Tag Archives: Actor Interview

An Interview with Sarah Wessendorf from “Gone”

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Sarah Wessendorf shot by Callum Leo Hughes

In our process of growth as individuals many of us come to the realization that in order for us to move forward we have to heal our past. It has become a common practice for people around the world to travel to far-off destinations to attend retreats focused on healing and spiritual evolution, and that is exactly what happens in the recently released German film “Gone.” 

Written and directed by Judith Schöll, “Gone” aka “Verschollen,” brings to the screen an all female cast with a powerful and poignant story to tell. Chosen as an Official Selection of the Pula Film Festival and the Ljubljana International Film Festival “Gone” stars Sarah Wessendorf, Emily Yetter and Love Bailey.

“Gone” follows three women who travel to Croatia for a retreat where they soon come to realize that the journey towards healing and wholeness is far from an easy one. With “Gone” continuing to garner widespread attention across Europe, we got lucky enough to sit down with the film’s star, Sarah Wessendorf, about the story, her character and what it was like filming in beautiful Croatia.

Last year Sarah earned praise for her powerful role in the Israeli film “CPH” from well-known director Eitan Sarid. Chosen as an Official Selection of the Jerusalem Film Festival where it was nominated for the Best Picture Award. Sarah has a natural affinity for portraying strong, layered and often challenging roles that push her as an actress. In “CPH” she took on the role of Pia, the wife of an ex-military man from Israel who struggles to move on with his life and deal with the traumatic memories and experiences from war. Sarah breathed life into Pia with delicate vulnerability and strength that allowed audiences to see how challenging it can be for the loved one of a PTSD victim to watch as they suffer, and the importance of sticking by their side in their journey towards healing.

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Sarah Wessendorf shot by Callum Leo Hughes

While both “CPH” and “Gone” share a similar theme centered around healing, the two stories, as well as Sarah’s characters in the films, are polar opposites. Sarah’s capacity for portraying diverse characters across various genres prove her astonishing range as an actress and we are extremely excited to share our interview with this talented performer with you. Enjoy!

Hey Sarah, thanks for joining us! Can you start off by telling us about the film “Gone” aka “Verschollen”

SW: In “Gone” a group of women from all different countries and paths of life decide to

go on an all women’s retreat in the middle of the Croatian countryside. The retreat is offered to help heal old wounds, trauma, etc. Every woman comes there with different motives and different expectations. Some are more skeptical than others, while others come with the belief that they are already pretty far ahead in their journey of enlightenment and healing.

The film follows them as they face each other daily throughout the retreat where they are forced to come to terms with the fact that healing is messy. They trigger each other. My character falls in love with another woman and it becomes clear that real healing takes place when the veil of perfection is lifted. Through group meetings every night, healing through art and painting, and shouting into the landscape, it slowly becomes possible for each of them to look at themselves with more honesty than ever before. These women spend the week at the retreat learning what it means to heal and how to be honest with themselves.

When the retreat comes to an end, they leave with a feeling that they’ve looked at themselves and each other with a level of honesty they had never felt before. Through this, they each develop acceptance and the realization that healing is not easy. It’s messy and at times it’s ugly, but through the retreat they develop friendships that will help them along their individual paths of healing.

Sarah Wessendorf
Sarah Wessendorf shot by Callum Leo Hughes

How did you get cast in the film?

SW: Judith Schöll and I knew each other through colleagues she and I had been working with. There was a mutual respect apparent from the first day of meeting each other. It just came very natural that she suggested a role for me in her movie

What made you want to be involved with this project?

SW: I think it is very important to strengthen the support we have for each other as women, and as humans in general. The human experience isn’t always an easy one. I find it extremely important that we

learn to become more compassionate towards each other and towards ourselves. This movie shows that at the end honesty and acceptance of the not so pretty sides of growth needs to be present in order for actual transformation to take place. And we need each other for support.

Can you tell us about your character in the film?

SW: I play Hanna, a Buddhist women from Berlin that is quite convinced that she is far ahead in her healing process, but soon realizes during the retreat that what she thought she knew about herself was a carefully constructed structure– one that has actually prevented her from seeing herself fully and truly with all her mistakes and flaws. The actual process for her in the end is learning to love herself even though she is not as pure and free of ego as she previously thought she was.

Why is Hanna important to the story? And how did you feel about playing her on screen?

SW: My character is important because she symbolizes the large group of spiritual people who like to think that they have figured it all out, but are actually quite entangled in their ego mind. Ironically in the end, it almost seems like all of the other women had a way more honest view of themselves. There is this risk with spirituality to hide behind an image of one’s self. Hanna realizes that she needs to be humble, she is forced to realize that she is just as clueless as the other women. 

I felt that it was very important to keep Hanna’s experience in mind. Going into spirituality doesn’t save you from making mistakes and being led by your ego. It can help by making you aware of your shortcomings, but at the end there is also a risk of hiding behind the images and ideals of spirituality. As I myself travel on my own journey of self discovery, I very much appreciate playing a role that goes through the process of being humbled.

Was this your first time playing a character who falls in love with another woman? What was that particular experience like for you as an actress?

SW: It actually was yes! I’ve always been interested in the concept of non defined gender and sexuality. So for me I don’t necessarily define a person as male and female, but rather focus on them being a soul. This made it very natural for me to see the soul behind the character and to connect with that. It was fun though representing an experience of two women falling in love, and portraying how natural, intimate and loving that can be.

Sarah Wessendorf
Sarah Wessendorf shot by Callum Leo Hughes

Can you tell us a little bit about the way you created your character– what were the most important elements of Hannah’s personality that you felt you needed to embody to really get into her character?

