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Interview: Alona Tal

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Amazon Studios just announced that it was picking up the pilot for Hand of God to series. One of the reasons the pilot was picked up to series was the amazing performance by actress Alona Tal.

Hand of God is a psychological drama about a morally-corrupt judge, played by Ron Pearlman, who suffers a breakdown and believes God is compelling him onto a path of vigilante justice. Alona plays Jocelyn, the daughter-in-law who suffers a traumatic event and because of this event, her husband attempts suicide and is now in a coma.

Alona has built an impressive resume that would be the envy of any young actor in Hollywood. She was the lead on the short-lived, but fan favorite series Cult. She’s had major arcs on series such as Burn Notice, Veronica Mars and Supernatural. On the big screen, she appeared opposite Mark Wahlberg in the film Broken City and also appeared in the films Half Past Dead 2 and Kalamity.

She sits down with us to discuss her work on Hand of God, the religious elements of the pilot and what it’s like to be part of the Supernatural universe.

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Interview: Garret Dillahunt

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Amazon Studios recently released another batch of pilots for the public to view and vote on. One of those pilots is Hand of God. Hand of God is a psychological drama about a morally-corrupt judge who suffers a breakdown and believes God is compelling him onto a path of vigilante justice. One of the stars of the pilot is veteran actor Garret Dillahunt.

Garret plays KD, a troubled man with violent tendencies who believes that God needs his special talents. This role is a far cry from Garret’s most recent role as Burt Chance on the FOX comedy series Raising Hope. The pilot also stars Ron Pearlman (Sons of Anarchy), Dana Delany (Body of Proof) and Alona Tal (Cult, Supernatural).

His credits include appearances on series such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Deadwood and The 4400. On the big screen he's been in such films as No Country for Old Men, Looper and Best Picture Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave. He recently signed on for a recurring role on the final season of the hit FX series Justified.

Garret sat down with the Pop Culture Principle to discuss his new role, how religion plays a big part in the pilot and what he hopes for the drama if it is picked up to series.

Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us the premise for Hand of God?

Garret Dillahunt – On its surface it is somewhat of a vengeance tale, but underneath I think it’s about what are the reasons people find to do the dark things that they do.

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Interview: Julia Benson

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When you say the name Julia Benson, the first thing that will probably pop in your head is the series SGU Stargate Universe. Julia played the tough 2nd Lt. Vanessa James on the popular science fiction series for several seasons. She won the Leo award in 2010 for her work on the series.

There is much more to the Canadian born actress then SGU Stargate Universe. She has trained in ballet, worked in the theater and has had several roles on television and film.

Currently she plays Jeri Drake on the hit Hallmark Channel original series Cedar Cove. Jeri is the ex-wife of Jack Griffith. Although their marriage was brief, she was with him during the darkest period of his alcoholism.

Julia sits down to discuss becoming part of the series, if Jeri is still in love with Jack and advice she would give to up and coming actors.

Pop Culture Principle – When you were first approached about joining Cedar Cove, had you watched the show before?

Julia Benson – I had never actually seen the show, but knowing that it shot in Vancouver, I had auditioned a couple of times. We are always familiar with the stuff that shoots here so I was aware of it, but hadn’t seen it yet.

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Interview: Kether Donohue

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Currently airing its first season on FX, the series You're the Worst has become one of the standout hits on the network and has a very vocal and loyal fanbase. One of the reasons the series has such a rabid following is the work of actress Kether Donohue. Kether plays Lindsay, the best friend to Gretchen (Aya Cash) and the only married one in the group. Her marriage to Paul (Allan McLeod) is one of the more interesting relationships on the series. Did she marry Paul for his money or does she truly love him?

Kether has built up a solid resume of work in the theater, film and television. She's appeared on television series such as The Carrie Diaries, Perfect Couples and Hope & Faith. Her film credits include Pitch Perfect, The Bay and Collar. She's also well known for her voiceover work on series like Kurokami: The Animation and Pokemon.

Kether sat down with us to discuss her character Lindsay, the relationship between Gretchen and Lindsay and who she really thinks is the worst.

Pop Culture Principle – When you read the pilot script for You’re the Worst, what made you want to be a part of the project?

