Keean Johnson (Alita: Battle Angel, Nashville) and Madeline Brewer (The Handmaid’s Tale, Hustlers) are set to lead The Ultimate Playlist of Noise, a feature from Hulu and American High. Bennett Lasseter is at the helm, directing from a script by Mitchell Winkie
Johnson will star as Marcus, an audio obsessed high school senior who learns he must undergo brain surgery that will render him deaf, he decides to seize control of his fate by recording the Ultimate Playlist of Noise – a bucket list of all his favorite sounds. Once he sets out, he meets Wendy (Brewer), a wildly charming, struggling musician who is trying to escape to New York for her chance at a life changing opportunity. Together they check off his list as they make their way across the country, until painful revelations force Marcus to face reality and his future without sound.
American High’s Jeremy Garelick, Will Phelps, Ryan Bennett, and Michael Schade are producing the project with Mickey Liddell and Pete Shilaimon of LD Entertainment.
Johnson can soon be seen in Lionsgate’s Midway drama and the Marc Meyers-directed indie thriller, We Summon the Darkness. Brewer will next star in Separation opposite Rupert Friend, and Now Is Everything with Anthony Hopkins.
Johnson is repped by Management 360 and CAA. Brewer is also with CAA, as well as Inphenate and Schreck, Rose, Dapello.
I’ve added a bunch of additional photos of Madeline from her appearance at the Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) as well as a new event and photo session. So many pretties! Enjoy.
September 7 – “Hustlers” Post-Screening Event – recent additions
September 7 – Toronto International Film Festival – “Hustlers” Premiere – recent additions
September 7 – Toronto International Film Festival – “Hustlers” Premiere – Stage – recent additions
September 7 – HFPA/THR TIFF Party – recent additions
September 7 – Entertainment Weekly’s Must List Party at TIFF – recent additions
Photo Session #005 – recent additions
Photo Session #013
The actress on what it was like on the set of Hustlers (spoiler: it was great) and the power of a reset between gigs.
“I think a well-written role is multifaceted and nuanced,” Madeline Brewer says, kicking off her heels and pecking at a taro chip just as we snap our last photo. Brewer brings that complex sensibility to every character no matter how big or small—from Tricia Miller in Orange Is the New Black to Janine in The Handmaid’s Tale and most recently as the unpredictable Dawn in Hustlers. “Dawn is in two scenes, but it’s about finding every little piece about [the character], getting their personal history, and understanding what brought them to where they are now,” she tells us. Her fiery red hair whips around at the sight of a bee—Brewer has never been stung and doesn’t want to risk it. We’re on the rooftop; down below, a crowd of celeb-spotted hopefuls linger around the velvet rope cornering off the entrance to Baro. So we tuck ourselves into a glass enclosure by the staircase to tête-à-tête about *that* J.Lo moment on set, stripping away the male gaze when portraying sex workers, and the power of a reset.
So tell us, why did you want to work on Hustlers?
“First of all, Lorene Scafaria is fucking brilliant. She’s so cool and laid back, but so passionate. She doesn’t want to be a filmmaker to be a filmmaker; she wants to do it because she wants to tell a really good story, in a way that only she can. I was drawn to Hustlers because it’s a story about women and friendship. It’s about sex workers, which is a topic I really love. It’s women surviving the only way that they know how. After I had my first conversation with Lorene, I was like, ‘I don’t care what has to happen. I have to be in this film. I don’t care what part or anything. Just let me be in it.’”
That seems to be the consensus! Did your role in Cam inform this role?
“What I learned working with Isa Mazzei, the woman who wrote Cam and is a former cam girl, is to have a more critical eye and a better understanding of sex work and how it has been portrayed in film for decades. It takes effort to resist the male-gaze [view] we have of sex workers in Hollywood films. The characters aren’t at all similar [between the films], but the understanding that sex work is work, that sex workers are people doing a job, [is the same]. What I learned on Cam about sex work helped inform how I would approach the level of respect someone has to have for sex workers to make a movie about them. When I had that conversation with Lorene, she got it. She knew she couldn’t tell a story about sex workers without talking to sex workers, including them, or hearing their stories. She didn’t fall into any trope or any stereotype. She really told an honest story.”
