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!
Mary K. DeVault spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about portraying host Ms. Lorelei on The Purge’s pro-NFFA, pro-Purge children’s program, Ms. Lorelei’s Corner.
The first minutes of The Purge’s “Hail Mary” are a beautifully set piece of New Founding Father propaganda, 1984 Orwellian-styled dystopia, classical agitprop. Ms. Lorelei’s Corner was one the show’s landmark cold openers, instantly palming your attention and holding it there. Impressionable youngsters being led by the glitz and glamour of their charming host to the party-in-power’s agenda leanings. The razzle-dazzle of their teacher shepherding not only the audience in attendance but an entire nation’s youthful viewers watching on television.
Actress Mary K. DeVault played Ms. Lorelei, spinning into her grand entrance donning a richly colorful Disney-like Princess dress with long gloves. Trustworthy at first sight, capturing the audience’s heart, subduing their mind blissfully from thinking too critically of the lead message. A soothing visual to Purge viewers at home, recalling their own childhood programs, with layers of complexity waiting to be explored.
During an exclusive interview with The Natural Aristocrat, Mary K. DeVault discussed crafting The Purge’s Ms. Lorelei on-screen, her background in children’s theatre, and the deeper question of Nature vs Nurture when it comes to the series’ characters. DeVault loved every moment of working on the series, calling it a top production all around and relishing the opportunity to work with Ms. Lorelei’s Corner audience members like Zoe [Emily Criss Rives].
Interview with Mary K. DeVault on Ms. Lorelei’s Corner:
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: I recently asked one of your Purge co-stars Amye Gousset (Lena Dash) about the whole Nature Vs. Nurture aspect of The Purge. Viewers see Ms. Lorelei’s Corner, a kids-oriented Pro-Purge show, juxtaposed with a young Ben Gardner smashing up a doll on the “Hail Mary” opener. Do you feel Ms. Lorelei’s Corner is what influences Ben to become violent, that he was born with those tendencies, or it’s a mix?
Mary K. DeVault: I did have some interesting theories on that! I just thought the character was so well written. There’s things like The Warrior Gene, which is based around studies that it could be biological. How some people could have this in them already but it needs culture and society to really bring it out. Not everybody becomes a killer or an aggressive person. I feel the writers really did their research when they put these kind of things in there. It creates something for you to think about.
I find this character very interesting in that way because it gives you a lot to play with. I mean because you have to think as an actor, does this Ms. Lorelei actually go out on Purge night. You have to make your choice for yourself. I think the better choice is that, ‘yes she does and she enjoys it’ because she’s expressing her Purge enthusiasm to these children.Mary K. DeVault as Ms. Lorelei on ‘Ms. Lorelei’s Corner’ during The Purge Season 2 Episode 9 “Hail Mary” cold opener – Screenshot / Photo Credit: USA Network
I’ve always wondered for these kind of scenes, do the youngsters realize and understand what they’re saying, material wise?
As a character, the children really look up to Ms. Lorelei and believe everything she says because she’s their role model. In real life? I don’t think so. In one scene I was supposed to be really close to Zoe’s [Emily Criss Rives] face and I know it’s kind of frightening even as an adult to have someone really close in your face. (laughs) I was like, ‘I gotta go chew some gum!’
I tried to talk to her beforehand just so she sees me as a person, and not this scary person up in her face and be upset. I also think that they understand that they’re acting because all the kids were just amazing. They were so fun, after we’d say cut, they’d be kids again.
It is interesting… I understand what you mean. Would it scare them or would they believe what I was saying as a person and not understand that it’s acting? I think they’re all in the business themselves and know what’s going on or have been told what’s going on.Young Ben Gardner [Carson Minniear] watching Ms. Lorelei’s Corner on The Purge Season 2 Episode 9 “Hail Mary” cold open – Screenshot / Photo Credit: USA Network
What was it like for you in general? Is it surreal to work with young actors?
