One of the most iconic horror movie villains of the 21st century is back on screens again. Paramount has released the first trailer for “Orphan: First Kill,” the long awaited follow-up to the cult-classic horror original. The movie will release in theaters and stream on Paramount+ starting August 19.
Released in 2009, the original “Orphan” starred Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther, a 9-year-old Russian girl adopted by the Coleman family (Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard) after their third child is stillborn. Esther begins to demonstrate bizarre adult-like and violent behavior, putting her at odds with her adopted mother. In a famous twist ending, the first film revealed that Esther is actually a 33-year-old woman with a hormonal disorder that causes her to look like a child, who has spent her life posing as a little girl and killing the families that adopt her.
Although the first film ended with Esther being killed by the Colemans, “First Kill” is set to turn back the clock to focus on the story of Esther’s (whose real name is Leena Klammer) first victims. The film follows Leena as she impersonates Esther Mauerova, the missing daughter of the couple Katie and Richard (Julia Stiles and Rossif Sutherland), and sows discord between the two as Katie grows suspicious of the “child.”
Fuhrman, who was 12 years old when the original “Orphan” was released, reprises her role despite now being 25. The trailer reveals how the film pulls off the trick, with Kennedy Irwin serving as a body double for the actor. “Orphan: First Kill” is directed by William Brent Bell, taking over from original film director Jaume Collet-Serra. David Coggeshall wrote the screenplay for the film, which is produced by Ethan Erwin, Alex Mace, Hal Sadoff and James Tomlinson. The film is a co-production between Paramount Players, Dark Castle Entertainment, Entertainment One, Sierra/Affinity, Eagle Vision and Signature Entertainment, with Paramount Pictures distributing.
Get ready to experience Fall, a heart-pounding tale of survival from the producers of 47 Meters Down where sacrifice may just be the only way out.
“A fast drop and a sudden stop await Becky (Shazam! star Grace Fulton) and Hunter (Halloween‘s Virginia Gardner) as they find themselves trapped 2,000 feet up an abandoned radio tower in the desert.
“Highly trained and resourceful, these climbers marking the tragic passing of a friend were not ready for every eventuality.
“A series of unfortunate events see their gear and supplies taken from them and as temperatures rise and vultures begin to circle, the chance of survival begins to fall rapidly.”
An absolutely thrilling first teaser trailer was just dropped and shows the two leads fighting for survival 2,000 feet up.
Also starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen, “The Walking Dead”), Fall is produced & directed by Scott Mann (Final Score) and written by Mann and Jonathan Frank (Final Score). Thanks again to Fabien for sending over the trailer.
Signature is releasing Fall in the UK on August 19th.
Just ahead of Memorial Day, Jonathan Majors and his upcoming movie Devotion offer a reminder of the fight United States military veterans endured in battle.
The PEOPLE exclusive premiere of the trailer for Devotion introduces Jesse Brown (Majors), the first Black man to fly in combat for the U.S. Navy, during the Korean War.
"It's a story about breaking through the limitations of society and breaking through the limitations of one's own fear, and the legacy that leaves," Majors, 32, tells PEOPLE of the war film based on Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by Adam Makos.
Brown forms a bond that goes beyond friendship with fellow aviator Tom Hudner (Glen Powell), a clean-cut soldier from New England who passed up a chance to attend Harvard in favor of joining the Navy. Brown and Hudner find themselves in an unimaginable situation when one ends up shot down behind enemy lines and pinned in his burning plane, while the other attempts a seemingly impossible one-man rescue mission.
"Tom and Jesse are more soulmates than best friends, which is deep," Majors says. "There's no escaping each other. They are forever each other's men, even in death."
Majors says he and Devotion costars Powell, 33, Joe Jonas and Daren Kagasoff bonded off screen as well.
"Glen was really good at getting all the guys together," the Lovecraft Country star says. "He and Joe, Daren — all the guys — they would get together and play at the park. And the park was right down the street from my house, so as I was walking my dogs or riding my bike, I'd see the guys, and we'd hang out and chat."
Majors also liked to work out on set with Jonas, 32. "I would always bang my music, but Joe Jonas would also put his music and we would set up outside the trailers and we'd run, we'd do jump ropes, we'd do pushups, as a team," Majors says of shooting in Savannah, Georgia. "We would work out and then go into the scene. We were a mixture of a boy band and a football team. We just held space for each other."
Depicting a real person onscreen came with some pressure. But Majors made Brown's family "a promise that I would do everything in my power, everything my talent will allow me to do, to do to bring this man's story to the screen with as much integrity, and with the same moral fiber and humor that you all know he had," he says.
Brown's daughter Pam paid a surprise visit to the Devotion set and gave Majors some feedback on his portrayal. "After we shot a scene, I came out and she looked at me and she burst out crying," Majors recalls. "She said, 'I feel like I'm meeting my father for the first time.' Because she was a baby when Jesse left us. That was a gift."
Majors found similarities between Brown and late actor Sidney Poitier, who, in 1964, became the first Black man to win the Oscar for Best Actor. "No one thought Sidney would be able to do that," the Yale School of Drama grad says. "I see a correlation between Jesse and Sidney's fight, as they began to expand and exceed limitations. What Jesse is experiencing is such a universal thing in the same way as any trailblazer."
Brown didn't see himself as a trailblazer, though, simply a pilot who wanted to do his best and serve his country. Majors understands wanting one's performance to speak for itself — and facing adversity.
"I'm proud to be a Black man, but you're not going to minimize my experience by trying to make it a monolithic movement. I'm an individual," Majors says. "And as that's understood that you're proud to be a Black man, you understand that the hardships you experienced were not because you wanted to be an aviator, it's because you're a Black man that wanted to be an aviator. It wasn't because I wanted to be an actor, it's because I was a Black man who wanted to be a leading man. That's where the conflict comes in."
Majors acknowledges "it's a big conversation that we're having" with Devotion's approach to race and male friendship, but "we try to put some levity in it."
"I know it's difficult, but I hope something that people take away from it is this idea of friendship, it's something we all have as human beings," he continues. "It is what pushes us forward as a species, a devotion to one's family, a devotion to one's calling. I hope people feel uplifted and inspired to continue down their journeys to achieve whatever heights they hope to achieve."
Devotion opens in theaters in limited release on Oct. 14 and wide on Oct. 28.
Younger audiences returned to North American cinemas in 2021 but independent, international and day-and-date films suffered from the caution of older patrons. Now all eyes are on 2022.
Thanks largely to the last-minute arrival of a superhero, the North American box office generated twice as much in 2021 as it had in 2020. But even Spider-Man: No Way Home couldn’t hide the fact 2021 was not quite the comeback North American distributors and exhibitors had been hoping for after the ravages of the pandemic’s first year.
While most cinemas reopened in early spring with capacity restrictions, those in states such as California had to tighten their masking and vaccination rules as the Delta variant swept the country in late summer and autumn.
Younger moviegoers seemed eager to return to multiplexes after the reopening, but older audiences and families appeared reluctant. And they were encouraged to stay at home by studio release strategies that made a number of the year’s biggest films available to stream simultaneously with, or very soon after, theatrical release.
According to Comscore, total North American box office for the year reached nearly $4.56bn, 100% up on 2020’s $2.28bn but still 60% down on 2019’s $11.4bn. The all-important summer season did a lot to boost the numbers, accounting for $1.75bn of the full year total, up 893% from summer 2020’s meagre $176.5m.
Sony Pictures’ holiday season smash Spider-Man: No Way Home was by far the year’s biggest film, grossing $573m in calendar 2021 (and going on to enter the all-time domestic top 10 as 2022 began). Three other Marvel blockbusters were No Way Home’s closest rivals for the box-office crown, with Disney’s Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings taking $224.5m, Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage $212.6m and Disney’s Black Widow $183.7m.
Other big grossers in the year’s top 10 included MGM’s No Time To Die ($160.8m), Paramount’s early summer hit A Quiet Place Part II ($160.2m) and 20th Century Studios’ surprise favourite Free Guy ($121.6m), the year’s top non-franchise performer.
Among the year’s notable underperformers was Warner Bros’ The Suicide Squad ($55.8m), seen by some as proof Warner’s 2021 simultaneous streaming release strategy had an impact on theatrical performance.
In a tough year for independent distributors, 2021’s highest grossing US independent film (counting No Time To Die as a studio release) was Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard with $38m — little more than half its predecessor The Hitman’s Bodyguard managed in 2017. Lionsgate’s Spiral ($23.2m) made its mark at the very start of the spring reopening and A24’s The Green Knight ($17.1m) was an unexpected mid-summer success.
Funimation’s Japanese anime Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train (dubbed into English for North America) was the year’s top international release with $49.4m.
English-language international films that managed to find an audience included Focus Features’ Last Night In Soho ($10.1m), Neon’s Spencer ($7.1m) and Focus’ Belfast ($6.9m).
Indian hits 83 ($3.5m) and Sooryavanshi ($3.5m), both from Reliance, were the year’s top foreign-language performers.
The highest-ranking European films were A24’s Lamb ($2.6m), Iceland’s entry for this year’s international feature Oscar, and Neon’s French Palme d’Or winner Titane ($1.4m), the only other European release to manage more than $1m in North America.
Independent films suffered because the older, more affluent patrons who usually make up the genre’s audience were slow to get back into the filmgoing habit after cinemas began to open their doors towards the end of 2021’s first quarter. According to a study published in November by research company Quorum, about 49% of pre-pandemic US filmgoers were no longer buying tickets as the holiday season began; and around 8% of those, the survey suggested, had been lost to the industry for good.
But independent films were not the only ones to suffer. A number of older-skewing studio films, with names attached that could normally be relied on to lure upmarket audiences, also took hits. Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake for 20th Century Studios, for example, grossed a modest $28.2m by year’s end, and stood at $30.5m at press time; Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, also from 20th Century Studios and with Matt Damon starring, topped out at around $11m.Low turnouts
Prestige films from the studio’s specialty labels were perhaps hurt even more. Disney’s Searchlight Pictures managed a respectable $16m with The French Dispatch, but that was the smallest take from a film by director Wes Anderson since 2007. The label’s Nightmare Alley, from Guillermo del Toro, managed only $7.9m during the holiday season, while The Eyes Of Tammy Faye, with Jessica Chastain, had to make do with $2.4m from its early autumn release.
Universal’s Focus had similar struggles. Although Stillwater, again with Damon, reached $14.5m, Paul Schrader’s The Card Counter, starring Oscar Isaac, stalled at $2.7m.
And while Sony Pictures Classics (SPC) pushed sports drama 12 Mighty Orphans to a decent $3.7m, the company’s February release of The Father, with Olivia Colman and Anthony Hopkins, produced only $2.1m.
Documentaries had a tough year in the theatrical marketplace too. Focus’ Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain led the field with $5.2m. But three films shortlisted for this year’s documentary feature Oscar had a harder time: Searchlight’s Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) took $2.3m, Greenwich Entertainment’s The Rescue $1.1m and SPC’s Julia $385,000.
Awards-season hopefuls such as Amazon’s Being The Ricardos, Apple’s Coda and Netflix’s The Power Of The Dog were given limited, if any, theatrical exposure before becoming available to homebound viewers on their respective streaming platforms, which declined to report any box-office figures.
If 2021 was not all the industry hoped for at the North American box office, 2022 might come closer to fulfilling expectations. As the year began, cinemas in most states were operating at 100% capacity, though the Omicron-driven Covid surge has already led to closures or restrictions in Canadian provinces and could result in a temporary return to capacity limits in some parts of the US.
Studio releasing strategies may be more favourable to the exhibition sector, with fewer simultaneous releases and a return to reliable — if shorter — theatrical windows.
And most significantly, the 2022 release schedule includes an impressive line-up of superhero films and sequels designed to bring audiences back to the multiplex in big numbers.
Warner Bros’ The Batman reboot, starring Robert Pattinson, is due on March 4, the same studio’s Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore on April 15 and Disney’s Marvel sequel Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, with Benedict Cumberbatch, on May 6.
Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick, with Tom Cruise, is set to launch the summer season on May 27, to be followed by Pixar’s Lightyear on June 17, Disney/Marvel’s Thor: Love And Thunder on July 8 and Warner’s Black Adam, starring Dwayne Johnson, on July 29. Another Cruise vehicle, Paramount’s Mission: Impossible 7, is due to arrive in September, with Sony’s animated sequel Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse: Part 1 coming on October 7 and Disney/Marvel’s much anticipated Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on November 11.
Lining up for what the industry hopes will be a back-to-normal holiday season are Warner’s Aquaman And The Lost Kingdom and Disney’s Avatar 2, both set for December 16.
Garrett Hedlund, the Tron: Legacy star recently seen in Triple Frontier and The United States vs. Billie Holiday, has joined Daisy Ridley and Ben Mendelsohn in Neil Burger’s psychological thriller The Marsh King’s Daughter, which has now begun shooting in Canada.
Brooklynn Prince, Gil Birmingham and Caren Pistorius are also starring in the film, from STXfilms, Black Bear Pictures and Anonymous Content.
Adapted from Karen Dionne’s bestselling novel by Elle Smith and Mark L. Smith (The Revenant, Midnight Sky), The Marsh King’s Daughter follows a woman (Ridley) living a seemingly ordinary life with her husband and young daughter but hiding a dark secret within: that her father is the infamous “Marsh King,” the man who kept Helena and her mother captive in the wilderness for years. Helena is forced to face her demons when her father unexpectedly escapes from prison. Knowing that he will hunt for her and her family, Helena must find the strength to confront her past and the man she once idolized.
Open Road Films, which didn’t pull back on theatrical releases for cinemas during the pandemic like other studios, has set a release date of September 17 for its Gerard Butler action movie Copshop from Joe Carnahan.
Written by Carnahan and Kurt McLeod, Copshop follows a wily con artist who is on the run from a lethal assassin. He devises a scheme to hide out inside a small-town police station—but when the hitman turns up at the precinct, an unsuspecting rookie cop finds herself caught in the crosshairs.
Alexis Louder also stars in the Carnahan-directed movie. EPs are Tom Ortenberg, Matthew Sidari, Scott Putman, Robert Simonds, Adam Fogelson and John Friedberg. STX is releasing the movie in UK and Ireland and handled foreign sales.
“The Marsh King’s Daughter” has rounded out its cast with Brookylnn Prince, Gil Birmingham, and Caren Pistorius joining the ensemble of the psychological thriller. They will appear alongside the previously announced Daisy Ridley and Ben Mendelsohn in the big-screen adaptation of Karen Dionne’s best-selling novel of the same name. Neil Burger, the director of “Limitless” and “The Illusionist,” will slide behind the camera on this one.
STXfilms, Black Bear Pictures and Anonymous Content have joined forces on the film, which started production in Canada this week.
Here’s the official logline: “‘The Marsh King’s Daughter’ follows Helena (Ridley), a woman living a seemingly ordinary life with her husband and young daughter, but hiding a dark secret within: that her father is the infamous ‘Marsh King,’ the man who kept Helena and her mother captive in the wilderness for years. Helena is forced to face her demons when her father escapes from prison unexpectedly. Knowing that he will hunt for her and her family, Helena must find the strength to confront her past and the man she once idolized.”
Set for a summer release date of July 23rd, The Comeback Trail is co-written by acclaimed film maker George Gallo (Midnight Run) and Josh Posner. Gallo directed and Zach Braff, Eddie Griffin and Emile Hirsch also star.
Scottsdale, AZ — (XXX) Today, Cloudburst Entertainment and Storyboard Media has announced July 23rd, 2021, to be the new release date of the film The Comeback Trail, staring Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman and Zach Braff. The film release had previously been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now as America reopens, audiences can head back to the movie theaters this summer to check out The Comeback Trail.
Perfect for the summer The Comeback Trail is the story of Max Barber (De Niro) and his partner Walter (Braff) who play down-and-out B-Movie producers who find themselves in trouble with mob boss Reggie Fontaine (Freeman). To save himself and Walter, Barber has to sell the only great script he’s ever had to his former intern and, now, A-Movie producer, James Moore (Hirsch). On the first day of shooting Moore’s lead actor dies in a stunt accident and lets him cash in on a huge insurance policy. That gives Barber an idea to do the same. They take a horrible script called The Oldest Gun In The West and hire a washed-up cowboy actor, Duke Montana (Jones) to play the lead. Known for doing his own stunts during his prime, Montana is poised for an early demise allowing Barber to get away with his get-rich-quick scam. Only one problem… nobody told Montana.
“The Comeback Trail is the perfect film for the summer. It will get America laughing right when it needs it the most. We are honored to be working with the StoryBoard Media team lead by Elisabeth Costa de Beauregard and Philip Kim as well as producers Patrick Hibler, Julie Lott Gallo and Richard Salvatore and the amazing cast and crew.” said Fedyski. Also producing were David Ornston, Patrick Muldoon and Joy Hurwitz.
"We are pleased to be in business with Cloudburst and their impressive new venture. With their extensive experience in all facets of film marketing and distribution, we are excited at the aligned vision to help make this four-quadrant comedy a success!" commented Costa de Beauregard.
About StoryBoard Media: Storyboard Media is a film production, finance and sales company launched by Elisabeth Costa de Beauregard and Philip Kim in early 2018 and is focused on producing commercial and specialized films for audiences all over the world. It launched 20th Century Fox Germany's Horror film, HEILSTATTEN, in 2018 as well as the TIFF sensation, FREAKS that same year. The Edward James Olmos’ Environmental thriller, DEVIL HAS A NAME, will come out in Q4 following the heels of the recent success of Clark Dukes’ ARKANSAS starring Liam Hemsworth, Michael Kenneth Williams, Vince Vaughn and John Malkovich, which reached #1 upon its digital premiere in mid-May.
About Cloudburst: Based in Scottsdale, AZ Cloudburst Entertainment is a full-service production and distribution company created to focus on content that appeals to broad audiences with feature films that tell stories to inspire, transform and capture the imagination of audiences around the world.
Chloé Zhao will never forget one particular night shoot while filming “Eternals,” Marvel’s upcoming movie about a group of immortals living on Earth whose leader is Ajak, played by Salma Hayek. It was a cold and drizzly evening on location in an English forest in the fall of 2019, and the Oscar-winning director told the cast, which includes Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani, that they could return to their trailers while some technical issues were being resolved and it was unclear when the cameras would start rolling again.
But Hayek remained on set, sitting on an apple box while listening to Nils Frahm’s song “Says” on her earphones. “I think she saw that I was overwhelmed, so she asked me to take a moment with her,” Zhao recalls. “She got me to sit by her and rest my head on her lap, and she put her earphones over my ears. It was some kind of calming musical soundscape. We just sat there quietly while the hectic scene went on around us. It was the five minutes I really needed in that moment. I remember thinking, this is what Ajak would do with her healing power if she sees one of her Eternals in trouble.”
Hayek knows about healing. She spent the better part of the past year recovering from a near fatal case of COVID-19, a fact she chose to keep quiet until now. During an interview over Zoom, she reveals that she battled the virus in the early days of the pandemic.
“My doctor begged me to go to the hospital because it was so bad,” says Hayek, 54, from the London manse that she shares with her husband, Kering CEO François-Henri Pinault, and their 13-year-old daughter, Valentina. “I said, ‘No, thank you. I’d rather die at home.’”
Hayek spent about seven weeks isolated in a room of the house. At one point, she was put on oxygen. She still hasn’t fully regained the energy she once had.
However, she returned to work in April to shoot Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci,” in which she plays a clairvoyant who was convicted of helping Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) orchestrate the 1995 killing of her ex-husband Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), an heir to the Gucci fashion empire. “It was not a lot of time,” Hayek says. “It was easy. It was the perfect job to just get back into it. I had started doing Zooms at one point, but I could only do so many because I would get so tired.”
She’s back on the big screen next month starring opposite Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson as Sonia Kincaid in Patrick Hughes’ action comedy “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,” a sequel to 2017’s “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.” Sonia appeared on-screen for only about two minutes in the first film, but Hughes tells Variety that her character was significantly expanded for the follow-up after “everyone kept telling me they wanted to see and know more about Sonia.”
The Lionsgate film wrapped in 2019, but its original August 2020 release was delayed by the pandemic. “Salma is just a creative ball of energy, and she brings so much to the table,” Hughes says. “When we were in preproduction in London, I’d go over to her place once a week, and we’d work on the dialogue. She’s always bringing endless ideas.”
Reynolds agrees. “Salma is a writer,” he says. “She comes to set with a writer’s mind and outlook. She’s constantly improving, rewriting and reminding us all what the scene is actually about. She comes to play and build.”
“In ‘Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard,’ I’m slapped in the face twice by Salma and once by Samuel L. Jackson,” Reynolds says. “For the record, it was Salma who didn’t pull the punches. Not even once. I can still feel the sharp sting of her tiny hand working its way into my soft Hollywood cheekbones. May God have mercy on her soul.”
Fight and stunt sequences were what first got Hayek noticed in Hollywood with her breakout role in Robert Rodriguez’s 1995 neo-Western action film “Desperado.” From there, Hayek, already a huge telenovela star in Mexico when she moved to Los Angeles in the late ’80s, thought she would have a career steeped in action and comedy. But that didn’t happen. “They wouldn’t even give me the auditions. We tried really hard. I said I know I can do drama, but what about romantic comedies and action comedies?” she recalls. “For them, it was like, ‘Oh, no, she’s just like a sexy Mexican.’”
Throughout her career — which spans acting, producing and directing and includes an Oscar nomination for her role as Frida Kahlo in the 2002 film “Frida” — Hayek has proven that she never should have been dismissed so easily. Her production company, Ventanarosa, which signed a two-year first-look deal with HBO Max last June, has 15 projects in development, including “A Boob’s Life,” a television series about a 40-year-old woman whose breasts talk to her; an HBO series adaptation of the New York Times bestseller “Valentine,” about a Mexican teen who is beaten and raped by a white oil worker in 1970s Texas; and a seven-part scripted series for Fox Latin America about the fate of Eva Perón’s corpse, which was hidden for 19 years after her husband, Argentine president Juan Domingo Perón, was overthrown in 1955 and his plans to build a mausoleum were abandoned.
Hayek hopes within the next year to direct a yet-to-be-announced film based on a script she wrote 17 years ago. “It’s a very personal project, and this is the right time,” she says, declining to divulge any details. “It couldn’t have gotten made two years ago or even last year. It’s very ambitious. It’s not a small film. I don’t give up. I’ll get it made.”
The following conversation has been excerpted and condensed from a longer interview and edited for length and clarity.
What did you think when Patrick told you that he wanted you to be one of the stars of the “Hitman’s Bodyguard” sequel?
Quite frankly, I was shocked. I’ve been in many movies where we get the call: “Oh, my God, you’re one of the most liked characters in the film.” So many times. But for the first time, there was a director that said, “I’m gonna listen to the audience.” But I didn’t trust him. At the beginning, I said, “Oh, he’s just exaggerating. He’s just being nice.” But then when we started talking about it, he told me the storyline, and then I realized, “Oh, my God, this guy is not only for real, but he also wants me involved in the process. Then I said, “Let’s make it really interesting and talk about menopause in a funny way.” Imagine if you have a character that’s already crazy and then add those hormones.
Could you ever have imagined starring in an action movie as a woman facing menopause?
No, never. But I did think I would do action and comedy. I remember there were two big comedies I auditioned for the lead. Afterwards, the directors told me that I was the best audition and that I was better than who they cast and that they regretted it. But at the time, they knew the studios wouldn’t have gone for a Mexican as the lead.
When you think about that now, is there a satisfaction in seeing how far you’ve come, or is there a bitter- sweetness to it?
I got a lot of satisfaction with them coming to me and telling me because I thought it was very courageous of them. And I thought it changed something. It changed something in them. It made [me think that] maybe the next generation or the next girl that comes in was going to get a better shot because of it. But nobody really looked into my value. If you are a woman and you are in a movie that is very successful and they say you are their favorite character, they will still give all credits of the box office to the guy. They don’t count who you’re bringing into the theaters.
In my case, I was already a very big star in my country. I was bringing the Latino market into the theaters. I know some of the studios knew that. But they didn’t want to accept the value of the Latino market at the time. Even when I did “Frida,” it was an art-house film that had a successful box office. But they ignored it. I still didn’t get the leads. Yes, I thought I was going be an action star. That’s how I started. But at some point at a certain age, I was sure it was never going to happen because it didn’t when it made sense. Now that it doesn’t make any sense, it’s all happening.
And talk about being an action star — you’re playing a superhero next in Marvel’s “Eternals.”
It never crossed my mind to be in a Marvel movie. I guess that I thought that boat had sailed, and it was an absolute shock. All of a sudden, I got a call: “They want to talk to you about a new franchise.” And I was like, “What?” And I said OK, but they don’t tell you any information until you’re on the call. It’s kind of hard to be an action hero if you’re Mexican. It’s really hard to be an action hero if you’re a Mexican and a woman. But to be an action hero, being Mexican, a woman, and my age, it felt like they were punking me. And then the worst part is that I was one of the first people they cast. I had to keep my mouth shut for so many months. I couldn’t tell a soul. And I couldn’t wait for the day that I could say it.
The cast and characters of “Eternals” are so diverse. Do you think Hollywood is finally making strides when it comes to being more inclusive?
I think that there are people in power who have wanted this change for a long time. But it takes a lot of elements for it to happen. For example, [Marvel vice president of film production] Victoria Alonso, I cannot love this woman more. She is extraordinary. She was very supportive to all the cast. And when you talk to her, you can see that this was something meaningful to her for a long time. Even [Marvel chief] Kevin Feige was very proud of it. But I was terrified. They tell you you’re going to be in this movie, but they can’t give you a script, and you have to sign the contract. You have to negotiate and sign the contract, and you cannot tell anyone.
So how much did you know about “Eternals” when you signed on?
I knew the name of my character. But don’t look for it in the comics. When I did look at the comics, I was a man.
When they finally announced you as Ajak, you wrote on Instagram, “It used to be the father of all eternals, but girls, this is OUR time!” “Our” was in all caps.
It was hard to believe, so when it happens to you it’s important that you pass it on and say, “Yes, it’s happening. It’s really, really happening.” My husband is very feminist, and he does a lot of studies on this. I remember a long time ago that he told me that women have a harder time asking for a promotion or for a raise. They really try to justify it. Men normally ask for it prematurely. It has to do with self-esteem and with systematic and constant sexism. It takes women a lot of courage to ask. They’re afraid they’re going to get fired. So if it’s going well for you, if you see the change, it’s good to say that it is happening for us. I know that it’s not happening for every woman, but it gave me courage when I saw it happening for other women, even if it was not happening to me. I’m in a great place now, but I have experienced suffering. I choose not to talk about it because I like to stay positive. When people see me, and not just girls, minorities or even short people — anybody — I want them to think even if things don’t look like they can happen, anything can happen. But I don’t want it to be based on you have to suffer a lot and then eventually it’s going to happen. I want it to be based on why not?
In 2017, you wrote an essay for The New York Times about being sexually harassed and bullied by Harvey Weinstein. For someone who doesn’t like to talk about her own suffering, writing about Harvey must have been …
Excruciating! That’s why it took me so long. It was so hard because I chose not to be a victim even though I was a victim. I had to convince myself that I’m a fighter and above all else, a survivor. When all this happened with the Harvey story, I didn’t know that it happened to so many women. I went into such a depression for months. It really took an army of women to make me see I was true survivor, and a true fighter.
When I wrote it, I didn’t even know if I was really going to show it to anyone. I kept saying, “Who wants to hear my story? Why am I giving myself self-importance?” They had been asking me for it from the beginning, but I put it down on paper just for me.
How did you get through that depression?
I think the support of my husband throughout the entire thing was very important. Although he was shocked that I didn’t tell him the details of what I had gone through, and he was upset that I didn’t tell him and that we were around [Weinstein], he was amazing. A lot of people were upset with me. Friends were upset with me that I didn’t tell them what really happened. Then I thought, I have to do it. Afterwards, a lot of people wrote to me. A lot from the industry said, “This happened to me.”
After Joe Biden was elected, you wrote on Twitter, “4 years ago we heard of a wall separating Mexico from America but what really happened is we built an invisible wall that separated Americans from Americans. Nobody is more qualified to tear it down and make America united again.” How do you think his administration is doing?
I’ve taken a break from politics. I just want to be grateful for life, and I’m excited this movie [“Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”] is coming out after everything was on hold. I don’t want to be exasperated about it. I want to be creating things that inspire people to come together. That’s what I want to do. I want to enjoy my teenager, my amazing husband, my animals. I feel great now, so I don’t want to complain about things. I spent a long time complaining, and I don’t want to engage in things like, this should be this way or that way. I want to make people laugh.
Manori Ravindran contributed to this report.
I'm not sure a sequel to the buddy comedy The Hitman's Bodyguard starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson was something that a lot of people were really needing in their life. However, having now seen the red band trailer for that movie, I'm honestly not sure there's anything we all need more. The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard promises a larger role for Salma Hayek, and a lot of gun violence and foul language, and right now, it just looks like the sort of summer movie fun we all need. Check out the hilarious trailer above.
The trailer shows that Ryan Reynolds' character Michael Bryce has been dealing with the fallout of the events of the first movie with therapy, and that he has given up the bodyguard business for his own health. Unfortunately, Bryce is pulled back in by Salma Hayek's character Sonia, and even though it seems literally nobody wants to be there, the duo of Bryce and hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) is back together again.
The Hitman's Bodyguard wasn't a massive blockbuster smash but it made nearly $200 million at the global box office off a budget of around $30 million, which is pocket change by Hollywood standards. That's a very profitable movie, so it's little shock that a sequel was given the green light, and if the duo of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson entertained audiences once, there's a pretty solid chance it will do so again.
In an era where it largely feels like the very concept of star power is fading away, it likely was the combo of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson that made The Hitman's Bodyguard such a hit. Each actor has found strong success in R-rated films, and more specifically R-rated comedies, so seeing them together is sort of a dream team experience. And the new movie looks like it will just as much fun as audiences are hoping for. Right now we could probably all use a good laugh at the movies.
Legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday had the odds stacked against her when she was alive. Her story is being told in Hulu’s The United States vs. Billie Holiday with Andra Day taking on the titular role. There is much to learn from the film and life of Billie Holiday, and one cast member thinks the movie should be shown in every classroom.
Being a Black artist was hard enough during the time Billie Holiday rose to fame, but she was also a drug addict lacking the proper resources and care to get well. Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department's Federal Bureau of Narcotics, had a heavy hand in Billie Holiday’s prison time due to personal bias he held against her. I sat down with Garrett Hedlund, who portrays Anslinger in the film, for an interview with CinemaBlend, and he shared why he thinks The United States vs. Billie Holiday is such an important educational piece:
I love nothing more than somebody standing by their art, standing by their past, and standing by their pain. Something that's gonna inspire, make a difference and transform a new America. [Billie Holiday] was doing just that. And when she refused to stop singing it, and it was a big middle finger to the way she was being treated. The government maliciously using her as an example because she was an addict because she wouldn't stop singing Strange Fruit.
My character, Harry Anslinger, felt that it was stirring up America in the wrong way. And it made him uncomfortable because he was so insecure and had his own qualms with it and his place in his profession, you know, he wanted none of it. So it showed how selfish she was. He always had ulterior motives in his career and it was very malicious what he was doing to Billie when other white artists that were heroin addicts, specifically, were sent to doctors, and he had her sent to prison to detox. He took her cabaret license from her so she could never perform publicly after that. She faced a lot of immense brutality and that's why this film is such an educational experience when you're watching it. I think it should be shown in every classroom for history, for music, and others can learn as much as we have while making this film.
As Garret Hedlund said, even the cast learned a lot while making The United States vs. Billie Holiday. Whether it’s about addiction, the music industry, different sectors of the government and how they are operated, or trust and bias between humans, this film has something to teach about all of it. It is just as entertaining as it is informative because the audience takes a journey with Billie Holiday as she navigates who she can and can’t trust through different stages of her life.
On February 26th, The United States Vs. Billie Holiday will premiere on Hulu. The film, which tells the true story of Billie Holiday’s tumultuous life, is already receiving Oscar buzz. Director Lee Daniels wanted to reveal the oft-unspoken reality of Billie Holiday’s life. Throughout her career, Holiday struggled with heroin addiction and abuse. The US government tried to exploit this in order to prevent Holiday from singing her song ‘Strange Fruit’ which depicted the lynching of Black people in the American South.
The Federal Bureau of Narcotics began investigating Holiday’s heroin and cocaine addiction with the hopes of using it against her, to both soil her public image and to curb her from openly singing about racism. Holiday, however, was a force to be reckoned with. She never backed down. She continued singing and fighting back until the day she died.
Playing Holiday in the film is musician Andra Day, who has received universal praise, a Golden Globe nomination, and talk of a potential Oscar nomination for her portrayal. I had the honor to speak with both Daniels and Day to discuss race, Hollywood, and Billie Holiday.
For starters, I want to know what drew you to the story of Billie Holiday. What made it stand out to you?
Lee Daniels: Well, my whole career came to be thanks to Lady Sings the Blues (the Billie Holiday biopic from the 70s). The movie totally blew my mind, it just spoke to me. The music was divine. The costumes were breathtaking. Diana Ross was stunning. I got to see Black culture in a way I never had before on-screen. So, the movie really helped inspire me to create films of my own.
What I didn’t realize as a kid was that Lady Sings the Blues wasn’t the whole story of Holiday’s life. It was the Black story our community needed at the time. It was the Black love story we all needed to see, but it wasn’t the real story of Holiday’s life. So, I was excited to get to work on a more factual account of her life and career.
Andra Day: I actually never thought I’d be in the movie! I’ve always loved Billie Holiday, and she’s been a huge influence on my music career. But I’m not really an actress, so I was terrified at my audition. But Lee really saw something in me, and he was so supportive.
I was really interested in the fact that this movie focused on how the government came after Billie under the guise of the war on drugs. I didn’t want to remake Lady Sings the Blues because I felt the movie was simply untouchable. I love that this film does a much deeper dive.
Lee, as a Black filmmaker, what was it like getting into the industry knowing that Black stories weren’t being told?
Daniels: Well, I always felt like there wasn’t “true cinema” being made for the Black community. You know, like movies that would wind up in the Criterion Collection. There wasn’t Black indie filmmaking, so I always wanted to do that. And to this day, all of my movies have been made independently. I’ve just never been able to rely on Hollywood. But yeah, I think it’s great to see the surge of Black cinema we’re seeing right now.
It’s interesting that you say that, because I loved your film, In’The Paperboy’, you can see that indie influence you’re talking about. You can tell that movie was made from passion, not from being tested through focus groups.
Daniels: And you know what, lots of people hated it! The Paperboy did really well at the Cannes Film Festival, but then tons of critics didn’t like it. I’m kind of in my own lane as a Black, gay filmmaker. I see the world from a very specific lens. And sometimes people get it, and sometimes they don’t. But I always know the movie I’m trying to make, whether they like it or not.
‘The United States Vs. Billie Holiday’ is going to tell a very different story of Holiday than most audiences are probably expecting. Your film focuses on her struggles with heroin, the federal investigation that tried to silence her, and even her queer romance with Tallulah Bankhead. When you started making this movie, did you know you might be challenging the audience’s beliefs of what they thought they knew?
Daniels: I didn’t even know she had relations with Tallulah until I started doing research for the film! I didn’t discover that until I started reading the letters she wrote. And I think that’s because Holiday never made a big deal out of it. Everyone else did, but Holiday didn’t care. Just like she didn’t care that the government didn’t want her singing ‘Strange Fruit’. She was like, this is my song, I’m gonna sing it.
But yeah, I fully understand that not everyone wants to hear the truth. The truth can be polarizing, and some audiences just want to be entertained. They don’t want the truth put in front of their face.
Day: I’m excited for people to see that Billie Holiday was extremely progressive, and she just wanted to be herself. There were lots of people who tried to hide those facts, but she was always bravely being herself. And through being herself, regardless of the consequences, she fought for marginalized communities.
Many of Billie Holiday’s experiences with men were extremely abusive. So, I think she found real love and real friendship in women. Almost a sense of safety. I hope people see that and understand that.
It’s almost as if this film is not only going to educate people on what really happened to Holiday, but it’s also going to serve as an act of protest…as a way to show the truth, even if some people would rather not hear it. Plus, the timing couldn’t be more fitting. After the Trump administration, June’s BLM movement, and the Capitol Riot, I think a lot of white Americans are starting to realize that they’ve willingly had their eyes closed and have been blinded to the reality of racism.
Daniels: There were even some Black people who were turning a blind eye! Truth is hard and scary, and it’s easy for people to try and ignore it. I’ve even had blinders on in the past. As a gay, Black man, if I had allowed myself to see all the racism and homophobia around me…if I allowed myself to know how difficult it is for a Black person to make it in the film industry…I wouldn’t be here right now. I don’t even know where I’d be. I lived in denial for a long time because the truth was just too painful.
And you know, the 2020 election served as a really ugly wake-up call. It showed us that a big portion of America has said they don’t want to change. It really made you feel like America was no longer home, and no longer safe. The problem is that racism is like an aerosol. It’s everywhere, but you can’t physically see it. And because it’s everywhere, it’s been ingrained in us all since birth. It was here before our parents. And their parents. And their parents’ parents… Unfortunately, it’s part of the foundation of America. And I’m hoping this movie will help people see that more clearly.
My movie The Butler was a product of the times. Obama was in office. I felt like there was hope. It was a joyous movie. And Billie’s movie is how I’m feeling now. We’ve seen the damage that one administration was able to make in our country. And we all saw it coming. We all felt it coming.
Day: I absolutely see this as a form of protest. I think that we’re at our best when we’re serving the community. And part of serving the community means calling out injustice and informing people of the truth.
The whole federal investigation into Billie was designed to take her down. She was too famous for the government to completely destroy, so instead, they tried rewriting her narrative as a drug-addicted troublemaker.
And you know, history masked it. There’s a reason why this isn’t in the history books…and it’s the same with Hidden Figures. There’s a reason why society had no idea it was three Black women who helped get us into space. It’s all part of systemic racism. These stories have been hidden away from much of America for decades. And that’s why it’s so important to really uncover the whole truth, especially for marginalized people. You can’t have a true image of a nation unless you’re telling everyone’s stories.
What do you hope people take away from ‘The United States Vs. Billie Holiday’?
Daniels: I hope people see that civil rights leaders come in all shapes and sizes. They don’t need to be religious figures or politicians. They can have issues just like Billie did. Even people who think they’re “damaged” can do wonderful things. I mean, Billie literally took on the government simply by continuing to sing her song!
Day: First, I really hope audiences can see what she sacrificed from singing that song. These days, we’re used to protest music. But back then, singing ‘Strange Fruit’ was a powerful and revolutionary act of resistance.
I also want people to see the power of Black women. No matter how poorly people treat us, the resilience of Black women is so incredibly powerful. I want people to see what that looked like in Billie Holiday’s time so they can see that we’re still powerful to this day.
Finally, do you think Hollywood is trying to change? Are you noticing any differences? Are inclusivity and diversity actually happening, or are they just words being thrown around?
