Knock Knock...Who's There? I think that should be the name for the sequel to the new thriller Knock Knock. If you saw the trailer featuring sexy stars Keanu Reeves and newcomers Lorenza Izzo and Ana De Armas, chances are you'll run out to the theater expecting buckets of blood from horror master Eli Roth. But you may be disappointed. This flick is more in the same vein as Fatal Attraction, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, and cult fave The Crush (starring Carey Elwes, who may have been a good choice to star in this...but I digress).
The set up is almost like an episode of ABC's What Would You Do? Keanu Reeves plays a dad (take a minute to wrap that around your brain) with a wife and two kids. At the age of 50, he still oozes a natural coolness; the guy is super Zen. With his wife and kids conveniently out for the weekend, he's home alone to work on a project during a dark and stormy night. Cue the titular door knock! Outside are two young, sexy thangs standing in the rain, stuck with a dead phone and nowhere to go.
At this point, I started thinking, how would I handle this? Mr. Reeves becomes the Everyman, and at first, he does everything right, helping these young ladies, remaining cool and hip. However, I am not giving anything away when I say he gets seduced by the girls and they all end up having a menage a trois (Mistake #1). True, we live in the Age of Ubers, and he does call a car for them, but with a 45-minute wait, what else is there to do but casually talk with beautiful strangers about everyone's favorite topic: SEX!
It would be a perfect world for this dad if the two giggly girls were gone after the crazy romp, but they don't leave, and thus begins the cat-and-mouse game. The second act makes you root for the innocent dad and then it flip-flops to the girls because they seem to be having a blast torturing this guy. (Because technically, he is a cheating dad and no good, right?) With contagious laughter, the girls completely destroy everything in his life, and you almost don't want to see them get caught. They hit the house like a wrecking ball!
I kept waiting for the movie to get more ruthlessly wicked (because, hello, Eli Roth), but it never turned that queasy corner; even the sex scene was pretty tame. I walked in thinking it was going to be Fatal Attraction 2015, but the scariest element of the movie was the idea it ultimately suggests: The Internet can change your life and instantly bring on lots of judgment. That is something Glenn Close didn't have in her crazy bag of tricks for Michael Douglas back in 1987.
Eli Roth has clearly grown up with this thriller, working with comedic actress/producer Colleen Camp (Yvette in Clue!) who also has a cameo. During the press junket for the film, the two discussed how they were able to finance the project. In 2014, they got tickets to the Oscars and ran around trying to get a big name to star in the thriller. At one point, she yelled to Roth, "Come on, John Travolta is getting us in to the Vanity Fair party!"
Moral of the story: this is one unlikely duo that needs to work together on more projects.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt enjoyed an unexpected reunion on the set of this month's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.
During one bone-crackling moment in the film that will surely get fanboys (and hardcore Disney fans) super psyched, Gordon-Levitt's character, Johnny, gets some nasty wounds tended to by a junkie doctor played by...Christopher Lloyd, his costar from 1994's Angels in the Outfield.
"I love getting to see Christopher Lloyd do something dark," Gordon-Levitt says during the film's press conference in Beverly Hills. "And you couldn't really ask for a movie that was more diametrically opposed than Angels in the Outfield." The 20-year reunion was, as he puts it, "perfect." And he savored every moment with the actor. "It's like, 'Wow, this is Doc Brown,'" he says, referring to Lloyd's indelible role in the Back to the Future trilogy. "We should be talking about 1.2 gigawatts, but it's really cool because he's actually a really strong actor. He can do a lot of different things. Applying that energy he brings to a character...and putting it in this really dark flavor of a Frank Miller world is really entertaining."
Nine years after making a bloody splash on the big screen, Frank Miller and co-director Robert Rodiguez are inviting audiences to return to the crime-ridden streets of the titular metropolis for more tales of betrayal, bloodshed, and good old-fashioned revenge. With a cast that includes Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba (a returning alum), Josh Brolin, Ava Green (in one hell of a role), Powers Booth, and Rosario Dawson, the sequel to the graphic novel adaptation is packing a bigger wallop this time around. Four distinct "chapters" explore the dark paths on which Sin City's iconic denizens travel.
Gordon-Levitt's chapter, entitled "A Long, Bad Night," centers on Johnny, a new Sin City character Miller wrote specifically for the film. "The character of Johnny was written in the script but there weren't any drawings," says Gordon-Levitt, "so it didn't have as much specificity. It's an actor's dream to be working with filmmakers who are so collaborative, so open an eager to incorporate my creative contributions into the movie."
