The Natural Aristocrat spoke with Ray Donovan’s Sandy Martin about her extraordinary performance as the multilayered, true to life Sandy Patrick.
There’s a family member in all of ours hidden somewhere in the soul of Sandy Patrick on the sixth season of Showtime’s Ray Donovan. Actress Sandy Martin’s portrayal was so effectively comforting that Mickey and Bunchy weren’t the only ones who let their guard down, it was us. Close your eyes and you can still visualize the iconic sizzle of a lit cigarette as Sandy rides off a heist as a presumed millionaire. Ice Cube’s “Drink The Kool-Aid” roaring in the background with the thumping heavy bass of the car’s audio system. A Donovan in every sense of the word.
Martin told The Natural Aristocrat about the grand experience of working on the series this past season. The juxtaposition of a character longing to escape her loneliness while robbing herself of the opportunity by taking the money bag. Only to realize it wasn’t impressing others that she was after… It was having a family to call her own again. Having a purpose instead of just a home.
Interview with Sandy Martin on Ray Donovan’s Sandy Patrick:
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Was it decided early on that you’d have the same first name on Ray Donovan? How did that happen?
Sandy Martin: All I know is by the time I was shooting my third episode, one of the producers said to me, “We wrote this role for you because you auditioned for us once before. You were so funny and great, we never forgot you!” I think because of that, they used my first name Sandy.
How often did you get to ad-lib on the show? I’ve seen a lot of fans, myself included, love the “Cop Kebab” bit!
(laughs) They have a little bit of wiggle room but mainly the reason I was attracted to the show is because the writing is so, so fantastic! And it’s up my alley. I mean, of course, I ad-libbed here and there. Like when I’m telling him all the jokes in the living room and they all rush out the front door, and I go “Wahh, fun buster!” That was definitely something I buttoned down the scene with. But you know the writing is fantastic, I love the writing on the show. I trust it!
Speaking of Ray Donovan’s writing, how do you feel the show depicts Sandy Patrick’s story arch relative to the Donovans? It seems like Sandy is riding in euphoria after she takes the money, only to discover there’s no one to show it off to. That all her old friends have passed.
I just think they need a hideout and remember that their long lost brother Cormac had a widow and she was a live wire and a lot of fun. But that’s not their first reason for looking her up! The first reason is that nobody would ever think to take the house of a widower from the Vietnam war which was so many years ago. They were smart to figure out to go to her house.
She mentions once or twice that she’s been a bit lonely and that’s why she’s playing horrible comedy nights at horrible bars. Making stupid jokes that she thinks are funny. She needs to meet some more friends because she’s lost quite a few of friends, as we find out later. The tricky part about Sandy Patrick is why would she run off with all their money when she finally has some family in her life? But I guess money talks, bullshit walks! (laughs)
Would you like there to be flashbacks showing Sandy and Cormac’s relationship next season?
Well yeah, but I don’t know what plastic surgery we’re going to need to have to make us believable! (laughs) Sandy Patrick is dedicated to every kooky aunt you’ve ever had that danced in a party bombed out of her mind, with a lampshade on her head. I just think that they stumble into coming to her house and then realize that, “Hey, we can relax around here!” I’m like a scammer myself. You know? I get in this nun’s outfit and he says, “Well, what are you doing?” And I said, “Haven’t you ever heard of a clerical discount?”
I’ll go out and pretend I’m a nun and beg on the street, I’ll do anything. So they hit gold when they arrived at my house… Because I’ll do anything to have all those hunky men around for me to put the make on! (laughs)
I thought whenever they said, “Go to Sandy’s,” on the show you knew something was going down. It always delievered too, like in the season 6 finale when you chopped that guy’s head off!
(laughs) I’d like to say that I come from these people because I have a lot of relatives that are detectives and cops in Brooklyn and stuff like that. But certainly me and my family are not running around chopping people’s heads off! I think it’s just that New Yorkie, Boston attitude, and I’m originally from Philadelphia.
I’ll never forget Esquire magazine once ran a survey on all these popular towns in the United States and Philadelphia came up as the vendetta state! (laughs) So, I’m used to that kind of rowdy East Coast toughee stuff. It’s a pleasure to be back in those shoes after living in L.A. for so long.
What was it like shooting that dance scene with Jon Voight? It felt organic and really had a classic Hollywood feel to it. As if Sandy and Mickey were right there dancing in your living room.
Yeah, Jon’s very creative in that sense! In the last few episodes when Bunchy’s in the room he dances with him a little as well. When Sandy was dancing with Mickey, I was playing that I was so bombed, that it was just making me sad that my husband wasn’t there.
