Recently, we sat down the the beautiful Mizuo Peck, best known for her portrayal as Sacajawea in the Night At The Museum series to prep for the release of the final film in the series, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. We spoke with her about her acting career, that began in a school with many other famous alumni, and got candid about her time in this popular series. She discussed her methods for portraying a historical figure, what it's been like to be a part of this series, and her thoughts on Robin William's impact on the film.
How did you get your start in acting?
I started acting when I was 11-years-old. I was apart of this really great theater company, called TADA!, which is still going strong today. They have a lot of great alum, like Iggy Azalea and Kerry Washington. It really changed my life and got me into this world. I auditioned by singing this song and it got me out of my skin and got my very confident and I learned how to be focused. They really treated us like professionals. We weren’t allowed to get away with, “oh they’re just kids,” no, this was a professional company.
Growing up, did you have any actors/actresses you found inspirational and used as motivation?
Oddly enough, for a long time as a kid I looked up to Johnny Depp. Not only did I think I looked like him a little bit, but also I enjoyed that after 21 Jump Street he could have gone on the pretty boy path, but he fought convention and did all the crazy roles and he wanted to focus on genuine character work. I just remember thinking that was amazing thing to look up to. These days I think there are a lot of actors and actresses that are doing a really great job. I also really like these indie people, like Miranda July and Emily Mortimer, I’m really impressed by her career. Just actresses that are really smart and savvy, who create the work for themselves.
Are there any actors/actresses you’d like to work with in the future? Like someone, that you need to work with?
No, I’d be honored to work with any of them. The list of Cate Blanchett’s, they’re the ones that I idolized. It’d be great to work with them. But for the most part, I just want to be girlfriends with them. I think we’d get along, like Lena Dunham.
What is it like to portray a historical figure? Is there any pressure because people actually know who that person is?
I swear, I did so much research on Sacajawea, because it’s so important to me to make her real. We are playing wax statues of these characters, but her story is so fascinating, so it was really cool for me to watch all these documentaries and read all these books about her life. I could tell you so many stories about her, she was such an asset to the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Do you have a particular style for preparing for this role?
Yeah, I read a lot of books. Watched a lot of documentaries. I went to the American Indian Natural History Museum all the way down in Bowling Green, which was beautiful to see all the different artifacts and they have modern Native American art. I also read some of the children’s stories that they had at the library there. It was nice to learn and research, it felt like a great way to get in touch. I took a lot from my time out west, visiting the different reservations and the countryside.
Is there any other historical figure, male or female, you’d like to portray?
As far as playing another historical figure man or woman, it would be fun to play a wild and eccentric artist like Salvador Dali. How about Josephine Baker, the barrier breaking roaring 20's entertainer? The Japanese artists Yayoi Kusama and Yoko Ono are still very much alive and creating their courageous art. I think they're great and I'd love to portray them some day.
What’s been your favorite trait about this character, as this is the third time you’re portraying her, what do you think is the best thing about her?
It’s funny, because this time around Sacajawea really gets to put her leadership skills out there. She gets to take charge and she gives some sagely advice to Ben’s character, now that they’ve known each other through the years, she’s able to give him some advice about parenting, She’s very confident. There are so many words to describe her, she’s brave and resilient. In one word, I would say she is wise. She does impart her opinion ad advice. She is someone Ben Stiller’s character listens to and looks up to, because she knows what’s up.
So, how would you say what her relationship with Ben Stiller’s character (Larry Daley) is in these films?
Sacajawea has become a link between the magical creatures that are coming alive in the museum. Carla Gugino’s character (Rebecca), the female interest in the film, and he kind of presents Sacajawea as a gift to her to prove he’s not crazy. I think I was like a friend, along with Ahkmenrah and Attila The Hun, we are all a team with Ben. Which is fun, we encounter obstacles together, along with Teddy Roosevelt of course, who is like the team leader, but Ben is the leader too. We’re a very democratic team, everyone gets a say and is respected.
Is there a moment you think fans will look forward to in this movie?
This time around it was really great. What was different is that I’m holding a monkey the entire time.
What was it like working with the monkey?