Arriving in a vintage Corvette and dressed to the nines, Johnny, a fearless gambler, enters a dangerous world when he hits the jackpot and maneuvers his way into a deadly poker game opposite a corrupt senator (played by Booth). Gordon-Levitt couldn't have been happier to be a part of the stylish adaptation.
"I love that it embraces the fact that this is not reality," he says. "This is a heightened and stylized comic, almost a portrayal of a world that came out of the mind of Frank Miller. As an actor, that really frees you up because you are not just tethered to Would this happen in reality?"
What drew him to the script? Simple: "The thing that I liked most on the page about my character was on the very cover of the script where it said Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez. I remember when the first one came out, going to the movie theater, and saying to myself, I've never seen anything like this. It's somewhere between a cartoon and a live-action movie."
"Joseph, like the best actors, teaches the director and writer a lot with the performance and interpretation they they give events," Miller says of the actor. "Because of what he brought, I was able to write dialogue I thought was much more focused, stronger and more emotional."
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is now playing in theaters.
Actress-writer Tara Karsian is jokingly attempting to get a reaction out of her costar (and real-life BFF) Andrea Grano as she pulls up a chair to join our conversation on a Monday night in the middle of the lobby of the Directors Guild of America on Sunset Boulevard. It's one of many instances in which the two actresses display their charismatic banter and knack for playfully prodding each other.
Outfest, LA's long-running LBGT film festival, has just begun, yet the stars/writers of BFFs are already experiencing film festival fatigue. Having finished a whirlwind press tour with the film, the women are doing their best to find some peace and quiet amidst the chaos. "We're so tired" seems to be a common phrase they've been uttering to themselves all week.
BFFs takes a hilarious and heartwarming snaphot of what happens when two straight best friends, the just-broken-up Kat (Karsian) and serial dater Samantha (Grano), pretend to be lesbians in order to take advantage of a free couples weekend workshop. If it sounds a tad similar to a certain MTV hit series (Faking It), think again. Instead of focusing on the fickle (and fluid) preferences of youth, BFFs carefully blurs the lines of friendship and addresses the basic, human desires between women of a certain age.
“We talked a lot about this," Karsian recalls, "that if this were made with two 25-year-olds, with the exact same script, it’d be a totally different film…But I do think when women our age – if there was a questioning – probably the most likely character to question would be your best friend. Someone you’re, for lack of a better term, intimate with – because friendships are intimate. Sometimes you’re more intimate with your friends than you are with the person you’re with because you talk about things like that, and you don’t have to walk on eggshells.”
Just like any independent production, it was a long and arduous uphill climb to get the film made. "We had a lot of line producers say, 'Don't even bother,'" remembers Grano, referring to the budgets they had to formulate to fit the story. There were also the requisite setbacks...like that time they lost their Malibu location for a day due to a mix-up with the vacation rental office they used to find their dream house for the couples workshop sessions. "Andrea had a total 12-year old meltdown," Karsian recalls.
The supporting cast of 'BFFs'
Another setback: uncooperative eyelashes.
Karsian recalls the very first scene on the very first day of shooting: “There was so much glue on my false eyelashes, that literally it [blinking] was like slo-mo,” Tara says. “I had drag queen lashes on.”
“We pissed ourselves laughing,” Grano chuckles.
“It was horrible…these motherfuckers were so long, and they put so much glue…”
“But the one that kept sticking…"
“The costume assistant didn’t know that she needed to cut the drag queen lashes, so this mother, which weighed five pounds – when I would blink, her hair would blow. That’s how big they were.”
“It’s true,” Andrea says, stifling another laugh.
With over two decades of film and TV experience between them, Grano and Karsian, as producers, prided themselves on making sure things ran smoothly for their cast and crew. "We never went over 12 hours. We really wanted our crew to be treated well," Grano says.
And when things wouldn't go according to plan, the women avoided playing the roles of Good Producer/Bad Producer by creating "Alice," an imaginary, tough-as-nails co-producer who could take all the flack. Got a problem with craft services? Take it up with Alice. Don't like the shooting schedule? Complain to Alice. I soon volunteer to help on their next project and pose as Alice's assistant, and we immediately come up with a grand scheme.
Karsian looks at Grano and says, “We’d have to give him a really fabulous name though.”
“He already has one.”
