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Craig T. Nelson Shares Set Secrets from Book Club and Incredibles 2

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From his early days on the comedy stage to playing lovable football fanatic, Hayden Fox, on the long running television sitcom Coach and Zeek Braverman on the dramatic television series, Parenthood to countless legendary big screen roles, actor Craig T. Nelson’s career has been as versatile as it is prolific.

Movie audiences have been loving his work for decades in popular films spanning just about every genre: Poltergeist, Stir Crazy, All The Right Moves, Silkwood, The Devil’s Advocate, The Family Stone and The Proposal. It was his voice work in the 2004 mega hit animated Disney Pixar movie, The Incredibles, that introduced Nelson to a younger audience. His voice is readily recognizable as the voice of Mr. Incredible, and as he tells it, the world stops spinning for a beat whenever a starstruck child hears him speak.

Nelson currently plays Mary Steenburgen’s husband in the upcoming romantic comedy, Book Club, out May 18th. He’s also resuming his role as Mr. Incredible in Incredibles 2, the long-awaited sequel to the 2004 blockbuster animated movie, The Incredibles, out June 15th.

Our conversation runs the gamut from overcoming the perils of aging in Hollywood, mid-life adventures, the secret to his long and happy marriage to wife, Doria Cook-Nelson, and the unique challenges of playing an animated icon for Disney Pixar.

Allison Kugel: With Book Club, there are so many celebrated actors in one movie. What does an ensemble piece allow you to do as an actor that carrying a film or television show on your own doesn’t allow for?

Craig T. Nelson: The opportunity to work with the different characters that are being played broadens what you can do as an actor. Oftentimes, the way people react differently to different people they meet, it’s that same dynamic and it can be something of an adventure. Although in Book Club, most of my scenes are with Mary [Steenburgen]. There are only one or two scenes where I’m with everyone, although I knew everybody. In this movie, although it’s an ensemble cast, the focus was my interaction with Mary’s character.

Allison Kugel: What was your initial impression of the Book Club script when you first read it?

Craig T. Nelson: Oh, I loved it! It spoke to something I was familiar with; that whole process of aging. You think you’re never going to get there, but eventually it just shows up and there it is. I thought the script was well thought out, cogent, specific, and each character was delineated. I wanted to do the movie right away, after reading the script.

Allison Kugel: This movie addresses that mid-to-later-life slump that people can slide into without even realizing it’s happening. As you said, you wake up and it’s just there. How do you think men experience this phase of life differently from the way women experience it?

Craig T. Nelson: I think we experience it in much the same way. Although, it depends upon societal pressures. Part of the confusion is the result of what society is demanding now, which is pretty much all youth-oriented. Cosmetically and pharmaceutically you’re supposed to be able to prolong your life, or at least the appearance of it. The reality is that you do age. Yes, we are living longer, but there’s more pressure associated with it. I suppose it’s how all of that manifests in each of us, which has to do with our own peculiar personality. That’s the interesting part about it; how each one of us deals with it. Generally speaking, your libido drops, physically you’re not as active and not able to do as much. All of that is pretty much the same in people, but very few people address it psychologically. There’s a lot of pressure to be young. But there is also a lot of pressure being old, not to get any older. I think that is so screwed up.

(L-R) Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson in the film, BOOK CLUB, by Paramount Pictures

Allison Kugel: In Book Club, your wife, played by Mary Steenburgen, is upset because she feels your marriage has fallen into a slump. Do you think marriage should be able to go through its natural ebbs and flows romantically, sexually and emotionally?

Craig T. Nelson: If you’re married to your best friend, as I am, and I’m married thirty-four years now, then you have to realize you’re going to have ups and downs. You’re physically going to change, emotionally you’re going to change. You have to adapt and change, and be prepared for that stuff. That’s also part of the adventure. It seems like just yesterday I was talking to older actors about aging. I was a young working actor, and they were all telling me how difficult it was for them and how they were approaching a period in their life where they felt they weren’t working as much. I think they felt neglected and not as respected. I can remember a lot of guys talking about that. When it started happening to me, it was like, “Whoa! Wait a minute here.” But at least I have the tools. I think I was prepared for it to a certain degree.

