John Wesley Shipp and director Andrew Lyman-Clarke on the chilling true story that inspired their new film Night Sweats, what art really is, and more

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We came to the revelation that art is simply communication. It’s basically somebody creating something in whatever medium, and that is a product that is put out into the world with the intent of communicating something to others. People who will see it or hear it or experience it in some way.

I definitely still believe that. I mean, I’m an open-minded person, I’m open to other definitions of art. But the way that I approach it is that I am creating something and putting it out into the world with a “message” for others to see and to think about and to chew on. I think that’s the value of it.

I think there’s ways of looking at art and movies and stuff that are a little bit more cynical or jaded, where there isn’t really a purpose of communicating something. It’s just to pass the time or something. I’m not really with that. I’m all about trying to say something, especially when you spend nine years working on something and you pour your heart and soul into it. I wanted it to have some kind of meaning.

Another interview I did recently! John Wesley Shipp you possibly might recognise from The Flash; he’s starring in this film by Andrew Lyman-Clarke, who’s been working on Night Sweats – his debut feature – for nearly a decade now.

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Joseph Quinn on Catherine the Great, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and more

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I also think the timelessness of the human condition is quite interesting for the viewer – seeing people in different times and in different environments that are foreign to ours, still going through the same shit that we go through. People get jealous, people get angry, people get depressed, all these things that are attached to what it is to be human.

I think maybe there’s some kind of comfort there [in seeing that] or definitely a kind of fascination. We do [historical drama] better than any other country, I’d say, because we’ve got such a rich history. There’s definitely a need for [historical drama] and I think that we keep turning them out, but I think we’re doing it and doing it well.

Joseph Quinn! Took a little while to arrange this one, but Joseph was great to talk to when we eventually got around to doing the interview – very polite, which is always a plus, and some great answers too. He, I suspect, is going to have quite a long and interesting career ahead of him.

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Michael James Shaw on Avengers: Infinity War, his character Corvus Glaive, and more

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Part of the trick of playing a villain is finding the love in the character’s journey, and not playing ‘evil’, you know? With Corvus, there’s a strong connection to Proxima, but also he betrayed his people to work with Thanos. I created my own little history about why he’s looking for redemption with Thanos, and searching for retribution through his work with him. I find it kinda helpful to create that backstory.

As I’m talking to you, I’m also watching Ancient Aliens on the History Channel – there’s a history that may not be in the history books, but of what it means to be an alien. [It’s] outside our normal viewpoint, just to have a different level of consciousness. That opened up my imagination about what their world could possibly be like, and how they communicate on multiple levels – whether it be through actual English, or through clicking, or whatever. It just let me go wild – there were no limitations in terms of how he moved and how he expressed himself, you know?

My interview with Michael James Shaw! We spoke about Avengers, Constantine, and his upcoming show Blood and Treasure.

There are no spoilers for Infinity War in the interview, or very very light spoilers if you want to go in completely blind. I’d not seen the film myself when we conducted the interview – it actually hadn’t even been released yet. There was a still a week or two to go if I remember correctly.

What was interesting about this interview, actually, was that when I conducted it Michael’s identity as the actor playing Corvus was still being kept secret – to the point that, when it was being arranged, I wasn’t actually initially told it was going to be him. At first, he was just referred to as the Corvus Glaive actor (admittedly I had a hunch it was going to be Michael, because one of the things they did tell me was that the actor had previously been in Constantine, and Michael struck me as most likely of the cast to be Corvus).

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Naomi Battrick, Niamh Walsh, Abiola Ogunbiyi, Abubakar Salim and Ben Starr on Jamestown series 2, historical drama, and more

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Anything about anything is a product of the time of when it was made. We all know that. You go and study history; history is not the study of what happened, history is the study of how it was recorded. It always has been, so this isn’t possible to get away from.

This show, when it was made, at this time, [was made] because there was a climate in which we were looking for shows like this, and it was telling a story that hasn’t been told before but would have happened, but told in the point of view of a society that was looking to see history in a different light. Ten years ago, this show would have been told completely differently, and it would have been told differently decades before that. I think this is a product of its time, so this is reflective of universal values that we can all look at.

This is an interview I’m extremely proud of, for a couple of different reasons. The first is that I think it’s simply just genuinely very good – we touched on a lot of interesting ideas, and I think their passion for the show really leaps off the page. Certainly, it was palpable in the room – which brings us neatly to the second reason why I’m extremely proud of this interview.

My two Jamestown interviews were actually the first interviews I’d ever done in person, which was, as you can probably imagine, a very different experience from the phoners I’d done before. I was deeply terrified, and more than a little bit out of my depth I suspect. It probably showed. But! I really appreciated quite how friendly the Jamestown cast were (and all the PR people who arranged it, come to think of it), which really put me at ease. Lovely people (Niamh Walsh and Ben Starr loved my cool yellow shoes), and it really meant a lot – and still means a lot – that they were as lovely as they were. Aw.

