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Exclusive BROOKLYN BROTHERS BEAT THE BEST Michael Weston and Ryan O’Nan Interview

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I spoke with the immensely talented Michael Weston and Ryan O’Nan about their exciting film, Brooklyn Brothers Beat The Best.  I honestly adore the movie and was honored to be able to speak with them about it.  Ryan not only stars in it but he also wrote and directed it.  He wore all his hats and moose antlers well.  The chemistry between Michael and Ryan on and off-screen is extraordinary.  I’m glad I had both of them on the line because listening to them banter was hilarious.  Someone needs to give them their own late night comedy show.  It would be a huge hit.  They were so much fun.  If you are not familiar with Michael Weston then you obviously don’t own a television.  It would be easier for me to list the shows that he hasn’t been on.  He was recently on Coma.  I’ve always been a fan of his work and I have to mention some of my favorites:  House M.D., Supernatural, Psych, Six Feet Under, Law & Order: SVU, The Good Guys, White Collar, and Burn Notice.  Ryan was in one of my favorite shows, Justified, so he gets a few extra points for that one and for giving us Brooklyn Brothers Beat The Best.  You have to see this brilliant film.  Everything about it is perfection.  With a cast like Michael Weston, Ryan O’Ban, Melissa Leo, Andrew McCarthy, Wilmer Valderrama, Jason Ritter, and Arielle Kebbel, why would you even think about missing this movie?  If you can’t make it to a screening check it out on Video On Demand on September 25.

Lena:   I have to say that I love the film, and you both did an incredible job.

Michael Weston:  Aw, thank you so much.

Ryan O’Nan:  Thank you so much.

Michael Weston:  [to Ryan] Don’t say what I say.  He’s always copying what I say.

Ryan O’Nan:  He’s always trying to harmonize with me.

Michael Weston:  He always wishes that he could say the things that I say first.

Lena:  I really enjoyed the unique way that Alex and Jim met.

Michael Weston:  Ryan wrote the beginning exactly how we met in real life with me punching him in the face [laughing].

Lena:  Can you talk about what was going on in your character’s heads at that time?

Michael Weston:  I was looking at Alex’s face and thinking, gosh that face really needs to be punched.  I felt for all of mankind that I really should do that.  I feel like I did a service for all of humanity.

Ryan O’Nan:  My character, as I was looking at Jim, all I could think of is out of a thousand people I can’t imagine somebody smaller and more awkward looking than this person in front of me.

Lena:  Was it fun filming those rough-and-tumble scenes?

Michael Weston:  Yes it was.  Those scenes are actually always a challenge and…

Ryan O’Nan:  That was actually are hardest day.  We got into a big fight that day.

Michael Weston:  Yes, I’m physically so much stronger than Ryan that I had to just keep from hurting him.  We didn’t really know how to do it, so it really posed a lot of problems in the actual like physical production.

Ryan O’Nan:  It’s not that he was stronger, he just means ratio wise.  It’s something like an ant can lift ten times its weight…

Michael Weston:  Right, and I can lift Ryan and then crush him between my pointer finger and my thumb.  And so I try not to do that and I think I was really successful in the actual shooting of the film.  He did have some serious bruising because he bruises easily like a ripe banana.  But it was really fun to shoot those scenes [laughing].

Lena:  It sounds like you guys had a great time working together.

Michael Weston:  We really did.  We became really fast friends right off the bat.

Ryan O’Nan:  Yes, I’m a little faster friend.

Lena:  What was it like working with the rest of the cast?

Ryan O’Nan:  It was great.  There really wasn’t a weak link in the whole cast.  Everybody was wonderful and gave of themselves.

Michael Weston:  Ryan was great.  He’s a first time director and he called in some seriously seasoned vets like Melissa Leo, Wilmer Valderrama, Jason Ritter, Christopher McDonald, and Andrew McCarthy.  All these wonderful actors and I think he just had such a real, tangible passion for the project and he just made the space really safe and open to bring out everyone’s best A-game.  I think that’s really a testament to a young director, any director, but especially someone who is acting in it and directing it.  You are already under the gun and sort of wearing too many hats as it is.  I feel like Ryan really did an amazing job bringing everyone’s A-game out, allowing for it maybe more than anything.  It’s difficult if you’ve written something, a writer/director can be really precious with their words and it can actually be really jarring to watch other people interpret them in whatever way they are doing it.  I felt such freedom in working with Ryan and we really had a ball.

Ryan O’Nan:  Whatever, dude.

Michael Weston:  [Laughing]

Ryan O’Nan:  I thought he was never going to stop talking.  I’m sorry for all that.

Lena:  It was great because there wasn’t a dull moment in the movie at all.

Michael Weston:  Oh, thank you.  I had to work really hard on Ryan’s words to not make them dull.

Lena:  It was prefect.  I loved it.

Ryan O’Nan:  Thank you very much.