The conversation continues to go off on tangents like this, and since there are no publicists hovering over us with time limits -- rarely the case during interviews -- the three of us go with the proverbial flow, shifting the talk to Gone Girl (my paperback peeks out of my bag, and I urge them to read it before the movie comes out) and their experience with raising funds on Indiegogo. "It was horrible," Grano says, "but at the end of the day, we raised exactly that number and did it for exactly that number. It was voodoo witch stuff…Maybe I’m a powerful witch woman too-"
“You’re not,” Karsian cuts in.
When Andrea Met Tara: The two actresses crossed paths when Tara needed an actor for a play she was directing. A mutual friend recommended Andrea. Cut to: 11 years later, and they’re filmmaking partners and actual BFFs.
Soon director Andrew Putschoegl drops by, and the conversation switches back to movies, particularly of the horror genre. Grano, a fan, admits to never seeing Sleepaway Camp, and I avoid spoiling the surprise ending for her.
But back to the film...Would BFFs work with two straight guys? Or would it be something completely different?
Grano: “I have a lot of straight friends from a small town who believe that if you kissed a guy, you’re gay. Whereas a woman can kiss a woman, and it can be experimental, it can be questioning. I think there’s a mentality in society that…I think you can be bisexual if you’re a man, and people accept that, but secretly, a lot of guys who don’t know a lot of gay or bisexual people believe you’re really not bisexual. So it’d be harder to believe that a man, especially one who’s not 18 and in college, could be questioning like that. I think that’s societal.”
Karsian: “Men’s friendships are different. I’m not saying they’re any less important, but I do think it’s a very different thing. I think women’s friendships, especially when you get older, leans away from superficiality. You cut out the bullshit."
Putschoegl remembers a conversation he had with a well-known film distributor: “The guy who took a look at the trailer watched the movie and said, ‘Oh, it’s a great concept. But there are no big stars. We can’t sell it…but, if you recast it with men and cast it up – like, get a Hugh Jackman in there or someone – try that, do a sequel.”
“It’s a totally different movie with men," Grano reacts. "And you know what he’s saying basically -- and this is another problem with our industry -- that men are more bankable. Because why didn’t he say ‘Do it with Sandra Bullock and Drew Barrymore?’ Then I can say, ‘Okay, I get it. They’re an easier sell than us.’”
But if the basic concept were to remain intact with two female household names, I ask, would the movie be altered for a more general audience?
“They would try to do another I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry," assumes Putschoegl, referring to the Adam Sandler-Kevin James comedy from 2007. "And that’s not what this movie and this story could ever be.”
“It would have to be like they were bamboozled into thinking they had an attraction," Grano chimes in.
When the two women initially showed their script around, they were told to sell it. But they were wary of placing the material in the hands of those who could compromise the film's inherent message, its essence. Hence why they took on the enormous responsiblity of bringing it to life themselves.
“The friendship Andrea and I have, I think two actresses could definitely act in these roles," Karsian muses, "but they’re not going to have the built-in history…I mean, I just watched a film about two best friends, and it was very obvious to me that they were two actresses.”
“No matter how good the acting was, you could just tell," Grano adds.
“I don’t know if you noticed this, but we bicker a lot. We banter."
Less than two weeks after Malcolm D. Lee’s The Best Man Holiday surprised Hollywood with a $30 million-dollar-opening weekend and an A+ cinemascore, another holiday film with a predominantly African-American cast arrives in theaters hoping to spread a bit of seasonal cheer and perhaps reap the same box office returns. Fortunately, similar to Best Man, this one is a crowd-pleasing treat. However, that’s about all the two dramatically different films have in common.
Writer/Director Kasi Lemmon’s Black Nativity isn’t so much a literal translation of Langston Hughes’ iconic 1961 work as it is a modern reimagining of the poet’s Gospel-infused passion play, one featuring an all-star cast eager to collaborate with the visionary behind Eve’s Bayou and Talk To Me.
(Kasi) is just an amazing filmmaker. She’s so talented and so dedicated you can’t help but learn (when you work) with her," says Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, offering up praise for his gifted director and explaining why he didn’t hesitate when Lemmons asked him to lead fellow Academy Award recipient Jennifer Hudson, nominee Angela Bassett, and Grammy-winning superstars Tyrese Gibson and Mary J. Blige in bringing Black Nativity to the screen.
For Whitaker, star of Lee Daniels' The Butler, the film’s subject matter also proved irresistible: “Kasi was trying to tell a story about a family - from us, the grandparents, to our daughter and our grandchild - everybody that makes up a family. That is what this movie is about, forgiving, mending the past, mending relationships, loving.”
