Reese Witherspoon, Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Corey Stoll, Kuoth Wiel, Sarah Paker, Writer Margaret Nagle, and Producers Talk THE GOOD LIE

by     Posted 23 hours ago

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The Good Lie is an inspiring film about love, survival and triumph over adversity and a powerful reminder of what’s really important in life.  Philippe Falardeau directs the moving story of “The Lost Boys” who were uprooted by the brutal Sudanese Civil War that lasted from 1983 to 2005.  Young orphans of war, both boys and girls, trekked thousands of miles on foot through hostile, treacherous terrain to escape the violence and find safety.  Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3600 of them from Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp to America.  The entertaining drama stars Reese Witherspoon, Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal, Corey Stoll, Kuoth Wiel, and Sarah Baker.

At a recent press conference in Nashville, Witherspoon, Oceng, Duany, Wiel, Stoll, Baker, screenwriter Margaret Nagle, producers Molly Smith, Thad Luckinbill and Trent Luckinbill, and UNICEF’s Kent Page talked about the importance of telling the story with integrity, Nagle’s exhaustive research, the lengthy development process, the struggle for financing, finding the right cast for the film’s central roles, how the part of Carrie was written with Witherspoon in mind, why they chose not to play up the white girl coming to the rescue angle, how the African actors found making the film a difficult but rewarding experience, and their hope that it will raise awareness and create change.  The film opens limited October 3rd and goes wide October 24th.  Check out the interview after the jump:

Laika’s CEO and Lead Animator Travis Knight Talks THE BOXTROLLS, Making Enduring Pictures, the Funny End Credits, and More

by     Posted 6 days ago

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Travis Knight, The Boxtrolls producer and lead animator who worked on LAIKA’s first two groundbreaking movies, ParaNorman and Coraline, loves the 100-year-old art form and is always looking for bold and innovative ways to take it to places it’s never been before.  While ParaNorman and Coraline were contemporary American stories told with shadings of supernatural elements, The Boxtrolls is a period piece mashup of detective story, absurdist comedy, and steampunk adventure with a dark Dickensian twist.  Opening September 26th, the beautiful stop-motion 3D animated film features an extraordinary cast that includes Sir Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, and Elle Fanning.

At our roundtable interview, Knight discussed how animating in stop-motion is less about patience than the ability to focus your imagination intensely for long periods of time, why it’s crucial to find the right voiceover actors who can bring believability to the characters and emotional authenticity to the performance, why he wants to make thought provoking, emotionally resonant, and enduring films rather than pop-culture confections, his childhood inspirations for dynamic storytelling, how the film’s 3D elements were designed from the beginning to bring the best aspects of technology into this hand-crafted world, the funny bit in the end credits, and his next awesome project.  Check out the interview after the jump and please note there are some spoilers.

Isaac Hempstead Wright Talks THE BOXTROLLS, Finding the Voice, Live Action vs. Animation, GAME OF THRONES, and More

by     Posted One week ago

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Isaac Hempstead Wright, best known for playing Bran Stark on HBO’s Game of Thrones, lends his impressive vocal talents to The Boxtrolls, LAIKA’s stunning 3D stop-motion animated adventure directed by Anthony Stacchi.  Wright voices the character Eggs, an orphaned human boy affectionately raised by a community of quirky, mischievous, fantastical creatures who live beneath the cobblestoned streets of Cheesebridge.  When the villainous Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) threatens to exterminate all the Boxtrolls, Eggs teams up with his spirited friend Winnie (Elle Fanning) to save his adopted family.  Opening September 26th, the film also stars Tracy Morgan, Simon Pegg and Toni Collette.

