Relativity Media via Everett Collection
At only 14 years old, Hailee Steinfeld was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in her big screen debut True Grit. Since then, she's proven it wasn't a fluke by showcasing her talents in a wide variety of films — most recently, she saw both the period romance Romeo and Juliet and the sci-fi thriller Ender's Game open within weeks of each other, earning her plenty of new accolades. Her latest film is 3 Days to Kill, in which she plays Zoey, the teenage daughter of retired Secret Service agent Ethan (Kevin Costner), who is forced back into his former profession after he is diagnosed with cancer in order to try and steal some more time with his daughter.
We spoke with Steinfeld about 3 Days to Kill to talk about filming on location in France, what she learned about playing an assassin, and why the costumes were one of the most exciting aspects of the job for her.
The film is a lot of fun, and very exciting, but there’s also this strong emotional thread running through it with Ethan and Zoey. Was the combination of those things what drew you to the film, or was it working with Kevin Costner, or even just the chance to shoot in France?Everything you just said. When I read the script, first of all, I couldn’t believe that I had my hands on something that Luc Besson had written. That was a really exciting thing for me. I really love him and his work, and reading it and getting that heart pounding, action-thriller vibe was a really exciting thing. And then on top of that, you have this incredible father-daughter relationship that you see evolve throughout the film, and I loved everything about that. It was so much fun diving into it, and since playing a teenage girl was something I was able to identify with fairly easily, I had a really great time with it.
What was your relationship on-set with Kevin Costner like? Did you keep your distance so your characters would feel more estranged, or was it a lot more relaxed and casual?When we started the first few weeks of filming, we filmed the first few scenes of the movie that you see Ethan and Zoey in, where they’re sort of estranged and don’t necessarily know each other. And then by the end of the film, Kevin and I were really able to bond and get to know each other, and we had a really great relationship that I think really came through onscreen. So it happened very organically and in sync with the film in a way.
You’re actually playing an assassin yourself in your upcoming film Barely Lethal. Did you pick up any tips from Kevin when you were filming, or did he give you any advice for when it was your turn?He didn’t! I didn’t know that I was doing Barely Lethal when I was shooting 3 Days to Kill, but it was so interesting because I was watching a couple of movies and I was thinking – it’s so funny you said that because I definitely thought about it – and I was like, “I have had a dad that was one!” I was able to sort of think of that. He’s really good at playing the secret agent thing. It’s really, really good.
You’ve done films of many genres – romance, indie, westerns – but so many of your films are very action-oriented. Is there something about this genre in particular that keeps drawing you back? I think all of the films that I’ve done that have an action element comes after what I see as very character-driven and very heartwarming. The action or thrilling part is a bonus, in other words. With 3 Days to Kill, it’s extremely thrilling and very action-oriented, but you have that father-daughter relationship that I was really drawn to. I remember [the director] McG was showing me some of the film when I saw him a couple months ago. He was showing me the first few minutes, and he was like, “I bet you didn’t have any idea you were a part of this movie, did you?” And I didn’t because, you know, it’s so big and on such a large scale, the action, and then you have these incredible moments between Zoey and her father. So, there’s a lot going on and I think there are so many different things along with the action that sort of draw me to these movies.
So, when you watched the movie back, were there any scenes that you wished you could have been involved in or a part of? Because your character, Zoey, is pretty removed from all of the big fight scenes. Yeah. I think, me personally, I always wish I was involved in the craziness. But it's really amazing how it's all balanced out and how it makes perfect sense in the film, and how Kevin's character, Ethan, how his world, how his job completely works its way out and around her life. I think it was really interesting the way that was done.
You filmed on location in France. Was there any location or experience in particular that stands out to you when you think back on it? What kind of effect do you think working on location has on the film?We shot a scene under an arch that leads to an entrance of the Louvre. And it was so surreal, because here you are in Paris, and it’s playing such a big character in your film, and you’re using it to every degree. I always find it interesting when you work on a stage, and they build something up and it’s as close as you can get it, it feels amazing. But there’s nothing like being in the actual place where your script takes place. It’s the most amazing thing, I think for me as an actor — and for anybody, really — to just spend time there, it was a really, really beautiful experience.
As we’ve sort of talked about, your character is sort of the emotional heart of the film, but you also have a lot of comedic moments as well. Is comedy something you’re interested in doing more of in the future?Yeah, it’s fun. This film I did, Barely Lethal, I’d say it falls more into the category of comedy than anything else that I’ve done, and it was a lot of fun being able to to explore different scenarios and kind of improvise a little bit and say what you wanna say without even knowing you’re saying it. Just having that freedom is something that was really, really fun and turned into something really great, and I really enjoyed that. But I think doing a full comedy could be really fun one day.
Which would you say that you find more challenging: drama or comedy?I’d say it’s all challenging. I think comedy, though, don’t they say, “You can’t try and make something funny funny”? I don’t know, something like that, but it’s so true. You read it and it makes you laugh, but then you have to say it to make other people laugh, and it’s not as easy as it seems, so it’s definitely a challenge for me.
