Fatima Nasir

Fatima Nasir Institute: Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did your career begin in makeup?

Fatima: I’m self-taught – I’ve been passionate about makeup since I was 15, and I’ve spent most of my time since then to read, watch, practice, research and learn as much as possible. The interesting thing about learning makeup through formal education is that when you’re building your own style, you need to unlearn what you’ve been taught in order to truly own your work. I’m also a fashion designer (with a college education and a successful business in that field) and I’ve used my experience there to be holistic in planning and executing my projects. I’ve also spent a lot of time learning the ropes inside studios by learning retouching and photography – all of this helps me be a better makeup artist because I know how all the different disciplines are connected and how one change here affects something else over there.

Institute: What is your number one beauty tip?

Fatima: Sleep and eat well. Workout and live a healthy life. De-stress. Some people think makeup is supposed to ‘cover up’ but in reality it’s there to enhance and highlight the best of you. If your skin is in good health, you will look great, with or without makeup.

Fatima Nasir3Institute: Do you like creating out-there looks, or do you prefer classical beauty?

Fatima: In a competitive industry you need to stand out when you’re starting, and most of initial portfolio has been about creating completely unique looks. However, creating classical looks is a core aspect of any makeup artist’s training so it’s not something you can ignore. As you evolve as an artist, your goal should be to master all types of looks, and let the project determine what you need to create. Personally, I like creating something that is unique and memorable.

Fatima Nasir2Institute: What is favorite makeup brand?

Fatima: Yaby Cosmetics. Because it’s super pigmented, has an amazing selection of colours, it’s compact. It’s everything that a makeup artist needs.

Institute: What is in your makeup bag?

Fatima: Chanel VITALUMIÈRE, Chanel Bronzer Universal, Chanel Powder Universal, MAC Clear Lipgloss, Stila Convertible Color Dual Lip/Cheek Palette, MAC Brow Gel and Maybelline Great Lash Mascara.

Institute: Does everyone look better with makeup?

Fatima: Makeup isn’t simply about applying products. It’s a process – what’s your outcome – are you going to a red carpet event or out to have dinner with friends? What’s your personal brand? Are you an out-there, extravagant, statement-maker or a reserved person. Just as you dress for the occasion and according to your personal style, your makeup depends on who you are and what you want. Makeup – done right – will make anyone look better. Done poorly – oh well… :)

Institute: What would be your advice to someone who suffers with bad skin?

Fatima: Hydration, change your diet, see a dermatologist, change your makeup if you can identify something that aggravates your skin. Healthy skin is the foundation of creating a great look.

Fatima Nasir5Institute: If you could obtain a Super power what would it be?

Fatima: A magic makeup wand. A makeup artist’s work is like magic in any case, isn’t it?

Institute: How do you keep yourself occupied in between projects?

Fatima: I’m usually researching and preparing for future projects, learning new techniques and perfecting old ones, and of course, traveling. I make sure I get some quiet time at home now and then to recharge the batteries.

Fatima Nasir6Institute: Who influenced you in your early years? Who is your biggest influence now?

Fatima: Kevyn Aucoin is top of my list – he’s an industry-defining icon whose work I’ve learned a lot from, and been inspired by. There’s also Alex Box – another artist whose work I really admire. These days I get my inspiration from a lot of different sources – I do tons of research before each project to ensure that I can create unique, original looks. As you evolve as an artist, it’s less about following others and more about developing your own style, so everything I do now, I can proudly say it’s my own creation.

Institute: How hard do you push yourself?

Fatima: Depends on your definition, doesn’t it :) I just worked on a 6-day catalogue shoot, 12-14 hour days. Shoots like those take preparation, so it’s 1-2 days of full prep and then a week of a whole lotta work and very little sleep. Being in good health is crucial and very under-rated for any artist. If you’re working long hours with little sleep, your fitness is your base of support for surviving everything. I’m always challenging myself to improve when I’m working on a project, even if it is just by 1% each time.

