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Andrew Semans Talks Resurrection, Rebecca Hall’s Incredible Monologue and Watching Tim Roth For the First Time

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My buddy was fortunate enough to go to Sundance this past year and see a film called Resurrection. All I heard were good things, and for almost half a year, I would have to wait to see the film myself. All I really knew was that it starred two of my favorite actors: Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth, and that it was a thriller/horror film. That alone, along with the image of Rebecca Hall creeping around the corner of one of those mirror pillars found in a Boscov’s, was enough to have me anxiously awaiting the film. It lived up to all of the hype I had built up in my head and is one of the best films of the year. There are strong themes in the film such as exploitation and narcissism, and while the story has some familiar beats, it’s a unique and fresh thriller.

The film is anchored by the two fantastic leads, Hall deserves a shoutout for an epic eight-minute monologue she delivers, and Roth plays a creepy, yet realistic guy so well. Their dynamic will keep you on the edge of your seat, but a lot of credit should be given to director Andrew Semans as well. It’s hard to believe that Resurrection is only Semans’ second feature-length film and first in nearly a decade. He brings a unique flare to the film’s aesthetic, with a graininess that harkens back to the 1970s, and was able to keep the level of suspense and intrigue up the entirety of the runtime.

In this interview, Semans discusses the film’s aesthetic, working with Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth and the discussions they had about their characters, and his favorite roles of theirs.

Coastal House Media: I wanted to start with Sundance. I know it’s been a few months, but can you recall what that experience was like for you, because Resurrection came out to rave reviews and was bought pretty quickly by IFC films. So what was it like to have your film find a home so quickly and get great reactions?

Andrew Semans: Oh, wow. It was terrific. We were all very gratified by the reaction. The Sundance experience was a bit odd because it was all virtual — we were hopeful that it might be an in-person festival this year, but that proved impossible — so it all happened from the comfort of my own apartment, which was very cozy but also very odd because there wasn’t the sense of a kind of communal experience and there was no theatrical screening associated with the festival; at least not the Park City version. There was, [however], a theatrical screening in London recently as part of Sundance London. So it was a little bit odd. I also had COVID the whole time, but it was also tremendous because the response was very good and we did make a deal with IFC very quickly. And so all [of] our fears around the project were put to rest fairly swiftly and we could just enjoy the positive attention we were receiving.

A still from Resurrection. Photo courtesy of IFC Films.

CHM: Did you have any inspirations for the story of the film? I mean this in the best way possible, but some of the story felt familiar, but I just couldn’t think of films that I’d seen before that specifically had the same story beats. So maybe it was just completely new.

Semans: It’s completely new, completely original [laughs]. No, of course not. There were many different influences. I mean, I try not to focus too much on any specific influences while I’m writing or making anything because you don’t want it to feel derivative and you don’t wanna just be aping something that is really great that you love, so instead, you try and pack them all in your unconscious mind and hopefully the influence will emerge in a way that doesn’t feel derivative. [In a way] that feels exciting and personal. The movies that came to mind in various ways, over the course of making this movie [Resurrection], Todd Haynes’Safe is one of my favorites and always a big influence on anything I do and that was the case here. We talked a lot about Alan Pakula’s Klute, which is such a beautifully-made movie; that was something that came up quite a bit when we were talking about the form of the movie and how we were going to approach it photographically. Little Murders is a movie that I love [and] was an influence on this, and just a lot of paranoid thrillers from the 1970s. But again, it wasn’t something where there was one kind of North Star that I was following. It was an attempt to integrate a number of different influences and movies that excited me.

CHM: Can you talk a little bit about the aesthetic of the film? You mentioned the 1970s, and Resurrection certainly had a grainy, 70s look.

Semans: Yeah, well, it was shot digitally. We weren’t able to shoot on 35mm. Of course, we would’ve loved to shoot on film, but that was just not a possibility because of our practical limitations. But we did want to give it a film-like look. And so I worked very hard with Wyatt [Garfield], our cinematographer, [to ensure] that the colors try and create something that had the richness and roughness of the film. That definitely was something that we focused on.

