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.
Funnyman Billy Crystal offered up his second TV tribute to a beloved icon in as many months on Thursday (25Sep14) when he honoured retiring baseball legend Derek Jeter.
The life-long New York Yankees fan's recorded video homage to the team's captain aired on U.S. sports news show SportsCenter on ESPN as Jeter was preparing to make his final appearance as a Yankee in the Big Apple.
Crystal said, "My grandmother said there are three things you can always count on: death, taxes and Derek Jeter. Last week was the final time I saw Derek play in person. He turned on a fastball and ripped it deep into the left field seats... He ran around the bases. This was the first home run he'd hit in the stadium this season. I wish I knew what was going on in his mind... He probably just took it in his stride and started thinking of his next at bat... I met with Derek after the game... 'Hey Willy', he said - it's a nickname my high school coach called me that Derek recalled me telling him about in 1998. We talked for a few minutes, like players. We smiled again and I sensed he wanted to go before I said something sad. We hugged goodbye and it was gone... We've had a very special relationship; (former Yankees manager) Joe Torre used to have me work out with the Yankees during the great years - even before World Series games... Derek saw that I could still play and he took infield (practice) with me many times. He never treated me like a celebrity. I was his teammate. To watch him on the field from the stands or on television is one thing; to experience the speed, the skill, the joy he had of playing on the field was like running with wild horses; it's exhilarating." The funnyman concluded, "It's almost over folks. Take a good last look. This is a baseball player."
Crystal can officially call himself a former team-mate of Jeter's after signing a one-day contract to mark his 60th birthday in March, 2008. The comedian batted for the Yankees in a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Baseball superstar Jeter's final regular season game ever will come on Sunday (28Sep14) when the Yankees complete a three-game series in Boston, Massachusetts against longtime rivals the Red Sox.
The sporting tribute came a month after Crystal delivered a touching send-off to late pal Robin Williams at the Emmy Awards.
Scottish actor/comedian Billy Connolly is convinced he should have done more to help troubled comic Robin Williams. The Mrs. Brown star had been friends with Williams for more than a decade and was devastated when he heard his pal had taken his own life last month (Aug14) following a long battle with depression.
Connolly admits he empathised with the Mrs. Doubtfire star's problems and wishes he had stepped in to help him.
He tells Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, "I used to be not quite like Robin Williams, but I'd find it hard to switch off. Robin was 'on' all the time. He was a joy to be around, let me tell you. In all the years I knew him I never got tired of him. He was a one-off, so warm, so human.
"In my quieter moments I do sometimes think I could have done more (to help him). It's a lonely life, showbusiness. You spend a lot of time on your own, and if you dwell on these things you can hurt yourself, as Robin proved."
Connolly was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease last year (13) and it recently emerged that Williams had also been diagnosed with the early stages of the degenerative disorder prior to his death.
"Everybody grieves in their own way. When I heard about Robin’s death, I was shocked, confused angry, regretful, and above all, sad. All I wanted was to talk to my family and friends and cry... While Robin and I had not talked in a few years, there is no question he had a great impact on my life. He was as warm and talented as everyone says, and a joy to be around. It’s as if my favourite teacher died." Robin Williams' Mrs. Doubtfire co-star Mara Wilson shares her feelings in the aftermath of the funnyman's death.
Robin Williams' widow has revealed the tragic funnyman was suffering the early stages of Parkinson's disease at the time of his death on Monday (11Aug14). Susan Schneider has released a new statement to the media in a bid to end speculation surrounding her late husband's apparent suicide, insisting money worries and his addiction issues were not responsible for the tragedy, despite ongoing reports to the contrary.
She claims the Good Morning, Vietnam star's sobriety was "intact" following a brief stint at a rehab/renewal centre earlier this summer (14), but he was struggling with a Parkinson's disease diagnosis.
Her statement reads: "Robin spent so much of his life helping others. Whether he was entertaining millions on stage, film or television, our troops on the frontlines, or comforting a sick child - Robin wanted us to laugh and to feel less afraid.
"Since his passing, all of us who loved Robin have found some solace in the tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for him from the millions of people whose lives he touched. His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles.
