Category: Interviews

Revisiting Banshee Baddies: Geno Segers

The weekly revisiting of Banshee interviews continues with Geno Segers, who created the fearsome Chayton Littlestone. 

In the land of film and television, a world of make believe, Geno Segers is the complete package. He has the size, voice and the charisma of a man who knows what he wants and how he wants it. That road led him to Cinemax’s hit show, Banshee, where he has turned a tough looking guy in Chayton Littlestone into a character with substance and many layers of intrigue.

It turns out that forces of nature can be gentlemanly and revealing as well. I had the chance to speak with Segers this week about Chayton’s motivations, the reaction to killing a beloved character on screen and Friday’s huge showdown in New Orleans. This isn’t 60 minutes, folks. Just a couple of dudes talking about Banshee.

Dan Buffa-Friday looks like it’s going to be an exciting night for Fanshees.

Geno Segers-A lot of people are anticipating this meeting of the minds so to speak.

DB-When it comes to you and Antony Starr(who plays Lucas Hood on the show), it’s more like meeting of the fists. When you two see each other on set, do you sigh and think to yourself, “Oh boy”. I mean, there’s a lot of physicality between you two.

GS-Antony and I are really good friends actually. I used to live in New Zealand. I was a rugby player for several years and he grew up there. We more than likely ran into each other a few times. He was an up and coming actor and I was coming out of rugby and doing security along with other small businesses. It’s not a big place, but we would run into each other several times without really knowing it.

DB-So you are saying we have an origin story of Chayton and Lucas set up here.

GS-That’s an origin in reality. A Geno and Antony story.

DB-Let’s get the big elephant out of the room. How much hate did you receive when Chayton killed off the beloved Siobhan Kelly?

GS-Honestly, it was quite an interesting week. There was a lot of hate for Chayton, as you can imagine. I expected it and I looked forward to it. I learned very quickly that people viewed it differently. Some people sided with Chayton. Being a Fanshee myself, I didn’t side with Chayton. I wanted to see him die a miserable death. The line got crossed only once, and this guy said something to me about wanting the actor who played Chayton to die. Come on man. I’m just doing what the writers want me to do. Some people enjoy the freedom they have to speak bluntly over Twitter and social media whereas they couldn’t say it in person. When I see people in public, it’s all about love. It’s praise. The comments are so far one way and then so far the other way. My grandmother always told me, “Don’t drink anybody’s kool aide. If the kool aid is not sweet enough, you add a little sugar. If it’s too sweet, you add a little water. If you add something to someone else’s kool aid, it’s not their kool aid anymore. It’s your kool aid.” Compare that to the comments. If someone says somebody really nice about me, I add a little water. If someone says something really negative, I add some water. I must have done a really good job if that guy wanted me to die. I read the comments but I don’t embody them or take them personally.

DB-Everybody loves a good bad guy. Good guys need a great bad guy to make the show work. This season, Chayton has become that big bad. When I talked to Loni Peristere(Director and Executive Producer) before the season, he talked about making Chayton something more. Season 3 has seen that transformation come full circle, and also seen Chayton tumble down the rabbit hole of violence.

GS-Yeah, Chayton takes a turn for the worse when his brother, Tommy, dies. That really showed that he was human and vengeful. He wants it in such a way that he is willing to do anything to get it but he also isn’t stupid. He doesn’t want to get caught and go to jail. As he explained to Aimee in the woods, he isn’t to let them put him into another cage and nobody(including someone as close as Aimee once was) will get in his way. He’s a mad dog and he’s agitated.

DB-In the second season, we didn’t see that mad dog. Chayton let Siobhan live after the car accident. That was a different guy. A guy who could kill but still had the chain on him. When Tommy was killed, the chain got broke and it can’t be reattached.  

GS-Chayton was an honorable warrior. No women and no kids. Loni asked me if I had done any homework on Chayton in the middle of Season 2 and 3, and I had. I kept a journal as Chayton for months prior to going back to set. The journal covered Chayton’s trip from New Orleans back to Banshee. As I wrote in this journal as Chayton, I realized he was taking fights along the way back. As he realized that in taking all these fights, there was always going to be someone standing in front of him willing to die. He can’t kill all the white men. Eventually, someone is going to kill him. Every warrior knows his death is coming and they seek a warrior’s death. Chayton realizes he can’t take the land back. He is outnumbered, so the objective has changed when he returns to Banshee. Taking whatever he can and that means taking it the same way this country was taken in the beginning and that is with the gun. That was the assault on Colonel Stowe’s transport. He was training his people to take back what they could and how that would change things immediately. That said, he still refuses to use a gun. He wants to remain pure and use a bow and arrow. Then, the tire comes off the road when his brother dies, who he was desperately trying to protect. Chayton knew that his days were numbered, so he had to leave it to someone. When Tommy died, everything crumbled.

DB-Chayton turned into a lone wolf so to speak.

GS-Absolutely. The only person Chayton trusted was Tommy, so all bets are off. He’s willing to do anything to stay free. (In episode 307, You Can’t Hide From The Dead), he pitchforked a guy for no reason. He then pitchforked the lady who helped him. Ultimately, Chayton is on a path of destruction and reached the point of no return. He’s going back to New Orleans to seek refuge.

DB-One of the things I’ve started to think about this season is Chayton underestimating Hood in thinking he is just a sheriff and not seeing a guy who is deadly as him.