Amazing! Everybody was on the same page, I felt that the way they wanted to see the character was the way I understood the character. It was fun! I really felt that the direction and the costumes… Even the way they filmed it, coming out of the apple box and spinning around really helped create the atmosphere. I was really with it.
Did you draw on any children’s hosts that you watched yourself as a kid to kind of craft Ms. Lorelei?
(laughs) That’s funny, no but I actually did a lot of children’s theatre when I was starting out. I probably drew more on that as Ms. Lorelei because it came very easily to me to play this character… And I do believe it came from doing children’s theatre! Because you’re trying to give that same kind of grand experience and relate to the children.Mary K. DeVault as Ms. Lorelei during ‘Ms. Lorelei’s Corner’ on The Purge – Screen captured GIF Credit via USA Network
Who did your costume for Ms. Lorelei’s Corner? I thought the design fit perfectly.
Wardrobe’s amazing on that show! The casting was pretty quick so I had to get to wardrobe immediately and try some things on because we were shooting the next day. I thought there were some great clothes but the first ones I saw just didn’t feel right… I was like ehhh. Then there was one dress I’d seen before the audition! (laughs) It kind of called out to me, and it was not the dress you see.
They had to alter it a great deal with all the decorations and the ruffles underneath. They altered it in a matter of hours, it was amazing! They wanted more of a 70s outfit in the script I think, because it was a flashback when he was a child and a different era.Mary K. DeVault as Ms. Lorelei dancing spin intro on ‘Ms. Lorelei’s Corner’ during The Purge Season 2 Episode 9 “Hail Mary” cold opener – Screenshot / Photo Credit: USA Network
I liked that they gave Ms. Lorelei those gloves, it really added to the character.
(laughs) Yeah! I do a silly web series, Ginny on the Rocks, and in some of it I wear gloves so I thought it would be cool if Ms. Lorelei had gloves!
Oh, so you personally made that request?
Yeah, I don’t know why, I just thought it would be cool if she gloves! (laughs) You just have this gorgeous kind of outfit, and if you’re in a children’s show, you’re going to accessorize it. Just to make it fun for the children to watch, and make it a little Princessy and Mickey Mousey, so they can say “Ooooo, that looks cool!”
How do you usually prepare for a role? Do you have any kind of rituals that you’ve kept from the beginning?
I do, it’s like if you’re reading a novel and you see the character in your mind. I try to put myself in the character’s mind and after years of doing it, it really comes faster. You know immediately if you connect to a character. In this case, I definitely did! Sometimes you get it, and sometimes you don’t, they go a different way… But you kind of know from all the past characters you’ve played and all the work you’ve done on other characters in theater, television, movies and and everything else for that final product. It all comes up and adds to that.
I just immediately clicked with this character and I knew exactly in my mind who she was. I also watched two Purge episodes and I don’t normally watch horror! (laughs) I watched Season 2 of The Purge after my episode aired, so I knew what was going on more. I thought the writing, production, and everything about the show was extremely high quality.Mary K. DeVault as Ms. Lorelei making a subliminal heart/’love’ symbol on ‘Ms. Lorelei’s Corner’ during The Purge Season 2 Episode 9 “Hail Mary” cold opener – Screenshot / Photo Credit: USA Network
The idea itself is just such a good concept for a horror! If you don’t watch a lot of horror, you’re kind of like, ‘I don’t know if I could watch this!’ But it’s like Ben, after your first purging it just keeps getting easier! (laughs) I really enjoyed Season 2 and I watched two episodes from Season 1 before I went into the audition.
I thought I’d have more time to watch but things really move quick and the next day you’re in there. I needed to know the tone of the show because the opening scenes are very different from the actual show itself somehow but yet they’re the same. They’re a little bit more heightened, almost a separate entity but they go right into it.
I felt it was one of the best openers of the season.
Thank you! I did too. (laughs) I mean, I really also enjoyed that first audition, that was kind of creepy.
Did you know you were auditioning for The Purge?
