Child star Sophie Nelisse has urged Hollywood's studio bosses to keep making films about the Holocaust, because she is part of a generation who aren't taught about the horrors of the second world war. The 13 year old admits she knew nothing about the Nazi atrocities before she started researching her role in The Book Thief, in which her character befriends a Jewish man hiding from German troops, and she thinks youngsters should be aware of what happened.
Speaking at a recent screening of the film in Los Angeles, Nelisse said, "We don't learn about the Holocaust in my school, so when I did the movie I had to do a lot of research.
"Kids my age - our generation - don't know enough about what happened. Some people think it's annoying that we keep on making these (Holocaust) movies, but I don't think so because all of the (concentration) camp survivors are gonna die at some point... and I just hope that in 100 years, people remember what happened, first of all to not let it happen again and sort of for a way to remember the people that died and to remember the people that fought for them (sic). I just think it's really important that we keep on making these movies."
Her thoughts were echoed by her co-star Emily Watson, who recently told WENN, "We filmed in Berlin, which is a city that is very, very honest and it wears it's history on it's sleeve, and it's very brutal with itself what has happened there. It was pretty relentless because you're filming all day and then you'd go off on a sightseeing tour and everywhere you go there is an exhibit about what happened. It's gutting.
"But it's fascinating to me that Sophie has friends who don't know about the Holocaust. You sit in a room with seasoned hacks (journalists) and they've all seen Schindler's List and The Pianist and The Reader and they ask, 'Do we need another Holocaust movie?'
"Yeah, we b**ody well do. (Co-star) Geoffrey (Rush) was talking about a survey that was carried out in the United States, where teenagers were asked, 'Was Adolf Hitler a dictator or was he a football coach?' Most of them thought he was a football coach! So it's a story you have to keep telling."
Actor David Arquette shocked Howard Stern fans on Wednesday (30Oct13) by drunk calling the shock jock's live radio show and rambling about Adolf Hitler. The Scream star, who began drinking alcohol again earlier this year (13) after two years of sobriety, rang in to speak to Stern and his sidekick Robin Quivers.
Arquette admitted he had been boozing before dialling, and left listeners concerned for his wellbeing when he began to talk about the Nazi leader.
He told Stern, "I'm wasted. This isn't the first time I called you (drunk). I've called in a few times."
He added, "This is the most controversial thing I'm going to say. It's very controversial, and I'm sorry, and I apologise to anyone I'm going to offend. And I'm wasted and I'll get sober tomorrow. Listen, listen, listen - I've gotta say something on the N-word later - but Hitler played the game very well. He did. Listen, yeah, he played his game very well. He convinced a lot of people to play his f**king evil game. He played the game really well, but he was playing the wrong game."
Arquette went on to gush about his ex-wife, Courteney Cox, saying, "She's the most brilliant, beautiful friend that I've ever met."
Legendary The Who rocker Roger Daltrey helped members of America's Congress celebrate the special relationship between the U.S. and U.K. governments on Wednesday (30Oct13) by performing at the unveiling of a bust in Winston Churchill's honour. The veteran Brit joined Secretary of State John Kerry and leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. for the dedication and belted out The Who classic Won't Get Fooled Again and Ben E. King's Stand by Me to represent the close bond between the two countries.
During the ceremony, House Speaker John Boehner paid tribute to the late British Prime Minister, calling him "the best friend the United States ever had", adding, "He saw in America the very exceptionalism we see today."
Churchill, who led Britain into World War II, built up a rapport with then-U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and famously rallied support from U.S. citizens to join the Allied forces and defeat Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and his Japanese allies after the attack of Pearl Harbor in 1941.
His bold address during a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress that December (41) boomed out of speakers in the Capitol once again on Wednesday as he was remembered.
