Phil Lord & Chris Miller Interview: The LEGO Movie 2

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part literally builds on the first film, exploring how a bright and positive hero like Emmet deals with a world in which everything is not actually awesome. Screenwriters Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who also directed the first LEGO Movie, shared how our hero’s choices act as a critique on toxic masculinity as well as how they themselves expanded on the legacy of the franchise’s previous films.

Screen Rant: I just wanna know what draws you guys back to animation again and again, because you keep pushing boundaries in it – both visually and in terms of story.

Chris Miller: Well, that’s a big part of it. We feel like animation is a medium and not a genre, and there’s so many different ways to tell a story. This past year and a half, we spent working a lot on these two animated movies that couldn’t look more different but also have a lot in common in terms of a lot of the same themes like collaboration and inclusion and all sorts of stuff like that. And also try to put out a positive message and be funny and full of heart.

Phil Lord: And they’re both really ambitious, that’s another thing that we’re proud of. Both of these movies are going for it and not playing it safe.

Screen Rant: One of the themes that I noticed at least was in this last movie especially, but also in the original LEGO Movie and LEGO Batman, was sort of a critique on toxic masculinity.

Phil Lord: A little bit.

Screen Rant: We’ve got Emmet who thinks he’s got to toughen up to save the day, but it’s his soft side that wins. And of course Batman is a parody of a lone wolf, but really he just needs love.

Chris Miller: Then he found love!

Phil Lord: He’s psychologically a disaster.

Screen Rant: So was that a conscious choice that you guys made, and how did you approach that subject?

Chris Miller: From the very beginning, we were thinking about [how] we made this song in the first one called “Everything is Awesome,� and it’s not really true. You know, everything in the world isn’t actually awesome. There’s a point when you grow up and you start to realize that, and you can make a choice in your life. Once I realize that, am I gonna get cynical and angry and harden my heart, or are you gonna make a choice to be positive and empathetic and kind? And we think that’s actually a more mature thing to do, and so…

Phil Lord: When you’re a middle schooler, you perform this idea of what a grown-up is supposed to act like. You’re supposed to be above it all, and you’re basically just protecting yourself from vulnerability. And when you grow out of that, ideally, at least we’ve figured out that it’s more brave and more mature to be kind.

Screen Rant: Speaking of “Everything is Awesome,� one thing I found fascinating was how the Systar System really was just like a musical. It really did feel like music was the universal language.

Chris Miller: They love pop music there.

Screen Rant: What was the inspiration behind that?

Chris Miller: A lot of it was watching my kids and other families really just dance around to “Everything Is Awesome� and have them be so happy and full of joy, and thinking, “Well, if we’re gonna do another movie, we should build on that idea. What if the sister is really into pop music that a kid who’s 13 who wants to be cool would find super gross?�

Phil Lord: He thinks it’s really annoying.

Chris Miller: So the idea that that would be a really aggravating thing to him seemed like it was a funny place to start. Then we got to work with a lot of really cool and talented musicians and have all these funny songs.

Phil Lord: And we fell for the songs, you now, and just the act of trying to make them really good and appealing and say something. It’s a delightful challenge.

Screen Rant: I noticed the Flash was just not really there with the Justice League.

Chris Miller: He is… Oh, he wasn’t in the Systar System. He was moving so fast, he was moving so fast.

Phil Lord: He’s really busy.

Chris Miller: There’s a lot to do before the big ceremony. You probably didn’t notice him zipping in the background.

Phil Lord: A lot of errands that he runs. That was not by design. He winds up in the spaceship, though, right? He doesn’t quite make the trip.

More: Read Screen Rant’s The LEGO Movie 2 Review



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2019-02-06 01:02:14

Tom Jackson Interview: Cold Pursuit

Canadian First Nation actor Tom Jackson stars alongside Liam Neeson in Cold Pursuit, a subversive and entertaining crime drama about spirals of revenge and the relationships between fathers and their sons. Directed by Hans Petter Moland, Cold Pursuit takes great pleasure in upending audience expectations regarding the tried-and-true trappings of a Liam Neeson action film.

Set in the frigid outlands of the Rocky Mountains region of the United States, Cold Pursuit isn’t shy about wearing its Fargo influence on its sleeve, but also goes to great lengths to add layers of surreal humor and somber characterization to its quirky black comedy formula.

Related: Cold Pursuit Trailer

While promoting the release of Cold Pursuit, Tom Jackson spoke to us about being drawn to the script (written by Frank Baldwin) and shares his own feelings on the film’s central theme, that meeting violence with more reactionary violence is a road to ruin for those on all sides.

In some ways, your very presence in this movie is a spoiler, but it’s so winding, the path that it takes before you are introduced to the story. That script, I feel, is just something that should be treasured. Is that what drew you to the project?

Yes, but it wasn’t my interpretation of the script; it was my wife’s interpretation of the script. It was my wife’s reaction to the script. Her name is Alison, and when you meet her, and you will someday, you’ll be so happy that you met her. But, when she read the script, she belly-laughed. And it’s not that I don’t hear Alison belly-laugh, but when I do, it’s one of the experiences of life that one will take away forever. Unlike a lot of other things, this project is one of those moments that you’ll have stuff that you’ll take away forever, and you’ll experience stuff for the first time, and you’ll go, “Was I actually supposed to laugh at that?” But be brave, and allow yourself to do that! Be “brave,” get it? If you allow yourself to do that, then you’ll realize that there are other things in life that you may not understand until you see them right there in front of you.

This is a remake of the foreign original. I feel like one of the biggest differences is the change in your character from the Serbian/Albanian gang to Native Americans. I imagine that other people were able to look at their analogues from the other version of the film; did you have or not have that luxury?

