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Exclusive Interview: The RZA

June 25th, 2010 by Rebecca Harper Editor

For today’s Hulu Days of Summer addition, we picked a series that features a butt-kicking samurai who’s hell-bent on revenge. Afro Samurai — and its sequel, Afro Samurai Resurrection — features the voice of Samuel L. Jackson as our hero and a soundtrack composed by none other than the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA. To mark the premiere of the series on Hulu, we spoke to The RZA earlier this week. Find out what inspires this Grammy-winning artist these days — and what’s he’s listening to. — Rebecca Harper (), Editor

You’ve written and produced music for everything from Ghost Dog and Kill Bill to Blade: Trinity and Soul Plane. How was creating music for Afro Samurai different?
The RZA:
You know, this was right up my alley. Those other projects were less in my full control. There’s always some back and forth, but I had maybe 75 percent freedom working with Tarantino on Kill Bill. Here, I had 90 percent freedom. But you know, Tarantino and I, we had similar taste, so if I brought in 10 things, he brought five of the same things. But it was definitely tougher in trying to please him because he had his own vision for it, himself.

With Afro Samurai, they had a vision, but they also allowed the music to lead the vision. What I mean by that is, when I worked on Afro Samurai, we started with what is known as the animatics, and I would compose to the animatics, and then they would go on and do some of their drawing and action to the music.

We noticed that you’ve written a lot of soundtracks to projects that are based on a common theme — redemption through revenge. Is there a reason why you’re drawn to subjects like this?
Well, I grew up watching a lot of films with that same theme, whether it’s a Spaghetti Western or martial arts films. Those were my big creative enthusiasms. So it’s only natural that I would fall into that chamber. At the same time, I’m open to all kinds of films. You know, Barber Shop and Soul Plane were comedies. Right now, I’m working on something that’s like a love story/drama with my buddy Nemo, which is totally different, so I’m just doing like a Mozart reinterpretation. I think people know me for a certain thing, and those are the kind of people that reach out to me first. In the same vein, I often take those kinds of jobs, because they’re right up my alley. As a creative force, I like to spend time on other things and do other things. I don’t want to be pigeonholed or typecast as only a revenge-action composer. In fact, when we did Babylon A.D., which is sci-fi, I was kind of happy that was a different approach for me, too, because it wasn’t revenge. It was sci-fi, it was futuristic. It gave me a chance to kind of explore a different sound, as well.

Are you a fan of anime yourself? Do you watch much of it?
Yeah, I’m a big fan, actually. I love anime. To me, some of the best creativity is through anime, especially 10 to 12 years ago, before Hollywood was able to master the CGI, how they have it now. Anime was the only place you could really get these wild fight sequences or wild imagination going, only while watching those films. You watch animation like Ghost in the Shell, or go back even farther to ones like Akira or Ninja Scroll. That kind of action couldn’t be duplicated through live-action at the time. Even Transformers, the old animated movie, that was the only way you were going to get a movie about Transformers. But now that Hollywood has caught up to the creativity, we can finally get those live-action movies like [the most recent]Transformers and The Last Airbender coming out now, and all these other great movies like X-Men, Wolverine. Now I feel like I’m watching anime, but it’s a real live action.

You’ve been working on solo projects for a while now. Can we expect anything from the Wu-Tang in the future?
Wu Tang is always unpredictable, so you never know. We definitely have a tour this summer, where we’ll all be in the same place. Usually that leads on to something else, so we’ll see where it leads to this time.

Where do you find your inspiration?
I’m inspired through many things, whether it’s through life itself, through films, reading books, or just by taking a walk. Sometimes I get my best inspiration just through taking long walks. A lot of ideas pop into my head, and I just try to turn those ideas into reality.

Some of the tracks on the Afro Samurai soundtrack are credited to Bobby Digital, and some to The RZA. What determines which song gets which credit?
I think the context of my lyrics. I strive to make the RZA lyrics to be more intuitive, more inspirational for the listener as well as having messages of education and spirituality behind it. Whereas with Bobby Digital, it’s just a freefall for all. Just MCing and lyricism, just talking a lot of, you know, a lot of braggadocious shit, having fun.