Allison Kugel: With the hit series Grace and Frankie, and with this movie, Book Club, it seems that Hollywood is now gaining a little more respect for stories about mature people.

Craig T. Nelson: I think this movie will help. It brings some awareness, which I think is good, but ageism has been prevalent in this business for a long time.

Allison Kugel: The Baby Boomer generation are such a huge segment of the population, they have tremendous spending power, and they want to see stories about themselves.

Craig T. Nelson: Right, but as you see in television, for example, you’ve got a specific demographic that’s usually being targeted. I have always argued, even back when I was doing Coach (the ABC sitcom Nelson starred in from 1989 to 1997), that it’s not necessarily accurate. I agree that a lot of buying power rests in the hands of people who are approaching retirement, and in their forties and fifties. It’s like with the glut of action movies we’re getting and have had for a while. What is that? It’s enough already. I would much rather see stories like Book Club, which I feel are specific, well written and truthful. I’m fine with animated movies about superheroes. Obviously, I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t have a problem with action films either, except that there is just so much of it, and what am I left with?

Allison Kugel: You began your career as a standup comedian, correct?

Craig T. Nelson: Barry Levinson and I did stand up [comedy] together for four years, and then another guy, Rudy DeLuca joined us. We wrote and performed comedy, and then we worked with Tim Conway, John Byner, and Alan King. That’s how I started.

Allison Kugel: How did you segue into film and television, and how does that early standup experience help you in the roles you play now?

Craig T. Nelson: I was never really interested in doing standup comedy. Barry Levinson and I were in the Oxford Theatre together, which was a theatre group in LA. We got to talking and Barry said, “Why don’t we do a standup act?” I had never done that and never even thought of it, but we put an act together. We went out and auditioned and started doing clubs. It was an intro into the business, and I met so many incredible people during that time. It does give me a different perspective. Comedy helped me to enlarge and be better at what I did. Another important thing is that you just get better as you get older. You realize what you’re doing more, and you don’t make as many mistakes. I’m so much more comfortable in a scene now than I ever was, because I know how to play it. Certainly, there are challenges, but your tool bag is filled up. There are so many experiences and so many people to draw on, and it’s a wonderful place to be.

Allison Kugel: This is not your first time playing Mary Steenburgen’s husband. You also played husband and wife in the 2009 movie, The Proposal, alongside Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock. How was it playing her husband again in Book Club? This time around, was there a comfortable rapport already in place?

Craig T. Nelson: She’s so much fun to work with. She’s got this wonderful quirkiness to her that is so beautiful. It’s also very challenging, because you need to stay on top of your game with her, as with all the actresses in this film. I’ve worked with Diane [Keaton], I’ve worked with Jane [Fonda], I hadn’t met Candice [Bergen] until this film, so that was neat. I look forward to continuing to work with Mary. There is an understanding between me and Mary. You’re able to ask questions of each other or address problems in a scene together. There’s no wandering around, trying to get to the truth of something.

Allison Kugel: How is the book Fifty Shades of Grey a catalyst for the comedy that ensues in this movie

Craig T. Nelson: Fifty Shades of Grey wasn’t an important part of my story in the film. It’s part of the women’s story. I think you’re going to be surprised. The book is a catalyst in terms of Mary’s character becoming aware of how bad things have gotten [in our marriage]. That’s the only purpose the book serves. We’ve been having problems in our marriage and the book forces the issue to the surface.

Allison Kugel: Do you recall a moment in your own life when you realized you weren’t living your best life, or there were things still yet to be done?

