Is The Beyonder going to join the Marvel movie universe in "Thor: The Dark World" this coming November?
A few hours ago, I got an e-mail pitching me an interview with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje because he has three movies coming out this year. I don't need much convincing about him in general. I've been a fan since he appeared as the terrifying Adibisi, and I'd like to interview him just to finally ask how the hell he kept that hat on in that series. He was also Mr. Eko in "Lost," a role that he made seem more significant than it ended up being in the end. He's a talented guy, and he's impossible to forget after you've seen him work.
So in this e-mail, they went over his roles this year. First, there's "Bullet In The Head," the Walter Hill action film that stars Sylvester Stallone. He's also going to be at Sundance to promote the film "The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister and Pete," which he stars in with Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks. But in the description of his role in "Thor: The Dark World," they highlight that he's playing both "Algrim The Strong" and "Kurse."
Is The Beyonder going to join the Marvel movie universe in "Thor: The Dark World" this coming November?
Not every movie star works for every audience. There are people who make me happy every time they show up in a movie, and they haven't caught on with the mainstream for whatever reason, and there are movie stars I find baffling. Often, fandom finds itself divided along gender lines for reasons both obvious and not so obvious. What studios and filmmakers always hope for is a star who unites people, and Emma Stone appears to be just such a star.
There are many reasons people find her appealing. She's got great comic timing, and she seems to handle herself just as well in interviews as she does when her dialogue is scripted. She also rarely seems to take fame seriously, which is a healthy attitude. She's been smart so far about the films she's chosen and the collaborators she works with, and if anyone in her age group is poised for a long and interesting career, it's her.
I've got a fistful of "Gangster Squad" interviews to run in the next few days, and I thought we'd kick things off with Ryan Gosling. I know, I know… simmer down, ladies.
Gosling is at that strange place that actors find themselves sometimes where he's not really a box-office star by the standard definition. His presence in a film doesn't automatically open the film, but he's certainly as high profile as an actor can be. He's constantly photographed and magazines and tabloids spend a lot of column inches on him. He has a fairly dedicated fanbase that can be very vocal, and it certainly feels like he's one big hit away from fulfilling that full star potential.
I don't get the feeling any of that is terribly important to him, though.
When we sat down to talk on Saturday, he was my first interview of the day, and he always strikes me as a guy who knows how silly the press junket format can be, and he guards himself, using humor to make it an easy day and to also deflect anything too personal. He's good at making you feel at ease, and I would imagine that makes people feel like they can cross that line with him. It's an illusion, though, and I wanted to keep things light.
I've been interviewing Johnny Knoxville for what seems like a decade now, and living in LA, I find that I run into him on a fairly regular basis just out and about. Perhaps because of the hyper-casual nature of "Jackass," he never seemed like a celebrity, but more like a friend who just happens to have a TV show. That's part of the appeal of that program, and Knoxville is one of the easiest guys to talk to about his work that I've ever met.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the other hand, is someone I've watched my whole life but who I never had reason to meet until last week. Then, in one quick burst of three days, I rode a tank that he was driving, saw his new film "The Last Stand," and then sat down to interview him for the first time. I could have happily spent a half hour talking to him by himself, but of course, that's not how these press days are set up.
Instead, you walk in, you get your four or five minutes, and then you're done. And in this case, I had two people in one room. Thankfully, the pairing of Knoxville and Schwarzenegger is just weird enough to be really entertaining, and the film they both star in surprised me enormously.
If David Chase never worked again, his legacy would be completely assured because of the seismic impact that "The Sopranos" had on culture. That's got to be an interesting feeling for an artist, knowing that you've created something that will endure, and it's the ultimate goal of creating and sharing work with other people. You hope you'll be able to reach the largest possible audience, and when you do it and you see that work ripple through the rest of pop culture, it's a best case scenario.
Whatever you would expect as a follow-up to something like "The Sopranos," Chase had something else in mind, and his debut feature film is now playing in limited release. It's a gentle, heartfelt look back at the '60s and the way rock'n'roll changed the world, told on a personal scale.
John Magaro stars in the film as Douglas, a kid who has his world turned upside down by the British Invasion. He sees rock'n'roll as his way out of the life that he was born into, and more importantly, he sees it as a way of winning the woman he wants, played by Bella Heathcote. It is a small personal story, filled with specific observations, and it feels nakedly autobiographical. Jack Huston co-stars as another member of the band that Douglas starts, and when I sat down with Magaro, Heathcote, and Huston, I was curious about their own backgrounds in music.
I am fascinated by Los Angeles and its history, and chances are if there's a book or a film about the city, I've read it or watched it. In particular, the history of law enforcement and its failures here is something that I've been obsessed with for years. When you list the very best of what's out there, you have to include "Chinatown," a canny piece about the way water and blood were used to build what we think of as modern LA, as well as the books by authors like Walter Mosely and James Ellroy.
