Interviews

Producer Jason Blum is taking over Hollywood! 

After founding his company Blumhouse Productions in 2000, he went on to produce some of the most successful horror thrillers of the last fifteen years including the Paranormal Activity franchise, Sinister, The Purge, Insidious: Chapter 2, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, Oculus, The Purge: Anarchy, Ouija, and The Boy Next Door. Not to mention that later this year Blumhouse will release the highly anticipated new movie Jem and the Holograms, which is based on the popular ‘80s cartoon. The super-producer also recently won an Emmy for his work on the HBO mini-series The Normal Heart, and was nominated for an Academy Award for producing Whiplash. But now, Blum returns to the genre he helped reinvent with the new horror film The Lazarus Effect, which opens in theaters on February 27th. 

In the new movie, which was directed by documentary filmmaker David Gelb (Jiro Dreams of Sushi), a group of medical students discover a way to bring dead animals back to life. But when Zoe (Olivia Wilde) accidentally dies, her husband Frank (Mark Duplass) forces the group to help bring his wife back from the dead. While the experiment is successful, things become dangerous when they realize that Zoe’s personality has been altered. In addition to Wilde and Duplass, the film also stars Donald Glover (The To Do List), Sarah Bolger (In America), and Evan Peters (X-Men: Days of Future Past). 

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with producer Jason Blum to talk about his work on The Lazarus Effect, as well as Jem and the Holograms, and The Purge 3. The Academy Award-nominated producer discussed The Lazarus Effect, its cinematic influences, faith vs. science, his friendship with Mark Duplass, Olivia Wilde’s difficult role, working with first time narrative filmmaker David Gelb, Blum’s role on set, the current status of Jem and the Holograms, and an update on the development of The Purge 3

Focus, hitting theaters nationwide today, is all about the con, but when the conmen are Will Smith and Margot Robbie, you'll actually feel happy about being swindled.

International megastar Smith (After Earth) stars in this comedy-drama-caper-thriller as Nicky, a charming longtime grifter who takes the beautiful and inexperienced Jess, played by Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street), under his wing, teaching her the ways of the conman.  Until, that is, she gets too close and he promptly kicks rocks, leaving his onetime protege in the dust. 

Three years later, however, while Nicky's preparing for a huge and highly dangerous con in Buenos Aires, Jess reappears.  This time, the student may very well have become the master, as Nicky's onetime "intern" is now a formidable operator in her own right, a schemer who might just turn Nicky's most ambitious graft into a shamblefest that could cost them both a fortune.  or their very lives.

Focus makes perfect use of both Oscar-nominated stars' peerless charisma as each character uses their charm to sweep marks off their feet and conceal their true motives.  At the Los Angeles press day for Focus, however, Smith and Robbie appeared sincerely enthusiastic about their new movie.

IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick was on hand to discuss Focus with the stars, who happily talked about their onscreen chemistry, how Robbie snagged the role, improvisation, Smith's new mindset, the love story beneath all the cons, and the philosophical implications of graft.

Evan Peters is very quickly becoming a Hollywood movie star!

The actor began his career in the fighting films Never Back Down, and it’s sequel Never Back Down 2: The Breakdown, before eventually appearing in Kick-Ass and on all four seasons of the hit FX anthology series American Horror Story. But his big break came last summer when he sprinted on to the big screen as the Marvel comic book character Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Many critics praised Peters’ performance as one of the best aspects of the film. The actor is expected to reprise his role in the upcoming follow up X-Men: Apocalypse, and will also play former Deputy Assistant to President Nixon, Dwight Chapin in Elvis & Nixon. But first, Peters can be seen as part of the exceptional ensemble cast in the new horror thriller The Lazarus Effect, which opens in theaters on February 27th. 

