Interviews

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There are very few reviews out there for Dallas Buyers Club that don’t make mention of its stars’ Oscar chances. The movie is a real showcase for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto‘s two larger than life performances, to the point where the Academy could use virtually all of their scenes for their nomination clip. Our Kate Erbland described their performances as the best from Tiff, saying that “Dallas Buyers Club lives and dies on the strength of its two lead performances, and it’s a solid pairing of both good luck and pure talent that McConaughey and Leto bring their absolute best to a film that requires nothing less.” It also lives or dies on director Jean-Marc Vallée. The filmmaker behind C.R.A.Z.Y. knows how to capture those quality performances on an exceptionally tight deadline. Speaking with Vallée, he expressed appreciation for his two leading men, while also delving into how exactly he shot McConaughey, Leto, and co-star Jennifer Gardner’s performances. Here’s what Vallée had to say on the subject:

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taylor

Thor: The Dark World may be director Alan Taylor‘s first feature film, but this isn’t his first rodeo behind the camera. Far from it, actually. Taylor has directed episodes for some of your favorite television shows: Mad Men, Deadwood, Rome, Bored to Death, and The Sopranos. Taylor brought those series to real highs. For The Sopranos, he helmed the episode where Tony killed his nephew Christopher — one of the most dramatic moments of that series. But it was Taylor’s time on Game of Thrones that landed him Thor: The Dark World. The first Thor often felt like more of a cartoon than a movie, and Marvel wanted to ground those rainbow bridges for the sequel. That doesn’t mean Thor: The Dark World is a gritty, humorless experience, but has a “dirt” to it, which is how Alan Taylor describes the style of the film. Speaking with Taylor from the London junket, he went into the differences between television and film, directing his first feature, and Marvel’s Kevin Feige.

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nighy

Bill Nighy is a chameleon. He’s an actor who can go large and then, as we see in his new film, About Time, craft an effortlessly grounded performance when needed. When Nighy discusses the idea of a performance without thinking about “acting,” it makes for an interesting contrast to his work as Davy Jones. The Pirates of the Caribbean villain is a job that consistently reminds you you’re acting with the tech involved. Wearing those dots on your face and that mo-cap suit probably can’t make your job any easier, and yet Nighy still managed to bring gravitas to Jones and that series as a whole. There is no transformation in About Time, which, to some actors, is an even loftier challenge. But it’s a task Nighy seems up for any day of the week, especially if it’s Richard Curtis behind the camera. Speaking with Nighy, his fondness for Curtis rang loud and clear. Not only that, Nighy stressed an important little detail for all the young actors out there. Read on to find out about Nighy’s discovery:

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ENDER

Director Gavin Hood received mass acclaim for his 2005 film, Tsotsi, before moving on to direct Rendition and eventually land the gig for 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That comic book adaptation didn’t sit too well with critics or fans, but its shortcomings don’t all fall on the feet of Hood. That production was reportedly plagued with creative differences and had a script constantly in flux, which is likely why Hood says, while discussing his new film, Ender’s Game, how beneficial it is to have a completed script before shooting. His adaptation of Orson Scott Card‘s sci-fi classic centers around a young boy, Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), who literally has the world’s fate placed on his shoulders, and it’s a remarkably faithful adaptation when it comes to the book’s emotion and the finale its fans are familiar with. Hood sat down with us at the film’s press day to discuss the challenges of remaining faithful to Card’s book. Here’s what he had to say:

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curtis

Love Actually is one of the most beloved romantic comedies of all the time. That film is only ten years old, but it’s already fair to claim the film is a classic. Initially the web of down-to-earth love stories didn’t receive uniformly stellar reviews or massive box office numbers, but what kind of madman doesn’t watch it when it’s on cable or come Christmas time? That wasn’t a shabby way to kickoff the directorial chapter to an already successful career. By 2003, Curtis had written Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Notting Hill, so he was no romantic comedy rookie when he hit it big behind the camera. Since then, he’s directed two films with The Boat That Rocked and his latest, About Time. The time travel dramedy is about life, love, sorrow, children, and (unsurprising if you follow Curtis’ work) most everyday facets of life. The movie feels like a swan song for Richard Curtis, who is retiring from filmmaking. Speaking with Curtis at the press day for About Time, the writer/director discussed his reasons for retirement. Here’s what he had to say:

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franco

James Franco‘s Sal follows actor Sal Mineo’s final hours with a fly-on-the-wall approach. In the film we see the bright young actor, played by Val Lauren, prepping a directorial feature he won’t make any compromises on. After seeing Sal, it’s easy to draw comparisons between Franco and Mineo in that regard. Franco has spent the last few years directing personal projects that are nothing if not uncompromising. Behind the camera, he’s taken on norm-defying adaptations like As I Lay Dying, the experimental recreation of lost scenes from Cruising and a documentary focused on his guest starring appearances on soap opera General Hospital.  Those projects, along with Sal, aren’t overtly commercial endeavors (as you may have noticed), but Franco’s directorial features have certainly found their audience. He works fast, and, as Franco tells us, that work ethic isn’t a matter of simply rushing through project after project. Despite being insanely busy, he sat down with me to discuss that work ethic and the prospect of making even more movies.

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stone

A lot of film fans had their eyes opened by the trippy blur of David Lynch, who showed them that movies need not be literal or especially concerned with losing audience members for one or two or all the moments. For me, such a cinematic shakeup didn’t come from Lynch, but Oliver Stone. Much like his underdog characters, he continually challenges the norms of his field. Throughout his career, Stone has been able to shift between yarns spun with either a calm eye or full-on bombast, whether he’s showing modern gladiators in Any Given Sunday, the fractured life of Richard Nixon, or hell’s dirty underbelly as depicted in U-Turn. It’s also obvious that Stone is a history nut, and, with The Untold History of The United States, he spent these past four years crafting a project he’s called his most “ambitious.” It’s a comprehensive, warts-and-all look at the behind-closed-doors shaping of America, all done in an approach we’ve come to expect from Stone. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Stone to talk about that approach, his greater body of film work and his antagonism toward perfection.

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Kill Your Darlings

Watching a few young pretentious writers for 90 minutes should be as unpleasant as it sounds. For the first half of Kill Your Darlings these young rebels, including Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), ramble on and on about shaking up the system and starting a revolution. Imagine being stuck in a room with these young men and trying not to strangle somebody. Now try to calm your rage because Kill Your Darlings is far from a naval gazing experience. Part thriller, part romance, part coming-of-age tale, and part murder mystery, it’s a wild blend of many ideas and genres. At the center of it all is Radcliffe, playing the young, howling poet. I got to sit down with the actor who explained, amongst other things, the difficult choices that come with a stack of scripts and how he transformed into a young Allen Ginsberg (pretentiousness in tact).

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cody

Going from screenwriting to directing isn’t an easy transition for most. Some writers have found great success behind the camera, while others have buckled under the pressure. It’s a different job with its own set of demands. With Paradise, Academy Award winner Diablo Cody takes her first crack at directing with the story of a young girl named Lamb (Julianne Hough), who visits Las Vegas after a serious plane crash leaves her with burn scars and a desire to explore places outside of her religious community. Whether we’ll see Cody direct again is a real question mark. Instead of proclaiming how amazing her experience was, Cody expressed to us her problems with the job and the way certain critics respond to her flawed female characters. Here’s what she had to say about those critics, writing women and, of course, her take on Gravity:

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taylor

From a visual standpoint, Thor: The Dark World is an interesting sequel. It’s a serious departure from the world Kenneth Branagh set up with the first film, which was light and cartoony (in a pleasant way), but all those dutch angles and color-y rainbow bridges sure did make some snicker. For the sequel, there’s a grime to Asgard, and there’s a tangibility that director Alan Taylor was clearly hired to put on screen. The folks behind Terminator 5 are probably hoping he can bring that exact grit to the upcoming reboot. Now, Alan Taylor says his attachment to the semi-reboot remains a “rumor,” but while speaking with him this morning in support of his feature debut, he stated that in such a way that makes it seem far more than just another meritless rumor. When asked if Terminator 5 would keep more in touch with James Cameron’s films than the series overhaul we see in Thor: The Dark World, Taylor described his take on this “rumor”:

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Kimberly Peirce Carrie

In a span of 14 years writer-director Kimberly Peirce has only made 3 films. She hit the scene in a big way with 1999’s Boy’s Don’t Cry, and she didn’t follow that picture up until 2008’s Stop-Loss. In that nine year gap Peirce struggled getting projects off the ground. Being a writer/director who focuses on personal stories is never going to make life easy. She’s now returned with her first adaptation, Carrie. Her remake of the 1976 film is notably different. Structurally it’s reminiscent, but Peirce’s interpretation has a warmth that wasn’t a part of Brian De Palma‘s project. There’s a more humanistic approach to Carrie’s relationship with her mother, which was a key ingredient to Peirce’s motivation to taking on the project. Here’s what Kimberly Peirce had to say about the film, telling personal stories in a commercial system and more.

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Coming off the highly marketable Twilight movies, director Bill Condon decided to go a bit more mature but stick with a pasty pale figure that strikes fear into the heart of many: Julian Assange. It’s fitting Condon’s approach is radical in its own way. Assange himself has publicly taken issue with the film, and when you see the warts and all portrait, you’ll understand why. Thus far the movie has been as splitting as the man in question. Critics have been mixed, including our own Kate Erbland who reviewed the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it’s the reaction Condon expected. It’s probably not the response he wanted, but, as he says, it happens. Condon sat down with us to discuss those responses to the film, as well the battle between great characters and real life.

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paulson

In Steve McQueen‘s 12 Years a Slave the main Louisiana plantation we see, run by Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), is an authentically cruel environment. McQueen makes you feel the heat, tears, and fear there. Among all that sweat is Marry Epps, an Ice Queen played by Sarah Paulson. She’s unfazed by the sweltering brutality, engaging in it in a way that’s as terrifying as her husband Edwin, if not more so. McQueen and Paulson turn her movements into moments of pure tension. She’s a villain seemingly without remorse, making her a character most actors might shy away from. Paulson, though, isn’t afraid of taking on the challenge. Speaking with her, it was obvious that under the right circumstances she’d be game for almost anything.

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We’ve seen Nicolas Cage lose his shit. Not just on the big screen, but with an infamous compilation of Cage’s finest moments of insanity. The only question is: why hasn’t Paul Giamatti gotten a video of his own? His performance in Ironclad alone would provide enough content. That’s just one example in a long line of Giamatti’s more bizarro choices — choices that Giamatti is proud to be able to make. As for his newest film, Phil Morrison’s All is Bright, Giamatti is fairly grounded as Dennis, an ex-con who heads to New York to sell Christmas trees with his old partner in crime Rene (Paul Rudd). All is Bright is a New Yorker dramedy with two Canadians at the center of it. We discussed the film, along with a wide range of topics, with Paul Giamatti at its press day:

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Cloudy_Main

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 is one of those rare sequels that is just as good as, if not better, than the original. And when you’re talking about following up an animated film written and directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, that’s meant to be very high praise indeed. Cloudy 2 will certainly appeal to children, but this is one of those animated films that have tons of jokes thrown in for adults as well. Plus you have Neil Patrick Harris back as single-word blurting monkey Steve, with an expanded vocabulary. What’s not to love? Our own Kate Erbland is obsessed with the movie, and you can read her predictions for favorite Foodimals from the film right here. We sat down with co-directors Kris Pearn and Cody Cameron to talk about the film, and working in modern-day animation amidst computers that seem poised to take over the world. Once Skynet realizes it can just replace everyone in our lives with animated duplicates, we’re all doomed. Read on for the full interview!

