Ex-Roomies Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow Reunite


Judd Apatow directs Adam Sandler in Funny People

Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler started out as stand up comics and roommates.  While funny man Adam Sandler's fame rose on Saturday Night Live which led to a successful movie career, Judd Apatow gave up on becoming a comedian and opted to become a writer on the Larry Sander's Show with Gary Shandling. 

Apatow struggled through some false starts until his writer-directorial film debut The 40 Year-Old Virgin became a break out hit and Knocked Up propelled him to the top along with his successful producing efforts (Pineapple Express, Superbad).   Now he's on the same A-List pool with his long-time friend Adam and they've teamed up for Apatow's third directorial effort in Funny People.  CineMovie sat down with the original funny people. 

Q:  With Judd knowing you so well, did he know how to motivate you?

Adam: Judd knows a lot about me and it did help.  He knows stories and used them to bring me to different places.  

Q:  Was the relationship between Seth's character and his roommates in the movie based on your experience living Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman star in Funny Peopletogether?

Judd:  Some of the texture of how the people communicate is.  Some of it's based on how we were as roommates, how we were with other roommates.  Like Seth's relationships, when you are first starting out, everyone's friends but you're mad when they start moving ahead of you.  So there's that subtle competition.  'How come they're getting better spots at the Improv.  How did he get that cheapy commercial?'

When I lived with Adam, I remember he got a commercial with Visa. . .

Adam:  . . . Mastercard

Judd:  . . .Mastercard and it was a big and very expensive commercial where Adam is shopping.  It's funny.  I can't say I didn't think, 'how come I can't be the Mastercard guy.  I can be the Visa card guy or the Discover Card guy.'

Adam:   And you stole an audition away from me with Jim Henson.

Judd:  That's right.  We all auditioned for Jim Henson who was doing a reality show where you drive around the country with your old video cameras...

Adam:  Around this time you said you didn't even want to be on camera anymore.  He was starting to say, 'maybe I'll be a writer' or something like that.  I didn't even know what he was talking about.   I was like 'What's a writer?'   But then we auditioned for Jim Henson and I was so cocky.   'I can't wait for that callback.'  And then Judd said they were interested in him and got a callback. 

Judd: But then ultimately I didn't get it.   Jim Henson said I lacked warmth. 

The competition wasn't just among friends.  Judd also recalled when they were roommates, Adam didn't like to hear about other stand-up comics.

Adam:  Now if I see someone (comic) else kill, I don't get jealous but twenty-years ago when I saw someone else I was like 'I gotta figure something out.'

Judd:  When we lived together, I would always try to show Adam other comedians I liked because I was such a fan. Because I wasn't such a good comic, I could be a fan.  And I said to Adam, 'hey, come see this guy Norm MacDonald.'  And he would just go, 'who cares.  Why would I want to see another comic?  I'm working on my act.'

Q:  How do you find doing stand-up now versus then? 

Adam:  Doing stand up when your 42 years old is a lot more pressure then when I was in my 20's.  I had a goal to become a movie star.  I was pretty crazy.  I don't know why.   I would go on stage - if I did great, 'Alright we're getting closer to what I need.'  When I did bad, I thought - 'people just don't understand how great I am.'   At 42, when you go on stage and say a joke and no one laughs - this is very humiliating.  I was too dumb when I was young to even notice what was good or bad.

Director Judd Apatow, Addam Sandler, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana on set of Funny PeopleFor the movie, Apatow had Sandler do stand-up using a lot of profanity but the guilt set in as a married father of two girls.

Adam:  I hadn't talked that filthy in front of people.  I've been around a long time.  People recognize me.  I go on stage, these nice people who know me as a certain type of person and then I'm on stage as filthy as can be.  Some people are into it.  Some people are, 'no, don't ruin it for us.'  Then I would drive home.  I have my two little kids sleeping and I felt like the biggest dirtiest human being.  I was mad at Apatow.  Why am I doing this movie? 

Judd:  The idea behind the way the stand-up would work, is that this man is ill and the way to avoid dealing with it is that he goes on stage and tells the dirtiest filthiest jokes.  So I pushed Adam much harder into the dirty area.  I like to make movies that have a hopeful message.  That shows some potential for redemption.  And in this movie, the point of it is that it's really hard for this guy, harder than most people, and you root for him to pull it off.  And I want you to care about him trying.