On a slightly shallower note, your costumes in this film are fantastic, and I wanted to wear every single one of them. Coming off of filming Romeo and Juliet, which is a period piece, and Ender’s Game, which is set on a spaceship, was it a nice change of pace to wear more casual clothing onscreen for a change or did you miss those more structured costumes?It was so amazing. I’m not even kidding. I remember having my first fitting [and] everyone around me was like, “Why is she freaking out?” I was so excited because I was like “Oh my god, I saw this the other day when I was shopping and I’m so excited I get to wear it,” whereas I was not saying that about the Romeo and Juliet costumes, you know what I mean? As beautiful as those were – and my god, they were so amazing – it’s very nice to bring your own style to a character and wear the clothes as you would wear them every day, as opposed to having to get used to your body language when you’re wearing a corset. It’s a completely different thing. It was very nice, and it made things a bit easier, I’d say.
Did you have any influence on Zoey’s costumes, or were you able to inject any of your own personal style into her wardrobe?A little bit. I mean, the idea of this teenage girl living in Paris, taking the metro with her friends, going to school, going out to parties, she’s going to be dressed. She’s going to dress to look great. For me? I just kind of throw on whatever and it is what it is, but with the character, she definitely thinks it all through, from the hair to the makeup to the clothes to the shoes and puts it all together, so it was a fun thing to explore and have a say in and be a part of.
I know that often, actors who are in period pieces say that the costumes help them get into character, did you have a similar experience with Zoey’s costumes in this film, or was it already relatively easy, since you’re both modern teenage girls?Yeah, absolutely. The fact that there are details that you might not pick up on from the layering of the scarf and the jackets and all of that, and it’s a lot [of help]. It’s a wardrobe and you put that on, you’re definitely able to feel like someone else.
Was there anything you wore in the film that you fell in love with and were tempted to take home with you?Oh yeah. For sure. There was a jacket that she wears, it’s a Maje, that one. I loved it, it was so great. There were a lot of great sweaters and a lot of great things – there’s always something I feel like, after you spend a certain amount of time in, it becomes you and you want to wear it and you want to keep it. I feel that way with a lot of things I do - which might not necessarily be a good thing.
As long as you don’t actually steal them, you’ll probably be okay.Right, right. Of course.
3 Days to Kill is in theaters now.
The episode opened like the previous one ended, with Agent Siegel's body on the ground. Surveillance video showed an image of a hooded person walking away. These were on a projection screen in the FBI meeting room 15 days later, during which Agent Peter Burke admitted that while this investigation needed as much manpower as it could, there were caseloads that still needed to be handled as well..
After the meeting Agent Clinton Jones asked Burke if Neal Caffrey was off house arrest, since Siegel was his handler and he's...well...dead. He also told him that he still needed a new handler, a rather broad hint that Burke should resume his previous duties. Burke merely smirked.
Cut to Mozzie staying at Caffrey's, still trying to figure out how to get back on his feet. He seemed to be doing everything possible to annoy Caffrey, including asking him if he could air dry his body out on the terrace after showering, earning him a rather terse "No." Caffrey was still feeling guilt about Siegel's death. and he was wondering if he was to blame. Maybe he had inadvertently pointed him at his nemesis, Craig Hagen, who still has Caffrey under his thumb.
As Caffrey and Burke talk at work, Burke says he's taking over cases. Of course, a guy walked in three seconds later with blood on him and said that he needed to confess to a crime, while holding a plastic baggie of stolen money. It never takes long to prove Caffrey wrong. In the interrogation room, the guy said he got the head wound from being hit by a cab...and that he can't remember how everything happened. It's too bad he didn't write tattoos on himself like Guy Pearce in Memento.
After that, Caffrey talked to the guy, named Nate Griffith, and tried to bond. It started off badly when Griffith called him "Mr. Caffrey," something he bristled at. Burke felt the money and realized that it was probably stolen once before. Burke and Caffrey visited the robbery site and the manager played dumb and didn't let them look at the vault that was supposedly broken into. So...Burke and Caffrey went outside and made fake ID badges for the company and then went back in. They badgered a new employee there into making paperwork for a new account and while the guy was away from his desk. Neal looked at the work computer to determine who the vault belonged to: Nightowl Holdings. It was a shell company but the person behind it, Shane Jacoby, had ties to someone who Giffith has been seeing: psychiatrist Mara Summers. Both of them attended a lecture of hers, with Caffrey deciding to go undercover as her patient.
After a bit of cat-and-mouse, she agreed to sessions with Caffrey. In private, Burke warned Caffrey to not allow her to get into his head. "I'm a wall," Caffrey scoffed. Yeah, we could see where this was going, couldn't we?
Caffrey and Summers squared off in her office, interspersed with a scene of Burke rattling Jacoby's cage, with Summers making some points that Caffrey was a sociopath who was incapable of changing his ways. After a bit, Caffrey started getting woozy. Apparently she drugged his drink, leaving Caffrey reeling. Soon, he blacked out and was prey for her to ask him any questions. Later he woke up after she gave him smelling salts and he left in a state of utter discombobulation. He returned to the FBI office and they found out how she had tumbled on to Caffrey and Burke so fast: Griffith had innocently slipped to Summers after the first interrogation that he was being asked questions by FBI agents.