Daniels: My fear is that Hollywood feels like it’s politically correct to talk about diversity and inclusivity because they fear they’ll be shamed if they don’t. But I don’t know if the studios actually have any intentions of changing. I think that until there are Black people greenlighting films at major studios, and Black people writing the checks, then real, lasting change can’t be made.
But one thing I will say is that I’ve had a lot of young filmmakers come up to me and say that I inspired them. Especially a lot of young, gay filmmakers. So, it makes me feel good, like I’ve accomplished something.
‘The United States Vs. Billie Holiday’ premieres February 26th on Hulu.
Andra Day fully committed herself to the role of Billie Holiday. The 36-year-old musician's first major movie part is portraying the late jazz singer in the upcoming Hulu film, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, and the role led to her making some major lifestyle changes.
“I basically abused my body for a long time,” Day said during Variety's Actors on Actors with Leslie Odom Jr. “I’m joking and not really joking."
Day landed the role in 2018 and got to work researching Holiday and emulating her actions.
"I put my family through it; I put myself through it,” she shared. “I went from 163 pounds to 124 pounds. I would talk like her and I don’t drink or smoke, but I started smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Not that I recommend people do this; I just was desperate because this is my first role."
The film follows Holiday as the target of an undercover sting operation centered on the singer's substance abuse struggles. Day wanted to be in the right mindset to play the troubled singer at such a pivotal time in her life.
"I just asked God to give me all of the pain and trauma," she said. "I asked him to give me her pain and give me her trauma.”
In 2017, action-comedy The Hitman’s Bodyguard teamed up Hollywood’s most legendarily foul-mouthed icon – Samuel L. Jackson – with its greatest freewheeling motormouth – Ryan Reynolds – for an explosion of shoot-‘em-up setpieces with verbal assaults to match. And for its upcoming sequel, the duo is joined by Salma Hayek in a co-leading role as Sonia Kincaid, the wife of Jackson’s hitman Darius – hence that extra word in the follow-up’s title The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. As seen in the upcoming new issue of Empire – on sale Thursday 21 January and available to pre-order online now here – we present a world-exclusive first look at the film.
Returning director Patrick Hughes has a star-studded line-up in store for this one. As seen in the above image, the central trio of Reynolds, Jackson and Hayek will be facing off against a villain played by Antonio Banderas – here donning a particularly jazzy purple jacket. And elsewhere in the film, Morgan Freeman, Frank Grillo, and Richard E. Grant are all expected to pop up, the latter reprising his role of Mr. Seifert – another client of Reynolds’ bodyguard Michael Bryce – from the first instalment.
Billie Holiday’s life was so immense, so soaked in motley experiences, that it can be hard to grasp as a whole. In part, this is why the general populous knows only fragments of the Philadelphia-born jazz and blues singer’s story: She struggled so heavily with drugs that they eventually cost her her life, and that she was one of the few Black artists to “make it” in the ‘40s and ‘50s, when aggressively racist Jim Crow laws still governed much of the U.S. She suffered so deeply from heartbreak that she has become an international symbol of it.
With his latest film, this February’s The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Lee Daniels has set out to change that by lifting up the rug and casting a spotlight on what society has swept under it. It is a story of persecution, not so much by independent racist parties (the Klu Klux Klan, for example), but the U.S. government itself, which sought to persecute and jail Holiday for seating people of different races together in her audiences and singing Abel Meeropol’s song, “Strange Fruit.” With lyrics like, “Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze / Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees,” the piece plainly evoked the horror of lynching, much to the outrage of the Americans who were still fighting for segregation. There are obvious connections to the brute police force against Black Americans that continue on to this day.Andra wears dress and cape Prada SS21 Jewelry Cartier Gloves D.Bleu.Dazzled Flower MS Schmalberg
As Holiday, acting newcomer Andra Day is penetrative. Her performance pierces into you and leaves you unable to forget what you have felt and seen. That potency spans emotive stage performances (decked out in nine different Prada looks, with Paolo Nieddu as the costume designer for the film), or her drug use while off of it. Day metaphorically—and literally—strips herself naked, embodying such a lovable version of Holiday that you miss her once the film ends. You feel as if you are watching history brought to life. Yet there is also the sense that Day, with her phenomenal portrayal, is creating history of her own.
V spoke to Lee Daniels and Andra Day over the phone in late November for their first-ever joint interview, recounting a story of meeting one another that kicked off with immense doubt and ended in a life-altering experience.
Mathias Rosenzweig: Lee, why did you want to make this movie? And Andra, why did you want to be a part of it?
Lee Daniels: This is our first time doing [an interview], so you’re catching us fresh. I can tell you that I wanted to do the film because the movie that really made me want to direct was [1972’s] Lady Sings the Blues. It was the first film that I’d seen, as a 13-year-old kid, where there were two Black people that were beautiful and were in love. And I didn’t know anything about Billie Holiday at 13. I just saw a couple in love, and music, and beautiful fashion, and I could smell the food. I could smell the fried chicken jumping off the screen. And I said, “Oh my God, I want to do this. I want to make people feel the way I feel right now.”
So that movie intoxicated me, not only with the feeling of loving my people, but a feeling of understanding that I wanted to continue to tell stories. I wanted to do what that film did, which is tell beautiful stories about love. And so that started the whole Billie Holiday thing. And when I found that that [depiction] wasn’t really the case, I really wanted to know what happened. And I think that the civil rights of it all blew my mind, and her story blew my mind. So that’s the reason why I wanted to do it. Andra, why did you want to do it?
Andra Day: Like you said, the civil rights. The truth of it all actually mattered to me. Because, as Lee knows, and we’ve laughed about this a bunch of times—at first I was terrified. I was hesitant, and I was like, “I don’t know if this is a good idea.” Also, I loved Lady Sings the Blues. I love Diana [Ross’] performance. So it was actually part of the reason I did not want to do this. She killed the role. It’s beautiful what she did. But Lee, I remember we sat down and had dinner at Soho House, and the first thing I really liked was actually your energy. We bonded over good stuff and bonded over the bad. It was your character and your need for authenticity that I really enjoyed.Dress, costume designed by Prada Jewelry Cartier Flower MS Schmalberg
LD: I mean, I drove to Soho House not really wanting this to happen.
AD: You told me [laughs]!
LD: My managers, people who work with me, they were like, “[Andra] is who you have to hire.” And I was like, “Fuck y’all.” I was like, “Poor girl, she doesn’t stand a chance.” But then we met and when I first looked at her, I saw her spirit. I got chills. She wasn’t a desperate actress that just wanted to do it. I could tell she was questioning whether she was good enough. To me, that is when you know that you are really dealing with a perfectionist. She wanted to do the role justice. That’s all you’re looking for as a director.
MR: Despite Billie Holiday being long gone, her music and legacy remain such a big part of so many people’s lives. Can you talk about the pressure of portraying her?
LD: I did not want [her] to be a victim. To the point where we had several issues after, and I realized that she was a little too hard. And one of the things I never wanted her to do was cry. I wanted her to play tough, but she was a little too tough. We had to do some reshoots. So I wanted to show that she wasn’t a victim. And then I wanted to show...hmm, how do I say this right? How do we fall in love with someone who is a drug addict, someone who will kick your ass? It was like walking a tightrope for me because I tried to make sure that I did her justice, but that we also showed her flaws and made her beautiful. That was really, really, really scary. We were both scared.Jewelry and watch Cartier, bra What Katie Did, flower MS Schmalberg
AD: You just asked the question where you were saying, “How do we make her lovable?” The reality is, you did it by telling the truth, by not sugarcoating. Because really, she was adored. It’s like, if you tell the truth about Billie Holiday, people are going to fall in love. She was one of the only artists who had the power to captivate audiences of all races around the world. She was a global superstar. People would write about her in the paper, and they would write positive things and they would write negative things. But ultimately, everybody really, really loved her. You know, I really love this woman so much. And I always have. She’s charming. She makes me laugh. We have conversations. I know that sounds crazy. She’s nuts. And she’s hilarious. You want to be around her presence all the time.
LD: Just when you think you know her, you don’t. We wanted to show how spiritual Billie was. So you see her in church, and then the very next shot you see, it’s with her legs wide open and backstage at Carnegie Hall, smoking a cigarette.
AD: Oh that one made it in there? The one in the dressing room?
LD: Yeah. Wide open.Dress Prada Multiple Views Jewelry Cartier Gloves D.Bleu.Dazzled Flower MS Schmalberg
MR: Andra, you haven’t seen the movie yet? I think you’re going to blow yourself away when you see it.
AD: I know, it’s so funny. You know, my memories from [filming] are still so potent. And it’s like, I don’t want to do anything to alter that. And I’m telling you—when I say this, I’m not exaggerating, I’m not saying this because we’re on the phone. But [filming this] was one of the greatest moments of my life. It was really a paradigm shift.
LD: I agree. It’s magic.
AD: And that’s why I haven’t seen it. Ultimately, I feel like I’ll do it in a premiere situation. And I want to say, about being on set, there was also this urgency. It wasn’t like we were doing a casual comedy. There was urgency on set every day, day in and day out.
LD: This was really a call to arms, because we all knew, we could all feel it in the air, that Black men were being killed. We knew what was going on in America. And this was right before Breonna [Taylor]. You could feel the hatred in the air and it was important. We needed to capture this right away.
MR: Lee, you mentioned not wanting to portray Billie as a victim. But she certainly was a victim of certain things. Can you elaborate a bit on that?
AD: My experience with Lee, with loving [Bille] and knowing her in the movie, is that he did not want her to have a victim mentality. She was a victim of experiencing trauma. She was Black, at that time in this country, period, but she was not a victim in the mind. [Crunching sound] and I just want to say, I’m eating my Doritos right now while doing this interview.Andra wears dress Prada Multiple Views, bra worn underneath Agent Provocateur, Veil Tia Mazza, Flower MS Schmalberg, gloves D.Bleu.Dazzled and jewelry Cartier
MR: You just do whatever makes you happy [laughs]. Obviously, you are a singer and you played a singer. What was that like for you?
AD: There are ways that we’re similar, but there were things like the drugs that I needed to get an understanding of—the addiction. I’ve had many conversations with people about it. I read her biography. I read everything I could get my hands on. And I understood the need to say something with a platform. What I needed was to grab the sense of urgency, that if I sang “Rise Up,” I could be killed by the cops. You could be doing nothing, sitting in your house, and get shot by the cops. And then again, the deal with addiction. [Speaking for Holiday:] “Why am I an addict? Why do I do drugs? Why am I such a heavy drinker?” So I really needed to understand that trauma and that pain. You have your emotional pain, right? I’m sure you have your own traumas in life. Imagine a drug that’s tied to all of your emotional pain, that’s tied to your memory, that’s tied to the way you function...it can actually remove your emotional pain. And then when you’re coming down from that, and you want another hit, and you’re not even getting high. I sat with a former addict who taught me about that stuff. It was really intense. I have different ways that I process my trauma, but I really needed to understand why she chose to process her pain in this way. [To someone in the same room] You are taking pictures of me eating fucking cheese Doritos. You are an asshole. [Everyone laughs].
MR: What do you guys hope the impact of this movie will be?
AD: I hope this is a revelation. First of all, telling Black women’s stories is huge for me. I would have people tell me, “You’re never going to do a role like this. There aren’t many roles for Black women.” And I’ve said this multiple times, but to me, that statement is baffling. I don’t understand. One of the biggest things is I wanted people to get to know her. We have to understand that a lot of [Black people’s] stories have been intentionally kept from people, and that the history we hear is not accurate. You cannot tell American history or world history without telling African history. You have to understand how much of our history has been wiped off the map because that was their goal. With Billie, the narrative basically eradicated her, or tried to, but they couldn’t because she was too famous. So they told the story but they spun it in a different way. I want this to tell the truth of our narrative. I want it to be a revelation like, “Okay, apparently I’ve been lied to about a lot of these stories.” Like with [the film] Hidden Figures, that three Black women were responsible for sending us to space and programming the first computer. What that would have done for me as a little girl to have known that...Andra wears jewelry and watch Cartier, bra and panty What Katie Did, flower MS Schmalberg, robe costume designed by Prada, shoes stylist’s own
LD: When people walk away from this film, I want them to feel the way I felt making it. I looked at the way she stood up to the government, and it just made me think, “[I want to] get people to grow, to not be afraid of the system.” The system is flawed. It was never meant for Black people, for us. I think [Billie] understood that and was able to speak about it. She was like, “No, I’m not the one. I’m not the two and I’m not the three.” Also, it was a Black set. Black cast, Black director, Black team. I keep forgetting what I bring to it. And I’m not bragging about it. It’s the sense of a cookout. It’s just what I bring to the table as a director...there needs to be more Black films, and there needs to be more Black directors.
AD: Everybody [on set] was so supportive and concerned with each other. The integrity was there; the collaboration, the creativity. It just destroyed this whole idea that there’s only limited space for us.
International Film Trust (IFT) has sold several international territories on action thriller “Dangerous,” starring Scott Eastwood and Mel Gibson.
Territories sold include Koch for Germany, You Planet for Spain, Eagle for the Middle East, Top Film for the CIS, Programme 4 Media for Eastern Europe, and Pris for Portugal.
Eastwood plays a reformed sociopath, who, after the death of his brother, heads to a remote island which soon falls under siege from a deadly gang of mercenaries. Forced to fend for himself, he discovers their role in his brother’s demise and sets off on a quest for vengeance.
Tyrese Gibson (“F9”), Famke Janssen (“Primal”) and Kevin Durand “Ballers”) also star. The cast also includes Canadian actors Brendan Fletcher (“Braven”), Ryan Robbins (“Sanctuary”), Brenda Bazinet (“Shoot The Messenger”), Leanne Lapp (“iZombie”), Chad Rook (“Siren”), Brock Morgan (“Cardinal”), Destiny Millns (“BH90210”), and Atlee Smallman (“Project Blue Book”).
Production is currently underway in Kelowna, Quilchena, Kamloops and Lavington, in interior British Columbia, Canada.
The film is made with the participation of the province of British Columbia Film Incentive BC, the Creative Saskatchewan Feature Film Production Grant Program, as well as the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit.
The film is directed by David Hackl (“Saw V”) and produced by Kevin DeWalt and Ben DeWalt for Minds Eye Entertainment and Doug Falconer for Falconer Pictures, with Michael Benaroya executive producing for his Benaroya Pictures and Todd Shepherd executive producing for Miscellaneous Entertainment. IFT, Invico Capital and 3 Point Capital are financing with IFT selling worldwide rights excluding Canada, and Mind’s Eye International selling Canada and co-repping the U.S. with IFT.
Lily Sheen has boarded Lionsgate Nicolas Cage action self-parody The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
Sheen will play Cage’s daughter Addy in the feature and joins Pedro Pascal, Tiffany Haddish and Sharon Horgan who round out the cast. Pic is scheduled to lense this fall.
In the movie, Cage, playing fictionalized version of himself, must accept a $1 million offer to attend the birthday of a super fan (Pascal). When things take a wildly dangerous turn, Cage is forced to live up to his own legend, channeling his most iconic and beloved on-screen characters in order to save himself and his loved ones. With a career built for this very moment, the Academy Award winning iconic actor must take on the role of a lifetime: himself.
Tom Gormican is directing from a script he co-wrote with Kevin Etten. The producers are Kevin Turen, Kristin Burr and Mike Nilon. The project is being overseen at Lionsgate by James Myers and Brady Fujikawa.
Sheen is represented by UTA and managed by Brett Goldstein at Brett Goldstein Management.
I STILL BELIEVE was nominated for BEST DRAMA MOVIE and BEST DRAMA MOVIE STAR (KJ APA) of 2020
Open Road Films’ Liam Neeson action-thriller Honest Thief, which was set to go wide, is going really wide now at 2,000 theaters. However, you’ll have to wait a week later than anticipated. The movie from Ozark co-creator and producer Mark Williams, which was set to open on Oct. 9 will now go on Oct. 16. This leaves 101 Studios’ War With Grandpa on Oct. 9 as the only wide release, and puts Honest Thief and Freestyle’s 2 Hearts as the prime wide entries for Oct. 16.
Open Road CEO Tom Ortenberg said the move was made “in anticipation of additional theatres opening in the next few weeks and the opportunity to use the extra time to present Honest Thief to audiences in Premium Formats such as 4DX and Dolby Atmos. We look forward to a terrific opening weekend and a long run in theatres in partnership with our good friends in exhibition.”
In Honest Thief, Neeson stars as a bank robber who tries to turn himself in after falling for a woman (Kate Walsh) who works at the storage facility where he’s stashed his money. Complications ensue when his case is turned over to a corrupt FBI agent (Jai Courtney) and he must go underground to save both himself and the woman he loves.
Reasonable budget action fare aimed at older guys is truly finding a way at the box office during this pandemic in which only 70% of all movie theaters are open (and New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco proper is still closed).Solstice Studios’ Russell Crowe road rage movie Unhinged, which only cost $30M, is on its way to make $20M stateside in the next two weeks. The pic has also cleared $12M abroad according to Box Office Mojo. We hear that this coming weekend, nearby San Fran areas San Mateo, Oakland and Berkeley are set to come back online.
Deadline exclusively reported the relaunch of Open Road under founder Ortenberg as well as their U.S. acquisition of Voltage’s YA sequel After We Collided which is set for a theatrical-PVOD day-and-date release of Oct. 23; that movie recently clearing over $1M in Canada last weekend.
As entirely expected, Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz’s Antebellum was the top VOD pick last weekend (and at the current moment) on FandangoNow and Vudu (which rank according to total revenue) and both Amazon AMZN +0.2% and Google. Yes, Antebellum is not only the top movie on Amazon as of now, it’s the top-selling title period, ahead of the seemingly invincible Yellowstone. That three-season (thus far) Kevin Costner/Luke Grimes/Kelly Reilly modernday western has had an iron grip on the Amazon charts all summer, so I’m Antebellum forbes.com Scott Mendelson Sep 21, 2020 Material supplied by Daily Buzz, LLC to you may be used for non-commercial and internal review, analysis and research purposes only. Any editing, reproduction, modification, publication, rebroadcasting, public display or public distribution is forbidden and may violate U.S. and international copyright laws. This material may include printed documents and images, audio works, audio/visual works, content stored on electronic storage media such as CDs and DVDs, electronic communications, and electronic documents and other content attached to or accessible through such electronic communications. By accepting, accessing and using the material, you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Daily Buzz, LLC for third-party claims of intellectual property infringement based upon your violation of the foregoing restrictions. 1 / 5 officially impressed that Antebellum currently rules. Speaking of Yellowstone, the Paramount show was tops among binged shows over at Peacock, so says the email they sent out last week. Sure, it’s not third-party verified, but the top-rated shows (Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, The King of Queens, Two and a Half Men, Everybody Loves Raymond, Columbo, Psych, Dateline, Saturday Night Live and Law & Order: Criminal Intent) are the very definition of A) comfort binges and B) the kinds of shows that get great ratings while the press fawns over (justified) critical darlings that (in their initial airings) average one-to-two million viewers an episode. That may partially explain why Peacock has sneakily amassed 15 million downloads since launching back in July. It may not be the sexiest streaming platform, and it may not have the buzziest shows, but A) there’s a free-withcommercials tier and B) there seems to be a real allure to its explicitly mainstream catalogue. I love HBO Max as much as the next film nerd (it’s the streaming platform I most find myself visiting purely for recreation), but fortunes are not made or lost on Lovecraft Country or American Pickle. PROMOTED UNICEF USA BRANDVOICE | Paid Program In Yemen, Moms Sew Masks To Protect Their Kids And Their Community Grads of Life BRANDVOICE | Paid Program 5 Ways Employers Can Support Black Employees: A Young Leader’s Advice Civic Nation BRANDVOICE | Paid Program VT Engage Rally The Youth Vote On Campus Back to Lionsgate’s Antebellum, which is, about… well, technically a spoiler but the first teaser gave it away, a Black professional (Janelle Monáe) who Antebellum forbes.com Scott Mendelson Sep 21, 2020 Material supplied by Daily Buzz, LLC to you may be used for non-commercial and internal review, analysis and research purposes only. Any editing, reproduction, modification, publication, rebroadcasting, public display or public distribution is forbidden and may violate U.S. and international copyright laws. This material may include printed documents and images, audio works, audio/visual works, content stored on electronic storage media such as CDs and DVDs, electronic communications, and electronic documents and other content attached to or accessible through such electronic communications. By accepting, accessing and using the material, you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Daily Buzz, LLC for third-party claims of intellectual property infringement based upon your violation of the foregoing restrictions. 2 / 5 finds herself fighting for survival after she is plucked from her life and sent to a Civil War-era slave plantation. It was supposed to open theatrically on April 24 before Covid-19 changed all of that. The film got an August 21 theatrical release date before the powers that be decided to make it Lionsgate’s first “skipped theaters for PVOD” $20-a-rental title. By default, it was the big new release of the weekend. The film received mostly negative reviews, as the lush cinematography and general unease didn’t quite make up for the almost tedious “Black people being brutalized and humiliated by white people for most of the movie” narrative. It’s an example of what I sometimes call “But she shoots him in the end” movies. Think a stereotypical Lifetime movie where the female protagonist spends 90% of the movie being victimized but it’s empowering because she kills her assailant/abuser/etc. just before the credits roll. Applying that structure to a slave-era narrative isn’t a deal breaker, but the screenplay devotes so much effort to its final reveal that there’s almost nothing to the movie except slave-specific trauma. The last reveal is, no spoilers, what the movie should have been about. There’s a difference between a critic watching the movie and perhaps being turned off by the content and a consumer who pushes that “rent it” button knowing exactly what they are in for. Antebellum forbes.com Scott Mendelson Sep 21, 2020 Material supplied by Daily Buzz, LLC to you may be used for non-commercial and internal review, analysis and research purposes only. Any editing, reproduction, modification, publication, rebroadcasting, public display or public distribution is forbidden and may violate U.S. and international copyright laws. This material may include printed documents and images, audio works, audio/visual works, content stored on electronic storage media such as CDs and DVDs, electronic communications, and electronic documents and other content attached to or accessible through such electronic communications. By accepting, accessing and using the material, you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Daily Buzz, LLC for third-party claims of intellectual property infringement based upon your violation of the foregoing restrictions. 3 / 5 Shia LaBeouf and Bobby Soto in David Ayer's 'THE TAX COLLECTOR RLJE FILMS, PHOTO BY JUSTIN LUBIN That partially explains the critical and commercial disconnect between, for example, David Ayer’s The Tax Collector, although I much preferred that pulpy B-movie crime melodrama. Antebellum didn’t work for me (partially because I guessed the reveals pretty early on which made it all a waiting game), but there is value in crafting a movie that makes slavery into a “horror movie” as opposed to a “prestige drama.” I just wish it had more to offer beyond a few twists (most of which the marketing had no choice but to reveal) and glorified slave trauma porn. Oh well, at least Gabourey Sidibe (who darn well deserved every plaudit she got for Precious) gets a fun monologue and Jena Malone (who I’ve liked and followed since Bastard Out of Carolina) chews the scenery as a heavy. Speaking of which, for someone who’s terrible at spelling names, putting Janelle Monáe and Jena Malone in the same movie is just mean. Antebellum forbes.com Scott Mendelson Sep 21, 2020 Material supplied by Daily Buzz, LLC to you may be used for non-commercial and internal review, analysis and research purposes only. Any editing, reproduction, modification, publication, rebroadcasting, public display or public distribution is forbidden and may violate U.S. and international copyright laws. This material may include printed documents and images, audio works, audio/visual works, content stored on electronic storage media such as CDs and DVDs, electronic communications, and electronic documents and other content attached to or accessible through such electronic communications. By accepting, accessing and using the material, you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Daily Buzz, LLC for third-party claims of intellectual property infringement based upon your violation of the foregoing restrictions. 4 / 5 Felicity Jones in 'On the Basis of Sex' FOCUS FEATURES In other VOD news, RBG, an acclaimed documentary about the recently late Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Mimi Leder’s On the Basis of Sex (an early years biopic starring Felicity Jones as Ginsburg) are the first and third top-ranked movies over at iTunes at the moment. That’s not unexpected either, but I still wish folks would have sampled the pretty damn good On the Basis of Sex back when it was in theaters. But if it’s doing well on iTunes, at least folks are paying for it. As for RBG, it’s also on Hulu at the moment, and I’ll assume it’s doing pretty well over there. Oh, and Disney+’s top streaming movie at the moment are Moana and Frozen II, with the animated Mulan at 21 and the live-action Mulan at… uh… somewhere between 26 and infinity (and beyond).
*The following is authored by David J. Johns, Executive Director of National Black Justice Coalition.
Recently I heard a friend say the following, and I felt each word pierce my heart like a dagger as they fell from his lips, “I know white people who are planning the future while the smartest Black and Brown people I know are focused on trying to get the police to stop killing us.”
This statement still sits with me because it speaks to the continued investments that African descendants chiefly make to address the problems that transatlantic enslavement and U.S. capitalism have created. The statement also speaks to how so many life opportunities and outcomes are shaped by the enduring problems caused by race and racism in America.
On September 18, 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act was signed into law by President Millard Fillmore. Created as an attempt to keep the Union together and avoid a civil war, the Act was meant to enforce Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3, otherwise known as The Fugitive Slave Clause of the U.S. Constitution. This article states that enslaved Africans did not become free if they managed to escape to a free state and required them to be returned to their masters. The Fugitive Slave Act and the rift it caused between anti- and pro-slavery states contributed to both the Civil War and the formal end of slavery.
Tongayi Chirisa in “Antebellum.” Courtesy of Lionsgate
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was actually the second Act of its kind. The first Fugitive Slave Act was enacted in 1793. This law allowed slave owners and their agents to search for runaway slaves in free states and it punished people who helped harbor and conceal enslaved Africans. In the North, where anti-slavery sentiments were rising, many intentionally neglected to enforce the law. Some people engaged in helping enslaved Africans make their way to freedom along the Underground Railroad. Some of the Northern states even passed “Personal Liberty Laws,” which gave the accused escaped slaves the right to a trial and protected free Black people.
An unintended consequence of the Fugitive Slave Acts was the theft and kidnapping of free Black people who were forced into slavery by bounty hunters and others seeking to profit from Black bodies. While there has been much attention paid to the horrifically brutal nature of slavery, the way that we remember slavery in America seems to suggest that both that period in our history and the collateral consequences of it are over. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as evidenced by this moment in the movement for Black lives. Dr. Joy DeGruy has pioneered thinking about “post traumatic slave syndrome”. Building upon the foundation that she has helped to establish, it’s also important to think about the unrelenting impact that slavery continues to play in all of our lives.
Both Fugitive Slave Acts were repealed by an act of Congress during the Civil War on June 28, 1864, and with the Civil War came the official end of slavery. But the oppression and discrimination Black people face did not end then and still continues to this day. There’s a movement to help people and medical practitioners understand the consequences of persistent traumatic environmental factors that impact the lives of African descendants in peculiar ways and the newly released feature film ANTEBELLUM brings the current costs of historical traumas into focus.
The impacts of intergenerational trauma and systematic racism are not discussed enough. The signs, symbols, and systems that are used to preserve and perpetuate privilege often go ignored. And the consequences of Black people still facing disproportionate levels of bias, discrimination, and violence are too frequently dismissed, which is precisely why I am excited about the conversations that will be had after ANTEBELLUM is released on September 18, 2020 — the anniversary of the Fugitive Slave Act.
ANTEBELLUM invites many of us to think about what it feels like to be trapped–confined by the horrifying trappings of our collective and not too distant past. The opening scene of ANTEBELLUM is a reminder of this very fact–of the contradictions that exist in a democracy that has been consistent and intentional in attempting to deny Black, Latinx and poor people access to opportunity. I don’t want to give away anything from the movie but consider the fact that while few people would think to get married at a concentration camp, there are thousands of couples clamoring to celebrate their holy matrimonies at plantations today. ANTEBELLUM invites us all to consider how the legacy of plantations have been shaped over time and how those narratives impact our lives today.
I sometimes wonder if the spirits of our ancestors could speak to well-meaning white people who celebrate confederacy without acknowledging the damage its legacy continues to cause, and what they would say to them. After viewing the film ANTEBELLUM, written and directed by the talented duo Bush + Renz, I can imagine what this conversation might sound and feel like. Go watch the movie and ensure you’re registered to vote.
ANTEBELLUM premiers on demand Friday September 18th, which is also the day that BET & the National Urban League have dubbed as the inaugural ‘National Black Voter Day.’
For first-time feature filmmakers Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, the process of bringing Lionsgate’s “Antebellum” to life was quite literally the stuff of nightmares.
The psychological thriller, which was written and directed by the longtime directing partners, stars Janelle Monáe as Veronica Henley, a successful author in contemporary times, and also as Eden, a long-suffering slave in the antebellum South. The women live seemingly opposing existences, but a surprise twist reveals itself in the film’s third act.
The story, which came to Bush in a dream following the sudden and unexpected losses of his father and best friend, felt “seeded by the ancestors,” he said by phone before the film’s Friday PVOD release.
“I’ve never thought of myself as a New Age person,” he said. “But this felt really up close and intimate, it felt ancestral. I’m categorizing it as a nightmare because I was asleep and I was in a dream state, but it felt like I was receiving.
“The star of the dream was this woman, Eden. And she was so desperate to reach help and to escape her tormentor that it felt like she was screaming across dimensions. That’s the only way I can describe it.
“The nightmare was essentially ‘Antebellum,’” he added. “Most of the details that you see in the movie are from the nightmare. [That night I woke up] and took notes in the notepad on my phone. And the next day, Christopher and I put pen to paper and wrote a short story.”
“Antebellum” marks the duo’s feature film debut after spending the last decade directing luxury advertising campaigns and short films centered around social justice issues. Despite the film’s arrival on the heels of racial unrest and a historic pandemic (and its last-minute pivot to a digital release after a planned theatrical run was postponed twice), the directors believe that the timing couldn’t be better.
“We did create the movie to be experienced in a theater, as a communal experience,” said Renz. “And we did push the date a couple times to try to keep the movie in theaters. But it got to a point where we either would release the movie now in this time or wait until sometime later in 2021.
“We felt that this movie has something to add to the conversation that America is having right now and PVOD was the best option for that. But if one person got sick or worse just because they wanted to see our movie, that’s not something that we could live with. So we felt that this was the best way for it to be released.”
For Bush, the film feels “fated.” “It feels like the story has its own life,” he said. “One perfect example is, when the movie was re-dated by the studio for Sept. 18, unbeknownst to us at the time, that day falls on the anniversary of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. And so that gave us even more comfort in knowing that perhaps the film has a journey of its own and we’re just supposed to be responsible stewards in protecting it and letting it get out to the world.
“It’s funny, I used to think that the racial reckoning was just adding insult to injury with the global pandemic. But what I’ve since realized is that it made the ground that much more fertile for this awakening that we experienced this summer.”
Though more than 50% of the film takes place on a plantation, the filmmakers and its star bristle against categorizing it as a slavery movie.
“I just think that it’s reductive for us to say, ‘Well, it’s slavery horror,’” said Bush. “It’s not that. What we’re talking about here is a new genre-bending of historical horror. Yes, there’s the slavery portion of it. But I think what one should really be looking at is, we’re experiencing this from the perspective of this Black woman and what this world looked like and the casual cruelty that was enabled by this collective agreement.”
“I think this film does a remarkable job of connecting the dots from past to present and what the future could look like,” said Monáe. “We’re in the middle of a revolution right now and I’m just grateful to have a film that will keep the conversation going and reminding folks that when we’re talking about racist policies, a lot of these policies started during that era when our ancestors were stolen. I’m just thankful that Chris and Gerard put together a film that allowed us to humanize the Black woman and show on a global level what it’s like for Black women to dismantle white supremacy and carry that burden on our backs every day.”
“If you would have told me three or four years ago that I would be telling a story about slavery, I would have told you that you were smoking a new kind of rock,” said Bush. “That’s just not something I would ever have imagined because those weren’t stories that I was comfortable with seeing. Seeing people that look like me, that quite frankly were me, in chains and bondage was not something that was very easy for me to sit through.
“I think that when the nightmare was seeded to me and we wrote the short story and then the script, it gave us a way in that felt appropriate for us. By recontextualizing the country’s original sin, it shifted the perspective for us to strike an empathetic chord.”
“We understand the fatigue that is felt around films with slavery narratives,” said Renz. “At the same time, we understand that no one would ever plan to have a wedding at Auschwitz. Yet for some reason in America people feel that there’s no issue with planning a huge celebration on a plantation. And so obviously we feel there has not been enough education. Certain people do not understand and they have not gotten it yet.”
In bringing his nightmare to the screen, Bush hopes to “push people into conversation and from conversation into action.”
“We have to be really vigilant in making sure we don’t participate in the erasure of our own history,” he said. “Because what happens is, before you know it, slavery never happened. And that might seem far-fetched, but with the current environment of misinformation and the erasure we’re already seeing in history books, it’s really important that we correct the record.”
“‘Gone With the Wind,’ for instance — I find that movie to be a horror film and really insulting to Black people,” he added. “I saw a young Black woman in an interview a year or two ago and she was talking about how she always pictured herself as Scarlett and she said it without even a hint of irony. That’s what a job it has done on all of us. And so it was really important to us to say, ‘Well, let’s show slavery through the prism of horror and let’s have stunning, breathtaking beauty live in the same space, which makes the horror all the more horrific.’”
Bush was so incensed by the 1939 film that he hunted down the lenses used to shoot it “and rebuilt our cameras to shoot ‘Antebellum’ with the same lenses that were used to shoot ‘Gone With the Wind.’” “We were determined to correct the record with the same weaponry that they used to misinform with really effective, beautiful propaganda,” he said.
“Our intention for the film is to serve as a prescription, a medicine, a catharsis. It’s really important that we get to a place in this country where we have the courage and the determination to confront our past, specifically this country’s original sin, if we have any hope of living in the present without being haunted by the past. And very possibly seeing our shared future robbed of all of us. I think our hope is that it activates people into action.”
The pair, whose new Janelle Monáe-starring film Antebellum was inspired by an actual nightmare, had to first get by the DGA to be credited as a rarely recognized directing duo: ‘It was like the United Nations’ By Seth Abramovitch • Photographed by Phylicia J. L. Munn
The directing team Bush + Renz — that would be Gerard Bush, 47, and Christopher Renz, 39, partners in life and work — were well into preproduction on their first feature, the psychological thriller Antebellum, when they learned they’d have to face a DGA tribunal. “We did not realize that 95 percent of the time they deny duos,” explains Renz. Reality quickly set in: They would have one shot to convince the guild they were duo-worthy. If they blew it, there went their Hollywood dreams. The former advertising creative execs had met a dozen years earlier at a party in Miami, where they both lived. Bush recalls spotting sad, too. I didn’t want to tell you.’ ” They decided to turn their energies toward social-action campaigns. It began with a Twitter DM to the Florida Democratic Party. “Two weeks later, we had [former DNC chair] Debbie Wasserman Schultz in our office asking how we could activate Black voters in the midterms,” says Bush. Back then, the killing of Trayvon Martin was in the news. “We bought billboards that looked like H&M ads with this beautiful little Black boy with a bulletproof vest on,” he continues. “The NRA started picketing the billboards. It caused a lot of upset.” Other campaigns followed: Harry Belafonte reached out to them in 2016 to produce a PSA about police brutality called “Against the Wall.” Jay-Z spotted that one and liked what he saw; he summoned the pair to Los Angeles to commission a video for a song off his 4:44 album. Antebellum began as a nightmare, literally. The two had moved to L.A. in 2017 and were having a rough go of it: Bush’s father and brother died in quick succession; then the couple’s boxer, Cooper, was diagnosed with a brain tumor (she died in 2018). One morning, Bush woke up to his own anguished shouts. He’d dreamed of Eden, a woman subjected to unspeakable brutality on a slave plantation “screaming desperately for help across dimensions.” The nightmare became their short story, which got them meetings around town. A bidding war ensued, with Lionsgate winning. A dream cast assembled, with Janelle Monáe signing on to play Eden. But first, of course, they needed that DGA approval. “It was like the United Nations,” recalls Bush of the hearing. “With these big U-shaped tables packed with DGA board members. It was actually Seth Rogen who stood up for us and said, ‘I’ve been a part of a duo for an incredibly long time, and it’s incredibly satisfying creatively — and if these two aren’t a duo, I don’t know who is.’ ” Notes Renz, “We didn’t know Seth.” After, the two went to a nearby restaurant to await the DGA’s decision. Says Bush, “We didn’t even get through the first appetizer, and they called us to say it was unanimous.”
Sharon Horgan will play Nicolas Cage’s ex-wife in Lionsgate’s action comedy “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.”
Cage stars as a fictionalized version of himself who’s feeling creatively unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, leading him to accept a $1 million offer to attend the birthday of a super fan, played by Pedro Pascal. When things take a wildly dangerous turn, Cage is forced to live up to his own legend, channeling his most iconic on-screen characters in order to save himself and his loved ones. Horgan’s character will be drawn into the events as they get out of hand.
The film will be directed by Tom Gormican from a screenplay he co-wrote with Kevin Etten. The producers are Kevin Turen, Kristin Burr and Mike Nilon. “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is expected to go into production this fall.
Horgan won a BAFTA TV award for best comedy writer and two British Comedy awards for best TV actress for her BBC series “Pulling,” which she co-wrote. She also received an Emmy nomination for co-writing “Catastrophe,” a Channel 4 series she starred in and executive produced alongside Rob Delaney. Horgan also created the HBO comedy series “Divorce” and co-created TV comedy series “Motherland.” In addition to her one BAFTA TV win, she’s received seven other nominations at the award show.
Her feature film credits include “Game Night” and “Military Wives.” She is represented by WME, U.K.’s United Agents and attorney Nelson Davis.
Lionsgate has slated “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” for March 19, 2021.
Pascal will play Javi, a Nic Cage superfan who is not all that he appears to be
“The Mandalorian” star Pedro Pascal is in talks to join Nicolas Cage in “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” at Lionsgate, TheWrap has exclusively learned.
Pascal will play Javi, a Nic Cage superfan who is not all that he appears to be.
Nicolas Cage stars as…Nicolas Cage in the action-comedy “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.” Creatively unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, the fictionalized version of Cage must accept a $1 million offer to attend the birthday of a super fan (Pascal). When things take a wildly dangerous turn, Cage is forced to live up to his own legend, channeling his most iconic and beloved on-screen characters in order to save himself and his loved ones. With a career built for this very moment, the Academy Award winning iconic actor must take on the role of a lifetime: himself.
The film will be directed by Tom Gormican from a screenplay by Tom Gormican & Kevin Etten. The producers are Kevin Turen, Kristin Burr and Mike Nilon.
The film is expected to go into production this fall.
Pascal stars as the title character in Disney+’s “The Mandalorian” which is premiering its second season this fall. He will also star in “Wonder Woman 1984.” His many other credits include “Narcos,” “Game of Thrones,” “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” and “The Equalizer 2.”
Pascal is repped by WME, Anonymous Content, Jackoway Austen Tyerman and Relevant.