The role of George Simmons in Funny People is Adam Sandler's darkest role to date and he admits it was not enjoyable at times.

Adam:  Certain scenes were heavy.  Judd went through this stuff with his mom and me with my dad.  We saw first hand what goes on with poeple who are incredibly sick so I wasn't excited about that but it had to be done. 

Q:  Would you tackle another role like this?

Adam:  It was a lot of work this movie.  And when I finished it, I loved Apatow and we hugged.  And I was very relieved to take a break.  I don't know how these actors go movie to movie and lose their minds in their roles and have a real life.  I was happy to jump back into my real life with my kids and wife and work on that part.  When it comes down that road some day, if Judd thinks its right and someone else thinks it's right - I'll get back in it.  At night I'm not thinking I have to get there again.  I'm happy I got this one. 
On a lighter note, Sandler's next film Grown Ups brings together his comedian friends for more classic Sandler.   However, it's in Funny People that Adam Sandler the actor does some growing up and you can catch him along with a cast of Funny People (Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Eric Bana, and Apatow's real life wife Leslie Mann) starting July 31st. 

Adam Sandler, Leslie Mann, Seth Rogen star in Funny People


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Rob Zombie On Halloween Movies: "I Don't Care For Them"

 Michael Myers in Halloween II

Musician and director Rob Zombie brings killer Michael Myers back to life on the big screen once again in HALLOWEEN II August 28th but it may surprise you to know the helmer has not watched any of previous films in the franchise except for the original.

CineMovie sat down in a one-on-one interview with the writer/director to discuss his new vision for the latest installment of the horror franchise and why he’s not a fan of the Halloween franchise.                 Watch Halloween II trailer

Q:  This is the 10th movie in the Halloween franchise....

Zombie: Is it really? 

Q:  Yes. 

Zombie:  Oh, god!  If I had known that.....

Q:  So how do you keep it fresh?

Zombie:  Well that's the trick.  I always say to myself, 'what has this character not done a million times?'  So for me, the biggest way to keep it fresh was the approach to it - the way the movie looks, the way the characters act, and making people see it a different way. 

You still have Michael Myers, a faceless killer that doesn't talk.  He's a tough character because you don't see his face hardly and he doesn't really talk so what the f%&#  you going to do with him after a while.  So it's the stuff that surrounds him that has to create the experience and make it different.  That's what I tried to do.

Michael Myers in Halloween II
Q:  Do you ever go back and watch the previous Halloween movies so as not to retread old ground?

Zombie:  No.  I avoid them at all cost.  I didn't like them then so I don't want to watch them now.  I like the first one, it's a classic.  The rest of them I don't care for them at all.

Q:  What do you think about Halloween's release date in August instead of October?

Zombie:  It is what it is.  Everyone's like 'why is it coming out in August and not Halloween' but I don't know.   It's not up to me. 

Q:  So you didn't have any input in that area?

Zombie:  No.  The executives deal with it.  The schedule was so crowded with films that they looked at the August 28th which looked light at the time.  I know Final Destination movie is coming out the same day.  You can move it to the next week, then something else will come up.  You can't win.  You just have to go for it.

Q:  And what's on the music front?

Zombie:  I have a new album that I finished before I did Halloween II.  So as soon as Halloween comes out, we start touring in October for the new record. 

Zombie plans to also take on another two films as a writer/director with The Haunted World of El Superbeasto based on his own comic book and Tyrannosaurus Rex set for 2011. 

For now, Halloween comes early this year starting August 28th in HALLOWEEN II.

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Director Sam Mendes Interview

Director Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road, American Beauty, Road to Perdition) explores the comedic twists and emotional turns in one couple's journey across contemporary American in his new film, AWAY WE GO opening June 5th.  

CineMovie and our Viviana Vigil is with the critically-acclaimed filmmaker in our one-to-one interview.  Kate Winslet's husband talks going green with this movie, the all-star cast (John Krasinsnki, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Daniels, Maggie Gyllenhall, Aliison Janney, Catherine O'Hara) and finding the right actors to play the lovable couple.

                              John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph Interview

Movie Synopsis:  

Exploring the comedic twists and emotional turns in one couple’s journey across contemporary America, Away We Go is the new movie from Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes, from the first original screenplay by novelists Dave Eggers & Vendela Vida, and featuring music by singer/songwriter Alexi Murdoch.