I did not go looking. I wanted to feel like this was instinctive, that I didn’t want to know the end, I didn’t want to know how it was going. To some degree, I didn’t read whole parts of the script. I got to see the whole story, in real time, as you did when you watched the film for the first time. And I’m glad that I did, because, in the film, there are three films. There are three stories. Other than the secret that you (the viewer) get to know, I don’t actually know that, as a character. And it was great to just be in my world, to be in the world with my “bros.” And I knew most of them. It was great, because over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of different people. It was great to hang out and watch them do their craft and enjoy their humor and how they lifted the dialogue, just simple print, off the page and brought it to life.

You were talking about the three stories, and they’re all stories about fathers and their sons. How do you feel like that permeates the whole movie, each father having a different dynamic with their son? How do you feel that yours is similar or different to the stories of Liam Neeson’s character, or Tom’s character? The other Tom.

I won’t compare the three stories in that fashion, but the overall tone of this film within the context of the arc that I have to follow is based in sorrow and in loss. I, just in general, can’t imagine what that would be like, but I do know this: I do know that we have to figure out how to prevent those kinds of things versus then reacting to those kinds of things. We don’t have to react. We know that we’ll get healthy and we don’t need drugs to do so.

More: J.K. Simmons Interview for The Front Runner



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2019-02-06 01:02:01

Tracy Morgan Interview: What Men Want

Tracy Morgan is a comedian and actor who is best known for his time on Saturday Night Live and his role on 30 Rock. He is a multiple Emmy-nominated actor for his role on 30 Rock. He has been in many films like First Sunday, Death at a Funeral, Fist Fight and The Clapper. In What Men Want, he plays Joe “Dolla� Barry. The father of a rookie prospect for the NBA.

Screen Rant: Congratulations. It was hilarious. Yeah, there was one point where I was dying of laughter is when you’re talking about that shake and I couldn’t catch my breath, but uh, that shake, I was kind of intrigued to try it out. I’ll try to write down the ingredients. Um, tell me about working with Adam Shankman. Did he give you a lot of freedom as far as creating your character?

Tracy Morgan: Well, we did what was on paper. Yeah. And because the writing is so great. Yeah, you don’t really have to go there like that. You just add your little two cents. But we did what was on the paper first and then he gave us the freedom and in love and warmth. So have fun and be creative.

Screen Rant: I kind of a got, reminded me a little bit of someone I see a lot on ESPN. Do you think that they drew a little inspiration from that certain person?

Tracy Morgan: Yeah.

Screen Rant: Um, as far as like, uh, your, your jokes and everything, was it more so scripted or were you able to just kind of like free? It was free form for you.

Tracy Morgan: Well, for me, this is what I do. Yeah. So it was a lot of free.

Screen Rant: And tell me about the dynamic that you had a with Taraji was it fun working with her was was able to keep up with. Keep up with you?

Tracy Morgan:What? Yeah, she has a natural sense of humor. Yeah, she was super fun. It was more like a Lucille Ball. Uh, I like, uh, like uh, um, Carol Burnett, like a, like a mom’s maybe is free as bubbly, so yeah. And plus with friends. So we were, she was comfortable with me and trusted me with her since you’re not trusting her with minds and once you have that chemistry it lights up on the screen. So don’t think this is going to be the last time you see me and her together having fun in the sandbox.

Screen Rant: So what drew you to this one? Why did you want to be involved in this film?

Tracy Morgan: Adam Shankman. Yeah.

Screen Rant: You’re a big fan of his past work.

Tracy Morgan: Yeah.

Screen Rant: That’s awesome. Now, if you were given the power to read minds like a –

Tracy Morgan: I won’t go there. Read nobody’s mind. No one’s mind going to leave it out. Leave it all to that. Then I might mess with the destiny.

Screen Rant: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Tracy Morgan: I might change your mind just because I want to do what they think. Who wants to be a part that?

Screen Rant: I know. Yeah. You don’t want to be a, have that weight on, you know that weight on you. Um, so did you like you, you really like enjoy bringing humor to a lot of these films? Is that, is that your main goal when, when taking on a new role, like making people happy?

Tracy Morgan: I want to make them laugh. Make them cry. I don’t want to make them think, yeah, that’s the goal. I like to do characters with heart. Go, go. This guy’s a creep. He loves the sun. Yes. That, that’s probably the best thing about this one, is the best thing about it. Well, thank you. Thank you so much.

More: Watch the What Men Want Trailer



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2019-02-05 01:02:11

Catherine Hardwicke Interview: Miss Bala

Catherine Hardwicke started her film career as a production designer on films like Tombstone, Three Kings, and Vanilla Sky. She has gone on to direct movies such as Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown, and the fantasy-romance Twilight, the first film in The Twilight Saga. Her latest film is Miss Bala, an action-thriller starring Gina Rodriguez, Ismael Cruz Cordova, and Anthony Mackie.

Screen Rant: Okay. So, this is going to be super conversational. I’m just going to kind of pick and choose things.

Catherine Hardwicke: Okay. I’m ready.

Screen Rant: You’ve been a trailblazer for female directors aspiring to direct large-scale material. What advice would you give upcoming female filmmakers that want to break into the action genre of films?

Catherine Hardwicke: Well, what I try to do is just like kick ass on the preparation. Study action. I studied all other action movies. I even storyboarded and wrote down all the shots that they use, so I start to learn. “Okay. Wow. Why did, how did that work? Oh, low angle. Cool. Splash. They added water and the motorcycle went through that.” And that’s one thing that I liked to do. And then I also like to do action staff in a weird way. Like I go mountain bike riding. I just did this crazy ass trek up in the mountains in Peru. Holidays surfing. Whatever it takes. Learn to rock climb, be part of it. So, that you actually feel it. Almost like method directing. So, just be super prepared. When you go to the meeting for the studio, have tons of ideas, and “here’s what I did the other day. Here’s a picture of me hanging off that rock.”

Screen Rant: That’s awesome. Many will be shocked to find that the Twilight director is behind a groundbreaking thriller. What can audiences expect from your visual palette for this project, Miss Bala?