The first episode in the opening scene was this woman auditioning to be the voice of the part. I can’t remember her exact lines but it was pretty cool. I thought it was really well written. It just blows my mind that people can come up with consistently good writing, week after week. They really put a lot of thought into how they’re going to present the series.
I was amazed at the production quality, the directing and writing, everything about it. Sometimes as an actor, you just see a character and you’re like I know this is my character! I just wish it would be on a recurring basis.Mary K. DeVault as Ms. Lorelei excited on ‘Ms. Lorelei’s Corner’ during The Purge Season 2 Episode 9 “Hail Mary” cold opener – Screenshot / Photo Credit: USA Network
For sure then, you’d like to reprise Ms. Lorelei on The Purge in a future season?
Oh, I’d like to return to the show or any show I’ve done! You get attached to your characters and you don’t want to let them go. You’ve worked with them for a couple of weeks or from the audition to the time you’re shooting. Well, everything happens so fast, you don’t get that much time. You think about that character and after you shoot it, it’s like a play, a theatre piece, it’s a little difficult to let it go. You want it to return.
Especially, with Ms. Lorelei there’s so many layers to that character. There’s so much more you could do there.
Yeah, there could be other characters that watched Ms. Lorelei’s Corner… I don’t know what they have planned for next season, I think there will be a Season 3. Which will be interesting to see!
How did it feel for you to deliver that line when Zoe asks, “Can they kill people?”, and you respond “Yessssss… They can!” Complete with a massive smile and a giggle.
I had to really make a decision in my mind, ‘Does this woman go out and Purge?’ And I thought, ‘Yeah, I think she does and I think she enjoys it.’ That wouldn’t be me! (laughs) So, I had to find that spot for the character where this is okay, and I’ve been told it’s good for you. You have to as a character really believe that!
It was interesting and complex, particularly, since I used to do comedy a lot more. You sometimes play people who have views that are creepy and you have to connect. I’m not saying to go method and go out and do it (laughs) but really put yourself in that person’s shoes and their beliefs.
They believe what they believe because of everything around them, truly thinking it’s okay. I think Ms. Lorelei thinks she’s doing a good thing, I don’t think she believes she’s doing anything wrong. She’s letting these kids know there’s this whole other world out there, that they can enter into once they’re able. Which builds the suspense creepily!Emily Criss Rives as Zoe featured on ‘Ms Lorelei’s Corner’ during The Purge Season 2 Episode 9 “Hail Mary” – Screenshot / Photo Credit: USA Network
You mentioned your web series Ginny on the Rocks earlier, can you elaborate more for fans who haven’t seen it yet?
It’s a single camera sitcom but three-four minute episodes starring my character Ginny Penelope Talbotowski. I just wrote the latest set of episodes! It started off originally with my sister taking a directing class, a GoPro camera, and wanting to do a creative project together.
I saw you recently played the character of Melinda in film The Black String. What was that experience like?
Yeah, The Black String is a movie starring Frankie Muniz and I’m in towards the end of the film, I play this scary psychic! It was a really cool part, enjoyed it a lot. The film went the festival route and it was just picked up Amazon.
Curious, do you watch your own work often? Do you ever watch your own takes?
I don’t always. When I first started, I did watch. I was like “Oh my God!” When you first see yourself on-screen, you’re like, ‘Oh wow, that’s weird.’ But then when you keep doing it, you’re seeing yourself as the character, you’re not seeing you anymore. I wonder sometimes how they’ll put a scene together, editing wise. But I don’t evaluate my performance because I always kind of like it! (laughs)
Follow Mary K. DeVault on Social Media
Be sure to subscribe to Mary K. DeVault’s YouTube Channel and Web Series ‘Ginny on the Rocks’, follow her adventures on Instagram and IMDB to see more of her television and film work.
Relive The Purge Season 2 Episode 9 “Hail Mary” in its entirety by purchasing the episode on Amazon!
More coverage of USA Network’s The Purge is available on The Natural Aristocrat’s The Purge category section!
Bill Heck spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about playing the scene-stealing Young Mickey Donovan on Showtime’s Ray Donovan and Jon Voight being generous with the character’s interpretation.
