Richard and “CP24 Breakfast” host Pooja Handa have a look at some special streaming opportunities and television shows to watch over the weekend including the Disney+ adult animated series “Solar Opposites,” the final season of “Shameless” on Crave, the International Women’s Day Film Series on line and the coming of age movie “Eighth Grade” on Crave.
Jane Levy has a diverse resume that includes the cable hit Shameless (where she dies in a most fiery way), the sitcom Suburgatory and the 2013 remake of Evil Dead. But her new film, Bang Bang Baby takes her back to where she began: singing and dancing.
“I did musical theatre, mostly because it was the only theatre available, not to say anything negative about that, but I wanted to be an actor. I loved drama and that was the way to do it so I was in all the plays. I was in Annie. I was in Oklahoma. I was in Annie Get Your Gun and The Wizard of Oz,” When she was seven years old the California native recalls about her seven -year-old self.
She warbled her way through Broadway-style shows until she was about thirteen when she traded the stage for the soccer field. It took a few years but eventually she felt a familiar draw.
“I was eighteen and I just finished my first year of college and I hated school,” she says. “I was miserable the whole year and I couldn’t quite figure out why.
“I was in Europe with my friend and I said, ‘You know what? I’m not going to do it anymore. I’m not going to school. Why not pursue the thing that I know has always been, deep down, my dream?’”
She’s back to basics in Bang Bang Baby, a strange new big screen sci-fi musical that gives her the chance to strut her stuff. In it, she plays Stepphy, a 1960s teenager whose dreams of rock ’n’ roll stardom are dashed when a chemical leak in her town causes mass mutations and “threatens to turn her dream into a nightmare.”
When she first saw the script she says, “I thought, how cool and how strange. I thought it would be a challenge to explore singing and dancing which is something I had done as a kid but not since. And I also thought how unusual, how peculiar, how fun.”
Levy has a whole slate of films on the way, including the much-anticipated animated movie Monster Trucks, but the best part of it all, she says, is that she is able to act in a variety of projects.
“For me, I feel like this is the thing I have to do. This is the thing I enjoy the most and this is the thing I’m best at.”
For many performers playing the Metropolitan Opera alongside Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti would be a career crowning achievement. To Emmy (that’s short for Emmanuelle) Rossum it was just another day at work. She made $5 a night singing with the children’s choir. “There was a horse on stage in a Zeffirelli production that got one hundred and fifty a night,” she laughs, before adding that the experience taught her to never take a job for the money. “You really realize you’re there because you love it,” she says.
Rossum, the New York City raised star of Shameless (which airs on TMN and Movie Central this month), left the opera at age twelve, frustrated that solos were only handed out to the boys. She took with her a work ethic: Be prepared, be on time. It’s a privilege to perform for a living. “Those are the ideas I’ve taken to every set with me.”
Her early resume looks like a lot of New York City based actor’s. A stint on As the World Turns here. A guest shot on Law & Order there. But it was a role as gap-toothed Appalachian orphan in the film Songcatcher that made people stand up and notice her. The movie showcased the preteen’s acting ability—she was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance—and gave her the chance to show off her singing skills, performing five tunes on the soundtrack, including a song with one of her idols.
“Having a chance to record with Dolly Parton was something I’ll never forget,” she says of When Love Is New, a country duet that appears on the soundtrack.
The low budget film—just 2 million dollars total—led to more work, including playing title character from ages 12 to 16 in the television movie The Audrey Hepburn Story and the small, but crucial part of Katie Markum, Sean Penn’s daughter murdered daughter, in her first major studio film, Mystic River.
“When I arrived on the set the first day, [director Clint Eastwood] was incredibly warm,” she says. “But before the day ended, he was yelling at me for calling him Mister Eastwood. He’s a very quiet man who doesn’t say much, but you better listen, because, if he says something, it’ll be damned important.”
Working with Eastwood was exciting, but every career has a moment, a crack in time when an actor goes from unknown to known and for Emmy it was yet to come. Her career had been a slow build, from small roles in big films (Mystic River) and big roles in small films (like the urban fairy tale-romantic comedy Nola), that lead to 2004, her breakout year.
First the 18 year old spent six months shooting the wild end-of-the-world epic The Day After Tomorrow. With a budget of $85,807,341 the global warming disaster movie probably cost more than all of Emmy’s previous films combined, but it gave the young actress a showcase for one of her pet causes. “One of the reasons I’m glad I did The Day After Tomorrow is because it opened a dialogue about the effects of global warming,” she says, despite the movie being listed by Yahoo! Movies listed the film as one of the Top 10 Scientifically Inaccurate Movies of all time.
The second part of her 2004 breakout took her back to her stage roots. Fresh from Day After Tomorrow’s grueling shoot she auditioned for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber who hired her to play Christine in the film version of The Phantom of the Opera. “Actually I didn’t think I would get it just because it was too big. They don’t normally give Hollywood ninety-million dollar budgeted musicals to un-famous sixteen-year- olds.”
Amazingly she had never seen the stage show before taking the role, but she put an indelible stamp on the character, but it wasn’t easy. “I was wearing corsets the entire six months which were insanely uncomfortable and prohibited me eating any solid food all day long besides ice cream which would melt and actually pass my esophagus. It had enough sugar to actually sustain me and give me enough energy.”
Since then she has worked steadily. Her CD Inside Out was a mixture of pop-rock electronica, new age and classical. She’s lent her name to causes like breast cancer awareness and Global Green USA and of course, has stared in high profile films like Poseidon and the wild action flick Dragonball Evolution.
But despite all her achievements she hasn’t let Hollywood go to her head. “I would say a big accomplishment is that I’ve stayed true to who I am and not let fame affect me.”