It was amazing. Yes, I’ve worked with Dexter before and me a Dexter really get to bond. I’m basically carrying Dexter the entire time. People all want to believe that Dexter is a boy, but she’s not. It’s a girl, she’s Crystal. Crystal and I bonded very much. What was amazing is the gestures she gives you. She shows you when she trusts you, when she puts her hands over her teeth, it’s an act of submission to show she won’t bite you. When she gets really comfortable, she grooms you. It was actually a great honor to work with her. And saying goodbye to her at the end, she was at the cast party and she reached out her hand. It was heartbreaking, it was like tearing myself away from this child. She had such a connection with me.
Twentieth Century Fox
Is there any museum you wish you could have unlimited access to like in these films?
The Lourve. That was always the name thrown around, that it would be the next museum we were going to go to. That would be absolutely amazing. I think it would be romantic and mysterious to walk through. We were able to walk through the British Museum at night and it was eerie and really cool to have free reign.
How do you feel like this film will reflect on Robin Williams’ memory? Is there is any scene with him that you feel you’ll really keep with you?
Oh absolutely! Robin and I, from the very start, had a really sweet relationship. Teddy and Sacajawea's relationship does continue on into this third movie. This time around, we were arm and arm, walking around the halls of the museum. Checking things out, checking in on each other. We had this strength and trust in each other. He was my Teddy. I’m always going to remember him as that. He’ll always have a special place in my heart. I do think this movie will be such a celebration of his genius. I feel so lucky to have gotten a glimpse of his wild personality and his spirit. I feel very grateful to have been able to work with him.
How is it going to be, promoting this film and watching it on the screen after his untimely passing?
It’s going to be really tough to watch. Without what happened, the movie is kind of takes a serious note. In the movie, there’s a lot of mortality issues, even though we are mannequins. The tablet that keeps us alive is failing. I think there’s a lot of heart wrenching moments. With Robin’s passing, it’s going to be even more bittersweet to watch.
What was it like working with him?
He’s just pure joy. Especially in this character, you know just the strong, leadership of Teddy Roosevelt in this film. I mean, he is a shining light. I’ll never forget when I first got the job, my agent was like, “Okay, you’re going to be riding a horse...with Robin Williams.” I knew there was going to be some famous people in the film that I wasn’t expecting. It’s been an amazing ride.
What can we expect to see from you in the next year?
I would love to do television! I want to use this momentum to go into pilot season, which is the beginning of the year. I would love to book a TV series. I just got new agents, so I’m going to get on it.
What is it about a TV show you’d like? I know some actors don’t like to do both film and television.
I think these days television is a whole other ball game. It’s so well written and so high quality. I think it’s a dream world of stability. You know, I’d do a million films. But with films, they’re a couple months and then they’re over. With some jobs, it’s only a couple days and it’s over. So that just means you keep having to look, which is obviously part of being an actor, you’re always looking for the next gig. I have this fantasy of rolling up to set and getting ready for the day. There’s just a family feeling that I’m seeking.
Is there anything you’d like to add that you want our readers to be looking forward to in the film?
There’s so many good things! You know, the film is going to be like a surprise to me. There’s so many times we are fighting things that aren’t there. That is an interesting thing to look for, when we’re fighting the 9-headed Chinese dragon, it isn’t there. The was one stunt thing I did, which wasn’t much of a stunt, but wasscary for me. In one part of the movie, I’m opening the doors of the planetarium, not only is it digitally done, I’m on a 30-feet cherry picker. It was most frightening thing, I didn’t realize I was afraid of heights until I got up there. And that’s the magic of movie making.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is in theaters December 19th! Make sure you see it in theaters for one final, incredible ride.
Hollywood action man Bruce Willis and director Robert Rodriguez teamed up for a special musical performance at an afterparty following the premiere of their new movie Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. The pair has reunited for the Sin City sequel, which they unveiled in Los Angeles on Tuesday (19Aug14), and they entertained the crowd during a bash at the city's Roosevelt Hotel after the red carpet screening.
Willis played harmonica and sang the blues as Rodriguez played guitar, according to New York Post gossip column Page Six.
The crowd included Willis' castmates Jessica Alba, Eva Green, Mickey Rourke and Josh Brolin.
Actress Megan Fox returned to the red carpet in Los Angeles on Friday (07Dec12) for the first time since giving birth to baby boy Noah in September (12).
The Transformers beauty was joined by her husband Brian Austin Green as she posed for photos in a fitted white lace dress at the March of Dimes Celebration of Babies luncheon, where another new mum, Reese Witherspoon, was honoured by the parenting charity.
