: How is Hugh Jackman's interpretation of the character different or new, compared to what we've seen in the "X-Men" films?
Schuler Donner: Well, you haven't seen this side of him. It's darker and sadder and it's kick-ass. There's a ton of action. It's really kick-ass.

CS/SHH!: How was working with Gavin Hood as the director?
Schuler Donner: It was fun. It was good. I like taking someone out of the indie world and bringing someone into the action world because it grounds the movie. It gives it a reality. It gives it an emotional core, and then you can have as much fun and action in it as you want.

CS/SHH!: This was Gavin's first time playing with really big cinematic toys. Was there a learning curve on that for him?
Schuler Donner: Yeah. He had a learning curve, but the thing basically for the director, honestly, it's sort of like, "Here's what I want..." and then the visual FX guys create that. Then it's like, "No. I want it more like this or like that." A director doesn't have to know how to do it. They have to know about lighting and shooting someone against green screen and that sort of stuff, but in terms of actually creating it, we do that.

CS/SHH!: And Ryan Reynolds is playing Deadpool.
Schuler Donner: Yes. Ryan Reynolds is playing Deadpool... he plays Wade Wilson.

CS/SHH!: Is that in hopes of a "Deadpool" spin-off film?
Schuler Donner: I hope so. I really hope so. He's so good at it.

CS/SHH!: Are there any comic book storylines in particular that the movie is drawing from?
Schuler Donner: There's an "X-Men: Origins" that some of it is pulled from, and then it's sort of an amalgamation of some of them. But "X-Men: Origins" sort of goes back into his young, young past, and we started there. [Note: Schuler Donner is referring to the 2001 Origin miniseries by Bill Jemas, Joe Quesada, Paul Jenkins, Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove].

CS/SHH!: And is the Stan Lee cameo obligatory at this point, even though he didn't personally create Wolverine?
Schuler Donner: Well, we shot in Australia, and so we don't have a Stan.

CS/SHH!: Oh no... Maybe he can get placed in the background digitally?
Schuler Donner: Yeah, I know. Oh, you know what, we're doing some additional shooting in January and that's a good idea. I love Stan!

CS/SHH!: And on a personal note... you're about to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
Schuler Donner: Yes, I am. I'm so excited.

CS/SHH!: What's it like getting THAT phone call?
Schuler Donner: I was literally jumping up and down. I'm from Ohio and who gets a star, really?

CS/SHH!: You expect people in your movies to get them, but...
Schuler Donner: Oh, of course. I went to Halle Berry's and that was cool, but me? It's great. And my husband ["Superman" director Richard Donner] is getting one and they're going to be next to each other. It's so great. I'm so excited.