Craig T. Nelson: I’ve had a number of them, and still they continue. One of the many things I felt the need to do was professional car racing, when I decided to go ahead and pursue it. Gradually I became better and better at it. It wasn’t a death wish (laughs); it was a life wish. It was doing something that is very risky and challenging, but something I’d always wanted to do and never had the opportunity before. And now I’m going, “Wow, this is something I really enjoy!” It requires an enormous amount of concentration and focus, which is another reason I really like it.

Allison Kugel: How does your real wife, Doria, feel about your race car driving?

Craig T. Nelson: It was something that my wife really suggested I do. She’s very strong. She’s a martial artist and she competes in Tai Chi Kwan all over the world in competitions. She said, “[Car racing] is something you should try.” And once I got into it, she encouraged me to continue doing it.

Allison Kugel: Let’s switch gears and discuss another upcoming movie you’re in, the much-anticipated Incredibles 2! Why the fourteen-year gap between the release of The Incredibles and Incredibles 2?

Craig T. Nelson: I don’t know for sure, but I can tell you that [Incredibles writer and director] Brad Bird was busy with other things. He wanted to do some live action projects and then he made Ratatouille right after The Incredibles. He was very busy in his career.

SUPER FAMILY — In Disney Pixar’s “Incredibles 2,” Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is in the spotlight, while Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home when a new villain hatches a brilliant and dangerous plot that only the Incredibles can overcome together. Also featuring the voices of Sarah Vowell as Violet and Huck Milner as Dash, “Incredibles 2” opens in U.S. theaters on June 15, 2018. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Allison Kugel: In the first movie, The Incredibles, your character, Mr. Incredible is struggling with living life as a civilian. He’s dying to be a superhero again and to use his powers. Holly Hunter’s character, Elastigirl, wanted a normal, low key family life. In Incredibles 2, it’s reversed. She’s out being a superhero and you’re the stay at home dad. How does that go for Mr. Incredible?

Craig T. Nelson: He doesn’t quite understand it and is feeling rejected, like, “Why don’t they want me out there?” He now has to take a back seat and for him that’s difficult. He makes the sacrifice for his wife. He’s got a resentment going on, but as you watch him at home you get to know these kids in a way that’s fun and interesting. And you get to see a guy have to adapt and get to know his children in a way that he hasn’t. That was neat for me to play.

Allison Kugel: When you’re voicing an animated character like Mr. Incredible, are you in the recording booth with any other cast members, or is it just you in there?

Craig T. Nelson: You’re not with the other cast members. You’re with Brad, who’s in every session. He’s directing what you’re responding to, and you go off that. Usually we’ll do a session every three weeks, for four hours at a time. Then they’ll put that into rough animation, so you can see what you’ve got. I’ve only done one session with another actor, and it was with Samuel L. Jackson who plays Frozone.

Incredibles 2 (Pictured) – RISING SON – In Disney•Pixar’s “Incredibles 2,” Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) is left to navigate the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life, giving him an opportunity to bond with his younger son, Jack-Jack, whose superpowers are emerging—much to Dad’s surprise. Directed by Brad Bird and produced by John Walker and Nicole Grindle, “Incredibles 2” busts into theaters on June 15, 2018. ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Allison Kugel: How do you get into character when you’re voicing Mr. Incredible?

Craig T. Nelson: You prepare ahead of time in the session, especially vocally because there are a lot of different ranges you have to get to. There are scenes when you’re doing a lot of yelling and shouting. And it’s a long and involved process that’s complexly different from regular acting.

Allison Kugel: I’m sure you’ve watched the first movie, The Incredibles, with your grandchildren. What do they think of you playing Mr. Incredible?

Craig T. Nelson: They don’t relate the two. They still don’t believe it (laughs). I have to do lines from the film, so they can hear me do the voice, and then it’s, “Oh yeah, that’s him.”

Allison Kugel: When you’re out, are you ever stopped by kids who know you’re Mr. Incredible?