And the holiday season was a subject that was particularly appealing to its buzzy cast. “Christmas is the birth of Jesus," says Mary J. Blige with characteristic candor, “and that means everything to me. It’s about love; it’s about food; it’s about presents. It’s the best thing! You wait for that all year.”
Fellow chart-topper Jennifer Hudson echoes the sentiment: “I just love the holidays – they’re about family, and music, and church - these are all the elements of me.”
Whitaker plays a Harlem preacher and family man whose world changes when his estranged daughter (Hudson) sends his grandson (Jacob Latimore) home for the holidays, and singing on screen with the likes of Hudson proved to be daunting task. “I was scared,” the actor admits. At least he took comfort in the fact that his movie wife, Angela Bassett, despite receiving an Oscar nomination for playing one of the most beloved singers of all time in 1993’s What’s Love Got To Do With It, was equally terrified:
I’d lied (when) Kasi asked me if I could sing, think(ing) I won’t let a little thing like that keep me from doing the part. So when she set me up with Rafael, I was extremely nervous to say the least.”
The Rafael that Ms. Bassett refers to is none other than Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/producer, Rafael Saadiq, the man whom Lemmons tapped to compose Black Nativity’s score as well as create some rousing new songs for it, despite the fact that the hitmaker had never done anything like this before.
“I’ve worked with Spike Lee. I’ve worked with John Singleton. All these people on all these different films, but this was like the whole movie! I was nervous, though it’s funny, the scariest thing about the process (proved to be) having to shut my mouth most of the time and not say anything.”
For the film’s youngest star, 17-year-old Jacob Latimore, silently observing the talent all around him was easy. It was getting in touch with his character’s simmering rage that was much more challenging: “I’m a very sensible person, and it’s very rare that I get angry, so I really had to dig deep (to find my character) because Kasi wanted me to stay strong and firm. That’s what the role called for.”
Strong and firm at first, but like all holiday-facilitated miracles, Latimore’s troubled teen eventually learns how to open up and allow love and all its blessings into his life; a lesson that resonates deeply in today’s increasingly disconnected world. Gibson, the charismatic star of the Fast and The Furious flicks, sums it up best: “When you can see yourself in the movie, a different kind of realization sets in, and you want to be better. This film is an opportunity to mentor through cinema.”
Delicately directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, Short Term 12 takes a peek into the foster care system for at-risk youth. It's also based on Cretton's 2008 short film of the same name and stars Brie Larson (The United States of Tara) and John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom) as case workers who share responsibilities -- and other intimate details -- at a group home for several troubled youngsters.
The poignant film premiered earlier this year at SXSW where it received tremendous reception, and it continues to do so as it widens its limited run in theaters across the nation.
For both young actors, the chance to work on a film with such sensitive material was a no-brainer -- and a welcome challenge.
"The script was emailed to me," Larson remembers, "and I read it while I was shooting The Spectacular Now, and...the script felt very realized without pushing anything on you whatsoever, and I was just terrified that Destin would find me qualified to play the role. But I know that I could do it. It's a strange feeling to have such a strong intuition about something like this."
Having applied to a bunch of volunteer jobs in Georgia, Larson was determined to prepare herself for the role of Grace, the group home supervisor who learns that she's pregnant. She was thrilled by the chance to bring some much-needed light to a profession that's often overlooked and hasn't really been accurately portrayed.
Gallagher Jr, having finished shooting the second season of HBO's The Newsroom, had a very similar experience when he attached himself to the project. "All the scripts that I had read as an auditioning actor, there's not a doubt in my mind that this was absolutely the best script I had ever read," he says. "It was all there on the page, and it took me about three pages to know that it was something so special and unique and I would jump through any number of hoops to become involved."
Playing such adult roles, even though they're not much older than the foster kids they care for, also gave both actors a taste of what parenthood may hold for them. Working with these characters offered them a perspective on raising children that they had never considered before.
Brie: "I was so concerned, when playing Grace, that I'd be this authority figure, so concerned of it being too much or it not coming across. And it makes more sense to me, when I watch the film, that love comes in many different forms, and sometimes it comes in a firmer tone, and I didn't know it worked that way. Suddenly I had this epiphany like, 'Oh my gosh, the times my mom grounded me, it finally makes sense to me!' It felt like I grew up in a way. It made me excited to be a parent because I felt like I came to terms with my imperfections and realized that's part of it, and some kid is going to hate me at certain points in time, and I'll have that one-up on them because I know that's going to happen before they even realize it."