Later, Caffrey and Mozzie (there were no bad wigs in this episode, though he did have a ridiculous shower cap in the beginning) were talking about what happened in the psychiatrist's office and were puzzling out the drug. Mozzie correctly identified it as some sort of date rape cocktail and then mentioned Recovered Memory Therapy, which would let them find out what exactly Caffrey had blurted out to Summers while under the influence. The situation would have to be recreated, which meant Neal would have to drink it again. Mozzie made the drug, with some tweaks. We all know how well things go when Mozzie tweaks things, right?
While under the influence, Caffrey pointed out Mozzie could understand who he is, still a criminal himself. A bit perturbed, Mozzie left the room to think and came back to find his zonked-out subject gone, to Burke's where be is ready to confess.
This scene was pretty amusing: Caffrey was sitting on Burke's sofa, barely coherent and hugging a pillow. After a few puzzling minutes, Mozzie just strolled in through their front door. After explaining what exactly was going on, they decided to keep asking questions about the session before the drug wore off. Caffrey remembered a phone number she called. It was Jacoby. Mere seconds later, he was asleep.
Jones and Burke, sensing that Griffith was in danger, went to his place and found out Jacoby was holding his kid hostage there. They played dumb and pretended to leave, bringing Jacoby down and quickly arresting him. Now they needed to tie up Summers with a nice, neat bow tie. But how? There was no real evidence against her except for the word of two felons, Griffith and Jacoby.
The solution: Neal met with Summers and planted the same drug in her drink, causing her to confess and they arrested her. She sneered that Neal would never be more than he is. "I'm free, which is more than I can say for you." was his quick reply. Lady...you were Caffrey-ed.
Afterwards Griffith reunited with his family and left. Caffrey commented that the case was closed. Burke wasn't so sure; the money that Summers confessed to was gone. Caffrey just shrugged and played dumb. Of course, he wound up giving the money to Mozzie to gets him out of his place, probably before he wound up killing him for being the world's most annoying roommate. Of course, Mozzie had to stir the pot, asking him if he was tired of serving so many masters. Caffrey ended the episode on an ominous note, saying that he wants to cut all strings to puppet masters. Which means again, he's thinking of letting Burke down again. Dun Dun DUNNNNNNNNN.
Last I Heard
From a military academy in NY to the bright lights of Hollywood, director David Rodriguez has become a pro at taking his films from indie to gold. He shares his passion for writing, directing and what it’s like working with an ensemble cast in his latest film, Last I Heard, premiering at the Austin Film Festival.
How do you go from the New York Military Academy to directing and writing films?
I've always been enamored with show business. I can't say however that there was a clear transition from NYMA to writing films. I lived quite a bit between NYMA and directing my first film. What I did learn…was the value of strong time management skills and that has certainly informed my process as a director.
How long have you been writing/directing?
I started writing about 16 years ago and directed my first film which I wrote in 2004.
What does being a director mean to you?
That's a loaded question, and all I will say is this; directing fulfills me personally and professionally and I can't see doing anything else. I absolutely love being on set and collaborating with a team of actors and crew that are there to bring my creative ideas and thoughts to life.
Your latest film, Last I Heard, follows a gangster just released from prison after 20 years. It’s a take I haven’t seen done before, where did the story come from?
The genesis of Last I Heard came from what I saw as a demise in NY organized crime. I'm a NY '80s kid and what I saw then in the news, as compared to what I've seen now is quite different. I'm also very aware of social issues and the affect they have on the older American generation, so I felt like a deteriorating gangster thrown into having to deal with some serious social issues was a recipe for a great and original story.
The film has done very well in the festival circuit premiering at the Seattle International Film Festival, Hollyshorts Film Festival, Director’s Guild of America and the upcoming Austin Film Festival. Tell us a little about taking a film on the road with festivals.
When I made my first feature, the idea of traveling to different festivals was exhilarating. I now understand that festivals are designed to promote your film. The business of being part of a festival is daunting. You really hope your film is well received, so I do try to make it to each festival and after each screening, I find myself scouring the internet for reviews, hoping that critics love the film as much as I felt the audience had. I feel very fortunate that the love everyone had for making Last I Heard has translated into a solid film. So far festival audiences are liking it and that's all we can hope for.
Last I Heard was the first feature-length film to ever premiere at Hollyshorts. How did that come about?
I had a short film premiere at HollyShorts a few years before. It was actually a pilot presentation / TV sample called ‘The Blue Wall’ that my agent at the time thought played well as a short. The guys at HollyShorts felt it would be an inspiring thing for short filmmakers to see a feature from a director who had a short at the same fest a few years before. I feel like they may have found some success in this and hopefully we established a new standard for the festival.
You chose an all-star cast. Did you have these actors (Paul Sorvino, Michael Rapaport) in mind when writing the film?
