Jared Harris knows a thing or two about pop culture occults and the cults of pop culture. The Emmy-nominated actor is perhaps best known to audiences for his roles on fervent fan favorite TV shows like Fringe and Mad Men. Harris will next be seen in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the big screen adaptation of Cassandra Clare's popular fantasy YA series in which he plays Hodge Starkweather, a cursed tutor who teaches the Shadowhunters, a group of underground demon hunters.
"This year, I’ve done three, for f**k’s sake! What’s going on?" Harris told Hollywood.com on the Toronto set of The Mortal Instruments regarding his recent transition into the fantasy/horror genre, in which TMI certainly falls. "I did a movie called The Quiet Ones, which was about a guy who’s investigating paranormal events... and then I played the devil. And then now I’m in this film, which is all about demons and s**t, so yeah, it’s been a weird year for that."
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Still, even after unintentionally finding himself in yet another supernatural film, he still found new and exciting challenges in playing the morally-conflicted Hodge. "He’s a fun character. You don’t know which side he’s playing on, which is always interesting to do," Harris said. "[He] is someone who knows what the right thing to do is, but for his own reasons, is making a different deal, because he’s trying to change his circumstances. But he knows the difference between the right thing and the wrong thing to do, and he’s not delusional in the sense that he doesn’t think that he’s doing something for the betterment of mankind or some bulls**t like that. He knows that what he’s doing is purely to get his own ass out of the situation that he’s stuck in."
So what could be better than getting to play someone as unpredictable as Hodge? Getting to fight and dress up as someone like Hodge. "What’s great fun is I get to fight Dredger [Robert Maillet, who plays Samuel Blackwell, one of TMI's baddies] from Sherlock Holmes. He’s a f**king enormous man. So it’s been fun, because when you do all these fight scenes, you try and jazz ‘em up and everything. And then I sit there and I go, 'Listen, if this guy hit me, I’d collapse. I’d crumble if he actually managed to actually connect with me.' But I was really excited that I was fighting him, because I f**king loved him in that movie."
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But don't put Harris — who memorably went fisticuffs-to-fisticuffs with Vincent Kartheiser's Pete Campbell in a classic episode of Mad Men — down for the count just yet. "I can still kick ass, man," the Brit assured us. Harris also got to do a physical transformation of his own, thanks to the fake Shadowhunter tattoos and the gothic aesthetics used to bring Hodge to life. "I have a scar, which I didn’t have before. A good prosthetic scar, a white wig....which is a bit shocking. You look in the mirror and you see what you might be like a couple years from now."
Still, the 51-year-old actor didn't feel old on the TMI set, which was largely comprised of young Hollywood up-and-comers like Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower, thanks to their professionalism. "Nowadays you find that a lot of the youngsters have been doing it almost as long as you have, because they’ve been doing it since they were 6, you know?" Harris said, adding, "So they’re all pros."
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Harris also seem unphased by the much younger following TMI has as opposed to, say, Mad Men. The actor, who admitted he hadn't read Clare's books before signing on to the project, noted "This is slightly different than the Mad Men [fandom] because it exists in a literary form first, the fans have [it in their] imaginations already. But something like Mad Men, it exists in Matt Weiner’s mind. And no one can read what Season 6 and Season 7 is, because it’s in his head."He added, "So I would say in that sense, it’s probably a little freer, whereas in this one, you have an obligation to that mythology. And you don’t want to piss the fans off, you know?"
As any TMI fan would argue, oh do they know. But Harris assured that he, his TMI castmates and crew members have done everything in their powers to ensure that doesn't happen. As Harris put it, "You have to honor the mythology that’s been created in the books, which they have done."
