Armie Hammer

Man from UNCLE

Guy Ritchie’s take on NBC’s espionage series is arriving early next year, with a theatrical debut January 16, 2015, over Martin Luther King weekend. Starring Man of Steel’s Henry Cavill, this will be the first return of the property to mainstream audiences in over thirty years. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. ran from 1964 to 1968, and starred secret agents Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) and, no joke, a guy named Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn), as a two-man team defending the free world from the nefarious organization, THRUSH. One of the unique aspects of the show was creator Sam Rolfe and producer Norman Felton’s narrative of international cooperation, with the two main agents hailing from North America and Russia, working for an international organization united under one cause.

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Jared Harris

Guy Ritchie‘s adaptation of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. begins shooting in less than a week – specifically, on September 9 – so this latest casting announcement comes just in the nick of time. Jared Harris, best known for his roles in Mad Men and Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, has been cast in the upcoming spy-thriller-action-comedy-TV adaptation. What we don’t know, however, is what role Harris will be playing. The film doesn’t have its villain yet, and Harris has a certain high-class charm that would lend itself perfectly to a sneering spy villain role. Plus, Harris was the villain in Ritchie’s last directorial outing (the aforementioned Sherlock Holmes sequel) and the rest of the cast has already been filled in. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer will be playing lead spies Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, with Alicia Vikander as a fellow agent, Elizabeth Debicki as some kind of femme fatale, and Hugh Grant as the head of British Naval Intelligence. I can only assume we’ll see them all on some world-saving spy mission at the behest of U.N.C.L.E., the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.

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The Investigation Into The News Of The World Phone Hacking Allegations Continues

Though the big screen adaptation of A Man From U.N.C.L.E spent quite a bit of time being one of those doomed projects that kept cycling through directors and stars without ever actually getting made, lately it’s solidified itself as a spy movie that’s not only looking like it’s really going to happen, but is actually looking like it’s going to happen pretty darn soon. Director Guy Ritchie has stuck with the film and overseen its development, even through some ups and downs, Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer have been attached as agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin long enough now that it doesn’t seem likely they’re going to drop out at this point, and the film has even begun to fill out the rest of its cast by recruiting Swedish beauty Alicia Vikander as the female lead and Australian vision Elizabeth Debicki as a femme fatale. Things are looking good. Need even more proof that U.N.C.L.E. is no longer in trouble, and is actually now gearing up to go into production? Well, another big name has just been enticed into joining the film in a supporting role, and he’s one who lends the espionage pic some additional international flavor.

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elizabeth_debicki_in_the_great_gatsby-wide

The potential reimagining of the classic TV spy series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. for the big screen is a project that we’ve been hearing about for so long that it’s begun to feel like one of those doomed productions that’s never going to happen. Or maybe it even feels like it came out a year or so ago, and nobody we know saw it, so we’ve already forgotten about it completely. Neither is the case though. U.N.C.L.E. has not yet come out, and it does indeed seem to still be happening. It’s just had something of a troubled history. The whole thing started out as a Steven Soderbergh film that was going to star George Clooney, then it became a Steven Soderbergh film that seemingly nobody wanted to star in, then that incarnation of the film came apart completely, then it became a Guy Ritchie film that was going to star Tom Cruise, and then Cruise dropped out as well. That’s about the time everybody kind of gave up on it. But Ritchie has kept working, quietly assembled the core of his cast, and now that he’s hired a promising up-and-comer to fill a supporting position, it’s looking like this is a project that’s actually got its ducks in a row and is getting ready to shoot.

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loneranger09

Despite their best efforts and truly masterfully applied eyeliner, Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp could not get audiences excited to see The Lone Ranger over the Independence Day weekend. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Disney blockbuster is expecting a $150m loss worldwide on top of its bloated budget. The western, based on a 1930s radio program and 1950s TV show, only managed to bring in $48.9m domestically in its five-day opening. Compare that to the $250m production budget and the $175m in marketing, and we’re approaching John Carter levels of disaster. So what went wrong? People love it when Depp dresses up in whimsical costumes and wobbles precariously on moving vehicles. The film even reunited the Pirates of the Caribbean dream team of Depp, director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. But let’s not forget that Bruckheimer + Disney does not always equal success. For every Pirates, there’s a Prince of Persia: Sands of Time lurking under the surface.