Just speaking more broadly in terms of the visual approach of the movie, we really wanted to shoot it in a way that was pretty simple, stripped-down. I tend to prefer a more minimal approach to coverage; it’s just an aesthetic preference of mine. And it was a good choice in terms of our schedule, which was very, very limited. We had to shoot the movie very quickly, so a very simple visual approach was something that lent itself to the schedule.

In terms of the look, I was really interested in the movie looking realistic [and] naturalistic, almost plain or mundane. The movie takes place in a lot of very mundane locations, apartments, hotel rooms, department stores, offices, things like that, and because the story is quite outlandish and some very weird things happen in the movie, I really like the contrast between those elements and a world that felt very familiar and exceptional. So the trick was [to] always to try and maintain the sense of reality and try to maintain the sense of the mundane but also imbue it with the feeling of paranoia of men and menace of malignancy and how to sneak those elements in while maintaining the sense that it is a very familiar world.

CHM: Shifting to your lead actors, Rebecca Hall’s defining moment is the monologue she gives that lasts about seven minutes. I know everyone will ask you about it, but can you take me behind the scenes a bit? The monologue is fully focused on her without any cuts, right?

Semans: Once she starts her monologue, we stay on her for the entire thing.

CHM: So was that monologue completely scripted or was there any improv? And I read that it was done in one take, is that correct?

Semans: We did two takes of that, both of which were tremendous and Rebecca [Hall] nailed [and] didn’t drop a line [in either take].

A still from Resurrection. Photo courtesy of IFC Films.

There was no improvisation in that whatsoever. She was reading the lines [and] was scripted precisely the way you see it in the movie. And Rebecca [Hall] is just such a remarkable actor and so well prepared that she could come in, sit down, and do an eight-minute monologue and knock it out of the park.

We did it twice and that’s all we needed and [then] we moved on. It was a really remarkable thing to see. By that time in the shoot, I had such confidence in Rebecca [Hall]; I knew she was going to come in and do something special. At that point, we’d been working with her [for] a couple of weeks and she had been blowing us away so consistently that it’s just par for the course for her. She’s a very special talent.

CHM: And then also you have Tim Roth, who can be big if you need him to, or can also play characters gentler. What was it like to get him on board?

Semans: He [Tim Roth] came [along] much later in the process. Rebecca [Hall] came on board and stuck with the project for a while as we were trying to get it up and running. Tim [Roth] came on much closer to when we were rolling [the] camera. But that was also very, very quick. We got him the script and he was available and he responded to it. It wasn’t very complicated; he didn’t require a lot of seduction. And so it was very straightforward with him as well. That’s not a very good story *laughs*. He just read it and said, “Okay.”

CHM: I was reading that you and Tim Roth had discussions about his character, David. I don’t mean to paraphrase, but I read that Tim Roth wanted to play him quieter and didn’t want him to be over the top.

A still from Resurrection. Photo courtesy of IFC Films.

Semans: Well, that’s true. He [Tim Roth] didn’t want to just ooze menace all the time. One thing that he and I talked about was that these kinds of people, these kinds of malignant, narcissists, sociopaths, very toxic manipulative people, don’t see themselves as evil; they don’t perceive themselves as the villain. We talked about the idea that David understands himself as the protagonist in his own story. If he imagines himself as someone who is doing the right thing, doing good by himself, by Margaret (Hall), by everyone involved, albeit through some very unconventional means, he wouldn’t project evil and menace and violence at all times, he would seem like a relatively normal person.

And that’s how Tim [Roth] wanted to play him. And I like that idea very much. His portrayal of David is at times kind of subdued, rather subtle but in a way that I feel enhances the sense of menace rather than diminishes [it].

CHM: Before I shift off of the actors, I just wanted to ask you if now that you’ve directed both Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth, you name a favorite role of theirs? It can be Resurrection [laughs].

