Your new movie Axe to
Grind - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us
about your character in it?
Grind is a fun movie about a
group of filmmakers and actresses who show up to a broken down old mental
hospital to shoot a horror film called Butchers of Bayou and
discover that something is WAY OFF, as they get picked
off—one by one.
I play Cheryl, who is a bit of a red lipstick,
smack-talking smartass dominatrix. (NO,
there is no gratuitous dominatrix hoo-hah!)
She’s a bit of a hard-ass who gets… broken down.
What did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and
how much of Michelle Tomlinson can we find in Cheryl?
I am in love with my imagination.
Clearly, I am not a dominatrix type, but I am one fantastic
lip-gloss wearing smartass! I
go through the script and take note of what the author says about me, what
other characters say about me and what I say about myself. I
like to figure out where and how I relate to a character and where I
don’t. From there, I expand
on what I don’t relate with through my imagination and story build my
character’s life so I can weave it all together in my mind and do my
very best to bring the character to life through the script.
How did you get involved with the
project in the first place?
The executive producer and writer Scott Sanford [Scott
C. Sanford interview - click here] had
originally approached me, via Facebook, about a year before the film was
shot. As time went on, Matt
Zettell (with whom I’d worked on The Cellar Door) and Skye Borgman (with
whom I’d worked on several projects, including The Cellar Door) were
brought on the production team and everything fell into place when funding
came through for Scott. Luckily,
I was able to stay attached to the film over the course of that year and
found myself working with some beautiful and familiar faces.
To what extent could you identify with the
Grind's brand of comedy?
I absolutely love that old school one-liner tongue-in-cheek comedy!
What can you tell us about Axe to
Grind's director Matt Zettell, and what was your collaboration with him like?
Matt is what is called an “actor’s director.”
He’s gifted at bringing out the best in his actors.
He knows how to speak to us, relate to us and guide us into the
emotions of a scene. He’s
open to discussion about character and is extremely flexible about letting
us bring our work forward. I
absolutely love working with him. Since
I had the gift of working with him previously, I about did back flips when
I knew for certain I’d be working with him and Skye in Axe to
incredibly well-versed in all areas of filmmaking and is awesome at
setting a positive tone on shoot days.
Michelle with Debbie Rochon
Michelle, Dani Thompson, Adrian Quihuis, Paula
Labaredas, Debbie Rochon
few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
It was an intense shoot because the entire length of
the movie was shot in VERY LITTLE TIME.
There wasn’t time for 32 takes of a single thing so we had to
rock it out the best we possibly could.
That kind of challenge is also what made shooting it a lot of fun!
Everyone kept their cool, had fun, shared giggles and worked hard.
Debbie Rochon [Debbie Rochon
interview - click here] is amazing to work with—that girl comes prepared
and ready to kick some ass. She
had a ton of dialogue to carry and she did so, with grace and
brought hard work and dedication to the set.
Then you have the light-hearted Adrian Quihuis, who can bring
comedy to pretty much any situation. It
was a fantastic combination of super cool humans, all around.
future projects you'd like to share?
currently working on getting the package and funding together for The
Cellar Door 2: Preymates. It’s
the sequel to The Cellar Door and I couldn’t be happier with the script
and how things are going. Producing
a feature film is a WHOLE new bag of crazy, as compared to my little talk
show An Intimate Look with Michelle
Tomlinson… but it is also very inspiring and I do like a challenge!
What got you into
acting to begin with, and did you receive any formal education on the
I was a little kid, I enjoyed doing a few plays here and there but never
thought about the real possibility of pursuing acting.
When high school hit, I was heavily involved with video productions
and learned a ton of behind the camera technical goodies.
(Thank you, Leslie Doran!) When I hit college, I took a Theatrical
Make-Up and a Beginning Acting class for kicks.
It was those two
classes that caused the acting bug to bite me straight in the tukkus.
I did get my BFA in Theatre Performance from Eastern New Mexico
University and have since studied with several amazing teachers in Los
Angeles—as well as becoming an acting coach myself.
Can you still remember your first time in front
of a movie or TV camera, and what was that experience like?
had no idea what the hell I was doing!
I was in college and I was cast in the first feature film the
school had put together. I had an absolute blast, but I had ZERO idea what
it meant to be in front of the camera.
