It’s 92 degrees. Chateau Marmont is buzzing. Two Brits sit in a corner drinking coffee talking about constantly bumping into strangers and reading the newspapers on the London Underground. Sir Ian McKellen is in Hollywood promoting his latest film Mr. Holmes and I had the chance to sit down with the fellow Londoner to talk about the film, bees – yes bees, London and Beauty And The Beast.

I place my iPhone down in the middle of the table and he expresses his concern for the device possibly not recording and working for our interview. We check and it’s good, although deep inside I wonder what if it were to fail me one day. On the subject of technology and talking about Awards Daily,  Sir Ian McKellen tells me he should have been in the Guinness Book of Records for being one of the first bloggers.

Sir Ian McKellen: I should be in the history books, because when we were doing Lord of The Rings, we started that in January 2000. The internet had just arrived, nobody really knew what it was. Peter Jackson (Director) and I both said, “We should be contacting all the people who have been waiting for this film to be made. So, under the radar of the studio and its marketing publicity, Peter and I just sent out messages. We got into trouble, the studio were saying you can’t do that, so I started to blog, I never called it blogging, I called it E-Post. It didn’t catch on, but the idea did, and I think I was one of the first actors or one of the first people ever to blog, and Peter was doing the same.

It’s interesting because what are actors doing, they’re trying to get an audience to come along and see what we’re doing. I’ve always liked publicity, I always thought it was interesting with how to capture people’s attention. Not all actors like doing it, some are too busy, but it’s interesting.
The first thing I ever wanted to be was a journalist.

Awards Daily: Really? Did you study journalism?

SIM: Oh no. I did go and see the editor of our local newspaper in the North of England and I asked him for a job. He had more applications per day for jobs, than he had more jobs to give in a year. So, I decided to become an actor. [Chuckles]. I do like the challenge of trying to write something concise, accurate and punchy. That’s the only writing I do. I put things on my Facebook.

AD: You are simply magnificent in this film as Sherlock Holmes, do you remember when you first discovered Sherlock Holmes?

SIM: No I don’t. Isn’t that funny? I’ve asked other people if that. No, I’ve always known about Sherlock Holmes, it’s like Father Christmas. If I really had to identify, I bet it was on the radio, when I was a kid, before TV we used to listen as a family to the radio, I bet there was a Sherlock Holmes play on it. I know John Keele and Orson Welles did a whole series of Sherlock Homes on the BBC, they were broadcast here as well. On film and then on TV, and probably on books, but I’ve kept all of my books and I don’t have any Sherlock Holmes books. I really can’t tell you, he’s just in the ether, and he still is really.
I’ve always got an idea of what Sherlock Holmes is, which is what’s good about Mr. Holmes because you think you know Sherlock Holmes but uh-uh, you don’t. [Laughs].

AD: What research did you do for the role?
SIM: Well, there would be little point in watching other people. I was meant to be playing someone who wasn’t quite like the traditional Sherlock.
As for research for being 93, I helped nurse my stepmother til she was 100. She had a bit of senility, severe memory gaps and I had seen that at close quarters. Being an actor if I can’t remember a word or why I’ve gone into a room, if you’re an actor, you can apply that little moment t being an actor. The only pre work I had to do was the bees.

AD: Did you really handle those bees?

SIM: Yes, come on, it’s not bad was it?

AD: That was brilliant.

SIM: I lift them up, I turn them. Bees are fine as long as you don’t get in their way.



AD: That bee scene with you and Milo Parker (who plays young Roger) was great.

SIM: There was a bee teacher. He collects honey in London. He has hives on top of the National Gallery and Fortnum & Mason. This is the purest honey because London has so many open spaces and parks, so the bees at Fortnum & Mason feed almost exclusively at the flowers at Buckingham Palace Gardens. Whereas bees in the countryside are feeding off plants that have been sprayed with pesticides. So, he taught me how to handle bees and not be frightened of them. You make them a bit dozy with the smoke.

AD: Did you get stung?
SIM: I did not. Nor did anybody on the film. No human being was hurt in the making of this film. Nor was a bee.

AD: Milo was brilliant. Did you give him any advice?

SIM: Ooh no. It was his first film. Bill, the director was always whispering things to him so I didn’t want to get in the way of that relationship. He had the confidence of youth without the bratishness. Some children are so confident that they make you feel totally inadequate, and you know in ten years time they’re going to be running the government. Milo was a delight to be just where he was. Very sociable, very polite as child actors often are. They do what the grown ups tell you. He had quite a relationship with Laura (Linney), I think they still email.

AD: You worked with Bill Condon on God and Monsters, what was it like being reunited with him again?

SIM: We became friends when we did Gods And Monsters. It was a very close relationship when we did that film. We shot it here in Hollywood in 4 or 5 weeks. Not many actors can say they’ve made a film in Hollywood as most Hollywood films are made somewhere else. We worked in the studios in Silverlake that had a glass roof from the days when they used to act indoors, but by natural sunlight.
Everybody on that film knew that it had an importance beyond its own story that it was probably the first time that Hollywood had put a gay man at the center of the story and treated him the same. The fact that he was gay wasn’t the point. That for me and Bill as out gay men was an important message to us which was why we liked to do the story.
Bill of course has loved horror all his life. The director of the first Frankenstein movie was his hero. Anyway, everybody involved in the film had a personal relationship to him. It can happen with an independent movie with a small crew, not much time to do it, we’re all in it together, let’s get this made, and there’s no time for friendship to turn sour. You come out of there as if you’ve all been on a wonderful working holiday together. Bill and I have been friends ever since .
He always said we’ll do another film someday. I kept saying, “Yes, when’s that going to happen?” He called up one day and said, “I’ve got it.” So, it wasn’t going back to Bill after all those years, we kept in touch.

AD: And now, you’re doing Beauty and The Beast together again. You’re playing Cogsworth,tell me about that because everyone is really excited for it. I’m really excited for it.

SIM: It’s amazing how many people are. It’s some people’s favorite movie that they must know from when they’re a kid. I play Cogsworth and I can tell you that he does not have his own song. Whenever I go up near a microphone and saw Alan Menken, I start singing [sings], “My name is Cogsworth and I’m a clock. Tick Tock.” I’ve been doing that. I told Bill we should write Cogsworth his own song, but he said no.
Most of the time my character is in animation. But, what a great cast, Audra McDonald and when she starts singing and Emma Thompson.

AD: You’re teasing me now. I’ve got to wait two years for this.

SIM: I spoke to him (Bill Condon) last night. He’s editing it now in New York. He’s already seen a lot of it and is very happy. He’s a worrier, so if he’s happy then you’ll be good.

AD: How does preparing for a role like Holmes compare to preparing for a role you’re playing on stage?

SIM: Sometimes research can get in the way. You’ve got a script. Somebody spent a lot of time deciding what to put in that script. Along comes a director, and then the producers with their point of view, and then the actor. The last thing they want is an actor saying, “Hey, I don’t think we need that. I’ve got an idea.” All my job is to understand the character that they have presented. Research isn’t necessarily the order of the day. Unless of course you’re playing somebody who you can’t quite something emotionally, you might want to talk to the director or writer and do a little bit of reading around that.
I’ve played a lot of soldiers in my time. I’ve done the drill and that stays with you. I know about standing up straight, the angles of caps, the various salutes. I know how to do a smart turn. Usually the real responsibility as an actor is not delving into research outside the script, but on what’s there’s in the script. If you’re Eddie Redmayne playing someone with a motor-neuro disease of course, I’ve done similar things. I’ve played a mentally handicap man in Loving Walter. I did lots of research, I had notes, went down the streets like a mentally handicapped man. But Mr Holmes, I’ve worn those sort of clothes before. You find the character inside yourself. When I was working with Michael Mann on The Keep, I had to learn a Romanian accent, so I went over to Romania. I soaked myself into Romanian culture. When I walked on to the set on the first day of shoot, they were like, “No, I don’t like that, make him more Chicago. OK. Action.” Sometimes your research is absolutely wasted. That would be a lot of research, doing an accent.

When I was in Apt Pupil directed by Bryan Singer, I had to do a man who had been born in Germany and had moved to California in his middle years. So finding an accent that was a mix of Germany and California, when you’re English, you need help.



AD: We need to talk about your voice as 93-year-old Sherlock and your make-up.

SIM: They put stuff on my face, stretched my skin, let it dry and release it, and that’s how you get the wrinkles. Cleverly, he could get the same wrinkles day after day after day.

AD: You couldn’t tell at all. It was just so well done.

SIM: Big false nose. I love make-up. When I started out, I was working in regional theatres outside London doing a different play every two weeks with the same group of actors. The previous play closed the Saturday night, you’d be in rehearsal the next night, Monday morning you’ve got to do the dress rehearsal for the next play. You’ve only just learnt the lines, you put yourself under the mirror and think, “What am I going to look like?” Shall I cut my hair? Shall I put my hair forward? Shall I have a moustache? But if you do that looking in a mirror, sometimes the character starts to emerge.
When I was doing Lord of The Rings, I sat there for two days whilst they were putting all sorts of beards, eyebrows and mustaches before they got it right. They just got the beard the right length and we suddenly saw the character. There’s a DNA in you, if you get some parts of the performance right you can then transfer it throughout the body. Like if you got the walk right, or if you got part of the voice right. Or even if you got a line right and the director says, “That line is absolutely the character,” then that goes through the rest of you. So seeing what you look like is very helpful.
Once we put all that make up on and we went outside to take photos, I thought to myself I looked 93. That’s when acting became easy.

AD: A lot of the film deals with memory, I read recently that you were planning on writing your memoirs, are you still writing them?

SIM: No, I’m not which is why I’m here. I put 9 months aside and I started writing, then I realized, as much as I like writing, there wasn’t an emotional need to write this down. It’s not easy, you have to go into your past, I wanted it to be a book that really meant something and I realized I didn’t want to commit to it. I decided I wouldn’t. I put aside nine months for it, so here we are two months into it and I’m not writing, so here we are.
I do write on my website a lot. If you want to know what it was like doing Macbeth with Judi Dench you can go and read it there. There’s probably more there than there’ll ever be in a book.

AD: So, what are you working on next?

SIM: I’m going back with Pat Stewart to work on No Man’s Land which we did on Broadway last year. We did it alongside Waiting for Godot.

If something turns up, I might do it, I might not. At 76, I say to myself, “This job you’re about to do might be the last job you ever do. Are you absolutely sure you want to do it?’
In the past, I’d almost take any job, from the point of view that if I do this job I’m going to find out how to be a bit better as an actor because I’m going to be working with this director, this script, no matter how long it takes, how long I’m being paid, because at the end of it all it would have all been worthwhile. Now I think, it’s got to be really good, what I really want to do.
I’ve just done a BBC Play, The Dresser. It’s about an old actor and his dresser, Anthony Hopkins is the old actor, and I’m the dresser. I did it purely to work with Anthony.

AD: Do you follow the Awards buzz?

SIM: I’m not really aware of it. I don’t act to get an award. The acting is the reward. If it means that the film has been a success and it has. It slipped in through all the big movies razzmatazz and there are still lots of people who haven’t seen it, then I’m very happy to go on talking about it. I’m very proud of it. In the marketplace, there’s always room for something a bit more contemplative. What surprised me was I thought it was Sherlock Holmes, the big selling point, but when they got in, it was a film about something everybody could relate to; an aged parent, a little boy, a widow and the sense that it’s optimistic. Those are all things that are going on together. It’s a much more cunning script than I realized.

AD: The narrative is nice, there’s no a plot twist or unfolding drama.

SIM: It is. It’s a pastiche of a Sherlock Holmes book or film.

AD: IS there any case you wish you had solved?

SIM: [Laughing] I do crosswords and sudoku. Everybody loves a mystery. Sherlock Holmes is a hero to so many people because he could do what we all ought to be able to do, but haven’t quite trained ourselves to do. It was lovely playing someone who was so certain about life, but then realized that life’s a problem.

On that note, we wrapped things up. Special thanks to Miramax, LTLA Communications and Roadside Attractions.

Mr. Holmes is out on DVD on November 10. Watch the trailer below:


It is no surprise that Saoirse Ronan gives one of the most deeply felt and wonderful female performances of the year in Brooklyn. After all, this is an actress who was nominated for an Oscar when she was just 13 years old for her pivotal role in Joe Wright’s Atonement. “When Atonement happened I was just a kid, and I can’t say I expected the nomination to happen” she tells me. Now 21 years old, Ronan has blossomed into everything we thought she could be. In recent years she has starred in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, kicked serious cojones in Hanna and most recently was cast as Zero’s secret crush in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. This all in a span of just six years.

Brooklyn is a beautifully made film about good, well-intentioned people trying to do their best in life. The gorgeously crisp and colorful cinematography by Yves Belanger is to die for, as is the direction by John Crowley, which is stylishly slick enough to harken back to a time when handsomely made, feel-good pictures worked marvelously well in Hollywood. This is an old-fashioned movie done right, a heartfelt effort by people who very much care about story and character. The screenplay was written by Nick Hornby, and captures his usual impeccable ear for small talk. Saoirse Ronan plays Ellis, an Irish girl who moves to New York to start a new life, but finds herself doubting that decision once there. The movie will make her a household name, and there’s already talk of a possible Oscar nominations for her performance –- which originally had Rooney Mara cast in the lead role –- and the film itself, which is exactly the kind of crowd-pleasing treat the Academy eyes year after year. “I pronounce it Sersha,” she tells me of her name. We might as well learn it well because a performer with this much natural, freewheeling talent and personality doesn’t come along often.

The actress sits down with me at her comfy suite at the Marriott hotel and is clearly exhausted from hours of interviews with the press, but her publicist tells her that I’m the last one for the day and the atmosphere loosens up a little and a smile appears on her pale rosy cheeked face. “Let’s make this one the best damn interview. I’ve got a good feeling about you,” she says with a smile. The young actress seems to also have a tiny case of the sniffles, and is eyeing the cup of tea her publicist is holding for her. “You know I’m doing OK, but it’s weird I always get sick every time I do press,” she says. Wearing a black dress and black leather boots, she asks me about my country of origin since I strike her as “too naturally tanned”. I tell her it’s all over the map, but that the tan is due to my Moroccan heritage. “Oh my,” she responds, “we filmed Hanna in Morocco. What a crazy place. Loved it. Everywhere I’d go I would be stared at, the only pale white girl in a country of sun people.”

Her origins are particularly interesting. When recession was at its peak in Ireland, and before she was born, Ronan’s parents decided to move to New York in the early ‘80s. They worked very hard and in very blue collar ways. Her father had a steady job as a Bronx bartender, whereas her mother was a nanny. Three years after Saoirse’s New York birth, they moved back to Ireland. Saoirse’s research for her role in Brooklyn eventually led to a particularly meaningful talk with her mom, which became an emotionally overwhelming task for the actress. “To have my mom speak about her journey and when her and my dad moved over there, what that was like for them. That was tough to listen to, I’m gonna cry, but it really helped me not just for the role but for my life …” The film unintentionally has become a love letter to her mom: “When she saw the film at Sundance, I just went up to her and I literally jumped up off the stage and ran to her arms. And she said, ‘You just got it. You got exactly that fear and that excitement I had.’” Even the ones closest to her were flabbergasted by the similarities. Saoirse recounts, “There was a journalist I knew that saw the movie back home in Ireland and he said to me that when he watched it, it was the first time he saw a movie of mine where it didn’t feel like me onscreen or anyone else really, but instead he saw my mother on the screen … I don’t think I realized it in the moment, but what I did with this performance is channel my mom.”

It wasn’t just her mom though. The film was also about her own journey from Ireland to the U.S. She reminisced about a time when she was in fact the very girl she plays in Brooklyn. “A year before we went into production I had moved out, left home and I had gone through that whole emotional journey that (my character) goes through. So, I loved it from the beginning, however it was only when we actually shot it that it meant so much more to me.” I tell her she’s not the only one to have the story hit her on a personal level, but the same goes for me and my own parents and everyone else. “Exactly, I think this story is actually for everyone. For anyone who ever left home, moved away from home, moved down the road, went to college, or left the country they grew up in. Those situations give you a feeling of not knowing where you belong, we’ve all gone through it. That’s what I went through when I moved from Ireland to London for acting or when I moved from Ireland to New York quite recently. It can be very overwhelming and frustrating… I related to everything. Everything. Every single saying, every aspect of what my character’s journey was.”