Longtime (and now thirtysomething) couple Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are going to have a baby. The pregnancy progresses smoothly, but six months in, the pair is put off and put out by the cavalierly delivered news from Burt’s parents Jerry and Gloria (Jeff Daniels and Catherine O’Hara) that the eccentric elder Farlanders are moving out of Colorado – thereby eliminating the expectant couple’s main reason for living there.

So, where, and among whom of those closest to them, might Burt and Verona best put down roots to raise their impending bundle of joy? The couple embarks on an ambitious itinerary to visit friends and family, and to evaluate cities. The first stop on the grand tour is Phoenix, where the duo spends a day at the (dog) races with Verona’s irrepressible (and frequently inappropriate) former colleague Lily (Allison Janney) and her repressible family, including husband Lowell (Jim Gaffigan); then it’s Tucson, and a visit to the lovely Grace (Carmen Ejogo), Verona’s sister.

An intimate conversation with her sister, who is her lone living relative, gives Verona a refreshed perspective – which she will sorely need in Wisconsin, where Burt’s childhood “cousin” Ellen, now known as LN (Maggie Gyllenhaal), and her partner Roderick (Josh Hamilton) have Burt and Verona over to their home. After LN and Roderick elaborate on their intractable ideas for raising children and running a household, Burt and Verona bolt for Montreal and a warmer welcome from their former college classmates Tom (Chris Messina) and Munch (Melanie Lynskey).

Even though the latter’s house is full of children, comfort and joy, a night out for the four old friends provides a bracing reminder of how much it takes to sustain a relationship and a family. When an emergency phone call forces Burt and Verona into an unanticipated Miami detour to visit Burt’s brother Courtney (Paul Schneider), they realize that they must define home on their own terms.

A Focus Features presentation in association with Big Beach of an Edward Saxon/Big Beach production in association with Neal Street Productions. A Sam Mendes Film. Away We Go. John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Daniels, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Allison Janney, Chris Messina, Catherine O’Hara, Paul Schneider. Casting by Ellen Lewis and Debra Zane, C.S.A. Music by Alexi Murdoch. Music Supervisor, Randall Poster. Costume Designer, John Dunn. Film Editor, Sarah Flack, A.C.E. Production Designer, Jess Gonchor. Director of Photography, Ellen Kuras, ASC. Executive Producers, Mari Jo Winkler-Iofredda, Pippa Harris. Produced by Edward Saxon, Marc Turtletaub, Peter Saraf. Written by Dave Eggers & Vendela Vida. Directed by Sam Mendes. A Focus Features Release.



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New on DVD: Meet CORALINE's Maker


Designing Stop-Motion Animated Puppets

CORALINE, the first stop-motion feature film shot in stereoscopic 3D comes to DVD and Blu-Ray Tuesday, July 21st.  Henry Selick, director of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, worked on the film for over three years alongside a team of artists including Georgina Haynes, the Character Fabrication Supervisor on CORALINE.

Haynes, a veteran of stop-motion animation, worked on Tim Burton’s CORPSE BRIDE (first stop-motion film shot digitally) and MARS ATTACK!, and she takes CineMovie through the process of creating stop-motion animated puppets.

Q:  As the Character Fabrication Supervisor, what does your job entail? 

Haynes:  Character Fabrication Supervisor gathers together a team of people to work alongside the director and animators to fabricate the puppets off screen.  First a static puppet is made from illustrations and then the static finished puppet is passed on to the animators for movement.

Henry_Selick_directorSo I deal with Henry (Selick) and with the creative decisions such as costumes, color of paint, hair….  I also work closely with the director and animators with the kind of movements they want because each of the puppets have full metal skeleton inside called amatures.  So we have to build, design and engineer those from scratch.

Q:  Are the sets computer-generated or are they also built from scratch?

Haynes: They were all built by hand.  In fact, Coraline has very few computer-generated effects.  Some of the background skies were computer-generated but a lot of those were hand-painted as well.  Everything you’re seeing is made by a person. 

We did use computers and technology to help us in certain processes.  Coraline and many of the other puppets have replacement faces for their facial animations.  And the way it’s been done in the past is by hand sculpting each one of these faces but it limits the amounts of expressions and faces on a puppet.  On Coraline, we used a
Coraline_DVD_Skies3D printer, so we modeled the character in the computer almost as you would with a computer animated movie but we went in and added more detail, more in betweens that you would get in an animated feature.  And then we printed them all out on a machine (3D printer) much like an inkjet printer but it actually sprays out resin instead of a flat photograph.  And then we built it up into a 3D model.  Once all of those pieces are printed out, we hand painted every one of those.  So they still have that hands-on, sort of feel to them. 

