Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie and Louis Zamperini

Louis Zamperini lived just about one of the craziest lives imaginable. A first-generation American, he went from being a young punk who grew up during the Depression and was the scourge of local law enforcement, to being an Olympian who ran in the Berlin Olympics and got a personal meet-and-greet with Hitler, to being a bombardier who fought against Axis forces in the second World War, to surviving on a life raft in the Pacific Ocean for 47 days while eating raw fish and drinking rain water, to being held in a Japanese POW camp, to eventually being a married man and motivational speaker. It’s the sort of story that Hollywood loves to turn into movies. But, due to all of the inherent drama in the subject matter and the delicacy with which it needs to be handled, it’s also the sort of movie that Hollywood tends to turn into sappy melodramas. So, seeing as Zamperini’s upcoming biopic, Unbroken, is being put together by Angelina Jolie, who’s only had one previous go-around at being a director (In the Land of Blood and Honey), sappiness is certainly a concern. There are a couple of indications that Jolie and company are going to get the execution right on this one though, and now that the film aired a teaser during the Olympics, we’ve all got a much better idea of what to expect. Click through to check it out.

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Maleficent

The promise of Maleficent is that it redirects our view on the nasty villain who forced Princess Aurora into an egregiously long nap. Drawing on the legacy of other baddie-contextualizing work like “Grendel” and “Wicked,” it theoretically turns a wicked witch into the central character of the story to provide a meaningful, understandable reason as to why she’s a horrible, terrible beast woman. But the trailer doesn’t bode well for that promise. Or at least the CGI doesn’t.

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Anglina Jolie Maleficent

Disney has finally released the highly anticipated teaser trailer for Maleficent, giving us the first look at Angelina Jolie as the beautiful, intimidating horned villain to Elle Fanning‘s Sleeping Beauty. If you can recall back to your childhood, the film tells the other side of Sleeping Beauty, from the perspective of the evil sorceress who put the curse on Princess Aurora that sent her into a charmed sleep only broken by true love’s kiss. The teaser doesn’t offer much in terms of plot, but it’s a glimpse into a gorgeous, dark world far beyond the 1959 original. Gone is the bright, sing-songy storybook realm where Aurora and the good fairies lived peacefully until Maleficent’s curse; the new landscape is enveloped in shadows and guarded by thorns (and a boatload of CGI) — because we’ve entered the world how Maleficent sees it now.

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Angelina Jolie

Two weeks ago, I told you that Robert Downey Jr. was the real Tony Stark when it was revealed that he was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood after having made a unfathomable $75m between June 2012 and June 2013. Now, Forbes has released their list of highest-paid actresses, and it appears that Angelina Jolie is supreme queen, raking in $33m in the same time period. Despite not having a huge film in theaters for over three years (2010’s The Tourist with Johnny Depp), Jolie’s starpower is apparently enough to keep her at the top of the chart. She was able to nab a paycheck north of $15m for next summer’s Maleficent, and did well with her writing and directing venture, the Bosnian war drama In the Land of Blood and Honey. Jolie is a bonafide movie star in that she even outranks The Girl on Fire by $7m. Jennifer Lawrence had an insane 2012, and with $26m in her pocket 2013 is probably looking even better. Lawrence won the Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook, and ushered in a new era of Hunger Games mania as Our Lady of Badassery, Katniss Everdeen. The Hunger Games made $690m off a $80m budget, and though Lawrence made less than $1m for the first film, her paycheck was promptly bumped up following its success. Go girl. Not to mention, Lawrence is also part of the X-Men franchise as young Mystique, and received earnings from those films as well.

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depp

What is Casting Couch? It’s the place to go to find out which upcoming movies are going to star which actors. Keep reading to discover the cast of veterans Adam Carolla wants you to help him make a movie with. Given Johnny Depp’s penchant for always sporting flashy accessories and conspicuous facial hair, his next project should prove to be right in his wheelhouse. The Wrap is reporting that he’s all set to star in Mortdecai, which is an adaptation of Kyril Bonfiglioli‘s comedic crime novel “The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery,” and possibly the launcher of a new franchise for the actor. David Koepp (Premium Rush) will direct the film, which will cast Depp as Charlie Mortdecai, a dashing art dealer who often finds himself caught up in espionage and intrigue. This particular Mortdecai story is one that involves rare paintings and Nazi gold, which most of the best stories often do.