Now that I’ve caught her attention and she is really gets into the conversation we’re having, she lifts her legs up on the couch and starts to make herself a little more comfortable. Her catching green eyes now glued to what the next question might be, a perfect time to ask her about the ever ongoing topic of female roles in the industry. This year, however, has been a defining one for great female performances and the one Ronan gives here is one of the very best. This is a strong performance, one in which the Irish girl she plays makes up her own decisions and decides her own fate in life with no male influence subsiding her. “She’s a woman, and she’s facing two tough choices and it’s up to her to decide. Now what’s important here is that she made the decision, that this time it was her that made the decision … not any outside influence. I want women to go see it, and to feel empowered by that and to relate to that situation.”

The film – which debuted at Sundance in January and had a strong showing this past September at TIFF, which in turn led to the triumphant screening recently at the New York Film Festival -– might be conventionally told, but the underlying feminist tones are strongly effective, and make it an atypical, curiously relevant studio-backed film. “To see a character like her, set at that time and not have it be solely about the men in her life, that’s pretty feminist. Every single woman in this film is strong and independent and yet feminism couldn’t flourish back then.” I ask her to elaborate on that and she ponders, trying to think of the right way to put it. “In a way, it’s become sort of unpopular now for us to be treated as equal citizens. Some people treat feminism as taboo. To me, feminism is just that we’re equal to men and that’s all we really want. Brooklyn has a character that truly believes in that at a time when it was taboo to think that way.” Just when she was getting revved up and ready to go to deeper places with the interview her publicist re-enters the room and tells her the interview is done. “Really? I was just getting started here,” she laughingly says, “oh well, I knew I had a good feeling about you.” The same can be said about her career –- she’s only getting started.


Denis Villeneuve is not a filmmaker who sees the light at the end of the tunnel. If you’ve ever seen any one of his movies you’ll know that there is a sense of dread and uneasiness to every frame, the feeling that nothing good will happen and that everything is just wrong. Yet, the 47-year-old director hasn’t exactly tackled melancholic stories in his career either: His movies have included child abductors, terrorists, drug lords, hitmen, high school shooters and depressed alcoholics. Yet since his American debut, Prisoners, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman, he has steadily but surely built up a following that is making him a reputable force to be reckoned with. That film’s polite but good reviews were transformed over the last few years into an undeniable cult following. The grisly murder mystery at the center of the story has typical B-movie tropes, but he has a knack for making a script better just by the way he films, paces, and directs. About this he says, “All my life, I’ve searched for good screenwriters; I love writing, but I’m not a good screenwriter and I take forever to complete a script. For the first time ever, I’m receiving screenplays from Hollywood that actually intrigue me. I had heard so many horror stories about foreign filmmakers going to Hollywood that got fucked by the system. Martin Scorsese warned me in fact that ‘You need to remain intact, that’s the most important thing.’ ”

Prisoners was a big step forward in getting his name across. He admitted, “It was a film that was horribly American, almost a kind of western.” Villneuve followed it up with Enemy, a film he shot prior to Prisoners, also starring Gyllenhaal. About Enemy he stated, “That was a very personal film adapted from a Portuguese novel by José Saramago. When I read it I felt the same sensation as when I was a kid and saw 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was very much about masculine identity.” This will probably not be the last time he works with Gyllenhaal either. “We very much were a creative team with Enemy, Jake was very into the whole process. We we’re feeding off of each other – so much so that I find the film is almost a documentary on Jake’s subconscious.”

On a personal note, I lived through the Montreal film scene when Villeneuve, Jean-Marc Vallee, and an 18-year-old Xavier Dolan among others, revolutionized French-Canadian cinema, and in the process gave themselves a shot at the Hollywood studio system. It was a very exciting time, but it was always Villeneuve that I kept an especially close eye on. People who saw his movie Maelstrom back in 2000 knew this was a talent to watch. The film, narrated by a doomed fish, features a career-making performance by Marie-Jose Croze as a depressed, suicidal woman who gets romantically linked to the son of the man she killed in a hit and run accident. The style was grimly unique and had a surrealist aspect to it that was almost too frightening to watch. Or maybe it was just the images Villeneuve conjured up with his camera – he could find the most basic looking detail in a frame and accentuate its impact just by the way he positioned a camera or had the cinematographer light up the scene. “It’s strange, when I finished Maelstrom I told myself, no more movies with a female lead. My first three films had that. Yet with my following film, Polytechnique, I made a film about the female condition and Incendies, the Middle East female. It just seems like women inspire me and that’s a good thing.”

The Polytechnique school shooting in Quebec was still a big deal many years after it happened; it affected a generation and Villeneuve was one of those people. Shooting a film about the tragedy was a daunting task, and the film he made was not without controversy in Canada.  During a class, a gunman shot 28 people, killing 14 women, before committing suicide. He began his attack by entering a classroom at the university, where he separated the male and female students. He told the women that he hated feminists, claiming that he was “fighting feminism” and calling the women “a bunch of feminists.” He shot all nine women in the room, killing six. He then moved through corridors, the cafeteria, and another classroom, specifically targeting women. ”Polytechnique is an organic film, a beast. The film is alive.” The film jumps back and forth in time, meditatively trying to find some peace with the tragedy. Villeneueve’s film tries to tackle the human cost of gender warfare and comes up with varying but troubling answers. Think Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, but French-Canadian. Shot in beautiful black and white by Pierre Gill, it’s an astonishing statement by a filmmaker who wants his voice to be heard. It justly won the Best Picture Genie award (the Canadian equivalent of the Oscars), his second one after 2008’s Maelstrom triumph. The following year he triumphed again with Incendies, winning his third Best Picture Genie. 

The fact that Villeneuve is becoming such a hot commodity is not surprising. Before he broke through in the States, he had made four highly impressive French-Canadian films. After each one I thought, “this might break through and get him known”, but it never happened. It’s a tough business, but the films got progressively better, and when his career finally reached its peak with Incendies, his trailblazing 2010 Oscar nominated masterpiece, audiences could no longer ignore the talent. “I didn’t have time to rest. The last day of shooting Polytechnique I directly went to day one of shooting Incendies. These were two projects that I really took to heart, but they mentally and physically drained me.” Political, angry, and thoroughly engrossing, Incendies is a Middle Eastern nightmare that gets progressively more disturbing as it goes along. Brother and sister lose mom, find out their dead father is very much alive, learn that they have a sibling they never knew existed and decide to go to a violent Middle Eastern country to find out more of their mother’s past. It’s pure Villeneueve: aggressive, violent, and thoroughly pessimistic about human nature. “The anger that was in the source material really, profoundly touched me,” he recounts.

This journey has brought Villenueve to – what is so far – his best American movie with Sicario, a movie he calls a “dark poem”. Villeneuve is slowly but very surely getting to a groove of studio filmmaking that will likely propel him to join the very best in Hollywood. If that isn’t already the case, it sure as hell will happen in the next few years. Sicario is a monster of a movie. Villeneuve stages the action like a true master, moving his camera to the beat of the violence. It’s with these action scenes that you realize just how talented the man is. They seem like very simple scenes to shoot, but they aren’t.  It’s a good thing then that Sicario’s full-throttled sequences are refreshing, plentiful, and the highlights of the film, as they encompass a wide array of claustrophobic feelings and put you right in the thick of the action, especially in a highway shootout that is bound to become an iconic piece of cinema.

Dealing with the Mexican-American problems at the border and beyond, Sicario is highly relevant right now. It is nothing new that this year’s political campaigning has had Mexico very much at the forefront of the discussion. All the unusual talk of wall-building notwithstanding, there are core issues to be dealt with in the future. Talking to The Guardian at Cannes earlier this year, Villeneuve has said that “The movie is about America … how America fantasizes that it can solve problems beyond its borders, and about the collateral damage that results … and the legality and moral issues around that … It’s a movie that deals with idealism and realism and the tension between both … It takes place on the Mexican border, but it could have just as easily have been set in Afghanistan or the Middle East or various countries in Africa. In North America, we allow ourselves to do things that other countries can’t afford to.”

A lot of the film’s brilliance has to do with the cinematography that Roger Deakins brings to the table. This is Deakins’ second collaboration with Villeneuve – they make a great duo – and the film is almost as much a showcase for Villeneueve as it is for the famed cinematographer. Villeneuve seems to be giving carte blanche to Deakins with every movie, which isn’t a bad idea, and the two complement each other to great degrees. “I always profoundly felt Roger wanted to make the movie. One thing I adore about Roger is his discipline and his rigor. He exudes so much respect from the cast and crew. When I started editing the movie I was just floored by what he had done.

Sicario has been compared to Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic for its investigation of the Mexican drug cartel and both starring Benicio Del Toro. That’s where comparisons should end, though. Relying heavily on atmosphere, a pulse pounding score from Jóhann Jóhannsson and a never better Emily Blunt, Villeneuve shoots the whole thing like a pro, giving us epic wide screen shots that take advantage of the breathtaking locations and his usual gloomy visual style. Its bow at Cannes came with a standing ovation and positive reviews, however it’s only now that the film is truly lifting off. Positive word of mouth – and there’s plenty of it for this movie – will propel this film into awards contention. Benicio Del Toro’s turn as the titular Sicario – a hitman by definition – is mysterious, mesmerizing and brutally brilliant. 

Blunt also deserves to be part of the Best Actress conversation. She’s just one of the very best actresses around and her role as Kate Macer is an important one for Villeneuve as well. “There is obviously a lot of work to be done for women’s rights, there aren’t any good parts for women in movies these days … I think of this as my contribution.”  Sicario had a bumpy road pre-production, as the movie’s backers wanted the Kate Macer role rewritten for a man. It was something his screenwriter, Taylor Sheridan, had been “advised” to do, but Villeneuve and Sheridan refused. “It isn’t easy to get a film made where the protagonist is a woman – there’s less money, people are afraid, and it’s really sad that it’s still like that today,” Villeneuve said. “It’s ludicrous, and this film shows that attitude is dépassé…” safe for Enemy and Prisoners, Villeneuve’s five other films have dealt with female identity. Much of this might have to do with his upbringing, which was dominated by two very prominent figures – his grandmothers – whom he calls “very powerful women.”

The movie feels epic in scope, but is actually very intimate in detail, which is a big part of why it works so well. Villeneuve never forgets that at the end of the day, it has to do with story and character. The fact that the 47-year-old director rarely gives interviews only enhances the intrigue of the man. I had the chance to meet him a couple of times in Montreal, and he gives off a shy but amicable feeling that is the polar opposite of his films. His passion for cinema is clearly felt, but so is the way he never fully reveals himself in conversation. 

Hollywood has clearly been impressed by the man. Villeneuve has already wrapped up his next film, Story of Your Life, a science fiction film starring yet another female lead, Amy Adams. He’s also been given the outrageously important task of directing the sequel to Blade Runner, with a script by original helmer Ridley Scott, and Harrison Ford to star. “I don’t have the pretense to say I will do as Ridley Scott. I am totally different.” Of course Roger Deakins will be the cinematographer. Villeneuve has stated that his ”mind is more in America than Europe right now.” We hope it stays that way.

gladi gladi

Adam Friedman is an Emmy winning producer who has produced over 23 documentaries. Friedman’s latest project, Shout Gladi Gladi takes us to Sierra Leone and follows one woman’s quest to cure fistula.  Jazz Tangcay sat down with Friedman,  we talk the being held at gunpoint, Scottish castles and we learn how Meryl Streep came on board. 

Awards Daily: What is Gladi Gladi about?

Adam Friedman: Gladi Gladi is the name of a celebration that happens and it became a particularly apt title for the film, which we’re calling Shout Gladi Gladi, because the movie is about a phenomenal woman, Ann Gloag and the organization she runs. She has three hospitals; one in Nairobi, one in Sierra Leone and one in Malawi, and she takes these women who have been suffering from Fistula. I didn’t even know what it was when I first heard of  the documentary. 

In Africa, the level of medical treatment is way below than that here in the United States. Cesarian sections are almost impossible or rare to perform there, so when a woman can’t have a cesarean section or when the baby doesn’t leave the woman’s womb, it dies and all horrible things happen. This extraordinary woman, Ann Gloag, for the last seven years has been financing these three hospitals. Beyond that, she tries to get the women back into society.  There’s a device that we highlight in the movie, a BBoxx, which is a solar powered generator that powers up to five USB cellphones at a time. 

You have to understand, it’s not just about the baby dying in the woman’s womb, it causes all sorts of problems when it can’t leave. Fistula causes a hole and these women urinate all the time, they need diapers, it’s terrible. One of our patients in the movie says, “It’s like I need Pampers all the time, except they don’t make Pampers in Africa.” Anyway, this amazing woman spent her own money and is making a big difference.  Before I started the movie, she did an interview and was asked, “What would you like to have happen?” and she replied, “I’d love for the world to shout Gladi Gladi” and it’s this festival they have when they’re cured and end their  stay and leave the hospital which can last up to three months. So, the title is called Shout Gladi Gladi.

AD : How did the project come to be

AF: My sister is a news reporter in New York, she interviewed Ann Gloag and told her you’ve got to meet my brother, he’s a documentary film-maker, a two-time Emmy winning producer/director, you’d love him. So, my sister called me. I flew to New York and I met Anne. She told me what fistula was and I said “Oh my God.” The more I got to talk to her, I told her she had to be in the documentary. She didn’t even want to be in it. So, she’s a big part of the movie and so are these women who are really extraordinary who go through this terrible thing. 

In Africa, the men folk don’t take too kindly to these women who go through this awful thing, so that’s another problem. In the movie, we have a Nobel Prize laureate who talks about it so intelligently and so brilliantly. We’re really excited.

I think one of the things we’ve done in the movie, is tell a really fascinating tale about some really brave people on both sides of the operating table. Not just the people being operated on, but also the people helping them reintegrate back into society.

AD: What was the scariest moment of filming? And, What was the saddest? 

AF: Oh my goodness. I’ll tell you the scariest for sure. We began filming in Scotland because Ann has a real castle, Kinfauns Castle and it’s stunning. I wanted to interview Ann in a comfortable setting. Then we went to Malawi, and I brought my wife. We landed in Malawi, and it’s a huge trip, from LA to Amsterdam, and then to Nairobi. We were picked up by one of our crew guys, we’re driving down the road and suddenly we’re pulled over at gunpoint.

It was a funny thing, I’ve done a lot of things with the military. I was going after pirates in the Gulf. I’ve done Afghanistan, but I’ve not been pulled up at gunpoint. It was three guys, we think they were army, or they could have been rogue. Malawi was a wonderful place so don’t get me wrong. Anyway, my wife is sitting in front of the car because she suffers from car sickness [chuckles] and I’m in the back with the bodyguard. There’s two guys with guns and one guy who’s the leader walks around and has this flashlight on my wife. I used to be a bouncer, and a situation like that has this ability to rise and rise, then it stops and goes calm. Or it goes over the edge and all hell breaks loose. We were just at this moment, I thought this guy was going to pull my wife out of the car, because this whole time he had this flashlight on my wife. Our driver, this wonderful guy named Watson is talking to him. It was like I was in the movie, Midnight Express saying, “boss are we ok?” but the guy wasn’t talking. I think the head dog there finally saw something because we had these UNICEF stickers on the car, just as I think he’s going to open the door, he stopped. He looks at my wife and said to her in English, “Make sure you keep your seatbelts on.” It was a terrible situation, but I will say that was the only bad experience we had. [laughing]. They’re wonderful people.

The saddest was clearly the slums, specifically Kroo Bay (Sierra Leone). We were there in May, just as Ebola hit. We were the last crew filming there before it hit. That was a sad and scary place to be. The immensity of the poverty is overwhelming. It’s horrific what these people live in.  My dad used to say, “Here’s the key to the world, there are assholes and there are non-assholes.” It’s true, there are nice people and there’s bad people, but we mostly had nice people.

