Thursday, August 3, 2017

SDCC - The Watcher in the Woods Exclusive Interview

The Watcher in the Woods premieres Saturday, October 21, 2017 on Lifetime. 

Executive Producer and Director: Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)
Executive Producer: Paula Hart (Melissa & Joey)

Executive producer and director, Melissa Joan Hart reimagines the ‘80s cult classic, The Watcher in the Woods, starring Academy Award winner Anjelica Huston as Mrs. Aylwood, the distraught mother whose daughter, Karen, vanished in the English countryside over 20 years ago. When Jan Carstairs (Tallulah Evans) and her family move into the idyllic Aylwood manor for the summer. The family is warned against entering the surrounding woods, but Jan and her little sister Ellie (Dixie Egerickx) hear voices coming from the forest. Strange occurrences begin to unnerve the family and Jan begins to suspect that they are linked to Karen’s disappearance. As Jan unravels the dark past hidden by the townspeople, she delves further into the mystery and deeper into danger, but now it might be too late to escape the Watcher in the Woods. 

The Watcher in the Woods is produced by Hartbreak Films. Paula Hart executive produces. Melissa Joan Hart directs; Scott Abbott is the writer.

Watcher in the Woods Official Trailer

Photo Courtesy from A&E Networks  
Anjelica Huston

Photo Courtesy from A&E Networks  
Tallulah Evans and Nicholas Galitzine

Photo Courtesy from A&E Networks 
Melissa Joan Hart 

Photo Courtesy from A&E Networks  
Paula Hart

Photo Courtesy from A&E Networks  
Melissa Joan Hart, Tallulah Evans, Anjelica Huston

Anjelica Huston (Mrs. Aylwood)
Anjelica Huston was born on July 8, 1951 in Santa Monica, California, to prima ballerina Enrica "Ricki" (Soma) and director and actor John Huston. Her mother, who was from New York, was of Italian descent, and her father had English, Scottish, and Scots-Irish ancestry. Huston spent most of her childhood overseas, in Ireland and England, and in 1969 first dipped her toe into the acting profession, taking a few small roles in her father's movies. However, in that year her mother died in a car accident, at 39, and Huston relocated to the United States, where the tall, exotically beautiful young woman modeled for several years.

While modeling, Huston had a few more small film roles, but decided to focus more on movies in the early 1980s. She prepared herself by reaching out to acting coach Peggy Feury and began to get roles. The first notable part was in Bob Rafelson's remake of the classic noir movie The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) (in which Jack Nicholson, with whom Huston was living at the time, was the star). After a few more years of on-again, off-again supporting work, her father perfectly cast her as calculating, imperious Maerose, the daughter of a Mafia don whose love is scorned by a hit man (Nicholson again) in his film adaptation of Richard Condon's Mafia-satire novel Prizzi's Honor (1985). Huston won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance, making her the first person in Academy Award history to win an Oscar when a parent and a grandparent (her father and grandfather Walter Huston) had also won one.

Huston thereafter worked prolifically, including notable roles in Francis Ford Coppola's -Gardens of Stone (1987), Barry Sonnenfeld's film versions of the Charles Addamscartoons The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993), in which she portrayed Addams matriarch Morticia, Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). Probably her finest performance on-screen, however, was as Lilly, the veteran, iron-willed con artist in Stephen Frears' The Grifters(1990), for which she received another Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actress. A sentimental favorite is her performance as the lead in her father's final film, an adaptation of James Joyce's The Dead (1987) -- with her many years of residence in Ireland, Huston's Irish accent in the film is authentic.

Endowed with her father's great height and personal boldness, and her mother's beauty and aristocratic nose, Huston certainly cuts an imposing figure, and brings great confidence and authority to her performances. She clearly takes her craft seriously and has come into her own as a strong actress, emerging from under the shadow of her father, who passed away in 1987. Huston married the sculptor Robert Graham in 1992, The couple lived in the Los Angeles area before Graham's death in 2008.