I definitely had those guys in mind from the beginning. Working with Paul and Michael was an amazing experience. Any time you're able to work with master actors like those guys makes your time on set much easier than normal. I've learned over the years that no matter the star power of an actor, they all want to be directed. I also had Renee Props, Chazz Palminteri, Steven Bauer, Paul BenVictor, Hassan Johnson and Lev Gorn on set and that was only a part of the ensemble cast. The experience also showed in how fast I was able to move while still capturing unbelievable performances. We shot the film in 18 days and during the last week, we were looking for scenes to add on to the day. Each day was scheduled for twelve hours and the last few days we were done just after lunch. If anything, that's what experience across the board gets you.
Tell us a little about your heritage. Does this influence your films?
I'm Puerto Rican by both parents. My dad's family were new to the island via Barcelona, Spain and I do speak, read and write Spanish fluently. I'm not sure that my heritage influences my work directly but, I do have that blue collar DNA in me which is what drives me to work hard toward the professional goals I've set for myself.
What’s next for you?
I was fortunate to have sold a show to AMC called The Street Attorney this past summer. However, I'm open to everything at this point but, my main focus at this time is breaking into episodic directing. The idea of working frequently in a great time in television appeals to me more than sitting at home dialing for dollars in order to get another indie feature made. The indie business is so hard right now and fortunately, I've written and directed three features, but unfortunately, I don't have a trust or a rich family.
Last I Heard will screen at The Austin Film Festival, Tuesday October 29.
Capping a particularly chaotic week of headlines with the worst bit of news so far, professional basketball player Lamar Odom was arrested on Friday morning for driving under the influence. The NBA free agent was pulled over on Southern California's 101 Freeway for driving in a "serpentine manner" and under the speed limit, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, and incarcerated for approximately three hours before posting the $15,000 bail.
The 33-year-old athlete has endured a tumultuous past few days as the center of rumors of drug addiction as well as marital problems with his wife Khloe Kardashian. For a brief period of time on Tuesday, Odom was reported to be missing by a variety of outlets, but was later revealed by agent Jeff Schwartz to be residing in a Los Angeles hotel in an attempt to deal with his newly publicized drug problems.
Already facing Odom are rumors of separation from Kardashian as well as a custody battle with his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his two children. The former Clipper is expected to face the Van Nuys Municipal Court on Sept. 27 as a result of this new DUI charge.
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Britain's leading comedy stars including Rowan Atkinson, Simon Pegg and Stephen Fry have paid tribute to British funnyman Mel Smith following his death on Friday (19Jul13). The 60-year-old comedian passed away at his home in north-west London after suffering a heart attack, according to his agent Michael Foster.
The news has sent a shockwave through the U.K. comedy scene and a number of Smith's friends and co-stars have expressed their grief in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Smith's longtime collaborator Griff Rhys Jones, who worked with him on Alas Smith and Jones and Not the Nine O'Clock News, says in a statement, "I still can't believe this has happened. To everybody who ever met him, Mel was a force for life. He had a relish for it that seemed utterly inexhaustible. He inspired love and utter loyalty and he gave it in return. I will look back on the days working with him as some of the funniest times that I have ever spent."
Mr. Bean star Atkinson also worked with the late funnyman on Not the Nine O'Clock News, and Smith directed his 1997 movie Bean.
He says in a statement, "Mel Smith - a lovely man of whom I saw too little in his later years. I loved the sketches that we did together on Not the Nine O'Clock News. He was the cast member with whom I felt the most natural performing empathy. He had a wonderfully generous and sympathetic presence both on and off screen... I never thought he was given enough credit for this success. I feel truly sad at his parting."
Stephen Fry adds, "Terrible news about my old friend Mel Smith, dead from a heart attack. Mel lived a full life but was kind, funny and wonderful to know."
Simon Pegg hails Smith as his inspiration, adding in a post on Twitter.com, "Sad to hear about Mel Smith. His influence on contemporary British comedy both as a performer and producer is impossible to calculate."
Pegg's longtime collaborator Nick Frost also mourned Smith's loss in a post on Twitter.com, while tributes have come in from Hollywood actor Jamie Bell, who called his death a great loss to British comedy, along with Richard E. Grant, James Corden, Matt Lucas, director Duncan Jones, and Peter Serafinowicz.
Smith was one of the leading lights of British comedy throughout the 1980s and he also teamed with Griff Rhys Jones to found TalkBack Productions, a TV company which produced popular comedies including Smack the Pony, Da Ali G Show and I'm Alan Partridge.
He also worked as a writer and director, helming movies including Bean and 2001's High Heels and Low Lifes.
His movie appearances as an actor included roles in The Princess Bride and National Lampoon's European Vacation.
This weekend, The Great Gatsby didn't quite overtake Tony Stark and his mechanical suit of wonder in Iron Man 3, but the literature-inspired flick did make quite a dent in the weekend box office. And that means many you flocked to the theater to see what Baz Luhrmann did with F. Scott Fitzgerald's beloved text and maybe, just maybe, the polarizing adaptation left you with a few burning questions. That's what we're here for. We've got the scoop on the history and production of Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby.