Zimbabwean actor Tongayi Chirisa is a rising star. With experience in film, theatre, and television, he’s en route to becoming a well known, versatile, and powerful actor in the world. Having landed various roles in several upcoming films and a lead role in a Netflix series, plus meaningful contribution in the South African film scene, Tongayi Chirisa is in the spotlight this year. Films in the near future include a romantic comedy “Palm Springs”, which debuted at the 2020 Sundance film festival, and was released on July 10 and a thriller called “Antebellum” on demand at home on September 18th. He’s also cast in a lead role in Season Two of another Netflix’s sci-fi action series “Another Life” which is in production. Tongayi Chirisa’s captivating and multitalented acting capabilities are something to keep an eye out for this year.
What would your dream role be, and what do you feel you would bring to it?
Dream role? I think it’s too early for me to even think of what the dream role would be… I guess there are many dream roles I would love to see myself in.. I aspire to be a superhero for sure, which one? Well, there are so many to choose from, Black Panther is out of the question, lol! But I am open to all kinds of wonderful opportunities that await me. I will bring the same passion I bring to my roles and always remember to have fun with them. What’s the hardest role you’ve played and why?
Every role has its challenges, as no two roles are ever the same, and every time I approach a role it requires something very different from me… sometimes it requires physical attributes other times, its more cerebral. I would have to say the hardest role I’ve played was Man Friday on the NBC series “CRUSOE.” It was my first lead role and never had experienced the workload that came with carrying a show… It took its toll on me as I didn’t know how to properly take care of myself to endure 4 months of intense work. The best part about it… it taught me what hard work looks like on set and how to pace yourself…it’s a marathon, not a sprint. What’s been the most challenging and rewarding part of your career?
The most challenging part of my career was the transitions from my home country Zimbabwe, to South Africa, acclimating to their culture and lifestyle was a huge adjustment. Then the move from South Africa to America brought its own set of challenges not only that but the ability to stay motivated in the seasons where there was no work.
However, with all these situations, it has brought about in me a deep appreciation for the work I do. I am fortunate to live and work as an actor and my life experiences only enrich my choices as an actor. The work I get to do is the reward for the life that is full of gratitude. What advice would you give to aspiring actors?
Run with your vision, only you and you alone know what you are capable of, only you and you alone truly know what the deepest part of your heart is saying to you. Don’t let exterior circumstances deter you from running after your dream. Never stop asking questions, never stop learning from other people’s experiences, ( I swear you will avoid so much of the pain that comes with trial and error. Not everything needs to experienced by you.) What is unique about the South African Film scene and what has been the most powerful part about it for you?
The unique storytelling is so compelling in South Africa… I feel they are so much more genuine because of the empathy the actors bring to the table, the big reason for that, I believe is, its never really about the cosmetic look of the actors but the quality of talent and what the actor brings to the role… I’ve seen such beautiful diversity in casting that makes the stories so authentic and real. This for me is where the power of storytelling is – in comparison to some opportunities in America, where the look is, sometimes more important than the talent. Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I have had a few great inspirations who motivated me to pursue acting. The first one is a man named Leroy Gopal. He is an actor in South Africa, but he was a star a film called YELLOW CARD and was huge hit when we were teenagers. When I watched it, something in me was stirred, I think I was a little jealous because I saw myself in him and even said to myself, I can do this. That’s when the flame was ignited.
The second was when I saw Djimon Hounsou in the acclaimed Picture AMISTAD. I remember watching his performance and being drawn to his powerful presence on screen. I left that cinema In awe of him and the power of cinema.
The Last one that sealed the deal was when I saw Idris Elba in the picture SOMETIMES IN APRIL. I was captivated at how beautifully the film was shot, and I was my first time seeing Black African men, filmed in a manner that showed them in their full essence of their human experience. They weren’t warlords or slaves, but men with families and friends that now had to deal with circumstances that affected them. I remember saying to myself, these men are beautiful, they are being portrayed beautifully. It was the first time I saw African men and women being allowed to be fully human and live within the world that was real and true. How has this year in particular impacted you as an actor?
This has been a trying time for all of us and has in its various forms affected us all. I have been fortunate that during this lockdown, I’ve kept myself busy, finishing up personal projects, and getting the much needed RnR. Like most, there has been some deep introspection of mind, spirit, and soul. So, it’s been good to reevaluate things about myself and simply improve on myself. What has your favourite role been?
So hard to say… because there are so many dynamics to factor into what a favorite role might be.. So, I will categorize into what role has made the most impact – I would say, it’s the role I play in the new picture ANTEBELLUM that stars Janelle Monae. It is my first major studio picture, so I am over the moon with excitement about that, and the potential impact it will have on all those who get to see it.
Civil Rights leader Patricia Stephens Due adored scary stories, which baffled her family since she had experienced so many real terrors. While crusading against Jim Crow laws and segregation in the 1960s, she’d been threatened, dragged away, and arrested, and her eyesight had been permanently damaged when police threw a tear gas canister directly into her face.
Still, she loved tales of killers, monsters, and restless spirits, and purchased her daughter, the future novelist and scholar Tananarive Due, her first Stephen King book. “My dad thought it was kind of weird, but now I’ve come to think that she liked horror because she was a civil rights activist,” says Due. “There was something about horror—that thrill and anxiety when you’re watching something on a screen that isn’t real—that I believe was therapeutic to her, and helped her slough off some of that fear and anger.”
Due, a UCLA lecturer who teaches a class on racism, survival, and the Black horror aesthetic, wishes her mother was still alive to see the current renaissance in chilling movies, TV, books, and graphic novels that African American creators are wielding as weapons against prejudice and injustice. While films such as 12 Years a Slave, Selma, and last year’s Harriet have powerfully dramatized actual history, the supernatural, science fiction, and thriller genres serve a slightly different role, she says, helping to confront America’s most insidious demons.
The game changer was Jordan Peele’s Get Out, an Oscar winner and blockbuster whose tale of literal white appropriation of Blackness has become an unsettling classic. “I think a lot of credit goes to Jordan Peele, because he was able to demonstrate not only that he could reach a wide audience with a story of Black horror, but that it’s okay to talk about that third rail of racism as the monster,” says Due. “More and more people are recognizing that that conversation is long overdue, especially now in the Black Lives Matter era. Believe me, Black creators are getting a lot of requests for scripts, because it’s almost like Hollywood is rediscovering that Black people exist over and over again.”
Black Horror is far from a new phenomenon, as demonstrated by last year’s documentary Horror Noire, based on the book by Robin R. Means Coleman, which unpacked the deeper meaning behind a century of African American history in frightening screen stories—from the silent era to 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, with its tragic Black hero (Duane Jones) who survived zombies only to be killed by clueless white vigilantes; 1972’s debonair Blacula, about an African prince cursed with vampirism after trying to defy slave traders; and director Rusty Cundieff’s 1995 anthology Tales From the Hood, with its dark morality tales of corrupt cops, an unrepentant white supremacist, and a gang killer. Today’s new wave of Black horror is building on this legacy and growing larger, with each hit making Hollywood studios and book publishers eager for more.
Horror has garish qualities, so using the genre to tackle serious themes must be done with caution, says director Nia DaCosta, who has reimagined the 1992 supernatural slasher tale Candyman as an exploration of Black anguish over wrongful deaths. The new film links this vengeful spirit to contemporary Black deaths at the hands of police, the justice system, or racist mobs—which are all too familiar. DaCosta depicts those incidents as eerie shadow puppets, an abstraction that alludes to real-life incidents, giving the fiction a respectful distance from the painful reality.
“Candyman’s about lynching—period. That’s what it’s about, that’s the core evil that brought this demon to us. It’s very standard horror storytelling,” DaCosta says. “But when you’re going to talk about lynching, you can’t just say, ‘It’s a horror movie’ and move on. For me, it was really important to very carefully balance the humanity and real life with the horror and the genre.”
In another new movie, Janelle Monáe stars as a contemporary Black American woman inexplicably reliving the nightmare of slavery in the perception-bending Antebellum. Gerard Bush, who cowrote and directed the film with partner Christopher Renz, says their creepy narrative highlights how the romanticization of the Confederacy still manifests harm today. “We’ve lulled ourselves into believing that this haunted house that we live in called America—that there are no ghosts here and no residue of our original sin,” Bush says. “Every now and then the ghost is awakened, and it becomes a beast. So what we’re trying to say is, wake up to the monsters living among us.”
To shoot some of their sweeping plantation scenes, the directors sought out actual camera lenses that were used on 1939’s Gone With the Wind, a film Bush calls “propaganda.” “We need to correct the record with the same weapon that was used to misinform and mislead,” he says.
Reclamation is a recurring theme in Black horror. HBO’s new series Lovecraft Country, from showrunner Misha Green, follows a young African American man named Atticus Black (Jonathan Majors) on a quest through segregated America in the Jim Crow era, where racist cults and ancient monsters lie in wait. The title refers to H.P. Lovecraft (1890–1937), the iconic horror scribe beloved for his otherworldly imaginings and scorned for his pernicious racism. Rather than abolish Lovecraft, some Black creators choose to refashion his work as a tool for anti-racism.
Novelist Victor LaValle says he delighted in Lovecraft as a kid, then recoiled from him as an adult. “It was like, say, your uncle or your aunt or your grandparent who you love dearly, but then you hit high school and start to realize that they actually say and hold a lot of really messed up prejudices.”
In 2016, LaValle published the novella The Ballad of Black Tom, which retells Lovecraft’s short story “The Horror at Red Hook” from the point of view of a Black musician who battles everyday bigotry while entangled in a plot to awaken old-world gods. “The idea that the universe is out to destroy you, or is indifferent to you, feels really right,” says LaValle. “That’s what I vibed on. I could plug into that power, but I wouldn’t have to necessarily cosign all the prejudice.”
That book is now being produced by AMC, just as Apple is developing a series based on LaValle’s 2017 novel The Changeling, a groundbreaking Black horror tale that’s not necessarily about white violence or trauma. Instead, it’s the story of a father following a mystical trail through New York City to find his lost child, encountering some otherworldly beings on the journey. “It was really more to say to all the good Black dads, ‘I see you. I know you’re out there, even if a lot of the world pretends you’re not,’ ” says LaValle. “It was the equivalent of the Black nod that Black dudes give each other walking down the street, if they’re feeling it—but in a book.”
LaValle’s graphic novel Destroyer focuses on a good mom, but this tale from 2018 is inexorably linked to the epidemic of police violence against innocent Black victims. It fuses Black Lives Matter with Frankenstein, telling the story of a heartbroken scientist who uses her technology to resurrect her young son after he is mistakenly gunned down by police.
The boy’s death mirrors the 2014 killing of 12-year-old Cleveland boy Tamir Rice, and the character is named Akai, after Akai Gurley, who also was killed in 2014 when a New York City police officer accidentally discharged his gun in an apartment stairwell. “I thought, Okay, that maybe is close to the line but hopefully not over,” said LaValle. “It’s a loving memorial, hopefully, as opposed to grossly capitalizing.” The high-tech stitching on the reanimated child’s body in Destroyer also mirrors the damage LaValle saw on autopsy diagrams of Ferguson police-shooting victim Michael Brown. But all of these references are left unspoken in the text. Their texture adds realism, but they may also spark memories of past unjust deaths that are drifting in the back of a reader’s mind.
“The act of hiding something serious inside something that might be considered ‘mere entertainment,’ or just play, is the much harder thing than the straightforward, earnest, ‘Here’s exactly what we’re talking about, and then here’s what we will tell you about it,” LaValle said, suggesting it may reach people who aren’t interested in facing the reality. “Thoughtful horror can get past all those defenses, and while it’s entertaining them, it can get some really profound ideas lodged under the breastbone, inside the ribcage, right up next to the heart.”
Grief makes regular appearances in the horror genre. “I think more people are beginning to understand the relationship between horror and processing universal emotions,” says Due. The novel she’s currently working on, The Reformatory, was inspired by the story of a great-uncle neither she nor her mother ever met. “In 1937, he was 15 years old when he died at the Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida. His name was Robert Stephens,” she says. For more than a century troubled boys were sent to the school, and many later reported tales of brutal physical abuse. However, more than 80, one of them Due’s uncle, didn’t survive to say what they experienced. “They died under unusual and often hidden circumstances,” says Due, who found herself transfixed by “the horror of the idea that this so-called juvenile facility for children would have enough kids dying that they need their own cemetery.”
Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize–winning 2019 novel The Nickel Boys was also inspired by the Dozier School, but he and Due approach different facets of the same pain.
“While I do allude to the real-life violence,” says Due, “I wanted to use the supernatural and horror to try to blunt some of the trauma to me as the writer, who’s writing about a 12-year-old living in this place, so that the ghosts can represent the greater violence—the past violence. And of course, like all ghosts, they want their stories told.”
Janelle Monáe has spoken about how “triggering” it was to film her upcoming horror film Antebellum.
In the film, the actress and singer portrays an author who is transported back in time to a reality in which she is an enslaved person.
Monáe told Jennifer Aniston, Zendaya, Rose Byrne, Helena Bonham Carter and Reese Witherspoon during the Hollywood Reporter Drama Actress Roundtable.
She said, “Oh, I brought all of my ancestors home with me. We were filming most of the stuff at night on a plantation, and I felt everything. There were just certain conversations even at craft services that if I heard would be triggering for me.
“I couldn’t even talk to my family sometimes. It was kind of unhealthy when I think back.”
Monáe added that the conversation was not an easy one to have and that even just accepting the role was equally difficult.
She said: “This is a project that is so of the times, and it was not going to be a yes for me because I knew the responsibility and the weight of it and I knew what this character was going to have to go through physically and emotionally.”
During this busy period in her career, Janelle Monáe was also dealing with mercury poisoning from a fish she ate, and had to find a way to make the experience work for her art.
“I used it for Homecoming. I didn’t know I had it in Antebellum, but looking back at the footage, I used the disorientation and unravelling in my personal life onscreen,” she said.
She explained her symptoms included lack of coordination, high anxiety, shyness, adding, “People would reach out, and I apologise now if you were one of those people last year who reached out to me and wanted to talk or engage in business or whatever. I just didn’t have it in me. I became kind of a recluse.”
Antebellum is due for release on August 21.
NEW YORK (AP) — Back in March, filmmakers Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz gathered their artist friends and a few journalists at Manhattan’s members-only social club, Soho House, for a screening of their first feature-length project, “Antebellum.”
They wanted a constructively critical reaction ahead of the planned spring release of the film — a psychological thriller about a Black woman who finds herself trapped in a pre-abolition past. Bush, who is Black, and Renz, who is white, hoped the project would contribute to a national reckoning over the legacy of slavery and white supremacy in the U.S.
“To witness how truly moved they were by the film, some even to tears, was the very first time we realized the potential impact ‘Antebellum’ will have on society and the long-deferred conversations that need to be had on race in America,” said the filmmakers, who wrote, directed and produced the project.
Then, the coronavirus pandemic exploded internationally.
Once the virus seized up the economy, forcing the closure of movie theaters and all but pushing Hollywood film studios into a mad dash to salvage elaborate release plans, Bush and Renz pulled their film. They said they didn’t want what was intended to be a big theatrical film relegated to a streaming platform, as several movie studios did last spring.
For Bush and Renz, patience may have proven to be a virtue.
As many movie theaters reopen in the coming weeks, “Antebellum,” set to be released Aug. 21 by Lionsgate, will debut during the height of a reckoning in America when people are increasingly showing a hunger for works that light a path toward racial justice. Driven in part by nationwide protests over the recent deaths of Black people at the hands of police and vigilantes, it’s a moment that positions “Antebellum” as the only summer release that speaks both to the moment and to the broader movement to defend Black lives from entrenched, systemic racism.
“We’ve always believed that 2020 would usher in a brand new era that would require a new type of filmmaking. ... We had no idea just how prescient that would prove to be,” Bush and Renz told The Associated Press in a series of interviews and emails since the March screening.
“Antebellum,” starring singer and actress Janelle Monáe, plucks the legacy of American slavery out of the past and places it squarely in the present — in a politically divided nation where Confederate nostalgia and white supremacist violence wreak havoc on Black life. The film follows successful Black book author Veronica Henley, played by Monáe, on a quest to destroy the vestiges of that legacy.
If that sounds eerily similar to present-day America, it is mere coincidence, Bush and Renz said. Over the last month, protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died May 25 after a white Minneapolis officer held a knee to his neck, have given way to the removal of Confederate monuments, building name changes at public and private schools, and the shedding of racist caricatures from food packaging.
Everyday Americans, Black and non-Black, are in the streets demanding seismic policy shifts in policing and the criminal justice system. It’s a consequence of having never reckoned with America’s original sin, Bush said.
“We intend to wake people up from the daydream that a superhero is coming to save us,” he said. “Only we, meaning humanity, can save us from ourselves.”
Monáe played a supporting role in last year’s “Harriet,” a biopic about the abolitionist Harriet Tubman, and she won critical acclaim for her role in the Academy Award-winning film “Moonlight.” In “Antebellum,” Monáe gives moviegoers a modern Black heroine who takes charge of her own liberation without a male-dominated cavalry.
“I knew that it was something that I needed to do, not just for myself, but for my ancestors and for all of the many Black women I considered to be modern-day superheroes,” Monáe told the AP.
“I hope that (the film) causes those with privilege in this country to have conversations amongst each other, because the topics in this film ... are not for Black people to try to fix,” she added.
Monáe had never worked with Bush and Renz prior to “Antebellum,” only learning of them because of their work on visuals that accompanied hip hop mogul Jay-Z’s 4:44 album in 2017. The duo started out more than a decade ago as heads of a creative marketing and advertising firm with luxury brand clients such as Moët, Harry Winston and Porsche.
After the 2012 killing of Travyon Martin, the filmmakers found themselves wondering if they were “just gonna sell champagne for the next 20 or 30 years,” Renz said.
That period of self-reflection led to partnerships with social justice organizations such as Harry Belafonte’s Sankofa.org. In 2016, Bush and Renz directed “ Against The Wall,” a star-studded video campaign to draw attention to racial profiling in law enforcement featuring actors Michael B. Jordan, who starred in the 2013 police brutality drama “Fruitvale Station,” and Michael K. Williams, of HBO’s “The Wire,” as well as activist and CNN commentator Van Jones.
The video shows Black men and women assuming the position, as though they were being stopped and frisked by police, while dispatcher recordings of actual officers describe suspects in racially discriminatory terms. It also included a recording of George Zimmerman’s voice from the day he called police to report Trayvon Martin as a suspected burglar before shooting and killing the Florida teen.
That project was followed by others featuring musicreleases from artists such as Ty Dolla $ign, Raphael Saadiq and Mali Music on Jay-Z’s TIDAL streaming service. Their path to feature-length films with a racial justice message has been a long time coming, Bush and Renz said.
At times, “Antebellum” uses graphically violent depictions of the inhumane treatment of enslaved people, which in recent films has elicited disapproval from some critics and Black moviegoers who were weary of unimaginative Hollywood slavery films.
Bush and Renz said they want audiences to trust that they have done something entirely different.
“Some within today’s culture are triggered by art, when that is precisely what art is meant to do. We would much prefer you be triggered in a theater and activated to take meaningful, positive action — than all of us continuing to live in an open-air shooting gallery every time we leave our homes,” Bush said.
Even as they anticipate finding box office success with “Antebellum,” Bush and Renz are already at work on their second feature-length script, under a newly formed production company, Gloaming Pictures.
“Not since the ’60s has the call for an artistic revolution been so urgent,” Bush said. “The work is only just beginning.”
EXCLUSIVE: Domestic rights for the George Gallo directed Robert De Niro comedy The Comeback Trail have been scooped up by Cloudburst Entertainment for a Nov. 13 wide release. Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones star.
The second teaming between De Niro and Gallo since the 1988 action comedy Midnight Run, which the latter wrote, follows Max Barber (De Niro) and his partner Walter (Zach Braff) who play down-and-out B-Movie producers who find themselves in trouble with mob boss Reggie Fontaine (Morgan Freeman). To save himself and Walter, Barber has to sell the only great script he’s ever had to his former intern and, now, A-Movie producer, James Moore (Emile Hirsch). On the first day of shooting Moore’s lead actor dies in a stunt accident and lets him cash in on a huge insurance policy. That gives Barber an idea to do the same. They take a horrible script called The Oldest Gun In The West and hire a washed-up cowboy actor, Duke Montana (Tommy Lee Jones) to play the lead. Known for doing his own stunts during his prime, Montana is poised for an early demise allowing Barber to get away with his get-rich-quick scam. Only one problem…nobody told Montana. Eddie Griffin also stars the GalloRobert De Niro, Oscar Isaac, Donald Sutherland & Anne Hathaway Join Cate Blanchett In James Gray's 'Armageddon Time:' Hot Virtual Cannes Package
“The Comeback Trail is the perfect film for the holidays. It will get America laughing right when it needs it the most. We are honored to be working with the StoryBoard Media team lead by Elisabeth Costa de Beauregard and Philip Kim, as well as producers Patrick Hibler, Julie Lott Gallo and Richard Salvatore and the amazing cast and crew.” said Steve Fedyski, CEO of Scottsdale, AZ-based Cloudburst Entertainment. David Ornston, Patrick Muldoon and Joy Hurwitz also produced The Comeback Trail. Gallo co-wrote the screenplay with Josh Posner. The Comeback Trail was sold last year at Cannes.
“We are pleased to be in business with Cloudburst and their impressive new venture. With their extensive experience in all facets of film marketing and distribution, we are excited at the aligned vision to help make this four-quadrant comedy a success!” said Storyboard’s Costa de Beauregard.
The deal was negotiated by Cloudburst COO Ken Rather and Dave Macaione on behalf of the distributor with Costa de Beauregard and Executive Producer/attorney Harris Tulchin for StoryBoard Media, which co-represented the domestic distribution rights with CAA Media Finance.
Gallo wrote the story for Bad Boys and as a director he’s helmed 29th Street, Middle Men, Columbus Circle, Bigger, and the John Travolta-Morgan Freeman thriller The Poison Rose.
TALLADEGA, Ala (June 17, 2020) – Academy Award© winner Russell Crowe, star of the upcoming edge-of-your-seat thriller, Unhinged, will serve as the Grand Marshal for the UNHINGED 300 at TALLADEGA NASCAR Xfinity Series race at historical Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, June 20.
Crowe will give the command for drivers to “Start Your Engines” for the UNHINGED 300 at TALLADEGA, which is set for the green flag at 4:30 PM CDT. Just a week ago, NASCAR, Talladega Superspeedway and Solstice Studios announced the new race entitlement for the UNHINGED 300 at TALLADEGA.
Unhinged, opening in theatres nationwide on Saturday, July 10th, is one of the first new films to debut since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the partnership with NASCAR’s biggest and most competitive venue, Solstice Studios will also activate at other NASCAR properties, including Motor Racing Network (MRN) and NASCAR Digital Media, as well as FOX.
Unhinged is a timely action-packed psychological thriller that takes something we've all experienced - road rage - to an unpredictable and terrifying conclusion. Rachel (Caren Pistorius) is running late to work when she has an altercation at a traffic light with a stranger (Crowe) whose life has left him feeling powerless and invisible. Soon, Rachel finds herself, and everyone she loves, the target of a man who decides to make one last mark upon the world by teaching her a series of deadly lessons. What follows is a dangerous game of cat and mouse that proves you never know just how close you are to someone who is about to become unhinged. Directed by Derrick Borte, the film stars Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson, and Austin P. McKenzie.
When Crowe first read the script for Unhinged, his instinctive response was: “Absolutely not. I’m not doing this movie, it scares the (#&%$) out of me, this character is intensely dark…and when I heard that come out of my mouth, I was like, since when did I stop doing that? Cause that’s basically what I look for. I look for challenges.”
Crowe, born in New Zealand but raised in Australia, is regarded as one of the finest actors of our time. Many of his acting honors include three consecutive Best Actor Oscar® nominations for his work in the acclaimed 1999 drama The Insider; 2000 Best Picture winner, Gladiator, for which he took home the Oscar®; and in Best Picture winner, A Beautiful Mind in 2001.
Like Unhinged, racing at Talladega Superspeedway is intense, pushes drivers to the limit, and is definitely a challenge. After all, it’s the greatest race track in the world at an amazing 2.66 miles with banking of 33 degrees in the turns. The track, built in 1969, has held NASCAR Xfinity Series since 1992, providing some of the closest finishes in the sport’s history, including Terry Labonte’s win in 1999 by .002 second. This year’s UNHINGED 300 at TALLADEGA will again be a part of the special Xfinity Series’ Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus-money program for Xfinity Series regular drivers. Chase Briscoe, Brandon Jones, Ross Chastain and AJ Allmendinger will vie for the extra cash as well as their first Talladega triumph.
The UNHINGED 300 at TALLADEGA will be the second race at the iconic venue on Saturday, June 20. Earlier in the day, at 1 PM CDT, the General Tire 200 for the ARCA Menards Series will take the green flag. Both events will compete without fans in attendance, but again, will be broadcast LIVE on FS1, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
About Solstice Studios
Solstice Studios is an independent movie company based in Los Angeles, founded in October 2018. The studio develops, fully finances, produces, sells internationally and distributes feature films in the U.S. on a wide-release basis. Solstice plans to produce 3-5 movies per year for a global audience—generally in the $20-80M budget range. It also plans to co-finance or acquire another 1-2 films per year for wide US distribution. The company has a partnership with Ingenious Media.
The Solstice team has a $5 billion production track record and is expected to grow to 65 people. The company’s senior team includes President & CEO Mark Gill, Head of Production Lisa Ellzey, Co-Production Head Guy Botham, Marketing/Strategy Head Vincent Bruzzese, Acquisitions & International Head Crystal Bourbeau, Head of Physical Production Dana Belcastro, Business & Legal Affairs Head Karen Barna, Chief Financial Officer Shaun Williams and Head of US Distribution Shari Hardison.
Her new roles—on Amazon’s Homecoming and in the summer horror movie Antebellum—are perfect for our unsettled moment. The eight-time Grammy nominee, style icon, and Prince protégé speaks from quarantine about fear, fury, and her hope for “a real uprising.”
anelle Monáe’s voice flows like a sound bath calibrated to induce hypnosis. “You’re in my imagination,” she says.
I have just asked where she is geographically. I had to, because she’s using a digital background that sets her floating above the Golden Gate Bridge, hovering near the slope of one of its spindly tentacles, surrounded by water on all sides. But Monáe takes my question and knocks it on its side. It’s not about where she is—it’s about where she’s decided to take me.
It’s a mid-April day. Monáe and I are, of course, talking to each other over Zoom, the video-chat platform that became indispensable when the coronavirus began its rampage. On top of being an eight-time Grammy nominee who can sing, rap, dance, and play piano and guitar—as well as act—with tremendous ease, Monáe is built for an era in which technology facilitates humanity. She is a disciple of the classic 1927 sci-fi movie Metropolis. She spent years crafting concept albums about apocalyptic robots and black, queer, Afro-futuristic revolution, often performing as her android alter ego, Cindi Mayweather. Alongside frequent collaborators Chuck Lightning and Nate Wonder, she’s also the cofounder of an arts collective called the Wondaland Arts Society, whose manifesto includes lofty lines about how songs are like spaceships, books are like stars, and music is a weapon of the future.
Monáe’s nascent acting career—she debuted in 2016 with side-by-side turns in the movies Moonlight and Hidden Figures—tilts toward conspiracy and dystopia these days. She’s just taken over the lead of Homecoming, the Amazon Prime thriller, now in its second unnerving season, which dives deeper into the mystery of the secret facility conducting dark experiments on war vets. She will also star in Antebellum, a bloodcurdling, time-twisting horror film about slavery that’s due in theaters August 21. The rest of us are still unpacking what it means to live in a state of unreality. Janelle Monáe has been expecting it.
So at the time of our conversation, Monáe is…somewhere. She’s in a room, definitely, her arms outstretched in front of her on a table. Her skin is glowing, despite the fact that she’s still recovering from a bout of mercury poisoning diagnosed last year. Monáe is one of those rare people with perfectly symmetrical features, a possessor of almost algorithmic beauty. She is wearing a white jumpsuit from a Japanese brand she can’t remember, topped with a quilted white Ruslan Baginskiy baker-boy cap and a bandanna from an Atlanta thrift store tied around her neck. She stands up to show me the full look, so petite that she is never in any danger of escaping the frame.
“She has so much vibrance and she’s no bigger than a minute,” says Julia Roberts, who starred in the first season of Homecoming and who, as an executive producer, personally approved Monáe’s casting. “When I walk up to her, I feel like I’ve just come out of the giant-women forest.”
Monáe doesn’t want to share where she is partly because the place you’re sheltering becomes exponentially more important when you’re going to be there indefinitely. Besides, this gives her a chance to raise her reputation as a deeply private person to the level of performance art. When I ask her to describe the things around her, she pauses and looks around for a moment. What comes next sounds like disassembled Björk lyrics.
“I have an orange,” she starts, after careful, Cheshire cat-like consideration. “I have a pineapple. I have a notebook! And I have a hammer.”
Artful obfuscation is part of Monáe’s appeal. She is, after all, a performer who counted Prince among her mentors. Monáe, who’s 34, has protected her mystique from the beginning of her career, even when she was an unknown singing on the steps of Atlanta college libraries for free, before Diddy signed her to a remarkably hands-off deal with Bad Boy Records in 2008 and jump-started her mainstream career. Monáe’s place in our culture is singular. She’s a hybrid soul-pop-R&B singer with a signature black-and-white wardrobe, fusing a fondness for old-school pompadours and funky James Brown dance moves with Octavia Butler-style sci-fi narratives and futuristic terrains. As she proclaimed when she opened the Oscars this year with a splashy musical number, she’s also black and queer. In another era, she might not have been able to exist in the public sphere at all.
“Janelle has so much vibrance,” says Julia Roberts. “This kind of show is not for the faint of heart and the workload is Herculean. I know that firsthand.”
“No one stands in the fullness of their power quite like Janelle Monáe,” says her friend former First Lady Michelle Obama. “As an artist, she is constantly evolving…. No matter what Janelle does—whether it’s making music, acting, or producing—she approaches it all with grace, kindness, and an untouchable sense of style. She is an incandescent talent.”
Monáe, a warm Midwesterner at heart, was raised in Kansas City, Kansas, by Baptist working-class parents. Her mother, Janet, was a janitor and hotel maid; her father, Michael, a truck driver. Monáe is quick to ask me about my own family and self-isolation, sneaking multiple questions under the trench coat of a single burst: “How are you? How is your family? How are you guys coping? Are you by yourself or surrounded by people?” At one point, she happily takes off her cap to reveal fuzzy cornrows, done by hairstylist Nikki Nelms before the pandemic. “Look at my hair!” she chirps. “I’ve had the same braids for the last month and a half.”
For the record, here are the activities that have occupied Monáe’s quarantine itinerary: waking up at 5:30 a.m. to catch the sunrise; working on new music; hanging out with her self-isolation housemates, who have dubbed themselves the “Quaranteenagers”; honing her DJ’ing skills with mixes heavy on Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind & Fire; playing trivia games on Houseparty on her phone; and downloading Duolingo to learn French from scratch. Monáe’s production company, Wondaland Pictures, signed a first-look deal with Universal in 2018 and, she explains, “I’m looking at a couple projects that deal with learning French.” She is also, like millions of others, spending her days seething about Washington’s response to the virus. “The way our government is handling things—especially this administration—is evil,” she says. (In this interview and many others, Monáe refuses to say the words Donald Trump.) “We can’t trust this administration to tell us the truth, to protect us. It’s always going to be power first. It’s always going to be capitalism first.”
Politically, Monáe’s beliefs fall right in line with the ethos of Homecoming, which was created by Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz, who adapted their Gimlet Media podcast of the same name. In its first season, directed by Mr. Robot’s Sam Esmail, Homecoming revolved around a “transitional support center” that provided housing and counseling for military vets, all the while serving them drug-laced meals that would erase their traumatic wartime memories so they could be redeployed. Monáe was already a fan of the series. When she read the new scripts, she was quick to say yes. “I could see a lot of great actors playing this [role],” she says of her character, which was written without a particular ethnicity attached. “But I love the fact that I am black and that I get to bring that to the table.”
“No one stands in the fullness of their power quite like Janelle Monáe,” says Michelle Obama. “She is an incandescent talent.”
In season two, which marks her first outing as a TV lead, Monáe plays Jackie, a vet who wakes up in a canoe in the middle of a lake with no idea whatsoever of where, or even who, she is. Retracing her steps—and crossing paths with shrewd Audrey (played by the brilliant Hong Chau)—she begins to decipher the truth. To prepare for the role, Monáe studied thrillers about memory loss like Memento and The Bourne Identity, as well as the dramatic turns of one of her favorite actors, Kerry Washington, whose nuance she finds aspirational.
It turns out that Monáe is an assured action star, gripping and magnetic. Once you round the corner on one of the new Homecoming season’s biggest twists, you’ll see her performance in a different light and rush back to the first episode for a rewatch. “I was really impressed with how nimble her performance is,” says Roberts. “This kind of show is not for the faint of heart, and the workload is Herculean. I know that firsthand.”
Playing Jackie also gave Monáe, who identifies as pansexual, her first opportunity to play a queer character. Monáe declines to get specific about her own love life, which is rumored to have included famous and talented women, such as Tessa Thompson, whom Monáe cast to play her lover in the accompanying film (or “emotion picture,” in Wondaland parlance) for her last album, Dirty Computer. When I ask how she’s handling romance at the moment, she just laughs and says she can’t wait until she can get a COVID test—until everyone can get a test and go forth and romance each other in good health: “I don’t want to disclose the people I’m dating, or have dated. I may not always want this to be at the center of a conversation.” Monáe knows the power of representation, however, and was thrilled to play Jackie. “I feel a deeper responsibility because I know there are kids like me who could have come from conservative backgrounds,” she says.
Monáe’s social conscience led her to sign on for Antebellum, too. She stars as Veronica Henley, a polished present-day author who, after speaking out about systemic racism, suddenly finds herself living as a slave on a plantation. Monáe was drawn to the movie because she’s a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained—one of her musical alter egos is the unapologetic “Django Jane”—and Antebellum wound up being shot at Louisiana’s Evergreen Plantation, where parts of that movie were filmed. Monáe also liked the way Antebellum evoked Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred and the fact that it put a woman at the center of a revenge narrative.
Antebellum is unsparing in its violence, as well as in its view of race relations and the way they’ve evolved (or not) over the centuries. The movie may divide viewers, but Monáe is transfixing. She channels Veronica’s pain with true grit. “She really went inward,” says Gerard Bush, who wrote and directed the movie with Christopher Renz. “It was an incredibly difficult experience for her. These plantations—where people are getting married—these are places that should be considered hallowed ground. It should be Auschwitz. You should walk this ground with that kind of respect for the suffering that took place on that land. She was committed to honoring the ancestors.”
Monáe weighed the challenges of the part seriously before accepting it. “I knew that taking on this role was going to take a lot of deep diving emotionally,” she says. “This role is the hardest role that I’ve done, because it directly connects the past, present, and the future. I went back and forth with, Should I do this? People are gonna think I’m crazy. It wasn’t until I did some deep meditation—and I saw so many women that reminded me of Veronica, from Maxine Waters to AOC to all of the strong women in our government—that I said, Yes, I should do this. This scares me, and the conversations need to be had because our past will directly determine our future.”
As for her own future, Monáe wants to act even more, eager to get on another set as soon as it’s safe. For now, she’s in problem-solving mode, figuring out how to support her family from a distance, including her stepdad, a longtime employee of the U.S. Postal Service, a government entity in desperate need that the Trump administration has thus far refused to bail out. Monáe also has a collaborative team she needs to look after. That will be harder now that some of her biggest gigs, like this year’s Essence Festival and NYC Pride, have been canceled.
“I’ve been trying to help the band and the crew as much as I can,” she says. “I’ve been trying. I’ll have to figure out different ways to financially support myself. There was a moment where I did break down and cry. Not just for myself, but for everybody this is affecting—everybody who’s going to lose somebody.”
“There can be a real uprising. The majority of us do not want to continue to see things be the way that they are.”
Dismayed by the government’s paltry $1,200 stimulus checks, Monáe has launched a slew of philanthropic efforts through the Wondaland Arts Society, in Atlanta. She’s partnered with Verizon to donate money to black- and LGBTQ+-owned local businesses. And, since 2018, she’s served as a cochair of When We All Vote, a voting registration nonprofit started by Michelle Obama. “I’ve been doing a lot of organizing, because we are not all in the same boat,” she says. “Staying at home for me is different than staying at home and not working for a mom with five kids, when she’s single and can’t afford to pay her rent or pay for food for her kids.”
Monáe is tireless when it comes to talking politics. She can—and frequently does—bring every topic back around to governance, to capitalism, to corporate greed, to giving the power back to the people. Her polymathic approach to art extends beyond recording studios and film sets. It’s in her philanthropy, in her activism, in everything she does.
“As an activist, she uses her platform to lift up countless communities,” says Obama. “I’ve seen her inspire young people across this country to step into their own power and make their voices heard at the ballot box.”
Because I can’t meet Monáe in person, I ask her friends to tell me how they first met her. Their stories illustrate two of the best ways you could ever meet anyone and capture Monáe in different modes.
Erykah Badu met Monáe after she invited the singer to tour with her in 2010. “The first place I took [Janelle and her crew] was Sedona, Arizona, so that we could visit a vortex,” she says. The Sedona Vortexes—which, until now, I did not know existed—are “swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation, and self-exploration,” per the town’s tourism board. Real cosmic shit. “Nobody smoked or drank,” says Badu. “We were just all really sober-minded and clear and pure. Everybody puts their guards down because you feel so balanced.” She and Monáe bonded fast: “We’re mirror reflections of one another when it comes to the way we create. That’s my twin.”PHOTOGRAPHS BY COLLIER SCHORR.
Billy Porter met Monáe under much more glamorous circumstances, when she asked him to perform with her at the Oscars earlier this year. In retrospect, the Emmy- and Tony-winning Porter was a perfect duet partner, but he says Monáe had to fight for him. “There were different suggestions and she said, ‘I’ll only do it if I can have Billy,’ ” he recalls. “She lobbied for me.” Later, they celebrated over cocktails at Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Oscar party.
A group outing to a vortex. A packed soirée. They’re relics from before civilization was turned upside down.
During isolation, Monáe has been thinking about her devotion to privacy and why she finds it so difficult to talk about the people she’s fallen in love with or even the very room she’s sitting in for this conversation. Her mind has been turning up old traumas, particularly her relationship with her father. They’re close now, she says, but when she was growing up her dad was battling a crack addiction and served time in prison. “I’m happy that he is recovered, but what that left me with growing up was having abandonment issues, because I just never knew when he would show up. I have high anxiety. I’ve always had it.”
She remembers when she and her friends would throw parties in eighth or ninth grade and charge people two dollars to get in. Before the parties, Monáe locked herself in the bathroom. “I was just like, They’re not gonna show up. Nobody’s gonna come.” That feeling seeped into her career and affected how much she reveals about her private life. “If I really talked openly and honestly about where I am right now, would I be abandoned? Would my fans abandon me? Would my family abandon me?” She’s been trying to unpack those feelings and memories by keeping a journal and writing music “centered around what it means to deal with your trauma. How does that sound? How does that feel? What are the colors there?”
