Natalie Portman

Jaimie Alexander in Thor The Dark World

When news hit yesterday that Thor would become a woman in the pages of Marvel comics, speculation was immediate about whether the character could also switch gender on the big screen. Considering the change in the books is not just a short-term thing, according to Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso (“We have no real exit plan,” he told Time), there’s good reason to think it could impact the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Chris Hemsworth has three more movies in his contract with Marvel Studios, one of which is next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. Another installment each of the Avengers and Thor series is expected to fill the rest of that run. Then, maybe he can be replaced by a woman. Easy pickings, right? Well, she has to be worthy of filling Hemsworth’s boots, and that means maybe not being cast with a short, petite actress. The concept art for the new Thor doesn’t give much to go by except that she has long blonde hair, like her male counterpart, and looks pretty tough. I figure she ought to be somewhere close to the height of Hemsworth’s incarnation, too (he’s 6’3″). And she’d probably be relatively young, as Hemsworth was when he began (at age 26) — so, sorry Uma Thurman. I also don’t think Marvel would go for someone that famous anyway. Hemsworth was fairly unknown when he became the thunder god superhero. She will be, too. I’ve selected five actresses who fit the criteria as much as possible. Sadly, for nostalgia’s sake, Maia Brewton […]

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Thor: The Dark World (2013)

By the end of the year, we will be ten films deep in Marvel Studios mythology, which is quite a feat by any standard. While not every film can be the billion-dollar blockbuster like The Avengers or Iron Man 3, the smaller ones still make plenty of money worldwide and provide a substantial amount of connective tissue in the overall universe. In November 2013, Thor: The Dark World came out, performing about as well as its predecessor (which is to say good, but not great). The film wraps up a lot of Loki’s storyline from Thor and The Avengers, but more importantly, the mid-credits sequence leads into The Guardians of the Galaxy, due out in August 2014. For the DVD and Blu-ray release, director Alan Taylor sits down with Marvel guru Kevin Feige, villainous heartthrob Tom Hiddleston, and cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau to talk about the film and reveal the behind-the-scenes process of not just making a superhero film, but making an installment in a much larger franchise.

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Lynne Ramsay

It’s the ill-fated production that just won’t die, no matter how many bullets you put in its head. The Brian Duffield-penned Blacklist screenplay Jane Got a Gun got off to a solid start (perhaps even with a bang?) when lauded director Lynne Ramsay signed on to helm the tale of a Western woman who must turn to her ex-lover to help protect her homestead and husband from a band of baddie thugs (well, horseback thugs) out to kill them. The addition of stars Natalie Portman (who also signed on to produce the project), Michael Fassbender, and Joel Edgerton only made the project sound still more enticing before, well, everything just went to hell in a big, Hollywood-shaped handbasket. And now it’s going to court! But first, let’s begin with a recap of the situation – an extensive enough series of events that we truly hopes spawn some sort of behind the scenes book or oral history or something at some point in time.

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Portman - Thor 2 Styled

Last week Natalie Portman said we’d see a female superhero from Marvel on the big screen soon, and Stan Lee said we wouldn’t. Since neither of their last names is “Feige,” both comments come with a dash of salt, but one of them still has to be right. Either the studio is prepping a superheroine lead or they aren’t. Specifically, Portman said that she’d “heard” that both a female and a minority title character were on the way while defending Marvel’s record on strong women. This, shortly after the terrible Thor: The Dark World posters saw her strong character eating her hair. As for Lee, he matter-of-factly noted that, “Probably at one time they’ll make a movie of the Black Widow, but the thing is, the women like these movies as much as the guys, so we don’t have to knock ourselves out to find a female. But we will.” The thing is, he’s right.

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melissa-mccarthy

What is Casting Couch? A column full of casting news that today includes stories on Emma Watson, Adam Sandler, Idris Elba, Liam Hemsworth, and Christina Hendricks. How’s that for an eclectic crew? Hopefully by the time the ubiquitous and centuries long ad campaign for The Heat finally draws to a close, the world won’t be too sick of Melissa McCarthy to go see anymore of her movies. She really is a versatile talent, so it would be a shame to see Hollywood wear out her welcome by shoving her down our throats in the crude loudmouth role until we retch from it. But perhaps her taking a voice acting role in an animated movie could help cleanse the palate. Deadline is reporting that she’s just signed on to talk into a microphone for Dreamworks’ B.O.O (Bureau of Otherworldy Operations), joining Seth Rogen as one of the leads. They’ll be playing partnered up agents who work for a government agency meant to protect humanity from evil spirits, which sounds like R.IP.D., only tons better.