Kether Donohue –Everything about it. For one, the creator of our show Stephen Falk has an impressive body of work. I’m a huge fan of Orange is the New Black and Weeds. I love his sense of humor and also the dramatic side that he brings to every script, even if it’s a comedy. Also the fact that this is a half hour comedy, but it’s not a superficial surface comedy with service characters. There is a lot of depth to it and it has dramatic elements that could stand as a drama on its own. Lindsay and Edgar could have easily been written as sidekick characters that just make people laugh. There isn’t anything wrong with that because every comedy has the sidekick friend and that’s great, but he really gave a unique twist to the sidekick and made them dark in and off themselves.

Another thing is that I met Aya in 2010 through auditioning in New York because it’s such a small community of actors. When I saw her at the chemistry read, we were very excited to see each other. It wasn’t a surprise that we had good chemistry because we already knew each other.

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Interview: Brennan Elliott

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Currently airing its second season, the Hallmark Channel original series Cedar Cove has become a solid hit for the network. The show is based on author Debbie Macomber's book series of the same name and follows Judge Olivia Lockhart as she weaves her way through relationships with friends and family as well as her job as a municipal court judge. The show has been consistently winning its time slot on Saturday nights and is pulling in fantastic ratings for the network.

One reason the show is doing so well is the work of actor Brennan Elliott who plays land developer and businessman Warren Saget. Brennan should be a name you know as he has a resume that would be the envy of many in Hollywood. He’s appeared in hit television series like Strong Medicine, Cold Case, The 4400, NCIS and The Crazy Ones to name a few. His talents aren’t just relegated to the small screen; he’s appeared in films such as The Silencer, Confession and Black Widow.

Brennan sat down with the Pop Culture Principle to talk about Cedar Cove, how important the fans are to the series and how he doesn’t play Warren Saget as a bad guy.

Pop Culture Principle – For those who have not seen the show, can you tell us about your character Warren Saget?

Brennan Elliott – Warren is a bit of a transplant. He wanted to leave the East coast and settle in a different kind of locale. I made some interesting backstory choices that for health reasons he wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city life. Moving to this smaller lifestyle is better for his health and happiness. The island life is a much slower pace and at the same time, there are some business opportunities there as well. He has to deal with the locals and there way of life and how they deal with day to day life. Anybody from the big city who goes to a small town, the dichotomy and the dynamic between those two different types of people and cultures are very different. These differences can add a lot of humor, drama and a lot of interesting dynamics and conflicts.

Warren is a bit of a black sheep when he comes to town. The way he lives his life and operates not only his business, but his personal life, rubs people in Cedar Cove the wrong way.

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Interview: Jamie Gray Hyder

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Many people have the dream to go to Hollywood and become a big star. What most don’t realize is that it takes a lot of work and dedication to make it in Tinsel town. You have to have confidence and believe in yourself. One person who doesn’t have a problem with any of that is actress Jamie Gray Hyder. Her breakout role was playing Danielle on the hit HBO series True Blood. Originally scheduled for two episodes, the producers of the series enjoyed her work so much; she ended up being on the show for its fifth and sixth seasons.

Currently she is one of the stars of the USA Network series Graceland. She plays Luciano Solano, the sister to Carlito, who runs the profitable and dangerous Solano cartel. Although her character is trying to live a normal life, she keeps getting pulled back into the family business.

Jamie’s talents don’t stop there. She’s a classically trained singer, has appeared in numerous music videos and lent her voice talents to the video game Killzone: Shadow Fall as Echo. She was kind enough to sit down with us to talk about Graceland, what working on True Blood meant to her career and what she would say to up and coming actors.

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Interview: Octavius J. Johnson

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Octavius J. Johnson is definitely someone you can label as one of Hollywood’s young rising stars. The multi-talented actor is also an accomplished singer and rapper. All of these talents are put to use in his current role as Marvin Gaye Washington on the hit Showtime series Ray Donovan. Octavius has made appearances on television series such as the CBS drama Intelligence and in films such as Make It Happen, Coldwater and the upcoming film 59 Seconds.

Octavius sat down with the Pop Culture Principle to talk about how has character has changed from season one, what it’s like working with Jon Voight and Liev Schreiber and how playing a rapper has inspired him to incorporate rap into his music.

Pop Culture Principle – What can you tell us about the character you portray Marvin Gaye Washington?