"Robin's sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson's Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.
"It is our hope in the wake of Robin's tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid."
Actor Josh Gad has become the latest celebrity to pen a heartwarming tribute to tragic funnyman Robin Williams after striking up an unexpected friendship with his comedy idol. In a touching piece for newspaper USA Today, which was published on Wednesday (13Aug14), the Frozen star revealed he had looked up to Williams since he was a child, but it was the comic legend's ability to bring the Genie to life on the big screen in the 1992 animated Disney classic Aladdin which made him realise his own acting ambitions.
He later got the opportunity to meet the movie legend after performing on Broadway in hit musical The Book of Mormon in 2011, recalling the backstage visit from Williams was the start of a close friendship.
In a piece titled Olaf Remembers His Friend and Idol, the Genie, Gad writes, "It was always a thrill to look out in the audience and see a familiar face that had inspired me. But on this particular summer night, May 15 to be exact, I looked into the audience... and saw a bearded hero smiling back at me. That night, I gave what was probably the best performance I have ever given on a stage. I felt intoxicated with the knowledge that I was entertaining a man who had raised me on his comedy specials, his movies and his TV series..."
Gad, who once lived in the same New York apartment building as Williams, went on to reveal that the two stars exchanged weekly notes while Williams was starring in a production of the drama Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo on Broadway, and the veteran sent his pal a bicycle as a gift when he moved from New York to San Francisco, California.
The Frozen star, who has previously discussed drawing inspiration from Williams' Genie for his own role as snowman Olaf in the 2013 Disney smash-hit, wrapped up his tribute by writing, "Olaf will never remotely touch the tour de force that is Robin's Genie. Because there is only one Robin Williams. But the joy and laughter that my little snowman has brought to children is because of the man who has left this world far too early. A man who taught me to be free, to be childlike, and a man who taught me to get out of my own way as a performer.
"His gift was to take all of our pain away and to allow us to escape. If only we could have returned the favor."
Williams died at his California home on Monday (11Aug14).
"Robin brought so much joy into my life and I will carry that joy with me forever. He was such a beautiful man. I was lucky to know him and I will never, ever forget him." Matt Damon pays tribute to his Good Will Hunting co-star Robin Williams following his death on Monday (11Aug14).
Tragic actor Robin Williams' three children have broken their silence over their father's death. The Oscar-winning star passed away on Monday (11Aug14) after he hanged himself at his home in Marin County, California.
Since the news of his death, there has been an outpouring of tributes from fans, friends, and former co-stars, and on Tuesday (12Aug14), his three children finally opened up about their beloved father.
Williams' oldest son, 31-year-old Zachary, from his first marriage with Valerie Velardi, said in a statement: "Yesterday, I lost my father and a best friend and the world got a little grayer. I will carry his heart with me every day. I would ask those that loved him to remember him by being as gentle, kind, and generous as he would be. Seek to bring joy to the world as he sought."
The comedian's other two children with second wife Marsha Garces also released statements about their father, with Cody, 23, saying, "There are no words strong enough to describe the love and respect I have for my father. The world will never be the same without him. I will miss him and take him with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life, and will look forward, forever, to the moment when I get to see him again."
His older sister Zelda, 25, added, "My family has always been private about our time spent together. It was our way of keeping one thing that was ours, with a man we shared with an entire world. But now that's gone, and I feel stripped bare. My last day with him was his birthday, and I will be forever grateful that my brothers and I got to spend that time alone with him, sharing gifts and laughter. He was always warm, even in his darkest moments.
"While I'll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there's minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small way, is shared with millions. It doesn't help the pain, but at least it's a burden countless others now know we carry, and so many have offered to help lighten the load. Thank you for that.
"To those he touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh. As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you've had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too...
"Dad was, is and always will be one of the kindest, most generous, gentlest souls I've ever known, and while there are few things I know for certain right now, one of them is that not just my world, but the entire world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence. We'll just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again."
