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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!

Thanks!

Be sure to follow Dr. Teasel Muir-Harmony on Twitter at @teaselmuir for her latest updates!

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Homeland

Elham Ehsas talks Jalal Haqqani in Homeland Season 8 (Interview)

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Elham Ehsas as Jalal in HOMELAND, "Fucker Shot Me". Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.
Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME

Elham Ehsas spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about Homeland’s notorious Jalal Haqqani going from exile to reclaiming the Haqqani lineage with pride.

Peace in the rearview mirror, a son lives vicariously through a childhood, idolized vision of his father. An RPG replacing the traditional bejeweled crown for his inheritance. Homeland star Elham Ehsas discussed the complicated dynamic between Jalal Haqqani and his father Haissam with The Natural Aristocrat. One inadvertently leading to the death of Max Piotrowski in the crossfire of black market, political chess. The potential for global war lingering with one triumphant speech leak via cell phone recording. What it means to carry on the Haqqani name in a world that already accepted the title’s curtain call.

Victory always peeking through the looking glass… Only to be an unremovable ship in a bottle. “Just strong enough to never lose, just weak enough to never win.”

Interview with Elham Ehsas on Homeland’s Jalal Haqqani:

The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Jalal Haqqani capitalizes on his father’s death by lionizing Haissam’s youthful aggression. Thus, maintaining the Haqqani lineage and right to be his natural successor. Is it a product of active adaption (‘never letting a good crisis go to waste’) or was it always his dream to follow in the footsteps of the man he once admired?

Elham Ehsas: I think Haissam was both Jalal’s biggest idol and biggest heartbreak. He grew up with a father who was the lion of Afghanistan, the one who stood up to what Jalal saw as an injustice and an attack on his country. Growing up with a father like that must have reinforced that zeal that was already growing in his chest.

Having been brought up in Afghanistan myself, my parents would often tell me that the first generation of Taliban were just the orphans of the martyrs who had lost their lives to the soviet invasion and they joined the war to avenge their fathers and drive the Russians away. They became a problem when their children grew up to take their father’s place in the Taliban and that is what I think has happened here.

Jalal is almost Haissam but version 2.0 even though he lacks the natural charm and charisma of his father, but his zeal for the war is double. He truly believes his father is wrong and is letting his land and country down with what he saw as cowardice by negotiating with the only enemy he has ever known.

Elham Ehsas as Jalal in HOMELAND, “False Friends”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.

In your opinion, did Balach choose to confront Jalal privately out of fear or respect for his father?

I think in my head, Balach and Jalal both grew up together, almost as brothers under Haissam’s roof and it can be argued that maybe Balach is the son that Jalal can never be. Supportive, understanding and always there for his father.

The confrontation was like a definite fork in the road, where Jalal gives him the choice to go with him or against him. But it’s different now. They aren’t the friends that I suspect they were growing up.

Seear Kohi as Balach in HOMELAND, “False Friends”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.

Why do you feel Jalal decided to shoot Max instead of keeping him for extended leverage with the Americans? Was the statement worth more than any trade or was it genuine payback for his father?

I think genuinely Jalal loves his father. Regardless of what he thinks of him, he was an idol to him. Max served no purpose and Jalal isn’t clever enough to use him as a leverage, he’s more head strong and uses his emotions. But I suspect he may be developing a little bit of tact, especially when he watches how Tasneem so expertly weaves webs in everything she does. Maybe he might be learning?

(L-R): Maury Sterling as Max and Elham Ehsas as Jalal in HOMELAND, “Fucker Shot Me”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.

Of the scenes worked with Numan Acar, Nimrat Kaur, and Seear Kohi on Showtime’s Homeland, what are some of your favorite behind-the-scenes memories?

I have watched Nimrat in a Bollywood film called Lunch Box, so I remember during lunch we would often talk about that film and what it was like shooting it (it’s an amazing film if you haven’t seen it). It was an absolute pleasure working with them all.

Nimrat Kaur as Tasneem in HOMELAND, “Deception Indicated”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.

Do you feel Jalal shares any remorse over the way he and his father left their relationship barren? Or was the public humiliation enough to leave a permanent mark of resentment for Jalal?

Yes, I do think there is always remorse because he did truly love his father and trying to get him assassinated was a form of that love. He didn’t want to watch his hero turn into the pathetic man he was clearly becoming in his eyes. But the public humiliation would have definitely burnt that bridge forever. But as with real life, we may burn bridges but we often think about the flames even years later.