You see some of the victims, we had a nine-year old girl, she had been repeatedly raped and beaten that she could no longer walk. What do you do to that? You find out that she was given to “aunts and uncles” to raise because the mother couldn’t raise her. They’re not really aunts and uncles, they’re scum who take these kids, and that was really sad.

AD: How did Meryl Streep become involved with the film ?

meryl streepAF: [Laughs] If you can imagine, when we got back, we had over 125 hours of footage, we started putting the movie together. My wife who had been an actress gave us a rough voice over track. It’s like I’m putting together a sculpture and there’s one color missing. It’s like Mona Lisa without the smile. I need to hear the voice of the person we choose in order to fully paint that picture. If you were narrating it, I’d cut it one way. If I were narrating it, I’d cut it another way. We started looking around for someone we thought would be wonderful. I’m a film maker I want people to see my film. We wanted to get someone who had the gravitas who would help the film. Long story short, Meryl Streep was the first person who came into our head. My sister, the same sister who introduced me to Ann Gloag, said “I might be able to get to her assistant with a rough cut” My sister got it to the assistant. We didn’t hear anything.  It was getting dicey, it had been close to four months since we had the rough cut and we still didn’t have the voice-over. We got to Meryl and a few weeks later, I’m in NYC and I get this text, “I’d love to do your movie,” and it’s from Meryl Streep.

This was right around the Oscars, I was on my way back to LA. She told me she’d meet me in LA on the Saturday before the Oscars and do it there. So, we found a studio and this wonderful woman showed up on the morning before the Oscars, it’s hard to believe. First off, she’s the nicest woman on the planet, she’s the greatest. Secondly, I booked six hours for the studio because we had sixteen pages of dialogue to record. She was in and out of the studio in 54 minutes.

AD: No way?!

AF: Yes. She was wonderful and we were proud to have her.

AD: How did filming this change you?

AF: What I’ve done for the last twenty years has nothing to do with this. My genre is life experience. I go out into dangerous situations and do interesting things. This opened my eyes to the plight of women around the world. My mother was the first reporter to go to jail in 1959 for refusing to reveal a news source, so I’ve been blessed to have been brought up by strong women in my life. It was something I was around my whole life. To see the difficulty that the women in Africa face, to see them have the strength overcome that, to see a woman like Ann Gloag who really is wealthy enough to sit home and do nothing. Instead she’s always in Africa, she’s always writing checks, she’s always doing the right thing. The women themselves going through this horror. This woman we met had Fistula for forty years, it changed me, it made me embrace what I had. I feel different about many things now. 

It was truly an experience of a lifetime. At the strangest moment you’ll wish you were back in Africa. You can’t read any literature about Africa without juxtaposing your own self there. I guess as any incredible  experience, it has altered the way I look at women, certainly in Africa, and for the women trying to change.

Not to mention I have massive love for Meryl Streep. What she did was wonderful. It was 9.00 in the morning, the day before the Oscars. She had seven things to go to. My God, thank you for doing this. 

AD: When can we expect to see Shout Gladi Gladi

AF: We’ll probably start screening it in May in New York and hopefully we’ll get it to Toronto.


2 days

“Two Days, One Night” might be the best Dardennes movie yet. Marion Cotillard is mesmerizing in her role as Sandra, a young Belgian mother who discovers her co-workers were pressured to choose between getting a significant pay bonus and having her keep her job. The way Cotillard approaches each and every co-worker, pleading — sometimes even begging — for them to change their vote is heartbreaking. It’s a movie that once again places the talented directing duo on the short list of the very best filmmakers in the world today. I met up with them a few months back to discuss the process, Cotillard and the small details that make a Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne film so damn great. The interview was conducted in French so forgive me if anything gets lost in translation.

What were the roots of this film ?

Luc Dardenne : We’ve been working on the screenplay for a very long time. The character of Sandra was the main focus. We always saw that character as someone who was scared but who fought through adversity no matter how intense or frustrating the times got it. There were a few questions we wanted to answer 1) Against social insecurity, how can she rebuild? 2) At the end of this voyage Sandra had to turn into a new person, a sort of rebirth. We didn’t know exactly how how we would get to that point, but we knew that it would end -one way or another- with Sandra saying “I’m not scared anymore”.

One of the interesting things about this film is that its episodic nature is revealed quite early in the film and that you know exactly what kind of film this is going to be

L. D. : We had to to take this formula seriously. We always knew there would be suspense with each of the meetings she had with her co-workers. Who will open the door? Will they say yes or no? Given her psychological instability, how will Sandra take it? We know from the first few minutes that she isn’t a fighter. At the end of all this will she be able to rally the troops and get them to vote for her. We always knew repetition or an episodic kind of film would make for good drama if done right. We purposely had her co-workers give similar replies, such as “put yourself in my position” or “what are the others saying”. It was a also a case of: If we told you that 10 out of the 15 people agreed to change their votes, would you be less scared?

Sandra doesn’t really stigmatize her co-workers

L.D : It is not a story about good vs. evil. Every meeting is very complex. Sandra understands them and sometimes you feel as if she doesn’t blame them for taking the bonus. Would she have done the same thing in their position? She might have, that’s part of the complexities of the film. We purposely chose a small-scale company where there weren’t enough workers for there to be a union. The film would have been very different if it was unionized.

Most of your films have had less famous actors and that brought a feeling of realism to the surroundings. Cotillard is not an unknown actress, this was a stroke of genius in casting. What led you to choosing Marion?

Jean-Pierre Dardenne : Choosing a big name actress was a gamble and potentially dangerous for the realism we were going for, This became a somewhat exciting challenge for us, Marion found a way to deliver something she hadn’t really delivered before, a new body, a new face, a new side to the Marion we all dearly knew.

We always wanted to work with Marion. We co-produced Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone and we wanted to meet when the film was going to shoot in Belgium. We met briefly for around 10 minutes. We actually wanted to cast Marion as a doctor for another screenplay we were working on. When we abandoned the doctor project, the character of Sandra came back to the fold and Marion was the obvious choice. It had to be Marion. We had to make sure she was fine with the role, since we abandoned the doctor project, her response was “I really don’t care, I just want to work with you guys” We rehearsed for a month and a half, as we do with all our projects. All that rehearsal and repetition really prepared Marion to be as raw and bar bones for a role that is very complicated and layered with undertones.

L.D It became quite obvious we made the right decision the moment we started shooting. There was something in those eyes and the expressions on her face that instantly made it an ideal match.

One thing that struck me is the color of the clothes Sandra wears. That -now iconic- pink top and other lively colors. Anything behind that?

L. D. : Good catch. We tried to dress up Sandra in colors that a person coming out of a past depression would wear. Colorful, never wanting to go back to the dark side. Even if at times she does fall off the bandwagon, the colors stay the same with the hope of going back to the light. We also were very careful with the shoes we chose for Marion to wear, the noise they made. We had the choice for lighter shoes but they didn’t make any noise when she walked. We wanted every step heard on this journey she was in.

Do you guys shoot many takes?

L. D. : Depends. For the scene where Sandra breaks down in the room we did around 81 takes. If we have a scene where we find the flow is not right we will say something like : « Now Marion, can you please take a shorter silence in between so and so words and say so and so a little faster » but really it all comes down to how it flows in the editing room, thats why getting many takes is sometimes a great thing. Our editing has a lot to do with the certain flow we are going for even before we shoot the movie.

To end this interview I’m going to ask you guys a question that I tend to ask most filmmakers at the conclusion of an interview. Is there a movie that you’ve discovered recently that has renewed or solidified your passion for movies?

J.P.D Too many to name. The last Jia Zhang-Ke was phenomenal. Abbas Kiarostami never disappoints. Wong Kar-Wai. “Boyhood” the last linklater was phenomenal.

L.D. There’s a great scene in that movie where the mother played by Patricia Arquette sits at the kitchen table and sends her son off to college and there’s just such a simplicity and attention to detail that really just got to me. Everything in that scene just works right.


What do Hollywood stars do before they walk the red carpet? Jazz Tangcay caught up with actress Emily Blunt before the London premiere of Into The Woods. Blunt was about to take a bath, but she still had time to talk about auditioning for director Rob Marshall, being pregnant on set and how she likes her tea.

Awards Daily: This isn’t the first time you’ve appeared in a musical, you appeared in Bliss at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

Emily Blunt: I did, which only eight people saw and that was pretty nerve-wracking in itself. This is the first time the public get to see me sing.

AD: Who knew you could sing? I spoke to Rob Marshall the other week and he told me you brought tears to his eyes when you auditioned for him.

EB: Yes. I was nervous to not only sing for him but also to audition because he is such a musical God. It was definitely nerve-wracking. He wanted actors who could sing, rather than the other way around. He wasn’t looking for the perfect singing voice. He was looking for you to make sense of this extraordinary material and what these songs are trying to convey, rather than what they’re sounding like. That’s the beauty of Sondheim. The music emotionally requires all of you. These songs are unique in that they don’t allow the audience to sit back in their chairs and let it wash over you. They make you sit up and are arresting in that way. So, for all of these reasons it seemed like a better fit for me because these songs felt like a real performance for me.

AD: How familiar were you with Stephen Sondheim before Into The Woods?

EB: I hadn’t even heard of it until I heard about this film being made. I think evidence of how big it is in America was in my husband (actor John Krasinski) who loathes musicals sang, “Into The Woods” to me when he heard that I was going out for it. He knew it, his school had done it. In England no one had really heard of it, so I’m thrilled this film adaptation will bring it to a wider audience. It’s really entertaining but metaphorically there’s so much to grasp in it and there’s a wonderful poignancy to it. It’s fun, it’s entertaining but it’s also very poignant.

AD: How was it acting whilst pregnant and how did that conflict with playing someone who wanted a child?

EB: (laughs) It’s an irony really that I was blooming with imminent motherhood and I was playing somebody who was desperate for that. I’m at the age, and I know women of my age and older who are trying to have a baby and are unable to. I’ve seen the anguish and how blinded with desperation they become to have a child. This character will stop at no lengths to get what she wants and she does pretty morally questionably things. Some could argue that she’s one of the slipperiest characters in the whole thing. She does it without much malice that she is very deliberate and is tenacious about it. She struck a chord with me. We’re also dealing here with a real married couple. They’re very cantankerous, they argue with each other and bicker with each other, which is very unlike my own marriage which I’m very happy in. (Laughs)

They’re bored of each other and they need something new, so the woods represent risk and yearning. The woods represent in a way the trials of life, what we go through and what we regress and what we forgive.

AD: Given that you were pregnant, and your character is rather physical in this, what was the toughest scene to shoot?

EB: I think probably the toughest number to shoot was Moment in the Woods, which was that big number and I was really pregnant at the time. I did the scene with Chris Pine where I meet him, and it was really lots of fun. (Giggles) It was probably harder for Chris Pine who had to schlep me around when I was at least 25 pounds heavier than I was in rehearsals. (Laughs) Poor Chris Pine having to dip a woman who was bulging. I think that song, Moment In The Woods was really complex, we shot it all day, so I wanted to do it justice.

AD: You’re working with Meryl again and you saved her from falling off a table. Do tell.

EB: Oh gosh. This story. I blame James Corden entirely he mentioned in a Q&A and it became national news. She stumbled standing on top of a table, I’m sure she would have been fine but I caught her elbow because it looked like she was going to fall off it. It was fine, she was throwing herself into it as only Meryl does in rehearsal. She was wearing her witch’s cape and had her walking stick and was trying anything. That was the beauty of having this rehearsal period, we managed to throw a bunch of things into a wall to see what would stick.

AD: You’ve known James Corden for eight years, what was that like working with him after all this time?

EB: It was a really effortless fit. We knew each other well. I loved him. I loved doing these comedic scenes with him, comedy wise he’s very precise and so brilliant. So, getting to work with him was great. We met at a Polo Match. It’s so Welcome to England. The princes were there. Oh, It was so British, I’m sure there were strawberries and cream and everything British Upper Class that are those things. (Laughing) It’s so cliché. I don’t know why we were there, but we were. That was fun, so we sat and drank champagne and got to know each other.

Emily Blunt with James Corden
Emily Blunt with James Corden

AD: Are we going to be seeing you in more musicals then?

EB: I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s certainly one of those things I’m more confident at now, but if I have the chops to do it eight times a week.

AD: Were you a fan of musicals before this?

EB: I was a big fan. I’ve always been incredibly moved by watching people singing and dancing. I wish I could dance brilliantly. Yes, I always loved them. This one taught me a new avenue of musicals that actually do make you think rather than just be entertained.

AD: Do you have any off set stories to share?Tell us something no one knows.

EB: Uh….Oh my GOD! I can’t even think. I was so not expecting that. Off set stories? I’m sure you wanted something scandalous, but I was pregnant so I probably didn’t have anything fun to talk about. I went home and watched the Food Network like a bore.

We were having so much fun, so we asked Emily Blunt some fun non Into The Woods related questions…

AD: What’s your favorite tea?

EB: Alright it’s very unconventional, but it’s the tea grew up drinking that my mum would make. One tea bag of Ceylon and One tea bag of Earl Grey. That’s the mix I like, with milk, no sugar.

AD: Now that you’re based in LA, what do you miss about the UK?

EB: I miss the people.I miss the Brits. I have some British friends in LA, actually the people in the pub.

AD: Were you a fan of The office before you met your husband John?

EB: I’d seen a couple of episodes. Actually I’d seen more of the British Office. When I met him, obviously I caught up on my homework.

With that, Emily Blunt goes to take a bath…


Into The Woods is in movie theaters across the country.


Carmen Ejogo is in London about to watch a show on the West End, but the busy actress found time to talk to Awards Daily about her latest role, Coretta Scott King in the film, Selma. This is not the first time Ejogo has played the role, so we chatted to her about playing the same person twice, working with female director – Ava DuVernay, and what it was like seeing the film for the first time.

Awards Daily: You’ve had the opportunity to play the same person twice. How did you approach the role of Coretta differently for Selma?

Carmen Ejogo: It was an absolute honor to play her twice. I got to meet her after the first time. She had seen my performance in Boycott and really liked it a lot. So, I felt going into Selma that I had her blessing. It gave me a little bit more confidence in playing her again. I was also intrigued in doing it again because it was such a different time in Coretta’s life and therefore a very different woman that I portrayed, which gave all kinds of interesting challenges. To be consistent in some ways to what I knew her to be as the woman in the 50’s, but also to embellish and add upon that with things which I knew would had evolved in her emotionally, psychologically and in all kinds of ways. Some of those things, were the fact she had to live as many, by 1965 she lived for many more years playing the wife and mother role, more so than she bought into when she married King. When we meet her in Boycott in 1955, at that point she was still very much the naive, young, optimistic wife who had all kinds of ambitions of her own. That she, in another era perhaps would have fulfilled, but being married to King and being part of the community, it meant being the progressive, being the feminist, being the singer she was trained to be, all of those things sort of got pushed to the way side.

A lot of who she really was not so revealed in 1965, so it was a lot of fun to figure out how to play someone who clearly had all this buoyancy and potential in them, but is also trapped by her own destiny, by her own image and by the role she had bought into and was willingly playing, so that was a big difference. There was also the fact that I feel strongly that at this point, the notion of death, and the movement surrounding her generally was very much something bearing down on her. Also the idea that her husband would be lost at some point, I think was feeling more inevitable, in my opinion by 1965, and that must have been an intensely difficult thing to grapple with on a daily basis. In some ways she was freer with the way she looked. In 1965, she’s very much stuck in a mould with the aesthetic. She’s like the Jackie O of the Civil Rights movement.

Many years ago, I watched an episode of Oprah in the UK, and it was a makeover of Coretta. Oprah’s whole agenda was to give her a make over. She looked the same in 2000 or whenever this episode was filmed as she did in 1965. When I met her, it was the same thing, like she was trapped in an era, a certain time frame. In some ways, to honor that and liberate her from that was my challenge.

AD: As a British actress, do you feel you had a different perspective coming into this film, as opposed to an American portraying the wife of Martin Luther King, because that whole movement is something we’re not really taught in our schools in the UK?

