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Author Archives: Mark Pezzula

MAKING OUT IS HARD TO DO

Hey all you Super Blogged-uppers, hope the past few weeks have been good to you all. We’re getting closer and closer to the world premiere of Super Knocked Up here on the interwebs, and as anticipation builds, we hope you’re as excited to watch the show as we are to have you watch it.

To start this blog off I want to ask the male readers in the audience here a question: how many of you like makin’ out with girls (or A girl, if you have a significant other). Okay, I see all of you have raised your hands. Except that guy right there. Who’s that? Oh, it’s director Jeff Burns. Interesting. Anyway, I have another question for you guys: how many of you like makin’ out with HOT girls? Again, all of you except for Mr. Burns. Who DOES that guy like to make out with? Wookies? Oh…ok. Wookies it is. Sorry man, didn’t mean to offend you. I guess Wookies are kind of cute. If you like hair.

Anyway, I asked that question because I, too, enjoy a bit of the ol’ make out sesh with the opposite sex. Except when it’s in front of a group of people. On a 90 degree film set. With a camera two feet from our meshed-together lips capturing every bead of sweat on our make-up caked faces. Yeah. It’s about as sexy as it sounds. I put that horrible image in your head because that’s exactly what you would have seen on the set of SKU a few weeks ago, should you have been unlucky enough to walk in on a take. (And if you’re walking in on a take – what the hell are you doing at my apartment without knocking? And we’re trying to shoot here, you moron!)

The scene in question is going to be some extra footage for you folks to enjoy, not part of the series itself. It involves an interview between me (as Captain Amazing) and the lovely Daniela Maleve (who plays reporter Darcy Danger). Darcy begins the interview as professional as possible, but then her insatiable attraction to Captain Amazing becomes too much for her to handle and, when the segment returns to the two characters after a cut-away to some man-on-the-street footage, the Captain and Miss Danger are intertwined in some light sexy-time

Now, you think it’d be easy to act such a scene out. After all, I’m a professional (ok, maybe not. Maybe like a sub-sub-(sub-sub) professional) and so is Daniela (seriously, she is). Fact is, though, no matter how professional the people involved are, no matter how many reassurances you receive from the director, no matter how many mints you get from the script girl, no matter how many people on set tell you that they want to keep the footage for their “personal files” (creeps), doing anything sexual with an actor is nerve-wracking as hell.

Maybe it was because it was the first time in my 30 years that I was going to lock-lips with a female, or maybe it was because I couldn’t stop belching up the turkey bacon I had eaten for dinner, but the stomach butterflies were in full effect that morning. We ran through the scene a few times without the kiss, but, eventually the time came. We finished our lines right before it, then BAM! Daniela and I slammed our faces together like two male rams head-butting each other over a potential mate. We had decided to play the make-out for laughs, so we groped exaggeratingly and mushed noses while making odd grunting sounds. “CUT!”, yelled Jeff. We were done. It was over. Or so we thought.

As how it is with every other type of scene, we had to do multiple takes of the kiss. With each take it became less awkward (although I really didn’t know where to put my hands – Daniela herself mentioned her chesticles, but I’m a gentleman. I only grope a woman’s breasts in a crowded area, when she can’t tell who’s doing it), and by the time we finished I felt like I could make out with Daniela all day. KIDDING! DON’T KILL ME DANIELA’S HUSBAND, PLEASE DON’T!

Anyway, the moral of the story is…well I don’t rightly know actually. Think before you accept a role where you’ll have to kiss someone? Yeah, maybe that’s it…

’til next time: stay Super Knocked Up, Super Blogged Uppers!

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THEY LIKE ME. THEY REALLY LIKE ME.

It’s a little disconcerting walking into a room and seeing a picture of your face in the middle of a dart board. With darts stuck into it. Even if, in the pic, your face is covered by a mask, and even if the pic isn’t really of you, but of a character you play on TV (well, play on internet TV, anyway). It’s even more unsettling when that same room is filled with the people who have been throwing those short, needle-tipped arrows at your face in that picture all afternoon. And when they all turn around and glare at you like you just yelled out “Heil Hitler!” and raised your right arm in the air? Yeah, that’s poop-pants inducing.

Images and more after the jump.

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THE BREAKFAST OF ILL ACTORS

I used to love pancakes. A lot. I used to think that stacks of those thick, circular, deliciously fluffy things were God’s way of reminding us there is a heaven. I used to eat mine with just butter and syrup, but wouldn’t mind if someone tossed a piece of fruit (preferably a strawberry) or sausage on one every now and then.