(L-R): Numan Acar as Haissam Haqqani and Damon Zolfaghari as the second guard in HOMELAND, ÒThrenody(s)Ó. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.

What was your daily routine to get into character as Jalal? Did you have any pre-filming military style training for handling the RPG?

Yes I did do some work with our great armourer, Thibault, who taught me different way to handle a gun and some basic military movements. I always prepared for the role a few month prior by hitting the gym because I knew Numan [Acar], my father, was very well built so I wanted Jalal to be able to hold his own with his father.

(L-R): Numan Acar as Haissam Haqqani and Elham Ehsas as Jalal in HOMELAND, “False Friends”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.

Do you feel Jalal has fully considered the consequences, to himself, his country, and globally through the revelation of taking down President Warner’s helicopter? Whether a lie or truth, he becomes public enemy #1.

I think what’s happened so far is everything that Jalal would have wanted to happen, in terms of elevating his position, taking the reigns from his father, and leading the war himself. But whether he’s ready for it, is something we need to wait and see.

Thanks Elham!

Thank you!

Follow Elham Ehsas on Instagram and on Weebly.com.

Missed an episode of Homeland? No problem! Catch up on Showtime Anytime. Optionally, you can also sign up to Showtime on Amazon.

(L-R): Numan Acar as Haissam Haqqani and Elham Ehsas as Jalal in HOMELAND, “False Friends”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.

Be sure to read Homeland: Would you have made President Hayes’ decision? and Homeland Season 8 Episode 4 Review: Must See TV, Groundbreaking for more in-depth analysis of Showtime’s jaw-dropping final season of Homeland.

Check out more coverage of Homeland Season 8 in The Natural Aristocrat’s Homeland category section.

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Film

Ellen Toland talks Inside the Rain, objectification and job titles (Interview)

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Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor in film, Inside the Rain - Photo Credit: Art 13
Photo Credit: Art 13

Ellen Toland spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about Inside the Rain’s Emma Taylor and society’s inability to separate job title from human being leading to a culture of objectification.

Ellen Toland’s Emma Taylor in new film Inside the Rain is a quiet looking glass into the day-to-day treatment of commodified human beings. When the fantasy of body sushi and the gentlemen’s club ends and a person trying to resume their regular life off-the-clock begins. Yet, separating the person from their job title appears a distant hope, like spotting individual blades of grass outside. It’s for this reason, among many others, that Emma Taylor finds comfort in another person pre-judged by society. One born with bipolar disorder and treated as such at all times to personal detriment. Even scorned in suspicion for taking their medication due to repetitional bias.

Meet Ben Glass, Inside the Rain’s lead protagonist. Ben is largely defined by one act during Into the Rain, an attempted suicide via overdose. In turn, Ben is later accused of another such attempt when he’s spotted simply organizing his medicine for the week… Leading to an unjust arrest and potential exclusion from university. Thus, Ben Glass decides to make a film about all the events leading up to the arrest as a proactive visual defense. Better Call Saul’s Jimmy McGill once told Scholarship interviewee Kristy Esposito that, ‘You made a mistake and to them that’s all you’ll ever be,’ and it feels highly applicable to Inside the Rain’s plot. Much like Jimmy tried to drive Kristy to fighting forward even without the scholarship, Emma Taylor feels Ben can be advance forward in his life without going back to a University that preemptively shunned him.

This interview contains spoilers for Inside the Rain.

Interview with Ellen Toland on Inside the Rain’s Emma Taylor:

Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13

Nir Regev [The Natural Aristocrat]: A good portion of TV & Film audiences are unable to disconnect the character they see on-screen from an actor in real life. During Inside the Rain, these fraternity looking, rich jocks bother Emma Taylor outside of the strip club she works at. Unable to separate the fantasy of body sushi from a regular person having a smoke after work. I was wondering how you feel about that?

Ellen Toland: Oh, that’s a really, really good question. I think that’s a feminine issue especially and it’s pretty ingrained in masculine culture. To objectify women, having a hard time separating the fact that they are not an object and something to toy with. I feel that’s what that scene really plays upon because those guys definitely don’t see a difference between a human being and their sushi tray.
And I think that’s a real issue with our culture in general.

It’s something that people really need to assess within themselves. I think that happens with people and titles of their jobs in the first place too. We don’t see past the title of what people do, and we make that their entire identity… And then treat them with that sense.

Do you feel Emma’s openness lends itself to accept a bipolar person intimately into her life despite his involuntarily asylum stay? There’s many that would have second thoughts after seeing someone forcibly institutionalized but you decide to donate Ben $5,000 dollars for his student film.