Q:  Was CORALINE shot on 35 mm? 

Haynes:  No, this is all shot digitally.  We actually used the red camera which I think was initially used for medical use but it’s a very high definition camera. 

Q:  Is that what gives the film it’s look?

Haynes: It does make it crisper than 35mm but I think part of it was how it was designed - the colors, the fabric…  Coraline’s hair zings because it’s real hair and real lighting on it.  I don’t think the camera gives it the look completely.  I think it’s more the fact that everything was hand-made and a lot of thought went into the colors that were used to get that feel.

Q:  Did you have to design the puppets differently because of the 3D aspect?

Coraline_DVD_3DHaynes:  We didn’t really know initially because it was the first time a stop-motion animation was made in 3D.  So we were really doing a lot of tests and found out it didn’t really affect how we made the puppets.  The only things we had to be careful of were stripes and spots on the puppet’s costumes because if they were too intense, too diverse in color, it could jar the eye - make you feel a bit sick.   We used that a little bit on the mother when she gets into her checkered outfit… to sort of disturb the eye a little bit. 

Q: How many times did you have to go back to the drawing board or reshoot a scene?

It was a three year process and during the last year, the script changed because Selick was continuously working on the script. 

We didn’t have to reshoot.  The voices were recorded pre-animation.  Although after the first viewing of film, there was a question about the character of Wybee and how it related to the ghost children.  From that, we built a new puppet - the grandmother which you see at the end of the movie.   Just to make a little more sense.   We built that in 3 weeks where as Coraline took a year. 

Q:  What is your favorite scene from the movie?

Haynes:  I think the downstairs theater.  It’s the most controversial scene in the movie but I absolutely love it.  There’s not much clothing in that scene but the whole thing just makes me laugh.

Q:  And the hardest?

Haynes: Anything with the mother three - the last stage of the other mother when she turns into insects.  It took us the whole film to actually get the design because until we knew how the third act was going to play out, we could not design that character.  She came about the last year of filming.  She was a tricky one to make – she’s got four spindly legs, was semi-translucent, yet a hard-look to move.  She was a challenge.  

Q:  And everyone loves the bonus features on DVDs but do the b-roll crew ever interfere with the process when they’re present with their cameras?

Check out the CORALINE DVD Extras

Yes, it’s always a battle.  You always feel sorry for the people who are doing that because that’s the last thing you want – to have a camera shoved into your face while you’re trying to make all these puppets on the stressful deadline.  But these things are so fascinating that it needs to be done.

And we agree.  Thanks to Georgina and the creative team behind CORALINE who sacrificed their sanity for all the great extra features on the DVD and Blu-ray available July 21st.
CORALINE will be available for a Limited Time Only on Blu-ray™ Hi-Def and 2-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD featuring 2-D and 3-D Versions of the Movie, Four pairs of 3-D glasses, plus a digital copy of the film on July 21st, 2009 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment .
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Interview: Megan Fox, Michael Bay and Transformers Cast



Michael Bay has no hidden agenda when it comes to making a summer blockbuster.   And when it came to facing a room full of journalists including CineMovie eager to find out the meaning behind “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” Bay only had to remind us “it’s summer fun.” 

Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Dunn, and newcomer Ramon Rodriguez joined the seasoned blockbuster director (The Rock, Armageddon, Bad Boys) for the Q&A at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA.  Noticeably absent was the star of the film Shia LaBeouf who was making an appearance on the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien at Universal Studios.

As you would guess, most of the questions were directed to media darling Megan Fox and the one director critics love to attack, Michael Bay.

Q:  Michael, in the movie, you destroy national monuments like the Egyptian pyramids and the Smithsonian Museum.  Did you have any trepidations about it?

Michael:  It’s called summer fun.  It’s a robot movie.


Q:  Megan, do you get a choose what you wear in the movie?  And do you have those moments where you’re asking yourself why you have to wear something?

  Yes, I have those moments on a daily basis.  I don’t get to pick my outfits.  I remember Mike auditioning Ramon and some other men in his office and I had to go in…

Michael:  Two young guys.

