Interviewing the Couple: BEN & LAUREN: HAPPILY EVER AFTER? #BenandLaurenEvent #DoctorStrangeEvent

ben and lauren happily ever after interview
Just last week I was in Los Angeles to learn more about a variety of movies and television shows. Let me tell you: I had a few friends who were more interested in my time with Ben and Lauren of The Bachelor Season 20 than anything else on the agenda!

No wonder. fans of The Bachelor are loving Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?, the all new reality series that follows the couple as they move forward after the final rose!

About Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?

You all know and love Ben Higgins and his fiancée Lauren Bushnell from season 20 of “The Bachelor” – but what happens after the final rose is handed out and normal life ensues?

This new reality series will follow the happy couple as they prepare to walk down the aisle and begin their brand-new life together while navigating the real world after the splendor of “The Bachelor”…

I had the opportunity to sit down with Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell last week to hear them talk more about their life after The Bachelor. I’m not a regular viewer of The Bachelor, so this was really my first opportunity to get to know the two of them.

I watched the second episode of Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? just before they came in the room for our interview.

ben and lauren happily ever after

The second episode of Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? is a must-see if only to learn how much Lauren enjoys pranks. In this episode, Lauren convinces Ben that he’s going to sing the national anthem after throwing out the first pitch at a professional baseball game!

In addition to the major prank, Lauren also played a few minor jokes on Ben. It was great to see her silly side and Ben was such a good sport about all of it, which makes the ideas even funnier.

It was fun watching the episode then getting to have my questions asked by Ben and Lauren immediately after!

ben-higgins-interview-ben-and-lauren-happily-ever-after

Here’s what I learned when interviewing Ben and Lauren:

Ben Higgins on the question: Is Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? scripted?

After the first episode a lot of people on social media were saying, “Ben & Lauren is so scripted.” I was like, just wait till next week, because nothing about that was fake. 

When I got the phone call from the baseball team, they asked, “Will you sing the national anthem and will you do the first pitch?” My immediate reaction was no. I’m a terrible singer. But because we’re doing this reality show, I didn’t even think I had the option to say no. 

Then I hung up the phone and I was like, Lauren, are you serious? And she said yeah. I was so nervous, I was sick to my stomach. It’s one of my biggest fears. I just can’t sing.

Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell on getting Lauren back for her National Anthem prank

I try to get her back when we do press, because it’s live. So I try to drop little bombs on her where she has to try to fix it by herself. I’ve said she loves Cher and ask her to sing a Cher song. I don’t know, I try but she’s good at it.

{Lauren said her favorite thing is scaring Ben, like hiding behind the sofa.}

A few months ago we were in Indiana with my family. I see her kind of crawl across the living room floor. I can just see her feet, and she gets behind my parent’s liquor cabinet. So I sat down. I wanted to see how long she can hide for. I think she was there for a good 10 minutes of laying on the floor. 

But then he ended up scaring me cause he saw me and he banged on the window. I was caught in the act.

Lauren Bushnell on holidays with family

Lauren: We’re trying to figure it out, because both of our families live in different places. That’s something that a lot of couples go through. Ben’s family is in Indiana. Mine is in Portland. So we’re going to alternate Thanksgivings. This year we’ll spend Thanksgiving with my family, next year with Ben’s family..

Hopefully every Christmas we’ll try to go great places. That’s one of the great things about Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? It’s allowed us to have a bit more flexibility when we’re not filming. We can take two weeks around the holidays and go to each separate household.

Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell on Halloween

Ben: We have big plans.

Lauren: Big plans.

Ben: We’re leaving LA and then we’re going to Chicago, then Tampa, then we’re going on a little vacation, to the islands, for a full week. It’s our first vacation.

There’s going to be nobody with us, and we’re going to stay through Halloween for that.

Lauren: We get back to Denver on Halloween. I don’t know if we’ll dress up. I love handing out candy.

Ben: I’ll dress up. But we might just not come back. We might become island people. 

Ben Higgins on how much of Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? is produced

I think there’s a lot of footage, so a lot of it is cut down and produced post0filming. The story is displayed and the story is shared.

But there are times where we’re getting ready to enter into a situation and we’re like, what are we going to talk about? We just can’t sit there the whole time. We want to make this as easy as possible. So some of the scenes just fill a gap. But our big life moments? That’s just us.

We do try to help our the crew and producers. If we want to do an activity, we’ll do it on a day they’re there.

Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell on spending time with other people from The Bachelor

Another blogger asked this question and had an exchange with Ben:

Blogger: Do people from The Bachelor hang out? How does that work? Jared is from my hometown, so sometimes I see him out with Ashely. How is that dynamic?