I refer to my love of the cake of the pan in the past tense because Jeff Burns, who you all know as the writer and director of Super Knocked Up but who I now refer to as “The Joy of Breakfast Killer”, recently destroyed any craving I had for those scrumptious slices of cooked batter, all because Mr. Burns (or “Mein Fuhrer”, as he’s known on set) wanted a particular moment in a particular episode of SKU to be as funny onscreen as he had imagined it to be. Well, I hope you’re happy and the audience laughs hysterically, Herr Burns, because you’ve ruined my life in your pursuit of the perfect webseries! *endless wailing and waterfall of tears*

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SUPERHERO SUMMER

Greetings, Super Blogged-Uppers! Mark here, droppin’ another blog for your spot. Hope your Memorial Day weekend was spectacular, and you toasted to the memory of all those super-heroic folks we’ve lost fighting for our country.

This week I’d like to write a little bit about three upcoming summer films, all featuring comic-book superheroes that are near and dear to the heart of many a geek around the world.

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SBU’S TRAILER TUESDAY!

Hey Super Fans, Mark here with a new blog comin’ atcha. Decided to have a little fun this week (actually we have fun here every week at Super Blogged Up, but this week the fun meter’s off the charts) and embed some trailers to a few superhero films old and (relatively) new. If you’ve seen all of these films, great! If you haven’t, well, queue ‘em up Netflix style.

BATMAN (1966)

In this day and age when we’re running to our Twitter or RSS feeds, begging Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. to give us even the tiniest scrap of information on who will be in The Dark Knight Rises, we could use the guy who came up with this teaser for the 1966 Batman film, starring Adam West and Burt Ward. I don’t really know what this trailer is teasing. The plot? But who really cares about that when you have The Riddler, Joker, Penguin AND Catwoman in the same movie!?

Having trouble embedding video, so check it out here!

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James Cameron’s Spider-Man?

Over the past few years, some major names have taken over directing superhero and comic related films. Now aware that both geeks AND general audiences are demanding bunches, Hollywood studios understand that big, talented names (and the movies connected with those names, more importantly) draw big box office numbers. No more would Joel Schumacher touch the Dark Knight!

Christopher Nolan. Sam Raimi. Jon Favreau. Darren Aronofsky. Shane Black. Martin Campbell. Zack Snyder. It seems like nowadays if you’re a director with big-time indie cred, general population recognition, and a few awards under your belt, you’re going to get a comic-book movie assigned to you.

It wasn’t always that way, though. About 15 years ago, self-proclaimed future King of the World couldn’t get his superhero movie made. The first director to take a stab at Bruce Wayne couldn’t get a movie about Kal-El together. It was topsy-turvy in the world of cinematic super-stuff not too long ago. Here’s a look at a few comic-book film projects that never saw the light of day, no matter how many big names got behind them.

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To Tweet or Not To Tweet

If someone would have said to me two years ago that I would not only be using Twitter daily but also looking forward to using it, I would have slapped that person on the shoulder and said “yeah right, buddy. Next you’ll be telling me someone’s going to make an Oscar nominated movie about Facebook!”, then walked on.

I don’t know if anyone would blame me for my incredulity; at the time, Twitter was gaining popularity, but seemed like a vanity program for celebrities and attention seekers too tame to live their lives via webcam. To be honest, I thought Twitter was a fad that would die as soon as it’s users realized that people want to read about your minute daily activities just as much as you want to read about theirs. Which is, obviously, not at all.

Then, one day, I was trolling some random message board when a post about Twitter jumped out at me.

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Who Comes Up With These Ideas, Anyway?

Last weekend we shot another episode of Super Knocked Up (well, technically it was out second time shooting an episode we already shot once, but never mind that). It was a great (although technically punishing) shoot, and I learned something all up and coming actors should always remember: if you have an idea about your character or a scene, don’t be a pansy – let your director know what that idea is!

So here’s the rundown on how I came to realize actors play an important role in how a scene, and ultimately the finished product plays out.

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Lying in Bed All Day? Yup, an Actor’s Life is Tough

L’esprit de l’scalier is the French term for the phenomenon that occurs when you think of a witticism or a perfect turn of phrase when it’s too late to have its desired effect. We’ve all experienced l’esprit de l’scalier at one time or another. Maybe you were out with a group of friends and one of them tells a “your mom’s so dumb” joke. Frantic to verbally strike back, all you come up with is “yeah, well…”, and before you finish your thought your closest buddy is already buying you a sympathy/don’t embarrass yourself further beer. It’s not until the next morning, whilst nursing a hangover with Gatorade and bacon, that you realize you should have come back with “your mom’s so dumb, she tried to wake up a sleeping bag.” Calling your friend at that moment to relay the comeback to him would be pointless, and you chastise yourself for not being quicker on the draw.

Last Saturday, we resumed shooting Super Knocked Up, and I experienced something similar to l’esprit de l’escalier, only it lasted longer than a few fleeting moments, and I realized actors must encounter this feeling quite often.