Catherine Hardwicke: One thing that was neat was we got to really film it in Tijuana. The real place. Tijuana, Valle de Guadalupe, even Rosarito, Playas de Tijuana. So, we had the real texture. And for me, I wanted it to not look like the dusty vision of Mexico or something. I want it to show the kick ass modern architecture that’s there. Show the cool new stuff that’s going on there mixed with the old. So, that you really get that richness of the cultural experience. And by being able to film in the real place, with the real people, all the local people were involved. And they’re all playing parts and everything. Nobody came from the US, like four of us came from the US. I went there for five months and never came back, except for one day to the US. I just lived in TJ the whole time. And there’s a vibrancy, it’s exciting. It’s the biggest, busiest border in the world. So, you got a lot of shit going on in that place.

Screen Rant: I spent a lot of time out in Tijuana and Rosarito area, especially in college. I forgot most of it, but I’ve spent a lot time there. The drama in this film, it could be happening right now. What scenes were the hardest to film and from an emotional and technical standpoint?

Catherine Hardwicke: Well, that big scene that we did in the bull ring, the big shoot out. That is literally right next to the border wall, right next to the ocean. And it’s also in a, I guess, a dangerous neighborhood because it was almost real life. We had to get shut down once as a police chase went through our set.  So, real stuff like the movie was going on. And when people heard us shooting fake guns, that was all posted. “Oh s***. More cartel.” I mean it was like real life imitating—So, that one was technically, you had a lot of logistics. We had the sniper building, another sniper on top, the cop cars blowing up, and I have to keep it safe and not scared. And also, the biggest thing was to make it believable that Gina, a woman that’s not trained, she’s not a Navy Seal, she’s not Atomic Blonde, she is not a hitman, she’s just a normal person, that she could figure out “What am I going to do to save myself? How do I duck down? Do I run?” All those things, trying to make it real.

Screen Rant: You spoke about with all that stuff, kind of life imitating art, did the two worlds ever blend? Like, did you ever think, “Oh, wow, this is a part of the movie. Or is this real life?”

Catherine Hardwicke: Actually, the second unit director was in the bull ring one day and there were three cop cars that we had, but suddenly five more came in. And he thought, “What? Did we get some extra money? Did we suddenly afford five extra cop cars?” No, they were the real cop cars telling us to shut down. So, yeah, sometimes it was bizarre. And then one day I was up in the helicopter filming, like the end, all the helicopter shots at night. And the helicopter pilot, I hear over the headphones, he goes, “Hey, do you think you got the shot? Because I think the cartel is going to start shooting at us.” I go, “Dude, I think I got the shot. Let’s move on.”

Screen Rant: Oh, my gosh, that’s intense.

Catherine Hardwicke: And then I said to the pilot, “Are you wearing a bulletproof vest?” “What good would that do? They’d just shoot us down anyway.” I’m like, “Okay, awesome.”

Screen Rant: You’ve been open in the past about your scrutiny and budget cuts from Twilight. How did your experience differ this time around?

Catherine Hardwicke: This one, we had a lot less money than Twilight and we had budget cuts on this one too. But this time I decided, I got to just try to think positive no matter what. It’s a challenge, solve the problem. Don’t worry about— “Okay. How do I make it work?” And so, we had drones and we had a helicopter and tried to make it look as big as we could even on a tighter budget.

Screen Rant: Interesting. Now, well it’s not necessarily biographical, Miss Bala is set in the backdrop of Mexico. With all the madness and news in Washington, what do you hope audiences take away from this movie?

Catherine Hardwicke: One thing we tried to show is the vibrancy and the richness of Mexico. Embrace other cultures. Love it. That’s one thing. And that’s just in the background. And then the idea of, in a way, this woman that is caught in a crazy thing, but she doesn’t get depressed, lose sight of it, or lose sight of her humanity. She only takes up a gun when she has to in a self-defense situation. So, she tries to be humane, and find a way out of this problem, and save her friend.

Screen Rant: You have a great eye for spotting young talent like Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. What was it about Gina that she was able to bring that wasn’t necessarily there on the page?

Catherine Hardwicke: Well, Gina, we know her in Jane the Virgin and she’s awesome in that. But it’s a different, very different character. So, when I met with Gina, I saw another side. The real Gina’s different from Jane. And the idea that she was going to do this transformation, she eventually has to go into a beauty pageant, has to like kick ass and dress up and glam up. But you can see Gina, when she does her carpet, red carpet and all that, she gleams up good [LAUGHS]. That girl is gorgeous. But she can go all the way from looking like a normal fun, nice person next door to like super badass gorgeous chick. So, I knew she was going to do it all. And she was so into it and cared so much about every moment. That the character would be active. Actually doing something. Not passive. And not reactive but making a plan. “Here’s how I’m going to get out of this.”

Screen Rant: Interesting. Now, Gloria [Gina Rodriguez’s character] finds herself up against the cartel and DEA. What is it about these organizations that surprised you the most in your research?

Catherine Hardwicke: Well, it’s interesting, and of course we’re even learning more, with the whole El Chapo trial. And learning even more intricate things about these organizations. But they’re a little bit more rogue in a way. A little more creative than you think. There is room for innovation or doing something out of the box. So that’s—Especially, our little organization, was a bit younger and youthful. Our cartel leader, Lino, he thinks he can do better than the old school guys. And he thinks he’s even better with technology, and this, and having this young crew. So, that was kind of interesting. Let us be a little bit free there.

Screen Rant: I found Lino’s character very intriguing. Because it’s almost like I was starting to get this weird Stockholm Syndrome with them too and started to care about them.  Talk to me about that character specifically. Because it comes from out of left field where you start actually caring for him. And you see that Gloria, the DEA just leaves her, leaves her to whatever happens.

