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Interview | Nadia Alexander Discusses Not Okay and Working with Zoey Deutch



Searchlight and Hulu’s Not Okay premiered on the streaming service on July 29. This is a sharp satire that, for the first time to my knowledge, satirized the current influencer culture where YouTubers are giving reviews of Jordan Peele’s latest on social media. The film stars Zoey Deutch as Danni, a writer-turned-influencer after she photoshops a luxurious life in Paris. But what begins as a white lie becomes a house of cards that get stacked too high as she befriends Rowan (budding star Mia Isaac), who is a trauma survivor and a teenage activist.

I spoke with star Nadia Alexander about her role as Harper, Danni’s co-worker who’s skeptical of her actions. She’s incredible in the film and I was fortunate enough to get to speak with her about the evolution of director Quinn Shephard, working with Zoey Deutch and Mia Isaac and her perspective on a certain day of shooting.

Zoey Deutch in the film Not Okay. Photo by Nicole Rivelli. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

Coastal House Media: Hi, Nadia! It’s nice to meet you. Congratulations on the film and your engagement — I saw that on social media, ironically. I loved your performance in the film because the whole time I was watching, I was waiting for your character, Harper, to inevitably knock down Danni’s house of cards. I’ll touch on that scene in a little bit, but to start, what has this press tour been like for you? I know you had a theatrical screening of the film last night.

Nadia Alexander: We did. We had two, we did one in LA [and] that was the first time that we got to watch it with an audience, which was really exciting because I have actually seen the film probably about 30 times at this point [laughs] because when your fiancé is the director, you end up spending a lot of time in the editing room and watching cuts and watching different versions of the film, so getting to see the final product and hear other human beings laugh that isn’t just me because I continue to laugh at the jokes every time I watch it [laughs], which is a little bit ridiculous. But that was really special, and we had a lot of friends out there that came to support and that was really wonderful.

I mean, it’s really interesting because of the social media following that we’ve built up throughout the process. Like the screening that we went to last night, there were people who were like, “I’ve been following this movie since the blonde Dylan O’Brien TikTok,” you know? And having people who have been invested in the project for like a year without even knowing what it was about until the trailer dropped a month ago, that has been a really interesting experience of getting to watch people get excited and then hopefully not disappoint them when they get to see it on Friday.

CHM: I got to speak to Quinn yesterday about her transition to now being fully behind the camera — as you know in her last film, she also starred in it — but you’ve acted in both films and I’m just curious, did you notice any differences in her as a director from her first to her second film?

Quinn Shephard and Zoey Deutch in the film Not Okay. Photo by Amber Asaly. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

Alexander: Oh yeah. I mean, obviously, she’s still very young — she directed Blame at 20 [and] she directed Not Okay at 26 — but I think in a lot of ways, she’s already so confident and knew exactly what she wanted on Blame, but to get to see her execute it on a much larger scale, especially because Blame was made for very, very little money and this was made for a little more than a little money, and being able for her to be able to say, “I want a hallway with red lockers,” and you just get the hallway with the red lockers, I think getting to see her step into this bigger position of power has been very inspiring to me.

And I think in terms of her technique, because she came from an actor’s background, she is an “actor’s director” and she’s always able to sort of tailor her directing style to each individual actor’s needs. And it’s very interesting because I’ve changed a lot from what the actor that I was when I did Blame when I was 21 to now [playing] Harper at 27 and her being able to shift with me. And she also puts me on tape for every audition that I do, and we have such an easy language between each other where I kind of know what she wants before she’s come up and told me in a way that during Blame, I was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing,” and “I don’t understand this character, help me,” and I think there was even more trust this time around.

Warning: light spoilers ahead for Not Okay.

CHM: I wanted to talk about one scene in particular when two characters have a confrontation in the office. I spoke to Quinn about this yesterday and she told me that it was all improvised between the two characters. So I was curious, from your perspective, do you remember filming that scene in particular? Did you know what to expect from the actors, what they were going to say, and how much could you hear from being outside of the office?

Alexander: Yeah. I think that it was really interesting because I remember just reading that scene I felt like I could see it so clearly and watching it in real-time [and] I was like, “Yeah, this is exactly how it should feel,” [and] the office space that we ended up using for the film was just incredible and the glass and all of it was just so filmic to me and I was really excited to see that scene. We could definitely hear more [than] you can — they edited the sound so that you couldn’t hear as much — [but] we got quite a lot of the incredible improv work that they did.

And Mia being literally 17 years old when we were filming, the power that she was able to have and keep in that head space was just incredible to watch. I was just like, “This girl.” I knew before I saw a single daily or any of the footage, I was just like, “She’s such a star, I’m honored to be in this child’s presence.”