Semans: [laughs] That’s back a boring answer. I would say with Rebecca [Hall], she’s now my favorite actress, but I was a huge fan of hers for so long, so that is very hard to [just] say one. I don’t know if it’s my favorite, but I just would like to point out for those who haven’t seen it, the movie’s Oren Moverman’s The Dinner. Rebecca [Hall] has a supporting role where she’s kind of in the background for a lot of the movie, but in the third act, she has a scene with Richard Gere that she just nails. She’s so good and I remember watching that scene over and over thinking, “Wow, she’s just blowing me away.”

With [Tim] Roth, that is also very hard. I’m going to have to go back to the first time I ever saw him when I was a kid and watching Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead because my dad was watching it and I saw Tim Roth for the first time and thought he was the coolest guy I’d ever seen in my life. It was a long time ago, but it was a big moment for me as a young person to see him in that movie. So I’ll go with that one.

CHM: As the film prepares to head to theaters and streaming at the end of this month, what do you want audiences to take away from the film?

Semans: Yeah, well it has played in a number of regional festivals all over the states and it has played in London and it’s going to be playing in some international festivals coming up as well. And then, of course, it’s going to be released in theaters on July 29th and then streaming on August 5th, you don’t need to know that.

What do I want audiences to take away? I am terrible at this question, I never know. I want audiences to find the film compelling and gripping. I hope [that] they feel it’s worth considering and discussing and engaging, [that] when it’s done it has resonance for them after the viewing and it isn’t just another disposable thriller. I don’t know, I just always fail at this question. I just hope people think it’s worth their time.

IFC Films will release Resurrection is in theaters on demand now.

FILM RATING

Andrew is an entertainment journalist and film "critic" who has written for the likes of Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, Film Focus Online, /Film and The Hollywood Handle among others. Leader of the Kaitlyn Dever Fanclub.

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Interviews

INTERVIEW | ‘A Dance of Memories’: Jaclyn Bethany and Greta Bellamacina on Crafting ‘Tell That to the Winter Sea’

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Tell That to the Winter Sea
Jaclyn Bethany and Greta Bellamacina (Photo Courtesy: Diana Patient and Instagram/@gretabellamacina)

Tell that to the Winter Sea is a beautiful exploration of love, feelings, and unresolved emotions. Directed by Jaclyn Bethany, we follow the intertwined lives of Jo and Scarlet, two friends grappling with the echoes of their past. Set against the backdrop of a girls’ trip to a serene country manor, the film sensitively navigates themes of love, friendship, and the passage of time. Additionally, it captures their emotional journey with raw authenticity and builds a genuine connection with viewers.  As Jo (Greta Bellamacina) and Scarlet (Amber Anderson) confront their unresolved feelings amidst the celebratory atmosphere, viewers are drawn into a world where every glance and conversation reverberates with unspoken yearning. It is undoubtedly one of the finest movies of the year and explores the enduring power of love.

I was fortunate enough to talk to the director Jaclyn Bethany and co-writer/star Greta Bellamacina about the heartfelt film. During the interview, the duo opened up about the film’s narrative and how dance became such a huge part of the story.

Tell That to the Winter Sea

Greta Bellamacina and Amber Anderson in a still from ‘Tell That to the Winter Sea’ (Kaleidoscope)

Aayush: What inspired you to create a story primarily focusing on the intense friendship and first love between two female dancers? 

Jaclyn: That’s a great way to start because it seems like you summarized the story there. I think it’s inspired by Greta and I’s relationship as friends and also sort of how we’ve seen each other grow and change, we’ve been friends for a decade or more. And also as collaborators, we sort of circled each other’s products, she acted in a couple of sorts of mine, and I had a kind of history and love with the UK. We sort of, have the same sort of values and aesthetics and we’re interested in the same kinds of stories. I think it was a natural sort of collaboration to tell the story of two women going through this sort of second coming of age as friends and you know, who have a deep love for each other no matter how you want to read that.