SW: I could very much relate to Hannah in the sense that I too am very interested in learning and embodying spiritual truths. It was important for me to show her deep yearning for truth, for authenticity and for real connection. This is what drives her. Later on when she has to come to terms with the fact that she might have been hiding behind some spiritual aspects, it’s this deep inner drive of hers for truth that makes it possible for her to stay open, vulnerable and able to let go of some of her fears. In the end, she just needed to feel that she would be loved and appreciated no matter what, something we all can relate to at some point I’m sure.

Is there any personal connection with your character’s life and personality and your own, is there any relation between the two of you?

SW: For sure. I have definitely been on a spiritual journey to dive deeper into who I am, to discover what I’m here to do on this earth, to look at my fears and so on. This gave me a very solid base from which to relate to Hannah’s wishes. I do think that she used spirituality more so to protect herself, which is something that actually made me question some of my beliefs about myself in connection to spirituality. It was an interesting journey to realize that maybe I too had been using some practices to keep me from facing my own fears. I think it is a very healthy thing to keep questioning your own motives as someone diving into spirituality. This was something I really realized through the process of getting to know my character in this film.

Can you tell us about any challenges or memorable experiences from this project?

SW: It was beautiful to be surrounded by an all female cast. The warmth and support was really extraordinary and it seemed like we all had a lot of personal interest in the topic of spirituality and healing. Just like the women we portrayed, we all came from very different paths of life and found ourselves working together in the middle of Croatia. I remember one morning taking one of the crew member’s dogs for a walk early in the morning in nature and I felt so at peace and so grateful to be doing what I’m doing and to be able to work on projects that truly inspire and challenge me, and also help me along in my own process of growth.

What was your favorite part of being involved in this production?

SW: It was beautiful to realize that we as humans all need support and love for and from one another. Also, the other cast mates and I formed a friendship just like our characters do in the film; and through all of our differences we too realized that being human means to support each other on our individual journeys.

What was the chemistry like on set between you and the other actors?

SW: It was lovely! Being surrounded by all women was a pure joy. There was so much warmth, so much understanding, a lot of laughter and if I had to find one word for it I would say “ease.” Although I usually try not to define people by their gender, I have to admit that there was something very soft, vulnerable and loving about being surrounded by all female identified actors, with one being a trans-women.

What was it like working with Judith Schöll?

SW: Judith is a lovely person to work with! She was very committed to the process of creating an honest, deep, true and captivating film. It was a real pleasure working with her. She made us all feel like we belong, like we were in an environment of trust where we could let go and go all in and still feel like we were being held.

You shot the film in Croatia, is that correct? What was it like shooting there? 

SW: Croatia is just beautiful. It was very scenic. I think it definitely became one of my favorite spots in the world. It was the perfect place for us to shoot this movie. We all felt very connected to the land, and the people were all so friendly, always smiling and helpful. But because most people there don’t speak english we ended up gesticulating and smiling a lot!

Why do you think this is an important story for audiences to see?

SW: Because of the all women cast and the fact that it offers up a storyline that really shows in depth what it means to be human, to be a woman and to be on this planet trying to figure yourself out. I think that this is a very important story to tell because I think we all have so many more questions, doubts and fears than we usually allow ourselves to show and admit. 

The more we talk about the struggles, how to overcome them and possibly even laugh about them, the better! Also, I find it very important to show that we are not alone in this. That if we choose to open ourselves up that there are many people that can relate to us, strengthen us and make the journey easier.

 

Q & A with Child Actor Richard Davis!

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Actor Richard Davis shot by Denise Grant

At 11-years-old actor Richard Davis has already accomplished more in the entertainment industry than many actors ever will. In the past three years he’s received four Young Artist Award nominations for his work on the films The Comeback Kid, Brothers and To Look Away and the award-winning series Kid’s Town.

While it’s undeniable that the kid has a face that could melt the heart of the Grinch, Davis has a lot of other things going for him besides just being ridiculously cute. For starters, his emotional range is astonishing, and not just for someone of his age but for an actor of any age. He understands the process of character development and knows exactly when and how to deliver the necessary comic relief or high-intensity dramatic moments within a scene. What is even more impressive though, is his knowledge of the world around him and the manner in which he speaks.

A speed-reader who actually competes in book competitions like the Battle of the Books, a competition that he won with his team earlier this year, Davis loves a good story. And, one of the reasons he loves acting, and has become so good at it, is because it allows him to become part of the story bringing characters to life on the screen.

Audiences across Canada and the U.S. will recognize Richard Davis from his roles on the popular television shows Good Dog, The Ron James Show, Murdoch Mysteries and Copper, as well as the films A Family Way, Hazel & Elwood, Amalgamations, Full Out and many more. The young actor recently wrapped production on the film Shahzad, which will be released on BravoFact in August of 2016, as well as Psychic Playground which will be available very soon.

To find out more about Richard Davis make sure to check out our interview below. You can also find out more about his work through his IMDb page.

Where are you from and how old are you?

RD: I was born near Toronto, Ontario and I am currently 11 years old. Although at four years of age, I tested in the 99.9 percentile for oral I.Q. and could read encyclopedias, it wasn’t always easy for me. I was considered a ‘miracle’ when I was born and I had my challenges. My mom’s pregnancy was eventful and I was a premature baby that had to be intubated when I was born. I lived in three hospitals before coming home for the first time. I was followed by specialists for the first year until they discovered I was communicating in full sentences and starting to read using Baby Sign Language through American Sign Language. Eventually, my tongue caught up to my brain and there was no stopping me.

When and how did you get into acting?

RD: I was always curious. I wanted to learn about everything around me. I would ask questions and I would read everything I could get my hands on. When I had questions related to how something was made, my mom always said, ‘the best person to answer my questions were the people that worked in that area of expertise’…so we went on a lot of field trips. Even when we went shopping, I would ask about the products in the store and how everything, “operated”. After I learned about the products, I would proceed to play a ‘salesperson’ while my mom shopped. My mom would often apologize to the customers for me bothering them, but everyone seemed quite happy by it. Well, one day, I happened to try and sell lights in a lighting store to a gentleman, who turned out to be George Pastic, an Oscar nominated director for the film The Violin in 1975. Not only did George take me under his wing, but he became my mentor and friend, along with his wife Eleanor. Sadly, George and his wife tragically passed away in the fall of 2014 and I will always miss them.

What is it like having such a successful career at such a young age?

RD: It’s pretty cool to have people come up to me and say ‘Hey, are you that guy in the movies?’ It’s nice to be recognized for doing what you enjoy. I actually feel very fortunate that I have found something that I love to do at such a young age. Most people go through their lives trying to find out what it is that they want to do when they grow up. I love having the opportunity to be in front of the camera and bring a new character to life. One of the things I love to do most is to read a great book; the bigger, the better. When I get a new script, it’s like opening up a new book. The best part is that I get to be one of the characters in that book. When a script is based on a novel, I usually read the script and novel to get a full understanding of the character. Being a speed reader really comes in handy when you only have 24 – 48 hours to prepare for the audition.

 Can you tell me a little bit about the film and television projects you’ve done?

RD: I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play many exciting roles. When I was 5 years old, I landed a recurring role on Ken Finkleman’s comedy HBO series Good Dog. It was a wonderful opportunity to work with some very talented professionals over the course of the series. The series followed George, played by Ken Finkleman, a self-absorbed producer whose new reality show is in danger of being taken off the air. George is forced to liven the atmosphere of his life due to the network’s demands, so he asks his young model girlfriend, Claire, played by Lauren Lee Smith, to move into his house, but he doesn’t realize that means Claire’s son, my character, would also be moving in– along with my sister, nanny and our pet Rottweiler. George was often in the dog house.

I have also enjoyed filming on shows such as Murdoch Mysteries, set in the early 1900’s, as Finn Hopkins on the episode “Midnight Train to Kingston.” I will be careful about saying too much about this episode as I know that this show is played in many different countries around the world. I need to be careful so I do not give away any spoilers. I also played the role of Buzz in a black and white webisode for the television series Lost Girl. I thought it was cool to have my hair shaved to reflect my character Buzz’s name, and it was awesome wearing clothes from around the 1950’s. I love the wardrobe departments on shows like Murdoch Mysteries and Lost Girl. I’ve also had fun voicing with Ron James; I voiced Petey on The Ron James Show. Ron is such a nice person who is very intelligent and has a big heart. It was a real pleasure to work with him at CBC in Toronto.

I have also enjoyed playing the role of Brian Jr. on the web-series Kid’s Town, which is available on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Ameba TV, Hulu, and Vimeo on Demand. Kid’s Town is a family show, and I play the next-door neighbor to the new kid in town. He befriends me in part, because we have the same name, and because I have no friends until he moves in, due to my big list of allergies. I enjoyed playing the character of Brian Jr. because I was the comedic relief in the show. I loved the writing in the series, and I must admit that I seemed to luck out with getting some of the best lines. I’m looking forward to doing more comedy in the future and creating more characters…Perhaps one with a British accent next time, as I love playing with accents.

For four years in a row, I won the lead role from the most prestigious university film programs in Canada. For one role, it was a two-hander where I played the lead role of Oliver in To Look Away. For this role, it involved filming late into each night in ridiculously below freezing temperatures.   I also played the lead role of Max in the film Brothers, which landed me my fourth Young Artist Nomination. I also played the younger lead character of Damian in Amalgamations, which ended up screening at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival Courts Metrages in 2013.

Another memorable role that I was nominated for a Young Artist Award and loved playing was “The Comeback Kid”. I played the lead character of Boniface Domingo Brantley who is The Comeback Kid and goes by the nickname Bo. Bo is an 11-year-old boy whose only friend happens to be an imaginary luchador named M the Minotaur. Bo and M spend their days flying model airplanes. Well, one day an aspiring pilot named Susie shoots down their aircraft and she feels so bad that she invites them to her birthday party, the first birthday Bo or M have ever been invited to. Bo doesn’t like change and he’s never been good at making decisions, but he is forced to transform and come out of his shell when his parents announce that they are separating. Even though the story was written for an 11 year old, I was only 7 when I won the lead role of Bo.

My most challenging lead role to date would be Hazel & Elwood. I played the lead role of Elwood at 6 years of age in Hazel & Elwood, a film that revolves around a family stricken with tragedy.

I found myself in some precarious situations in Hazel & Elwood, like derailing an entire train by placing pennies on the tracks…from my little purse dressed as a girl. The challenging part was wearing those Mary Jane shoes – wow! They are not meant to fit boys feet! Plus, I learned what girls had to go through with a crinoline, nylons and dress if they had to go to the restroom! You girls do not have it easy! Truth be told…all great actors have put on a dress. Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler and Charlie Chaplin, just to name a few.

Richard Davis
Richard in a dress on set of the film “Hazel & Elwood”

They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?

RD: Quite honestly, my love of acting made me eager to participate in every project I completed. It has only been due to prior bookings that I have had to turn down an audition or role.

What has been your favorite role so far and why?

RD: Wow…this is a difficult question, because I have loved so many roles. I would have to say that I loved being on the set of Copper as a street kid that was up to mischief. There was talk of where my character could be possibly headed on this show, but unfortunately the series was cancelled at the end of Season 2. It was an amazing set though with incredibly talented individuals from the show runner Tom Kelly on down. After my first day of filming, I spent an hour or two touring the set and learning how it all came together. This was another set where people were so nice and willing to teach me. It is definitely an experience that I will always treasure.

Another favourite role of mine was one I just completed; a Bravo Fact funded film called Shahzad. Shahzad is about an 11 year old Pakistani boy who moves to Toronto, and has to deal with transitioning into a foreign world. I played the role of Richie, a classmate that becomes Shaz’s best friend over the course of his first school year in Canada. The role was a favourite of mine because of the storyline and people involved in the project. It is a short story that I am told has already garnered attention to turn into a full length featured film, which I hope it does so I can read and see more of the story.

You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?

RD: I am up for the challenge of any role that is presented to me by my agent. However, if I had the choice to pick one over another, I would say that I love a good story with great writing. Having said that, I also love a film where the director allows me to add improv to the story, like my last film Shahzad. It’s the best when you can just be free to express what is truly in your heart and mind and play within a scene. What I think I loved best about my last film was that the other actors in my scenes were able to follow along with me in the improv. That’s when the most natural moments are born on film.

Have you done any commercials?

RD: Yes, I have. In fact, I was recently nominated for a Joey Award for my favourite commercial, which was a PSA for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Canada. I am most proud of this spot as the focus of the campaign was to promote fun ways to find money to donate to a very worthy cause. I have also done many commercials for companies such as McDonald’s, Maytag, Sears, KFC, Spinmaster Toys, Sprout T.V. etc. One commercial I did for Hasbro involving Play-Doh when I was 4 years old, is still continuing to collect views on YouTube. I find it quite interesting to hear the theme song being played in the commercial in so many different languages around the world. I have also done some voice over radio and television commercials for car companies and Robin Hood Flour.

You’ve also performed in several theater productions—can you tell us about your work in the theatre?

RD: When I was younger, I used my theatre productions as a way of training for television and film. When I first began in the industry, I was only 4 years of age. With my exceptional reading and memorization skills, I needed an outlet. Being involved in the theatre gave me the opportunity to develop my confidence and acting skills through performing monologues on stage to an audience. I also had the opportunity to work together with a group of people to act in stage performances.

Do you have a preference for performing on stage or on camera?

RD: I love my improv class and the immediate response I receive from the audience. However, I do tend to enjoy television, film and voice over more than theatre for one reason; I love the newness of the scripts. With being an avid reader, I really do love being able to be a part of that new adventure. I find it exciting and I look forward to every new opportunity that comes along in the business.

Is it overwhelming at times to be receiving so much recognition for your work so early on? How do you balance being a kid with having a career?

RD: I had a great role model with George. When he discovered me in the lighting store when I was three years old, I had no idea he had been nominated for an Oscar. He had many other awards as well for his work that George never displayed. After I knew both he and his wife Eleanor for quite some time, he shared with me that he had the awards on display at first. However, over the years he realized that the awards were not important. I learned a great deal from George. He was always so humble, that it was not even himself that informed me of all his success. As my mom often says, the most important role I will play is myself, and George exemplified this well.

I balance being a kid with having a career with just that…making time to be a kid. The fact that I love what I am doing makes it rather easy. I am happiest when I am on set, therefore it doesn’t feel like work to begin with. However, my parents make sure that there is a healthy balance between acting, schoolwork, family, friends, activities and sleep. Two years ago, I tried the “gifted program.” Although I managed to get great marks, my parents decided it was not a healthy balance for me as the focus was ‘pace’ and I craved ‘depth.’ With having extra assignments added into my schedule, my parents felt that the ‘fun’ factor was missing from my life. Each person is different and so are their circumstances; and for me, the perfect solution was to switch back to my regular school and begin part-time homeschooling for the core subjects. This enables me to dig deep into the subjects that I crave and be with homeschoolers for events like the advanced Battle of the Books, while still having the social experience of both worlds.

Which actors do you look up to, and why?

RD: I admire many actors and their work. The actors that stand out for me though are ones like George Clooney who are philanthropists and are willing to go out on a limb for what they stand for. I have always been a believer of giving back from a very early age. I know that I am fortunate to have the opportunity to do something that I love in life and get paid for doing it. My own brother was adopted from an orphanage, and it bothered me when I saw the pictures of the children not having a proper playground to play in. For two years, I saved up my money and built a nice playground for the children who were left behind. I also helped out some families financially in our community who were suffering due to cancer and sent a girl to camp who had just lost her father. I think it’s important to give back when you can, and my acting has allowed me to do some good things for others.

I also admire Tom Hanks. I loved some of his films such as Big, Forrest Gump and Cast Away. I hope to have the opportunity to work with Mr. Hanks one day as well as Adam Sandler and Kevin James, to name a few.

What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?

RD: I love all genres of acting as each area brings out something new for me to learn. However, I must admit that I love comedy. I find that there is so much sadness and tragedy in the world. Unfortunately, with being such an early reader, I learned this at a younger age than I should have. Thankfully, I learned about most of it from reading and not personal experience. My one wish for this world would be to have all of the wars end and have everyone get along. The other wish would be to make everyone happy and laugh. I can’t make wars end, but I can make people laugh through acting in comedies. Therefore, Comedy would be my answer. I would also love to be a host on a game show or an educational show.

What separates you from other actors?

RD: Casting Directors have told me that the one thing that separates me from other actors is my ability to follow directions at such a young age. I was in a workshop for my union in Canada where I performed a mock audition for Los Angeles Casting Director Krisha Bullock (ICarly, Victorious, Sam & Cat, Henry Danger) and Larissa Mair Casting (Degrassi, Life with Boys, What`s Up Warthogs!). They gave me three re-directions and I nailed all three in the next take in front of everyone. They both told me that even adults have a hard time achieving this and I was only 8 years old at the time. They held up my headshot at the end of my audition and told the audience to watch out for me as I was going to be famous.

What projects do you have coming up, or have you recently finished filming?

RD: My next film where I play the lead role of Dez in Psychic Playground will be available on Vimeo before the end of the year. Psychic Playground is a dark comedy film about an inventive kid who turns show and tell into a disaster. I am excited to see this project when it’s finished, as the director was very artistic with my “Invention”.

You will also soon be able to find me playing the role of Richie in the film release of Shahzad on the Bravo Fact Channel. I had a great time on Shahzad with the lead character played by Yatharth Bhatt (Combat Hospital) and another supporting character, Filip Geljo (Odd Squad).

I am very proud to have had the opportunity to be part of such an inspirational feature film called, Full Out. It recently debuted in California on NBC and on the Family Channel in Canada. Full Out has become my top film to recommend to everyone, and is based on the true life story of California gymnast Ariana Berlin, who made an inspirational comeback after a devastating accident. I play a young boy who has also been in an accident and is going through his own recovery. The film stars Ana Golja, (Degrassi) and Jennifer Beals (Flashdance). I had a wonderful time filming with Ana Golja, Ariana Berlin, Ashanti Bromfield and Jacqueline Byers.

Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?

RD: The short answer is I got discovered and I love it and I don’t want to quit. The long answer is I love to be in front of the camera. It’s the best feeling in the world. I simply love to analyze and learn. In acting, you are constantly analyzing the other character’s behavior and responding to it. I remember in first grade, a child had cut her hair in my class. I came home and said, “I’m not sure if my teacher was upset with the whole class for the incident happening, with whoever did it, or herself as a teacher for not being able to stop it from happening.’ I was six years old at the time. My mom said if I ever stopped acting, I could become a psychologist. I have come to realize that the writing of scripts and acting incorporates psychology.

I also think that there is something to be learned from every role I perform. Sometimes it’s within the material that I am studying for the role. For example, with Hazel & Elwood, with the movie being about trains, I loved that I could look up the trains within the script and learn about them. The same is true about the biplanes in The Comeback Kid. I also meet a lot of interesting people on set with so much knowledge to offer. Acting is really the best job in the world. I don’t know any other job that allows you to do something different every day and to continually learn.

If you weren’t an actor, what other profession do you think you would like to have in the future?

RD: I would love to become a writer and director so I would never be out of work as an actor. I think it would also be wonderful to be a teacher to students who want to learn. I would love to teach drama, history and geography.

What are your hobbies outside of performing?

RD: I have a few close friends that I like to spend time with, and I love spending time with my family. I love horseback riding, downhill skiing, swimming and biking, just to name a few. I’m a real history and geography enthusiast as well. I recently participated in a Battle of the Books competition where I read 25 novels ranging up to Adult fiction and non-fiction a few times each. Our team held practices weekly as we really needed to know specific details in the books. Our team did extremely well and we won the competition. I give kudos to the second place team as well as they were a great challenger.

I love reading so much that I read books on the side leading up to the competition. Some were part of a series in the Battle, and I found myself getting hooked on them. Even though the Harry Potter Series was not part of the Battle, I’m also on my 6th time reading that series and still enjoy it. A highlight for me this year was to travel to Cleveland, Ohio to see Potted Potter. For any Harry Potter fans out there, I recommend the show.

I enjoy going to the movies and the theatre to watch other actors perform. Another favourite thing to do is to spend time building Lego with my brother, Alexander. We have a rule in our house. When we get a new Lego set, we have to put it together correctly the first time. After that, we get to be creative and change it up to whatever we want it to be. My little brother is so creative, so it’s a challenge to keep up to him. He’s also followed in my footsteps with acting, so we enjoy singing, or doing improv together with different accents that we pick up from YouTube videos that we watch. We have a really good time together.

 

An Interview With Australian Child Star Caleb McClure

 Caleb McClure
Australian actor Caleb McClure shot by Lliam Murphy

Often times the most successful child actors have more than just talent and a lovable face on their side they also have the ability to play characters much younger than they really are. In the same way that adult actors play high school kids—for instance, when 29-year-old Stacy Dash played 16-year-old Dionne in Clueless, and Leonardo DiCaprio played 16-year-old Frank Abangale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can at the age of 28, the capacity to believably portray younger characters has been integral to the success of many of the world’s most famous actors.

At 15-years-old Australian actor Caleb McClure has already achieved a level of notability in the entertainment industry that most actors can only dream of. To date McClure has taken on a slew of incredibly challenging characters in films including A View from Below, Zero, Arrival, A View From Bellow, I Am Evangeline and the upcoming film The Legend of Ben Hall, as well as the five-time Logie Award winning series Underbelly.

McClure’s ability to play younger characters is an undeniable asset, but what makes him so extraordinary is the way he brings his characters to life, especially considering many of his projects have been heavy hitting dramas based on true stories.

In 2013 McClure took on the role of Young Sylas, a 10-year-old boy whose life is changed forever after a mysterious object falls from the sky, in the multi-award winning film Arrival. McClure also played the starring role of Leopold, a young elementary school kid who struggles to hide that he’s HIV positive from the world in the film Where is Mum?, directed by Chantal Denoux, who received the World Medal from New York Festivals for her documentary My Home: Your War.

Although McClure has proven his ability to portray younger characters with ease, those aren’t the only roles he gets cast in, and his malleable age range has definitely helped him create the dazzling repertoire of work he is known for today.

In the film Holding The Man, which was released in Australia earlier this year and garnered the Awgie Award from the Australian Writer’s Guild, McClure took on the dramatic role of a young teen named Nick, the younger brother of Tim Conigrave. McClure brought an astonishing level of emotion to the role, which definitely helped drive the dramatic aspects of the story in the film.

With wit, wisdom and an emotional capacity that is well beyond his years, Caleb McClure is definitely one actor that you will want to keep your eyes out for. To find out more about his projects, what drives his performances, and how he balances being a regular kid with being an international film star, check out our interview below! You can also find out more about Caleb McClure through his IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3899794/

 

LG: Where are you from and how old are you? 

CM: I am 15 and I’m originally from Sydney, but I reside in Melbourne Australia.

LG: When and how did you get into acting?

CM: I started modeling for magazines and commercials when I was 4; and I landed my first film role when I was 8. The film was called Fairlight and I played the role of James. After that I landed the leading roles in over 15 short films, and I played very different characters in each one.

My parents saw that I could follow direction from the director and how much I loved to grab a script and was committed to learning lines and developing my character.

LG: What is it like having such a successful career at such a young age?

CM: I absolutely love it and the feeling I get when I’m on set is like my own little world that I can transform.

LG: Can you tell us a little bit about some of the film and television projects you’ve done?

CM: In the film The Legend of Ben Hall, which is set in the 1800s and centers on the life of Ben Hall, an Australian bushranger who robs people and forms a gang, I played Frederick Nelson. As the eldest son of Constable Nelson, a policeman, I had to accompany my father who was on patrol of the bush to round up the criminals at bay, but he is shot by John Dunn and dies in my arms.

As this is true Australian history as it is written, my role was important to the movie to show how this gang affected people. My role was intense at times with a lot of action and emotion so I had to be quick on my feet, and it was definitely physically challenging, as I had to run a lot in cold weather. The film was shot in winter so being outside in the bush was freezing, but it was worth it to be apart of this. I got to watch how props and mechanics work on set. I loved watching weapons being used and had a great time with the actors and the director was always fantastic. The costumes were amazing. Transforming into another era and becoming this character was great, and as this was based on a true story it was like taking a step back in time. Being Australian it was easy for me to relate to Frederick, as he is part of our history and I have a lot of respect for these people from that era.

In the film Holding The Man I played Nick Conigrave, the younger brother of the main character Tim Conigrave. The film is about a love story between Tim and John, who fall in love while attending an all-boys high school and although their love endures over the course of 15 years as they manage to overcome through life’s challenges, when Tim gets aids everything gets much harder.

As Tim’s brother I had to show a lot of emotion and be aggressive and upset. Being a member of a family with so much dysfunction that doesn’t get along well made things very dramatic, and my character brought a lot of drama to the story, which I actually loved doing.

I was always on the lookout for anything that could help me bring this character to life in a realistic way. I like creating a fictional person with weaknesses, history, mannerisms, hopes, fears, someone that is often even more real than people you meet in real life. As the younger brother, my character couldn’t understand what his brother was going through and he was confused and sometimes scared by the way Tim acted when he’s pushed beyond his limits.

Working alongside Guy Pearce and Ryan Corr and lot of others I felt a bit nervous before we started filming, but after I got on set and had gotten into my character I felt great.

The cast of this was amazing and I felt great being able to watch and learn as they took the time to discuss the script and my character role before we would head out on set to act out our scenes. The costumes were funny as the film is set in the 1980s, but I related to this character and I felt right playing him because I understand what it was like to be bullied over things in life.

In Underbelly, a crime series based on true stories, I played Ollie, a young boy under the watch of Squizzy Taylor, a notorious gangster in Melbourne in 1915 in the sixth season of the show. My character was poor and lived on the streets, and Squizzy would watch every move I made. My character was scared and submissive and he would have to steal for him in order to survive and in exchange he provided me with food and protection. I wore clothes from that era like woolen socks, which were very itchy and uncomfortable, and braces with a cap hat and thin shirts, so most of the time on set I was cold, dirty and itchy, which made me feel like I was actually living in that era. I also researched the era in order to better understand what the people had to go through and how hard living conditions were back then.

In the film Holden Town I play the starring role of Mack, who lives with his single father, Billy Barker, a man who was once a household name throughout Australia, but now he struggles to make ends meet as he raises his two sons.

My character needed money so he went to work on an apple orchard with some other young men, teaching him to realize that if he wants something he has to work hard for it. The film has drama, comedy and a lot of emotion, and having multiple genres in this film gives me the opportunity to change my character around a lot.

We have only shot the trailer for the film so far, and we will begin shooting the film in 2016 with this being shoot being on location in Victoria, Australia.

LG: They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?

CM: In Underbelly it was interesting playing a kid that had to steal and survive on the streets in the 1920s. I think trying to understand what it was like back then compared to the way things are with technology today was a cool experience. We have come along way since then, and I researched that era in order to get an idea of how people lived then and how tough it was.

Being as Holding The Man is based on a best selling novel on someone’s real life and I was playing the brother of Tim Conigrave, I had to research my character, as he was a real person with his own story and that made the experience really amazing. It was also interesting knowing that this love story took place during a time when there were a lot of negative feelings towards gay people.

LG: You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?

CM: The character and what’s behind the role, I try to find something I can relate to or is challenging, and something that I can accomplish in a great way. I also look for roles I’ve never done before in order to give my career and my craft a bit of diversity and ones that I can learn from. I’m interested in whatever will carry me to the next level as an actor so I can continue to make good movies.

LG: Have you done any commercials?

CM: Yes I’ve done several commercials for Brisbane Racing Club, Skwirk, Jump Factory Trampoline Park in Melbourne, Master Electricians, Nissan X Trail, a toy commercial for Target, David Jones the Australian department store, and Anzac Day for News Corp, which aired on all of the television channels, Internet, and in movie theaters.

LG: Is it overwhelming at times to be receiving so much recognition for your work so early on? How do you balance being a kid with having a career?

CM: While the film industry is incredibly hard and demanding, I have courage and inspiration to carry me through. In my spare time I love bike riding and being outdoors, and these things bring balance to my otherwise demanding schedule.

LG: What has been your favorite role so far and why?

CM: My favorite roles would have to be Underbelly as Ollie and Holding The Man as Nick, because I got to meet talented and experienced actors that helped me a lot on set with guidance. They were very caring and supportive. I also found it awesome to be in two different totally different eras, the 1920s and 1980s, with different costumes.

LG: Which actors do you look up to, and why?

CM: I have two favorite actors one is Australian Ryan Corr and American actor Leo DiCaprio because they both can carry different characters with their natural ability and shine in any character they take on. If I had a dollar for every time someone said that I look like Leo I’d be rich! I would love to work alongside him one day!

I look up to so many actors and I enjoy watching television shows, but I also look at the actors’ work and craft and find things that they do in their acting that I like and can learn from.

LG: What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?

CM: Definitely drama and horror, but at the end of the day every genre is great, and there’s nothing like a bit of action either.

LG: What separates you from other actors?

CM: My focus and dedication to the craft, and my ability to get on with the task at hand without distraction, and at times my quirkiness.   I always have a good time on set and I like to have fun. I am very respectful to those I work with and my surroundings, and when I set my mind to something I like to bring it to life for the audience.

LG: You’re also a “Don’t Bully” ambassador– can you tell us about what that means and what the organization does?

CM: “Don’t Bully” is very important to me because, unfortunately there are some people who treat others with no compassion, kindness or respect, they also humiliate and berate people to the point of depression, which can cause suicidal thoughts. This is wrong, we as a society need to stand up and speak out for the silent, for those who do not have the strength or courage to stand up for themselves. No one has the right to bully, intimidate or humiliate another person, and “Don’t Bully” to me, is a way to stand up and speak out for those who cannot do this for themselves. I am passionate about “Don’t Bully” because I want to make a difference. I want to help others who have been in my situation being bullied and I really want to send the message to the all of the bullies out there that it is NOT COOL and it’s NOT OK… I want to make a difference for this generation and our future generations.

LG: What projects do you have coming up, or have you recently finished filming?

CM: Holding The Man is about to be released in America and it has done very well in Australia. Also The Legend Of Ben Hall is in post-production and will be released soon as well.

LG: What kind of training are you doing to better your craft at the moment?

CM: I’ve been training my American dialect with a coach; and I also train with another coach who helps me with comedic timing and voice control.

LG: Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?

CM: I have always enjoyed playing characters. I have fun reading scripts and feeling the character’s emotions and feeling like I am in the story.

LG: If you weren’t an actor, what other profession do you think you would like to do in the future?

CM: That’s very hard as I’m still growing up in the world, but I find I would like to do anything with film.

LG: What are your hobbies outside of performing?

CM: My hobbies are Bmx riding, collecting coins, antiques and hanging out with my friends at the local skate park.

LG: You’ve also had a lot of success as a model, can you tell us about some of the modeling jobs you’ve done so far?

 

CM: I did Elle magazine’s kids section, which went all through Asia.

Q & A With Actress Sarah Wessendorf from Eitan Sarid’s New Film “CPH”

Sarah Wessendorf CPH Film
Actress Sarah Wessendorf shot by Callum Leo Hughes

Though different actors have a plethora of diverse personal reasons for choosing to take on a particular role or another, many will agree that there are some stories that just need to be told, ones that they just couldn’t pass up. Amongst other factors, that is one of the driving forces that drew actress Sarah Wessendorf, who’s originally from Germany, to join the Israeli film production of “CPH” directed by Eitan Sarid earlier this year. Wessendorf, who’s been acting since she was a child, recognized that “CPH” carried the potential to be one of those rare stories that could have a real impact on audiences. And she was right.

“CPH,” which was chosen as an Official Selection of the Jerusalem Film Festival where it was nominated for the prestigious Best Picture Award, depicts the postwar trauma a soldier often face years after they’ve left the battlefield. The film follows a former Israeli soldier who, along with his wife Pia played by Wessendorf, relocate to Copenhagen in hopes of starting a new life and leaving the past behind. If only it were that easy.

Shedding light on a topic that many soldiers across the globe continue to face, “CPH” is brought to life in a way that allows audience members to understand the very real traumas soldiers and their families face after the battle is over. For Wessendorf, this was a hugely important subject to dive into, and her performance as Pia in the film is simply flawless. She is caring and supportive of her husband through his trials and tribulations, yet she never fails to reveal her character’s vulnerabilities and the overwhelming difficulties that come along with being his wife and main support system.

Wessendorf says, “At some point you can not avoid facing your past. That being, said some places and people give us the strength we need to work through those painful experiences.”

An eye-opening film about trauma, healing and love, “CPH” is not to be missed; and lucky enough for us we got the chance to interview the film’s lead actress, Sarah Wessendorf.

Hey Sarah, thanks for joining us! Can you tell us a little bit about what happens in the film “CPH”? 

SW: “CPH” is about an ex Israeli soldier who moves to Copenhagen to escape from his traumatic past in Israel. He moves there with his wife Pia, who I play in the film. When he gets to Copenhagen he gets a surprise visit from his army friend who breaks into the apartment when no one is there. When these old friends finally see each other they are faced with all the trauma and fears that my husband was trying to avoid all this time. In a way, his friend breaking into the apartment symbolizes the way that trauma will find a way to break through over and over again if we are not willing to take the time to sit down with it and to look it in the eye in order to accept and transform it.

Sounds like a very heavy story– what was it that  made you want to be involved with this project?

SW: I have a deep admiration for Eitan Sarid as a director so when I saw that he was casting for the movie I immediately contacted him, and it worked out beautifully. I never shy away from a difficult or complex topic in movies. I think that those are the most important movies to be made. The only importance is to portray these topics in a respectful and sensitive way.

What is it about Eitan Sarid’s work that you admire? What was it like working with Eitan on set?

SW: Eitan Sarid is a wonderful director who gives the actors the space and freedom to bring their own ideas, knowledge and experience to the set. He has a clear idea of what he wants, but he is also open and interested to hear his actor’s own sense of the scene and the character, and then let it all come together. Working with Eitan feels safe, there is a lot of mutual respect. We became very good friends through the process of working together. I deeply respect his vision and his ability to tell stories and I’m very much looking forward to working with him in the future.

Can you tell us about your character in the film?

SW: I play Pia, the wife of the lead. She is from Denmark and so that aspect also signals a new energy that is not connected to the heaviness her husband experienced in Israel. She is next to him to help him build a new life and create a new identity. But when her husband is faced with his past trauma she too has to come to terms with the fact that she didn’t fully know her husband and that in order to love him fully she has to understand his pain and trauma.

What was it like working with Doron Amit who plays your husband in the film? How was the chemistry on set?

SW: Working with Doron was a real treat! He is a very talented actor and together we created this safe space where we both felt free to improvise and trust each other, we motivated each other to go even deeper into our characters’ feelings, fears and ultimately the bond the characters have.

 What does Pia bring to the story? And how did you feel about playing the character?

SW: Pia’s role is a vital one, she adds an element of love and support to the film. She is the one who accepts and loves her husband no matter what. She is determined to have unending and unconditional love for her husband, and this is an active choice she reinforces over and over again, which gives her husband the strength and trust to, for the first time, look into his pain and try to heal. 

I think that this is something that we as humans need in order to be able to move past certain traumas, to know somehow that there is a deep well of love underneath. A love that will catch you when you fall. No matter how we think we have it, I think it is a must to have that in order to open up and become vulnerable. This well if you will, is Pia in the film for her husband. 

When you were creating your character and really becoming Pia, were there any experiences from your personal life that you looked to, or any other places that you turned to for inspiration?

SW: Definitely, I very much rely on a spiritual power to give me the strength and courage to look into childhood experiences which might not have been super and that I wanted to heal.  I feel a very strong unconditional love from a higher wisdom, call it God if you will. I was very much comparing this to the unfailing love and patience that Pia has for her husband. Also I saw someone who deeply admires her husband for his strength and I’ve definitely felt this in previous relationships too, this immense respect for the life path that someone had been on. 

Can you tell us about any challenges or memorable experiences from this project?

SW: Shooting in Israel was definitely very interesting for me. I could tell that the story was also a very personal one for the director and the other cast members since in Israel it is mandatory to go to the army. There of course you are prey to many traumatic experiences, which you will not be able to shield yourself from. Then it becomes the ultimate goal to somehow heal these experiences from the army which proves to not always be that easy. Especially when there are no therapists offered and therapy can be very expensive. It is up to the individuals to learn to cope as best as they can with those dark memories and then somehow learn to live with them.

What are your personal feelings on the fact that is so difficult for the soldiers to get approved for free therapy once they leave the army?

SW: That is of course unfortunate since a country greatly benefits from having mentally healthy citizens. It is a very complex topic though, one that could take hours to discuss. And I don’t think it is fair to a country to judge it without deeply diving into its history, its values and its hopes.

Was there any point during the filming where you felt like the story was too heavy to handle?

SW: No never. I was very much convinced that this was an important story to tell. And as a German I was very happy to be a part of it. I don’t shy away from heavy situations or topics. So this for me was rather a film that I felt honored to be a part of!

What was your favorite part of being involved in this production?

SW: There is something very special to be working as a German in an otherwise all Israeli cast. I feel very fortunate that I got the opportunity to work with such talented actors such as Yona Rozenkier and Doron Amit. Also I completely trusted Eitan Sarid’s vision. I felt very lucky to be part of a meaningful Israeli story in a film that also received such amazing reviews and feedback. But my favorite part was hands down the people. For some reason I always felt very connected to Israel and being surrounded by so much Israeli talent was a complete blast for me.

What do you hope audiences take away from this film?

SW: My biggest wish would be that people realize that it is not always the way it seems when we see a fellow human being. From the outside everything might look wonderful, carefree and easy. But we can never really know where this person has come from, what scars he or she carries, what traumas they’ve experienced. I would love for the audience to understand that we need to foster a society of compassion and empathy, and a deeper love for each other. We all run through life with our own experiences, some are joyful and some painful. No one can run away from that. My wish is that we all learn to treat each other with more care and more love.

How do you feel about the film being chosen as an Official Selection of the Jerusalem International Film Festival and the Tel Aviv International Student Film Festival?

SW: It was such thrilling news! I am so proud of all of us, because I know how hard we worked to make the movie what it is! I was not surprised that it has gotten the recognition that it did though. With all that talent around, it was easy to foresee that this movie would be an important one.