Craig T. Nelson: The other day my older son was visiting, and somebody overheard me talking to him and they turned around and said, “My God! Are you Mr. Incredible?!” They’ll recognize the voice, it’s interesting. And then you have to convince this kid that you are! And you feel like an idiot trying to get a seven-year-old to believe you (laughs). They look at you with this wonder, yet at the same time disbelief. It gets confusing even for me.

HE’S GOT THIS – Bob Parr aka Mr. Incredible attempts his most heroic feat yet: spearheading life at home with Violet, Dash and baby Jack-Jack, whose super powers are about to be discovered by his family. Written and directed by Brad Bird and produced by John Walker and Nicole Paradis Grindle, Disney•Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” busts into theaters on June 15, 2018. ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Allison Kugel: My nine-year-old and I will be there on opening night, for sure. He’s been waiting for this sequel, no joke, for years! What will kids and families get to experience with Incredibles 2 that they didn’t with the first movie?

Craig T. Nelson: The special FX are extraordinary. Since 2004 when the original movie was out, they’ve developed a whole new range of different processes that have gone into this movie, including its color enrichment. For me, the exciting thing about the second movie is that the character Jack Jack, the baby, really comes alive and that’s going to be so much fun for people to see. What’s so great about this movie is that it’s a family deal. You can take your family to this movie and have a great time. And same with Book Club. It’s two movies I’m proud to let my family watch.

Book Club Photo Credits: Peter Iovino/Paramount Pictures, Melinda Sue Gordon/Paramount Picture

Incredibles 2 Photo Credits: Disney Pixar

Book Club is in theatres May 18th and Incredibles 2 is in theatres June 15th.

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American Horror Story: Delicate

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As most of us are already aware, the 12th Season of AHS has been fraught with all kinds of differences to the previous seasons, mainly in that this is the first one to be based entirely off a novel, ‘Delicate Condition’ by Danielle Valentine. The first half of the season aired in October 2023 to mediocre reviews, while the SAG-AFTRA strike caused production and airing delays for the latter half of the season, and the episodes of Part 2 were all cut to less than an hour long apiece. And none of that is even getting into the disjointed attempt at storytelling for Season 12, so let’s dive into this! 

Meet Anna Victoria Alcott (Emma Roberts), former young ling star of Hollywood now struggling to recapture fame as an adult, who wants a baby, very very badly. Bad enough to drive herself and her husband Dex (Matt Czuchry) through multiple unsuccessful rounds of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), bad enough to keep trying no matter how crushing each failure turns out to be, bad enough to involve her purported best friend and bougie publicist Siobhan Corbyn (Kim Kardashian) in her struggles, and maybe, just maybe, bad enough to give up on a burgeoning resurgence of her career after interest in her comeback role for The Auteur begins garnering her Oscar-worthy attention. 

So, Anna and Dex are going to go through yet another round of IVF, likely one of their last attempts at it, from a different doctor, Dr. Andrew Hill (Denis O’Hare), and clinic based on Siobhan’s recommendation. And already, strange things are beginning to happen to Anna – her appointments that she set herself begin springing up incorrectly, a doom saying woman called Preacher (Julia White) shows up spouting warnings about trusting no one, dire warnings appear in unlikely places, and BTW, it seems as though long-suffering but good-nurtured Dex has a side-piece too. It doesn’t help that Dex’s new partner at his art gallery, Sonia Shawcross (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), bears a striking resemblance to his dead ex-wife Adeline, either. Those spiked emerald heels start appearing weirdly too, and it seems as though no one will listen to Anna as she grows more and more suspicious that some sort of sinister cult has designs on her as-yet-unborn baby. At the same time, Anna tries to live the life of a successful returning actress, attending parties and gallery openings while draping her rapidly-expanding middle in shimmering fabrics and actively ‘campaigning’ for that little golden statue that most actors covet. Competition is fierce, even among her co-stars of The Auteur, and while Anna wants to be supportive of her fellow entertainers, she clearly appears to be incapable of doing both at the same time – wanting the baby and the little gold award at the same time is too much to ask, apparently. 

