After more than 30 years in the business, Willem Dafoe continues to be regarded as one of the finest actors of his generation.
Dafoe first gained attention for his performances in the early ‘80s films Streets of Fire, and To Live and Die in L.A., but it was his role in Oliver Stone’s Platoon that earned him an Academy Award-nomination. Since then he has appeared in a wide variety of popular and acclaimed movies including The Last Temptation of Christ, Mississippi Burning, Wild at Heart, Clear and Present Danger, The English Patient, The Boondock Saints, American Psycho, Shadow of the Vampire (earning him his second Academy Award-nomination), Spider-Man, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Inside Man, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Hunter, and John Carter. Now Dafoe returns to the screen with a supporting role in the ensemble drama Out of the Furnace, which opens in theaters on December 6th.
Out of the Furnace was directed by acclaimed filmmaker Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart), and based on a screenplay he co-wrote with Brad Ingelsby (The Dynamiter). In addition to Dafoe, the film truly features an all-star cast that includes Academy Award-winners Christian Bale (The Fighter), and Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), Academy Award-nominees Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Woody Harrelson (The People vs. Larry Flynt), and Sam Shepard (The Right Stuff), and popular actress Zoe Saldana (Star Trek Into Darkness).
Set in the economically depressed steel industry town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, which is right outside of Pittsburgh, Bale plays Russell Baze; a local steel mill worker taking care of is ailing father and his girlfriend Lena (Saldana). Affleck is Russell’s brother Rodney Jr., a soldier about to go back to Iraq for another tour. Their lives change forever when a cruel twist of fate lands Russell in prison, causing Lena to leave him for Braddock police officer Wesley Barnes (Whitaker). Years later, home from the war and dealing with posttraumatic syndrome, Rodney Jr. is lured into a dangerous world of underground fist fighting by John Petty (Dafoe), a bookie and fight promoter who is family friends with the Bazes. Rodney Jr. owes Petty money and in order to pay off his debt, he begs Petty to set up a fight for him in an out of town fight club. Last seen with notorious fighting kingpin and meth dealer Curtis DeGroat (Harrelson), Rodney Jr. soon goes missing. Now released from prison, and with the local police unable to do anything, Russell must risk his freedom in order to find out what happened to his brother.
I recently had the honor of speaking with the great Willem Dafoe about his work on Out of the Furnace. The Oscar-nominated actor discussed his new movie, how his personal history helped inform his character, why he didn’t do research for the role, what he looks for when choosing projects, his acting approach, working with Casey Affleck and Woody Harrelson, how Christian Bale has grown as an actor since American Psycho, collaborating with director Scott Cooper, and what he is looking for from a director.
Actor Paul Blackthorne can now add documentary filmmaker to his impressive list of credits!
Until now, Blackthorne was best known as a TV actor having appeared on such successful shows as ER, 24, and the cult hit The Dresden Files. More recently, he can be seen each week playing Detective Quentin Lance on the extremely popular CW series Arrow, which is based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow and is now in its second season. However, now the British actor has made his directorial debut with the brilliant new documentary This American Journey, which is currently available on DVD, Hulu On Demand, Vimeo On Demand, and Amazon On Demand.
This American Journey, which personally I think is one of the best documentaries of the year, follows Blackthorne's travels across the country interviewing random people and asking them how they feel about the American dream. Along with Australian photographer Mister Basquali, they drive across America from ghettos to gun shows, courthouses to cattle yards, and are forever changed by the wisdom and insight the learn from the people they meet. What begins as a film about America; actually ends up dealing with themes of race, religion and guns, which after all is in some ways is what this country is all about.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with actor turned documentary filmmaker Paul Blackthorne about his work on This American Journey, as well as his series Arrow. Blackthorne talked candidly about This American Journey, why he wanted to make it, his journey across America, meeting Mister Basquali, the dog they adopted along the way, the production, his favorite moment of the trip, what he learned from the experience, being recognized, Arrow, the success of the show, not being familiar with DC Comics, how his character has changed from the first season, the writing staff’s overall plan, and introducing new DC characters into the series.
No one makes animated family musicals better than Walt Disney Animation Studios!
