Interview: Wendy Makkena on A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Memories of Being on the Set of Sister Act, and Much More!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood makes will make it’s worldwide premiere on November 22nd and this is a film that you do not want to miss. The anticipation is very high for the film ever since it has been announced last year. I recently got the chance to speak with Wendy Makkena about the film in this exclusive interview as we got to talk about her role as Dorothy, her reaction to seeing Tom Hanks play as Mr. Rogers, her best memories on the set of Sister Act, a great fan expierence, and much more.

So tell me how you got the role as Dorothy on A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Did you know at the time that it would be for this film?

WM: “I auditioned like everybody else. It just a regular audition. And I got a call back and then I heard a guy. I was so thrilled about the role. And they often don’t give you a script anymore. You just get (What they are called now) sides. So all I had was my character’s scenes of the film. So no, I didn’t. I knew it was about Mr. Rogers after I auditioned, but not before it.”

I watched the film last week at the screening. I loved it and brought back a lot of childhood memories for me. When you first heard of the project did it bring back those memories for you as well?

WM: “It brought back memories of watching it with my daughter. I guess it was in reruns at the time and my daughter is now 20. I really wanted her to not watch your typical fast-cutting type of kid show. She was like relegated to Teletubbies and Mr. Rogers and she really loved Mr. Rogers and I started watching it with her. And I said ‘this is really interesting what he’s doing’. When I was younger I was just sort of like ‘yeah, I am too cool for this’ But I started to love it even more when I watched it with my daughter when she was younger.”

The scene where Dorothy watched Lloyd (Matthew Rhys) and his dad Jerry (Chris Cooper) argue and fight the few times that they did in the film, What went through your head as a person when you’ve seen that and what went through your head as the character when you see those two arguing?

WM: “As an actress, the acting was so authentic and so grounded that I became Wendy the actress that was watching Matthew Rhys and Chris Cooper as if it was really happening. And part of me was also thinking ‘I know they’re actors, but look at what they’re doing’. And so I suddenly would forget what I was supposed to do. I would forget that I had a cross here and give the baby to Susan Kelechi Watson because I’d be like ‘Oh look at them, they’re so real.’ I felt like I was really witnessing a father and a son having a fight. So I was very involved in it. As the character, I thought ‘well, this is got to be what Dorothy is feeling too.’ She’s not thinking about them acting, but she’s certainly thinking ‘wow this is pretty heavy’. You think that Dorothy saw something in Jerry that nobody else saw. Jerry And Mr. Rogers saw something in everybody including Lloyd that he didn’t see in himself. So I think a lot of that went on in the film was other people saw the humanity in someone else they didn’t see in themselves just like Mr. Rogers.”

When you and everyone first seen Tom Hanks in the costume and makeup, Did it feel like Mr. Rogers was in the same room as everyone else?

WM: “Yes it did! The crazy thing was, I would get so involved in what was going on in front of me because Dorothy doesn’t have a lot to say because she’s an observer and I felt a lot like Dorothy felt when I walked onto that set. Once I was on the set and I went to speak with Tom while he was in costume, I was just star struck and so I decided I would use that a little bit and go ‘Well this is got be how Dorothy feels.’ She doesn’t know anybody and she’s new to the family. She has not been introduced to anybody, so just lean into that. So I lean into my discomfort. I really felt like I was with that family. When I with Tom Hanks, I felt like he was Mr. Rogers. And I felt like Matthew was Lloyd. If a new series would happen, it would be Tom Hanks starring as Mr. Rogers and Tom Hanks would keep his spirit alive!”

One great thing that I love about the film’s production is that they went out of their way to make it feel like you are watching the show again in certain scenes such as the asthetics, the toys, the puppets, and even the costumes. Did you see the production of those scenes before or after the movie premiered?

WM: “I did not see it firsthand, But I heard Marielle Heller had a lot to do with that. She’s the genius behind all of this. She has a sense of whimsy and she’s so smart and she was an actress first and also a writer before she became a director. I heard from my conversation with her that they were shooting on the same set that the show was set. They tried to re-create it keep it as authentic as possible. I know that the puppets weren’t exactly the same puppets, but they’re probably in the Children’s Museum of Pittsburg. I know that they had taken great pains to be as authentic as possible.”

Being that you are in a lot of movies and television shows going back for over 25 years,What can you say is be the biggest accomplishment you’ve made in your career?

WM: “You know, what I think my greatest accomplishment is staying grounded. I would say we have modest celebrity right. And so I don’t know how stars do it when they’re being followed, and when they’re being talked about all the time in pictures. I have no idea how they do it. But For me, the industry period can get you a lift you off the ground a little bit like a Kite. And I think it’s just staying grounded. You know, I started a company when I realized I’m getting older and the roles as a woman, they start falling off your in your 40s and then they really start falling off. There’s just not many roles and I thought ‘well, I’ve got to figure out something else, what I’m going to do?’ I’m not going to sit around and complain, that’s just not going to happen. I started this food company that I didn’t know was going to be well known and now we’re at 4000 doors nationwide. And so I think that’s my biggest accomplishment was knowing that wasn’t all there is. And it’s easy done. It’s easy to remember that when you’re not getting a ton of roles and it’s easy to remember because you have more time in between. But my accomplishment was I’m not going away and to go strike down right now!”

Do you have any great memories when you were on the set of Sister Act?

WM: (Laughs) “We could sit here for weeks. It was so fun. The cast were delightful, they were talented, they were mischievous. We got ourselves into a lot of trouble all the time. We had a lot of downtime where they were lighting the church like ‘oh we need more smoke’. So guys go outside and hang for a little bit. And the nuns and me, Kathy Najimy, and Mary Wickes would go outside and sometimes, there’d be hours and we’d just get bored so we got the car to take us into San Francisco. We would go to stores and shop as nuns and we thought that was hysterical. We were in character the whole time we went there and we would be like ‘we would take our characters out for a walk’. Like let’s take our characters out for a walk and see what is Sister Mary Robert like would be like if she was there. The beautiful thing was nobody knew who I was. So they really thought I was this nun is just the perfect storm. So we had a really great time and Whoppi Goldberg, there are really are no words to describe how great of a person she is. She’s a generosity of a spirit that is unmatched.