Elsewhere, mostly in the past, various women in states of desperation formed from one situation or another are visited by sinister-looking women in prim black dresses, headgear reminiscent of – to me anyway – an odd cross betwixt birds and bunnies, my guess is an ostensive nod to fertility in general, and a general feeling of blood-bound witchery about them at critical moments of crossroad choices. 

Though the second half of the season moves a good deal faster than the first, the attempts at callbacks and reminder flashes to Part 1 hit with all the impact of a dropped bag of garbage onto their friends Talia’s (Julia Canfield) borrowed bougie kitchen floor – splat, into incomprehensible silence, from all parties, both characters and audience, concerned. Even the reminders that, in Part 1 of Delicate Dex’s mother Virginia Harding (Debra Monk) did indeed have perfectly valid memories of abuse at the hands of a black cult and Dex’s own father Dex Sr. (Reed Birney), the revelation pales and peels away in the face of Dex’s true parentage. 

Which brings us back around full circle kinda sorta, to the only real character worth a damn in this entire miserable season of strange feminism and aspirations of world domination through a kind of idiotic Rosemary’s Baby nightmare scenario, we should have known she’d steal the show when Kardashian was cast for it, Siobhan Corbyn, leader of the blood cult her high and mighty (old) self. Throughout the whole show her character has remained exactly the same, and it’s a wonder Anna can stare at her all stupefied while Siobhan does her villain speech at the end of the last episode. Siobhan never masked her ambition or greed, her mysterious protective vibe and even deep love for Anna, and can always be counted on to have secret plans of her own, already in motion, bitch. 

The idea that Anna herself was used as a surrogate for Siobhan and her incestuous eugenicist plans, plus the sweet little demon baby she just birthed, has an ironic the-world-is-tilting-the-wrong-way kind of witchy madness to it. Sure, Anna really can have it all, the baby and the golden statue, if only she joins the patriarchy-crushing cabal of blood witches with world domination plans, got it. 

I have questions, or I would have, but things are moving on and Anna is being saved by … Dex’s dead ex, Adaline the former member of the coven right okay her, she’s going to show back up and offer Anna a simple chant to Hestia her patron Goddess, and that is somehow enough to deal with Siobhan entirely – poof. And finally, after all that rigamarole, decades of planning and scheming and witchy plotting finally settled, Anna really can have it all as a White Witch of Hollywood, heaven help us, with her perfectly human baby and that damned little golden statue, clutched in an only slightly desperate grip. 

As with any season of AHS there are a great deal of statements that could be implied just under the skin of the season – the canker way of ambition, the millenia-old pain of a woman giving birth, the savagery and bloodshed that comes with bringing forth life, pushback against both the patriarchy and ultra-feminism, the absolute desperation of humans wanting to have a child, and perhaps strangest and most open to interpretation of all, what it means to be feminine. The worlds population of women who can’t or don’t or simply won’t have children, for any reason or none, are relegated to servants, expendable servants at that, for this new world order that Siobhan is proposing, and that is far too close a comfort to things like outright slavery. A dictator is a dictator, no matter how great she looks in those emerald spiked heels. 

It’s not the really beautiful grotesquerie that Ryan Murphy and his AHS gang are often known for, nor is it utterly terrible and should be burned at the stake. What Delicate should be, is put back together with missing and cut footage, an hour long per episode again come on folks, fleshed some more of Siobhan’s baby-stealing adventures in the past and given us an actual reason to like anything about the whiny Anna, at least the Part 2 we as longtime AHS fans deserve. Toss in some more spidery hijinks! Give us the actual origin of those weird feather bunny-ear headdresses! 

American Horror Story Delicate the whole season can be seen on FX! 

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Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery in a World Gone Prehistoric!