GS-The thought of Chayton being snuck up on was a moot point between myself and Antony. We talk about these moments that Hood and Chayton are face to face. The banter and the communication that only a warrior or assassin would know. Chayton feels very close to Hood in a way, because he knows him. At the same time, he doesn’t really know him. There’s something very familiar about this guy to Chayton. It’s a question that is going on in his mind. He can’t put the pieces together. You’ll find in episode 8(All The Wisdom I Have Left) that a lot of this comes to light for Chayton. His eyes are opened in a different way. There are two realizations for Chayton. It’s not just a fight this week. It’s a fight and a conversation at the same time. Things are starting to unravel for him, so the “Aha” moment is coming for Chayton because he only believed Hood was a sheriff with really good training. That realization is made and then it is reformed later in the episode.

DB-There are a lot of similarities between Chayton and Hood. Both men are relentless in what they do and aren’t going back to prison and fearless in their life. They are both “Armies of One”, as stated in Season 2.

GS-Exactly. Let’s face it. A Banshee sheriff would NOT go to New Orleans to chase someone. He would not go across state lines or out of the county to chase someone. That realization is made by Chayton. He used to leave Banshee and go to New Orleans without hesitation and now this guy is coming on the reservation and coming down to New Orleans after him. There’s a point where the light comes on and then it comes on again. It gets real bright.

DB-Let’s go back to that Kinaho raid on the Cadi. What kind of shooting schedule was that? One night? Several nights?

GS-It was a long time. It was more than a week. If you look at the interior shots and the exterior shots, it was a long time. They weren’t shooting the interior and exterior shot at the same time. They did the interior first and then the exterior.

DB-My favorite part wasn’t even the action part of the episode. It was the quieter moments like the conversations between you and Antony. Two guys taunting each other. I’m a Dark Knight guy, so those scenes had the Batman/Joker faceoff written all over them. Those were as good as the bullets flying in.

GS-My favorite part was Hood and Proctor putting down their fists for a moment because they need each other. Proctor staying and helping Hood defend the Cadi until he could get himself together. Proctor has developed a softer side and is trying to be more than he currently is. However, his niece Rebecca is getting him into quite a conundrum. It’s going to come to a head real soon.

DB-The best thing about Banshee is the bad guys are not merely villains but wholly developed characters instead. You don’t see that on other television shows.

GS-All you have to do is look at the protagonist of the show. Hood is not a good guy. Who is a good guy and who is a bad guy? I call them pro-antagonists and anti-protagonists. Chayton is an anti-protagonist because he is a bad guy with a good moral compass (or at least he used to be). He had a plan and beliefs but now he is a mad dog and no one is going to side with a mad dog.

DB-In season 3, one of the true good guys, Brock, is switching over to the bad ways of Lucas.

GS-The last real pure Christian in the Banshee police department was (Emmett) Yawners (played by Demetrius Grosse). When Yawners went rogue, he was the last moral compass for Brock. Yawners was telling Brock that he doesn’t need to go see his ex-wife and that he isn’t married to her anymore. Emmett told Brock to leave her alone and manage it in a Christian way. When Emmett was gone, Brock’s moral compass wasn’t there and he goes back to his ex-wife. Brock wanted to go after Hondo because of Emmett’s death and now he wants to go after Chayton for Siobhan’s murder.

DB-One of the few regrets with the show is not seeing Chayton and Emmett square off.

GS-Chayton realistically would not have wanted to fight Emmett. He wanted to wake up the sleeping giant in Emmett. He felt like Emmett was someone that should have been on his side. You have to think about the charisma of someone like Chayton. Someone who will help you see the flaw in yourself and build you back up in his own righteousness. Chayton wanted to wake up Emmett and convince him to pull that badge off. Telling him they raped your people and kidnapped your ancestors. They chained you up for centuries. He wants to wake the giant up. Fighting Emmett was not in Chayton’s motivation. Chayton’s last words to Emmett were “These belong to you” in tossing him the handcuffs. He was still trying to wake him up.

DB-This Friday, it is fight club in New Orleans. What can you tell fans, other than hang on and brace yourselves?

GS-It is going to be concentrated. It’s going to be visceral and grimy. You won’t be disappointed.

DB-The fight scenes on Banshee are amazing.  How much prep goes into a fight like the one on Friday.

GS-It’s all choreographed in a dojo. We make it fit on the set. For the most part, it’s all timed out in the number of moves and the time it takes for the fight to go. How much time is the footage going to take? Some fights are 80 to 90 different moves. You throw a punch and I duck, that’s one move. I throw a punch and it hits you in the stomach, that’s two moves. You kick me and I catch it, and that’s a third move. So on and so forth. We are talking about 75 moves. You redo 10-15 moves per piece. It’s very specific and the actors have to learn all the moves as well as the stunts. Any close up shot has to be the actor. A wide shot is a place where you can use a double. When the camera is right there, it’s hard to get the stunt guy in there. There’s a lot of work in these scenes.

DB-There’s a dedication on the set to Banshee that you don’t hear about elsewhere. You don’t see it in films and shows. They skim over a lot of stuff. The Banshee crew goes at it full tilt. Loni told me that Greg Yaitanes(Showrunner, Director) once said, “there is no such thing as a small stunt”.

GS-They don’t mess around. They want it a certain way and they know what they want. I used to have to this saying when I go on set, “Hey guys, we are shooting for perfection. If we fall short, we’ll have something great.” That is the mantra for Banshee fight scenes or even the opening. They want it all to be perfect.

DB-There’s an adrenaline that comes with this show when Friday night comes along. I almost have to move around the room or hit a punching bag to level myself out. Fans feel strongly about this show and it grows every week.

GS-No one is immune to being killed on Banshee and that plays into that. The Walking Dead set that precedence. Game of Thrones does that. The kid who played the king that everybody hated on Game of Thrones got a death threat. Man, I look forward to someone issuing me a death threat. I’ll call you out quick. We live in a world where the performer is not allowed to say something, like we should take the high road. Why should I be above anything? If you feel comfortable sounding off on me, why can’t I sound off on you?