Our shoot was spread out over two days, and on day one Jeff decided to shoot mostly my lines, meaning the camera would be pointing towards me, filming my close-ups, medium shots, etc. It also meant that the performance I gave would be the one to end up in the episode. Natalie, on the other hand, would mostly be shot from behind, with most of her lines being filmed the next day. (Note: for the sake of brevity, this is just a brief over-view of how the scene was shot. I by no means mean to minimize the magnificent work Natalie did on the first day. She had plenty to do on that day, and had an infinitely more difficult job than I did the whole shoot).

When day one finished, I was fairly happy with what ended up on camera, and even happier that I had received a few fist-bumps from Herr Burns (you know you’ve done good work when the director gives your five digits a pound). I had no idea that the next day I would be filled with that dreaded l’esprit de l’escalier for most of the shoot.

As the lighting set-up was already in place for Natalie’s lines, we began shooting right away on the second day. Not only did I spend most of the day in bed (no really, Captain Amazing doesn’t leave his comfy mattress/spring box combo once), but off-camera as well. My job on day two was pretty much to bounce off of Natalie verbally as she gave her performance as Darkstar. While I could have put in minimal effort, as the camera wouldn’t see my acting and the audio used would be Natalie’s and not mine, I decided to do the opposite and play the scene as if a camera was capturing everything I did as well. I figure that it would help Natalie get into her character (and the scene) more. (Not that she needs any help). The results? L’esprit de l’escalier.

I found myself doing things and uttering my lines in ways I wish I had done the day before, when my performance was being captured. Not huge, scene-altering things, mind you, but a line here, a line there. An eye roll. A head bob. For some reason, my work as Michael Masters felt a bit meatier, a bit more fleshed out on the second day.

Of course, that could have all been in my head, and when I see the finished product I’ll realize that everything I did on day two I did on day one. It’s not that I’m dissatisfied with my performance from the first day, far from it. It simply comes down to that damned old l’esprit de l’escalier, and how it makes us feel like we could have been better when it’s too late to do anything about it.

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Learning to Act at Life University

They tell me (and by “they” I mean the voices in my head) that the key to acting is reacting. To be fair, these voices also tell me that Earth is not a planet but an alien space-station waiting for an inter-galactic cargo ship to return with a 6 billion year supply of “yuratominon”, whatever that is. One of these statements is obviously something these voices in my head just made up, but since I’m not sure which one I’m just going to assume for now they’re telling the truth about acting. I’m assuming this because, well, for the most part I find it to be 100% completely correct, and I’ve come to find that only very recently.

Contrary to what you may think after watching any one of my hypnotic and stellar performances, I have no formal acting training. “Surely you jest, Mark”, you’re saying to yourself right now, but surely I do not. I attend performance classes not in the lecture centers of Carnegie Mellon or the acting workshops at UCLA, but in the halls and drama school of Life University. Recently, my drama professor (let’s call him Dr. Inmyhead) began a lesson that would present my greatest challenge at Life yet.

As you all know (or all should know), Super Knocked Up went through a major casting change. Two episodes were shot and in the can when Jocelynn Joy Murphy, who played Darkstar, was replaced by Natalie Bain. Director Jeff Burns made the difficult decision to not only replace the lead actress, but to also shoot both episodes over again. After my initial reaction of wanting to beat Jeff over the head with a dead wet chicken, I realized that Dr. Inmyhead was offering me a great opportunity to experiment in his Acting 001 class.

Last weekend, Natalie, Jeff, and I rehearsed the two scenes, and I have to say that being able to approach the material from a different angle with someone new was a learning experience I’ll never forget. Both Jocelynn and Natalie are tremendous talents, and both are wonderful for bouncing ideas off of. I found myself trying different things with Natalie that I had not tried with Jocelynn, and at the same time wondering if I could do the things I was doing with Natalie with Jocelynn. (And yes, I absolutely stole that last line from a Penthouse letter.) While Natalie is playing the same character, obviously she’s adding different shades to Darkstar that Jocelynn did not (and Jocelynn added shades that Natalie is not), and it’s very interesting to be working with the same scripts and situations, but have my reactions and performance feel new and different. I’m anxious to get the episodes completed with Natalie, and then compare and contrast the two works. Few film actors get the chance to rework something they’ve already done with someone completely new (hey, me and Christopher Lloyd have something in common! Chris – call me!), and, to be honest, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity.

So my initial thought that re-shooting the two episodes would be inane and unexciting was completely wrong. I think the experience has turned out to be Dr. Inmyhead’s greatest lesson yet. And it turns out the voices in my head were definitely right about acting and reacting. Although, I do think we’re still waiting for that yuratominon…

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