What has been your best fan interraction that you remember?

WM: ” My greatest fan interaction, I was at Lincoln Center with my daughter who was at the time about 8 or 9 years old and we were just hanging out walking etc. I was showing her where I used to dance because I used to be a ballerina. We were right in front of the Metropolitan Opera House on a beautiful spring day and a bus pulled up and let out a bunch of kids from my home in Wisconsin. And it looked like this was a high school maybe middle school kids. And this class got out and they were doing a tour and one of the kids recognized me. They went ‘Oh my God are you Sister Mary Robert’. And my little girl, of course is like ‘mom you’re being reckless. And I said ‘Yes I am’. And the whole class lined up and they were quiet. They were there because they were a choir. They lined up and they started singing Hail Holy Queen for me and my daughter at Lincoln Center in front of the fountain. And then they all started blowing kisses and said Thank you. I was in tears. That’s the best fan interaction I have ever had.”

The scene where Dorothy watched Lloyd (Matthew Rhys) and his dad Jerry (Chris Cooper) argue and fight the few times that they did in the film, What went through your head as a person when you’ve seen that and what went through your head as the character when you see those two arguing?

WM: “As an actress, the acting was so authentic and so grounded that I became Wendy the actress that was watching Matthew Rhys and Chris Cooper as if it was really happening. And part of me was also thinking ‘I know they’re actors, but look at what they’re doing’. And so I suddenly would forget what I was supposed to do. I would forget that I had a cross here and give the baby to Susan Kelechi Watson because I’d be like ‘Oh look at them, they’re so real.’ I felt like I was really witnessing a father and a son having a fight. So I was very involved in it. As the character, I thought ‘well, this is got to be what Dorothy is feeling too.’ She’s not thinking about them acting, but she’s certainly thinking ‘wow this is pretty heavy’. You think that Dorothy saw something in Jerry that nobody else saw. Jerry And Mr. Rogers saw something in everybody including Lloyd that he didn’t see in himself. So I think a lot of that went on in the film was other people saw the humanity in someone else they didn’t see in themselves just like Mr. Rogers.”

When you and everyone first seen Tom Hanks in the costume and makeup, Did it feel like Mr. Rogers was in the same room as everyone else?

WM: “Yes it did! The crazy thing was, I would get so involved in what was going on in front of me because Dorothy doesn’t have a lot to say because she’s an observer and I felt a lot like Dorothy felt when I walked onto that set. Once I was on the set and I went to speak with Tom while he was in costume, I was just star struck and so I decided I would use that a little bit and go ‘Well this is got be how Dorothy feels.’ She doesn’t know anybody and she’s new to the family. She has not been introduced to anybody, so just lean into that. So I lean into my discomfort. I really felt like I was with that family. When I with Tom Hanks, I felt like he was Mr. Rogers. And I felt like Matthew was Lloyd. If a new series would happen, it would be Tom Hanks starring as Mr. Rogers and Tom Hanks would keep his spirit alive!”

One great thing that I love about the film’s production is that they went out of their way to make it feel like you are watching the show again in certain scenes such as the asthetics, the toys, the puppets, and even the costumes. Did you see the production of those scenes before or after the movie premiered?

WM: “I did not see it firsthand, But I heard Marielle Heller had a lot to do with that. She’s the genius behind all of this. She has a sense of whimsy and she’s so smart and she was an actress first and also a writer before she became a director. I heard from my conversation with her that they were shooting on the same set that the show was set. They tried to re-create it keep it as authentic as possible. I know that the puppets weren’t exactly the same puppets, but they’re probably in the Children’s Museum of Pittsburg. I know that they had taken great pains to be as authentic as possible.”

Being that you are in a lot of movies and television shows going back for over 25 years,What can you say is be the biggest accomplishment you’ve made in your career?

WM: “You know, what I think my greatest accomplishment is staying grounded. I would say we have modest celebrity right. And so I don’t know how stars do it when they’re being followed, and when they’re being talked about all the time in pictures. I have no idea how they do it. But For me, the industry period can get you a lift you off the ground a little bit like a Kite. And I think it’s just staying grounded. You know, I started a company when I realized I’m getting older and the roles as a woman, they start falling off your in your 40s and then they really start falling off. There’s just not many roles and I thought ‘well, I’ve got to figure out something else, what I’m going to do?’ I’m not going to sit around and complain, that’s just not going to happen. I started this food company that I didn’t know was going to be well known and now we’re at 4000 doors nationwide. And so I think that’s my biggest accomplishment was knowing that wasn’t all there is. And it’s easy done. It’s easy to remember that when you’re not getting a ton of roles and it’s easy to remember because you have more time in between. But my accomplishment was I’m not going away and to go strike down right now!”

Do you have any great memories when you were on the set of Sister Act?

WM: (Laughs) “We could sit here for weeks. It was so fun. The cast were delightful, they were talented, they were mischievous. We got ourselves into a lot of trouble all the time. We had a lot of downtime where they were lighting the church like ‘oh we need more smoke’.So guys go outside and hang a little bit or maybe there was a sound issue. And the nuns and me, Kathy, and Jimmy would go outside and sometimes there’d be hours and we’d just get bored so we got the car to take us into San Francisco. We would go to stores and shop as nuns and we thought that was hysterical. We were in character the whole time we went there and we would be ‘we would take our characters out for a walk’. Like let’s take our characters out for a walk and see what is Sister Mary Robert like would be like if she was there. The beautiful thing was nobody knew who I was. So they really thought I was this nun is just the perfect storm. So we had a really great time and Whoppi Goldberg, there are really are no words to describe how great of a person she is. She’s a generosity of a spirit that is unmatched.