What was the most memorable day on set?
“There’s one that always comes to mind. [Hustlers is] a quick set. Jennifer [Lopez] isn’t wasting any time, and Lorene [Scafaria] knows what she wants— she knew what she was going for. She gave us room to play, but she was very clear and very hardworking. Todd [Banhazi], our DP, is a genius. His genius doesn’t take a lot of time. He knows what he’s going for. He’s very prepared and has a great team. So I came in, and I’m much more used to extensive blocking, moving around the space and feeling it. They were like, ‘You’re going to go there, and then there, and then there, and that’s the scene.’ So we go in to do that, and then we leave to finish up hair and makeup and then come back to shoot. I was standing in the places where they had previously told me to stand, but they had moved my mark, so Jennifer goes, ‘Baby, do you want to stand on your mark?’ I was like, ‘Oh my god. Day one, scene one, Jennifer Lopez has to tell me, ‘Do you want to stand on your mark?’ She was so cool, too. I was like, ‘Fuck, she thinks I’m terrible!’ But no, she was cool. Everyone on set had the consensus that she’s the mama. She was just like, ‘I will make sure you are OK, and that you are OK. I’m good, let’s make this thing.’”
You have so many projects on the go. How do you shape-shift and recalibrate between projects?
“I have to take downtime. I don’t mean to be like, ‘Oh, I’m such an artist,’ but I do give a lot of myself to my work. When I’m in work mode, I work so hard—I never stop thinking about it. So when it’s time to stop, I have to crash for like, four days. No human interaction. Netflix only. Postmates. Nobody talk to me—I’m a gremlin for the next four days.”
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
“Coffee. My boyfriend makes me coffee every morning because he’s a saint.”
The last thing you do before bed?
“Take a bath.”
Where do you feel most creative?
“New York City.”
Do you care if you win board games?
“Yes! It might be the only thing I care about winning. And card games. Sports? No.”
Do you talk during movies?
“It depends on the movie. I’m not one of those ‘So who’s that?’ But I do sometimes yell at the screen. I get invested.”
Can you change the oil on a car?
“No. I’m like a doll who came to life, who doesn’t know how to do things. I don’t know how to do anything. I’m like, ‘I can act. Just let me do that!’”
“I’m trying to make my way back to my original path. I want to have it all.”
For Madeline Brewer, home is many things. It’s Los Angeles, where she currently lives; it’s her hometown of Pitman, N.J., and, like many actors, it’s the theater, where she started out before getting her break in television and film.
In mid-August, the red-haired actress was looking forward to going home to L.A. and sleeping in her own bed after three weeks of hopping between Airbnbs and hotels in New York. She was in the city — also a homecoming; she graduated from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy — taking meetings and auditioning, and attending the rooftop wedding of her “Orange Is the New Black” costar Emma Myles at Brooklyn Grange. But in the meantime, Brewer, barefoot and humming along to music playing in the background, is fully committed to the drama of a forest green Khaite gown draping her petite body for a photo shoot.
The actress, who got her start on the first season of “Orange Is the New Black” and landed a breakout supporting role on “The Handmaid’s Tale” (she wore Jacquemus and Monse, respectfully, to both show’s season premieres this summer), proved her leading cred as the star of last year’s well-received horror film — and sleeper hit — “Cam.” The Netflix film, produced by Blumhouse and written by a former cam girl, was lauded for its nuanced depiction of the sex work industry. Brewer, who has a supporting role in the J.Lo-led strip club film “Hustlers” out this month, credits her experience with “Cam” for shifting her perspective on the marginalized industry.
“Working on ‘Cam’ made me so much more cognizant about how people talk about sex work,” says Brewer, who earlier this spring filmed her role in the Lorene Scafaria-directed “Hustlers,” which is based on the real story of workers at a sex club swindling their deep-pocketed clients. The movie, set around the 2008 financial crisis, draws a parallel between the women’s line of work and the male-dominated financial industry.
“We’ve seen strippers so many times in movies and they’re always addicted to drugs or down on their luck — and none of these girls really have that. They’re real people with real problems, just trying to pay their rent and student loans and make a life for themselves,” Brewer adds. “The spotlight that we put on sex work in Hollywood is generally in a negative way. We don’t put the spotlight on these people as people; we put them as people who sell their bodies and their dignity and their innocence, and it’s just such an antiquated and honestly sexist way of looking at it.”
