As long as I've been in LA, I've been enjoying great conversations with Brad Bird.
When I worked at Dave's Video in the early '90s, Bird was one of our regular customers. At that point, he was working on "The Simpsons," and he was already known by some film geeks for his incredible "Family Dog" episode of "Amazing Stories." At that point, I remember long conversations about pulp classics, spy movies, his dream of making either "The Spirit" or a SF animated film called "Ray Gunn," and much more. He was one of those customers of ours who really lived and breathed movies, who seemed to be interested in every genre and in every type of filmmaking.
It was little surprise, then, when I saw and loved a very early rough cut of "The Iron Giant," a movie that was a difficult political football at Warner Bros.
As long as I've been in LA, I've been enjoying great conversations with Brad Bird.
Five more movies with Daniel Craig.
That's the dream of the producers of the James Bond franchise, anyway, as revealed in a recent Michael Wilson interview with The People, a London-based newspaper. He's apparently very happy with the way "Skyfall" is coming together, and he's ready to start pinning down the star of the series for a truly epic eight total films as James Bond.
That means he'll do as many movies as the character as there were in the entire "Harry Potter" series. As someone who was thrilled by "Casino Royale" and who loves certain things about "Casino Royale Part 1 and a Half," it's exciting to think about what sort of narrative opportunity there is if they're now aware that they've got five movies to play with.
Let me ask something of EON now, though. If they're really going to do this, and Craig agrees, and they gear up for a mad dash through five films, which could take as long as eight to ten years to pull off, then please tell me that there will be some real continuity with real consequences for Bond.
Here at last are the final "Harry Potter" interviews I conducted during my recent trip to Orlando for the press day they held to celebrate the release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" on Blu-ray.
If you didn't read my first few pieces, let me paint the picture of how these interviews were staged. We were actually in the park, in the section of Universal's Islands Of Adventure that is known as "The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter," and it's a remarkable recreation of the world that Jo Rowling and her film collaborators have created over the past decade. It is also wildly successful, so even on a regular day, the park is totally packed. The weekend we were there was part of a major Harry Potter event, though, so it was busier than normal.
That means that every single spot where we were supposed to do interviews was also occupied by about 10,000 screaming Harry Potter fans. I've never really done press in a fishbowl like that, and it's a disconcerting way to try to conduct what is already an exercise in forced and immediate intimacy. Conversations aren't meant to be a spectator sport, but on this particular day, that's exactly what it felt like.
Noomi Rapace is at a turning point.
I don't consider it the end-all be-all goal of actors to work in giant Hollywood movies, but that's often how it is treated. Think of the same basic cycle we see play out over and over again. Someone plays an interesting role in an international release and then suddenly they're in every movie released by Hollywood for about a year, and then if they don't have a hit, they're gone again, back to the world of foreign-language movies. It's treated like a major league/minor league situation, whether that's true or not, and it's brutal to watch some of these very accomplished actors get chewed up by the Hollywood machine.
"Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows" is the Hollywood debut of Rapace, who gained international attention playing Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish adaptations of the "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" series. Her work in those films has earned her some staunch supporters, and even if I'm not among them, I was curious to see how she was used in the film. She's also in "Prometheus," the Ridley Scott "Alien" sidequel that's coming out next summer, so one could say she's getting a fair shot and then some.
It's not often that I double-dip with interviews for one movie, but that's exactly what happened this past week with Guy Ritchie for his new film, "Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows."
Earlier in the week, I ran our podcast interview, which was about twenty solid minutes with the director talking about a number of different aspects of making the film, including working with Robert Downey Jr., a demanding collaborator by all accounts, and how they handled Moriarty. But one of the things we didn't have a chance to talk about it is actually one of the things that interests me most in the film.
I think it's safe to say I've been preoccupied with London most of my life. I fell in love with English pop culture young, and one of the great pleasures of my professional life has been the way I've been able to repeatedly visit London and tour various corners of it, including some of the soundstages and studios where many of my favorite films were made.
It's strange when you realize that the people who you flip out about meeting are rarely the ones you expect will make you have that reaction. I've met people whose work has been important to me my whole life and handled it with relative grace and calm, and then I've also met a few people who rattled me face-to-face simply because I didn't understand quite how significant their work is to me.