Mickey tried to cheer me up and I’m just trying to function because I’m not used to plowing one whiskey after another. But when Sandy’s in this crowd, she’s just letting it flow. So I sort of played it like, “Okay, you want to dance? Well, I can barely stand up but I’ll have fun with you for a minute!”
I thought your character had a interesting relationship with Bunchy. One second you’re taking care of Bunch in a grandmotherly fashion then the next, you’re openly flirting with him. How did you feel about the scene where Bunchy tries out the priest uniform with Sandy in the room?
I’m really flirting with him, I say from the minute he walks up to my front porch that he’s “well endowed for an infant!” That was the clincher line for me! I had a couple of people swimming around me for jobs and when I read that line, I went, “Well, I’m in!”
Then, I showed him the back bedroom and he’s gonna have to sleep on the floor but I tell him, “I’m happy to share!” So I’m trying to get one of Bunchy and Mickey into my bed… But I don’t know as Sandy Patrick, the back story of Bunchy’s traumatic experience with his priest. She can’t play that because she doesn’t know that, you know? So she’s just like, “Oh come on, put that thing on! Don’t worry!” She’s a little bit lighthearted about it because she doesn’t know what the poor guy is going through.
I thought that was a really fun scene to do because I act like, “Come on, we’re going to take pictures! You’re just going to wear that.” I think he’s just uncomfortable wearing something different. I had no idea about his past history and that’s why I go, “Okay, come on you can put this on!”
I thought one of the most memorable scenes, if not the most memorable, this season was right after you stole the money. When you see Sandy smoking in the car and listening to Ice Cube rapping, delighted. It was just a really fun scene! When you were reading the script did you think she’d get away with it?
Oh, she thought she was going to get away with it! She just has a whim, she’s bombed, everyone’s passed out in her living room, then gets up and sees all that cash there and loses her mind! She stuffs the cash in her bag and takes her bottle of vodka and hits the road in her crappy car. I don’t think she thinks of the consequences too much at all. Her plan was to get together with her friends and wave some money around, take them for big dinners, and buy them things that they needed. She was gonna play God for two seconds.
In the back of my mind, in my back story… I think after I’ve spent some money, I’ll go back and return it, because I miss them. You know? The key to this character to me is how lonely she’s been and now she has a house full of fun. So when Bunchy catches me, chokes me, and is yelling “Where’s the money?! Get in the car!” Daryll is like wait a second, ‘This is a really old lady! Why are you tossing her around like that?’
And next thing you know we’re in the car and I’m telling this story about two guys, the snap monologue. One of my favorite pieces of material! Big Peter and Peter the painter, they were playing a game of snap and suddenly two 10s come up. Then Bunchy, even though he was so pissed at me and he’s lost so much because of me… He couldn’t help but think, “Christ what a funny old lady she is.” Dash Mihok had this kind of sneaky smile on his face after I finished that monologue.
My favorite Sandy joke this season was the cannibal clowns saying ‘You taste funny!’
(laughs) That was one of my favorites too! I love it! That’s one of my favorite jokes because it worked better than, “Did you know that pigeons die when they have sex? No. Well, the ones I have sex with do!” I think that’s one of the worst jokes I’ve come up with! But I’m trying it out because I want to do it a comedy night and Bunchy breaks my fun.
When you work on Ray Donovan, do they generally tell you your character arc ahead of time. Do you know if your character is going to make it into the next season or do you just go episode by episode?
They just tell you when you’re working and get over to Brooklyn because I live in L.A. now. You know I got very little direction. I mean, some people said a few little things to me but I just went with the rhythm I think is right for that character. Everybody was laughing so much that they didn’t want to mess with me as far as changing things up. But no you don’t really know what’s happening.
I jokingly said to show runner David Hollander, “Well… After chainsawing somebody’s head off I guess I’m not going to live very long!” (laughs) He goes, “Oh don’t worry, don’t worry! That’s not a problem at all.”
I thought your performance was incredible this season and you had great, seamless chemistry with the entire Donovan family. Especially with Mickey, all your scenes together felt so effortlessly natural on-screen.
Thank you! Jon Voight is a wonderful actor and he’s very thorough in his approach. One thing David Hollander told me is he couldn’t believe how easy it was for me to just sink into this family, and get all the different people. All their different jokes and rhythms. He was impressed by that. I said, “Well, these are my people. What are you talking about?!”
Do you feel your acting method has changed significantly since you started?