1. Those parties were breathtaking! Did Luhrmann actually throw extravagant parties and capture them on film?Well, sort of. At the junket for The Great Gatsby, Luhrmann explained how he acheived the "wild party feel" in the first party of the film at Tom (Joel Edgerton) and Myrtle's (Isla Fisher) love nest:
We wanted to go there, but we weren't quite sure how to ... and then I said, we've got 20 minutes left let's turn all the cameras on and just go for it ... and right in the middle of the jazz, I just turned up very loudly a track called 'NYMP,' which is a Jay-Z track which was mixed with jazz, and things took off and the cameras rolled for twenty minutes. And there's a moment, and you see it in the film, when a very expensive lamp smashes. And my first assistant said, 'Baz, Baz, we gotta shut it down.' Because by then it was crazy mayhem, of levels you can only imagine: it was clothes coming off and feather fights and flowers being thrown. And I remember I grabbed everyone and I said, 'Get in the bedroom' and they kept rolling and that's how it became known as the 'orgy scene.'
While he's probably joking about the orgy part, it does appear that the partying in the film was somewhat real. (Which sounds like this may have been the best job ever.)
2. Most of the song covers are pretty easy to identify, but who's the woman covering "Crazy in Love" in the flower scene at Nick's (Tobey Maguire) house?Emeli Sande is an English pop singer who's just beginning to acheive fame in the U.S. Her last album, Our Version of Events, was number one on the UK charts for seven straight weeks in 2012 and she performed at both the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics. You may also recognize her voice from her single (which was also performed by Candice Glover on American Idol last week) "Next to Me."
3. They drive around like mad men with no knowledge of seat belt safety in this movie – didn't they have normal safety measures back then?As it turns out, they didn't. Some cars came with flimsy seatbelts, but there were no laws governing the use or inclusion of seatbelts in the design of motor vehicles. It wasn't until 1964 the seatbelts were made standard by law, and even then, the requirements only stated that cars needed belts in the front seat. It was a dangerous time to be a driver or even in the vacinity of cars – something poor Myrtle Wilson has to learn firsthand.
4. Is Tom Buchanan's racist book real? Did people in the '20s really think there was an actual war between the races?Almost. Tom's book, The Rise of the Colored Empires by some man named Goddard, is not actually a real book. However, the idea that black Americans were some foreign force seeking to take over the white man's hold on America was a real theory proclaimed in a similarly-named book by Theodore Stoddard in 1920. His book was called The Rising Tide of Color Against the White World Supremacy, so if anything, Fitzgerald's version was a much milder version of the truly hateful book from Stoddard.
5. Jordan Baker and George Wilson are scene stealers! Where do I know those actors from?Wilson is played by Jason Clarke, who you may recognize as a scene-stealer from other films like Zero Dark Thirty, in which he played an FBI agent who introduced Jessica Chastain's character to the underbelly of interrogation tactics, and the summer drama Lawless, in which he played a member of a free-wheeling bootlegging family that included Tom Hardy and Shia LeBeouf. He's certainly an actor to keep an eye on in upcoming films like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
The actress who plays Baker, Elizabeth Debecki, is a rising star in Austrailia, but this is her first introduction to American audiences. However, her arresting performance as the lithe golfer is sure to make her a face to watch stateside as well.
6. Is the Valley of Ashes a real place in Queens, New York?It was. Though the that place no longer exists, it was a real area of Queens that has since become Flushing Meadows Park and was once known as the Coronoa Ash Dumps. The signature ashes were repurposed, at the request of Robert Moses (the "master builder" of mid-20th century New York City), to create the base for the Van Wyck expressway, which runs alongside the park. Flushing Meadows park built for the 1939 Worlds Fair (and little beknownst to Moses, the opening title sequence of King Of Queens, and the closing sequence ofMen In Black).
7. Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) makes such a big deal about all those oranges and the juice presser. Was it really a sign of wealth to have a mountain of citrus fruit at your disposal?Not really. But man, does it look beautiful on the screen. In the early 1920s, it cost about $10 dollars for the "200 oranges" Gatsby boasts for his morning mimosa with Daisy (Carey Mulligan), and the modern day equivalent of that many citrus fruits is about $130 dollars. It's chump change for a millionaire, but while the notion that he had someone fresh pressing his OJ for him every day in record time on some fancy juicer was the real luxury, it certainly makes for a better image to have an avalanche of orange orbs.
8. Myrtle's dog might have been the cutest movie dog in the history of movie dogs. Seriously. How do I get one? What kind of dog is he?If you want a pup like Mrs. Wilson's gift of adultery, a grey schnauser puppy would do it.
9. How historically accurate are Daisy's clothes? That jewel-network of a dress at Gatsby's party seems a bit modern.The film's costume designer (and Luhrmann's wife) Catherine Martin has said she stayed true to the time period, but that Lurhmann had her open it up the to the Gatsby Era (between 1920 and 1927), rather than just the year the book was set in. In that way, she had a bit more freedom with her designs, she spoke to Fashionista.com about the details of the era:
But what you realize even by the early ’20s, just about any silhouette–from a bias cut, to a strapless, to a robe de style, had all been invented. One shouldered looks, beading, embroidering, harem pants, feathered skirts, halter necks, v-necks… all kinds of different silhouettes. We think of the ’20s as a shift, a beaded embroidered fringed shift. And in reality the silhouettes were incredibly varied and had all kinds of influences form folkloric to Arabic, Orientalism–every kind of influence that you can possibly imagine, including Egyptian by the time Tutankhamun’s tomb had been opened up.