Italk to Monáe a second time a few days after our Zoom chat. She’s wrapped the photo shoot for this issue and mentions that she kept the braids for the pictures. “I loved it because it was just a reflection of where I am now,” she says. The worst of her mercury poisoning symptoms—the fatigue, the hair loss, the breakouts—are behind her, fortunately.
Monáe has spent some time driving around lately, observing people in masks, taking in the state of our world. She’s also been reflecting on something her friend Mellody Hobson, the investment executive and former DreamWorks Animation chairwoman, told her. (Monáe performed at Hobson’s 2013 wedding to George Lucas.) What Hobson said, in essence, was this: We got through the Spanish flu, and we’ll get through this. There will be a vaccine—and a future.
“There can be a real uprising,” Monáe says of society post-pandemic. “The majority of us do not want to continue to see things be the way that they are. We’re demanding better health care for ourselves, demanding people listen to scientists as it pertains to the environment, as it pertains to our health.”
Still, at this point in her self-isolation journey, Monáe is ready to have just a few simple pleasures back. She wants to hug her mom. She wants to hug her sister and her infant niece. She wants to travel to South Africa. She wants to really live again, and more. Above all, she wants to be in a room full of people, music pulsing as they stand too close and move too much.
“I’m ready to go to a party,” she says insistently. “A party where we are sweating, we are smiling, we are dancing for our souls.”
HAIR DIRECTION BY NIKKI NELMS; MAKEUP DIRECTION BY JESSICA SMALLS; SPECIAL THANKS TO BRENT ADAMS, JOSH DEAN, TWO THREE TWO, JARROD TURNER, NATE WONDER, AND ALISON YARDLEY; FOR DETAILS, GO TO VF.COM/CREDITS
Gabourey Sidibe isn’t afraid of being afraid: The actress, 36, will appear alongside Janelle Monáe in Antebellum, a political-horror movie that finds Monáe’s character trapped in the pre–Civil War South. Here, Sidibe talks flipping the script on horror films, what’s keeping her up at night, and cat butts (yes, you read that right).
Marie Claire: The film has been kept top secret. What can you tell us about it?
Gabourey Sidibe: Yes, there’s a shroud of secrecy around this film for reasons that will be obvious once you see it. It's super dark. It’s a psychological thriller. There are parts of the film where it's like walking around in the dark with your hands out, just trying to find the wall. It keeps you not only on your toes, but on the edge of your seat. It’s really a fun and incredibly dark and scary ride.
What drew me to my character, Dawn, is that I feel like I know people like her. I based my performance on some of my friends that are sort of bougie and fancy. I enjoyed the chance to pretend to be them. Because I’m not that bougie.
MC: Socially charged horror movies like Get Out, Us, and now Antebellum are on the rise. Why does horror work as a parable of social and racial experiences?
GS: The people who are now making horror films were watching horror films when they were young. Then, it was Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. Now that we're all grown up, no one’s afraid of monsters anymore; we’re afraid of who the next president will be. The political climate of the country scares me. Interactions with people who don’t believe that I deserve human rights—that’s more terrifying than any vampire or werewolf. If you want to scare people, talk about what we survive every day that we might not survive tomorrow.
MC: Besides our political climate, what keeps you up at night?
GS: I recently had dinner with my cousin, who reminded me of a terrible ex-boyfriend. I went to sleep that night and I was trapped right back in that relationship. Huge jerk! But you know what, mistakes were made. I was in my early 20s. You don’t know anything in your early 20s. Or late 20s. I won’t know anything until I’m 45.
MC: What do you hope viewers come away with after seeing Antebellum?
GS: What I took away was this idea that if we don’t pay attention to history, we can’t predict what the future will be. The future is a lot closer than we think, and so is the past. Time doesn’t mean anything unless you’re willing to change things.
MC: How has the role of black women in horror films changed?
GS: I remember growing up and seeing horror films, and black people were the first to be killed. We seem to be making it to the end a lot more! What’s important is that we’re not just making it to the end of the film; we’re writing our own stories, telling them, and acting them out. It’s really beautiful—not just as a black person, but especially as a black woman. I can’t quite separate being a woman and being black. I’m a black woman. But I think it’s changing. I can see that it’s changing. I would love for it to change faster.
MC: Where do you see your role in that change?
GS: What’s great is I’m a writer and a director now [of episodes of Empire and a short film]. There’s no longer just the option to be on one side of camera, but the option to be on both. That’s how I plan to help the change, by making my own stories and starring in them. The world’s sort of my oyster.
MC: Staying busy! What do you do for fun?
GS: This is going to sound super lame, but I spend a lot of quality time with my cat. He’s just the world’s most handsome cat ever. I do various sort of other lame/normal things: I try to travel whenever I can, I go on weekends to visit my parents, and I go to see my therapist once a week.
MC: Sounds like a pretty good lineup to me.
GS: Doesn’t it? I feel like this is exactly the opposite of what people think that actors and celebrities do, but God knows I hang out with the cat and see my therapist and complain.
MC: What’s something else that people don’t know about you?
GS: Here’s a really, really weird secret: I color a lot more than the average adult. I have a collection of coloring books, and I’m always buying color pencils, and sharpeners for those color pencils. I just got into glitter markers because I’m 3 years old. Someone got me a coloring book of cat butts. It’s a Christmas edition. So, it’s these cats hanging out near Christmas trees and there’s Santa Claus, but it's cat butts. Also, I’m Senegalese, and I really like African prints. My therapist actually got me a coloring book that’s all beautiful women in African prints.
MC: So, you oscillate back and forth between beautiful African women and cat butts.
GS: Exactly, in a nutshell. That’s me in 2020.
A version of this interview originally appeared in the April 2020 issue of Marie Claire.
Clarification: An earlier version of this piece listed the release date of Antebellum as April 24. Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the movie's release has been delayed until further notice.
With the upcoming release of Spiral: From The Book Of Saw looming this year over the horror genre even though it has been delayed, fans of the franchise still have a lot to look forward to. Not only is there the stellar additions of Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson, but there have been promises from everyone behind the scenes that the films will not be toning down the violence whatsoever.
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Saw just would not feel the same if there wasn't the signature traps in it, fans who have been paying attention to the news of the film have not been concerned. Spoilers for the entire franchise obviously follow in this entire article, read at your own risk.10Saw V Ending
The ending to part five was marketed as the best twist in the series so far, it fell short of that for most of the audience. It still makes this list because it was definitely a very crazy trap nonetheless. The look on Agent Straham's face when he thought he had won and the corresponding look on Detective Hoffman's face as the scene played out was really great acting. The glass coffin lowering into the floor and the walls closing on Straham was completely genius on Hoffman to cover his tracks as the successor to John Kramer.9Pendulum (Saw V)
Another trap from Saw V that showed viewers how Hoffman had started his apprenticeship under Jigsaw. It began with the detective using the murders as a cover to get revenge on Seth Baxter who had killed his sister and gotten away with it. The franchise often incorporated the rules of broken systems such as the law or insurance companies to forward plots which got lost due to the gory nature of the traps.
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The pendulum was inescapable; it was very brutal and crazy. Hoffman watched it unfold in all its gruesome glory just like John, but he was criticized for poor craftsmanship by the actual Jigsaw.8The Rack (Saw III)
In Saw III, one of the main characters going through a series of tests is Jeff Denlon. On his third test, he comes across the man who killed his son Dylan in a drunk driving accident. The man is in what looks like a twisting crucifix and must decide to let him die or try and help him. Jeff contemplates what to do but eventually tries to help and retrieve the key to letting him out, with the key tied to a shotgun that goes off. Jeff gets the key, but is too late as the rack twists Timothy Young's neck, arms, and legs one at a time. It is just as grisly as it sounds.7Shotgun Carousel (Saw VI)
Saw VI is mostly written for taking on insurance companies and how they use anything in their power to take from any of the people that they have as clients. This trap is one of the craziest in the series and is the perfect example of that allegory from the film summed up.
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It is convoluted, intense, and it also is beautifully shot by Director Kevin Greutert and Cinematographer David A. Armstrong.6Reverse Bear Trap (Saw)
The original trap that started it all with a short film even before the first movie came out. When creators James Wan & Leigh Whannell first came up with the idea they knew that making a small part of it to use as a pitch would be easier than just pitching with a script so they shot a short using just this trap starring Leigh. To this day, reiterations of this trap have appeared in seven of the Saw films. And, there is a reason for that: it is one of the craziest traps in the series. The aftermath is always extremely brutal.5Saw IV Opening
Two men wake up in a mausoleum: one with his eyes sewn shut and the other with his mouth sewn shut. It seems like that should be enough for audiences to think this is crazy, but this is Saw after all. So, naturally, they are also chained-up to a winch. The blind man is so panicked that he activates the winch and it quickly starts pulling both men closer. Alas, the man with his mouth sewn shut notices a key on the blind man's collar.
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Fight or flight takes over and he kills him, unlocking himself just in time. The ending of this crazy scene is one of the reasons it makes it here on this list, though.4Cycle Trap (Jigsaw)
This is a trap that is visually one of the most appealing in all of the films, for sure. Something about the aesthetic of the coiled blade rotating around like that makes a Saw fan feel all fuzzy inside. When the trap designers come up with things like this (and the "Shotgun Carousel") that incorporate the colors or the shapes that are already associated with the franchise, it makes it that much easier to appreciate. This trap is so crazy because the concept is almost like a twisted version of the board game Operation.3Horsepower Trap (Saw 3D)
Something about the fact that 6 didn't perform as well at the box office so they chose to turn the script of two final films into one final film. The use of 3D made the trap design department work really hard. The film's plot definitely felt like phenomenal writing team Melton & Dunstan had to squeeze two movies into one, but the traps were especially nutty here.
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This particular trap had late rock & roll singer Chester Bennington of Linkin Park playing a character who awakens in a car-themed trap.2Public Execution Trap (Saw 3D)
By far one of the craziest traps in the franchise is in the opening of Saw 3D. Audiences saw two best friends and the woman they were both dating in a trap that was on full display to the public. This had never been done in the history of the franchise. It was like giving the real world a front-row seat, and it felt like a commentary on the grisly nature of being die-hard Saw fans.1Saw II
The craziest trap in the entire franchise, hands down, goes to Saw II. This does not refer to just one trap from the film. The entire house in the film, the entire game that Jigsaw plays with Detective Matthews, it is all one long trap and game. Coming from a script that Darren Lynn Bousman wrote separate from the franchise and re-tweaked with Leigh & Wan to fit the franchise, one would never know. The fact that the entire house is one big trap blows away any other contender on the crazy scale. Credit to the filmmakers and the cast who made it all just come together so well.
KJ Apa beelines for the coffee as soon as he walks into our interview room at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills. Minutes before, someone came into the room to make sure there was coffee in the pot; minutes after, Apa is spilling milk and apologizing profusely. He just landed in Los Angeles from Vancouver, Canada, where Riverdale films nearly year-round. (Of course, this meetup is happening a week prior to the CW pausing production over COVID-19 concerns.)
“Great start to the day, isn't it?” he jokes. It’s actually 12:30 in the afternoon, but you know how weird time can feel on travel days. Apa can be clumsy and his timing can be wonky; these quirks only add to his charm.
Any fan of the actor is familiar with his brand of charisma, highly visible in his portrayal of Archie Andrews, the amateur vigilante always trying to make his community better. It’s an earnest, do-good appeal, where sometimes he makes mistakes, but his heart is always in the right place. Apa has perfected the persona, even if he insists he can’t see it. He is “extremely critical” of himself, as many actors are. “It's not like I'm sitting there watching, going, man, I'm charming,” Apa tells MTV News.
KJ Apa and Britt Robertson as Jeremy Camp and Melissa Henning.
It makes perfect sense — we are all our own worst critics — but at the same time, it is a little hard to understand how anyone, Apa included, can avoid staring at the screen, mesmerized by his sweet sincerity. This is apparent in his latest movie, I Still Believe. In the tragic love story, Apa stars as singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp opposite Britt Robertson’s Melissa Henning, who is diagnosed with ovarian cancer shortly after their courtship begins. It's based on the true story of the Grammy-nominated artist and his late first wife, who, on screen, channels her faith to guide her through the crisis, inspiring Jeremy to do the same.
“There were moments where I saw that situation and I asked myself, damn, what would I do in that situation? How would I react?” Apa says. “Jeremy is just... He truly is a one-of-a-kind human being. When you meet him, you understand it.”
Although he aspires to love intensely and unconditionally, the way his character does throughout the film — “The purest form of love is giving yourself to someone or something and not expecting anything in return,” he says — Apa still has trouble seeing it in himself. He initially turned down the role. It took some coaxing to build his confidence.
His hesitation cropped up in a few places. He worried about the responsibility of telling a true story, and telling it well. “I didn't want to be the guy at the end of the day, if it all turned bad, then I'm the guy. It's my face all over it,” he says. And then there was the musicality of the role.
KJ Apa takes the stage as Jeremy Camp.
I know what you’re thinking, because I had the same thought: Apa is a musician — what does he have to be afraid of? He grew up playing the guitar, and he’s been showcasing his talent on Riverdale since Season 1.
“Riverdale is a perfect example of 'I'm a musician,'” Apa says. “But am I particularly enjoying the musical aspects of the project that I'm doing? Not really. I have to do it.”
Apa hadn’t dug into Camp’s discography until after he read the script, but now, he’s a fan. As a songwriter and an artist, he calls Camp “amazing,” so in this case, style was less of an issue. Apa just isn’t a singer — definitely not publicly, and not privately, either. “People just … keep forcing me to sing in all these projects.” He’d really rather just play his guitar.
Shania Twain, music legend who plays mom to Apa’s Camp, begs to differ. “He has a natural communication to the audience, to the guitar, so I thought he was amazing,” she told MTV News. And Twain has multiple Diamond-certified albums, dozens of BMI Awards, 5 Grammys, and a slew of other accolades, so that is very high praise.
Still, despite the fact that he’s been acting since he was a teen, stars in the biggest show on the CW, and leads a film of his own, Apa moves to put air quotes around the word “success” when he speaks it, changing course midway through his sentence to instead call them “achievements.”
Shania Twain and KJ Apa share a mother-son moment.
He doesn’t take any of it too seriously. Sometimes he makes up answers on the spot during interviews, especially those rapid-fire questions. (But, he assures me, he never exaggerates when he talks about the importance of moisturizing.) He feels his best when he’s just acting like a normal person: eating healthy, exercising, playing music, and looking after his friends. He holds a certain disdain for the highlight reel that Instagram has become and the comparisons it often encourages. “That’s not the shit that I care about,” he says. And even though he very much could be one of those people with the ultimate highlight reel, he’s not interested. “At the end of the day, to me, I'm living my life. You're living your life. We're all living our lives. We're all humans.”
Apa surrounds himself with people who feel the same way. It helps him stay grounded, and helps him to genuinely enjoy life — and more specifically, his life.
“The real world is right in front of me right now, with you, right now. Present,” he emphasizes. “The real world is not on our phone. It's what's going on right in front of you.”
The passion with which he says this — while maintaining perfect eye contact, no less — is exactly what makes Apa so damn charming. “I think it’s the truth,” he says. Then, after a brief pause, “But yeah,” he adds, mockingly swapping his native New Zealand accent for an American one. “I guess it's charming.”
أعطوا الأولوية لحياتنا، في هذه الأوقات المضطربة، دعونا نتذكر ما ثبت حقًا أنه مهم؛ الصحة والعائلة والأصدقاء والزملاء في جميع أنحاء العالم. بصفتنا كمجتمع واحد دعونا نتأكد من أننا نطمئن على بعضنا البعض على مدار اليوم، فنحن دائمًا مستعدون لأي نقاش فيما يخدم المصلحة العامة خلال هذه الفترة الصعبة، من الواجب علينا أن نكون إيجابيين لأننا متأكدون من أن الإنسانية في النهاية هي الرابحة.
Shania Twain’s chart-topping career spans three decades of cheeky pop-country music anthems and playful glamour. She has five Grammy awards, more than 90 million albums sold worldwide and is settling into her second Las Vegas concert residency “Let’s Go!”, which is expected to run through 2021 at Planet Hollywood.
And now, fans can catch Twain on the big screen in I Still Believe, an inspirational faith-based biopic about love and loss. In the film, Twain plays Terry Camp, mother of Christian singer Jeremy Camp (KJ Apa), who struggles through the heartbreak of losing his young wife to a terminal illness, before finding his way back to love.
While the story is different from her own, the emotions that drive it are familiar to 54-year-old Twain, who remarried in 2011 after a crushing divorce three years earlier. And in the middle of it all, Twain struggled through (and overcame) the loss of her voice after a battle with Lyme disease. These days, Twain, who has an 18-year-old son, is focused on family, staying creative and using her own story to encourage others.
You have a really special relationship with your fans. Why is that important to you?
“I love the story we share together. There is a history there that is so valuable. It’s truly a long-term relationship. I’ve got such a diverse audience, and I think that’s a reflection of who I am as an artist. I just feel that I’ve been able to be myself with fans, and the beauty of it is whatever gap there might be between us completely closes up when we’re together at a show. The music brings us all together. I know my fans are people who look for that therapy and camaraderie in the music. My story means something to them.”
You have been very open and transparent about the struggles you’ve faced over the years. What has that done for you and for others?
“I think it gives people the inspiration to persevere through their own challenges. [Talking about] it has been therapy for me. My advice to anyone would be to share and communicate your pain. Once you open up, you realize how many people around you have similar suffering in common. It opens up a whole world of mutual understanding that you might not expect. Even when it’s not easy to go into that zone of vulnerability, push through that. The rewards are incredible.”
What drew you to your role as Terry Camp in I Still Believe?
“Their story attracted me. It’s beautiful—all about courage in facing the unknown. It’s the epitome of love and faith. I was absolutely moved by the story, and I think anyone who sees the film will be, too.”
How do you approach your career differently now, as opposed to 30 years ago?
“Well, for one, I’m much more appreciative of the opportunity to still be on stage. I lost my voice [for a while], and it took a lot of effort getting back on track. I just have more gratitude after those struggles. I’m thankful that I’m still able to perform for all these fans who are still showing their love and respect.”
How do unwind after a show?
“I like to get with friends and have a great meal. The food is incredible in Vegas. And honestly, I truly love coming straight back to my little farm, hugging my horses and putting them to bed.”
Any new music in the works?
“Oh, I’ve been writing a lot. It’s so easy to get burned out on the road, and a real advantage of being in Vegas is that you’re not traveling constantly and exhausting yourself. You can settle in and really get creative. I have a difficult time writing on the road, so I love being home and getting to really dig in.”
You’ve had so many memorable looks over the years. What is your approach to fashion?
“I just want to wear things that are flattering. To be honest, I always ignore what’s going on in fashion and pay attention to what flatters my body, what’s comfortable and what makes me feel good. I’m not a model, and I want to work with designers who respect my body type and understand what looks best on it.”
Ah, young love. Although it may be perceived as coated in sweet naivety, we often forget it really can be as pure and beautiful as a long-term "adult" romance. Lionsgate’s upcoming faith-based drama, I STILL BELIEVE, reminds us true love exists at any age through a story influenced by Christian singer Jeremy Camp’s early hit music.
Hailing from the Erwin brothers — the directors behind 2018’s fellow music biopic I CAN ONLY IMAGINE — I STILL BELIEVE brings a heart-wrenching look at Camp's first love, Melissa Henning-Camp. K.J. Apa (CW’s "Riverdale") and Britt Robertson (THE SPACE BETWEEN US) team up again after pairing in 2017’s A DOG’S PURPOSE. The actors play younger versions of Jeremy Camp and Melissa Henning, who fall in love once the smooth harmonies of their vocals intertwine.
Then, peril strikes. Melissa is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Their love is suddenly challenged, on top of Jeremy finding himself propelled into the successful career in Christian music he still is known for today. Even so, the pair try not let her sickness interfere with their happiness. The true story unravels as they experience picture-perfect moments — such as an epic proposal scene — but the 20-year-olds must also face the harsh realities of Melissa’s cancer.
I STILL BELIEVE tells the inspiring yet heartbreaking story of faith being tested by trying times. Jeremy Camp is the son of a pastor and a Christian singer/songwriter, but when the love of his life becomes surrounded by the shadow of death, he starts to question everything. The upcoming drama gives fans and audiences unaware of Camp’s story new meaning to the song it's named after.
Jeremy Camp’s parents are played by country music star Shania Twain in her first major acting role and Best Supporting Actor nominee Gary Sinise (FORREST GUMP). They’ll certainly bring an added weight to the story as they guide their on-screen son through this difficult chapter. Sometimes the best movies are those that can kick-start a good cry and remind us to hold our loved ones a little tighter.
I STILL BELIEVE comes to theatres on March 12. Get your tickets today and bring out the tissues for this one
-- Christian filmmaker Jon Erwin remembers his first days working with mega Lionsgate entertainment to make "I Still Believe," an upcoming biopic on chart-topping singer Jeremy Camp.
"One of the heads of the departments came up and was whispering, and said, 'I'm a Christian and there's a few of us here and I'm so glad you're here,'" Erwin told Baptist Press in advance of the March 13 opening weekend of I Still Believe. "We were able to say, 'Hey, we came in through the front door. They're paying us to be here.'"
A growing, widespread appreciation of Christian entertainment in the largely secular industry is "a watershed moment ... on behalf of Christianity," Erwin told BP. "God is moving in Hollywood, in the entertainment industry, like I've not seen before.
"And we've learned that this is probably the most powerful form of storytelling ever invented," utilizing what Erwin calls "emotional instigation."
"If you can tell a story that changes the way someone feels -- this is the power of mass entertainment," he said, "... instantly people want to change the way they think and believe to match the way that they've been made to feel."
I Still Believe is a love story that can be an evangelistic tool especially for teenagers, Erwin told BP. The story of love, loss, inspiration and hope has the same title as the first song Camp wrote after his wife Melissa died of cancer three months into their marriage in 2001.
"It's God's design for a love story," Erwin told BP of the romance. "When teenagers see it, they don't say, 'Oh, that's not realistic or that's not gritty enough.' They actually say, 'I want to be loved like that.'"
Erwin views mass entertainment as "the language of the time, of a generation." He and his brother Andrew co-direct I Still Believe as their first film from Kingdom Studios, a venture they launched in 2019 with partners Kevin Downes and Tony Young, including a first-look deal with Lionsgate. It's the second biopic the brothers have made based on a Christian music hit, following their 2018 box-office success "I Can Only Imagine," based on the life of MercyMe's Bart Millard and the best-selling Christian single of all time. I Can Only Imagine, an independent film, grossed $86 million.
"I think God's just raising up voices that no one would have expected," Jon Erwin told BP. "It is very similar to a Nehemiah situation where a lot of the large, powerhouse entities like Lionsgate are just giving us the resources we need to reach a generation in a new way."
I Still Believe is the first faith-based film to open in IMAX, scheduled March 11 in advance of opening weekend. "Lionsgate is using IMAX to designate that I Still Believe is declaring itself to be the big mainstream faith-based drama of the year," Scott Mendelson wrote Feb. 11 for Forbes.com.
I Still Believe stars K.J. Apa as Camp, Britt Robertson as Melissa, Gary Sinise as Camp's father Tom, and Shania Twain as Camp's mother. Millard joined the film in January as an executive producer.
"I believe that the cast of I Still Believe is by far the greatest group of actors we've ever worked with. Years ago I would never have thought it possible to be able to work with people like this," Erwin said. "It's a mixture of icons and new voices."
The movie confronts a longstanding question that has kept people away from God, Erwin said, the question of why tragedy occurs.
"This film grapples with that issue," he said, "and I think we forget so many times that there is a beauty, and a purpose, and a meaning in the difficult things we go through. And that sometimes God uses those things more than He uses the good things that happen to shape us, to mold us and to give us our voice.
"If you think about I Can Only Imagine, it was Bart grappling with his broken relationship with his father ... that gave the world this song I Can Only Imagine, that's brought hope to millions of people," Erwin said. "Similarly this is this selfless, beautiful love story, that involves loss and yet a rush of hope at the same time, that gave Jeremy Camp his voice to millions of people."
I Still Believe offers evangelistic and discipleship resources, including a five-episode video series with Camp and Adrienne, his wife of 16 years, with a companion leader's guide; a small-group kit with a video and devotional guide; a 15-track DVD of Camp's greatest hits; an updated memoir by Camp; and the book "In Unison," focusing on Camp's life with Adrienne.
"We want to create films that are strategic in showcasing the power of Christianity to transform people's lives," Erwin said. "This movie is saturated with the Gospel, and with someone living out their faith.
"It's a love story as God intended, between these two people and God, and between these two people and each other," he said. "It's also very empowering to young people that are Christians to live out their faith, because Melissa said, 'If what I'm going through changes one person's life, then it will have been worth it.'"
Lionsgate’s “I Still Believe” is the first major release in the Christian-Inspiration genre in 2020. The movie is opening in theaters on March 13th, against “My Spy,” Vin Diesel’s “Bloodshot,” and the long-delayed R-rated thriller “The Hunt” at the national box office. The specialty box office is also crowded that weekend, with “Big Time Adolescence,” “The Informer,” “The Roads Not Taken,” and “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” opening in select theaters. It’s an overstuffed weekend, and “I Still Believe” will have an uphill battle throughout March when “A Quiet Place 2” and “Mulan” open in theaters nationwide. “I Still Believe” timed its release to coincide with Easter weekend, when even lesser-devout Christians find their way to mass. Still, Christian movies are unpredictable at the box office, and while some have succeeded, others have been left wanting.
In an attempt to appeal to a broader audience, studios have started to market their Christian tales as ‘inspirational’ movies. In some cases, this works out just fine, and people leave the theater with a warm and fuzzy feeling. In other situations, the films are too heavy-handed with their central message, making a movie feel more like a sermon than an inspirational story. Several films tried to strike a balance in 2019, a few then were standouts, and others were flops.
Roxann Dawson’s “Breakthrough” featured Chrissy Metz, Marcel Ruiz, Topher Grace, and Sarah Constible, and the movie was one of the hits of 2019. The film had an $11M domestic opening and went on to make over $50M worldwide from a $14M budget. In the movie, a boy is left in a coma after falling through the ice, where he was stuck underwater for fifteen minutes. After he is taken to the ER, he suddenly wakes up from his coma after his mother begins to pray. Alex Kendrick’s “Overcomer” was more of a traditional inspirational movie. Kendrick directed and co-wrote the story, and he starred in the film with Elizabeth Becka and Shari Rigby. “Overcomer” followed a volunteer coach who helps a troubled teen, and the movie made $8M on its opening weekend before grossing $38M worldwide from a $5M budget.
While “Overcomer” and “Breakthrough” toed-the-line between faith-based and inspirational, 2019 had a big-swing in the other direction. “Unplanned” was an anti-abortion film produced by an evangelical Christian group and distributed by the Cristian studio Pure Flix. The film is based on the memoir of the same name by Abby Johnson, and the adaptation tells the story of a clinic director for Planned Parenthood as she becomes an anti-abortion activist. The film was a hit for “Pure Flix,” overcoming obstacles like getting an R-rating for its abortion scenes, and the commercials they made were deemed inappropriate for networks. The studio claimed that the R-rating and censorship were all anti-religious mechanisms to drown out the film. In the end, “Unplanned” made $6.3M on its opening weekend and $21M worldwide from a $6M budget. Following the film’s release, the American division of Planned Parenthood claimed that the film’s arguments weren’t true, but the film did get rave reviews from church-based critics. Other reviews used words like ‘propaganda,’ ‘dangerous,’ and ‘ridiculous’ when describing the movie.
“I Still Believe” is more towards the middle, and its an adaptation of the relationship between real-life Christian music star Jeremy Camp and Melissa Henning. This film might have a broader appeal, featuring current “Riverdale” actor K.J. Apa and YA star Britt Robertson as the couple, and the story itself centers on the popular Christian singer. Camp has eleven albums under his belt, and four of them are RIAA-certified as Gold. “I Still Believe” will need to overcome its own obstacles on March 13th, but these types of movies have succeeded in the past. Like horror films, studios can’t resist the commercial appeal of a low-budget inspirational movie. The risks are low, the key demographic is always present, and you can hope to recoup any loses on streaming services or television airtime. “I Still Believe” will be the first film in the genre to give 2020 a try, and after that, we might get a new wave of warm and fuzzy stories.
The Saw movies may have wrapped things up nicely in The Final Chapter, but there are some lingering questions Spiral may answer
When Jigsaw first hit cinemas in 2017, longtime fans were left wondering why the movie was made since Saw basically wrapped up everything in Saw: The Final Chapter (or Saw 3D to most). For all the Saw movies’ faults, the narrative was as tight as it could be, even if it left some plot threads and burning questions dangling.
RELATED: Saw: 5 Jigsaw Victims Who Should've Lived (& 5 Who Deserved Their Fate)
Now, we’re just months away from this horror franchise’s second revival in Spiral: From the Book of Saw, which props itself up as a canon spin-off and continuation of the story. The trailer is keeping most of the plot a secret, leaving many to speculate as to where it would pick up from and what longtime questions it could answer. Here are 10 questions from the previous Saw movies and canon that we hope Spiral can finally put to rest.10Are The Games Canon?
Believe it or not, Saw inspired two video games: Saw: The Video Game and Saw II: Flesh & Blood for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. The first game centered around Det. Tapp from Saw while the sequel followed his son as he tried piece together what happened to his father.
In the games, it’s revealed that Det. Tapp went mad and eventually died after he tried but failed to capture Jigsaw yet again. Det. Tapp is also dead in the movies’ canon, but it’s never clarified if he died in Saw after Zepp shot him or if he passed on a later date as implied by the games. This seems like a decent explanation for Tapp’s absence in Saw – that is, if the games are canon.9Did The Police Ever Find The Bathroom?
Saw famously begins in a bathroom and the sequels often revisit this now iconic horror setting, whether in a flashback or not. But despite it being the most famous location in the franchise, the cops never, ever seem to know where it is.
Previously, the police have found almost every other trap room and maze, finding tons of evidence, bodies, and clues that led to Jigsaw’s whereabouts. So why can’t they find this particular bathroom? After all, finding it would finally resolve that missing person’s case about a one Adam Stanheight plus the added bonus of Hoffman’s corpse – provided the disgraced cop actually died there.8Were There Any Jigsaw Copycats?
The sick reality of serial killers is that the more notorious ones have always inspired imitators. By all counts, Jigsaw is a serial killer and this begs the question as to whether or not he inspired copycats or not. Interestingly, the current canon says otherwise. Instead, Jigsaw had apprentices who he allowed to continue his work.
RELATED: Saw: Ranking Every Single Twist Ending, From Worst To Best
Whether or not they succeeded is subjective, but nonetheless, he gave them his seal of approval. Given Jigsaw’s high profile case in the movies’ setting, was anyone inspired in a demented way to imitate his works or recreate them? This may be the case in Spiral, where the Jigsaw murders have resurfaced after years of quiet.7What Happened To The Other Survivors?
An interesting element introduced in Saw 3D was the survivors’ group made of former Jigsaw victims. This wasn’t really delved too deeply into since it wasn’t the sequel’s priority, but it was a clever idea nonetheless. That being said, what happened to these people and are there more of them?
The survivors’ group is one of the few elements in the Saw series that helps ground its otherwise heightened concept and makes things a bit more believable than expected. It would be a shame if this isn’t revisited and improved upon, since Saw 3D had the right foot forward but didn’t bother going down that path.6Where’s Logan?
Jigsaw ended with the reveal that Logan Nelson, an unassuming medical examiner, was actually the very first Jigsaw apprentice. Years after Jigsaw’s death in Saw III, Logan restarts the games to exact justice on the crooked cop Halloran. To quote him, he’s speaking for the dead.
So what has Logan been up to in the time between Jigsaw and Spiral? The first soft reboot’s ending seemed to hint that Logan would follow his mentor’s footsteps and carry on his work. Is he orchestrating the new Jigsaw-styled traps in Spiral or is someone else at fault?5Is Hoffman Really Dead?
At the end of Saw 3D, the duplicitous and murderous Hoffman finally meets his end when he’s locked to die in the same bathroom trap from Saw. His chances of escape are pretty slim but if there’s one thing we learned from Saw, characters aren’t dead unless their corpse is shown or someone explicitly confirms it.
RELATED: 10 More Continuity Errors In The Saw Franchise
Granted, the audio commentary states that Hoffman eventually died in the bathroom but for all we know, this was changed during the lead up to Spiral. Hoffman’s return could either make or break the movie, depending on how it’s done, but it’s still a lingering mystery that’s been nagging some fans ever since Saw 3D’s end credits.4What’s Dr. Gordon Up To?
Logan may be the most recent Jigsaw apprentice, but he’s not the only one around. Dr. Gordon – the original movie’s first victim – revealed himself to be one of Jigsaw’s disciples in Saw 3D’s last seconds. He then takes over Jigsaw’s real legacy by condemning Hoffman to a slow death in the same bathroom where he was reborn into Jigsaw’s follower.
But after bringing the franchise’s original timeline to an end, Dr. Gordon was never seen or heard of from again. Is Dr. Gordon continuing Jigsaw’s work and philosophy? Did he ever hear of Logan and work with him or otherwise? Only time will tell.3How Many More Apprentices Are There?
Let’s face it: there is another Jigsaw apprentice out there continuing the deceased John Kramer’s work. The question here isn’t if there is one since that’s a franchise staple that won't be going away any time soon. What’s more intriguing is just how many are there.
RELATED: Spiral: 5 Things From Saw It Needs To Bring Back (& 5 That It Should Leave Behind)
Over the course of Saw, it’s revealed that Jigsaw had a total of four apprentices (Amanda, Hoffman, Dr. Gordon, & Logan) – five if his widow Jill Tuck is included – and it won’t be too surprising if another previously unknown apprentice is carrying out his will almost 10 years later in Spiral.2Is It One Person Or An Entire Jigsaw Movement?
A quick little detail that some people may have missed is that Dr. Gordon wasn’t working alone. To dispose of Hoffman, Dr. Gordon had to pig-headed acolytes do the heavy lifting due to his disability. This all but confirms that there’s a Jigsaw cult somewhere out there but it’s never brought up in Jigsaw, where the game was all one man’s doing.
Now that the murderous traps and demented life lessons are back, the question about who the perpetrator is remains. Is the newest game the creation of a single serial killer or is it the first stage of a Jigsaw cult’s plan to remind the city of his twisted way of appreciating life? Jigsaw inspired some people, and Spiral could finally show what became of them.1Did Someone Ever Learn Jigsaw’s Lessons Correctly?
Jigsaw likes to fancy himself as a twisted philosopher but there’s one major problem: his students suck. Basically, every single one of his apprentices missed the point of his lessons in one way or another.
Cases in point: Amanda denied her subjects a fair chance because she determined their lives’ worth before the games even began, Hoffman just developed a psychotic bloodlust, and Logan went out for revenge. As of this writing, no one knows how Dr. Gordon’s games went but it’s worth noting that he all but left Hoffman for dead.
As implied by Spiral’s subtitle From the Book of Saw, someone is in fact taking notes from Jigsaw. The big question here isn’t about the traps or if Billy the Puppet will return – the most pressing concern is whether or not this successor understood what Jigsaw was preaching or not and how they’ll carry that out.
The director of the upcoming faith-based film I Still Believe says the movie’s all-star cast could attract an unchurched audience who typically wouldn’t be open to a Christian message.
Andrew Erwin, who co-directed the film with his brother and also co-directed the 2018 hit movie I Can Only Imagine, told Christian Headlines that the film’s cast – including K.J. Apa and Britt Robertson – could appeal to non-Christians.
Apa has 17 million Instagram followers. Robertson has appeared in several movies popular among young adults and teens.
A romantic drama, I Still Believe (PG) tells the true story of Christian singer Jeremy Camp’s marriage to his first wife, Melissa, who died of ovarian cancer. Camp wrote his popular song I Still Believe after her death.
I Still Believe releases in theaters March 13.
The goal is always to have “crossover appeal,” Erwin said.
“We're not going to be one of these that sells out to reach an audience,” Erwin told Christian Headlines. “But what we're trying to do is broaden our audience to where we can kind of gain new fans – new people that typically would not engage with something like this.
“We tested it with audiences, and it tested on such great scores with the general public that Lionsgate doubled our theater count from I Can Only Imagine,” Erwin said. “And they also are giving us an IMAX release – and there’s never been a faith film released in IMAX before. So it's definitely a step up as far as an opportunity for Christians being relevant. So my hope is it does crossover.”
I Still Believe was labeled by Seventeen Magazine as one of the top romantic movies in 2020 to watch.
Although I Can Only Imagine was the Erwin brothers’ biggest hit yet, it wasn’t their first movie. They also made Woodlawn (2015), Mom’s Night Out (2014) and October Baby (2011).
The objective, Andrew Erwin said, is always to reach an audience that doesn’t go to church.
“Our focus is still firmly rooted within the church, but it's focused out,” he told Christian Headlines. “And so our goal is to reach out beyond the church walls to engage a generation that's walking away from the church – as an introduction to Christianity.
“We try to be an introduction to Christianity that's focused on people who are not necessarily churched or have become disillusioned with their faith,” he added. “And so that's the audience we're trying to reach. We're trying to give the church a tool that they can use to reach their community. So it's definitely still engaging the church – but for a different purpose. It's to reach out beyond the church walls.”
An upcoming film about Christian singer Jeremy Camp will break new ground by becoming the first faith-based movie to play nationally on IMAX screens.
I Still Believe (PG) will open March 13 in traditional and IMAX theaters but will have early showings on March 11 only on IMAX screens. The faith-based romance tells the story of Camp’s relationship with his first wife, Melissa, who died of ovarian cancer. Camp penned his well-known song, I Still Believe, after her death.
Kanye’s Jesus Is King, a 38-minute film, showed in IMAX theaters last year. But I Still Believe will become the first full-length faith-based feature movie to show on the giant format.
Jon Erwin, who co-directed I Still Believe with his brother, Andrew, called it a significant step forward for the faith-based genre. Their previous film was the 2018 hit I Can Only Imagine.
“After the success of I Can Only Imagine, our dream has been to expand the possibilities of what faith-based films can become,” Erwin told Christian Headlines. “It’s so exciting to partner with IMAX to immerse the audience in faith and music in a whole new way. It’s a first for a faith film, and we can’t wait for the audience to experience I Still Believe in IMAX.”
I Still Believe stars several well-known actors, including K.J. Apa (Riverdale, The Hate U Give) as Camp and Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland, The Space Between Us) as Melissa. Gary Sinise (Apollo 13), singer Shania Twain, Melissa Roxburgh (Manifest) and Cameron Arnett (Overcomer) have supporting roles.
The film was named No. 1 on Seventeen Magazine’s list of “7 Most Romantic Movies Premiering in 2020.”
I Still Believe producer Kevin Downes said he hopes the film reaches a younger generation.
“And I believe that this film is going to do that – mainly because the cast is gonna really allow an opportunity for that younger audience to want to come in and experience an emotional true love story,” Downes told Christian Headlines. “But what's great is our foundation, our basis, is the Bible.”