Fatima Nasir4Institute: Favorite city?

Fatima: London.

Institute: Favorite hotel?

Fatima: Shigar Fort – it’s a 17th century palace in the scenic north of Pakistan, restored over a decade ago. A fantastic place to go to unwind and see the mountains.

Institute: Favorite restaurant?

Fatima: Armani Ristorante.

Institute: signature scent?

Fatima: J’Adore by Christian Dior.

Institute: Style icon ?

Fatima: Grace Kelly.

Institute: Home is?

Fatima: Where my husband is. And my cat.

Fatima Nasir7Institute: I love …

Fatima: Shopping. Can’t get enough of it.

Institute: I hate…

Fatima: Unprofessional and rude people.

Institute: latest purchase ?

Fatima: A DSLR camera.

Institute: currently listening to?

Fatima: The Heavy.

Institute: You can never have too many?

Fatima: Books.

Institute: Beauty Essential?

Fatima: Moisturiser and Tinted Lip Balm.

Favorite website – Amazon.

Institute: Where do you think trends are created ?

Fatima: Artists borrowing ideas and applying their own takes to them. It’s an iterative process, and while you do get outliers where something completely unique comes along and takes the fashion world by storm, usually it’s done slower, iteration on iteration, until an artist is confident enough to unleash their creation in a fashion show or photo shoot.

Institute: Highlight of your career to date?

Fatima: I recently wrapped up a catalogue project working with Khaadi, one of the top clothing brands in Pakistan. The shoot will be on billboards, TV and print media nation-wide in June 2015.

Institute: Top Five Fashion Essentials?

Fatima: Swarovski Watch, Vince Camuto Bag, Bvlgari Sunglasses, Pretty Ballerinas Shoes and Mexx Clothing

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Follow Fatima:







Mary Elizabeth Winstead

The Thing2 editInstitute: What made you take the career path as an actress?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: I’ve always been a performer in one sense or another- from the time I was about 2 years old. I always needed to be singing or dancing, and I gravitated towards a stage whenever I saw one. I tried my hand at pretty much everything in that realm, and as soon as I got the chance to act I knew there was no going back from that. Especially once I realized it could actually be a job. I was, and still am, in awe of the fact that you could be paid to do something so incredibly fun. 2014 has quite possibly been the best year yet for me. I feel like I’m doing the kind of projects and roles I’ve always wanted to do and very much on my own terms which is something I’ve really tried to work towards. My husband and I made a feature film together this year called “Faults” and I’m so proud of it. It was amazing to get to see something come to fruition like that by one another’s side.

Institute: We are excited to see ‘Kill The Messenger’ can you tell us a bit about that?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Kill the Messenger is a true story about Gary Webb who was a journalist for the San Mercury News in the mid nighties. He fell into this incredibly huge story involving the CIA and their ties to the crack epidemic in the US. Basically the CIA was aware of drugs being trafficked in large quantities into the country by people who were involved with the Nicaraguan Contras, and did nothing to stop it. The story became huge and salacious and subsequently very exaggerated as it was picked up by other outlets, and people tried to get Webb to back off the story. But he refused. It’s amazing that this happened in our recent history and we hear so little about it.

The Thing2Institute: What drew you to the part of Anna Simons? Institute: How was it working alongside Jeremy Renner?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: I was very excited to play Anna, as she’s the editor of the paper and quite an authoritative figure. And yet, she is still young and relatively inexperienced and not perfect. She’s smart and strong, but also fallible. She gets in a little over her head when the story breaks and her relationship with Gary becomes strained. It was great to get to play out this friendship/working relationship with Jeremy onscreen. He’s such an incredible actor and it was so easy to feel so many things for him in any given scene. Gary can be very frustrating for Anna at times, but what she sees him go through is ultimately heartbreaking.

