The first time I met Emily Browning was in an alley behind the original Alamo Drafthouse. She was sixteen at the time, playing younger for "Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events," and I was about to do a Q&A onstage at Butt-Numb-A-Thon with her and her co-star Liam Aiken. The two of them seemed a little bit overwhelmed from the trip in with the Paramount reps, and I think they were just about to kick off the international publicity jaunt for the film, something that was a different level of intensity that either of them had experienced before. We spent about ten minutes talking before we walked up the back stairs and onto the stage of the Drafthouse, and they both ended up doing great.
Browning was a seasoned pro by that point, though. She's been working in front of the camera since she was nine or ten years old on TV and in movies, and "Snicket" was the movie that was supposed to launch her to a new level of awareness. The film wasn't a monster hit, though, even with Paramount and Dreamworks pushing to try to make it into a "Harry Potter" style event. When I was chatting with her off-camera at the recent press day for Paul Anderson's "Pompeii," in which she plays the romantic lead opposite Kit Harrington, we talked about how they pretty much had to make the call the split second the first film came out to decide if they would make the rest of the books into films or not. Like "Potter," they would have had to shoot quickly to make sure the kids didn't age out of the series completely before they wrapped it up. It might have helped that they condensed three books from the series into that first film, but Brad Silberling's very stylized take on the books just didn't click with the mainstream, and it ended up being one of the one-and-done potential franchises that often happen.
The relative failure of that film may have been a good thing. She got to grow up a bit away from the camera's eye, so when she appeared in "The Uninvited" and then, a few years later, in "Sucker Punch," she was basically a different person. Browning is ethereal and striking and very petite. There's a reason she was the face they chose for a very significant cameo in "The Host," and it's because there's something otherworldly about her.
She still comes across as very young in person. She's bright and mature, but delicate, and it has been startling to see her jump into movies like the explicit "Sleeping Beauty" or the harrowing "Magic Magic". It made it clear that she is willing to tackle challenging material, while "Pompeii" seems like a bid to cast her in something overtly commercial. We discussed the crazy physical conditions on the set of the film, where they pretty much spend half the movie covered in ash. Since it's a 3D movie, that is all practical ash, allowing it to drift off the screen, and it looks like a miserable shoot.
She seems to have a great sense of humor about it, and about the wildly over-the-top performance that Kiefer Sutherland gives as the bad guy of the movie. Browning's still struggling to really define her identity as a performer, but she's young, and she's starting to make real headway. It's up to directors to figure out how to best utilize her innate daring and her striking appearance, and when she gets the right role, I'm willing to bet she rips it up.
"Popeii" opens on Friday.
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
Let Streaming Genie help you.