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Ewan McGregor

If nothing else, the making of Jane Got a Gun just might make one hell of a documentary one day. The latest news on the plagued Western is that Ewan McGregor is now negotiating to play the essential villain role in the film. Yes, that’s the role that has, at one point or another, been occupied by Joel Edgerton (who is now playing the good guy of the film), Jude Law, and Bradley Cooper, in (very) short order. Hopefully this McGregor casting will stick and the production can get a move on and actually turn into a feature film we can all watch one day, instead of just chronicling it as a cautionary tale in the fickle world of Hollywood. The film is still set to be directed by Gavin O’Connor, with producer Natalie Portman sticking to her guns as the eponymous Jane, a tough farm wife who must defend her home against a band of (hopefully) McGregor-led outlaws intent on killing her criminal husband (Noah Emmerich) who eventually enlists the help of a former lover (Edgerton) to protect her life and livelihood. Yeehaw and such. [Deadline Hollywood]

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portmangarb

What is Casting Couch? Maybe not more casting news than you can shake a stick at, but just enough so that you’ll feel comfortable shaking a stick at it. Today we have news of movie roles for TV stars Allison Williams and Jon Hamm. Get shakin’. Back a few months ago it was looking like Natalie Portman and Michael Fassbender were going to be working together on Jane Got a Gun, but we all saw what happened there. No dice. Those who were hot and bothered by the idea of a Portman/Fassbender pairing need not worry though, because not only will they both be appearing in Terrence Malick’s newest project in some form or another, but they’ll definitely be sharing serious screen time in Justin Kurzel’s new adaptation of Macbeth. Just two days ago we learned that Fassbender would be taking the title role of the stage-to-film adaptation, and now Screen Daily is reporting that Portman has signed on for the role of his scheming, murderous wife, Lady Macbeth. This should give her more of an opportunity to cultivate that creep factor she showed flashes of in Black Swan. Intriguing.

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teaser thor the dark world

I really expected to hate Kenneth Branagh’s Thor. He’s a fine director, and Marvel had shown even by that point that they knew what they were doing, but the idea of a movie based on a Norse god as superhero just sounded terrible. Happily though I was wrong, and the film ended up being an entertaining entry that managed to make both its hero and villain extremely likeable. Now that we’ve entered Marvel’s Phase Two, their post-Avengers plan is ready to roll out with sequels and new content. Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 is first out of the gate this summer, but hot on its heels will be Thor: The Dark World. Branagh has been replaced with TV veteran Alan Taylor. While it may seem like a risk tasking a television guy with crafting an epic, big screen adventure take comfort in the fact that some of the series on his resume are equally ambitious and well respected including Oz, Homicide, The West Wing, Deadwood, The Sopranos, Mad Men and, wait for it… the somewhat apropos Game of Thrones. If that doesn’t do it for you though you can just check out the teaser for Thor: The Dark World below.

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Jane Got a Gun from Malick

The Jane Got a Gun production has been a wild ride. After losing director Lynne Ramsay just before shooting started they pulled in Gavin O’Connor with the quickness, but the Natalie Portman-starring film was in limbo for at least a weekend. So, our old friend Sleepy Skunk put together a mashup of what the movie might look like if Terrence Malick, Wes Anderson or J.J. Abrams replaced Ramsay — but not before the production managed to lose Jude Law, throwing even this video into question. It’s really hard to keep up with this one. Nevertheless, sit back and enjoy playing What If with us, will you?