Megan:  No, it was Shia, Ramon two other actors, and you (Michael).  I had to come in and try 18 different outfits; a white tight jeans, pink belly shirt, and like motorcycle boots.  And Mike was selecting them in the process…

Michael:  It’s called multi-tasking.

Megan:  But I have to say he clearly has an eye for what should be and should not be in the movie.

Q:  Do you see your character as the sex symbol of Transformers? 

Megan: I just saw it a few days ago when we were at the London premiere.  I usually don’t watch myself. I don’t watch myself in playback, nor in stills.  I have a phobia of it.  I basically shot an entire glass of champagne so I can get through the sitting of it and I was really, really, pleasantly surprised.  Half way through I was overcome with genuine emotion and wanted to hug Michael in gratitude.  

The character is sexy but women in movies are generally sexy especially in Michael’s movies and if it’s part of the formula…

Michael:  If you look at the movie, we got that first (sexy) shot out in the beginning for the young boys and moved on.  The rest of the movie is not about sexy.

Josh:  Tyrese offered to introduce himself in the second film by appearing shirtless in a car wash scene on Optimus.  But Michael didn’t go for it.



Michael:  Yeah,  no I didn’t

Q:  Is the IMAX version different than the film in regular theaters.

  The IMAX version is 2 hours and 20 minutes exactly.  The IMAX cut has a minute more of footage. It’s got some more fighting footage that takes place in the forest with Devastator. 

Q: In the film, Josh throws out the National Security Advisor from a military plane.  Is there any kind of message there regarding our current Security Advisor under Obama?

Michael:  Remember, summer fun by the way.
Q: Michael how did you find out about Shia’s car accident that injured his hand during production of this movie?

Michael:  I read it on CNN online and said this can’t be true. I called my line producer Ian Bryce and he goes ‘it’s true.’  I’m like  ‘Oh, my god!’  He said let’s shut down and I was ‘we can’t shut down.’  When you have a train going, it’s so expensive to shut a picture like this down. 

We had an action scene that Monday in the library.  I said let’s go for it and use Vlad the stuntman and cover as much stuff as we can.  Tuesday we shut down and then we had to mix and match scenes that we can shoot without him.  We didn’t know how long he would be down.

Immediately I had them find the best people in the world to make a special cast that has never been made with a caviler fingers, very thin, so you can photograph it.  The problem was that if he jammed his fingers, he would lose his fingers forever.  Experts of the world came up with the design.  We were very lucky because we had shot a lot of the beginning of the movie.

Megan:  Everyone’s very lucky for Shia’s level of commitment to this movie because he showed up with his injury and acted as if he didn’t have an injury and
Shia_LaBeoufwent balls to the wall.  He did things that were not safe for him to do but he wanted this film to be real as possible.

Michael:  We’d have arguments.  He would take his cast off and I said ‘no put that cast back on’ and he said ‘no I’m fine.” We were trying to protect that hand.

Josh:  Remember when he cut his eye and he wanted to come back to work that day.

Michael:  Yeah!

Shia wasn’t the only one suffering through painful injuries.  The new sidekick in the Transformers movie sequel, Ramon Rodriguez (plays Leonardo Ponce Spitz) popped his shoulder during an action scene.

Ramon:  Yeah,  I popped a shoulder.

Michael:  You didn’t tell me that.

Ramon:  I didn’t want to get you worried.

Michael:  You want to sue me?

Ramon:  No.  So were shooting the Devastator scene when I’m sucking on sand and had to hold on to a pole.  Michael Bay had this great idea to bring out these two fans that blow 100 mph each and put them right in front of my face.  I’ve got sand, soot, and dirt blowing into my face and two guys behind me with wires attached to my ankles pulling me.  Not enough yet – we have two cars flipping over my head which were attached to a hydraulic crane -- flipped inches above my head.  So the guys were yanking the cable on my ankles and in one of the takes, my shoulder popped out and we continued rolling…


Michael: That’s the shot we used.

Ramon:  Thank you, Michael.

Tyrese:  I sprained my left pinky toe.

Q:  Michael, in the film, you have dozens of shots of military planes flying over and taking off aircraft carriers.  Do you use stock footage or shoot all the footage yourself?

Michael:  I don’t like using stock footage. All that stuff was shot by us.  We had
Transformers_2_Michael_Bayincredible access from the military which is very rare.  They flew 100 feet over our set. There were 6 F16 out doing missions and we timed their mission for when we wanted them to come over our set four times and timed explosions down below.

Q: What was the budget on this film?