I’m very lucky that I can do drama and comedy believably. I go from ridiculously different roles. A couple of years ago I played this really sad sack, goofy, losing your mind, mother of Tennessee Williams in the last play he wrote called, A House Not Meant to Stand. It was in a renowned theatre here in L.A. called The Fountain Theatre and people just couldn’t believe that I went from Mac’s mom on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia where I’m this weirdo who doesn’t speak, just grunts to very believably this sad old woman who’s just lost her son but has a sense of humor.
But now, Sandy Patrick to me is so thrilled to have people back into her life because she never remarried. And these are her people. Now they’re in, thick as thieves. I mean, they’re in it so deep, they have to stick together. They’re not going to just pull away from her house and say, “See you! We’re going to stick you with three bodies in your backyard!” I’m really glad I can switch gears and play different kinds of roles, where it’s a certain caliber of a person. Where you can say, ‘They’re not that awful yet!’
I feel that’s what makes Ray Donovan’s characters so special because they all have their own flaws but they’re still extremely likable. Every single one of them really, even dangerous ones like Sam Winslow.
Yeah, that’s true about Sam Winslow. I’m sad to see her go actually, I was like, “What?! Woah…” I unfortunately had no scenes with her. I have my own little pack back in the house of sin! (laughs)
I used to hang out with Tim Burton back in the Beetlejuice days because a friend of mine, Glenn Shadix, was playing the Interior Decorator (Otho). The big guy with the crew cut hair. He unfortunately is not with us anymore but he had a lot of parties at Tim Burton’s and his own house, so I knew him. And the DP on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was also the DP on Dumbo.
They were saying, “Where are we gonna get somebody who sounds real New Yorkie or East Coastie or whatever to play Michael Keaton’s (V. A. Vandevere) henchwoman?” The one guy (Ben Davis) who was the DP said, “Well, we had this funny old lady on Three Billboards, her name is Sandy Martin,” and Danny DeVito was sitting there and goes, “She’s on my show!” Then Tim Burton says, “You mean Sandy Martin from the 80s? Yeah, she is New Yorkie… Okay, let’s fly her out!” (laughs)
So I was given that job and it was great to see Tim again. I don’t have a very large role, but Tim Burton works magic with little funny characters bobbing in and out of his fantasies. I was thrilled to be there! I play the head of the secretarial pool and I have a bunch of secretaries that I bark at. They run around and help me!
Check out Sandy Martin’s official website to watch some artful moments in her Drama, Comedy, and Combo acting reels! Be sure to catch Dumbo when it arrives in cinemas across the U.S. on March 29, 2019.
Neil Armstrong’s sons, Rick and Mark Armstrong spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about their father’s iconic first walk on the moon.
Rick and Mark Armstrong could not be more proud of their father, legendary NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong, on the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. During a recent New York celebration of the timeless first walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong’s sons shared their thoughts about Apollo 11’s legacy and space education in classrooms today.
Watch the interview video with Neil Armstrong’s sons above or read the full transcript below!
Interview with Rick Armstrong and Mark Armstrong
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Mark, I read you sang Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” with an orchestra a couple of months ago.
Mark Armstrong: Yeah, with Fred Radke and the Harry James Orchestra![Smiles]
What was that like?
They’re incredible musicians. It’s just an honor to be on stage with them.
How does it feel to continue your father’s legacy? He means so much to so many people around the world as the first man to walk on the moon.
Rick Armstrong: Really I think it was more about the Apollo legacy rather than any individual. Apollo legacy inspired many people all over the world to go on and to follow their dreams. That’s really what I think.
How do you feel about space education these days? Do you feel it’s dropped off a little bit considering today’s youth seems to be more interested in their phones than going to space? Like they lost this sense of wonder at the beginning of the Apollo missions.
Rick Armstrong: I think the kids are interested. All kids are always interested. Unfortunately, the curriculum hasn’t always kept up with that. I know I looked at my daughter’s history book a few years ago. There was one paragraph about the entire space program. That was kind of shocking to me that there wasn’t a lot more attention paid to it.
It’s something that I think really needs to be addressed because the kids interest is there. No question about it.
Mark Armstrong: I would just add that space provides this sort of blank canvas for a lot of imagination. I think the younger you get kids thinking about that, the better. There’s a lot of reason to be optimistic. There are new plans to go back to the moon in 2024, and I’m really excited about that.
Did either of you ever want to be astronauts like your father?
Mark Armstrong: Absolutely! I was very interested in becoming an astronaut. It just wasn’t clear to me what that path was. While I was on that path, I fell in love with computer technology and I spent a lot of time in Silicon Valley.