When I interview an actor, director or creator, I want to give my readers a unique look into their persona. Tell them something different. What I found out about Geno confirmed what I suspected. He is the real deal. Geno Segers is more than meets the eye. When he first walked into the world of Banshee before that first collision with Hood in Season 2, Fanshees saw a simple tough bad guy. Since that entrance, Segers has carved a multi-dimensional character out of Chayton from that initial makeup. He took a bad guy and made him into someone real, vulnerable and suspect to change. On Friday, fans find out what Chayton is really made of. If they have been paying attention at all this season, they’ll know Segers is a lot more than just a presence and a voice. He’s a force to reckon with.

(Photo Credit-Gregory Shummon/Cinemax)

Talking coffee with Maplewood’s La Cosecha

When it comes to coffee, some people just want a hot cup of something in the morning. It doesn’t matter what it is. What are you drinking, exactly? Who knows? Then there are the fanatics who like a little something extra with their morning cuppa joe. Something with a taste to be remembered.

The moment I tasted the fresh brew from Maplewood’s La Cosecha Coffee, I knew it wasn’t your ordinary java. Tasty, multi-cultural and layered, the independent coffee shop’s flavors run the gauntlet of expectations. Unlike Starbucks, the commercial Goliath of coffee consumption, La Cosecha roasts their own coffee in house and adds a personal touch to the connection of supplier and receiver. It’s not just a transaction but a feeling that a face is being registered and appreciated. In order to fully get the scoop on what makes La Cosecha special and what the idea behind the name is, I asked co-founder Jamie Jeschke a few questions.
First off, what does La Cosecha mean and why was that the name that stuck?

Jamie Jeschke-La Cosecha is Spanish for “The Harvest”. As you know, there is a lot of coffee grown in Spanish speaking countries. Many of the large jute bags list the year of “La Cosecha”. We all speak Spanish & really like how so much joy comes from the harvest after months of hardwork.

When did the obsession with coffee and opening a shop take place? Did you wake up one day, taste some coffee, and think “I can do better”?

Jeschke-Gio Sparks (co-founder) was home-roasting as a hobbby. He got me hooked on fresh roasted coffee. He is an IT guy with a strong technical knowledge & I have a background in international sales. Back in 2006, I approached him with this crazy idea. We roasted coffee for 7 yrs to wholesale accounts before taking the big step of opeining our own coffee bar & roastery in 2013. Really, the driving force was to get to know our customers and show them the roasting process in the same location. Maplewood has been very good to us.

How was that first batch of coffee you roasted? Must have been an experience.

Jeschke-Thrilling! Let’s just say there was smoke, and where there’s smoke…… Seriously, there is a lot to learn to find the optimal roast level for each origin and crop.

The top of your website reads, “Only the finest, freshly roasted organic fair trade coffee”. Explain that a bit to people who may not know what they are drinking.

Jeschke-We want to connect the coffee drinker to the coffee farmer by offering fresh roasted coffee grown in a sustainable manner where the farmer was given a fair price. Hence the tag line, “From the Harvest to your cup”

What’s a normal day at the coffee shop?

Jeschke-We have our usual tasks depending on the day. Sometimes we are roasting coffee or talking to new customers. Amazingly, weather has a lot to do with the flow of a coffee business. We just try to be prepared for whatever comes our way.

Where do you get your coffee beans from and what makes them unique? Or does that come in the roasting process?

Jeschke-We currently buy our beans from several importers, so we can get a variety of coffee from different countries around the world. All are either Fair Trade or Direct Trade coffees where the farmer was given a fair price. Many carry other certifications, such as organic, rainforest alliance, bird friendly, Utz, etc… The uniqueness of a cup of coffee comes from the origin & the roasting process.

What is La Cosecha’s long term goal? Ideas on the horizon….One shop in Maplewood or more? What is happening in the future?

Jeschke-Our long term goal is to continue to develop relationships with our customer in the STL community & coffee farmers in other countries. One location is sufficient.

This seems like a passion project met a career. A rare thing in life. Is that what La Cosecha is for you, Jamie?
Jeschke-Yep. It is cool to see so many areas of interest in your life come together, such as La Cosecha has done for us.

Why should people come to La Cosecha? What’s the hook?
Jeschke-We roast, we brew, we breathe coffee. No bells & whistles, just a tasty cup of coffee.

The minute I tasted your coffee, Starbucks immediately fell down to the bottom, like right next to four hour hold gas station body shop coffee. Do you and the others carry some pride in snagging a particular clientele away from the big coffee chains? Or is it just make good coffee and let the rest sort itself out?

Jeschke-Ha. We like the fact that we don’t have a “drive-thru” window. If you want to know where the heck Burundi or Flores is located, let’s talk about it over a cup of coffee.

Jamie added that adding Gregory Lowe, a retail specialist who managed a coffee shop in St. Louis for five years before joining La Cosecha, was a huge key to the success of their coffee bar.

There’s something about consistently good coffee shops. The cups where you taste it and think, “This is seriously good and not just good enough.” When you drink La Cosecha, that is the feeling you get. Then you talk to the people working there and it becomes something more. A personal experience.

Do yourself a favor and stop by La Cosecha in Maplewood. They redefine what good coffee should taste like. When you are there, grab a fresh pastry from Great Harvest bread company on the other side of the room. Sit down and relax while some music plays in the background. La Cosecha Coffee is an independent coffee shop to treasure.

Tom Pelphrey: The New Badge in Banshee

There are certain guys in Banshee who exude toughness and authority without a lot of dialogue. Meet Tom Pelphrey, the New Jersey born actor who inhabits the tortured soul that is Kurt Bunker on the Cinemax series. As season 4 preps for launch, I revisit my chat with Pelphrey from after Season 3 in March.