Ben: Do they look like they’re in love?

Blogger: When I saw them, both their families were there. It was a charity event and it looked like he really liked her. Then I watched this summer and I felt really bad for her again.

Ben: We’re trying to figure it out, too! 

Ben: And the question: Do we hang out? Yeah.

I don’t think everybody does. There are people from my season of The Bachelorette that I just don’t talk to, but there are some that I talk to quite often. I think that we have a shared experience that not a lot of people can relate with.

Some of the people who have been the most supportive of our relationship are people like the twins. They were so supportive of us; they’ve seen us progress, they’ve seen the emotions of it all. 

With the show, for at least this short season of life, we get to do some really fun things. We get to go to events and on trips together, and it helps if you like the people.

Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell on other stars from The Bachelor

Blogger: I saw chat on the preview for the next episode of Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?. Is he really as big as a douchebag as he’s made out to be? I have to know.

Lauren: When we first met him at JoJo’s, we talked to him and I felt so bad for him. I’m not saying that his actions were acceptable, but I just felt so bad. 

You don’t know what he’s going through at home or behind closed doors. I just wanted to talk to him.

I thought he was very likable  in my conversation with him, so we invited him to go camping. He’s done things that are so very clearly out of line and acted a certain way, especially on social media. 

But I think I saw a different side of him, but I also saw why so many people have had run-ins with him. I don’t know if he’s being fake or not.

On the biggest challenges of being on camera

Ben: The hardest part is that you come out of this feeling so happy. I ended up with this woman I’m so in love with and that I know is going to be the person I spend the rest of my life with.

Then the next day you wake up and realize all the stuff that happened is actually going to affect our relationship. Like that I didn’t tell Lauren that I told someone else I loved her. That I dated a bunch of other people at the same time I dated her. That I’m still a bachelor in everybody’s eyes for the next five months.

So we’re engaged and falling in love and we’re actually starting to date for the first time and going through the show (while it was on the air) was a difficult time.

My strategy was to tell her everything right away. Be as truthful as I could. Let it sit and we’ll work through it. It wasn’t easy but it works.

ben and lauren happily ever after

Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? airs Tuesdays on Freeform (formerly ABC Family) at 8/7c. The next episode airs October 25!

After you watch Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? stay on Freeform to watch The Letter. It’s on immediately after, on Tuesdays at 9/8c.

About The Letter:

“The Letter” is a bold, new relationship show that asks the simple question: “If you could anonymously tell your best friend in a letter the things that he or she really needed to hear, would you do it?”

In each stand-alone episode, four friends draw names and anonymously write to the selected person a thoughtful, yet totally honest letter outlining their opinion of what needs to be changed in order to improve and transform their friend’s life for the better.

Learn more about Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? then check out the preview here:

Interviewing Ben and Lauren was just one of several events I attended on this press trip. There’s more to come, and I can’t wait to share it!

marvel disney blogger press trip

Thanks to Enza from EnzasBargains.com for the photos!
Disclosure: Disney, Marvel, and Freeform flew me to LA and covered most expenses for this press junket. All opinions are my own.

Doctor Strange, Finding Dory, Ben & Lauren and a Trip to LA! #DoctorStrangeEvent #FindingDoryBluray #BenandLaurenEvent #MechX4Event

Disney press junket blogger

I am so thrilled to announce I’m heading to a press junket for some of my very favorite companies: Marvel, Disney, Freeform (ABC) and Disney XD!

[Read more…]

Interviewing Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Art Parkinson for KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS #KuboMovie

blogger press trip Kubo and the Two Strings

Last month I traveled to Los Angeles for the Kubo and the Two Strings press junket.

In addition to screening the movie (read my parent’s review of Kubo and the Two Strings and see why I was enthralled with the Kubo end credits) I was mesmerized by origami and Japanese amezaiku candy art AND I got to interview Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey and Art Parkinson, the stars who voice key characters in the movie!

I’ve been a blogger for a long time, and I’ve interviewed several celebrities. Even so, I never get tired of hearing an actor’s perspective on the movie he or she has made, and how it ties into his or her everyday life.  This Kubo and the Two Strings interview definitely didn’t disappoint!

blogger press trip Kubo and the Two Strings

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Kubo and the Two Strings: A Parent’s Review #KuboMovie

Kubo and the two strings parents review

I attended an early screening of Kubo and the Two Strings when I was in LA for the film’s press junket. I already spoke of my absolute love for the credits in Kubo and the Two Strings with While My Guitar Gently Weeps, but I promised a parent’s review of Kubo and the Two Strings, plus more about the actual movie and other reviews!

First, the real critics are raving about Kubo. Check out just a few of the snippets I found when browsing online.