So there you have it. What else about The Great Gatsby left you with a quizzical brow?
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Actress Reese Witherspoon has escaped with a fine after pleading no contest to a charge of disorderly conduct relating to her recent arrest in Atlanta, Georgia. The Legally Blonde star was slapped with the count on 19 April (13) after becoming embroiled in an argument with a police officer who had pulled over her husband, Jim Toth, for driving under the influence (DUI). Her lawyer, Bruce Morris, entered the plea on his client's behalf on Thursday (02May13) and Witherspoon was ordered to pay a fine of $213 (£133) to settle the case. Meanwhile, talent agent Toth was spared jail time after appearing in person to plead guilty to the DUI charge. He was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and ordered to complete an alcohol education programme, while he was also placed on 12 months' probation, reports TMZ.com.
Handing down the sentence, the judge told him: "Consider yourself fortunate you didn't injure your passenger (Witherspoon) and didn't kill anyone." The hearing occurred just hours after Witherspoon appeared on U.S. breakfast show Good Morning America in New York on Thursday to promote her new film Mud and addressed the "elephant in the room", insisting she and her husband deeply regretted their bad behaviour. She also confessed to lying to the arresting officer, telling him she was pregnant in a desperate bid to get out of the legal trouble. She said, "It was one of those nights, we went out to dinner in Atlanta and we had one too many glasses of wine. We thought we were fine to drive and we absolutely were not... I had no idea what I was saying that night. "I saw him (police officer) arresting my husband and I literally panicked. I said all kinds of crazy things. I told him I was pregnant. I'm not pregnant. I said crazy things. I have no idea what I was talking about... I was so disrespectful to him."
What more can be said about 2001: A Space Odyssey? This month celebrating its 45th anniversary, it’s one of the most influential science fiction films ever made — with its DNA spliced and replicated in a host of other films from Blade Runner to Inception — despite being so very singular. It transformed sci-fi from the sex-and-monsters exploitation schlock that glutted the genre in much of the ‘60s and showed that sci-fi could be transcendent and spiritual. It baffled many upon its first release — Pauline Kael and Stanley Kauffman were among its high-profile detractors, while Steven Spielberg called it the “big bang” for his generation of filmmakers. Its meanings have been so endlessly scrutinized and dissected that any further analysis seems redundant. And yet, there are so many details about its origins, production, and initial release that you probably don’t know. Here are 20 things about 2001: A Space Odyssey that we’re guessing you’ve never heard of before. You’re welcome.
1. Though 2001: A Space Odyssey and the novel of the same title were conceived at the same time, Kubrick didn’t think at first that sci-fi novelist Arthur C. Clarke would be willing to take on the job. The science fiction writer was living in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and was thought to be a recluse. When his agent telegraphed him about the offer to work on Kubrick’s project, Clarke’s response was, “Frightfully interested in working with enfant terrible… what makes Kubrick think I’m a recluse?”
2. Alternate titles considered for the project early on were Journey Beyond the Stars, Universe, Tunnel to the Stars, Planetfall, and How the Solar System Was Won. The last was a reference to MGM’s 1962 epic Western How the West Was Won, which 2001: A Space Odyssey was originally going to copy by using that film’s three-camera super-widescreen Cinerama format.
3. Though the 2001: A Space Odyssey novel, released shortly after the film in 1968, only listed Clarke as its author, originally, the film’s screenplay was going to be credited to “Stanley Kubrick & Arthur C. Clarke,” while the novel would list “Arthur C. Clarke & Stanley Kubrick” as its authors.
4. In his book The Cosmic Connection, celebrity astronomer Carl Sagan wrote that Kubrick and Clarke asked him how they should portray extraterrestrial life. They had been thinking about showing the aliens that transform astronaut Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) into the Star Child as humanoid themselves. But Sagan said that the chances of alien life looking like humans would be so remote that to include human-looking aliens in the film would immediately render it false. So Kubrick and Clarke decided not to show the aliens at all.
5. HAL 9000 was originally to have had a female persona and to have been named Athena. A female HAL (named SAL, of course) does appear in the completely un-Kubrickian sequel 2010: The Year We Make Contact.
6. There was originally going to be a lot of voiceover in 2001: A Space Odyssey, which would have made certain plot points much more obvious. For instance, the satellites orbiting Earth were originally to have been specifically identified as carrying nuclear weapons. That means that the famous million-years-spanning match cut of the bone the ape tossed in the air to the shot of the satellite wouldn’t have indicated how far humankind had come as how little it has changed, at least when it comes to our love of weapons.
7. 2001 was originally going to have ended like Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, with the Star Child detonating the nuclear bombs that humanity has in orbit. However, a fireworks show of nuclear blasts was thought to be too similar to the ending of Kubrick’s previous film, Dr. Strangelove.
8. The Discovery’s final destination was originally going to be Saturn, but special effects guru Douglass Trumbull and his team weren’t able to make convincing-looking rings, so Jupiter became the last stop instead.