Octavius J. Johnson – Marvin is one of the smoothest kids from Compton you could ever meet. He’s really talented, mischievous and suave. He’s a great extension of the cast and very charismatic. Marvin is curious about everything and I love playing him. It’s been a blast to work with Live and Jon on the show and even doing table reads with the cast has been amazing.

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Interview: Aya Cash

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The FX Network is no stranger to in your face comedy. Shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The League definitely pushed the boundaries on cable television while still being funny. The latest offering from the network is You’re the Worst. Created by Stephen Falk, the series follows Jimmy and Gretchen, two self-destructive and self-involved individuals who meet at a wedding and attempt to start a relationship. One of the stars who bring these characters to life is actress Aya Cash.

Aya has guest starred on series such as Law & Order, We Are Men and The Newsroom. She was one of the main cast members on the short-lived, but hilarious comedy Traffic Light. On the big screen, she appeared in the films The Wolf of Wall Street, Deception and Begin Again. She was kind enough to sit down with us to discuss her new series You’re the Worst.

Pop Culture Principle – When you originally read the script, what was it about the script that made you want to be part of the project?

Aya Cash – First and foremost, it was the funniest thing I had ever read for television. I thought it was really smart and really funny. I had actually met Stephen Falk the year before and really liked him and knew he was a really lovely human being. I definitely wanted to work with Stephen. I thought the script was brilliant and I was thinking that if I am a part of it, then people will think I’m brilliant too!

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Interview: Vanessa Marcil

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Emmy®-Award winning actress Vanessa Marcil is no stranger to the Hallmark Brand. In 2009, she starred in the Hallmark Channel Original movie The Nanny Express. Five years later, she is back starring in a brand new original movie entitled Stranded in Paradise. Vanessa Marcil plays Tess, a driven executive whose disastrous business trip to a beautiful island turns into an unexpected new beginning. Stranded In Paradise, based on Lori Copeland's novel of the same name, will premiere on Hallmark Channel, Saturday, August 9 (9 p.m. ET/PT, 8C).

Vanessa was kind enough to sit down with us to discuss why she became involved with the project, how close to home her character is and what message she would like viewers to take away from the movie.

Pop Culture Principle – What was it about the script for Stranded in Paradise that made you want to be part of this project?

Vanessa Marcil – I am such a big self-proclaimed nerd. I started out in the theater at age 5, so I am very into characters. When I read a character and it resonates with me in one way or another, then I know it’s hitting something inside of me. I was reading this script and it had no attachment to it at the time. It came from a book that my older sister loved. When I read it, I was completely moved by it because it’s basically my sister.

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Interview: Dylan Neal

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You say the name Dylan Neal and many hits series come to mind. Some of you may know him from his long run on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. Some may know him as Doug Winter on the hit series Dawson’s Creek. Most recently he appeared on the CW popular series Arrow. Dylan has built quite the resume and along the way, continues to be one of the most sought after actors today.

Currently he stars in The Hallmark Channel original series Cedar Cove which just had its season two premiere. Dylan plays Jack Griffith, the new editor of the local newspaper, the Cedar Cove Chronicle, and love interest of Judge Olivia Lockhart played by Andie MacDowell. Dylan was kind enough to sit down with us and talk about his character, the Hallmark brand and what fans can look forward to in season two.

Pop Culture Principle – Can you tell us what Cedar Cove is about?

Dylan Neal – It’s about this beautiful Pacific Northwest town called Cedar Cove. The way the audience comes into the series from the beginning is kind of through my character Jack Griffith. Jack is a big city reporter from Philadelphia who is a recovering alcoholic. He had a family, a successful career and lost it all because of the drinking. The only job that he could find is running this very small town newspaper which is pretty much a one man shop. He’s pretty much a fish out of water; a big city guy in this quirky, quaint little town.

What really catches his eye is the town’s judge Olivia Lockheart played by Andie MacDowell. You have these two characters that are circling each other looking at each other trying to figure out what each one is doing there because they both don’t fit the mold of everyone else that is in town. This fun relationship develops between them and during the course of the season, Jack finds out that he really does love this place and it is home, despite how he thought he viewed himself. So, the show follows the citizens and the relationships in Cedar Cove and at the heart of it is the relationship between Andie’s character and mine.

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