Interviews

With this Friday's White Bird in a Blizzard, Shailene Woodley continues her year of exceptional performances in films based on novels.

The acclaimed young actress kicked off 2014 in blockbuster fashion starring in Divergent, the first in a series of franchise pictures based on a bestselling series.  Over the summer, she stuck the landing playing as in the adaptation of the enormously popular The Fault in Our Stars.

White Bird in a Blizzard is adapted from the book of the same name by Laura Kasischke, but it steps away from the Young Adult tone of both Woodley's other 2014 efforts.

She stars as Kat Connor, a teen experiencing a sexual awakening in 1988, just as her beautiful mother, frustrated by her daughter's blossoming and years in a loveless marriage, suddenly disappears without a trace.  As Kat attempts to track down her vivacious mom, she juggles her repressed father, her hunky but dim boyfriend, and the detective investigating her missing mother.

It's the latest from acclaimed indie auteur Gregg Araki.  With Woodley maintaining the film's center, White Bird in a Blizzard also stars Eva Green (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For), Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel), Shiloh Fernandez (Evil Dead remake), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Angela Bassett (American Horror Story), and Thomas Jane (The Mist).

IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick was on hand for the White Bird in a Blizzard press conference in Los Angeles, speaking with Shailene Woodley about stardom, how she chooses a project, the awkwardness of onscreen intimacy, nudity, playing Kat, and the themes of White Bird in a Blizzard.

Swedish born actor Peter Stormare has become one of the most popular supporting actors working in Hollywood today. 

Stormare first gained attention for his role in the Coen Brothers classic Fargo, and has gone on to appear in such successful films as The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Armageddon, The Big Lebowski, Minority Report, Constantine, Pain & Gain, and 22 Jump Street. He is also known for his work on television playing mob boss John Abruzzi on Prison Break, and most recently appearing as main antagonist Berlin on The Blacklist. But now Stormare returns to the big screen with his new film Autumn Blood, which is available on DVD beginning October 14th. 

In Autumn Blood, a widowed mother dies and leaves her two children orphaned. Fearing being split up they keep their mother's death a secret. They survive until villagers destroy their innocence when they brutally assault the girl. Now the siblings must come of age to protect each other and survive. The film was co-written and directed by Markus Blunder, and in addition to Stormare, also stars Sophie Lowe (Adore), Maxmilian Harnisch (TV’s Fast Forward), and Gustaf Skarsgard (The Way Back). 

I recently had the absolute pleasure of speaking with the great Peter Stormare about his work on Autumn Blood, as well as his recurring role on The Blacklist, and a possible sequel to The Big Lebowski. The veteran actor discussed his new film Autumn Blood, why he wanted to be in the movie, how he’s different than most actors, appearing in a film with very little dialogue, what he told Steven Spielberg would make Minority Report better, possibly returning for The Big Lebowski 2, and his recurring role on The Blacklist

Guillermo del Toro is uniquely endowed with the gift of gab.  A famously loquacious fellow, he’s a filmmaker who loves to talk.

Of course, moviegoers prefer to actually see his films, beautifully crafted, frequently phantasmagoric wonders that only del Toro could make, from Pan’s Labyrinth to the Hellboy, Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone, and most recently, Pacific Rim.

Not content just directing, he’s made himself a one-man empire.  One part of that empire finds del Toro producing films about which he’s passionate and using his blockbuster clout to help similarly passionate filmmakers realize their visions.

This Friday’s The Book of Life is one such film. 

Written and directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez, The Book of Life is an animated adventure quite unlike any other.  A Dia de los Muertos-styled fantasy, the story concerns a love triangle between three lifelong friends. 

Both Manolo (Diego Luna, Elysium), a dreamer who longs to abandon bullfighting to play guitar, and Joaquin (Channing Tatum, 22 Jump Street), a swaggering braggart, are madly in love with the spirited Maria (Zoe Saldana, Guardians of the Galaxy).  They're so in love, in fact, that the gods wager on which suitor will win her heart.  Manolo's love sets him off a journey from the Land of the Living to fantastical realms the Land of the Remembered and the Land of the Forgotten.