Zelda also took to Twitter to thank fans for making donations to the St. Jude's Children's Hospital in memory of their dad, and wrote, "Thank you to all those donating to @StJude in memory of my father. I'm overwhelmed. The charity meant the world to him, as it does to me. Knowing that so many children will be helped in his honor is all I could've asked for. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you."
Ex-wife Garces also shared her sorrow, and said, "My heart is split wide open and scattered over the planet with all of you. Please remember the gentle, loving, generous - and yes, brilliant and funny - man that was Robin Williams. My arms are wrapped around our children as we attempt to grapple with celebrating the man we love, while dealing with this immeasurable loss."
Actors Nathan Lane and Jeff Bridges have added new tributes to Robin Williams after learning of their former co-star's death on Monday (11Aug14). The stars of The Birdcage and The Fisher King have offered up thoughtful statements a day after the late funnyman hanged himself at his home in Marin County, California.
United Artists via Everett Collection
Lane, who played Williams' lover in The Birdcage, says, "I feel I have to say something more than just 'heartbreaking and shocking' which everyone has said and I feel as well, but something a little more personal."
He adds, "One day in 1995 while riffing in the character of a snobby French toy store owner, Robin made me laugh so hard and so long that I cried. It seemed to please him to no end. Yesterday I cried again at the thought that he was gone. What I will always remember about Robin, perhaps even more than his comic genius, extraordinary talent, and astounding intellect, was his huge heart - his tremendous kindness, generosity, and compassion as an acting partner, colleague, and fellow traveller in a difficult world. My heartfelt condolences to his wife and family."
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
And Bridges, who teamed up with Williams for The Fisher King, tells WENN, "I just want to acknowledge the fullness of life; the joy and the sadness that is in store for us all. I'm filled with both of them today, as I was last night after learning of my dear friend's passing."
The movie star reveals he thought he saw the ghost of Robin Williams outside the party following the New York premiere of his new film The Giver, where he also made mention of his pal's passing, but realised he was looking at eccentric Big Apple street personality Radio Man. He explains, "I remember pulling up to the boathouse where we had our party and I'm sitting there with my wife trying to gather myself and I look out the window and I say, 'Is that Robin? Is that his ghost?' No! It's Radio Man!"
"It brought back all of these wonderful feelings of what an amazing time we had together here in New York shooting The Fisher King. I remember when we were shooting Fisher King, Radio Man knows where all movies are shot; I don't know how he magically does that. I remember seeing Radio Man on the set and I could not believe how Robin's character was there in the flesh, in reality! I got out of the car and embraced Radio Man last night and looked at his face. I felt Robin's spirit when I embraced him. I was just looking out my window at The Essex House to Central Park, my favourite part about New York, and I'm remembering the last scene of me and Robin out there at four o'clock in the morning, naked. And Robin is just wild and free, and he says, 'Let the wild pony dance!' And he's rubbing his butt on the grass and he says, 'You know why dogs do this? Because they can!' We were just so wild and so I had to share that with you because that's what's going on so strongly how much I miss him and I'm sure you guys do too. What a gift he was to all of us."
Meanwhile, another of Williams' great co-stars, Forest Whitaker, who worked with the tragic star in Good Morning, Vietnam, has also added his tribute to the hundreds that are pouring in for the late star. He took to Twitter.com on Tuesday and wrote, "U touched our lives U touched our hearts U gave us laughter n joy U'r a beautiful soul U will be missed Our love to the family RIP Robin W (sic)."
Aladdin composer and the animated Disney film's star have added their tributes to Robin Williams after learning of his suicide on Monday (11Aug14). Scott Weinger, who voiced the lead in the film which featured Williams as Genie, has joined several of the funnyman's co-stars in remembering him.
He tweets, "Farewell to my childhood hero and my Genie. The world won't be the same without him."
And composer Alan Menken, who worked on the Oscar-nominated Aladdin tune Friend Like Me with Williams, has issued a statement to Billboard.com, which reads: "If I had only watched Robin Williams on the TV screen, in the movies or on stage, I would consider myself blessed for having simply experienced his brilliance, his joy, his humor and his heart.
"The fact that I had the honor of sharing the creative process with him is an honor and a privilege that I will cherish for the rest of my life."