Mary Elizabeth Winstead has already had the distinguished honor of playing both the blue-haired object of Scott Pilgrim's eye (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and John McClane's offspring (Live Free or Die Hard.) Now the actress can add another high-ranking title to her impressive resume: the First Lady.
The 26-year-old plays Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the 16th President of the United States of America — and now, vampire combatant — Abraham Lincoln in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Like the rest of the film some artistic liberties were taken with the portrayal of the First Lady, including how she looked (having three names is about as close to resemblance as the two women have) and excluding her oft-speculated bipolar disorder.
But even with the changes, Winstead, who chatted with Hollywood.com about her work on the film, says there's still traces of the Mary Todd Lincoln we all learned about in history class and the one in writer Seth Grahame-Smith's script. "The more I learned about her [while researching], the more I wanted to bring as much truth to her as possible, and I feel like she's represented in the film in a realistic way to how she really was. I expected to read about her and for her to be wildly different from the way she was in the script, but I was surprised to find that it actually all matched up really well," Winstead explained.
Winstead credited director Timur Bekmambetov with rooting the grieving (a Lincoln family member is killed by a vampire) and, yes, ass-kicking First Lady (Mary Todd gets in her own satisfying vampire kill, which Winstead admitted was a good thing, "otherwise it would have been a bit of a letdown") in some reality. "Timur was great about talking to me about what was happening in her life that you don’t see in the movie. "During a scene, he would say, 'This is what she was doing right before she walked in the door,' or 'This is what she’s thinking when she’s not on screen'," Winstead told Hollywood.com, "So it sort of feels like all those things are happening in her life, you just don’t see it in the movie, but when I’m watching, I can see it in the air of what’s happening, and in their interaction, you can see how tense it is, and you can see how emotionally troubled they both are, but it’s just not spoken about."
But it wasn't just getting unseen details down for the film, but infusing a certain sensitivity about such an important time in American history. It was a responsibility, the star acknowledged, the cast and crew didn't take lightly. "We were filming in some places that had a really heavy air about them," Winstead said of the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter shoot, "Like, we’d be filming on old southern plantations where you could see the slave quarters, and you felt the seriousness of that place, and the history of it. And those were moments where you felt like, okay, I hope we’re doing this right, and I hope we’re showing people that we’re really not trying to be offensive in any way, we’re not trying to make fun of the real story behind this, we’re really just trying to show a metaphor, really, for what happened. With Timur, you can see that he took the real story very seriously, and he had so much respect for Abraham Lincoln, and showed a lot of reverence for the real story and real events."
Still, there was some levity on the set. This is, after all, a movie called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. In addition to donning some impressive old age makeup ("It was cool to look in the mirror and think, 'I wonder if this is what I’m gonna look like',") Winstead and her on-screen husband, Benjamin Walker, a fellow music enthusiast, took advantage of getting to film in New Orleans. "We went out to a lot of jazz clubs,and saw live music, and we went to Jazz Fest. Ben and I would sometimes just hang out and he would play guitar and we would sing songs and stuff like that, you know, cheesy little singer downtime things."
It seems Winstead has been spending a good amount of time having fun on her sets. Not a difficult task when working on projects like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or the upcoming ensemble comedy A.C.O.D., which features Amy Poehler, Adam Pally, Jane Lynch, and Adam Scott, among others. Winstead, who plays Scott's love interest in the comedy about, well, adult children of divorce, enjoyed a different kind of cut up. "It's the funniest people, it was so hard for me to keep a straight face during scenes. Like, one scene I was watching Catherine O’Hara and Richard Jenkins just improv, and [they're] going so quickly, and it's so funny, and I was just in awe." Okay, we'll bite.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter opens in theaters nationwide today.