"I just hope that I can be half as loving and caring and supportive and selfless as my character is in the film," Gallagher Jr. wonders aloud. "That was something amazing to learn from that character, a lot about patience and understanding and nurturing. I just feel like it was inspiring to get to know the characters in the film, people that take care of each other and look out for each other in a lot of very selfless ways. It's very overwhleming and inspiring to know that there are people like that out in the world. I hope I could live like that someday."
The film, overall, beautifully expresses themes of healing with every character tending to his or her own wounds, and director Cretton wanted to show all of the different approaches to the process that are involved.
“That was something that was important to me as a writer and director of this film," Cretton says, "but it’s also something that is very important to me as a person. In my experience, the most substantial type of healing is always mutual. It’s not a teacher-student relationship that is so clear-cut; it’s more like two people learning from each other.
He also looks back on his time spent working in a group home several years ago: “That was also my experiences when I was working at a place like this. I initially started with a false and unhealthy outlook that I was there to be a savior and make this place better for these kids. I quickly realized how much more complicated it is than that though...Nobody really gives advice in the film. There’s a couple of times when it’s being given, but most of the time it’s the kids giving advice to Grace or Mason.”
Lynn Shelton is perfectly aware that holistic medicine isn’t
for everyone. In fact, when she decided to set her sensuous new film, Touchy Feely, amidst the New Age world of
hands-on healers, she wasn’t even entirely sure it was for her: “It’s funny to
me," she says, "because there’s the rational, science-based part of my brain, that is just
like, What the….???!!!! But then
there’s another part that is like, I know
what I feel when I’m doing it, and what I get out of (it), and I don’t know why
it works, but it works for me!”
It not only works for the gifted writer-director of celebrated
indies My Effortless Brilliance, Humpday,and Your Sister’s Sister,
it also inspired her to make perhaps her most personal film to date. “I started
to think about what it would be like to be a massage therapist, which really
blows my mind, that you can have such an intimate relationship with the naked
bodies of total strangers! Wouldn’t you ever just be like, I can’t touch another body??!!! Let’s say you were really good at
what you did, and you got a lot of external validation, and that sort of fed
into your sense of identity, but you just couldn’t do it anymore. How would your
ability to function in the world affect your self-perception?“
Clearly, this is an artist who isn’t afraid to get a little
metaphysical… and fortunately, she isn’t scared of shaking things up either. “I
had made three films in a row that were three characters in one location over
the course of a long weekend, and they were great, and there was a lot of
freedom with those kinds of parameters, but I wanted to break out of that and
have an ensemble cast with multiple storylines.”
At the heart of it all, however, is the exquisite Rosemarie
DeWitt, playing a woman attempting to rebuild her life after experiencing an
existential crisis similar to the one Ms. Shelton previously described. It was a
challenging role for the deliciously natural star of Rachel Getting Married and Promised
Land, but the actress was happy to reteam with her Your Sister’s Sister director. “I love (Lynne’s) unique take on the
world," the actress says, "the lens that she looks at her life through. I find it really
compassionate, really human, and I like being a vessel for her weird brain.”
And DeWitt isn’t the only one happy to sing Shelton’s
praises. Pais, underrated yeoman of such indelible gems
as The Station Agent, Year of The Dog, and Please Give, describes his experience
working with her for the first time: “[The entire process] was very fluid and creative, and this
sounds touchy feely, but Lynne kept
all of our creative energies open. I feel like I did the best work I’ve ever
done, because of her.”
Syfy's Sharknado is a gift we all can enjoy, a movie that brings us all together and allows us share our every thought -- via Twitter, of course. Who's the man with the very cool name who has chomped away at writing this buzzworthy movie and its inevitable sequel? Thunder Levin. And he graciciously took some time to answer some questions about the movie that has taken a bite out of social media and created the perfect pop culture storm.
HIH: David Letterman, Ryan Seacrest, and the whole Twitterverse tweeted about the movie you wrote. Does it feel like a big hug from the world?
TL: It’s really been such a whirlwind, it’s hard to describe. I’ve been in this business over 20 years now, and of course you spend your whole career hoping for, and working towards, having this kind of an impact on the audience. But the extent to which it’s blown up has been completely surreal. I’ve mostly seen myself as a fairly serious action and science-fiction director, so for the most humorous, over-the-top thing I’ve ever written (and not directed) to be the one that blows up is incredibly ironic. But I’ve been having so much fun seeing people get a kick out of it, whether they be celebrities or not, that there’s definitely a warm fuzzy feeling involved.
HIH: What do you think of the term "so bad, it's good"? Do you embrace it?
