This season, The CW introduces a new series: Star Crossed, a human/alien romance that might affect more than just the two parties involved. Titus Makin Jr., one of the show's stars, talks about the upcoming program and playing an Earthling surrounded by extraterrestrials, and the show's "funny guy."
What can you tell us about your character on the CW’s new show Star Crossed?
I play the character of Lukas Parnell. He's a human in this new alien-filled world and best friend of Emery, played by Aimee Teegarden. Lukas plays the role of the tech-savvy, charismatic comedic relief of the very intense dramatic scenarios that arise during the season. He does have his share of drama, but really tries to focus on the positive things within this world of new struggles and obstacles.
Do you relate to him in any way?
I relate to Lukas in many ways. I love that he and I are both very optimistic and joyful people. He also has a very keen sense of fashion. I love being someone who really appreciates male fashion. We are different in the sense of our technology knowledge. There are words and phrases that I had to learn as Lukas that I had never heard of before, but it helped me grow as a person and actor through the process.
What is it like on set?
The set is amazing, the cast and crew are so kind and it makes for such a smooth filming process. Pranks are pulled constantly, we like to print out funny pictures of one another and hang them on each other's dressing room doors.
How is it working with actors like Aimee Teegarden, Matt Lanter, and Grey Damon, to name a few?
It's amazing working with them, they are all extremely talented actors who have been in the business much longer than myself, so I'm constantly learning from them and growing as a new family member of "young Hollywood"
Does everyone get along well? Any stories you can share about the cast/crew?
Everybody genuinely gets along wonderfully. It's great that there is no drama on the set and everyone is mature and handles any situation with respect towards the other person. We are constantly in mass text chains with each other while we’re not filming.
The basis of the show is teen romance, but it is obvious just by the trailer that there is a deeper meaning underneath the show. Differences between people can cause huge rifts in community and relationships. How does it feel to be a part of a show with a deeper meaning, one that could be considered controversial?
I think it's great to be part of a potentially controversial project because it really makes people listen and focus on how we can change for the better as a whole. The story takes place in the future but there is not only a lot of action, but it deals with some serious things that relate to modern-day time, such as racism and acceptance in many facets.
What’s next for Titus Makin Jr.?
I've been able to take the time to get back into my music this New Year, which is extremely exciting for me. I've been able to sit down and do some writing, in expectance for an acoustic set I'm performing this upcoming month at The House of Blues in Hollywood on Feb. 12. I'm also hoping and praying that the shows ratings are great and people are tuning in so we could be cleared for a second season!
Sometimes a director has a favorite actor that they jibe with whom they cast in a whole whack of movies in a row. Think Scorsese and DiCaprio Wes Anderson and Bill Murray or Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst. It's a sort of professional infatuation that can serve a project well but it can also lull them into self-indulgence. Although this is only the second time that Killing Them Softly's writer/director Andrew Dominik has worked with Brad Pitt it feels like they have a certain camaraderie. The symbiosis previously worked in their favor in 2007's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. This time around they never quite find the same rhythm.
Of course Killing Them Softly has an entirely difference cadence than that golden-hued meditative Western; it's stylishly violent and blackly hilarious. After all the catalyst for this whole affair is a half-cocked scheme cooked up by a wanna-be gangster nicknamed Squirrel (Vincent Curatola) and carried out by a desperate ex-con (Scoot McNairy) and a scummy Australian junkie (Ben Mendelsohn) who steals and sells purebred dogs for cash. Their plan to knock over a mobbed-up card game is air tight (or so it seems): the game runner Markie (Ray Liotta) has confessed to setting up a heist of his own game in the past. The knuckleheads think the card-players will blame him again.
Unfortunately for them Jackie Cogan (Pitt) is called in to investigate the matter. His record is impeccable his glasses mirror-slick and his hands steady. His technique is of course to kill his victims "softly " from a distance. "It's so embarrassing " he comments to a middleman played by Richard Jenkins to watch his targets plead and cry and lose control of their bodily functions. It's just as embarrassing to see his colleagues lose their mettle like Mickey (James Gandolfini) a gangster he called in to help out. Mickey is a dogged drunk and a womanizer who's given to rapturous platitudes about a prostitute he knew in Florida. "There's no ass in the whole world like a young Jewish girl who's hooking " he tells an increasingly frustrated Jackie. Grossly funny scenes like this the scatological problems one encounters while driving dog-napped pups across country and an explosion gone awry are outweighed by a weirdly bloated narrative that makes pits stops so characters can loll in junkie nods to the tunes of the Velvet Underground.
The changing political climate of the era is used as a clumsy foil for this underground economy. At first it's interesting and makes you feel a bit clever to notice the TV in the background playing an old clip of George W. Bush droning on about the economy or a huge political ad on a billboard looming over a desolate area. As time goes on Bush is replaced by Obama (first as senator later as president) on TV but nothing really changes for these people or their situations. Midway through it's obvious and by the end overbearing especially as Jackie lectures Jenkins's lawyer (and us) about why the system is as screwed as the characters. "America's not a country it's a business. Now f**king pay me " he tells Jenkins's Driver in an echo of the classic Goodfellas line uttered by Liotta.
Dominik has only made three films but he's a formidable writer and director with a keen eye for assembling ensemble casts. It's possible that time and multiple viewings will treat Killing Them Softly as well as it has The Assassination of Jesse James or Chopper but for now it works better as a character study or perhaps a showpiece for its talented performers than an overall experience.