Visit imax.com/movies/i-still-believe to find an IMAX theater showing I Still Believe.
BOMBSHELL won at the Academy Awards:
Best Hair and Makeup: Kazu Hiro, Vivian Baker, Anne Morgan
Citing strong performance from “Knives Out,” Lionsgate has posted revenues and operating income above Wall Street projections for its third fiscal quarter that ended on Dec. 31.
Revenue were $998.5 million, 8% above Wall Street forecasts, and adjusted operating income of $124.5 million beat estimates by 11%. Subscribers from Starz, Starzplay Arabia and Pantaya reached 28.5 million in the quarter and global OTT subscribers reached 8.6 million for am 8% gain in global subscribers. Adjusted earnings per share were 14 cents, well below forecasts for 18 cents.
“Knives Out” has grossed $155 million in North America and $294 million worldwide. Rian Johnson received an Oscar nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category for the murder mystery, which stars Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas.
“Our Motion Picture Group turned in a strong performance in the quarter, led by the worldwide box office success of ‘Knives Out’ while our Television Group secured a number of important scripted series and pilot commitments and Starz continued to grow its over-the-top platform worldwide,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer. “Our Starzplay international rollout remains on track to achieve financial and subscriber targets that we expect to translate into meaningful incremental value creation.”
Lionsgate’s film operation saw revenue rise 30% to $473.9 million with segment profit of $49 million with the studio crediting the strong performance of “Knives Out” along with the ancillary results for “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.” Earlier this week, it released the first trailer for “Spiral,” its reboot of the “Saw” franchise with Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson starring. “Spiral” will be released on May 15.
Feltheimer said during the conference call that the studio is planning production starts for both “John Wick 4” and a “Knives Out” sequel. Joe Drake, president of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, said the studio will announce a release date for “Chaos Walking” within the next few days. Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley are starring in the sci-fi movie, directed by Doug Liman, which was originally set to be released last year.
“We’ve two of our biggest stars on the planet today leading that,” Drake added.
The media networks segment, driven by Starz, reported a 4.3% gain in revenues to $382.4 million while networks profit declined 24% to $102.1 million. Lionsgate said the drop in profit was due to the company’s investment in Starzplay International, which is expected to see subscriber growth to between 15 and 25 million over the next five years.
Lionsgate announced shortly after the earnings announcement that the Starzplay international streaming service will split first pay streaming rights in the UK to Lionsgate’s recently released and upcoming feature films.
The TV production segment reported a loss of $5.7 million, which Lionsgate said was due to the timing of production schedules and episodic deliveries. Revenue for TV production was $189.4 million. New series launches included “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” at NBC, “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” at Apple, and “Manhunt: Deadly Games” at Spectrum. New series ordered included “First Ladies” at Showtime and “Run The World” for Starz.
The upcoming Christian movie “I Still Believe” has topped Seventeen magazine’s list of the most romantic movies to watch in 2020.
The secular magazine, which has been in circulation for 74 years, reaches millions of young adults and teens each year. For the first time in the magazine’s history, a Christian movie has ranked No.1, selected for its list of the “7 Most Romantic Movies Premiering in 2020.”
A new film poster and trailer have also been released.
“I Still Believe,” chronicles the story of Award-winning Christian singer Jeremy Camp and his first marriage to Melissa Lynn Henning-Camp who died in 2001, less than a year after they were wed.
“Riverdale’s K.J. Apa stars in this romantic movie about singer/songwriter Jeremy Camp. The movie follows Jeremy’s life, including his marriage to his first wife, Melissa. Melissa was diagnosed with ovarian cancer just before they were married, but the pair continued on with their relationship through Melissa’s illness,” author Jasmine Gomez writes for Seventeen.com.
The new trailer shows some of the film’s romantic scenes between Camp and Melissa played by actress Britt Robertson.
Also featured in the film, is country singer Shania Twain who plays the role of Camp's mother opposite actor Gary Sinise who portrays Camp's father.
The trailer highlights Camp's journey to finding love, fame and his enduring faith in the midst of an unexpected tragedy.
Named after Camp’s popular song of the same name, the movie is an Erwin Brothers production, the same producers behind the blockbuster hit “I Can Only Imagine.” Jon Erwin, Andrew Erwin and producing partner Kevin Downes are hoping to follow the commercial success of their first biopic made about the life of Christian musician Bart Millard, although they never initially intended to do another film about a musician.
“I Still Believe” was produced under the Erwin brothers’ newly-formed studio Kingdom, in association with Lionsgate, and is scheduled for release on March 13.
Camp remarried 16 years ago to his wife, Adrienne, and the couple have three children together. Camp has lauded his wife for being his biggest supporter throughout the years and for supporting him in telling Melissa’s story.
Superstar Charlize Theron, as the saying goes, contains multitudes. She’s played every kind of role, from a blue-collar wife hell-bent on getting justice to an evil queen in a modern rendition of the Snow White story. She’s also been a latex-clad warrior in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi world, as well as America’s first female serial killer. Theron is a chameleon of sorts, a powerhouse who has proven that she can master anything writers and directors throw her way, with a unique grace and ease.
And thanks to this year's Oscars®, Charlize Theron is once more a nominee for Best Actress, thanks to her work as Megyn Kelly in the film BOMBSHELL. To celebrate her nomination, we're going to run down the nine best performances that Theron has given throughout her career, including the one that's landed her yet another golden opportunity.9. The Yards (2000)
This semi-autobiographical crime thriller is campy, melancholy, and co-stars an almost unrecognizable Theron as the young cousin of ex-con Leo Handler (Mark Wahlberg). Though the film focuses on the trials and tribulations of the male leads, Theron’s Erica Soltz proves herself to be tougher and stronger than all of them combined. She’s the only light in this bleak film.8. The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
In one of her earliest roles, a 22-year-old Theron plays Mary Ann Lomax, the traumatized wife of a dirty lawyer (Keanu Reeves) who quite literally makes a deal with the devil. Throughout the film, Mary Ann is repeatedly abused and terrorized — and Theron’s incredibly emotional performance makes it extremely hard to watch. It’s worth noting that the actress had already mastered the art of evoking empathy from an audience, and that’s enough to recommend this movie.7. Bombshell (2019)
Dramatizing the events of the scandal that shook Fox News to its core, BOMBSHELL tells the story of three women and their roles during the moments that changed the course of the cable news network. With her transformative performance as anchor Megyn Kelly in director Jay Roach's dramedy, Charlize Theron is completely unrecognizable. Much like her Academy Award®-winning role in MONSTER, Theron disappears into Kelly's character and not only impresses in this awards contender, but also stands a good chance of upsetting front-runner Renée Zellweger's chances of winning the Best Actress trophy for her role in JUDY.
6. Long Shot (2019)
A romantic comedy mixed with a political satire, LONG SHOT pairs Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen as a presidential candidate and a journalist, respectively, in an election-year romance that plays like a charm. The chemistry between Theron and Rogen sparkles, with Theron getting to play her character both as a super serious head of state and a free spirit during specific sequences in the film, allowing her full range of talent to truly shine in this underrated comedy.
5. North Country (2005)
Inspired by real-life events, NORTH COUNTRY is the heartbreaking story of a female iron miner who takes matters into her own hands after enduring relentless sexual abuse from her male co-workers. Theron received a well-deserved Oscar® nomination for her raw performance as Josey Aimes, a fictionalized version of Lois Jenson, who changed the way sexual harassment is handled in the workplace.4. Young Adult (2011)
Mavis Gary might be the most unlovable character Theron has ever played. Even so, it’s hard not to root for her as she embarks on a journey back to her hometown to win over her now-married high school boyfriend. Mavis is vicious, relentless and cynical, but Theron approaches the role from a comedic perspective. Doing so gives Mavis real depth and humanity.3. Atomic Blonde (2017)
Theron’s Lorraine Broughton is the closest Hollywood has come to a female James Bond, and she’s way more of a badass than Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig could ever hope to be. Lorraine is sultry, seductive and violent. She takes down enemy spies in over-the-top fight scenes that were filmed with every intention of giving audiences whiplash. It worked.
2. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
In the fourth installment of the MAD MAX franchise, Theron solidifies her status as the perfect action hero. Tom Hardy plays the title role, but is completely upstaged by Imperator Furiosa, a warrior who escapes the clutches of the evil Immortan Joe and liberates women who were forced to breed with him. Theron’s Furiosa is more than just a warrior. She’s a woman on a quest for redemption, and all she wants is to be enough — to be worthy and valued for who she is. "Empowering" is the word most commonly associated with Theron’s portrayal.
1. Monster (2003)
Theron succeeds in humanizing serial killer Aileen Wuornos, and it has little to do with the extensive eyebrow-less makeover the actress endured to play the part. The film has no interest in being sentimental, but Theron’s masterful performance invokes a particular kind of compassion. The audience isn’t meant to pity Aileen, but rather understand the root cause of her darkness. Theron won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 2004, as well as a Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Movie award and a SAG Award.
BOMBSHELL is currently in theatres. Get your tickets now.
The nominees for this year’s Academy Awards gathered Monday for the annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon and class photo.
Bong Joon Ho, Greta Gerwig, Robert De Niro and Brad Pitt were among those who received the loudest applause and cheers when their names were called for the photo. The annual event kicked off with a cocktail party, complete with music by DJ Kiss, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood.
Charlize Theron’s date was her mom, Gerda Jacoba Aletta Maritz. “It’s her birthday!” Theron told Variety. “How do you like the party I’m throwing for her?”
Leonardo DiCaprio brought his dad, George. “Hey, Quentin,” Paramount’s Jim Gianopulos said to Quentin Tarantino. “I’m really proud of you!” The “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” director also explained that he was wearing a “Dolby” bowling shirt in homage to the venue.
Brad Pitt was mobbed by people asking for selfies. The supporting actor nominee also chatted with Roger Deakins and Sandy Powell. Netflix boss Ted Sarandos stopped by Al Pacino’s table to talk to the “Irishman” star.
The official program began with remarks by Academy president David Rubin, who asked for a moment of silence for Oscar winner Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the seven others who died in Sunday’s helicopter crash.
First-time Oscar producers Lynette Howell Taylor and Stephanie Allain took to the stage to offer guidelines for acceptance speeches for winners on the big night. Winners have just one minute from their name being called to getting on stage and completing their remarks.
“We don’t want to play you off,” Taylor said.
“But we will,” Allain warned.
Taylor implored all the nominees to write their speeches beforehand. “Be prepared,” she said. “You will not jinx yourself by doing so.”
What followed was the customary roll call to bring the nominees to the riser to assemble for the class photo. But before she got started, Illeana Douglas took a shot at the plant-based menu, a first for the annual event.
“I didn’t know it was going to be an actual plant,” she said, referencing the maitake mushroom entree with black rice, winter squash and cauliflowers. “At least it looked appetizing.”
Like the Golden Globes decision to go plant-based, Joaquin Phoenix pushed for the Academy to do the same. The Governors Ball after the Oscars will be 70 percent plant-based.
One noticeable difference this year were the number of nominated actors who couldn’t make it to the affair, including Phoenix, Margot Robbie, Antonio Banderas, Saoirse Ronan and Scarlett Johansson.
The 92nd Oscars will be held on Feb. 9. The ceremony will be broadcast live on ABC beginning at 5 p.m. PM/8 p.m. ET.
We already have a lot of great horror movies to look forward to in 2020, and now we have yet another movie to add to the list. Little is known about Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz's forthcoming thriller Antebellum but we do know that Get Out, Us, and BlacKkKlansman producer Sean McKittrick is also involved in the film, so it's got to be good. From what we can glean from the trailer, Antebellum revolves around a successful author who finds herself trapped in the Antebellum South — a period which persisted from the late 18th century until the start of the American Civil War — and it looks pretty damn terrifying. Here's who you can expect to see when the film debuts on April 24.
NEW YORK — Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding breaks into a laugh as he tries to explain his meteoric career trajectory that has seen him go from being a travel host to rom-com leading man to foul-mouthed villain in Guy Ritchie’s gangster romp, The Gentlemen — out this Friday.
“It’s crazy isn’t it?” Golding muses as a wedge of sunlight pushes its way into a suite of a midtown Manhattan hotel.
The 32-year-old British-Malaysian actor, who just a few years ago was working in New Zealand for the BBC and Discovery Channel Asia, was plucked out of obscurity to play Nick Young in 2018’s crowd-pleaser Crazy Rich Asians. He then played Blake Lively’s husband in the thriller A Simple Favor. Just a few months ago, Golding starred opposite Emilia Clarke in the frothy holiday rom-com Last Christmas.
This week, he’s back onscreen as the Chinese gangster, Dry Eye, opposite an ensemble cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Hugh Grant, Colin Farrell and Michelle Dockery.
McConaughey plays Mickey Pearson, an American heavily invested in the London drug trade who is looking for a way out. Golding’s Dry Eye is one of several villains angling to take over his business.
“I’ve played fairly similar characters to who I am as a person,” Golding says. “Nick Young (Crazy Rich Asians) and Tom Webster (Last Christmas) are very happy-go-lucky guys who won’t let much put them down. But then this character in The Gentlemen, he has a big chip on his shoulder … He thinks he can muscle in on something. So playing Dry Eye was a licence to let go.”
After his success behind the camera for Disney’s live-action Aladdin last year, The Gentlemen marks Ritchie’s return to the fast-paced crime comedies he became famous for at the beginning of his career, including Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.
“He dipped his toe back in with (2008’s) RocknRolla, but I don’t think that film hit the same patina Lock, Stock and Snatch had. The Gentlemen is definitely in the vein of those two earlier pictures … This throws it back to those classic Guy movies.”
After a whirlwind weekend in New York, Golding is heading back to Japan where he’s in the midst of filming the lead role in Paramount’s G.I. Joe spinoff Snake Eyes.
Golding says the variety of projects and the diverse directors he’s worked with has made him want to be more than just a rom-com star, but so far being in front of the camera has been a dream come true.
“It’s crazy, because I used to stay up with my friends, after a house party and we’d stick in Snatch and we’d all just watch and crack up all the way through. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched that film, but it’s countless … now I’m working with Guy Ritchie,” he says, grinning.
On an unseasonably warm January morning, Golding traced his arc from hairdresser to box office star, mused on the politically incorrect barbs he and his castmates hurl in The Gentlemen and told us why critics were wrong about Last Christmas.
You’ve been having a great couple of months. First Last Christmas, which my wife and I had a fun time watching, and now The Gentlemen.
Last Christmas was definitely a crowd-pleaser. Not much of a critic-pleaser (laughs). But I’ve had much more of a response off of the backend of Last Christmas than Crazy Rich Asians. It really meant so much to people … It was lovely. Moviegoers understood what it was. It’s just that bubbly sort of Christmas movie that’s like eating a pile of chocolate. You just can’t help but love it.
So you were nice guy Tom Webster in Last Christmas and now you’re the baddie Dry Eye in The Gentlemen. What was that transition like?
I was filming both of them in London during the same time. One day I was Tom Webster and I woke up the next day and I had to play Dry Eye. But it was less challenging than people would think. It was a lot of fun to play someone so far from my own reality.
Henry Golding as the villainous Dry Eye in Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen. (VVS Films)
What was the best part of playing the villain?
In this case, the barrage of swear words (laughs). Just being able to reel off as many profanities as you can possibly think of in the most creative ways was immense fun. That’s what Guy’s films are about. They’re about trying to insult the other person in funny ways. It’s what we grew up with watching Snatch and Lock, Stock … they’ve got so many classic one-liners that we can quote to this day. So working in that environment, especially alongside Matthew and Michelle, was phenomenal. It was one of my favourite experiences I’ve had.
Why do you think those early Guy Ritchie gangster movies still resonate?
Some of the scenes in Lock, Stock and Snatch had never been done in British cinema. So when it came to heist movies, he was definitely a trendsetter in that sense. The only other British director from that time that was creating groundbreaking movies in a similar vein was Danny Boyle with 28 Days Later.
Some of the early reviews for The Gentlemen have talked a lot about the film’s political incorrectness. But that’s the world Guy Ritchie is playing in. It wouldn’t have occurred to me that some people could take offense.
You know what these films are about. Back in the early days, no one would have complained about the political incorrectness. But now, people are a lot more sensitive, and while they are entitled to their opinion, this is a world which is exaggerated and it’s full of the bottom of the barrel characters, who aren’t going to be nice to you. If you met any of the people in this movie, they’d insult you in the most demeaning manner.
Sometimes that’s casual racism or sexism or things like that. You’d be fooling people to pretend that doesn’t happen. But you have to take it with a pinch of salt. It’s entertainment. It’s not meant to be seen as a racist film. Everyone in this movie is giving as good as they get. All these characters are, in my words, c—- trying to kill each other. Of course they’re going to be nasty … Look, we can talk about it ’til we’re blue in the face, but it’s not for everyone (laughs). That’s all I can say. But if you’re not too sensitive, you’re going to have the time of your life. It’s a hoot. It’s just a lot of fun.
Two years ago, people hadn’t been introduced to you yet. Tell me about your crazy rise?
I don’t know how to explain it. It feels earned, for sure. I can safely say that I have worked so hard at doing the best I can and adapting as quickly as possible to this. People often don’t realize how much work goes into making a movie, not only the production part, but this part. Coming out, flying 12 hours, getting zero sleep, to promote a movie for three days, non-stop. They see the clips and the interviews, and maybe they think it looks easy.
You not only have to be able to do your job in front of the camera, you have to be able to function inside a marketing machine. But, in terms of the movies, I’ve been able to work with some amazing filmmakers. Paul (Feig) twice, John (M. Chu), Guy (Ritchie), Hong Khaou, Robert Schwentke. After this, I’m just excited to get myself involved in more eventful movies and Snake Eyes is going to be huge.
Speaking of Snake Eyes, what can fans expect of that movie?
This is an origin story. It’s interesting because you have the long-time fans and they have a vision of Snake Eyes in their head, and that’s a character that they’ve loved for years and years. So, of course, we want to be able to do justice to them. But, at the same time, we want to bring something fresh to it as well. I think we’ve been able to create a balance within Robert Schwentke’s script that pays homage, but at the same time creates our own identity.
You became famous at 30 years old after being a hairdresser and a TV presenter. What was the best part of finding fame as an older person?
I think it helped that I had been able to live a regular existence. You often hear of young stars who get a little taken away by it all. I know that if it all ends tomorrow, I’d be pretty f—ing happy. It wouldn’t be as fun, but I’d still be going to the cinema to watch movies.
Of course I’d be longing to be back in this industry, but I’ve had many careers. I was a hairdresser, I was a journalist, and I was a television presenter. Now I’m a movie star. Where it goes from here? I don’t know. I’m just along for the ride.
But I give 110% to it. That’s why I think I can be successful at it. The dedication is real. I think a lot of people, if you just throw yourself into whatever it is you want to do and do the best job and expend the most energy you possibly can, you can succeed at most things. Or at least that’s what I hope.
Matthew McConaughey is a busy man these days. The 50-year-old actor recently wrapped a stint as a professor at his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, teaching film production. He’s also serving as a creative director for Wild Turkey, helping to develop the company’s Longbranch bourbon. In the midst of the recent Southern California wildfires, he helped prepare and deliver more than 1,600 barbecued dinners to first responders and displaced families. And, oh yes, he’s still finding time to act.
While he once seemed destined for rom-com typecasting, the deceptively dynamic leading man has spent the past half decade collecting Oscar glory and Emmy nominations. Now he stars as a weed kingpin in the new Guy Ritchie flick, The Gentlemen, in theaters January 24. Here he talks about his journey to and through Hollywood.
When did you first move to Los Angeles?
I drove out here on August 12, 1993. I had my U-Haul; I had 2,000 bucks, and I was packed to the gills coming out to Hollywood—here we go. I had Dazed and Confused out—nothing else. I had finished making [that movie] in summer of ’92. So I’m driving out here, and I had it all teed up. It’s about a 25-hour drive, but after about 22 hours you’re getting tired, and you’re thinking I might have made really good time—I might be getting there soon. Especially when you’re out by Indio on the I-10 West and you see an exit for Sunset Drive.
Not Sunset Boulevard?
I didn’t know this yet! I’ve been waiting with my Doors album to play “L.A. Woman” on approach to L.A. I put that disc in there and just start jamming to [it] because there’s Sunset Drive, baby! It’s gotta be right over the next hill—I’m going to see the bright lights. Well, I played “L.A. Woman” about 47 times because it was another two hours. I took the 10 all the way to PCH, till it turned north, pulled up to [Dazed and Confused casting director] Don Phillips’s house on a Saturday night at about 10:36 p.m. Slept on his couch. That was my arrival.
Which bars did you like to go to at that time?
Well, I had my [Dazed and Confused] buddies Rory Cochrane and Cole Hauser here, and we would hit up the Formosa Cafe and Chez Jay in Santa Monica—classic little bar right there on Ocean Avenue.
Who are some of your drinking buddies when you come into town these days?
I still like to go have a drink with Cochrane and Hauser.
Any crazy drinking experiences?
Oh, yeah. … (Laughs) Yeah. Quite a few. I’ll leave it at that.McConaughey (right) in ‘Dazed and Confused’ with Rory Cochrane
Which neighborhood here most resonates with you these days?
L.A.’s got so many diverse little experience pods in it. I’ve got friends in Silver Lake—that’s a different sort of walking, hipster experience. Culver City’s a great area to walk around in. But I’ve always really enjoyed Sunset Boulevard [he bangs on the table between the “Sun” and “set” syllables for emphasis]. I moved into the Chateau [Marmont] for a couple of years. Yes, sir. And I met my wife [model Camila Alves] in Hyde on Sunset. When I saw this turquoise vision moving across the room, I didn’t say, “Who is that?” I said, “What was that?” Fifteen years later … that’s that.
You don’t seem to be a fan of sequels. But out of all the characters you’ve portrayed, whose story do you think remains somewhat incomplete—whose story would you consider extending?
I didn’t get on board with Magic Mike XXL for an extension of Dallas [the character he played in the first movie]. I thought he lived where he lived. But Mick Haller in The Lincoln Lawyer—there could be a lot more to tell about him. And we’ve talked about it, if we could get the script right. That could be a revisit.
[Dazed and Confused writer-director Richard] Linklater and I have continuously chatted about what Wooderson’s up to today. I think he’s probably had that conversation with a lot of characters from Dazed. But until an idea—if ever—came up for a follow-up on what all those people are doing … probably just leave that one where it lies ’cause it’s a classic. It’s fun to imagine [what’s happened to] all of the characters I’ve played. I bet Wooderson’s got triplets—red-haired triplets.
You famously formed a friendship with Snoop Dogg on the set of The Beach Bum. Do you two still stay in touch?
Yeah, absolutely. He’ll check in. He loves FaceTime. (Laughs) It’ll just be a quick pop. Brrropp, “What’s up? See ya later.” But he’s a saint of a man. He’s really found his frequency. He’s always looking on the upside of any situation; [he] cares and is conscientious. He’s got a great story of how he got to where he was, and he knows the exact times he was taking a risk, but he made them for the right [reason] to preserve himself and his family. Great man.McConaughey with wife, Camila Alves
ROY ROCHLIN/GETTY IMAGES
You’re also friends with another celebrated stoner, Woody Harrelson. Who could outsmoke the other?
Oh, geez. It’s funny. I don’t think they’ve ever hung out—which is odd—I need to bring them together in some way. Wood’s not smoking right now, I don’t think. With Snoop it’s just like drinking water. It’s just an extension of the arm.
Did you ever think you’d live long enough to see legalized cannabis?
Not in Texas. And it ain’t legal there yet.
You might not live long enough to see that.
I might not. (Laughs)
In The Gentlemen, you play a cannabis kingpin. What was it that attracted you to the role?
Guy Ritchie’s script. Like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, it’s a gangsterish comedy with size and scope. Ritchie has a real identity with that type of film, and it’s that type of script.
Out of all the wild and crazy characters you’ve played in your life, which matches most authentically with who you are as a human being?
Oh, man. I mean, look—all of ’em are some part of me. Like an old lady’s equalizer, I just raise the EQ on certain parts of me and lower the other parts and find the balance that’s in me for that character. Turn up the volume a little on some, bring down the kilohertz on a little of the others.
And keep “L.A. Woman” on repeat?
Come on. Even if you gotta do it 47 times, baby. You show up, keep driving west—go until you get wet.
Exactly two weeks before “Bombshell” was set to begin shooting, Annapurna backed out of the $35 million production. Producer Charlize Theron, who also stars in the film, was on a location scout with production department heads when she heard the bad news.
“We had [cast] Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie — two of the busiest people in the whole wide world, as well as John Lithgow, who weirdly is almost busier,” Theron says. “So we knew that if we couldn’t stay on our originally scheduled start date that we would not be able to make the movie. Their schedules just wouldn’t permit it.”
With the film’s shutdown imminent, Theron immediately went into power producing mode. By the end of day, with help from her fellow producers and director Jay Roach, Theron had secured Bron Studios as the pic’s new financier. Two days later, Lionsgate was signed on to distribute.
The movie, which is being honored with the Stanley Kramer Award at the PGA Awards, tells the story of former Fox News female anchors who brought down Roger Ailes (Lithgow), and stars Theron as Megyn Kelly, Kidman as Gretchen Carlson and Robbie as a fictional Fox up-and-comer. Securing last-minute financing and a new distributor wasn’t welcome news, but Theron didn’t exactly mind taking a break from her acting duties.
“You can only work on becoming Megyn Kelly for a certain amount of hours every day,” Theron admits. “At a certain point you have to switch off. Being a producer is good for me because sometimes I have OCD about things [as an actor]. So I think I’m better when I can actually switch my brain off. Producing forces me to do that.”
BOMBSHELL nominated for Best Makeup and Haistyling at the Academy Awards
Margot Robbie nominated for the Best Actress in a Supporting Role in BOMBSHELL
Charlize Theron nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role in BOMBSHELL
It’s no wonder that, for Margot Robbie and Charlize Theron, the fandom is mutual. Both left their continents of origin to become Hollywood royalty, and recently starred together in Bombshell as anchorwomen battling sexist double standards (or worse) in the workplace. Once typecast as the “gold-digging girlfriend,” a pre-fame Robbie might’ve empathized with her fictional character, Fox News producer Kayla Pospisil. But of course, Robbie’s career quickly outgrew anyone’s expectations (including her own), as the Aussie’s ever-lengthening actor-producer credits continue to prove. Her next-up Batman spin-off, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn will be her company LuckyChap’s highest-budget endeavor to date.
Margot Robbie Charlize, thank you for doing this! Do you want to share a pickle? I’m not normally a big pickle eater, but I’ve been really liking them…
Charlize Theron Yes, I want to share a pickle with you! How could I say no?
MR I just learned, like a few years ago, that pickles are actually cucumbers.
CT [Laughter] That is amazing to me. My daughter thinks cucumbers are pickles. She calls cucumbers “pickles.” I’m like, that’s not a pickle…[On that note], let’s talk about your childhood. I’m picturing you spearfishing off the Gold Coast and catching your dinner as a 12-year-old.
MR Literally, yeah [laughs]. So, I actually very much had that rural Australian experience. [When I was young] we moved out to the hinterland, which is part of the Gold Coast. We lived on acreage, so it was definitely [in line with a certain image of Australia]. People in America are like, were there kangaroos and koalas outside your bedroom window? And I’m like, well yes there were, but that’s not a normal thing in Australia, necessarily! I feel like I really got all the best of Australia.
CT So, when did you discover movies?
MR We had a limited and eclectic collection of VHS tapes, which I watched a thousand times over. I’d be rattling off lines in the kitchen, and my mom was like, “How do you remember all this? Are you making this up?” [Even] so, I never said, “I’m going to be an actor.” I think it was probably a similar thing as when you were growing up in South Africa...
CT Yeah, no. It’s like talking about a unicorn. It doesn’t exist.
MR Yeah, it’s not an actual job. And even after I was working full-time at 17 on Neighbours, my family was like, “So… what’s your plan? What are you going to do for a job and career?”
CT Did you have to really convince your parents? What did they want you to do?
MR I don’t know! I think the best-case scenario would have been going to university.
CT Boy, were they wrong [laughs].
MR I never did go to university! But I went with my friends to all university initiation-week parties.
CT Smart! The best part! So what was the next step, after [working on Neighbours]?
MR To begin with, I was just stoked to not get fired. But after that, there seemed to be two options available: One, stay on Neighbours; many of my castmates on that show had worked there for 30 years, and I could have had a very comfortable, nice life [by doing that]. But I knew I didn’t want that. [The other option] was taking a chance on America. And I’d seen some costars try their luck in L.A. So I spent the next three years saving up and working on dialects, because I couldn’t do an [American] accent to save my life, and I went for door number two.
CT Wow…So when you started, did you have any fear of being typecast?
MR It wasn’t until after Wolf of Wall Street that a lot of similar roles started coming in. I realized, gosh, I’m going to have to do something very different, to kind of let people know I’m not going to keep playing the gold-digging wife forever. And it’s not that I don’t want to [ever play] a gold-digging wife—I had the best time playing [Naomi]. But I had exercised that muscle. I had come to understand her. I wanted to read a character, and think, “I have no idea how to do that.” I always want to feel a little bit scared when I take on a role. And to be pushing myself in some way. But before that, I just wanted to get any job. [My first real role] was on a TV show called Pan Am, and I shot that for a year, in New York. I was playing a very sweet, naive young woman experiencing the world for the first time, and having a blast. And I was maybe not as innocent as her, but I was definitely having the same sort of thing; like, wow, the world is so big and amazing, and I’m in New York City, it’s so crazy…My first time on a set, I wanted to know what everyone was doing, and why. I kept asking the DP, “What lens are you on, and why that?” Eventually he just brought me a book and was like, “Read that, it’s got all the answers!” It was so kind, and I still have the book. It was an interesting read, and answered a lot of my questions, so I’d stop bothering him...
CT Maybe that was it, but at what point did you feel that you wanted to produce your own films?
MR It’s a funny thing…I’ve spoken about this with some other actresses. Fame is such a weird thing. It has this way of coming on very quickly. And I felt very untethered by it. I was searching for different ways of taking control of my life, to get where I wanted to be. As a producer, you get to be a part of everything. And not just on set, but in the years it takes up to that point. I like exercising that business-savvy part of my brain—even doing the tax-incentive shit.
CT How long was it before I, Tonya came around?
MR That was the second film [we produced at LuckyChap]; we gave ourselves a manifest to begin with, and that was to tell female-driven stories and to work with as many first- and second-time directors as we could.
CT And what about that project made you say, “I have to do this”? Did you know about her [Tonya Harding]?
MR No, I had never heard her name. And I actually thought it was fictional. Like, okay, this gets a bit absurd in some places, people are going to think we’re taking the piss now. But the most absurd parts were absolutely all factual.
CT That’s so interesting that you knew nothing about her. To me, she feels like Elvis. And I imagine, if [the role] came to me, that’s how I would look at it. I think that’s maybe the key to why you tapped into an aspect of [the character] that didn’t feel sensational. You tapped into the emotional story of this woman who was struggling with a lot of shit. And she did terrible things, but her circumstances were also not great.
MR Yeah! It was perfect that I didn’t know about it. Because I had no preconceived notions. As an actor, the first thing is trying to understand her point of view. I’m reading lines that say, “Nancy gets hit one time and the whole world shits. For me it’s an everyday occurrence.” I read that and think, yeah, I agree! Why is everyone so hard on you? I don’t get it! So I’m really glad I didn’t know anything. It made it so much easier to understand her.
CT Do you remember the first time we met?
MR Yes! On a shoot, [a couple years back]. You were practically naked.
CT I had a lot [going on]. “She’s wearing a sheet, she’s got a toddler screaming and she’s gushing to an actress she wants to work with…” How strange is that three years later, I called you up about [Bombshell]?
MR Since we’re on that topic…Why did you think of me for this role? I never got to ask…
CT First of all, oh my god, are you insane? [It was] a no-brainer, Margot Robbie. But second of all, this is an ensemble cast; there’s not a lot of time for you to flesh out [your character]. We needed an actor who could really tap into all the emotions, economically and effectively. And you have done that in spades. [And from the moment you agreed to it] you were so committed to the project. You were doing it with us. What was it that made it so clear to you?
MR I mean, I could literally [repeat] everything you just said, because it was a no-brainer. The opportunity to work with you…I secretly just wanted to watch you produce. Like, I don’t know if I’m doing this right—handling the producing the acting, and life. It would be really nice to [watch someone else do it]. But more than anything, I wanted to be a part of this story, and I wanted people to experience Kayla’s experience. Which, as you see in [one] scene, is so hard to define. He assaults her without getting up from his chair. I thought that was something that people needed to see.
CT Margot. I love you.
MR I love you, too. You’re a great reporter.
CT How much do I get paid for this?
MR You get one jar of pickles.
Margot Robbie has excelled at playing real people on screen.
In 2019, she played Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and the year before, she took on Queen Elizabeth I in “Mary Queen of Scots.” In a career-making performance — for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Oscar — Robbie portrayed disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding in 2017’s “I, Tonya.”
Tackling the role of Kayla Pospisil — an ambitious young Fox News producer who falls prey to Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) — in “Bombshell” presented a much different challenge. Unlike Charlize Theron’s Megyn Kelly and Nicole Kidman’s Gretchen Carlson, Robbie’s character is fictional, a composite created by screenwriter Charles Randolph to illustrate Ailes’ late-stage sexual harassment and abuse — just before his Shakespearean downfall in the summer of 2016.
“I didn’t understand her to begin with,” Robbie says. “But my process is to do a ton of research, consider every single option, know every single situation, scenario, thought and motivation inside and out, so I can step onto set and then let it all go.”
She set about figuring Kayla out, using a methodology “Bombshell” director Jay Roach calls “a nerdy desire to get it all down.” She watched the Fox News shows Kayla would have liked, and created a fake Twitter account so she could observe the performative opinionating of “young millennial conservative girls.” (Robbie wouldn’t specify whom she followed, but picture the Tomi Lahrens of the world.)
And she perfected Kayla’s speaking voice, twisting her Australian drawl into a perky Floridian lilt. Roach urged Robbie to watch footage of Katherine Harris, Florida’s former secretary of state, who became famous during the aftermath of the Bush v. Gore presidential election of 2000 and was played by Laura Dern in Roach’s 2008 HBO movie “Recount.” Harris grew up privileged and evangelical in Florida, as did Kayla. “I just love the sounds of her vowels — they’re incredible,” Robbie says. But Harris wasn’t her sole touchpoint: “Every day, I’d do the monologue from ‘Legally Blonde,’” she says, citing Reese Witherspoon’s Elle Woods as the type of character who is “incredibly smart” but “underestimated because of their looks.”
Robbie’s hard work in “Bombshell,” which was released by Lionsgate, has paid off. She will compete in the supporting actress category this week at the Golden Globes, as well as for outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 19. She is a front-runner for an Oscar nomination.
The awards recognition capped off a year in which Robbie created a stir with her affectionate portrayal of Tate in “Once Upon a Time” and filmed “Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn,” a spinoff from the 2016 film “Suicide Squad” that she conceived more than four years ago. The movie, which Robbie stars in and produced, hits theaters on Feb. 7. She is currently shooting James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad,” a sequel to the original film, in Atlanta. It’s slated for release Aug. 6, 2021.
Plenty of female actors — Theron, Witherspoon, Viola Davis — start companies to produce their own movies. What’s unusual is that Robbie was just 24 when she founded hers.
Only seven years earlier she had moved from the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia — where she’d grown up as the third of four children raised by their mother — to Melbourne in hopes of acting professionally. Despite having no money and knowing no one, she was quickly cast in “Neighbours,” the iconic soap opera that also launched the careers of Liam Hemsworth and Kylie Minogue. “I didn’t think there was higher than that for me,” she recalls. When her contract was up, she moved to Los Angeles, and was again cast right away: this time playing a stewardess on ABC’s stylish but short-lived “Pan Am.” From there, she worked steadily, but broke out definitively in 2013 in the attention-getting role of Naomi in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” in which she had Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort wrapped around her finger.
Now 29, Robbie runs LuckyChap Entertainment, which she founded in 2014 with now-husband Tom Ackerley and their friends Josey McNamara and Sophia Kerr, out of an airy, farmhouse-style office in Los Angeles.
She had met Ackerley and McNamara when they were assistant directors on the romantic drama “Suite Française” the year before, and after getting drunk together after the London premiere of “The Wolf of Wall Street,” they all decided to share a house in the Clapham neighborhood of London. (Kerr, Robbie’s childhood friend, was a fourth roommate.) The company was born at their kitchen table out of Robbie’s desire to create her own work. She would read scripts and say, “I want to play that character, but it’s a guy — how do I self-generate?” McNamara says. “But also, she was at a place in her career where she had the ability to set up a company, and wanted to support other female creatives and give them the platform she was getting herself.
Robbie is intensely involved, sometimes too involved. “She reads every script — we tell her not to watch every single daily,” Ackerley says. “Ultimately, she does probably far too much.”
Notes producer and co-star Theron, “Margot just impresses the bloody weasels out of me.” She laughs at the turn of phrase. “At this age taking control of her career, and just being so proactive in what she wants to make, what she wants to put out there — I’m a little intimidated by her.”
The events of “Bombshell” take place before the post-Harvey Weinstein #MeToo movement, but its lessons infuse every frame. #MeToo, which resulted in seismic changes in how women’s stories are told on screen, and who gets to tell them — specifically, the battle cry for more women writers and directors — caused Robbie and LuckyChap to look inward. The company had done its first three films with male directors. “At the start of 2018, we made a conscious decision to shift to try to find more women behind the camera,” Ackerley says.
“We were looking at our own work in a different way,” Robbie says. “Some of our projects felt extremely relevant and more urgent to tell. And other ones felt irrelevant.”
“Birds of Prey” felt urgent. It features Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress, Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary and Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya. It’s written by a woman (Christina Hodson), directed by a woman (Cathy Yan) and has women producers (Robbie and Sue Kroll). The movie is an ambitious leap forward for LuckyChap — a $75 million, R-rated, Warner Bros./DC Entertainment production.
“Margot just impresses the bloody weasels out of me. At this age taking control of her career, and just being so proactive in what she wants to make — I’m a little intimidated by her.”
During “Suicide Squad,” Robbie says she “fell in love with” Harley Quinn, though she didn’t understand why the wildly brilliant, unstable character would stay in a relationship with the Joker (played by Jared Leto), who “wants to kill her most of the time.”
She dove into research: She read the Sam Shepard play “Fool for Love,” about a destructive relationship, and listened to TED Talks by women with schizophrenia who were also accomplished professionals. She immersed herself in the world of DC Comics, which she adores. “Harley has this unpredictable nature that means she could react in any way to any situation, which as an actor is just a gift,” Robbie says.
A year before “Suicide Squad” came out, with the go-ahead from Warner Bros. and DC to explore a Harley spinoff, Robbie met with British screenwriter Hodson, with whom she shares an agent. Over brunch, which turned into pizza and mimosas, they bonded.