IAR’s Managing Editor, Jami Philbrick, was on hand at the Los Angeles press day for The Book of Life, where producer Guillermo del Toro discussed the animated movie’s purity, design, music, and meaning.  Since he’s such a talker, del Toro also happily provided updates on his next film as director, a musical stage version of Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim 2, season two of The Strain, and even the possibility of Hellboy III.

Ryan Phillippe has been acting professionally for over twenty years, and he can now add writer and director to his impressive resume. 

Phillippe began his career with roles in such films as Crimson Tide, White Squall, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and 54, but it was his performance in Cruel Intentions that made him a household name. He went on to appear in a string of critically acclaimed films like Robert Altman’s Gosford Park, Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers, and the Academy Award-winning Crash, as well as the box office hit The Lincoln Lawyer, and the cult classic MacGruber. But now Phillippe makes his directorial debut with the new horror thriller Catch Hell, which he also stars in, co-wrote, and produced, and opens in theaters and VOD on October 10th. 

The film follows washed up Hollywood actor Reagan Pearce (Phillippe) who is kidnapped by thugs in Shreveport, Louisiana while on location making a movie. Trapped in a swamp hut, his kidnappers (Russ Russo and Stephen Louis Grush) torture and blackmail him, hijacking his twitter account and threatening to upload compromising material. Accused of sleeping with the wife of one of his kidnappers, Pearce must now face his own demons in order to escape his captors and regain his reputation.  

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Ryan Phillippe about his work on Catch Hell, as well as returning for a possible MacGruber 2. The accomplished actor and first time director discussed his new movie, how he came up with the concept for the screenplay, why he decided to make Catch Hell his directorial debut, directing himself in the torture sequences, drawing inspiration from some of the legendary directors that he has previously worked with, what he learned about directing that he will apply to his next film, wanting to return for the recently announced MacGruber 2, and the long list of comedians who want to appear in the sequel. 

The Judge isn't on trial, but if it were, there's one thing it might be guilty of: stacking the deck.

The film, hitting theaters this Friday, has something for anyone and everyone, combining high-stakes courtroom drama, layered family portrait, estranged father-son conflict, delicate true-to-life comedy, and even earnest coming of age growth.

The cast, similarly, is an irresistible ensemble of heavyweight thespians, from Robert Downey Jr. (The Avengers) to Robert Duvall (The Godfather), Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade), Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel), Vincent D'Onofrio (Marvel's upcoming Daredevil series), Jeremy Strong (Zero Dark Thirty), Dax Shepard (This Is Where I Leave You), Leighton Meester (That's My Boy), and David Krumholtz (This Is the End).

Current king of the superhero movie Downey Jr. stars in The Judge as Hank Palmer, a slick big city lawyer who returns home to his small town when his estranged father (Duvall), who suffers from Alzheimer's, is accused of murder. 

The wrinkle is that his father is, in fact, a notoriously inflexible local judge.  After decades of issuing stern justice, the judge may very well have run down a criminal with his car.  While grappling with their loaded relationship, Hank volunteers to defend his father from a zealous prosecutor, setting the stage for legal maneuvering and emotional catharsis.

At the Los Angeles press day for The Judge, IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick participated in a Q&A with Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, and Billy Bob Thornton, three Oscar-caliber actors who enthusiastically discussed their latest performances in director David Dobkin's drama.

Rapper turned actor Andre Benjamin, better known as Andre 3000, is one half of the extremely popular hip-hop duo OutKast. As an actor he has appeared in such films as Be Cool, Four Brothers, Revolver, Fracture, and Semi-Pro, as well as the groundbreaking TV series The Shield. Benjamin now takes on the coveted role of Jimi Hendrix in the new biopic Jimi: All Is by My Side, which opens in theaters on September 26th.