Rick Armstrong: I would love to be weightless looking down at Earth. Absolutely! That would be great.
Be sure to watch our interview with Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Space History Department Curator and Artifacts Expert.
Watch the Apollo’s Moon Shot finale this Sunday on Smithsonian Channel at 8 p.m. ET. You can watch the episode live on Fubo TV. Sign up now for a free seven-day trial.
The Natural Aristocrat spoke with Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony about the legacy of Neil Armstrong’s iconic first steps on the moon.
Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony told The Natural Aristocrat about why the Apollo 11 moon landing meant so much to so many, the unifying once-in-a-lifetime television broadcast, and the Politics of Space Flight during the era. Muir-Harmony’s quote about NASA’s reputation painted a fascinating picture on its own. “It’s hard to imagine any other government agency where people wear their T-shirts, just because they’re so excited about the work that they do.” During our interview, Muir-Harmony discussed how important the mission was to foreign relations and how ‘that’s often forgotten today.’
As the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Space History Department Curator and Artifacts Expert, Muir-Harmony has an excellent vantage point toward current public reception of space flight. Particularly by youth, who she said are captivated by the idea. Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony mentioned once meeting legendary astronaut Neil Armstrong, who asked about her research while she was a bit starstruck… Or you could say, moonstruck!
Smithsonian Channel will be airing a six-part series called Apollo’s Moon Shot starting tonight (6/16) in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing on July 20, 2019.
Watch the interview video above or read the full transcript below!
Interview with Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: How do you feel space education has changed over the years? Do you think kids today have lost any interest in space compared to the 50s? I’m really curious about your thoughts after asking the Armstrong brothers about it.
Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony: Well, I think there is an immense interest for space exploration today! If you look back 50 years, kids were very captivated by the Apollo program. But working at the [Smithsonian] Air and Space Museum, I see millions of visitors coming every year and enthusiasm for space exploration really hasn’t waned. It’s there! The sheer numbers alone, the kids in particular seem really captivated by spaceflight.
Did you ever want to be an astronaut yourself?
No! I never wanted to be an astronaut. I’m afraid of heights and claustrophobic so, I always wanted to be a historian of Astronomy and Space Exploration. I’m exactly what I want to be!
I’m surprised you’re afraid of heights!
Yes, I… I don’t think I could have gone into the command module on top of a Saturn V rocket. I’m not that brave! (laughs)
What does it mean to you to be a part of this moment? To be attached to this special moment frozen in time for people across the world alongside Neil Armstrong’s own sons. You’re now a part of its preserved legacy.
I feel extraordinarily lucky, I came to this topic at a perfect moment. I’ve had the opportunity to speak to many of the astronauts who were involved in the program. As well as people who worked on all different dimensions of Project Apollo including Public Diplomacy, which is my particular area of research. I just feel Extremely lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to speak to so many people who were involved first hand.
How do you feel about the general population’s perception of NASA these days? There have been some tragedies in the past (The Challenger and Columbia). Do you feel overall, NASA’s legacy has been rejuvenated and come back in the public eye?
I think if you just walk down the street, you get a sense of how NASA has maintained a lot of enthusiasm among the general public. You see people wearing NASA paraphernalia all the time who do not work for NASA. I think that’s quite a sign. It’s hard to imagine any other government agency where people wear their T-shirts, just because they’re so excited about the work that they do.
Did you get your own NASA T-shirt from Urban Outfitters?
That’s true, I feel like they’re all over! You see them everywhere and it always reminds me that there is a lot of public interest in space exploration and what NASA does.
What were your studies like back at MIT? How do you feel you’ve changed since then? If you have changed…
(laughs) Well, I think I’ve had the opportunity to broaden my understanding of Project Apollo. In Graduate School, I really focused on the role of Apollo within Public Diplomacy and Foreign Relations and sort of as a form of soft power. Being at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum has given me the opportunity to focus on many other dimensions in the history of space flight and also what resonates with people today.
I’m curious since you’ve written about ‘The Politics of Space Flight,’ can you elaborate more on the what is encompassed in that phrase? I have a pretty good idea of what you mean by it but I’m very interested to hear it from the original source.
I tell everyone, go and listen to Kennedy’s original speech when he proposed Project Apollo. He really made it very clear, that he was motivated by soft power and the potential of space flight to effect National Security interests and National power. He said, ‘If we are to win the battle that is going around the world between freedom and tyranny, dramatic achievements in space should made it clear. As should the Sputnik in 1957.’ I can’t do the Kennedy accent! (laughs) But it’s about winning hearts and minds, it’s about political alignment.
