BUCKINGHAMSHIRE - My kids love that the movie "Kick-Ass" exists.
They're not allowed to see the film, and that won't change for many, many years, but they know it exists, and they positively adore saying the title of the film because it's one of the few times they won't get in trouble for using the word "ass." They find ways to work it into every conversation they can, and they can barely restrain themselves from smiling every single time.
They were thrilled when I got the word I'd be going to visit the set. They got to ask me endless questions about it before I left and even more once I got back, and one of the main ones they loved to ask was, 'When you went to watch them make 'Kick-Ass,' did you get to talk to 'Kick-Ass'?" Twice in one sentence? Heaven.
BUCKINGHAMSHIRE - My kids love that the movie "Kick-Ass" exists.
TORONTO - There is something very, very wrong with Charlie Day's eye.
His left eye appears to be filled with blood after every capillary in it burst, and it makes it hard to sit across from him on the set of "Pacific Rim," amidst the smashed and ruined remains of a street in downtown Hong Kong. From where we sit, we can see a hole in the street that was created by a rampaging kaiju that was searching for Dr. Newt Geiszler. Why? Well, it might have something to do with that eye.
"Every time we do something, I go back and look it in the monitors. It's very cinematic in nature and you add that to his imagination… I mean, technically he's a really, really good director. So then you take his love for his creations and the amazing art departments and all that, and it usually makes for something that's visually just stunning."
You know who really surprised me recently at a press day? Benjamin Bratt.
He's always been one of those guys who seemed really solid. A dependable, good, meat-and-potatoes guy on camera. I never had that moment watching something that he did where I went "Holy cow, this guy's AMAZING," but how many actors do you ever really say that about? I think the vast majority of actors play parts that don't really provide those "Holy cow" moments, and that's fine.
One of the reasons a lot of actors don't like the term "character actor" is not just because it seems like a nicer way of saying "can't be a movie star," but also because that's what acting is supposed to be… bringing characters to life. It's calling it "wet water." Every actor should be a character actor, including big giant movie stars and day players alike.
I love the Vista Theater in Los Angeles.
There aren't many stand-alone single-screen theaters left in this city, and I can't think of any other theater that features the kind of luxurious legroom that is one of the Vista's most winning features. When Greg Ellwood proposed the Vista as the site for our special screening of James Wan's new film "The Conjuring," I was thrilled.
Monday night, we had a full house turn out, and the film played beautifully. There are few things I love more as a film fan than being in the theater when a horror film is really working on every level. I reviewed the film last week, and seeing it again only underlined for me just how controlled and carefully built it is. I think Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are really wonderful in it, and it would have been so easy for filmmakers to make the Warrens look silly or to overplay things and really ladle on the special effects.
It's a Roland Emmerich film.
That's pretty much all I'll need to say to most hardcore film nerds for them to know where they'll fall if they see "White House Down," but I'll go a little more in-depth here just to clarify what I mean by that.
As much as any filmmaker working right now, Roland Emmerich is a guy who can be defined by his interests. With the notable exception of "Anonymous," which I thought was overwrought and accidentally hilarious at times, his films all follow a pretty basic model of spectacle, destruction, and big broad character archetypes. He makes junk food, and he does it without apology. What I find fascinating is how much the cinema landscape has changed around him over the years, so while he hasn't changed much at all, everyone else has, and he's gone from looking like a Spielberg fan with ADD to being almost sedate compared to the way most action is shot now. Emmerich's style can be defined largely by the word "more." Whatever's going on in a scene, Emmerich will always ladle on a little more, and then a little more on top of that and then, what the hell, a little more.
BUCKINGHAMSHIRE - The last time I saw Christopher Mintz-Plasse before arriving on the Pinewood Studios set for "Kick-Ass 2," it was roughly 3:00 in the morning, and we had just finished recording a podcast where we discussed Rob Zombie's "Lords Of Salem," which we saw at the film's midnight screening at the Toronto Film Festival.