Lena:  The film is also inspirational on so many levels, especially musically.  What inspired you to incorporate children’s toys into your sound and also use them for circuit bending, etc.?

Ryan O’Nan:  I guess the idea was to explore what happens as you kind of grow up and are you able to hold on to your childhood dreams.  Are you able to bring them into your adulthood, the dreams of your childhood, and do they in fact kind of survive there?  I thought it would be interesting that the method that the character would kind of battle that with the tools of children.

Michael Weston:  [Laughing] The tools of children.  That’s what your parents say to you when they give you a present as a child, “Here I bought you this really nice tool. It’s a kazoo, but it’s also a tool.”

Ryan O’Nan:  I’m sorry about that [Michael’s interruption].   And so yeah, that was the idea basically.  I wanted something that had a certain amount of innocence to it.  My friend’s band actually played music like this.  They were called the Crayon Rosary and I played with them at a concert with a band that I was in before and I just thought that that music would fit so well.  When I was trying to plan the music for this film they were very inspirational and I actually used a couple of their songs in it.  Actually, some of their instruments were instruments in the film.  I felt like it was a bit of a motif.

Michael Weston:  There was something about the instruments that just, you know, they were the kind of instruments that you would have gotten as a kid under the tree and they would have been sent directly under the bed after a month of tinkering around on them.

Ryan O’Nan:  Or maybe an hour.

Michael Weston:  Or maybe an hour.  I feel like everyone had a little Casio piano.  You could get it for 25 bucks, back in the day, and you would fiddle around with it for a little while but these little instruments still contain that childlike spirit and innocence but they also have some of that nostalgia.  Those little synthesized sounds and some of those little they are almost sort of flat tinkly piano sounds and stuff like that.

Ryan O’Nan:  You know what’s really crazy though?  As I was trying to buy these instruments, I got the stuff on Ebay and garage sales.  They don’t make toys like that for kids these days at all.  You can’t buy those.  You can’t buy stuff like that at Toys R’ Us or places like that.  There was something about the ‘80s where there was a little more integrity to the toys.  They were like, I’m making this keyboard for a little kid, or a little harmonica flute thing, and it has to work because it doesn’t make sense to not make something that doesn’t totally work.  Like our little toy electronic guitar that we play in the film, if you try today it would be impossible to get a match for that.  They all have preprogramed sounds where you just push a button and make a sound with.  They don’t have actual keys that you would play like a real instrument.  They just did it different in the ‘80s.

Lena:  That’s right.  What do you think would have happened if a cop pulled Jim over while he was creating and driving?

Michael Weston:  He probably would have said something like, “Gee, Jim how do you do it?  You are such a good driver that you can play all this music and not look at the road and drive a car all at the same time.”

Ryan O’Nan:  That would have been after they gave him a ticket for reckless driving.

Michael Weston:  And for improper use of baby toys.

Ryan O’Nan:  Yes.  You need a license for that stuff in certain states.  It depends on what state you are in, I think is a big part of it.

Lena:  Any thoughts on doing an actual tour?

Ryan O’Nan:  We are doing a tour.  We are doing New York, Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles.  It’s so nuts because we got signed to a major label, Warner Bros. Records, and the record drops September 18.  We have a CD and you can get it on iTunes.  There is a free download on Rolling Stone.

Lena:  That’s great because I was looking for your album.

Michael Weston:  There is a free download of “Come On Girl” on Rolling Stone’s website.

Ryan O’Nan:  Yeah, and I would love you to have it.

Lena:  Out of all the characters in the film, I’m betting that the one that no one would want to meet is Jimmy Johnson.  What is the story behind that character?

Ryan O’Nan:  I had a dog when I was a kid that surgically removed…[laughing].  No, that just came out of my head.  I don’t know.  I thought it would be funny.

Michael Weston:  Ryan was sitting around alone at night thinking about dogs and penises and then he put the two together in a monologue.

Ryan O’Nan:  I had actually written it because of a dog accident.

Michael Weston:  But when you have no penis sometimes you do think about how other people might not have lost their penis.  I’m sorry [laughing].

Lena:  [Laughing] Well that works.

Ryan O’Nan:  I’m sorry.  Michael, I don’t know what to do with him sometimes.  He’s a sad, little, miniature man with a big mouth…little legs and an enormous mouth.

Michael Weston:  Giant hands and very fine hair.

Lena:  The good thing about the film is that it is going to be available on Video On Demand on September 25, so if people can’t make a screening they can still watch it.

Ryan O’Nan:  Yes, September 25 it is going to be VOD.

Lena:  It was an honor speaking with you both and Michael I loved you in Coma.

Michael Weston:  Thank you so much.

Ryan O’Nan:  Oh, Coma came out.  I’m able to watch Coma?

Michael Weston:  Yeah, it came out dude.

Lena:  Thank you so much guys.

Michael Weston:  Thank you.  I really appreciate you getting the word out there.  Have a good day.

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