In the new movie, a group of medical research students discover a way to bring dead animals back to life. But when Zoe (Olivia Wilde) accidentally dies, her husband Frank (Mark Duplass) forces the group to help bring his wife back from the dead. While the experiment is successful, the situation become dangerous when they realize that Zoe’s personality has been altered. Peters plays Clay, a member of the research team that has second thoughts about their experiments. In addition to Duplass, Wilde, and Peters, the film also stars Donald Glover (The To Do List), and Sarah Bolger (In America). The Lazarus Effect was produced by Jason Blum (Whiplash), and directed by documentary filmmaker David Gelb (Jiro Dreams of Sushi).

I recently had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Evan Peters to talk about his work on The Lazarus Effect. The talented young actor discussed his new movie, its cinematic influences, scientific research, faith vs. science, collaborating  with documentary filmmaker David Gelb, what he needs from a director, working with Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde, and how he created his character.

Acclaimed director, writer and producer Mark Duplass is also a very accomplished actor!

Duplass is best known for writing and directing critically acclaimed films with his brother Jay like Baghead, Cyrus, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, and The Do-Deca-Pentathion. However, he has now accumulated an impressive resume of acting work in such movies as Your Sister’s Sister, Safety Not Guaranteed, Darling Companion, People Like Us, Zero Dark Thirty, The One I Love, and Tammy, not to mention his popular FX show The League and the new HBO series Togetherness. But the successful filmmaker can now been seen acting on the big screen once again playing the lead in the new horror film The Lazarus Effect, which also stars Olivia Wilde and opens in theaters on February 27th. 

In the new movie, a group of medical students discover a way to bring dead animals back to life. But when Zoe (Olivia Wilde) accidentally dies, her husband Frank (Duplass) forces the group to help bring his wife back from the dead. While the experiment is successful, things become dangerous when they realize that Zoe’s personality has been altered. In addition to Duplass and Wilde, the film also stars Donald Glover (The To Do List), Sarah Bolger (In America), and Even Peters (X-Men: Days of Future Past). The Lazarus Effect was produced by Jason Blum (Whiplash), and directed by documentary filmmaker David Gelb (Jiro Dreams of Sushi).

I recently had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with ROGUE regular Mark Duplass to talk about his work on The Lazarus Effect. The actor and filmmaker discussed his new movie, its similarities to other films, how he got involved with the project, appearing in a horror movie, his friendship with producer Jason Blum, working with director David Gelb, faith vs. science, making the dialogue organic, playing the lead, and why he is nervous to become a movie star. 

We've seen a lot of time machines on the big screen, from the classy Victorian contraption of The Time Machine to the unmistakably eighties DeLorean in Back to the Future.  Only one cinematic chrono-device combines relaxed recreation, bacteria, and the circuits of time, however: the one that's also a hot tub.

In Hot Tub Time Machine 2, the least-practical time machine we've ever laid eyes on returns to theaters.

The first movie, a sleeper hit in 2010, introduced the Hot Tub Time Machine, which sent four friends back to 1986, where each one had to overcome the demons of the past on a ski-resort weekend in order to return to their native timeline better off than they ever imagined. 

Having used their time travel escapade to enrich themselves, when Hot Tub Time Machine 2 begins, Lou (Rob Corddry, Sex Tape), Nick (Craig Robinson, This Is the End), and Jacob (Clark Duke, Kick-Ass 2) are loving life: Lou is the ultra-rich inventor of the internet and Nick plagiarizes pop songs to lucrative effect.  When a mysterious assailant shoots Lou's testicles off, however, they set off through time to find the culprit and save Lou's balls.

The sequel, which opens nationwide this Friday, February 20th, is once again directed by Steve Pink (About Last Night).  In addition to the three familiar leads, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 also adds Adam Scott (NBC's Parks and Recreation) as a new addition to the timeline-hopping crew.

IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick was on hand for the comedy's Los Angeles press day, where both Pink and Scott enthusiastically – and with their tongues characteristically in cheek – discussed the influences behind the sequel, how Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is like The Avengers, Scott joining the cast, acting in love with Gillian Jacobs, and the movie's no-holds barred tone.

The reigning champ of the genre recently provided some unexpected advice on how to make a great sports movie.

