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MUSIC: Catching Up with Marshall Crenshaw

Monday, January 20, 2014

 

(Photo: davidjlee, flickr)

Trivia Question: Who’s the only actor/musician who has played both Buddy Holly and John Lennon in the movies and on stage? Why Marshall Crenshaw, of course. The singer broke onto the national scene in the late 70s in the original touring company of Beatlemania, playing the part of John Lennon. Later, after establishing himself as a musician, he starred as Buddy Holly in the 1987 movie “La Bamba,” the tragic story of 50’s teen idol Richie Valens.

Appearing Thursday at Narrows Center

Crenshaw, who is better known as a guitarist and songwriter, is coming to the Narrows Center this Thursday January 23rd. He’s recognized for his upbeat 80’s hits “Someday, Someway,” “Cynical Girl,” and “Whenever You’re on My Mind.” It’s a return visit for the Detroit native, who still plays solo gigs as well as shows with his adopted band, The Bottle Rockets. It may seem an unlikely pairing.

“We share the same booking agent, and he suggested we try playing together,” noted Crenshaw in an interview with GoLocal. “It really clicked for me. The Bottle Rockets add a sense of excitement and adventure to the music.”

Cerebral Pop

In the early 1980s, Crenshaw filled arenas playing songs from his classic albums “Marshall Crenshaw,” “Downtown,” and “Field Day.” He was a critic’s favorite, playing jangly guitar and singing well crafted cerebral pop songs. He’s enjoyed years of well deserved acclaim, channeling the spirit of Buddy Holly better than anyone else out there.

Driving and Dreaming

There’s no major new album coming along with this tour, but Crenshaw is slowly releasing new material. “I doubt I’ll ever make a traditional album again; I’m wired a certain way,” noted the guitarist.

Since 2012, he’s been releasing 10’ vinyl EP’s, featuring 3 songs – a cover, an original, and a new tune - per disk. “The plan is for three releases per year; it’s like a constant flow of new stuff.” He’ll be debuting one of those new songs, Driving and Dreaming, at the Narrows show.

The Bottle Rockets

Opening the show and also backing Crenshaw will be “alt-country” originators The Bottle Rockets. Along with groups like Uncle Tupelo and Whiskeytown, they more or less invented the “alt-country” genre which is a major piece of the Americana movement. Their mix of roots-rock and ragged guitars, along with a touch of swamp humor, has made them a critical favorite as well.

At the Narrows

At Thursday’s Fall River show, expect an “Everly Brothers classic or two” and “maybe a new guitar.” The Bottle Rockets open the evening at 8PM and then support Crenshaw in his set. Tickets are available here.

Ken Abrams reviews Roots, Rock and Blues for GoLocalWorcester. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

Related Slideshow: The New England Cast of American Hustle

Not only was blockbuster American Hustle filmed in Worcester, but many of the film's role players are New England natives.  Becki Dennis (who also has a small role in the film) conducted interviews with many of the local actors and actresses as well as casting director, Angela Peri.

See what our local stars have to say:

 

Special thanks to Imagine Magazine for the interview content

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Steve Gagliastro

Role: Agent Schmidt

Q. What other actors did you work with and what was that like?

SG: I was fortunate to work with Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Louis C.K., Jeremy Renner, Shea Whigham, Liz Rohm, Erica McDermott, and most importantly, my partner, Chris Tarjan (Agent Stock.) It was inspiring to watch such accomplished actors find the right tone and perfect their timing. I realized the experimentation and methods they executed in front of the camera were universal. All actors use them in some form or another. What was clear to me was the preparation before they got to set. This is what separated these actors from their peers.

Q. What was your experience like working on this film?

SG: I was very fortunate to spend a good deal of time on set. Together with my partner, Chris Tarjan, we became very familiar with everyone who was there on a daily basis. From hair and makeup, to props, to AD’s and PA’s, they all got to know and trust us. This trust is important when it comes to the delicate issues of privacy and respect that surround high profile sets.

Q. How did you get your role?

SG: I auditioned through Boston Casting, had a callback for David and got it!

Q. What other acting work have you done recently?

SG: Most recently I was on the US National/North American Tour of “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” and I am performing in the Hanover Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol” in Worcester through December.