Any actor looking to learn the craft of conveying body language to make an audience believe in what you’re doing needs to watch Bill Heck’s performance on Ray Donovan Season 7 Episode 7 (“The Transfer Agent”). Young Mickey Donovan’s mini dance during a robbery spoke volumes about the character, a lasting immersive visual to frame on the wall.
During an exclusive interview with The Natural Aristocrat, Bill Heck discussed his fine-tuned work as young Mickey Donovan, Jon Voight sitting down with him on the second day of shooting, a Ray Donovan prequel show à la Better Call Saul, and even some preliminary thoughts on The Irishman’s de-aging tech! For those wondering about Jon Voight’s best tip to Bill Heck delievered in classic Mickey Donovan fashion…
“They got great writers, amazing story, everyone really knows what they’re doing… But every now and then before a take, just as they call action, tell yourself, ‘I don’t give a s**t!’ Throw it all out the window and do whatever the f**k you want!”
Interview with Bill Heck on Young Mickey Donovan:Bill Heck as Young Mickey Donovan on Showtime’s Ray Donovan Season 7 Episode 7 “The Transfer Agent” – Screenshot/Photo Credit: Showtime
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Did Jon Voight personally comment on your performance? I’m curious what he thought of you playing young Mickey Donovan.
Bill Heck: Jon sent me a very lovely text after the episode aired, and it was a delight to receive. He was more than generous during the job. We were shooting up in the Bronx, and I think on the second day, Jon had the day off and came from the place where he stays during the season in Greenpoint (Brooklyn).
He came all the way up to the Bronx to sit down in the hair & makeup trailer with me and talk about the character and thoughts he had. And he was really curious to hear thoughts that I had. Jon was very generous and interested that I make my own choices, what views I had on the character, and really encouraged me to make it my own. As much as I could! You know, not to just do an impression. Which I’m no good at anyway! (laughs)
But it was amazing! It’s amazingly generous for Jon to come all the way up the Bronx and and sit with me to chat for almost an hour. We exchanged numbers and texted back a few times throughout the shoot. He really gave me permission. That is a real valuable thing to have as an actor. So he was lovely the whole way through. Then at the wrap party he said there with me and my wife [Maggie Lacey] for a long time. Just couldn’t have been more pleasant and more supportive. He was a real gem.
I thought the flashbacks could be a show in itself, something like Better Call Saul.
(laughs) We should put you in touch with the producers!Bill Heck as Young Mickey Donovan leaving ‘Ray Ray’ and his ill wife in the middle of the night on Showtime’s Ray Donovan Season 7 Episode 7 “The Transfer Agent” – Screenshot/Photo Credit: Showtime
There’s just so much story there to explore, and it sounds like you’d definitely be willing to go back. Is that something you could see happening with Ray Donovan?
The impression I got from everybody was that they were pleased with how the flashbacks went generally. David Hollander, the showrunner, seemed pleased with how things went. I don’t know what their plans are for next season, by any explicit means. But I wouldn’t be shocked, I think they were definitely pleased to tread new ground in that way. And I had an interesting time, I wouldn’t be averse to any additional exploration, certainly!
Were you picked originally for this role because of your performance in 2013 film, Pit Stop? Even for anyone just watching the trailer for that movie, when you push off, there’s something instantly noticeable about your body language. It’s subtly reminiscent of the way you portrayed young Mickey Donovan. In general, as an actor you had great control of body language on Ray Donovan.
Thank you! That’s a really interesting parallel, I certainly wasn’t doing that consciously. I guess there’s a slight parallel in the characters in that they’re both trying to find their place in a world where they maybe feel a bit out of place. Or are not quite sure of how up to the task they may be. But no man, that was a long time ago that movie! It’s a project I hold dear. I’d encourage people to see that sweet little film.
What was it like working with Aidan Pierce Brennan as young Ray Donovan? Doing all those “Ray Ray” scenes. Those were some intense scenes, especially when Mickey’s stealing his wife’s money out of that can as Ray watches.