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Louis Zamperini has an amazing life story. He ran in the Berlin Olympics of 1936 where he shook Adolf Hitler’s hand because the leader wanted to meet him. He then fought in WWII, flying with  a B-24 bomber in the Pacific Islands before a mechanical failure brought his plane and the 11 men in it down. Only three men survived, Zamperini included, and they ate raw fish and drank captured rain water for 47 days while fighting off shark attacks before washing ashore in the Marshall Islands where they were taken as POWs by the Japanese. Zamperini was torture by one of the 40 most wanted war criminals of the time but survived for two years before finally seeing his release at the end of the war. Oh, and he’s still alive. He’s 96 and, clearly, he cannot be killed.

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Angelina Jolie Unbroken

After completing her feature directorial debut with 2011′s Bosnian War-set drama, In the Land of Blood and Honey, multi-hyphenate Angelina Jolie has been mum on what her next directing gig will be (though we did get those hilarious rumors that she was on deck to helm Fifty Shades of Grey), so it does come as a bit of a surprise that we’re first catching wind of her probable next project, an adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand‘s bestselling “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” via press release. Curiouser still is the fact that the release only says Jolie is “in talks” to direct the film, as such official announcements are usually reserved for, well, more official announcements. What does that mean? Yeah, this is probably a done deal. Jolie is “in talks” to helm the film for Universal Pictures and Walden Media, one which follows “the incredible life story of Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner of war camp.” That’s right, Jolie is going back to a war camp for her next feature. Can’t someone get her a rom-com? We’re sad already.

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Anglina Jolie Maleficent

Production on Maleficent started on June 13th, and the movie won’t be in theaters until March 14th of (wait for it) 2014, but Disney has already released a teaser image of star Angelina Jolie as the iconic, evil witch queen who really hates Sleeping Beauty. To be fair, without Maleficent, the fair-haired heroine would just be called “Beauty,” and that name was already taken, so she probably wouldn’t have a cool nickname at all. Credit has to be given to Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked” for birthing a modern fascination with the villain’s side of the story (but mad respect to the old school “Grendel”), and the Robert Stromberg-directed fairy tale promises just that for Jolie. Although this will be the directorial debut for the veteran effects designer, the writing team features both Paul Dini and Linda Woolverton, so there’s a lot to be hopeful for. Plus, the cast also includes Elle Fanning, Juno Temple, Sharlto Copley and a ton of other solid names. Clicking on the image makes it largified. [Disney]

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Angelina Jolie

I’ve spent the entire morning checking to see if they somehow changed June 8th to April Fool’s Day. No such luck, but this rumor is so absurd that it either has to be correct or has to be mined from an anonymous user on the message board of a fanfic blog. Or it comes from Deadline Seattle. The paper thin report alleges that Universal has been in talks with Angelina Jolie to direct at least the first film in the trilogy based on E.L. James’s “Fifty Shades of Grey.” The project is a massive one according to studio math because the books have been so popular (over ten million copies sold in 37 countries), so theoretically getting a high profile name attached as director could help the business side of things. On the other hand, this seems like a massive gamble. Is it supposed to be a tentpole film like Hunger Games and Twilight? It has a huge built-in fanbase, but will that be enough to ensure it’s worth the price tag? Can’t people go rewatch Secretary and Indecent Proposal instead? Why are we asking all these questions? And what are the odds that this rumor is anywhere near true?

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Disney has finally cast the cherry on top of its long-gestating revisionist take on the Sleeping Beauty myth, setting up young Aussie actor Brenton Thwaites to play the prince to Angelina Jolie‘s evil Maleficent and Elle Fanning‘s innocent Princess Aurora. In the classic fairy tale, the part is generally referred to as Prince Phillip, but Deadline Evil Dark Woods doesn’t let on if that will be the case in Robert Stromberg‘s take on the tale. Despite his name, Thwaites is not a type of bread and he’s also not a knock-off of clothing brand Benetton, he’s one of those Aussie actor kids who cut his teeth on two of their many, many television series. Thwaites did a ten-episode run on SLiDe and also starred on continual favorite, Home and Away. He’ll next be seen as the male star in Lifetime’s take on The Blue Lagoon, next month’s Blue Lagoon: The Awakening (ew). Other stars who did their time on Aussie TV? Chris Hemsworth, Ryan Kwanten, Rose Byrne, Toni Collette, Portia di Rossi, and Liam Hemsworth. It’s nothing to sniff at and no one should be surprised if Thwaites ends up the next Hollywood It Boy. Hey! Maybe we can cast him in Catching Fire!

