Jessica Biel Finally Finds A Role She Can Sink Her Teeth Into

She’s played a “summer catch.” A love interest. A leading lady in an action movie. A horror movie victim. But none of these roles have really given Jessica Biel the opportunity to truly excel, which is why her latest on-screen character is a welcome sight.  

In her first lead television role since her run as Mary Camden on “7th Heaven,” Biel plays Cora Tannetti on USA’s “The Sinner,” an upcoming eight-part series that premiered its pilot episode at the Tribeca Film Festival on Tuesday night. The thriller, based on the 2008 novel of the same name by Petra Hammesfahr, delves into the mystery behind Cora’s unexplained killing of a man on a public beach, surrounded by her husband, child and dozens of witnesses. What made this seemingly doting mother and wife do something so out of character? And why is it that we don’t fully trust her? “The Sinner” will, hopefully, explain it all when it debuts Aug. 2. 

Bill Pullman plays the detective working to uncover Cora’s motives, while Christopher Abbott portrays Cora’s husband, Mason. 

But it’s Biel who went all in for her role ― made clear by the applause she received following the Tribeca screening. Director Antonio Campos (”Christine,” “Simon Killer”) envelops the actress in dreamlike shots before zooming in for close-ups, letting her physical emotion easily slip through the screen. Her performance is committed, solid, and might be her best yet. 

“Obviously, she’s a terribly complex and complicated person,” Biel, who’s also an executive producer on the series, said of Cora during the post-screening Q&A. “Just in the pilot we get to see a tiny bit of what’s to come … in her mind and in her past and everything. That was interesting, for me, to think about playing somebody like this.”

Biel admitted that the role was a bit daunting, due to the fact that Cora is, well, a murderer, and so hard to read; she wasn’t sure which direction to take the character at any given time. 

“The tracking of what she knows, what she remembers, what she thinks she remembers, what is a lie, what is told to her and when she’s lying [was difficult],” Biel explained. “It’s very complicated. We would constantly be going, ‘Wait, is this a moment where she’s telling the truth or is this a moment where she’s lying? Or is she telling the truth, but it’s actually a lie that we don’t know?’ So there’s this weaving of this denial and this shame and all these things,” Biel added, joking that there’s a lot of “fake news” in Cora’s head.

“It was very, very tricky to kind of remember and to keep it in line and that’s what I’ll be facing as we go forward,” the actress said.  

So far, only the pilot has been completed, so the cast and crew will return to film the remaining seven episodes. The hope is to create a series that analyzes the human psyche and investigates what we, as people, are capable of. 

“When I read the book, every step of the way for me was a shock, and I just feel like nothing can shock me anymore,” Biel said. “You know, like, I’ve seen it all, there’s nothing that weird or that dark. We’ve all seen it all, I think in a sense, the way we’re exposed and have access to everything. But every time there was a surprise, it was a genuine surprise for me and it just felt incredibly rare to find a piece of material where you didn’t expect every twist and turn every way. And then, generally, like, selfishly, I just wanted to play that girl and get to be a little nuts.”

“The Sinner” debuts on USA at 10 p.m. on Aug. 2.

type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related… + articlesList=58ff4837e4b0c46f07822e31,58ff4706e4b0b6f6014aaa1c,58ffb42de4b0073d3e7a1d0c

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

13 Times Latinos Refused To Stay Silent During Trump’s First 100 Days

President Donald Trump’s first 100 days have been an emotional and political rollercoaster for many, and Latinos did not sit idly by. 

Just days after taking office, Trump signed an executive order to begin construction on a U.S.-Mexico border wall and threatened to defund cities that refused to collaborate with federal immigration authorities. The administration’s immigration crackdown led to the deportation of at least one DACA recipient and one mother with no criminal record, among others. And at least one domestic violence victim was reportedly detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement while seeking court protection. 

Through it all, Latinos have refused to stay silent ― from America Ferrera’s rousing speech at the Women’s March to the undocumented Latina who took a viral tax form selfie and then asked Trump for his. 