Bunker comes from a dark past that involves Nazi White Supremacy and enough guilt to fill a river with. He enlisted at the Cadi to become a deputy and has proved himself quite useful. Pelphrey put on a performance in the Season 3 finale Friday night that will live on for months. A Hall of Fame no holds barred achievement for any actor may have been just the tip of the iceberg for Bunker on Banshee. I reached out to Pelphrey to talk about those final scenes of the season and how he channels the rage inside the character.

Dan Buffa-The finale featured loads of action and resolution, but the most soulful poignant story(stoked with some raw firepower) is Bunker’s past colliding with his present. How has it been pulling the layers off this classic tough guy character?  

Tom Pelphrey-Well it’s the kind of role that any actor would be excited about.  What makes it really great is that the writers have allowed for the layers to be exposed and peeled away over time; perhaps more importantly we learn more about Bunker in situations where learning more about Bunker arises naturally from the given circumstances in the storytelling.  For example in Episode 5… Bunker tells Alison about his past and what led him down the road he traveled.  All hell has broken loose, the stakes are very high, and quite naturally Alison is afraid and unsettled… and she’s in the basement with a dude who’s covered in swastikas and carrying an automatic weapon!!  And so telling her about my past comes from the desire to help her understand so that I can calm her down and make her realize she is safe with me… otherwise you just have an expositional monologue.  The writers were really smart.  It’s been very exciting for me to explore the character.  Someone who would cover their body with such hateful images has a lot of pain, anger, and confusion… as we see in episode 10 there is so much going on that Bunker himself can barely articulate it.  A lot of shame, regret, rage, and self hatred… and yet he’s trying to do the right thing, turn his life around and seek redemption.  It’s all very compelling stuff and the kind of material that I live for.

DBI feel like Bunker’s a boiling pot of water that finally popped off these final two episodes. A man holding a lot of rage inside and eventually, those things boil over in Banshee. Is that an accurate description?  

TB-Totally accurate.  Again, someone who would go SO FAR as to cover themselves in tattoos of swastikas and hateful images is operating from a place of a lot of pain.  Even when that person chooses to turn their life around and make different choices, that pain doesn’t just go away.  The question becomes can Bunker learn how to work through it and channel it in a positive way?  Can he find redemption and healing for himself?

DB-Bunker’s past provided him with quite a few tattoos. Did you and Geno challenge each other for time in a makeup chair?  

TP-Hahaha!!!  I think we were pretty even.  A lot of Geno’s tattoos are much larger pieces which means you have to be very careful when you place them… I have more tattoos but they are smaller and not connected so you end up with 6 of one and a half dozen of the other.

DB-In my opinion, your scene with Servitto towards the end of the finale was the best of the episode, the season and quite possibly the series. So powerful and emotionally bare. Actors have to channel that rage somewhere. Where did you go to for that scene and how long did it take to prepare? All of that can’t be on the page. Was it method or just getting into a role?  

TP-Well I’m not sure that I know exactly where I went for that; and I’m not sure that I would tell you if I did know.  : )  I’m never sure what people mean when they say ‘method’… it’s used by so many different people in so many different ways that to me it has become an ambiguous dirty word! haha.  For me what’s important is being able to identify what the character is going through and understand it intellectually.  Once I have that I try and break it down to it’s most fundamental essence, and understand that for myself emotionally.  If you lay the foundation correctly you then sit back and let your imagination take over.  The emotional access gets easier from years of training and performing and learning.  To me it’s a muscle that gets stronger over time with repetition; so it’s much easier to go there now then it was ten years ago.  All of that aside; I show up on the day and say “Fuck it” and work off of my partner to the best of my ability.  And as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I have a plethora of beautiful talented partners who would make any actor look better!  Servitto is a PRO and made that scene so easy for me.

DB-Speaking of Servitto, this cast is a group of true pros. How has it been mixing it up with Antony and company?  

TP-We must be simpatico because I’m answering and referencing some of your next questions before I even read them!  The cast has been phenomenal to me.  Truly wonderful and open and very welcoming and supporting.  It makes it SO MUCH EASIER for me to do my best work when I feel like I’m in a safe and supportive environment.  I always think of a cast like a sports team… you can have some talented individuals but you really kick the shit out of a show when you have a team that works well together and supports each other.  Obviously the captain of this team (especially for my storyline) is Antony.  That is a hard working actor who really cares about the quality of the show and believes in what he does.  He’s also tough as hell because physically they put him through the ringer!  And to top it off he’s super fucking talented and very intelligent.  I’m glad he’s our lead.  Servitto is all of those things as well… and one of the most generous partners that you’re ever gonna work with.  He never lets the ball drop.  Most of my time has been spent with those guys on set… but as I’m sure you can tell we have an entire cast of hard-working, super talented, creative actors who are total fucking gamers.  Everyone is in it together.  I really am very grateful to join them.

DB-Moving forward, Bunker’s duel with the brotherhood is far from over, with the last image of Bunker showing his brother literally burning the swastika off your chest. It has to be exciting knowing the Cadi won’t be quieting down anytime soon.  

TP-I can’t wait to start reading scripts for Season 4.  They have set things up so well… high stakes and infinite possibilities!  Talk about a cliffhanger huh?  

DB-With Starr potentially moving to full time criminal, the first thought in my head was a Hood-Bunker clash. Now, we all know that fight starts out with Bunker saying, “With all due respect sir….punch…slam!! That has become the signature nice tough guy line for you.  