Institute: You have worked alongside some incredible talent, who has been the most influential?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: It was great to watch Jeremy work- he’s such a free and instinctual actor. You never know what choices he’s going to make from scene to scene and that’s always really exciting and invigorating to act alongside. I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of actors who inspire me in so many ways.

Institute: You also star in this years anticipated ‘The Hollars’ What was the auditioning process like?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: In that case, John Krasinski wrote me a lovely letter asking if I would play the role and I was more than happy to oblige. I hadn’t met him before but was excited to get the chance to work with him as well as the rest of that amazing cast. Speaking of inspiring actors- Richard Jenkins is someone I’ve been lucky to be in a couple films with now and I think he’s an absolute master. Just jaw droopingly brilliant.

The Thing23Institute: How do you keep yourself occupied in between projects?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: This year has been so busy with work I haven’t had time for much else, which is of course a good problem to have. Ultimately I try to make time to visit family who are spread out all over the country and to be at home with my husband and our dogs. I have a band called Got a Girl with Dan the Automator, so that’s been a fun diversion from acting. We write and record and perform when we can. We put an album out just this past July.

Institute: What has been a stand-out out moment in your career so far?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: I’ve had a few that have felt like personal milestones for me, but I think the film that still stands out for people is Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. I feel proud to be known as “Ramona Flowers” to the fans of that film. It’s gained quite a cult following over the past few years and I really hope it continues to grow. I’d be more than happy if that turns out to be the project I’m remembered for because it’s just such a great and completely unique film.

Institute: How hard do you push yourself?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: I push myself hard in terms of what I expect of myself- I push myself not to settle or be lazy as an actor. But I’ve never been a complete workaholic. I definitely need balance in my life.

Institute: What are some of the greatest fears you think actors face?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Of course failure is a huge one. For me one of my greatest fears has always been not reaching my full potential. I want to always be working to get better. I’d be really sad if I ever gave up that need, and I definitely have a fear of losing it.

Institute: Could you single out a person who has had a profound impact on you in the last 5 years?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: I did a film called Smashed a couple of years ago and it was a real turning point for me. Something in me clicked wen I was working on that film, and I really understood how it felt to be doing the kind of work that makes me truly happy. So I’ve been trying to follow that voice ever since. I’m really thankful to James Ponsoldt, the director of that film, for helping me find that voice.

The Thing25favorite city –

(so far) Rome

favorite hotel

SoHo London

Favorite restaurant


signature scent


home is


I love


 I hate

People who lack empathy. And also blue cheese.

latest purchase

Several pieces from a shop in Vancouver called Oak and Fort

currently listening to

 David Bowie’s “Five Years” on repeat

you can never have too many

mornings of sleeping in late

Beauty Essential

Anything by Renee Rouleau skin care her products are the best. My favorite is the Vitamin C and E serum. Beauty tip – Always wear sunscreen. I also love Elizabeth Arden 8 hour lip cream and apply it often. I like a relatively clean moisturized face versus a lot of make up.

favorite website I spend a lot of time on Jezebel.com. It’s just one of those sites that if I go to it, I know there will be pages of content I won’t be able to stop reading. For shopping I’ve discovered the Outnet.com which is discounted designer clothing, and is dangerous for my online shopping habit.

where do you think trends are created – Definitely within youth culture. I find myself scoffing at the “things kids are into these days” only to sometimes adopt those same trends down the line. I like to think I don’t fall prey to trends but I’ve noticed this happening a few times!

Top Five Fashion Essentials – Dior sunglasses Rag and bone boots oversized vintage hat black and white lace dress by Sandro comfortable black jumpsuit

Oh Land

Institute: Do you remember the first time you realised you wanted to become a musician?

Oh Land: I never gave it much thought, it just happened naturally so that suddenly everything I did was to make music and after a while I was like “wow- I guess I’m a musician”.

Institute: Both your parents are musicians, do they ever offer advice?

Oh Land: My Mom is always critical of my performances. I guess she can’t put her work aside. It’s in her blood being a vocal coach. But I think she has understood that I have my own idea of how to sound and she is fully supportive of that.