Here are 13 times Latinos spoke up in solidarity with immigrants and their community: 

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Michelle Obama Won’t Stop Encouraging Kids To Pursue College

Former first lady Michelle Obama, continuing a tradition she began while in the White House, will host a “college signing day” on MTV next month, celebrating graduating high school seniors pursuing college, university or professional training programs.

Obama has hosted a college signing day event every year since 2014 as part of her Reach Higher initiative, which aims to make higher education more accessible. Her efforts have often involved creative ways of reaching young people, including a rap video.

This year’s event will be held at the famed Public Theater in New York on May 5, four days after the deadline for students to commit to a college or university to which they have been admitted.

The event, which MTV will air on its Facebook page, will be hosted by singer Nick Cannon, the network said Wednesday. It will feature a diverse group of famous guests, including comedian Billy Eichner, model Bella Hadid, chef Carla Hall, former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), “Hamilton” star Renée Elise Goldsberry, actor Michael B. Jordan, The Roots drummer Questlove, and “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts.

Obama has continued working on education issues after leaving the White House in January. She made a surprise visit to a public school in Washington, where she and the former first family live, and collaborated with Civic Nation, a nonprofit that says it focuses on “innovative engagement and awareness initiatives.”

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Is A Master Class On The Power Of Rebellion

In the third episode of Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” viewers are exposed to a quotidian site seldom shown on television: a shock of red, sitting plainly in the heroine’s underwear, delivering the news that she’s started her period, and isn’t, as she thought, pregnant.

Menstruation is part of many women’s daily (or, monthly) lives, but the visual display of it remains a taboo in media. Just last year, a tampon company made waves by showing women boxing and climbing, and getting bloody as a result. Before that, depictions of bloody periods didn’t usually make it to TV, barring a few exceptions from “Degrassi,” “Mad Men,” and “Broad City.”

So, the choice to include a splotch of blood in “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a bold one. But, in an interview with The Huffington Post, showrunner Bruce Miller was matter-of-fact about the decision. “Our version needed to be unflinching if it was going to be successful.” Many women menstruate and bleed, he said, “and if people are uncomfortable with that, tough.”

This is in keeping with an inflammatory comment made by the cast during a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival, that they’ve since wheeled back. “It’s just a story about a woman,” actress Madeline Brewer said, when asked whether she got involved with the story because of its feminist themes. “It’s a human story because women’s rights are human rights,” the show’s star, Elisabeth Moss, said.

The remarks caused a stir, and were blamed on Hulu’s marketing team, even though Atwood herself has made similar claims. The author has taken issue with certain aspects of early feminism, which took a stand against feminine modes of self-expression; she’s also said that the story is about power dynamics more broadly, and could’ve been told from a man’s point of view.

In a recent New York Times op-ed, the author wrote, “[I]s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ a ‘feminist’ novel? If you mean a novel in which women are human beings — with all the variety of character and behavior that implies — and are also interesting and important, and what happens to them is crucial to the theme, structure and plot of the book, then yes. In that sense, many books are ‘feminist.’”

In other words, Atwood makes a distinction between her intention as a storyteller and the implications of the book for readers and scholars. As a novelist, she aims to tell a story about an individual’s struggles, her daily wants and hopes and fears. The character doesn’t explicitly observe that her biological womanhood is an integral part of her oppression and her experience of the world, as a feminist essayist might; instead, she observes that she’s feeling scared, or mad, or happy. But, to create a woman character who thinks and feels on her own terms is a feminist act, and certainly to read the book is a feminist experience.

Like Atwood, Miller discusses the show as Offred’s story, first and foremost. Early on, in hiring a director and costume designer, the team decided that filming close-in on Offred, to create a claustrophobic effect that would emulate her oppression, would be stylistically key.

“The book has a sense of anecdotal remembrance. She’s remembering things that’ve happened to her. So you don’t want to forget that she was there ― there’s no objectivity, it’s Offred telling stories of herself, of her life. You don’t ever want to lose that feeling of the book, that it’s a very personal narrative of Offred’s,” Miller said. “One of the strongest things about the book was not knowing everything else that was happening. We’re so used to being able to hop on the internet or watch TV or ask somebody a question, and she’s lost all of that. And that, to me, was so scary and so frustrating.”