TP-Hahaha!!  Now that would be a brawl.  I have to say though I think it would take ALOT for Bunker to ever go after Hood.  He gave the guy a chance when no one else would.  He didn’t dismiss Bunker and he gave him a chance to prove himself and earn his trust.  I think for someone like Bunker that goes a long way.

DB-With production in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for season 4, have you been officially asked back or is that still pending or under wraps?  

TP-I’m not sure if that’s under wraps or not… but yes I have been asked back and I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

DB-What is your personal favorite moment from Season 3?  

TP-In episode 4 I thought the scene between Hood and Deva when he says he’s leaving was really well done. That could’ve been a throw away or a tough guy moment but Ant loaded it and it was very touching. In that same episode the scene with Carrie and Hood was beautiful too.  I loved when Brock shot Emily’s tires out.  Just so perfect to me I couldn’t stop laughing.  It was so crazy and yet made absolute sense.  Perfect Banshee.  I loved when the fat guy gets popped like a grape by the truck in Episode 3.  In the first episode Gordon asking Hood to leave him Deva, leave him his daughter?  So heartbreaking.  It was just so honest and pathetic.  Every scene with Sugar and Job.  I also LOVED the scene with Proctor, Burton, and Rebecca in the meat locker when she shoots the dude in the knee and then they just blast the hell out of them.  Loved the way Lili played that.  Cheered out loud when Carrie beats homeboy’s ass in the bathroom of the bar!!  I dunno I really could go on… I would be a fan of the show even if I wasn’t on it.  *I was reading this over and I remember something else that really struck me.  Epidode 3: Aside from the fact that the Burton Nola fight was EPIC, there was a quick flashback to Chayton coming to get Nola in whatever shady den she was nodding out in.  I think she mumbles to him “I don’t want to die”, and he replies, “You’re already dead.  Now I want to show you how to live.”—or something to that effect.  I’m getting chills just writing it out.  That KILLED me.  So beautiful and so fucking sad.  Which also brings me to say that before he killed Siobhan, half of me was rooting for Chayton!!  And I think that speaks to Geno’s performance.  Ok I’ll stop now.

DB-Tom, you never have to stop my sir. Keep talking. Thanks for answering the questions. Take your time sir. I’ll probably publish this weekend. I hope to stay in touch throughout the year and reconnect for a chat for Season 4. Being a 1982 soldier, I must tip my cap. Thanks again for taking the time. 

TP-Thanks so much Dan!  Great questions.  Looking forward to more!!  1982.  : )

That last part was a nod to the fact that Tom and I are both 1982 kids. I won’t put it on my resume but I share a year with Badass Bunker. Pelphrey is the latest entry to Banshee and brings the prerequisite along with him. Emotional baggage and inner torment. A certain breed of actor is required to play that. Pelphrey more than fits the description. Throughout Season 3, fanshees got a taste and in the final two episodes, they got it all. When Season 4 returns, I’ll be looking for Pelphrey to chat more Bunker.

(Photo by Gregory Shummon/Cinemax)

Ivana Milicevic: My first Banshee interview

Back in the day before Cinemax’s Banshee wasn’t white hot gold and only a glimmer in a Manshee’s eye, I had the chance to speak with its queen, Ivana Milicevic. As I go back through the seasons, I am going to revisit and repost the interviews. This chat with Milicevic was done after Season 2. Check it out and don’t blush too much.

There’s badass females in the land of make believe, and then there is Ivana Milicevic. She is one of the many faces of Banshee, and to me an integral part of the muscular action and story growth on the show. She’s a force to reckon with and that idea doesn’t fade once you talk to her over the phone. She’s strong, proud of her work and ready for more. If Antony Starr is the rock behind the show, Ivana is the heart attached to it. After years of comedies and supporting roles in film, Milicevic broke through with the wildly popular Cinemax series. Last week, I had a chance to talk to her about the success behind the show, what lies ahead and the challenges of making viewers see the story beyond the visual pleasure.

Buffa-Was it hard losing three series regulars in the Season 2 finale?

Ivana-We were really bummed about that. We won’t like to lose any of ours. I literally cried when I watched the finale. The writer’s always said that no one is going to be happy. We have a lot of characters on our show. It’s hard to service them all as deeply we would like. We got to see more of Brock, Rebecca, and Siobhan this season. People don’t realize the amount of time actors put into this process. Everything has an intention behind it. We have a million ideas on how a season will go but there isn’t enough time to shoot it.

Now that the Rabbit is gone, what is Carrie’s biggest issue in Season 3?

I don’t know how I am going to play it because I haven’t ready that much yet. I do know that if you have been running for so long and looking over your shoulder, I am not sure if that just goes away. It could be very different depending on what they write for me, but I wouldn’t say Carrie is all of a sudden calm. If it isn’t post-traumatic stress disorder, then where is the post-traumatic stress? If you have lived in fear for so long, I am not sure you shed it that quickly. At the end of season 2, there’s no point in hiding it anymore.

Greg and Jonathan hand you a laptop and tell you to write first three pages of Season 3. What is Carrie doing?

She’s shopping with Deva and having some kind of a talk with her. Getting to know each other for who they really are and Deva is discovering things about her mother that both disgust and intrigue her. Yet, she still loves her and realizes how interested she is in the similarities she shares with her mother.

My favorite episode of Season 2 was The Truth About Unicorns because it represented a departure from the usual frenzy of the show.

Fans were split down the middle on that one. It was definitely a change of pace. It gave the fans the moment they wanted to see with these two characters. And it was so sad when they pulled up to the house. I think I did one take where Carrie gets out of the truck and just bursts into tears. The idea that he had done this and it happened was so heartbreaking.  However, the truth about unicorns is that they don’t exist so it was very sad. That episode also lifted us critically and brought the show respect.