Catherine Hardwicke: Yeah, dismisses her. And so, she’s like, “This is the only person that cares about me now.” And that’s why she has to go back for him in the bull ring. And she knows that there is that bond. I think they have that bond of shared identity. Not gringo enough to be gringo. Not Mexican—And I think that [Ismael Cruz Cordova], when you were talking about like discoveries to me, I think he’s like a great discovery.  Because he’s just got a lot of layers. He’s fun to watch. Like you said, he starts to draw you in and you’re like, “Oh my God, I like this guy.” He’s funny, he’s witty, h’s wacky. He’s got his own sense of humor. He’s focused. He had this tough childhood. So, you’re just like, “Oh, yeah” [LAUGHS].

Screen Rant: It’s such an intriguing character though. Because it’s kind of out of the norm of what you would think with cartel, but any kind of like mafioso type of thing. And the character’s just so charming and grows on you, in a bizarre symbiotic way.

Catherine Hardwicke: Yeah, he does. And of course, Ismael, he came in and we improvised different scenes. And I just really thought, “Okay, he’s got to do it.” Because he’s just fun to watch. And he keeps it alive.

Screen Rant: So, in the original version, what did you want to make different in this version? Or, what were pieces that you wanted to bring in from the original version? Maybe stuff that you wanted to leave out.

Catherine Hardwicke: The original version, I felt like Gloria’s character in the original, not named Gloria, that she was very passive. I’m like yelling at the screen, “Don’t let him do that to you! Kick him in the balls!” When I was watching it, I was like, “Oh, no.” I thought that the film is beautiful and beautifully shot and everything. But it’s kind of like the old school version Mexico. The dustier version and the passive female character. I mean it came out in 2011. So now, I think the world has come to where young girls are even wearing, little girls are wearing empowerment t-shirts.  Like, we don’t want to see a heroine anymore that’s just going to sit there and be like, “Okay, go ahead and do all this stuff.”

So, I think that was one of our big challenges. To show her like, 2019, more active, more clever.  And then I think the identity thing that the writer added was really cool. That they were both from the US. They’ve lived on both sides of the border. The US and Mexico. And that’s more interesting than somebody maybe just living only in Mexico. Because now you get the global thing. And every person, like I was talking to the dentist the other day, and she’s from Vietnam but she didn’t grow up there. And so, she speaks Vietnamese, but when she goes back to Vietnam, she doesn’t really fit in Vietnam. She doesn’t really fit in here. So, it’s not just the Latinx, it’s a huge part of the global population feels that. Searching for their identity.

Screen Rant: That’s a great point, actually. Gina goes through this transformation throughout this whole movie right before your eyes, from the beginning to the end. It’s almost like she becomes a different person. Talk to me about the journey of Gloria.

Catherine Hardwicke: That’s so interesting. Because as a director and an actor, you just want to get inside that character. She’s the main character and so I just want to feel like I’m in her head all the time. So that’s how you compose the shots. How do you stay in her perspective? And actually the camera moves changed for each act. The first act, it’s more her normal life. It’s more like studio mode. The cameras mounted, either on a steady-cam or on a dolly. But the middle act, where all hell breaks loose and keeps getting rushed, we’re off mount, we’re handheld. We’re just in there with her.  And then, by the last act, she has a plan. “I’m going to go in, I’m going to do this, and I’m going to get my friend.” So, it goes back to a little bit more steady. So, we were trying in every way we could, with the camera, with compact composition, and everything, to feel what it feels like to go through this crazy thing. She has nobody she can confide with either. Because she’s undercover. Like double spy, double infiltration. So, that was fascinating. That’s what’s great about Gina. I mean, her face and her being, can convey so much.

Screen Rant: Absolutely. And last question, you leave this kind of open ended with what could happen in the future. I don’t want to give too much away, but Anthony Mackie plays a prominent role in that. Have you already been thinking about a possible followup to this?

Catherine Hardwicke: Yeah, there’s some cool stuff we have in the back.  Because one thing that’s interesting about a Latina heroine like this, she can actually fit into many different countries. If she needed to go to the Middle East, to France, to Russia, to even– Gina goes to Thailand, people think she’s Thai.

Screen Rant: Really?

Catherine Hardwicke: Yeah. Well, she kind of has eyes… And so, I think it’s kind of a neat international character that could blend in and go and do all kinds of intriguing things.

Screen Rant: That’s awesome. I would love to see that. It’d be great.

Catherine Hardwicke: Right? A female Jason Bourne.

Screen Rant: Well, thank you so much for your time. Congratulations the film.

Catherine Hardwicke: Thank you, so much.  Appreciate it.

More: Read Screen Rant’s Miss Bala Review



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2019-01-31 01:01:01

Aquaman: Our Interview with Director James Wan

Warning: SPOILERS for Aquaman

When James Wan was offered the choice of bringing Aquaman or The Flash to the big screen, he chose the aquatic hero as the greater challenge. And boy, has that ambition paid off, as Aquaman is now on pace for a $1 billion box office haul. With Jason Momoa and mindblowing underwater spectacle to satisfy fans, the DCEU had its biggest crowd-pleaser yet.

Screen Rant had the chance to interview Aquaman director James Wan ahead of the film’s release, to learn about the inspirations, influences, and pressure in even making the movie a reality. Now that audiences around the world have gotten to see the movie for themselves, it’s time to ask the director about some of the most memorable visuals and character moments. And yes, that Pitbull-laden Aquaman soundtrack.

RELATED: How Aquaman Impacts Chances of Justice League’s Snyder Cut

One sequence that is going to stand out most for audiences is Arthur and Mera’s introduction to the Trench. A lot of people will look at that and say ‘James Wan does horror, so there’s his horror.’ But what was the real motivation and thinking behind giving the Trench that particular treatment?