"If you want to make a great sports movie, don’t put too much sports in it," advised Kevin Costner.  "It’s the backdrop.  It’s the – it’s the environment, and you know Bull Durham was about men and women, why they can and can’t get along and have to still be together."

The backdrop of Costner's latest, McFarland, USA, is cross-country running.  A contribution to that oh-so American genre, the feel-good sports movie, McFarland, USA is based on a true story from the titular town in 1987, where a new coach helped a team of high school runners from California's poorest school become big winners both on the track and off.

Two-time Academy Award-winner Costner stars as Coach White, a temperamental football coach who is initially despondent to find himself in a Central Valley agricultural community populated overwhelmingly by Mexican Americans. 

His students aren't too thrilled at first, either, but before long, Coach White (whom they refer to as Coach Blanco) sees that the strength and stamina they've built up over years toiling in the fields can be channeled successfully into running.  As White and the seven scrappy underdogs on his team go an unlikely journey to the state championships, they also grow to understand and care about each like family.

Almost thirty years after the real story, McFarland, USA is set to hit theaters this Friday, February 20th.

Actor/comedian Chris Elliott has consistently been one of the funniest people on television and film over the last 30 years!

Elliott first came to fame in the early ‘80s for playing a barrage of unique characters on Late Night with David Letterman. Some of those wild characters included “The Fugitive Guy,” “The Guy Under the Seats,” and Marlon Brando. He went on to appear in a string of successful movies including Manhunter, The Abyss, Groundhog Day, Kingpin, and There’s Something About Mary. But he is probably best known for his cult classic film Cabin Boy, which also featured Letterman in a legendary cameo saying, “Hey, would you like to buy a monkey?” 

Elliott also created the cult classic ‘90s series Get a Life, was a cast member of Saturday Night Live, and has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, Everybody Loves Raymond, and How I met Your Mother. Currently, Elliott stars on the Adult Swim series Eagleheart, as well as the new CBS series Schitt’s Creek with Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara. He can also be seen on the big screen opposite Hugh Grant in the new romantic comedy The Rewrite, which opens in theaters on February 13th. 

The Rewrite revolves around Keith Michaels (Hugh Grant), an Academy Award-winning writer in a slump that leaves Hollywood to teach screenwriting at a college on the East Coast. He soon bumps heads with fellow facility members Mary Weldon (Allison Janney) and Dr. Lerner (Oscar-nominee J.K. Simmons), and eventually falls for Holly Carpenter (Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei), a single mom taking his class. Elliott plays Jim, a Shakespeare professor living next door to Keith. The film was written and directed by Marc Lawrence (Two Weeks Notice, Music and Lyrics). 

I recently had the absolute of honor of speaking with the great Chris Elliott about his work on The Rewrite, as well as the legacy of Cabin Boy, David Letterman’s retirement, and SNL’s 40th anniversary. The hilarious comedic actor discussed his new film, if he’s ever moved to a new town for work, Hugh Grant’s comedic style, the relationship between Grant and filmmaker Marc Lawrence, why Elliott does not “enjoy shooting movies,” meeting J.K. Simmons, Elliott’s Shakespearian knowledge, the legacy of Cabin Boy, David Letterman’s legendary Cabin Boy sketch during the Academy Awards, what Letterman means to Elliott’s career, Letterman’s upcoming retirement, SNL’s 40th anniversary, and why the Elliott family holds a special place in SNL history. 

Mark Hamill never went anywhere.

A prolific and astonishingly versatile voice actor responsible for some of the most memorable aural presences out there, he has been an active, vital part of the popular culture for almost forty years now.  In 2015, however, he's going to become a whole more visible than he's been in a while.

Hamill plays a pivotal supporting role in Kingsman: The Secret Service, an irreverent blast of old school spy action hitting theaters this Friday. 

And, of course, he wields a lightsaber as Luke Skywalker for the first time in more than three decades in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, the insanely anticipated sequel that kicks off the Disney era of Star Wars this December.