[Photo credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images]
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Mork Returns: Robin Williams is returning to the small screen (maybe). The actor's David E. Kelley-written workplace comedy, Crazy Ones, has officially received a pilot order from CBS, and is currently in full-fledged casting mode. The series will star Williams (of course) as an ad exec who works alongside his daughter. Our guess? Things'll get zany! [Deadline]
Nick And Jess? Not So Fast: New Girl fans, don't erase last week's episode from your DVR just yet. The Fox comedy might've given us a super-hot kiss between Nick and Jess, but they're not going to be getting together any time soon — especially now that the show has just cast Nick's newest love interest. Former House doctor Odette Annable will play Shane, an upbeat management school grad and Nick's new boss at the bar. Apparently underachieving bartenders are her type, because she immediately sparks up a fling with Nick. [TVLine]
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From Oz to Pawnee: Looks like Ben (Adam Scott) will finally find piece after the Ice Town fiasco that plagued his youth. J.K. Simmons will guest star in an upcoming episode of Parks and Recreation as the Governor of Partridge, Minn., the town that Ben briefly mayor-ed as a teen. Leslie (Amy Poehler) will accompany her beau to a ceremony held in Ben's honor, that will let him know that all has been forgiven. Let's say it all together now — "awwwww." [EW]
Spinoff's Spinoff Starts Casting:Ladies and gentlemen, give a warm welcome to the newest member of the NCIS universe, Edwin Hodge. The actor is the first person cast in CBS' spinoff of NCIS: LA, which is itself a spinoff of the original Mark Harmon-starring series. The backdoor pilot will air as an episode of NCIS: LA later this season and follow a team of agents who crisscross the country solving crimes. Hodge's Kai Ashe is a "bright, witty, and likable technical assistant." [Deadline]
Human Bloggers, Your Days Are Numbered: Dog With A Blog is an actual show on television, and there's going to be more. Apparently Disney Channel has ordered a second season of the family sitcom, told from the dog's point of view. You can actually read the dog's blog online, if that's a thing you wanted to spend your time doing. [Deadline]
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As one adaptation of wildly popular young adult series comes to a close, a new one begins.
Just hours before the final installment of The Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn — Part 2 , arrives in theaters, the trailer for the next teen phenomenon finally hit the Internet. Still don't call The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the first chapter in Cassandra Clare's bestselling fantasy series, just another Twilight. Yes, some of the elements are the same (a supernatural love story, mythical creatures, Jamie Campbell Bower is there) but based on the thrilling trailer alone, it looks like the The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones could appeal to both the Twilight crowd yearning for something familiar and beyond.
RELATED: A First Look At The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
The story follows Clary Fray (played by Lily Collins, who is a few years older and a few hair shades darker than the heroine in the book) a seemingly normal Brooklyn teen whose world is turned upside down. (In the YA world, Clary tends to lean more towards Katniss Everdeen territory than Bella Swan, despite the appearance of vampires and werewolves.)
When Clary meets a demon hunter named Jace (Collins' real-life beau Bower) she is thrust into the mysterious underground world of the Shadowhunters after her mother (played by Game of Thrones' Lena Heady, not seen in the preview), who has ties to them, disappears. Along the way on Clary's journey is her best friend Simon (James Franco lookalike Robert Sheehan), the Shadowhunter mentor Hodge (Mad Men's Jared Harris, serving as the clip's narrator), and the rogue Shadowhunter villain Valentine (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). With most of the main players are on hand in the trailer, fans already deeply immersed in the should be overwhelmingly relieved that the gothic tone of the book has been kept in tact. Others may just be intrigued by the Matrix-esque rave going on.
Watch the first trailer for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones here:
Thoughts, fellow Clave dwellers? Does Lily Collins make a good Clary? Were you hoping for more Valentine? Share your thoughts!
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones arrives in theaters on August 23, 2013.