At a recent roundtable interview, Wright revealed what appealed to him about the project and his character, the challenge of shooting Game of Thrones while doing The Boxtrolls, how he found the voice for Eggs, his reaction to seeing his character on screen, what it was like working with a stellar cast, the difference between performing live action versus animation, his love of classical music and the piano, his attempt at powering his way through Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, his adventure holiday in Jordan’s Wadi Rum Desert, and rumors he’ll play Octavius in a film adaptation of the Shakespearian thriller, Caesar.  Check out the interview after the jump:

Elle Fanning Talks THE BOXTROLLS, Her Inspirations for the Voice, the Appeal of Fantasy, Future Projects, and More

by     Posted 8 days ago

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Elle Fanning is superb voicing the feisty, upper-crust 11-year-old Winnifred Portley-Rind in LAIKA’s beautiful 3D stop-motion animated fantasy-adventure, The Boxtrolls, opening September 26th.  When scheming social climber Archibald Snatcher (Sir Ben Kingsley) attempts to exterminate the kind creatures that raised the orphan boy Eggs (Isaac Hempstead Wright), Winnie helps her new friend devise a daring plan to save his adopted family.  Not only was Fanning drawn to playing the sassy character with a big heart and a dark imagination, but she liked what the unique story had to say about love and courage.

At a recent roundtable interview, Fanning talked about finding the right frame of mind to play her character, her inspirations for Winnie’s voice, how her voice-over experience compared to regular acting, what it was like using a posh English accent, how she created the right environment in the recording booth, the appeal of fantasy and how it provides a fun escape, her interest in ballet, her plans to attend college after high school, what she’s learned from traveling around the world, her desire to one day write and direct, and her upcoming projects: Young Ones, Low Down, Trumbo and A Storm in the Stars.  Check out what she had to say after the jump:

Sir Ben Kingsley Talks THE BOXTROLLS, What Convinced Him to Voice an Animated Villain, His Opinion of the Shakespearean Snatcher, and More

by     Posted 10 days ago

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Sir Ben Kingsley lends his extraordinary voice to the diabolical Archibald Snatcher in LAIKA’s breathtakingly beautiful 3D stop-motion animated adventure, The Boxtrolls, loosely based on Alan Snow’s best-selling children’s book Here Be Monsters!  The mischievous, trash-collecting creatures known as Boxtrolls live beneath the cobblestoned streets of Cheesebridge where they struggle to elude the evil Snatcher who claims they have stolen an orphan (Isaac Hempstead Wright).  Snatcher is determined to exterminate them in exchange for admittance into the town’s elite White Hats.  Opening September 26th, the film also stars Elle Fanning, Nick Frost and Tracy Morgan.

At our roundtable interview, Kingsley revealed what convinced him to bring to life an animated villain, why he found Snatcher a great character to play, how the script rang true as a refreshing family film, his unique approach to voicing his character, how he found the recording experience very freeing, why he appreciated a narrative that revealed the darker side of life, his satisfaction at seeing what the animators did with his character, the parallels between Snatcher and tragic Shakespearean characters like Richard III and Iago, and his enthusiasm for his upcoming films Learning to Drive and Robot Overlords.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

Writer/Director Scott Frank Talks A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, Casting, Soderbergh’s Advice in Post-Production, the Pivotal Gun Scene, and More

by     Posted 15 days ago

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After more than a decade in development, writer/director Scott Frank has succeeded in turning best-selling novelist Lawrence Block’s signature book into a harrowing suspense thriller with an intriguing premise in A Walk Among the Tombstones.  Liam Neeson stars as Matt Scudder, a troubled former N.Y.P.D. officer turned private detective whose quest for redemption leads him to help a heroin trafficker (Dan Stevens) track down the men (David Harbour, Adam David Thompson) who brutally murdered his wife.  Adapted for the screen by Frank, the crime drama also stars Boyd Holbrook, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Sebastian Roché, Mark Consuelos, and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson.