What has been your best fan interraction that you remember?

WM: ” My greatest fan interaction, I was at Lincoln Center with my daughter who was at the time about 8 or 9 years old and we were just hanging out walking etc. I was showing her where I used to dance because I used to be a ballerina. We were right in front of the Metropolitan Opera House on a beautiful spring day and a bus pulled up and let out a bunch of kids from my home in Wisconsin. And it looked like this was a high school maybe middle school kids. And this class got out and they were doing a tour and one of the kids recognized me. They went ‘Oh my God are you Sister Mary Robert’. And my little girl, of course is like ‘mom you’re being reckless. And I said ‘Yes I am’. And the whole class lined up and they were quiet. They were there because they were a choir. They lined up and they started singing Hail Holy Queen for me and my daughter at Lincoln Center in front of the fountain. And then they all started blowing kisses and said Thank you. I was in tears. That’s the best fan interaction I have ever had.”

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter@julianexcalibur for more content. Contact me at julian@alternativemindz.com.

Interview: Avi Nash on That Big Plot Twist, Carl Grimes, PTSD, and Much More

Avi Nash as Siddiq – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

This week on The Walking Dead, we got a glimpse on what happened at the barn where Siddiq was forced to watch Alpha slay the pike victims. We also got to see a huge plot twist as it was revealed that Dante is a Whisperer the entire time he has been at Alexandria. Although there are many questions to how he got there, what is more important is that Siddiq has been killed. Avi Nash breaks down the shocking plot twist of that episode along with more topics on this exclusive interview!

How did you react when you seen the script of your death scene? And also, were there any hints that gave away that Dante was a Whisperer?

AN: “I knew from the top of the season because Angela Kang is an extremely gracious leader and she let me know prior to starting season 10 that this would Siddiq’s swan song. But I was actually very excited about it because we got into all the complexities of what he was going to go through with PTSD and survivor’s guilt and having a new child. And I was really excited because I’ve played a character who’s been instrumental to the storytelling and the arc of the season as a whole. So for me, the chance to serve that story in such a significant way was very exciting. And it gave me a lot of work to look forward to the day that I finally got the script for the episode. If anything it was just like ‘oh shit, I’m in a lot of scenes I’ve got to get to work’. And yes, There are hints that was right in everyone’s faces on the earlier episodes of the season. I think Siddiq was slowly piecing it together and that is sort of a dual-tragedy for him in this because, I think on one hand, it was the first person he’s sort of able to open back up to about what he’s going through because he’s a brother in arms of a fellow medical professional that has been through PTSD himself and reached out to Siddiq. And I think truthfully, they’re were forming a friendship now from Dante’s point of view. Maybe that’s all fake or maybe based on some of the language that he uses, he had romantic feelings for Siddiq. I’m not sure what the tragedy being that Siddiq is starting to open up to this guy, while meanwhile in his subconscious, something about this guy is off to him. And you see that starts to affect him you know whether it’s in the first episode when he focuses on his mouth or in the later episode when they’re performing surgery on Carol and Dante sort of makes that verbal tick-tick sound and Siddiq then has a bit of a flashback. He’s not quite able to realize that he is causing those flashbacks, But it’s definitely happening and it’s only at that final moment when Dante is in the same physical space behind Siddiq, he put it all together because that’s also a great layer of the tragedy for Siddiq which is that he’s carrying around the guilt that after they all fought back a little, but it was not enough. Alpha lined them up and started to decapitate them and he was actually unable to move when in fact because of Dante holding him down as a whisperer. He was trying to move and scream and shout and get up and fight back again. But they were all held down by Whisperers and his eyes were forced to open by Dante to see how these other people he cares about decapitated. And so all those pieces of memory coming together I think are there in the season but he is only able to put it together too late.”

Will we see an explaniation on how Dante came into Alexandria?

AM: “Angela and her team of writers are great and they know how to craft good storytelling without sort of sacrificing character development and without sacrificing suspense, terror, and the comedy and all these things that make us fall in love with The Walking Dead and that have kept us tuned in for ten years. So I can’t tell you exactly what you may or may not see, but I can tell you that you will hopefully be satisfied when it does get revealed.”

What was it like to work with Samantha Morton on those PTSD scenes of the barn flashbacks?

Samantha Morton as Alpha – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

AN: “You know, that woman should get nominated for an Emmy or Oscar. She is an incredible actress. When she gets into character and comes on the set, all the air is sucked out because she goes from being a lovely bubbly Sam to being cold and deadlyy Alpha for us. I remember in particular there was a night that we shot majority of those flashbacks where Siddiq in his mind, he thinks he’s sitting there on his own and it’s frozen. But in actuality, it’s Dante behind him holding him down and turning his head and ripping his eyes open the watch. And we shot both versions of me on my knees, on my own struggling just sort of with my mind not able to move and then a version where Dante was behind me literally ripping me forward and holding me down and stopping me from moving and screaming and shoving his hands all in my face. And during all of that, Samantha was on the other side scaring the shit out of me. And we were there probably four or five hours one evening and she is the most gracious actress. She might not be in every one of those shots, but she’s there giving a thousand percent. And I hope I tried to return the favor. There were takes were I wasn’t in the shot because I was just on her coverage and she was like ‘You know darling, you don’t need to do this. Like you’ve just you’ve just been through so much’ because I’m over there crying in my snot. And I was like ‘Samantha snot aside, I got to be there for you because that’s you how I was trained. You know, this is British theater and this is frankly a generous act’. You’re there for your partner. And so, we got to share a really nice moment together giving each other fear and terror and ultimately though compassion.”

If Carl Grimes was still alive, what do you think he would say to Siddiq?