Nicholas Galitzine (Mark)
Nicholas made his film debut in John Williams' feature The Beat Beneath My Feet for Scoop Films, which premiered at the Raindance Film Festival in 2014 and screened in competition at Berlinale in 2015. His next film role was a lead in Michael Damian's feature High Strung for Riviera Films which premiered in LA in March 2016. He stars alongside Andrew Scott as one of the leads in John Butler's new feature film Handsome Devil, which received its world premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. In October 2015, Nicholas was announced as one of Screen International's Stars of Tomorrow, in their annual feature which identifies young actors from across the UK who are emerging as rising talents. He stars alongside Anjelica Huston in the forthcoming feature The Watcher in The Woods and he has also recently filmed one of the leads in supernatural thriller The Changeover alongside Timothy Spall, directed by Stuart McKenzie and Miranda Harcourt for Firefly Films.

Tallulah Evans (Jan)
Tallulah Evans is an actress, known for Son of Rambow (2007), Penelope (2006) and St Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold (2009).

Melanie Walters (Helen)
Melanie Walters is an actress, known for Submarine (2010), Gavin & Stacey (2007) and High Tide (2015).

Rufus Wright (Paul)
Rufus Wright was born in 1975 in England as Rufus Gerrard-Wright. He is an actor, known for Quantum of Solace (2008), Rogue One (2016) and Spy Game (2001).

Melissa Joan Hart (Director)
Melissa Joan Hart has a list of credits far beyond her years. Having made her first national commercial at age 4, she is now a veteran of television, film and theater.

Last year, Melissa appeared in the sequel “God’s Not Dead 2,” alongside Jesse Metcalfe and Ernie Hudson. The film was released on April 1, 2016. Melissa won the Grace Award for Most Inspiring Preformance for Movies at the 2017 MovieGuide Awards on behalf of her performance in “God’s Not Dead 2.” The film also won the award for Best Movie for Mature Audiences during the annual MovieGuide Awards.

In the summer of 2015, Hart completed her 6th and final season on the ABC Family series. “Melissa & Joey.” She executive produced the half-hour multi-camera comedy along with her co-star Joey Lawrence. Hart portrayed ‘Mel,’ the grown-up former wild child of a political family who is now a local politician herself. When her sister ends up in prison and brother-in-law flees after a scandal hits, Mel must take responsibility for her teenaged niece Lennox and pre-adolescent nephew Ryder. Spread too thin to manage by herself, help comes in the unlikely form of Joe (Lawrence) who, desperate for a job, moves in and becomes the family’s “manny.” David Kendall & Bob Young are executive producers and writers; Paula Hart also served as anexecutive producer. The series premiered on ABC Family on August 17, 2010 and was ABC Family’s #1 series launch ever in Adults 18-49. The series finale of “Melissa & Joey” aired on August 12, 2015.

In 2014, Hart appeared and directed the holiday film titled “Santa Con.” This was her feature-length directorial debut. The film premiered on Lifetime on December 13, 2014. That fall, Hart made her debut as an author her memoir, “Melissa Explains it All: Tales from My Abnormally Normal Life.” The memoir is published by St. Martin’s press and is currently available in bookstores.

Hart is best known internationally for her starring role in “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” which is produced by her company Hartbreak Films in association with Viacom and aired on The WB and ABC Networks. The show is also in syndication around the world and has inspired two “Wonderful World of Disney” movies, “Sabrina Goes To Rome” and “Sabrina Down Under,” both of which she produced and starred in after the success of the first TV movie “Sabrina” shot for Showtime in 1995.

Hart first made her mark in television playing the title role in Nickelodeon’s “Clarissa Explains It All.” Winner of numerous Youth in Film awards for her work, Hart was nominated for a CableACE Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series for “Clarissa Explains It All.” In addition to “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” Hart has appeared in numerous series such as “Just Shoot Me” and “That ’70s Show” and co-hosted the “American Music Awards” with Brandy. Hart’s episode of “Law and Order SVU,” which aired Oct , 2007 had the highest ratings of the season even outpacing the season premiere. Her ABC Family movie “Holiday in Handcuffs” premiered to record high ratings during the 2007 holiday season, making it ABC Family’s No. 1 telecast of all time.