Institute: Your mother is a classically trained opera singer, how would you say that has influenced you?

Oh Land:  I grew up with singing and lots of it. Opera is pretty flamboyant and I think that definitely influenced my style in music. I like when it’s big sounding with lots of strings and layers.

Institute: You used to look in the mirror and see a dancer, what do you see now?

Oh Land: I see myself detached of anything I do. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. Everyone else wants to put a label on you, why would you want to do that to yourself.

Institute: Do you still have a love of dance?

Oh Land: I love dance and the freedom of the movement. I often picture myself doing a million pirouettes.

Institute: Does living in New York heavily influence your writing?

Oh Land: I am influenced by people and stories more than places. But there was definitely an infatuation phase when I moved to New York, I wrote a few songs about the city. White nights is inspired by NYC.

Institute: What has been your biggest highlight to date?

Oh Land: As much as I love being a support act I think headlining my own shows always leaves the biggest impression. Watching people sing along to my music, everything melts together.

Institute: Do you have a personal favourite Oh Land track?

Oh Land: It changes all the time with my mood. When I’m sad it’s the darker ones like Lean and Wolf and I.

Institute: What is your all time favourite song?

Oh Land: I have alot. “Because” by Beatles. “I Play Dead” by Bjork. “Idioteque” by Radiohead…..”Where is My Mind” by Pixies.

Institute: Does fashion enhance your performance?

Oh Land: I think clothes are definitely a big part of appearances and artistic expression. I always dress like the emotions in my songs.

Institute: As a musician do you feel more aware of the way you dress?

Oh Land: As a child the dressers from The Royal Danish Opera House would look after me while my Mom was on stage, clothes and fashion have always been a big part of my life. I spend alot of time collaborating with designers to create the perfect atmosphere for my shows.

Edoardo Ballerini

EdoardoBallerini Interview

EdoardoBallerini Interview2

Institute: What made you take the career path as an actor?

Edoardo: It’s an odd story. I was studying Latin in Rome the summer after I graduated from college and I saw an call for American actors. It looked intriguing, and I was bored, so I thought I’d check it out. From there, it all kind of rolled. I ended up joining that theater company of ex-pats, then came back to New York and started studying, and before I knew it I was on a set. I’ve never looked back.

Institute: Can you tell us about your character Frank Goodnight in the BBC drama Ripper Street?

Edoardo: Frank Goodnight was an absolutely delicious role. Two parts bastard, one part enigma. Without giving too much away, he’s a Pinkerton Detective that has a backstory with Homer Jackson (played by Adam Rothenberg), and ends up traveling to London to settle a score. I had a wonderful experience on “Ripper Street.” The cast, crew and director were all brilliant. I didn’t want it to end.

Institute: What attracted you to the part?

Edoardo: First off, I was delighted to be asked, When I read the part I started salivating. There was something that ran deep in Goodnight, something that made him who he was, and I wanted to find it. And I like playing bad guys. They’re more challenging. You have to find a way to be liked while you’re disliked. If an audience just hates you, you’ve failed. You have to find something appealing and intriguing, even if the part calls for you to do awful things. It’s a tricky balance. It can be much tougher than playing the hero.

I also particularly love period pieces, and I’ve done a few now (HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” the feature film “No God, No Master” with David Strathairn, my own short film on Rudolph Valentino, a pilot last year for ABC) and I’d known about “Ripper Street” for a while. It had also been a lifelong dream to work in Europe. I grew up between New York and Milan, and I practically moved to London years back, but never actually worked abroad. On top of all that, “Ripper Street” filmed in Dublin, which was a further treat for me. In a different life I was something of a James Joyce scholar, so I got to plunge back into some of my old scholarly pursuits while I was there. It was a perfect combination for me.

EdoardoBallerini Interview4

Institute: Do you ever become emotionally involved with your characters?

