Talent Talk: ‘Titanic 666’ Actress Giovannie Espiritu Discusses Working on the Tubi Original

Filmmaker-actress Giovannie Espiritu has worked on both sides of the camera.

Her first short film, Ultra-Feminist, got an Honorable Mention at Outfest: Fusion, and her second film, ALLY 3000, won over 12 awards at film festivals in scriptwriting, social justice and women in film. She is a member of the Alliance of Women Directors and the Producers Guild of America.

As an actress, her television credits include “ER,” “Bones,” “Gilmore Girls,” “Trauma,” “Perfect Harmony” and “Young Sheldon.” She can currently be seen as the lead in the Amazon series “Dyke Central.” She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at Method Fest for the feature film Fiona’s Script. Other feature film work includes supporting roles in the thriller D-Railed with Lance Henriksen and Middleton Christmas with Eileen Davidson and Michael Pare.

Recently, she was recognized as one of 23 “Most Influential Filipina Women in the World” in the Innovator & Thought Leader category by the Filipina Women’s Network and given a “Special Thanks” credit at the end of Pixar’s Turning Red for being the on-call acting coach for Rosalie Chiang.

Espiritu can now be seen on Fox Entertainment’s free ad-supported streaming service Tubi in the the service’s original film Titanic 666, which started streaming April 15. She plays Nancy, an overzealous fan to Mia, a social media influencer played by Annalynne McCord.

In Titanic 666, 110 years after its namesake’s deadly journey, the Titanic III is fated to repeat one of history’s greatest disasters. A faithful replica of the original, the mammoth cruise ship is safeguarded with the most advanced technology to assure clear passage on its maiden voyage for the famous influencers, historical enthusiasts and other excited travelers on board. But unbeknownst to all, there is a stowaway amongst them with vengeful intentions to channel dark forces still at sea. As the ship halts over the surface of the original gravesite, crew and passengers are terrorized by ghosts. 

We asked Espiritu about her experience starring in the Tubi original.

MPN: How did you first get involved in and what attracted you to the project?

Espiritu: I auditioned for Titanic 666, back when it was still called Dead Water. As a working (not name) actor, I generally audition for everything and anything my team sends me. Sometimes you don’t know exactly what project is until you book it. 

MPN: You’ve done lots of work for traditional television outlets and studios. What was different/similar about participating in a project that would appear on a free streaming service such as Tubi? Had you watched the service before?

Espiritu: I actually didn’t know about Tubi until working on this. It’s great that there are so many outlets now for filmmakers and storytellers to showcase their work. I feel like, with the advent of streaming networks, more diverse stories and points of view can be told. We need more of that in the world today. I think that acting and storytelling can help the world become a more empathetic place.

AnnaLynne McCord (left) and Giovannie Espiritu in Titanic 666. (Photo courtesy of Tubi © 2022)

MPN: Can you describe your on-set experience? Are there any fun stories?

Espiritu: I loved working on this. First of all, the location in Long Beach was beautiful. The Queen Mary is such a majestic ship and imbued with so much history, I felt like it was like a fairytale in a way … well, a haunted fairy tale, because it is haunted in real life. I had an orb show up in my behind-the-scenes pictures and I ended up getting freaked out, so I asked production if I could stay in my car or hang out with the background talent instead of being alone in my room. 

MPN: Can you describe the character you play? What did you identify with most about your character?

Espiritu: With Nancy, I have an affinity for the loner, losers and outcasts, because I definitely feel like one a lot in my life. Her breakdown was: “She has no life or friends and is a super fan of the influencers.” It was easy for me to do because I tend to put people on a pedestal in my real life and I’m an introvert by nature. 

MPN: What was your favorite scene?

Espiritu: I loved running around like a crazy person in the ballroom when the ship crashes into the iceberg, but my favorite scene to film was when Mia (Annalynne McCord), Jackson (Derek Yates) and I find Idina (Lydia Hearst) doing her seance because we actually got to go down into the boiler room.