Q. What are your reasons for being a Boston-based actor and pursuing your career here?

SG: I am from Worcester originally and have settled here. My family and side work are here, as well. I am on the road so often that it makes sense for me not to have an expensive apartment in NYC or Boston when they are so accessible to me (one hour to Boston, three and half to NYC.)

Q. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

SG: Be yourself. Casting directors are seeking interesting, talented people, not cookie-cutter actors. And, of course, prepare.

Q. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

SG: As a full time performer, it is heartening to see the high level of work created here in New England. We are an excellent community filmmakers should utilize. Whether it is the exceptional talent base or the diversity/proximity of locations, Boston and its’ surrounding communities are ideal for shooting. Except desert locations, those we don’t have.

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Aaron Flanders

Role: Arthur (Carl Elway's Friend)

Q. What scenes did you act in?

AF: Three scenes in the museum chasing Irving (Bale,) Richie (Cooper,) Edith (Adams,) and the Sheik Plant (Taghmaoui) as they enter the museum, then following them as they head up the stairs; confronting the group and Irving, and being blown off by them, and then concluding with the scene in front of the Rembrandt painting, where I accost Irving (Bale,) and am interrupted by Edith (Adams,) introduced to Richie (Cooper,) and then again blown off rudely by the whole group.

Q. Which of these scenes made the final cut and which scenes didn’t?

AF: According to my friend, who saw the Coolidge Corner pre-screening, I think all my scenes might actually have made it! I haven’t seen it yet!

Q. What other actors did you work with?

AF: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, and Said Taghmaoui.

Q. What was your experience like working on this film?

AF: Singularly unique and amazing experience, walking into such a talented group of actors, and immediately being thrown into three intense, improvised, in-your-face scenes with them!

Q. How did you get your role?

Auditioned at Boston Casting.

Q. What are your upcoming projects?

AF: I’m primarily a musician and have just released a brand new album, body of original music, and band, “Aaron Flanders – The Third Floor.” Our CD Release concert is going to be on March 7, 2014, at 7:30 pm, at Johnny D’s in Somerville.

Q. What are your reasons for being a Boston-based actor and pursuing your career here?

AF: I live in Cambridge (Boston) because I went to music school here, and because I’m mainly a musician, and Boston is a great music town!

Q. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

AF: Just to be honest and project an inner glimpse of yourself in every character that you portray.

 

Special thanks to Imagine Magazine for the interview content

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Erica McDermott

Role: Con-artist and Carl Elway's girlfriend

Q. What scenes did you act in?

EM: I am in the scene when Irving is first meeting with Carl Elway to discuss plans. I burst into the meeting with Edith and Ritchie. I am also in the scene when Carl is getting arrested; I am wearing an old school slip and freaking out.

Q. What other actors did you work with and what was that like?

EM: I worked with Shae Whigham, Bradly Cooper, Amy Adams, and Christian Bale. It was great to work with Christian and Amy again. I had a blast getting to know Shae and Bradley.

Q. What was your experience like working on this film?

EM: I work well with David O. Russell. He is smart, funny, and is able to get the best out of me. It’s exciting to be part of his films; the stories he tells are always so captivating. The people that I’ve gotten to know and had the privilege to work with have been the best teachers.

Q. How did you get your role?

EM: Although you may not see it from the few moments I have in the film, there really was a ton of work that went into this for me from the first audition in January to the last day of filming in May. I auditioned over the course of three months. Lots of improv, character development, and taping in between. Wigs, authentic retro outfits, dialect coaches to perfect my accent, and a day of screen testing were all part of it. I was officially cast at the end of March, and I was beyond excited.

Q. What are your upcoming projects?

EM: I will be doing quite a bit of theater over the next few months, we are in early discussions with producers about a feature comedy, and I’m looking forward to a busy pilot season.

Q. What are your reasons for being a Boston-based actor and pursuing your career here?

EM: With the Mass Tax Film Credits – opportunity is here for me. Boston is my home and this incentive makes it possible for me to live here and work.

Q. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

EM: Practice, take classes, stay focused, and be in the moment during auditions. My friend, Kevin Lasit, gave me the best advice and I believe it’s true: “Ask for work, not fame.”

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Alura Carbrey

Role: Elizabeth (Betty) Polito (Carmine Polito’s daughter)

Q. What scenes did you act in?

AC: I acted in the casino scene, the arrest of Carmine Polito scene, and a family breakfast scene.