At the film’s recent press day, Frank talked about how the project first came together, why it took so long to bring to the screen, what convinced Neeson to come on board, casting Stevens into the dark role of a drug trafficker, the pivotal gun scene between Liam and Astro’s characters, the decision to portray the killers and the protagonist in two very different lights, how director Alan Pakula and films like Rosemary’s Baby and Klute inspired the film’s tone, style and pace, Steven Soderbergh’s advice in post-production, and why Frank decided not to do Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report TV series.  Check out the interview after the jump:

Dan Stevens Talks A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, Evoking Sympathy for the Bad Guy, Love of 70s Thrillers, THE GUEST, and More

by     Posted 16 days ago

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It’s been two years since Dan Stevens departed Downton Abbey and he’s not lost any time actively pursuing some amazing new roles in theater, film and television.  In his latest movie, A Walk Among the Tombstones, he stars opposite Liam Neeson playing a heroin trafficker bent on revenge who hires a private investigator (Neeson) to hunt down the serial killers (David Harbour, Adam David Thompson) that brutally murdered his wife.  Opening September 19th, the crime drama also stars Boyd Holbrook, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Sebastian Roché, Mark Consuelos, and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson.

At the film’s recent press day, Stevens discussed why he finds it exciting to explore new and different roles, the challenge of transforming himself for each one, the appeal of playing a bad guy who’s a victim, his love of 70’s noirish thrillers like Klute, Dirty Harry, and The Conversation, his collaboration with director Scott Frank on the darkness of his character, how music helped him prepare for his role in The Guest, and what it’s been like working with his childhood heroes – Neeson, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler and John Travolta — on Tombstones, Night at the Museum:  Secret of the Tomb, The Cobbler and Criminal Activities.  Hit the jump to read the rest of the interview:

Liam Neeson Talks A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, Doing Action Movies in his 60′s, and the Enduring Appeal of THE GREY

by     Posted 22 days ago

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In his fifth major film release this year, Liam Neeson delivers a riveting performance in Scott Frank’s fast-paced thriller, A Walk Among the Tombstones, adapted from Lawrence Block’s best-selling series of mystery novels.  Neeson plays Matt Scudder, a disgraced ex-NYPD cop turned private investigator operating outside the law who’s approached by a heroin trafficker (Dan Stevens) to find the men (David Harbour, Adam David Thompson) who brutally kidnapped and murdered his wife.  Opening September 19th, the crime drama also stars Boyd Holbrook, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Sebastian Roché, Mark Consuelos, and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson. 

At the film’s recent press day, Neeson revealed why he’s attracted to these larger than life roles, how he draws his inspiration from cinematic heroes like Robert Mitchum, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson, the appeal of playing a character like Scudder, his research and preparation for the part, what it was like shooting the opening flashback that establishes his character, the careful choreography that goes into every stunt sequence, why he enjoys doing action movies at this point in his career, how he keeps in shape as a global action star, his thoughts on the awards process, and why he’s proud of his work in The Grey.  Check out the interview after the jump.

Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes, Will Forte, and Director Daniel Schechter Talk LIFE OF CRIME, Their Chemistry Onscreen, Forte’s Giant Beard, and More

by     Posted 33 days ago

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Life of Crime is a wonderfully wicked tale filled with outrageously eccentric characters, sly comedy and surprising twists based on Elmore Leonard’s darkly funny novel, The Switch.  When a couple of low-level criminals kidnap the wife of a corrupt real estate developer, they get both more and less than they bargained for in this cool crime caper adapted for the screen and directed by Daniel Schechter.  The film stars Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes, Yasiin Bey, Mark Boone Junior, Isla Fisher, Will Forte and Tim Robbins and will be released in theaters and VOD on August 29th.

At the film’s recent press day, Schechter, Aniston, Hawkes, and Forte talked about making a film set in the 70s, what appealed to Schechter about Leonard’s The Switch and made it perfect for adapting to the screen, the brilliance of Leonard’s dialogue, Aniston’s duo role as actor and executive producer and her future plans to direct, how Hawkes found the right balance playing a lovable criminal, the chemistry between the actors, their preparation for the physical scenes, what they learned from each other, and Forte’s upcoming role in his new Fox TV series Last Man on Earth directed by Phil Lord and  Christopher Miller.  Check out the interview after the jump.