"Gangster Squad," liberally adapted from the non-fiction book by Paul Lieberman by real-life-LA-cop-turned-screenwriter Will Beall, is never going to be considered a classic of the genre, but the film has a certain pop cartoon charm that makes it enjoyable, if slight. Gangster Mickey Cohen has been portrayed on film a few times before. Harvey Keitel played him in Barry Levinson's "Bugsy" and was rewarded with an Oscar nomination for his work. And in "LA Confidential," Cohen makes a small appearance with Paul Guilfoyle playing the part.
In "Gangster Squad," Cohen's been promoted to the main protagonist, and Sean Penn attacks the part with a manic energy that I found wildly entertaining at times. He looks like a "Dick Tracy" villain, exaggerated and feral, and the film focuses on a period at the end of the '40s when Police Chief Parker (played by a Henson Muppet Studios version of Nick Nolte that is remarkably lifelike) decided to authorize a group of his officers to set aside strictly legal methods to bring down Cohen's operations. Basically, this is a stripped down and slicked-up version of "The Untouchables," with Josh Brolin starring as Sgt. John O'Mara, the honest cop who is put in charge of putting together his team of trustworthy men to help him.
The professionally adorable Emma Stone had it turned up to high this weekend, as usual, when we sat down to discuss her work in "Gangster Squad," the period drama that was delayed from its original release date last fall.
She's one of those people who you can tell decides that they're going to have fun doing their press, no matter what. She can't help but tease and joke and just plain laugh at the process. She started by comparing our diet sodas, which are obviously working out differently for the two of us. She look like she weighs about as much as one of my legs.
Towards the end of our interview, I decided to ask her about returning to play Gwen Stacy in "The Amazing Spider-Man" sequel. It feels like they just barely got finished with doing publicity for the first film, and now they're already gearing up for work on the sequel.
One of the things that's going to be interesting about this ongoing series is the way they're taking elements from the first three films and from the comics and putting a new spin on them. After all, we're getting a Harry Osborne in the sequel, played by Dane DeHaan, and we're getting a new Mary Jane Watson, played by Shailene Woodley, and I suspect they'll play very different roles in the life of Peter Parker than they did in the Sam Raimi movies.
When someone asks you if you want to ride a tank while Arnold Schwarzenegger drives it, you say yes.
I don't have many hard and fast rules in life, but that's one of them. It's not a rule that I've had to put to the test many times, but last week, the moment of truth finally arrived, and so I drove down to the Lionsgate offices in Santa Monica to meet a group of fellow journalists. We all boarded a bus and then headed up to the Melody Ranch Studio in Santa Clarita.
You've seen it in a million different movies, most recently in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained," where it was used as the first town that Schultz and Django ride into, where Schultz asks for the sheriff to be brought to see them in the saloon. We ended up eating lunch in that saloon later in the day, and I intentionally sat at the same table where Django and Schultz sat while drinking their beers.
The way the day started, though, was with Arnold Schwarzenegger introducing us to his tank. He bought this particular tank in the early '90s for one of the Planet Hollywood locations, but they never ended up using it there. Instead, he kept it, and one of his main purposes for it over the years has been as part of an incentives program for a foundation he runs for inner-city kids. When the kids do well during the week, one of the rewards they can enjoy is a trip to the Melody Ranch so they can ride in the tank while Arnold drives.
So why haven't they done this for their DC films yet?
I've read the same reports you have today about how Warner Bros. is hoping to jumpstart their animation division by putting together a "brain trust" of people to help make decisions and steer development, and that's a great idea. I'm a firm believer that the development process does not have to stink, but it does most of the time because you have people who are exceptional at the money side of the business insisting on giving creative notes. This baffles me because it seems so plainly contradictory as a business model. We need both disciplines in the film business, obviously. When you're dealing with an art form that costs millions and millions of dollars, you need people who know how to keep that money coming in, but most of those people have no idea how to actually write a great movie, so getting notes from them on the process can be an exercise in frustration and madness.
No, I like the idea of the creative round-table. TV shows use that model, and some of the best shows are the result of all those minds focused on one creative task. Pixar's story department is one of the very best in the business because they take full advantage of having all those voices in the mix. Marvel Studios has done a good job following the same basic game plan. Comedy filmmakers often bring in groups of writers to take one last group pass at a script before they go into production.
It's safe to say you're going to see a little flurry of Arnold Schwarzenegger related activity here in the next week or so.
Makes sense. He's got his first starring role in a while coming out on the 18th, and Lionsgate is doing everything they can to create some attention for the movie. Since this is his return to leading roles, there is a fair amount of natural excitement out there among movie fans. I watched first-hand as Arnold turned a group of journalists who are used to meeting movie stars the vapors at an event on Friday, and I'll have more on that for you later tonight.
First, though, I wanted to share a brief clip from the interview I did with Arnold yesterday. He was paired with Johnny Knoxville, and yes, that's just as strange in the room as it is on a poster. We talked about "The Last Stand" for most of the conversation, but I couldn't help but make one quick digression right at the end of things.