TL: I don’t have a problem with it in this particular context because we all knew what we were doing here. Obviously if this had been some serious piece of drama we’d been trying to do and people were saying “it’s so bad, it’s good” I might feel differently. But the fact that people seem to be having so much fun with it is enormously gratifying. My main goal was for it to be fun.
HIH:Andy Cohen made it known on Watch What Happens Live that he was a super fan of your movie, with star Cassie Scerbo as the guest bartender on the show. Any plans to please gay audiences by adding a gay character in the sequel?
TL: I hadn’t heard about that. I don’t see why not. We all taste the same to sharks.
HIH:Ian Ziering is currently guesting as a Chippendale. Was his shirtlessness written in by you, or was it just an added bonus for viewers?
TL: His character, Fin, was always a surfer, so that implies bare-chestedness. But Ian was cast well after I was finished with the script, so the Chippendales thing was a total coincidence as far as I know.
HIH: How many times have you watched Sharknado, and is there any kind of drinking game that could go along with it?
TL: I assumed it already was a drinking game! Any time a shark eats someone you take a drink. Any time someone kills a shark you take a drink. Any time Nova (Cassie Scerbo) says “I hate sharks," you take a drink. Actually, it’s probably best to just start drinking at the beginning and not stop until before the last scene. You pretty much want to be stone-cold sober for the chainsaw scene.
HIH: The sequel is in the works (we saw at Comic-Con). Is there any added pressure to add more blood?
TL: Maybe we’ll go the other way, make it a Jane Austen drama. With sharks. And tornadoes.
HIH: Now that you're part of pop culture history, and you've raised the bar for future disaster/creature features, how do you feel about the inevitable copycats?
TL: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? So I’d be flattered by anything like that, just as I hope that Steven Spielberg and Irwin Allen and Roland Emmerich would be flattered by Sharknado. It’s not like we invented a new genre. We just took what was already out there to the logical extreme. And yes, I used the word “logic” and “Sharknado” in the same answer. Sorry about that.
Shaknado hits the big screen at Regal Cinemas nationwide on August 2!
Orphan Black co-creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson love how much people love their show.
After a thrilling and addictive first season on BBC America, the clone conspiracy thriller (starring the mesmerizing Tatiana Maslany, who was robbed of an Emmy nod) is gaining some much-needed traction and has become the #1 show to binge on this summer (seriously, pick up the DVDs and see what all the well-deserved brouhaha is all about). In a nutshell: a street hustler witnesses her doppelganger jump in front of a train, assumes her identity, and quickly finds herself in the middle of a shadowy plot. There are twists, bloody turns, and a sassy gay sidekick included on the dangerous journey.
"I think we knew early on that we had shot a bunch of pretty good episodes," Manson tells me as we chat at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego during Comic-Con. "So it was interesting watching people talking about the show and asking 'How are they gonna keep it up? How are they going to manage?' And we're kind of going 'Hee hee.'"
For those wondering where actress Maslany came from, here's some insight: Fawcett had worked with her on the 2004 horror flick Ginger Snaps 2. "We went through a normal casting process," he remembers, referring to the origins of Orphan Black. "And what we decided was that we weren't looking for a name. We wanted to discover someone. It was really important. I wanted that kind of experience for the audience...so we all decided that we wanted someone cool and new."
And thank the gods they found her.
Manson adds, "We had to, because of the way we were financed, cast a Canadian. So we couldn't go England, we couldn't go to the States. We had to go in our own backyard...and we were just lucky that we found Tat."
Fawcett on Maslany: "She comes very prepared. She knows the scripts, she knows all the stuff. And she's really an actor who lives in the moment. She's so directable. She's very good at trying anything. She doesnt have that ego. Some actors get very fearful working outside the box, and that's not her. That's where she thrives.
"We've sat down with her and spitballed some ideas...We want to challenge her. But we don't want to give her something like Spanish gangsta clone. I don't think that's possible."
Manson: "We knew [pro-clone] Rachel was coming, so several episodes ahead, we went to Tat told her this is what we're thinking of this character. So she got into the process and headspace of what she was going to be about."
And what about the seemingly nice Mrs. S, played by Maria Doyle Kennedy? "We love Maria," Manson continues. "And we want to use her more, so we've got some interesting surprises with her. And Sarah has started a war with Rachel, so we won't be skipping ahead a year. I think the show will pretty much pick up where we left off."
Fawcett: "That's sort of our show. Every episode is a chapter and a bigger story. So it feels right to go on like that."
As for that surprising scarf strangling via a garbage disposal in the action-packed season finale? "We like the darkness and to spike it with dark humor," the producers laugh.
