James McAvoy

What is Casting Couch? It’s starting to wonder how many times Hugh Jackman can play Wolverine before his sideburns start to stick that way. Hot on the heels of the announcement that the original Professor X and Magneto, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, would be joining Bryan Singer’s X-Men: First Class sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, comes word that yet another actor from the original X-Men trilogy, Hugh Jackman, is also negotiating. This makes sense, of course, because Jackman’s brief cameo in First Class was the first indication we got that Matthew Vaughn’s reboot and Singer’s original films might actually exist in the same universe. Now that Singer has Stewart, McKellen, and Jackman on board, the only other actors he needs to poach from those first X-Men movies is…well, no one. It’s kind of amazing how well those movies cast these three guys and how poorly they cast every single other character. Hopefully this is the end of the colliding of worlds. [THR]

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What is Casting Couch? Despite the fact that the movie business seems to be slow to get back to work after the long weekend, it’s a column that’s managed to dig up a couple exciting casting coups. Bryan Singer out-scooped everybody in the news breaking business today when he suddenly started tweeting big updates on how the cast for his upcoming X-Men: First Class sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, was developing. He started off small by first confirming that a few members of the First Class crew would be returning. He tweeted, “I’d like to officially welcome back James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, & Nicholas Hoult to #XMEN for #DaysOfFuturePast.” But then he got a little crazy and started confirming rumors that actors from his original X-Men movies will be joining the film as well by tweeting, “Thrilled to announce @ianmckellen118 (Ian McKellan) & @SirPatStew (Patrick Stewart) are joining the cast of #XMEN #DaysOfFuturePast #magneto #professorX More to come…” Do you think we could get scenes where old Professor X and Magneto meet young Professor X and Magneto? The head spins with awesome possibilities.

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What is Casting Couch? Today it’s proof that if you star in something about sexy young vampires, you will continue to get more work. Warner Bros.’ Lego movie already had names like Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, and Morgan Freeman signed for its voice cast, thus making a stupid-sounding idea suddenly seem promising, but now they’ve really gone and made Lego into a movie that you can start looking forward to. Deadline reports that the film has just added Will Ferrell to its cast as the bad guy, President Business, Liam Neeson as the bad guy’s main henchman, Bad Cop, Parks and Rec’s mustachioed Nick Offerman as a revenge-obsessed pirate, and Community’s cheery-voiced Disney Princess Alison Brie as a member of the protagonist’s team who holds a powerful secret. That may just be the weirdest/most fun cast ever assembled, and it almost makes up for the fact that the movie is going to be in 3D.

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Wanted Movie

A Wanted 2 has been kicking around ever since the first film’s 2008 release. Even after becoming a surprising R-rated success and Mark Millar talking up the project every chance he gets, the likelihood of Wanted 2 seemed dimmer year after year. When Angelina Jolie passed on the sequel, it was publicized as the death knell of the project. Now, with director Timur Bekmambetov making the press rounds for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, he’s remarked the project is now picking up steam, thanks to a “great” and “shocking” idea he came up with. The Playlist got an update from Bekmambetov, who explained the bright future for the project, “An unbelievable thing happened three weeks ago. Because we stopped, we didn’t know what to do for three or four years. Three weeks ago I came up with a great idea and I pitched this idea and everybody fell in love with it. And now I think we’re on track. Right now the writer is working on the script, and it will be shocking.” As we all know, not too many characters made it out of Wanted still breathing, except, of course, Wesley Gibson. Bekmambetov confirmed it would pick up where the first film left off, “It’s a continuation of the story, with Wesley Gibson… Other people are dead, you know, we can’t bring them back. The story is the same character, same mythology, but it’s got a great twist.”

