Interviews

Opening in theaters on November 7th is the new historical drama Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain, which is based on a true story and stars Kal Penn

Penn is best known for his roles in such popular film and TV projects as Van Wilder: Party Liaison, Superman Returns, 24, House M.D., How I Met Your Mother, and the Harold & Kumar trilogy. But in 2009 Penn decided to take a break from acting to join the Obama administration as an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement. 

Now back from his side job in D.C., Penn joins Mischa Barton (TV’s The O.C.) and the great Martin Sheen (The Departed, Apocalypse Now, TV’s The West Wing) in Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain. The new film interweaves stories of people in India and the US as they face dilemmas in the months leading to the biggest Industrial disaster in human history that claimed 10,000 innocent lives within a few hours. The movie was written and directed by first time feature filmmaker Ravi Kumar

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Kal Penn and director Ravi Kumar about their work on Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain. The actor and his director discussed their new project, the true story it is based on, why they wanted to make the movie, Penn’s post-White House acting choices, casting Mischa Barton and Martin Sheen, how Bhopal marks the second time Penn has worked with a US President, and what they hope audiences will learn from the film. 

American cartoonist Jim Davis is responsible for creating one of the most beloved comic strip characters of all-time … Garfield!

After writing for such popular syndicated comic strips as Tumbleweeds and Gnorm Gnat, in 1978 Davis created the comic strip Garfield and has never looked back. Since then, the lovable orange cat has become the star of the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip, and has gone on to appear in 12 prime-time specials, an animated series (Garfield and Friends), a comic book, a musical, several video games, and two live-action films including Garfield: The Movie, and Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. In addition to Garfield, Davis also created the fat cat’s cast of supporting characters including his owner Jon Arbuckle, and his dog Odie. 

Available exclusively at Walmart on November 4th and on iTunes on November 11th is Garfield Holiday Collection, which features five classic prime-time specials all on one DVD. The collection includes A Garfield Christmas, Garfield’s Thanksgiving, the Emmy-winning Garfield’s Halloween Adventure, the Emmy-winning Garfield On The Town, and Garfield In Paradise. The DVD also includes a documentary entitled The House that Garfield Built: A Visit with Jim Davis

I recently had the honor of speaking with the great Jim Davis about Garfield Holiday Collection. The legendary cartoonist discussed the new DVD, how he created the character, Garfield’s relationship with Odie, when Hollywood first approached him to make animated specials, casting Lorenzo Music (Rhoda) as the voice of Garfield, why Bill Murray was perfect to voice the character in the live-action films, originally making the animated holiday specials, and the legacy of the characters that he created. 

IAR INTERVIEW: Jon Stewart Talks 'Rosewater'

Monday, 17 November 2014 10:59

On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart employs razor-sharp wit and absurd humor to both underline and leaven serious political commentary.

With his directorial debut, Rosewater, Stewart leaves behind the comedy for a true story that is far from funny.

That's not to say Rosewater is utterly without a sense of humor, but it is certainly telling a tale that doesn't exactly invite laughter.

The film is based on Then They Came For Me, a bestselling memoir in which Maziar Bahari recounts his imprisonment in Iran.  Bahari, a Tehran-born Iranian Canadian journalist, was covering the election protests in June 2009 when he was arrested in his family's home.  For 118 days, he was interrogated, beaten, and forced under duress to publicly confess to espionage.  Throughout his months of captivity, Bahari interacted almost exclusively with a captor known to him only as "Rosewater."

Stewart had a connection to the story long before writing and directing Rosewater: Iranian authorities used a clip from Bahari's earlier appearance on The Daily Show as evidence of his alleged spying.

IAR's Justine Browning was on hand for a press conference promoting Rosewater in New York, where Stewart discussed the challenges and experience of making his feature directorial debut with Maziar Bahari's wrenching true story, talking about the movie's crew, language, leading man, and reception in the world.

Professional actor and acting teacher Mark Pellegrino definitely practices what he preaches!

Pellegrino has been a working actor for over 25 years, and has an impressive resume of television and film credits to his name. He has appeared on such popular TV shows as Dexter, Prison Break, Supernatural, Being Human, The Closer, Revolution, and The Tomorrow People. While his film work includes No Holds Barred, Lethal Weapon 3, Mulholland Drive, Spartan, National Treasure, The Number 23, and the Oscar-nominated Capote. However, Pellegrino is probably best known to audiences for his role as Jackie Treehorn’s blond thug in The Big Lebowski, and as the mysterious Jacob on Lost. In addition to acting professionally, he has also spent over 15 years as an acting teacher at the famed Playhouse West School and Repertory Theater in North Hollywood, where I was actually once his student. Now Pellegrino can be seen in the new film Bad Turn Worse, which is earning the actor rave reviews and opens in theaters on November 14th. 