MPN: How would you describe Titanic 666 to viewers? What kind of fans will like it?

Espiritu: If you love campy movies like Sharknado, I think you’ll enjoy it. It is a silly, fun, titillating ride. It knows what kind of movie it wants to be. 

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MPN: In addition to being a performer, you are also active politically. How does your political activism inform and affect your career choices?

Espiritu: My identity is already political. I used to be an undocumented dreamer born to a teenage mom. I spent time in a Biblical Doomsday cult as a teen. I became a young mom myself and had to learn how to navigate the world as a single parent trying to make ends meet on gig work. Most of my storytelling comes from that worldview where I try to heal generational trauma, and dismantle the patriarchy mainly because I’m trying to figure out and heal myself through art. 

MPN: What’s next for you?

Espiritu: I’m traveling to Indonesia this week to do some scouting and research for a feature film that I’ve been commissioned to write. Hopefully, I’ll direct it. I also have a few shorts in development and I’ve been kicking around the idea of doing a personal documentary since my upbringing is so unusual. And I’ll be performing in a benefit production of The Vagina Monologues at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco at the end of May. V, formerly known as Eve Ensler, who wrote the play, will also be there, so I’m super excited. I admire her so much. Her work has sparked movements of education for women globally.

Talent Talk: ‘Digimon’ Actor Drew Inspiration From ‘Harry Potter’

The popular “Digimon” anime franchise reaches a final chapter of sorts in Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna, a new movie that wraps up 20 years of storylines from various series over the years.

Actor Joshua Seth, who voices Tai Kamiya on the English-language versions of the Japanese cartoon, thanks the fans for keeping the show alive for more than two decades.

Joshua Seth

“It’s the fans that stayed engaged, mostly through the Internet, and by watching it on streaming platforms like Hulu, and without their support the producers would never have invested time money or resources to creating new ‘Digimon,’” Seth said. “It’s been such a treat to have been able to play a character for such a long period of time, especially one that has depth and growth and changes over time like Tai.”

Created for a virtual pet game in the mid-1990s, Digimon is short for digital monsters, creatures from a parallel “Digital World” created by Earth’s communication networks.

The concept spawned the anime series “Digimon Adventure,” which debuted in 1999 and was licensed by Saban Entertainment to air in America on Fox Kids Network, where it became one of the channel’s most popular shows.

Produced by Toei Animation, the show focused on a group of children called DigiDestined chosen to protect the Digital World. Each child is paired with their own Digimon and given a device to evolve the creatures into stronger forms. Seth’s character of Tai was partnered with a Digimon named Agumon.

“I think the message of Digimon initially connected because it was ahead of its time,” Seth said. “If you think about season one, episode one of the ‘Digimon’ series, Tai’s sitting in a tree and his friends are all playing at summer camp when these digital devices dropped out of a cloud. And from then on it was a battle to find the balance between the Digital World and the real world. I mean that’s what ‘Digimon’ is really about, and that’s the battle that we’ve all been fighting ever since. But 20 years ago that was a concept that was really ahead of its time, and so I think the message of it resonated with people initially. And then they started to get hooked into the relationships of the characters.”

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Seth, a voiceover veteran of several English-language versions of Japanese productions such as “Honeybee Hutch,” “Mobile Suit Gundam” and “Cowboy Bebop,” recalls not knowing much about the property when he first auditioned for the part of Tai.

“I really did not know anything about it. It was just another audition, and I probably had several auditions that day, just like every day at that time,” Seth said. “I remember going in and being surprised to see some people in the booth who I knew from working on other projects at Saban. So I immediately felt at ease because I worked with these people before and they knew who I was and what I was capable of.”

Seth had provided the voice of robot Alpha 5 at one point on Saban’s “Power Rangers.” But he drew inspiration for Tai’s voice from another source.