Q. What other actors did you work with and what was that like?

AC: I had the opportunity to work closely with Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Rohm. I also had the chance to meet Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, and Christian Bale. As an aspiring actress, it was an exciting opportunity to work with such a talented and experience cast.

Q. What was your experience like working on this film?

AC: It was an unforgettable experience that will stay with me my entire life. I became very close with the cast and crew, and it was an emotional goodbye. Working with the talented David O. Russell was inspirational to me as a young actress.

Q. How did you get your role?

AC: I got my role through the casting agency, Boston Casting.

Q. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

AC: I’m currently studying business and theatre at Endicott College. I hope to continue my acting career in the future!

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Rob DiNinni

Role: Desperate Businessman

Q. What scenes did you act in?

RD: An office scene where I’m desperately asking for money; a loan. It was mostly improv and additional direction from DOR… I embezzled money from my own parents clothing manufacturing business located in the garment district NYC, and traveled to France numerous times and bought cars and boats on my parents company money for love. Or was it lust? Either way I’m in big trouble and my parents will disown me.

Q. Which of these scenes made the final cut and which scenes didn’t?

RD: Most of my scene was on the cutting room floor except a small part used in a montage. I’m one of three of the business types begging for money.

Q. What other actors did you work with and what was that like?

RD: Amy Adams and Christian Bale: It was very rewarding to work with such generous actors fully committed to their characters.

Q. What was your experience like working on this film?

RD: It was an invigorating and inspiring process, which left me begging for more time on set with the desire to perform more with actors of their stature and a director/writer hitting his stride, enabling incredible acting performances and filmmaking.

Q. How did you get your role?

RD: Model Club, Inc. got me an audition with Boston Casting’s, Angela Peri. Angela put me on tape for an audition and after three callbacks I auditioned for a final callback directly with David O. Russell.

Q. What other acting work have you done recently?

RD: I played the lead, Cause, for a new comedy play, “The Break-Up of Cause and Effect,” which premiered at the Festival Fringe in Edinburgh, Scotland and then performed in London – thirty shows from August through Sept 2013.

Q. What are your upcoming projects?

RD: As Principal of StageCoach Improv, I have a few holiday improv and sketch comedy shows and I’m also involved in writing a new comedy short film for a web series on dating and relationship traps.

Q. What are your reasons for being a Boston-based actor and pursuing your career here?

RD: I moved to Boston for a sales job and was wishing to do stand-up and theatre, which I did to kick off my acting career on stage and film throughout New England, coming from Rotterdam in Upstate NY. I’ve been acting and performing since 2003 and am looking to go bi-coastal LA and Boston.

Q. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

RD: My advice for actors looking to land roles in a major picture is to keep working your chops on independent films and industrial videos to increase you comfort and confidence on a film set. Audition a lot and take classes for auditioning and improv so you focus on the role, the character, and the choices you make to emotionally commit to the scene and the moment so you can let go that it’s a major motion picture… it’s just another film. And, make sure you are visible to all casting directors by making them aware of your performances in fun and creative ways. And, keep an eye on who is casting for major motion picture films and find ways to get an audition, get yourself seen, and of course, an agent can also help.

Q. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

RD: You must love, love auditioning and prepare like you’re shooting that day and that mindset will hopefully translate into a more relaxed state to give you more impact and presence on film. Be true to you, showcase your personality, and take risk to heighten, not sabotage a scene.

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Billy “V” Vigeant

Role: FBI Security Officer

I did a scene with Amy Adams. I play an FBI Security officer. I escort her to a cell and toss her into a padded room. The scene was cut shorter than originally shot. I was filmed walking with her by the arm and I then approach the cell door and open it and fling her into the room. She then runs back towards the door and I close it on her. They filmed me closing the door and then just standing in the hallway after all that. The final cut shows the back of me walking with her and then throwing her in the cell, but closing the door and me standing there were excluded.

Amy Adams was a treat to work with. Very personable and very friendly. I was surprised how small she is. David O. Russell is a blast to be directed by. His non methodical thinking and creating on the fly is a treat to watch and be a part of. I was amazed how he remembered me from working on THE FIGHTER. He’s very kind and very flexible with his on set creation of scenes on the fly approach. Sadly enough I was to film a scene with Robert DeNiro and the following day, after being fitted for the scene, I was called to be told David O. Russell canceled the featured background for that day.