AN: “I think if he was alive, he would have definitely been somebody that Siddiq would have tried to open up to. I feel like there was the beginning of a very beautiful friendship that would have kept developing. He was sort of adopted into that Grimes family and so, I think those two would have been brothers. Hopefully Saddiq has been a character with enough of a legacy and enough love on the show and enough powerful storytelling that he can stand along with Carl, Glenn, and Abraham shoulder to shoulder and look down on the rest of The Walking Dead survivors.”

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @julianexcalibur for more content. Contact me at julian@alternativemindz.com.

The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 7 “Open Your Eyes” Recap

Avi Nash as Siddiq, Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes, Juan Javier Cardenas as Dante, James Parks as Captured Whisperer – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

The first half of the current season of The Walking Dead will conclude next weekend and after that, we will have to wait about three months for the next episode. But I do not want to talk about the end of the first half yet as this week, we finally get some insight on how Alpha slain the victims. Here is my review and recap of “Open Your Eyes.”

We first see a flashback to the barn where Alpha is about to slay the pike victims and then Siddiq wakes up and gives Sheryl water. Cheryl is getting more sicker as the time goes by and Siddiq also gives water to everyone at the infarmy. He also sees Alpha outside the door as an hallucination. At night, he was writing on his notebook and he fell asleep. He also has a dream of being chocked. We will get back to this.

In the morning, Daryl tells Lydia to get out of the cell so that way, they can place the one Whisperer in the cell that Carol captured the previous night. Carol asks Lydia if she seen him before and she told her that he watches over the mega herd which means that Lydia does know him. Gabriel thinks that it is a bad idea to have him in the cell as it will put everyone at risk. But Daryl and Caryl told him that Alpha’s herd needed to be found. Carol also thanked Daryl for having her back in that situation. Daryl takes off his shirt and many scars are visible on him including from the previous season. Dog runs up to him to greet him. Carol is on her investigative mode as she asks Lydia more about The Whisperers. Lydia says that she hates them and that her mom twists people to make them obey her because they have no choice but to do it. Dante and Siddiq checks on the Whisperer since he also has a stab wound. The Whisperer also says that he knows Siddiq indicating that he was there when he seen the pike victims got killed. Gabriel tells Siddiq to go and told him that Dante will watch over him. When Siddiq looks at the top of the gate that resembles the pikes, he has another flashback of Alpha decapitating DJ of The Highwaymen. At one of Alpha’s borders, Gamma and Aaron talk and she asked how do they have bread every day and he told her that they have a lot of flour. Aaron shows Gamma a piece of paper that has a drawing that his daughter made (I believe it is the one that he adopted during season 8). He asked her if she had any brothers or sisters or a family and Gamma told him that she is the only child.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

At the cell, Carol, Daryl, and Siddiq begin their interrogation of that Whisperer. She brings a steel sheet covered and we are lead to believe that it is sharp objects, but it is bread with different types of jam and peanut butter. She asks him what does he prefer and he says “all of it.” He wanted to talk about what does she want and she says that they are having fish for lunch. After he took a bite of the sandwhich, she asks if it was good and then, he spits the food out right at her face and said “no.” Siddiq and Rosita talk about Eugene as she does not want Eugene to think that she is dissing him. She also did not think that she would be a mom, but they are proud parents. Right when they were about to kiss, she coughs and Siddiq gives her more water. Back at the cell, Carol asks him about the herd and placed the knife on his wound. He does not give an answer and then, she puts on her wedding ring and started to punch him. Daryl told her to stop, and then the Whisperer told them that they are all weak. Daryl then took out his knife and threatened to cut out his fingers and ears. He then displays his loyalty to Alpha and The Whisperer life as he is not going to say a word. He even thinks that Lydia is dead. Daryl and Carol then have a debate about using Lydia to get to him but Daryl is against this. Back to Gamma and Aaron as he lets her look at the drawing his daughter dew and he told a story about his brother. He does this to try to get her to open up but she walks away from him. The Whisperer at the cell is heating up and then he was bleeding from the mouth and died moments later. Daryl, Siddiq, Dante, and Gabriel tried to save him however, but Siddiq asked Dante how did this happen and Dante told Siddiq that he packed the hemlock which was the wrong medicine.

Thora Birch as Gamma, Ross Marquand as Aaron – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Gamma is by herself and she killed an approaching walker. Alpha is also there and she asked Gamma about the intel she gathered from Aaron. After Gamma told Alpha that he has a daughter, Alpha told her to remove her mask and she did that along with opening her sleeve. Alpha proceeded to whip her wrist with a small branch and Alpha told her to not lose her focus and to not give in to what Aaron is telling her. Alpha told Gamma that she believes in her. Carol and Lydia are on a horse and here is where you think that Carol did not listen to Daryl. Daryl and stabbed the Whisperer at the head so that way, he would not turn. Gabriel thinks that Alpha will find out, but Daryl assures him that she won’t. Siddiq enters Cheryl’s room to see that she is gone and he then goes outside to see that Dante is burying her dead body. Siddiq then had another barn flashback and he ran to jump in the water. Rosita saved him and they talk about what he is going through. Siddiq told Rosita that he misses Enid and that he blames himself for not stopping what Alpha did. He also says that many people died in front of him then and it still continues now. Rosita told him to not blame himself and that he is the smartest person she knows. Siddiq asked her why is everyone sick even when they do not live with each other. He realizes that it is the water that is making everyone sick.

He checks the plumbing and notices that they are all switched to undrinkable. He then has a breakdown (poor Siddiq). At night, Gamma told Aaron to never come near her ever again. She then holds him hostage until Carol and Lydia show up. Gamma sees Lydia and runs away and Lydia not only argued with Carol about her being used, but also hits her with the stick. Lydia crosses over Alpha’s border. Siddiq is looking through the window and Dante walks in and apologizes to Siddiq about earlier. He says that he is a friend to him, but Siddiq does not want to hear it. Dante then said something that triggered Siddiq’s barn flashback and this is where we find out that not only that Dante is a Whisperer that has been planted there, but he also was there at the barn slayings and also made Siddiq watch the slayings. Siddiq realizes this and had a scuffle with Dante. Dante proceeded to choke him out until he dies as the episode ends.