My budget was $200 million but I came under at $195 million.  I put the rest into effects.  I don’t carry a second unit with me and shoot 12 hour days.

And we’re sure Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will have no problem doubling their budget when the film transforms into a mega hit at the box office this summer season. 

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Manny Perez's Pride and Glory



You know you’ve made it as an actor in Hollywood when you’re starring opposite Edward Norton and Colin Farrell in “Pride and Glory” opening October 24th.  Actor Manny Perez is living the American Dream.

Manny Perez first came to attention in 2002 with the independent film “Washington Heights” which he starred, produced and co-wrote.  Director Gavin O’Connor also took notice of Manny Perez and five years later cast him as Coco Dominguez, a “sleaze bucket” as Manny describes it from Washington Heights who is threatend and beaten by crooked New York cop played by Colin Farrell in “Pride and Glory”.

Since coming to attention in 2002,  Manny Perez has starred in numerous television roles such as F/X’s “Rescue Me” and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” on NBC and starred opposite Roselyn Sanchez, John Leguizamo, Jennifer Lopez, and Harvey Keitel in feature films. Not too shabby for an kid who immigrated from the Dominican Republic to Providence, Rhode Island with his parents and eleven siblings with no knowledge of the English language.  This talented actor tells us how he achieved his American Dream and his on set experience with “Pride and Glory”.

Not a bad gig when you get to work with Edward Norton and Colin Farrell, two of the hottest actors in Hollywood. 

Manny:  I am a big fan of both but I mostly worked with Colin Farrell.  I expected this bad boy because that’s what you hear about him but once I met him, it was the opposite.  He was one of the most kindness man I’ve met in my life.  He’s totally down to earth, respects the craft of acting, and caters to the actor by rehearsing the scene and bringing out the best from you.

Edward Norton is also known to be very hands on during production and has had clashes in the past with filmmakers, most recently with Marvel over “The Incredible Hulk”.  Did you see any of his influence on set?
Manny:  I had only scene with Edward Norton and I didn’t see one person taking over the set.  Director Gavin O’Connor had full control but he let his actors improvise and everyone had input including the extras who were from the neighborhood.  Gavin cast real people from Washington Heights to give it realism and authenticity so if something was not realistic from their perspective, Gavin would listen to their input and take it into account.  That’s the beauty of working with Gavin.   As an actor, I prefer directors letting the actor do their thing and not just be a puppet.

As a working actor who broke through on the independent side, what advice would you recommend for struggling actors especially minorities who are not offered many roles in Hollywood?
Manny:  You can’t wake up one morning and say ‘I want to be an actor’.  You have to prepare yourself very well.  I came from the Dominican Republic at age ten without knowing any English.  I learned the language, studied theater in high school, went on to college and studied acting.  I prepared myself very well and I’m always doing something to advance myself. You have to respect the craft and learn everything there is to it.  And then you can go the independent route which is what I did.

You continue to advance your career and not rely on Hollywood to come calling. You’re writing, producing, and starring in your own projects?
Manny:  I believe in the Spike Lee way, in that no one is going to make films about me or for me so it’s up to me to create my own and continue doing as I first did with “Washington Heights”.   Currently, we’re editing “El Hijo del Carnicero” and I’m writing another story set in the Dominican Republic about third world corruption.  We hope to start shooting early next year.  So I’m continuing doing my own thing.

While doing his "own thing" Perez has his share of Hollywood film projects coming soon.  Opening in December, Manny appears with Freddy Rodriguez and frequent collaborator John Leguizamo in “Nothing Like The Holidays” and he begins shooting an animated film with Michael Caine and Jack Black this month.  Manny Perez's Pride and Glory

Manny, however, sets both the independent and Hollywood fare aside for a personal crusade. In 2007, he was honored with a Humanitarian Award in his native country and recently the Tony Bennett Excellence in Media Award and Perry Ellis Humanitarian Award in the U.S. for his charitable work.
Manny:  I came from a poor mountainous region in the Dominican Republic and I didn’t have my first pair of shoes until I was five years old.  I know what’s it’s like to be without something so basic. So I connected with Soles 4 Souls.org and Crocs United to provide shoes to the poor and needy in third world countries.    It’s a thing I love to do.  Once you have shoes, you feel more grounded as a human being.

And no one knows that better than Manny Perez who will no doubt be one step ahead of the rest.  Catch this well grounded actor when “Pride and Glory” hits theaters October 24.