Matt Walsh and Jeremy Sumpter Talk INTO THE STORM, Driving the Titus, Real Life Tornado Experiences, SHARKNADO and More

by     Posted 53 days ago

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Veteran storm chaser, Pete Moore (Matt Walsh), will do whatever it takes to capture the ultimate tornado on film in the action-packed thriller, Into the Storm, and he’s created the ultimate vehicle for the task.  Jacob (Jeremy Sumpter), the newest member of his team, is determined to help Pete capture the once-in-a-lifetime shot, but he gets more than he bargained for when he comes on board.  With the film opening in theaters this Friday, August 8th, I recently sat down with Walsh and Sumpter for a roundtable interview to discuss their exciting new film.

The actors talked about what appealed to them about their characters and the separate storylines, their real life experience with tornados, what it was like driving a kick-ass storm-chasing vehicle, how they filmed the scenes where their characters go into the tornado, what it felt like going through a fire tornado, the found footage they shot, why they’re hoping for a sequel like Into the Storm Takes on Sharknado 3, and some of their cool upcoming projects including Walsh’s season four of Veep and a small comedy he directed called A Better You, and Sumpter’s The Squeeze, Take Down and The UnBroken.  Hit the jump to read the interview and please be aware that it does contain spoilers for the film.

Sarah Wayne Callies and Arlen Escarpeta Talk INTO THE STORM, Practical Effects vs. CG, Keeping Up with the WALKING DEAD Cast, and More

by     Posted 54 days ago

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Faced with a furious two-mile wide tornado coming at you destroying everything in its path, most people would hunker down or run for their lives, unless they’re crazy enough to want to chase it.  In Steve Quale’s cli-fi disaster thriller, Into the Storm, Sarah Wayne Callies and Arlen Escarpeta play professional storm chasers whose job is to get as close as possible to capture that once-in-a-lifetime shot.  Allison (Callies) is a meteorologist tracking the path of the storm front while Daryl’s (Escarpeta) camera crew documents the dangerous, wildly erratic ride.  Opening August 8th, the film also stars Richard Armitage, Matt Walsh, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Max Deacon, Nathan Kress and Jeremy Sumpter.

At the film’s recent press day, Callies and Escarpeta discussed what attracted them to the project, their preparation for the roles, working with Armitage, the balance between practical and CG, bracing themselves against 100 mph wind and rain, how Callie’s aerial training came in handy, having her real-life daughter play her daughter in the movie, Escarpeta’s camera class with the Steadicam guys, how much Callies keeps up with her Walking Dead and Prison Break castmembers, her upcoming horror film, The Other Side of the Door, and Escarpeta’s role as Bobby Brown in the Lifetime biopic, I Will Always Love You:  The Whitney Houston Story directed by Angela Bassett.  Hit the jump to read the interview. 

Manish Dayal Talks THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY, Meeting Spielberg, His Real-Life Culinary Skills, Working with Helen Mirren, and More

by     Posted 55 days ago

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Manish Dayal weaves intoxicating magic between two cultures as Hassam Kadam, a young culinary genius who embarks on a life-altering journey that transforms him into a world-class chef in Lasse Hallström’s The Hundred-Foot Journey.  When his restaurateur family leaves their native India and settles in a quaint village in the south of France, they open a boisterous Indian curry house directly across the street from the chic, Michelin-starred French restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren).  As cultures, personalities, and culinary styles collide, everyone discovers they share much more in common than they first realized.  Opening August 8th, the film also stars Om Puri and Charlotte Le Bon.

At the Los Angeles press day for the film, Dayal revealed his real life culinary skills, what he learned about the art of cooking and cuisine in France versus India while preparing for the part, the huge role food plays in his culture and in bringing cultures together, what appealed to him about the script’s treatment of the immigrant’s journey, the similarities between Puri’s character and his own father, his most memorable moment with Mirren who introduced him to frog legs, meeting producer Steven Spielberg and geeking out with him over Jurassic Park, Hallström’s bold imagination, and the importance of embracing life’s uncertainties.  Hit the jump check out our Manish Dayal interview for The Hundred-Foot Journey.  Disney releases the film on August 8th.