Now the company that brought you Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Peter Pan, and The Jungle Book, as well as contemporary classics such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King returns with Frozen, which opens in theaters on November 27th. The film was directed by Chris Buck (Tarzan) and Jennifer Lee (screenwriter, Wreck-It Ralph) and is inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen.
Frozen features a sensational cast of talented voice actors and singers including Kristen Bell (Hit & Run), Idina Mendez (Enchanted), Jonathan Groff (TV’s Glee), and Josh Gad (The Internship). The story revolves around princess Anna (Bell) who is forced to team up with Kristoff (Goff), his reindeer sidekick Sven, and a snowman named Olaf (Gad), on an epic journey to find Anna's sister Queen Elsa (Mendez), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in an eternal winter. The film also includes soon-to-be classic songs from Tony Award-winner Robert Lopez (The Book of Mormon), and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Winnie the Pooh).
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee to talk about their work on Frozen. The animated filmmakers discussed their new movie, pitching the idea to Walt Disney Animation Studios chief creative officer John Lasseter, their research, the animation process, creating the story and characters, casting, the music, how the film falls in the tradition of Walt Disney animated musicals, and which classic Disney animated films helped inspire the movie.
Say what you will about Sylvester Stallone but never forget … he IS an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter!
After penning Rocky, as well as its sequels, the Rambo series, Staying Alive (the sequel to Saturday Night Fever), Cliffhanger, and most recently The Expendables series, not to mention several other successful films, Stallone returns to the big screen as a writer and producer with Homefront, which opens in theaters on November 27th. Homefront is based on the novel of the same name by Chuck Logan, and was directed by Gary Fleder (Kiss the Girls, Runaway Jury). The film features an impressive cast of talented actors including Jason Statham (Parker), Kate Bosworth (Black Rock), Frank Grillo (The Grey), Clancy Brown (Hellbenders), Academy Award-nominees Winona Ryder (The Iceman) and James Franco (Oz the Great and Powerful), and newcomer Izabela Vidovic.
In Homefront, retired DEA agent Phil Broker (Statham) moves with his daughter (Vidovic) to a small town in hopes of a fresh start and a chance to escape the demons of his former career. But his quiet life is quickly turned upside down when his path crosses with a band of drug traffickers, led by meth kingpin Gator Bodine (Franco). Cassie Bodine (Bosworth), Gator’s meth-addicted sister, starts a family feud with Broker after his daughter punches her bully son on the school playground. Meanwhile, Gator enlists his girlfriend (Ryder) to help him make a major drug deal with a local biker gang led by Grillo’s character. Wanting nothing but to be left alone, Broker is soon pulled into the Bodine family drama and threatens Gator’s business when his true identity is discovered.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with director Gary Fleder about his work on Homefront. The accomplished filmmaker discussed his new movie, first reading Sylvester Stallone’s screenplay, working with Stallone on the film, Jason Statham’s dramatic turn in the project, collaborating with the action star on the fight sequences, the unusual choice of casting Oscar-nominee James Franco as the villain, Kate Bosworth’s transformative performance, Winona Ryder’s character, young actress Izabela Vidovic, reuniting with actor Frank Grillo, Hollywood’s fascination with meth, and shooting in New Orleans.
Opening in theaters on November 22nd is the highly anticipated sequel to The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The film is a follow up to the extremely successful movie, which is based on the popular series of books by Suzanne Collins. In fact, the novel and film series have been so successful that production has already begun on the final two movies in the franchise, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 & 2.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was directed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine), who takes over the series from the previous movie’s writer/director Gary Ross, and will also be directing the final two films of the franchise. In the new sequel, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem. They are soon forced to once again participate in an all-star edition of the games, that includes previous winners from every district. In addition to Lawrence and Hutcherson, the returning cast includes Liam Hemsworth (Paranoia), Woody Harrelson (Free Birds), Elizabeth Banks (People Like Us), Lenny Kravitz (Lee Daniel’s The Butler), Stanley Tucci (Captain America: The First Avenger), and Donald Sutherland (JFK), as well as new cast members Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March), Jeffrey Wright (A Single Shot), Sam Claffin (Snow White & the Huntsman), and Jena Malone (Sucker Punch).