Greta: I think it’s also interesting how, as people we carry, you know, these younger versions of ourselves inside of us everywhere we go. But we evolve as people and experiences naturally happen. But, when you go back and you’re reconnected with the people you grow up with, you know, you resort back to, essentially parts of themselves again, and something is interesting how you’re haunted by the people you were growing up, and you know, what you choose to hold on to your memories and know those intense relationships you have, and life happens, but they kind of never leave you. That kind of was one of the big inspirations.

Aayush: Why did you choose a quiet Catholic school as the setting for their childhood and teenage years? 

Jaclyn: The way we told the story was sort of through these glimpses of the past and memories, and there was a big sort of difference between how they were. They’re the same people, right, but how they were when they were teenagers, how they are now and sort of figuring that through the line. And Greta and I were interested in sort of their feelings sort of being constricted in this Catholic school environment because if they did have feelings for each other as women that will be on friendship, it was sort of, you know, could become taboo, looked down upon which obviously, it shouldn’t. Because Amber’s character, Scarlett, was sort of not as cool in that sort of high school way that Joe’s character was. That kind of created, this tension when they were sort of at the school, and then they would be in the dance studio together. They were able to, you know, just be friends and be free. I think that we’re looking at a specific moment in their life at that time. So I’m sure that the girls hopefully became less mean, as we see later in the film at the hen party. But so I think we were interested in sort of the secrecy and the intimacy of the relationship and the school environment.

Greta: I think school becomes such a, you know, it’s such an integral thing, your whole identity is kind of formed by it. And, you know, you see glimpses, of Joe’s character, where, you know, the friends are saying, like, oh, you know, her, and they kind of question that. And I think we kind of liked the idea that you know, when you do something like a dance class out of school can be life-changing, you can be the person you dreamt of being, you know, there’s a flashback where you see them talk about who they will become when they get older, and they have these big dreams. So I think it’s sort of, it’s nice to keep the innocence of that and, and then show there sort of the relationship.

Aayush: The relationship between your character and Anderson’s character is really poetic, yet very complex. How did you approach portraying the complex and evolving relationship between Jo and her best friend? 

Greta: Well, a lot of it was about how to convey the unspoken, because obviously, you see this tension build-up. They get reconnected after all of this time and there are lots of open questions that haven’t been answered and time has passed. So a lot of it is about the internal monologue you’re having with yourself, you know, the things you want to say, but can’t say. So a lot of the process was thinking about, you know, of course, you want to just express everything that you can’t, because, you know, you’ve essentially become a different person and, it would be bizarre. So, I think a lot of getting into character. One of the kind of the important ways to do that, for us was that, we did a lot of dance rehearsals before we started filming. And then we built up this sort of physical intimacy, where we had this unspoken relationship. Then, when we were filming something, you know, present-day real-time, we had a really shared history that felt real. So that helps get into character today.

Jaclyn: I think it’s also interesting, because, you know, the film does have this time lapse and time jump, where the friends kind of become a little bit more estranged. And I think having them sort of have that shared experience and do those dance rehearsals which sort of reflected their teenage time together. Yeah, and then but have, you know, not knowing each other super well. So there was still like, sort of a distance naturally of trying to figure each other out and how each other worked. And that was like, that was, you know, beautiful to witness. And I think that translates on-screen.

Aayush: Dance is a very important means to tell the story in the movie. When we see you and Anderson moving, we realize what it means for both of these ladies. So, what kind of dance training or preparation did you undergo to convincingly portray Jo’s dance talent?

Greta: When we were in sort of the early processes of writing the film script, and thinking about how we were going to convey the innocence of their relationship growing up, and without wanting to reveal sort of them, like their relationship, that sort of sexual intimacy, we wanted to find an innocence and keep this sort of, you know, the dance, is it open to interpretation. So I just finished filming a film in Italy and the film was predominantly told through movement. So at the time, I was very inspired about, you know, how you convey these complex emotions through movement, without saying anything. And I think that was kind of one of the big inspirations of the scriptwriting element. But then, I guess, when we started practically doing it, a lot of it was listening to songs from the early 2000s. Getting into them as teenagers and things they would naturally listen to, and, and, you know, the innocence of just making up dance routines with your friends. And because that was kind of a way to, it’s like it’s got, it’s almost like its own foreign language in itself. But also, we wanted to keep this motif or something that kind of expresses that physical intimacy.