Brewer, who admits that she has become known for playing characters that are “crazy, offbeat, a little quirky,” also relished the chance to play a character that was, yes, still quirky, but rooted in comedy. “And improv — I’d never done improv, and [Scafaria] was just like, ‘Go for it, say whatever you want,’” she says.
“Hustlers” caps off a busy year for Brewer, which has also included the sci-fi thriller “Captive State” this spring and season three of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which got renewed for another season this summer and recently revved up in the writers’ room.
“[Season three] has been a lot of setting up; we’re doing the necessary work to set up the final blow out. We’re really starting to see how the pieces come together to form the resistance,” she says, predicting the forthcoming action; actual production is still months away. “This was a lot of logistics getting to that point. That’s my personal opinion; I don’t know what they’re planning.”
She also recently finished reshoots for “Separation” with Brian Cox, which she filmed last December, and stars in the avant-garde movie “Now Is Everything” opposite Anthony Hopkins. Now Brewer is in recalibration mode, getting herself back to the mind-set needed to make her way back to one of her homes: the stage.
“I had a meeting with my former acting teacher and I was like, ‘I really want to work in the theater again, what do you think I should do?’ And he said read a play a day,” she says. “That’s how you get the mind for it and get it in your body and read it out loud and get back into that space.
“I ended up doing ‘Orange Is the New Black’ right after I graduated, which was amazing; it was the most rewarding experience, but I just sort of followed that path. And now I’m trying to make my way back to my original path. I want to have it all.”
And with that, out of the gown and back in her own clothes, she heads off to pick up some plays and get to work.
Madeline Brewer has a type, and I’m not referring to her dating proclivities. Take a look at her acting résumé and you’ll see a common theme: women—women-led stories and women-led crews. Brewer has been part of some pretty fantastic female ensembles in her career, and when I ask if this is an intentional move or simply a lucky circumstance, she confirms it’s both. Luck may have played a part when she landed her breakout role in the award-winning Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, but surrounding herself with some of the most talented women in the industry—see also The Handmaid’s Tale (another award season juggernaut) and this month’s Hustlers—is not just a smart business move. It’s a project-picking philosophy we can get behind.
Brewer is a girl’s girl through and through, so there’s no one better to spend an afternoon sipping tea and playing dress-up with. It might not be time to break out the layers just yet, but this season’s offering of luxurious outerwear is seriously tempting, which is why we enlisted Brewer to test-drive some of our favorite styles. From unexpected silhouettes to head-turning prints, these coats, like Brewer, are primed for their close-up.
We shot some of the season’s coolest coats for our shoot. What are your outerwear essentials come fall?
I am either in warm Los Angeles or freezing cold Toronto, so I’m typically either wearing a long-sleeve shirt or full gown coat. But that being said, I did see some really gorgeous coats during our shoot, so that was nice. I like blazers, like a good wool blazer. Khaite has some gorgeous blazers I love. I wear a lot of my boyfriend’s coats. I like a good bomber jacket, and I love a cozy cable-knit. Oh, and I’m obsessed with wool sweaters. Truly, like a big, comfy high-turtleneck wool sweater is the only thing that brings me peace in the winter months. That’s my vibe.
We’re so excited for Hustlers! Do you remember the moment you thought I have to be a part of this project?
It was right after I talked to Lorene Scafaria, the director. We talked on the phone about a couple of different roles and about this whole world and the time period and the kind of story she was trying to tell. I was like I have to be a part of this; this sounds so incredible. No hate on any of the remakes that are coming out and all of the Marvel big-budget stuff, but this is a fully original thing. This is a real thing that happened and then was adapted into an original movie. It’s produced by women, starring women, directed by a woman, written by a woman, based on a story by a woman. It’s all the stuff that I love.
Can you tell us a little about your character, Dawn?
Dawn is just a blast and a half. First of all, I’m with Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, whose characters are both impeccably dressed, hair and makeup done. They have on mink and chinchilla coats, and then Dawn has a knock-off purse, ratty faux fur, and clumpy mascara, just looking very ridiculous. I play a lot of heavier, very dramatic and emotional roles, and Lorene gave me the opportunity to play something that was really fun and to improvise and just kind of roll with it.