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Jay Hernandez: Surviving Hollywood

Jay Hernandez in Nothing Like the Holidays

A chance run in with a Hollywood talent manager jump started Jay Hernandez’s career, but the good looking young actor from Los Angeles has stayed in the Hollywood game by turning down roles often offered to Latino actors…. the gangbanger.  Recent roles such as Samuel L. Jackson’s police partner in “Lakeview Terrace” and another turn as a uniformed officer in “Quarantine,” transitioned the well-grounded actor to more adult roles. 

Next up for the respected actor is his third movie release in 2008, “Nothing Like the Holidays” starring John Leguizamo, Debra Messing, and Freddy Rodriguez.   In “Nothing Like the Holidays”, Jay broke with tradition and agreed to play Ozzy, a gang member from Chicago’s Humboldt Park.  Jay sat down with CineMovie.TV to explain his recent choices at the movies. 

CineMovie: You’ve avoided taking on the negative Latino stereotypes in movies since your debut ten years ago.  Do you attribute your success to that?

Jay:  It’s hard for an actor of Latin/Hispanic background to have a real career in Hollywood because we are not the leading man they want.  All I got offered initially was the drug dealer or gangbanger.  It’s very easy for a guy who looks like me, named Hernandez, to be gang member all the time.  That was a very conscience thing for me and I worked really hard on keeping away from those roles. 

Jay Hernandez and Vanessa Ferlito in Nothing Like the Holidays
CineMovie:  So why take on the role of Ozzy in “Nothing Like the Holidays”?

Jay: Contextually this film is different.  It’s not about Hispanic people being portrayed negatively.  It’s about life. It’s the American experience.  So if you’re going to be realistic, you have to show the broad spectrum.  That’s what I liked about the film.  The family represents all of that; the lawyer, someone coming back from the Iraq war, a struggling actress returning from Hollywood, and me, the gang member. 

CineMovie:  Lately you’ve been playing the good cop in two movies this year,  Lakeview Terrace and Quarantine.

Jay:  It seems like everybody has this image of me as the good guy who does the right thing. That’s what appealed to me about Ozzy, the guy who’s making bad choices, doing bad and shady things.  I don’t always want to be the one saving the day or getting the girl. 

CineMovie:  Can we expect a turn as a bad cop a la Denzel Washington in Training Day anytime soon?

Jay:  That would be interesting.  I don’t want to be defined as an actor.  I want to keep people guessing.  It’s a smart thing to do in Hollywood to play a nice broad range of characters. 

CineMovie:  What role have you NOT been offered that you would love to do?

Jay:  I’ve been pretty fortunate in doing lots of different things but I’d like to try a straight up comedy.   Something really funny with guys who do a lot of improv would be really great.  That would be challenging.  I think it’ll happen soon.  I’ve been offered comedies but they weren’t right but I think it will happen soon.

CineMovie:   Would you consider a physical comedy?

Jay:   Yeah!  One thing I would love to do is put on some prosthetics and create crazy off the wall characters.  It’s something I like doing with different voices.  Not everyone knows this but I’m a clown.   I really am a clown.  With my family, they expect me to do that kind of stuff.  So one day I’d like to change up the way I look and do something really funny. 

CineMovie:   The Latino version of The Nutty Professor.  We can’t wait.  So tell us about working alongside such a large cast that included John Leguizamo and Freddy Rodriguez.

Jay: Working with John and Freddy was an honor after watching them for years jump through hoops to land good roles specifically John whose paved the way in Hollywood for someone like me.  And on set, everyone got along like family.  We had a lot of rehearsal time before we started shooting so we can have that family dynamic on camera, and it shows on film.

Nothing Like the Holidays cast

CineMovie:  Speaking of families, “Nothing Like the Holidays” deals with the crazy family antics around the holidays.  What are your family gatherings like?

Jay:  My father is the youngest of nine so the holidays were crazy with my immediate family of six plus his side.  When we got together, you had to talk loud and kind of yell or you wouldn’t be heard.  So it was very similar to the movie in that respects but I’m very tight with my family.  There’s no coming home after four years away like Freddy Rodriguez’s character.  My mom would not let me get away with that.

We can also thank Jay Hernandez's mom for keeping this down to earth actor grounded, which should translate to a long career in Hollywood.  “Nothing Like the Holidays” opens nationwide on December 12th.

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