Charlotte Le Bon Talks THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY, Her Favorite Food Movies and Skyping With Steven Spielberg

by     Posted 56 days ago

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Charlotte Le Bon makes her American film debut in The Hundred-Foot Journey as Marguerite, a smart, quick-witted and charming sous chef in the kitchen of Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren), the chilly chef proprietress of Le Saule Pleureur, a Michelin-starred, classical French restaurant in the south of France.  Marguerite falls under the spell of Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal), a culinary ingénue for a colorful new Indian restaurant, Maison Mumbai, which opens directly across the road from her establishment.  Hassan weaves culinary magic between their two cultures and invites Marguerite to step out of her comfort zone and cross over into unfamiliar territory. The film, directed by Lasse Hallström also stars Om Puri.

At the film’s recent press day, the Canadian actress spoke about the modeling career that brought her to France, her transition from speaking Québécois French to France French, how she first became involved in the project, her culinary skills, her favorite Québécois food, what she learned working opposite Mirren, her genuine chemistry with Dayal, the perils of food foreplay, how her own life experiences worked their way into the story, the timelessness of the film and her costumes, her favorite movie about food and skyping with producer Steven Spielberg.  Hit the jump to check out our Charlotte Le Bon interview for The Hundred-Foot Journey.  Disney releases the film on August 8th.

Max Deacon, Alycia Debnam-Carey, and Nathan Kress Talk INTO THE STORM, Special Effects and Found Footage, All-Night Shoots in Cold Water, and More

by     Posted 56 days ago

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If you’re into action-packed disaster thrillers, Into the Storm, directed by Steve Quale from a screenplay by John Swetnam, will take you on an intensely wild ride right inside a massive EF5 tornado.  Told through the eyes and lenses of professional storm chasers, amateur thrill-seekers, and courageous townspeople, the movie puts you directly into the eye of the storm.  With the film opening in theaters on Friday, August 8th, I recently had a chance to sit down at a roundtable interview with Nathan Kress and Max Deacon, who play brothers Trey and Donnie, and Alycia Debnam-Carey, who plays their friend, Kaitlyn.

During the interview, the actors discussed how they became involved in the project,  how improv was a big part of their audition process, how the film balanced spectacular special effects with a sexy Hollywood version of the found footage format, how the footage they shot was used in the film, their all-night shoots while submerged in cold water, how doing a lot of the film practically helped their performances, working with Richard Armitage, and their cool upcoming projects including Deacon’s boarding school thriller Take Down with Jeremy Sumpter, Debnam-Carey’s AMC sci-fi pilot Galyntine, and Kress’ villainous role on the last season of the BGHS web series.  Hit the jump to read more:

Helen Mirren Talks THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY, Working with Om Puri, What She Looks For in Choosing Projects, TRUMBO, and More

by     Posted 61 days ago

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Helen Mirren’s fascination with wanting to be a French actress leads to a bold and captivating performance in The Hundred-Foot Journey as Madame Mallory, the exacting chef proprietress of Le Saule Pleureur, a fancy Michelin-starred French restaurant in the south of France.  Her icy protests against Maison Mumbai, the new Indian restaurant across the road from her own establishment, escalate into a heated competition between the two restaurants until she recognizes her culinary rival Hassan Kadam’s (Manish Dayal) gift as a chef and his passion for French haute cuisine.  Opening August 8th, the film directed by Lasse Hallström also stars Charlotte Le Bon and Om Puri.

At the film’s recent press day, Mirren talked about the improvisational set, the pleasure of acting opposite the renowned Puri, what they share in common, how she approaches a role, what she looks for in the projects she chooses and why the director is important, how she likes to change things up and alternate between big movies and low budget films, her fascination with French culture, her favorite French film, Woman in Gold, which she’s currently filming with director Simon Curtis, and her upcoming biopic, Trumbo, with Bryan Cranston about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.  Hit the jump to read the interview.

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