Yeah, I feel Emma’s seen a lot of different types of people and has a deep well of empathy & understanding for people. She kind of sees that with Ben but I also think it’s matched with Ben’s acceptance of her and building her up. Which I don’t think she’s had a lot of in her own life. It’s the perfect combination of both of them meeting each other exactly where they’re at, building each other up, and ultimately eventually move on in their own lives.

Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13

What was it like shooting the scene where Emma’s having dinner with Ben’s parents and mentions she works at a strip club?

Yeah, Cathy [Curtain] and Paul [Schulze] were lovely, it was great to work with them for a little bit!

I think my choice going into the dinner was that Emma hadn’t been introduced to a lot of parents and treated normally. She’s meeting their possible judgment by just really owning it and trying to almost test them out too and see how they’re going to react. When it’s met with genuine acceptance as well, she’s pleasantly surprised. Shooting that scene was really fun and the restaurant was very sweet to us as well, we ate a huge meal! [laughs] That was great, never bad to get to eat on set, you know?

Catherine Curtin as Emma Glass and Paul Schulze as David Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13

I saw an interview with you and Aaron Fisher where he said, ‘During auditions it just kept going back to Ellen, Ellen, Ellen!’ What do you think was that X-Factor won you the role?

Ultimately, I feel Aaron and I had a pretty natural chemistry. One that you can’t really manipulate with actors necessarily. All the pieces fell together. We really had a good energy together and you really need that in a romance. (laughs)

Inside the Rain left things a little bit open ended for the ending. Why do you feel the choice was made not to send the audience home feeling ‘warm and fuzzy’ with a full happy ending?

I mean I think it was also being realistic to what really would happen in real life. Aaron was also basing the film off of his own life. He wanted to play to the truth of that. And I think they both needed to go and own themselves. They’d been given that confidence, and that’s what’s so good about the flash forward at the end.

It showed that that’s why Ben made that choice, that he really could move forward and ended up with the person he was meant to be with. We have people in our life all the time that are just chapters that are meant to lead us to end of our own story, it doesn’t make those chapters any less important.

Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13

Inside the Rain feels so much like art imitating life. I have to ask… Is Emma Taylor the real name of the girl portrayed in the film?

Oh, no it’s not her real name! (laughs) It’s loosely based off of someone but it’s definitely not the same name! There’s elements of Aaron’s life in the film, I’d say 60/40 but the film is loosely biographical. Like the last ten years all stirred around into one movie.

Do you feel being aware that Aaron knew this person impacted your interpretation in any way? Or did you still approach the role in the same way you would any other?

You think about it for sure but you also want to create your own vision of it and own that. Aaron and I definitely talked a ton about Emma but he gave him lots of room to make my own decisions. Aaron’s an actor’s director!

There was kind of a frugal moment toward the end at the fast food joint where Emma is adding everything up on her head. It seemed based on those sexually fueled videos she was making outside of her main job and the $5,000 donation that she’d be rich. How do you feel about that scene?

That scene is trying to say that she’s working really hard to get where she is, and knows the worth of a dollar. Feeling at the same time that Ben hasen’t had that kind of struggle. I think you can be making a lot of money and still be frugal. You remember how hard it was to get there.

Why do you feel that despite ‘red flags’ being present, Emma decides to donate the money for Ben’s film? Did Ben’s dream become Emma’s dream and intertwined at that point?

Yeah it all becomes mixed up. I think it also becomes her dream. Emma sees this person that she cares about and understands how important it is to him. There was no too big of a feat to make that dream come true.

Would you like to reprise the character of Emma Taylor potentially in another film?

I love Emma! She’s so brave and strong, I really adore her. If there is an Inside the Rain: Part 2, sure. I mean Aaron and I are really good buds, I love working with him. I’d love to work with him again, of course!

How much of yourself do you see in Emma as a character?

I think that any person you play, you bring an element of yourself. There’s things that are different, there’s things that are the same but I don’t think it’s necessarily conscious. You just bring as much of your research on their perspective of the world as you can. Whether that’s the way you move or even read things. Maybe there’s pieces of yourself in that. It’s a weird little mixed up bag.

Ellen Toland as Emma Taylor, Aaron Fisher as Ben Glass in film, Inside the Rain – Photo Credit: Art 13

I saw you studied over in RADA, one of the best acting schools in the world. How do you feel it established your foundations as an actress?