The film, which was written and directed by Academy Award-winner John Ridley (12 Years A Slave), follows the life of iconic musician Jimi Hendrix as he left New York City for London, where his career really took off. Imogen Poots (Need for Speed) plays Linda Keith, girlfriend of The Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards, and the woman who discovered Hendrix and encouraged him to move to London to become a solo artist. The film is basically “Jimi Hendrix Begins,” and tells the origin story of how he came to be the legendary guitarist that we all know and love. In addition to Benjamin and Poots, the film also stars Hayley Atwell (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Burn Gorman (The Dark Knight Rises), and Andy Buckley (Bridesmaids).

I recently had the pleasure of briefly speaking with Andre Benjamin about his work on Jimi: All Is by My Side. The popular rapper and actor discussed his new film, preparing to play Hendrix, how his research helped shape his performance, and the influence Linda Keith had on Hendrix’s life and career.

Writer/producer Simon Kinberg has worked on some of the most popular fan-favorite franchises of all-time!

Kinberg has written such successful films as Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Jumper and Sherlock Holmes. But it was his work on the screenplay for X-Men: The Last Stand that made him a household name among comic book nerds everywhere. Since then he has gone on to produce X-Men: First Class, write the recently announced Gambit solo movie, and write and produce the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse. He also wrote and produced last summer’s critically acclaimed X-Men: Days of Future Past, which will be available on Blu-ray and DVD beginning October 14th. But Kinberg isn’t just an X-Men eXpert, as he also wrote and produced next summer’s highly anticipated Fantastic Four, as well as writing and producing the new Star Wars Rebels TV series. 

X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is based on the classic X-Men comic book storyline by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, begins 10 years in the future where giant robots called Sentinels are killing mutants and humans alike. In a desperate final attempt for survival, Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) use Shadowcat/Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) to send Wolverine/Logan (Hugh Jackman) back to 1973 in order to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), which caused the world’s hatred of mutants and the advancement of the Sentinel program. Now in the past, Logan must unite an emotionally shattered young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) with Magneto, (Michael Fassbender) who has been imprisoned for the assassination of JFK. With the help of Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), and a mutant named Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver (Evan Peters), they break Magneto out of jail and journey to stop Mystique before it’s too late, in the process, hopefully, changing the future for the better.

I recently had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Simon Kinberg about his work on X-Men: Days of Future Past, as well as X-Men: Apocalypse, another original trilogy cast film, Gambit, and the X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover movie. The accomplished writer/producer discussed X-Men: Days of Future Past, the challenges of adapting a two-issue comic book story into a feature film, how X-Men: Apocalypse will be the completion of the First Class cast trilogy, if Hugh Jackman will appear as Logan/Wolverine in Apocalypse, if Gambit will be reintroduced in Apocalypse or his own movie first, if there will ever be another film featuring the original trilogy cast set in the new Days of Future Past continuity, and which X-Men franchise actors and characters will appear in the X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover movie. 

Actress Katie Cassidy is certainly no stranger to comic book adapted film or TV projects. 

The daughter of actor David Cassidy (The Partridge Family), she has appeared in several successful TV series such as Supernatural, Melrose Place, and Gossip Girl, as well as popular films like Taken, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Monte Carlo. But Cassidy is probably best known for her role as Dinah “Laurel” Lance on the hit CW series Arrow, which is based on the popular DC Comics character Green Arrow and starts its third season on October 8th. But first the actress can be seen starring in the new film The Scribbler, which is also based on a graphic novel and opens in theaters, VOD and iTunes on September 19th.

The film, which is based on the graphic novel by screenwriter Daniel Schaffer, revolves around a young woman named Suki (Cassidy) who faces her destructive multiple personalities using an experimental new procedure known as "The Siamese Burn." In addition to Cassidy, the movie also stars Garret Dillahunt (Looper), Michelle Trachtenberg (TV’s Gossip Girl), Sasha Grey (Would You Rather), Gina Gershon (Killer Joe), Billy Campbell (TV’s The Killing), Eliza Dushku (True Lies), and Michael Imperioli (The Call).  

