BWW Interviews: Broadway's Mandy Gonzalez Talks New Film AFTER & More
Actress Mandy Gonzalez (Broadway's Wicked, In The Heights) can now be seen in the haunting new drama AFTER, now in select theaters and available on VOD August 12th. Directed by Pieter Gasperz and starring Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13) and John Doman ("The Wire"), the film tells the story of a middle class family struggling with the financial consequences of a failing family business, a series of intergenerational conflicts and an intricately buried secret that, if revealed, could alter their lives irrevocably.
Today, the talented actress speaks exclusively to BWW about the emotionally charged film as well as what's on tap for her busy showbiz career.
I must start by telling you that I found this film to be mesmerizing as I was watching, yet also so thought-provoking afterwards. It really stayed with me.
Oh thank you, I was very proud of the piece, and proud to be a part of it.
How did you become involved with the project?
Well I had auditioned for the casting director before for something else and they had liked my work and they were casting this project and suggested me for it. I believe the director and the writer watched my audition tape and that's how I became a part of it. They flew me out, well actually up, to upstate Rochester, New York for the filming. They wanted to make it as authentic as possible because everything was very personal to the writer. In fact, I believe that the tile shop in the film is actually the writer's brother's place. I was up there for about three weeks, I don't know how long the other actors were up there for, but it was quite a film shoot.
And it looked like it was done in the middle of the winter so I'm guessing it was quite cold.
[Laughing] Yes it was! That was my first experience with Rochester snow. I remember we were driving back from the set one day and there was just a blizzard outside, but people were driving as if it were no big deal.
Without giving away any spoilers about the film, I think another thing that made it so unique was the
way it focused on how a family copes after a tragedy, rather than centering on the actual tragic event that befalls them.
Yes definitely, and I think that you can just watch the news today, or read the paper and there are so many depressing things going on, yet you are so far removed from the people that are involved because it's not involving you. So I think that this film allows you to go inside and feel what that could be like and what people do go through after the media isn't there anymore and the public doesn't care anymore. It's something that happens to anyone who experiences loss, no matter how big or small it is. If you're directly affected, it changes everything in your life forever.
Along those lines, the tagline for the film is, 'How far would you go to protect the ones you love?', which is really a profound question. I'm sure it made you look at it from a personal perspective as well.
Oh definitely. I think that when it comes to family, and I'm very close to my family, I would do anything to help the ones I love. I've had friends, and even myself go through difficult things, and you stick together, and while it is such a hard thing to go through, if you stick together, it's always worth it in the end because you always have each other.
The cast was so convincing as a real family, and I'm sure some of the credit for that goes to director Pieter Gasperz.
Yes definitely. I remember we all sat down the first day and we just talked about different things, things that we had all gone through in our lives and how that affected us and I think it brought all of us together because we all had a story to tell and it made this film very personal to all of us.
And maybe the cold weather helped in the bonding process as well!
[laughing] Definitely! Well we were indoors a lot so we were around each other a lot. I'm actually going to the premiere of the film tonight so I'm so excited, I can't wait. And I get to see the cast which is even better. You know you film so long ago and you lose touch and move on to different things so it's just nice to reconnect and get to see the finished project together.
What are some of the things that you consider when you chose a role, whether it be for film or stage?
I would say I have to have a gut reaction when I read something, if it moves me, if it interests me. Also, I consider the cast who I would be working alongside of, and this cast was just, well you just can't get any better, it was incredible and so I said yes because the script was great and I wanted to go along for the journey.
Is film a medium that you want to become more involved in?
Yes, I think that as an actor you have to be ready to work in all mediums and I would definitely love to do that as well as theater. I just like to do projects that interest me.
What are some of the differences between acting for the camera and acting on stage?
Well the biggest difference I think is just in the simplicity. On the stage, it just has to be bigger. Of course it depends on the kind of stage you're on. I just did a reading in a black box theater, so obviously everyone can see you, but if you're in a house that seats 1200 or more you have to show different expressions in order to get your point across, your voice has to project. In film it's just very simple, you know the lift of your eyebrow can mean ten different things, so you have to really know what you're doing and have an objective that's solid. You don't have to worry about projecting, you just have to live it.
Do you find you have a preference?
Oh no, I enjoy both.
Well we certainly miss having you on Broadway. Any plans you can share with us?
Well you know I've been doing a lot of readings, a lot of work so we'll see which reading makes it to the next step. But I'm definitely out there, definitely pounding the pavement, so hopefully soon. I miss it too - I miss the grind. So I can't wait!
AFTER is now in theaters and available on VOD August 12. Directed by: Pieter Gasperz, the film stars Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13), John Doman ("The Wire"), Pablo Schreiber ("Orange Is the New Black"), Sabrina Gennarino (Days of Darkness), Adam Scarimbolo (Stake Land), Diane Neal ("Law & Order: SVU"), Darrin Dewitt Henson ("Soul Food"), Bruno Gunn (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), Mandy Gonzalez (Man on a Ledge)
Set in the winter of 2002 in chilly upstate New York, AFTER tells the story of a middle class family struggling with the financial consequences of a failing family business and a series of intergenerational conflicts and rivalries. But, what truly threatens to upset their delicate balance-- and shatter the emotionally fragile family matriarch, (played by Academy Award-nominee, Kathleen Quinlan)-- is an intricately buried secret that, if revealed, could alter their lives irrevocably. A searing study of denial, deception, and self-delusion, AFTER is also a powerful portrait of the lengths we go to protect those we love.
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About Mandy Gonzalez:
Actress and Broadway star Mandy Gonzalez is best known for her role as Elphaba in the Broadway musical Wicked. Prior to that, she played the role of Nina Rosario in the 2008 Tony Award winning musical In The Heights at the Richard Rodgers Theater, a role she created in the Off-Broadway production for which she received a Drama Desk Award.
Mandy made her Broadway debut as Princess Amneris in the Tim Rice/Elton John musical AIDA. She appeared in the musical Lennon, based on the life of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and also starred opposite Michael Crawford as Sarah in Dance of the Vampires.
Mandy received an OBIE Award for her performance in the Off-Broadway production of Eli's Comin', the musical based on the lyrics and music of songwriter Laura Nyro.
In 2007 she starred as Lucy in the Korean tour of Jekyll and Hyde:the concert. Workshops include In the Heights dir. Tommy Kail, Duncan Sheik/Steven Sater's The Nightingale, Wicked dir. Joe Mantello, The Color Purple dir. Gary Griffin, Best Little Whorehose in Texas dir. Joe Mantello, Beehive on Broadway dir. Debbie Allen,When You Wish dir. Tina Landau and Warm dir. Scott Schwartz.
On film she appeared in Julie Taymor's Across the Universe, as well as Man on a Ledge and In God's Hands. Her TV credits include NBC's Third Watch, and Guiding Light. She can be heard on the film soundtracks of Mulan 2 and Urban Legend.
Photo credit: Joan Marcus