I’m from Rhode Island, but work mostly in the Boston Market. I have worked in New York and Connecticut, as well, but consider Boston my home base. The Boston film market is incredible and quickly becoming a Tour de force in the filmmaking industry. It has it all and I’m very proud to be a part of it and to be considered an adopted son to it.

This year I’ve worked on eleven film projects and most recently “Self Storage” and “Army of the Damned” were released to over 100,000,00 million homes, with VOD and nationwide releases in January. Also, I just finished the film KILLING KHAN, a Vendetta Motion Picture, in which I co-star as Ivan. It was filmed in Boston and surrounding towns. Next up is BLUE SUEDE, in which I graduate to a lead role as Mafia Don Franco Pizzan alongside Robert Miano, who starred in DONNY BRASCO with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. This is an epic crime drama that is scheduled to start filming in February 2014. All in all, I’m excited and proud to be a part of the Boston film community and look forward to working on the projects to come. It’s going to be a great 2014 and thank Angela Peri for the opportunities to be a part of such legendary films as AMERICAN HUSTLE.

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Ayana Brown

Role: Cosmopolitan Girl #1

Mr. David O. Russell cast me on set, and it was truly an amazing experience. DOR is a masterful visionary, intense, and knows exactly what he wants. Some would quip that his style of directing may be a bit unorthodox, however without a doubt there is a method to his madness. I am convinced he is one of the best in the business and it was truly an honor to work with him and the beautiful Ms. Amy Adams. I learned so much in that one day of shooting. The tools that I came away with under his direction are priceless. The biggest lesson: Be ready all the time. You never know when an opportunity will knock at your door….when it does you better be prepared to answer it!

I was raised in Amherst, MA where I started my acting career in the local theater circuit. I began working on films in 2007 in the Boston area. THE GREAT DEBATERS was my first film. I joined SAG in 2008; continued working in film and TV to date. I have had roles on Law & Order, Law and Order SVU, and Unforgettable. This was my first role in a feature film. I travel between NYC and Boston for auditions, television & feature film work, and am represented by Shirley Faison with Carson Adler Agency, NYC. Recently, I signed with Maggie Inc. for print modeling. Shortly after, I landed my first print ad with Keurig Coffee. Most recently, I auditioned for principal in a TV pilot. Other projects I worked on this year in the Boston area: THE FORGER, BASIC MATH, THE JUDGE, BUSINESS TRIP, Olive Kitteridge, Chasing Life, MA Lottery, Geico, & Bank of America Commercials. Currently I reside in Western, MA.

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Jay Giannone

Role: Jim, the Suburban Businessman

Q. What scenes did you act in?

JG: I acted in three scenes. One with was with Amy Adams and Christian Bale; I was one of the businessmen. Two were with Amy Adams and Becki Dennis.

Q. Which of these scenes made the final cut and which scenes didn’t?

JG: One of the scenes made it in, where I’m trying to get a line of credit from Amy Adams character.

Q. What was your experience like working on this film?

JG: It was wonderful. David O. Russell treats me like family and makes it an interesting, fun experience. David and I have been close since 1999, when I first met him working on WE THREE KINGS and we have stayed in touch since… He believes in me. We have a natural, organic relationship. I thank Mark Wahlberg for putting us in contact with each other.

Q. How did you get your role?

JG: I auditioned for Mary Vernieu, the LA Casting Director, in LA. I was booked off my first audition. David was familiar with my work and liked what I did.

Q. What other acting work have you done recently and what are your upcoming projects?

JG: I recently played Joe in GOD ONLY KNOWS with Toby Jones and Harvey Keitel, written by Emilio Mauro of Boston. I have a lead role in THE WITCHING HOUR filmed in Boston, and also have acted in THE LIFE and UNTOLD. I believe you shouldn’t wait for roles and should always be creating your own work, which is why I write, produce, and direct my own films, too. I am directing a movie about Alzeimers in April with Taryn Manning and a TV show I wrote, Diesel, is currently in development.

Q. Where are you based and are your reasons for pursuing your career there?

JG: I am originally from Boston, but am now LA-based and have been for eighteen years. I come to Boston a lot because it is where my heart is. Thank god for the wonderful casting directors back home. I have been blessed that Angela Peri and Carolyn Pickman call me in for projects. Because of them I have got parts in films such as THE GAME PLAN, GOD ONLY KNOW, WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU, and now AMERICAN HUSTLE. I have now done eight movies in Boston and many have been Blockbuster hits. For me to be able to go home and work is the best thing, so I can be with my family.