[Photo credit: Sony Pictures]
Even if you’re one of the 19 other people in a competitive internship at Dean Witter with Chris Gardner (Will Smith) you gotta root for the guy. Life’s beaten him up but not got him down. He lugs his computer-monitor-sized bone density scanner all over San Francisco hoping to sell just one to make ends meet for his family—but nobody’s buying. As his wife’s (Thandie Newton) discontentment nears a boiling point Chris accepts an internship at financial institution Dean Witter—six months without pay and only one of the 20 applicants will ultimately get a job out of it. This sends her packing. She leaves Chris and their son Christopher (Jaden Smith) to fend for themselves at which point they get evicted. It’s the tip of the iceberg because over the course of Chris’ penniless pursuit of the Dean Witter job (and “happyness”) he and Christopher will get by sleeping in homeless shelter--and even in train-station bathrooms. Chris had always vowed to never leave his son and he keeps his promise but there’s no guarantee that his perseverance will pay off. Except for the fact that Happyness is “INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY”! Will Smith is getting all the awards buzz but it’s his real-life son Jaden who transcends all expectations in Happyness. Jaden’s never acted in a movie before and it’s safe to assume that because of his father's long-running movie stardom he could not have grown up in a more different environment than that of his character. Which makes it all the more amazing for this 8-year-old Hollywood tyke to grasp even if coincidentally the plight of a nomadic urban child. The best part about little Jaden is that his performance doesn’t seem robotic like so many child actors who are already too "seasoned" for their own good. Aside from the expected cutesy laughs there’s genuine spontaneity in Jaden’s performance obviously thanks to the fact that he’s acting opposite his dad. Papa Smith gives what’s probably his best performance to date although he's had a career of primarily action roles that weren't exactly conducive to a skills showcase. He delivers the goods here—as seen in the tear-rific trailer—as a man whose whole life is his child but frankly the tears evoked might be too few for Oscar’s liking. Newton (Crash) in a small role is terribly miscast but Mr. and Mr. Smith dominate the screen anyway. Even with the studio flaunting the movie’s "Inspired by a true story..." tagline like a badge of honor—as studios tend to do—and this being the holiday season and all Italian director Gabriele Muccino expends way too much effort into the crowd-pleasing/feel-good aspects of Happyness. The happy ending everyone already knows about should be saccharine enough. Granted this is why a studio loves true stories—one that begins on a low note ends on a really high note and fluctuates all over the radar in between—and it may make the film more pleasing to its targeted mainstream audiences but Muccino and writer Steve Conrad (The Weather Man) really take the gloss factor much too far. In this case they essentially try to tell us a mostly sad story but will not let us feel sad. For instance during what could be very dark reflective scenes potentially connecting with viewers who have struggled through similar problems music befitting a children’s tale overtakes the would-be drama so we don’t ever feel too badly for Chris. It’s nice that the director cares so much for us but oftentimes the best directors are the ones who show an audience tough love.
Based on E.B. White’s enduring children’s story we meet Wilbur the Pig (Dominic Scott Kay) a runt who is saved from the axe by a little farm girl named Fern (Dakota Fanning). She raises Wilbur from infancy but eventually she has to send Wilbur over to her uncle’s neighboring farm since there’s no room for a pig in her house. There in the barn Wilbur meets the assortment of colorful animal characters: Betsy (Reba McEntire) and Bitsy (Kathy Bates) two pessimistic cows; motherly goose Gussy (Oprah Winfrey) and her henpecked hubby Golly (Cedric the Entertainer); Samuel (John Cleese) an uptight sheep; the skittish horse Ike (Robert Redford); the self-serving rat Templeton (Steve Buscemi); and of course sweet Charlotte (Julia Roberts) a spider with a heart of gold. When the naïve Wilbur finds out he might be Christmas dinner Charlotte makes a promise to her new friend that she’ll do everything in her power to make sure Wilbur sees the Christmas snow—and everyone ends up helping her out. What could be more fun than to voice a barnyard animal? Winfrey and Cedric’s geese banter is like an old married couple. Cleese gives Samuel the sheep a certain upper-crustiness. Redford is actually pretty funny as a horse who’s deathly afraid of spiders (“I’ll