Kubo and the two strings parent's review

Kubo and the Two Strings Reviews

RottenTomatoes.com has Kubo and the Two Strings Certified Fresh at 94%.  The “Critic’s Consensus” of Kubo and the Two Strings on Rotten Tomatoes states:

“Kubo and the Two Strings” matches its incredible animation with an absorbing — and bravely melancholy — story that has something to offer audiences of all ages.

The Globe and Mail states that Kubo and the Two Strings is “visually stunning” and elaborates with these glowing words:

The overall stunning nature of the work cannot be ignored. Audiences would do well to take Kubo’s advice from the movie’s beginning, “If you must blink, do it now,” as there is no telling what they might miss if they look away.

Killer Movie Reviews rates Kubo and the Two Strings an impressive 5 out of 5 stars with these words:

“Kubo and the Two Strings” continues Laika’s string of arresting, unconventional stop-motion animated films that are both sophisticated and enchanting…Kubo is audacious enough to tackle serious subjects and to do so with no pretense about the finality of death, or the reality of evil.

The true magic in “Kubo and the Two Strings” is found in the characters, starting with the titular character, who is brave, but also essentially a little boy on the verge of manhood struggling with his sense of loss and his desire for family…This is a transcendent film of astute insights that resonate with the heart.

The AV Club published an astute review of Kubo and the Two Strings that hit quite close to my own feelings on the film:

No American animation studio is better-suited to dreamlike plotting than Laika, and the animation of Kubo is truly dazzling, mixing sophistication and handmade charm with inspired flow. The movie glides from one gorgeous sequence to the next…

Laika has nonetheless crafted a movie with real resonance. Plenty of animation uses dead parents as an easy trope; Kubo actually attempts to process death as a part of life.

Finally, Variety wraps up their detailed review of Kubo and the Two Strings with this statement:

With such awe-inspiring artistry, designed so as to never distract from the material it serves, “Kubo and the Two Strings” stands as the sort of film that feels richer with each successive viewing, from the paper-folded Laika logo at the beginning…to the emotional resonance of its final shot.

In his first project at the helm, Travis Knight has delivered a tale that touches on immortality.

As for my own thoughts, as a parent, on Kubo and the Two Strings, I strongly believe that parents should see this movie with their children. In addition to being beautiful and having some great funny moments, it’s thought-provoking for all ages.

Kubo and the Two Strings and Death

Kubo and the Two Strings parent rev iew

Like other movies from LAIKA, Kubo and the Two Strings doesn’t sugarcoat death of loved ones. I lost my dad, my kids lost their grandpa and my husband lost his father-in-law just a few months ago. That loss is still very fresh for us, and I think parts of the movie could be cathartic for my kids.

In the past three months, it’s become hard, at times,  to find new things to say to help grieving little ones when I’m going through the same thing in my own way. I actually like the idea of my kids getting a different perspective on the theme, of seeing a fictional character experiencing a similar loss.

On that note, if your own children haven’t experienced loss in a capacity that helps them understand death, I think it’s fair to say you should discuss it before seeing Kubo and the Two Strings to help cushion the sadness within the film.

Finally, Kubo and the Two Strings is sweeping gorgeous both in design and in the story. But it has very intense scenes that are potentially scary for little kids. At the same time, it seems like every animated movie that’s worth seeing has those moments.

It’s definitely up to us, the parent’s, to determine if a movie is appropriate for our children. I’d just say that Kubo is on the more intense end of the spectrum when it comes to animated movies.

All in all, Kubo and the Two Strings is amazing. Knowing what I know about everything that went into making the movie, I’m even more proud and amazed at how it all came together so beautifully.

In a world of computer-generated animation, Kubo and the Two Strings is so different, and so much more than an evening of entertainment.

Kubo and the Two Strings is now in theaters. Find it in a theater near you and get your tickets today!

song in credits Kubo and the two Strings

See the rest of our Kubo and the Two Strings coverage:

Kubo and the two strings kubo and monkey still

About Kubo and the Two Strings:

An epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA.

Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), Akihiro (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), and Kameyo (Academy Award nominee Brenda Vaccaro).

But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta.

Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey), and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known.

With the help of his shamisen, a magical musical instrument, Kubo must battle gods and monsters, including the vengeful Moon King (Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara), to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family, and fulfill his heroic destiny.

Find out where Kubo and the Two Strings is showing at a theater near you!

Disclosure: Travel and most expenses were covered to facilitate the trip and learn more about Kubo And The Two Strings.  All opinions are my own.

Lyrics to The Song in the Credits of Kubo and the Two Strings

song in credits Kubo and the two Strings

I attended an early screening of Kubo and the Two Strings when I was in LA for the film’s press junket.