I mean on one hand, for me as a person being able to see what’s happening in that scene, it’s heartbreaking. But Mickey thinks he’s doing the right thing to a certain degree. Mickey maybe understands that it’s morally complex but he doesn’t pay attention to that side of things because he’s got a plan. And his plan is going to make things right.Bill Heck as Young Mickey Donovan and Aidan Pierce Brennan as Young Ray Donovan on Showtime’s Ray Donovan Season 7 Episode 7 “The Transfer Agent” – Screenshot/Photo Credit: Showtime
Even if he’s deluded himself about how possible it is or what right is right or what’s best for his family. He’s moving forward in a way that he thinks is best for his family. So, in that sense even though he’s maybe got some conflicted feelings about how it may be perceived, he’s optimistic.Bill Heck as Young Mickey Donovan on Showtime’s Ray Donovan Season 7 Episode 7 “The Transfer Agent” – Screenshot/Photo Credit: Showtime
Do you feel in pilfering the money, that maybe Mickey was trying to protect the Donovan family as well? From the aspect that maybe James Sullivan would do worse if he didn’t pay back something.
Absolutely he’s telling himself that, yeah. Mickey’s got rings of stories that he tells himself and he believes them! Mickey doesn’t imagine that he’s deluding himself. He’s not as far as he can see in the future. He’s going to handle it, you know? It’s like he tells Ray as he’s going out, ‘everything’s gonna be fine,’ right? So I think Mickey believes it or at least he knows that to survive, he has to believe that.Young James ‘Jimmy’ Sullivan played by Austin Hébert on left and Young Mickey Donovan played by Bill Heck on right on Showtime’s Ray Donovan – Season 7 Episode 7 “The Transfer Agent” – Screenshot/Photo Credit: Showtime
That little dance Mickey Donovan does right when he’s about to rob that van, was that intentionally written into the script? Or was that you personally making an on-the-spot, Mickey influenced decision there?
No, I just tossed that in. Kyra (Sedgwick) who directed the episode and David Hollander, the showrunner, Jon, everyone included were extremely encouraging about being playful. It was a very available, open generous set. A very fun set and the character is a fun character.Bill Heck as Young Mickey Donovan dancing during robbery on Showtime’s Ray Donovan Season 7 Episode 7 “The Transfer Agent” – Screen captured GIF Credit via Showtime
I asked a few of the people which episodes of previous seasons I should watch to get a decent idea of Mickey. Everyone was really open and interested in making me feel comfortable riffing, more than I have in past gigs. I felt like I got to stretch my arms and play a little bit, which was a real joy. I had an ample opportunity with this character to do so.
Yeah, I thought those little details really made the scene. Kind of like what they call reveries on Westworld, those extra touches that make a character feel real. I mean obviously there was that iconic teeth sucking thing that Jon Voight does often on the series.
There were a couple of teeth sucking scripted moments. (laughs) That was the only little characterization that they specified! I threw in a few more here and there, and replaced a few here and there. I’m not quick to recall which ones they used in the edit but that one they definitely zeroed in on. I think at some point here I was like give me a tooth suck right here. (laughs)Bill Heck as Young Mickey Donovan ‘teeth sucking’ on Showtime’s Ray Donovan Season 7 Episode 7 “The Transfer Agent” – Screenshot/Photo Credit: Showtime
Do you feel you were able to study the character more through watching other Ray Donovan episodes, meeting Jon Voight in-person, or a mix?
It’s definitely a mix. Early on I had to rely on the episodes, I think maybe watched in the neighborhood of 8 to 10 in total. I had a dialect coaching session where I’d work with the material and met Austin (Hébert) who plays Jimmy (Sullivan) and we worked through some of that and just spent some time building on it. Playing around and then we actually shot the van robbery, that was the first thing I did.Bill Heck as Young Mickey Donovan shooting back on Showtime’s Ray Donovan Season 7 Episode 7 “The Transfer Agent” – Screenshot/Photo Credit: Showtime
That was before I met Jon, the second day was when Jon came up and definitely he helped me expand on all the work I had done before. Just being around him you get a sense of how he’s carrying himself through the world generally, and how it applies to the work you see him do on the show.