What are you listening to these days?
Depending on the day you catch me, from listening to my buddy John Frusciante’s album The Empyrean — which has been my favorite album for the last year and change, actually. But I go back and forth, listening to new hip-hop from new artists, you know, from Kid Cudi to Drake and all. I listen to keep up to speed with what’s going on out there. But I also continue to listen to my classic music, the old ’60s and ’70s hits and things like that. Different days, different ways. My CD player’s always changing.

What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m mostly working on my film, The Man with the Iron Fist. That’s where most of my creativity is going to. On a music level, I have a joint sound right now with the GZA called Liquid Swords Part Two. That’s my music endeavor, but The Man with the Iron Fist is where I’m focusing most of my creativity.

What’s that you’re listening to in the background?
Oh, it’s this song “Hysteria,” I know you’ve heard of “Hysteria,” the old rock ‘n roll song [from Def Leppard]. We did a Nike commercial last week and they asked me to take a shot at remixing that song, so we’re taking a shot at it.

Really? Some of us have been enjoying an ’80s hair band revival here at Hulu.
OK, I kind of had that as well, about six months ago. I was hanging with my buddy Shavo [Odadjian] from System of a Down, and he’s always playing me like a lot of metal and rock that I’ve missed because I’m so much into hip-hop. He gave me an iPod with 30,000 songs on it. That was last year’s birthday gift. And I just started getting into it, more and more, month by month. So I know what you mean, by going back to the ’80s and feeling Ted Nugent and these guys, things that I think I skipped over. I’m a guitar player now, so I’m listening to these things to learn more about the guitar and, you know, to find out how to include it in my own music.

What do you think about music’s shift to digital formats, and music sharing sites?
I think it has a plus and negative, of course. I’ve been saying it for years, that it has a positive and negative. The negative is starting to overtake the positive now for me. In the beginning, you want the music to be heard and you want kids to enjoy music, because music is to be heard. We don’t make it for ourselves. But when it starts jeopardizing the careers and the financial income of the artists, to where some artists have to now spend less time doing music because they have to get jobs to pay their bills. Now the fans have actually destroyed their own idols. When you’re not supporting the music system or the music industry, you’re not supporting the artists. Now record deals that went from being — let’s say the average record deal could have been a $200,000 deal for a guy. That’s pretty substantial amount for a guy to live on and have a normal life and make music for six hours a day. But now record deals are down to $50,000 now, or you can’t even get a deal. So then the artists can’t spend six or seven hours making music — they’ve got to get a job or maybe get some gigs, things like that.

So the fans don’t realize that they destroyed the music industry by free downloads. What makes it ironic is that, to me, it’s not like the fans won’t spend the money. They’re going to buy iPhones and iPads, we’re spending $300 to $400 and then they’re getting free music for it. The music is only $10. We need to take a closer look at it and realize that we’re buying these gadgets, but these gadgets are useless without music. So instead of buying a regular $15 CD player or Walkman, you’re paying $200, $300 for an iPod, but you still don’t have any music. You’re making Apple grow bigger — and obviously we like Apple because we use Apple computers to make music — but we’re taking away from the musicians. We need to find a way to put money back into the pockets of the musicians so they can continue to make music and continue inspiring us.

Last comment: about 12 hours ago 6 Comments

Interview with V’s Scott Wolf

March 26th, 2010 by Martin Moakler Social Community Manager

After working two decades in film and television, Scott Wolf will show back up on our TVs on Tuesday, March 30, in the return of the ABC series V. Known for playing characters like the rebellious Bailey on Party of Five, Scott continues his role on V as the unscrupulous television journalist Chad Decker (or as I like to call him when watching the show: What are you doing? You’re playing right into their hands! They’re gonna find us V-licious!) who capitulates his journalistic ethics in order to get the exclusive interview rights with the leader of an alien delegation that has just arrived on Earth. I spoke with Scott recently to find out what it was like breaking into a new genre, where he found the inspiration for Chad and if we should expect some man-alien love in the upcoming episodes. — Martin Moakler, Hulu’s Content Editor