“An hour and a half later, we were drunk on a Wednesday morning, and we’ve been friends ever since,” Robbie says. “The ideas started flowing.” In person at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Robbie exudes enthusiasm, speaking effusively about subjects such as the “Harry Potter” novels (“I read them on repeat”), Kayla’s Sapphic chemistry with Kate McKinnon’s “Bombshell” character, Jess Carr (“I secretly want a spinoff movie where Kayla and Jess go on a road trip with their opposing political views and blossoming romance”) and LuckyChap’s office (“It just feels like a nice house!”) — it’s easy to picture that drunken, brainstorming meal.
Upon its August 2016 release, “Suicide Squad” was greeted by some of the worst reviews for a comic book movie ever, though critics and fans agreed that Robbie was the best thing in it. The film made $746 million worldwide, a sequel was greenlit — critics be damned — and LuckyChap signed a first-look deal with Warner Bros.
As for Robbie’s vision for “Birds of Prey,” Hodson says: “She really wanted to see Harley with girlfriends, Harley in a girl gang. Harley is such a naturally sociable character. And I think there was just a general longing to see girls together on screen — women being friends.”
Ackerley agrees about Robbie’s motivations. “She has a group of friends in the U.K.; she has a group of friends in Australia; she has a group of girlfriends here,” he says. “They live fun and vivacious lives. And she was like, ‘I don’t see that on screen.’” She also wanted the film to be rated R, for which, since “Deadpool” hadn’t yet come out, there was no precedent — and “it took a bit of convincing,” Robbie says.
Robbie and Hodson would meet to watch movies, and to discuss “comics that we love, different movies we love,” Robbie says. They would look at something like “Trainspotting”: “How did they achieve this feeling of beautiful chaos, but within it, everything feels satisfying?” she wonders. One of their sessions lasted 13 hours, Hodson recalls. “I was at the keyboard; she was doing story cards. She is remarkable in that sense. I certainly don’t know of any other actors like her who would do that.”
The two got along so well that when Hodson had an idea for improving the dismal numbers for women screenwriters, they decided to create the Lucky Exports Pitch Program, a four-week writers’ room for six writers; four of the selected were women of color. (Hodson herself is half-Taiwanese.) Each came in with kernels of ideas, and now, with the program having just wrapped, all have solid pitches — and Hodson and LuckyChap attached as producers. “We are going to go out and pitch to all the studios and hopefully get them sold, and get them made,” Robbie says.
When it came to finding a director for “Birds of Prey,” Robbie and the other producers — who by that point included Kroll, the longtime Warner Bros. marketing chief executive who now runs Kroll & Co. Entertainment, and “I, Tonya” producer Bryan Unkeless — were committed to trying to hire a woman. But as with “I, Tonya,” directed by Craig Gillespie, they wanted to choose the best person for the job. In the end, Yan, a Chinese American director whose sole movie credit was the 2018 indie feature “Dead Pigs,” sold them. “She spoke to the aesthetic color palette, how she wanted to shoot action, how she wanted costume design to be reflective of the characters’ personalities,” Robbie says. “It was perfect.”
The movie, as its subtitle implies, starts after Harley’s breakup with the Joker. Robbie confirms that Leto’s incarnation of the character doesn’t appear, not even as a cameo. As far as that other “Joker” goes, Robbie thinks Joaquin Phoenix “did a phenomenal job.” But “Birds of Prey,” she says, isn’t at all like the Todd Phillips film: “I feel like the ‘Joker’ film was much more grounded. Ours is different. It’s heightened.”
“Birds of Prey” will be the first of five tentpole movies released in 2020 directed by women: Niki Caro’s “Mulan,” Cate Shortland’s “Black Widow,” Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman 1984” and Chloé Zhao’s “The Eternals” are the others. It’s reflective of Hollywood’s glacial move toward progress, Kroll says, in which “women are part of every conversation now.” Kroll loves how “Birds of Prey” turned out, calling its characters “nuanced” and saying the film has “a beautiful sense of place.”
“But at the end of the day,” she adds, “it’s a really fun, badass group of women getting together. It’s a ride. It’s a crazy ride.”
On the experience of working with Robbie as a producer, Kroll says: “If she were not such a gifted actor, and if she decided she didn’t want to do that anymore, she could be a full-time producer. She’s really good at it.”
Kroll is one of many colleagues who speak admiringly about Robbie. Roach raves about her “Bombshell” performance. “She’s very precise, and she’s worked out the craft of it all. But then once that’s worked out, an amazing sort of heart and spirit and soulfulness all kick in on top of the craft,” he says. “It’s really a wonder to experience it. I felt very, very fortunate to be on set.”
Toward the end of “Bombshell,” Theron’s Megyn Kelly, seeking out other possible Ailes victims, approaches Kayla. “You should report Roger,” she says. “You’ll be protected.” The scene takes a turn when Kayla, whom Megyn thinks will express gratitude, instead accuses her of complicity. “Did you think what your silence would mean for us? The rest of us?” Kayla asks, choking on her anger and sorrow.
Robbie gave a lot of thought to how Kayla would feel in that moment, balancing how much she “idolizes” Megyn against her sense of betrayal. “I wanted it to have heat behind it. I wanted to have real accusation behind it,” she says. Roach was surprised by how the scene played out. “She had a very emotional reaction to it, and apologized after: ‘I just got caught up in it.’ And I said, ‘That was amazing.’ We tried some less emotional takes, but it just was never as powerful.”
“I think that was just her emotions coming out in an unexpected way. And it was really fun to play that with Charlize,” Robbie says.
Kayla — who says things like “Fox is how we do church!” — could have been cartoonish. But not in Robbie’s hands.
“I think her performance in this movie is a very rare performance,” Theron says. “I’ve seen this movie 50 times now, if not more, and every single time she gets me. It’s just ridiculous — and I’m dead inside! And she gets me every f—ing time.”
“Knives Out,” the acclaimed whodunit from director Rian Johnson, hit a notable box office milestone this weekend, crossing $100 million in the U.S. and $200 million worldwide. It’s another triumph for original content — a form of entertainment once thought to be imperiled by the ubiquity of franchise fare.
“Knives Out” became the de facto choice for families without young kids over the holiday season. Lionsgate’s motion picture co-chairman Joe Drake said the film had a broader appeal than the studio initially expected. Media Rights Capital and T-Street co-produced and co-financed “Knives Out,” which cost $40 million.
“On paper, you could say that [‘Knives Out’] could live on a streaming service,” Drake told Variety. “But when you take the screenplay Rian Johnson wrote and the cast he put together, you deliver the kind of experience which is dramatic, thrilling, really funny and really suspenseful. It hits all those beats that make for the theatrical ride.”
To compete with superhero tentpoles and big-budget blockbusters, Drake says it takes a mix of “the science and the art of our business.”
“We’re focusing on theatrical audiences, looking at genres and concepts for a combination of what we believe can create urgency to see on a Friday night,” he said. “There’s data and art to making creative decisions.”
Over the Christmas frame, “Knives Out” generated another $16 million at the domestic box office, pushing its North American tally to $110 million. Since opening on Thanksgiving, the film has made $214.6 million at the global box office. China propelled international receipts ($27.9 million), followed by the United Kingdom ($13.7 million), Australia ($7.4 million), France ($6.2 million) and Russia ($5.1 million). “Knives Out” opens in its final markets, Germany and Japan, in January.
“Knives Out” boasts a star-studded cast including Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Toni Collette and Ana de Armas. The crowd-pleasing murder mystery is a different kind of family film, centering on a gathering that goes wrong after renowned author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) dies on the evening of his 85th birthday.
“We really believe in the audience,” Drake said. “For ‘Knives Out,’ it really captured the imagination of the audience. They have been selective, but they clearly have a big appetite.”
The Hitman's Bodyguard 2 has landed an Aug. 27, 2020, release in theaters, Lionsgate and Millennium announced Thursday.
Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek are reprising their starring roles from the 2017 original, while Patrick Hughes returns to direct from a script by Tom O'Connor.
The lead actors of "Bombshell" are already cleaning up during the initial awards season nominations spree.
In the Jay Roach-directed film chronicling the takedown of sexual predator and chairman and CEO of Fox News Roger Ailes, Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman nearly disappear into the roles of Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson, respectively, the former anchors of 45's go-to "news" network. Co-star Margot Robbie, meanwhile, goes through the wringer as a fictional newbie staffer and Ailes target named Kayla. All three actors have received 2020 Screen Actors Guild award nominations; Theron and Robbie nabbed individual 2020 Golden Globe and Critic's Choice award nominations, too.
Behind-the-scenes, the costume, hair and makeup pros played integral roles in helping the leading ladies immerse into their characters. There's four-time Oscar-winning (and overall 12-time nominated) costume designer Colleen Atwood, Emmy-nominated Hair Department Head Anne Morgan and Emmy-winning Makeup Department Head Vivian Baker, who worked closely with special effects makeup artist Kazu Hiro, who won the Academy Award for "Darkest Hour." And their work in the film is getting industry attention as well, earning 2020 Critic's Choice and Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Award nominations.
Below, Atwood, Morgan and Baker talk us through the leads' stunning transformations, which support their character stories and bring down Ailes.MEGYN KELLY (CHARLIZE THERON)
Theron's near-complete transformation for the film is so spot-on, it even confused Kelly's six-year-old son in real life, the former anchor told Deadline. That was party thanks to facial prosthetics — Hiro designed heavier eyelids, contact lenses, a nose tip and jaw pieces for Theron. He also created delicate hi-tech 3-D printed nose plugs by taking and scanning casts of the inside of the actor's nose. "This took awhile to settle because we wanted to keep it as comfortable as possible and we didn't want it to affect her voice," he said in a video. "So it ended up really small, but still effective because Megyn Kelly has bigger nostrils and Charlize has really tiny nostrils."
Photo: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/Courtesy of Lionsgate
Baker worked closely with Hiro to create concoctions of bases and foundations to seamlessly blend makeup with the expertly-designed prosthetics. (Apparently, flawless skin, like Theron's, actually makes the job even more challenging.) Baker relied on Lashify eyelash extensions of varying lengths to also help "force" and "change" the eye shapes — not just for Theron, but also for fellow cast members also playing real-life figures. Of course, maintenance in between shoots were essential, so Baker credits an "arsenal of serums" by La Mer and Dr. Barbara Stürm in healing and protecting the lead's porcelain skin.
For the opening and imagined narration sequence, Theron, as Kelly, wears a custom-designed red, white and blue color-blocked body-con dress (above), which Atwood describes as "the most Fox News thing we see her in." Her coif — very 'early Megyn' — is one of four wigs with a smattering of long, weft extensions that mimic the "thin," fine and color-treated hair Morgan observed from viewing old footage of Kelly.
Photo: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/Courtesy of Lionsgate
Atwood worked closely with Theron (who is also a producer on the film) to meticulously recreate the outfits Kelly wore during famous — and infamously offensive — on-air moments, like the hot pink dress worn to insist that Santa Claus (and Jesus Christ) can only be caucasian and the neckline- and shoulder-baring Ralph Lauren dress that scandalized viewers during the 2016 Republican National Convention. "I had a multi-layered process with getting the spaghetti straps to hit [at the exact location] on the dress, and Charlize really wanted to be as accurate as possible," she explains. The character's bold colors evolve to more muted neutrals — similar to what the real Kelly wears — in an effort to "separate her from the environment a little bit," as the anchor decides to join the suit against Ailes.
The wigs worn by Theron in the film also mimic Kelly's real-life hair journey. After she's attacked on Twitter by then-primary candidate Donald Trump and before the second Republican primary debate in 2016, she cut her long, bleached-blond waves into a more naturally highlighted crop. That's when Theron, as Kelly, transitions into a third wig with softer waves, as the character makes her climactic decision. But Morgan had to adjust it to a slightly longer length than in the real timeline because the effect ended up more Theron than Kelly — even with the prosthetics. "Is this possible that Megyn Kelly took a photo of Charlize into the hairdresser and was like, 'I want my hair to look like this?'" Morgan jokes.GRETCHEN CARLSON (NICOLE KIDMAN)
Kidman as Carlson serves as a striking centerpiece in the wordless elevator scene (top), which almost broke Twitter as a teaser. Atwood based the design of the fuchsia v-neck dress, complete with pleated cuffs, on the on-air aesthetic of the former "Fox & Friends" co-host. The costume designer — who also created the body padding for John Lithgow's metamorphosis into Ailes — also padded Kidman's silhouette to mimic Carlson's "voluptuous" and "curvy" shape.
Photo: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/Courtesy of Lionsgate
Atwood didn't design each individual character's look with the other two in mind — or as a "composition," in costume designer speak. She did, however, focus on the individual character stories, taking inspiration from Fox News women's dress code, which allegedly actually existed. And Atwood wanted Kidman as Carlson to wear that specifically-vibrant shade of pink: "[The dress] had a little bit of character with the ruffles," explains Atwood. "[Carson] wasn't quite as refined tastefully as Megyn Kelly."
Morgan worked with director Roach to reimagine and recreate Carlson's hair on Kidman. But the actor brought her longtime hairstylist Kim Santantonio on board to design and "morph" just one wig to transform her into the more "golden blonde" style of the Fox News old guard.
Her hair look subtly evolves from sprayed on-air "helmet head" — as compared to Kelly's sleeker waves — to softer layers when she's at home waiting out the results of her lawsuit. She also wears more vulnerable neutral cashmere knits and high-collar pussy bow blouses, which Atwood says she based on interviews Carlson did while at home.
Photo: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/Courtesy of Lionsgate
According to Hiro, Roach wanted to keep Kidman as Carlson "very simple" — plus, the Oscar-winning actor wasn't too keen on long hours in the makeup chair. So, he kept the prosthetics to a "minimum" (nose and chin), even though Carlson's face has a rounder shape than Kidman's. To create the "mad scientist" foundation mixtures to properly blend real skin — especially complexions as flawless as the lead actresses' — with prosthetics, Baker even experimented with pancake bases from brands including Armani, Clé de Peau, By Terry and "all the Kryolan" ones. She also relied on Sonia Rosselli's cleansing and skincare products: "It's like a drink of water," she says.KAYLA POSPISIL (MARGOT ROBBIE)
Unlike her co-leads, Robbie's newbie staffer Kayla is fictional character representing a composite of career-focused young women who were victimized by the unequal power dynamics and deep-seated cycle of sexual harassment and abuse at the network.
Photo: Hilary Brownwyn Gale/Courtesy of Lionsgate
"I went and hung outside of Fox News in New York a little bit watching people — just the worker bees — come and go and I took it from there and made it up to be honest," says Atwood about her inspiration-gathering process for Kayla's costumes. To represent the character's Florida "weather girl" roots, Baker similarly looked to "small market" newscasters and weather forecasters for beauty inspiration.
Atwood, Morgan and Baker worked in tandem to first establish Kayla's wide-eyed enthusiasm, first as she leaves Carlson's team to advance into what she sees as a more opportune role on Bill O'Reilly's. For her first pitch meeting, she tries to impress in an intentionally Chanel-esque pink and black sweater set (above). "I liked the idea that it was fake Chanel," says Atwood. "That was her idea of being sophisticated and part of that world, but still having a little bit of youth-like, young femininity to it, as opposed to being like a really tailored — man-tailored suit."
Atwood evolved Kayla's look into a more New York City-influenced and possibly-employer-mandated body-con dress and leg-elongating heels: "Suddenly she was Megyn junior."
Photo: Hilary Bronwyn Gale/Courtesy of Lionsgate
While Robbie didn't undergo prosthetic makeup application to play Kayla, her character's beauty evolution, charting her journey through the Fox News machine, is just as radical. She goes from "sweet" fresh-faced makeup, which intentionally looked self-applied, to "that Fox thing: lashes and eye makeup and lips and glossy lips and the hair," says Baker, adding: "It becomes a mask. It becomes that Fox kind of look, but I also wanted it to be the mask that she's hiding behind."
Baker also kept an arsenal of high-end mascaras, "from Dior to Armani," on hand for all her leading ladies, selecting the formula based on the scene. Plus, to highlight the gross Ailes-encouraged emphasis on (a figure-hugging and short) wardrobe, body makeup was also in order. "These dresses were tight and many of them were white," Baker points out. Westmore Beauty's body makeup line provided thorough coverage and that bronze-y effect, without risking transfer onto the body-skimming sheaths.
For Kayla's specific "head-turner white blonde" shade of long waves, Morgan also looked to a real-life inspiration that is both high-profile and incendiary: Tomi Lahren, whom the "evangelical millennial" (as Kayla describes herself) would probably aspire to be. "When she arrives [with a] sweet look, she's doing her own hair and then you see her get blow-outs when she moves onto Bill O'Reilly's department to try to get noticed more," Morgan says. To create the voluminous and barrel-curled waves, the hair stylist added "two entire packs of extensions, like 24 of them [into her wig]. It's insane, no one puts that many in her hair."
As Kayla gets pulled into the toxic and destructive cycle, then finds her way out, her costume, makeup and hair come full circle. "Then she definitely ends in a place that's just more natural and true to herself," says Morgan.
With three blond superstars leading the cast, you could be excused for thinking that a movie called Bombshell might mean something other than a fascinating, pertinent, timely and explosive look at the sexual harassment scandal that took down Fox News guru Roger Ailes. The fact is, in this instance, the term “bombshell” is journalistically appropriate in telling the story of how a group of women working at Fox News, on camera and off, bucked the odds and revealed the dirty little secret behind closed doors that rocked the network.
It was a courageous thing to do, even if it took just one person, on-air talent Gretchen Carlson, to be the first whistleblower in the case — an act, however lonely it was at times, that kicked open the doors to game-changing events and the demise of their boss. And this was all even before the Harvey Weinstein scandal really blew those doors off in the workplace. However the fact that this happened at Fox News, of all places, a shrine to Donald Trump who regularly praised Ailes and behaved as well as the ultimate misogynist, is really remarkable.
But this film written by Oscar winner Charles Randolph (The Big Short) and directed with great style by Jay Roach — who knows his way around this kind of ripped-from-the-headlines topical tale, having helmed the Emmy-winning HBO films Game Change and Recount — is not a partisan call to action but, excuse the term, a fair and balanced account of what happened.
Charlize Theron is remarkable as star anchor and Ailes discovery Megyn Kelly, so immersing herself in the role that when she comes onscreen for the first time, you would swear it was real footage of Kelly herself. Although Kelly was key in moving the company-wide revelations about Ailes and his sexual harassment forward to a bigger canvas when she told of her own sordid experience with Ailes, it was Carlson, played exquisitely by Nicole Kidman, who really took the big risk. To this day, due to her multimillion-dollar settlement, Carlson still is forbidden to discuss the case, but hopefully once the movie opens Fox will loosen up, just like NBC recently did in lifting its NDAs. Add in a third wheel here with Kayla Pospisil, an amalgamation of a number of Fox News staffers forced into sexual situations by Ailes who later signed NDAs in order to settle their cases.
‘Bombshell’ Trailer: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie Are Fed Up And Targeting The Fox News Boys Club
This fictionalized character, heartbreakingly played by Margot Robbie, becomes their voice in the movie. Robbie is at the center of the film’s most disturbing scene when, excited to be ushered into Ailes’ office by his chillingly complicit assistant (nicely played by Holland Taylor) for what she thinks could be a promotion to on-air talent, instead finds herself in the middle of a horror show as Ailes asks her to keep raising her dress in such a debasing fashion that you cringe watching it all play out. To Roach’s credit he doesn’t let the camera wander but keeps it focused on the moment that, to put it politely, is beyond frightening to experience. Robbie is unforgettable, and she already has received Supporting Actress nominations from the Critics’ Choice and Golden Globes for her superb work here, as has Theron, and the acclaim is well-deserved. John Lithgow has one of his best film roles ever s Ailes, giving three dimensions to a monster but making it totally believable that he would have his supporters and could be a brilliant television producer, albeit one with a fatal human flaw.Lionsgate
The rest of the cast is expert right down the line, including Allison Janney as Ailes’ crafty lawyer Susan Estrich, Kate McKinnon (never better), Malcolm McDowell nailing Rupert Murdoch and Connie Britton as Ailes’ wife and partner in grime. Randolph’s script is airtight and complex, giving substance and dimension to a story that has great relevance today as it appears it was just the first in a series of earth-shattering events that have changed the workplace forever and led to the #MeToo movement.
Roach incorporates real footage, marrying it with actors in seamless fashion to the point where the film sometimes feels like a documentary, like we are right there as it all happened. A re-creation of the infamous GOP debate where Kelly challenged Trump on his own past issues with women is brilliantly presented as Trump plays himself and Theron perfectly re-creates the moment, and there is much more than that. This is a remarkable film for our times, as entertaining as it is enlightening and important.
Producers are Theron, Roach, Randolph, A.J. Dix, Aaron L. Gilbert, Robert Graf, Beth Kono, Michelle Graham, and Margaret Riley. Lionsgate opens it in limited play Friday, followed by a wide break later in December. Check out my video review with scenes from the film by clicking the link above.
BOMBSHELL has received 18 award nominations including 2 Golden Globe Awards and has won 1 International Star Award by Palm Springs Intl. Film Festival
Jamie Lee Curtis is Hollywood royalty: her parents were Janet Leigh, the star of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” and Tony Curtis, the matinée idol from “Sweet Smell of Success.” She belongs to a specific class of actors who use their easy entrée into the world of celebrity as an opportunity for scorched-earth storytelling from behind the curtain—think Anjelica Huston in her memoir, “Watch Me,” or Carrie Fisher in her autobiographical novel “Postcards from the Edge.” Curtis was as frank and outspoken as ever when she spoke with me recently, to promote her new film, the murder mystery “Knives Out,” from the writer and director Rian Johnson. Curtis plays Linda Drysdale, the wealthy daughter of a slain mystery novelist who gathers with her family in her father’s Gothic manse to try to get to the bottom of his demise. Was it suicide? Was it foul play? Was it Jamie Lee Curtis? I’ll never tell. And it turns out Curtis is also good at keeping secrets: she’s currently working on a project about her parents, but won’t yet disclose any details. She did speak with me about opiate addiction, Hollywood beauty standards, her foray into writing books for children, and her long-ago stint as Bette Davis’s condo-board president, among other things. Our conversation has been condensed and edited.
Do you have any history with whodunnit movies?
No! I am the anti-mystery girl. I don’t like horror films.
Wait. How can that be?
I scare easily—I have since I was a child. Loud noises scare me, suspense music scares me. There’s not a movie that my friends haven’t all said, “Oh, I’m going to go see this movie,” and then they look at me and they say, “But you can’t go.” Including “Parasite,” which all of my friends were telling me is this fantastic movie.
There’s a whole trend of people who read the Wikipedia entry for a scary movie before they see it—they spoil it for themselves.
Well, I’m going to tell you a secret. I was making “My Girl” in Florida, and the makeup man had done “Silence of the Lambs” and it was out in theatres. He wrote me a crib sheet, which I took with me into the theatre with a little flashlight, and I sat in the back row by myself. It read, “When Jodie goes to the storage locker, close your eyes and ears and wait for the second scream,” and I would cover my ears, close my eyes, curl up in a little ball, and sing “Au Clair de la Lune” in my head.
That might be a million-dollar idea for an app—like, you start it at the beginning of a movie and then it will tell you, “Look away now.”
There’s an entire industry built on the fact that people like to be frightened, and I understand it. They pay money—good, after-tax money—to go and buy expensive bad popcorn and sugar drinks just to sit there to be tortured by a filmmaker.
I want to talk a little bit about your costuming in “Knives Out,” because it was beyond. You spend most of the movie in tailored, jewel-toned pantsuits.
I called Jenny Eagan, the costume designer, and I sent her a picture of my friend Patti Röckenwagner. She was wearing this head-to-toe raspberry-sorbet blouse and trouser, and I said, “That’s Linda Drysdale.” She’s a Realtor. She has to dress every day. She’s from money. She’s earned her own money. They live in a poshy apartment in Boston. So elegant, swellegant, with some edge. The pop of color, which I thought would be sensational, knowing that it was a Gothic house.
I lived a little of it. I gave a book to Rian and his wife, Karina, when I first was signed on to “Knives Out,” as a way to sort of say hi. It’s a book that I buy off of eBay all the time, by a man named John Kobal, called “People Will Talk.” Gloria Swanson, Mae West—they’re long interviews, and they go into weird places.
I miss those talk shows where it’s Bette Davis in the nineteen-sixties—
Bette Davis! So, I lived in a building in Los Angeles called the Colonial House, and it was referred to as the Dakota West. Bette Davis lived in the building, along with other filmmakers. At twenty-seven, I became the president of the board. Nobody wanted the job, and I was, like, “I’ll do it.” I’m very organized.
And so, two things. One, Miss Davis would call me in July and August, saying, “I want the heat.” I’d be, like, “I’m so sorry, Miss Davis, it’s not possible, because it’s July, and it’s a hundred and five degrees, and we’re all dying, and I can’t turn on the boilers.” She goes, “I want the heat.” She would lay by the pool in a big black hat and a black maillot bathing suit with high heels, black sunglasses.
Then I was in a TV movie with her, set in Valdosta, Georgia. I played her spunky niece, and she was the Southern matriarch of a family where her brother died and left his estate, his plantation, to his African-American housekeeper. She had a sister in the show, played by Penny Fuller. It was called “As Summers Die.” The dénouement was when Bette Davis was going to testify, and we’re in one of those old Southern courtrooms with the mahogany, and it’s in the nineteen-fifties, and she’s in one of those Victorian wheelchairs. We’re coming in from the back of the courtroom. You can imagine: big, wide shot, full courtroom, people fanning, hot summer day. Halfway down the aisle, Miss Davis reaches up and grabs my hand, which is pushing the wheelchair, and says, “Take me back.” The camera people are going, “What are you doing?” Because we stopped. And I turned her around. I’m looking at everybody, like, “What? I don’t know.” I took her into her little dressing room. The director, the producers, everybody’s running in, like, “What did you do?” I was, like, “I didn’t do anything!” So they go in there for twenty minutes. Finally, the director walks out. He walks up to the front row, where Penny Fuller was sitting, and he whispers in her ear, and Penny Fuller says, “Oh, give me a break. Are you kidding me?” And there’s a flurry of people, and the wardrobe woman comes in with a selection of hats. Penny Fuller had to take off her hat because it was red. Miss Davis felt that it would draw attention away from the fact that it was Bette Davis’s scene.
Your family comes from New York?
Oh, yes—Tony [Curtis]. He grew up in the streets of Manhattan. He was a Jewish boy, and he lived in the Jewish neighborhood. He said in order to go uptown you would start running at full speed because, by the time you crossed into the Italian neighborhood, the Irish neighborhood, the Polish neighborhood, you had to be running, because you’d get the shit beaten out of you if they caught you. That told me so much about the hardship of his life. And my mother’s life, in Merced, California—just both of them very poor, economically insecure.
It’s important for me, given that I’m this bougie princess from Los Angeles—even if I claim I worked hard, I’ve never really worked hard a day in my life. I wrote a short story once that was semi-autobiographical, which I’ll never publish, a novella actually—the child in the story was raised in New York with famous parents. The father in that story wrote an autobiography, titled “Access of Kings.” It was that idea that, when you’re famous, you get this incredible access, you get opportunities to see things that other people don’t get to see, you get ease of access everywhere you go. All of that is a great, lovely benefit to the part that you give up, which is your privacy. So it’s a balance.
Let’s talk about your beginnings as an actor. Did you resist it at any point? I know you had a year of college, then started acting and never went back.
You have to remember, I had gray teeth, because my mother took tetracycline when she was pregnant with me. My teeth were gray. I was not pretty. I was cute. I had a lot of personality. My lack of any school success I made up for in personality. I was a jokester from a very young age. And I was surrounded by a lot of people in show business. I never thought I’d be an actor, ever, ever, ever, ever. I was going to be a police officer, because I thought I would be good and you didn’t need a lot of schooling for it. I went to a college [the University of the Pacific, in Stockton, California] where my mother was the most famous person to have ever graduated. It was the only school that took me with my D average plus 840 combined SAT.
Why were you so bad at school?
Today I’d be diagnosed with some learning disability or learning difference. I am a great reader, but I don’t retain that much. I moved to three high schools in four years.
Were you popular?
I was a cheerleader. I had no discernible skills. I was popular because I was fun. I was insecure. We could do an entire twelve-hour miniseries on high school. It was a nightmare.
And was the one year of college also a nightmare?
What happened is I went to college and became a little sister at a frat. At Christmastime, I came home. A friend of mine from Beverly Hills had a tennis court behind her house. A man named Chuck Bender [was there], and he said, “I’m managing actresses, and they’re looking for Nancy Drew at Universal; you should go up for it.” And I went up and auditioned, and didn’t get the job. But, he said, “You should stick around. You could get work.” I called my college and I said, “Can I get credit for drama if I go to acting class for a month?” And they said yes. So, during that month, I ended up auditioning a hundred times for things and not getting much. Then I auditioned for a program which is no longer in existence, which was a contract system.
When I read about that, I thought, God, she must have been the last person put under contract at Universal.
I was virtually one of the last people. And they had probably twenty men and twenty women, they paid them weekly. And then they started filtering them into TV shows with the goal that, at one point, you would land a big job, but they would be paying you two hundred dollars a week, and they wouldn’t have to pay you ten thousand dollars a week.
You took acting classes. Did you have a sense of the craft that goes all the way back to the beginning? Or is it something that’s ad hoc, that has developed over the years?
Totally just what I’ve picked up. I have learned that, whatever it is, there is no formula for anyone—there is no one way to do it. There have been times where I have felt less than, because other people seemed more articulate.
I did a wonderful movie with John Boorman called “The Tailor of Panama,” from a John le Carré novel, with Pierce Brosnan, myself, and Geoffrey Rush. Geoffrey and John are both intellectuals. They’re both deeply into character. I cut my teeth in horror movies, where you don’t have any time—you just show up as the person, and you do the work, and you get a take or two, and then they have to move on. I remember a day where Pierce and I were sitting in this room with John and Geoffrey, where they were deep-diving into things, and, at one point, Pierce looked at me and I looked at him, because Pierce cut his teeth on “Remington Steele.” [Afterward] we were in an elevator, and I looked at him and said, “Pierce, I feel like such a bad actor, because I’m not deep-diving like that.” And he goes, “Yeah, me, too.” But, the truth is, there is no depth.
How did “Halloween” come about?
I'd been on a TV series called “Operation Petticoat,” a remake of the Tony Curtis–Cary Grant comedy set on a pink submarine in World War II, where five Army nurses get picked up on an island. Hilarity ensues when you have five Army nurses on a Navy submarine in the middle of war.
So it’s like a pajama romp, but a war movie?
I was cast in the part that was opposite the part that my father had played in the movie. It’s almost incest, but not. It’s generational incest. While we were shooting the movie, it got picked up as a TV series. All of a sudden I became a regular on a half-hour comedy. Every week I would have one line. If I had two, that was a miracle.
Do you remember any of the lines?
No. The show did not do well. And I was fired, along with eleven of the thirteen actors. I was devastated. I thought my life was over. I thought my career was over. I thought I would lose my contract. And two weeks later the audition for “Halloween” came up. . . . It’s one of those good stories for people who’ve just been let go from their job.
Did you have a feeling when making “Halloween” that it was the thing it would become?
Nothing. All I can tell you is that my [character’s] name was on every page of the script, and that it was thrilling to actually create something as a character.
Do you know why you got the job?
I auditioned many, many, many times. And then it was between me and one other woman, whose name I know but I will never say publicly. I’m sure the fact that I was Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis’s daughter, and that my mother had been in “Psycho”—if you’re going to choose between this one and this one, choose the one whose mother was in “Psycho,” because it will get some press for you. I’m never going to pretend that I just got that on my own, like I’m just a little girl from nowhere getting it. Clearly, I had a leg up.
Were you hesitant to do a “Halloween” update, forty years later?
No, because when David Gordon Green and Danny McBride sent me the script, I saw exactly that they were honoring the fact that, when something that traumatic happens to you when you’re seventeen, eighteen years old, it carries with it a tremendous effect.
Was it important to you that they also explore addiction?
Well, it is a by-product of trauma, by the way. Painkillers, alcohol—it is the balm that heals people when they are so traumatized. There’s no accident that people coming back from war fall prey to drugs and alcohol as the relief from the trauma. It’s natural. Hurt people hurt people, hurt people seek relief. It was clearly going to play a part in that movie.
It’s been twenty years for you in recovery—
I am twenty-one years sober coming up in February.
Has that been fairly unexpected for you, to be a public representative for treatment and recovery?
I’m a public representative for a private issue. I was so terrified when I got sober from a ten-year run on Vicodin and alcohol. I was terrified about being outed. I was terrified of the tabloids. I felt like that weakness was going to be exposed and then exploited. I would feel so embarrassed by that exposure of a secret, of a flaw of human frailty.
And then I was doing an interview for Redbook about a book for children that I had written. My teen-age daughter was sitting with me. We were at the table with the author, a really good journalist. I was talking about how great my life was, how happy I was, and how much better, I kept saying the word “better.” At one point, she said, “Well, what do you attribute to that?” Not fishing, not twirling her mustache. I looked out the window, and I turned back and said, “I think it’s because I’ve been sober for over two years.” I could see that she was, like, “Whoa, O.K., I now have a whole new angle on this story.” I knew I was giving that to her. I felt like it was important to talk about opiates.
The culture is catching up to you.
I recently did a cover story for Variety. They said, “We are going to do an annual recovery issue, and we’d like you to be the cover story for our first issue.” I said, “Absolutely.” When I got sober, twenty years ago, there was a magazine article in Esquire, written by Tom Chiarella, where he outed himself to his editor and family that he was a Vicodin addict. It was in January of 1999, and I got sober February 3, 1999, because I read that article. For the first time, I understood that I wasn’t alone. He talked about where [the pills] were hidden in his house, and I thought, Oh, I hide mine in my cowboy boot, too. So I figured if I did that in Variety, maybe somebody who is at home, secretly dealing with an opiate addiction—maybe they would seek help.
Over the years, the stories you’ve been telling about your past with opiates and addiction have dovetailed with your thoughts on the exacting beauty standards in Hollywood.
I knew I was going to do the cover of More. I said, here’s the deal: I will take a picture in my underwear, with no makeup, no hair, no fancy lights, with my body the way it is, if you promise you will print that, head to toe, on a separate page, and then print the picture of me fully glammed-out on the next page. That was my deal with them, in order to talk about the reality of self-esteem, and about the fact that I had undergone plastic surgery, which is where I first found Vicodin. I underwent an eye job when I was thirty-five years old because, one day, I was on the movie “Perfect,” and Gordon Willis, the great cameraman, looked at me and said, “Yeah, I’m not shooting her today.” I was puffy that day, for whatever reason. I was mortified. Right after that movie I went and had an eye job. That’s when I found Vicodin, and the cycle of addiction began with that.
I want to talk about your career as a children’s-book author. You’re such a lovely writer of children’s books. And you’ve done so many!
All by accident. The last thing I ever thought I’d do, besides being an actor, would be to be a writer, because I didn’t feel I had the acumen.
Did someone approach you?
No, no. My four-year-old daughter, Annie, was in her room. I was in my office down the hall. She marched into my room and stomped her feet and put her hands on her hips and looked at me and went, “When I was little I wore a diaper, but now I use a big-girl potty.” I thought, Oh, she was talking about the good old days. She was talking about her past. All of a sudden, I understood she had a past. I wrote down on a yellow pad, “When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old’s Memoir of Her Youth.” I wrote a list of things that she used to not be able to do; now she could. And at the end of it I wrote three things, and I started to cry: “When I was little, I didn’t know what a family was. When I was little, I didn’t know what dreams were. When I was little, I didn’t know who I was. But now I do.” I realized, Oh, this is a book for children.
I sent it to my mother-in-law’s best friend, a literary agent in New York City named Phyllis Wender. I remember sending it when faxes were new. She sold it that day, to HarperCollins, which was called Harper & Row at the time.
How did you come up with the idea for your last one, “Me, Myselfie & I”?
It was originally titled “Mommy Got a Selfie Stick.” When I was selling it, they thought it meant a vibrator! So we changed it. But it was a cautionary tale about this obsession with ourselves and narcissism and how we are teaching children that it’s all about them and what they look like. And the constant, constant need of self-photography. Like, what are we doing? This is insane.
You’ve been married to Christopher Guest for decades now.
Well, thirty-five [years] and about a month.
How did you meet?
It’s a good story. It was 1984. I was just cast in the movie “Perfect.” I was in L.A. I was doing a lot of aerobics. My friend Debra Hill, who wrote “Halloween,” was sitting on my couch in my apartment in West Hollywood, where I lived with Bette Davis.
It’s all coming full circle.
We opened Rolling Stone, the issue with Cyndi Lauper on the cover. There’s a picture of three guys in plaid shirts, sleeves rolled up, regular-looking dudes. I said to Debra, “Oh, I’m going to marry that guy.” She said, “I tried to put him in a movie. His name is Chris Guest.” I turned the page, and it was them as their Spinal Tap characters. She said, “He’s with your agency.” The next day, I called the agency. They said, “I know all about it. Chris Guest.”
Debra had called already?
I said, “Oh, I’m mortified. Here’s my number. I think he’s cute. I’m single.” Done. Never heard from him! Ever. He didn’t call me. Time went on.
Melanie Griffith and Steven Bauer were living in West Hollywood at the time—we had become friends on a TV movie. We went to Hugo’s restaurant, in West Hollywood. We sat down at a table, and when I looked up, two tables away was Christopher, facing me. He raised his hand to gesture, like, Hi, you called me. And I gestured silently, with my hand, Hi, I called you.
Five minutes later, Chris got up to leave, shrugged his shoulders, and put his hand up again to say goodbye, and I shrugged my shoulders and waved goodbye—didn’t say a word to each other. He laughed. And he called me the next day. That was June 28th. We went out July 2nd for our first date, and he was leaving to go do “Saturday Night Live” for one year on August 8th. He did try to get out of his contract. I didn’t know that then, but he did. They did not let him out of his contract. He went to New York. I was in L.A., and we went back and forth every weekend. We got engaged in September, and we got married in December of that year.
Did you ever have any inclination to do his style of comedy?
I can’t make up anything. The only line I’ve ever made up in my life ended up in “Freaky Friday,” where I told Lindsay [Lohan] to make good choices. I could never improvise comedically. I’m jaw-dropped by what they are able to do. So, no, I don’t think we’ll ever work together.
Are there any roles that you’ve done that you think are unsung, that no one asks you about?
Please. You know what? I get so much effing attention, which is just obscene, really. I’ve been doing this for a long, long time, and I’ve been successful at it since I was nineteen. There’s not a day I don’t walk down the street and somebody goes, “Hey, I love you. You’re fantastic.” And I appreciate it. I get it. It’s been my gig. I don’t need any more attention.
If you're an Agatha Christie fan, a fan of whodunnits, or simply just a fan of great movies then head for your local cinema next week. Knives Out is coming.
On first introductions, the Thrombey dynasty seems a plausibly amiable bunch reeling from the very sudden passing of their patriarch Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer).
Trumping all their grief however is Marta (Ana de Armas), Harlan Thrombey's loyal nurse.
Marta knows far more of the family's secrets and lies than they could ever imagine - but is she guarding a secret bigger than all of them?
