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Massena man puts Riddler items on display at Massena Museum


MASSENA - A Massena man who appeared as the Riddler in a 2013 film called “The Mindbender Chronicles,” which was filmed in Massena, has put some of his Riddler items on display at the Massena Museum.

Elijah Winfrey, who will be directing an upcoming film in Massena called “Ballad of Billy Badass,” presented his Riddler “scars,” his filming badge and “the Riddler’s Diary” to Massena Town Historian MaryEllen Casselman this week.

“The Mindbender Chronicles,” which was also written by Mr. Winfrey, picks up the Riddler’s life 17 years after “Batman Forever.” Jim Carrey played the role.

Mr. Winfrey said it’s the untold story of Edward Nygma, aka the Riddler, 17 years after he is released from an asylum.

“At the end of the movie it shows Jim Carrey going into the asylum. Our version is 17 years later,” he said.

“The Mindbender Chronicles” was filmed as the first of what were scheduled to be seven episodes. The second episode is 75 percent complete, according to Mr. Winfrey.

He said one of the problems they face in future shoots is finding the time and getting the cast back together. It also starred Jack Vaisey III as Mr. Freeze, Cody Cardinal as Hugo Strange, Patrick J. Burnett as Black Mask, Cody Dennis as Jamison Sharpe and Casondra Arquitte as Poison Ivy.

It was directed by Travis Shatraw and was nominated for several awards through the North Country Acting Society. Mr. Winfrey received the Best Leading Actor award for his portrayal of the Riddler, even though it was a role he originally didn’t want but was convinced to play.

“I didn’t want to disrespect it,” he said. “I just wanted to write the script.”

Now that he’s portrayed the Riddler, “I would love to do it again,” he said.

Mr. Vaisey said that Mr. Winfrey got into his role once he decided to take it on. He recalled one scene they were shooting in the basement of a house, which was the asylum in the movie, and, as soon as he put his camera and spotlight on Mr. Winfrey “he just got right into the character.”

“He looks at me and asks, ‘Was that good?’” Mr. Vaisey said.

The Riddler “scars” on display at the library were created by Mr. Vaisey. A display box contains the “scars” and also on display is a photograph of Mr. Winfrey with the scars on his face.

The filming badge was required to be carried by the cast and crew for their Massena shooting, Mr. Winfrey said.

“The Riddler Diaries” contains a number of items. He said Heath Ledger had also kept a diary when he portrayed the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

“It’s everything that inspired me to do the character,” Mr. Winfrey said.

Among them is a picture from “Batman Forever” that inspired “The Mindbender Chronicles.” It’s a scene that shows a room with Mr. Freeze’s items all jumbled, while items belonging to the Riddler are neatly stored, an indication that the Riddler was getting out. But, Mr. Winfrey said, that film was never made, so they decided to create it themselves.

Another part of the diary contains different movies and actors that he watched to prepare for his role. The films include “Batman Forever.”

Mr. Winfrey said, in one scene, Jim Carrey’s character shows an idea to Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer), who he looks at as a larger than life figure. But his idea is turned down and, when the camera shows Mr. Carrey’s face, his eyes go from an “I love you” look to “I hate you.”

Mr. Winfrey said he also studied Leonard Dicaprio in “Django Unchained, “the way he walked around the room in the movie.”

He said that every time Mr. Dicaprio was shown, the room around him was red, signifying death.

Kevin Spacey, who played a serial killer in “Se7en,” also served as an inspiration for Mr. Winfrey’s portrayal of the Riddler.

Among the other films he watched were “Silence of the Lambs,” “Fear,” “Insomnia” and “Law Abiding Citizen.”

Also contained in “The Riddler Diaries” are eight actual diary entries from Mr. Winfrey.

“I was trying to write them as if I was a character in the asylum,” he said.

The book also contains information about a proposed Mindbender press tour. They attended two events, one at the Central New York Gaming and Entertainment Expo where they participated in a panel discussion and showed the first episode and a clip of the second episode of “The Mindbender Chronicles.”

They also appeared at the community booth at the St. Lawrence Centre mall. Mr. Winfrey recalled a child who came up to him and asked him what character he played.

“I told him the Riddler. His eyes just lit up,” he said.

The three-ring diary binder also contained the first article ever written about the movie, as well as an article about the movie that was published on a Batman fan site.

Also inside are autographed photographs of some his inspirational actors who played the Riddler - Mr. Carrey and Frank Gorshin and John Astin in the original Batman television show.

Another picture in the diaries shows props that were created for the movie, but not used.

“My goal throughout my acting career is to keep a diary for each character I play. I had this one laying around. I figured what better place (to put the diary on display) than the museum,” Mr. Winfrey said.

Ms. Casselman said they will have the items on display in the center area of the museum.

“Today’s events are tomorrow’s history. We don’t have anything that pertains to the North Country Acting Society,” she said.

Mr. Winfrey’s next film will be “Ballad of Billy Badass,” which will be shot at various locations around Massena in September.

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