What is your take on Carrie and her decision making process?

Carrie will do whatever she has to do in that moment to protect her kid. She doesn’t worry about herself. Every choice she makes is a lose-lose. Carrie is not a calculating person overall, but she is not made to be untrusted. She is making those calls on the fly in order to save her family.

You work with Antony[Starr] a ton on the show. What can you tell us about him as an actor?

I remember the first time I saw Antony. It was during the first episode we shot, which was Episode 4 of Season 1. I watched the scene and went up to him after and said, “You are TMT. You are dynamite.” It’s really Antony’s choice. He chooses to play the character all vulnerable. He wanted the character to have more depth. The show really rests on his shoulders and he does such a good job for us. I really love acting with him.”

There are a lot of nude scenes on the shows. How do you get comfortable as an actor in those sequences?

I feel like going to the doctor is worst. We are all on the same boat. We work together on it. Does it cross over to developing actually feelings for each other? No.  We get comfortable. We giggle through it and do the job. I’m European, so I don’t have any hang-ups on nudity but every character is well rounded on Banshee and they are all fearless. We put the same amount of care we would into a monologue into the sex scenes. The positions we get into and the focus on our face. There is a thing going on in our heads about what is happening and why it is happening. It’s not just throwing it against the wall. If I was going to do the sex scenes, it had to be natural. They aren’t meant to turn you on. They weren’t looking for girls with giant boobs. They weren’t designed to turn you on. Look at Rebecca’s sex scenes with Jason Hood. There is a neurosis and psychological drama that is going on with her that is making her do that. It’s not designed to be sexy. It’s dramatic and traumatic.

While there is a lot of it, I feel like every fight scene has a purpose on the show as well.

A lot goes into the fight scenes as far as what is going on and why this is happening. In episode 2 of Season 2, Carrie snaps and she lost control. She saw red. She could have killed that girl. The fight with Olek was much more emotional. The Olek fight is him telling her she doesn’t deserve to have a family. She has to use her last dying breath to stop him from hurting her family. The prison scene was not her acting on her motherly instinct.  She was trying to be cool and then she snapped and went crazy.

Okay, time for a stupid question. Let’s say you sit down in a chair in the middle of these two actors. Who wins between Rus Blackwell and Antony in real life?

It depends on the day. Rus has some rage in him. Antony does too but you can’t look at what you’ve seen on the screen. You get Rus on a good day and it might be a draw. They are both very passionate men.

Rus, who plays Gordon, killed it in Season 2, right? He was underrated this season.

He’s such a good actor. He’s my rock on the show. That’s the kind of thing that would happen with a character like Gordon where it spirals out of control. Of course this being Banshee, we had to add alcohol, drugs and strippers. Everybody has darkness on this show and Rus was so good this season. Look at Emmett in Episode 7. His monologue and his scenes. He absolutely killed it.

When I first started talking to you on twitter, you mentioned how it was the indie show of television?

It’s our little movie. Greg said that we are basically making a one hour movie every week. We don’t waste time. Some episodes this year were less than an hour and that was just the creators tightening things up. They don’t want it to be an hour long if it isn’t super tight.

The social media connection with Banshee is enormous and unprecedented.

We are so lucky to have fans like you. I talk about it all the time. A genre show like this wouldn’t survive without passionate fans. The people who watch it a lot of times really get the nuances. There are deeper layers to it. Some watch the show subconsciously and don’t get all the little things.”

For the cast and crew, it was just a part of the story though, right?

We were just trying to tell the story. Sometimes people love the show and sometimes they hate it. It’s so easy to write us off as simply action and sex.  The show is not for everyone. We aren’t a procedural or a documentary. It’s a pulpy noir comic book. It’s fun. The best thing about our show is that its wish fulfillment. Look at what Emmett did this season. It’s what you wish you would do with a group of Neo Nazi’s.

Banshee has transformed you into this sexually charged female badass. What has that been like?

I used to the comedy girl. Now I’ve done nothing but action for three years. There are times these days where I miss comedy. I bruise a lot but I like the physicality of our show. I wouldn’t have gone so far sexually with the scenes if I didn’t get the action as well. Meaning if I didn’t get to be such a badass and also go to these emotional depths, I wouldn’t have done it. All of it goes hand in hand.

Could you defend yourself on a street?

We learned some fight skills as well. First of all, I am 5 foot 9 and a half so if anybody ever tried anything, one look back from me would take care of that. I could definitely fight for someone I love and hurt them. I felt that before I had any fight training. I mean, I couldn’t fight Ronda Rousey or anything. I couldn’t fight a real fighter. I could defend myself if need be. The way I hold myself is enough. If someone is looking to hurt a woman, they aren’t looking for me. I’m a big sister and I have little brothers, so I already have been there before. Being ferocious probably got me this job but in real life I am pretty calm, cool and collected.

You and the cast seem like a family just from watching the show. Is that true in real life?

Trieste, Lili, Odette, Ryann and I are like sisters. We all want each other to be as beautiful as we can be all the time. We bring that to the show. As a complete cast, we are a family, especially when we are away on location. It’s perfect for the show that we are all together in Charlotte because of the things we have to do. I love everybody on the show. Hoon Lee, Matty Rauch and the rest of the gang. Everybody on our show is really great. We got hired based on who was right for the role and not this name thing or some other agenda. People got to be hired for their talent which relates to our show.

That makes sense because there is a ton of passion on this show and it shows.

You can’t be a makeup artists on the show without having the same amount of passion as the cast. The crew is amazing. During the first season we were doing everything handheld. When we were running, they were running with us with cameras on their backs. I don’t know of another show that is this tiring. I tweeted a picture from the set of me sleeping in between takes. We don’t have the time to do many takes. We have a couple cameras. There’s no sitting around on this show. I spend no time in my trailer. I have a trailer but I don’t see it that much.

