'You don't want to blow it for anybody. ...'
With one of the more beloved -- and controversial -- modern Best Picture winners to his credit (1998's "Shakespeare in Love"), director John Madden is the model of the modern director -- cool, calm, quietly self-assured. With "The Debt," Madden's re-made the thriller "Ha-Hov," from Israel -- but kept the settings and the stakes from that original film. Three spies are chasing an escaped Nazi war criminal (Jesper Christensen, of "Quantum of Solace") in 1963 East Berlin (where they're played by Jessica Chastain, Marton Csokas and Sam Worthington) and 30 years later (where they're played by Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciáran Hinds.) Madden directs with economy -- a middle set-piece has plenty of cold-war tension built in, with heroic agents trying to cut wire in the face of lights, guards and guns -- but talking to him in L.A., it's clear he's just as proud of the challenge of casting his actors as he was of the challenge of making the peril and politics of the past come alive.
Why cast Sam Worthington? How did you find him?
Madden: He's very, very masculine, -- (it's an) almost heroic presence he has, and obviously he's been cast (based on that) many times since 'Avatar.' He's got a hidden vulnerable side. He played a very confused character in that film, 'Somersault.' It was very effective and affecting. I thought, 'That's unusual to get those two things in one person.' Obviously there's a prerequisite that those two guys had to be physically very powerful and so forth. He seemed like a really interesting idea. I went to meet him and pitch him the project, and I couldn't meet him in L.A. because he was in Albuquerque (shooting 'Terminator: Salvation'). I thought, 'I'll go to Albuquerque, and if I don't think it's right, I'll do a really lousy job of pitching the movie.' I thought he seemed great, and so I told the movie from his character's point of view, trying to preserve the surprises. He said, 'Right, I'm in.' We didn't have a script at that point, because we were working on it and retooling it.
How do you work from source material? Did you watch the original 'Ha-Hov' once, seal it and throw it away?
Madden: I didn't throw it away. I was respectful of it. I really enjoyed it; I thought it was terrific. I didn't want to pour over it, you can imagine. But since it was the raw material, there was no way I was not going to watch it.
Paul Dano and Peter Sarsgaard join up with next from 'Meek's Cutoff' helmer
Director Kelly Reichardt has steadily built herself a resume of varied and intense works, ranging from “Old Joy” to “Wendy and Lucy” to last year’s criminally underseen “Meek’s Cutoff.” For her next film, Reichardt is taking on a big, modern story, reportedly titled “Night Moves.” The film will focus on three individuals who decide to blow up a dam – not just for general mayhem, but in the interest of protecting the environment via means of “eco-terrorism.”
The film is starting to build its cast, as The Playlist reports that Peter Sarsgaard has signed on as one of the three environmentalists. Sarsgaard has already gotten into the mindset of his character, attributing some of his interest in the project to the documentary “If A Tree Falls,” which focused on different members of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) who took drastic measures to protect the environment. The Playlist also reports that Paul Dano, who starred in Reichardt's “Meek’s Cutoff,” is now on board for the film. That leaves one last piece of the casting trifecta to round out the film’s casting, with reports coming in that Rooney Mara has been “approached” for the third role, the lone female in the group. With Mara’s scheduling packed with “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” press, the possibility of “Dragon” sequels to film, and a role in the soon-to-film “Emanuel and the Truth about Fishes,” it’s unknown if she will be able to accept the role. However, the possibility of Reichardt directing Sarsgaard, Dano, and Mara is incredibly promising stuff.
It’s currently unknown when production will kick off for the film, but with Reichardt so rapidly putting together such a talented cast, I wouldn’t expect her to rest on her laurels on this one.
The film is not the only eco-terrorism based project in the works, as Sundance darlings Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij’s “The East” (set to star Marling and Alexander Skarsgard) will also center around a rouge group bent on protecting the environment through possibly illegal means.
Which of these films sounds more interesting to you? Did you see "If A Tree Falls"?
Casting for film should (finally) be complete
As filming rapidly approaches for Steven Soderbergh’s stripper flick, “Magic Mike,” it appears that the final bits of casting are rolling in. Deadline now reports that Olivia Munn has landed what appears to be the last major piece of casting for the flick, starring Channing Tatum and Alex Pettyfer as male strippers, in a story that’s almost unbelievably based on Tatum’s own experiences as a stripper before turning to the world of acting.
Munn’s role is touted as that of leading lady, so she will likely play Amber, a role once that was once reported to be Jessica Biel’s. While up-and-comer Cody Horn will play a lover of Tatum’s character, Amber is reportedly the main girlfriend of the character.
Tatum will star as the titular Magic Mike, who teaches a younger stripper (Pettyfer, in a role based on Tatum’s own life) the ropes of the job. A few weeks back, casting news on the film started to really heat up, with the addition of Horn, Riley Keough, Joe Mangianello, and Matt Bomer, which followed the pitch perfect casting of Matthew McConaughey as a former stripper turned club owner. Keough will play Pettyfer’s love interest, with Mangianello and Bomer as other male strippers in the naked-for-hire troupe of dancers.
Munn is best known to gaming geeks for her hosting duties on “Attack of the Show!” She’s parlayed that popularity into a number of very different acting roles as of late, including a television sitcom (“Perfect Couples”), an indie flick with Paul Schneider and some of the Broken Lizard comedy gang (“The Babymakers”), a bit role in “Iron Man 2,” and an upcoming co-starring role opposite Sarah Jessica Parker in “I Don’t Know How She Does It.”
Brad Pitt's Plan B will produce the screen adaptation of the award-winning stage play
Don Cheadle arrives to protect our planet -- with a vengeance
Spoiler alert! Or, not? Maybe.
Will bring his trademark insouciant sense of entitlement to the role
The two former Oscar hosts may be singing together again in a film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical
At one point in the miserable Oscar proceedings, Hathaway sang a song about Jackman’s refusal to perform a duet with her during the show. The song was a parody of “On My Own,” one of the best solo numbers from “Les Misérables,” the celebrated musical based on Victor Hugo’s masterpiece. The number tanked like every other poorly written moment that evening, but it did prove one thing to Jackman, the well-dressed folks at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, and the billion people watching around the world: that Hathaway girl can SING! Not only that, but she has the pipes to do justice to a belting tour-de-force from one of the most venerable musicals ever written.
Now comes word (via a Broadway World exclusive) that Anne Hathaway is set to play Fantine in the long-awaited film version of “Les Misérables.” And apparently, it was Hugh Jackman’s idea. Jackman will be playing the long-suffering Jean Valjean in this epic tale of misery and redemption set in 19th century France. The film, scheduled to start shooting next year, will be directed by Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”). A host of A-list actors are being courted for other roles including Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Russell Crowe, and Emma Watson. I’m excited for Hathaway, who I think will shine as the tragic Fantine. She’ll get to sing “I Dreamed a Dream,” the musical’s most famous ballad, which she might also have parodied during last February’s painful Oscar broadcast:
I had a dream tonight would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now James Franco has killed the dream I dreamed.