Jaclyn: When we started writing, even the early drafts, this was always prevalent in the scripts that Joe and Scarlett had some sort of language through dance. And that changed as we went on. But I also grew up doing ballet. I think, like I was saying, there is sort of this natural sort of competitiveness that happens through that. And it’s, you know, very specific to the female experience because your bodies are changing as you’re, you’re doing this sort of ritualistic dance every day after school or whatever. I think we were interested in carrying that aspect over into the film, but also because it is such a visual film in such a visual medium. You have the opportunity to express things not necessarily just with dialogue or words, but through your body and the kind of even the subtle glances between them. So we worked with a choreographer named Sarah Winter, who was phenomenal. I think they all had really sort of mapped out the journey through the dance because each dance feels distinct and comes in a special different part of the film. So I think we sort of collaborated t to bring to light what is in the film through dance.

Aayush: The movie is not just about women meeting to celebrate their friend, it’s much more than that. It’s about women talking about their struggles, their love, and their feelings. However, at the core is this beautiful relationship between two women. How did you navigate portraying the balance between the larger themes while still ensuring that the core relationship between the two friends remained the focal point and heart of the film? 

Jaclyn: We were interested in some sort of setting where all women come together. And one of those settings is like a bachelorette or a hen party. But we wanted fun moments of that, of course, because that’s just a natural part of that experience. But it was sort of within the sort of larger context of the relationship of Joe and Scarlett. We wanted to make sure that that storyline didn’t take away from the relationship between our protagonists. And these additional characters are a beautiful addition to their journey. I think when we were filming it, we stayed close to Joe and Scarlet’s experiences, so that you were kind of never hopefully never taken out of their journey and light through this weekend, and sort of how they are in front of their friends and how they are when they’re alone. Because I think it’s, it’s quite different. And I think we were just looking at that storyline as a compliment and revealing more about their relationship and how they are with each other, and then how they are with their girlfriends.

Greta: I think it’s interesting, because the sort of the ensemble cast of the hen party kind of tells you bits of information, missing information about these characters that you’re trying to piece together, through real-time watching them. But really, our kind of aim was to show you know, the complexities of just time and you know, identity and the people we could have become, there’s kind of there’s a sense of loss in it because it says it’s a bittersweet ending, because you see, reality versus younger dreams. So it’s kind of trying to keep hold of those two, being on this precipice of you know, in your 30s. And obviously, things are changing again, but bringing everyone back together and learning, almost learning the story backward.

Aayush: Amber and you, Greta, have such a beautiful chemistry in the film. It is visible in every frame you share. So, how was it working with Amber?

Greta: She was wonderful and she understood the character from the beginning. I think, just from our first session in rehearsals together, we were lucky because we were able to build this physical intimacy together. But also, because we weren’t speaking, it was all about the body. So when we were filming and had to kind of have this distance, that it was, it was great, because we were able to have that shared physical history, but then also not keep stuck some things back. So, it was wonderful just having that time together really before we were on set.

Jaclyn: Amber immediately responded to the script, and was very enthusiastic and was, you know, just responsive to the fact that this was told from a unique female experience. I think she and Greta are very different and they complement each other and in a beautiful way as well. And I think she’s, you know, a wonderful actress, and I had seen her in Emma and it was great to work with her and we’re so lucky to have her a part of our story.

Aayush: Jo’s struggle to reconcile her past with her present is beautifully presented in the film. Her emotions are raw and she is still dealing with the loss of her first love. What aspects of Jo’s emotional journey resonated most with you? 

Greta: Well, I guess now when I am reconnected with people from my past, and they share photos of me and I kind of, and I’m shocked to see the person. They are the visual reminder of what I used to wear or you know, everything it’s sort of, you know, I think it’s this sort of reminder of, you know, it’s like that John Ashbery poem, so many lives, we could have and we do have within us. So I think that was also quite crucial and Joe’s character having her like, visually different in the flashback, she’s got like this kind of early 2000s wig, and she sort of very much into that era.