Q. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

JG: Don’t give up. You’re going to get discouraged and get the door slammed in your face. Keep your chin up and don’t get down. Your performance can be great in an audition, but the director may not see you in the role. Just keep on moving forward and your time will come. Create your own projects. Do what you love. Don’t compete with anyone except yourself.

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Becki Dennis

Roles: Rebecca, nanny for the Suburban Businessman (Jay Giannone), and friend of Edith (Amy Adams)

Q. What scenes did you act in?

BD: I filmed five scenes and one made the final cut. I am walking with Amy Adams (Edith) and pushing the child, who I am the nanny for, in a stroller when Jay Giannone approaches us and asks Amy for a line of credit. Amy gets upset with me for sharing information with him that I shouldn’t have about her banking connections. I apologize and we walk away, with Jay calling after me “Rebecca, tell her I never missed a check… Rebecca.” (Rebecca was my name in the script, which just so happens to be my birth name.)

Q. Which of these scenes made the final cut and which scenes didn’t?

BD: My apology to Amy was cut, but the rest of the scene remains. If you listen carefully you can hear my voice at the top of the scene. Amy, Jay, and I also filmed a second similar scene, which was omitted from the finished film. I am still so grateful to have made it into the film, period. Additionally, in the original script Amy Adams’ character was from England (not New Mexico as it says now in the completed film.) I and two other female actors were playing her friends and we were all nannies. They filmed us all getting our passports stamped together at customs, traveling in a taxi together, and arriving in New York City with our luggage. We also enter the pool party scene together arm and arm. All of these scenes were cut; the pool party is in the film, but it doesn’t show us walking in with Adams. Because we were supposed to be from England, I delivered my lines with a British accent, which I luckily felt pretty confident with since I had taken a dialect course when I was a Theatre major in college. Interestingly, David O. Russell didn’t hear me speak with a British accent until the day I was to film the scene with it, so he must have just trusted that I could pull it off and I received no dialect coaching on set. Another interesting tidbit: Amy had originally filmed all of the opening scenes with a British accent, but they did ADR work in post to change her to have an American accent in this first few scenes because of the script re-write. She now only has a British accent in the film when she is conning as Edith Greensly.

Q. What other actors did you work with and what was that like?

BD: I worked mostly with Amy Adams and she was so awesome to be around. She was so surprisingly normal and easy to talk to and super funny. My nanny friends were played by Hannah Yun and Rachel Bartolomei, who were also great. We became close working long days together. And, of course, the day I worked with Jay Giannone was unforgettable. It went so smoothly and was of one of the best days of my life. I also had my make-up done sitting next to Christian Bale while he was getting into hair and make-up. I didn’t really get to know him, though, as he is quiet and likes to focus on getting into character, which obviously seems to be working for him given his track record of outstanding performances.

Q. What was your experience like working on this film?

BD: It was truly a dream come true and life-altering. This opportunity came at a time when I least expected it, which was the ironic part about it. Having a principal role in a major motion picture had long been a dream of mine and having it come true really rekindled my faith in my acting career. I was very nervous before it was time to film my big scene, but found myself feeling really prepared, relaxed, and in the moment once the cameras were rolling, which I surprised even myself with. On the day I was given lines, I was not given a script, and David O. Russell just fed me the lines during a rehearsal right before shooting. He is very hands-on and walked through the scene with me as if he was in it. I think my experience with improv and interactive theatre prepared me well for this type of directing, as it didn’t scare me at all. When I was done for the day, I couldn’t wait to come back for more. It really left me yearning to experience more on a film set like this with the world’s best actors and crew.

Q. How did you get your role?

BD: While I have had hundreds of auditions over the years, the amazing thing about this is that I didn’t have to audition for the role. I had first been selected and narrowed down from a bunch of pictures. I was then asked if I’d be willing to wear a bathing suit for the pool party scene, and initially hesitated, but then said I would do it if I could wear a one-piece suit since I don’t have what you would exactly call a bikini body. They agreed and I was given the role of one of the nanny friends of Amy Adams. The costume department even ended up making me a whole new bathing suit cover-up specifically for me. I was told I would be featured background with the possibility of an upgrade. The awesome casting associate, Ashley Skomurski, of Boston Casting recommended me to David O. Russell as being an actor good at improv, who could handle an upgrade. The upgrade to principal did happen and I am forever thankful to her and Boston Casting for putting in a good word for me.