The pacing of this episode was all over the place and there are a few dialogue choices that I have mixed feelings about. The Carol and Lydia dynamic does not fit for me as the Daryl and Lydia dynamic. It seems like she was the reverse Alpha in this episode in some ways and it just did not work. That is my only harsh criticism of the episode. I like the plot twist of Dante being a Whisperer as I did not see it coming at all since he was a completely different character in the comic book series. Avi Nash stole the entire show in this episode as this is the best episode of the series that I have seen him play as Siddiq. My only thing is that how will they explain how he got to Alexandria and when did he tell Alpha that they crossed the border during the winter (since Alpha planted him there). Hopefully, this will be explained in another episode. Also, being that I used to watch 24, the interrogation scene at the cell was great and once that Whisperer spit her food at Carol, it was all over for him. Another solid episode!

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a Beautiful, Heartwarming, and a Powerful Film

Everyone has grown up watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and I myself am not ashamed to admit it. When this film was first announced, I was excited and also curious to see how Tom Hanks will play as Mr. Rogers and he blew my expectations and made me believe that he was him throuought the film. I will explain more right now on my review of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

This film is based on the 1998 article “Can You Say….Hero?” that was published by Esquire. We get to see the background of everything that was going on before the article was published and it started with the National Magazine Awards ceremony as Lloyd Vogel (Based on Tom Junod, played by Matthew Rhys) gave an acceptance speech after receiving his award. After this, him and Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson) attend his father’s wedding (Chris Cooper). Jerry and Lloyd also had a fight during the reception which left him bruises on his face. Side note, Mr. Rogers did the introduction of this scene by having a five-door panel with pictures behind the doors and one of them is Lloyd. We will get back to this at the end of the film. At Esquire, Ellen (Christine Lathi) gives Lloyd an assignment to interview Mr. Rogers as a profile spotlight. Lloyd was not used to doing that kind of interview, but he took up on the assignment.

When he got home to tell Andrea, they talk about it and she even says a funny line telling him to not ruin her childhood. He then gets a call from Fred Rogers himself before he goes to Pittsburg to meet him the next day. On the set, Lloyd watches Fred talk to a child who has breathing problems. Fred not only makes him happy, but he also gives him hope and even takes a picture of him with his family. The child was also from the Make-A-Wish foundation and the producer told Lloyd that he does this every single day. There was also a segment filmed where he had trouble setting up a tent as well and after that, the interview takes place and Fred was asked if he think he was an hero but he does not believe that he is regardless of his public image. Fred then turned the questions towards Lloyd as he asks him about the bruise on his face and his dad. That part of the interview ends right there, but he has to go back to interview again and it happens a few more times during the film.

At this point, this is where Lloyd understands that there is more to Fred Rogers than just the Mr. Rogers character and he sees this on separate interviews and appearances he has seen him on such as The Arsenio Hall Show, Oprah, etc. He realized himself that he has inspired many people of all ages and has taken on heavy topics that were on episodes of his show with examples like war, divorce, and sickness. There was also a funny scene when Rogers called Lloyd’s phone and Andrea answered it and talked to him. Lloyd also meet his wife Lorraine (Tammy Blanchard) while Fred was meeting fans. Lorraine tells Lloyd a few stories of what he is like when the cameras are off and how much of a normal person he is. Another great scene I love which is also my favorite scene of the entire movie is when Lloyd and Fred are on the subway and there are children that noticed him. They then begin singing his song and next thing you know, everyone else sings along. That scene right there shows the viewer how much Mr. Rogers affected everyone’s lives when they watched him.

Lloyd has an argument with his dad about how he left him and his mom when she was sick. His dad then gets a heart attack and while they are at the hospital, Lloyd decides to go see Fred to finish the interview and Andrea was against this, but she stayed with his family. Lloyd did apologize about this when they talked about it at the park. When Lloyd enters the studio, he is in the episode and moments later, he passes out and a dream sequence happens. I won’t detail what it is, but think of it as one of those Fire Fly Funhouse skits on WWE television. Lloyd decides to see his father and Andrea does too and they talk about the good times and the good memories along with the recently married couple as well. Fred also shows up too to talk to everyone and his dad and they were all star struck at the moment when he arrived. His father passes away and the interview gets published and everyone loves it. The film ends as Rogers opens the door to that five-door board to show us a Christmas photo of the family. After they filmed the segment, he plays the piano as everyone left the set.

This film is awesome and with the strong cast, it is one of the most emotional movies of the year. I give high praise to Tom Hanks as the entire movie went on, I was convinced that I was looking at Mr. Rogers himself. He got the role as accurate as the man himself from the movements, to playing with the puppets, the voice, and even his tone. I had to go back and watch many Mr. Rogers skits and I realized that they both sound exactly the same. I also have to give a high praise to Matthew as I can relate to the many issues Lloyd went through in this film as a writer, and as a person.

The production of the film is really great too. All of Rogers scenes that were in the studio and even some that were not at the studio was shot on a standard definition camera. The transition scenes when the traveling happens is shown like the set of the show with the toy cars and airplanes and the houses and buildings. They went out of their way to bring back the nostalgia of the show while also keeping the focus on what the setting is outside of the show. The younger me came out during these scenes so I am sure that you will enjoy them too!

I fully recommend for you to watch A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and the Thanksgiving season is a perfect time for it because Mr. Rogers is family to many people and Thanksgiving is mostly about family. Be sure to check the film out!

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @julianexcalibur for more content. Contact me at julian@alternativemindz.com.