Edoardo: When I was younger, I did get caught up emotionally with my characters, yes. Less so now. Years ago I did a film called “Dinner Rush.” I played a chef. Danny Aiello was my father, and one of the story lines was our battle for the restaurant. When we wrapped filming, I walked off the set and started weeping. I’d lived in the character for weeks and it was like he died. I’m still enormously fond of that film.

Institute: Does your costume complete your character transformation?

Edoardo: Costumes, especially in period dramas, make the man. They really do. When I first got a look at myself in Frank Goodnight’s clothes for “Ripper Street” I thought, “Oh, hello. There you are.” I’d say the same about sets, too. When I saw the backlot at Clancy Barracks in Dublin, I could see the world in a way it was impossible to before.

Institute: Do you have any great inspirations?

Edoardo: I take inspiration wherever I can find it. I think that may be the Joycean in me. Putting together seemingly random and disparate pieces into a big puzzle in my head. A guy standing on the subway platform can be as moving to me as a Picasso or any other great work of art. If I get to the end of the day and feel like I haven’t been inspired, I know that I just wasn’t paying attention.

Institute: When was the first time you realized you wanted to become an actor?

Edoardo: As I say, I kind of slid into becoming an actor. There was no single “Aha!” moment where I thought I had to be on stage or on screen. But I do remember my first time on a professional set. It was the show “Law & Order.” I was playing an autistic boy, and I was petrified. To the point where I could barely do anything. When we finished filming the first day, I went back to my trailer to get changed. There was a knock on the door and Matthew Penn, the episode’s director, was standing there. I thought maybe he’d come to tell me I’d been fired. Instead he smiled and said, “You did great today.” That might have been the moment I realized I could do this.

EdoardoBallerini Interview6

Institute: Could you single out a person who has had a profound impact on you in the last 5 years?

Edoardo: Picking one single person is tough. The last five years have been quite transformative. They’ve been shaped by all sorts of people – friends and family, colleagues and strangers, and full of triumphs and failures. I made some bold changes to myself and my life, my work and career, and I’m happy to say that a lot of what I’ve set out to do, I’ve been able to do. I’m looking forward to the next five years.

Institute: Do you have a preference when it comes to TV, film and theatre?

Edoardo: I prefer film, to be honest. Stage is marvelous, but has never felt like my true home. There’s a decided thrill and magic to live performance, of course, but for whatever reason, it never really got its hooks in me. Television is a great place to work, especially on the cable shows, but can get bogged down by its own formulas after a while. Even the best of the best shows struggle to stay fresh, it seems. But film is where the grand experiments can really take place, particularly on the independent level. That’s what has always interested me. I’d rather try something and have it fail, than do the same old thing over and over.

Institute: How do you keep yourself occupied in-between projects?

Edoardo: In-between film and tv projects these days I do a great deal of narration work. I’m pleased to say that a book I voiced last year called “Beautiful Ruins” was twice cited as “Best of 2012,” first by Salon.com, then by Audible.com. It’s a whole new branch of my career, and I’m loving it. Every project is a one-man show. Beyond that, I have film projects of my own that I’m either in post-production or pre-production on, so there’s never a moment’s rest these days.

Institute: What are you working on at the moment?

Edoardo: I have two main projects right now, one is a feature film called “Omphalos” that is nearly complete. A brilliant young director named Gabriel Judet-Weinshel wrote it, and we produced it together. The second is a film project still in its infancy, but that I’m hoping to shoot over the course of the year. It’s one of those grand experiments I mentioned earlier, so we’ll see where it leads. Other than that, I’ll just keep looking around and enjoy the inspiration all around me.

EdoardoBallerini Interview8

James Badge Dale

At 35, James Badge Dale has secured a special place for himself in the sprawling landscape of American television. Previously known for filling the hand grenade of a man prototype on such shows as CSI and 24—Keifer Sutherland memorably took an ax to his hand in the season three finale—Dale’s emotionally devastating portrayal of Private First Class Robert Leckie on HBO’s hit miniseries The Pacific confirmed the actor as a viable leading man. In 2012, Dale is set to cement his silver screen cachet with a string of roles in hotly anticipated films starring opposite the likes of Brad Pitt in World War Z and Denzel Washington in Flight.