The one man who may have the skills and intuition to unravel it all is Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig). The mysterious and very famous investigator turns up on the doorstep, paid by who knows who to find out who did what and why to Harlan Thrombey.
It's here I must resort to wild and sweeping generalisations and perhaps even the odd red herring, so determined am I to avoid even the slightest and most delicate of hints to the narrative. It's imperative you enjoy this film knowing nothing more than the barest of facts and fiction.
The brilliant thing about this gem of a whodunnit is how pleasing the reach of this crowdpleaser is.
This is not your average A.B.C Murder She Wrote on the Orient Express kind of rehash, the audience for this is an all-ages all strokes and folks kind of affair, honouring the classics by simply becoming one itself.
The cast, their script, the wild and wonderful twists and turns of this finely-tuned and expertly executed plot, it's just all such an enormous ingenious unguessable giggle and I simply cannot wait to watch it again.
Five big fat stars.
Count Lionsgate/MRC’s Knives Out among the strong wave of paid previews of late at the box office. The Rian Johnson-directed ensemble pic grossed $2M from 936 major and regional theaters over Friday and Saturday 7PM shows. These early paid previews indicate, seriously, early interest in a movie more than when a studio screens a pic for free and feasibly fills up seats in advance of its opening.
Knives Out starts previews again on Tuesday and opens Wednesday in 3,300 theaters with an anticipated $20M+ start over the 5-day stretch. Rivals anticipate even more off the pic’s 96% certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score. Who doesn’t star in this movie? Who does star is Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Christopher Plummer, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford and Jaeden Martell. Pic revolves around Plummer’s character who is found dead after his 85th birthday. As his heirs swirls his estate, the inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) tries to find out who killed him.
"Across the US this Friday and Saturday, movie-going friends and families packed AMC Theatres for early screenings of Knives Out,” said Elizabeth Frank, executive VP of Worldwide Programming and Chief Content Officer for AMC Theatres. “Social media buzz makes it clear this will be a holiday hit.”
AMC was just one of the exhibition partners participating in the early access sneak program.
Other wide recent paid previews of late include Warner Bros.’ Fandango preview screening back in March at 1,200, which made $3.3M, DreamWorks Animation-Fandango preview of How to Train Your Dragon 3 ($2.6M) earlier this year, Atom & Amazon’s WB preview of Aquaman ($2.9M), Atom/Amazon’s previews of Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle ($1.8M) and Hotel Transylvania 3 ($1.3M) and Warner Bros. 100 Dolby+500 premium Tuesday-Wednesday previews of A Star Is Born, which made $1.35M before its start. Some studios also do these paid previews in a limited amount of theaters, i.e. Rocketman grossed $580K before its official Thursday previews.
اجتمع المنتج جمال سنان - Eagle Films بالنجم العالمي ميل غيبسون والنجم العالمي فرانك غريللو والمخرج جو كارناهان، في لوس أنجلوس الأسبوع الماضي، حيث اتفق سنان مع غيبسون على الانطلاق بالتحضيرات لتصوير فيلم Leo From Toledo، حيث ستشارك شركة Eagle Films بإنتاجه كما توزيعه حصرياً في الشرق الأوسط.
الفيلم يحكي قصة قاتل هارب يلتجئ لحماية أحد الشهود على جريمته ويواجه مصاعب كثيرة، يتشارك فيه غيبسون البطولة مع فرانك غريللو تحت إدارة كارناهان وتأليف دان كاسي، وسيتم تصويره قريباً، على أن يبصر النور في الـ2020
When Scarlett Johansson
first sees Chris Evans at our
photo shoot, she lets out a
shriek of joy. It’s as if she’s
spotted a long-lost relative,
and, in a way, she has —
Johansson and Evans first
met in their late teens on the
comedy “The Perfect Score,”
played a romantic duet in
“The Nanny Diaries” and went
on to land lead roles in the
Marvel Cinematic Universe,
which reached a crescendo
this past spring with “Avengers:
Endgame.” This winter, both
successfully pivot away from
superheroics: Johansson plays
an actor suffering through
a difficult divorce in Noah
Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,”
and a mother in Holocaust
Germany in Taika Waititi’s
satirical “Jojo Rabbit.” Evans,
far from the virtuous Captain
America, is the snobbish
grandson of a famous novelist
in Rian Johnson’s tantalizing
murder mystery “Knives Out.”
CHRIS EVANS: I just did see “Marriage
Story,” and it’s phenomenal.
I’ll be shocked if you’re not showered
with awards, but what made
you want to tell that story? It’s
heavy. It’s dark.
Probably 10 years ago, Noah and
I tried to work on something else
together. We kind of developed for
a little bit, and then it didn’t end
up being right, and by the time it
was ready to shoot, I was kind of
past it. It wasn’t the right fit.
I’m sure you’ve probably had
that experience before, where you
feel like maybe something didn’t
work out professionally and
you’re like: “Well, there goes that
relationship.” That’s never happened
JOHANSSON: Yeah, right. I was so
surprised when he called me years
later to meet and talk about something.
It totally came out of the
blue. I met with him in New York,
and it was like no time had passed
at all. We kind of shifted right into
this moment where he pitched me
this story a little bit, and I myself
was actually in the middle of going
through a divorce. It was such a
EVANS: How much of the script
was on the page already prior to
JOHANSSON: It was nothing. It
was just a concept.
EVANS: Wow! Did you have input?
Because one of the things that is
so tragic about it is that, when you
think of a divorce story, you imagine
much more about contentious,
prickly, almost enemies. But a lot
of the movie, there’s two people
trying to make it work.
JOHANSSON: When I received
the script, we’d spoken so much
about our relationships — and
what it was like to be single parents,
and our families — and all of
that stuff kind of made it in there.
It’s complicated, right?
EVANS: It’s heartbreaking.
JOHANSSON: I know even when
we were doing all of the “Endgame”
and “Infinity War” stuff, you were
prepping for “Knives Out” already.
EVANS: Yeah. We were doing the
reshoots for those last couple of
bits. I don’t know if you were there.
You were so in and out, because
you died. If you haven’t seen it —
JOHANSSON: Maybe too bad! I
was talking to Noah while we were
doing “Infinity War” and “Endgame”
stuff. It was something for
me to hold on to during those
often tedious days of whatever. All
that action storytelling that we
have to do where you have to be in
it for these little segments of time.
EVANS: There’s a lot of things
about those movies where it’s not
just the actual filmmaking process.
It’s very start, stop, start, stop with
little bits and pieces of the action.
Plus, it’s roles that we’ve played for
a really long time, really familiar.
No disrespect to those movies — I
love those movies — but to come
off of them and have a completely
different approach to find a character,
to collaborating with other
artists, it’s just unchartered waters
coming off a Marvel movie. It’s just
exciting to get a change of pace.
JOHANSSON: How does it work
EVANS: He’s wonderful. He knows
what he wants. I love the idea of
writer-director combos, because
when a bunch of people read one
piece of material, we all have a
subjective opinion on what to interpret.
When you have a writer-director,
they can say: “No, this is exactly
what I meant.” Rian is very task
attuned. Two takes and you’re done.
EVANS: Which, as an actor, you’re
terrified, because if you give me 50
takes, I’ll take them.
JOHANSSON: How come you
don’t ask for more?
EVANS: It takes me a couple of
days to get comfortable on set
to do that. Because if you ask for
more, and they don’t get better, it’s
going to be harder to ask for more
in the future.
JOHANSSON: That’s a funny way
of looking at it.
EVANS: Yeah. It’s a really insecure,
egoic way of looking at it.
JOHANSSON: I feel if you have
an idea for something, and this is
probably good advice for actors
that are kind of coming up or
starting out in film, you should
ask for another take. Or you feel
maybe you have something else
in you that you’re curious about,
you should ask for another take
because it will haunt you forever.
JOHANSSON: Noah is in stark
contrast to Rian. He’s relentless,
and you can do 50 takes. He only
uses one camera, and he’s very
specific about the words are the
words. Every hesitation, every
unfinished sentence, everyone
talking over one another is all
EVANS: Nothing is improvised in
JOHANSSON: Not a single word.
EVANS: You guys both need
Oscars, because I was like, “Oh, this
is improvised.” It’s like theater.
JOHANSSON: It totally was like
theater. I wanted to ask you about
your experience in theater too,
because you’re so good.
EVANS: It’s like you’re my only
actor friend that actually came
to see the play [2018’s Broadway
revival of “Lobby Hero”].
JOHANSSON: They paid me.
JOHANSSON: Were you nervous
before you did it?
EVANS: Terrified. After a while,
the process of filmmaking does get
stale. You just want to try and find
a new way into what has become
very familiar. I think what I was
hunting for was that prolonged
period of time within a scene,
thinking it would allow this liberation.
It couldn’t have been more to
the contrary. When you’re onstage
it’s just like, “Man!” — because you
have so much to remember.
JOHANSSON: I didn’t feel that
way watching you though.
EVANS: Original content, it’s not
there very often. That is one of the
best things about “Knives Out.” It
was something that I read that felt
fresh and new. I think this weird
chicken-and-the-egg thing, who
started it? Did audiences only start
going to lowbrow stuff, so that’s
what we started making? Or is
it that we made it first, and now
that’s all we’re offered?
JOHANSSON: Hey, speak for yourself.
It’s interesting, because a couple
of people in the past couple of
days have mentioned to me that
a couple of extremely esteemed
directors have been really vocal
When Scarlett Johansson
first sees Chris Evans at our
photo shoot, she lets out a
shriek of joy. It’s as if she’s
spotted a long-lost relative,
and, in a way, she has —
Johansson and Evans first
met in their late teens on the
comedy “The Perfect Score,”
played a romantic duet in
“The Nanny Diaries” and went
on to land lead roles in the
Marvel Cinematic Universe,
which reached a crescendo
this past spring with “Avengers:
Endgame.” This winter, both
successfully pivot away from
superheroics: Johansson plays
an actor suffering through
a difficult divorce in Noah
Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,”
and a mother in Holocaust
Germany in Taika Waititi’s
satirical “Jojo Rabbit.” Evans,
far from the virtuous Captain
America, is the snobbish
grandson of a famous novelist
in Rian Johnson’s tantalizing
murder mystery “Knives Out.”
Actors on Actors 71
72 Actors on Actors
Actors on Actors 73
about how the whole Marvel universe
and big blockbusters are
really, like, “despicable” and “the
death of cinema.” At first I thought
that seems kind of old-fashioned,
and somebody had to explain to
me, because it seemed so disappointing
and sad in a way. They
said, “I think what these people are
saying is that at the actual theater,
there’s not a lot of room for different
kinds of movies, or smaller
movies, because the theater is
taken up by huge blockbusters.”
It made me think about how
people consume content now,
and how there’s been this huge
sea change with their viewing
EVANS: I think original content
inspires creative content. I think
new stuff is what keeps the creative
wheel rolling. I just believe
there’s room at the table for all of
it. It’s like saying a certain type of
music isn’t music. Who are you to
JOHANSSON: What are you looking
EVANS: Every couple of months,
I decide I’m done acting. This has
been my thing for decades now.
I’m always looking for a way out,
but I do love it. I think TV right
now, those creative minds are
given a bit more freedom. It feels
like movies sometimes get inundated
with studio notes, and all of
a sudden, what was once an original
idea becomes boiled down to
the lowest common denominator,
and then you have no one’s favorite
movie but everyone’s lukewarm
movie. I think that’s why people
may be turning away, and looking
to things like streaming service
shows that actually are innovative.
JOHANSSON: When I read the
script for “Jojo Rabbit,” I had never
seen anything like it before. But
that film found its way through
Fox Searchlight. That studio
doesn’t shy away from stuff that’s
subversive, and they’re happy to
give it a theatrical release. There’s
room for independent film for
sure. I think people want diversity.
They want to see different things.
What I’m actually curious
about: You’re kind of looking at it
as a director, if there’s something
that continues to interest you?
Where is your head with that stuff?
EVANS: I’m trying to direct, but
I don’t have the courage or focus
to write. The hardest thing is finding
material. The good material
isn’t just sitting there untouched.
It’s tough to find. When I directed,
one of the tricky things was, I
found some little broken-bird
script, and I thought, “Oh, I can
nurse this thing back to health.” In
retrospect, I do think even the best
version of the movie I directed,
there may have been a ceiling
based on the material. If it’s not
on the page, I may have been —
I don’t want to say naive — hopeful
that we could elevate it beyond
what the potential seemed to be.
You know what I’m curious
about? Scarlett, what was it like
meeting for the first time? What’s it
been like working with me? Be nice.
JOHANSSON: I’m trying to
remember. It must have been on
the set of “The Perfect Score” at
some point in our rehearsal. We
had a very at the time in-the-moment
teen comedy, that actually
now is somehow maybe relevant
— about an SAT scandal.
EVANS: It was almost 20 years ago.
JOHANSSON: Yeah, it feels like a
long time ago. We were just children
EVANS: I think we all went out
one night, and you couldn’t get in
JOHANSSON: Because I was 17.
Yup, those were the days. You’ve
always been such a great actor. You
were great then, and so incredibly
photogenic, and you just came
alive on screen in a way that’s
very uncommon. It was so nice to
work with you, because I felt we
had great chemistry as actors, and
there was a naturalistic approach
that I felt. Then we also got to work
together on “The Nanny Diaries.”
EVANS: Having “Avengers” be the
biggest movie of all time —
JOHANSSON: Is it the biggest
movie of all time? Wow. We really
do need to go on vacation.
EVANS: We’ve been trying to organize
this “Avengers” vacation. We
deserve a little victory lap. It’s not
just wonderful because you get to
be a part of a pop culture phenomenon,
the same way “Star Wars”
impacted me. But I think what
really will stay with me is the fact
that the people we got to work
with, truly there is not a bad apple
in the bunch.
JOHANSSON: It’s funny, because
I remember back in “Iron Man 2”
days, I think you had just finished
filming the first “Cap.” It was so
interesting that you and I were
coming together again. We had
no idea what we were making. It
was just impossible to know what
a phenomenon the Marvel Cinematic
Universe or “The Avengers”
would be. You jump at the chance,
but having been through it myself
with a partner that I was with,
who also had another big iconic
superhero thing he was working
on, it’s the pressure. You don’t
know how it’s going to go, right? It
seems ridiculous now, but it could
EVANS: Yeah. I feel unbelievably
lucky to have been a part of something
like that. It will be one of my
treasured memories of life. Even
when we went on to do “Avengers,”
the first one, I think everybody
was feeling very uneasy about the
concept. It was just so absurd. It
was a big endeavor. If this doesn’t
work, the pipe dream that we’ve
been hearing about could derail
JOHANSSON: Were you shocked
by how well the first “Avengers” did?
EVANS: After that, I knew there
was a chance this could be something
JOHANSSON: Would you come
EVANS: To Marvel? Wow. Everything
clicks when I get up. Recovery
is not the same. You never say never.
I love the character. I don’t know.
JOHANSSON: Not a hard no.
EVANS: It’s not a hard no, but it’s
not an eager yes either. There
are other things that I’m working
on right now. I think Cap
had such a tricky act to stick the
landing, and I think they did a
really nice job letting him complete
his journey. If you’re going
to revisit it, it can’t be a cash grab.
It can’t be just because the audience
wants to be excited. What are
we revealing? What are we adding
to the story? A lot of things would
have to come together.
JOHANSSON: It’s not obvious.
EVANS: It doesn’t feel, at this
time, that would be a thing.
JOHANSSON: I wasn’t there for
the last third of the film or whatever.
I actually had no idea what
was going to happen. I don’t know
how it worked, exactly, if it was
scripted. It was such a beautiful
cathartic ending, and I loved that
for Steve. I think he deserved that.
It was all his happiness.
EVANS: It’d be a shame to sour
that. I’m very protective of it. It
was such a precious time, and
jumping onto the movie was a
terrifying prospect to me. I said
no a bunch of times, and there’s
a million and one ways it could
have gone wrong. It almost feels
like maybe we should let this
“ M O V I E S G E T I N U N D AT E D
W I T H S T U D I O N O T E S ,
A N D W H AT WA S A N
O R I G I N A L I D E A
B E C O M E S B O I L E D D O W N
T O T H E L O W E S T C O M M O N
D E N O M I N AT O R .”
Charlize Theron enters this year’s Oscar race with “Bombshell,” a docudrama
about the sexual harassment scandal at Fox News. Theron plays a morally complicated
Megyn Kelly, suffering the personal consequences of becoming the news. Adam Driver
has as complex a claim to our loyalties in “Marriage Story,” in which his character,
Charlie, is forced to negotiate a divorce with an actor (Scarlett Johansson) whose
viewpoint audience members will sometimes support and sometimes oppose.
CHARLIZE THERON: I don’t
know Noah Baumbach’s writing
process, but I feel like he has ideas
in his head, and they’re there kind
of permeating for a long period.
Did he bring up the idea of “Marriage
Story” to you?
ADAM DRIVER: We’d been
talking about “What are we going
to do next?” for a while. But he
had already been taking notes on
this. And we talked about making
a “Company” movie — would
that work? Because it is kind of an
abstract musical, maybe you could
make it very cinematic. And the
more we’d just start talking about
it, the more I’m like, “We should do
that.” And then he started meeting
with me. It turned into a very
organic thing. I think the good
thing about working with friends is
you get things out of the way faster.
THERON: It’s like an unspoken
DRIVER: There’s no worry about
“Does this person like me? Am
I giving them what they want?”
I know — not exactly what he’s
going for — but I know what the
THERON: This is a very personal
story for Noah, right?
DRIVER: It is, but it’s kind of a
personal thing for everybody.
Everybody brought their history
to it. I think that’s where it kind of
started, and evolved into this thing
where it was easy for everyone to
make it as personal as possible.
THERON: Is your process always
the same? Is the material informing
you, or do you just rely fully on
your director? What was that process
like to find this character?
DRIVER: Well, for this, it’s so much
in the script. And because we had
been talking about it for so long —
I always feel like sometimes you
start a movie, and it’s not until you
put on a costume, or you’re a week
into shooting already, and you’re
like, “OK, now I know what I want
to do.” But because we had been
working on it for so long, day one I
felt everyone had a sense of what it
was that we wanted to do. I already
know with Noah: It is very much
like theater, that the script isn’t
changing. But he has designed the
schedule to give us a lot of takes
and a lot of different ways, because
I know there’s no right way to do
THERON: So you do a lot of takes?
He loves to do a lot of takes?
DRIVER: Yeah, as do I. I love it
because it’s like a whole theater
run condensed into a day.
THERON: Do you feel like every
take, just a part of it changes?
DRIVER: It’s hard to say. I’m not
always the best judge of that,
because I think I would have
changed something and it’s been
like tectonic shifts. But it’s in
degrees. Sometimes we just do one
because we know this is not right,
but maybe it’ll open something
else up that we hadn’t thought
about. And I think you can only
really do that with good writing,
too, because good writing is so rich
and it does open your imagination.
If it’s bad writing, it’s that way.
THERON: Somebody said the
other day, “That’s when actors act.”
When the writing is bad, that’s
when actors act. But good writing
can also inspire other things
to kind of come out. Does that
happen? Is that allowed?
DRIVER: We’re militant with
what the lines are, but intention is
THERON: Because there were
these amazing moments where
I felt like you and Scarlett were
finding thoughts and arguments.
And I could see you guys finding
it, which is crazy to think, because
I’m like, “They’ve had this material.
They’ve studied it; they’ve
worked with this.” And yet you
guys are doing it in a way where
it feels like I can see you coming
to the conclusion, or the argument,
or the point, which is so
DRIVER: I lucked out on a scene
partner. And Noah is giving us
a note, or he’ll give her a note
that he doesn’t tell me — or the
Actors on Actors 91
opposite — that we get to do, that
when you really trust the people
that you are working with, and
the day is organized to help you,
because as you know, nothing is
really set to help you on a film set.
Nothing is in place to help you do
THERON: You have a moment
with Scarlett — it’s gut-wrenching.
You say that you’ve imagined
her getting an illness, and then she
dies. And in that moment, which
is so raw, because it’s completely
relatable — we can all relate to
that, right? And the shame after
we say that. But in that moment,
I literally in seconds experienced
hating you, loathing you. And by
the time you’re down on your
knees crying, so connected to you.
Is there a part of you as an actor
that worries sometimes, where you
go, “Is this a moment where somebody’s
going to emotionally tap
out if I say this?” Or do you look at
that as a moment of challenge?
DRIVER: Loyalty and switching
allegiance as an audience is something
that Noah and I had talked
about, that he had brought up: “I
really always wanted to make a
movie where your loyalty really
switches, where you’re with Scarlett
for the first half and you hate
that character, and then suddenly
you actually start to meet Charlie
and have it different.” It’s either
truthful, which is not for me to say,
and if it’s not, then it was unsuccessful.
But being liked is something
I don’t think about, or I
try not to. Do you put characters
away while you’re making them
or immediately after it’s over? Or
does it still live in you for a while?
THERON: It was hard. It definitely
took discipline for me to get to
that place. But I feel like now I’ve
kind of perfected it. And I do it for
many reasons. I do it because if
I stay in it for too long, I become
incredibly exhausted — emotionally
exhausted. That process is
very hard for me. … I’m not walking
around being Megyn Kelly, or
Aileen Wuornos, or any of the characters
that I’ve played before. I can
switch that off. And I can do it in
between too. I don’t speak in the
voice the whole time. I know I’m
emotionally much braver when I
don’t overthink it and I come from
a place that’s a little bit more raw.
DRIVER: Yeah. And speaking of
likability, did that come into your
thoughts at all?
THERON: I mean, I’ve built a
career on playing people that you
DRIVER: It’s not even an idea that
makes sense to me.
THERON: For me, it’s a very personal
connection that I have to
find with the person that I’m playing,
that has to make sense. I have
to get to a place where I can actually
say to myself, “This makes
sense to me. I relate. I understand.”
Megyn Kelly can be incredibly
polarizing. There are things about
her that live in the extreme. People
either love her or they hate her.
And she makes no excuses for that.
And so, those are the rules that are
handed to me. I have to obey those
rules. I have to listen to what she’s
saying. There’s a part of her that is
so amplified — she comes across
really abrasive sometimes, and
somewhat aggressive and cold. All
of these things that are not necessarily
qualities that make you
want to hug a person.
But I would be lying if I didn’t
say that I can relate to being a
woman on a different degree,
experiencing those same thoughts
about me. I have heard people
describe me as cold, or hard, or
a bitch. You know what I mean?
I can always find that thing that
might not be so attractive and
bring it back to just human circumstance.
That’s a human that I
know. The perfect stuff is hard for
me to relate to.
DRIVER: That’s one of my favorite
things about other actors, or
being an actor, is it forces you to be
empathetic. It forces you to exercise
that muscle in a way that I
think most jobs don’t ask you to.
THERON: Completely. And just
when you think you have it down,
the universe will kind of remind
you that you need to work harder
at that. And so this was definitely
a reminder for me, at this part of
my career, of just going like, “That
muscle needs to be worked a little
harder.” Megyn Kelly made it really
challenging for me.
The Costume Designers Guild announced Wednesday that Academy Award-winner Charlize Theron will be honored with the spotlight award.
The Spotlight Award honors an actor whose talent and career personify an enduring commitment to excellence, including a special awareness of the role and importance of costume design. “Charlize Theron is a costume designer’s dream, bringing integrity and style to every character she embodies, including her roles in ‘Long Shot’ and ‘Bombshell’ this year,” said the Guild in a statement.
Also at this year’s ceremony, Adam McKay will be the recipient of the collaborator award, while former owner of Bill Hargate Costumes, Mary Ellen Fields, will receive the service award.
McKay joins Ryan Murphy, Meryl Streep and Quentin Tarantino as recipients of the collaborator award. The award honors individuals who demonstrate unwavering support of costume design and creative partnerships with costume designers.
Mary Ellen Fields began her career constructing costumes for a local college. She eventually moved to Los Angeles, where she met Bill Hargate, assuming the role of manager at Bill Hargate Costumes. Over the years, they built a team of cutters and stitchers, building a loyal group of designers from both the world of TV and film.
Fields will receive the 2020 distinguished service award which honors individuals whose specialties and talents contribute to the craft and art of costume design.
Theron, McKay and Fields will join Michael Kaplan, who as previously announced, will receive this year’s career achievement award from J.J. Abrams. The nominees for the 22nd CDGA will be announced on Dec. 10.
The 22nd Annual Costume Designer Guild Awards will be held on Jan. 28 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The James Bond actor on his new comedy Knives Out, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the problem with social media, and why he’s not grumpy
Daniel Craig is happy to break out of his 007 straitjacket
Watching the detective: Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc in Knives Out
Daniel Craig is in an ebullient mood, despite being frantic with the making of the heavily scrutinised next James Bond film. The latest global romp will be called No Time to Die. “Oh, that’s the title, yes,” he laughs, brain frazzled, when reminded. He’s a blast of conversation from the start. It will be released in April. So what is the most interesting thing the actor can say, right now, about his fifth and final outing as the world’s randiest spy?
“Well, I’d like to give you a breakdown of my week, but people would just think I was complaining,” he explains, his voice gruff and loud, a man you could understand perfectly in a packed bar. “But every day has an intensity to it. We’re trying to make the best f****** Bond movie we can. Pulling out all the stops. If we aim for the stars, we might hit the treetops.” He pauses, briefly. “The most interesting thing? Yesterday I was up to my neck in water for 12 hours.”
He talks quickly. This is his first big interview in years, and there is a lot to cover. Honest and funny, he is a man so confident in his own skin that he never does what most of his peers do, which is to think before answering a question. It is a thrill: thoughts burst out that lead to a random unpacking of his brain. He isn’t meant to be like this. In person he scowls, he has played history’s most furious Bond for more than a decade and more than once has been snapped by paps sticking up his middle finger. Such are the reasons Craig has a reputation for putting up barriers in front of barriers, for being a bit of a grump.
Is that fair? “Probably,” he replies. “But then I don’t do much to dispel it, because I’d just be chasing my tail to prove that I’m not the person people think I am. You know, I probably don’t have a particularly good public persona. Some do. Some can go on talk shows and tell stories, but I’m just not wired that way. I don’t know what to say. I can try, but people would go, ‘What’s he doing?’ They’d go, ‘Where is the grumpy f*****?’”
“But I’m not grumpy,” he continues, with a booming laugh. “Genuinely, I’m not. I hope you can tell. I love what I do. I love this business, and I don’t mind talking to journalists. I mean, I don’t love it. Yet I don’t mind talking about stuff I love. That’s easy. But I just grew up in an era when, if you were trying to be an artist, you didn’t look for approval. You didn’t look for likes. You just did your thing. And this? This is what I do. Who am I personally? It has nothing to do with anybody, except for the people in my life.”
So what changed? When did people start to care what others thought? “It’s social media,” he says, spitting the words out. “There is a constant looking, in life, for approval, and it really jars with me. But I’m a 51-year-old man. Nobody listens to me. Or they will stop listening to me sooner rather than later, so it doesn’t really matter what I think. But I grew up when punk rock was on the scene. You want approval? That’s anathema to me. It doesn’t make any sense to me — in art. It’s anti-art. It’s anti-creativity.”
In Craig’s new brainy ride of a film, Knives Out, his character, a suave and tweedy detective from Louisiana called Benoit Blanc, gets lines such as “Nazi child masturbating in the bathroom”. He just doesn’t get to say that as Bond, and this is him letting off steam after the relative creative straitjacket of that role. It is a liberation. Knives Out takes place in a mansion where the patriarch of a ghastly family has been murdered, and Craig must figure out whodunnit. Think a star-studded Miss Marple with Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer and Toni Collette, masterfully plotted and directed with cool pizzazz by Rian Johnson. It is as much fun as you will have in the cinema this year.
Why, then, has it taken Craig so long to do something funny? “Well, nobody offers me parts like this,” he roars. It is a claim that his CV supports. Steven Soderbergh’s absurd 2017 crime caper Logan Lucky aside, this is his first big comedic role. “Believe me, if I’d been offered parts like this in the past 15 years, I would have done them.” (He says all this while cackling.) “I’ve been begging for people to offer me roles like this, but nobody seems to think I can do shit like this. I’ve been playing James Bond for 15 years and people go, ‘Oh, he’s that guy.’ But I’m not that guy. I’m lots of people.”
In fairness, during the first six years of Craig being Bond, he made eight films outside the franchise, whereas in the next nine he made only three, Knives Out included. Maybe directors thought he had lost interest.
“No,” says Craig. “Rather, by the time I’m finished with [a Bond film], I just need a break, and I’m very much about being at home.” His wife, Rachel Weisz, gave birth to their first child last year; the family are based in New York. “This may be hard to believe,” Craig continues, “but I love the fact I’m Bond. We’re in rare air, making Bond movies. It is one of the most intense, fulfilling things I’ve ever done, but it takes a lot of energy and I’m getting old. I’m getting creaky. And so what I do outside of that has got to be really good.”
Also in Knives Out, and stepping away from another iconic role, is Captain America, Chris Evans. “He brought his shield in,” Craig says. Of course he did. “No, he didn’t. I brought my Walther in. No, I didn’t.” I read that when Craig puts on an accent, as in Knives Out, he keeps it when off set. “I don’t know where you heard that,” he scoffs. So it isn’t a weird tic of his? “Weird tic? I’ve got loads of those, but that’s not one of them.”
I tell him I laughed at the big chair in the film that looks like the Iron Throne. “What?” As in Game of Thrones? It was a great pop culture moment; Bond in Westeros. Has he seen the show? “Not an episode, mate. No idea. Wild f****** horses couldn’t drag me [to that].”
Johnson says he and Craig had a “total blast”, and I totally believe him. “One of my favourite things is to give an actor something I haven’t seen them do before,” says the director over email. “Daniel has a great sense of humour, and I knew he would have fun letting loose. We’d laugh our asses off. It felt like we were two kids playing, seeing how far we could push it.”
Despite the frivolity, Knives Out also has a political edge. Weighty themes kick in during a second half in which the white American family Benoit is investigating fear they are going to lose their inheritance money to an immigrant nurse — “Allegories!” Craig barks enthusiastically — and so they gang up to make her a scapegoat.
Did the actor talk to Johnson about what his film was trying to say? “It’s very obvious to me,” he says, even blunter than usual. “I didn’t need a lot of discussion, but it was another reason to do the film. I mean, I love big popcorn movies, nothing gets me more. But there has to be a touch of reality. I want the audience to be plugged into something. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fun watch, but there is a heartbeat and a message, and that makes it richer.”
It is clearly pro-immigration. There are lines about children in cages. Is he worried certain viewers on the political spectrum will feel lectured to? “I’m not responsible for their reaction. I can’t go through life worrying what everybody thinks because I’d get nowhere,” he says. “The message is one of humanity. That’s all. I’m not planting a political flag by doing a film about nasty people and lovely people. It’s just storytelling. I know where you’re going, but do we have to ask that question about every movie we make now? Really?” OK, but ... “Do I believe in the politics of the movie? Yes. Otherwise I wouldn’t do it.”
I ask if he is happy to talk about the notoriously secret new Bond. “Yeah, yeah,” he replies. First, forget that daft misreading of an interview Craig did in 2015, in which he apparently said he would rather slash his wrists than make another 007 film. What he actually said was: “Now? I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists. No, not at the moment.” He was always contracted to make No Time to Die, and all he meant was that he wanted a break. Now he has had one, and so, after Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre, we get to see him put on the DJ again.
The big news this time is that Phoebe Waller-Bridge has a writing credit. Was it his idea to get her in? “Yeah.” What will she bring to Bond? “You’ll have to wait and see!” he shouts, before laughing. “But she’s just brilliant. I had my eye on her ever since the first Fleabag [TV series], and then I saw Killing Eve and what she did with that and just wanted her voice. It is so unique — we are very privileged to have her on board.”
When I met Craig in 2014, for Spectre, we talked about misogyny in Bond, and the actor said he was pleased that, by casting Monica Bellucci as 007’s similarly aged lover in the film, a dialogue had been started about sexism, wage disparities and similar issues. Waller-Bridge is only the second woman to have a writing credit during the franchise’s 57-year history, after Johanna Harwood on Dr No and From Russia with Love. A cynic might suggest the new recruit has been chosen to help the film look more representative.
“Well, I think Phoebe coming on...” Craig begins. “She has been asked many times about what she is going to do, and her answer is that we’re not really going to change anything. He’s James Bond. But, of course, it’s a different angle to come at ...”
He stops and draws breath.
“Look, we’re having a conversation about Phoebe’s gender here, which is f****** ridiculous. She’s a great writer. Why shouldn’t we get Phoebe onto Bond? That’s the answer to that. I know where you’re going, but I don’t actually want to have that conversation. I know what you’re trying to do, but it’s wrong. It’s absolutely wrong. She’s a f****** great writer. One of the best English writers around. I said, ‘Can we get her on the film?’ That’s where I came from.”
It was then that I realised the more Craig shouts at you, the better things are going. He enjoys this sort of debate and, by virtue of the energetic rate he punches out words, nothing comes across as rude as it seems on the page. He is, instead, brusque and open. Just a really big fan of ironing things out and, like a friend in a pub during a fourth pint argument, any bad blood will be forgotten by the journey home.
He is, in other words, extremely content. A man at the stratospheric stage of his career. He knows he is privileged. When he was at drama school, someone from the Inland Revenue came to talk to the young, optimistic actors about PAYE and self-employment. “He looked at me and said, ‘You do realise 90% of you are not going to work?’” the millionaire remembers, decades on.
“That was the deal but, because of that threat, you do anything, because you’re desperate — and I still feel like that. I feel I’ve only scratched the surface with acting. I want to be better. I’ll never conquer it, because I don’t think anyone ever does, but I definitely want to try and keep on getting better at it.”
It’s easy to forget what a versatile and, indeed, subtle actor Craig has been on both stage and screen. In 1993, he made his theatre debut as the conflicted legal cleric Joe in Angels in America at the National Theatre, while 1996 saw his hugely popular role as Geordie in the television series Our Friends in the North. On the big screen, he has been even more diverse, taking on challenging work such as playing the younger lover of ageing May in The Mother, and a man being stalked in Enduring Love.
Now Craig is letting loose. In Logan Lucky, he dyed his hair blond and put on a weird American accent as the crook Joe Bang. In Knives Out, he based Blanc on the eccentric historian Shelby Foote, just because he could.
Is this the oddness he wants for the rest of his career? “I hope so,” he says, still loud, still laughing. I can barely remember speaking to anyone who sounded happier. “Who knows? Maybe nobody will employ me again. I’ve got no serious plans.” Will he return to theatre? “No hard and fast plans, but definitely. The great thing about a play in New York is that I’m at home.”
And, finally, before he heads back to work, what will he miss most about Bond? “I’ll miss my friends,” he says, as quiet as he has been all chat. “I’ve worked with many of these people for 15 years now, and that will be a real jar. I’ll see them again, but this is a special atmosphere, on a Bond set.”
Knives Out is out on November 28
Multiple women broke their non-disclosure agreements with Fox News to tell their stories of sexual harassment (and worse) at the network, and now some of them are coming forward to shed light on that decision.
Breaking the NDAs exposed the women to potential litigation from the company, but ultimately they felt it was more important to expose the toxic atmosphere that filled Fox’s workplace, according to a new report in The Hollywood Reporter.
The women spoke to various people involved with the movie “Bombshell,” which details Fox’s workplace under network head Roger Ailes, a workplace allegedly filled with sexual harassment and worse. The upcoming film stars Charlize Theron (as Megyn Kelly) and Nicole Kidman and documents the series of events at Fox News that led to Gretchen Carlson filing a lawsuit that resulted in the axing of Ailes.
Rudi Bakhtiar was terminated as a correspondent by Fox in 2007. She says that happened after she complained about sexual harassment. “The movie has been very cathartic,” Bakhtiar told The Hollywood Reporter about why she broke her NDA, “I didn’t want to admit to myself how angry I am about what happened. The movie meant that I had to face this.”
Juliette Huddy, a former Fox News anchor who leveled sexual harassment claims and signed an NDA, said she had nothing to lose by talking to filmmakers. Even though she received six figures when leaving the company she says: “I lost my house. My television career combusted, and I couldn’t get a job for over a year. So come after me. I don’t have anything.”
NBCUniversal recently announced that it would release employees who signed nondisclosure agreements relating to sexual harassment. It’s unclear if women who have already broken the NDAs will be legally pursued by the company.
Filmmakers spoke to dozens of people connected to the Carlson incident, including several women bound by NDAs, to gain information on the events leading up to and following Ailes' firing.
Julie Roginsky, who claimed she was overlooked for a co-hosting job after turning down Ailes' sexual advances, is of many former Fox News employees frustrated by her binding agreement. She was not contacted by "Bombshell" filmmakers and felt they had acted unfairly in doing so.
"Nobody reached out to me about this movie, but if they had, I would not have been able to talk to them because I have an NDA," she said. "That allows the moviemakers to take license with our stories. It is frustrating that other people have taken advantage of my silence by creating a character."
Fox says it has cleaned up its act since the mess Ailes and pals left behind, claiming: "Since the 2016 departure of Roger Ailes, Fox News has worked tirelessly to completely change the company culture.”
We are pleased to announce that Samuel L. Jackson and Maggie Q have joined the cast of THE ASSET!
Director: Martin Campbell (The Foreigner, Casino Royale)
Producer: Arthur Sarkissian (Rush Hour franchise)
Writer: Richard Wenk (The Expendables 2, The Equalizer franchise)
Cast: Maggie Q (“Anna”), Michael Keaton (“Rembrandt”), Samuel L. Jackson (“Moody”)
Logline: When her mentor is murdered, a young assassin must track down the killer. In the process she’ll discover the secrets he hid from her concerning her past.
Start Date: January 8, 2020
The film stars Nicole Kidman alongside Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie as women who claim they were sexually harassed by former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes
When Meryl Streep talks, Nicole Kidman listens.
Kidman was honored at the 2019 British GQ Men of the Year Awards in London on Tuesday, where she told Entertainment Tonight how she ended up playing Gretchen Carlson in the upcoming Fox News movie Bombshell.
“I remember Meryl Streep saying to me, when I said, ‘Oh, should I play Gretchen Carlson?’ She was like, ‘Yes, you should.’ So when Meryl says, ‘Yes, you should,’ you do what she says,” Kidman, 52, said.
The film stars Kidman alongside Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie as women who claim they were sexually harassed by former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, played by John Lithgow. Theron plays Megyn Kelly, a former anchor for the network who, along with Carlson, claimed sexual harassment from Ailes during their careers.
RELATED: See Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly and Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson in Bombshell Trailer
Carlson and Kelly’s allegations, along with other women at the network, led to Ailes’ resignation from the company in July 2016. He died almost a year later in May 2017.
Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes was one of the first building steps towards the #MeToo movement that would later become prevalent in the fall of 2017.
“For Margo, Charlize and I, we wanted to be a part of a movement, and that film is a part of a movement,” Kidman told the outlet.
Rounding out the A-list cast of the movie is Allison Janney, Alice Eve, Mark Duplass, Malcolm McDowell, Connie Britton, and Kate McKinnon.