From A Galaxy Far Far Away… Arcade1Up’s Star Wars At-Home Arcade is in stores

The Star Wars At-Home Arcade features a real feel flight yoke and control buttons, the artwork from the original arcade machine on the cabinet and the included riser. The just over 5’ tall machine (with included riser) comes with a light-up marquee, full-color 17” display and dual speakers to allow for endless hours of gaming! The Star Wars At-Home Arcade is easy to assemble and comes with a transparent deck protector.

The Star Wars At-Home Arcade features the original arcade versions of the classic games based on Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. This new addition at the Arcade1Up line up is available at Walmart, GameStop and other major retailers across North America.

Links to retailers:

Walmart – https://www.walmart.com/ip/Star-Wars-Arcade-Machine-w-Riser-Arcade1UP/820543701

GameStop – https://www.gamestop.com/video-games/more-platforms/arcade/products/star-wars-arcade-cabinet-with-riser/11095878.html

INTERVIEW: Josh McDermitt on His Radio Conversation, Eugene’s Friendship With Rosita, Improvised Lines, and Everything With Coco!

Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Eugene has finally made contact with someone over the radio that is not conected with their communities and that is a big development. Here to talk about that big moment of the episode and much more is Josh McDermitt.

We seen that Eugene has taken much interest in the satellite ever since it crashed down. Will some of the parts of the satellite be put to great use for the rest of the season?

JM: “Other than what he’s already used for the radio, Yes. It kind of got mangled you know, and a lot of it is on fire. He was trying to salvage as much of it as he could. And he probably had a singular mindset thinking he could just use it for radio parts. I imagine Eugene’s got like some sort of junkyard set up somewhere with parts that he doesn’t need right now but could need in the future. And anytime people are out scavenging are like ‘hey, I found an old radiator’ and he’s like, ‘go just put it out with the junk’. I kind of imagine him doing that. I think it’s really cool that we were able to kind of start the season with that satellite crashing to Earth because if you think about it, how many satellites are in outer space? I would venture to say hundreds, if not thousands. And it would be completely plausible that one of whom would just fall to earth. And I just thought it was just cool way to open the field. And so I hope that aside from the radio, we could see more of it.”

What do you believe is Eugene’s biggest character evolution since his debut back in Season 4?

JM: “I think every season he’s had a nice arc and has done a 180 from where he started off at the top of that particular season. I think the fact that he was a coward, he was scared, he was lying, he was not an honest person. And he is 180 degrees opposite of that now. He is a guy who is completely capable. to handle himself. He’s got confidence. I think that’s kind of the biggest evolution for him, is that he is kind of content with living in this world where before it was just constant fear.”

Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa, Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter, Baby Coco – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

You also had great scenes with Christian Serratos and as well as Coco so far this season. Do you have any great stories on how the both of you developed those scenes together along with bonding with Coco?

JM: I love babies, man! And these kids were super sweet. And i’m not fussy at all. And it’s like I just wanted to do more stuff with them, you know? And it’s fun seeing Christian, who has a daughter of her own, take on the role of mother as Rosita and to really bring things from her own life to this character. We had a good time with that. I think everybody was always, all hands on deck, so to speak. Just trying to make sure that these these kids playing Coco were cared for and that sort of thing. We did use the dolls a couple of times. So I think we had more fun probably with the dolls than with the kids because you never want to get wild and crazy with with babies around because you want to keep their temperament kind of chill. Otherwise, it ends up being a really long day of trying to get them to stop crying. There’s certainly a science to when we bring them in like they’re fed, they’re changed. They’ve had a nap, like they’re ready to go. So we certainly cut loose more when the babies weren’t on set.”

Would you like to run down on how you went from yourself loving babies to now being in character to learn how to take care of a baby all over again?

JM: “He approached it with mathematical precision, you know, in science. That’s how he kind of approaches every situation and analyzes it. He has to completely wrap his head around it and understand it and do the math in the air with it. You know, count on his fingers if he has to. There’s not to say that he wouldn’t be a great father, its just seeing how well he handles the kid and he’s trying to burp Coco and he’s counting the times he pats Coco’s back to burp and it is around 21 times. So it was fun to kind of throw everything away that I know about children and babies and to be able to kind of approach it in a new way, like how Eugene would do it in a more mathematical, scientific, religious way. That was just fun. It was fun to kind of play with that. That part of his character.”

Eugene and Nabila (Nadine Marissa) talked about the radio supplies before you turned the radio on and she said that she was happy to be part of The Hiltop A.V club. How did Nadine react to seeing you do your lines the way Eugene does it?

JM: “We had fun doing that scene and Nadine is a great person to work with. I think she’s excited to do something different in Hiltop that doesn’t involve gardening or fixing a fence or like all the things around Hilltop that that kind of need attention. I think she was excited and she was like ‘oh, this is fun. This is exciting’. But, you know, at the same time, once he starts explaining everything that’s going on, she may have realized like ‘oh, I’m in over my head and so I’m going to have to do this test run another time and I got kids’. So that was fun to play with that. You see, it was funny because Eugene says, ‘you don’t parlay any Russian by any chance’. I was also coaching her for a brief time on how to say one line in Russian and it was just hysterical. We are all just trying to figure out how to say this this fairly simple Russian word that even if you don’t speak a lick of Russian, you probably know how to say.”

Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes, Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter, Avi Nash as Siddiq, Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa – The Walking Dead _ Season 10 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Eugene finally makes contact with someone on the open channel over the radio. Being that I am also a comic reader of The Walking Dead, I am excited for what is to come. Do you believe that Eugene is also happy with this development?