To this end, the team worked to design custom bonnets that would let light through, so that scenes filmed close to Moss’s face would be possible. “You feel every emotion go across her face, even when she wants to hide from the rest of the world,” Miller said.

Staying true to the heroine’s point of view was key for Miller, who said he wanted to keep as much of Atwood’s original story intact as possible. Most of the updates were tethered to technology. In the book, Serena Joy, the woman who Offred serves as a handmaid for, is an evangelical personality on TV; in the show, she’s an author.

“If it isn’t real ― if you can say, ‘Oh, that’s not the real world’ ― then it’s less scary. The more it feels like the real world, the scarier it becomes, at least to me,” Miller said.

As it relates to today’s political climate, Miller thinks the show will encourage viewers to, “appreciate the freedoms that we have, and see little ways that they’re chipped away and what that can lead to.” Although the show was conceived before last year’s presidential election, Miller thinks its themes are relevant.

“There’s been just an unrelenting assault on […] women’s sovereignty over their own bodies, that’s been happening at the state level and the national level, that’s been head-spinning,” he said.

Again, he steered the conversation toward Offred’s personal struggle, and what readers and viewers can glean from it.

“Every single part of her life is so truncated. Yet, she still finds ways to keep her brain alive, she still finds ways to manipulate and move the world around her to increase her chances of survival,” Miller said. “I think to me that’s super inspiring, because I always feel like ― the problems that we have, the government seems like an intractable force, a big, faceless force, but if Offred could do something, I should get off my ass and do something as well.”

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

25 Vintage Boy Names Worth Reviving

If you’re looking for a baby boy name that’s not all-the-rage right now, Nameberry has some suggestions with a vintage flair.

Since boy names tend to stay on the popularity lists longer than girls’ names, these examples are quite unusual in that most of them were in common use at one time but then slid into obscurity.  See which ones you think are ripe for revival.

Alaric — An ancient regal name that sparks with electricity, it starred in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series and in The Vampire Diaries. Emeric is a similar possibility.

Aldous — Associated with Brave New World’s Aldous Huxley, more recently seen in “Orphan Black,” Aldous boasts the popular s-ending for boys

Ambrose — As rosy as Rose, as amiable as Amelia, this early Latin name has loads of history, both religious and literary.

Art — Sure it’s familiar as a vintage nickname for Arthur, but there’s a lot more to Art. In Ireland it’s the stand-alone name of a pagan High King (perhaps why Chris O’Dowd chose it for his son), and of course it’s a culture-saturated word name as well.

Burl — A long-lost nature name related to trees, Burl has a down-home feel, and was in the Top 1000 for 81 years, ranking as high as number 381. A notable namesake: folk singer and Oscar-winning actor Burl Ives.

Clive — If you’re looking for a sleek and polished one-syllable name with a refined British accent and the charisma of Clive Owen, consider Clive.

Cosmo — A name with cosmic breadth and a stylish o-ending; as long as you can banish all thoughts of cocktails and Kramer.

Crispin — Harry Potter-related, crisp and curly-haired (its literal meaning), Crispin is now ranked number 518 on Nameberry.

Cyprian — A rare and noble ancient Latin saint and Harry Potter name (such a treasure trove!), Cyprian is related to the island of Cyprus.

Doyle — This friendly Irish surname, which hasn’t been heard from since 1980, was a well-used choice for about a hundred years, peaking at number 195 in 1931. Doyle McMaster was a recurring character on “Gilmore Girls” — one of the name’s few modern appearances. It could make a cool choice for Sherlock Holmes aficionados.

Eben — Most of us are not ready for Ebenezer, but short, stand-alone Eben has lots of appeal, it was as high as 528 in the 1880s but hasn’t been used much since then.

Esmond — An interesting alternative to Edmond or Desmond with a distinguished air and literary cred via Thackeray’s novel The History of Henry Esmond.