ABCThe recent cancellation of CBS sitcom We Are Men and ABC lottery drama Lucky 7 once again highlighted the sheer brutality of the TV industry. However, at least they made it to a second episode. Some shows perform so disastrously on their debut that they never see the light of day again. Here's a look at five flops which suffered the humiliation of being taken off air after just one week.Emily's Reasons Why NotReportedly commissioned by ABC without even seeing a script, this 2006 Heather Graham vehicle about a self-help author's disastrous love life gave critics countless reasons to stick their knives in, most notably its gay stereotypes, unlikeable lead character and Sex & The City knock-off plotlines.Heil Honey I'm HomeProof that the UK can be just as quick off the draw when it comes to small-screen flops, Heil Honey I'm Home was dropped by the Galaxy network in 1990 following the understandable controversy surrounding its jaw-dropping premise – a spoof of 1950s sitcoms featuring a fictionalised version of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun living next door to a Jewish couple.Dot ComedyPerhaps just a little too ahead of their time, Chelsea Lately regulars The Sklar Brothers pre-dated the likes of Tosh 2.0 and Web Soup with this 2000 collection of the funniest Internet clips. Only 4.1 million viewers saw the funny side and ABC promptly shelved the format that would later become a TV staple.Osbournes ReloadedThe most obvious sign that we'd had enough of their dysfunctional antics, The Osbournes' misguided take on the variety show flopped harder than Kelly's pop career when it was briefly aired in the post-American Idol slot in 2009.Secret Talents Of The StarsIntended as a seven-week tournament, CBS's 2008 attempt to wring every bit of mileage out of the talent show format bombed when the prospect of watching a tap-dancing Mya and a country music-crooning George Takei unsurprisingly failed to pull in less than five million viewers.
20th Century Fox
Markus Zusak didn’t expect for his 2006 novel The Book Thief to get published. Let alone become a New York Times #1 Bestseller. Let alone receive a major movie adaptation by 20th Century Fox that’s already getting Oscar buzz two months before its Nov. 15 release. “I thought no one would read it,” Zusak says. “I mean, how would someone describe it to their friends? ‘Well, it’s set in Nazi Germany. It’s narrated by Death. There’s a high body count. And it’s 580 pages long. You’ll love it!’”
Anyone who’s read The Book Thief — and it turns out many, many people have — knows it’s the staggeringly ambitious story of Liesel Meminger, a ten-year-old girl separated from her communist mother and forced to live with foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann in the small German town of Molching. The year is 1939. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party control Germany and are about to begin marching across Europe. It’s appropriate, then, that the novel is narrated by Death. But this isn’t any skeletal Grim Reaper with sickle or scythe. He’s a wry, relatively good-natured chap with a job to do. Death shows us Liesel’s experiences leading up to and during World War II: how her foster father Hans teaches her how to read a book she stole, the way she settles in to life in Molching, interacts with other kids her own age, and helps hide the son of a Jewish man who fought alongside Hans in World War I in the cellar of her foster parents’ home, just as the full savagery of the Holocaust begins. What Zusak conjures is truly unique: a panoramic view of life in a German town during World War II, a Mrs. Miniver story set on the other side.
The Book Thief is the stuff of great drama, but let’s face it…most movie adaptations of novels about adolescent girls these days feature vampires, werewolves, and witches, not Nazis. “The Book Thief was always at the forefront of my mind,” producer Karen Rosenfelt says. “I really wanted to get this made even while I was working on other projects like Twilight.” Rosenfelt has produced some of the highest-grossing movies geared to young people in recent years, including all five of the movies based on Stephenie Meyer’s vampire saga. But The Book Thief became a true passion project for her and she wanted its movie adaptation to share two qualities of the book: authenticity and honesty.
Zusak’s book is incredibly detailed, and it’s easy to see why: his parents grew up in Germany during World War II before eventually emigrating to Australia. “The best research for the book was my whole childhood, really,” Zusak says. Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush, who Rosenfelt tapped to play the loving Hans Hubermann, adds, “It’s such a personal story, because Markus developed the idea for The Book Thief from the stories his parents told him about living in Nazi Germany. So even though it seems like such a different world, there’s this level of detail he brings to it that makes it feel lived-in enough that anybody can relate to it.” Zusak’s parents also peppered their conversation with hyperlocal insults like the word “saumensch,” featured prominently in the book. In fact, Zusak even based Liesel’s personality in part on his mother’s. “I think it’s very fresh,” Rush says. “I wasn’t aware of the book when I was sent the screenplay, then read the book after having read the screenplay and thought [screenwriter] Michael Petroni did a really honorable transposition of it. It has such a whimsical, sardonic, poetic, existential sensibility…and it’s very blunt.”