I really wanted the hero to see the different kingdoms that eventually he’ll be king of, right? So he needs to see his subjects, and he needs to see that there are all kind of races of people down there. And one of the races are the Trench people. Going into it I knew that I wanted Atlantis to be very vibrant, to be very sort of magical and wondrous, and all that. But I also wanted to portray, or rather to capture the tone and feel of the ocean to me. The ocean is big and magical and all of that, but also we’re terrified of the ocean as well. I felt that moment allows me to lean back into my horror roots to do something like that. But ultimately it allows me to really showcase one of my signature shot designs of the film which is a cross-section of the ocean. And you get to see what’s above the surface and what’s below the surface.

That was one of the first images I came up with during pre-production, which is Arthur and Mera swimming down, with a cross-section of the ocean, it’s a big wide shot, and we just see them swarmed, surrounded by the Trench creatures. And the only thing that’s holding them back is this flare, the bubble, within the safety of the flare light. So I just thought from a visual standpoint it was something that was very captivating.

You’ve talked a lot about Romancing the Stone and Raiders of the Lost Ark, for the adventure side of things. But what were you inspired by in some of the more fantastical aspects of the film?

I would say that my biggest influence, more than anything, more than any films per se, is actually just the comic books. I have seventy years worth of source material to be pulling from, so I pulled a lot of that over-the-top nature, the very stylized world, the creatures, and all of this from the comic book. But obviously doing it through my own sensibility and designing looks that I wanted to design that we haven’t quite seen before, and get it out there. Then I have to pick, obviously, you know the big names aside like your Star Wars, your Lord of the Rings, your Romancing the Stone out of the way. The other sort of influence on me was classic Ray Harryhausen. There were shades of Journey to the Center of the Earth… Jason and the Argonauts, that kind of stuff that I loved growing up as a kid. This movie really lends itself to a lot of that aesthetic.

Going from big scale to a scene the size of a wine cellar. The moment that ends the chase sequence in the middle of the film with Mera unleashing her power. It’s an unforgettable moment, so where did that idea come from?

Yeah that was just something I cooked up, I felt like it’s a chase sequence through the rooftops of Italy but I knew I wanted to get to a point where we got to showcase Mera’s powers. To have her back be literally up against a wall, but it just so happens that the wall she is up against is bottles and bottles of liquid that she can harness and use to her advantage. I thought that’s the kind of stuff that would make for an iconic image, and be a really nice way to finish her part of the action scene in that world.

RELATED: All of The Songs Used in The Aquaman Soundtrack

I also have to ask: the score for the film is breathtaking and helps shape the different worlds along Arthur’s journey, but you also use licensed music with lyrics, which we never see in these superhero movies anymore. Were you aware of that, or were you picking those songs because you would pick them for any other movie?

Ummm… Listen [Laughs] maybe it’s my time on Fast & Furious 7 that made me not afraid to put like a hip hop song in there, or a beautiful Skylar Grey track in there, or Depeche Mode. That’s just my sensibility I guess. One of my favorite uses of existing music is the Roy Orbison track for when they’re having that sweet, nice, romantic moment through the Italian market and she’s sort of getting used to the surface world. I loved that piece of music and–can I tell you, a big part of my inspiration, or my influence, was old school Jerry Bruckheimer.

I really wanted songs in there, and then we wrote songs specifically for the film. Pitbull wrote his track for the film, and Skylar Grey wrote the ending, and the love song theme that we use throughout the movie. Skylar wrote that beautiful song, and then we use that and pepper it throughout the whole film as like the love theme for Mera and Arthur throughout the film. Kind of like what [James] Cameron did with Titanic, right? You know you have Celine Dion singing the song, but then you hear that theme played throughout the whole film.

Well thank you for comparing Aquaman to Titanic for more than just James Cameron.

[Laughs]

That is the most meta-Entourage/Aquaman joke we’re ever going to see.

The other thing I want to talk about in terms of music is Rupert did such a beautiful score. I worked very closely with him and one of the things I really wanted to capture, I told him early on, I really want it to feel romantic, very classical, but then when we go to Atlantis I want it to feel modern and electronica. But modern not of today’s world, but what we felt modern was in the ‘80s. And so lots of my inspiration for music, I even temp-d sequences with Jean Michel Jarre in there, and Giorgio Moroder. That was my inspiration for the sound and tone of Atlantis.

When Patty Jenkins was talking about Wonder Woman, she spoke pointedly about people criticizing sincerity as “cheesy,” or something these blockbuster movies were “too cool” for. Your movie seems to embrace that wholeheartedly, with an opening that plays closer to how Arthur’s father might tell him the story. Was that a choice for this story, or would that have been there regardless, with you directing?

That would have been in there no matter what, just because that’s who I am. I tell people, go all the way back and look at my horror film. Go look at The Conjuring, right? I’m not afraid to go romantic and sentimental with my characters, Ed and Lorraine have such a sentimental relationship. Especially for a movie like this, that is a classic story about a sailor who falls in love with a mermaid, everything about it has such a romantic, nautical theme to it, I felt like it was the right thing or us to do. And of course, Steven Spielberg is one of my idols, and he’s one guy who is not afraid to be sentimental in his films. So I thought you know what, there’s nothing wrong with that. And I don’t care if people think it’s cheesy or too sentimental. It is who I am, and that’s the only way I know how to make my films: be true to myself.

You’ve now gotten the chance to see the movie with different crowds, is there a part of the film that you’re pleased to see getting the reactions it does? Or any moments that remain the best for you?

Ummmm [Laughs], you know I’m always generally very anxious about watching my movies with a crowd, so I actually haven’t done it that much. But yeah, there are scenes – when I’m brave enough to watch and sit in there with a crowd – there are scenes that I love seeing peoples’ reactions. Especially to some of the action scenes, and of course Jason coming out the waterfall in the suit. That is a great moment to watch with an audience. And some of the more fun, light-hearted sequences. But the scenes I really love, and I love to watch with an audience, even though it’s a quieter, more muted moment, is watching the emotional stuff between mum and dad. I love the love story, the movie is more a love story of mum and dad than Arthur and Mera for me, that’s how I feel.

Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more interviews, news, and coverage of Aquaman and its cast.

MORE: Aquaman’s Success Proves Snyder’s DCEU Isn’t Dead Yet



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2019-01-02 07:01:17

Amy Adams Interview: Vice

Amy Adams has been nominated five times for an Academy Award and shines equally in comedies and dramas.  Her most recent role is portraying Lynne Cheney in Vice, a biopic about Vice President Dick Cheney’s time in the White House.

Screen Rant: I want to congratulate you on your three Golden Globe nominations.

Amy Adams: Thank you.

Screen Rant: So, I want to talk about– The film has a very particular tone.

Amy Adams: Yes.

Screen Rant: And finding that balance for the tone, I’m sure it was something that you guys had to consider and worry about. Was there any particular scene that you were either most excited to approach or nervous about in terms of balancing the tone?

Amy Adams: I think that the scenes that I get nervous about are also the scenes that I’m the most excited about. Because as an actress I feel those are the times when I grow and those are the challenges I get to take. I mean there was a lot of different scenes, but I bet I think the Shakespeare scene was the one– that especially having never done Shakespeare. I was like, “I want it to sound like we’re doing Shakespeare.” But I appreciated, what we were communicating in that moment. So, I just tended to focus on what we were communicating about them as a couple. And their hopes and what we were trying to tell inside the story with that scene.

Screen Rant: When the Shakespeare scene happened, we laughed.  I got exactly what you guys were going for.

Amy Adams: Yeah, I mean Adam has so many interesting techniques that take you out of traditional filmmaking. And he like blows the rules out of the water and asks the audience to follow with him.

Screen Rant: I’m sure he did plenty of research and one of the reasons I brought these [books].

Amy Adams: I know, I love it.

Screen Rant: Did you read these as research?

Amy Adams: I don’t know that I read that one.

Screen Rant: The Washington book.

Amy Adams: Yeah, I did that one. And I did A for Abigail. I thought that was A for Abigail, but it’s not. But she wrote many. Education and history is one of her passions. And she was on the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Screen Rant: What did you get out of reading these books?

Amy Adams: I think one of the things that it told me, is just that Lynne’s relationship with America, whether you agree with her point of view and her way of seeing it, she has a deep relationship with patriotism and with America. And you understand that she really believes in what she’s doing and what she’s saying.

Screen Rant: Was there anything in the research that really stuck out to you? Was there anything she said?

Amy Adams: What was interesting is, it would’ve been easy to look at what was available as far as current, more current. And to place judgment on how I was going to play this character. But what was important to me, was to go back and look at the earliest information I could find about her. She wrote another book about growing up, a memoir, it wasn’t an autobiography. She called it a memoir about childhood and family about growing up in Wyoming. And that’s what, when I really started to understand like the nature of her ambition and focus. And that really helped me.  Because she set out to be like a state champion, baton twirler. And she did it. And she set out to become, I think it was called Best Girl, it was equivalent to homecoming queen. And she did it. If she had her eye on something, she was going to figure out how to accomplish it. So, it helped me understand her.

Screen Rant: That’s great.

More: Christian Bale Interview for Vice



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2018-12-21 01:12:54

Christian Bale Interview: Vice

Christian Bale is one of the greatest actors of his generation, having been nominated for multiple Academy Awards. He submerges himself into a character and will often change his body to better play the part.  In 2004’s The Machinist, he lost 63 pounds to play the emaciated title character.  He gained 43 pounds to play a con artist in 2013’s American Hustle.  Now, he is playing Dick Cheney in Vice, which chronicles Vice President Cheney’s time in the White House.

Screen Rant: First, I want to congratulate you on the Golden Globe nomination.

Christian Bale: Oh, thanks.

Screen Rant: Well deserved, for sure. So, the first question I want to ask you is, how did Adam McKay approach you for the role of Dick Cheney? And what was your initial reaction when you first heard about it?

Christian Bale: My agent first contacted me saying that Adam had been working on the script about Cheney. And that he said he wanted to reach out to me about it. And so, initially I wondered what character he might be wanting to talk with me about, not assuming, I wouldn’t be Cheney. And then, Adam and I just met up. He came over to my house and we sat. And he said, “It’s Cheney.” And I tried to get my head around that one. And we spent many hours talking and talking. And I had a great experience with Adam. He’s a really interesting filmmaker. And the challenge seemed to be too great to meet. But I thought, “Yeah, let’s give it a shot.” It’s always an appeal to, if you’re going to fail, fail in a big way.

Screen Rant: Who did you assume you were thinking you were going to read for?

Christian Bale: I didn’t even, I didn’t even, start to guess. Just a supporting character.

Screen Rant: Sure. Rumsfeld or something.

Christian Bale: Nah, that wouldn’t seem right either.

Screen Rant: Fair enough. The transformation. Obviously, the physical transformation is why I think people were very impressed by, obviously.

Christian Bale: I have to say, with the work of Adam, obviously. But then Greg Cannon and Chris Gallaher as well, they were extraordinary.

Screen Rant: But I actually want to talk to you about your voice as Cheney. It’s very impressive. It’s very close. How did you prepare for getting Cheney’s delivery correct?

Christian Bale: I just– There’s a number of people who do wonderful impersonations of Cheney. And Adam and I spoke and said, “Well, yeah. But that’s not going to– It’s going to be a superficial representation. Extremely talented, the people that do it, but it’s superficial over a two-hour span. So, let’s go for the essence.” So, really it was just obsessing. There’s a load of interviews with Mr. Cheney and I got every single one of them on my phone. It’s just jampacked full of videos of Chaney. And I’m just sitting there watching for hours and hours and hours. And imitating it and then walking around myself and trying to get the body position and all that.  I don’t really know beyond that, just, it’s time.

Screen Rant: Right. Well thank you very much.