Eustace — The monocled New Yorker magazine symbol and, curiously, the middle name of both Ross on “Friends” and the female Paris on “Gilmore Girls.”

Florian — This name shares the gentle floral quality of Flora and Florence, with solid saintly and literary cred (Harry Potter once more!). It ranks at number 55 in Germany right now.

Garland — A generic floral name that isn’t primarily female: it was used for boys through the 1980s. Garland was a military name in “Twin Peaks.”

Giles — The G is pronounced as J in this single-syllable British aristo appellation. It’s another one with lots of literary connections.

Green — Blue is now an accepted unisex name, as are many shades of green. And Green itself actually ranked on the popularity list for at least 32 past years, reaching as high as number 254 in the 1880s.

Guthrie — Now that Arlo has taken off, how about surname Guthrie? It has a nice cowboyish feel, a la Wylie, and even hit the Top 1000 for one year, back in 1895.

Hardy — A name with the solid, strong yet spirited Hardy Boys image, Hardy fell off the list in 1960, but in this era of word names, deserves a new look. British fashion designer Hardy Amies (born Edwin), official dressmaker to Queen Elizabeth II, was its most notable bearer.

Ignatius — The ancient Roman name of several saints, it was used in the U.S. in the early decades of the 20th century, primarily by religious families. Actresses Cate Blanchett and Julianne Nicholson both chose it for their sons; and if you’re wondering about Iggy Pop and Iggy Azalea, the former was born with the name James, while the latter grew up with jewel name Amethyst.

Ives — This cool single-syllable surname has lots of cultural cred, via composer Charles Ives, singer Burl (see above), and James Merritt Ives, half of the renowned Currier and Ives printmaking duo.

Jennings — Looking for a distinguished but unusual surname ending in ‘s’?  This one, which ranked at number 244 in 1897 (likely the William Jennings Bryan influence) could make a neat namesake for a family member, Jenny.

Morley — A pleasant surname name that has never ranked. Now that Marley is becoming popular for girls, this could make a nice option for boys. It was long associated with Morley Safer of “60 Minutes.”

Roscoe ― If you’re looking for a forgotten o-sound-ending name, Roscoe may be your boy. It’s got a slightly quirky but warm and friendly feel. Once a Top 200 name, it’s now given to fewer than 75 boys a year.

Teddy — Yes, I know Theo is the current nickname du jour for Theodore, but there’s something so irresistibly warm about Teddy. Used on its own in the U.S. until the early 1990s (peaking at 239 in 1933), its one of the enthusiastically revived nicknames in England and Wales — now at number 42!

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

32 Museums Across NYC Are ‘Trading Places’ And Taking Fans With Them

On April 26, museums across New York City are switching Instagram accounts with one another for the sake of art lovers everywhere. The social media initiative, called #MuseumInstaSwap, hopes to introduce loyal followers of certain institutions to other local spots they have not yet explored. 

It’s basically “Freaky Friday,” but with museums. 

There are 32 museums participating in the campaign, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Jewish Museum, the El Museo del Barrio, the Met Breuer, MoMA PS1 and many more institutions that are must-visits for people living in or traveling to NYC.

During #MuseumInstaSwap, each participating organization is assigned a partner museum and, throughout the day, is encouraged to post photos from the other’s collection, giving peeks into rarely seen corners while drawing parallels to their own holdings.

Museums can sometimes feel like isolated, enclosed worlds, but they are in fact part of a significant network of New York art centers, engaged in constant conversation. The swap hopes to illuminate the connections between museums like the American Folk Art Museum and the Japan Society, or the New Museum and the Drawing Center, thereby enhancing the experience of both. 

This year, most major New York institutions seem to be participating, though some historic havens like the Met are represented by their smaller outposts ― the Met Breuer. A few particularly interesting partnerships include the Museum of the City of New York and the Queens Museum, meant to illustrate the ways in which the two New York establishments approach the city’s history. The American Folk-Japan Society swap started the morning off by introducing their followers to the former’s stunning “Third Gender” show, now on view. 