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with the film and series’ producer Nina Jacobson to talk about her work on The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, as well as the overall franchise. The successful producer discussed the new movie, the success of the previous film, new director Francis Lawrence, having him direct the rest of the franchise, casting recent Academy Award-winner Jennifer Lawrence in the series, the new and returning cast, what from the book had to be left out of the film, and navigating the franchise’s important love triangle.
The Wolverine is back … and now more violent than ever!
Available on Digital HD November 19th, and Blu-ray December 3rd is The Wolverine Unleashed Extended Edition, which features an unrated version of the hit film and marks the sixth time that actor Hugh Jackman has played the popular mutant on screen. The movie was directed by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma), and inspired by the beloved comic series written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Frank Miller. In fact, The Wolverine was so successful in its theatrical release, that it was recently announced a sequel is planned with both Jackman reprising his role as the title character, and Mangold returning to both write and direct.
The film finds Logan (Jackman) living as a hermit in the Yukon still tormented after killing Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) during the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. He soon meets Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant assassin sent to find him by the dying Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), a man that Logan saved during WWII who wishes to repay his debt before he dies. Logan accompanies Yukio back to Japan and upon arriving meets Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto), who will soon inherit the old man’s fortune. Yashida tells Logan that he would like to repay his debt by granting him the one thing he wants … mortality. When Logan turns down the offer a mutant known as Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) poisons him. Yashida soon dies and Yukuza gangsters attempt to kidnap Mariko at the funeral but Logan saves her. However, he is no longer healing as he once did. Now on the run, Logan must protect Mariko while dealing with his own possible mortality.
I recently had the pleasure of watching the new extended edition of The Wolverine during a press screening at the 20th Century Fox lot in Los Angeles. I was a big fan of the theatrical release but the new cut only enhances the movie and makes this the best version of the character fans have ever seen on screen. After the screening, I had a chance to speak with director James Mangold about The Wolverine Unleashed Extended Edition Blu-ray, as well as the film’s upcoming sequel. The accomplished director discussed the new extended edition Blu-ray, why he chose to only include the film’s alternate ending as a deleted scene, shooting the end credit scene, which scenes were extended or added, including Jean Grey in the movie, The Wolverine 2, how it might fit in to the X-Men franchise, and if it will be inspired by any other popular Wolverine stories from the comics.
Britt Robertson’s star is definitely on the rise in Hollywood.
Best known for small roles in Dan in Real Life, Mother and Child, and Scream 4, the actress is currently shooting Tomorrowland co-starring George Clooney (The Descendants), and directed by Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol). The film was written by Damon Lindelof (Prometheus) and is based on futuristic land found at various Disney theme parks. But first she can be seen opposite Vince Vaughn (The Internship) in the new comedy Delivery Man, which opens in theaters on November 22nd.
Delivery Man is based on the French-Canadian hit movie Starbuck, which was written and directed by Ken Scott, who also got to write and direct the remake. The film revolves around an affable underachiever named David (Vaughn) who finds out he's fathered 533 children through anonymous donations to a fertility clinic 20 years ago. Now he must decide whether or not to come forward when 142 of them file a lawsuit to reveal his identity. Robertson plays Kristen, one of David’s daughters that he tries to help when her boyfriend breaks up with her and she overdoses from drugs. In addition to Robertson and Vaughn, the film also stars Chris Pratt (Zero Dark Thirty), Cobie Smulders (Safe Haven), and Bobby Moynihan (TV’s Saturday Night Live).
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Britt Robertson about her work on Delivery Man, as well as the upcoming Tomorrowland. The talented young actress discussed her new film, the French-Canadian movie it is based on, writer/director Ken Scott, working with Vince Vaughn, her character, filming Tomorrowland, Brad Bird, George Clooney’s pranks, and what she can say about her role.
This Friday, November 15th, The Best Man Holiday lets audiences catch up with some old friends played by Morris Chestnut and Monica Calhoun.