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Jude Law

The Jane Got a Gun news just does not stop around here. Just a day after original director Lynne Ramsay exited the project in spectacular fashion and mere hours after Warrior helmer Gavin O’Connor stepped in to direct, newly-minted lead Jude Law has now left the film. Deadline Hollywood reveals that Law has “formally withdrawn from the film. It is because he signed on to work with Ramsay, best known for the edgy drama We Need To Talk About Kevin.” Law only recently came on board the project after Michael Fassbender dropped out and Ramsay reportedly reshuffled other leading man Joel Edgerton into a different role to fill the gap. Edgerton will likely stick around, as he has a positive working relationship with O’Connor after their Warrior. Ramsay has still not commented on the situation.

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Gavin O

Yesterday, Lynne Ramsay made what’s most likely a massive career error by quitting Jane Got a Gun in spectacular fashion. By not showing up for work on the first day of filming, she either did the only thing she could do to take care of a personal crisis or she pulled a dick move by threatening a production and the jobs of several hundred people. Details are unclear at this point, but according to Deadline Hollywood, producer Scott Steindorff has pulled a director out of a hat to take Ramsay’s place. That filmmaker is Gavin O’Connor (Warrior, Miracle), and he’s an excellent choice for the wild west story that sees a young woman (Natalie Portman) turn to an ex to protect her husband from a gang ready to kill him. O’Connor has proven several times that he can make great adult fiction without alienating or making the tone too niche to enjoy. Not only is it surprising that the production found an available replacement so quickly, it’s downright astonishing that they found one who’se so well-suited to the material. O’Connor was working on prep for the TV series Cinnamon Girl from writer/creator Renee Zellweger, but otherwise his film focus was free beyond projects at the script level. However, there’s a chance that this sudden new employment will affect his attachment to Yakuza and The Samurai – two films that are hopefully self-descriptive. We also now get to wonder how their takes would have been different and play that What If game throughout production.

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Lynne Ramsay

As pre-production chatter for the Brian Duffield-penned Black Listed Western Jane Got a Gun has been nothing but positive (especially when it comes to the film’s very talented cast), today’s news that director Lynne Ramsay has exited the project in spectacular fashion is nothing short of genuinely shocking and quite confusing. Deadline Hollywood reports (via The Playlist) that the film’s cast and crew (including stars Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Jude Law, and Rodrigo Santoro) showed up on Monday (the project’s official first day of production) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, only to find that Ramsay “was a no-show and had abruptly dropped out of the film.” Producer Scott Steindorff “confirmed the crisis” and weighed in to Deadline in a passionate plea, saying, “I have millions of dollars invested, we’re ready to shoot, we have a great script, crew and cast…I’m shocked and so disappointed someone would do this to 150 crew members who devoted so much time, energy, commitment and loyalty to a project, and then have the director not show up. It is insane somebody would do this to other people. I feel more for the crew and their families, but we are keeping the show going on, directors are flying in, and a replacement is imminent.”

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Michael Shannon

What is Casting Couch? It’s the roundup of casting news that knows what Gillian Jacobs is going to be doing with her upcoming break from Community. All that time in the bushes finally paid off. Most people probably thought Wild Things director John McNaughton’s career hit its zenith when he directed Wild Things. That movie was basically the most ’90s thing ever, and it practically introduced the concept of the three-way to the square community through the communicative power of Denise Richards’ boobs. He may yet top that work though, because Deadline reports that he’s just recruited the best actor in the world, Michael Shannon, to star in his upcoming thriller The Harvest. The film will star Samantha Morton as a successful heart surgeon and Shannon as her co-dependent husband. Its conflict comes in when their sick son meets a new friend, and suddenly the very controlled routine that Morton’s character has created starts to break down. Sounds like a creepy mom.

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Thor and Iron Man

The first two films to be released in Marvel Studios’ post-Avengers, second wave of interconnected films are Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 and Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World. Through various rumor mills and casting reports we’ve already gleamed a lot about what these two sequels are going to be about, but today Marvel finally released official synopses of the two films, and have effectively removed any lingering doubts. First up is Black’s film, which the studio describes by saying, “Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?” While all that stuff about Iron Man having to go on a quest that tests his mettle is pretty vague, that last line of the synopsis about the man making the suit or the suit making the man clearly supports the rumors that have surfaced (due to various casting reports) that Iron Man 3 would largely be taking its inspiration from Warren Ellis’ […]