Aayush: How do the themes of letting go of the past and embracing new stages in life play out in the film? What message do you hope the audience takes away regarding these themes?

Greta: I well, I hope it’s just a Universal film of friendship and love that people can connect to, but have, you know, an honest, complex portrayal of women and their stories.

Jaclyn: It’s interesting to have made this film, in September 2022, and then come back and look at it, and talk about it now, because the film is about to release. What I do feel about this film is that it’s timeless and I hope that anyone who watches it can see a part of themselves in our characters, and hopefully, we can also inspire some young women to go out and make their films and find their voices.

Tell That to the Winter Sea releases in UK theatres on May 31.

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Charlie Michael Baker: Journey of Autism, Social Media and Working with Kylie Jenner (EXCLUSIVE)

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Charlie Michael Baker and Kylie Jenner

At just 17, Charlie Michael Baker is giving his all to change the world. Baker is a renowned author, entrepreneur, actor, and journalist and he is on a mission to help millions of people suffering from autism. Charlie Michael Baker previously told Costal House Media he raised over £400,000 to help people with autism. He faced many challenges since childhood but his determination and perseverance were the key to his success.

Baker is a Social Media sensation with over 1.2M followers on Instagram. Charlie Michael Baker is one of the many influencers being bullied on social media every day. He receives 300-500 rape and death threats daily!

Charlie Michael Baker

Charlie Michael Baker

We had the honor to connect with Charlie Michael Baker. You can read our conversation below.

Nikita Pahwa: Congratulations on launching your new book! What can you tell us about it?

Charlie Michael Baker: So my new book is about social media, specifically, the dangers of social media. All young kids now want to grow up and be ‘famous’ but don’t know the bad side of it all. I was one of those kids, I’d always wanted to be famous, it’s something I’d always dreamed of!

NP: How do you deal with death and rape threats?

CMB: The short answer is, I don’t, really. I stopped reading my DMs a few months back because of it all. I don’t deal with negativity and there’s too many trolls to block each and every one, so they all just get ignored.

Charlie Michael Baker Social Media and I

Charlie Michael Baker Social Media and I (Photo: @kaybeephotography2 on Instagram)

NP: What advice would you give to people in similar situations?

CMB: I’d say don’t listen to them, do what I do and just don’t read them. It’s better that way. What you don’t see can’t hurt you!

NP: If you could say one thing to people sending you threats, what would it be?

CMB: Without ruining my career *lol* I’d say just to be a bit kinder. If there’s something going on in your life that you’re not very happy with, ask someone for help. Speak to someone you trust rather than swaying to a life of being a keyboard warrior. It’s not nice!

NP: Is your new book related to Charlie Baker: Autism and Me?

CMB: It is! It will be written in the same – ish way BUT Charlie Michael Baker Social Media And I will be exclusively E – book sold on my website charliembaker.net.

NP: Are you currently working on a new venture with Kylie Jenner?

CMB: I am! We’re working with the same brand – glow beverages. We’re working alongside an NBA star too whose name I cannot remember for the life of me – oops lol.

Kylie Jenner and Charlie Michael Baker

Kylie Jenner and Charlie Michael Baker

NP: Are you planning to collaborate with more celebrities in the future?

CMB: I love working with celebrities. Mostly just to see what they’re like to be honest. Kylie is so nice though honestly I keep messaging her life updates!

NP: Last question, is it true that you’re working on the Charlie Baker: Autism and Me movie? Are we going to see it on the big screen?

CMB: Yes, it is! I’m filming something very very special this year with Creation Media 22 which should appear on Netflix and Prime Video which is so exciting! It will be my first time in front of an actual TV camera so it’s a bit different to daily vlogs!

You can get your Charlie Michael Baker Social Media And I E-copy on March, 1 for £0.01 (yes, a penny!). Get your Charlie Baker: Autism and Me copy on Amazon.