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The Lone Ranger 2013

There’s a scene late in Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger in which Rebecca Reid (Ruth Wilson) is bonked on the head by a large piece of coal in the middle of a heart-stopping runaway train sequence. The result of such an action (will her eyes roll back in her head in a dizzy, cartoonish manner? will she be maimed for life by the sharp rock? is there going to be more blood for us to deal with?) seems nothing short of entirely arbitrary. Anything could happen post-coal-bonking, and within the context of The Lone Ranger, that sort of thing isn’t exciting or fun or interesting, it’s distracting and unsettling. It’s also par for the course in a frighteningly (and just plain strangely) uneven attempt at a blockbuster outing. While the criticism that a film is “uneven” is often a meaningless one (don’t all films have their ups and downs? their peaks and valleys?), The Lone Ranger is unavoidably, unabashedly, bizarrely uneven. It’s the only word for it. Tonally, the film seems entirely at war with itself – zinging between cheery hijinks and brutal violence, often within the same scene, and seemingly without any sense of pattern or placement. A PG-13 rating signals that the film is, at the very least, somewhat suitable for tweens, but The Lone Ranger has seemingly sneaked by the MPAA, because it’s one of the bloodiest and most brutal films of its rating in recent memory. A man’s heart is eaten out of his (still beating) […]

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hammer

I was taken aback when greeting a very energized Armie Hammer. Almost immediately I was blinded by his chompers. “Teeth can be this white?” I thought. Yes, they can be. In-person, there’s a movie star quality to Hammer, not only because of his teeth, although they play a big, pearly role. Even at the young age of 26, he has a movie star quality. It’s easy to see why he almost played Batman for George Miller all those years ago. Maybe it’s because of Hammer’s appeal that filmmakers want to give him a beating on screen. With Gore Verbinski‘s The Lone Ranger and Tarsem’s Mirror Mirror, Hammer took his fair share of body blows. Not many people would’ve pegged him as the physical comedy type after the success of The Social Network, but here he is, now in a big Disney tentpole spending most of its running time getting knocked to the floor. Which is what can happen to you if you get too close and look directly into those teeth. Fortunately, I had a pair of sunglasses for our talk.

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Silver

Just in time for the Fourth of July holiday, a great American hero, born from the sands of the very Wild West he helped settle, hits the big screen at a clip so fast that it can only be declared a gallop. Tall, brave, fierce, fast, and funny, Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger seems poised to reintroduce this legend of stage and screen to a whole new pack of fans, while also delighting an adoring public that’s tracked his every step since the 1930’s. We are talking, of course, about Silver. (Who did you think we were talking about? Oh. Oh, that’s awkward.) The Lone Ranger’s long and winding trail to the big screen has been, well, long and winding, with all sorts of budgetary concerns threatening to derail the Armie Hammer- and Johnny Depp-starring take on the American epic before and even during its production. While the film was originally meant to have some heavy supernatural elements (werewolves, anyone?), Verbinski’s final product only retains enough weirdo stuff (carnivorous rabbits, talk of “visions,” and even some cannibalistic tendencies) to keep the film’s sense of “nature being out of balance” going, even as the rest of the production’s awkward issues crumble around it. But Silver, the Lone Ranger’s trusty steed, is chief among the film’s mystical undertones – mainly because he’s deemed a “spirit horse” from the moment he arrives, his faith in Hammer’s John Reid brings him back from the dead, and he has a panache for showing up places […]

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William Fichtner Lone Ranger

William Fichtner isn’t an actor afraid to go big. Maybe that comes with the territory of being a character actor, but no one can ever accuse Fichtner of playing it safe. There are many examples, and perhaps some others better than this one, but take a moment to reflect upon the Martin Lawrence and Danny DeVito comedy vehicle, What’s the Worst that Can Happen?. Not exactly a comedy classic, but, even if you only vaguely remember that movie, you definitely remember Fichtner’s performance as a flamboyant detective. It’s the kind of performance that breathes life into a scene. The same can be said for Disney’s The Lone Ranger. Bartholomew”Butch” Cavendish is a villain with a mustache itching to be twirled, but, as Fichtner put it, he refused to do any twirling of the sort. That’s right, no twirling of any kind. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get to have fun in another Jerry Bruckheimer production, making for his fourth feature with the Hollywood big shot.