Chase Whale of Film Threat called Mark Pellegrino’s performance in Bad Turn Worse, “The best villain I’ve seen on screen since Heath Ledger’s Joker.” That’s high praise! The film follows three Texas teens (Jeremy Allen White, Logan Huffman, and Mackenzie Davis) that hope to make a break for it and escape their dead-end existence in a cotton-mill town. However, they get sucked into the seedy underbelly of organized crime when one of them steals from a crime boss named Giff (Pellegrino). The film also includes performances from Jon Gries (Taken 2) and William Devane (Interstellar), and was directed by first time feature filmmakers Zeke and Simon Hawkins

I recently had the absolute pleasure of speaking with the great Mark Pellegrino about his work on Bad Turn Worse. My former acting teacher discussed his new film, how he got involved with the project, getting to play such a great role, how he uses the acting technique that he teaches in his professional work, collaborating with first time filmmakers Zeke and Simon Hawkins, what he learned from director David Mamet on Spartan, and the legacy of The Big Lebowski

Everybody knows and loves Tommy Lee Jones the movie star, an iconic Oscar-winning actor who has brought a singular presence to the screen for forty years.

He's also an increasingly accomplished director.  Almost a decade ago, he made a big impression with his contemporary western riff The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.  His new film, The Homesman, is a full-blown western set in the tense, unruly decade before the Civil War.

It's a labor of love for Jones, who directs, co-writes, produces, and co-stars alongside fellow Academy Award winner Hilary Swank.

Swank stars in The Homesman as Mary Bee Cuddy, a single Nebraska farmer who is considered too plain, forthright, and assertive to marry. When three women in her community (Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, and Sonja Richter) are driven to insanity by the difficulties and tragedies of frontier life, Cuddy volunteers to take them East via covered wagon to Iowa, where they'll be taken care of by a kindly matron (Meryl Streep). 

As she crosses the harsh landscape, Cuddy encounters George Briggs (Jones), a ruffian and drifter she saves from lynching in order to recruit his help on her long, difficult journey.  Together, this strange motley crew go on an odyssey back to civilization.

Thanks to Managing Editor Jami Philbrick, IAR was on hand at the Los Angeles press day promoting The Homesman, opening in theaters Friday, November 14th.  Both Tommy Lee Jones and Hilary Swank thoughtfully and enthusiastically discussed this unique movie, which acts as both a double-barreled western and a feminist critique of the genre.

Actor Jason Ritter may be part of a Hollywood dynasty, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t work hard to get to the top!

Jason Ritter is the son of legendary comedic actor John Ritter and actress Nancy Morgan, as well as the grandchild of musician/actor Tex Ritter and actress Dorothy Fay. Jason began his career at a very young age appearing in the opening credits of his father’s groundbreaking series Three’s Company. As an adult he has appeared in a string of successful films including Swimfan, Freddy vs. Jason, The Wicker Man, W., and The East. But he is probably best known for his work on TV in such popular shows as Joan of Arcadia, The Class, The Event, and Parenthood. But now, Ritter can be seen once again on the big screen in the new film Always Woodstock, which opens in theaters on November 14th. 

The new film follows struggling songwriter Catherine Brown (Allison Miller) as her life in New York City falls apart. She is forced to confront her past when she spends the summer at her childhood home in Woodstock, New York, learning that becoming successful means becoming your true self first. Ritter plays Garret, Catherine’s ex and the reason she leaves NYC. The movie was written and directed by first time filmmaker Rita Merson, and in addition to Brown and Ritter also stars James Wolk (For a Good Time, Call…), Katey Segal (FX’s Sons of Anarchy), Rumor Willis (The House Bunny), and Brittany Snow (96 Minutes). 

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jason Ritter about his work on Always Woodstock. The talented actor discussed his new film, why he took such a small role, why he still auditions, finding roles that are different from what he has done before, wanting to be an actor from a very young age, and the invaluable advise that his parents gave him. 

Foxcatcher is going to completely change how audiences see Steve Carell and Channing Tatum.

Both actors are already household names, but both also occupy curiously specific niches. 

Carell is the genially comic leading man capable of unhinged goofiness (Anchorman), family-friendliness (Despicable Me), and undeniably funny roles that he gives some depth (The 40 Year Old Virgin).  Tatum is the beefcake action hero (G.I. Joe) and romantic figure (The Vow) who has also shown comedic chops (22 Jump Street) and hinted at real dramatic depth (Magic Mike).