So to match the book’s level of authenticity, Rosenfelt hired director Brian Percival, who’s worked on much of Downton Abbey, and insisted on shooting the movie in Germany. But there were still many challenges for the filmmakers to unpack. First, there was the matter of the book’s length. “It’s close to 600 pages, so it was tough to figure out what to leave on the cutting room floor,” Rosenfelt says. Among the things that have been changed from the book to the movie, Hans and Rosa are now childless. In the book, their son was a pretty fanatical Nazi. “One thing we couldn’t cut? Death’s voiceover,” Rosenfelt says. “We knew we wanted that from the start. But voiceover is a tricky thing. You never want too much of it or for it to take you out of the film. It should be seamless.” Producer Ken Blancato adds, “You shouldn’t be going ‘Wait, is that Morgan Freeman?’” The voice actor for Death still hasn’t been announced yet, but it’ll be the critical thread to link the many years of the story together.
There’s also the challenge of aging Sophie from a 10-year-old to a 17-year-old over the course of the movie. Thousands of girls auditioned for the role, but it was 13-year-old Canadian actress Sophie Nélisse (Monsieur Lazhar) who won out. The Book Thief makeup team then worked to shade her face in such a way to convey Sophie aging. “I wanted to go for the full Benjamin Button effect,” Nelisse jokes.
However, figuring out the basic challenges of adapting the book and casting one actress to inhabit Liesel as she grows from a child into a young woman was just the beginning in creating The Book Thief.
For part two of our behind-the-scenes look at The Book Thief, about how director Brian Percival, production designer Simon Elliott, and costume designer Anna B. Sheppard brought the world of the book to life, click here.
More: ‘The Book Thief’: Watch the Emotional Trailer for Geoffrey Rush’s Likely Oscar Contender ‘Downton Abbey’ Director Takes on ‘The Book Thief’ ‘The Counselor’ Trailer Asks Us All: Have We Been Bad?
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British funnyman Russell Brand has aimed a scathing rant at the organisers of the recent GQ awards after he was booted out for cracking jokes about Nazis, branding the prizegiving "fabricated fun" dominated by big business. The actor/comedian was removed from the GQ Men of the Year Awards in London earlier this month (Sep13) after he used his acceptance speech to criticise the evening's sponsors Hugo Boss, the German fashion firm which produced uniforms worn by Adolf Hitler's troops during World War II.
Brand told the audience, "Hugo Boss made the uniforms for the Nazis. The Nazis did have flaws, but they did look f**king fantastic, let's face it, while they were killing people on the basis of their religion and sexuality!"
The Forgetting Sarah Marshall star has now opened up about his experience at the awards show in a column for Britain's The Guardian newspaper, insisting he didn't really want to be there and only attended the "because I have a tour on and I was advised it would be good publicity". He adds of the bash, "These parties aren't like real parties. It's fabricated fun, imposed from the outside. A vision of what squares (executives) imagine cool people might do set on a spaceship... The glamour and the glitz isn't real, the party isn't real."
Brand goes on to describe the audience's reaction to his controversial speech, writing, "I could see the room dividing as I spoke. I could hear the laughter of some and louder still the silence of others... Subsequent to my jokes, the evening took a peculiar turn. Like the illusion of sophistication had been inadvertently disrupted by the exposure. It had the vibe of a wedding dinner where the best man's speech had revealed the groom's infidelity. With Hitler."
The funnyman insists he wasn't aiming to hurt Hugo Boss, but didn't want to pander to corporate sponsors, adding, "The jokes about Hugo Boss were not intended to herald a campaign to destroy them... They are, I thought, an irrelevant menswear supplier with a double-dodgy history... We know that however cool a media outlet may purport to be, their primary loyalty is to their corporate backers. We know also that you cannot criticise the corporate backers openly without censorship and subsequent manipulation of this information."
Rocker Brian May has risked sparking outrage among Jewish leaders in the U.K. after comparing the country's badger cull to genocide. The Queen star is a leading campaigner against the drastic pest control measure which is being undertaken to prevent the spread of bovine TB.
May was on a morale-boosting visit to see protesters in the rural west of England earlier this week (beg09Sep13) when he made the remark, describing the project to slaughter 5,000 badgers as "genocide in the countryside".