Q. What other work have you done recently?

BD: I recently had a principal role in a MA Health Connector commercial, which is still airing frequently on several channels. I produced and assistant directed the short film MILDRED’S MILLIONS, which is now starting to play at film festivals. And, I am always busy running my company, Talent Tools, as well.

Q. What are your upcoming projects?

BD: I have the lead role in an indie feature film, which begins filming in March (title TBA,) which I am really looking forward to. I am also keeping my fingers crossed about other projects I am currently being considered for… Stay tuned!

Q. What are your reasons for being a Boston-based actor and pursuing your career here?

BD: I grew up here, my family is here, and I love the acting community in New England. I’ve been a part of the film scene in Massachusetts since the tax incentives were first put into place and I’m invested in helping to build the industry here. I have tried my hand at the New York scene and it’s not for me, nor is LA, which I’ve visited. Boston is my home and I’m here to stay. Plus, the opportunities that I have received here would have been harder to achieve in a larger, more competitive market.

Q. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

BD: Persistence, preparation, and positivity. When I decided to pursue acting as a career I had people tell me to get my head out of the clouds and to stop dreaming. I’ve also had people tell me I was too big (physically) to act for a living. If I had listened to them, I would have never had the success I have had. I have worked hard for over ten years at this. I have taken dozens of acting classes. I have auditioned for countless jobs that I didn’t get. But it doesn’t go unnoticed. Remember that when you audition, you are auditioning not just for that role; you are auditioning for all future work. If you do a good job you will be remembered, and some day, if you don’t give up, a role will come around that will be right for you and it will make it all worth it. Also, this may be obvious, but – be nice. Being nice to people goes a long way and makes you likeable. And be professional – show up on time, prepared, and ready to work at every audition and job. Likeable, professional people get hired.

Q. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

BD: The last day I worked on AMERICAN HUSTLE was the same day the Boston Marathon bombing occurred. Luckily, we were filming in Worcester that day and were not in any real danger. It was a very bittersweet day, with this tragedy that occurred. Boston has had a tough year, but we have also had a great year. When the Red Sox won the World Series it was a moment for us to feel pride in Massachusetts. I feel “AMERICAN HUSTLE is another “Boston Strong” moment for our state. This is a movie for us all to feel proud of.

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Sean Eklund

Role: Street punk

Q. What scenes did you act in?

SE: My scene was to get into a fight with Bradley Cooper on the street.

Q. What other actors did you work with and what was that like?

SE: I worked with Bradley Cooper in that scene, but was able to be around the set and entire cast for days. They were amazing!!

Q. What was your experience like working on this film?

SE: It was a phenomenal experience, as is working on any David O. Russell film.

Q. How did you get your role?

SE: Through Boston Casting and David O. Russell.

Q. What are your reasons for being a Boston-based actor and pursuing your career here?

SE: I live in Lowell and over the past few years there has been a major increase in major motion pictures being filmed in the Boston area.

Q. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

SE: Just to audition as often as possible and never give up!

Q. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

SE: Just how amazing everyone on the set was. From the entire cast and crew, nothing but true professionals and top tier talent!!

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Steven Barkhimer

Role: Desperate Borrower

I survived the cut. I’m one of the guys begging Christian Bale for a loan as Amy Adams looks regally on. David had me play the HBO producer in THE FIGHTER, the one making a documentary about crack addiction, so I had a working knowledge of his singular directorial style – not for the faint of heart, by the way. So when I was called in for AMERICAN HUSTLE he gave me a tremendously warm welcome at the audition and afterwards said there should definitely be a spot for me in the film (even if not as large a role as in THE FIGHTER.) They were keeping a pretty tight lid on information about the project, so I didn’t even know Christian Bale and Amy Adams were in it until I got to the shoot that day. Not surprisingly, I had to do a double-take before realizing it was actually Christian walking right by me onto the set, looking well-fed and skeezy in his purple velour jacket, with a hilariously pathetic comb-over.