It's been fourteen years since The Best Man introduced moviegoers to a group of college companions setting out on their own in the world, optimistically juggling their romantic and professional lives with only each other to depend upon. Through the drama and hilarity surrounding the wedding of Mia (Calhoun) and Lance (Chestnut), the film gave a snapshot of their lives and sense of their future.
Now, that future is coming to the screen. In The Best Man Holiday, it's once again Mia and Lance Sullivan who bring the characters we know and love together again. This time, the legendary professional football player and his wife of fifteen years invite the old gang to their palatial New York home for the Christmas holiday. In no time at all, everyone is back in their familiar rhythms, from struggling author Harper (Taye Diggs, Equilibrium) and his wife Robyn (Sanaa Lathan, Contagion) to Jordan (Nia Long, House of Lies), married couple and charter school administrators Candace (Regina Hall, Think Like a Man) and Julian (Harold Perrineau, Zero Dark Thirty), reality TV star Shelby (Melissa De Sousa, Ashes), and unapologetic ladies' man Quentin (Terrence Howard, Prisoners).
IAR participated in a discussion with Monica Calhoun and Morris Chestnut at the Los Angeles Best Man Holiday press day, where the two actors enthusiastically discussed the process of reuniting the Best Man ensemble, returning to these familiar characters, dancing onscreen, relating to one another, proud moments in their careers, and their hopes for The Best Man Holiday.
Actress CCH Pounder has been entertaining audiences on television and film for almost 35 years and is considered one of the finest character actresses of her generation.
She was first featured in the film All That Jazz, and has gone on to appear in such critically acclaimed and successful films as Prizzi’s Honor, Bagdad Café, Postcards from the Edge, Benny & Joon, Face/Off, and Orphan, as well as in James Cameron’s Avatar as Mo’at. But it is television where the actress has truly left her mark having played Detective Claudette Wyms on the groundbreaking FX series The Shield. Since then she has had roles on several popular series including Justice League Unlimited, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Warehouse 13, Revenge, and most recently Sons of Anarchy. Now Pounder returns to feature films with the new movie Home Again, which will be released on DVD and digital download beginning November 12th.
Home Again revolves around three Jamaicans that are deported from the U.S., Canada, and England, and must make their way in a land that they are not familiar with. Pounder plays Dulsay Mooreland, a single mother living in England with a teenage son (Stephen James) who is deported to Jamaica after committing a minor crime. Now Dulsay will do whatever she needs to in order to get her son back from Jamaica before he is heads down the wrong path. The film was directed and co-written by Sudz Sutherland (TV’s Degrassi: The Next Generation), and also stars Tatyana Ali (Kiss the Girls), and Lyriq Bent (Four Brothers).
I recently had the absolute pleasure of speaking with CCH Pounder about Home Again, as well as the upcoming Avatar sequels, and the legacy of The Shield. The veteran actress discussed her new film, the deportation problem in the U.S., her character’s struggle to help her son, acting alone with a phone, the impact The Shield has had on audiences, when the Avatar sequels begin shooting, and whether or not her character will return.
Actor Kevin Sorbo has appeared in over 80 various films and TV projects, but he is still beloved by fans around the world for his work on the Gene Roddenberry series Andromeda and playing Hercules on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
His latest film is entitled Storm Rider, and is currently available on DVD. The movie revolves around Dani (Danielle Chuchran), a spoiled teenager who loves riding horses. When her father (C. Thomas Howell) is put in jail she is forced to live with her Uncle Sam (Sorbo) on a farm without horses and ends up taking care of a young mule that teaches her what is important in life. The film was written and directed by Craig Clyde, and also stars Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Kevin Sorbo about his work on Storm Rider, as well as what he think about Dwayne Johnson’s upcoming Hercules. The popular actor discussed his new movie, what he wished hadn’t been cut from the film, making a family movie, the relationship between Sam and Dani, the cowboy lifestyle, talking to his dog, working with Kristy Swanson, his thoughts on Dwayne Johnson’s Hercules, as well as the upcoming Hercules: The Legend Begins with Kellan Luntz, wanting to have a cameo in both of those films, and if he would ever consider making a Hercules: The Legendary Journeys or Andromeda TV movie for Netflix.