At a Los Angeles screening promoting Kingsman: The Secret Service, IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick was on hand, along with various members of the entertainment press, to talk to the one and only Mark Hamill.  The much-loved thespian was characteristically enthusiastic and engaging, happily discussing the strange way he became involved in director Matthew Vaughn's revisionist spy adventure, the comic book source material, and working with the film's remarkable cast. 

And yes, he also talked about playing Luke Skywalker again, addressing the on-set secrecy of JJ Abrams's Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

There’s a wealth of important lessons that young filmmakers can learn from Edward Burns. That is exactly why the acclaimed writer, director, producer and actor recently published his memoir - Independent Ed, which was released on February 3rd and chronicles his 20-year journey as a filmmaker. 

Burns first gained attention from Hollywood in 1995 with his critically acclaimed independent film The Brothers McMullen, which he wrote, directed, produced and starred in himself. As the legend goes, Burns had been working as a production assistant on Entertainment Tonight and used his salary to help finance the film. After it was completed, Burns was able to use his connections at ET to give a copy to actor/director Robert Redford, which eventually led to its inclusion at Redford’s Sundance Film Festival. It would go on to win the Grand Jury Prize and was eventually bought for $10 million by 20th Century Fox. That’s not bad considering the film only cost around $28,000.00 to make. McMullen’s success made Burns the poster boy for DIY filmmaking and one of the forefathers of the independent film movement of the ‘1990s.

Hot on the heels of his first film, Burns made She’s the One, which he also wrote, directed, and starred in opposite (then little known actresses) Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz, and Amanda Peet. The film went on to be his most financially successful movie to date. While Burns would continue to write and direct films over the years including Sidewalks of New York, The Groomsman, Nice Guy Johnny, Newlyweds, and The Fitzgerald Family Christmas, it was his acting work that would make him a household name. Beginning with a starring role in Steven Spielberg’s now classic WWII film Saving Private Ryan, Burns became one of the most reliable actors of his generation continually giving daring performances in both studio and independent films. His acting resume includes several diverse projects opposite Oscar-winning talent such as 15 Minutes with Robert De Niro, Confidence with Dustin Hoffman, Life or Something Like It with Angelina Jolie, and A Sound of Thunder with Sir Ben Kingsley. While most recently Burns has appeared in films like Man on a Ledge, Friends with Kids, and Alex Cross, as well as the upcoming TNT series Public Morals, which he wrote, directed, produced and will also star in. 

I recently had the absolute pleasure of speaking with the great Edward Burns about his new memoir Independent Ed. The accomplished actor and filmmaker discussed his new book, what he’s learned about filmmaking over the years, how acting in Saving Private Ryan changed his approach to directing, the importance of the Sundance Film Festival, if technology has helped or hurt filmmaking, what is an independent film today, if studios should be involved with independent films, the status of his long rumored sequel to The Brothers McMullen, his upcoming series Public Morals, and why TV is really the new independent film movement. 

English actor Joe Anderson is best known for his work in such films as Control, Across the Universe, The Crazies, The Grey, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, A Single Shot, Horns, and Hercules. He can now be seen in the acclaimed new drama Supremacy, which was directed by first time filmmaker Deon Taylor.

Supremacy is based on a true story and revolves around a recently paroled white supremacist named Garrett Tully (Anderson). After Tully and his girlfriend (Julie Benz) kill a cop, they take an African American family hostage. Mr. Walker (Danny Glover), the patriarch of the family and an ex-con himself, must now rely on his wit and understanding of the racist mind to find a plan to free his family. In addition to Anderson, Benz, and Glover, the film also stars Derek Luke (Captain America: The First Avenger), Lela Rochon (Any Given Sunday), and Anson Mount (Non-Stop). 

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Joe Anderson about his work on Supremacy. The talented actor discussed his new film, how he got involved with the project, his character as it was originally written in the script, the true story the film is based on, working with Danny Glover, the relationship between Tully and Mr. Walker, and what he hopes audiences will take away from the film. 

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