My prior experience with David O. Russell served me very well on this day because time was getting very limited and the pressure became pretty intense to get it done. Several of the “businessmen” were lined up and one by one, and we were to go beg Bale for money. This is also when I found out Amy Adams would be in the scene as well. Okay. We were to be fired one after the other out of the torpedo chute into the room, do our scene, and get the hell out. Next! A revolving door, bam, bam, bam. Well, David’s films do have scripts; however, what he likes to do is prompt the actor as the camera is rolling. He suggests things that you aren’t expecting, and you just have to go with the flow and be ready to improvise. Or often he will just suddenly order you: “Do This. Now! Faster. Again. To the left? The left!!” It does give a wonderful immediacy and improvisatory sense to scenes, but it can be unnerving for the unsuspecting or the uninitiated. I’m sure it makes editing very interesting, too!

On other scores, a play of my own called “Windowmen” just finished a gratifyingly successful and well-received production at Boston Playwrights Theatre and is now in consideration by several theatres around the country.

Before I came to Boston back in 1998, I’d taken a couple years off the circuit to pursue a Master’s degree among other things, but I’m glad I didn’t run right back to New York as a sort of default. There are marvelously talented actors, directors, playwrights, producers, designers, etc., right here in Boston, and it is an extraordinary honor and pleasure to have worked almost non-stop here for most of the last fifteen years.

In January, I head back to the theatre with the Actors Shakespeare Project (now in our tenth season) in a production of “The Cherry Orchard” before I perform in Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape” in March and April.

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Melissa McMeekin

Role : Alfonse Simone’s (Paul Herman) assistant

Q. What scenes did you act in?

MM: I filmed a few scenes, but not all made the final cut.

Q. Which of these scenes made the final cut and which scenes didn’t?

MM: The pool party scene and a key scene that I can’t get into or it would be a spoiler. However, my lines were cut from both scenes and they were a bit whittled down. But I’m certainly not complaining! That my face just pops up at all in this movie is pretty cool.

Q. What other actors did you work with and what was that like?

MM: I worked with Christian, Amy, and Bradley. It was great. This was my first time working with Bradley, although I had met him before at a visit to the editing room of SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. It was really fun to reunite with Christian and Amy (who I worked with on THE FIGHTER.) Christian is incredibly funny and charming and I really enjoy being around him and joking with him.

It was so great to work with Amy again, especially since our characters weren’t supposed to hate each other this time… she’s so warm and down to earth, and I enjoy being around her. Not only were they a lot of fun, but they were all so incredibly talented and focused. I learned a lot; it was really like a master-class. I’m so impressed and amazed by Amy and the way she immersed herself completely and the places she let herself go to. She really showed me how to be fearless and brave, and I’m very proud of her and really rooting for her. And Christian is like some kind of freak of nature in the way he transforms completely, and is without question one of the best actors of our generation. To have been given the gift to learn from him up close and just being around him is priceless.

Q. What was your experience like working on this film?

MM: It was nothing short of amazing. This movie is definitely going to be a loved and well respected part of cinematic history, and to be even the teensiest part of that is unreal, and the fact that I was with people that I have a rapport with just made it so great. I love working with David. I love the way he works and I love watching him work; he gets so in to it and it’s really inspiring to witness his passion and creativity in full force. And he has become one of my very favorite people, he’s very fun to be around, he shares my affinity for jokes second graders enjoy, and I love laughing with him.

Q. How did you get your role?

MM: I had an initial audition with Boston Casting, but all of the larger roles went to established actors out of LA as everyone wanted to work with David. He very graciously called me and told me he created a place for me and asked if I’d like to make a cameo appearance in the film. I was incredibly humbled and honored.

Q. What other acting work have you done recently?

MM: I just finished working on BUSINESS TRIP with Vince Vaughn and have been working down in NYC trying to build my TV credits. My goal is to get a series regular role on a show.

Q. What are your upcoming projects?

MM: I’m currently working in NYC on Steven Soderbergh’s new series, “The Knick”. It will air on Cinemax in 2014. I have a recurring role playing the real Typhoid Mary. I also am in the early development stages of a script that I wrote and am currently working on writing a TV pitch for a one hour drama.

Q. What are your reasons for being a Boston-based actor and pursuing your career here?

MM: I love living in Boston. I am not from the area originally, I’m from Washington state. I moved here seven and a half years ago for no reason other than I wanted to live here. I had no family, friend, or ties of any kind to the area and had, in fact, never even visited the area before I stepped foot off an airplane to live here. The best way I can describe it is that when I would look at pictures of New England I felt homesick. And, indeed, it truly feels like home to me.

