Leann Slaby – (McGruder And The Loch Ness Bone – 2011).

I recently got the chance to talk to Leann Slaby about her role in ‘McGruder And The Loch Ness Bone’. Here, Leann talks about how she got involved in the project and whether she believes in the Loch Ness monster…

Hey Leann. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘McGruder And The Loch Ness Bone‘.

Thanks for inviting me to talk about it!

What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?

‘McGruder and the Loch Ness Bone’ is a wonderful family film that centers on an adorable Scottish Terrier named McGruder, who gets caught up in the shenanigans of a gang of bungling crooks who have stolen the prized discovery of a Scottish paleontologist.

Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…

I play the role of Professor Barbara Watt, a world expert in dinosaur research. When Professor Archie Leach discovers a fragment of bone in a remote area of Scotland, he seeks my assistance in confirming that it belongs to the mythical Loch Ness monster. I get caught in the middle of a plot to thwart Professor Leach’s mission, and, as they say…hijinks ensue!

Do you believe in the Loch Ness monster?

I’m the kind of person that keeps an open mind about everything. Anything is possible!

How did you get involved in the movie in the first place?

I worked on a previous film (“The Missing Link“) with writer and producer, Michael King (who is also perfectly cast as Ernie Lemmon in “McGruder). Michael is fantastic to work with. He is the utmost professional, a genuinely kind person, and a true gentleman.

The film stars Markus Innocenti, Michael King, Paul Chambers, Anna Curtis and yourself – what was it like working with the cast and crew on the film? Must have been nice to film in Scotland…

Fortunately for me, I had worked with nearly all of my co-stars previously! Paul Chambers, who plays the villain Barry Hughes, was the only actor who hadn’t worked on ‘The Missing Link’ with me. Paul is an awesome villain in this film, which is funny because his real personality is so mild-mannered! Markus Innocenti starred in and directed this movie, and he was the actor with whom I had the most interaction. I love Markus – he’s an attentive director and has great vision. I’m in awe of anyone who takes on the task of both acting and directing at the same time – both jobs are difficult enough by themselves, but to do both? Not easy. Unfortunately for me, I was only in the Los Angeles sequences, so I didn’t get to shoot in Scotland, but the footage looks absolutely beautiful.

Let’s talk a bit about you Leann. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?

I had modeled and acted in commercials for many years in Milwaukee and Chicago (I lived in Milwaukee before moving to Los Angeles in 2005), and in 2002 I auditioned for my first independent movie that was being filmed in Milwaukee. I got the part and, although I was horrible in it, I loved every minute and wanted to do more.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?

Do it because you love it, and not for any other reason. Make friends in the industry who understand the obstacles of this business, because people outside of it have no idea how difficult it is. It’s good to be around people who can identify with your challenges.

If you could have a dinner with three historical guests – living or dead – who would they be and why?

This question always stumps me. Let’s see…for my career, I’d invite the Coen Brothers (counting them as one!). I love their movies, they’re from the mid-west and they have a core group of actors that they cast consistently (hint hint). They seem to do things their own way, a little less “Hollywood”, which I love.

For my personal and spiritual side, my second guest would be my grandmother on my mother’s side. She died when my mother was 7 years old. I would love to know what she was like, and since I’m talking to a dead person, I’d also like to know what happens after we die!

My third guest would be the entertainment. Either someone to make me laugh, like Daniel Tosh (can’t get enough of Tosh!) or Jim Carrey, or maybe someone to sing for me, like Chris Cornell or Eddie Vedder…love those voices.

We should probably point out that you were part of ‘Survivor’ in 2004 – what was it like being part of that reality series? Must have been great!

It was an amazing experience. At the time it was excruciating – it really is a lot harder than one can ever imagine – but you learn a lot about yourself. I was on the show when my life was going through major changes, and I learned what kind of person I am, and discovered strength I never knew I had. We, as humans, are surprisingly adaptable. After around 15 days of not having soap, shampoo, toothbrushes/toothpaste, toilet paper, beds and pillows, and are forced to eat only coconut and manioc, you strangely get acclimated to it. It was the first three days that were the most difficult. Going from having all the comforts of home to having absolutely nothing was a shock to the system. I especially had concerns about not having water the first few days because I only have one kidney (I donated a kidney to my father in 1998), but we were finally able to boil our water on the third day – so no harm done. As for playing the game itself, I made fatal errors by being too honest and open about my strategy. Although I had every intent to lie, cheat and steal my way to the end, once I got there and started living with my tribe 24/7, I realized that I wasn’t able to separate game from life, and I would play the game as my personality would allow. I still believe I could have gotten to the end that way, but I should have kept some of my thoughts to myself!

What’s been the most interesting / funny news story you’ve heard about in the last month?

Well, this is not funny by any means, but I was talking to my father last week, who is recovering from his second kidney transplant, and during one of his follow-up visits one of the doctors told him a story about a boy who was getting an MRI done and someone walked into the room with an oxygen tank and the magnet in the MRI machine was so strong that it caused the oxygen tank to fly across the room and fatally injure the poor boy. I was incredulous, so I had to look it up for myself. Sure enough, I found it – http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2001/07/31/child-mrideath.htm

The story is from 2001 but so unbelievably bizarre and sad.

What’s coming up for you in 2011/12?

I can’t believe it’s October already! I have a couple of theatre productions coming up, and the talented Michael King is working on another film and has been kind enough to ask me to be involved. This will be a passion piece for him, so I’m thrilled and honored to be cast. In my personal life, I will continue to enjoy my newlywed status (three months!) and am currently training for the Los Angeles Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon on October 30th.

Thanks for the interview!

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