listen to you but I just can’t look at you”). Buscemi is a particularly nice choice as the sneaky rat Templeton who only thinks about filling his belly with food (no typecasting there we swear). For pure comic relief there are also two crows voiced by Andre Benjamin and Thomas Haden Church who just can’t quite get around the whole scarecrow thing. And as Charlotte Roberts has a truly soothing and loving tone sort of how you’d imagine it from the book. As for the human aspect Fanning continues to do what she does best playing Fern with the right amount of youthful innocence spunkiness and determination. Just wondering how we are going to handle it when this amazing little actress grows up and starts doing like adult things. Actually it is sort of a shame they couldn’t get a live-action version of Charlotte's Web made before Babe. Sure there was the 1973 animated cutesy film but a live-action adaptation of this timeless tale really should have been the standard by which all computer-generated talking farm animal movies would follow don’t you think? Instead Charlotte's Web pales ever so slightly in comparison. Oh well water under the bridge. Director Gary Winick (13 Going on 30) still manages to invoke the wonderful and uplifting spirit of the novel keeping faithful to the text in all ways. Visually the film is crisp and flawless in its execution particularly in the beauty and splendor of how Charlotte spins her webs and emotionally hearts will indeed swell and tears will flow. Charlotte's Web is the perfect family movie to inspire the next generation of young readers and viewers as well as for the rest of us who fondly remember the childhood classic.
As a legendary Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) was all heart and no regret. But it all comes undone in the span of one night when he goes out to the menacing seas with his crew to make a rescue and he is the sole survivor. Following that fateful night he’s ordered to teach at “A” School--a demotion for a man of his stature and seniority--an elite training program that helps turn the best recruits into the best Rescue Swimmers. Randall teaches the cocky students the only way he knows how and his tough tough love is initially met with skepticism by his fellow trainers who think of him as a has-been. But one student in particular Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher) catches his eye and draws his ire. Fischer is cocky hotheaded and highly skilled--just the right pedigree to make a great Rescue Swimmer and a lot like Randall was at his age. Randall rides him extra-hard while Fischer only hopes to one day be in the same boat as his mentor. Be careful what you wish for Jake! Costner's always been an acquired taste--sometimes a downright noxious one on first bite--but there's no denying he slides right in here. Roles that feature him as the aging provider of wisdom are now his true calling and the sooner he accepts it the better. And even still Costner gets to flex his action muscle a bit. As for Kutcher the only thing he shares in common with Costner is the last two letters of his last name--as actors these guys are each other’s antitheses! And in a weird way they strike a nice chemistry because of it one that is borderline exciting to watch. As a standalone actor in The Guardian Kutcher is a bit misplaced and seems to know it. He nails the physicality of the role but while the character's attitude and brashness befit Kutcher the peak dramatic scenes with Costner leave something to be desired. A pleasantly surprising turn from relative unknown Melissa Sagemiller (The Clearing) as Kutcher's girl toy and reliable supporting performances from Sela Ward and Neal McDonough round out the cast. Director Andrew Davis' proximity to his career peak The Fugitive cannot be measured in time: He's a lot further away from the mega-hit than a mere 13 years. But in Hollywood if you have a Fugitive under your belt you'll never run out of chances to replicate it. That's the current juncture for Davis--one last shot at Fugitive glory...till his next last shot. It's hard to say what The Guardian will do at the box office but Davis' stodgy direction doesn't necessarily help its chances. The movie can be boiled down to awful pacing: the first and last 15 minutes are high-octane action and everything in between is low-octane Top Gun (the non-action scenes!). That blame belongs to Davis and writer Ron L. Brinkerhoff. But only Davis can shoulder the other flaws such as a single scene of dubious camerawork--filmed to look like handheld-montage style completely deviating from the movie's context--and the special effects during the somewhat cheesy action sequences which may remind you of a theme-park tour during which you learn how they filmed a boat scene...in the '80s!