CE: No, I didn’t know who she was at all until I went to audition for Boycott. I think there are many ways of looking at how this is a benefit or detriment. I think mostly it’s a benefit, I don’t see much of a detriment in any way, that if you’re not from the culture. If you have the acumen or capacity to transform enough then that’s what acting is,isn’t it? (laughs). I don’t have a problem with other actresses coming in from other places. As an added benefit, What’s so genius about Ava as a black woman from Compton, LA who is so much seeped in the history, she still has the willingness and not be scared to portray these characters in all of their messiness and not feel as if she’s obligated to present perfectly wholesome healthy people. I understand there’s that impulse though because we so rarely get represented as black people on screen in all of our facets, in all of our dimensions, in all of our glory as it were. I remember David (Oyelowo) and I looking at each other, when we were decked out and we were like the King and Queen of the movement. David said to me, “How often do we see ourselves like this on screen?” It was like a moment of revelation. So, I understand that when you are given the opportunity to play really heroic and beautiful people , why wouldn’t you want to put something on screen so beautifully and heroically. I think by not being of the culture and not being quite as beholding to that as an idea, means that you can get a bit more human than your portrayal and a bit more under the skin. which is essential when you’re trying to bring these kind of characters who can very easily feel 2-dimensional very quickly or feel like a postage stamp version of King, or these really stale history book versions of Coretta. I think it’s an obligation on our part to find a way to flesh them out and that includes all the messiness. I think that being British, a really long way of answering the question (chuckles), and not being of the culture means I feel a little less inclined to not be scared to get under the skin perhaps.


David Oyelowo and Carmen Egojo


AD: That confrontational scene is really powerful.

CE: That was a great piece of writing by Ava again. That was helpful to me, knowing that was in the script because so much of what I have to play before and after, is tapping into the newer, sad persona of Coretta, which was very much who she was. But knowing that essential scene was there, meant that even if I did portray her in a slightly less dynamic and more intimate and more quiet and reserved fashion in the rest of the film, that scene would allow me to reveal the undercurrent and emotional drama that was living within her constantly. Kudos to Ava.

AD: What was it like working with Ava and what did she bring to the film?

CE: She brings pretty much everything that any A-List male director would bring to a film. She has strong vision, she has commitment to that vision. She has capacity to lead, to see that the vision is actualized. She also has that other dimension, which is a female dimension, the capacity to really explore intimate relationships. This film is comprised of many two handed scenes and many set pieces. She is so good at both. I have a personal inkling that the female component lends itself well to those two-handed moments that she explores. She has a real ear and a feel for the authenticity of the rhythm of language and interaction between people. One of the things that worked for David and I, is she’s not scared to let us take our time, which sounds like the obvious thing.

When you watch films that come out of Hollywood, there’s a certain rhythm, a predictable beat that everyone starts hitting in the movie. There’s a certain structure the script has to take, a certain place where you have to reach a certain crescendo, and then you have to come down, and even within a scene there’s that expectation you have to follow. She’s very comfortable with breaking that expectation. She did that In The Middle of Nowhere and I Will Follow. She capable of, and comfortable with doing that, and it brings a freshness to this material. I feel that it’s a female approach in my opinion.

AD: Coretta is such a great character in the film, in the way we see her contribution to the black women’s movement. What did you learn from playing her?

CE: That she was the definition of tolerance and dignity. That’s something that as a woman of this day and age, I don’t know if I would have the patience to handle with the obstruction with in really just being herself in the full way possible. That to me, in this moment in time, I would perhaps see the woman that wasn’t going to live up to her own potential, as being weak. I think that a woman of that time and a woman in her predicament, it was the ultimate power and ultimate strength that she made the choice to live that way with him. She chose it and lived by it, and was giving us a great lift in turn. That is a really powerfully and beautifully and oddly feminist thing to do. She’s a strange bag of contradictions to me. In the end I see her power, rather than any weaknesses. The more I investigate and look at how she managed to hold herself together given the enormity and the rate of the things that she was having to work against.

AD: What was it like seeing Selma in full for the first time?

CE: I got to see it in New York. It was pretty awesome because when I saw it, it was the same day the Mike Brown verdict came out. To come out into Times Square and to be surrounded by screens that were ticker taping the news, having gone through this incredibly visceral experience. There’s this sense of power that comes with seeing the film, and so to come out into the street and see that verdict was this bizarre mix of disappointment in the moment. Having come out feeling empowered, I felt as that, Selma and what it shows, and what it will continue to show, even in the face of that news, that there are options and there is a potential for real change on a policy level as the film clearly examines and demonstrates, so it was kind of a bittersweet day to see that movie.

The next time I got to see it and talk about it in any great length was at the junket on the day of the marches in New York. So, it felt like there was this ground swell that continues to be burdening and gaining momentum. Ultimately I’m excited by what this film has to offer, it has a universal message that goes beyond race and what is going on in the streets of America. It has resonance to all kinds of people that are trying to find their voice against oppression in whatever way it presents itself.

Divide and conquer is a tactic that has been used in forever, but we forget about the power of the collective if we remind ourselves of it. I think anything is truly possible, it sounds like a massive feat, but you see it so elegantly demonstrated in the people of that time in this film. You realized that people with nothing on their side, nothing that would suggest who had victory in their sight and or that there was any potential for that victory to be theirs, and yet it was achievable. I think it’s all possible.



Selma is in cinemas now.

graham moore

As a child, Graham Moore was a slight techie, and as a teen, Moore heard camp fire stories about Alan Turing. Intrigued by this camp fire legend, Moore was inspired to write a screenplay about Turing. The Imitation Game stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing. We sat down with Moore to talk about he brought the story of this mathematical genius to the big screen and how he feels about all the buzz the film is receiving.

Awards Daily: What a day it’s been. Congratulations on the SAG Awards and the Golden Globes.

Graham Moore: Yes! We are all thrilled.

AD: I just read somewhere that you went to Space Camp.

GM: (Laughs) I think everyone wants to be an astronaut or scientist in some way. I went with a good friend at the time. It was a great time, I went to a different space or science camp every Summer when I was a kid. My parents tried to get me to go to Sports, but that didn’t happen.

AD: How did you come across the story of Alan Turing?

GM: I had known about it since I was a teenager. When I was a kid going to space and computer programming camp, I was a socially uncomfortable, computer weirdo. As a kid, Turing was this patron saint, a camp-fire legend. He was a secret legend scientist, he invented the computer and was gay, but no one knew. He broke codes in World War II, and had all these stories that no one really knew. As I got older, I didn’t become a computer programmer, I became a writer, and it amazed me that no one had done a narrative or film. There had been the wonderful play by Hugh Whitmore, and a few great books, but it seemed a story so classically rich for film. His is a legacy is so deserving of one. Alan Turing had been so maligned at the end of his life and after his life. He deserved to have a film, putting him back in the center of our understanding in the history of computers and the history of World War II.

AD: It’s almost an educational film in that sense.

GM: That’s such a compliment. That people who hadn’t heard the name Alan Turing can be exposed to it and his accomplishments. I think he should be as well-known as Darwin and Einstein. His accomplishments are just on that level. A lot of scientists are great, but I think because of the appalling treatment by the British Government at the end of his life and by the secrets he had kept during the war, his name wasn’t well-known.

What makes the story so amazing and incredible is the tragic irony is while he was on trial for being the crime of being a “gay man,” he never once raised his hand and never said, “I’m a War Hero.” He remained faithful to the British Government even though they weren’t faithful to him. He kept their secret, and that’s the tragic irony, and it was moving to me. It made me feel like he deserved a film and his legacy.

AD: How did you know that final scene was how you wanted to end the film?

GM: I must have done at least 30 drafts of that, it was one of the hardest scenes to write. We were constantly tweaking it. One of the greatest things of the process was we had a few weeks of rehearsal before shooting. There was nothing like getting in a room with the actors and spending all day working through the same scene to find it. We were fortunate to have actors like Keira (Knightly) and Benedict (Cumberbatch) who had done so much of their own homework about how they spoke. We worked through the scene together, and we found this version where we knew we wanted to end with that monologue. She does this page long monologue to him about his legacy and importance. It felt like things we wish we could have said to him. I don’t know if Turing heard any of that in his life, but I only wish he could have. The goal of the film was to preserve his legacy and that monologue felt like it was eulogizing him.

AD: Have any of his family seen the film?

GM: We had a private screening in London where we had 26 of his surviving family members attend and it was so wonderful to hear the outpouring afterwards. One of his nieces who was 18 when he passed away, came up to me and said, it felt like seeing her uncle alive again. Having the support of the Turing family is the greatest compliment we could have received.

AD: How did Benedict get attached to the film and come on board? Wasn’t Leonardo Di Caprio interested?

GM: He wasn’t attached, and one of the people who called and loved the script, and was a supporter. From the moment Morten came on, the first thing he said was, “It has to be Benedict.” We called Benedict and he had read the script before. It was at Warner Bros, but we got it independently and finance it independently, we were able to then make it freely.

One of the lovely things about this whole process was my dorky obsession with Alan Turing has spread. Once you hear Alan’s story, it’s so innately compelling that it needs to be told, and if you can’t tell stories like this on film, then what’s the point. That’s one of the things that this medium is wonderful for. Everyone who heard the story wanted to jump on. Keira said yes right away, so did Benedict.


AD: Charles Dance was a great addition to the cast.

GM: He’s great to write for. I remember being on set and he would ask me a question, and it felt like I was being kept for detention. I was always like, “Oh my God! What if he asks me a question and I don’t know the answer, am I going to get into trouble?”

Then I remembered he’s just asking me a question because he cares about my opinion. I’d be like, “Charles Dance is asking me a question, that’s pretty cool.”

AD: You cover a great deal in the movie, how did you decide what to put into the film?

GM: That was one of the challenges of a film like this, you have two hours to get a story of a man’s, all too brief 41 years of life. So, early on I had decided I wanted to focus on three main periods in his life. His teenage years when he first fell in love with Christopher, and when he first started to learn about Cryptography. As a gay man his love had to be expressed in code, and it’s important for him and such a powerful concept. I wanted to focus on that. I wanted to focus on the 1940’s and his codebreaking work at Bletchley Park and then the 1950’s with his arrest and persecution at the hands of the British government.

The first thing I decided was I didn’t want to create a standard linear biopic. I felt the story deserved something more trickier.

I wanted to present his life and cut them up, and present them non-chronologically. Alan Turing is obsessed with puzzles and code. What if the whole movie is a puzzle. What if we take these three periods, cut them up and present them out of order so the time periods can ask questions. The audience is trying to solve the puzzle of Alan Turing in the film, in the same way that he’s trying to solve a puzzle, and put them in the mindset. It’s hard to pitch to producers by them way.

AD: Did you deliberately choose not to show his homosexual side?

GM: The film is about love, not sex. Christopher was the great love of his life. I think he never really fell in love again after Christopher. He wrote letters to Christopher’s family for the rest of his life, about Christopher in his diary. That was something he never got over. We wanted to show that love and how that love inspired his pioneering work in mathematics, computing and philosophy. He had no lovers in Bletchley Park, he described it as a sexual letter. For him to get caught having sex with another man during that time period, he would have been thrown in jail, so he had to be repressed about it. He had to repress his sexuality during the war and keeping secrets.

AD: Devil In the White City is your next project with Leonardo Di Caprio. How’s that going?

GM: Leo is attached to play. I’m very excited about it because I grew up in Chicago and it’s lots of fun.

AD: How do you feel about the awards buzz?

GM: It’s pretty crazy. It’s so wonderful to watch other people get caught on to my obsession with Alan Turing. We got the words, Alan Turning in an issue of Vogue and that’s amazing. That feels like a tremendous accomplishment. The awards stuff is great, but it’s about Alan Turing and whatever can be done to preserve his legacy helps.


The Imitation Game is in cinemas now.



Director Rob Marshall has been credited for reviving the musical genre and bringing films like Chicago to the big screen. For his latest film, he adapts Stephen Sondheim’s beloved Into The Woods. Jazz Tangcay sat down with Marshall in a Beverly Hills hotel to talk about the film, social media, his thoughts on Sony, and his one dream…

Awards Daily: What is it about musicals that draws you to them?

Rob Marshall: It’s in my blood. I grew up in musical theater. I never expected to be doing film, it just happened in a very organic way. It’s something I love. I love the musical genre on stage and on film. I remember when I did Chicago, I was told everyday that no one would come and see it because the genre was dead, because it was animated musicals at that time. So, when it was embraced it was so heartening and I was thrilled for the genre itself when it showed that musicals can work on film.

AD: What was the first musical you saw on stage?

RM: The first Broadway musical I saw was Gypsy, and Angela Lansbury was in it. She’s playing right now in Blithe Spirit at the Ahmanson Theatre. She was unbelievable. Gypsy was one of the great masterpieces. I was with my entire family sat 8th row center, and it was life changing for me. It was incredible.

When you expose your children to things you never know what they’re going to embrace. My parents were amazing, they took us to so many things like, film, theater and sport, and symphony, opera and ballet, but it was that for me. As soon as I saw that and Angela Lansbury in Gypsy, it was life changing.

AD: You have an incredible cast. How did you go about casting Emily Blunt and Chris Pine? We knew Meryl, Christine, Johnny and Anna had the ability to sing, but what about the rest of the cast? Who knew Chris Pine could sing.

RM: (Laughs) I didn’t know Chris Pine could sing either. You know, you cross your fingers and hope that somebody you really like in a role can sing. I mean Emily was so perfect for the part, she’s warm, funny and accessible. She has depth and warmth and was perfect. I was so hoping she could sing. She came in to audition for the part in LA and had prepared, Moments in the Woods. It was a full performance and I was blown away. At the end, she said to me, “Are you crying Rob?” and I realized I was so emotional and she was so great in the piece, that I was crying for so many reasons, and I didn’t know someone like her could do that.

I have this philosophy about casting, you don’t have to do any work at all if the actor does it right. The actor comes in and claims the role and says, “This is mine ” It was so obvious, that when she came in, there was no question, and I told her it was hers.

As for Chris Pine, I had no idea he could sing. I knew he was very handsome man and a good actor, but I didn’t know he could sing. I didn’t know he had comedic chops and could be that funny, that was a surprise too. He didn’t know the song, Agony which is his big song, but he knew Frank Sinatra songs and he sung Fly Me To The Moon. I could tell in 2 seconds that he could sing.

It’s really important with Sondheim material that it’s actors who sing because that’s the kind of singing it is because it’s so lyric driven and so much of the story happens in the song. A lot of the time they sing the song, and it’s a moment. Sondheim songs have a beginning, a middle and an end and the character changes and the story happens in the song so you really need great actors to communicate that, and I felt that’s what I had with the whole cast.

AD: How hard was it for you to take Into The Woods from stage to screen?

RM: It’s a challenge, it’s one of the hardest parts of it. You have to do two things. You have to really honor the original piece and the core of it and what it is, what made it work on stage and why it’s so beloved. At the same time you have to reimagine it and make it work as a film. There are many stage pieces that if you put on film won’t work. You have to make it work as a film and make it cinematic. The key ingredient to that was getting James Lapine who wrote original piece to write the screenplay and then I had Stephen Sondheim work with us throughout. I wanted the original voices there to help us manoeuvre and create this piece. John DeLuca and I worked incredibly hard with them to find this translation of transition to film.

James and Stephen were incredibly flexible with it, and I found myself being the protector of it. We went through it meticulously. We did a reading of it two years ago so we could hear it to see if we missed anything. Anna, Christine and James all did the reading.

AD: Meryl is phenomenal in the film and I’ve heard you didn’t use any CGI for her transformation.

RM: Exactly. I had an incredible visual effects team, I wanted it to feel real. I didn’t want it to feel too fairy tale like or too stylized. I wanted the world we were creating to feel real. We had a tight budget on this, which for this is tight. So, we had to figure out how to do some pieces without the visual effects and I really liked the challenge of that. I had to figure out how to do it in a simple way and Meryl is such an amazing physical creature. She’s really a dancer and she created this whole thing with her cape. We were able to do it without any kind of CGI. As the old witch she’s doing this movement, and then she goes off and changes and does the same movement but is the new witch. We didn’t have to blend it with any CGI work and it was fantastic.

rob and meryl

AD: What was it like being on set with Christine, Meryl and Tracey? They’re all friends ?