The cast is no joke. What stood out to you most while working with these amazing women?
I mostly interacted with Jen and Constance, so I was nervous out of my mind. The very first scene that I filmed—because there really was no easing into it—the first scene, the day I meet them, is a scene where I’m on a ton of drugs and I’m wearing a wire and talking to the police. I was incredibly nervous and twitchy, but it actually worked because I was so nervous to the point that I was literally shaking. I think eventually Jennifer was like, “Okay, we need to do something,” and she just grabbed my hand and said, “You are doing amazing. It’s all good, you totally got this down, don’t worry about it,” and she just calmed me down. I was just coming off doing Handmaid’s, so I was in that whole world, and this was the complete opposite. It could not be more different. It was a total whirlwind, but it was really nice to have both of them be so supportive.
You have been part of some really incredible female ensembles. Is this something you look for when picking projects?
It’s incredibly important to me. Honestly, I just got really lucky. With Orange Is the New Black, like any other actor, I went to an audition and was so nervous, and for some reason, Jenji Kohan thought I looked like I could do it. They cast me, and that was my introduction to working on camera. I was surrounded by women—women writers, women producers, women directors, a female boom operator, a female DP, just all this incredible stuff. When I went away from that and did stuff starring men and led by men and produced by men, it just wasn’t as supportive and artistically fulfilling. Not that it can’t be. I’ve been in situations where it’s been incredibly artistically fulfilling, but it’s best when the men in power listen to women writing stories about women. It’s the stuff that attracts me. I am a woman. I am a girl’s girl. I am an artist, and being around other women who are artists is like finding your soul mate. It’s so incredible, so rewarding, and so inspiring. It’s really easy to get worn out in this industry; there is a lot of noise. If you are not working with people who inspire you, you will get burnt out so quickly. So that’s the stuff I look for because it’s what keeps me coming back.
Season three of The Handmaid’s Tale just ended. What do you hope to see going into the next chapter?
I’m very interested in Janine’s backstory; I’d really love to see it. I want to see the resistance. I want to see more of Rita because I always want to see more of Rita. When she kisses the ground in Canada, I lost my ability to function as a human. But I do want to see Janine’s backstory. In season three, we find out Janine’s last name is Lindo, and I was a mess for days. Just knowing her last name… It’s another piece of her. I feel like I’m always uncovering pieces of her as the seasons go on, and learning more about her is the gift that keeps on giving. I just want to learn more. She is a really special girl.
You are working with stylist Emma Jade Morrison, who is the model whisperer. What do you like about her eye for fashion?
I mean, she worked at Vogue for like six years, she’s a Brooklynite, she’s young, she’s a hustler, she’s hungry. I’m not going to be like, Oh, she’s a modern woman, but she knows what she wants, she goes for it, and she’s just smart as hell. I admire her so much. I can say the most obscure, weird, roundabout reference of what I want to look like, and she’s like “Yep, totally get it, got the vibe, let’s get it done.” It’s a little bit like she knows what I’m saying without me having to say it. But she also takes an interest in getting the look and the feel and the vibe that I want and that I’m comfortable with without being like, “Oh, look what a great stylist I am.” Or she’ll say, “Listen, I know you might not be 100% comfortable with this, but I want you to trust me,” and every time I’ve trusted her it’s been the right thing. She’s been Emily Ratajkowski’s stylist for a long time, and the first dress she put me in was this Proenza Schouler dress that had a bare midriff so my abdominal area was showing. I was like, “Listen, we all don’t have the abs of EmRata,” and she was like, “Trust me, you are going to look amazing. Nobody has the abs of EmRata; that is just how she is.” She doesn’t let all of my bullshit get in the way, because fashion can also be a very insecure thing where you think, Oh no, I can’t pull that off. I couldn’t do that. And she’ll say, “Yes, you absolutely can. Look at yourself—you look amazing.” Style stuff aside, as a human being, she is just a great person to have in your life.
You’ve been wearing some really cool designers like Khaite, Monse, and Jacquemus for recent press appearances. Is that Emma, you, or both of you?