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We’ve been pretty closely following the development and casting news of Ridley Scott‘s The Counselor (written by no less than Cormac McCarthy), and while the bulk of casting so far has been quite exciting (Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt, to name the big guns), this is the first rumor that gives us pause. Twitch Film is reporting that Cameron Diaz has landed a role in the film, one Angelina Jolie was once hotly pursuing. The role of Malkina is one of two big female parts in the film, making this one of Diaz’s most juicy (and somewhat unexpected) gigs yet. While Diaz has yet to show that she’s capable of truly carrying a dark and dramatic role on her own, she has dipped her toe in interesting fare, stuff like The Box, Gangs of New York, and Being John Malkovich. She’s also continued to work on her comedic talents, showing a sort of weird fearlessness in recent roles, particularly the not-so-flattering Bad Teacher. And, hell, she’s even playing the female lead in the Coen brothers-penned Gambit remake, so perhaps Diaz is ready to take the next step in her acting career.

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After years of rumors and buzz, Disney’s live-action take on the Angelina Jolie-starring Maleficent is finally zipping along full steam ahead. THR reports (via Cinema Blend) that Elle Fanning is now set to star as Princess Aurora (best known to those not in the fairy tale know as Sleeping Beauty), along with a murderer’s row of the other prime cinematic talent. Fanning was rumored to be in talks back in March (thanks to a nifty exclusive over at Twitch), but it’s nice to get some confirmation on what’s really lovely casting. The outlet also appears to confirm that Sharlto Copley, who is going on a job-accepting tear, is set to co-star as “Stefan, the half-human, half-fairy bastard son of the human king.” The rest of the cast will now include including Imelda Staunton and Lesley Manville as Knotgrass and Flittle (two of three pixies who care for Princess Aurora), Miranda Richardson as fairy Queen Ulla (also Maleficent’s aunt, though she reportedly doesn’t like her so much), Sam Riley as Diaval (Maleficent’s “right-hand man who can transform into a raven”), and Kenneth Cranham as the human king looking to rule the fairy kingdom as well. While this casting is all well and good, we appear to be missing a vital role – the handsome prince!

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The casting process for Ridley Scott’s next project, The Counselor, has been an absolute dream for people who like to write down famous people’s names. After going through a laundry list of the biggest actors working in Hollywood, Scott has seemed to settle on the titanic trio of Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt to play the three main male roles in this Cormac McCarthy-penned, lawyer-gone-bad drama. There has yet to be a consensus on who’s going to play the lead female role, that of the Fassbender character’s fianceé, however. The most recent buzz was that Pitt’s real-life fianceé Angelina Jolie was being looked at to come on board, but that never sounded like anything more than a long shot. And, sure enough, a recent report from THR claims that the actress’ role in the upcoming Disney film, Maleficent, would conflict with The Counselor’s shooting schedule.

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When Cormac McCarthy writes a script for Hollywood, it seems that everyone and their brother comes out of the woodwork to try and get a job on the production, right quick. It wasn’t long after it was announced that his original screenplay, The Counselor, existed before it was also announced that Ridley Scott would be directing and Michael Fassbender was attached to play the lead role. And ever since then, there’s been a who’s who of entertainment industry royalty lining up to get in on the fun. Not too long ago it was said that Javier Bardem and Jeremy Renner were being looked at for the two remaining male roles, that of the villain and a drug runner, and that Natalie Portman was showing interest in coming in as the female lead.

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For the uninitiated who might think that Maleficent is just a nonsense word (you know, like me), it might seem strange that Disney is so gung-ho about putting together an Angelina Jolie-starring film using such gibberish as a title. But for those in the know, the situation is a lot more clear. You see, Maleficent is the name of the Evil Queen in the classic fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty,” and Maleficent is an upcoming feature that means to tell the Sleeping Beauty story from the perspective of said Queen. The big question about this prospective project is whether or not Maleficent will be able to do for Evil Queens what Wicked did for Wicked Witches. Given Jolie’s recent track record when it comes to quality of projects, and the fact that its director, Robert Stromberg, is sitting in the chair for the first time ever, things weren’t looking so certain. But with a little bit of new casting news, suddenly the future is looking much brighter.If Maleficent is set to be our protagonist, then the other big casting question as far as this film is concerned is who will be playing the evil and sleepy Princess Aurora. According to Twitch, it may just be Elle Fanning.

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Back in 1996 when Billy Bob Thornton directed his first feature, Sling Blade, I thought that he had made his mark and was going to become one of the big directors working in Hollywood. That never happened, though. After that he only directed the Cormac McCarthy adaptation All the Pretty Horses in 2000 and then Daddy and Them, a movie I don’t even remember existing, in 2001. I guess the guy just decided that he’d rather be an actor than a director. And that’s fine, but now that he’s getting a bit older it seems like the directing bug might have bit once again. Last year he directed both a Willie Nelson documentary called The King of Luck, which is currently looking for distribution deals, and a dramatic film called Jayne Mansfield’s Car, which just played Berlinale. And apparently he’s not stopping there, because Variety has news that Thornton and his writing partner Tom Epperson are already set to collaborate on another project that Thornton will helm. The film, called And Then We Drove, is the first under $20m feature that will spring from a $120m film fund started by producer Alexander Rodnyansky. Why did Rodnyansky choose this project to be the first of the up to 6 films he will fund? He said, “I found the story amazing. It’s a pretty new combination of genres to put into one movie,” then concluded by adding, “It’s based on his experiences in many ways.”