I was playing a super pissed off wife to a guy who had cheated on
me or something. I was
supposed to break a plate by smashing it against a sink while going off on
him during a monologue. The
plate did not break and I dented the steel sink… So I guess you could
say I got off to a pretty hilarious start.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Axe to
have had a really cool time crossing the streams of different genres.
I have done a few super fun horror flicks:
The Cellar Door, Brain Dead,
George’s Intervention, My Undeadly and Alien Vengeance:
The Other Me… and dramas: Officer Down, Indelible, Road to the Open, Undercurrent, Backfire and
Kung Fu Femmes… and comedies like Pathetically
Cheap Adventures of X-Tra Man… It’s
been an awesome ride to have fun with acting in general and attacking
various characters, styles and genres.
Do talk about your production company Mighty
McT Productions for a bit, and the philosophy behind it?
First, I do have to give
credit to my girl Kimberly Amato for giving me the fun nickname of Mighty
McT. She gave me that nickname
when I was in the midst of going through a delicious slice of hell in my
personal life. It’s a
nickname that stuck, because of her constant reminder that I could get
through obstacles. When it
came time for me to create a name for my own production company, it just
made sense to call it Mighty McT Productions. It’s named after a nickname about getting
through obstacles and coming through the other side.
Sometimes, well… OFTEN
times and MOST of the times, we hit a lot of obstacles in producing our
own projects. And that’s part of the game and part of what makes it so
enriching in the end. Sometimes,
when I hit obstacles in producing, I go back to Amato giving me that
nickname and remember that it’s all going to work out.
also an acting coach, right? Care to elaborate?
and I love it! Being an acting coach rocks. It’s amazing to
be of service to someone else, in general.
It’s an honor to be a part of someone else’s journey and see
people succeed at their dreams. I
have people of all ages and levels and every single one of them ROCKS.
I love seeing what happens in a student’s eyes when suddenly they
have their “AHA” moment. It’s
the most endearing look and incredibly inspiring.
I love, love, love coaching.
would you describe yourself as an actress?
someone who loves a challenge, loves to work hard and loves to take
chances with a character, as long as it feeds the story.
I am in love with the work.
(and indeed actors) who inspire you?
First and foremost, my
students. And for everyone who
just rolled their eyes when they read that, IT IS TRUE!
I am greatly inspired by so many actors, it’s
insane. Emily Bett Rickards is killing it in Arrow right now.
Angelina Jolie from her Gia and Girl, Inbterrupted days rocked my
socks. Jodie Foster and Meryl
Streep in any single one of their films is always spot-on.
Connie Britton in Friday Night Lights, American Horror
Story and Nashville = stunning performances. Tina Fey has some of the best comedic
chops in the biz. David
Tennant and Matt Smith were both amazing Doctors in the
Do I need to say anything more about him??
He is FLAWLESS in every single thing he touches.
Flawless. Jensen Ackles
and Jared Padalecki are the best brothers on the CW in Supernatural,
Steven Amell kills it as the Arrow and Grant Gustin is fun to watch as the
Flash. I could literally write
for hours about the people who inspire me.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
have too many. ;)
love What Dreams May Come, starring Robin Williams.
It’s a heavy drama about life, death, heaven and all the things
in between. It’ll make you
laugh, cry, angry and cheer again for the possibility of hope.
On the total opposite
end of the spectrum, I am an old-school action flick fan.
All of the old Die Hard and Lethal Weapon flicks are my forever
favorites. Therefore, I love The Expendables. From the
world of recent horror, I dig the American remake of The Ring.
For some reason, I always lose sleep when I watch that flick.
But… Freddie Krueger will likely always be my favorite killer in
a slasher flick.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
can’t think of one that I feel that violently against—getting a
feature film made is so friggin’ challenging that I respect that people
are getting them done. I
can’t stomach it when there’s a bad script and poor casting choices or
out of sync sound or editing snafoos.
But I can’t think of a single film that I have seen that has ALL
of those properties.
Facebook, whatever else?
My main site:
You can find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram through my site.
To check out my Interview Show:
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I will wait until you publish this then come back
with a proper answer. ;)
This was a fantastic set of questions, thank you so much!
Thank YOU, kind sir!
I’m thrilled to be included on your site.