Are Lucas and Carrie done now after Season 2 saw Carrie return to her family?

To me, they were always done romantically as far as, they aren’t going to date. They are not going to all of a sudden be together.  I will say yes they are done but they still know each other better than anyone else. They have a daughter together. Carrie has never stopped loving him. I think that is too intense due to the bond they have for them to simply go apart. The “will or won’t they” has to be over but you never know with this show. It depends on how it’s played. They write stuff and we fill the rest in. Sure, they may be done, but it’s not like all of that never happened.

In the past week I’ve had the honor of talking to three different members of the Banshee cast and they have all ranged from amazing to spectacular. It’s invigorating to a guy like me, part writer/part hardcore fan of the show, to behold and become a part of promoting. I couldn’t recommend the show any stronger than I could recommend a dose of fresh air from the nearby window. It’s cool, fresh, fun, sexy, badass and most of all, it’s worth your time and then some. Ivana Milicevic is a huge reason the show works. In the beginning, she told me to write about this show. She called it “the indie of TV” and I dug both my feet in and ran with it. She is a wonderful woman who is confident about her craft. Spread this interview around. Talk about the show. Digest the 20 episodes. Become a part of something truly special and that’s Cinemax’s Banshee.


Matthew Rauch: The Man Behind Banshee’s Scary Guy

“I love the work. I love the people I work with. I hope other people like it. It’s a nice way to make a living.”-Matthew Rauch

One of the perks of my job is talking to actors, directors and the minds behind the creative process of television shows and movies. There are good interviews andtn-500_rauchwm101104713395 then there are ones where something is missing and you just get through it. Two days after the finale of Cinemax’s Banshee, I had a chance to talk to Matthew Rauch, a hard working NYC actor who just so happens to be on our televisions this month on two different shows.  NBC’s Believe and Banshee. He plays the scary Clay Burton on Banshee, the right hand man to the Amish gangster in town, Kai Procter. It must be mentioned that I scored this interview simply by talking to Rauch on Twitter. The entire cast of the show is on the social media site, mixing it up with fans and truly connecting. Rauch got on Twitter and quickly coined the nickname, “Bowtie Guy”, something that comes from the outfits Burton wears on the show.

Sometimes, an aspiring writer has to take chances and reach out to actors to get chances. I can count myself lucky because Rauch turned out to be a true first class individual and an actor who is passionate about what he does and wants to connect with his fans while scaring the shit out of them on Friday nights. We talked about the glasses coming off, Ulrich Thomsen’s European star power, Martin Scorsese, training in the theater and getting to play somebody as fearless as Burton.

Me-With the least amount of dialogue on the show out of anybody, you sure do make an impact as Burton.

RAUCH-He’s a scary guy. I have good material to work with and it’s great to watch him grow. It’s been a lot of fun. A funny story is when I got there I didn’t have much to go on with this character. So I talked to anyone I could about who he was and what it meant when suddenly Jonathan Tropper[Writer, Executive Producer] told me, “Look, think about it this way, Burton is the scariest guy on the show. This a scary world and he is the scariest guy.” From there on out I was good.

Where did the taking the glasses off thing with Burton come from?

A combination of a lot of things and I am not sure where it originated from exactly. It was in the script that I auditioned with and Jonathan and Greg[Yaitanes, Showrunner, Executive Producer, Director] had a thing with Burton having this dual nature. Burton is efficient and assistant like when the glasses were on and when the glasses were off he is the scariest guy in the world. I have had some fun with that. I have a feeling we are going to get to see more versions of him in the upcoming season.

I have this scenario in my head where Lucas Hood[Antony Starr] punches Burton, breaks his glasses, and Burton suddenly turns into the Incredible Hulk.

I do remember one of my first days of shooting and Antony and I were working together, which is rare since I usually only get to work with Ulrich[Thomsen} and Lili[Simmons]. I think he was going to arrest Proctor and sort of stepped toward Ulrich and as a natural response I stepped towards him. I think he was taken aback because someone wasn’t afraid him. I thought, man if this show goes long enough him and I are going to go round and round.

Have you gotten noticed around New York now that Banshee has gotten more popular?

Yes. There is this great bagel store around the corner from my house. I walked in and I ordered, and the guy said “Are you on Banshee? Man I love that show”. This guy had a full on tickled moment that he saw this guy who was on Banshee.


An Interview With Author Joyce Maynard

My Film-Addict connections presented me with a chance to interview author Joyce Maynard a couple of weeks ago and I jumped at the chance.   Her book, Labor Day, isimageedit_1_2628712017 being made into a film and without giving away too much, I can recommend the film.  Maynard is a celebrated author, known to some folks for her long list of novels and for her memoir chronicling her time with J.D. Salinger decades ago.   In person, she is quite exquisite and wonderful.  A free speaker and a proud woman who can bake a fine peach pie, write a decent love story and holds a conversation well.  I posted this film-addict piece last week and wanted to share it here with my Dose subscribers and readers.    This wasn’t my normal interview.  I brought the kid with me and Joyce got a kick out of it.   The conversation last 30 minutes and touched on a lot of things.

“If you choose to be a cynic, there are lots of things you can pick at (with Labor Day). I choose to go on this journey. I’m a romantic.”- Joyce Maynard

I’d like to say I am built out of equal parts in my beliefs and perspectives.  There are areas of life where I maintain a cynical outlook on the world and others where I have more emotional views.  However, when it comes to love and matters of the heart, I am 100 percent old school romance.   I am not alone in that area.  Joyce Maynard, celebrated author of Labor Day, spares nothing with her words and wears her heart on her sleeve when she writes her novels.