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On the surface, In the Land of Blood and Honey seems like a vanity project of sorts for its maker, Angelina Jolie. After all, the actress/humanitarian/super-mom is one of the few figures in Hollywood who could strive to make a Bosnian War-set Romeo and Juliet with subtitles and actually get it done. Yet the finished project suggests that we might have found a new director to watch. Jolie brings a sincere, serious vision to this ambitious enterprise. Crafted with a veteran’s skill, the film ably traverses a range of emotions, from the intimate warmth of bedside scenes to the cold, calculated brutality of war at its most horrific. Shooting mostly in Hungary but working with an all-Bosnian cast, Jolie brings alive the terrible, destructive ethnic conflict that erupted between 1992 and 1995, after the former Yugoslavia split apart. Her narrative imparts the conflict’s heartaches through its focus on the forbidden, strife-ridden romance between Ajla (Zana Marjanovic), a Muslim artist, and Serbian policeman Danijel (Goran Kostic).

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On the heels of yesterday’s renewed confirmation that Angelina Jolie is on tap to play Cleopatra comes news that the actress is looking to play yet another strong female leader in a fact-based film. Jolie is now attached to star in Gertrude Bell, a biopic about the “female Lawrence of Arabia” who had a huge stake in crafting the “modern framework” of both Jordan and Iraq. While Bell is not a widely-known name, she was an essential part of the restructuring of the former Ottoman Empire, and her life story is rich enough and deserving enough of a big-scale biopic. Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions is producing the film, and Scott himself is reportedly considering the film as a directorial outing as well. The director is, however, quite busy, and is considering two other projects for directing aside from Gertrude Bell. Those projects include Gucci, based on the fashion family in their 70s and 80s heyday, and Child 44, a serial killer flick that takes place in Stalinist Russia. Scott will presumably pick one of these projects after his Prometheus opens on June 8, 2012 (a film which is already getting sequel buzz).

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Actors turned directors are a fascinating breed as their natural desire to be seen and noticed is often forced to take a backseat to what and who is visible onscreen. Well, unless they insist on directing and starring for their directorial debut. The difference can be incredibly varied as anyone who’s seen both Gone Baby Gone and Harlem Nights can attest. For every The Night of the Hunter there are a handful of Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier‘s. And as a fan of movies both good and deliriously bad I wouldn’t have it any other way. And while Angelina Jolie isn’t the first actor to step behind the camera, she may be the first bobble-head to do so. I kid. But seriously, her head is too big for her body. Despite that physical impairment Jolie has carved a solid niche for herself as Hollywood’s go to action heroine with occasional side trips into more dramatic (but less interesting) territory. Like most actors it seems, she’s decided that what she really want to do is direct, and the initial fruits of that labor are finally ready to be revealed. In the Land of Blood & Honey is a drama about a doomed and fairly twisted relationship between a Muslim woman and a Serbian soldier in war-torn Bosnia. Romance and tragedy are intertwined with a glimpse into one of the many dark spots in humanity’s recent history. It may or may not sound like much, but judging by the first trailer […]

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As if anticipating the announcement of a sequel, I finally watched Salt last week and enjoyed it. The storyline is so absurd that I looked for a writing credit from Mel Brooks, but it’s a capable action thriller that turns into a hilarious cartoon in the last minute. What’s not to like? Now Deadline Sakha is reporting that Sony is ready for more killing and has hired Kurt Wimmer to write the script for Salt 2. Going back to the original’s writer is somewhat encouraging (and Wimmer will always get a soft pass from me for writing Equilibrium), and it’s assumed by Deadline that Angelina Jolie will be on board “if it comes together right.” Empty speculation aside (what actor wouldn’t want to join a project if it came together correctly?), Jolie returning makes more sense than her character returning for a new Wanted installment, so at least logic is on the studio’s side. It’s unclear if director Phillip Noyce will come back to the franchise, but he’s not exactly idle; his name is attached to a handful of projects that might or might not get off the ground (as things often do or do not do). Regardless, this thing hinges on Jolie more than anyone else. If she approves the script, we’ll be seeing more from the woman on the run.

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