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James McAvoy to Star in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Last we heard, hot commodities Jessica Chastain and Joel Edgerton were set to star as a married couple in Ned Benson‘s very ambitious double feature, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, but despite that official announcement back in February, it appears that Edgerton is out and James McAvoy is now in. Another press release from Myriad Pictures announces that McAvoy will now play the male lead in Benson’s perspective-bending marital dramas, with Chastain still a go to play the female lead. Benson (In Defiance of Gravity) has written both scripts and will also direct both films. Eleanor Rigby is an extreme case of using two perspectives to tell one story, as Benson wasn’t satisfied with making just one movie split between narrators, he’s now crafted two entirely different films to be told by each character. The films will be officially titled The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her. The plot of the films centers on McAvoy and Chastain’s couple, a married pair in New York City, and how they deal “with an emotional, life-altering experience, from the two different perspectives of the husband, Conor, a restaurant owner, and of the wife, Eleanor, who goes back to college.” While there’s no indication of just what that life-altering experience is, the film is also billed specifically as a love story, so take from that what you will. Of course, the title could be totally goddamn literal and Chastain could be named after a Beatles song and she […]

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X-Men: First Class ended up being the miracle of last summer. With the quick production schedule and the less-said-about-it-the-better X3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, who would’ve thought we’d get the best in the series yet? Well, we did. If you’ve seen the first three films of the franchise, you really don’t have to be an analytical comic book nerd to notice a few continuity problems. Or, if you want to look at it in a brighter and more logical light, it was Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and the brass at Fox starting anew. With Vaughn recently announced to helm the sequel to his poppy origin story, hopefully he’ll continue to build a new X-Men film universe. Who wouldn’t want to see characters like Gambit and Angel all finally given justice, and in the 1970s nonetheless? I would. Whether or not that’ll happen is still up in the air, but it seems plausible. Although Jane Goldman isn’t officially attatched to pen the sequel and she’s got plenty of other projects on her schedule, I couldn’t help but to discuss the potential of a sequel, as well as her plans for Nate Simpson‘s Nonyplayer:

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr gets his grading done early because school is off for the rest of the week. With three family movies opening in theaters for the Thanksgiving weekend, Kevin tries to keep things respectable. Reliving his childhood, he sings and dances his way into the theater for the revival of The Muppets, then takes a serious look at 3D and avant-garde filmmaking with Martin Scorsese’s latest film Hugo. Finally, he bundles up and heads to the North Pole on a search for Santa and his family, knowing it has to be exactly like it is depicted in Arthur Christmas. Movies don’t lie, after all, do they?

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Most Christmas films are too often saddled with the same basic plotlines and tropes – “new” takes on A Christmas Carol or a focus on dysfunctional families gathering for the holiday or something about locating the perfect present – but few of those spins on the genre can match the magic of the good ol’ “but just how does Santa do it?” plot. How does Santa Claus make it around the world in just one night to deliver toys to all the good boys and girls, with only a sled and eight reindeer to aid in his journey? Well, according to Sarah Smith’s Arthur Christmas, he doesn’t. At least not anymore. In Arthur Christmas, Smith and her co-writer Peter Baynham (who, strangely enough, also scripted this year’s Arthur remake) imagine a traditional Santa-Claus-at-the-North-Pole concept, but one that’s been turned on its head by the influx and influence of new technology. Santa and Mrs. Santa’s (Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton, giving the film some real British brio) eldest son, Steve (Hugh Laurie), has revitalized the way that Christmas is done at the North Pole, while youngest Arthur (James McAvoy) is still pleased as Christmas punch to keep doing things in the old style. Steve has outfitted each elf with a HOHO (an elf smart phone named after an acronym too fun to spoil here), while Arthur spends his days as a Mail Agent who is most happy to write back (with pen and paper and everything!) to each boy and girl […]

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Gwen is on a bit of a vacation this week, so I’m taking over writing duties for the one column on the site that forces us to ogle and think deeply at the same time. Hopefully I do it justice. Hopping into a cinematic time machine to set a film in a different decade is always a precarious occupation, but for X-Men: First Class (a movie that doesn’t seem exactly topical despite coming out two months ago), the danger of portraying the men and women of 1962 was even more difficult. Sure, Mad Men had come along and made the sleek chauvinism of the 60s chic again, but Matthew Vaughn and company had to juggle the suspension of disbelief inherent in spotlighting mutants alongside the possible cartoon that forms whenever a guy in a tight cummerbund slaps a woman on the ass and goes back to enjoying being white and male in America. So is X-Men: First Class anti-feminist or a sexy love note to the powerful women of our world? That’s a tough call. And since it’s a tough call, here’s an attempt at giving both arguments equal weight.