More: Read Screen Rant’s Vice Review



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2018-12-21 01:12:08

Willem Dafoe Interview: Aquaman

Willem Dafoe as Vulko in Aquaman

Willem Dafoe is no stranger to superhero movies, having played Norman Osborn in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and even once being considered to play the Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman. Now, in Aquaman, Dafoe is distancing himself from comic book villains and, instead, aiding the rise of DC’s next live-action hero.

In Aquaman, Dafoe plays Arthur Curry’s (Jason Momoa) protector and guardian – while also doubling as a good-intentioned traitor to King Orm (Patrick Wilson), despite the dangers. During a junket interview for Aquaman, Dafoe spoke about his reentry into the world of superheroes after a sixteen-year hiatus, how director James Wan played a major role in convincing him to star in the film, and why he enjoys dipping back and forth between big-budget blockbusters and small-scale films.

Related: Patrick Wilson Interview: Aquaman

So, you’re back in the superhero genre after playing Norman Osborn in Spider-Man. What’s it like being back?

You know, it’s different. I’m different, the world is different, the directors are different. Different character…

Speaking of directors, what was it like working with James?

Great. James, I loved. He was very enthusiastic. He was a huge draw for me coming to this project. His movies are very precise. You can really see a very sure director’s hand, so it was very curious to think that- certainly he worked on a big scale, but nothing this big, plus a fantasy film. So, he was great. He’s incredible, he’s got an incredible energy, he’s got an incredible film culture; he’s like a little kid, as far as his enthusiasm, and he’s rigorous enough that he can delegate well and get the overview. But he’s always there. With a film this big, where you have so much effects to set up and you have to do so much planning – you really need a general. And, sometimes, people have to delegate too much and they lose touch with the actors, but he’s right there with you. He’s very- he doesn’t miss anything.

So, you play Vulko, who’s sort of like this guardian character to Arthur.

Right.

And you played a similar type of character last year in The Florida Project with Mooney.

[Laughs] I guess I’m getting a little older or something. I’m getting those guardian roles.

Aquaman Vulko Solo HD Header

Well, is there something about that type of role that you’re drawn to – like that sort of protector?

That’s a nice way to way to think of it. You know, I never made a connection to those two things, because they’re colored by so many different- you know, they’re very different kinds of movies. I think it’s a product of- maybe a product of age, I guess, that you get to the point where you’re playing authority and fathers and that sort of thing. So, in that world are also guardians.

Do you notice a difference jumping back and forth between these big-scale- these big action movies and kind of a smaller scale. Is there a different approach you take?

Very. I mean, you know, the way of making a movie always is colored by, of course, its economics and its also intentions and what kind of movie you’re trying to make. Certainly, a movie like this, there has to be such incredible planning. The pace is very different, the coverage is different, the resources are different. With a smaller film, it’s a little lighter, it’s a little looser, there’s less delegation, there’s less sampling to create things that are developed further in post-production. So, they’re very different. But I like going between worlds because it always brings you back to each time you’re doing something. You don’t fall into patterns, and you kind of have- it becomes first time, every time, because there’s no normal. And it’s partly out of- it just happens naturally, as well. I’ve always kind of cultivated- tried to cultivate that. But, yeah, it works out sometimes to go from a big movie to a small movie. It’s kind of not the best career advice all the time, but for me, it suits me very well.

More: Aquaman’s ’80s Tone Inspired by Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg, & George Lucas



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2018-12-18 02:12:41

Eli Roth & Owen Vaccaro Interview: The House With A Clock In Its Walls

Eli Roth is best known for the horror films he directs.  But his most recent project, The House with a Clock in Its Walls targets a different audience. The movie is based on the young adult novel of the same name and stars Owen Vaccaro, Jack Black, and Cate Blanchett.  The House with a Clock in the Walls’ young star, Owen Vaccaro, has appeared in films such as Daddy’s Home, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, and Mother’s Day, starring Jennifer Aniston and Kate Hudson.

Screen Rant: First of all, guys, congratulations on the film. It’s a lot of fun and it is a little scary. I’m a huge fan of yours from the past, but now my nieces and nephews can be too. And to me this seems like such a natural transition as a director, as a new challenge.  What was it about the source material that really got you on board for this?

Eli Roth: I mean, Eric Kripke’s script for sure. I actually, I love Edward Gorey and collect Edward Gorey’s artwork. And I had the cover of another Bellairs book, Johnny Dixon in The Hand of the Necromancer. So, I was unfamiliar with the series, but then it turns out everybody I knew, they’re like, “Oh, that’s a book that got me into scary movies.” That was like the gateway book for a lot of people. That was what made them fall in love with horror. So, I wanted to do a family movie. I wanted to do a fantasy. I wanted to do something that was much more at the Terry Gilliam end of the spectrum, like an early Tim Burton film. And really try and bring back that Amblin brand. It was the opportunity to show how great a PG movie could be.  I remember as a kid, when you saw E.T., Raiders, Poltergeist, Gremlins, Goonies, Back to the Future, these were events. But you went with your parents. The movies were fun for the older brothers, the younger sisters, the parents, everybody in the movie got something out of it. And that’s the kind of family experience I wanted to have. I wanted a movie that if you have– If you’re eight years old, if there’s a 17-year-old, if there’s a 14-year-old, have parents, or grandparents, everyone’s going to get something from the movie.

Screen Rant: One thing I love about a Blu-ray, DVD, digital releases, they have this behind the scenes stuff and it’s almost like going to film school. And I noticed that a lot of the stuff on this was practical. Practical sets, practical effects.  How did that help your performance, Owen?

Owen Vaccaro: Well, the set itself was just so amazing. There were so much like– In this area here, there’s so much detail put into every single square inch of the set. And I feel like if there’s not a very good set, it’s hard to act around it. Because it’s not much you can work with. That also brings me to like CGI. I feel like that part is always really hard. Because Eli was like, “Owen! Alright, now there’s a big giant griffin made of leaves attacking you! Scream!” And so, then I’m like, well you shout, “Where is it, where is it!?” Because I don’t actually see it.

