The HBO Films presentation Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight tells the story of how boxer Cassius Clay became the world’s best-known and most controversial athlete. After joining the Nation of Islam and changing his name to Muhammad Ali, he was stripped of his title and banned from the sport after he refused to be drafted into the U.S. military, based on his religious opposition to the Vietnam War. In 1971, his case for being a conscientious objector reached the United States Supreme Court, with Nixon-appointed conservative Chief Justice Warren E. Burger (Frank Langella) at its helm, leaving his case in the hands of nine justices. Directed by Stephen Frears, the film also stars Christopher Plummer, Benjamin Walker, Danny Glover, Ed Begley Jr. and Pablo Schreiber.
During this recent exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Benjamin Walker – who plays Justice Harlan’s (Plummer) idealistic new clerk, Kevin Connolly – talked about how he became a part of this project, why he wanted to help tell this largely unknown story, how he felt about the decision to let Muhammad Ali do all of his own talking in the film instead of having an actor play him, and what it was like to work with an actor as accomplished as Christopher Plummer. He also talked about working with Ron Howard on In the Heart of the Sea (based on the 1820 event when a whaling ship is preyed upon by a sperm whale, stranding its crew at sea for 90 days, thousands of miles from home), all of the training the cast got to do together, the extreme physicality of the role, and how the goal is to be done shooting around Christmas. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Ron Howard’s F1 racing drama Rush opens in theaters everywhere this weekend, but the filmmaker is already knee-deep in production on his next film. It was announced today that filming is underway in the UK on Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea, which tells the story of the real life sea disaster of the whaleship Essex, a harrowing ordeal that inspired Herman Melvile’s Moby Dick. In 1819, the ship was rammed by an angry sperm whale in the South Pacific. The surviving crew drifted for 90 days in three tiny whaleboats and encountered disease, hunger, and eventually cannibalism.
We’ve already seen some set photos of Howard’s period-specific sets and ships, and there will likely be a frame story device in the pic since Ben Whishaw has been cast as Melville and Brendan Gleeson is poised to play an older version of Tom Holland’s character. Chris Hemsworth leads a cast that also includes Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, and Jordi Molla. Hit the jump for the full press release, and click here to watch Steve’s recent interview with Howard.
HBO has released the first full trailer for director Stephen Frears’ (The Queen) new film Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight. The pic focuses on Muhammad Ali’s refusal to go to Vietnam and the court battle that ensued, centering on Justice Harlan (Christopher Plummer) and his clerk, played by Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter star Benjamin Walker. Ali’s is portrayed using archival footage, as the majority of the film involves the internal debates between the justices and clerks who faced an incredibly tough decision at a tumultuous time for America. There’s certainly plenty of conflict to draw from, but I’m interested to see if Frears can keep the film engaging given its limited scope.
Hit the jump to watch the full trailer. The film also stars Frank Langella, Danny Glover, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Barry Levinson, and Pablo Schreiber. Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight premieres on HBO on October 5th.
HBO has released the first teaser trailer for director Stephen Frears’ (The Queen) new film Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight. The pic focuses on Muhammad Ali’s refusal to go to Vietnam and the court battle that ensued, centering on Justice Harlan (Christopher Plummer) and his clerk, played by Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter star Benjamin Walker. This teaser doesn’t show too much footage from the film, but it looks like Ali won’t actually be portrayed onscreen by an actor. Instead, we see archival footage of the legendary fighter while the narrative plays out in the courtroom and the judge’s chambers.
Hit the jump to watch the trailer. The film also stars Frank Langella, Danny Glover, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Barry Levinson, and Pablo Schreiber. Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight premieres on HBO on October 5th.
Here’s today’s casting news:
Hit the jump for more on each casting announcement.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter star Benjamin Walker is lining himself up a fairly high profile television gig. THR reports that Walker will lead an HBO drama pilot called The Missionary. The series takes place during the 1960s and centers on an American missionary who gets caught up in Cold War intrigue while helping a young woman escape East Berlin. Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Levinson, and Mark Wahlberg—who are clearly fans of Showtime’s Homeland—will executive produce the pilot while Charles Randolph will pen the script.
Walker had been set to lead the 15th century supernatural pic The Great Wall alongside Henry Cavill before that project was postponed due to financing issues. Edward Zwick has since dropped out as director, so it’s unlikely The Great Wall will retain the same cast if/when it gets going again. A series order decision on The Missionary won’t be made until the pilot is finished, and as we saw with The Corrections even the highest caliber of talent doesn’t guarantee that HBO will give the go-ahead for a full series. Nevertheless, this is one to keep an eye on.
Ed Zwick (The Last Samurai) is no longer onboard to direct the supernatural epic The Great Wall. The film was recently postponed due to lack of financing and weather issues, at which point Zwick committed to directing the Bobby Fischer biopic Pawn Sacrifice with Tobey Maguire. Now Deadline reports that Zwick is off The Great Wall altogether. The period pic, based on an idea by Legendary CEO Thomas Tull and World War Z author Max Brooks, explores “the mysteries” behind the construction of The Great Wall in China. Two 15th century British soldiers get caught up in the havoc caused by some inhuman element that the builders of the wall are trying to keep out.