Hulu: After your earlier work on shows like Party of Five and Everwood, how is working on a sci-fi show different than family dramas?
Scott Wolf
: I think I would start by saying what this show has in common with those and why I think I really love being on it is that it’s got a really great story and really good characters and relationships, but most of the other shows I’ve done have had very little “spaceship work.” I think in terms of my day-to-day work, the green screen work, you know, working on a giant stage that’s basically just green walls everywhere and then having the special effects guys paint in the room that you’re sitting in around you, has been pretty cool … something that’s been new to me. This story exists on a level that is beyond anything I’ve taken part in before. Obviously a story about aliens landing on earth is gigantic and limitless in terms of what we can do visually, so it’s been really great. I’m really loving it. It feels like the imagination that goes into making a story is really the fun of it and in a show like this where it’s a genre show, it feels like there’s really no limit to where the imagination can take us.

Tell us little bit about your character Chad Decker?
When we meet Chad, he’s obviously had some success. He’s on television as a news anchor but he’s feeling looked over. He’s feeling like he’s not in the center of things and he really believes he deserves to be. You’ve got a guy who’s looking for an opportunity to break out and when the Visitors arrive and the spaceships descend upon the Earth, obviously it’s the biggest worldwide story ever and the opportunity of a lifetime, potentially, for a news journalist and so he finds his way into having this encounter with the leader of the aliens and in that first chapter of the show, we watch him basically capitalize on their arrival, and while most of the world is trying to figure out Are they good or are they evil? Are they who they say they are or Do they want to hurt us? he’s just sort of moving his way through this whole event and trying to advance his own career and see how much he can get out of it, and only once we jump back into our story now do we see a guy who is beginning to sense that there’s too much at stake to not start paying attention to whether or not these aliens are actually here to hurt us.

Is there a newscaster on whom you based your performance?
He’s kind of a mish mash of a bunch of different people. I’d say there’s a bunch of Anderson Cooper in there just because I’m a fan of Anderson Cooper’s journalism. Not only do I think he’s great at what he does, there’s something very approachable and you can really connect to him. And I think Chad is somebody who thrives on people feeling like they can trust him. He’s not an old-fashioned newsman, but kind of a new model news guy who feels like your buddy delivering the news. Ultimately, I feel like what’s fun in our story is we’re tackling the idea of what it means to place so much faith in the hands of our media and the members of our media who we entrust with information and our lives, in a sense, and our story takes a look at what would happen if all that faith was placed in the hands of someone who might not deserve it. At this point we don’t know. We don’t know whether Chad is ultimately going to lose out to his worse side or rise to the occasion in the end.

What has been one of your favorite moments on set so far?
There have been some scenes recently between Chad and Anna [Morena Baccarin] and I think one of the most interesting things for me when we began this story was this relationship between Chad and Anna and it’s one of the closer relationships we see between a Visitor and a human. You’ve got the leader of the Visitors … this alien population, and this news journalist, a guy who is basically carrying their message for them, and they’re dancing. They’re sort of seducing each other. They’re trying to get what they need from each other. There’s a personal aspect to it that’s hard to define. They seem to have some sort of chemistry. They see something in each other that makes sense to them, but they’re each wrestling for control. Ultimately, I think she holds most of the cards, but I think Chad holds a couple, and I think he plays them pretty well. So, as we go along here, the stakes of that relationship keep rising. Every time the relationship grows more important and more dangerous, Chad seems to find a way to keep himself in it and to prove that she needs him as much as he needs her. But there are some scenes where they get really, really close to each other. Physically, the intensity of their exchanges increases. Morena Baccarin and I have had the chance to play some scenes that are really sort of hot. There’s a lot of heat in them, and that doesn’t mean necessarily just sexual. There’s always so much going on between the two of us and there’s also so much going on underneath the surface that we’re not telling each other. It’s just as much fun as I’ve ever had as an actor.