Labor Day was adapted for the screen and directed by Jason Reitman, and on a press tour stop, I had a chance to sit down and talk to Maynard.   The story is about a mother and son who take in a mysterious man who has just escaped from prison.  What starts out as a hostage situation takes a very unpredictable turn and springs many surprises on the reader.  The same effect happened with my interview assignment.  What started out as an interview assignment quickly turned into a passionate comfortable conversation about life, choices and of course, the book’s story and characters.

“This is not a cynical movie.  It’s an unconventional love story.  Do we really want to see how life goes?  I like to imagine the way it would go.  It’s not perfect.  I wasn’t going to make some Nicholas Sparks happily after fairy tale.  This is a believable love story for mature people.”

The interview was on Thursday in downtown St. Louis, a day after the evening screening I took in at The Tivoli.   Maynard held a Q & A after that event, and I was the lucky one who was sitting behind her at the screening.   When the lights went up and before she could make it way to the front of the theater, I had the chance to introduce myself and ask her what she thought of the film.   This is where a lot of celebs would brush you off and proceed on.  Maynard instead leaned in and poignantly said, “It’s such a beautiful film”.  Once you get a chance to talk to this lovely woman, you see that she doesn’t waste any encounter in life and takes her fans as seriously as they take her stories.  In the entertainment business, it’s a two way street and fortunately for this writer, Maynard lives on it.


Q & A with Bill Ivie For United Cardinal Bloggers

This week, I had the chance to send some questions to a veteran Cardinal writer and passionate fan Bill Ivie.   I asked him about his love for the game and the details that make him feel the need to write about the team in his free time.   Here is what we came up with.   Ivie’s answers are in BOLD.

1.) When did you fall in love or become addicted to this Cardinals team?
I was a military brat when I was young and my dad, who was in the army, moved us around quite a bit.  He was born and spent his youth in Southeast Missouri so that’s where we settled.  My first Cardinal game was during the 1985 season in September.  The vibe around the stadium was amazing.  Later that year, “Go Crazy, Folks” happened and I was hooked.  I grew up in the bleachers of Busch II over countless summer days.
2.) What drove you to want/need to write about this team?  With me it was a long time hunger and need to inform.  What was your initial push to blog on the Cards?
I have always loved to write and, at one point in my youth, thought I would go to school for journalism/broadcasting.  Life led me a different direction but in 2007 I decided to give writing a shot for another blog,  I contact Hooks and did some work there before moving on to Baseball Digest and eventually starting my own site over at i70.
3.) Favorite Cardinal of all time and why?  I won’t question you if its Rene Arocha or Bud Smith, haha.
I always feel like this is one of the hardest questions out there.  To make it sound completely corny, I love the name on the front of the jersey.  When players are here, I will support them and wish them the best.  When they leave, they will always be remembered for wearing the birds-on-the-bat, but they no longer hold high distinction.  I can say this: I was raised on defense, so players that are known for their defensive abilities draw my attention more than others.  Over my life, I have enjoyed Ozzie Smith, Tom Pagnozzi, Mike Matheny, Yadier Molina, Jim Edmonds, and Scott Rolen, just to name a few.
4.) What do you feel the Cardinals biggest need is for 2014?
To value their prospects correctly.  If a guy is going to be “untouchable” when you are discussing trading for established, productive major leaguers, then he better be a sure thing.  It’s frustrating seeing guys come to the team that are a product of a great farm system but are not star-quality players.  I’m excited to see Kolten Wong and Oscar Taveras on this team, but I sincerely hope they are all they are built up to be if we have refused to trade them for other, established players.
5.) Who is a bigger threat not this year but in 2014?  Pirates or the Reds?
The Pirates, hands-down.  They are a young team that improves with each year.  They continue to gain experience going deeper into the playoff race and that makes them more and more dangerous.  The Reds are getting older and show no sign of replenishing that with a very weak farm system.  Pittsburgh may be here for years to come.
6.) Go Albert Pujols or Rot Away in LA?  Which side are you on?
Can I shoot right down the middle?  I feel the way he departed St. Louis leaves me with a lot less respect for him.  I don’t wish him ill-will and hate to see him injured and struggling, but I’m not pulling for him to continue to be great, either.  I would say i am fairly ambivalent to Mr. Pujols going forward.
7.) What is your full time occupation and how do you manage to mix that career with your writing?
I work for a major software company in the Kansas City area.  My job keeps me busy but I find time to write during down-times, breaks, and at night when I get home.  I stay fairly busy most of the time I’m awake, it seems, but I’m learning that it is okay to say “no” to some opportunities.
8.) Last but not least, what was your most memorable live moment at the ballpark?
Now I can get obscure with you.  I was at a game in the early 90’s, sitting in the RF bleachers with my parents when Felix Jose launched a home run that hit the scoreboard that hung above our heads.  The loud noise that the ball made when it ricocheted off the metal, the dent that it left behind, and the acknowledgement the next day that he was only the second player in the history of the ball park to do that was pretty amazing.  There are a lot of memories like that from my childhood that I will never forget.
*You can read more of Bill Ivie’s work at
*Here’s additional information on Ivie-
Bill Ivie
Founder | I-70 Baseball
Freelance Writer | i70baseball | Yahoo Contributor Network
President | Baseball Bloggers Alliance

“Man, I did love this game. I’d have played for food money. It was the game… The sounds, the smells. Did you ever hold a ball or a glove to your face?…I used to love traveling on the trains from town to town. The hotels, brass spittoons in the lobbies, brass beds in the rooms. It was the crowd, rising to their feet when the ball was hit deep. Shoot, I’d play for nothing.”