JM: “Right now, he’s kind of a lonely and depressed place after having a sad realization that things would never work out with Rosita. He was trying to figure out what he’s going to do with his life. And so he’s just buried himself in this work. Working with the radio and doing duties around Hilltop. But I also think that he wasn’t necessarily expecting a voice to come out at that moment. I mean, he was trying and certainly down the road. He was probably wanting to reach out further than the communities that he’s already in contact with and just see what else is out there. But, you know, it was basically just Rosita standing him up. You know, obviously for good reason. She’s sick and had to go to the infirmary, but he doesn’t know that. So he was just kind of like ‘I’m alone, This is not a fun place to be so let’s just see what else was out there’. So I think he’s extremely happy and extremely surprised that this voice came on the radio and he was also able to share some personal details about himself that we’ve never really seen that out of him. We don’t really know too much about his life pre-apocalypse and he was able to kind of talk about that with someone.”

Will we see Eugene interract with other characters he has not interract with yet for the rest of the season?

JM: “I think there’s a great possibility of that. At the start of every season, we have a conversation with the show runner and this year, I did speak with Angela and said ‘you know, maybe there’s some people that I would like to work with if we can make that happen’ because there’s people like Lenny James (Morgan) and I never interracted with him. And both Lenny and I talked about that. And it was kind of disappointing because obviously, our storylines didn’t intersect as much. I mean, we were in scenes together, but we never did a scene. And obviously Rick left and I didn’t really do a scene with Andrew Lincoln until Season 9. And so this year, I said, ‘hey, you know, there’s some people that if the opportunity comes, I would love to work with them and come to find out these people said the same thing about me’. So I will say yes, There are some moments where I get to interact with other people, but we’ll just leave it at that and we’ll let the audience be surprised.”

Everyone has a signature weapon except for Eugene. Why is that?

JM: “I mean, he’s got his trusty knife, the big blade he got in the time jump between the front half of Season 9 and then in Episode 6, when the time jumps like six and a half years into the future. He has become proficient in knives and that’s kind of become his signature weapon. But he’s still not first person to jump out to the front lines unless you absolutely have to. And it’s not out of fear. It’s just, Eugene have other things that he is also doing and he will get out there if he is needed. But in the meantime, Eugene is just being here. I don’t know that he’s gonna have a another weapon.”

Eugene has had any memorable lines throuought the series. How many lines have you improvised for Eugene?

JM: “I do not improvise a lot. Eugene is a lot smarter than I am, and I think it would be really obvious if I improvised a line because it wouldn’t sound like you. You know, in the end, I give credit to the writers. You know, Corey Reed always writes for Eugene really well. Scott Campbell was amazing at writing for Eugene. And, you know, it’s kind of fun to see the writers get to come throw out their knowledge because I’m having to look up half of what they say or what he’s saying because they don’t necessarily understand it on the first read. But in terms of me improvising anything, the percentage is so small. I think I improvised one line where I was fighting alongside Rosita this season with the horde and she says something to the effect of like, ‘you know, you want to give up or do you want to call it a night?’ And he says, ‘I can go all night’. I improvised that line. But, you know, I don’t even remember what the original line was. You don’t ever want to improvise. This isn’t a sitcom or anything. So you don’t want to just be throwing out lines. Most improvised lines are going to be funny though, but you want to make sure you stick with the tone. So there’s really not a lot of room for improvisation. But I remember talking to Jim Barnes and he had said ‘hey, you know, if you have something else you want to say, go for it’. But yeah, I did improvise that line for sure!”

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @julianexcalibur for more content. Contact me at julian@alternativemindz.com.

The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 6, “Bonds” Recap

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon; group – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Bonds are made to be held together no matter if the road to that bond is sweet or rocky. We see that on this episode in many ways and it shows how strong they are, and how it could be challenged. Here is my recap for the latest episode of The Walking Dead titled “Bonds”.

The episode starts with Carol waking up early in the morning to prepare coffee and she even looks at her gun too. Daryl and Dog is also outside observing and catches Carol leaving Alexandria. Carol told him that she is looking for Negan and Daryl accompanies her. Once they enter the woods, Daryl figured out that she lied to him and she told him that she is really there to look for Alpha’s mega herd to destroy it. Dante is also taking care of an ederly woman due to her being sick and he even makes a joke about wanting to date her. Siddiq arrives with Coco and told Dante that Rosita still has the stomach bug. More on that in a bit as we go back to Carol and Daryl. They both check the map to try to track where The Whisperers were going. Carol admitted that she lied to him because she did not want him to worry about her due to what happened last time when they meet Alpha at the border. Negan is blindfolded when Beta and a few Whisperers are taking him to their camp. Negan jokingly tells them that he wants to join them and Beta shuts him up by having his knives close to his neck. Negan also demanded Beta to take him to Alpha so that way, he can spill every secret he knows about Alexandria.

At Hiltop, Eugene and Nabila are talking about the supplies for the radio transmission update and she is glad to be a bigger help at Hiltop now. She leaves as she has to get back to her kids and Eugene turns on the radio. Rosita calls in and she wanted to see what he was up to. She also has a fever of over 100 degrees and Eugene is not sure if he can ever return back to Alexandria. There was a malfunction on the radio that stopped the conversation and Eugene went straight to fixing it. While Daryl and Carol were tossing acorns at a can to see who can knock it over, she asks him about Hiltop and also about Connie. Carol wants Daryl to open up to the idea of finding love with her (Donnie fans, keep your fingers crossed). They both then see walkers from a distance along with a few Whisperers. Beta tells Alpha that Negan cannot be trusted at all and Alpha feels that he could and if she then feels like she cannot, then she will kill him. Alpha then asks Beta “Is it time for Beta to become the Alpha?” and then Beta bows down to Alpha and told her that will not happen. Negan sees this happen. Negan asked Beta how long they have been with eachother and even says “If it is Beta with benefits” before Beta cuts him off and told him to respect Alpha or else he will die where he stands.

Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Siddiq returns to his house with Coco to see that Rosita is getting worse than she already is. He helps her up to walk to the infarmy. Eugene calls to Alexandria, but he got no response. He then opened the channels and called anyone, and still did not get a response. Daryl and Carol notices that the herd is getting bigger as The Whisperers are directing the walkers around with them. They make a plan to strike at nightt and Carol walked away for a few minutes and Daryl looked through her bag. When she returns, she asks Daryl if he found what he was looking for as she knew that he went through her bag. She also told him that she did not bring the bag. Back to Negan and Beta as Negan asked him how does one become a Whisperer. Beta gives him a shovel and told him to dig. Then we get a montage of Beta watching Negan do different things such as skinning a walker, digging some more, helping Beta dragging dead walkers, and even stabbed a boar to death after a Whisperer shot it with an arrow. The montage ends when they bured the bodies.

Siddiq and Rosita arrive to the infarmy and this is when I realized that Gamma poisoning the water on the last episode affected everyone that is currently ill. Dante says that the illness is spreading and Siddiq argued his reasons on why he did not want to leave the infarmy in the first place and told him what to do to help. At night, Carol and Daryl made a safepoint incase of they get lost. At The Whisperer camp, Beta knocks down Negan because Negan asked for some bacon to eat and Beta feels that he did not deserve it. Alpha watches this happen and Negan stands down and sit next to another Whisperer and that Whisperer gave Negan some food to eat. While Eugene is still on the open channel, someone finally responds.

Daryl and Carol are observing the walkers while they are hiding and some were approaching them. Daryl killed one walker and smeared its blood on his own face after cutting open its stomach so that way, no walkers would notice. They approached them because a few Whisperers heard Carol’s footstep and directed the walkers to them. One of The Whisperers even said “over here” after that happened but did not find him. Eugene and the woman on the radio introduced eachother although she did not give her name or location. They tell eachother stories of where they were before the apoclapse begun and memories of a train event at Landcaster, ice cream, and much more. Siddiq also apologized to Dante for snapping at him earlier and after he checks on Rosita, he falls asleep and wakes up to a PTSD dream but this time, he hears Alpha’s voice and it near the windmill. Beta makes it very clear to Negan that he is not part of them and that he is took weak but Negan wants to hear none of that as he is there for Alpha. Beta kills a Whisperer and told Negan that they can agree on one thing and that he is going nowhere as walkers begin to surround Negan.

Daryl and Carol has a Whisperer hostage and that he will make sure to tell them everything. The woman over the radio told Eugene that she will only talk to him and that if she hears another voice, she will not talk to him no more. In the morning , Beta and Alpha talk about Negan and then, Negan says “I’m ready for my god damn skin suit” as he is covered in blood and walks straight to Alpha. He introduces himself to her and bows down infront of her. Alpha stares at him and he told her that he is all hers. She continued staring and did the “shhhh” as the episode ends.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, Ryan Hurst as Beta – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

The title of this episode has more meaning than just the title and that is, to showcase the bonds that are current, questioned, and building. The current is Daryl and Carol as their bond is getting tighter, but she wants him to be fully happy. The bond that is questioned is Alpha and Beta as these two continue to question her leadership decisions and his role of The Whisperers now especially that Negan is in the picture. also, I would watch an Negan and Beta episode anyday. And the bond that is building is between Eugene and the woman over the radio and comic book readers have an idea of who she is and I believe I know who she is too. I also liked that Gamma poisioning the water in the last episode affected this episode. Alpha is very strategic and her plan of wearing the group out is so far, working. Another solid episode of the season!

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @julianexcalibur for more content. Contact me at julian@alternativemindz.com.

Mario & Sonic at the Tokyo Olympics 2020: 6th Time is the Charm

We, here, at Alternative Mindz, would love to thank the team behind the making of Mario & Sonic for sending an advanced copy to review.

With that, I cannot tell you (the reader), how much of a blast my family and I have had playing Mario & Sonic!

Here’s a tiny synopsis of the story: Dr. Eggman and Bowser devised a plan to trap Mario and Sonic in an 8 bit video game system, which happens to be the Tokyo 1964 Olympics. Right here is where the story and main protagonists unfolds.

The above story plays out in Story Mode, while there’s Competition Mode where you just experience the games for themselves. Story Mode is 1 player (typical RPG fashion), while Competition Mode is just that, many players can go against each other using button only mode, motion only, or both together for some games. And, naturally, there are some 2 player only games like Fencing, Sumo Wrestling and Karate.

Where this game shines is in the physics of movement. As in the Skateboarding event, you’ll be surprised by how many tricks you can pull off. I found that using the motion controls for this event was very fluid and engaging. Also, traveling back in time to Tokyo Olympics 1964 in 8-bit brings a whole new nostalgia spin to modern competitive games. Definitely has an 80’s California Games old school vibe.

Another shining point is with how accurately detailed Tokyo is here. And, being a person that has been to Tokyo 3 times, this is a huge selling factor for me. It actually feels like your at major landmarks of Tokyo like Tokyo Station, Tokyo Tower, and other stadiums built specifically for the Olympics. There’s even a “Where’s Waldo” like game with trying to find Toad right in the middle of crowded Shibuya Crossing! It’s like going back to Tokyo and saving a 14 hour flight.

Where Mario & Sonic kind of falls is with the difficulty of some of the events. My 8 year old kept getting frustrated with the Wall Climb because of how you have to jump precisely on to the rocks. And, naturally, the smaller the rock, the higher the difficulty. The Discus event also has an extensive learning curve. You have to make sure you’re holding your controller at a specific angle while manipulating the buttons precisely to get it just right to throw the disc. We ended up fouling a lot more than we should’ve, which was really quite frustrating. Also, these events are crucial to move the story along so it was very daunting trying these over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, these events do get the competitive juices flowing because my family found ourselves taking turns to see who could succeed at a mission or not, but sometimes, the level of difficulty was too intense.

My family laughed, cried, cheered and jeered, but all in all, Mario & Sonic Tokyo Olympics 2020 is THE family competitive game of the year! And with this being the 6th installment in the Mario & Sonic series, this just feels like they got it right this time.

Available in North America: November 5, 2019

MSRP: $59.99 AGE: E10+