Actor Interview: Aussie Paul Eenhoorn talks ‘Land Ho!’

Experienced Aussie actor Paul Eenhoorn was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk about his most recent role as Colin in last summer’s delightful and breezy buddy-comedy adventure Land Ho! The film tells the story of two former brothers-in-law, Colin and Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) who take a much-needed trip to Iceland to escape the humdrum of their daily lives back in the States. He also opens up about his experience in the industry, his move from Australia to Seattle and what it was like filming in Iceland.

Other notable performances of his include the titular lead in Chad Hartigan’s 2013 drama This Is Martin Bonner; as Hugh in the 2011 heist/adventure Rogue Saints; and as a Lead Detective in the controversial 2007 documentary Zoo. He’s known mostly for his affable, charming personas but he has had the opportunity to take a villainous part before and did so in the 2004 family comedy Max Rules.

Getting to visit different parts of the world to tell stories is part of the trade. You went all the way to Iceland to tell this one. I would imagine you enjoy traveling, would that be a fair assessment? Travel is the best but when you’re shooting all you get to see is locations and the road there and back. Most times that is at ungodly hours, but with Iceland we really hauled all over to get to locations. Some of which have untended roads after September so it was rough at time. Still you can’t visit Iceland and not love it.

What was it that caught your eye about this project? (If all it took was the fact you’d be getting to go to this exotic location, I wouldn’t blame you. . .) I wanted to work with Martha Stevens and Aaron Katz, they are the new wave of directors coming up. Plus the production company Gamechanger Films offered me a reasonable deal so how could I say no.

Beyond the distinct personalities, what struck me early on was the camaraderie you and Earl Lynn Nelson shared. It was as though you weren’t given a script and were instead improvising much of the dialogue. In fact, the exchanges were such that I was convinced you two had been life-long friends (despite the script having you play former brothers-in-law). Had you known Nelson before shooting the film or was it more of a ‘learn-on-the-go’ kind of experience? If you’re an actor in film you have to form that connection, with people you don’t know, otherwise it falls flat. I didn’t know Earl Lynn but we spent a weekend shooting the opening scenes and we did  Iceland a few months later . . .

One of the things that really made Land Ho! an enjoyable diversion was the unique and picturesque setting. With principal photography lasting a bit over two weeks and occurring in seven cities, including the capital port city of Reykjavík, I’d imagine the shoot introduced some challenges. What was the experience like? Were there any unique challenges of filming a movie there? It was a twenty day shoot with a couple of days off here and there. The main problem for me was that it was cold all the time. It was fall there. I pulled a muscle in my thigh and I couldn’t work it off. Basically the conditions were rugged and I wasn’t prepared for the cold at all . . .

Tell me a little bit about your character Mitch. Is he anything like you? Colin is introspective which I am at times but I’m more like Mitch in ways except I don’t do anatomy jokes . . . 

You hail from Australia but now are based out of Seattle. Has moving to the States opened up more opportunities for you? Do you have plans to return to Australia at any point? Seattle isn’t L.A. but then that’s good at times too. The quality of life in Seattle is more to my liking, And yes the U.S. offers far more opportunity than Australia I’m sorry to say. I will head back to Australia one day . . . it’s a great place to live.

Seattle is most definitely known for the iconic bands and musicians that call the city their home. I’ve visited a few times myself and have always been fascinated with how much of a cultural melting pot it really is, though I have never stopped to consider its influence on the film industry. Could you describe what it’s like living there as an actor? I’ve shot a lot in Seattle but I had to travel to L.A. to get my first break on Chad Hartigan’s film This Is Martin Bonner. L.A. is the center of the filmmaking universe though Seattle production values are fast catching up. I do other things to make money and I would rather do that close to home base than in L.A.

In the film Earl Lynn Nelson plays a rather outgoing man, a retired doctor looking to keep himself busy in retirement. I understand this role was his very first. What was it like working with him? He seems like a pretty easy guy to get along with. Earl Lynn is very consistent, you know what you’re going to get from him so that made my job easier, if you call shooting any film easy. He did do a few gigs with Martha Stevens before this one.

What was it that got you into acting? Any family influences? Nope. I started shooting television when I was younger, I was in a band too so I always knew I wanted to act. My mom was a ballerina so that may be an influence . . .

What does the future look like for you? Do you have any current projects in the works? We have shot the opening of my next film Pendulum and we will be playing that in L.A. in late October. We are looking for funding. It’s a totally different part from Martin Bonner and Land Ho! Which is a good thing I think. I have not seen the cut but we are doing a cast and crew screening the second week of October.