It’s totally what works for us and what works for the event. I mean she absolutely introduced me to Monse. Jacquemus to me was the little purse designer, but she’s definitely given me a lot more of a critical eye for what I think looks good and works, and she has opened me up to a lot more.
What has been your favorite look you’ve worn for a red carpet so far?
I mean I really really loved that Proenza Schouler dress.
Let’s talk about your off-duty style. What are the staples in your wardrobe?
Honestly, I love my Levi’s. I think they are 501s and I cut the button off them. I’m not going to say that I’m a sneakerhead, because I’m not, but all I wear are sneakers.
Do you have a favorite sneaker brand?
I have three pairs of Adidas that I love, and I love Vans. I have these Pyer Moss for Reebok kicks that are truly… Hearing Kerby Jean-Raymond’s story about the stuff he is designing and why he is designing it and that the line is named after his father, it’s just so moving. He is, to me, the best part of fashion. People think of fashion as this upper-echelon elitist world, and it’s totally not. Kerby totally embodies that to me. He’s like, “Here’s the email if you want to get on the list for my third collection runway show. Just email me and I’ll put you on the list.” He put that on his Twitter! That to me is so accessible, and that’s what it should be because fashion is not just for one kind of person. It’s self-expression, it’s wearable art, and to me, Kerby embodies that with Pyer Moss. So I bought his shoes even though I am not good at wearing them. I don’t know what to wear them with, but I just want to rock them.
Madeline Brewer opened up to us about her upcoming role as the fun-loving Dawn in Hustlers, her personal experience working with the incredible Jennifer Lopez, and how switching off social media has made her feel like a whole new person
Playing the role of Dawn in Hustlers was…
A challenging role, in that it was a departure from anything else Ive done. I’ve done some very intense, very heavy work. I love it and it’s home. But this was such a gratifying opportunity to just try some new things out. Lorene also really encouraged me to have fun, find Dawns little nuances, and she gave me the safe space to explore this girl.
The three most memorable moments of shooting Hustlers were…
1) The costumes. Every fitting was like stepping inside the closet of who I wanted to be in 2007.
2) Working with Jennifer. I’ve known the name Jennifer Lopez my entire coherent life. She’s an icon. And to witness her talent and hard work firsthand was definitely one for the books.
3) I reunited with two of the women who worked in the hair department on Orange is the New Black that I hadn’t seen in maybe seven years. It was so incredible to see them again.
I would like to try my hand at…
Writing scripts. I’m an actor so I read scripts and audition nearly constantly. I’m writing some too, because why the hell not?!
Did you know that…
The Handmaid’s Tale’s was picked up for season four!
I would describe my style as being…
Very laid back, and if it requires a bra, it’s probably a no from me.
My co-star Jennifer Lopez was…
The most beautiful person I’ve ever seen up close!
Madeline was in attendance today at the 2019 Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) for the film Hustlers. I have added a bunch of photos to the gallery and will hopefully have more to add later today so check back!
September 7 – HFPA/THR TIFF Party
September 7 – Toronto International Film Festival – “Hustlers” Premiere
September 7 – Toronto International Film Festival – “Hustlers” Premiere – Stage
September 7 – “Hustlers” Post-Screening Event
2019: Photo Session #004
2019: Photo Session #005
2019: Photo Session #006
2019: Photo Session #007
2019: Photo Session #008
I’ve added HD screencaps of Madeline from the season 3 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale. What a finale! My mind is still reeling. I can’t wait for season 4.
As you can see I put up a new design on the site! I hope you guys love the new design as much as I do!
I’ve added new high quality photos of Madeline from the final season premiere of Orange is the New Black (Madeline played Tricia back in season 1) and the season finale event for The Handmaid’s Tale. She looked lovely at both events. She stated on Instagram that she was sick during the OITNB event and left early so there’s not many photos of her from that event.
I’ve also added photos of her from the short film Marie Celeste. In honor of both shows I’ve added dozens of missing photo sessions from 2010-2019 to the gallery as well as replaced some smaller photos with larger ones in this area.. so lots of pretties! Enjoy.
Hustlers follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. The film was inspired by the article published by New York Magazine entitled “The Hustlers at Scores” written by Jessica Pressler.