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Hold onto your hats, dino fans! The highly anticipated sequel to the adrenaline-pumping Camp Cretaceous saga is here, and it’s taking us on a wild ride six years in the making. Following the harrowing events of Camp Cretaceous, our beloved “Nublar Six” are back, but they’re not out of the woods just yet. In fact, they’re about to plunge headfirst into a world where dinosaurs roam freely alongside dangerous humans, and trust us when we say, it’s a Jurassic jungle out there!

Picture this: a world where survival isn’t just about avoiding sharp-toothed predators but also navigating the treacherous waters of human greed and deceit. As our resilient heroes reunite in the aftermath of a heart-wrenching tragedy, they quickly realize that danger lurks around every corner, and trust is a luxury they can’t afford. 

But wait, there’s more! Prepare to embark on a globetrotting adventure like no other as the Nublar Six find themselves thrust into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens not only the fragile balance between dinosaurs and humanity but also their very existence. From the lush jungles of Isla Nublar to the bustling streets of bustling cities, buckle up for a rollercoaster ride of epic proportions as our intrepid group races against time to uncover the truth about one of their own and, ultimately, save both dinosaur and humankind from certain doom.

So, dear readers, if you thought you’d seen it all in Jurassic Park, think again! With heart-stopping action, pulse-pounding suspense, and jaw-dropping revelations, this latest installment promises to be a game-changer in the Jurassic universe. Get ready to roar with excitement because Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery is about to take a bite out of your imagination and leave you hungry for more!

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Netflix’s Upcoming Thriller ‘Trigger Warning’ Promises Action-Packed Intrigue”

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Get ready to buckle up for an adrenaline-fueled ride as Netflix prepares to drop its latest original thriller, “Trigger Warning,” on June 21, 2024. Directed by Mouly Surya and boasting an all-star cast, including Jessica Alba, Mark Webber, Tone Bell, Jake Weary, Gabriel Basso, Anthony Michael Hall, Kaiwi Lyman, and Hari Dhillon, this film is set to keep viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

The plot centers around Special Forces commando Parker, portrayed by the talented Jessica Alba. Parker’s life takes an unexpected turn when she receives the heartbreaking news of her father’s sudden passing, prompting her to return to her hometown. As she steps into her new role as the owner of the family bar, Parker quickly realizes that there’s more to her father’s death than meets the eye.

Reconnecting with figures from her past, including her former flame turned sheriff, Jesse (Mark Webber), and his volatile brother, Elvis (Jake Weary), Parker finds herself embroiled in a dangerous web of deceit and violence. With the influential Senator Swann (Anthony Michael Hall) casting a shadow over the town, Parker must navigate treacherous waters to uncover the truth about her father’s demise.

As tensions rise and alliances shift, Parker taps into her elite commando training, determined to unravel the mysteries plaguing Swann County. Assisted by her covert ops partner and hacker, Spider (Tone Bell), and the enigmatic local dealer, Mike (Gabriel Basso), Parker embarks on a perilous journey filled with twists and turns.

Penned by John Brancato & Josh Olson and Halley Gross, “Trigger Warning” promises to deliver a gripping narrative packed with action, suspense, and unexpected revelations. With a powerhouse cast bringing the characters to life and a talented creative team behind the scenes, this Netflix original is primed to captivate audiences worldwide.

Produced by Erica Lee, Basil Iwanyk, and Esther Hornstein, “Trigger Warning” offers a thrilling glimpse into the murky depths of small-town politics and criminal underworlds. With its pulse-pounding action sequences and compelling storyline, this film is sure to leave viewers on the edge of their seats until the very end.

Mark your calendars for June 21, 2024, as “Trigger Warning” arrives on Netflix, ready to ignite your senses and keep you guessing until the credits roll. Don’t miss out on this adrenaline-charged cinematic experience that promises to be the ultimate summer blockbuster.

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