And, of course, if you liked this piece, you might be interested in the article I wrote about Jamestown series 2, which I spoke to Ben Starr about in the interview. Sort of. It was basically his idea to write it.

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Sophie Rundle, Stuart Martin, Steven Waddington and Luke Roskell on Jamestown series 2, power dynamics, and more

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There’s the political stage, but the domestic front as well, and everyone trying to survive isn’t it? I think when you go to create a new world and you have a new microcosm of society it becomes very clear what people’s greatest desires are – and you see very quickly the people that want power, and want authority, and want prestige. And some people just want a peaceful simple life, and I think that’s what this is: a study of human nature, and what different people are craving, and what lengths they’ll go to, to get and protect what they want.

Here’s the first of my two Jamestown interviews, both of which are very special to me – they’re the first interviews I did in public! This set specifically, actually, is the first of the two I did, so the other was a little easier in that regard.

I was very lucky, and very appreciative, that those first in-person interviews were with people who were as lovely as Sophie, Stuart, Steven and Luke (sure, we can be on a first name basis, why not) – you always hear those stories of, like, diva actors who’d kick up some fuss or another, but these guys couldn’t be further from that. Wonderfully nice and accommodating while I was doing my best to hide how utterly terrified I was.

I’d love to interview them again, actually – maybe for Jamestown series 3, come to think of it. Not because I think, like, I’d do a better job of it and want to take a second try (I probably would do better, though I do also think this is a really, really good interview), but because they were really good interviewees, and I think it’d be neat to talk to them again.

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Alex Lawther on The End of the F***ing World, his creative influences and more

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I read somewhere, someone much more eloquent than me, saying “it doesn’t matter if [a character is] likeable but they have to be interesting“. You don’t have to like them, but you have to want to know what happens next. Even if you hate them or you’re scared of them or if you… as long as they’re not boring you, because boring is passive.  It’s not so much not being liked… they cause you to be interested in them actively and to see where their objectives are going to take them. Which I think is the analytical way of putting it, yeah.

This is one of my favourite interviews I’ve ever done, because I absolutely loved talking to Alex Lawther – he’s just wonderful, I’m a huge fan. I promised to learn French for him, in fact. (At time of writing, and by writing I mean editing all my old posts for the new wordpress site, my duolingo streak is 177 days.)

(I would continue to talk about how great I think he is, but… well, I don’t want to overdo it, you know?)

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Simon Weir and Kenny Boyle on Cops and Monsters, indie film, and more

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As long as they get behind the show, enjoy the storylines and characters, it will engage people. If they can get past the slightly rough and ready early episodes this does reward the viewer as the series progresses and there are many directions this show can go in future series. And we are all very committed to making it work and displaying another unseen side of Scotland, with authentic voices and locations and given time and a budget, this show could really fly. Most of all, I just want people to enjoy it and my work in Cops and Monsters.

My interview with Simon Weir and Kenny Boyle, about Cops and Monsters, a fun indie webseries.

Both of these pictures were taken by Sonja Blietschau, who takes lots of pictures for the Cops and Monsters team that you can see on their website.

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Amber Rose Revah on Marvel’s The Punisher, her character Dinah Madini, and more

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The key theme of what it is to be a human being is always relevant. Our passions, whether love or hate, forgiveness or revenge, are all part of the puzzle of our lives. We live in a confusing world, filled with uncertainty and tension, and need to shed some light on the issues we all face. 

Here’s my interview with Amber Rose Revah, one of the stars of The Punisher. This was an email interview, so the answers are a little shorter than they’d normally be; I think had it been over the phone, or in person, I’d have pushed a little harder for a proper answer to the question about gun violence.

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Caroline Dhavernas on Easy Living, indie films, and more

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It’s funny, because we often talk about ‘Will the character be likable?’ – I don’t think it’s important for a character to be likable. I think people want the drive, actually, to see someone who’s behaving in a way that they cannot allow themselves to behave, as an audience. I think that’s where we throw all of our – it’s like a bit of a fantasy sometimes, to see a character be rude, be bold, to not have to be polite, it’s so fun, I think we kind of fantasise about being allowed to be that way, sometimes.

My interview with Caroline Dhavernas! I don’t think I got this one quite right; there’s a moment early on where she asked me a counter question, which threw me a little because I wasn’t expecting it, and I think because she wasn’t super impressed with my answer she switched off a little bit. Although I might have imagined that, to be honest.

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Juliana Harkavy on Arrow, her character Dinah Drake, and more

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There was a fan in Portland, at a comic book convention, a really big fan who was in a wheelchair, and she had this wheelchair that was completely covered in stuff from the show… She told us that she keeps our pictures on her so she feels brave and strong. It was such an incredible moment and it answers the question of how important this is.

My interview with Juliana Harkavy from Arrow! She was lovely.

This is another piece that ended up in my portfolio, if you’d like to check that out.

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