July 21st, 2018
It’s June 18th, 2017, and BLACK EAGLE FOUR screenwriter Daniel Stefanovich has had a major breakthrough. Excited, he fumbles with his phone to dial his wife and director of the film, Kelly Stefanovich, to explain his idea. She doesn’t pick up. He leaves an urgent message.
“Kelly, I need Taylor. If we don’t get Taylor, we don’t do the movie. Call me back.”
Taylor, of course, is Taylor Walker (née Ebbinghaus), who portrayed the renowned journalist Alexis Foster five years prior in the first film of the Black Eagle series, BLACK EAGLE PHANTASM. While the filmmakers have kept in touch with her, Taylor has since moved out of Essex County (where the film is being shot) and had appeared to move on to theatrical and stage productions – all things that crossed Daniel’s mind during his frantic voicemail to his wife. What if Taylor only acts within the theater now? What if she’s moved on from acting altogether? What if she’s just not interested?
“It doesn’t matter,” Daniel insisted. “I can’t finish this script without Taylor.”
So, however impatiently, Daniel waited to hear if he could finish BLACK EAGLE FOUR while Kelly made the ask. Taylor’s response?
“Really?! Tell me when and I’ll be there!”
In a deleted scene from BLACK EAGLE PHANTASM, Viper
(Daniel Stefanovich) gives weapon training to Alexis Foster
(Taylor Walker) with the help of some practical on-set effects.
The Stefanovich’s had met Taylor during their time at Studio 5, the University of Windsor’s film guild. While filming a class project, a mutual friend had referred Taylor, a drama student, to Kelly for one night of filming. By the end of their scholastic careers, the Stefanovich’s and Taylor ended up working together three more times. According to Daniel, she was the obvious choice to portray Alexis Foster in BLACK EAGLE PHANTASM. “Taylor was actually one of the only real actors that we knew. We mostly shot our movies with close friends, but none of them had any actual training.” Phantasm marked the trio’s fifth collaboration.
“Taylor has the ability to tap in to such urgency,” Kelly says. “She can bring that out from within herself and apply pressure and real stakes to any scene which is exactly what we needed for the character of Alexis Foster.”
Daniel remembers one scene during the filming of the first Black Eagle film where he was having a particularly difficult time remembering his lines. “I’m not an actor. It’s a scene where Alexis and Viper meet up to have a secret discussion about some classified information, and Viper has an emotional monologue to deliver. I had trouble working up to it, but Taylor made it so much easier. Even during my close-ups, she acted across from me and gave me the emotion that I needed to make my own performance better. She makes any scene she’s in exponentially better. She brings out the best in people.” Taylor’s ability to elevate every scene she’s in is one of the major reasons why Daniel wanted her back and, unlike in Phantasm, planned to give her as much screen time with any many different actors as possible.
“During the time I was writing, I would review Phantasm and noticed that she only ever interacts with two actors – myself and Jim Reid portraying Leo Finch. It was actually at the read through for BLACK EAGLE FOUR, five years after Phantasm, that she met Wade Ouellette (Shorty) for the first time, which is crazy to me.” Unlike Phantasm, Daniel promises that Alexis won’t just be stuck in one location spitting out exposition while action takes place far away from her. “We all had a good laugh about that when we met up again, and we definitely sit Alexis in a boardroom to drone on about things in BLACK EAGLE FOUR for a while, but the next time you see her, she’s right in the thick of it with everyone else. It’s very exciting.”
For Kelly, Taylor represents a familiar and comforting personality – nevermind that it means getting to have another woman on set. “I love the guys, I really do, but it is so awesome to read about the stupid situations Viper, Shorty, and Rebound get themselves in to and how Alexis immediately calls them out on their idiocy,” Kelly laughs. “It’s so much fun to have her on set.”
“Since we do know each other from past projects, especially Kelly, there’s a lot of trust on set,” Taylor admits. “It’s not like a brand new relationship where you don’t really know what to say to the other person, so if I suck, she’ll tell me that I suck. Or maybe if I want to change up my line, I know she’ll be open to that.”
Alexis Foster (Taylor Walker) receives a call from a
“like-minded individual” in BLACK EAGLE FOUR.
As for Alexis herself, what made her so important to the script?
“She’s the glue,” Daniel confesses. “Without Alexis, there’s a bunch of cool stuff happening but with little to no conflict. Alexis is a hard-ass and maybe the only person in the world who isn’t willing to take Viper’s word for gospel. When she chooses to call him out on all the mistakes he’s made, conflict ensues. That’s not to say Alexis is a villain. She’s standing directly in the middle of this horribly volatile power struggle and just so happens to have a stir stick. So she stirs.”
“I always play the super happy and fun characters,” Taylor says of BLACK EAGLE FOUR’s Alexis Foster, “but this Alexis is so serious and dangerous, and it’s so much fun to play that role for a change.”
You can see Taylor Walker return as Alexis Foster – hair flip and all – in Spring 2019.