“There was very little in the way of text to read,” Seth said. “But there was a picture of Tai in sort of his fighting stance, and so I put my body in that physical position just like I saw in the picture, and because I didn’t have very much to go on I used my own voice. But just pitched it up a little bit to make him sound younger. I did notice however that the character description of Tai sort of mirrored Harry Potter, and the ‘Harry Potter’ novels had just come out, I think maybe only the first book had come out at that point, and I had read it out loud because as a voice actor I like reading out loud. When I teach voice acting to people I recommend reading out loud to get comfortable with their own voice and stretch it and know what it’s capable of. I had been reading ‘Harry Potter’ out loud with an accent, and I just dropped the accent and made him Tai, in my voice, with Harry Potter’s backstory.”

The show’s success led to Digimon: The Movie in 2000. The storyline continued in the “Digimon Adventure tri.” six-part film series first released in 2015 that depicted the characters in high school.

“Ever since ‘tri,’ ‘Digimon’ has dealt with more-adult themes, and at first it was surprising,” Seth said. “But then I soon realized what the producers had in mind was to age the characters and the themes and the whole tone and feel of ‘Digimon’ to reflect the fact that the audience has grown up as well.”

Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna takes place five years after the events of “Digimon Adventure tri.” Nearing graduation, Tai and his friends learn that as they grow up, their bonds with their Digimon will eventually disappear.

“It just works because they have remained consistent over these past few movies with the idea that we’re no longer living in the world of Digimon as kids but as adults, and in fact that relates to the message of Kizuna, which is that we all have to grow up someday and nothing lasts forever. Change may be difficult but the best way to handle it is to accept it and not resist it, and that’s really what they’re giving us in that last movie.”

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Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna, with both English- and Japanese-language tracks, is available now for digital sellthrough, and arrives on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Oct. 6 from Shout! Factory. Extras include a retrospective featurette with Seth and Tom Fahn, who voices Agumon.

Seth said unlike many of the projects he works on, he became a big fan of “Digimon.”

“A lot of the shows that I voiced I never watched or a didn’t watch until a long time afterwards because I was too busy recording things and auditioning for things to go on watching them, but ‘Digimon’ was an exception because it was on the air every Saturday morning,” Seth said. “I would actually watch it in real time along with everybody else. And that was just thrilling, so yeah, I became a fan right away of ‘Digimon’ and remain so to this day, but now I do it through my kids because my kids are younger and they haven’t watched all of the Digimon catalog, but they’ve watched the first season, and they’ve watched the original movie, and a couple of the ‘tri’s I was able to watch with them in the movie theaters.

“I remember when my daughter first put it together she was about 5, and we’re in the movie theater and the movie’s playing, where I’m on screen at the beginning, that’s the moment where she put it together that it’s me doing the voice, and she stands up in the movie theater points to the screen and goes ‘Dada that’s you!’ She literally didn’t get it until then. But it’s been wonderful as a father to introduce my own kids to the ‘Digimon’ series and be a fan of it through their eyes and through their fandom. Tiger my son actually sleeps with an Agumon plushy every night.”

Seth said he also enjoys meeting other fans and seeing how the show has impacted their lives.

“I’ve gotten so many emails and just fans coming up to me at comic cons over the years and saying that Tai’s courage inspired them to be more courageous in difficult situations in their own lives,” Seth said. “I know for a fact that resonates with people.”

But his most memorable fan interaction was a bit more out of the ordinary.

“I was at a comic con in Australia a few years ago where a fan wanted me to sign her body so she could get a tattoo of my signature,” Seth said. “She actually did get the tattoo, even though I advised her strongly against it, so I was very careful to make the signature look good.”

As for his future with the franchise, Seth said that despite the sense of closure offered by the Kizuna, he would enjoy returning if a new iteration came along (a reboot of the original series has already begun airing in Japan and is available online).

“If the producers reach out for me to play Tai again I would gladly do so,” Seth said.