What's in store for Alison (the suburban housewife clone)? The guys hint that she'll have to deal with her actions in season 2. There is a lot of guilt she'll experience. "She could go off the rails," Manson teases.
But what about the others? "In season 2," Fawcett says, "now that we've established the world, I think we'll see a few more of our supporting cast have more significant storylines and play in a little bit more. Not that we don't love Tat, but we really gotta rest her a little more so she's not burned out!"
Then there's the burning question I have to ask: Where did Orphan Black come from? Because, as I fall deeper in love with the show, I can't help but see shades of some of my favorite shows from the past...
Manson: "When we first came up with the concept in 2003, we were totally into Memento, just in terms of the way the mystery unfolded...not chopping up time, but that sense of dislocation and space..."
Fawcett: "And discovering it from the main character's point of view."
Manson: "We were also into The X-Files and Alias. Alias was so much fun, and we wanted the show to be fun and cool visual stuff with."
Fawcett: "And Six Feet Under was also an inspiration, because I love the humor, and it was always important that our show had a lot of humor to it. We don't want it to look like we take ourselves too seriously. I think it's fun to poke fun at yourself too."
Manson: "A couple of other ones are Lost and Breaking Bad's storytelling and that how-the-fuck-are-they-gonna-get-out-of-this quality."
Fawcett: "We're like the genre version of Breaking Bad...And Battlestar. There were lots of clone shenanigans in Battlestar."
Manson: "Any Tarantino movie...
Fawcett: "It's kind of a joke, but not really a joke, but we wanted to make a show so that we could go to Comic-Con. We've never been before. When we cast Tatiana, we went out to lunch, and we went, 'By the way, we're gonna go to Comic-Con next year,' and she was like, 'Okay.' She'd never been there before either."
It’s been over 20 years since Keanu Reeves first achieved
superstardom for his laid back, original
bro-style and fiercely brooding screen presence in classics like Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure, My Own Private Idaho, Point Break and of course, Speed. Reeves has been somewhat quiet
recently, but his fans know that every few years, they can count on the
reclusive superstar to swing his orbital Hollywood’s way; a veritable Halley’s
Comet of good hair and smoldering charisma.
His latest project, Generation Um, is a James Toback-meets-Paul Morrissey, verite-style tribute to lost souls, New
York City, and filmmaking itself -- written and directed by the talented Mark Mann. I was fortunate enough to sit for roundtable discussions, first with the
superstar and his director, and then with his charismatic young costars, Boyana
Novacovic and Adelaide Clemons. I’d be lying though, if I said it wasn’t all
about Neo, at least at first…
Tell us about your
“I steal a camera and some chocolate”, the actor says with
youthful passion, still possessed of all his boyish charm. “Stealing the camera
for John (his character) was the only thing he could do in order to have that
camera. He’s felt trapped in his life. In this moment of watching this group of
people do this improvisational dance in this park in the Lower East Side of New
York, he sees an opportunity for something that he’s interested in and it’s one
of the times that he steps out of himself and he takes it. And as for the candy
bar, he’s hungry, and he wants chocolate, and
he’s depressed. “
What was the most
intimidating scene to shoot?
“The scariest scene was the scene where John and Violet
(Novacovic) come together,” Reeves declares without a moment’s hesitation,
“because playing John, I had no idea how that could actually happen. How could
this person who felt so vulnerable and insular and wanted to reach out, how
could he help someone? How could these two possibly hug each other? And then, a
lot of film rolled…”
The actor is of course, jokingly referring to the
thoughtful, anything but rushed style
that Mann brought to this project, only his second feature film. But the shy,
probing writer-director readily cops to his scrupulous process and deliberate
nature. “(The 'hug scene') is one of the longest hug scenes ever on film, at over five inutes. It was the hardest scene in the movie to cut and I struggled with it
the most, it was the last piece of the puzzle, and just, finding that level of
intimacy was extremely hard.”
Mark, was that what
you were mainly thinking about when you set out to write this script, finding
closeness and connection?
“I was thinking about how
do you change your life?” he says matter of factly. “Often times, you have
to make a bold move and do something that people don’t necessarily congratulate
you for, to give yourself what you need to move forward. Then, when you start
to inject hope, optimism and love inside a wrapper of disassociation and
alienation (as is the case with Reeve’s character, after his petty theft),
things get very complicated and ultimately, that’s what makes the film”.
Is that what the camera
symbolizes, a catalyst for uncompromising change?
“I make films on some
level about what I know, and both my films are about the filmmaking process.
