Interviews - Movies

Michelle Parylak – Hanging With Momma

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Q.  What are some of the current projects that you’ve been working on?

A.  I do have a project that was supposed to be filming this November, but it was postponed again and again.  It is entitled “Once In A Lifetime – “Just Go For It!”  I’m really looking forward to leading in this film.  I play a single mom struggling with love, life, fate and it is all intertwined with pieces of alcoholism.  It has a couple of great character actors like Ed Asner and Dick Van Patten, both of whom I really am looking forward to working with.  It’s being written and produced by first time writer/director Randolph Hirsch and should be going in May.  So, aside from that I sometimes write and produce theater here in Los Angeles and am always busy chasing the next project.  It’s a constant work in progress.

Q.  We know that you can also be seen soon in the movie Big Momma’s House 2.  What can you tell us about the premise for the film and your character?

To sum it up and not give anything away, is that Malcom Turner, played by Martin Lawrence, is a software executive choosing to go undercover by recreating Big Momma – working as a nanny, to uncover US defense secrets.  I come in during the spa scene, as JoAnne, trying to help Emily Proctor’s character butter Big Momma back up after she fired “her” the night before.  A lot goes on.  It gets sticky, slippery and even a little muddy but we all survived the event.

Q.  What made you want to be a part of it?

A.  Being involved with Martin Lawrence and the director John Whitesell it was very much a package interest for me.  Absolutely having the opportunity to travel to New Orleans to work there was very exciting as well.  My role didn’t actually come to me in that form.  Originally there was another character that I wanted to play.   There is a strong woman that lives inside of me that I think should be portrayed more often than it is.  So, I wanted to be the gun carrying tough guy and I was able to convince them to a certain degree.  Then it just wasn’t working out, I guess my youthful spirit and face got the best of me, so what they did is offer me a role in the spa.  I really had a lot of experience with dramatic work with many projects on stage, but they are different beasts.  Stage and film that is. I have a huge resume in the area of theater and with Big Momma I really was intrigued first of all by a comedy, doing a comedy, and working with such a talented cast.

Q.  How was getting to work with director John Whitesell on the film?

A.  It was amazing.  He’s a very sweet, yet focused man.  Incredible for sure.  He’s like this big teddy bear.

Q.  Why should viewers take the time to check out this movie?

A.  If you love to laugh as I do, come jiggle your tummy with us.  When I saw the trailer, I couldn’t believe how great it looked.  By the way it was filmed it looks like a great big, giant piece of cinematic candy.  It was a lot of fun to make and I think it will be hysterical to watch, so I think it would be worth somebody’s while if they are looking to lift their spirits a little bit. I had a wonderful opportunity this season to see pretty much every new release imaginable, and they are all so fantastic.  What I did notice is that ninety-eight percent of them were so heavy and dramatic.  I just think that this is a much lighter, breezier ending to a dramatic season.

Q.  You had the opportunity to be on the SAG Nominating Committee and the Golden Globes are approaching.  Will you be watching the big event?

A.  Oh, I absolutely have been watching all afternoon, I love the Golden Globes.  I love all of the award shows. I definitely have favorites. I always have strong opinions and this year is no different.  I can’t wait to see if my predictions actually do come true.

Q.  When taking on a role how do you transform yourself into the character?

A.  I saw a lot of true character molding inTransamericaCapote and Willy Wonka this year, but those types of roles are rare.  It’s a process and the processes are sometimes different.  I don’t normally believe that there is a lot of transformation to be done unless there is a dialect, vocal twist, or physicality that is not familiar to myself.  Hair transforms. Costumes.  So does ones make up.  Getting to the place of accessible, raw, on the surface emotion is where the consistent challenges lie.  If its love, or greed for example, that drives my character I need to know that first.  Then it’s a matter of how deeply I need to dig within my own experience to bring out what is right for a given character. I don’t know about transformations, a lot of people ask that.  I cannot look at a role as that kind of thing.  I do the work and the “transformation” is more of an end result and not a fore thought.  I usually find that either I’m cast because somebody recognizes the quality that I have that is the same as the character that they are trying to bring to life.  Or, I’m drawn to something because there is something similar in the experience that I’ve lived through.  There is normally just the tapping into something that is already there and already mine that I bring to the surface.  It’s not necessarily a transformation, you can’t be somebody that you are not already.

Q.  What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

A.  I love writing and reading and I co-found a theater company out here in Los Angeles.  It came together as the result of a class I took with some former classmates and a teacher that I had at a studio in New York.  Actually, we’re sort of having a down period right now.  We’ve put on three productions in two years, but then went idol all of last year.  I think a lot of us are writing separately and we’ll be getting back together very soon to work on our next performance.

Q.  What is your latest obsession?  Are you into any particular book, sport, music group or activity?

Perhaps my greatest passion right now is travel.  I love everything about traveling, except the jet lag.  The change of pace, food, people, scenery, language, and the obsessions of those living outside of Los Angeles.  I have recently been thinking of all the places I have been in the last few years and it truly amazes me.  I come from a plane-petrified family, so the fact that I have willingly crossed several oceans is quite a feat.   I have been actively trying to figure out how to put those experiences to good use.  It is also an aspect of the film industry that excites me.  So many projects are filmed in such amazing places.  I cannot think of a better job than striving toward one, which has the potential of paying you to stretch the limits of your soul while traveling the world.  I also have a passion for music.  Growing up there was always music in my home.  Its been a while and sometimes I find myself day dreaming about the those days.  Still, whenever I call my parents, and it seems like no matter what day it is or what time, (that’s not true but it always seems like it), whenever they pick up the phone my dad would be playing the accordion in the background.  What also was interesting about being in New Orleans was that they did have a lot of accordion music.  Maybe that’s what started it actually, my passion for seeking out music featuring the accordion.  Though Cajun is different than European, I have been collecting music relating to the accordion.

Q.  Now that it is 2006, what are you most looking forward to this year?

A.  Oh my gosh, that’s a really great question and the difference between this year and any other year is that this year I don’t have any expectations.  This year I look forward to the things that are going to happen that I haven’t planned.  I look forward to working hard towards my goals and seeing which of them and more come my way, I think that’s the difference.  So, I look forward this year most to the unexpected.


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