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ENTERTAINMENT-US-RUSH-WRITER

Director Ron Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan have taken a real liking to each other over the years, and for good reason. With Frost/Nixon and Rush, the two have produced critical darlings that pit opposites against each other. While the 2008 drama was about fighting with words, Rush – which portrays the Formula 1 rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) — the battles are done on a race track. Morgan wrote about their budding relationship out of pure, personal interest. This started off as a spec script which eventually led to a $50m British indie, not your standard Hollywood-produced Oscar contender. Of course it also helps when a storyteller has some distance from the story. Here, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter talks about time’s effect on biographical movies, his collaboration with Howard and what he modeled the structure for the Rush script after.

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A Single Shot

“It’s kind of like a detective movie but it’s set in the Appalachians,” is the way Sam Rockwell encapsulates his latest film, A Single Shot. Rockwell plays John, a true anti-hero who gets in way over his head after a hunting accident and finding a good deal of cash. What follows that opening is a dirty film noir, where you rarely know who to trust, despite having a positive attitude to all the familiar faces Rockwell is surrounded by in the film: Jeffrey Wright, William H. Macy, Joe Anderson, and Jason Isaacs. It’s an impressive ensemble that Rockwell relished working with. This adaptation was another opportunity for the acclaimed actor to transform himself in subtle ways, which, as Rockwell puts it, is always a bonus. Here’s what else Sam Rockwell had to say about A Single Shot, performing adaptations, and having to take risks:

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trailer prisoners

Despite screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski‘s script earning raves all around Hollywood, Prisoners wasn’t exactly fast tracked. If you recall the project’s development, a series of talent were on and off the film, from directors Bryan Singer and Antoine Fuqua to stars Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio. Even Mark Wahlberg was attached at one point, who, from the start, served as a key cheerleader for the project. According to Guzikowski, Wahlberg was one of the script’s biggest and most important fans. “Mark Wahlberg was the first person to champion it.” After that stamp of approval “everything got more and more attention.” Guzikowski wrote Prisoners as a spec script, and without Wahlberg, Prisoners and Guzikowski’s career would not have blossomed the way that it has. “He was totally pivotal in getting the film made. That endorsement helped it get around.” He went to write the modest hit Contraband for Wahlberg. While both features are drastically different, they feature a race against the clock tension. To keep that tempo on high, Guzikowski says, “You have to keep the visual of it all in mind. It has to have a musical sort of pacing. I think the best thrillers have a real rhythm to them.” As for where that rhythm comes from, it’s all about the drama. “That pace is informed by however the characters are feeling. I think that’s they key to making that ticking clock.”

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king

Any filmmaker who gets their film into Sundance probably has their hopes considerably elevated for their future. By all means, that’s understandable. You get into the festival that help launched some terrific filmmakers, so it’s only natural to dream of the career Steven Soderbergh built for himself. Nobody can fault a dreamer, but speaking with the writer/director behind one of this year’s Sundance favorites, Newlyweeds, it’s clear that Shaka King doesn’t expect millions to start flowing into his bank account at the drop of a festival hit. King discussed that indie filmmaker reality with us for the theatrical release of his dramedy, which follows two potheads and their rocky relationship. It’s definitely a must-see this month, and King is a talent to keep close tabs on. Here’s what the young filmmaker had to say about his debut.

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mar

Globally, World War Z made over $535M dollars this summer. For a movie that cost in the neighborhood of $200M, that’s not a bad haul, especially when you take into account the bad buzz leading up to the film’s release. General moviegoers probably couldn’t have cared less about the third act of a film being reshot, but for most movie nerds, it’s a knee-jerk warning sign. A movie that requires reshoots always draws negative attention despite presenting an opportunity to get some pickup shots, a scene to add some clarity, or in the case of World War Z, a whole new act. Even in the age of special features, we’ll probably never get to see the original ending that the reshoots made irrelevant. At the end of the day, the bad-buzz-creating gamble paid off with this well-liked zombie hit. Speaking with the film’s director Marc Forster it was obvious how happy he was to see World War Z not get chewed up at the box office like some foresaw.

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