In Foxcatcher, both established actors pull the pins on their respective images with career-best performances that have been earning ecstatic awards season praise for months now.

Directed by Bennett Miller (Moneyball), the movie tells the true story of Mark Schultz, a former Olympic wrestler who receives an invite from the fabulously wealthy John du Pont to train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics on du Pont's massive, old money estate.  Both men are driven to achieve sporting glory: du Pont for some weird, Oedipal reasons and Mark, to escape the shadow of his celebrated older brother Dave.  Before long, the relationship between Mark and du Pont gets strange and self-destructive, which isn't helped when Dave begins coaching du Pont's wrestling team.

Tatum plays Mark Schultz, while Carell plays du Pont and Mark Ruffalo also makes a strong impression as Dave Schultz.

IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick was on hand at the Los Angeles press day for Foxcatcher, where Steve Carell and Channing Tatum thoughtfully discussed their roles, hopping between genres, cinematic wrestling, and playing real people in this presumptive Oscar nominee.

This Friday, Harry Dunne and Lloyd Christmas ride again, but apparently Dumb and Dumber To isn't a sequel.

"When you wait twenty years, a sequel becomes a she-quel,” Jim Carrey revealed at the Los Angeles press day for the long-awaited follow-up to Dumb and Dumber.

"It is a word. Look it up," agreed Jeff Daniels, who plays dumber than ever before in the "she-quel."

"If you work in advertising, I think I just coined a huge phrase," joked Carrey. "It is going to change everything for everyone."

However you classify it, Dumb and Dumber To revisits the imbeciles who captured America's heart in 1994, when the two Rhode Island idiots traveled across the county to deliver a missing piece of luggage.  In the new movie, which opens nationwide on November 14th, Harry and Lloyd once again set out on an improbable odyssey, this time searching for Harry's long-lost daughter, who may hold the key to her father's survival, as well as Lloyd's affections.

IAR Managing Editor Jami Philbrick was on hand for the Dumb and Dumber To LA press conference, where both Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey cracked wise, happily discussing the sequel's origins, returning to these beloved roles, working with Kathleen Turner, reuniting with directorial duo Peter and Bobby Farrelly, and possible future "she-quels."

Screenwriter David Hayter has helped write some of the greatest super hero movies ever made!

Hayter actually began his career as an actor and was the voice of Captain America on the Spider-Man animated series in the ‘90s. After transitioning into a career as a screenwriter, Hayter wrote Bryan Singer’s X-Men. He went on to co-write X-Men 2, as well as co-writing Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. He was also at one point set to write and direct a film based on the Marvel character Black Widow for Lionsgate, before Marvel Studios retrieved the rights to the character. Hayter finally makes his directorial debut with his new film Wolves, which he also wrote and opens in theaters on November 14th.

Wolves follows Cayden Richards (X-Men: First ClassLucas Till), who is forced to hit the road after the murder of his parents. Cayden wanders lost without purpose until he meets a certifiable lunatic named Wild Joe (John Pyper-Ferguson). Joe sets Cayden on a path to the ominous town of Lupine Ridge, to hunt down the truths of his history. But in the end, who's really hunting whom? In addition to Till and Pyper-Ferguson, the film also stars Jason Momoa (Conan the Barbarian), Kaitlyn Leeb (Total Recall), Merritt Patterson (The Hole), and Stephen McHattie (Watchmen). 

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with writer and director David Hayter about his work on Wolves. The accomplished screenwriter discussed his new movie, how he got involved with the project, making his directorial debut, his favorite werewolf movies, what he learned about directing from the filmmakers he’s collaborated with on past projects, casting Lucas Till, the current status of his Black Widow movie and why Watchmen is a masterpiece.

Opening in select theaters on November 7th is the new biopic The Theory of Everything, which is based on the life of Stephen Hawking and is already earning early Oscar buzz.

The new film takes a look at the relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). Redmayne is best known for his work on My Week with Marilyn and Les Miserables, while Jones has appeared in such projects as Breathe In, The Invisible Woman, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The Theory of Everything was directed by James Marsh (Shadow Dancer), and written by Anthony McCarten (Death of a Superhero). 

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, along with a few other members of the press, to talk about their work on The Theory of Everything. The two talented young actors discussed their new film, why it’s not your standard biopic, what they found refreshing about the script, the advantages of shooting out of sequence, and the project’s Oscar-buzz. 

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