Mia Isaac in the film Not Okay. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century

CHM: And what was she like to work with? Because you said it yourself, she was 17 when you guys filmed this and she’s had two star-making performances this summer with Don’t Make Me Go and now Not Okay. What was it like to kind of be there early in her career?

Alexander: You know, [I’m] on the Mia Isaac hype train before everyone else. Because Quinn [Shephard] is my partner, I got to watch all of the tapes that came in for Rowan, and I remember so distinctly Mia [Isaac] was tape #10. We were taking notes, watching the tapes and it’s interesting because as an actor, of course, you always want to do your best and get the job. And even if you’re like, “Oh, I might not be right for this; I really want to try,” it’s interesting when you’re on the other side of it, you’re really looking [and] you’ve had this picture of this person and you’re like, “I don’t know who she is, but I’ll know her when I see her.” And as soon as Mia came on —it was the spoken word [scene], the one that’s on the laptop — it finished [and] we both had tears in our eyes and we were like, “That’s it. That’s Rowan. That is exactly who I’ve seen in my mind for the last two years.”

I mean, Hannah Marks and Quinn [Shephard are] the first people to put Mia out there in the world [and] I cannot wait to see what she does with her career. I think she’s going to be such a huge actor and I know she wants to get into writing and directing, and she’s a brilliant, brilliant person, and I love her.

CHM: You share a lot of scenes with Zoey Deutch in the film and I just wanted to ask you about that scene where your character confronts her. You lay down the ultimatum like such a boss, so what was that scene like to shoot?

Alexander: That was a tough scene because it was the first scene that I had to shoot. And I was like, “You hate me. Wait, where is the love? Seven-year relationship and this is what you give me? You make me do the hardest scene first? [laughs]” So that was a tricky one also because I’d known that monologue for two years at that point. That monologue has not changed drastically since it got into the script, so I think getting it to a place where it felt fresh was hard. But Zoey [Deutch] was so phenomenal in that scene and gave me a lot to work off of. I think helped me find all the colors again, just because like seeing her, she’d do a take and she would just look pathetic and Quinn would be like, “I just want you to like, almost pity her a little bit in this take,” and Zoe would immediately give me that. So that was awesome.

CHM: One final question I have for you is: Is directing a movie in the cards for you?

Alexander: You know, I would write one, I might consider producing one, [but] I’m not sure I can do the directing thing. I think [you wear] too many hats. It’s like [being] in the kitchen when you have to [do] like 400 things — I can’t do that in the kitchen, like I can’t. I boil the pasta by itself, then I make the vegetables, so I think the way that my brain works versus somebody like Quinn [who’s] able to do so many things at once. I’m kind of better if I just focus on one thing. Never say never, but it also might be a bad movie if I direct it. 

Not Okay is streaming on Hulu now.


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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EXCLUSIVE | Alma Poysti and Jussi Vatanen On How ‘Fallen Leaves’ Became Such a ‘Learning’ Experience



Jussi Vatanen and Alma Poysti at 'Fallen Leaves' premiere at the BFI London Film Festival (Getty Images)

Fallen Leaves premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and went on to win the Jury Prize. On the other hand, Aki Kaurismäki’s direction, screenplay, and performances by Alma Pöysti & Jussi Vatanen received critical acclaim. Finland has decided to send the MUBI film for Best International Feature at the 96th Academy Awards.

Apart from being praised at several prestigious festivals, the Finnish movie has received a lot of love from the viewers in its theatrical run. Whether it is storytelling or acting performances, the Aki Kaurismaki directorial is getting the recognition it deserves. Alma Poysti and Jussi Vatanen are impeccable in their roles and continue to take the audiences by storm. Luckily, I, on the behalf of Coastal House Media, had the opportunity to speak with both stars at the movie’s press conference earlier this week. We discussed how their experience on stage aided in preparing for such complex roles.

Alma Poysti and Jussi Vatanen in ‘Fallen Leaves’ (MUBI)

Both the actors have been astonishing on the stage, but we all know that movies are a different ball game. I asked how they mentally processed the acting experience while starring in Fallen Leaves and although they shared different anecdotes from what they learnt while shooting the film, both actors admitted that they were “grateful” for this experience. While answering the question, Poysti said she loved how silence can also mean so much in movies and it’s something that she is still processing. She said, “I’m so inspired and so grateful for this experience, and the amount of humanity that runs through our roles. Work is so beautiful and it actually means something to people. This kind of purity inspires me to investigate how much can you take away and when less is actually more. Also, you have to be quite brave to let the camera in when you are taking off the masks and taking away the pretending.”

“Being as bare as one dares can create a fascinating and beautiful space. Trusting the silence reveals a silent dialogue within and between characters, where few words are needed but carefully chosen, with nothing extra. I’m still processing and enjoying contemplating this concept,” Poysti added.