I would like to thank Mr. Eenhoorn for taking the time out of his schedule to talk to me. Be sure to keep an eye out for Land Ho!, which is now available to stream online or rent through several DVD vendors including RedBox. Meanwhile, I will be seeking out Pendulum in the coming months. 

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Photo credits:; Paul Eenhoorn 

Guestwriter: Mark Wahlberg gambles on Jim Bennett role

Today I’d like to share with you an interesting guest article that was proposed to me courtesy of Christine Lindon, representing an England-based marketing company, Wise Marketing. Earlier this year I had posted a review of Mark Wahlberg’s then-latest film, the Rupert Wyatt-directed drama The Gambler. Given that Wahlberg is currently promoting a brand new comedy this weekend, Ted 2 (an important sequel, right. . . ?) this spotlight on Wahlberg is perfectly timed. I’d like to thank Christine for reaching out to me, and Amanda Cole for the write-up.

For actors that are renowned for being typecast in action movies and slapstick comedies, getting the proverbial monkey off their back can be challenging. Arguably, some don’t help their case but in Hollywood, nothing is as pleasant as it may seem.

When Mark Wahlberg made his screen debut in the 1995 film The Basketball Diaries alongside Leonardo DiCaprio he was already trying to shed his previous Marky Mark moniker that he acquired from his days as a model and rapper-of-sorts. Regardless of a sterling performance alongside a stellar cast of fledgling actors, it was evident it would take a lot of time for Wahlberg to leave his past behind.

Fast-forward 20 years and the Hollywood mainstay is still struggling to convince critics of his validity as a serious actor. However, if you dig deep and sift through the many films he’s featured in, there are notable performances in there: Lone Survivor, Shooter and his most recent The Gambler. But unfortunately industry hacks always remind the common reader of films such as 2 Guns, Planet of the Apes, Three Kings and the risqué Boogie Nights.

He’s also made forays into work behind the camera most notably co-producing the phenomenally successful Boardwalk Empire, which received a multitude of awards during its 5 seasons on network television. Though he seldom receives the praise he should.

However, probably his biggest gamble of late was with the remake of the 1974 classic The Gambler, which originally starred the revered James Caan. Wahlberg adopted the role of suave yet ultimately flawed English professor Jim Bennett. Rolling Stone reveals that he prepared for the role by eating less than usual and playing a lot of Texas Hold‘em, which Betfair describes as one of the most action-packed and prestigious poker variants. It was a different role than we’ve become accustomed to Wahlberg taking on, yet he executed it with consummate ease.

Paramount Pictures invested heavily in the film and also forecasted sizeable revenues from the film – something that never materialized. The film cost the production company a reported $25 million to make with it only recouping $33 million globally. Paramount had originally projected that they would make $25 million in the first week of the film’s release but this didn’t happen due to stiff competition at the latter part of 2014 from The Hobbit and Into the Woods.

So, with The Gambler being deemed a flop due its Box Office ratings, how did Wahlberg fare after the film’s release? Surprisingly well, and this praise was duly warranted. Wahlberg’s portrayal of the wistful and charismatic Bennett was a splendor to watch among an altogether lackluster performance from his supporting cast that included the portly John Goodman.

It was a role that Wahlberg was able to flex his acting muscles as opposed to his physique for once. A role that director Rupert Wyatt thought was ideal for Wahlberg and he proved his peer right.

Mark Wahlberg and Michael Kenneth Williams in ‘The Gambler’

But why didn’t the film live up to expectations? It’s strange because there’s obviously a market for it as gambling on a whole is still widespread even in the United States. Although online casinos don’t operate in all 50 states because of the Black Friday closures, it still commands large revenue streams. Although many are now prohibited in the United States, the online industry is still worth $9.3 billion annually. Poker is as popular as it has ever been, as is Las Vegas jaunts with Sin City welcoming 41 million people in 2014 to visit.

The stats don’t lie that there’s a market for a film like The Gambler but the films that have been released in this niche pose the issue. Casino films haven’t performed well at the Box Office for a considerable amount of time. Ben Affleck’s Runner Runner or the indie Poker Night featuring Ron Perlman are all examples of this. There’s even the 2015 flick, Wild Card, featuring Jason Statham that made a meager $3,000. So, it’s not a surprise that producers and actors like Wahlberg are thinking twice about venturing into this niche of films.

So, did the gamble pay off for Wahlberg? It definitely didn’t win him any fans at Paramount because of the poor return on investment. But you could definitely lodge a serious argument that the sniggers from industry critics could be put on ice for a while.

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