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Danny Boyle’s upcoming art heist movie Trance has had a bit of a problem casting its leads. Every time they seem to go after an actor, he gets too busy to commit to the film. I guess that’s the breaks when you’re going after the best people in the business. Things seem to be a go for James McAvoy to play the lead role of Simon, however; so there is some traction for the film’s development. And if this next casting rumor ends up coming to fruition, suddenly Trance will go from being a project I am vaguely following, to a movie I’m dying to see.

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In a move closely related to a similar one I made while trading X-Men cards with the kid down the street when I was twelve, Danny Boyle is trading a Magneto for a Professor Xavier. Variety is reporting that Boyle’s upcoming dark thriller Trance, which is an interesting sounding art heist movie, is close to signing a leading man. Originally it was thought that Michael Fassbender was the leading candidate to step into the starring role of Simon, but at some point he must have dropped out of the project. Not a lot is known about the plot of this film, but I think it’s safe to assume that Simon is probably the best in the world at stealing art, and most likely something goes wrong during the particular heist that this film details. Dang, that would have been a sweet role to see Fassbender play. But not all is lost, Boyle must be a fan of X-Men: First Class, because he seems to have had a pretty quick backup plan to losing Fassbender, and it’s going after Fassbender’s co-star from that Mathew Vaughn directed super hero joint, James McAvoy. I’ve got something of a Fassbender crush going on right now, so there aren’t that many actors who could have jumped into this role instead of him and kept my excitement level up, but McAvoy is one of them. Hopefully negotiations are swift and positive. If we get word soon that Boyle is looking at Kevin Bacon to play some […]

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Culture Warrior

Themes of identity, difference, stigma, and othering are explicitly or implicitly present in much of the X-Men mythology, whether expressed through comics, television shows, or films. While I was never a devotee to the comics, as a fan of the 90s animated television series and (some of) the recent slate of Hollywood films (that have, as of this past weekend, effectively framed the continually dominant superhero blockbuster genre), I’ve always been fascinated by the series’ ability to take part in the language of social identity issues. Fantastic genres like horror and sci-fi have often provided an allegorical means of addressing social crises (vampire films as AIDS metaphor, zombie movie as conformist critique, or Dystopian sci-fi as technocratic critique, for example). The superhero genre has possessed a similar history in this capacity, even though it has thus far been mostly unrealized in the medium of film. As big entertainment, superhero films ranging from the first Spider-Man to the Iron Man films have bestowed narratives of exceptionalism and wish-fulfillment rather than shown any aspiration towards critique or insight. Perhaps The Dark Knight is most involved example of social critique thus far – a film that explores themes surrounding the personal toll on fighting terror and the overreaches of power that can result in the name of pursuing safety. What X-Men: First Class (almost) accomplishes is mining fully the allegorical territory made available by its fantastic premise in a way that few previous comic book films have.

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The initial announcement that Fox would forgo a third X-Men sequel in favor of a Muppet Babies-like reboot wasn’t met with much enthusiasm. A rushed production schedule, a director coming off the divisive Kick-Ass, and some highly suspect early marketing images didn’t help matters any, but now that the movie is actually here it can be judged on the only thing that matters… the movie itself. And goddamn is it great. Maybe even the best of the series…

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Erik Lensherr/Magneto mustn’t be the easiest of characters to jump into. Can you imagine being on set trying to look serious while throwing your hands around to make it seem as if you’re controlling metal? And, at the same time, while sporting a big cape and a purple helmet? Playing drama seriously – especially when wearing a potentially goofy outfit and doing unworldly things – can’t be easy. But, as Michael Fassbender says below, you just have to jump in and take chances. While many keep citing Fassbender’s take on Magneto in X-Men: First Class as being very Bond-esque, that doesn’t totally fit with how he describes the role. Yes, there’s a coolness factor to him, something that apparently sticks out even more when he’s hunting down Nazis in the film, but it was important for Fassbender to subtlety find a tragic anger to the future villain. Recently, I had the chance to speak briefly with Fassbender (whose résumé would already make some veteran actors jealous) about working on a control freak’s set, trying not to look goofy, and finding humanity in potential bastards.