The social media initiative will hopefully introduce art lovers to new museums and collections they might not be familiar with, through the spaces they already know and love.

Follow #museuminstaswap today to get your full serving of art and museum history. 

Today is #MuseumInstaSwap day! We’ll be exploring works from @JapanSociety_NYC’s current #exhibition "A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints” and making connections between our two institutions. We hope you enjoy this unique exchange! ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ “A Third Gender” is the first exhibition in North America dedicated to “wakashu,” the word for attractive young males who were considered neither men nor women, but who occupied a distinct and desirable third gender category during #Japan’s #Edo period (1603–1868). The numerous depictions of #wakashu in #prints and #paintings suggest their popularity and importance within the cultural fabric of the time. Featuring over 65 woodblock prints, “#AThirdGender” is largely comprised of works on paper, much like our two current #exhibitions #Gabritschevsky and #Zinelli. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This late 18th–early 19th century “bijin-ga” (pictures of beauties) woodblock titled “Wakashu with a Shoulder Drum” is a great starting point in identifying wakashu through hairstyle. Having not yet transitioned into the role of an adult man­—symbolized by the ceremonious removal of their entire forelocks—the wakashu can be identified by the small shaved spot on the crown of their heads. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Image: Wakashu with a Shoulder Drum, Hosoda Eisui (act. 1790–1823), late 18th–early 19th century, color #woodblock print, ROM, Sir Edmund Walker Collection, 926.18.701. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #museumlove #nyc #museums #japanese #worksonpaper #nycmuseum #JapanSociety

A post shared by American Folk Art Museum (@afamuseum) on

It’s #MuseumInstaSwap and today @afamuseum is is taking over our account to show us what is on view at their institution at Lincoln Center! We will be introducing & drawing parallels between our our exhibitions and institutions all day long! We hope you enjoy ! Like our current exhibition #AThirdGender, "Eugen Gabritschevsky:Theater of the Imperceptible" and "Carlo Zinelli (1916 ‒1974)" are the first major exhibitions focused on a particular subject matter- these artists’ works- in the United States. Both exhibitions illuminate these artists’ practices on works on paper. Eugen Gabritschevsky (1893–1979), was a Russian-born artist and scientist whose work relied on the “accidental image” that echo techniques and styles of surrealist artists. He once wrote that “there are some processes in art that engage the unforeseen, putting us in direct contact with the magical essence of nature.” Carlo Zinelli (1916 ‒1974) was a self-taught, Italian painter and a exemplary artist of art brut, a term coined by the painter Jean Dubuffet to refer to a range of art forms outside the conventional dictates of the art world. His works-often double sided-feature repetitions of his personal iconography, vocabulary, and format that link to his past. #gabritschevsky #Zinelli Carlo Zinelli (1916–1974) Untitled San Giacomo Hospital, Verona, Italy 1957–1958 Gouache on paper 19 1/2 × 27 1/2" Collection of Audrey B. Heckler Photo by Visko Hatfield © Fondazione Culturale Carlo Zinelli Eugen Gabritschevsky (1893–1979) Untitled Haar, Germany 1949 Gouache on paper

A post shared by Japan Society (@japansociety_nyc) on

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

A Pivotal ‘Riverdale’ Character Will Be Recast In Season 2

Hearts are breaking across Riverdale High today. 

The CW series “Riverdale” is saying goodbye to actor Ross Butler, who plays Archie’s nemesis Reggie on the show. Butler, who recently shot to fame for his roles on “Riverdale” and Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why,” is apparently too busy to continue playing Reggie in Season 2.

“We love what Ross did with the role of Reggie [this season], but because of his commitments to other projects, we couldn’t use him nearly as much as we would have liked,” series creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told TVLine.

Don’t fret, “Riverdale” fans. You’ll still get your Reggie fix next season. The show’s creators are just planning to recast the role.

“[Next season], we want more Reggie on our show — he’s Archie’s rival! — and because Ross is unavailable to come back to ‘Riverdale,’ we’re looking for a new Reggie,” Aguirre-Sacasa said.