I think maybe the most pointed tip he gave me was like, “They got great writers, amazing story, everyone really knows what they’re doing… But every now and then before a take, just as they call action, tell yourself, ‘I don’t give a s**t!’ Throw it all out the window and do whatever the f**k you want!” (laughs) That was advice to an actor that would definitely inform where the character came from and where he lives. So it was very helpful and fun.
What’s your viewpoint on a film like The Irishman where they used the same actors for flashbacks with de-aging VFX technology? Is there always going to be a place for other actors to play a major part of flashbacks or do you feel as the price of the tech drops the industry will become heavily reliant on it?
It’s a tricky one, my friend. (laughs) You know I have not seen The Irishman, though I’m certainly a lover of Scorsese and his crew. So I can’t comment on that directly. I certainly suspect it’s obviously something they’ll decide when it’s appropriate to use and when not. And I’m sure as you say it will shift as technology becomes more advanced and more affordable… I don’t know, I think that’ll come down to each individual artist.Bill Heck Headshot – Photo Credit: Jeff Galfer
I find it hard to imagine that a community of artists, especially when you’re speaking about a collaborative art like filmmaking or storytelling in general… That most artists would opt to interact with something that is not available to them at the moment.
You know to try and create a story or human moments, that is sort of waiting on the computer, three weeks down the road. So, in terms of The Irishman they were still working with the guys there in the room. But I can’t really speak to how the de-aging tech effected the work as far as The Irishman goes.
I think the artist will always choose what’s most fun, what’s interesting to them. I think some will find the technology very intriguing and it certainly is in its way, and some will say, ‘I want the whole warm body.’
I think actually the evolution of that question will lie more with audiences. What they’re interested in receiving. How crossable the uncanny valley truly is… Because the people are going to decide if they’ll buy it or not. That’s a good working answer down the line one way or the other.
Are you going to appear in any other flashbacks in this season of Ray Donovan? Without any spoilers of course.
That’s it for me… At least for this season.Bill Heck as Young Mickey Donovan fake surrenders on Showtime’s Ray Donovan Season 7 Episode 7 “The Transfer Agent” – Screenshot/Photo Credit: Showtime
You’re going to be in a new Netflix show called Locke & Key that’s arriving on February 7th. What kind of character will you be playing in that?
Locke & Key is based off a graphic novel series, written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. It’s a series of books that is just gorgeous. It’s beautiful. It’s sort of family drama, meets horror film meets father legacy. In that series, I’ll play the father of the family that comes to live in my childhood home. I don’t know how much I can say beyond it…
I mean it’s all in the books for anyone and they’re well worth the read. The show looks amazing and all the people that I’ve worked with who’ve seen bits of it are extremely pleased with it. So I’d say it’s well worth the look this February.
I saw Liam Neeson at BUILD series and he joked around, then got a bit serious, about how theatre actors are just better actors than TV/Film-only ones because they get to perform every night. How they get more practice in and have to constantly adapt to a live audience. Since you’ve had experience on both sides of the aisle, on-stage and on-screen, what are your thoughts?
(laughs) You know one of the things I love about what I do, and brings me into context with what other people are doing, is that there’s no real template for it. There’s not one way to get where you’re going. Nobody’s ended up where they are for the same reasons. There are definitely skill sets that come with different environments and different experiences and different lengths of experiences.Bill Heck Lead Headshot – Photo Credit: Jeff Galfer
There are certainly things that I know having come up in the theatre side and being trained in storytelling and acting… That I wouldn’t know had I just come up through the Television ranks in Los Angeles. But there are definitely things that that those guys know that I don’t. That I’ve had to learn later in life that I’m still learning.
I think it’s hard to stick a pin in any one answer about what’s going to make an actor better, more effective or not. Aside from maybe if they’re still curious, if they’re still interested, if they still feel like they have something to learn. Anyone that thinks they’ve got all the answers about anything, is more likely than not to not know anything.