William Joyce is one of those people.
I love reading to my kids, and the books that end up in the constant rotation, the ones that we come back to over and over again, are the ones where the art and the prose are both approached with care and with soul. We've sampled books from dozens if not hundreds of authors, and there are certain guys who went right to the top of the permanent pile as soon as we read the books for the first time, and an uncommon number of those books were written and illustrated by William Joyce.
They are gorgeous, designed and painted with delicate wit and a lush sense of imagination, books like "Bently and Egg" and "Buddy" and "Santa Calls" and "The Leaf Men," and he's the creator of the "Rolie Polie Olie" books and TV show. His work has been a key part of films like "Meet The Robinsons" and "Robots," and he's just published two new books as part of what sounds like the biggest overall property of his career.
I am dying to see how "Jack The Giant Killer" plays out next year, both as a movie and as a commercial release, because both things are important to the ongoing development of Bryan Singer as a filmmaker.
Creatively, I feel like Singer's one of the most successful guys working who doesn't really have what I can point at as a particular, recognizable voice, nor is there any special theme that runs through his work, aside from perhaps an odd preoccupation with Nazis. And one could argue that his two biggest films were big because of a general interest in X-Men, not because of Singer.
He's also been one of those guys who has developed a number of fairly pricey films that haven't come to fruition, big movies like a "Logan's Run" remake or a "Battlestar Galactica" bigscreen reboot. And his "Superman Returns" was a very very expensive almost, well-crafted but generally underwhelming. He's in a position right now where he is still considered an A-list filmmaker, but it's about time he starts actually being that filmmaker.
Sitting down to talk to Jared Harris about his work in the new film "Sherlock Holmes - A Game Of Shadows," I was excited not just because he's playing Professor Moriarty in the sequel to Guy Ritchie's first big hit adventure with the pulp detective, but also because of the full body of work that Harris has been putting together.
It must be hard as an actor when your father is not just a well-known person, but an undeniable legend. There's no other way to describe Richard Harris, though, and a career like his casts a shadow over the entire English film community, not just the career of his son.
Despite that, Jared Harris has been very good over the course of his career at defining himself on terms totally removed from his father's identity. He's been great on "Mad Men" the last few seasons, and he's always been a bit of a chameleon, vanishing into roles in a way his father never could. I still remember being impressed by his run of films around '95, '96, when he was in "Smoke" and "Dead Man" and especially "I Shot Andy Warhol," and he seemed like such a great new presence.
One of the ways you know Lionsgate is feeling good about the prospects of "Hunger Games" is by the way they have already promoted Liam Hemsworth to "last-name-only" status in the new trailer for "The Expendables 2."
And I'll say this for Lionsgate… I've been watching companies mount online campaigns for movies for the last fifteen years, and you can tell when a studio is all-in on something. And right now, there's no one working harder for something that's coming out next year than Lionsgate is for "Hunger Games," and today is a milestone for them, one they've chosen to commemorate with an online Poster Puzzle Hunt that uses Facebook, 100 different websites, and Twitter in one fell swoop. We've come a long way from when Gordon Paddison and New Line decided to bet big on an Internet presence for "Lord Of The Rings," and when Lionsgate asked if we wanted to play along this morning, we jumped at the chance, if only to see how the whole thing's going to work.
The first time I sat down with Robert Downey Jr. to talk about all things "Sherlock Holmes," we were on the set of the first film in London, and I was still working for Ain't It Cool. As a result, much was made of the idea that Moriarty was going to be visiting that day, and it turned out to be one of the strangest days on a set I've ever had.
Strange, but good. What struck me right away was that Downey has that ability to focus his full attention on someone in a conversation in a way that cuts out the rest of the world, making you feel like there's nothing more urgent than whatever the two of you are discussing.
I took him a gift that day, a copy of a fascinating piece of literary criticism by Pierre Bayard called "Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong: Reopening The Case of The Hound Of the Baskervilles." I figured it was completely appropriate, and he responded to the gesture by giving me more and more time over the course of the afternoon. It ended up being published as two different articles over at Ain't It Cool, and that was the end of my use of the name I published under for a full decade-plus.