“Those are big shoes to fill, but we’re confident we can find an actor who is as funny and sexy as Ross,” Aguirre-Sacasa added. “And of course we all wish Ross the best.”

We may be jumping to conclusions here, but could one of Butler’s “other projects” be a second season of “13 Reasons Why?” Hey, a girl can dream. 

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Hollywood Pays Tribute To Jonathan Demme With Touching Notes On Social Media

Following news of Jonathan Demme’s death on Wednesday, members of Hollywood remembered the famed director with touching notes on social media. 

Demme, who was 73, directed the Oscar-winning movie “Philadelphia,” starring Tom Hanks, but was perhaps best known for his work on “Silence of the Lambs,” which won five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. 

Everyone from Billy Eichner to Thandie Newton took to social media to share their memories and condolences. 

I love you #JonathanDemme and I will never forget you. There is a place in my heart for you, always xx Thandiwe

A post shared by Instagram (@thandieandkay) on

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Public Art Project Is Giving Away 4,000 Free Copies Of ‘Handmaid’s Tale’

Written in 1985, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has never been out of print. So to call renewed interested in the beloved dystopian story a “resurgence” might be disingenuous ― the book’s popularity was never in question. 

Nonetheless, as President Donald Trump has ascended to the highest public office and policymakers have suggested revoking basic women’s rights, the story of Gilead ― a militant and theocratic future-version of the United States reliant on a group of sexually enslaved handmaids to repopulate its dwindling republic ― evokes a different kind of urgency.

Perhaps that’s why the new Hulu adaptation of the book, starring Elisabeth Moss, is stirring up enough political parallels that people are clamoring to buy, borrow or read by whatever means necessary Atwood’s original source material. (Even high school teachers are using the book to talk about America today.)

Thanks to a public artwork in New York City, anyone trying to get their hands on the book can do so free of charge. A massive installation on Chelsea’s elevated park, the High Line, designed by graphic artists Paula Scher and Abbott Miller, houses 4,000 complimentary copies of The Handmaid’s Tale.

Yes, passersby can simply take a book from the massive installation, no charge whatsoever, and return home with a free novel that warns of a dictatorial future.

By removing the books from the wall, participants will reveal “messages of female empowerment and anti-authoritarian resistance,” including the novel’s central battle cry: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum,” or “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

The Handmaid’s Tale provides a chilling reminder of how easily the darkest currents of repression can re-surface,” the artists expressed in a statement. “The installation we designed shows how these dark messages are often accompanied by bombastic language and imagery: spectacle becomes a form of persuasion. Cracks in the floorboards reveal empowering texts, glimpses of resistance for an uncertain age.”

The glorified public bookshelf, flanked by stunning images of the handmaids from the book and show, will be open through April 30, near the High Line’s 16th Street entrance. The Hulu series, for those who’ve yet to binge on its first three episodes, began streaming on April 26.

type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related… + articlesList=58ffb42de4b0073d3e7a1d0c,58fb61a3e4b00fa7de14b77d,58fb7c79e4b00fa7de14c20c,58e7de23e4b058f0a02f0adb,58eb8840e4b00de141050bef,58d034bee4b0ec9d29de74f5

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

‘Devil’s Gate’ Is A Sci-Fi Cop Thriller With An Unexpected Twist

Rarely do we see indie films with special effects that level up to those of big-budget monsters taking over the box office. But director Clay Staub tests the waters with his new thriller “Devil’s Gate,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival this week.

Staub, who’s worked as a 2nd unit director for Matthijs van Heijningen (”The Thing”) and Zack Snyder (”Dawn of the Dead,” “300,” “Man of Steel” and “Justice League”), is making his directorial debut with the cop-drama-turned-horror-movie, testing genres in an original story featuring an unexpected sci-fi twist. (We won’t give it away here.) 

“That was the core idea, [it] is: Can we just play with the genre and flop it?” Staub told the audience during a Q&A following the premiere Monday night.  