So it is very important to me to find a way to do what I love and still get to live where I love. It has certain challenges, sure, and I have to travel to NY a lot and have gotten very used to putting myself on tape, but it is all worth it to me when I walk around Rockport or meet a friend for lunch on Newbury St. And I believe there is just so much talent here in New England, so it has also become very important to me to write and do what I can to bring work here.

Q. Do you have any advice for actors looking to land roles like the one you had in a major motion picture?

MM: Work on your craft. Train. Take classes. Both Boston Casting and C.P. Casting have one day workshops where you can meet the casting directors, and that is great and I strongly advise that, however, I am a believer in the adage that “success happens when preparation and opportunity meet.” So while it’s great to get on the CD’s radar, you need to be prepared for when that opportunity does come along, so you should look in to their other more in-depth classes, as well. I did stage for years, and worked on my craft taking classes and working with a private coach.

I also recommend to new actors to work as much as you can; do plays, short films, student films, etc. Work creates work and you will get better and more confident. This also helps you build a resume and have something for a reel. Outside of Boston you really need to have a reel to compete as a lot of submissions won’t even be looked at if a reel is not attached. This doesn’t have to be major films with major stars.

And we are so blessed here in Boston in terms of the colleges and universities that are here and the superb film programs. If you are willing to go to NY for work, NYU has an amazing film school and they are constantly doing student films of really great quality.

Q. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

MM: I’m just really proud to be a part of this dynamic and talented community and was so thrilled to see so many familiar faces on the screen in AMERICAN HUSTLE. I felt true and sincere pride and can’t wait to see the local industry grow.

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Angela Peri

Casting Director

Q. What was your experience like casting this film?

AP: It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I love working with David O. Russell. He’s like Picasso. He is a cinematic genius. I knew that when I worked with him on “The Fighter.” He pushed us really hard (in a good way.) He always challenged us to bring him more options and to show him what else we have. Like with anything in life, you gel well working with some people and others you don’t. Him and I immediately gelled and have a kinship, where I can see his vision through his eyes. I knew what he wanted for this film. I’m from the 70’s and remember the time period completely. I knew the look, the feel, and the type of people he likes to cast. He loves shooting in Boston and he cast almost all of roles except the leads here. He’ll come back to Boston.

Q. How many principal (speaking) roles did you cast at Boston Casting?

AP: Approximately forty speaking roles.

Q. Have you seen a trend of the numbers increasing for local principal casting, versus them casting all in NY and LA for the big budget motion pictures?

AP: Absolutely. The SAG-AFTRA membership went from around 700-800 members in 2007 and now we are at over 3000 members (including film, television and broadcasting) because of the Massachusetts Film Tax Incentive. Everyone has stepped up their game. Everyone knows the stakes are really high. They’re taking classes and taking it seriously. Everyone preps for auditions. There was no difference between the Boston and NY/LA actors for the AMERICAN HUSTLE auditions. The only thing they have that we don’t is more options. I have complete confidence in every Boston actor to come out and do a good job. Before 2007, the films only came here to shoot exteriors for about two days and hired the local actors as extras only. It wasn’t until the movie PINK PANTHER 2 in 2007 that things changed for us.

Q. A good number of background actors were upgraded to speaking roles in this film. What are your thoughts on that?

AP: It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Don’t shun extra work. You never know what could happen, plus it’s a great way to fill your acting resume.

Q. How many actors did you audition for this film, and what is the average number of actors that auditioned for each role?

AP: Over 1000 actors auditioned in total for the film. It depends on the role, but we auditioned around 20-30 actors for each part.

Q. What made you and/or David want to call in an actor for an audition, callback an actor, and cast them?

AP: I would call in actors that look the part and put them on tape. David O. Russell and the LA Casting Director, Mary Vernieu, would make a decision as to whom to callback. I made suggestions, but David O. Russell had the final casting say.

Q. What did the auditions consist of?

AP: All improv.

Q. How does it feel to give Boston actors roles in a big movie like this?

AP: It feels tremendous.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’m so fortunate to be chosen to work with David O. Russell and Mary Vernieu. The LA producers were shocked that they didn’t have to fly in talent (besides the starring roles) and that we had what they needed here. It took me a while to beat them over the head to realize that, but now they’re getting it; largely due to David O. Russell. We have cast tons of locals in all of the recent films we worked on: TED, THE JUDGE, etc. We are now on the map.

 
 

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