On the day of our meeting in New York City, it’s the sea trapped in Dale’s eyes that we find most striking; blue eyes that harden, twinkle and melt as he recounts intimate stories. Unlike his onscreen ramrod personas, Dale, in person, carries an unimposing vibe. There’s no doubt that the actor’s adaptability and lack of self-awareness has much to do with his bohemian upbringing, having grown up in what he himself refers to as “a crazy, gypsy-like household of actors, dancers and loony Broadway people.” Boasting a successful career that spans over two decades, Dale is surprisingly free of any bullshit—that’s his undeniable charm.

Institute: I was eavesdropping on your conversation with the publicist earlier. You’ve been shedding a lot of weight for a role?

James: I’m about to do this movie called Flight where Denzel Washington plays an airline pilot. He plays this severe alcoholic and drug addict—he’s fucked up! [laughs] He does lines of cocaine before getting on a plane to fly people. There’s this great moment in the script where Denzel ends up in the hospital after a plane crash and a cancer patient talks to him about luck versus fate, God, being present in your life and taking things for granted. I was immediately attracted to this role, but they told me I wasn’t right for it. I told them I would read for the role they originally wanted me for if they give me a shot at the cancer patient role and they agreed. Robert Zemeckis is directing it and we shared long conversations about this part. He knows I have a long history of cancer in my family. I’ve watched people pass around me, including my own mother. It’s an important role to me because there are personal things that I wanted to work out for myself. Ultimately, Robert said the role is mine if I lose the weight, so here I am fifteen pounds lighter! I’m so miserable right now.

Institute: How did you go about losing all this weight?

James: I’m on an all-liquid diet this week. I’m drinking a lot of healthy juices. I was talking to a good friend of mine who went on 700 calories a day to lose weight for a role.

Institute: Is this Michael Fassbender?

James:  Yes! I have no idea how he did that. I tried it, but noticed that my level was at about 1200 calories a day. If I run six miles every day, I burn 1200 calories and I’m at zero. I’ve been eating a lot of vegetables, chicken, fish, nuts and berries. I eat like a bird.

Institute: What was it like to work with Michael on Shame?

James: Michael is one of the most focused, consistent and present actors out there. He’s remarkable. It was an education for me to say the least. Actors that emerge from the English drama system have a different work ethic. They’re steady. It was a little daunting because I play the obnoxious guy to Michael’s quiet guy. You literally show up on set to shoot five pages and Steve McQueen doesn’t do any coverage. There was a lot of improvisation involved. For example, if we’re sitting here talking, he has a camera way over there by that van and comes up with this crazy angle—this is how the entire scene plays out. If you drop a line, there’s no safety net and you messed up big time! Steve will come up to you and say, ‘I don’t like the dialogue. Just make it up!’ and I’m sitting there freaking out. Some actors are really good at that, but I still struggle with it. I spent a lot of time trying to make Michael laugh during the shoot and I got him to laugh once. [laughs] It only took me four weeks…

Institute: Were you a big fan of Hunger prior to working with Steve and Michael?

James: I’ll be quite honest with you—I knew of Hunger, but hadn’t seen it. I received a phone call saying Steve made a movie called Hunger and that I needed to read the script for Shame immediately. I met with Steve the following day and got the job halfway through our meeting. I looked over at the casting director—Avy Kaufman has been a great friend and supporter of mine for the past ten years in New York—and she was shocked. I left immediately because I didn’t want to say something stupid. If he can make a decision that quickly, he can change his mind just as fast.

Institute: You seem to take on the darker films with heavy subject matter and testosterone-driven TV shows.