Do you feel you prepare any differently as an actor than from when you first began? Do you have any kind of ritual every morning to kind of get into that kind of mindset or is it different for every role really?
Yeah it’s different for every role, every circumstance. Like if I’m doing a theatre gig, I have a pretty standard warmup just to get get into my body. But I switch it out based on what I have to do for a show and where I am. Mickey is an easy guy to get into physically to kind of shake your fingers up in the right way and feel it through your body (laughs) as opposed to maybe a more still character.Bill Heck as Young Mickey Donovan schmoozing and buying drinks at the bar on Showtime’s Ray Donovan Season 7 Episode 7 “The Transfer Agent” – Screenshot/Photo Credit: Showtime
I don’t know if you’ve seen the comments on the Ray Donovan fan group on Facebook but a lot of people commented on your performance and the episode (“The Transfer Agent”). Do you read those usually? You should go check it out!
(laughs) Oh no, that’s dangerous man! I’m glad to hear it came off well though for sure.
Bill Heck on Social Media:
The Purge’s Amye Gousset discussed NFFA radio guest Lena Dash featured on The Bobby Sheridan Show, the Urge2Purge app’s death threat popularity system, and much more with The Natural Aristocrat.
Amye Gousset played The NFFA’s Purge-positive radio guest Lena Dash on The Bobby Sheridan Show during The Purge’s “Happy Holidays” cold open. A devout, morally righteous NFFA party member or a public relations spin apologist, depending on how you look at it. Are certain people predisposed to Purge or simply a product of their environment? The Natural Aristocrat asked Gousset about her own feelings of the Nature Vs. Nurture argument towards Purging… A line which is quickly blurring following last episode’s (“Hail Mary”) youngster Ben revelation.
Did Ben Gardner always have violent tendencies or did Purge sanctioned TV like Ms. Lorelei’s Corner act as a proverbial stepping stones? Speaking of blurred lines, Gousset commented on Lena Dash’s ‘Death Threat’ popularity system on the show’s Urge2Purge App as postmodern social media commentary, Ivory Road, and using her own Southern accent as a character choice.
Interview with Amye Gousset on The Purge’s Lena Dash:The Purge Season 2 Episode 6 (“Happy Holidays” – From left to right: Bobby Sheridan [Dermot Mulroney] and Lena Dash [Amye Gousset] – Screenshot Photo Credit: USA Network
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Lena Dash bragged on The Bobby Sheridan Show that she broke a million ‘death threats’ on the Urge2Purge App (1,284,715 to be exact). That “It’s been great” for her brand. How do you feel about this very postmodern social media commentary? Purge TV specific or a glimpse into the future?
Amye Gousset: Social media is obviously very prevalent in the lives of most people in modern society. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, they all have a system for letting someone know they “like” what they read, or who the person is. I think the “death threat” tracking in the Urge2Purge app fits in very nicely with where society currently is in the Purge universe.
It makes sense that, with the annual purge being the “event of the year”, that those who more people want to harm would be considered celebrities. However, I feel that is completely for just The Purge universe only, I don’t see it as the direction social media is headed in the real world.
Dash makes no qualms about throwing the aggressor (Ben Gardner) under the bus as having a history of depression rather than blame the NFFA’s system. Explaining away Gardner’s off-Purge acts to innate issues, nature rather than nurture.
Last episode’s (“Hail Mary”) cold open showed a young, impressionable Ben having Purge-like tendencies early but also impacted by the children’s show, Ms. Lorelei’s Corner. What are your thoughts about the blurred nature vs nurture argument when it comes to Purging?
From my perspective (not my character’s), I don’t think you can say it is just nature or just nurture. I could see some people wanting to participate in the Purge because it is just something they want, it feels comfortable to them, or maybe something inside them is broken. But, given how the purge has become this annual event, that is almost celebrated, depending on how people are raised, or who influences them growing up in that world, the idea that purging is “nurtured” into people also has to come into play.