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Interviews

INTERVIEW | ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ Stars Brandon Soo Hoo and Leah Lewis Discuss Representation, Positivity, and the Power of Belief

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Tiger's Apprentice
Tiger's Apprentice (Paramount+)

Paramount’s latest animated flick ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ has finally been released and garnered positive response from everywhere. Adapted from Laurence Yep’s beloved children’s book series, ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ brings to life the thrilling journey of Chinese American teen Tom Lee (portrayed by Brandon Soo Hoo). He is suddenly thrust into a realm he once believed existed only in bedtime tales. After a tragedy strikes his family, the young man discovers his identity as a Guardian. Subsequently, he is mentored by the mystical Tiger Hu (played by Henry Golding) to confront the evil Loo (portrayed by Michelle Yeoh). In between all this chaos, he develops a special friendship with a girl named Rav (played by Leah Lewis) who helps him in defeating the villain and saving the world.

It is one of those films that you can enjoy with your family. It is tender, beautifully crafted, and encourages you to think about how traditions play a crucial role in everyone’s lives. In this exclusive interview, Brandon Soo Hoo and Leah Lewis share their perspectives on the film’s themes, the significance of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) representation in media, and the impact of portraying multi-dimensional characters. The actors delve into the importance of maintaining positivity in the face of adversity, believing in oneself, and breaking stereotypes in the entertainment industry. From challenging outdated narratives to normalizing cultural heritage, Brandon and Leah express their excitement for viewers to experience the film’s adventurous and tender journey of self-discovery.

Tiger's Apprentice

A still from ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ (Paramount+)

Aayush Sharma: ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ is a mixture of so many great things love, care, culture, and family. But for you guys, what was the one thing that made you relate to this story and made you proud? And why do you think that particular thing is so important for people to see?

Brandon Soo Hoo: One of the favorite things that I related with my character was Tom has uncanny ability to maintain a positive outlook when things get really tough. And so, you know, he’ll drop in a humorous little quip here and there in the face of adversity. I think that’s such a powerful way to confront anything challenging because life isn’t that serious. And, if you really lean into the negative, and if you really lean into the dark side, I feel like it can really corrupt and taint you. I believe maintaining that light and positivity around you is like the ultimate protection that you have, from the dark stuff when life kind of gets you down. Because if you let life get too dark, then you won’t let enough of your inner light kind of radiate outwards and do what it needs to do. So, you know, hold on to your light, hold on to the positivity. I feel like it’s contagious. It’s very, very healing.

Leah Lewis: I think, for me, one of my favorite things about this film that I would take away, is really learning how to believe in yourself. And I know that’s such a simple statement, but it’s a big loaded one for me. I really feel like when it comes down, to believing in yourself, it’s the things that you care about, the people you care about, where you came from, where you’re going. You see this character, Tom, struggle with believing in himself in any aspect. I think that’s really important too. And I think, when you can believe in yourself too and present yourself, honestly, and vulnerably, that’s also when you find other people who are right for you in your life. You see Tom eventually learns how to be himself, and because of it, he fits into this Zodiac and kind of ends up finding a community that he never would have expected. So, I think that aspect is important for me.

AS: So, you know, besides showing so many great things, this is also an Asian story. The characters, the cast, the makers, and most of the people involved in this project, have an Asian background. But you know when we see the entertainment industry, we still see a lot of talented Asian actors stuck in a kind of stereotype. And they are cast in one kind of role. For you guys, how does Asian representation in movies intersect with a broader discussion about diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry?

BS: I mean, it’s 2024, we’re past the era of having Asian people playing just submissive roles or playing like the tech support. I think that right now is like a renaissance for Asian entertainers and Asian artists to showcase that we are multi-dimensional people, that we can be the hero, we can be the cool guy. It’s all that stuff is like, we’re really seeing Asians being at the forefront of stories like that. And it’s so important because growing up, if you don’t see all of those things represented in media, it’s kind of hard to feel like, you can see that in yourself. So, it’s almost like this conditioning that we received from a really young age. So right now, we’re trying to reverse engineer all of that by showing you can be the hero of your own story, you know, you can save the day. And you could be more than just like whatever aesthetic or face that people want to put on you. You can kind of step out of those boundaries and as a human being, you can do whatever the heck you want. So, I think that it’s so important for us to be able to share with you all.