“Devil’s Gate” follows FBI Agent Daria Francis (Amanda Schull) as she tries to track down the whereabouts of a missing woman, Maria Pritchard (Bridget Regan), and her son, Jonah (Spencer Drever), with the help of local deputy Colt Salter (Shawn Ashmore). But when Francis and Salter head to the Pritchard home and find Maria’s husband, Jackson (Milo Ventimiglia), in a state of mayhem, the story gets a lot more complicated than one can imagine. 

“I don’t know that I set out to find a genre thriller, something that was dealing with certain matters that we did here,” Milo Ventimiglia, who’s enjoying great success with NBC hit show “This Is Us,” said of joining “Devil’s Gate” during the Q&A. “I read the script, I loved it, I saw the cast assembled ― they’re friends and I’m a fan ― and I was like, ‘This just feels like it would be fun to make.’ And it was fun, but it was also dark and fucked up!” 

“I didn’t see it coming,” Shawn Ashmore added of the plot. “This got me, and then as soon as that twist happened, I was like, ‘Now I need to get to the back of this [script].’” 

Below, another one of the film’s stars — Amanda Schull — chats with HuffPost about her role in the genre-bending flick, and why she was proud to play a female detective in a mostly male-driven field. 

The film was totally not what I was expecting! Is that what drew you to the script? It appears to be this typical cop thriller and then all of the sudden you’re like, “Wait, where is this going?”

I know. Shawn [Ashmore] said that was one of the things that drew him to the film ― that he knew where it was going, absolutely got it, knew what the outcome was going to be, but then, 30 pages into it, he was like, ‘Wow, what?’ And yes, that was it for me, but it was also the character. For me, personally, a story can be great but if the character is kind of lame, or you’ve done it a number of times or it’s just a trope or she doesn’t have any depth to her, what’s the point? What’s the statement you’re making when you’re putting in your time and your energy into creating this? I was fascinated with my character, the material was really interesting ― it was something I’ve never done before ― and the actors were pretty fantastic. 

Yes, it’s a great ensemble cast. Milo Ventimiglia was saying at the premiere that you were all fans and friends of each other. Was that the case with you, too? 

Yeah, it was. I think they spoke to me before anybody else, but I had known they were speaking to other people a little bit into it. I had never worked with any of these people before and the circumstances of the film ― where we shot in the middle of nowhere, the hours that we spent, and the fact that we were literally on location for 12 hours every single day in a mouse-infested barn ― [was intense]. But I loved it, every second of it. It was really cold, and this will make it sound really horrible, but there was a tick infestation — but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I was fans of their work beforehand, but then I became fans of them as people … Getting to do a scene with people who were on the same page and challenged me was invigorating ― you don’t get that every single day with acting, so I was really lucky in that regard. 

I think people are sick and tired of seeing girly girls. I think they’re ready to see women as they are in the world ― strong and capable and just as competent as men.
Amanda Schull

Usually you see detectives as men, being that it’s a male-dominated profession, but it was cool to see you kind of as a Jodie Foster or a Mariska Hargitay in this lead power position. Was that important for you? Clay Staub said during the panel that he was originally going to cast a man in your role. 

Yeah, I didn’t know that, that was news to me! Excuse me. But, yeah, I’ve been really lucky over the last few years to have these interesting, strong female characters placed in front of me and I hope I’ve done them justice because, like any man, women are just as strong and capable in these positions. But they all have flaws. I know my character right now that I play on “12 Monkeys” has become very physically strong, as well as with her mental capabilities, yet she still has weaknesses. And that’s something, with this as well, that I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall into the trope of being a victim. That these circumstances start happening around Agent Francis that could easily fall down the rabbit hole of being scary, and it’s just a different way to visualize and project fear that’s maybe masked or ingested in a different way. I think people are sick and tired of seeing girly girls. I think they’re ready to see women as they are in the world ― strong and capable and just as competent as men. 

This movie does have a really big twist ― it turns a little sci-fi. How was it to play in this world? 