Do you feel Lena Dash’s veiled threat toward Sydney Rivera on-air to personally help her experience The Purge “up close and personal” next year was legitimate? Essentially, where does playing up for The Bobby Sheridan Show end and reality begin?
I’d like to flip that question back on you. How did YOU interpret the delivery of that line? 😊
Is Lena’s authentic sounding Southern accent your natural speaking voice? I’ve read you employ several different accents (BBC British RP, Australian, NY, Southern) as an actress but Mississippi born and raised. I felt the Southern accent really added something special to the Lena Dash character, sold it as more morally righteous in a way. Reminiscent of Donnie Darko’s teacher Kitty Farmer by actress Beth Grant.
Thank you! Yes, that is my real accent. I’m a born and raised southerner. I can say that playing her with a southern accent was a choice I made for the role. It just felt right for Lena and I’m so glad Jen McGowan (the Director) agreed. And Donnie Darko is a great movie!The Purge Season 2 Episode 6 (“Happy Holidays” – Lena Dash more than hints at showing Sydney Rivera The Purge up close and personal next year – From left to right: Bobby Sheridan [Dermot Mulroney] and Lena Dash [Amye Gousset] – Screenshot Photo Credit: USA Network
What memory or memento stayed with you the most from shooting that Purge cold open? Whether on-camera or behind the scenes with fellow cast members.
I heard some great tales from Dermot [Mulroney] about off screen antics on his other films, including one of my favorite movies, “My Best Friend’s Wedding“.
Really funny guy. And yep- I always take a little something from set…shhh! But I can’t tell you what exactly- That would make me seem too weird.
Bobby Sheridan tells Sydney Rivera off-air, “The truth is, you’re nobody in America unless somebody wants to Purge you!” What are your thoughts about this line?
Trivia: Are you aware Bobby Sheridan’s phrase appears directly inspired by the song “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)” by The Notorious B.I.G?
I think it ties back into your first couple of questions. The more people who want to purge you, the more “celebrity” status you have. I think it sums up social media, influencers, and The Purge universe very well. And no, I did not tie that phrase back to the Notorious B.I.G. song. That is an interesting takeaway.
Scream 4 was one of the first horrors to usher in social media commentary to the mainstream but The Purge has really pushed the envelope with extraordinary modern spoofs like Ivory Road. What does it mean to you to be part of a series that’s on the bleeding edge forefront of the underground?
I actually think it is kinda neat! Obviously it is very exciting to be involved with this TV Series, and The Purge universe. And I find it very interesting that they are taking some real-world concepts, and fictionalizing them into the series, as they did with Ivory Road. It provides just enough “real world” authenticity to make viewers go: What If? What if the world went the direction of the Purge universe.
What projects are you currently working on that fans can look forward to? Would you like to return as Lena Dash on a future season or film of The Purge franchise?
I have a film called “The Favorite” with John Schneider that releases this month. It’s based on a true story. A nice family film.
And heck yeah! I would love the chance to continue to bring Lena Dash to life, either in a future season or film. That would be a dream come true! I love that gal.
Relive The Bobby Sheridan Show:
Revisit Lena Dash’s confrontation with Sydney Rivera [Hannah Alline] on The Bobby Sheridan Show above! The cold open aired on The Purge Season 2 Episode 6 (“Happy Holidays”).
Catch up with Amye Gousset:Amye Gousset Headshot Photo – Photo Credit: Amye Gousset
Visit Amye Gousset’s official website and check out her versatile video reel!
Featured Coverage of The Purge on The Natural Aristocrat:
– Interview with Joel Allen on Ben Gardner, The God Mask, and the intense scenes in The Purge Season 2!
– Recap of The Purge’s latest episode “Hail Mary” (Season 2 Episode 9).
– Breaking News: Ethan Hawke to reprise James Sandin on The Purge Season 2 Finale
Catch more of The Natural Aristocrat’s coverage of USA Network’s The Purge in The Purge category section.