Meanwhile, Vatanen echoed the same sentiment and credited the filmmaker to make things so easy for them. He said, “It definitely was a learning process and we got to witness old-fashioned filmmaking that is so minimalistic. I and Poysti, we both learned how can you achieve a lot by doing so much little and deliver a lot of emotions by just being present in that moment. Of course, Aki is there to help us and you just need to follow what he is trying to paint on the canvas. So, it took away all the pressure.

The actors also shared that the movie was filmed in a mere 20 days, jokingly noting that they’ve spent more time discussing the film than actually shooting it.

Fallen Leaves in currently playing in theatres across the US.

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EXCLUSIVE | ‘Joram’ star Manoj Bajpayee Reveals He Never Takes Time To Get Out Of His Characters: ‘Never Had The Luxury…”



Actor Manoj Bajpayee is known for playing intense roles. From Bhiku Mhatre in ‘Satya’ to Professor Siras in ‘Aligarh,’ Bajpayee has always enthralled us with his impeccable acting performances. His upcoming movie, ‘JORAM,’ is no different and sees him playing an immigrant labourer.

In Joram, skillfully directed by Devashish Makhija, we follow the poignant journey of Dasru, an immigrant laborer. His life takes a harrowing turn when his beloved wife is tragically murdered, and he finds himself entangled in a relentless and unforgiving system determined to defeat him at all costs. Faced with unimaginable challenges, Dasru makes a desperate choice to protect his infant daughter, Joram, and embarks on a daring escape to his long-forgotten homeland nestled deep within remote forests.

The movie, which was screened at this year’s JIO MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, received a standing ovation from the audiences. Bajpayee, who was present at the screening of the film, opened up about how he prepared for the role of Dasru and how he manages to come out of them.

While responding to a question posed EXCLUSIVELY by COASTAL HOUSE MEDIA journalist Aayush Sharma, the renowned actor revealed that he drew upon his personal experiences of originating from a humble village to authentically portray the character of Dasru.

“I come from a village. My journey has been very, very long. I have met several people. Such has been my journey that I don’t need to go to jhopadpatti to play a jhopadpatti guy. There are so many experiences stored here (points to his brain). I had to simply refresh m memories from my childhood. That’s how my character Dasru cam alive to me. I felt like I had seen him before. I just had to construct him for this film,” Bajpayee said.

Manoj Bajpayee (Instagram/@bajpayee.manoj)

On the other hand, the ‘Gulmohar’ star admitted that he never had the luxury of taking a lot of time to get a character out of his mind. Bajpayee added, “As to how I come out of it, I jump to my next film (laughs). Nowadays directors like Devashish Makhija are very, very demanding. They just want to suck you in and want you to forget everything and take a plunge in their world. I try to be a sincere listener to my directors. It’s in my DNA that I don’t get nostalgic about my films. All of us actors are like that. We find our ways to approach our actors. When we don’t work, we try to relax and go back to reading, spending time with family, etc. However, I have heard several actors taking a lot of time to come out of their characters. That is a luxury I’ve never had.”

The film also stars Smita Tambe, Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub and Tannishtha Chatterjee in pivotal roles. ‘Joram’ is scheduled to hit theatres on December 8.

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INTERVIEW | Petersen Vargas, Kaori Oinuma, and Gillian Vicencio Talk Filipino Dark Comedy ‘A Very Good Girl’ and Its Overwhelming Success: ‘A Big Achievement For Us’



Kaori Oinumo, Petersen Vargas, and Gillian Vicencio (Instagram)

With movies like ‘Parasite’ and ‘Shoplifters receiving worldwide praise, there is no doubt that Asian cinema is finally getting the recognition it deserves and it is in no mood to stop at all. Joining the bandwagon is Petersen Vergas’ new movie ‘A Very Good Girl,’ starring Dolly De Leon and Kathryn Bernardo in the lead roles. The movie tells the story of Philo (Bernardo) and what happens when she is fired from her job by a stylish retain mogul named Mother Molly (De Leon). However, things go out of control after the firing as Philo embarks on a journey to take revenge and is certain about how she wants to destroy Molly’s empire.

Apart from Bernardo and De Leon, the film also stars two young stars of Filipino cinema – Gillian Vicencio (Joenna) and Kaori Oinuma (Rigel) – who have surprised everyone with stunning performances. As per our review, ‘A Very Good Girl‘ is a roller-coaster ride, filled with brilliant performances, high fashion, and superb production design. Its captivating narrative and visually stunning presentation keep audiences engaged and entertained from beginning to end. The film has received a lot of praise from critics as well as viewers for its storytelling, acting performances, and visually stunning production design.

Coastal House Media caught up with the director Petersen Vargas and actors Gillian Vicencio and Kaori Oinuma to learn more about the creative process and what kind of preparations went into making ‘A Very Good Girl’ such a massive success.