Brandon Soo Hoo (@brandonsoohoo/Instagram)

LL: I agree, I think, we’re living in a day and age where we’re moving towards a place where representation isn’t such a flashy, flashy thing. It’s a necessary and needed thing that should already be kind of embedded into our society. So, it’s a huge win for the AAPI community any time there’s an API lead or like, especially something like this film where it’s completely eccentric. But I also think the more and more we start to see those projects, like, it’s important to be able to normalize the difference in all these characters. You know, when I also look at, the list of like, Caucasian actors, I can think of an actor for every kind of character. I’m like, oh, yeah, I know, this actor played that, and this and that. But you know, for Asian, that’s been a long time coming, where it’s like, oh, it’s only Michelle Yeoh, who plays that or like, you know, we have the designated person who plays the geek or the kind of hero or like the dark character. And what’s so cool about this film, too, is like, Tom is just, he’s a cool, regular guy who hails from Chinese American culture. This film shows heritage and culture in a way where it’s so normalized, and just so kind of nuanced. I feel like that sense of representation is so cool for the people at home who are like, hey, casually, I like this guy, or I know those kinds of traditions, and I love the way he builds in this theme because I feel that way. I don’t know, I just, I also wish I had something like this growing up too. But like, now is the best time to see people that look like you, speak like you, or act like you on screen. It really recovers that belief in yourself that things are possible for you. Like we all watch TV. We all care about these characters to feel seen and feel like you know, you have a voice out there somewhere. There’s nothing better than that feeling. So, I hope that this film does that for a lot of people to me.

AS: You guys are working with such huge stars. Michelle Yeoh, Lucy Liu, Henry Golding, and more. What was your reaction when you heard these guys will be in the movie?

BS: Man, I mean, the reaction was and still is just like, almost like a surreal disbelief. I was like, these are people that I watched growing up when I was little, I was like, dang, these are some huge Asian names. They are the biggest names in our community. So yeah, I told my parents immediately about, like, who’s going to be in the project, and we all just like giggled about it together. So, I think just immense pride. It’s such a celebration, and it’s such a win, not just for me and my career, but it’s such a celebration for the Asian community. It’s like, man, look at all of us, like, together just being badass Zodiac warriors.

LL: I felt the same way. I mean, honestly, I tend to do this thing to where if someone tells me like this person is who you’re working with. I’m just like, wait, what? And I’m still like that, you know, like when we were able to even see Sandra Oh, at the premiere of like, let’s go, oh, my God, like, that’s really freakin’ cool. It’s also just like, I think it’s a really proud moment to finally see all different generations of AAPI actors coming together on one screen and to be able to see that there is space for more than just one or two. This whole cast is like a chock filled with it. And everyone is so talented, it’s been an honor. I’m really proud to be a part of it.

Leah Lewis and Sandra Oh

Leah Lewis and Sandra Oh (@leahmlewis/Instagram)

AS: The film has finally been released and it has opened to great reviews. If anyone hasn’t seen the movie, what’s your advice to them? And why should they watch ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’?

BS: What do you what are you waiting for? Get in there. Watch this movie. It’s special, it’s beautiful. There’s something in there for everybody. And yeah, I think you’re really missing out on something that’s, that’s really beautiful and important. So go check it out. I hope they get to watch it with your family because there are a lot of beautiful lessons in there to share. So, go go check it out. You have to.

LL: It’s like, it’s a cool, like, genuinely cool. It has Steelo to it. Adventurous, tender film about finding yourself and I know we all want to do that. So, you should totally watch it and I hope you find a bit of yourself in this cool tender film.

‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ is currently streaming on Paramount+.

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