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armie hammer harrison bergeron

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. Armie Hammer, who stars in the title role of Disney’s The Lone Ranger, has not been in many films. His first leading role was playing televangelist Billy Graham in the religious, indie biopic Billy: The Early Years, but it’s only since his memorable turn as both Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (aka “the Winklevii”) in 2010’s The Social Network that he’s become a major Hollywood player. It might have been earlier had the George Miller Justice League movie happened, but the casting of Hammer as Batman was not meant to be. Instead, in addition to the double duty as Mark Zuckerberg’s legal adversaries, he’s played prominent supporting characters in J. Edgar and Mirror Mirror and a deleted minor part in Hall Pass. Hammer’s “short start” came not at the very start of his career, but following the Graham film and a number of television gigs, the first of which was as a featured extra on Arrested Development (see him utter his one line here). His appearance in Chandler Tuttle’s sci-fi film 2081 was still a year before he broke out, and yet even for a short it’s a pretty plum role for a relative unknown. He plays the main character in this 25-minute adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s 1961 story “Harrison Bergeron.” Set in the titular year, it’s a tale of a dystopian future in which everyone is equal […]

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tom-cruise

Want to drop a major piece of casting news? Let it loose on the Friday before the season’s first holiday weekend. Deadline Hollywood reports the genuinely surprising news that Tom Cruise has quit the already-beleaguered The Man from U.N.C.L.E. feature he has been attached to since March. The film has already been through a few incarnations, most notably when it was set to be directed by Steven Soderbergh with George Clooney starring, but it looked to finally be on track with Guy Ritchie directing and Armie Hammer co-starring as one half of an agent duo from the United Network Command for Law Enforcement. Cruise has reportedly stepped aside because of good old-fashioned scheduling conflicts, as he is now turning his attention to producing and starring in that upcoming Mission: Impossible sequel (the fifth film in the franchise). With U.N.C.L.E. still set to film this fall, Cruise seemingly had way too much on his plate to do both.

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tatum:levitt

What is Casting Couch? It’s a whole bunch of casting news that’s being hastily compiled in the middle of an extra long work shift, so it apologizes if it’s uncharacteristically curt. Today we’ve got news concerning names ranging from Jennifer Garner all the way to Diddy. Which pair of modern actors would you say are the modern versions of Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra? Fox is willing to bet that it’s Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. According to Deadline, the studio has just acquired the rights to classic film and stage musical Guys and Dolls, and it’s their hope to sign Tatum and Gordon-Levitt to play the iconic roles of Sky Masterson and Nathan Detroit; gambling-addicted friends who make a kind of rapey bet about whether or not they can convince a nice girl to go on a trip to Havana. What do you think, do Tatum and Gordon-Levitt have the singing and dancing talent to pull this off? And are they rapey enough to be right for the parts?

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The Lone Ranger 2013

Gore Verbinski‘s The Lone Ranger hits July 3rd, and it seems sort of perfect for the Independence Day weekend. It’s a western on a massive scale with plenty of explosions and bullets to spare, but if the trailers so far haven’t sealed the deal, this last one should do the trick. For one, it downplays how ridiculous Johnny Depp probably is as Tonto and focuses on the action with a percussive ballet in the background that matches every trigger pull cut for cut. Justice is like the hawk. Sometimes it must go hooded:

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The Lone Ranger 2013

I can’t get over Johnny Depp doing the whole “Kemosabe” schtick as Tonto. Can’t do it. Maybe with time, it’ll get easier, but it makes almost zero sense that amid a sea of modernized remakes and adaptations, Gore Verbinski and Disney would hold tight to a stereotypical trapping from a different era that didn’t seem to know any better. Why deconstruct Wonderland behind Burton but keep the “Me Wantum Wampum” accent on a character that no one under 60 gives a damn about? It’s a small detail, probably. It just seems extra ridiculous. At any rate, they’ve released a new trailer with a few more scenes, and it’s hard to deny that this thing looks fantastic — employing the kind of lush detail and slow-motion destruction that we’ve come to expect alongside the added bonus of top hats and petty coats. Check it out for yourself:

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Justice League Alex Ross

Development has really been heating up the over that Justice League movie. A few months ago, Gangster Squad writer Will Beall was hired to handle script duties, there was word Warner Bros. was eying Ben Affleck to direct, and then we got a director short list including the Wachowskis, Ruben Fleischer, and, who could forget, Brett Ratner. Today the project became even more real, thanks to a resolved legal dispute. The Los Angeles Times is reporting the studio is gearing up fast for a 2013 shoot and a 2015 release, which would pit the film up against The Avengers 2. After that, mostly depending on whether the film’s a hit or not, Warners would then follow up the film with a reboot of Batman and solo films following whatever heroes they decide to put in the movie. So if any of you have been holding your breath for a Hawkman movie, then perhaps your big dream may finally come true.