You are working with two of the biggest stars in Asian Cinema, Kathryn Bernardo and Dolly De Leon. Were the roles specifically written for them and they were the first choices for playing Molly and Philo? Also, do you think that the world will be surprised by their Mukti-layered performances?

Vargas: Yes! So, the way we developed the material like we were already thinking of Kathryn and De Leon. So yeah, those roles were tailor-made for them. But what was surprising was what they added to the roles because their performances provided more depth to the characters. It’s surprising because as you’ve said, Kathryn hasn’t done a role like this. So, I think a lot of people were very pleasantly surprised and embraced her character. Viewers call it the new era of Kathryn Bernardo. Meanwhile, as far as Dolly De Leon, I already knew she was gonna kill it, but seeing it in person, directing her, and seeing what she’s done for the film, it still amazes me I could never get tired of watching her thing.

Kathryn Bernardo and Dolly De Leon in ‘A Very Good Girl’ (AVGG)

Kaori, you are the jack of all spades. You are a dancer, model, and actress and you can sing as well. The future of Asian Cinema or Filipino cinema is looking bright when people see you on the screen. But what was the first instance where you felt that acting is something I want to do professionally and make my career in?

Kaori: Oh, my gosh! I fell in love with acting while doing my first-ever project, I wasn’t good at that time and even now, I know that there’s a lot to improve. But I just realized that for me, I realized that when you act, you’re free to do whatever you want to, to feel the needs of your character, and as a person, I am not that free. I think I want to dive into acting just because I want to be free, as a person, I can’t wait for that time that I’m free.

Kaori Ounima (Instagram/@kaori_oinuma)

Gillian, your character, Joenna, is one of the most important ones and takes the movie in a whole new direction. When the script came to you and you got to know that you were playing this character, what was your first thought and what kind of preparations went in to make sure you nailed the character?

Gillian: You know, when they offered me this role, I just really accepted it, right there and then. But when I read the script, I understood the struggle and the pain of the people who are being taken advantage of, and for me, it’s important for this kind of situation to be known and to be represented. So, no matter how sensitive the topic was or what was going on with the character? I think it was time to spark some discussion about it, especially here in the Philippines. So, I discussed the creatives and directors about the backstory of the hierarchy, and I just did my best to portray it. I just hope that I did justice to the topic because it’s very important, it’s very, crucial.

Gillian Vicencio (@_gillianvicencio)

Outfits play a very important role in this movie because it shows two very distinctive personalities of every character. Was that always a part of the movie? Or you thought of giving the story a spin by including this aspect while shooting.

Vargas: I think it was very much part of the DNA of ‘A Very Good Girl,’ just because it was like a showdown for me and costume design was very key in getting a glimpse of these characters. Like, once you see what those characters were, you’ve kind of like get to know them already, just from that visual. So, it was very important because we wanted to take this campy route very, very seriously. (laughs) I wanted it to be very over the top, I wanted it to be extravagant. So it was fun and because I think Philo’s character is a superhero. Like she, she dresses down to like her normal self, and then suddenly just transforms into a superhero with her with her killer outfits. Yeah, I think I’ve always just envisioned this film ending with two beautiful women in long gowns, but like, you know, like, a drip in blood and jewels. That was always the vision. So yes, definitely, outfits were a big part of the storytelling.

Kathryn Bernardo and Dolly De Leon in a still from ‘A Very Good Girl’ (Tremendous)

So, the movie has been released and it got amazing reviews. How are you guys feeling after the amazing reviews/social media reactions and do you think such reactions would be able to tell the world that Filipino cinema is back with a bang?

Vargas: The response has been very overwhelming. We are very grateful that we are successful at the box office and people are flocking to the cinemas, giving this film a chance. It’s just a pleasure to see those seats filled out. We’re very grateful and I liked how people started talking about the important themes of the film. Of course, we wanted to engage the audiences in a very fun way in this dark comedy journey, but beneath that, it was very important for us that people talked about the important topics of being good and accountable and this whole story of womanhood. So yeah, I appreciate it a lot and I hope that the audiences outside of the Philippines could feel the same way and support the movie in the same manner.

Gillian: I agree with Peterson. We came out from a pandemic and the Philippine cinema was not doing good. But, we are finally having viewers in theatres right now because of ‘A Very Good Girl’ and I’m very happy that ‘A Very Good Girl’ is the first Filipino film to premiere in Hollywood. So that’s a very big achievement for us and that’s one of the reasons why I’m so happy and grateful. It’s overwhelming. It’s overwhelming. I’m just happy with the way people are receiving the movie. Thank you so much for appreciating our work.

Kaori: I think they said it all. Seeing people go back to the cinemas is a very big achievement for me and all of us. The responses and the praises for the movie, I mean, Oh my gosh, it’s overwhelming. The best thing is that people are now open to the new genre and they’re committed to us as well. We love them. We love very good people.

A Very Good Girl‘ is currently playing in theatres across the US.

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