James:  Am I drawn to it or is it drawn to me? I try to do the lighter stuff, but they won’t cast me. I did The Conspirator last year with James McAvoy and Robin Wright, which Robert Redford directed. Avy said there were two roles in mind for me, so I could read the script and choose the one I liked. There was a funny guy character and the darker guy, and I wanted to do the lighter guy. At that point, Robert told me I could just have the darker role and I wouldn’t even need to read for it. So as much as I try, I keep getting offered these kinds of roles.

Institute: How did you get your start as an actor? You were only 10 years old when they cast you in the Lord of the Flies remake.

James:  come from a family of actors. My mother was an actress and a dancer on Broadway, and my father was a dancer and an actor on Broadway as well before going into choreography. I grew up in a crazy, gypsy-like household of actors, dancers and loony Broadway people. It was their way of life and I didn’t know anything else. For Lord of the Flies, I was sitting in my English class in elementary school one day and they pulled kids out to audition for a movie. It sounded exciting to me. Talk about a movie that draws you in! You’re getting sent off to an island for four months to run around a jungle. I literally ran around in my underwear climbing trees with a bunch of other kids acting like total lunatics. [laughs] It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. But I eventually noticed how it started to feel like work. When you’re 11 years old, you don’t want to show up to work. I stopped acting and played hockey after that. It wasn’t until I was 21 that I started coming back to acting. I saw Judith Light in the play Wit at the Union Square Theater in 1999 with my father after my mother passed from cancer. When I saw Judith—she had known my mother—playing this woman dying of cancer, I grieved properly for the first time. It touched me and that was the moment I decided to act for the rest of my life. I realized that acting isn’t something to play around with and you have to treat it with respect.

Institute: That marked a huge turning point.

James: It was monumental.

Institute: How did you end up doing so much TV work?

James: So much TV work! [laughs]

Institute: TV seems like a huge investment for any actor because they own you for however long.

James: You sign a contract and they really do own you, but I’ve been very fortunate because I’ve signed two long-term contracts in my life—“24” and “Rubicon”—and gotten out of both after one season. They were both good experiences in their own right. Television has come a long way and there are a lot of good roles out there, but you could be stuck playing the same character for a long time and maybe there’s no end to that story. The biggest regret I have about “Rubicon” is that we didn’t end it. Sometimes you do these shows and you don’t have the opportunity to get closure. Stories are supposed to have a beginning, middle and an end. A number of my friends are on successful TV shows that run year after year and we always have this conversation. It’s an odd thing that can happen to an actor on television. You get into that second year and it’s like, ‘I’m doing the same material over and over.’ Actors get lost because of that. They might be millionaires living up in the Hollywood Hills, but you know they’re going absolutely crazy.

Institute: Do you find it more difficult shedding the characters you play on TV once it’s over since you’re expected to explore that part for such a long time?

James:  I’ve never really had that problem. “The Pacific” was tough because it was a 10-month commitment and we were shooting the entire time. We all had trouble coming down from that experience because it was so immersive. It enveloped all of us and we had trouble grasping what had just happened to us. I had never done a job like that before and probably never will again. In some strange way, it reminded me of the Lord of the Flies experience. They pick up twenty guys and drop them off in the middle of nowhere. “The Pacific” is obviously a darker story, but some of the circumstances were the same.

Institute: I don’t know if there’s any truth to this, but apparently you were picked on in school after Lord of the Flies came out?

James:  Everyone asks me about that! I don’t know how that story started. I probably said something… Kids will tease you for just about anything. Of course kids teased me! I was running around in my underwear. It was the perfect setup. But I don’t want to speculate. I’ll just say that I didn’t enjoy the attention. What I found is that—this holds true today—people know you from your work and they have an immediate reaction, be it good or bad. What I found most uncomfortable was that people who I didn’t personally know somehow thought they knew me. It felt so wrong. It’s one of the big reasons why I shied away from acting when I was younger.

Institute: What can you reveal about World War Z?