I recently had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Katie Cassidy about her work on The Scribbler, as well as the upcoming third season of Arrow. The popular actress discussed her new film, if she had any concerns about appearing in another project based on a comic book, her almost unrecognizable performance, the importance of graphic novel creator Daniel Schaffer also penning the screenplay, the movie’s impressive production value, working with Eliza Dushku and Michael Imperioli, the new season of Arrow, the success of the show, if her character will be involved in more of the action this season, if she will ever become Black Canary like in the comics, and if the writer’s have a planned end game for the eventual finale of the series.  

Reese Witherspoon believes her new movie, The Good Lie, does more than just entertain.

"Once you see the film, it makes you want to go home and look it up and get more involved," Witherspoon said at a press conference for the film in Nashville, Tennessee.

Opening in select cities this Friday, October 3rd, The Good Lie chronicles the journey of several "Lost Boys," the countless children made orphans by the unbelievably brutal civil war that ravaged Sudan beginning in 1983.  In order to evade the murderous Janjaweed militia that burned their village to the ground, this trio of survivors walk hundreds of miles on foot across harsh landscapes, first East to Ethiopia, then South to Kenya. 

Eventually, fifteen years later, all three arrive in America as part of a humanitarian effort to relocate several thousand Lost Boys to the U.S.

So in many ways, Academy Award® winner Witherspoon is, in fact, a supporting player in the film, with Sudanese actors Ger Duany, Arnold Oceng, Emmanuel Jal, and Kuoth Wiel carrying the bulk of the narrative as Jeremiah, Mamere, Paul, and Abital.  Witherspoon, meanwhile, plays Carrie, a Kansas City employment agency rep who befriends the refugees.

IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick traveled to Nashville for the premiere of The Good Lie.  At the press conference, Witherspoon recalled how she became involved in The Good Lie.  "For a few years, I was a little bit lost as an artist not being able to find what I wanted to do and making choices that I wasn’t ultimately very happy with," she said.  "What started this whole string of things that I was doing personally was just getting back to wanting to play interesting, dynamic female characters.  When I read Margaret Nagle’s script, I was just so moved."

Actress Lauren Holly has been a fixture on television and in film for the better part of the last 30 years!

Holly first gained attention for her role on the Emmy-winning series Picket Fences, and has gone on to appear in such popular films as Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Dumb and Dumber, Sabrina, Beautiful Girls, What Women Want, and Any Given Sunday. But she is probably best known for her recurring role as Director Jenny Shepard on NCIS, which in 2011 was voted America’s favorite television show. The accomplished actress can now be seen once again on the big screen in the new American war drama Field of Lost Shoes, which opens in theaters on September 26th. 

Field of Lost Shoes is based on a true story of the American Civil War, culminating at the Battle of New Market, May 1864. In the film a group of teenage cadets sheltered from war at the Virginia Military Institute must confront the horrors of an adult world when they are called upon to defend the Shenandoah Valley. Leaving behind their youth, these cadets must decide what they are fighting for. Holly plays Mrs. Clinedinst, the mother of a girl in love with one of the young soldiers. In addition to Holly, the film features a terrific cast that includes Jason Isaacs (Green Zone), Keith David (Platoon), David Arquette (Scream), and Tom Skerritt (Top Gun). The movie was directed by Sean McNamara (Soul Surfer), and written by first time screenwriters Thomas Farrell and Dave Kennedy.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Lauren Holly about Field of Lost Shoes, as well as the 15th Anniversary of Any Given Sunday. The talented actress discussed her new film, the real life story it is based on, her character, researching her role, the incredible cast, not having a Picket Fences reunion on set with her co-star Tom Skerritt, director Sean McNamara, what she is looking for from a director on set, choosing projects, Any Given Sunday, working with legendary director Oliver Stone, beating the crap out of Dennis Quaid, and which of her film or television projects she is most proud of. 

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