RM: They’re very good friends and I’ve worked with Christine a lot and know her well. Tracey, I’ve just met. It was heaven . Number one, they’re great actors and Number two, they’re great people. The journey of this whole thing was creating a company because it’s an ensemble movie. They feed each other, they criss-cross each other, it’s not just serving one actor, it’s many. With musicals on film, you have this luxury of the rehearsal period, because you just have to. I rehearsed every single scene. We did over a month of rehearsals and the by-product of that is a company is created. All of a sudden everybody has to expose themselves because it’s exposing to sing. You’re in the same boat, and they become this wonderful family. It was helpful to have that time prior, and it was really special.

AD: You seemed to have good weather for this filming this.

RM: You know better than anybody what the weather is like. We were shooting in Dover and on the coast it’s constantly raining. It’s where we shot the big celebration just as we get to Happily Ever After and we were very lucky because it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day in October. It was insane.

We never lost a day to rain which was amazing. We were smart enough to have the stage set of the woods in case it did rain.

AD: Times have changed since you directed Chicago, we didn’t really have Twitter or Facebook back then. When it was announced She’ll Be Back was dropped, everyone seemed to have something to say. How do you feel about that as a film-maker?

RM: I didn’t have a computer when I shot Chicago. How crazy is that? It’s such a good question. It’s a combination of feelings. I’m doing everything I can to do the best version of this film because I love it. The creative process should be something that’s private. I had the best people there, the original crew were there working on it, and it’s not something for everybody to weigh in on and we have to protect that. So, I try to push all that aside. Yet, at the same time, I also felt like that’s a good sign in a weird way, because it’s a beloved piece and people care about it and people care and want it to be great.

But, it’s the conjecture that I always find so hilarious, because it’s talking about things, they’ve never seen the film, and they have no idea what we’re doing. They don’t know the number we’re using or not using, they don’t know any of it. It’s all just imagining what it would be. It’s ill-informed. You just want to say, just wait, wait, wait. I think the fact people are excited and protective of it, is something I love, but I am too, I come from theater too. I love the piece on stage too. It will live forever on stage, like I said I have the original creators working on this with me. I remember James LaPine saying, “Chill out, everybody chill out.” (Laughs).

AD: How much is on the cutting room floor?

RM: Very little. I simply didn’t have the luxury time wise or budget wise to play with it. We only had 55 days to shoot, so we had to make the decisions early on. That’s why the reading helped a lot so we could say we’d do this, or wouldn’t do that. Usually on films, there are many scenes that are on the cutting room floor. For this, only the scene that is on the cutting room floor is the song that Stephen wrote is on the cutting room floor. Meryl sings it fabulously but people will see it on the DVD, but it’s off story. We didn’t realize that until we put it in front of an audience. It didn’t serve the film, but it’s still so good.

AD: You’re credited for bringing back the musical, what would you like to bring to the screen next?

RM: (Laughs) Thanks. If I was any part of that, I feel very proud. You know what I’d like to do? I’ve always wanted to do an original musical for film. Some of my favorite musicals for film come from the golden era of film. The Arthur Freed unit at MGM wrote musicals for film. Singing in The Rain was written for film. Bandwagon, Easter Parade, Gigi were all written for film, they’re weren’t stage adaptations. That’s what I want to do. I want to write a musical specifically for film, then you’re not making this transition. I don’t know what the story would be but that would be my dream.

AD: Please make that happen. You’re doing a pretty good job bringing musicals to stage, I mean Chicago was a wonderful transition.

RM: Thank you. If social media was prevalent then, everyone was saying, Why are you casting Renée Zellweger? The haters were everywhere, but again, you’re not part of it. I saw everybody for the casting process for her role. I saw everybody from LA to New York. They said the same for casting Billy Flynn. I know that would have happened with that too.

AD: Let’s talk about Sony. What’s your opinion on it?

RM: It is incredibly painful. Amy Pascal I know. She is an amazing woman and incredibly open-hearted and giving and incredible with artists. What came out about her is completely not reflective of who she is at all. So, that was painful to watch and hear.

In terms of the film, for me, censorship of art is something, as artists, we feel strongly about, that it shouldn’t be in place. Ever. I feel with this film, and no one’s seen it, ever. I wish there had been another way to approach the material to get the same satire across without using the actual man they’re talking about. Especially in the world today. That’s the one flaw that we would have been able to understand through satire, but it cuts a little too close to the bone, but you have to be careful. At the same time, I feel strongly about censorship and art, that it doesn’t have a place. I do feel there was some responsibility about this actual piece that could have been more carefully considered.

AD: What would you say to the people who’ve never seen the stage production but will be seeing the film for the first time?

RM: That you can absolutely see this without having seen the stage version because it works on its own. In some ways, it’s wonderful because they have no pre-conceived notion. What’s beautiful about the piece whether on stage or film, is it is incredibly entertaining, fun, clever, joyous, and funny, but also moving and profound. It has a lot to say about the parent/child relationship about repeating the sins of the father. It says a lot about the consequences of wishes. There are consequences for action. There’s a very profound message with No One Is Alone which basically says you are not alone in this world. When you’re dealing with something hard, loss or devastation or hardship, you are not alone. People are there for you. It’s a really important message for the children of today. They deal with a lot. I feel they need that sense of comfort and hope.

Into The Woods opens on Christmas Day


Just like a lot of actors, Jason Hall came to Hollywood to be an actor. He appeared on TV’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer as Devon MacLeish. He went on to appear in other shows. In 2009 Hall wrote a screenplay, Spread starring Ashton Kutcher. In 2010 Hall heard about America’s most lethal sniper, Chris Kyle, inspiring his latest screenplay, American Sniper.
Jazz Tangcay sat down with Hall in the very cafe where he would spend hours writing the script. Hall talks about how he went from playing the bad guy on TV to writing the script, meeting Chris Kyle and working with Director, Clint Eastwood.

Awards Daily: I remember when you appeared in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. How did you go from Buffy to American Sniper?

Jason Hall: (Laughs) I think they had me back on Buffy so many times because I was good at lip synching. I had gone to cinema school, so I got out and tried to produce stuff. I got into acting and thought, “Oh, this is fun.” I pursued it and saw it as a craft. After a while, I started to write things for myself to act in. I wrote my first script, and got good advice from my friend who said, “Don’t write three good scripts in a year, write one great script.” So, I took a year and a half to write my best version of a great script which I look back on which wasn’t that great. I sold it, and I did that again, got John Dahl attached and then something else happened. Every time people would come to me and say, “We know you want to do this, but what if Milos Foreman wants to direct it?” I said, “Milos can go F*** himself.” John Dahl would come to me and say, “Matt Damon is interested.” I’d be like, Matt Damon can go f*** himself. Then I wrote another one, and they were like, “What if Ashton Kutcher?” and I said, “Ashton Kutcher? Great idea. Go . Take it.” After that, everything got easier, I started writing for other people. I found that being a writer was far more satisfying than acting. I could be disciplined, create something on my computer, and I always loved writing, so it was kinda natural.

AD: What made you want to tell Chris Kyle’s story?

JH: I heard about Chris in 2010, that he was the most lethal sniper and I heard had hit that shot from over a mile. Having come from that background having had family members and the toil of war, I was curious about him and what it cost him. I was curious to know how it had changed him as a man to do something like that. You hear those numbers, and it’s both impressive and horrific, and I was just curious to know how it affected him as a man.

Also, is it true? I called this guy from the CIA and asked if it was true, he said, “There are five guys on the planet who can hit this shot and he’s not one of them.” Later, he calls back and tells me, “He’s one of the five. Everything they say about him is true. If there’s a name that came out of Iraq, it’s his.”

AD: You met Chris Kyle?

JH: I went down to meet him in 2010, right after Thanksgiving. It was a really intimidating room to walk into. I’d never been to Texas before, and there’s all these cops there and Chris. I shook his hands, and looked in his eyes, and you could see the turmoil. It was nine months out of the war, you could feel it on him. It was sad, and it was dark. It felt like he was still at war.

He did something, or something was done to him. I called my wife, and told her I was going to come home early, she asked why. I told her, I think it really messed him up. I don’t know what that story is. My wife, told me to stick it out and see if you can get him to talk.

He was nice, but he wasn’t chatty. The next day his wife and kids arrive. I saw him get down on his knees to embrace his kids, and his knees were messed up. You could see in his body, that he was worn down, and he was only 37-years-old. He took out his arms to his kids, and there was a flicker of light. I was like “Holy shit! There’s another guy here.”

Of course, I’m hanging out with him and this bunch of cops, so you get that side of him, that rough side, you see that he’s rough around edges and the turmoil. Then you see the softer side, and I saw something come out of him, and was like, Wow, this guy was someone else before this.

This guy had been at war and training for the better part of ten years. I realized that this lady, his wife, had raised the kids by herself. She did it by herself. She was changing diapers while he was off fighting this war. That war at home, was equally important to what he did. The struggle that they went through, that to me felt like a movie.

AD: What was his reaction to you wanting to write his story?

JH: He was like, “Ah, man why do you want to tell my story, you’re not going to do this. There’s a lot of better stories.” He brushed it off. He just didn’t tell stories about himself. I asked his friends, “Why doesn’t this guy talk?” and they told me, “He’s a sniper, he just sits and waits.” He just didn’t talk. It was hard to get through to him. He was very humble about it and didn’t like the attention.

As I’m walking out, he tells me about the book. Someone else wanted to write a book about him. He had planned to write his own story so I can give my guys credit and money. So, he ended up giving the money he made from the book to the two guys who you see die in the movie.

The book was printed, nobody wanted the book. It circulated around Hollywood and everyone didn’t know what to do with it. It – that version – was told by that guy, the guy who was home for nine months, with a beer, sitting across the room from me. I knew there was another side to this guy. I’d seen him with his wife and kids. We watched The Incredibles or something. I’d seen him go hunting with his boy. I knew there was another side to him, but I couldn’t quite get it from him. I understood him, I got to see him laugh.

I turned in the script, a first draft, and he joked, “Good luck on ever working again.” I turned the script in on Friday, the next day, I got a calling saying he was just murdered. I cried like a baby. I had spent all this time getting to know this guy, and the last several months, sitting here, listening to the worst music, trying to figure out what his turmoil was. Trying to figure out what that experience of war and stress was like, and how hard it was to come home to your family.

I was writing for 14 hours a day, I was listening to this heavy metal music trying to recreate it. I had insomnia. The script was late. The baby had colic. I had no sleep. My wife was on the toilet getting sick while I was giving the kids a bath, and the baby was screaming. I started to physically snap. I was just like, “I want to die.” The stress, the prolonged stress of being shot at, and being in a war that’s all around you, where you don’t know who the bad guy is. My experience was enough for me to draw from and to give me a framework of stress and build his stress in layers like that. So, his experience of coming home is seen in the layers with the kid, and with the drill.

AD: How long did it take for you to write the script?

JH: The first script took about three and a half months. I turned it in on January 1, on January 2 he was murdered and you see some of his funeral at the end of the movie.

I re-acquainted myself with his wife and I realized that. I hadn’t been talking to his wife as much as I should have during that process, but she said to me at the funeral. She said, “He’d just stopped fighting and then this happened.” I didn’t understand what she meant. I told her to call me if she ever wanted to talk. She called seven days later, very stern, very upfront. “You’re going to do this. You’re going to get this right, because it’s going to play a part in how the kids remember their father.”

The script I turned in was a war movie. We started talking for 3-4 hours. I wanted to know everything, from the first kiss to the last. I wanted to know what he breathed like, what he smelled like. I told her to explain her story to me. We talked every day for about 2-3 months for about 3-4 hours, and after two weeks I realized this was more than just research. With me, she felt useful and that she was doing something to preserve her husband’s legacy.

We walked through this beautiful journey of grief together because previously I had gone to grief workshops where you learn about the stages of grief, how to talk to someone and I was the right person at the right time.

I also learnt if you want to learn something about a man, don’t ask the man, ask the wife. She took me through how he was a sweet, thoughtful person and how Chris pulled her out of a dark place in his life. She was depressed and she was in a dark place and he loved her until she could love herself. She in turn was able to love him back from the dark place that war had taken him. It really was this beautiful story that I was privileged to be a part of their story. I felt it was important to be hungry to listen and it was just beautiful.

AD: What did you learn from Chris Kyle?

JH: I learnt about Chris through his wife. The tenderness in which he found the beauty to express his love to his wife. It made me want to be a better husband.
What I learnt from Chris, is what I hope people take away from the movie and this isn’t a movie just about Chris. It’s a movie about the USA. We are Chris Kyle in a lot of ways, if you take a step back. We forged a country through violence, we built something, we want to protect it and we want to protect others. We’ve been on overwatch, we’ve been looking out from the roof, we’ve been looking out for the globe. We are the chief dog.

Like Chris, we’re paying the price on that wall. If you stay on that wall too long, you become a hunter.

AD: At what point did you learn Clint Eastwood was going to be involved?

JH: Bradley was supposed to work with Clint for something else. When Steven (Spielberg) came out. He called me one day, saying, “Guess who’s doing the movie?” I was so depressed after Steven dropped out, and then he told me it was Clint. I replied, “Wow!”

Strangely, before he died, Tea (Chris’s wife) and Chris were having pillow talk, and she was joking with him, asking him who would be his dream director if the movie ever got made, and he told her he wanted Clint Eastwood.

AD: What did you learn from working with Clint Eastwood?

Clint expresses so much visually. The economy of his imagery is fascinating. I learnt that about the power of instinct. He’s able to work at the rate he does because he trusts himself. He trusts his instincts on such a level that he knows when something is honest.

He’s able to illicit honesty in his actors, because he’s so present and he’s so into that moment. Clint’s there, he’s not stressed out, and you drop into that moment with him, or you get left behind.

The reason he’s able to do fewer takes, is because he illicits that honesty in his actors. It relaxes them and puts them in that moment. The actors didn’t do a lot of acting, everything was just so honest. Especially with Bradley, he will say, That was totally perfect, but we’re going to go in closer, and that’s exactly what it was. He also doesn’t try to press his opinion on you. He also doesn’t manipulate the audience, here’s what we want the audience thinking at this moment. He’s like, here’s the truth of this moment, the audience can find it in this frame, it’s probably further away than they’re used to and they can work for it and find it. Or they can let it pass. That’s what leaves it so open to interpretation. Which is interesting for me. He’s unsentimental. He’s not going to push it on you, if you don’t work for it, you’re not going to find it in a Clint Eastwood movie. You have to use your head and you have to search for it. It’s there, if you’re open to it, you’re going to find it. If not, you’re not going to find it. He’s not going to force it on you, there’s no manipulation.

Director Clint Eastwood with Sienna Miller and Bradley Cooper
Director Clint Eastwood with Sienna Miller and Bradley Cooper

AD: The first thing that struck me was the opening sequence in Fallujah, how did you come up with that?

JH: When I looked at it from outside of this war, from all the doubts, the irritation and the hesitation and the upset from this war. How do we make a movie about Iraq war? A war we feel is in some ways unjust? A war we didn’t want to be in? We have all these feelings about this war, how do I pull them into a character and his experience of that war that are so much more impactful than our experience ? My decisions and my judgment of that war are so much less than that one moment. So, here’s this one moment that this guy has that changes his life forever. Here’s this moment of this guy, who didn’t chose to be in this war, he chose to be a solider. Here’s this guy who’s going to take this shot that’s going to change his life forever, and I wanted to bring the audience into that moment to understand the moral dilemma that all these soldiers face. Every soldier that went to Iraq faced a moral dilemma at some point or another. The war was just as ambiguous for them, but they’re fighting for the guy to their left or their right. I wanted to cut back, inform the audience. Who’s this guy making the decision? and what’s it going to cost him. This is the way he was raised, here’s what we believe, here’s what we have to lose. You challenge them to not take the shot, here’s what we have to lose, either take the shot or you don’t. You win or lose the audience in that moment. If they’re not with Bradley and his performance or with Chris at that moment. If we made any mistake along the way, we lose our audience.

If not, and we push them through and they’re like, Wow, this movie got very real, we just lost a piece of ourselves in doing that work.