The movie was beautiful – absolutely stunning. I’ll have many more details in my upcoming review, but I wanted to share a fun fact from the end credits of Kubo and the Two Strings.

song in credits kubo and the two strings

I was immediately taken with the opening notes of the song that played in the end credits of Kubo and the Two Strings. The key and the instruments made for a haunting combination of sounds that were a perfect fit for the movie.

It wasn’t until the singer started with the vocals that I realized it was Regina Spektor singing While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

kubo end credits song lyrics

I have to tell you, that song gets me every time I hear it. Whether it’s the original, sung by The Beatles, Jake Shimabukuro playing it on ukelele or this new version, While My Guitar Gently Weeps one of those songs that seems to succeed in every adaptation.

Watch Regina Spektor’s music video for While my Guitar Gently Weeps from Kubo and the Two Strings:

Lyrics to While My Guitar Gently Weeps from Kubo and the Two Strings

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps.

I don’t know why nobody told you
How to unfold your love
I don’t know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you.

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps.

I don’t know how you were diverted
You were perverted too
I don’t know how you were inverted
No one alerted you.

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
Look at you all…
Still my guitar gently weeps

While My Guitar Gently Weeps was written by George Harrison

song at end credits kubo and the two strings

Buy the Kubo and the Two Strings soundtrack or download While My Guitar Gently Weeps from Kubo and the Two Strings performed by Regina Spektor.

Amezaiku Candy Craft with Shinobu Ichiyanagi for kubo and the two strings

Be sure to check out the expert origami artist and Shinobu Ichiyanagi demonstrating Japanese candy art at the Kubo and the Two Strings press junket!

See the rest of our Kubo and the Two Strings coverage:

Kubo and the Two Strings arrives in theaters on August 19, 2016.

Kubo and the two strings kubo and monkey still

About Kubo and the Two Strings:

An epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA.

Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), Akihiro (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), and Kameyo (Academy Award nominee Brenda Vaccaro).

But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta.

Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey), and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known.

With the help of his shamisen, a magical musical instrument, Kubo must battle gods and monsters, including the vengeful Moon King (Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara), to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family, and fulfill his heroic destiny.

Find out where Kubo and the Two Strings will be showing at a theater near you!

Disclosure: Travel and most expenses were covered to facilitate the trip and learn more about Kubo And The Two Strings.  All opinions are my own.

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS Shinobu Ichiyanagi Candy Art Demonstrations #KuboMovie

Amezaiku Candy Craft with Shinobu Ichiyanagi for kubo and the two strings

It’s hard to believe I was sitting in a conference room in Los Angeles during the Kubo and the Two Strings junket just a few weeks ago, waiting for these two people to fill their seats:

blogger press trip kubo and the two strings

It was pretty exciting to think that I was going to interview Matthew McConaughey and Charlize Theron later that day!

blogger press trip kubo and the two strings

My group of bloggers at the Kubo and the Two Strings press conference had some time in between our interview with the director and the interview with the talent from the film. Luckily, Focus Features had some great entertainment set up for us to take in while we waited.

Origami plays a key part in Kubo and the Two Strings, and a brilliant origami artist was there showing us his talents:

Kubo and the Two Strings origami

But it was another exhibit that I couldn’t tear myself away from: Shinobu “Shin” Ichiyanagi was demonstrating the art of amezaiku, or Japanese candy craft. It was incredible!

Shin Shinobu Ichiyangi amezaiku candy for Kubo and the two strings

I took home this amazing dragon lollipop that Ichiyanagi had made earlier:

amezaiku candy dragon by Shin Ichiyanagi

I was also lucky enough to get this video of Ichiyanagi demonstrating the amezaiku craft while making a delicate candy hummingbird. Believe me, it’s a must watch. He is so talented!

After spending a morning taking in all things related to Kubo and the Two Strings I’m even more excited for the movie to be released in theaters!

Kubo and the Two Strings secrets

See the rest of our Kubo and the Two Strings coverage:

Kubo and the Two Strings arrives in theaters on August 19, 2016.

About Kubo and the Two Strings:

An epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA.

Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), Akihiro (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), and Kameyo (Academy Award nominee Brenda Vaccaro).

But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta.

Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey), and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known.

With the help of his shamisen, a magical musical instrument, Kubo must battle gods and monsters, including the vengeful Moon King (Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara), to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family, and fulfill his heroic destiny.

Find out where Kubo and the Two Strings will be showing at a theater near you!

Disclosure: Travel and most expenses were covered to facilitate the trip and learn more about Kubo And The Two Strings.  All opinions are my own.