The recent rise in popularity of web series content on the internet has paved the way for many talented stars to hone their craft while climbing the ladder to success. Canadian born actress Melanie Merkosky, who stars in the Continuum Web Series, is a on the fast track to stardom with her tough, yet vulnerable character of Regaen, a woman adrift aboard a spaceship. Adding complications, her character has amnesia, she does not remember, why she is there or what her mission is. Melanie has a diverse take on the movie industry and also discusses her upcoming projects. Sit back my esteemed readers, grab a drink, and enjoy the intellectually talented Melanie textually coaxing you into interview nirvana.
Acting in your blood from childhood, or developed later?
Well, performing definitely. My first professional acting job was when I was seven. But I think acting developed as part of a natural chain of events. I was an ‘active’ kid and my parents started me in ballet when I was three, from there it just kind of snowballed into many different styles of dance, classical singing… I attended an extracurricular performing arts school where I got to train in all sorts of different stuff- I eventually got a nice career going with musical theatre, which then segued into acting for film and TV.
Do you have a favorite genre of film to watch, act in?
I mean… I really do love Sci-Fi. ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ is one of my all time favorite movies. Over the last few years I’ve entered into a love affair with Indie film. Mostly, I’m compelled by stories that are character driven- I love a strong, complex character that helps me learn something about myself- whether it’s a role that I’m playing or if I’m watching it.
Speaking of sci-fi, I am curious what you think of the Canadian TV show Continuum with Rachel Nichols?
I really like it! I think that it’s an entertaining and well conceptualized show. I think Rachel Nichols is quite good- I enjoyed her work on ‘Alias’. Also, I’m Canadian so I love supporting Canadian TV. Plus, it’s rad that this show is set in Vancouver- one of the most beautiful cities in the world!
Blake Calhoun's web series Continuum season 2 just began airing, any surprises or insights to your Raegen character?
I don’t want to give too much away, but there will be plenty of surprises! Blake’s a pretty clever guy- the cliffhangers at the end of each episode just get more and more intense. Raegen is an interesting character. She’s tough. One of the cool things about this show is that because she has no memory the audience learns about Raegen at the same time she learns about herself!
Back to the topic of sci-fi films. In general do you enjoy the more cerebral sci-fi films such as Prometheus or the action oriented ones, maybe chat about the few that you like?
Well, I already mentioned 2001… and I liked the original ‘Alien’ better than ‘Prometheus’. But yes, I think that I like the more cerebral ones the best. ‘Blade Runner’ I think is a good combo of action and intellect. That movie tripped me out when I was a kid! 2019 seemed soooooo far away. ‘ Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ is also one of my favorites. During the summer the Hollywood Forever Cemetery screens movies on the side of the mausoleum, and you can bring a picnic and sit on the lawn and watch… they played Close Encounters on my birthday a couple of years ago. It was awesome.
Beyond just sci-fi, you seem to have a diverse taste for movies, is there any genre of film that appeals to you the most or is it more on an individual film basis?
Yeah it's more of an individual basis. Some films I fall in love with the amazing characters. Sometimes I fall in love because the story really resonates. Sometimes the DP has done an such an exquisite job and the film looks so beautiful I fall in love with it. I just love storytelling. All of it. Film Snobs bother me- I don't like to be judged as a person based on what my favorite movie is. My favorite movie changes daily!
Above Pic: Sexy Melanie in Continuum (C) 2011 Blake Calhoun, Dan's Movie Report Exclusive Screen.
Above Pic: Sexy Melanie in Continuum (C) 2011 Blake Calhoun, Dan's Movie Report Exclusive Screen.
Who are some of the strong female characters in films you enjoy and maybe pick out a few of your favorite actresses.
Sticking with the Sci-Fi theme- Katee Sackhoff in BSG is frakking outstanding. She managed to be feminine and sexy and vulnerable and at the same time totally ass-kicking. I loved Noomi Rapace in the original Swedish version of the Millennium Trilogy- really excited to see how her career unfolds. I think Helen Mirren is a Goddess and I’m also a huge Maggie Gyllenhaal fan. She’s always amazing.
Speaking of strength in acting: Vulnerable victim vs the save-the-day heroine, what type of role do you enjoy playing the most, or is it on a individual film basis?
Either one! And I don't think they have to be mutually exclusive! One of the most beautiful things about humanity is that we ALL have ALL of that stuff going on inside of us ALL the time. (I'm borrowing from my mentor and acting coach Anthony Meindl here- that's what he teaches.) I enjoy the process of looking inside myself, no matter what the character is, finding those parts within me and then bringing them to the surface and exposing them.
I interview many stuntwomen, do you ever want to get into the true action film realm, fighting, falling etc..?
Oh my God yes. Yes I would love to do that. I like to get my hands dirty and I'm not afraid of pain. :)
Hooooo boy. How long do we have here? Haha. In my experience the differences are VAST. Trying to get work in L.A. is like running at top speed and launching yourself off of a mini-trampoline…. right into a brick wall. For starters- the pool is just so much bigger. I think my time in this city has been a real character building experience, and definitely not easy. That said, I’ve learned so much being here. I’ve been fortunate enough to play leads in several different web series and that’s been incredible for a ton of different reasons. And I think it’s really helped me grow as an actress. The ‘Web TV’ world in L.A. is such an amazingly creative and talented group of people and I’ve made a lot of friends there.