The Legally Blonde star - who also welcomed a son, named Tennessee, in September (12) - was the guest of honour at the event and was presented with the March of Dimes organisation's Grace Kelly Award by Elizabeth Banks in recognition of her status as a parental role model.
Accepting the award, mum-of-three Witherspoon recalled a story about a pregnant pal who called her as she went into labour to find out what to expect from the birthing experience.
The Oscar winner told the star-studded crowd, "She wanted to know how she was going to feel in that moment and what it would be like when you meet your baby for the very first time. And I was talking to Jim, my husband, and I said, 'Can you imagine describing that moment of pure joy that happens when your child is in your arms for the very first time?' I mean, what are the words?!
"We are parents that know the joy of having a beautiful, brilliant, joyful, perfect baby. That somehow heaven has opened up and delivered us an angel (who) looks adorable in every angle of an iPhone photo. And, in my case, looks gorgeous printed on a bag or a pillow or an iPhone cover - anything you can get on TinyPrints (printing website)!"
Model/actress Molly Sims and Hilary Duff and her husband, retired hockey player Mike Comrie, also attended the charity event.
March of Dimes was founded by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938 to combat polio and now works to help women through pregnancy and new motherhood.
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Fun Size may be the only production from kid-centric studio Nickelodeon to also feature underage drinking (complete with red solo cups) and boob groping. The murky demographic for the movie ends up hurting the well-intentioned Halloween flick — it's not quite suitable for the young ones nor is it funny or wild enough for the Gossip Girl crowd which director Josh Schwartz (creator of the show) knows well. Instead we get a floundering trick or treat adventure that reduces the colorful twisted holiday to a meandering situational comedy.
Nick TV grad Victoria Justice (Victorious) stars as Wren a high school "geek" who finds herself unable to bag the guy of her dreams (who adores her) but finds a glimmer of hope in the big cool kids' Halloween party. Ready for a night out with her best friend April (Jane Levy) Wren thinks life is finally going her way until her Mom (Chelsea Handler) sticks her with her troublemaking little brother Albert (Jackson Nicoll) for the night. If chaperoning Albert wasn't already the worst thing in the world Wren finds herself in an even bigger dilemma when her brother wanders off into his own night of mischievous debauchery.
The "one crazy night" formula fits perfectly with Halloween but Fun Size struggles to find interesting material for its eclectic ensemble. Unlike many of the young actresses who have previously collaborated with Schwartz Justice seems unable to crack his voice and comedic style. She's too hip to too aware to play someone struggling with high school. The material doesn't serve her or Levy either; off-color jokes and a bizarre sense of entitlement turn them into two people you don't want to see succeed. Luckily for the audience during their sweeping search for Albert Wren and April cross paths with two true nerd-looking boys: Roosevelt (Thomas Mann) and Peng (Osric Chau) who along with feeling like real teenagers actually land a joke or two.
Interwoven into this speedy adventure — Fun Size clocks in at a little over 75 minutes giving little time to flesh out our teenage heroes — is Albert's encounter with a convenience store clerk named Fuzzy. The adults of Fun Size see the ten-year-old Albert as a parter-in-crime rather than a lost little boy. Fuzzy recruits him for a raid on his ex-girlfriend's house; after running away he meets a lady who brings him to a nightclub. At one point a sleazebag kidnaps Albert and locks him in his bedroom. If Fun Size were madcap it may all make sense. Instead things just happen — and it's not hilarious scary or even deranged.
Nick's '90s sitcom Pete & Pete created an amazing sense of weirdness and heart in its exploits of two teenage brothers. Anyone could watch and enjoy it. Fun Size has a beautiful look (the colors of Halloween are mesmerizing) and Schwartz as always has impeccable soundtrack tastes but when it comes to telling a story that feels both relatable and wonderfully weird — what Pete & Pete did so well — the movie falls flat. It's stereotype humor (the movie packs many a fat and gay joke) doesn't cut it — when paired to Nick's best efforts the movie lives up to the title: a bite-size portion of a bigger better cinematic sweet.
Given the anarchist ethos of the Jackass films, it’s tempting to assume them to be the spontaneous creations of Johnny Knoxville and his masochistic mates. But director Jeff Tremaine has been at the helm from the beginning, working quietly behind the scenes to ensure that every prank and stunt is imbued with a modicum of professionalism and craftsmanship. And to make sure that nobody dies.