[Photo credit: WENN.com/FayesVision]
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: A New Era of Tall Tales
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Star Anthony Mackie Talks Rewriting History
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: First Look Photos
Anthony Mackie and Dominic Cooper have joined 20th Century Fox's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Mackie will play Will, Lincoln’s best friend who gets to take part in the killings. Cooper will play Henry. Who that is depends on whether you read the book or not. Considering I haven’t, I’m going to assume Henry is a good guy. A quick glance at Wikipedia confirms that Henry is indeed a good guy - a good vampire in fact - and the one that turns Honest Abe into a vampire at the end of the book, WHOOPS, spoiler alert!). These two join Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln. Timur Bekmambetov will direct from a script by the novel's author Seth Grahame-Smith, while Tim Burton produces.
Source: Deadline, Variety
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has had one hell of a ride toward its start. First David O. Russell came along to helm and in the process wrote an acclaimed screenplay. Then he dropped out, leaving the script behind as Mike White stepped up and all seemed well with the world. But then he had some scheduling conflicts and left. But we still have the script!
Now we have a new filmmaker preparing for the challenge. This time, Lars and the Real Girl’s Craig Gillespie is in talks to take on the Seth Grahame-Smith adaptation. While the guy who handled a film in which Ryan Gosling cared for a mannequin might seem an odd choice, Gillespie’s latest film is a remake of the 1985 cult horror film Fright Night, a project more along the lines of the revisionist period piece. I was excited when White took the job but, in the interest of not having my heart broken again, would be happy just to see someone take the damn job.
The ability to play violent, fictionalized versions of American presidents is quickly becoming Benjamin Walker's calling card. According to Variety, the up-and-coming actor best known for his starring role in the on and off-Broadway hit 'Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson' will next take on the nation's sixteenth president in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, Vampire Hunter recasts the American Civil War as the result of Lincoln's deeply personal crusade to rid the world of vampires. (Apparently Bill Compton survives this purge.)
Walker closed the deal with 20th Century Fox for the upcoming summer tentpole after emerging as the frontrunner among a number of high-profile actors screen-testing for the role, including Adrien Brody, Josh Lucas, James D'Arcy and Oliver Jackson-Cohen.
Grahame-Smith is also set to script Vampire Hunter, with Russian vampire-movie veteran Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Day Watch) in the director's chair, alongside his co-producer, the legendary Tim Burton.
Intrigued? Wary? A little of both? We are too. There's no question that the plot of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a little zany, but we're glad to see the vampire genre moving back in the direction of farce. Then again, we won't have a better sense of the tone Bekmambetov and Burton are aiming for (cinéma vérité?) until we get a trailer sometime next year.
Luckily, we won't have too long to wait: Vampire Hunter will begin lensing in 3D this March ahead of a June 22, 2012 release. Is this going to be the summer's biggest flop? An out-of-left-field blockbuster? We'll start taking your bets now.
So we have this adaptation of a fairly popular book that had all of Tinsel Town atwitter thinking it’ll be a big blockbuster. The book revolves around an alternate history of one of the United States of America’s (God Bless Her in all her glory) most iconic Presidents and re-imagines him as....a vampire hunter. Ok, I’m cool with that. Abe Lincoln was pretty bad-ass, let's make him more bad-ass in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I think the movie is a great idea, but now 20th Century Fox started to handpick actors that are auditioning and all I can think is... Brit's? You’re seriously considering hiring a British actor to pay Abraham Mother Fucking (that’s his true middle name, look it up) Lincoln?
The shortlist includes the fine red-blooded American actors Timothy Olyphant, Benjamin Walker, Adrien Brody, and Josh Lucas. The Brits they are considering are James D’Arcy and Oliver Jackson-Cohen. You really can’t get any more British if your last name is Darcy. I’m not an Anglo-phobe by any stretch of the means. I love Doctor Who. But this is Abraham Lincoln. You just can’t have someone that isn’t American play the part. It’s not like we’re trying to shove one of ours to be James Bond, are we?
The best choices here are Timothy Olyphant and Benjamin Walker. Olyphant because he is such an ass kicker in his own right, he would simply kill the role (and we mean that in a good way). Walker, because he has experience playing a kick-ass Presidents (he debuted as Andrew Jackson in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) so he knows how to walk the walk.