James:  It’s all about the zombies. I think they’re still shooting that one. They were moving the production to Hungary when I left. I was with them for a month.

Institute: Who do you play?

James: I play another military guy—the last military guy, I promise! [laughs] “The Pacific” beat it all out of me, but when World War Z came along, I had to do it. When else are you going to get a chance to do a zombie flick with Brad Pitt? It’s really unique and different. I play an Army Ranger in it. My guys have been hunkered down in the military prison fending off zombies—as you do—in a zombie apocalypse. We had so much fun and it was just fucking weird to be on that set.

Institute: How do you want to navigate your career from here on out?

James: I’ve always wanted to do a western and it looks like I’ll be doing The Lone Ranger this year. I’ll get to ride a horse. I hopefully won’t kill myself doing it. I enjoy stuff like that. The truth is, I’m still young and I’m not married. I don’t even have a girlfriend right now. It’s just my dog and me. Now is the time to travel around, live like a gypsy and be free to explore different roles that come my way. And it’s not so much about staying away from military roles, I’m happy to do it if it’s risky and different enough. My goal is to continue growing and expand as an actor by doing different types of things. Everything adds to your toolbox.

Gillian Zinser

Institute: Do you remember the first time you realised you wanted to become an actress?
Gillian: My mum took me to see ‘The Fantastiks’ off broadway when I was a kid and the opening scene was a girl my age praying at the foot of her bed pleading “Please God, PLEASE! Please don’t let me be normal!” I was an awkward kid trying to figure out where I fit in, and watching that character in that moment was so comforting and inspiring at that age where I felt so much pressure to conform to the ‘norm’ but didn’t really want to or know how to. The relief and inspiration that that one simple scene gave me was probably the first time I realized how powerful, effective, and inspirational performance could be.

Institute: Could you single out an actor or performance that has had a profound impact on you in the last five years?
Gillian: I dont know about five years, but some of the most influential performances in my lifetime have been…Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of a spotless mind Audrey Tattou in Amèlie Diane Keaton in Annie Hall Annette Bennington in Running with Scissors Juliette Binoche in Lovers on a Bridge Ryan Gosling in Lars and The Real Girl

Institute: What can you reveal about Liars All?
Gillian: Obsession. Ego. Lust. Revenge. Murder.

Institute: You play Missy, can you tell us about the character?
Gillian: Missy was a hard character to understand let alone empathize with in order to play her. She’s a dark creature, a wilted flower suffering from manic depression.

Institute: Do you like to do a lot of research into your roles?
Gillian: Yes. Although I’ve yet to work a role that requires the depth of research I’m eager to challenge myself with.

Institute: Do you ever become emotionally involved with your characters?
Gillian: Inevitably.

Institute: What was the most valuable lesson you learnt from being on set?
Gillian: Technicality, professionalism, and the importance of being a team player. I find there’s just absolutely no room for ego in this business.

Institute: What do you look for in a character or film?
Gillian: Meat. Dimension. A la ck of comfort. Something I’ve yet to fully explore within myself.

Institute: What are your thoughts on fashion today?
Gillian: I wouldn’t say I take fashion very seriously. I just look at it as another daily form of self expression to have fun with. I find inspiration in my moods and throw on what makes me feel good.

Institute: As an actress do you feel more aware of the way you dress?
Gillian: Perhaps less so. I get so used to people dressing me for the characters i play that when its time to take the costumes off and slip back into my own skin, i’m only left with the energy to be as comfortably myself as possible.

Institute: Where do you think trends are created?
Gillian: Through the infectious confidence of those unafraid to beat to their own drum.

Institute: Do you have a favourite fashion designer?
Gillian: Balmain. Zac Posen. Chloe. Kimberly Ovitz. Rick Owens.

Institute: Top five fashion essentials?
Gillian: Chuck Taylors. Leather biker jacket. Red lipstick. Old Levis . White Hanes t-shirts from Target.