Seeing as all of us at Hulu may or may not be aliens, as a professional courtesy, could you tell me any tricks you may have for identifying any potential undercover aliens in real life?
[He laughs.] Yeah, I should have probably asked you before we started this interview what side you were on. For starters, I think the most fun thing about this show is the central questions of Who is a Visitor? and Who can you trust? and What side are you on? So far, I, as Chad Decker, have spent so little time worrying about who’s a visitor and who isn’t, that I’ve just been moving through this thing thinking, How can I move myself ahead? So only recently have I started thinking about how to tell who is a Visitor and who isn’t and … Man! I don’t have anything really good yet. I think, frankly, that’s probably the thing I know the least about, and if I did know, I probably wouldn’t tell you. I think it’s what makes the show so fun. As we move through this story now, the people you thought you knew who they were and what they are are going to surprise you.

Well, thanks a lot, Scott. We look forward to the return of the show on Tuesday!
Thank you so much!

Catch the first four episodes of V before the series returns on March 30.

Last comment: Apr 15th 2011 1 Comment

Interview with Bridget Regan, “Legend of the Seeker”

November 16th, 2009 by Rebecca Harper Editor

Fans of Legend of the Seeker know her as Kahlan the Confessor, a powerful woman who can make anyone she touches tell the truth — but in exchange, they lose their free will and are compelled to obey her for as long as they live. And while the fantasy action series has been Bridget Regan’s breakout role, the 27-year-old actress has appeared in everything from The Black Donnellys to last year’s Sex and the City movie. (Regan played a hostess.)

We recently spoke to Regan when she was visiting New York to promote the Season 2 premiere of Legend of the Seeker. She’d flown in all the way from New Zealand, where she’d just finished shooting episode 10, and she was kind enough to speak to us about her co-star — “He does have abs of steel, that Craig Horner” — and their relationship, but the actress also told us about a brief encounter she had with a Hulu fan: “During the hiatus, I was in New York and this guy stopped me to say, ‘You’re the chick in the water on Hulu,’” she said. “I guess there was some picture of me smiling in the water on your home page. It was so cool, I was like ‘Yeah, that’s me! I’m the chick in the water on Hulu, sure!’” Keep reading to see what else Regan shared with the Hulu team. — Rebecca Harper (), Editor

Hulu: Before Legend of the Seeker, you were on a lot of dramas: The Black Donnellys, Six Degrees, New Amsterdam … What drew you to this fantasy role, which must have been a bit of a departure?
Bridget Regan:
Oh, it was totally a departure. I actually knew nothing about fantasy. I hadn’t seen Lord of the Rings, and I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I just really liked the part. I liked Kahlan. I liked who she was, and I liked that it was really different than anything I had ever done. I liked that she was really tough and a total badass, but that she was really feminine and cared, was really passionate about what she did and what she was fighting for. I loved it. I liked that it also wasn’t casual. I grew up doing theater — I went to drama school — and there’s something really theatrical about this show. It’s heightened, and not “oh, let’s just play it casual, whatever…” sort of acting. It’s heightened and high stakes and life and death. I love it.

What’s it like playing such a strong female role? I can’t think of many others like yours on TV right now.
No, there aren’t! And that’s why I love it so much. I would audition for roles, and casting directors would be like “Oh, we love her, but she reads just a bit too mature.” It was like I couldn’t find my place often — I mean, I got lucky and got to do all the great New York shows, some pilots in L.A., some movies here and there, and a Broadway show. But I never found a part that embraced that side of me. You know, I’m not a teeny-tiny little thing. I’m 5-9; you can’t push me over — I’m solid. [Laughs] So I needed a character to play that was like that. You know, Kahlan’s tough. She’s really, really tough, and I love it because it’s empowering to play. I get to let off steam beating up grown men every other day.

The books obviously have a cult following, and a lot of them feel pretty passionately about the show. Were you taken aback by all the attention?
I mean, I knew of that section in the bookstore where the paperbacks lived — I’d passed by it, but I’d never really gone into that aisle and looked at them. I really had no idea what I was in for. I kind of surprised myself by how much I loved the books. I tore through Wizard’s First Rule and I’ve probably read it a dozen times now, because I always go back and re-read it to remind myself who she is and how I fell in love with her. I fell in love with her in that book. You know, there was no script when I auditioned, there were just the books. Craig and I auditioned with scenes pulled verbatim, dialogue from the books. I was a bit scared going into it — “Oh gosh, what am I in for, what am I doing?” — but it was kind of a good scary. It was scary and exciting, and I thought I should do this, take the plunge. It’s actually turned out to be really, really cool, and I’m proud that I did it, because it wasn’t an easy decision to pack up my life and move.