Ask yourself: Would a sequence like Jackass 3D’s "Poo-cano," in which Dave England’s bowels do their best impression of Mount Pinatubo, be nearly as effective if Tremaine hadn’t taken care to have England’s buttocks painted green and surrounded with an elaborately crafted mountain village, complete with a working train set and miniature doomed villagers? I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t ever want to know.
With Jackass 3D arriving this week to test the gag reflexes of moviegoers nationwide, Tremaine spoke with us about his latest assemblage of audacious, idiotic, and uproarious short subjects:
What I'd give to witness one of you guys getting pranked.
Oh, that's fun. We did a fun one here at the Roosevelt Hotel. We did the gorilla bit (in which Chris Pontius attacks the Margera parents while dressed in a gorilla suit) here. It's so fun not knowing if it's going to happen, if it’s gonna work. You have all this plotting, you know, and that was a particularly hard one because a fake gorilla is hard to pull off! But we darkened the room and just made sure there were enough distractions going on so they never got a great look. And the gorilla suit was really great and Chris was funny in it. I love when the impossible gets pulled off, like the giant hand. I didn't even want to shoot that bit. I didn't think it was going to work.
What I enjoy most is the reactions. I think that's where the real comedic skills come into play.
That's just pure, honest reactions. Like I said, your adrenaline is almost running hotter on a prank like that than it is on a big stunt. So much can go wrong. With that stunt, there's a foosball table that don't even see, and we slid the foosball table over just enough because we knew the guys' behaviors. Whenever they'd come to the production house, they'd congregate in the kitchen. So the hand had to go in the kitchen. And then I cheated it to where Wee Man would cheat their eye line a little bit so it gave us a little more time to come out and hit them. It's fun plotting the psychology of it, you know?
And these guys are veterans. They're used to getting pranked, so you have to be a lot more clever.
And when we're shooting the movie, they go on high alert. That bit, that probably happened somewhere in the early stages of the movie, but not too early. They'd already started to get got. They get paranoid, you know? (Laughs)
Are you one of the guys who got peed on during the penis-cam sequence?
Did you ever think to yourself, I wonder if Kubrick ever got peed on?
(Laughs) I always related a lot more to say, Jane Goodall, than I did to Francis Ford Coppola, as far as my job goes. It's definitely more about studying the chimpanzees.
And what have you learned in your years of studying the chimpanzees?
Just believe in the impossible. Don't doubt certain things, man. It's hard because a lot of times you're right to doubt certain things, but when you get an idea that seems so far-fetched and you pull it off, that's the best bit there is. It's like in the second movie when we got Ehren (McGhehey) with the pubes on his face and we dressed him up as a terrorist. That one went as far as we planned it. We knew we had a win once we got the dick hair on his face, so anything after that was gravy. And we got the whole thing! It was just shocking how it worked like that. The best ones are the farthest fetched to go after. A lot of times, I shut them down because I think it's too far fetched and it’s not gonna happen, but we should probably try more of them.
Is that part of your role as a director, to be the voice of reason?
I think so. Yeah, to a degree that's my role. Knoxville and I are the ones who ultimately decide what's going to get shot and what's not. He's the one who came up with the idea for the high-five, and he stayed on and was like "We're doing this. We gotta do it." I was like, “All right, let’s try.” And sure enough, boom, boom, boom, everyone got hit.
And then he doubted me on the Poo-cocktail Supreme. I wrote that idea. It was sort of an homage to the first thing we ever did with MTV's money, which was tip Knoxville over in a port-o-john into a trash truck. So that was sort of the idea, and he didn't like it because of that. He was like, "We've kind of already done it." And I go, "Yeah, but it's sort of on a big scale. It's now our ten-year anniversary, let's do a sort of tribute."