Chris was in Toronto to shoot exteriors for the sequel to Matthew Vaughn's 2008 adaptation of the cult hit comic series by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., and he'd never been to the festival. Talking to him about the film as they were getting started, he seemed optimistic. I met Chris for the first time on the set of "Superbad," and at that point, he was brand-new to filmmaking, figuring out what he was doing as he did it. There was an intuitive approach to his work that served him well on that film. One of the reasons that McLovin became iconic was because Chris seemed to be that guy. It didn't look like acting. It was just a case of casting doing 2/3 of the job.
Richard Matheson was a giant.
We don't have writers like him today because we don't have any idea what to do with them. Matheson was born in 1926, and as much as any author in any genre, his work defined and reflected the tumult of the 20th Century. He had a remarkable voice as a storyteller, and it should come as no shock to anyone to see the laundry list of authors who claim that he was their primary influence.
First published in 1950, Matheson was on fire from the moment he was introduced to a readership. I can't imagine how amazing it must have been to be part of the The Southern California Writing Group in those days, with members like Matheson, Charles Beaumont, William Nolan, Ray Bradbury, and George Clayton Johnson, all masters in their own right.
As much as Rod Serling, Matheson was responsible for what we think of today as the "Twilight Zone" style of storytelling. Short, effective pieces that immediately create a sense of time and place and voice, and which end with a punch of some kind. Matheson had a real gift for creating a fantastic scenario and then somehow finding the very identifiable reality within that.
BUCKINGHAMSHIRE - Chloe Grace Moretz is once again clad in purple and black leathers, just like the first time we met, but this time around, she seems far more confident and controlled.
On the set of the original "Kick-Ass," I was one of the very first interviews Moretz ever did, and part of what was evident on that set was how protective everyone was of her. Her mother, her brother, director Matthew Vaughn, screenwriter Jane Goldman… everyone was in that same mode, and for good reason. As we watch Amanda Bynes melt down in real time on Twitter these days, it is a potent reminder of just how much damage can be done to a young person when Hollywood gets hold of them, and no one wants to see that happen to Moretz.
Thankfully, it doesn't seem to be the case. Chloe seems level-headed and normal in every way, except perhaps for her obvious talents as a performer. She spends her time these days working with filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton, and it seems like she's being careful in terms of what projects she'll sign on to do. I have a feeling we're going to be talking about her work for a long time, so these interviews end up just being signposts along the way. Chloe at 12. Chloe at 16. Each time with a little more experience and a greater sense of self.
BUCKINGHAMSHIRE - I will never stop being excited about visiting Pinewood Studios outside of London. It is one of my favorite places on Earth, and it's always great when they've got several films on the lot at the same time. I walked past Chris Pine, in costume as Jack Ryan and on his way to the set, as I made my way across the lot on the first of two days I spent visiting "Kick-Ass 2."
I walked onto Stage F, one of several at the legendary Pinewood Studios currently in use by this film. I'm sure I've been here before, and I even think it was for a Matthew Vaughn film. I'm pretty sure this was the interior of the inn owned by Michelle Pfeiffer's character in "Stardust." As I enter, there on a set designed to look like the top of a building, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are in the middle of shooting one of the main emotional beats for the climax of the film.
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"What's the point of wearing a mask if you can't do what you want?" Mintz-Plasse says, just before he takes another shot at Taylor-Johnson, whose costume from the first film has been updated with a few pieces that directly recall Big Daddy, the character that Nicolas Cage played in the first film. Incorporating that suit into his own carries an emotional weight this time around, and that's no accident.
TORONTO - How do you know you're on a Guillermo Del Toro set?
Seeing Ron Perlman dressed in full character as Hannibal Chau, who runs the black market for kaiju parts, is a pretty good hint.
At this point, Perlman and Del Toro seem almost like brothers, guys who know each other so well that there's not a lot of need to explain things back and forth. When Del Toro hires Perlman, he knows exactly what he's getting, and when Del Toro calls, Perlman knows he's going to have something fun to dig into.
When we caught up with Perlman on the set of "Pacific Rim," he was in his trailer, unwinding between set-ups. He had on part of his Chau costume, and he was in a great, relaxed mood. I've worked with Ron in our second "Masters Of Horror" episode, "Pro-Life," and one of the things I learned spending time with him is that he has a no-nonsense attitude about the career he's chosen and he tells great stories.