Speaking of which, how is life in New Zealand?
It’s pretty super. It’s so different than New York — I mean, I live in a house with a yard, where I lived in an apartment the size of my closet. It was one room, and it was above a pizza place on 14th and 7th in Manhattan. You walk outside, and you’re smacked in the face with New York City. There are no trees! And now I live in this lush landscape. I’m kind of like the odd man out. There are Americans there, and there’s diversity in New Zealand, but it’s certainly not like New York, where it’s such a melting pot.

Kahlan (Bridget Regan) and Richard (Craig Horner)

Can you bring us up to speed with the show? Last time we saw Richard and Kahlan, they defeated Darken Rahl. What’s happening with the Season 2 premiere?
It’s kind of funny, I think we were all expecting a cliffhanger at the end of Season 1, and it felt like we won. We did it, and now we’re patting each other on the back. We’re celebrating for about two minutes when we’re totally attacked by this creature which is known as a “screeling.” We learn that these are from the underworld, which is kind of like hell. We learn that when we killed Darken Rahl, because he’s this powerful, magical force and Richard used all these forms of magic to kill him, it actually caused this sort of explosion and the earth opened up. Now there’s this crack that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead. These crazy creatures are coming out to get us, and then we learn it’s not just these creatures — people are actually coming back from the dead, so it’s a bit like we don’t know what to expect. We don’t know what we’re dealing with. The Keeper is out to get us. That’s where we start Season 2. Our goal is to find this tiny little Stone of Tears, which is going to help us seal the rift in the underworld. So that’s the journey in Season 2, to find this stone.

The show is full of lots of action. Do you do a lot of your own stunts?
I do nearly everything! Sometimes they won’t let me jump off a horse or roll down a hill because they’re scared I’m going to break something, but I do all my fights. My stuntwoman, Dayna Chiplin, she choreographs them now, which is great because she wears the dress and she knows what it’s like to move in that thing. We have a ball together, I absolutely adore her. [During fight scenes], they shoot facing me and sometimes from behind, but they also shoot Dayna when they cover the “baddies” as they call them. When you see the back of me, odds are it’s Dayna.

Have you had any mishaps on the set?
Oh, there are so many mishaps. I went to the emergency room last year when I accidentally punched a shield during a fight. Everybody thought I broke my finger, but I kept going “It’s fine, it’s fine, let’s keep going, let’s shoot.” But they said, “Nope, you’re going to the emergency room.” And I was right! It wasn’t broken; they were just being wussy with me.

And what’s it like working with your co-star, Craig Horner, who plays Richard?
I adore working with Craig. We got so lucky that we like each other as much as we do, and that we have a connection. We don’t have to work at the connection between Richard and Kahlan. It’s just kind of there. When I look at him, the ground comes in underneath me, and I just feel “Yup, he’s Richard and yup, I’m Kahlan.” You just kind of play like you’re little kids in the background and you believe. I think you kind of need that sort of thing in a fantasy show. You kind of need that playful, childlike attitude towards it. He’s totally got that — he’s such a little kid at heart. And he’s the best movie quoter I’ve ever known. He’s so good. You give him any movie, and he could just go verbatim on and on and on. Get him to do Fight Club or Home Alone — he loves Home Alone.

The onscreen chemistry between you and Craig has caused a lot of people to wonder whether you’re dating. Can you define your relationship for us?
Craig and I are very close. We’re very good friends, and we’ve had a wonderful relationship over the year and half, but it’s just been that.

I just had to ask… On that note, thanks for talking to us, Bridget, and I hope we get to do it again soon.
And thanks for supporting us on Hulu, we love it!

Last comment: Apr 18th 2014 27 Comments