AD: What was the biggest challenge in shooting the film?

JH: What struck me about this movie, when I started to do this film, was this war felt so far away from us. It was. For the families of these guys, it was on the cellphone. Tea would get calls from her husband at any time of day or night, and they’d be talking and at any moment a gun fight would erupt. So, it became closer because of technology. To illustrate that in this movie was challenging. These women sit at home and they got a phone call. Here’s my husband, and he’s in Iraq. That’s the truth of this war.

We watched this movie with several Seal wives, and that’s their story of being on the phone with their husbands and a gun fight would erupt. The call from the rooftop in the movie, that absolutely happened. It was just so real life, and personal to these people. To make it honest, the truth of that moment was important to me than making it cinematic. The truth resonates for those families.

Soldiers have called me and told me they planned their wedding on a sat phone. The biggest challenge was telling the truth in a way that was cinematic and packing his life into two hours, and to give it a backbone.

He went four times and that to me is impressive. If you step back and you’re a writer, that’s like episodic, I can’t do that. Then I realized that the spine of the story, those pillars are so important and if i can create a strong enough theme of what his sacrifice is, and if I can create a strong enough backbone of a theme of the war, and this ongoing struggle with his doppelgänger.


AD: How did Bradley Cooper train for the role. Didn’t he put on 44 pounds for it?

JH: He had a trainer who followed him everywhere. He worked his ass off. The before and after pictures are crazy. He did the diet, he trained with this accent coach, and trained with Seal Snipers.

These families take so many videos, Tea took so much video, there’s some really profound moments where he felt like he knew he was going to die. I was like did he know? He’s reading this book, and he’s like, we have to finish this story, I want you to have this when I’m gone. He really believed he wouldn’t come back after tour four. Bradley captured the essence of who Chris was, he studied those videos. He captured more than just the way he looked.

There’s a sniffle, that Bradley does in the movie, and that’s Chris.

You get to the end of that movie and you see the photo of Chris and it’s like a check mark, where you’ve spent two hours with this guy.

The most profound moment for me was when Tea saw the movie a few weeks ago, she starts weeping and giving me a big hug saying, “I don’t know how he did it. He brought my husband back to life. You guys brought my husband back to life.”

This movie can go up, down, sideways, but for me, that was it. I wrote this movie for her and those kids. To hear her say that, that’s a testament to Bradley and his preparation, and to Clint and for telling the story in this honest way. For me, it’s Bradley’s best performance yet. He builds up this masculine guy, and starts chipping away at it, until he’s in pieces.



American Sniper opens on Christmas Day

jc chandor

New York. 1981. Over 1 million crimes are recorded. There are over 60,000 aggravated assaults on record and over 2000 murders. Writer-director JC Chandor was thinking about his third film, the tragedy at Sandy Hook had occured, and he found himself searching through crime statistics. Chandor discovered that 1981 was statistically the most violent year in the history of the city, and became the basis for his latest film, A Most Violent Year.
Awards Daily joined JC Chandor after the film was named Best Film by the National Board of Review in Beverly Hills to talk 1981, his stars – Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac, and the common theme running through his films.

Awards Daily: How are you?

J C Chandor: I’m doing pretty well, I’m writing a new movie. I’m about to go to the IMAX right now, and see a presentation on their new technology which is super exciting. I try to give everything I can to these movies, and then you launch them out into the world and you really can’t do much. I’ve learnt it’s like sending a kid off to college, you can check in on them, and you have to speak up for them, but for the most part you have to let them find their path, and for this one, I’m very humbled and just feel so thankful that I’m getting to do this for my life.

afiAD: How did you feel seeing the public reaction for the first time at AFI Fest?

JC: It was amazing, I had a screening with All Is Lost at Cannes where Mr (Robert) Redford was sitting next to me, and it’s overwhelming in a lot of different ways, and so I was quite confident at AFI that that was the movie I had intended to make, and that I had done my best. I try to have the philosophy that you’re putting it into the world, it’s not like a play where you hope everyone is going to do their part. These things are fairly static once you’re done with them. So, I try to come up with this strategy, that once you’ve done your best and put every ounce into them, I really can’t control anything else. So, that night, I let it go. It was a very strange night for me as I also had some family stuff going on, so it was a very maturing night.

There’s something about your third film. I’ve talked to other film-makers where you realize this isn’t for you and that you shouldn’t be doing this for the rest of your life. Or, that if anyone continues to give you the money or tools to do it, and it’s something you want to devote your entire life to. By your third film you need to know that either way. I had a wonderful confidence that I can do this job now and that I felt this was going to be alright no matter what happens which is not always the case on your first two films. It sort of feels that your career can be whisked out from under you at any moment, which it still can of course, but, not quite as delicate.

AD: What drew you to telling this story?

JC: It was two ideas I had that merged. I tend to write where I have three of four things in my head, bouncing around, gathering elements and pieces. I had been working on a story about a couple, a husband and wife who were in business together insanely ambitious. They were the equivalent of two jewelry stores on a small street, one remains the small store, and one becomes Pandora or some chain. What is it about that ambition? What is happiness? What are they striving for? I was playing that within the idea of immigrants or the first or second generation of immigrants within the United States building a business. Then I started playing that with movie violence, which is a very intense thing to my life.

I had finished All Is Lost and was trying to come up with what to do next, and I was being offered a lot of these very violent films to either re-write, adapt or direct, which I couldn’t really figure out because Margin Call was a thriller. Studio execs were like, “Put a gun in that, and you have a good piece of business.”

So, I was playing with what is violence in movies and basically a horrible act of violence – Sandy Hook shooting happened two towns over from me. I was bringing my daughter to school, and they had posted armed guards all over her school, they remained there for about a month. This idea of escalation started to gesticulate in my mind. The idea of, well, now you’ve made it more fun for one of those sociopaths, all that sociopathic kid has to do is sit across the street, he shoots this security guard at the school who’s supposed to make us feel safer, and he’s dead, and we’re right back to where we are and we’ve had three years where fourth graders had to walk past this security guard to “feel safe going to school”. So, the absurdity of that was in my head, and I ended up searching through crime statistics and came across this amazing year which was 1981. It was the year when the city was deciding to move away from the Wild Wild West of having everybody be armed, but it still was a time when horrible things were still happening in the city, so it’s that last year before crime starts dropping, but it became this touchstone year for me. At that time I was 8 or 9 and as a child, that’s when you start to realize there are other people outside of your experience. Culturally, Rap music was being invented a mile from where this movie took place. There was this great outcry of youth and arts and graffiti and street photography. All these amazing things were bubbling below the surface, which in the end took back the streets and made them safe again. Of course, no one knew that when it’s 1981. You don’t know if the city is going to go deeper into hell or as he says, “Work its way out.”

So, that idea of a character study and that idea of a classic gangster movie merging and something greater as a film and story potentially coming from that, was something I found fascinating. So, I went back and created these base elements of classic gangster movies that I had memories of.

AD: The film is beautiful to watch, there’s some captivating photography in it, how did you manage to capture that 80’s look of the city as it’s changed so much since?

All-Is-Lost-poster-Robert-Redford-revJC: That’s a lesson learnt from All Is Lost. With All Is Lost, a month before we finished, I was like, “Is this ever going to be a movie?” All these different components, the visual effects were finished, with the storms, the skylines and horizons getting fixed. The music came in, the sound effects came in, which in that movie were so important. All those pieces come together, and then BOOM! Suddenly, it felt like this guy is lost at sea. A month earlier, that cut did not feel that way. So, I had confidence with this film, that if costumes, music, set design, automobiles, graffiti.

All that graffiti was period graffiti we licensed and digitally brought into the movie. So, that subway sequence in the movie is actually a subway car from that era, driving on a real subway track, but the MTA wouldn’t let us graffiti their trains. They didn’t want to revisit that. So, I asked, “What if I could find period art and superimposed it? It’s almost a tribute to what was and where our city has gone and has become?”

We tried to use every tool as a film-maker to subtlety bring in all those elements and when it comes together, BOOM! It works, you never know if it’s going to happen, but you can hope.

So, everything from the construction of their wardrobe, I didn’t want anything to feel anything over the top, but yet had to feel of that period.

The whole movie is about people isolating themselves from the violence or attempting to, moving to the suburbs, their office has a walled complex, they drive big German cars. All these things to insulate themselves from the troubles of the day. However, if you want to be an engaged member of society, at some point what’s going on outside is going to creep into your life.

The movie was about having all of that in the background until it wasn’t any longer, and it was suddenly staring them square in the face.

AD: Did you grow up in the Tri-State area and what were your memories of 1981?

JC: I grew up in New Jersey. I grew up in Middle Class, Upper Middle Class. My dad got richer as I got older. I have memories of 1981. I was 8-Years-old, My dad worked in New York City, and I used to visit him, so a lot of this comes from that. That the real damage from violence, and the waves that come out, and the way people change their lives as a result of it are really are what as a society are most damaging in a way.

a-most-violent-yearAD: Let’s talk about Jessica and Oscar:

JC: I was looking at a lot of different actors. I was working with one actor before, talking to him about the script, but that didn’t work out. Jessica had been attached through the whole period to play the role of the wife. Then she started whispering about his classmate of hers from Julliard. “His mom is Guatemalan. His dad is from Cuba. He grew up in Miami. He got himself into Julliard.” He is the American Dream right? (Chuckles). I saw them interact with each other. They had never dated, but they had this great camaraderie without the bitterness of ever having had an affair. (laughs). So, there’s this wonderful shared history, and then this neat competitive streak which driven actors from drama school, which is similar to these characters. It’s healthy competition, just like any good marriage. They both came up in the same education, they had this innate trust. I had never gotten to work on a prolonged level with two actors. This was like an ensemble work, where I felt like I was just there with these people, working through something.

AD: Tell us about the characters Abel and Anna Morales?

JC: They’re both their own people, and yet, they come together to share one single goal. They are leaving a lot of other things aside to get to their goals. They’re having to make real compromises. You don’t win an Olympic Gold medal without missing a lot of opportunities. They want that greatness, in a weird way, Abel believes he can do that without having to pay certain prices. So, they’re fascinating characters for me. I’ve grown to love them. They’re representational of what’s best about this country, but also their shortcomings. I think they both are so sure of themselves and so self serious and present this formal reality to the world. So, when you see those moments where they crack, it’s sort of fun to see what’s behind that veneer.

AD: Your films tend to center on the notion of escalation crisis and meltdown. Would you say that’s the same of A Most Violent Year?

JC: I think these movies are all, if they share a DNA it’s that they are based on real people. People walk around with two feet on earth, just like you and I. They have problems like you and I do, but we are visiting them on a very extraordinary time in their lives where they really can’t stay where they are, they have to move. There’s a decision that must be made. Their lives are not going to be the same depending on which route they take.

So, in Margin Call, they almost didn’t have a choice. I used to say, the two paths were; one was a cliff, and the other was a really bad road. So, there was no good choice, there often isn’t when you paint yourself into a corner. That’s the other thing they all share, these characters have all put themselves in that position, it’s not a meteor coming at us that we had nothing to do with. We have put ourselves in the way of the meteor so to speak, and I think all the characters share that. Their situations, and from a directing standpoint, the challenges of how to tell the stories, hopefully I’m learning and trying new things and always trying to do different things. My general interest as a storyteller, hopefully shares a very strong DNA between all three films.


The Help, Tree of Life, Zero Dark Thirty, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, and now A Most Violent Year, Jessica Chastain is a hard working actress. Jazz Tangcay sat down with the actress to talk about her role as Anna Morales in A Most Violent Year, , J.C. Chandor’s ’80s-set thriller in which she plays an embattled immigrant’s wife trying to make it in a rough-and-tumble New York.

Awards Daily : What inspired you to get into acting?

Jessica Chastain: I’d always been a very imaginative child. I didn’t do so well in school, I didn’t think I was very smart. I had difficulty in connecting with teachers and didn’t have a way of expressing myself, until my grandmother took me to see a play, I saw a little girl on stage, it was a professional theater company, I was told this was their job. I thought, “This is my job.” I was probably 7 at the time.

AD: How did you come across this role?

JC: I met JC when The Help came out, it was the same time as Margin Call. We were at the New York Film Critics Awards dinner when we first met. I really liked Margin Call a lot. Then I went to Cannes and I saw All Is Lost, I was very impressed with that. This director, who’s first film was all about a lot of dialogue and relationships, then his second film with no dialogue, and no relationship. He’s brave also, he’s taking a risk, he’s saying, instead of staying in that world, I’m going to try something different. I just really believed in him.

AD: You penned a three page email to JC about Oscar, What inspired you to do this and what was it like working with him?

JC: JC likes to say it was a three page email, that’s a slight exaggeration. I did send an email to JC about Oscar and I very rarely do that with directors. I don’t want to invade on their process. I have so much respect for film makers, I knew he considering Oscar, and I just wanted to express my experience of working with him and knowing him for 12 years.
I love going to the movies, I love being an audience member, and I love championing other people’s work, and it came very naturally to do to champion Oscars work because he’ sos tlaented. He’s an actor that’s under appreciated for the work he does.

AD: Can you tell us about Anna?

JC: What I love so much about Anna, is that you underestimate her. JC (Chandor) wanted to do that deliberately. When you first meet her, she’s putting make up on in the mirror, a stereotype of the wife of a crime boss. You expect her to follow the tropes of the genre, when in fact as the film goes on, when she shoots the deer, she starts to become intoxicated with the power that she’s feeling, the action she starts to take in her life. In her mind, if her husband isn’t going to be the most powerful man in the room, then she will. By the end of the film you realize she’s actually the boss of the company and that’s very excting to me, to do something that surprises the audience and who underestimates a female character and defies the stereotype.

AD: What was your biggest challenge in making the film?

JC: Probably the biggest challenge was the cold, it was very very cold in New York. It’s all real snow and we were freezing our butts off. We were shooting very quickly.
That and doing two films at once, because I was flying back and forth from New York to Toronto, I was working on Crimson Peak and they were very different characters, so those were the challenges for me.

AD: You’ve made four films this year, how easy was the transition from one mindset of a film to the next?

JC: Actually, I made two films, but I have four films. Disappearance was made years ago. A Most Violent Year was this year, some films take a while before they find their release date.
As an actor, I’m interested in playing characters that are different than me, characters that I get to learn more about myself, learn more about who we are as human beings. The way you do that is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see a point of view that you never thought of yourself.

AD: Would you like to direct one day?

JC: I have no interest right now in directing, but I do have an interest in teaching , maybe I’ll go to Julliard at some point and teach or some other school. I like the idea of helping someone free themselves artistically creatively or emotionally. That is so inspiring to me.

AD: You’ve said in a recent interview, that there are two types of women roles, the slut or the girlfriend. With your career, Zero Dark Thirty and A Most Violent Year, you’re doing your part, what do you think Hollywood and other actresses could do to help the situation?

JC: I wouldn’t blame it on actresses at all. I do not think it’s the problem of the actresses. I’m very vocal about speaking about diversity and cinema. When I speak in terms of female roles and that there are so few roles for women, I’m not speaking for myself and I’m not speaking from a selfish place, because I’m a very lucky person and I understand that I get sent things most people don’t. I’m speaking as an audience member who wants to see Asian-American actresses up there. I want to see more African-Americans in leads, I want to see women in their sixties or seventies up there as leads in films. I’m speaking from that place, trying to help the industry, because as an industry we all want the same thing.
Chris Rock wrote this amazing essay for The Hollywood Reporter recently, and it’s a fantastic essay, and it’s honest. So much of us are saying the same thing. The more we talk about it, we don’t need to feel shame, or point fingers and judge. We’re a community.Everyone wants the same thing. I believe that because it’s such an important topic of conversation right now, that it will change.

AD: Who else would you like to work with?

JC: I’d love to work with a female DP. There are so many people I’d like to work with. I can’t talk about it right now because there’s a probability that I will be working with this person… this space (Giggles).


A Most Violent Year opens December 31.