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The Lone Ranger 2013

Casting Johnny Depp as a Native American was always going to be a strange idea. Even with him claiming his great-grandmother was part Cherokee or Creek, it’s tough to point to the decision and claim that it was motivated by a sense of the role and not by, say, Depp’s incredible bankability as one of the last remaining movie stars. Still, it’s nice to see that the first teaser footage from Gore Verbinski‘s The Lone Ranger – which stars Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the masked avenger of the title – shows off just a hint of Depp’s wondrously stereotypical, “Me Wantum Wampum” accent for the flick. It’s one of those situations where perhaps a racial depiction from the 1930s wasn’t the best thing to keep in a movie for 2013. However, laughable white washing aside, the epic scale and gun metal patina makes the project look visually stunning. Since the film sees theaters in May of next year, expect to learn more about Hammer and Depp’s characters, but for now, enjoy a solid look at the adventurous tone:

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The troubled production history of Gore Verbinski’s upcoming Johnny Depp- and Armie Hammer-starring The Lone Ranger is far too lengthy to fully recap yet again. Suffice to say, Verbinski wants to spend way too much money on the film, he and Disney have gone back and forth on a budget numerous times, and the whole project has almost been killed already due to the disagreements. But eventually concessions were made (including the cutting of an expensive sequence involving a train), and eventually the two sides were able to come to an agreement on a budget of $215m. Back in February we finally got word that production on the film had actually started. It looked like things had finally fallen in place for Disney’s latest crack at making a successful live action feature film, and everything was going to be okay. But that was in February. Now there are reports coming from THR that claim the film is behind schedule and once again over budget. How behind schedule is the movie? Somewhere between days and weeks. And how much have they gone over budget? Reports say that expenses may have swelled to $250m, which was the figure that Disney balked at originally.

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After years with The White Stripes (R.I.P.), collaborative projects like The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, an ex-wife/bandmate that everyone thinks is his sister, and now a new solo album, Jack White‘s been a busy man. While he’s no stranger to film, he’s never composed a film score until now. According to Disney, they’ve hired the slightly mad musician to score The Lone Ranger, the forthcoming movie from Gore Verbinski. The director has worked most often with Hans Zimmer, but there’s no denying that White has incredible musical talent. As for movies, White worked with Alicia Keys on the Quantum of Solace song “Another Way to Die,” he was featured in It Might Get Loud, and he also appeared on “Rome” – the album from Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi which was inspired by Spaghetti Westerns. It’ll be an interesting experiment to see how his vision and talent transpose to the screen.  

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Let’s come right out with it: Mirror Mirror is a disaster; a jokey, stagy bomb that sputters around like the worst faux-clever high school play you’ve ever seen before it mercifully comes to an end. After 10 minutes, I’d had enough. By the time Armie Hammer licks Julia Roberts’s face, I envied the old lady in Airplane! who hanged herself rather than listen to the rest of Ted Striker’s story. There’s nothing worse than a movie featuring material that everyone involved clearly found hilarious, forgetting to let us in on the joke. Director Tarsem Singh (The Fall) is a great visual stylist, but he’s the wrong director for a campy Snow White rehash that’d barely qualify for ABC Family. The movie looks like a grandiose pageant, boasting the filmmaker’s trademark outsized visual compositions and some ridiculous costumes, but it’s tongue-in-cheek slop, with a bunch of phoned-in dramatics and sprinklings of vaudevillian humor that would have been dated during the vaudeville days. Roberts delivers an annoyingly self-absorbed turn as the evil Queen, who appoints minion Brighton (Nathan Lane, giving the exact performance you’d expect) to kill her step daughter Snow White (Lily Collins), the famed “fairest of them all.” A proud young woman, Snow naturally escapes her fate, finding her way to the seven dwarfs in the process. Together, they engage in banditry and plot to take back the kingdom, while winning over a hopelessly slow-witted handsome prince (Hammer) in the process.

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If you enjoy things that get bigger when you click them, then this first picture from The Lone Ranger (via The Film Stage) is going to thrill you. As if to prove that this thing isn’t an elaborate fantasy, the production has provided this image taken during its first week of filming. It’s here to say, “See! We promise we’re actually making this thing! We’ve got costumes and make-up and domino masks and everything!” Armie Hammer‘s costume is a bit straightforward, but it’s clear that Johnny Depp‘s Tonto is effectively a Goth Captain Jack Sparrow. The crazier, the better. What do you think?

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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