9. Pavel Klushantsev, a Russian documentary filmmaker of the 1950s, strongly influenced Kubrick’s vision of weightlessness in space — and the idea of a spinning space station — with his film Road to the Stars. 2001: A Space Odyssey, in turn, would influence Russian master Andrei Tarkovsky to make Solaris, which the director intended as a humanistic response to Kubrick’s film, which he thought was antiseptic.
10. For the famous shot of the astronaut running around the circumference of the cylindrical Discovery fuselage, Kubrick commissioned a 30-ton rotating “Ferris wheel” to be built, at the cost of $750,000, that would make it look like the astronaut was at times running upside down.
11. The movie was originally to have opened with a 10-minute black-and-white prologue featuring interviews with real-life scientists like Freeman Dyson discussing alien life. (Star Trek: The Next Generation fans will know Freeman Dyson for his work in hypothesizing a Dyson Sphere, a massive structure that theoretically could be built around and enclose a star.) After MGM execs balked, that beginning was deleted.
12. All the deleted footage other than the 17 minutes of scenes that Kubrick subsequently cut after 2001’s April 1968 premiere in Washington D.C., including that 10-minute documentary prologue, he had burned shortly before the director's death, in order to prevent posthumous reedits or “deleted scenes” to be included on future DVD releases.
13. Kubrick had all of 2001’s sets, props, and miniatures destroyed so they would never be able to be recycled for future movies, the way Forbidden Planet’s props surfaced in later films.
14. Unused Stargate footage from the end of 2001 made its way into the instrumental “Flying” sequence in The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour movie.
15. Ray Bradbury shared Andrei Tarkovsky’s view that 2001 is anti-humanistic, suggesting that audiences don’t care, or aren’t supposed to care, when astronaut Frank Poole dies.
16. George Lucas stated upfront in 1977 that he thought 2001 was better than Star Wars. He said, “Stanley Kubrick made the ultimate science fiction movie, and it is going to be very hard for someone to come along and make a better movie, as far as I'm concerned. On a technical level, [Star Wars] can be compared, but personally I think that 2001 is far superior.”
17. As part of their legal defense that Samsung had not stolen Apple’s design for the iPad, Samsung’s lawyers pointed to the tablet computers used in 2001 as “prior art.” Specifically, their legal brief said the following: “Attached hereto as Exhibit D is a true and correct copy of a still image taken from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In a clip from that film lasting about one minute, two astronauts are eating and at the same time using personal tablet computers. As with the design claimed by the [Apple iPad] Patent, the tablet disclosed in the clip has an overall rectangular shape with a dominant display screen, narrow borders, a predominately flat front surface, a flat back surface (which is evident because the tablets are lying flat on the table's surface), and a thin form factor.”
18. Rock Hudson was among those mystified at 2001’s L.A. premiere at the Pantages Theater. Roger Ebert, in attendance, bears witness that Hudson said, upon storming out before it had ended, “Will someone tell me what the hell this is about?”
19. Malcolm McDowell’s Alex De Large sees a soundtrack album for 2001 when he enters a record shop in A Clockwork Orange.
20. Conspiracy theorists — like one featured in Room 237, the new documentary about the multitude of diverse readings that fans hold regarding Kubrick’s later film The Shining — suggest that NASA commissioned Kubrick to stage the moon landing footage after seeing 2001. However, they ignore the most important bit of evidence that debunks that idea: the moon footage would have looked a hell of a lot better if Kubrick really had directed it.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
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It’s one of the laziest clichés in film criticism: to say that movies, particularly of the blockbuster sort, have become like videogames. It’s meant as a critique of what’s perceived as Hollywood’s emphasis on action and explosions, lack of interest in character development, and slavish devotion to teenage boys and their dollars. It’s also meant as a kneejerk dismissal of videogames. “How could a videogame possibly be a work of art?” and all that. The funny thing is that the reverse of that cliché has become very, very true in recent years: videogames have become like movies.
The Mass Effect trilogy became the most detailed example of cinematic sci-fi worldbuilding since Stars Trek and Wars. The Uncharted series has quickly established itself as the truest spiritual heir to the Indiana Jones movies to emerge from any medium. Red Dead Redemption considered Manifest Destiny with far greater insight than even worthy movie Westerns like True Grit and Django Unchained. But the game franchise that in some ways is the most daringly original is also the one the draws the deepest from its cinematic roots. I’m talking about BioShock. The very first BioShock installment back in 2007 was a heady pastiche of a whole array of movie influences. It also integrated film storytelling directly into the gameplay experience, rather than advance the narrative primarily through cutscene cinematics as so many games have. Now, the latest installment in the series, BioShock Infinite, has been released and it’s a turn-of-the-last-century steampunk fantasia.
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BioShock Infinite is the story of a disgraced Pinkerton agent, Booker DeWitt, who lost his faith in his line of work after participating in the Massacre at Wounded Knee. The year is 1912, and DeWitt’s been given an opportunity to pay old debts, possibly old debts from his Pinkerton days. He’s been tasked to infiltrate a massive floating city called Columbia, after the female personification of America, and rescue a woman named Elizabeth who’s been held there for 12 years against her will. He goes to a missile silo, is launched to Columbia, and begins his journey. In the floating city, he discovers that there’s a brewing conflict between its strict-constructionist Founders and the growing rebel movement, the Vox Populi, who could also be called Occupy Columbia. BioShock Infinite has wide cinematic roots, but there are seven movie influences in particular—or rather, six influences and one reference—that stand out.