There’s a lot of buzz on Oscar Isaac, he just won Best Actor, along with Michael Keaton (Birdman), he’s starring in the new Star Wars film, and he’s playing the wild Apocalypse in X-Men. Jazz Tangcay sat down with Isaac to talk about this exciting time for him and to discuss his latest film, A Most Violent Year. Directed by JC Chandor and starring Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year tells the tale of an immigrant family trying to make it in the oil industry during the worst year on record for crime in the history of New York. The brilliant Isaac centers the film with his studied performance, another versatile turn by Isaac.

Awards Daily : Congratulations on the NBR Award

Oscar Isaac: Thank you.

AD: What was it like seeing the reaction at the World Premiere for A Most Violent Year at AFI Fest?

OI: That was my first time seeing it too. That was a pretty crazy experience because that was the first time I’d ever seen a movie that I’d been in with such a huge audience. It felt great, it felt that by the end, people were getting a sense of who these people really were. It was really rewarding, and it was great to see people laughing as much as they did.
Like the deer scene, people were clapping and I was like, “What!” (laughs).

AD: You and Jessica have such great chemistry, you went to Julliard together, tell us how you become friends?

OI: We saw each other in plays, and we just really appreciated each other’s work. We had mutual friends, we hung out and it was great. We kept in touch and we were looking for something to do together for a long time. She told me about it, then she told JC (Chandor) about it, and it happened. I couldn’t believe she had sent that email to JC, she just said that recently, and I didn’t evne know about it.I have to say it was one of the best experiences I’ve had of working with someone.

AD: What was it like to work with JC Chandor?

OI: It was great. He’s intense, he talks a mile a minute and has a very expansive mind and covers so many topics. When it came to the shoot, he was just so focused, it’s like he harnesses all that energy and lasers it in . He gave me great notes and great direction. Like he was telling me so much about the suits, and I asked, “Why are you telling me so much about the suits?” and he said, “It’s not about fashion, they’re suits of armor.” It totally influenced the way I would move and walk around, and suddenly I felt. He was like a knight, going to war.

AD: You once said, It was how important the right pair of desert boots were needed to getting into character for Inside Llewyn Davis, did you need a similar piece of clothing or item to get into character for Abel?

OI: Oh yes, not only the actual suits, but the camel coat, that coat is like his suit of armor.

AD: Did you model Abel Morales on anyone?

OI: There were a few influences, Emperor Hadrian. Marvin Gaye, R.F.K and a little bit of my grandfather.

AD: What was the greatest challenge for you in the role?

OI: The cold, it was so cold. So, I had to wear dri suits, it was freezing, so physically that part was very hard. On a more internal level, the fact that he’s such a closed off individual, and seemingly so calculating, but the challenge was being able to make him someone that’s almost sociopathically focused on his goal and ambitious, but at the same time, passionate and vital. Between those two things, that was a challenge.

On set with Chastain
On set with Chastain

AD: Is that what makes him a great character?

OI: Yes, that’s why he’s fascinating, I think it’s because you see the workings of someone and what they go through to try to project this persona, and yet this persona is not fake. He earns that persona.

AD: What do you think the appeal is of A Most Violent Year?

OI: I think the way it harkens back to the older movies that all of us remember seeing and being so moved by. I think that it’s a very interesting grey study of a character, it’s not so black and white. It’s something all of us are curious about, how do you navigate ethically , through this hyper-capitalist society where everything is about hustling and making a dollar. Is there a way of doing that without losing your soul?

AD: What’s your first love, stage, music or film?

OI: I love them all so much. I’m really curious and energized about acting, the curious thing about bottling the subconscious and trapping that for a moment, that battle for me is what I’m interested in, which for me is acting.

AD: You’ve got some exciting things ahead, you’re playing Apocalypse in X-Men and that’s you in Star Wars.

OI: The (Star Wars) trailer was amazing when it came out, it was fun to see the reactions of that. I think it’s going to be really special,  really really special. J.J (Abrams)  has done something remarkable with it. J.J has both made it a real tribute to the original and a whole new original take.
With X-Men, he’s a character I’ve loved for a really long time. Apocalypse is such a wild character and to try to bring that to the screen. What a challenge. I’m very excited.

The First comic I collected was X-Factor, the first comic I collected was X-Factor. There was X-Men, then X-Factor and then it went back to X-Men. I was first introduced to these characters in the X-Factor back in the 80’s.

AD: Do you get wrapped up in Awards Season?

OI: I wouldn’t say get wrapped up, but for one, it’s wonderful to get recognition for your work, and two it’s a great way to promote your movie that otherwise don’t really get out there that much with all these other huge films. It’s a way for people to see your movie, and that’s greatly appreciated.

A Most Violent Year is released on December 31.


Chadwick Boseman first graced TV screens in 2003 when he appeared in the daytime soap, All My Children. Boseman went on to appear in E.R, Castle and Fringe.
Last year, Boseman portrayed baseball player, Jackie Robinson in 42 and earlier this year, he won rave reviews for his portrayal as music legend, James Brown in the biopic, Get On Up. Jazz Tangcay sat down with the star to talk about how he prepared for the role, Mick Jagger and we talked about his new role in the Marvel Black Panther.

Awards Daily: Let’s talk about the film, your likeness to James Brown is uncanny, can you tell us what you did to prepare for the role?
Chadwick Boseman: The filming was from November to the end of January and the prep was from September. I had two months before we started, once I took the role, it was a regiment ,a James Brown regiment that consisted of listening to his music, reading biographies and articles, watching footage of him, be it performances of him and listening to him talk. and of course his dancing. There might have been some days when I left out one of those things, but a lot of days, it was all of that, doing as much as I could.

AD: Can you tell us about the first meeting you had with Mick Jagger who produced the film?

CB: We first met in LA, he had a suite in his hotel and we talked over tea and biscuits. (Chuckles). We talked and listened to music, particularly James Brown and talked about set up, the problems within the script, the script changed from that point. We both talked about what we wanted to get out of the movie and what the movie should do. It was cool because at first I was like “I can’t believe I’m here with Mick Jagger.” He was present for a lot of the filming and the whole production process.

AD: Were you a fan of James Brown before the film?

CB: I was a fan, but I wasn’t fan like say my parents were fans. I was aware when his songs were sampled, I wouldn’t have been able to have told you what songs they were. I mean I knew the songs you were supposed to know, and maybe a bit more. I met people who were James Brown fanatics, I was by no means that. Today, I’m well versed in his catalogue.

AD: Was the film shot in a linear way?

CB: We didn’t shoot it in a linear way at all. We shot it based upon location and availability. Within one day we would have different eras, I’d go from 55 to 63, straight to 17 and 35. It was a struggle to put yourself in that mindset, remembering certain emotional placements. It was a matter of trying to get back to those things, as they’re taking the make up off of you, you’re internally becoming something else.

AD: Did you feel any pressure to do justice to the role given that James Brown was a musical icon?

CB: That’s what’s scary about taking on a role like this, It’s like who is he, he’s not just about the music, he’s about the dance. and if you don’t get those things right, then people don’t buy that you’re playing him. There’s a legend and folklore about him that exists, all the people that have a story about him and all the musicians he met, you have to fit inside that linage and get that right?

AD:  What did you learn from making the film?

CD: I think the greatest thing I learnt was that I learned a bit about myself. Not that I didn’t know that I had abilities, but that I had to dig deep.

AD:Let’s talk Marvel, how much of a Marvel fan were you?

CB : (Chuckles) I can’t tell you anything.

AD: Hmm, let’s see… How excited are you to play the Black Panther?

CB: It’s going to be amazing to do it. It’s one of those things that will be fun. I had a lot of fun playing James Brown and Jackie Robinson. I think this is on par with that. It’s not often that you get to do something that you’re going to be excited about. I know it’s going to be very physical and emotional, but at the same time ,you know you’ll be enjoying every minute.


Get On Up is released on DVD in January 2015.


Check out the trailer below:


Jenny Slate

Author, Stand-up comedian, voice-over actor, actress and Gotham Award nominee. Jenny Slate is a woman of many talents. This past Summer she starred in Obvious Child, a film which won her rave reviews for her performance of Donna, a young woman who gets pregnant after a one -night stand and decides to have an abortion.

Awards Daily sat down with the wonderfully funny actress to discuss the abortion issue, fart jokes, and her reaction to being nominated for a Gotham Award.

Jazz Tangcay: Can I just say it’s good to see a romantic comedy again, and you were fantastic in it.

Jenny Slate: Thank you.

JT:  You’re based in LA now, did you feel the need to move here for the best roles/opportunities?

JS: I moved to New York when I was 18 and lived there for a while, but yes, this is where all the auditions are, and it was time for me to make the move. It’s kinda funny to me that the role that ended up being my dream role was back in New York.

JT:  Obvious Child is set in NYC, what was it like being back?

JS: It was nice, because when I moved out here, I felt excited, but also a lot like a stranger, but if i had to make it out here, i’d have to focus and be kind to myself, but also focus on developing myself as a performer and i felt that in many ways, I put that work in, and it was exciting that the first time I got to use it and see if I could make the grade, was by returning to New York and work on this really exciting story.

JT:  Donna comes across as funny, struggling with life, vulnerable and relatable, what did you relate to most as Donna?

JS: There are some things that felt technical, Donna is a stand up comedian and I started my career doing stand up. The real touchstone, emotionally was the creation of this woman who is strong enough to reveal imperfect parts of herself to large groups of people, but actually and functionally is very vulnerable and aware that she is imperfect, and is still trying to know all of that, and metaphorically walk without a limp. She knows there is a lot that is different about her when it comes to the stereotypical adult, she’s like, “I don’t really know that I’m there yet.” I felt that way a lot, in the world of adults, that I can’t really tell if I am.

JT:  Were you surprised by the success of the film?

JS: I think yes and no. I think I was surprised and not surprised, I stand by the work and by how focused we were and how original I feel that our comedic voice was.
I really was so excited by the combination of yes, we are dealing with a subject that is complex and that people are prickly about, but also saying that you know humans are prickly and complex and funny and sad themselves too, so let’s just make this a thing and talk about it. I stood by that, but when you make a movie in 18 days with mostly unknown actors, you never know if anybody will see it. That’s just the nature of the business, so, for it to hit home and find a place in people’s heart and that find a nice place in the theaters in this country, I was shocked and thrilled, and felt that was great.

JT : I find fart jokes hilarious, how easy was it for you to deliver those fart jokes in the movie?

JS:  It’s really easy to mess up, and it’s very hard to get right. It really has to be timed perfectly, it has to be good. There is an art to it. A good fart joke is great, a bad fart joke is cheap and annoying. I think we got the good ones in there. We were pretty careful about making sure the fart jokes were on point.

JT:  I have to say, the issue of abortion was really well handled in the film.

JS: I’m glad you think so, we were very thoughtful about how to portray this issue of a woman getting pregnant and then deciding to have this procedure. We didn’t want to be didactic.We didn’t want this to be an agenda film. We did want to say, look the modern human experience, not even just the modern female experience, the experience is complex, it’s not one thing. There are so many different things that are interesting, why would we ever focus on an issue, when we could actually focus on a person.

JT: How did you and Gillian Robespierre meet?

JS : Gillian and her friend had written the short film of Obvious Child, but the character was new to me and it was at the starting stages. We had a friend in common – at the time I was doing my stand up show, they came and saw me performing, and Gillian thought I’d be a good fit for the part. Gillian got my contact details and sent me an email saying, “I’m doing a short film. It’s about this. Is this something you’d be interested in?” I was like, “I’m really interested in doing something honest and funny, but if this is going to be shocking, just to be shocking or saccharine about it, I’m not interested.” She sent me the script and I said, “Oh, this is something I’ve never seen before. I’m definitely in.”


Jenny Slate and Director Gillian Robespierre
Jenny Slate and Director Gillian Robespierre

JT :  You won rave reviews for the role, do you ever read your reviews?

JS: No, not really. I learned very quickly, when I was on Saturday Night Live, it would not benefit me as a person to read the reviews, because if they’re good, then I feel like, I don’t want that to define me, and then if they’re bad, I know they’ll hurt my feelings. So, what usually happens. When there’s one that’s good, my husband will usually scan for me and he’ll be like, “This one is well written and I think you should read this.”  That’s how they come to me, I have a very nice group of friends who will skim for me. Sometimes, they just tell me which is even better. If it’s coming through the voice of someone you know, it means a lot. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate that there’s been a positive reaction because I really do. As a person and performer, I am at my best when I am encouraged. I do so much better when I get a positive reinforcement. Which is why stand up comedy has been good for me. I understood the joy of developing my voice.
Social media is great too. It’s people saying, “I’m glad you told this story. I love you.” I really appreciate that too.

JT : Marcel the Shell was extremely popular, the video went viral, and now there are books. How surprised were you by its popularity?

Marcel The ShellJS: I was 100% shocked just because we truly made it for ourselves to show at a small arts show in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. You know, Dean (my husband) was like, “I showed it, and people were asking if we could put it online because people want to see it again. Can we put it online?” I didn’t have a problem with it, because I know so little about how the internet works and even today, I tweet out into the darkness. I type with two fingers and can’t even use Dropbox. I was so surprised. I’m the last person I would expect to have a viral hit.
It feels really good to have something that is really a unique expression of what it’s like to be an individual and have that be something that people wanna see. It’s nice to have contributed to something that people like and often say makes their day go better, if that’s my contribution and something that’s happening to my work, I couldn’t ask for more.
We will see more, it’s definitely out there in the future.

JT:  You’re not afraid of calling yourself a feminist, why do you think other actresses are afraid of admitting it?

JS:  It’s really weird to me to see these phrases that say, “So and so comes out.” or “So and so admits that she’s a feminist.” I think it’s a bummer, I’m loud and proud. I don’t know why you wouldn’t be, but I do understand there’s a stigma on the word and that people have stereotyped feminism and the movement and that it’s about aggression or like some strange fierce reciprocity, when it’s really about equality. Equality between the sexes and it’s an honorary and worthwhile pursuit, I think everybody should be a feminist, I think it’s an awesome word if you define it correctly.

JT :  Do you keep in touch with the SNL gang?

JS:  For sure. I was really lucky to be in with a great group of cast members, I see them every now and again and I love them.

JT:  What was your reaction when you found out you were nominated for a Gotham award?

JS: I’m so excited. I was in the bathroom about to brush my teeth and I was checking my phone. I saw the Gotham Awards had been announced, I started to get nervous. I told my husband, we did a little dance and it was really nice.

JT: What’s next for you?

JS: I finished filming Season 3 of Kroll Show on Comedy Central and House of Lies. I’m doing some Parks and Recs, and recording Bob’s Burgers. The new book is out. I’m not sure what my next film project is going to be. I want to something I really enjoy, that’s the requirement.

Obvious Child is out now on DVD


A while back I got the chance to interview Patricia Arquette, an actress I’ve been following for thirty years (yes, thirty). Her work has been quietly impressing me all along, though no one else seemed to really be paying attention to it. The wildly different characters she’d portrayed in films like Beyond Rangoon, Flirting with Disaster, Lost Highway and True Romance revealed an artist who was not only fearless in her choices but much more than the sex siren she was most remembered for.

Arquette mostly resides in the collective unconsciousness as the sexual muse from Tony Scott/Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch’s fantasy worlds. When men talk about her they’ll always lead with those arresting, unstoppable images of Arquette from iconic films, when Arquette’s incarnation of sexuality entered the pantheon. She wore leopard print bras, lipstick and tasted like peaches in True Romance and captured the wistful longing of unrequited lust, bathed in white light and This Mortal Coil in Lost Highway.


What was Arquette to the movie fandom but luscious lips, a snaggle tooth and those infamous curves? To most of them, until Boyhood, she resided in the past, like Monroe or Veronica Lake – to remind us of what was. Not what is or what can be. That was until Boyhood. Now Arquette is free to emerge, finally, as the versatile actress she’s always been.

And indeed, it isn’t often blonde meets screen like Arquette has these many years, emerging in her own right from her famous siblings. Rather than clinging to that which made her famous, though, what has surprised me most about her, and continues to surprise, me is how willing she is to change as time changes her, as age continues to sculpt who she will become in the next thirty years.

I drove out of the valley, down the 101 towards Kanan Pass, a winding road that eventually crests, giving way to the wide blue expanse of the Pacific. I was meeting Arquette at a coffee shop called Coogie’s in the one strip mall in Malibu.

