Actor Jimmy O. Yang (Silicon Valley) takes on his most challenging role to date with Patriots Day, the latest collaboration of director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg. During the press conference, Yang talked about playing Dun Meng, the carjacking victim who escaped from Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Sullivan Stapleton, star of NBC’s Blindspot, has also starred in his share of features. His next flick Renegades, co-stars J.K. Simmons and was partly shot in Croatia. The film’s trailer and Stapleton audio is featured after the jump:
One of Whiplash’s strengths rests in the sheer physicality of the performance of actors Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. The story of a highly ambitious young drummer (Teller) who takes his sanity to the limits while learning from an abusive jazz instructor (J.K. Simmons), Whiplash should be a favorite come awards season time, and the feature also marks the arrival of promising filmmaker Damien Chazelle.
Whiplash maintains its fever pitch throughout its 106 minutes, and the final chapter, which features a showdown between the drummer and his mentor, is a sight to behold. “We don’t think of instruments as physical,” said Chazelle, whose story was inspired by his own experience as part of a high school jazz orchestra. “We think of dance as physical. We think of sports as physical. (With) music, we don’t. But trumpeters screw their lips up, violinists screw their backs up, and drummers screw their hands up.”
Although Terence Fletcher (Simmons) is a teacher who crosses the line with his students, there is a perverse method to his madness. Certain musicians thrive under pressure and may actually flourish under abusive tactics, and it’s an issue that Chazelle addresses in the narrative:
“I had teacher like (Terence Fletcher) and it made me a better drummer. But as a humanist I can’t condone what he does – and I wanted to make the character as monstrous as possible so that it’s hard to condone what he does. It’s undeniable that it’s a big part of jazz and music history – this kind of streak of tyranny leading to great musicianship.”
Whiplash captures the pulse and rhythm of New York, but most of the production was shot in downtown Los Angeles. During the press conference, Chazelle explains why, even with tax credits available in the Big Apple, he shot Whiplash in the City of Angels.
Whiplash is now playing in New York and Los Angeles.
Opening October 10 in New York and Los Angeles, Whiplash centers on Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller in a breakout role), a driven jazz drummer who risks it all to learn from revered instructor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). Fletcher’s emotionally and physically abusive methods push Andrew to the brink at the prestigious music conservatory, and their battle of wills serves as the story’s heart and soul.
The picture is inspired by director/writer Damien Chazelle’s own life in the music world. “I asked Damien some technical questions with drumming because he is a better jazz drummer than I am,” said Teller at the Whiplash press conference. “I was using him for that as much as I could, but for the character, it was all there on the page. It was very clear what Andrew Neyman was all about. For Andrew, he wants to be the greatest drummer of all time and that’s really his sole kind of desire.”
Miles Teller’s extensive music background started on the piano at just six years old. Eventually he would move on to drums, and those well honed skills helped ease Whiplash’s seemingly steep learning curve.
Click on the media bar below to hear Miles Teller talk about his music background (J.K. Simmons is also heard on the clip):
With her work on Dharma & Greg, the short-lived 1600 Penn, and now Growing Up Fisher, Jenna Elfman has crafted a solid acting career that’s partly anchored by her impeccable sense of comedic timing. Of course, a bit of that elusive charm and a subtle sense of self-confidence are also part of the mix, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to place her in a lineage that includes Carole Lombard, Judy Holliday, and Carol Burnett.
During our interviews with the actress, Elfman talked about presenting Burnett collaborator Tim Conway with an 80th birthday cake. “That was awesome for me,” said Elfman, who also cites Harvey Korman, Lucille Ball, and Judy Holliday as influences. “I kind of couldn’t believe it, because I used to sit in front of the TV with bated breath waiting for them to break down laughing. I was obsessed with them.”
As for Growing Up Fisher, one hopes the show’s easy as pie chemistry among the leads and the solid comedic writing will constitute for a long TV life. Inspired by executive producer DJ Nash’s childhood, Growing Up Fisher airs Tuesdays on NBC (9:30 pm et/pt). The last episode, titled “The Date from Hell-nado” contains a memorable sequence in which Joyce Fisher (Elfman) is asked out on a date while shopping at the supermarket. Actually, the whole episode has a bunch of memorable moments (including Mel Fisher comparing his son to a Prius), so give the show a shot, especially if you value well executed comedy.
I’ve always wondered how Elfman developed her sense of comedic timing. Click on the video below and find out: