Interview with ‘Altered Carbon’ actor Fraser Aitcheson

Fraser Aitcheson started out WWE style wrestling and found himself in show biz. Known for over 100 credits in films such as “Godzilla,” “Deadpool” and “Man of Steel,” as well as hit TV shows like “Supernatural,” “Arrow,” and “The Flash.” He can soon be spotted in the hot new Netflix series “Altered Carbon,” the new Jason Momoa film “Braven,” and many more. Get to know this talented and badass stunt performer.

Stunt performer/actor Fraser Aitcheson, photo credit to Rob Gilbert

Colleen Bement: “Altered Carbon” looks right up my geeky little alley and I’m looking forward to its premiere. What can you share about life on the set?

Fraser Aitcheson: I can’t say much, but “Altered Carbon” was lots of fun, and I think viewers will be blown away!

CB: You are incredibly busy with projects like “The Predator,” “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” “Braven,” and more. Catch your fans up on these cool projects?

FA: Because I’m required to sign non-disclosure agreements, I can’t divulge anything in terms of plot lines. I had a great time on each of the films and I’m sure everyone will be happy with what comes out. “Braven” in particular was fun as I got to work closely with Jason Momoa who will be playing Aquaman in the “Justice League” movie. It was also a great pleasure to work with Garret Dillahunt!

CB: What inspired you to become a stunt performer?

FA: I honestly fell into being a stunt performer. Pun not intended. Years ago I was wrestling (WWE style) and a TV show came to town that had wrestling elements. I was asked to help teach the stuntmen how to perform the moves and was also given some time on the show as a performer. I loved it, and the rest is history.

CB: So many of my readers are sci-fi and comic fans so I have a couple of questions for you.

1.) If you could be any superhero, who would it be and why?

FA: Haha! I’ve been asking myself this question for decades. Hands down – Hulk! Or maybe Spider-Man.

 

2.) What is the first Sci-fi film that you loved as a kid?

FA: As a kid, I used to love watching the black and white “Godzilla” movies. Not sure if that qualifies, but that’s the earliest sci-fi-ish movie I can remember watching. I had the opportunity to work on Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla,” and it was awesome because I’d watched the all the movies as a kid. I can’t wait for the next one with Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah.

Interview with Dr. Hess herself Gillian Barber of ‘Supernatural’

“Supernatural” fans know Gillian Barber for her season 12 role as the evil Dr. Hess of the British Men of Letters. Sci-Fi lovers have seen her in so many of the favorite shows such as “Man in the High Castle,” “X-Files,” “Stargate: SG1,” “Smallville,” and so many more film and TV roles. Raised in British Columbia and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, this well-known actress has been in film and television since back in the early 80s. Lately, Barber has film projects in the works while still making time to direct a musical. She even has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do which sure came in handy on the set of “Supernatural.”

Actress Gillian Barber of 'Supernatural'
Colleen Bement: Let’s start out “Supernatural.” This past season you played a character that fans loved to hate, Doctor Hess. You also played Mrs. Rourke from the season one episode “Faith.” My readers would just love to hear any stories you have to tell from the set.

Gillian Barber: I think the one thing that is always present on the “Supernatural” set is how pleasant and respectful and full of manners the set is. Jensen and Jared are just the two most polite Texan boys I’ve ever met in my life. They set the tone. Because they’re so nice and so polite, they pull out a chair for you and say, ma’am, you want to sit down, and I say yeah; sure. From the top down, the whole set is really positive and just amazing. I loved working on the set both then and now. After 12 years they haven’t changed. They’re still fun-loving, really nice guys. I’m amazed at that.

Recently the thrill of my life was to be able to use my Tae Kwon Do on the set of “Supernatural” this time in the last episode. So being able to kick and break someone’s neck and throw them over the top of a railing was just the thrill of my life.
CB: You were badass. You were smart, and brutal when you needed to be, and pretty darn scary.

GB: I sure did love Dr. Hess. That was one hell of a character to play; I just loved her. David Haydn-Jones and I also hit it off famously. We’ve been sharing Twitter notes back and forth with the fans. It’s just been so delightful. He’s such a lovely guy, too. He’s so much fun to work with. Every time before we’d shoot we’d crack a couple of jokes just to relax each other. It was great.

CB: Let’s talk another favorite of mine “Man in the High Castle.” That show is one of the most brilliant shows on TV. What was that experience like?

GB: I’m not sure, but I may be back in season two, I’d be really lucky if that happens. Again, a very, very professional set. One of the things about it is Amazon is spending as much money as needed. They put lots of money into each episode so you just feel completely supported. For an example the funeral scene: The set deck that day was both amazing and chilling at the same time with all those Nazi flags hanging there in the church. They don’t skimp on any details. I was fitted for proper late 50s early 60s underwear and I had to wear that damn stuff all the time. The costumes were all vintage, and the costume designer fits everything to you perfectly. After I just felt so supported by all the people there. They’re not afraid to hire Canadians either, so there’s a half and half of Canadians, and a wealth of international people too. It was an amazing experience.

Oh, I’ve gotta tell you that Rufus Sewell is the funniest guy on two legs. He is hysterical. It’s so nice because he plays this awful, chilling, nasty officer, and then they yell cut and he’s joking about his underwear. He’s a really great guy.

CB: Do you have any projects in the works that you’re allowed to chat about?
GB: I can’t talk about the film projects, but I can talk about that right now I’m directing a musical called “The Drowsy Chaperone.” It was on Broadway around 2006, and I’m directing it at a local theater company called “Theatre Under the Stars.” Opens on July 12th and it will run every even day in July, and every odd day in August. It’s at the Malkin Bowl and it’s in Stanley Park, outdoors in Vancouver. It’s a really great script. It’s a smart script and the music is wonderful. It was all Canadian written so I was really proud to direct it.

CB: I read that you were a choreographer. Did you get your start in showbiz as a dancer: How did you become an actress?

GB: My mother, like a lot of mothers, put me in ballet and jazz and tap and singing and piano when I was four. She was a bit of a closet actress herself and she would drag me along to rehearsals because, at the time, she couldn’t afford a babysitter. There I would be backstage dancing along with all of the dancers, and one day the choreographer came backstage and said oh; you dance. I said yes. She said great. You’re in the show! So I was four and I was in my first show. It went hand in hand with my mother’s career in the beginning, and by the time I was 16 I started to do films, and then I went to drama school in London and the rest is history.

CB: I came across a picture of your cat. Do you have a cat named Sammy?
GB: I sure do. He’s sitting at my feet right now. He’s beautiful. He’s a Birman which is a Tibetan cat. Apparently, the legend is that a monk fell into a pool and the cat reached in and saved him. So all Birmans have just white front paws, because of the pool, dip. He’s got a little bit of Siamese in him so he talks and he’s got crossed blue eyes. He’s awesome. I love him.

Get to know ‘Supernatural’ guest actress Maddie Phillips

Actress Maddie Phillips, photo courtesy of Jessica Dawn

Actress Maddie Phillips, photo courtesy of Trisko Talent

Talented actress Maddie Phillips has made a name for herself with roles in “Supernatural” and “Project Mc²”, “The Crossing,” and will soon be seen in Syfy’s new series “Ghost Wars.” Until the age of ten, she lived in Vancouver, BC before moving to Perth, Australia where she studied theater. Maddie can tell you anything and everything about “Harry Potter,” loves music, and has a promising career ahead of her.

Colleen Bement: What can you share about your latest projects?

Maddie Phillips: I’m currently working on a new show for Syfy called “Ghost Wars” created by Simon Barry and it’s honestly been a dream come true. I can’t shut up about it. It takes place in a remote Alaskan town that’s become overrun by paranormal forces. It stars Vincent D’onofrio, Kim Coates, Avan Jogia and Meatloaf. It’s seriously the biggest thrill to work with such experienced and passionate people. Earlier this year I worked on the pilot for ABC’s “The Crossing” (which anyone who loved watching “Lost” will enjoy), and then I got to be a secret agent with a giant blue wig on “Project Mc².” It was so much fun; I honestly think I’ll dye my hair blue down the road now.

CB: You were in a season 10 episode of “Supernatural” and my readers would just love to hear any stories that you might have from the set.
MP: Booking this was so exciting. As most actors in Vancouver will tell you, being on the show is kind of a rite of passage for us. Jared and Jensen are everything you’d expect them to be, in the best way. You’d think they would be kinda over it by now after more than a decade of seasons ha-ha, but those guys were so bubbly and friendly, and such pros. They would often play around with a funny line together between takes, and a couple minutes later come out with an even funnier one that would get used instead.

CB: Do you have plans to branch out into writing or directing?

MP: I would love those things in my future. However, in saying that the amount of patience, drive, and dedication needed to be either of those is so mind blowing. I can almost hear the snorts of all the writers and directors out there whenever they hear actors saying casually that they might direct one day. So ideally, I’d love to branch out into those territories, but for the moment my plans are to just keep pounding the pavement, doing work I’m proud of and learning as much as possible.

CB: Do you have any hidden talents?

MP: Ask me anything to do with “Harry Potter” and I’ll know the answer.

Maddie Phillips Tongue

Actress Maddie Phillips, photo courtesy of Trisko Talent

CB: Let’s get to know you even better with some quick answer questions:

  • What are some of the bands on your music playlist right now? My boyfriends’ band ‘Hawking‘ just released their new album that I’ve honestly had on repeat for the last couple months. I was actually in their music video for their single ‘Comfortable’ which you can find on YouTube. I’m also really into Polyphia, PVRIS, Frank Ocean and Kat Dahlia.

 

  • What actress inspired you? I’ve been inspired by so many different actresses for so many different reasons. Natalie Portman is one example. I was 12 when I saw “V for Vendetta” and I had never been more affected by a performer’s dedication. She was like a walking raw wound. Angelina Jolie’s performances in “Gia” and “Girl, Interrupted” were extremely inspiring too, so haunting and raw without being self-indulgent. I’m also inspired by Winona Ryder’s choices of projects. I still can’t believe the amazingly quirky little girl in “Beetlejuice” grew up to be Jo from “Little Women.” Oh, and I need to mention Kat Graham. That woman is so good in “Vampire Diaries” she makes me sob into my chocolate and popcorn and forget it’s a show for teenagers about sexy dead people (no shade).

 

  • Are you a fan of sci-fi? If so, what are some of your favorite TV shows? I wouldn’t say that I’m a sci-fi fan, but only because I’m aware of the intensity of the sci-fi fandom; I haven’t earned that title ha-ha. For example, I haven’t seen any of the “Star Wars” movies (please don’t hate me), and the only thing I know about “Star Trek” is that they do that weird thing with their hands. I really liked “Continuum” and, “Stranger Things” (naturally) and I think “The 100” has some of the best acting on the CW right now. I’m preeeetty sure “Ghost Wars” will become a new favorite once it airs. Not that I’m biased or anything.

Denver PrideFest scores huge crowds and big smiles

20170618_Denver PrideFest scores huge crowds and big smiles

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Glorious rainbows and enthusiastic smiles took over Civic Center Park in Downtown Denver this past weekend with Denver PrideFest. According to organizers, approximately 385,000 people attended the party over the weekend June  17-18, 2017. All walks of life joined in the event that celebrated love, life, and equality. One of the coolest moments was on Sunday when Dillon and Trent got married on a float. Right there at PrideFest in front of family and friends from across the country, and an emotional audience, the couple tied the knot right on top of a parade float.There was dancing, shopping, eating, and children playing. This is how life is supposed to be for all.

Denver PrideFest scores huge crowds and big smiles

Families at Denver PrideFest

 

100% of the proceeds from the festival go to support programs that help the GLBT Community Center of Colorado. This is a “non-profit organization whose mission is to empower, engage, enrich and advance the LGBT community of Colorado.” Their mission is to “engage, empower, enrich, and advance the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community of Colorado.” Memories were made this weekend and attendees look forward to not only next year, but living every day with pride.

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Science Lounge celebrates Pride Week, constellations, and ancient Greece

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Liquid nitrogen and balloons

In partnering with Denver PrideFest and GLBT Colorado, last night June 14, 2017, The Science Lounge celebrated an extra special night. Throughout the halls, there were togas and rainbows celebrating both Greek history and PrideFest. Every third Thursday the Denver Museum of Nature and Science hosts the coolest adult program called The Science Lounge. Cocktails and tasty snacks are combined with fascinating and fun learning opportunities. The theme this month was Space Oddity. It explored ancient Greek and Roman culture including sex lives in Greek history, the stories behind the constellations, and the chance to gaze at Jupiter in the night sky. On the Anschutz Family Sky Terrace, there were three kickass telescopes where people were able to view Jupiter and its moons. A few keen eyes even saw the red spot.

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on Star Power: Famous Sex Lives in Greek History and Myth; or as presenter John Gilbert

One of the highlights of the evening was a seminar on Star Power: Famous Sex Lives in Greek History and Myth; or as presenter John Gilbert called it “penises everywhere!” Gilbert is a Ph.D. and Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Colorado Boulder. Luckily over 100,000 vases survived over the years and some of them depict some very interesting insights into ancient Greek culture. These vases told pretty eye-opening stories. One of the vases he showed seemed like it was straight out of Netflix’s show “Sense8.” On that painting was an adult man being spanked with a sandal by a woman, with a young man and a young woman off to the side giving themselves pleasure. Needless to say, Gilbert gave this fascinating talk to a packed room of entertained guests.

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Liquid nitrogen and a condom: Yes a condom!

Fruits, flowers, balloons, and even one pretty darn strong condom met their demise after being frozen with liquid nitrogen. The Space Odyssey area had all sorts of hands-on learning tools to experiment with. Visits could create their own constellation and take a quiz to discover which god or goddess one is. Mercury was very popular! Many learned from physical anthropologist Kathryn Reusch about Greek and Roman castrates and eunuchs. There was some seriously fun learning going on at the Science Lounge.

Marveling over our Earth's plate tectonics

 

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Stargazing in the Gates Planetarium with space science educators Jose Zuniga and Naomi Pequette. Zuniga hilariously shared stories of how some of the best-known constellations got their names. For an example, who knew that the Big Dipper and Little Dippers were named after Calisto and her son who were both turned into bears, and thrown into the sky for all eternity by Zeus? After checking out the night sky in the planetarium, attendees had the chance to have their mind blown by seeing Jupiter and its moons through three absolutely amazing telescopes.


Tickets for the Science Lounge usually sell out so be sure to grab them early. July’s program is July 20th and is called Your Machine Inside. It will talk about living machines with the Nature’s Amazing Machines exhibit. August fun will be about the total eclipse of the sun. Tickets are only $13 for members and $15 for nonmembers.


Don’t forget to check out the Vikings: Beyond the Legend exhibit through August 13th. It will take the visitor back in time to the amazing Viking culture.

Interview with talented and engaging actress Fiona Vroom

Fiona Vroom has made a name for herself by bringing some very cool characters to life. She is the talented and beautiful actress known for her roles in the recent “Power Rangers” film opposite Elizabeth Banks, “Man in the High Castle,” and recurring on “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.” Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, this actress, singer, and dancer can boast Leo Award and Canadian Screen Award nominations. Fiona will soon be seen in the hot upcoming Netflix series “Altered Carbon.”

Actress Fiona Vroom, photo courtesy of Chelsea Roisum Photography

Colleen Bement: “Power Rangers” was so popular. What can you share about your experience on the set?

Fiona Vroom: It was one of the BEST experiences of my life. There was a huge explosion in the scene I shot with Rita – Elizabeth Banks. We rehearsed it with the camera crew and special effects guys for almost the entire day. When we finally shot the scene with the camera rolling, and action was called, everything around me was blowing up for real, and my heart was pounding so hard. We nailed it the first take. I remember watching the play back around the monitor with Dean, the director, and Elizabeth, and there were smiles all around. It was an amazing moment to be part of.

CB: What are you allowed to share about your starring role in the short film “Meridian” and TV movie “Psycho Wedding Crasher?”

FV: “Meridian” is about a bunch of grad students that do into the desert to test out a time machine. It was an amazing shoot. We shot on location, in BC’s desert. It was hot and dry! Two things I’m not very accustomed to, being from Vancouver.
“Psycho Wedding Crasher” will be coming out later this year. I co-star with Heather Morris from Glee. We hit it off right away because we are both dancers. She was a gem to work with.

CB: “Moonlight in Vermont” was such a romantic movie. Are you a romantic at heart?
FV: I’m a total romantic fool actually. I love falling in love. Romantic comedies are my favorite movies. Life wouldn’t exist without love. It’s all that matters.

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CB: You played the role of Vicki Monroe in season three and four of “Bates Motel.” What was it like to be a part of one of the most brilliant shows on TV?

FV: From the moment I walked into the hair and makeup trailer, and Vera came right up to me, shook my hand, and looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you for being part of our show” I knew this experience was going to be different than any other. This set was like being wrapped up in a cozy blanket. It was saturated with amazing people. Nestor is still, to this day, the best scene partner I’ve ever had. Freddie and Vera will stay with you every single moment of the scene, on and off camera. I’m very grateful to have had that education. I’ll never forget it.

CB: You were once on “Supernatural” many moons ago. Was the set as wonderful to be on as everyone says?

FV: That was a long time ago, and I was very green, but I must have done something right, because I auditioned for another part, just this past season, and the Executive Producer called me personally to tell me he loved my audition, but he was sorry that the part got cut. He didn’t want me to take it personally. So yes! I would have to say I was very impressed by the kindness he showed me. That doesn’t happen very often in this business.

Actor Jonathan M. Woodward chats ‘Joyrider: The Documentary’

Joss Whedon fans know Jonathan M. Woodward. Born in Moscow, ID the actor is well-known for his guest roles in all three Whedon favorites “Firefly,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Angel.” Now Woodward is proud to be associate producer of the exciting “Joyrider: The Documentary” and will soon have his Public Radio Master’s Degree from Fordham University. “Joyrider” starts filming this week as the crew follows badass wheelchair athlete André Kajlich as he becomes the first solo hand cyclist to compete in the Race Across America.

André Kajlich of "Joyrider: The Documentary' Photo courtesy of "Joyrider"
Jonathan M. Woodward: I’m working with Clare Kramer (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) She was Glory; the big bad. The Kickstarter is already funded. We’re very happy. The race itself is a race across America with a wheelchair athlete named Andre? He is traveling 3,069 miles in three days on a handcycle. It’s one of the most grueling races known to man. It is an unbelievably difficult thing. He’s a total machine. His legs were chopped off by a commuter train in Prague in his early 20s. He’s since become a world-class athlete, and this is going to be first handcyclist to attempt this thing. We’re lining up a crew, we’ve got Greg Grunberg as a producer, and we’ve got Bianca Kajilch who’s known from “Rules of Engagement” and “Bring it On,” so we’re all going to California. We start shooting in a week, and we’re going to be following him across the country. We are popping up in Colorado through the southern end of Colorado through Cortez, Durango, Pagosa Springs, La Veta, Trinidad, Alamosa, before we spit ourselves out into Kansas. We’re trying to make a great film about an incredibly inspiring athlete. Clare brought me in on the project about three months ago. She’ll be directing; I’m an associate producer.

CB: Are there any other projects that you can share with your fans?

JMW: I’m going to Fordham University in the fall to be a journalist and to get my Master’s Degree. It’s a Public Radio Master’s Degree, so I’m a different kind of journalist. Public media journalism is responsible to a different cohort of individuals. We’re in the public trust and we’re publicly financed. We come together to provide a level of journalism that is one of the most highly respected independent voices in journalism today. The best statistic, the number one place for the most trusted news was public radio and NPR. There are no corporate interests, it’s free from the issues of media bias and journalism bias only because it’s made up member stations coming together in cells, and each one of the member stations represents the unique outlook and local kind of culture that it comes from. It definitely represents the culture and values of the community it represents.

 
JMW: We’re about to come out with a new push. It’s a tough race to plan on. I’ll be running home base. Thanks to a sponsor we have an RV to go to eat and sleep and recuperate. I’ll be running media management and logistical planning….and I’ve got to move the crew around. We hope to get to Annapolis. How many miles has he done before? J Well let me tell you. Oh, he is totally nuts. He is a world class athlete. He first started when he was trying to redefine himself in later years. He spent some times drinking a lot. He was a double amputee: one right at the hip, and one just above the knee. There were some tough years, and then the bought a handcycle off Craig’s list and entered a marathon. Since then, he has become the Panamerican Champion in Edmonton, USA’s Paratriathlete of the year in 2012, he’s an Iron Man World Champion in Kona, and he completed the Brazil135 Ultramarathon in the mountains of Brazil a few years back. He was literally dragging his bike up behind him, using one arm to drag himself, and then he would drag the bike because of the rainstorm. He’s a machine.

 
CB: Are you a geek? What are you into? Sci-fi? Comics?

 
JMW: I’m a sci-fi guy; I like robots with laser beam eyeballs. That’s really where my heart is at (laughs). I love reading comics but it’s not what wakes me up in the middle of the night. I’ve always been a space guy. “Firefly” was truly the culmination of many, many dreams of getting to be on that. I had some fun roles as an actor, but almost always I felt like I was in a lab coat. Joss gave me that role. I got to be the guy with the gun, I got to be a rogue space guy and it was the time of my life.

 
CB: Joss does like to break out hearts. I think you’ve died all three times in your roles with him.

 
JMW: He loves killing me and I love doing it. I talk to Clare about this from time to time. It’s an incredible little mafia of people that get to put that merit badge on their life; it’s a lifelong-defining thing to have participated in one of those remarkable pieces of work. He (Joss Whedon) is one the great voices in our culture, and it’s amazing to have spent that time with him.