No word on who's the current front runner, but Fox will have to cast up soon enough; the film needs to be in production soon to meet its June 22, 2012 release date.
After a lengthy bidding war between the major studios, 20th Century Fox has emerged victorious in the battle for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The studio moves immediately into pre-production on the fictional period actioner, which was penned by Seth Grahame-Smith (based on his own acclaimed novel).
Timur Bekmambetov returns to the directing chair for the first time since 2008's Wanted on Vampire Hunter. He'll also produce the picture along with his 9 collaborator Tim Burton. The narrative kicks off after President Lincoln's mother is killed by a supernatural creature, which fuels his passion to crush vampires and their slave-owning helpers.
Since Steven Spielberg's Lincoln seems doomed to an existence in development purgatory, my hope is that the heavy-hitting combo of Burton and Bekmambetov can persuade Liam Neeson (long attached to play the 16th President of the USA in the fore mentioned biopic) to take on the role after all. It would be a shame for the Oscar nominated thespian to have wasted years of research and preparation on a part that he'd never get to play, so I would think he'd at least entertain the idea of slaying the undead in this $70 million budgeted production.
Or perhaps a healthy paycheck can convince him to work on the film. Fox was reportedly very enthusiastic about getting the rights to the film, as Variety claims they went all out to win the project. Aside from giving a detailed pitch for the film's production, marketing and release, executives Tom Rothman, Jim Gianopulos and Emma Watts greeted the filmmakers on their lot with a Comic-Con worthy banner, parking signs stating: “Parking for Vampire Hunters Only, Park at your own risk" and bloody footprints lining the walkway and steps leading from their cars to the meeting. If the company was willing to go to these lengths to nab the film itself, maybe they'll be willing to go the extra mile to attract a bankable, beloved and believable star like Neeson. Normally I'm not crazy about Fox's business tactics, but this kind of support shows that it is committed to delivering the best possible genre film it can.
Just another reason to be excited for the next two years of Hollywood films...
Timur Bekmambetov to Direct Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Ever since I watched Russian auteur Timur Bekmambetov's Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor) (2004) and Day Watch (Dnevnoy Dozor) (2006) a few years back, I'd been excited to see what the director would be capable of when he inevitably made his way to Hollywood. So I was somewhat let down when his first American feature was 2008's flashy but uninspired Wanted, a movie that only hinted at the depths Bekmambetov's creativity.
For a while it was assumed that the Russian's next project would be a sequel to Wanted, but in a recent interview with Empire Magazine, Bekmambetov revealed that Wanted 2 has stalled while James McAvoy is shooting X-Men: First Class, and that he has begun working on a new project instead: writer Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Vampire Hunter is a faux-historical epistolary-style book written as a biography of the life of the 16th President, in which Lincoln is reimagined as an axe-wielding politician with a vendetta against the vampires who took his mother's life.
While we've known for some time that he was set to produce the film with the legendary Tim Burton, this is the first time Bekmambetov has confirmed that he will also direct. "[Vampire hunter] I’m prepping to direct myself," he said in the interview. "It is not a comedy at all – it is a very entertaining, epic history lesson for millions and millions of teenagers. If you remember Night Watch, it is maybe in the vein of that kind of movie. We are keeping the traditional look of Lincoln – the big hat and the beard. He has to be historically correct, but with a few special weapons… I hope we will start this winter. We are shooting in America."
Obviously, as a fan of his earlier work, anything "in the vein of [Night Watch]" sounds promising to me. While it's a shame American audiences haven't yet gotten the opportunity to appreciate Bekmambetov's creative genius - which was sadly lacking in Wanted - his upcoming partnership with Tim Burton is certainly an encouraging sign that Vampire Hunter is headed in the right direction.
Bekmambetov also gave Empire a number of updates on his other projects - including a 3D drunk-driving horror movie - which you can read about here or below:
Wanted 2: "We are discussing Wanted 2 every month. We are working on it now, but I think it will be after Lincoln because James (McAvoy) is working on the X-Men: First Class… It’s why I decided to develop Lincoln without a studio, to keep control. It’s a big movie but independent too."