It was amazing! I loved it, some of the best professors I ever had were there. It was something I’d always dreamt of doing and I loved London. It was a really important step in developing my craft. Everything that people say about it… It’s all true! It did not disappoint.

Thanks Ellen!

Thank you!

Follow Ellen Toland on Instagram and visit her official website for the latest news on her upcoming projects! Visit InsideTheRainMovie.com to learn more about the film.

Read more Film and Television interviews in The Natural Aristocrat’s Interview category section. Be sure to watch The Natural Aristocrat TV with Host Nir Regev interviewing leading talent in the entertainment and sports industry on-camera!

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Interviews

Charlotte Nicdao talks Poppy in Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet (Interview)

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Charlotte Nicdao - Mythic Quest Raven's Banquet - David Hornsby, Charlotte Nicdao, Jessie Ennis, Rob McElhenney and F. Murray Abraham in “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet,” premiering February 7, 2020, on Apple TV+. - Photo Credit: Apple TV+
Photo Credit: Apple TV+

Charlotte Nicdao spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about Poppy’s endearing and eccentric personality quirks like a fascination with dinner parties and shovels on Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.

Charlotte Nicdao took a Myers-Briggs personality test in-character as Poppy to get into the role’s psyche on Apple TV+’s Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. Nicdao believes Poppy is the type of personality that can become a “mastermind” at any individual specific thing by being hyper-focused on it… But be terrible at everything else in the process. Hence, Poppy’s insistence on making her early season ideas of in-game dinner parties and a seemingly throwaway item like a shovel work.

During a roundtable press interview in New York City, The Natural Aristocrat discussed the makeup of Poppy’s personality with Charlotte Nicdao and why sometimes ‘a shovel’ is more than a shovel.

This interview contains minor spoilers for Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.

Interview with Charlotte Nicdao on Poppy:


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The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Poppy has these unique personality quirks about her like being exceptionally keen on dinner parties or even shovels. I think that says a lot about her character’s backstory. Do you feel it’s true that Poppy has never been to a dinner party before?

Charlotte Nicdao: We did have this idea that she’s incredibly intelligent but just can’t get her head around how to connect people. That’s the thing that Ian, Rob’s character, is really, really good at. And maybe part of the reason that Poppy isn’t able to get credit that she deserves. But Poppy just doesn’t really understand how other people function. I did this thing before we started shooting called a Myers-Briggs test for the character. You know those personality tests? I answered it the way that I thought that Poppy would answer it and it was fascinating what came out.

Poppy has a personality type, and I think this is really accurate to the character, who would become focused on one specific thing and become a mastermind at it. And it could be anything! So, this kind of person could choose to be social and be brilliant at it… But be terrible at everything else. And I think that’s who she is. Poppy’s the most brilliant coder in the world! Everything else is just a mess. (laughs)


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Was the use of a shovel supposed to be a symbolic metaphor for always trying to kind of dig yourself out of Ian’s plans?

I didn’t think of it like that but I like that analogy! I think it was a really cool idea for me that Poppy is someone who’s basically been with the game since its inception… And is in charge of creating all these ideas that Ian has, turning them into something that’s playable. The thing that she holds dearest to her in the expansion, her beloved idea, is a tool that allows the players to do what she’s done: create something that’s lasting, that then other players can interact with. I thought that that was quite beautiful, which is not something that you would usually think of in association with a shovel.


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There’s a part in Mythic Quest: Raven’s Quest where Poppy tells her boss David [David Hornsby], ‘you know that’s why your wife left you.’ That was pretty brutal! How did it make you feel to say those words?

Megan Ganz (Series Co-Creator/Writer/Executive Producer) came up with that on-set. She came up to me and was like, “When she says this, throw that in!” I love it when Megan is on-set, she gives me really good jokes!

Thanks Charlotte!

Thank you!

Charlotte Nicdao on Social Media:


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Follow Charlotte Nicdao on Twitter and Instagram!

The Natural Aristocrat recently interviewed Charlotte Nicdao’s Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet co-star F. Murray Abraham (C.W. Longbottom) on his role and backstory on the series.

Watch Apple TV+’s new gaming development/streaming world comedy sitcom series Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet now.

More Interviews at The Natural Aristocrat:

Be sure to check out The Natural Aristocrat’s recent on-camera interview with Katharina Kubrick (Stanley Kubrick’s daughter) and the launch of The Natural Aristocrat TV for more video interviews!

Read more Interview Transcripts with top industry talents in Film & TV, Animation, Gaming, and more!

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