I shot this only after the first season of “12 Monkeys,” so I hadn’t dabbled in the sci-fi world so much. In the first season of “12 Monkeys,” my character lives in what we consider present day. I hadn’t yet experienced the time travel, the windy twists and turns. So this was my first foray in a lot of ways, which was fun but really intimidating also. First of all, sci-fi audiences are very smart and very perceptive and, I don’t want to say critical, but they’re very intelligent viewers. Also, from an acting and logistical standpoint, a lot of what we experience and see and live through in that world doesn’t get added until post-production, so you don’t necessarily know what it’s going to be. We were lucky because we were given the gift of Clay’s storyboards and these paintings and renderings of what he was going to put in in post with visual effects. And that was helpful.

How do you feel the emotion or build yourself up for a scene when you don’t actually have these effects to work alongside of? 

For these scenes, I had the gift of my fellow actors. I am only in a couple of scenes by myself, but for these emotional, scary or heightened scenes in “Devil’s Gate,” I had Shawn … 

Yes, you guys have a great buddy-cop relationship …

Yeah! I love working with Shawn. If someone were to offer me a buddy-cop film with Shawn, I’d jump at it! I’d love the opportunity to be his buddy cop. 

And then Milo. Milo’s character is much more intense and emotional and he understands the depth of what is happening much better than anybody else, so he had to work himself up, in a way, differently than our perspective. And we got to play off that because he did it not only for his coverage when he was in front of the camera but for our coverage behind the camera ― he did a performance that we could play off of, and did it just as well as if the camera was on himself.

It’s weird because he has this whole “This Is Us” fame around him now with the beloved Papa Pearson, and this is a different, deep, disturbing role. 

Yeah, I know. We shot this before all that. As far as I know, I don’t even think that he had even been introduced to that. He was on another show at the time. 

What did you guys think, reading this indie script and seeing that it needed all of this post-production work? Was it hard to visualize how an indie film could do what a big-budget film does? 

I think it comes across as a big-budget movie. Clay has a background [with those types of films], as does Scott Mednick, our producer of Mednick Productions, who was on set with his son Skyler, our executive producer. They were on set every single day, every single scene ― that is not common. And for him to be as involved and communicative and yet allow us creativity [was great]. Often on an independent film, you have the producer on set just to be a naysayer or to be like, “We only have time for this one shot, forget about this other thing, it’s not important.” He wasn’t that. He was encouraging and excited and a part of the whole process from tip to tail. And that gave us an incredible amount of confidence and security. From the very beginning, he said, “I’m going to protect you, I’m going to do this justice, have faith in me, I have faith in you, and let me show you I’m going to do that.” And he’s a man of his word. 

Is it nice for you to see your trajectory ― going from your film debut as a ballet dancer in “Center Stage” to a detective in “Devil’s Gate”?

They’re very different people, I guess. [Laughs] When I was watching myself [at the premiere] pull a gun and talk about being a federal agent, part of me was pinching myself because I’m like, “God, I’ve tricked a lot of people into giving me opportunities.” I’m really lucky that I was in the right place at the right time and I finagled my way into these wonderful characters. I don’t know what I did in a former life, but I’m pretty thankful to whoever she was to have gotten this gift. 

“Center Stage” is 17 years old already! 

Even longer than that, we shot it about 18 years ago. Actually, I invited Sascha [Radetsky], who plays Charlie, to come to the premiere [of “Devil’s Gate”], but he couldn’t because he had another event. 

Well, that would have been a nice photo op!

I know!

What’s your hope for “Devil’s Gate” going forward? 

Gosh, I hope that people get to see this movie ― it’s been a real labor of love, I know for Clay and Peter [Aperlo], the co-writers, and producer Scott Mednick. And, for us, it was such a wonderful experience and to get to see it in its finality with an audience … I think it holds up, as far as the story, and also [as far as] flipping stories on their heads. What you expect to happen does not, several times over. So I think people will really enjoy that ride and I hope people get to experience it. I would love people to take a trip down “Devil’s Gate” lane.

“Devil’s Gate” is now playing at the Tribeca Film Festival. 

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.