CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’
Interviews: Lauren Holly, Joey Lawrence at 2012 Wizard World Chicago Comic Con
CHICAGO – One of the grand entertainment events every summer in the Windy City is the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. TV, movie and comic book celebrities populate the event – including last year’s attendees Lauren Holly (“Dumb and Dumber”) and Joey Lawrence (“Blossom”).
The 2013 edition of the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con kicks off on Thursday, August 8th and runs through Sunday, August 11th. Scheduled to appear is Zachary Quinto (Spock from the new Star Trek film series), the legendary Stan Lee (founder of Marvel Comics), Ralph Macchio (“The Karate Kid”), director Robert Rodriquez (“Machete Kills”), Brandon Routh (“Superman Returns”) and Wil Wheaton (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”), among other guests.
HollywoodChicago.com sat down with Lauren Holly and Joey Lawrence at the 2012 Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, with photographer Joe Arce providing the Exclusive Portraits.
Lauren Holly of “Dumb and Dumber,” “Picket Fences”
The red headed Lauren Holly is instantly recognizable from her roles in the film “Dumb and Dumber” (1994), as Deputy Sheriff Maxine Stewart on TV’s “Picket Fences,” and more recently as Jenny Shepard on “NCIS.” She began her career in the early 1980s, and her other credits include “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” (1993), “Sabrina” (1995), “Down Periscope” (1996) and “Any Given Sunday” (1999). She was also briefly married to Jim Carrey for two years in the 1990s.
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com
HollywoodChicago.com: You come from an educational background, with both your parents in academia and your English degree at Sarah Lawrence. What gifts did that family and college background still give you today?
Lauren Holly: A love of reading, and I think a lot, which I’m not sure is a gift. [laughs] I grew up with a real appreciation of the arts, and how it can help me in every aspect of my life.
HollywoodChicago.com: When you were first starting out in the business, did you take roles just to establish a niche, and once you accomplished that, were you able to steer your career in the direction you wanted it to go?
Holly: I did and I didn’t. The choices come to the top tier of A-listers. Then it comes down not just to the role, but how your real life goes. In supporting your family, for example, there are things that you have to do. For me, there were roles I wasn’t thrilled about doing, but there were also lines I wouldn’t cross, and I never did. I’m proud about that. That’s really the truth of it, and if an actor tells you different, it’s not true. I want to work, and in the end we’re all a bunch of carnies, we pack up and go.
HollywoodChicago.com: Of all the roles you’ve done, which do you think is closest to who you really are?
Holly: Max on ‘Picket Fences.’ I say that because I think Max was one thing in [show creator] David Kelley’s head, but became more evolved as he wrote the role, and he let me do more comedy mixed with the drama. I loved doing that show.
HollywoodChicago.com: You participated as a voice actress in the legendary animated film ‘Spirited Away’ . What was the circumstance of participating in the English language voice work, and what did you think of the result?
Holly: It’s a beautiful movie, a work of animation art, and I felt really proud to be a part of it. From what I’ve heard, and I don’t know if this is true, that [American Producer] John Lassiter was in a room, closed his eyes and put on headphones, and listened to tapes he was given. He then decided who sounded like the characters in the film, and that’s how the offer came to me. If that’s true, I love it.
HollywoodChicago.com: Privacy wise, what is the most difficult aspect of being in a high profile relationship and marriage? What is unfair about that situation in that pressure cooker?
Photo credit: Warner Home Video
Holly: What’s unfair is that because of media coverage, people assume they know what is going on. Of course, no one really knows what is going on. It’s all behind closed doors. It always bothered me if judgements were made that were far from the truth. Have you ever been sad and you don’t want someone to hug you, because you might break down and cry? If you’re similarly suffering in the public eye, and you go out, it’s much harder. You know that the people are talking about you and looking at you, and you can guess what they’re thinking. It was very frustrating.
HollywoodChicago.com: What was the best tip you ever received as an actor, and can you think of an example when you used that tip?
Holly: It was [director] Sydney Pollack, when I did the film “Sabrina.” It wasn’t a huge part, but it was very thrilling for me to work with him. He said something to me after the film was finished, that I’ve never forgotten. He called me on the phone and told me I was his little ‘cut-away.’ Because if he was editing a scene with me in it, he could aways cut away to me, because I was always doing something in the moment. And that meant so much to me, and I think about it all the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s my shot or not, I’m always trying to be right there in the moment.
HollywoodChicago.com: You live in Canada now, and have dual citizenship. What have you learned about how different America is by indulging in the people and culture of the Great White North?
Holly: It is different. People think it’s similar, but there are differences for sure. I find that people in general in Canada are more open minded. Which is interesting because America thinks of itself as open minded. It was interesting moving there as well after 9/11 and all of that, to see the perception of America through another country. It’s not exactly how Americans think they are perceived. That’s been very interesting. But I am an American through and through.
Joey Lawrence of “Blossom,” “Melissa & Joey,” “Splash”
Joseph Lawrence Mignogna was born in Philadelphia, and his family changed their surname to Lawrence when he was a kid. He caught the performing bug early, performing “Give My Regards to Broadway” on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson when he was five years old, and from there went on to portray Joey Donovan on “Gimme a Break!” from 1983-1987. He is best known playing the role of Joey Russo opposite Mayim Bialik on “Blossom” (1991-95), popularizing his catchphrase of “Whoa!” While doing the sitcom, he also wrote and performed a hit single in 1993 called “Nothin’ my Lovin’ Can’t Fix.” In 2010, after a TV movie with Melissa Joan Hart on ABC Family scored a big rating, Lawrence’s production company created “Melissa & Joey” for ABC Family, which will begin its third season in 2013. Lawrence also recently added to his resume by co-hosting the TV reality show, “Splash,” on ABC-TV.
Photo credit: Joe Arce of Starstruck Foto for HollywoodChicago.com
HollywoodChicago.com: What’s satisfying about your new ABC Family show, ‘Melissa & Joey?’
Photo credit: Shout! Factory
Joey Lawrence: It’s through my production company, so I was able to develop it from an idea, and now it’s the number one show on the network. To see that happen after developing it from an idea is pretty cool. It’s part of the next step for me.
HollywoodChicago.com: You are also a musician. What can you express in music that you can’t express as an actor?
Lawrence: What’s obvious is when you’re acting you’re playing other people, and with music it’s just you.
HollywoodChicago.com: What’s your inspiration in composing a song, is it the words that come to you or the music first?
Lawrence: For me it’s about the melodic hook around the chorus. I start with that. Once that works I build the rest of the song around it.