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Garden of Beasts

According to Deadline Hollywood, Tom Hanks and Michel Hazanavicius plan to meet soon to compare their Oscars, for Hanks to endearingly joke about having more than one, and to discuss possibly collaborating on In the Garden of Beasts. Adapted from the Erik Larson book of the same name, the project would focus on the real-world story of William Dodd – America’s ambassador to Hitler-controlled Germany – who was present in the lead up to WWII. There’s also a possibility of Natalie Portman getting involved, playing Dodd’s daughter who revels in Berlin life. More than anything, it sounds like a frustration play. Dodd sent back Cassandra-like memos to the state department about growing violence aimed at Jewish citizens which went largely ignored. Just think of it. You’re a welcomed diplomat living in the heart of darkness, witnessing the growing madness of Hitler’s Holocaust, but no one back home wants to listen to your theories. It’s infuriating subject matter that could make for a thrilling drama, especially with the gold-plated talent involved. Currently, it’s set up at Universal, but it needs a writer (and a script for that matter), so it could still be far off on the horizon. Fortunately, Hazanavicius is re-teaming with Berenice Bejo for a Chechnya-set drama about an NGO worker helping a lost little boy find his family as a follow-up to The Artist and The Players. Hanks, on the other hand, is busy taking awesome pictures with fans and playing Walt Disney, so there’s plenty of both filmmakers to keep […]

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Acting is like anything in that success doesn’t come quickly. It’s why we can go back and watch old clips of Brad Pitt whoring for Pringles or Tina Fey talking about the interest rate at Mutual Savings Bank. You have to start somewhere, right? Same goes for motion pictures – for most actors, your first role is going to be some mediocre piece like Return To Horror High or Revenge Of The Creature – but every once in a while an actor or actress starts off at a high point. Here are such high points, awesome first films that you’d be proud to be a part of even if you never did another film ever again.

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Jane Got a Gun has been an attractive package from the very beginning, seeing as it pairs a Black List script with a talented director in Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) and a huge movie star lead in Natalie Portman (Mars Attacks). But now, as the production inches closer to a start date, it’s going to have to start filling out the rest of its cast, and a report from Vulture says that Ramsay and crew are looking to get that process started off with a bang. The story of the film is said to follow a woman (Portman) whose husband comes home one day riddled with bullet wounds and barely breathing. It turns out that her low-down dog of a hubby has gone and got himself involved with some criminal Confederates, and now they’re hot on his heels and looking to finish the job they already started. Seeing as said man is seemingly on his death bed, it falls on said woman to reach out to an ex-lover and ask him to help her defend her farm, a proposition that sounds ripe with dramatic stickiness.

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Jason Clarke

Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Wes Bentley, Isabel Lucas, Joel Kinnaman, Imogen Poots, Freida Pinto, and Ryan O’Neal…with that cast, and others unmentioned, one would think Terrence Malick would have enough actors for a single movie. Apparently, that’s not the case, as Malick has added another name to his project about life, love, and probably other poetic things of that nature. That name is Jason Clarke. While speaking with us today about John Hillcoat‘s Lawless, Clarke revealed he just finished shooting on Malick’s Knight of Cups. When discussing the visionary filmmakers he’s worked with lately – Michael Mann, Baz Luhrmann, Kathryn Bigelow, and so on –  the actor made sure to mention Malick’s name in that list, “I did a film with Terrence Malick as well. Knight of Cups, it’s another one that he’s producing.”

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Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp My Valentine

Harvey Weinstein. This guy. He’s crazy like a fox, and not all of his moves can be understood ahead of time, which is why he often prevails. In the case of the music video for Paul McCartney‘s “My Valentine,” it’s unclear who he’ll prevail over, but the producing titan has requested that theaters in New York and Los Angeles play the black and white work (which features Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman signing the lyrics to the song (before Depp takes a sweet acoustic solo)) before screenings of The Intouchables. There is no connection between the two projects (at least not one that could be made without Kevin Bacon), so it all seems sort of bizarre. The Intouchables is the latest Olivier Nakache film which tells the comically dramatic story of a wealthy quadriplegic man hiring a poor man from the projects to take care of him (Review here). Oh, no. Does Weinstein think quadriplegic people and deaf people are the same? Hopefully not. At any rate, here’s the video if you’d like to prep for the movie that it has nothing to do with:

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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