Winnipegger in 'Revolution' whirlwind at Tinseltown TV press tour | iNFOnews

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Winnipegger in 'Revolution' whirlwind at Tinseltown TV press tour

This Tuesday, July 24, 2012 photo shows from left, Giancarlo Esposito, Jon Favreau, Co-Executive Producer, Eric Kripke, Executive Producer, Tracy Spiridakos and Billy Burke from the upcoming NBC series "Revolution," during the NBCUniversal Press Tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. The series premieres Sept. 17, at 10 p.m. EST on NBC. Winnipeg native Spiridakos plays Charlie Matheson, a strong-willed, daring daughter caught in a post-apocalyptic American landscape in J.J. Abrams fall drama "Revolution." THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/NBC, Chris Haston)
August 02, 2012 - 1:24 PM

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Over the years, many famous stars have been poolside at the Beverly Hilton. The hotel is filled with portraits of movie goddesses such as Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Kim Novak.

On this night, two stars on opposite ends of the swimming pool have reporters reaching for cameras and iPhones: Sarah Palin, there to support husband Todd on NBC’s upcoming boot camp reality show "Stars Earn Stripes," and Crystal, a capuchin monkey and the star of NBC's fall comedy "Animal Practice."

Somewhere amongst the monkey, the former vice-presidential candidate and a mix of actors, executives and journalists stands a girl from Winnipeg. Tracy Spiridakos plays Charlie Matheson, a strong-willed, daring daughter caught in a post-apocalyptic American landscape in J.J. Abrams fall drama "Revolution."

The series, which premieres Sept. 17 on NBC and Citytv, shows a world of empty cities, local armies and displaced families. People are struggling to cope with the sudden and unexplained blackout of everything from cellphones, cars and computers to — gasp —television sets.

Executive producer Eric Kripke ("Supernatural") and co-executive producer/director Jon Favreau ("Iron Man") say they looked at hundreds and hundreds of actors in order to cast "Revolution."

They'd argue over who was right for every part.

"Then, all of a sudden," says Kripke, "our casting director, April Webster, who's a genius, (ran) into our office and show us a tape of Tracy from Canada. And we took one look at it, and we said, ‘That's her.'"

"The whole thing has been a bit of a whirlwind," says Spiridakos. She has one of those, "came down for my first pilot season, was auditioning for a month-and-a-half and landed this" impossible back stories that make other struggling young actors weep into their waitress aprons. She read the script and loved it, was called in and did a screen test.

She met Billy Burke ("The Twilight Saga"), who plays her brother in the series, met director Favreau and, next thing you know she's blown up big on the side of buses in Los Angeles, mingling with monkeys and Ms. Palin at the Beverly Hilton.

"He's kind of an actor's dream," she says of Favreau. "He knows our language, knows exactly how to get it from us." Tim Guinee ("Iron Man") and Elizabeth Mitchell ("Lost") play her parents.

A few things on Spiridakos' resume helped her get the part. Kickboxing? Check, although, like most actor resumes, her skills were overstated.

"We heard from Tracy's reps that she was a black belt, only to find that she had maybe gone to a couple of kickboxing classes," says Kripke.

Close enough. As Spiridakos says, she grew up with two brothers, so she was ready for roughhousing.

Acting experience? Check. Spiridakos left Winnipeg and moved to Vancouver to pursue her dream. Later she moved to Toronto.

"It was intimidating being away from my family and being away from home, but I was determined to do this," she says. She landed roles on "Supernatural," "Hellcats" and "Psyche." She starred in the Teletoon series "Majority Rule," had a role on "Being Human" and shot a couple of Lifetime movies.

"Revolution," however, has thrust her into a whole other world, an experience that can only help her get into character. She's already survived her first Comic-Con where she met fans who knew more about her series than she did — and this is months before it premieres.

"They're dressing up, they gave us such a warm welcome," she says of the fans. "I had a great time."

The press party at the Beverly Hilton was another eye opener. Spiridakos didn't get to meet Palin, but was already on a first name basis with the monkey.

"I met Crystal at the upfronts in New York," she says. "She’s lovely — very professional!"

Back home in Winnipeg, the Spiridakos family is pretty excited about her good fortune. They own the Olympia Diner featuring, she says with pride, "wonderful Greek food." One brother helps out in the family business; the other is a diesel mechanic.

Her dad cried when she told him she was going to be starring in an American network TV series.

"I'm blessed to say I have beautiful parents," she says, "and my brothers are my best friends in the world."

Spiridakos is filled with hope, but then again, she always is.

"My dad has a saying, he says it in Latin: ‘As long as I'm breathing, I’m hoping.'" She’s just hoping to make her parents proud. That the series is shot in North Carolina — far from the monkeys and madness of Hollywood — probably has them all breathing a little easier.

___

Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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