Expounding on the Canada VS U.S. comparison, with regards to the audition process, maybe share two stories comparing two processes you experienced, (names, films are not important) Is it there a stress difference, more competitive, less working together etc...?
Oh I don't know. I can't really think of two specific examples to compare. Honestly, I think it's just that I'm my own worst enemy. It's definitely more competitive here than in Canada, but that's largely because there's quadruple the people vying for the same roles. And I do feel that there is more of a focus on the superficial here. But that's why I say I'm my own worst enemy- it's not L.A.'s fault that there are so many talented and beautiful people here! It's just hard not to get in your head about it. I'm still learning and growing, everyday is a different journey. I'm just lucky to be able to have the freedom and support to be able to pursue what I love.
Speaking of directors, Who are a few you would like to work with and also do you feel a director's job is harder if the film budget is smaller, like in a web series vs traditional outlets?
Everything is harder when the budget is smaller. I'm sure you've heard this before, but there's a saying in production; "Good, Fast, & Cheap- you can only do 2." So, if you don't have a large budget, then either it's going to happen fast but the quality will suffer, or you can milk that little budget as much as you can, and produce something of a higher quality- but it's going to take a while. Often, on smaller budgeted shows the director is usually also the show-runner, line producer, production manager, costume designer, editor… you name it! I have friends who work full on 9-5 jobs here in LA and spend every spare minute they have producing their own amazing content. That said- you do have more control over the outcome of the project when you're the one in charge of everything. I think what I'm trying to say is that there IS a struggle because of that golden rule of production. So the folks who are working with limited budgets spend lots of time trying to make things good quality but they have to be patient and make some creative sacrifices and substitutions.They become very good at being able to adapt, and, over time, more proficient directors because of it. Those humble beginnings help them grow into smart and strong creatives.
I actually keep a 'dream list' of filmmakers that I would like to work with one day in my journal. I would LOVE to work with Drake Doremus. he's at the top of the list. I think his style of filmmaking is so honest and raw and different and refreshing. I thought 'Like Crazy' was SO good. I saw him speak at an event last summer and I thought that he was really smart and humble. Destin Daniel Cretton is another up and coming guy who I'd like to work with- his latest film "Short Term 12" won SXSW this year. And, wildest dreams one day, I would humbly accept the challenge of being able to work with Soderbergh.
Deux Nuits’ is the film I’m currently in the middle of shooting. It’s written and directed by one of Canada’s Academy Award winners- Denys Arcand. It’s mostly in French. I’m really thrilled and humbled to be working with such an amazing group of people.
Desperate Acts of Magic’ is about…. Magicians! Surprise! It’s a really cute movie, kind of a rom com & buddy com all rolled into one magical story. I just have a small part in that one.
Janeane From Des Moines’ is a brilliant movie that my friend Jane Edith Wilson asked me to be in. It was selected into the Toronto International Film Festival last year. She plays a desperate woman looking for answers and help from politicians during the Iowa Caucuses. I play her daughter. The film was partially written by Jane and Grace Lee (the director) but mostly it was improvised by Jane with astonishing aplomb. She is a fucking genius. She was basically living under cover in Iowa during the caucuses and improvised in character with pretty much all of the republican candidates, unknowingly to them and the many news outlets that also captured, and aired, footage of her with Mitt Romney, Michele Bachman, Rick Santorum… it was crazy. People have trouble knowing how to categorize it- it’s been compared to ‘Borat’, but it’s not funny like that. It’s quite heartbreaking actually. It’s kind of like a serious mockumentary. It’s hard to explain- just watch it! It’s on iTunes. I’m thrilled to have been a part of it.
How about hobbies when you have some downtime?
I'm kind of a homebody- I really love spending long hours reading (Currently reading NW by Zadie Smith) and just hanging out with my husband and our dog. But I also really love exercise. I'm a masochist that way, haha. I'm very passionate about Bikram Yoga. Originally I would just go because I liked to sweat a lot, but as I've advanced in my practice I've really come to love the benefits that it brings to my body, inside and out, as well as to my general outlook in life. Everyday is different- you've gotta just breathe and love where you're at. On the flip side of that though- one of my other hobbies is wine tastings! So… yeah- BALANCE is what it's all about for me.
Wrapping the interview up, chat about the future for Melanie, ever want to write or direct a series or film?
Everyone is a multi-hyphenate these days. I guess you pretty much have to be. I’d like to be a better writer, I’ve dabbled with a few scripts in the past but nothing that’s come together cohesively enough that I would ever show anyone/ Yet, I’ve got a few ideas that I’m slowly feeling out but I’m not stressing myself out about it- like oh I HAVE to write something, I have to write something. I would absolutely like to direct someday though. But I would really want to do my due diligence there give the craft of directing the respect it deserves by getting some sort formal training.
That wraps up another Dan's Movie Report exclusive interview, your number one source for movie and TV exclusives on the internet.
For more information on Melanie, please connect with her through these links:
Official Website: http://melaniemerkosky.com/
To Watch Continuum Web Series go to: www.jts.tv