Eli Roth: Right.

Screen Rant: Well, I also hear that you’re a ball of energy, and you’re a great dancer, and you pulled a prank on Jack Black. Has he ever gotten you back from that prank?

Owen Vaccaro: Not yet. But I know he’s going to get me back so hard. And now, like every time I walk into a trailer, I’m like, “Hah!”

Eli Roth: Well, you were like, “We have to prank Jack.” And he used to prank them as they’re leaving. If you prank them on day one, you’re toast. But if it’s after their last shot, that’s a good time. Jack wasn’t expecting it. I think Jack thought that we would have pulled a prank earlier in the shoot. And by the end it’s like, “Well, they’re certainly not going to do it now. It’s the end” Got his goat.

Screen Rant: Speaking of Jack, you had Cate [Blanchett], you had Kyle [MacLachlan], you had Owen, you assembled a great, great cast. And Cate and Jack mainly, those roles don’t fit, but this works so perfectly. Why were they the right choices for this?

Eli Roth: You know, I think that Jack Black is our generation’s Robin Williams. I really think he’s like, when Robin Williams just started doing Dead Poets Society and Awakenings. He’s like an Oscar nominated, Oscar winning actor. Good Will Hunting. But he’s also doing Mrs. Doubtfire, which is just as brilliant. That’s Jack. He’s doing Bernie, he’s doing Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, but he’s also doing Jumanji. He’s brilliant in all of them. Cate really respects Jack as an actor. And obviously Jack respects Cate as an actor, but he thought she’s really, really funny. So, this playful side of her is starting to come out at this point in her career. She’s kind of done it all. So, she’s having fun. So, what we saw was, Jack brought out the best comedy in Cate and Kate brought out the best drama in Jack. And what I loved about Owen was, Owen is so strong at both of them. I’d seen him in Daddy’s Home. And a lot of it is just kind of reacting and doing jokes. But this, he has to really carry the movie, and be sad. And we see the whole movie through Lewis’ eyes. And I remember shooting that first thing with the backpack, where he comes in, and he’s like, off the bus and looking.  We had a whole opening that’s on the DVD, where it’s the house a year earlier. Where Isaac does the spell, which we use in the flashback. But I was like, “No. We should see– This whole thing is Lewis training. We’ve got to start it with Owen.”

More: Read Screen Rant’s The House With A Clock In Its Walls Review

The House With a Clock In its Walls is available on Blu-ray December 18, 2018.



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2018-12-17 03:12:08

Hugo Weaving & Stephen Lang Interview: Mortal Engines

Hugo Weaving has dozens of memorable roles from Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy to Elrond in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. His dignified appearance and strong voice have made him a favorite go-to actor in Hollywood. His most recent role is Thaddeus Valentine in Mortal Engines, a fantasy adventure where mobile cities compete for the world’s remaining resources.

Stephen Lang is best known for his many military roles in Hollywood films. He played Colonel Quaritch in the Avatar franchise, General “Stonewall” Jackson in Gods and Generals, and Colonel Biggs in Hostiles.  In Mortal Engines, he plays Shrike, the last of an undead battalion of soldiers.

Screen Rant: Hello, gentlemen. This is a very big film. What were your first impressions walking onto these sets?

Stephen Lang: They’re big.

Screen Rant: Were you familiar with these stories at all? With the Mortal Engine stories or series?

Hugo Weaving: Not prior to reading the script. But obviously by the time we were on set we were familiar with them. But, no, the first– I’d heard of them.  I’d heard they were actually very popular books. But I hadn’t read them. So, my first introduction was reading the script. And it was absolutely wonderful. So, I enjoyed that read enormously. And then went back and started.

Screen Rant: This is another big franchise film for you. You’ve done these big franchise films and you’ve worked with Jackson and his team. What’s it like being isolated over here in Wellington or wherever you are in New Zealand to work on these films? In such a condensed, closed off area from the rest of society?  Is that a positive? Or is it…

Hugo Weaving: I mean, Wellington, one of the great things about being in New Zealand, it is kind of that.  You are on an island, or two islands, in a part of the world that seems very distant from everywhere else. Of course, when you’re there, it’s the center of the universe. And there’s a certain– There’s some sense of… There’s a very unique cultures there. And they’re very creative people, very welcoming, very can do, very experimental as well. So, it’s always a great pleasure to be there.

Screen Rant: That’s awesome. What was it like seeing your completed character on the screen? Were you involved with the process of developing Shrike?

Stephen Lang: Yes. The process of developing Shrike was very collaborative. Of course, when I first got to the set, I was beginning my work. And part of the beginnings of my work, has to do with looking at the work that’s already been done. The character renderings by people who have been thinking about this and sketching this, and sculpting this, well before I came on the scene. And then, the task I think for all of us involved in the creation of this role, is one of dialogue and collaboration. We all know we’re working towards the same objective. Which is to make the most complete, alluring, frightening, terrifying, deeply felt character that we possibly can. And the folks at Weta, they’re old hands at this. So, I have tremendous– I didn’t come into this with any wariness or any trepidation at all. Because I know that their brief has always been to take the work that the actor does and to articulate it as honestly and authentically as they can.

Screen Rant: So, with a big epic story like this, there’s a lot of comparisons to, even though they started making this 10 years ago, people want to compare the dynamic of this film to what’s happening in the world today. Do you address that at all? What’s your takeaway on that?

Hugo Weaving: Well, of course, Philip Reeve, wrote the books in response to the world in which he was living. And he wrote them for young adults to somehow express what their fears or what their hopes might be within this landscape. So, I think any science-fiction or fantasy world, or any post-apocalyptic world, that’s created by writers, necessarily reflects the world in which we live and the worries that we have about the world in which we live. It has to.

More: Hera Hilmar & Jihae Interview for Mortal Engines



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2018-12-11 01:12:08