That’s my thing. The first feature I did was a documentary about the narrative
filmmaking and editing process, and now this one is a narrative that
incorporates a man learning how to use a camera and document the world around
him,” Mann responds passionately.
Keanu, can you talk a
bit about your director and costars?
“When you make a movie, one of the coolest things is when
artists come together in like mind about the work, and Mark kind of fostered
that.He was so collaborative about
sharing his perspective and always asking us, the actors, for ours, (which
brought about) a real (on-set) camaraderie.
character and Sarita’s Choudhury’s thoughtful waitress, seem to be the only
people in the film who actually shut up and listen, leading to quite a
beautiful, if unspoken connection. Is listening the message of the film?
“It’s certainly part of it,” the director responds
assuredly. “First of all, Sarita Choudury is a treat! The quiet moment where
she’s behind John and you see their whole relationship- the joy of working with
the actors in that particular scene was that they were so connected without
even looking at each other. The answer to the question again is, yes,” he carefully reiterates. “We have
become so immune to the noise of everything that nothing is shocking anymore.”
“That’s not true”,
Keanu ventures with ease, clearly demonstrating the comfort and intellectual
rapport between the two friends and collaborators. “It’s not that nothing’s
shocking, it’s just that there’s a state of shock. These characters are shocked
characters in transformation, trying to reach out to have any type of intimacy
With characteristic deliberation, Mark responds, “It
fascinates me, the subtle differences in motivation. Like whatever my intentions
are in writing it and (Keanu’s) intentions are for playing that character, they
are different, and it’s a fun conversation. I just like the dialectic.”
What did you each take
from this experience?
“It’s my first narrative film and I feel so happy to have
been able to make the film I wanted to make,” says Mr. Mann appreciatively. “(The
whole process) was very organic and I was allowed to just make the film without
(studio executives) coming at me, and most of that was due to Keanu.”
But for the reluctant superstar whose presence clearly still
carries some hefty clout in this industry, it was all about his
writer/director. “There are so many pleasures that Mark’s story offered me as
an actor (especially) this idea of hope for these trapped characters. And just
the opportunity to create, and I’m happy.”
Directing the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics was possibly one of the most time-consuming and stressful jobs Danny Boyle has ever done. It was a far cry from filmmaking and being on set with his cinematographer and troupe of actors.
That's why working on his latest thriller, Trance, was an escape for him. Shot in London during summer weekends -- in between his Olympic duties -- Boyle was able to do to what he loves to do.
The film centers around an auctioneer (James McAvoy) who loses his memory when he gets tangled up in an art heist that goes horribly awry. With the help of a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson), he attempts to resolves his involvement witht he criminal mastermind behind it all (Vincent Cassel).
These three characters soon become unreliable protagonists as none of them are who or what they might seem at first meeting. "The story's got three excellent parts in it and they battle for who's at the center of the film," says Boyle. "That triangle is a lovely dynamic to have in place as you can play with the question of which character the story belongs to."
Taking the role of Simon is McAvoy, who felt a magnetic attraction to the film. "I was completely blown away by this mind-bending, genre-bending, psychological heist movie," he comments. "When I auditioned for Danny, he was incredible. I've rarely been directed in an audition so interestingly. That made me desperate to get the part. Luckily for me he phoned up and said, 'Would you like to do it?'"
Boyle was surprised by McAvoy. "I thought he might be a bit young for it, but when we met, it was really interesting because the part makes him seem older. It was fantastic the way he grew into it."
As for the role of hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb, Rosario Dawson loved that her character played as an equal in this male-driven mind game. "I've never played anyone even remotely like her," she says. "Elizabeth is totally different because she's hiding everything. You only get hints of her emotion through her doing things with with her hair to show her restraint, but when she lets her hair down, she really lets her hair down."
One of the most intriguing aspects of Trance for Boyle was the chance to present a woman as equal player in a crime thriller. "You make all these films, and you have great women in them, but they're basically about the guys...So what I love about this film is there's a woman most definitely right in the thick of it, holding her own."
*This website and the ideas expressed therein are not endorsed by or are in any way affiliated with The Hollywood Company LLC or its HOT IN HOLLYWOOD television show or brand.
Hotter In Hollywood claims no credit for any images featured on this site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyright to it's respectful owners. Hotter In Hollywood is in no way responsible for, or has control of, the content of any external web site links. Information on this site may contain errors or inaccuracies; the site's proprietors do not make warranty as to the correctness or reliability of the site's content.
If you own rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear here, please contact us and they will be promptly removed.