Before the project was postponed, Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) were set as the leads, but it’s unclear if they’ll still be available when the film moves forward again. Though Zwick has dropped off, Legendary East apparently still plans on starting production next year.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter attempts to walk the line between solemn grit and bombastic action. The film stumbles around the line, falls off of it, gropes in the dark to find the line again, give a big goofy smile at no one in particular, regains a wobbly balance before taking a proud stride forward only to constantly repeat this bizarre range of motions. The film is an exercise in pushing the limits of going big while keeping a straight face. In its action scenes, there’s not a shred of doubt that director Timur Bekmambetov is trying to find laughs in lunacy to make up for the dearth of humor in the “serious” scenes. But what appears to be an attempt at balance simply comes off as measured schizophrenia, and what should be a fun twist on half-remembered American history instead becomes a dark twist on historiography.
Opening this weekend is director Timur Bekmambetov‘s (Wanted) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Based on the book of the same name from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies author Seth Grahame-Smith and produced by Tim Burton, the film imagines that Lincoln’s mother and grandfather were killed by a vampire and that the president’s resolve to end slavery was due in part to the “fact” that vampires were involved with the slave trade. Playing Lincoln is newcomer Benjamin Walker and he stars alongside Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie, Dominic Cooper, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. For more on the film, here’s all our previous coverage and three clips with twenty minutes of behind-the-scenes footage.
A few days ago I got to speak with Walker and Mackie. We talked about their favorite movies, their reaction to seeing the finished film and how it compared to what they thought it would be when they signed on, deleted scenes, and future projects like The Great Wall and Gangster Squad. Hit the jump to watch.
We’ve been provided with three clips and 20 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Based on the Seth Grahame-Smith novel of the same name, the film delves into the “secret” past of our nation’s 16th president and documents his quest to cut as many vampires in half as possible after they murder his mother. Wanted helmer Timur Bekmambetov directs with producer Tim Burton onboard to make sure things stay strange, which is crucial when your film’s title is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Hit the jump to watch the clips. Be sure to check out Steve’s set visit coverage including 30 things to know plus a video blog, and interviews with Bekmambetov, Benjamin Walker, and Dominic Cooper. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter opens in 3D on June 22nd.
Apologies for the lack of a Top 5 last weekend. I was so busy prepping to get married, and eventually getting married, that I had to cash in a “sick day” on the best weekend job a person could ask for. The good news is that I have no intention on making this a routine (either the “sick day” or the getting married) so we should be good to go on the regular Top 5 installments for the foreseeable future. The bad news is that I doubt the substantial pile of wedding cards filled with cash/gift cards will catch on as a routine either. You win some you lose some, I guess.
In this week’s return edition you can find a recap of our Total Recall set visit coverage, a new trailer for Breaking Bad Season 5 alongside a fan-made recap of Seasons 1-4, continuing coverage of Prometheus such as Blu-ray details, a sequel recap and more, the first full trailer for Resident Evil: Retribution, and our Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter set visit. Keep reading for a brief recap and link to each.
While 20th Century Fox could have easily gone after a “name” actor, I think they made a smart decision casting Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln in director Timur Bekmambetov‘s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Walker’s an excellent choice because when you see the movie, you are hopefully going to think you’re watching President Lincoln on screen rather than an actor playing a part. If the studio had cast a huge movie star, it’s sometimes hard to get past all the previous roles you’ve seen that actor play.
Last summer when the movie was filming outside New Orleans I got to participate in a group interview with Walker during a break in shooting. He talked about how he got cast, his research, the physical and vocal aspects of the role, working with Bekmambetov, the violence in the film, and a lot more. Hit the jump for what he had to say.
Just a few days ago, we learned that the co-lead opposite Man of Steel’s Henry Cavill in director Edward Zwick’s The Great Wall was down to either Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) or Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). The decision-making process wasn’t stretched out much further, as Variety now reports that Walker has landed the role. The period pic explores “the mysteries” behind the construction of The Great Wall in China, and apparently involves some inhuman element that the builders of the wall are trying to keep out. Cavill and Walker will play 15th century British soldiers who stumble upon the construction of the wall, and presumably get caught up in the havoc that this supernatural presence brings.
Walker is a relatively untested actor on the big screen. He had bit parts in Kinsey and Flags of Our Fathers, but he stretched his chops in the Broadway play Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. We’ll get our first good look at Walker in a starring role in this summer’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Director Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai) is gearing up to start production on his period epic The Great Wall, and producers are now mulling over two actors to take on the co-lead role opposite Man of Steel star (aka the new Superman) Henry Cavill. Deadline reports that the decision is now between True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter star Benjamin Walker. Previously all we’d known about the film was that it “looks at the mystery behind how China’s Great Wall was constructed.” Now a new logline shines a bit more light on the project, as the film centers on British warriors traveling through 15th Century China who realize “there is something inhuman and more dangerous” that the builders of the titular wall are trying to keep out. Hit the jump for more.
A new green band trailer for director Timur Bekmambetov’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has landed online. While I’ve been pretty iffy about the stylized historical reimagining thus far, the most recent red band trailer and this green band one show promise. In lieu of the jarring, quick-cut action sequences from the first few trailers, this clip slows things down a bit and features some nice sweeping shots and more character-driven dialogue.
Hit the jump to watch the trailer. The film stars Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter opens in 3D on June 22nd.