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: "Yes, it is happening. We are in development with a writer and Ridley Scott’s people. It’s early in development. I would like to direct myself – it’s a great tale that I love from my childhood. It will be a modernized version of the famous book."
Moby Dick: "I’ve developed the whole world, but we’re still working on the script. To fight a supernatural creature, you need people with supernatural abilities. It’s the same story but with a different take, much more mystical. The whalers are not ordinary people, and yes, the whale will be done digitally."
Red Asphalt. "I am working on that with Lionsgate. It’s a movie about drunk driving… in 3D! 3D is the only way to recreate what you feel when you drink and drive."
"It’s my original idea – I wrote the treatment. Everyone drinks and drives once, and I want to make a horror movie about it. It’s one big car chase. People will feel what it’s like when you’re drunk and driving, and it’s really scary. The world is not exactly the same."
The Knights Templar: "That is a project I am developing with Universal. I wrote the treatment but it’s not something I am doing in the near future. It’s a great story, but… It’s why I’m producing, because there are too many stories. I have to give them to other people sometimes.
Twilight Watch [The sequel to Night Watch and Day Watch - unrelated to the Twilight Saga]: "I hope it happens. It’s like first love – we created this world and now I’m watching the Twilight movies, I feel like we missed something by not doing Twilight Watch. Because there are a lot of ideas in those films that we were going to use. But we didn’t finish the story. It would be good to get around to it one day. "
The Last Witchhunter: "I am not working on that one. It was in discussion but is not happening now."
Black Lightning: "We are talking with Universal about producing an English-language remake, but I am not directing it."
Source: Empire Online
Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov are teaming up for an adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the latest literary mash-up from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies author Seth Grahame-Smith. The book, published on Tuesday, pits the 16th US President as an axe-wielding vampire assassin with a personal grudge to bear.
Grahame-Smith will adapt the screenplay while producers -- including Jim Lemley -- are out to directors, according to reports.
Burton, Bekmambetov and Lemley most recently collaborated on the animated feature 9.
Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for 46 weeks. It is being developed at Lionsgate with Natalie Portman and David O. Russell.
Lindsay Lohan was chasing a therapist to the stars when she was arrested for driving under the influence.
The actress was in pursuit of a car being driven by Michelle Peck, the mother of her personal assistant Tarin Grahame, in Los Angeles in the early hours of Tuesday.
Peck treats a number of Hollywood stars including Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna and Heather Locklear. She specializes in "intraceutical oxyfacials," which are described as the perfect post-party remedy.
The therapist hid terrified in a parking lot and called 911 after being tailed through Santa Monica by Lohan, according to cops.
Police spokesperson Alex Padilla says of the incident, "Why she (Lohan) was trying to catch her, we don't know. The woman in the other car was so afraid. She wasn't sure what was going on so she called us."
Lohan was arrested for DUI and possession of an illegal substance.
Aliana Lohan Blasts Father
The sister of troubled star Lindsay Lohan has launched a scathing attack on her father, Michael, over his failure to be a supportive parent.
Thirteen-year-old Aliana Lohan insists her estranged parent is lying when he claims he is a "great dad"--maintaining he was "never there" for the family.
In an e-mail to David Caplan, of entertainment site 24/Sizzler, Ali writes, "I want everybody to know the truth out there. My father is telling all lies to people and saying he was such a great dad and was always there for us--my father was never there for us.
And Aliana believes many of her elder sister's problems--which culminated in Lohan, 21, being arrested on Tuesday for driving under the influence for the second time in two months--stem from her father's irresponsible behavior in the past.
She explains, "I think that the whole reason why my sister is upset with herself and not confident is because of my dad not being around and always staying out late and not coming home for days. He just wants everybody in the world knowing that he was a great dad. He wasn't--that is all a lie"
Earlier this week, a judge ordered Michael and estranged wife Dina to see a family therapist as part of an ongoing custody war over their two young children, Aliana and Dakota, 11. The couple was also ordered to stop speaking negatively of each other in front of their kids and undergo counseling.
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