The first teaser trailer for the movie dropped last month, with fans quickly raving over how much Theron transformed into Kelly. Even Kidman was taken aback by Theron’s transformation when she first saw her on set.
RELATED: Twitter Can’t Believe How Much Charlize Theron Looks Like Megyn Kelly in Bombshell: ‘I’m Shook’
“I walked on the set with Charlize and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?'” Kidman recalled. “I was like, shocked. And that was in person, up close. I couldn’t believe it was her.”
The forthcoming film marks the latest of Theron’s transformations for a role. The actress, 44, won an Oscar for her unrecognizable performance as a serial killer in 2003’s Monster, shaved her head in 2012 for Mad Max: Fury Road and gained 50 pounds for 2018’s Tully, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination.
Lionsgate's I Still Believe, also starring Britt Robertson, opens March 20, 2020
By Nigel Smith
KJ Apa movies from Riverdale‘s high school to concert arenas as Christian music mega star Jeremy Camp in his upcoming film I Still Believe — and PEOPLE has an exclusive first look.
The drama comes from the makers of the hit Christian film I Can Only Imagine, based on the story behind the group MercyMe’s song of the same name. Like that film, I Still Believe is a music-based film, telling the true life story of Camp, who lost his wife, Melissa, to ovarian cancer in 2001. The tragedy led him on a spiritual journey, which resulted in four emotional albums. He’s since been nominated for a Grammy Award and multiple American Music Awards.
Apa, 22, says he was drawn to the love story between Camp and Melissa (played by Britt Robertson in the film).
“Their love is seriously put to the test in this movie,” he tells PEOPLE. “I hope after seeing the love between Jeremy and Melissa the audience can sit there and think, ‘Wow, I hope that I can one day be in love like that.’ I mean that’s what I Still Believe is about: it’s about journeying through your biggest fears and disappointments and coming out still believing. I believe that anyone, everyone can relate to this film because it’s a story about love, loss, and hope.”
For the film, Apa, who says he hails from a “really musical household,” does all of his own singing. As he tells PEOPLE, he was “terrified” about that aspect of making the drama, despite occasionally crooning as Archie in Riverdale.
“I’m super uncomfortable when I sing,” he admits. “I went into the studio in Nashville — I did that first before we shot anything — and I think that really gave me perspective on the film. Having that sound and knowing what all that music is going to sound like before you go in is super important. It’s either going to boost your confidence and boost your morale or it’s going to be like, ‘Oh, man, that didn’t go so well, so what are we going to work with?’ Luckily, it couldn’t have gone better. I think people are going to love it.”
The film also stars Shania Twain and Gary Sinise and was directed by Jon and Andrew Erwin.
Lionsgate’s I Still Believe opens March 20, 2020.
“Knives Out,” starring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis and Toni Colette, has been unveiled as the London Film Festival’s Gala movie. Rian Johnson’s whodunit, which also stars Ana De Armas, Katherine Langford and Christopher Plummer, will screen as the fest’s centerpiece American Express Gala film on Oct. 8.
The prestigious slot was taken by “The Favourite” last year. Johnson (“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”) and cast are expected to be in London for “Knives Out’s” European premiere.
The movie comes from Lionsgate and MRC, and pays tribute to mystery mastermind Agatha Christie. Everyone is a suspect after crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Plummer) is found dead. Debonair detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) is enlisted to investigate, sifting through a web of red herrings and self-serving lies to uncover the truth.
“I’m thrilled to be screening ‘Knives Out’ at the BFI London Film Festival,” Johnson said. “This film was an attempt to capture the twisty fun of an Agatha Christie whodunit. It’s a great pleasure to be showing it in the country responsible for the genre’s Golden Age.”
“With ‘Knives Out,’ Rian Johnson has crafted a devilishly clever and wickedly entertaining new crime caper,” said LFF director Tricia Tuttle. “As with his previous work, Johnson brings immense erudition and passion for the conventions of the genre he’s working in, but always makes something entirely his own. This is impeccably designed, with writing that keeps you guessing to the final moments, and his extraordinary cast are at their arch and compelling best.”
“Knives Out” is a T-Street production. Lionsgate is releasing it in the U.K. on Nov. 27.
The 63rd BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express takes place Oct. 2-13.
While John Krasinski is busy at work with the sequel to A Quiet Place, his screenwriting partners on the 2018 horror hit are taking on directorial duties for their next movie, Haunt. Scott Beck and Bryan Woods write and direct the haunted house horror movie, which follows a group of teens as they enter an “extreme” haunted house, only to find out the scares are real. Watch the Haunt trailer below.
Haunted houses are a Halloween ritual for any teen who loves a good scare, but sometimes “there happen to be psychopaths inside,” Beck said to Entertainment Weekly about his and Woods’ upcoming horror flick. Haunt follows a group of teens who find an “extreme” haunted house off the beaten path, and slowly discover that they’re being picked off one by one. Katie Stevens (The Bold Type, Faking It) stars as Haunt’s main protagonist, and presumable final girl, who notices early on that something is up.
“Our main girl is Harper…. is this young woman who’s in this horrifyingly abusive relationship,” Wood told EW. “It all comes to a head on the week leading up to Halloween. The whole idea is, like, Can I just let go, and have a good night, and move past this? All the while, we think that her ex- is following her, stalking her. We’re trying to merge this character story with kind of slasher tropes.”
Produced by Eli Roth, Haunt is a brutal and gory slasher in the vein of recent movies like Hell Fest and Blood Fest, which imagines haunted horror attractions taking a fatal turn. It’s not my cup of tea, but if this very specific genre is up your alley, then Haunt looks like it’s for you.
Here is the synopsis for Haunt:
On Halloween, a group of friends encounter an “extreme” haunted house that promises to feed on their darkest fears. The night turns deadly as they come to the horrifying realization that some monsters are real.
Haunt is released in theaters, on demand, and digital on September 12, 2019.
Lana Del Rey honored Guillermo del Toro during his Walk of Fame induction with a speech on Tuesday (Aug. 6).
“In a culture of sameness, he’s completely himself. And that’s the greatest lesson I get from his tales," Del Rey said. Del Toro is known for a number of well known films, including Pan's Labyrinth, The Shape of Water and Hellboy, among many others. Shape of Water earned the filmaker two Academy Awards for best picture and best director.
"On this day that we're honoring you, I would like to say that it's a beautiful thing to be reminded that being different is a thing to be celebrated, and it's a beatiful thing that we have you to always remind us of that each time we go back to your instantly classic films."
"I'm very happy to be celebrating with you on the iconic Hollywood Boulevard. Congratulations," she says at the end before going in for a hug.
Del Rey recently recorded a new version of Donovan's 1966 hit "Season of the Witch" for the renowned filmmaker's upcoming flick, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, which arrives in theaters this Friday (Aug. 9).
“I have admired Lana’s music for a while now and felt in my gut that she would run with ‘Season of the Witch’ -- that she would use her alchemy to transform it,” del Toro recently said in a statement. “She is a great artist and has been an amazing partner with us in this adventure. It is an honor for me to have met her.”
Oscar-winning filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro will be honored with the 2,669th star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.
Fellow moviemaker J.J. Abrams and singer Lana Del Rey will salute The Shape of Water director when he unveils his star on 6 August (19).
“Guillermo del Toro is a director with one of the most creative and vivid imaginations,” Walk of Fame producer Ana Martinez tells WENN. “He has his pulse on a realm of fantasy that has captivated and astounded audiences.
“The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is proud to honour him for his historic film work.”
"Cash Only" director Malik Bader is quickly making a name for himself in the world of crime thrillers, with his original script throwbacks to nitty and gritty tales of bad guys and even worse deals. His latest, “Killerman” (which had its world premiere at Fantasia last night), is a full immersion into the world of drug dealing, and throws in a unique existential angle to make excellent drama out of how money and product pass between bloodied hands. It’s the kind of movie that builds not just with its story but its ambition, and makes for an exhilarating, audacious crime thriller, provided you go along with the ride.
The mechanics of that process can make for a dry start to the story, initially: the opening scenes of "Killerman" take viewers from point A to point B to point Y when it comes to a money laundering deal. It's a lot of footage of cars pulling up, of scowling men speaking in code so they aren't caught by the cops. Soon into the story, though, Bader's interest becomes our own with its two main characters: Moe (Hemsworth) has a partner in Skunk (Emory Cohen), and the two attempt to make a deal with the money of their boss Perico (Zlatko Buric) that could help them make it big.
But then “Killerman” slams into its inspired plot hook—Moe gets a concussion during a gruesome car accident with Skunk when the deal goes way wrong, and leads to a car chase through narrow NYC streets pursued by dirty cops. With a massive case of amnesia, Moe doesn’t know who he is, or what life he has made for himself. But instead of getting to rest, the drug deal has left too many loose ends, and Skunk puts him back in the clubs and in front of the people they know. While trying to fix the deal, Moe essentially has to take a tour through his life, seeing the people that he’s interacted with, and learning about his capacity for violence. The script builds itself out of this conceit, like how Guy Ritchie’s bold “Revolver” risked a crime story on a lead character's schizophrenia, and Bader’s script is so committed and fast-paced with this psychological element that it only makes the intricate course of events even more fascinating.
“Killerman” proves itself to be as gritty as you want it to be, starting with the gorgeous dark colors of its 16mm Kodak stock, and the pulsing synth score that heightens the stakes of Moe’s actions. And that car chase—the editing is so sharp in this scene and others that you practically feel Moe getting that concussion as his vehicle slams into a parked car.
When it comes to violence, "Killerman" is always raw and unflinching, with men screaming for their lives after a bullet tears through them and blood spurts everywhere, or dogs ripping up human flesh in torture scenes that are nightmarish. The dirty cops hunting Moe and Skunk too (especially the one played by Nickola Shreli) are especially vicious, at the center of some of the story’s most ruthless scenes. From its initial framing as a movie that’s all about criminals—and virtually about wanting drug dealers to win—“Killerman” thrives in the darkness it establishes for itself, and that amorality becomes a fascinating component here like in the best of crime stories.
This relentless movie is unabashedly pulpy, in ways that do and don’t work within its desired genre charms. The dialogue sounds too stock, for example, and might make you wonder whether leather jacket thugs with slick haircuts only speak in cliches, or if the movies have just made them that way. (The performances are all around sturdy, even if you want Hemsworth to get a little crazier.) The same goes for the purpose that women have for the story, as mere stock love interests on the fringes of Moe and Skunk’s macho behavior, written to only that extent in a way that feels too lazy.
But on the other hand, “Killerman” creates an unexpected mythology with its more radical story choices; Bader displays a true recklessness in the best way and makes the story feel grandiose and intense. Even the reveal of the title’s meaning is a bold, polarizing choice—it may not work for some viewers, but it sure as hell left a smile on my face.
Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro revealed new details about his Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark adaptation on Saturday evening at the Horton Grand Theater in Downtown San Diego.
Del Toro, who produced the new film, joined director Andre Ovredal onstage in the cramped theater space to debut new footage from the upcoming horror film and discuss the process of adapting the beloved spooky children's books.
If her performance is any indication, and there’s any justice in the world (iffy), the Irish singer-actress is going to be a big, big star.
Remember the name Jessie Buckley.
If her performance in “Wild Rose” is any indication, and there’s any justice in the world (iffy), the Irish singer-actress is going to be a big, big star.
She plays Rose-Lynn Harlan, a single mother from Glasgow who’s just out of prison and dreams of becoming a country star in Nashville.
She’s a wild child. She had her two kids before her 18th birthday, then went to jail on a drug-related charge (long story; she blames the judge for an unfair sentence). Now in her 20s and back home, decked out in cowboy boots and other Western attire, she starts to resume her partying ways. This includes trips to Glasgow’s Grand Ole Opry, a country-music bar where she’s well-known as a local performer.
Her mom (Julie Walters), who took care of the kids while she was gone, has other ideas. Mom wants her to take responsibility for her children and for her own life. She wants Rose-Lynn to settle down, to get a steady job, to spend time with her kids.
But Rose-Lynn loves, loves, country music, and she loves to sing it. Patsy Cline and “Walking After Midnight.” New songs. You name it. She even has a tattoo on her arm with the saying “Three chords and the truth,” which expresses the simplicity and honesty she finds in the music.
It’s not just a phase. She wants to go to Nashville; she knows in her heart she’s meant to pursue her passion. And she could be right: She can sing. Boy, can she sing.
With the Fourth of July being celebrated this week, what better time than to think about the American Dream? The idea of pursuing life, liberty and happiness enshrined in the Declaration of Independence itself, along with the idea that you can make any dream happen if you just work hard enough.
In the new movie “Wild Rose,” a young and wild single mother of two named Rose-Lynn dreams of being a country singer. But she’s got a few obstacles in the way, including the fact that she lives in Glasgow, Scotland, and is fresh out of a year-long prison stint for distributing heroin. Now wearing an electronic ankle bracelet, she is required to be home every night from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Rose-Lynn is the kind of free-wheeling gal who yells the F word at the top of her lungs the second she’s free from her jail cell and heads to her boy toy for a shag before bothering to make it home to her young son and daughter. Add a stop at the pub where she gets buzzed on whiskey on the way home, and it’s no wonder her mom isn’t too happy to see her return after a year of raising her kids.
With her children distant from her and a seemingly dead-end job as a housemaid to a wealthy family that pays her just about $12 an hour, Rose-Lynn feels like she’ll never pull together the money to escape to Nashville and take a real swing at success. But when the children of her employer Susannah come home early and catch her belting out a song while vacuuming, Susannah asks her if she’s tried to make it professionally.
Rose-Lynn responds by immediately asking for $5,000 to make a fresh start in Nashville, but Susannah tells her to instead tape a video demo of herself singing and send it to the top country music deejay on the BBC radio airwaves. When Rose-Lynn knocks his socks off with a beautifully heartfelt ballad, she gets an invitation to come meet him in London and her dreams seem suddenly tangible.
Yet questions remain: Is she really talented enough to make it, or is she jeopardizing her family by seeking to spend time away from them? How will she resolve things with her mother, who thinks she’s delusional? And can she really ever put her wild past behind her?
“Wild Rose” is a quiet film, in spite of its occasionally rousing tunes sung by lead actress Jessie Buckley, an Irishwoman who broke out on a British talent competition series and has been a rising star ever since. Rose-Lynn is a fascinating character, a real hell raiser in the early scenes of the film, but eventually revealing a profound loneliness and desire to finally do better as a mother, a daughter and for herself.
Buckley has incredible vocals, but in keeping with the movie’s intimate and quiet tone, her most powerful moments are in the songs where she sings almost in a whisper. It’s a magical effect that will make those who see this movie fall in love with her immediately.
As her mother, veteran actress Julie Walters (who was Oscar-nominated in the 1980s for “Educating Rita”) looks and acts like Emma Thompson. It’s a solid performance of a woman who has been ground down and exasperated by her daughter’s poor behavior and incredibly bad choices for so long, she wonders if she’ll ever truly turn it around.
Those aspects — of redemption and family, trust and the desire to change — are universally relatable issues. They make this movie very affecting, but the occasionally too-slow pace keeps this from being a perfect movie. If you love good music or character-based drama, however, “Wild Rose” should smell quite sweet.
Lionsgate dropped its trailer for its new murder mystery Knives Out on Tuesday, and the cast is to die for.
The film attempts to uncover the truth behind the untimely death of the famous crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), who is killed just after his 85th birthday. Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is called in to help crack the case, and he questions everyone from Thrombey's "dysfunctional" family members to his loyal staff.
"I suspect foul play, and I've eliminated no suspects," Craig says in the preview.
Craig and Plummer aren't the only famous faces in the trailer. The "whodunit" also features Chris Evans, Ana De Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Noah Segan, Edi Patterson, Riki Lindhome and Jaeden Martell.
In addition, it's written and directed by Rian Johnson, who also did Looper, Brick and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
To get a sneak peek at the film, check out the trailer.
Jamie Dornan is joining comedy Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar from Bridesmaids duo Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo.
Wiig and Mumolo star as best friends Barb and Star, who leave their small Midwestern town for the first time to go on vacation in Vista Del Mar, Florida, where they soon find themselves tangled up in a villain's plot to kill everyone in town.
Dornan will play Edgar, a lovelorn spy who gets caught between the forces of good and evil.
Wiig and Mumolo co-wrote the script for the Lionsgate pic, which will be directed by Josh Greenbaum and is slated for a 2020 release.
Gloria Sanchez Productions — the female-focused production banner founded and led by Jessica Elbaum, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay — will produce, along with Wiig and Mumolo.
Dornan, who is repped by UTA, the U.K.'s Troika and Sloane Offer, will next be seen in Drake Doremus' new movie, starring opposite Shailene Woodley and Sebastian Stan. He will then star opposite Anthony Mackie in Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's Synchronic, and will begin production on John Patrick Shanley's Wild Mountain Thyme.
Truth-based fiction films that cover salient aspects of important news stories that have skewed or squelched by print and broadcast news media can have a powerful impact on public perception about historic events and how they’ve impacted the present and are influencing our future civilization.
If well made, compelling and popular, these truth-based narratives may stand as ‘of record,’ ostensibly revealing to public scrutiny facts that are to be found only in documents that have been designated as top secret and sealed for a specific duration because of their ‘sensitive’ or imflammatory nature.
Truth-based narratives ‘of record’ are not new in concept. A decade ago, Roger Donaldson’s well-researched, utterly compelling and admittedly somewhat speculative The Bank Job (2008) enlightened audiences about a London bank vault robbery that unleashed secret and salacious photos of Princess Margaret and a number of British MPs that actually brought down the British government. The actual images and most documents pertaining to the actual events are still under seal, so all that the public knows about this scandal-clad 1971 London heist known as the “Walkie Talkie Robbery” is Roger Donaldson’s fictionalized movie. In the public eye, The Bank Job is ‘of record.’
In 2010, Doug Liman’s Fair Game brought unreported aspects of the Valerie Plame spy scandal and the questionable legitimacy of the US invasion of Iraq to light. More recently, Adam McKaye’s Vice (2018) gave viewers an admittedly somewhat speculative and avowedly uncomplimentary look at the persona and doings of former VP Dick Chaney, indicating that he wielded unprecedented power in determining both foreign and domestic policy during the George W. Bush presidency and was unconscionable in his use of it, including his role in the US invasion of Iraq.
Dick Cheney is not a character in this year’s Official Secrets, but his name comes up in the truth-based narrative about Katherine Gun (Keira Knightly), a British intelligence officer who turned whistleblower, leaking information about the illegal NSA spy operation that was designed to push the UN Security Council into sanctioning the invasion of Iraq. Journalist Martin Brightn (Matt Smith), then working for The Observer, broke the story — which caused Katherine Gun to be charged with treason, or more specifically, with violating Britain’s Official Secrets Act of 1989.
The film is a contemplative spy thriller and courtroom drama that is completely engaging although it has a known denouement. So, no spoilers are risked with mention that ultimately the British government dropped the charges against Gun because — as suggested in the Official Secrets script — the case would bring to light evidence that would embarrass the British administration, including then Prime Minister Tony Blair, and perhaps lead to members of the government being charged with war crimes.
Director Gavin Hood, whose previous political thrillers include Tsotsi, A Reasonable Man and Eye in the Sky, paces the film to reveal story and Katherine’s character in such a way that the viewer has time to think about what ‘good citizenship’ means, and to ponder Kathrine’s reasons for taking a stand and the impact her decisions made on her personal life and on human history. Hoods use of actual archival footage of Tony Blair, George Bush, Colin Powell and of news events — including the bombing of Iraq — sets the drama into its real life historical context, and targets the way in which elected government heads of state and their administrations manipulate media in order to push policies that support their own interests rather than those of the people whom they are supposed to serve.
If you like spy scenarios and courtroom dramas, and are interested in sorting out truthful reporting from fake news, this film will satisfy. It’s entertaining and informative, and its release is quite timely.
Title: Official Secrets
Directors: Gavin Hood
Release Date: August 30, 2019
Running Time: 112 mins.
Locations: London, with archival footage from USA, Iraq
Production Country: USA
Distribution Company: EAGLE FILMS
There is something bodaciously brash about Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley). The centerpiece of Wild Rose is fresh out of prison and fresh full of ideas about how she’s going to go from her native Glasgow, Scotland to Nashville, Tennessee and make it as a country star. Only problem is, well … there are a slew of them and how Rose tackles them lies at the heart of this hauntingly heartwarming film.
Director Tom Harper has crafted a touching and yes, melodic, story that will resonate with audiences across spectrums. After all, this is a tale with country music at its heart and those who utterly adore it with every ounce of their soul will find something utterly compelling about it. To quote Rose, when asked why she adores the musical genre that is uniquely American, she simply replies, “it’s three chords and the truth.” It’s that sentiment that has made the music milieu transcendent across geographical lines.
Also, one does not have to enjoy that kind of music to embrace and be enamored of Wild Rose.
When Rose-Lynn arrives at her mother Marion’s (Julie Walters) house, fresh from prison, she is not given a hero’s welcome. Her two children, a little boy and slightly older girl, barely know their mother. Sure, she was only gone for a year. Marion didn’t bring the kiddos by the prison, because she didn’t want them to see their mother in such a place. Immediately, Rose’s son warms up to her. Her daughter … not so much and it will take a whole lot of work for mom to earn the love of her only little girl.
Marion is tough on her child and it’s a relationship that is as central to the dynamics of Wild Rose as Rose’s budding familial bond with her kin. It appears that Marion had high hopes for her child, but a few terrible decisions (such as getting pregnant at 16 or that whole thing that got her sent away for a year in prison) and—worse still—the immature manner in which she is known to respond to those who have challenged her decision making, will not win any points with her mum.
In the opening act of Wild Rose, Nicole Taylor’s screenplay astoundingly gives us a mountain of regret and missed opportunities coupled with a pretty bad attitude. It’s hard to root for Rose. As much as she has to win over her mother, children, the parole judge (she has a tracker around her ankle and has to be home by 7 p.m. every evening—something that makes pursuing a country music singing career a tad impossible), the wild woman-child has to sweep us off of our feet. Rose-Lynn is the most fascinating of protagonists. It’s never a given, even through the second act, that this soul will be one that warrants our inspiration instead of our ire. As Taylor’s script, whose spirit is stunningly captured by Harper, provides little morsels of hope for the title character, we too see the signs of greatness that could arise from the single mum whose voice is like a lightning bolt of brilliance.
Among the first people onscreen to see potential where the system, society and even her mother and own daughter see a grab bag of disappointment, is her boss, Susannah (Sophie Okonedo). This wealthy Glasgow resident took a chance on her when she hired an ex-con to clean her house (what with two small children herself). Rose never tells her about her kids, but Susannah’s kiddos cannot stop talking about her. They heard her belting out tracks one day while working and inform their mum that the cleaning lady has priceless pipes. Upon hearing her first-hand, she could not be more supportive and even orchestrates a way for her to meet the King of Country Music in London at BBC Radio. That relationship, and what it promises for Rose, does not play out as one would expect it would—as dozens of movies have wandered down that worn road.
Upon reflection, it makes perfect sense that country music would find an audience in Scotland (and the greater United Kingdom, all over the globe, really). As Rose states to Susannah, when asked why she likes country music, all you need is “three chords and the truth.” She even has that quote tattooed on her arm. The lyrics of country music encompass many elements that easily find kindred spirits, specifically here with Rose. These subjects range from troubles or triumph with love, the complexity of the inner challenges of the working man and woman, issues with the law and the feeling that all of society is against you, to the bond of family and how it can be everything from an asset to a hindrance. When the camera gives us an establishing shot of the music club that Rose played and plays at, we see “Glasgow’s Grand Ole Opry” in big neon lights. After taking all this in, it all makes perfect sense.
Walters is sensational. Her role is demanding on so many levels. She has to be a mother to her daughter’s kids while she’s in prison and then suddenly shift role to grandma when mom gets out of the slammer. Once Rose is free, Marion must straddle a line between wholehearted support and keeping her daughter’s feet to the fire. She lets her know, in no uncertain terms, when she makes one of those bad decisions. Mom calls her on it. There is even one moment that found me covering my eyes because I just couldn’t watch Marion lecture Rose. Don’t get me wrong, she deserved it. Still … see, the titular character has to earn her adoration—from everyone onscreen and each one of us witnessing her cinematic journey.
Buckley’s vocal presence is sonically seismic. It’s completely unique and befits a rocking country girl whose influences run the gamut from Bonnie Raitt to Reba McEntire, with a smattering of Janis Joplin and Nancy Wilson tossed in for good measure. I could listen to her belt out songs all day long—from guitar-wailing country rock to the best romance-centric tracks that will ring your heart out like a wet washcloth.
Wild Rose is a movie moment expertly crafted for dreamers and for anyone who has loved someone who dreams. Infinitely inspiring, the film also grounds itself in a reality that works wonders for enrapturing its audience in that first act and a half where we didn’t know if Rose would ever pull it all together. By its conclusion, you have been on a journey that is rocky, littered with stumbles and a soul who has worked her tail off to ensure that her children are proud of her. In the end, that is the only approval that matters. As such, Wild Rose rivets and had this writer reaching for that tissue box—all while smiling profusely.
We are excited to announce that FIVE FEET APART received three nominations at the 2019 Teen Choice Awards in the following categories:
Choice Drama Movie Choice Drama Movie Actor Choice Drama Movie Actress
It could turn out to be be the indie sleeper of the year. As Rose-Lynn, a brazen young ne’er-do-well from Glasgow who’s fixated on going to Nashville to become a country singer, Jessie Buckley proves a tremendous actress, and maybe a born star. When Rose-Lynn gets up on stage at a local pub and lets loose, time melts away (we’re in the zone of incandescent tradition that is country), and so does every trace of her Scottishness. She becomes country, and her gift is transporting. Yet Rose-Lynn is also a spectacular screw-up, with two kids she all but ignores. The director, Tom Harper, and screenwriter, Nicole Taylor, play a bait-and-switch game. For a solid hour, they seduce you into thinking that “Wild Rose” is going to be the sort of cheeky inspirational Miramax-in-the-’90s fairy tale it turns out not to be. It’s not just that the movie gets better as it goes along — it actually knows it’s toying with you. The film seems to grow up before your eyes and find its glimmer of soul right along with its eager, talented, messed-up heroine. — OG
Cheerleading is a sport that commands attention. It whips the crowd into a controlled fervor, getting people off their feet and cheering with excitement. Unfortunately, director Zara Hayes’ “Poms” barely manages to do the same with its story about a group of retired women who reclaim their vitality and challenge societal norms by forming a cheerleading squad. Though it aims to be more than just a mashup of “Bring It On” and “Book Club,” the inherently uplifting and endearing facets of its heartfelt sentiments are overtaken by artificial packaging and stale execution.
As a pessimistic New York City transplant, Martha (Diane Keaton) faces her greatest challenge yet: living in the impossibly peppy retirement community of Sun Springs, Ga. The lavish, well-maintained property fosters cheery dispositions and relaxed lifestyles — things a cynical curmudgeon like Martha despises. But her former life in the city was unbearably lonely, so she seeks a drastically different atmosphere. Her advancing age and, more importantly, aggressive terminal cancer has made her surprisingly sentimental about her youth and paths not taken.
Martha is at first reticent to make friends, preferring to cocoon herself in her pre-fab, personality-free home instead of trying to fit in at group exercise and neighborhood get-togethers. But her world begins to change for the better once she meets next-door neighbor Sheryl (Jacki Weaver). Sheryl is Martha’s opposite with her colorful, tight-fitting wardrobe and vivacious free spirit, yet her vigor inspires Martha to rediscover her own.
The pair set out to form a cheerleading club, which is unheard of to their enclave’s small-minded residents, who include the ironically unfriendly president of the welcoming committee, Vicki (Celia Weston). Not only must the newly assembled squad find more members, which they incorrectly assume will be difficult, they must also get competition-ready in a short amount of time. The team is forced to battle their own physical limitations and a few other serious setbacks.
Heartening themes about redefining the notion of family are what give the movie its luster, as well as the idea that self-empowerment has no expiration date. It’s encouraging that screenwriter Shane Atkinson and Hayes, who shares a story by credit, focus primarily on female friendship, though they undermine and underestimate the empathy capacity of another group of women: teen girls. The super seniors’ combative relationship with antagonistic high school cheerleaders, who film their failures and mercilessly mock them, takes center stage as the main conflict. There’s no reason the heroines’ own inner demons couldn’t have driven the plot.
Perhaps the greatest disappointment is that Atkinson and Hayes never strike a good balance between all the characters in the ensemble. The film fails both in showing them as multi-faceted individuals and in capturing their group dynamics, allowing superficial character traits to define them. Consistently-upbeat Sheryl’s only worry is if the authorities find out her teen grandson Ben (Charlie Tahan) is living with her, but that’s forgotten by act two. The filmmakers become more concerned with an unnecessary romance between Ben and classmate Chloe (Alisha Boe), who betrays her own cheer team to help train his grandma’s squad. It’s a lot of hoop-jumping when a simpler solution would’ve been to eliminate Ben and the rival squad altogether, and make Chloe a visiting character who helps the ladies train.
Sultry Olive (Pam Grier), who tangos her way into the troupe, revives her waning romance with her hubby — but since we didn’t see her struggling with it in the first place, the impact is lessened. Conservative Alice (Rhea Perlman) finds her inner power after her controlling husband dies, but outside of one George Carlin-esque swearword tirade, her character fades into the background. Aerobics enthusiast Ruby (Carol Sutton), yoga instructor Evelyn (Ginny MacColl), and line dancer Phyllis (Patricia French) are dealt short shrift altogether. The lone character afforded a noteworthy performance by the lackluster material is baton-twirling Helen (Phyllis Somerville). Somerville’s small screentime is infused with a palpable, nuanced sense of anguish and anxiety over her ageist, sexist son essentially imprisoning her financially, and then physically after an injury.
For a film that’s supposed to instill confidence in the hearts of its target demographic and beyond, it lacks that same sense of bravery in its storytelling to say something genuinely moving. Time and time again, it falls back on outdated clichés and lazy contrivances. It prefers to follow predictable patterns set by many previous underdog stories, ticking off the expected emotional beats versus doing something radically different to make the emotions feel earned.
Overall, “Poms” isn’t a film that demands the audience’s attention — and that’s a shame given the breadth of skilled, seasoned talent involved. The blueprint for a genuinely inspired, warm-hearted dramedy is indeed there, it’s just that the filmmakers can’t figure out how to properly utilize what they have.
It was a blue carpet pep rally as Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Pam Grier and Rhea Perlman debuted their new film “Poms” on Wednesday night in Downtown Los Angeles. But much like their characters in the film, the actresses’ cheers weren’t for sports teams. Instead, they were celebrating a Hollywood system that is hopefully becoming more inclusive for older women. Keaton and Weaver star in “Poms” as Martha and Sheryl, two senior citizens who decide to start a cheerleading club at their retirement community. “I think in this day and age, people realize that you don’t have a ‘use by’ date,” Weaver told Variety. “Some of us can keep on going. Some of us still look to the future and make the most of the present.” But as much as Hollywood has evolved, who could have ever predicted a movie featuring a “Bring It On”-style scene of a group of seniors trying out for the cheerleading squad? “[It used to be that] women are erased and invisible after they get a certain age, but once we started saying, ‘We’re not invisible — we’re full of life, we take care of kids, we’re still viable to society.’ And once you own that, then you get offered to sit at the table,” Grier said.
It’s been 45 years since her career-making turn in “Foxy Brown” and the 69-year-old actress has noticed that the industry has been changing: “I think there is a shift, but it’s an evolution and a revolution.” “Poms” follows last year’s “Book Club,” a rom-com that earned $68 million at the box office and also starred Keaton, who is 73. Perlman says the reason for the growing support for movies about mature women is simple. “Because women go to the movies, people are starting to realize that women want to see themselves up there,” Perlman said, adding that watching Judi Dench travel to India in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” transformed her own views on box office possibilities for older actors. “I am so happy that it’s finally starting to happen. I mean there’s still way more white men in movies and in businesses, but slowly people are starting to take notice of who else is around them and how important it is for them to be represented as well. And how great their stories are,” the 71-year-old actress explained. “So, I’m just thrilled with how things are moving.”
After assembling the cast, which also includes Celia Weston, Charlie Tahan, Bruce McGill and “13 Reasons Why” star Alisha Boe, the ladies went through a cheerleading boot camp to help the women bond and nail those moves. “It was tough,” Weaver, 71, laughed. “You get a bit creaky at our age.” The premiere included a post-screening party at WP24, where pom-pom shaking cheerleaders lined up in a tunnel formation and welcomed guests, including Emmy winner Sarah Paulson. “Poms” hits theaters on May 10.
In 2013 Margot Robbie turned heads in The Wolf of Wall Street as the ultra-seductive and equally feisty Naomi; later in 2016, she brought DC Comics’s disturbed girlfriend Harley Quinn to life in Suicide Squad; and now, the actress proves she’s as versatile as ever in her latest film Dreamland, which just debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Serving as both the star and producer of the period piece, Robbie really does carry the film. And, according to Dreamland director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, “She throws great parties.” Joris-Peyrafitte, sporting a slim navy suit and slicked-back hair continued, “She’s just as excited as everyone else to be there. She sets the tone for everybody else and that’s all you could ask from a producer and lead actress.”
Dreamland is part bank robbery caper, part Spaghetti Western. Set in the 1930s Dust Bowl era, Robbie stars as Allison, a mysterious and thrill-seeking bounty hunter who is surprisingly chic (refer back to the time era and situation).
In a hard-to-miss nod to Bonnie and Clyde, Allison charms the heart of the young Eugene Evans played by Slaughterhouse Rulez’s Finn Cole. Despite Robbie’s problematic actions in the film, Cole’s character remains boyishly infatuated and allows his life to be transformed entirely by the frenzied blonde who loves to drive her getaway cars with baby blue leather gloves on. But at the premiere’s red carpet, Robbie appeared the modern-day starlet in a black lace Chanel jumpsuit, which ultimately proved that there really isn’t anything she doesn’t look good in.
Dreamland will premiere at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival ( April 24 – May 5). The film will be included in the Spotlight Narrative section of the Network based festival. Margot Robbie will be in attendance but we will not be conducting international press at this time. The film will also be screening in the upcoming Cannes market in May.
Netflix announced the release of "Peasants' Rebellion" on their platform, thus becoming the first Lebanese series to be broadcast through their network.
After the overwhelming success achieved on the local channels, the largest Lebanese historical production series included more than 100 Lebanese actors, which took eight months to be filmed.
Ranked amongst the top 5 Arabic series in Ramadan 2018 with one of the highest viewers rating statistics.
Received one of the highest trends on Twitter for 15 days.
Gained regional popularity for being daring yet respecting the cultural factor.
Critics praised the series positively and considered it to be Ramadan 2018 out of the box series for; actors’ intense performance, the surprise element, the tailored music, the mysterious sequence of events and lastly the cinematography.
AL NAHAR newspaper, a renowned Lebanese Newspaper.
The plot continues to thicken on LBCI’s latest prime time drama, PEASANTS' REBELLION, as alliances begin to form, love blooms, and betrayals are made.
It is truly a pleasure when a television series, a fully Lebanese production no less, create such a positive impact on its audience - through some do continue to negatively criticize, sans reason, even if it means finding something as ridiculous as the show’s choice of font to attack.
Al Nahar Newspaper, a renowned Lebanese newspaper, described the Peasant's Rebellion as the magnet that compelled people off the streets, leaving an echo of the social discourse that is occurring in a certain nation. A "Spark Ignites" leaving the audience wanting to relive and enjoy the authenticity of the series. I will be sharing the updated portfolios on Monday to be followed by 2019 Projects skeleton.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″ shot past “Guardians of the Galaxy” to become the highest grossing domestic release of 2014. It’s the second time in a row that the dystopian franchise has topped the charts. It gives Lionsgate bragging rights as the studio with the top film in consecutive years — something no one else has achieved in over a decade. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″ hit $333.2 million on Wednesday, edging past “Guardians” at $333.17 million at the U.S. box office. Unlike most major tentpole releases, the latest “Hunger Games” didn’t get the benefit of a 3D or Imax surcharge.
Patriots Day is the TOP TEN FILM winner at the National Board of Review, USA, 2016 awards and Spotlight award for the creative collaboration of Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg
We are proud to share with you that The Hunger Games Mockingjay 1 has Won the following Awards:
Golden Camera, Germany - Best International Actress (Julianne Moore).
Golden Trailer Awards 2015 - Best Fantasy Adventure, Best Original Score Tv Spot, Best Fantasy / Adventure Poster, Best Teaser Poster, Best Wildposts.
Kids' Choice Awards, USA 2015 - Favorite Female Action Star (Jennifer Lawrence).
MTV Movie Awards 2015 - Best Musical Moment.
NewNowNext Awards 2014 - Best New Lead Film Actress (Natalie Dormer).
Teen Choice Awards 2015: Choice Movie: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Choice Movie Actor: Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Josh Hutcherson), Choice Movie Actress: Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Jennifer Lawrence).
Women Film Critics Circle Awards 2014 - Best Female Images in a Movie.
Today, in over 25 locations around the globe THE HUNGER GAMES iconic '3-Finger salute' will be posted on high profile buildings, billboards and locations, including Times Square in New York, Westfield Centre in London, Colonne di San Lorenzo in Milan and Novy Arbat Avenue in Moscow just to name a few. The hands used in the synchronized global outdoor advertising campaign were created from 6 images of people ranging from ages 8 to 80, both men and women and from all nationalities.
Lionsgate’s Codeblack Films has struck an output deal with Middle East based distributor Eagle Films. The deal sees all films produced or co-produced by Codeblack distributed in the Middle East and North Africa, beginning with “Addicted,” based on the best selling book by Zane. Formed in 2012 as the Lionsgate’s ‘next generation’ offshoot, Codeblack has activities which span movie production and distribution through to home entertainment, TV syndication and new channel monetization. Its previous releases include “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain,” and independent thriller “Repentance,” starring Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker. Codeblack signed a previous output deal with Times Media Films, covering South Africa, in October 2014. “Codeblack is expanding its footprint beyond the domestic marketplace,” said Jeff Clanagan, Founder, CEO and President of CodeBlack Entertainment
VANCOUVER, BC, and SANTA MONICA, CA, October 16, 2014 – Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), a premier next generation global content leader, today unveiled plans to debut the year’s most anticipated film, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, in the UK, Asia and North America. The film, the third in the global blockbuster Hunger Games film franchise. All purchases on AMCTheaters.com, Cinemark.com, Fandango.com, and MovieTickets.com in the first 24 hours will receive a free download of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on VUDU. The first Hunger Games film generated nearly $700 million at the worldwide box office. The second film in the franchise, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, was the #1 domestic film of 2013 and the 10th highest-grossing North American release of all time, grossing over $860 million around the world and bringing the combined global box office of the first two films to over $1.5 billion. The worldwide phenomenon of The Hunger Games continues to set the world on fire with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.
The Ambassador's Hall of Casino Du Liban hosted the ceremony of the 7th Edition of Murex D'or on September 4th 2014, where Eagle Films' production BEBE won Best Film by Public Vote. The producer, Mr Jamal Sannan _ CEO of Eagle Films, accepted the Murex D'or.