It’s very much a Cold War program and Kennedy was motivated to demonstrate U.S. Technological Capability, Managerial Capability. Spaceflight was sort of the measuring stick National power and prestige at that moment in time, and he recognized that. It was an extremely important program when it comes to foreign relations. I think often we forget that today. But that is what motivated Kennedy and that was essential to why the nation at one point, invested over four percent of the federal budget in space flight.
My final question… Some day, someone will likely walk on Mars. It could be through NASA or SpaceX or something else altogether. How do you think it’ll compare to the moon and that iconic first step?
I think it’ll be an entirely different experience, and resonate with people in a different way as well. When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, space exploration was still relatively brand new. The first human that was launched into space was in 1961 and then he [Neil Armstrong] was taking those first steps in 1969. So it was a brand new field, and it’s also important to remember the role of television. People at that time were just getting television sets in their house on a large scale.
By the end of the 1960s there were televisions across America, but the first lunar landing was the first live global television broadcast. That’s an important part of that mission that explains how we remember that moment in history. It enabled the whole world to follow something in unison. That was new at that time, and I don’t know how we recreate something new like that. So I think when humans go to Mars, people are going to be excited for different reasons!
Thank you Dr. Teasel!
Be sure to follow Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony on Twitter at @teaselmuir for her latest updates!
The Natural Aristocrat spoke with Fear the Walking Dead’s soon to debut Austin Amelio (Dwight) at NYC’s IFC Center during Split Screen Festival.
Austin Amelio is about to make his Fear the Walking Dead official debut and relishing the opportunity to create ‘something deeper’ with Dwight. Amelio was in the Big Apple along with fellow Fear cast mates for the Season 5 Premiere at New York’s IFC Center and living in the moment. The Natural Aristocrat initially asked Austin off-camera how happy he was Dwight got to live on in Fear and didn’t get killed off by Daryl after all… Which Austin replied comedically deadpan, “Careful, Scott Gimple could be around here somewhere,” (shifting eyes from side to side) drawing laughs from Gimple and everyone around close by.
Austin would later comment at Split Screens Festival Fear the Walking Dead panel that when he was told he was riding with Gimple he was worried about having ‘the talk.’ The character end talk to be exact. Fear castmate Colman Domingo remarked, ‘Well you still have to ride in the same car with him back!’ which brought big laughs from the rest of the cast. The Walking Dead star and former Daryl Dixon rival discussed the initial pressure of being on the grand stage in the role, relaxing more now, and if he thinks he’s ever getting that vest back…
Watch the interview video above or read the full transcript below!
Interview with Austin Amelio on Dwight
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Austin, how does it feel to transverse and do your own crossover? The first semi-villain to come over to Fear the Walking Dead!
Austin Amelio: I’m really excited about it because I get to keep playing with this character and create something a little deeper with him. So it’s been nice.
We spoke off-camera about how you’re afraid of Scott M. Gimple over there killing your character off!
(Gimple laughs in the background)
Are you guys always watching your back when he’s around?
Of course, it’s part of the show! (laughs) Whenever you’re turning the script pages, and you see a walker, you think “Oh no! This could be the episode where I go!”
How do you feel your character has changed over this season?
It’s changed a lot, that’s about all I can say. I don’t want to talk about it too much or give it away… But he leaves on a pretty emotional note and the troubles rise up on the show I’m on now.
Do you feel you prepare differently after you’ve gotten experience on The Walking Dead than when you first came on the show, acting wise?
Oh, a little more relaxed now. I was pretty stressed out the first couple of years but after playing the guy for a while… I just sort of sunk into what he’s about. So yeah, I’m not as stressed out anymore.
Why do you feel you were stressed out?
It was just such a big thing for me, it was a big show… It’s not like it’s just your grandma and grandpa watching, it’s millions of people. There’s a little pressure with that. But yeah, I’m just sort of relaxing now.
I’m wondering where you’re going to go forward with your career. Are you getting offers to do movies now in-between or after Fear?
No idea, I just take it day-by-day. This business is pretty unpredictable. So it’s just day by day and if something comes around and I jive with it, then great. Sort of where I’m at, no pressure.
My last question is… You ever going to get that vest from Daryl back?
(smiles)I don’t know. I think he took that for good! (laughs) I think it’s gone.
Absolutely, thank you!
Be sure to follow Austin Amelio (@austin_amelio) on Twitter!
Check out The Natural Aristocrat’s interview with Fear the Walking Dead’s Colman Domingo ahead of Fear the Walking Dead’s Season 5 sophomore episode tonight!