When I met her she was taking a call from her sister, she said, who had left something at her house. It had rained a few scarce drops and she was concerned her sister’s stuff would get wet.

“We need rain so badly,” she said as we took our seat outside. Just coffee with milk was what we ordered. Some people notice things, some people don’t. Arquette is one who does – she pays attention to everything and everyone that’s around her, focusing on a dog hungry for affection at the next table who kept diving at us as his owner tugged him back on his leash. “Aw, what a cutie.” She said. Her eyes glance around at people who walk by, the clouds billowing in the sky and occasionally down at her coffee.

Arquette, it must be said, is a stunner. She was a stunner when she started the business as kid and she’s a stunner now, even with her face still untouched by plastic surgery. Her face is a visible record of her experiences, kind and open. She’s admitted to never being comfortable being so pretty, and indeed, if you spend enough time with her you start listening to what she’s saying rather than thinking about how she looks.

Her eyes flicked up briefly to look at something behind me — she pointed out there was a chubby cheeked baby hanging in a sling. She smiled warmly, wistfully. I thought about an interview with her I’d read where she was joking with her now grown son about the potential for a grand-baby.

Arquette’s love for babies and children came young. When her sister Alexis was born she went around saying “my baby.” Mothering, she said, came naturally. Arquette is a passionate advocate, fiercely independent, rebellious by nature, a true badass in all respects — she’s one of the few that really gets how motherhood is a strength and not a weakness.

Even still, the mothers Arquette has played — in Flirting with Disaster, Beyond Rangoon and now, the most accomplished performance of her career, Boyhood, she is still playing characters outside herself. For instance, when her son went off to college she put on a brave face and sent him on his way – only after he left did she sob for two weeks. Her Boyhood character is a little more yearning for independence than that, probably because she finds a life during the twelve years the film takes place. Arquette is so strong willed, her evolution has been slightly different, but I suspect she would have no problem having her children stick around a while longer.

Arquette is the beating heart of Boyhood, the film’s center – so much so that with a few adjustments in editing it could be called Motherhood. Linklater being one of the few directors out there with enough reverence for mothers and women that he didn’t need to build a saintly version of one. He built a real one, with the help of an actress who was willing to do the work, dutifully, carrying that character with her for twelve years.

boyhood family

Arquette is active and political on Twitter, spent time in Haiti and helped out after Hurricane Sandy (see videos below), not to mention her involvement in charity work. She hails from volcano parents who loomed large and raised a big family. She talked about her mother dying of cancer and all of these people showing up who knew her. Arquette says she had no idea who they were but realized suddenly how many people her mother had impacted.

It was far from an easy childhood but that’s not something Arquette dwells on. She recognizes that there was pain. But she values the important things her parents left her with – creativity, vitality, courage, concern for your fellow man (or woman).


But I’d been following Arquette’s career since the 1980s. It wasn’t about True Romance (maybe a little about Lost Highway) but rather, the uncelebrated roles where she simply did not get the recognition she deserved. I always suspected this was because audiences refused to relinquish their definition of her as the blonde bombshell. No easy feat when someone embeds like that but if you’ve been paying attention these past thirty years you will discover a versatile actress who is not afraid to embrace her own evolution, hard to come by these days.

In Beyond Rangoon, Arquette plays a doctor whose husband and son were murdered. She journeys to Burma where she witnesses atrocious at the hands of a dictator. It not only eases her grief, which is immeasurable, but it ends up changing the course of her life. Unlike most “a woman finds herself” movies that came after Beyond Rangoon, this is the rare film that depicts a woman doing something valuable for the world, not just herself.

If you return to the film, take note of the scene where Arquette must rush back to the village to get medicine to save the life of U Aung Ko, the leader she is traveling with. In order to do that, though, she pretty much has to offer herself up for sexual favors. This is a brilliant, maddening scene where the trauma plays out on Arquette’s face – at once to convey to us what she is feeling at the time but also to keep that hidden so as not to betray it to her attacker.

I could not find the scene specifically but it takes place at 57:34 of this cap of the whole film.

In Flirting with Disaster, Arquette plays a grouchy mom/wife whose husband is seeking out his birth mother. She patiently waits around for him to actually grow up, all the while caring for their newborn, which doesn’t have a name yet. She anchors the film, becoming very much its center, much the way she does in Boyhood, while the other characters bob helplessly around her like disconnected satellites.

Another moment like this takes place during the James Gandolfini epic battle in True Romance. She’s just come into the hotel room and is wearing sunglasses. She is scared but has to hide her fear because she knows bluffing is her only hope. But once he removes the glasses, the truth is revealed in her eyes. It is a brilliant scene by a very talented, underrated actress.

And Arquette is both the lightness and the dark in David Lynch’s Lost Highway, a role she says she is probably the furthest from. Cast as a Lynch heroine, Arquette is both the blonde and the brunette (a repeating theme in the director’s work). The differences between the two are dramatic, even if the narrative is tough to follow. Back then reporters asked Arquette how comfortable she felt doing full frontal nudity after having children (or something to that effect) and I’ve never forgotten her answer – she said that this man was obsessed WITH HER, not an idealized version of her so she had nothing to hide from him, being the object of his desire. Looking back on those scenes it’s funny to think anyone would ask her such a question.

Despite her two most famous roles, Arquette doesn’t “lead” with her sexuality. She leads with thoughtfulness. On her mind is, well, everything imaginable from climate change to recent gang rape of two teenage girls in India who then hung themselves, the babies blown to bits in Gaza. She tells me that she’s had to have a news blackout for a few days because it was overwhelming her. A week or so later I did the same thing.

“Just for a little while,” she says. We sit with the silence of everything we know about the world in 2014. The future looks bleak. As mothers we are in charge of fixing things for our kids but how do we do that? All of this remains unspoken between us. There isn’t any need to state the obvious.

Boyhood is a film that is really about motherhood, or parenthood, more than it is about growing up. It’s a film about teachers – those who catch you in the middle of your swiftly forward motion, stop you, turn you in a different direction and set you off again. For twelve years Arquette reunited with the film crew to catch back up with her character, her single mother of two young kids trying to better her life – a fighter, a learner, a teacher and her own person on top of that. What we rarely see anymore: mothers who have actual feelings beyond those that are defined by their kids. Mothers in films now are support nets and nothing more. How easy for Linklater and Arquette to have gone in that direction but they didn’t. She’s a woman who had bad relationships, made mistakes, struggled financially, resented then ultimately forgave her husband.

The film could have been more critical of her for her choice in men, but in real life single mothers do things because they think it’s in the best interest of their children. I myself remember how great it felt when my mom hooked up with a man who bought us a lovely house out in Malibu when we were kids. What we went through, what he did her, how bad things got was in no way worth that, but I can see it from her point of view.

When you’re dead broke with a kid looking to you for the answers, for food and clothing and a decent house you can bring your friends home to your perspective can sometimes be skewed. I remember doing this to my own daughter — the good news was we finally lived in a house we could have her 1st grade birthday party in. The bad news was he was an abusive alcoholic. This is one of the things about Boyhood that rang so true to me and many who grew up in our generation, Linklater and Arquette’s generation. These were the days before helicopter parenting, more than a few lifetimes ago.

Arquette and Linklater were killing themselves doing Q&As all over town, knowing that a movie like this is best to see in a theater because it requires your full attention to feel its impact. After our interview, Arquette would be driving out to Hollywood to do a few more.

After all of that time working together, Arquette says they were like a family, with babies, marriages, divorces happening throughout. Their real lives running their course while their fictional lives were waiting to put on record what was happening in theirs.

Arquette’s work in Boyhood allows us the rare glimpse of what being a really good actress is about, being so good at it you start to believe she is that character. But spending time with her in person it’s clear that the real Patricia Arquette dwells in real life, not in fiction. “There are little pieces of each of them that stay with me,” she says. “I could pull them out if I wanted to.”

There are too few actresses with the kind of longevity Arquette has managed to sustain. She’s done it finding the good parts wherever they might be – on network television and in independent film. Twelve years captured on film, twelve years of character focus, of emotional work, and all the while making it seem as though it’s all happening in real time. It requires the skill and the focus of one of the best in the business.


Volunteer video



Richard Gere and Ben Vereen spotted shotting scenes as homeless men for their upcoming movie 'Time Out of Mind' in NYC

AD correspondent Jordan Ruimy talks with Richard Gere about his role in Oren Moverman’s Time out Of Mind. |||

Richard Gere’s career stretches out to more than 40 years’ worth of movies. Not just any movies. His resume includes “Days of Heaven”, the highly underrated “American Gigolo”, “An Officer and a Gentleman”, “The Cotton Club”, “Pretty Woman”, “Primal Fear”, “Chicago”, “I’m Not There” and “Arbitrage”. An eclectic bunch of performances that, as the years have gone by, have solidified his reputation as one of the most underrated actors working today in Hollywood. Yes, even at 65 years old, Gere’s charming good looks still overshadow his tremendous talent as an actor. No Oscar nomination. Ever. His best chance coming in 2002 for his performance as Billy Flynn in the Best Picture winner “Chicago”. That performance won him the Golden Globe, but he didn’t even get nominated come Oscar time.

In Oren Moverman’s “Time out Of Mind”, Gere plays a homeless man that episodically wanders around the streets of New York City looking for shelter and food. That’s the movie. It’s quite simple but beautifully effortless. Moverman and Gere have made a work of art that recalls much of the minimalist, character driven cinema you expect to come out of Europe. It’s an audacious movie that will infuriate some but mesmerize others. As Gere explains, “It’s unlike anything I’ve done before, it was a very organic process and I’m very proud of the finished product”.

Meeting him at Toronto’s famous Ritz Carlton hotel, I couldn’t help but mention to him how I wrote a “for your consideration” piece for AD on his incredible performance in “Arbitrage” and how incredible he was in that movie. “That’s nice, that was a tremendous movie. I still know people that haven’t seen it”, he chuckles back. The last few films he’s done have been risky endeavours that have added an extra dimension to the 65 year-old’s already vivid career. In “Arbitrage” he played a corrupt hedge fund magnate whose life starts to fall apart. He also played Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes’ visionary “I’m Not There” – “It’s just a time in my career where I can afford to take more risks, I was just lucky to get these great scripts that were written by these great writers and I can’t pass on some these opportunities”. Coincidentally, Moverman’s film – he did in fact write the screenplay for “I’m Not There” – shares its title with a 1997 Bob Dylan record; however, that’s where the comparisons end. “No I don’t think there was any connection to the Dylan album, it’s just a saying that’s been used many times and it was somewhat coincidental that Dylan had used it as well, I believe was Edmund Burke used it at one point as well.”

The script for “Time Out of Mind” has been around for more than a decade and has an interesting history to it:  “Oren and I worked on “I’m Not There.” The [Time Out of Mind] script must have come to me about 10 years ago, and I didn’t really want to do it then. But it was just one of those things that I kept thinking about, and I ended up buying the script … I even thought about directing it at one point but it would have not worked for me to direct and play the character.” Moverman eventually wrote the screenplay and filled in the gaps that were missing. Asking Gere if he regrets not directing it, he mentions that “Oren brought something that I wouldn’t have been able to bring” and when asked if he ever would want to be in the director’s chair one day, “yea of course … I’ve always thought about doing that one day.”

The film is very much inspired by the current art-house cinema coming out of Europe these days. There is very minimal plot and not much dialogue in the film. Gere’s character is stuck in a daily routine of just trying to survive with whatever he has at his disposal. “We shot the movie in 21 days, shooting on very long lenses. If we had to be on the streets, cameras were hidden so that there were no signs of a movie being filmed.” Gere says he learned a lot from this experience “a homeless person is worse than invisible, he or she is a black hole …. when we see a panhandler, we don’t want to go near them … I learned that through this character, people were actively avoiding me” explaining further that, “people don’t want to be sucked into a black hole of failure and misery”
Only three times during the shoot did people actually to acknowledge or help out: “Yea, we were shooting and this lady –whom we later found out was a tourist visiting New York – gave me her leftover pizza.” The other two times were African Americans and they just randomly passed along and said, Hey, Rich, how are you doing? They didn’t ask, what happened to you? Have you fallen on hard times?”

Time out of Mind” was chosen for the prestigious New York Film Festival, a film fest –unlike TIFF- known for its limited selection of films and who’s reputation for choosing the very best in world cinema did not go unnoticed by the actor “yea I know, it’s a big deal, they called us and said they chose the film. Oren and I were just honored to have it selected. we’re very excited to head down there to present it. I’m very proud of this movie”

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 12.16.48 PM

Reinvent Hollywood: The Audience — a sneak peak

A roundtable discussion hosted by Ted Hope, moderated by Anne Thompson tomorrow, “How will audiences and their involvement with cinema evolve with increased digital access – from crowdfunding to social engagement?”

The Reinvent Hollywood series continues on June 24 with The Audience. The 90-minute episode — the third part of a six-part series — will feature great thinkers from the world of cinema discussing exciting new ways to reach and involve film-lovers in new ways and on a global scale.

“Increasingly, audiences are built, not found,” said series host Ted Hope. “It’s a new collaborative era. The barrier between creator and audience is dissolving. Film-goers will not only applaud from their seats, but participate in the creation of the movies and the buzz-building that happens later.”

With: Ivan Askwith (Associate Producer, Veronica Mars (film)) Gillian Robespierre (Writer & Director) Tim League (CEO, Alamo Drafthouse) Marc Schiller (CEO & Founder, BOND Strategy) Sheri Candler (Director of Digital Marketing, The Film Collaborative) Marc Hofstatter (Head of Film, Indiegogo)

For the past twenty-five years, Margo Martindale has been an acclaimed character actress on stage and screens big and small. Highlights of her big-screen work include her work as Maggie Fitzgerald’s tactless mother Earline in the Best Picture-winner Million Dollar Baby, and her achingly beautiful turn in the final segment of Paris, je t’aime. The past several years have found Martindale in an acclaimed run on television, including an Emmy-nominated guest run on “The Americans” and an Emmy win for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her work on “Justified.”

This Oscar season finds Martindale back on the big screen in August: Osage County, which has already been recognized with a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Martindale plays Mattie Fae Aiken, whose often hard-shelled demeanor cloaks a long-held secret and desire to protect her sister Violet (Meryl Streep), niece Barbara (Julia Roberts), husband Charles (Chris Cooper), and son Little Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Like many of the talent in this year’s acclaimed films, the cast of August: Osage County has been enthusiastically touting their films in the final days and hours leading up to Oscar nomination ballots being due. I recently enjoyed a conversation with the lovely Martindale about her work on the film. Here’s what she shared with me about pursuing a sought-after role in a high-profile film, working with Oscar-winners Cooper and Streep, and crafting August: Osage County.

Continue reading…


Steve Coogan is a comedic megastar in the U.K., best known for his signature character Alan Partridge. The character has appeared in numerous television shows over the past twenty years, including “Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge” and “Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge.” In America, Coogan is known primarily as a comedic character actor in films such as Night at the Museum and Tropic Thunder, and his brilliant lead role in Hamlet 2. Coogan decided to engineer his own foray into more serious material with Philomena, which he co-wrote with Jeff Pope (Dirty Filthy Love), co-produced, and co-starred with Dame Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love). Coogan plays journalist Martin Sixsmith, who embarks on a journey with Philomena Lee, to find out what happened to the son that was taken from her and sold to American parents fifty years prior by the Catholic Church, after she gave birth in a convent for teenage mothers. Coogan and Pope’s screenplay (adapted from Sixsmith’s book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee”) has already earned Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations, along with numerous accolades for Dame Dench. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Coogan to talk about his work on the film. Here’s what he shared about adapting a work of non-fiction, working with Oscar-nominated director Stephen Frears (The Queen), and crafting Philomena.

Jackson Truax: Philomena starts off with a question, about what happened to Philomena’s son, Anthony aka Michael. That question is answered halfway through the film. But a larger question comes into play, about what his relationship with his identity and her memory had been all those years. How did that come to be the central question of the film?

Continue reading…

Sign In


Reset Your Password

Email Newsletter