Several Jewish community leaders in the U.K. have now warned the guitarist against using a word more commonly associated with the massacre of millions of Jews by Adolf Hitler's regime during the Holocaust.
Rabbi Anna Gerrard says, "The use of the word 'genocide' in this context is simply wrong. From an etymological point of view genocide means 'killing of people'. In particular I think high profile people need to be careful when they take a word like that out of context, especially when using it to emote others.
"From a Jewish perspective, obviously it makes people think of the Holocaust, in which not only were many people killed but they were dehumanised to make that killing seem acceptable. It has the potential to cause offence but I think that most people would just see it as a ridiculous thing to say."
Jenny Silverstone, chairwoman of the Cheltenham Hebrew Congregation, which is based near the site of the protest, adds, "Brian May obviously feels very passionately about the badger cull and we must not fault that. But the Holocaust was a terrible thing. I can understand if some of our members are upset by his ill-advised use of the term genocide. Let's put it into perspective though. He misused a word - I'm sure he didn't mean to say something atrocious."
British funnyman Russell Brand was kicked out of the GQ Awards afterparty on Tuesday (03Sep13) after cracking jokes about Nazis. The Forgetting Sarah Marshall star was picking up the Oracle of the Year prize at the annual ceremony in London when he took a shot at the evening's sponsors Hugo Boss, the German fashion firm which produced uniforms worn by Adolf Hitler's troops during World War II.
He said, "If any of you know a little bit about history and fashion, you'll know it was Hugo Boss (who) made the uniforms for the Nazis. The Nazis did have flaws, but they did look f**king fantastic, let's face it, while they were killing people on the basis of their religion and sexuality!"
Later in his speech, Brand placed a finger under his nose to impersonate Hilter, joking, "I'm a comedian and it's my job to make jokes about things. Hugo Boss, it's fair enough, he might not have known! 'We're selling a lot of these f**king (uniforms), they're flying off the shelves!' Don't take life too seriously, soon we'll all be in the grave. Oh f**k!"
Organisers reportedly had Brand ejected from the star-studded aftershow event, but the controversial comic took to Twitter.com to defend himself, relaying the conversation he had with GQ magazine's editor Dylan Jones.
He wrote, "GQ editor: 'What you did was very offensive to Hugo Boss.' Me: 'What Hugo Boss did was very offensive to the Jews.' GQAwards nazitailor."
Comedienne Chelsea Handler broke down in tears while researching her family's roots in Nazi Germany for genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? after reading about her grandparents' struggle to feed their kids. The This Means War actress, who is half-Jewish, recently headed to Germany for the U.S. version of the programme and learned all about her maternal grandfather's background as a member of Adolf Hitler's military, a part of his life that was never discussed with Handler and her five older siblings.
Speaking on the show, which aired in the U.S. on Sunday (11Aug13), she said, "My grandfather served in the Second World War as a soldier. Whether or not he agreed with Hitler, he was serving in the Germany army...
"He was taken as a prisoner of war at some point to America, where he stayed for several years... When he went back to Germany he was very eager to come and take his family and move them back to the United States."
The research trip grew particularly emotional for Handler as she had her grandmother's diary translated from German into English, and learned just how poor they had been after their country's defeat in the First World War.
Wiping away tears, Handler said, "My German grandma definitely spoke about her life during the war way more than my grandfather did. He never spoke about it...
"I remember my grandmother totally telling us how there was no food. That must've been really hard to be a parent."
The series' executive producer, Lisa Kudrow, recently revealed Handler's episode had become a favourite among staff at the TLC network, which airs the programme, adding, "It couldn't have been an easy show to do."
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel pranked guests at his wedding ceremony on Saturday (13Jul13) by pretending he was exchanging vows with actress Gabourey Sidibe. The Precious star, a regular guest on Kimmel's U.S. chat show who once dressed up as Adolf Hitler for a comedy skit, turned up to the nuptials in Ojai, California in a wedding dress and stunned guests including Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Jennifer Aniston and Emily Blunt and their partners when she started walking down the aisle as the ceremony began.
Joking aside, the Jimmy Kimmel Live! host exchanged vows for real with Molly McNearney in Ojai, California as several of his famous friends looked on.