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It’s tricky tackling a comic book film. For starters, one is generally adapting fairly fantastical ideas. Secondly, if a comic book film gets too serious, it can easily lose a sense of fun and self-awareness. Director Matthew Vaughn seems to have found a good middle ground for his superhero epic, X-Men: First Class. The genre favorite director could not have made more of a 180° turn from Kick-Ass to X-Men: First Class, both in terms of scope and his approach to the genre. Kick-Ass was the first – or most notable – modern comic book film to turn the genre on its bloody ear. Now, Vaughn is working in the genre he just previously deconstructed, which, as Vaughn says, makes him even better suited for it. Here’s what the candid and always confident Matthew Vaughn had to say about not taking comic book properties too seriously, making a film for his broadest audience ever, and reading fanboys on the internet.

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Official images have all been released, the trailers have been scrutinized, screenings of the completed film have been shown, and it’s getting to be about the end of the pre-release publicity party for Mathew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class. So what’s a 24-hour a day media cycle to do when looking for something else to talk about? Look ahead to the sequel of course! Luckily for all of us Vaughn recently sat down for a chat with Hitfix’s Drew McWeeny and let a couple of juicy nuggets slip about possible plans for a First Class sequel. Firstly, on the possibility of him doing such a thing, Vaughn said, “Yeah, definitely. I really loved working with them, and with Michael [Fassbender] and James [McAvoy], the chemistry was really lovely.” Of course, that’s pretty much what any director is going to say about a possible sequel to his upcoming, hopefully huge super hero movie. But Vaughn doesn’t just stop at saying everyone is wonderful and everyone got along great. He’s got some concrete plans about what he wants to do in a sequel. He continues, “I’ve got some ideas for the opening for the next film. I thought it would be fun to open with the Kennedy Assassination, and we reveal that the magic bullet was controlled by Magneto. That would explain the physics of it, and we see that he’s pissed off because Kennedy took all the credit for saving the world and mutants weren’t even mentioned. And we could go from there, and I’ve […]

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Brimming with bleak melodrama, the new X-Men: First Class trailer has hit, showing off the glowering characters and huge action that will hopefully add up to a hell of a movie. It builds on the previous trailer by adding in a little more character detail and the reason why they fight. Check it out for yourself:

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Everyone remembers where they were when they first heard that President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated. I was in third grade, under the creepy Catholic tutelage of Sister Hermina (she refused to die!), and the lesson on Lincoln’s presidency had come to dramatic and shocking conclusion. Granted, those aren’t the words I would have used to describe it at the time, but I do recall feeling frustrated, confused, and angered at the tall, bearded man’s death. So why open a film review with a reference to a grade school history lesson? Because the film in question, Robert Redford’s The Conspirator, feels like a two-hour lecture on some of the very same material. Viewers learn about the coordinated assault against Lincoln and two members of his cabinet, the capture and conviction of those responsible, and their subsequent hangings for the crimes. While the material here is more detailed than the lesson taught by zombie nun it’s also presented dryly, without any real energy, emotion, or drama, and very much in the spirit of a made-for-television movie. It doesn’t help matters that Redford uses his directorial lectern to include some incredibly unsubtle and politicized comparisons to our own modern day battles between personal freedoms and national security.

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It’s been a good week for Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class. In fact, everything appears to be running smooth on Fox’s mutant reboot (are we still calling it that?) ever since a leaked photo and a pair of awful posters set the internet ablaze with anger. Everything from the excellent trailer to movie sites like this one running fan-created poster contests. Never has a movie been marketed so poorly, yet ultimately received so much positive attention. Perhaps that was the plan all along. If so, it’s working. Tonight we’ve got only the good stuff. A fan made title sequence that will drop your jaw and a trio of stylish covers for Total Film magazine, decked out with the likes of Erik Lensherr, Charles Xavier and Emma Frost. It’s all very Mad Men, so I think you’ll dig it.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr spent the night in jail after trying to sneak in and see Justin Bieber: Never Say Never 3D. The cops didn’t believe him that he was trying to watch the latest remake of Thunderball. Sadly, they just saw a pervy looking fat guy squealing and crying with a group of thirteen year old girls. Fortunately, he had a chance to catch the other movies of the week, including Gnomeo and Juliet, Just Go With It and The Eagle. He also gives a little bit of love (what’s left of it anyway after spending the night in lock-up) to the Oscar-Nominated Shorts.

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