On Friday, April 15, byteclay.com was on the red carpet for the world premiere of “Wolves” at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film was written and directed by Bart Freundlich. It stars Michael Shannon, Carla Gugino, Taylor John Smith, Chris Bauer and John Douglas Thompson. It follows high school basketball star Anthony Keller. He is a senior and is being recruited by Cornell. He is captain of his team, popular, a good student and his life seems perfect. But in reality at home, Anthony struggles with his troubled father (Shannon) who has a gambling addiction. His Mother Jenny (played by Gugino) makes great emotional sacrifices to keep the family afloat. Julianne Moore, Malin Akerman, Connie Britton, Bart Freundlich, Katie Couric, Carla Gugino, Taylor John Smith, Christopher Meyer, Chris Bauer and John Douglas Thompson attended the official after-party at No. 8 with beverages provided by Freixenet. Read our exclusive red carpet interviews below:
Shaina Moskowitz: Speak about what attracted you to the project.
Taylor John Smith: Bart Freundlich is the writer and director of this and his story is his baby. If you get a chance to work with someone who wrote and directed a story, they have total creative control of it, and they want to take good care of their actors, and take care of their characters, and develop it to be the best it can be. Once I read the script, I immediately knew that Anthony was the character I wanted to play. I wanted to connect with him and bring him to life in a way that gave a little bit of closure and freedom to me at the same time. I found a lot of myself in Anthony and wanted to explore that, express that, and invest what I knew how and tell Anthony’s story as honest possible.
SM: Micheal’s such a brilliant actor. Can you speak about working with him?
TJS: That caliber of talent that Mike and Carla, when you walk on set they force you to up your game. He had so much wisdom and guidance to give me, not only about acting, but life and career choices, and what it takes to be a man, and I truly look up to Michael, not only as an actor, but a human being. I was very grateful for that experience.
SM: What about having Carla as your mom?
TJS: Well, I happen to have the hottest mom in the world. She’s amazing. She’s a sweetheart. She brought cold brew coffee and snacks every morning. We’d blast music in the chair to get the day going, and then when we get to set this being would come out of nowhere and it’s Carla. There’s something magnetic about her and she’s brilliant at what she does. She’s extremely talented and focused, and like I said, that caliber of talent is hard to come by so you have to jump at the opportunity to get it.
SM: How was it playing that dual side of this character where he has one thing going on at school and something else going on at home?
TJS: Everybody’s got that double sided of life, I think. You have the life that you portray to other people and then you have what’s really going on internally, and you kind of fight to keep the two separate, and then sometimes that personal life spills over into your public life. That’s what happens in this movie. He kind of loses control and has to make a decision whether or not he’s going to do the right thing and make the right choice, or stay in shadows.
SM: Tell me about the role you play.
Christopher Meyer: I play Hakim the Dream. He’s Taylor’s best friend. He’s pretty much the comic relief of the movie, you know what I’m saying. He’s just the heart of the trio, pretty much.
SM: Speak about what attracted you to the project.
CM: Honestly, I’m in love with the game of basketball period. Acting is my passion, so to be able to mix the both of those two, it’s a once in a lifetime type of thing for me.
SM: What was it like working with Bart, the director?
CM: Bart is patient, that’s what I value about him the most. He works really well with young actors too.
SM: What other projects are you working on?
CM: Well, actually, I had another movie premiere at Tribeca yesterday. It’s called “Kicks.” I play Rico, one of the main characters. He’s kind of like a ladies man kind of a guy. He’s the kid in the group that like he’s good at everything. Everybody kind of looks up to Rico in the scenes, you know?
SM: What was it like working with the director of “Kicks” Justin Tipping?
CM: He’s about 30 years old, it’s just new for me working with such young directors like that, collaborating and you know.
SM: Was it like interesting to you that Biggie’s son, Christopher Jordan Wallace, is in that project?
CM: Man, I grew up in Brooklyn, so Biggie’s like Jesus to me. For CJ to be one of my best friends now, and for me to be working in that movie is like a dream come true. I know his people. I know Biggie’s mom now. I know his mom. It’s a blessing.
SM: Can you speak about working with Mahershala Ali?
CM: He’s a veteran. That’s what I can say. He’s a veteran. He knows exactly what he’s doing, and he had a lot of love and knowledge to give us young folks too. Yeah, I appreciate him.
SM: Why should people check out “Kicks”?
CM: Because it’s new. It’s the wave. Black cinema is coming up so fast, you know. I thank things like Tribeca for giving us a platform to shine.
SM: You’re from Brooklyn. How did you get your start?
CM: I went to an arts school actually in southern Florida. I didn’t think I could act until I was watching like Fresh Prince one day and I was like, “Hey, I could do that.” You know what I’m saying? Looking at Will Smith, I mean, I went to art school. That’s how I met my manager and all that good stuff.
Later on, Dev Patel and Devika Bhise celebrated the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of “Man Who Knew Infinity” at the official after-party sponsored by Bira 91 at Goldbar.