On the big screen, Hart starred in the romantic comedy “Drive Me Crazy,” for which she won a Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award. She made a memorable appearance as “yearbook girl” in the graduation night comedy “Can’t Hardly Wait.” She’s recently starred and executive produced the thriller “Nine Dead.”

Hart made her Broadway debut opposite Martin Sheen in “The Crucible.” She also starred opposite William Hurt and Calista Flockhart in the Circle Repertory production of “Beside Herself” in 1987. In the same company’s production of Peter Hedges’ “Imagining Brad” Hart did a half hour monologue on stage at the impressive age of 12 to rave reviews which opened the door for her to audition for the role in “Clarissa Explains It All”. She has since returned to the stage to star in the acclaimed off-Broadway production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” in 2000 and also appeared in the Los Angeles production of the show in May 2001

In April 2010, Hart returned to the stage to star in Nora Efron’s Off-Broadway show “Love, Loss and What I Wore.” She led the star-studded ensemble of Lucy DeVito, Judy Gold, Shirley Knight and Jayne Houdyshell. The play is a collection of stories based on the best-selling book by Ilene Beckerman which uses clothing and accessories and the memories they trigger to tell funny and poignant stories about women.

In addition to producing the “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” franchise, Melissa and Paula Hart’s Hartbreak Films is known for producing all types of quality family entertainment. They used the enormous popularity of the show to launch a variety of “Sabrina”-related ventures, including “Sabrina, the Animated Series” and the “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” soundtrack, featuring songs by some impressive artists such as Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys with Hart herself covering the Blondie hit, “One Way or Another.” In addition to a variety of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” merchandise, Hart worked with Simon and Schuster on the release of the interactive CD-Roms “Spellbound” and “Brat Attack.”

Hartbreak Films many projects have included the television movies “Scream Team”, “Up, Up and Away”, “Doomrunners”, “Two Came Back”, “Silencing Mary” and “The Right Connections,” In May 2001, Hartbreak Films produced a television movie based on Shirley Temple Black’s autobiography, Child Star, which aired on “The Wonderful World of Disney,” with Ms. Black consulting on the project.

Hart has also directed several episodes of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” Disney’s Channel’s single camera show “So Weird,” and Nickelodeon’s multi-camera show “Taina.” Hart directed her short film, “Mute” which she also produced. “Mute” was in competition at many film festivals in 2006 including Palm Springs, Tribeca, Newport, Vail and Sarasota Film Festivals to name a few. When Hart got married in July 2003, her wedding was produced by Hartbreak as a reality series and aired on ABC Family.

Hart works actively for a variety of charities, most particularly those that benefit children.

She currently resides in Connecticut with her husband and three sons.

Paula Hart (Executive Producer)
Realizing that there wasn’t any real programming that the whole family could watch, Paula Hart and Melissa Joan Hart decided to found Hartbreak Films in 1993 to produce both projects for Melissa to star in and projects that they can produce. After acquiring the rights to the Archie comic book, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Paula served as Executive Producer on this highly rated Showtime movie that starred her daughter, Melissa. With that success, she developed the TV series that also starred Melissa and produced 163 episodes of the live action series, 65 episodes f the animated series, 3 MOW’s as well as a host of licensed products. More recently, Hartbreak produced 104 episodes of the hit show Melissa and Joey for ABC Family .

Paula Hart has established a long list of producing credits for television and film including the television movies “Up Up and Away (Disney Channel),” Sabrina Goes To Rome (ABC Wonderful World), Two Came Back (NBC), Sabrina Down Under (ABC Wonderful World), Doomrunners (Nickelodeon), Silencing Mary (ABC), The Right Connections (Showtime), My Fake Fiance (ABC Family which spun off Melissa and Joey) and Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story (ABC Wonderful World) among others. Hartbreak also produced the most watched Christmas movie for Lifetime 2015, Santa Con directed by Melissa.