Then when we got to the set, we saw it. On paper, a 100-foot crane sounds big, but when you see it, you're like, f**k, man, this is a lot harrier. Now that you're actually seeing the cranes there with the whole setup and it was a windy day with stuff blowing around. You could just tell it was going to be epic. And it felt huge. And you could see the sh*t spraying. It was crazy from our perspective. But when we got him down and they cleaned it out and we got the cameras out from inside there, Steve-O told a funny story afterward. He heard us watching the point-of-view cameras and he said it sounded like the winning goal in the World Cup. We're so used to our half-ass production value of the POV cameras we use. We shoot with them all the time, and we almost never put them in the right spot. They get loose or the shoot the ground or they break off. That shot had three angles, perfectly placed, that got it. It's unbelievable what happened in there. And the fact that Steve-O had goggles on, a nose plug on, ear plugs in, but he didn't think to cover his mouth, and he screamed right at the wrong time.
And nobody bothered to suggest that he cover his mouth.
No, no. I certainly wasn’t about to say anything.
One of the things I like about Jackass is that there's a kind of sophistication to it. You have to have the proper setup and payoff to pull it off as effectively as you do.
Well, we've been doing it a long time. (Laughs) With Jackass, The best way to go about it is to not be too clever about it. You name the bit what it is, don't be cute about it, and then it's very straightforward. It does require a little bit of planning, but we have a lot of really creative people that have been with us forever. The camera men are creative. The props guy and the art team are phenomenal. Look at the Invisible Man bit or the Poo-cano set. It doesn't look perfect; it just looks perfect for Jackass. The coolest stuff we've ever done and it still has a Jackass aesthetic to it, you know? I love that. It's gotta have a handmade feel to it. They almost have dumb down their talents to fit Jackass, you know?
It has to be exhausting for you, though. Were you hesitant at all to make a third film?
No, I was psyched. We take four years each time, so you're ready by then. Like I'm shell shocked now. We couldn't make another Jackass next year. I was ready. But my nerves do get rattled. They were trying to get me all the time. And it’s real. Jackass is real. The stunts, the death-defying shit that's happening is real. You can’t make it safe, most of this sh*t. You can try, and we do our best to make things as safe as possible. But the guys often times don't want to wear any padding and so it's just a lot of rolling the dice and hoping it works out. And it's stressful for me. I don't want to be the guy that just killed my friends. (Laughs)
Luckily, none of the guys seem very litigious.
Yeah, luckily. They're much more happy to piss in my beer than see me in court.
Do you think this will keep going as long as Johnny's into it? I have to think he's the one essential piece.
He definitely was on this one. The second movie was my idea. I was the one who rallied that one. But this movie, he came around and brought it up. I think everyone was feeling ready and sort of hoping that Knoxville would come around, and Knoxville had switched over. He’d been wearing Nike high-tops for probably a year. And then, one day, he came into the office and he had his old Chuck Taylors on and I was like, hot damn, we're doing it.
So that was the sign?
That, and there was a stack of Tom and Jerry DVDs on his desk. So I was like, all right, something's happening here.
That's funny, because Jackass does definitely have a sort of Looney Tunes, Wile E. Coyote sensibility.
Yeah. It's a f**kin' cartoon. But we've made each of these as if it's the last. Right now, I think it's the end. But you know, see me in three years and I'll probably tell you were making another one.
Jackass 3D opens everywhere this Friday, October 15, 2010.
Holly Hunter got game. A game of tennis, that is. The Academy Award-winning actress ("The Piano") is going to portray tennis legend Billie Jean King in the ABC television movie, tentatively titled "Battle of the Sexes," which follows the 1972 match between King and Bobby Riggs.
King, the No. 1 women's player at the time, handily defeated Riggs, ranked No. 100, in the highly publicized match. Riggs had boasted that the No. 100 men's tennis player could defeat the top women's player.
DUNCAN GOES 'APES': Michael Clarke Duncan, the colossal actor of "The Green Mile" fame, is in final talks to join the cast of Tim Burton’s "Planet of the Apes," The Hollywood Reporter says.
SPIKE ON BOXING: The Reporter also informs us that director Spike Lee is currently working on a biopic on boxing legend Joe Louis. The project, which is expected to go into production in August or September 2001, will chronicle the boxer’s career and longtime rivalry with Max Schmeling.
STONED ON CONSPIRACY: The Los Angeles Daily News reports that the conspiracy-minded Oliver Stone is interested in making another conspiracy-minded film. This one's about an alleged plot by Republicans to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.
POITIER AS 'BRICKMAKER': Entertainment Weekly Online reports that Sidney Poitier will star in the CBS movie "The Last Brickmaker in America," about a real-life brickmaker who loses his wife and job, then finds a friend in a troubled teen.