Nine Dead was the first independent feature they produced which has international distribution. Hartbreak also ventured into reality programming, filming Tying the Knot for ABC Family in 2003. Mute, a short film directed by Melissa was the darling of film festivals including Tribeca, Palm Springs, Whistler, Palm Beach, Miami, Reno Tahoe and others.

Coming up, Paula acquired the rights from Walt Disney to remake the 1980 cult classic, Watcher in the Woods which will premiere Oct 21 on Lifetime with Melissa Joan Hart directing Anjelica Huston.

Andrew Gernhard (Associate Producer)
Having grown up with a love for the creative, genre bending story-telling of Doctor Who and Ghostbusters, Andrew Gernhard took his love for the fantastical and turned it into a successful producing career of high-concept, mainstream accessible films. After finding success with a tongue-in-cheek, loving homage to Jaws called Trees, he formed the production company, Synthetic Cinema International, which produced economical, fast paced and fun horror creature features for the DVD market. These films quickly gained the attention of NBC/Universal's horror network, Chiller TV, and Andrew teamed with them for half a dozen films, including their flagship original movie, Steve Niles' Remains, and Animal, a co-production with Drew Barrymore's company, Flower Films. This lead to a number of collaborations with Lifetime Television, including the critically praised adaptation of Wally Lamb's best-selling novel, Wishin' and Hopin,' starring Molly Ringwald and Meatloaf, and Melissa Joan Hart's remake of the cult classic Disney film, The Watcher in the Woods. Synthetic Cinema continues to grow, with all their features securing distribution in territories across the world, making the company a go-to production house for high quality, universally enjoyable feature films.

Scott Abbott (Screenplay) 
Scott Abbott was born on the Yokosuka, Japan U.S. Naval Installation and was raised as a child in foreign countries ranging from Japan to Saudi Arabia, living in settings as different as a Japanese fishing village and the desert of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf.

He attended New York University in Manhattan and earned a B.A. with a double major in English Literature and Comparative Religion. Upon graduating from NYU, he began writing fiction and, after having had a number of short stories published in literary journals, he turned his ambitions to screenwriting.

His first script, MY FATHER’S KEEPER, earned him a place in the American Film Institute screenwriting program as well as semi-finalist recognition in the Nicholl Fellowship Screenwriting Awards run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Among his credits are the HBO movies WINCHELL and INTRODUCING DOROTHY DANDRIDGE, which earned both Stanley Tucci and Halle Berry each an Emmy and a Golden Globe, as well as THE QUEEN OF THE DAMNED, the feature adaptation of Anne Rice’s novels THE VAMPIRE LESTAT and THE QUEEN OF THE DAMNED.

He also adapted Stephen Ambrose’s D-DAY for CBS as a two night miniseries, as well as scripting a two night miniseries for Odyssey Networks entitled THE EIGHT, a sword and sandal adventure about the Jewish Maccabees revolt against the Greeks in 176 B.C. which led to the birth of Hanukkah.

In 2012 Scott published a novel with Simon and Schuster. The following year his spec script on the life of Teddy Roosevelt’s eldest daughter, Alice, entitled PRINCESS ALICE garnered a top-ten finalist spot in the Final Draft screenwriting competition.

Most recently he adapted the Ira Levin novel ROSEMARY’S BABY as a four hour miniseries which aired on NBC, and also adapted the novel THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS for Lifetime Channel which will premiere October 21 of this year.

Lastly, he has begun collaborating with Slash, the guitarist for Guns and Roses, on an eight hour musical miniseries following the life of a Gibson Les Paul Guitar over five decades of Rock and Roll. 

The Watcher in the Woods Exclusive Interview

The Watcher in the Woods Press Conference at SDCC

Photo Credit by James Vallesteros

Miranda (Journalist) and James (Videographer) from the JBN Team.
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