The Empire Strikes Back—Ken Levine, the lead designer on BioShock Infinite and co-founder and creative director of Irrational Games, BioShock’s studio, has gone on record as saying that the Star Wars sequel’s Cloud City, the vast metropolis suspended in the sky of gas giant Bespin, was a source of inspiration for Columbia. Like Cloud City, Columbia is basically a giant floating platform upon which the cityscape itself is built. Levine has also said that the Death Star influenced the concept of Columbia because of the city’s formidable weapons systems.
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Meet Me in St. Louis & Other Turn-of-the-20th-Century Americana—Despite being a floating city, Columbia is still a floating city in 1912. So Levine drew upon films that portrayed a highly idealized view of picket-fenced American life at that time. Films like Vincente Minnelli’s immortal 1944 classic Meet Me in St. Louis, which is like a Technicolor postcard from a bygone age that never was. Or later films The Music Man and Hello, Dolly! The latter film, starring Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau, is by no means a stranger to sci-fi, having been WALL-E’s favorite movie. So if you combine these front-porch idylls with Cloud City, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what Columbia looks like. Of course that combination also means we’ve got some pretty heavy…
…Steampunk—The retro-futurism aesthetic that imagines contemporary or future technology as powered entirely by steam. It’s the go-to mode in movies, like Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films, of envisioning bygone eras as being more sophisticated than they really were. For the apex of steampunk see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which, with its airships, including one that practically could be called a floating city, left its mark on BioShock.
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The Shining & Blue Velvet—Of course, the BioShock series has always had a touch of horror cinema about it. Infinite is going for something a little bit more subtle: to mine an all-American milieu of its inherent eeriness the way that David Lynch did to Lumberton in Blue Velvet or Stanley Kubrick to the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. How do you create terror in environs that are the furthest thing from terrifying? Yet another way Levine has raised the bar this time around.
The Pinkertons—The legendary private security and detection organization was a mainstay in strikebreaking and outlaw-hunting in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and frequent Western movie villains. You'll remember their prominent appearance in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as the ruthless enforcers who track down Butch & Sundance’s Hole in the Wall gang.
Kinetoscopes—Rather than using traditional cutscenes to impart exposition, most of what you need to know about the world of Columbia is learned on the fly. However, crucial intel can be gleaned along the way by stopping to gaze into a kinetoscope. You know a kinetoscope, right? It’s a wooden box with a sprocket apparatus, into which you gaze through a viewfinder to look at a series of flip card images that, when turned, create the illusion of movement. It’s like a mechanical flip book, and is usually considered an early precursor of cinema itself. A kinetoscope works pretty much exactly like a motion picture, except that it’s not projected onto a screen.
Revenge of the Jedi—Okay, this last one is not an influence on the game, since it never even existed in real life. But it is an interesting allusion. After you’ve rescued and partnered with Elizabeth, she can give you the power to open rifts in the space-time continuum to travel to other times and places. One of those places is Paris. The time? 1983. The year we all know Return of the Jedi came out. Except that the movie theater marquee in Paris reads Revenge of the Jedi. That was George Lucas’ original title for his conclusion to the Original Star Wars Trilogy, until he decided that it’s not in the Jedi way to take revenge. Several posters bearing the name Revenge of the Jedi were released, however, in early 1983 before the change to Return of the Jedi was made official. Get thee to eBay to find where you can buy one online.
Do you plan on playing BioShock Infinite? And which of these cinematic influences/shout-outs is your favorite?
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: 2K Games]
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When you think of SXSW, the image of indie bands, movie premieres, tech talks where the word "innovative" is used a lot, and of course, those famous Austin breakfast tacos immediately springs to mind. But television has also become one of the key components of the festival, with panels and screenings becoming a one of the must-experience destinations of the event. It's no surprise really, considering the quality level of television out there right now.
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Just ask Aaron Tveit, the bona fide Broadway star who had his big screen breakout as Enjolras in the Oscar-winning adaptation of Les Misérables. The 29-year-old actor who has Hollywood knocking, went with a small screen project, the upcoming USA procedural Graceland, which had its world premiere at the Austin Museum of Art at SXSW on Monday night.
Hollywood.com caught up with Tveit at the roof party that followed the Graceland premiere (which featured, among other highlights, a digital paint display) and cast Q&A explained his reasoning for choosing to do television after the success of Les Mis was simple: "I think the best writing right now is in television." He continued, "I'm a huge television watcher, I'm a fan of Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Those shows I think, but obviously starting with The Sopranos and The Wire, are why you're seeing film actors who would have never done TV before, all of a sudden want a series. The stigma [about TV] is gone."
While Tveit is by no means a stranger to television (he'd had minor roles on Gossip Girl and Law & Order: SVU), it's his first lead in a series. In Graceland — which seemed to play well to the SXSW audience who laughed along with all the quippy, USA-brand of dialogue in the pilot — Tveit plays a rookie FBI agent named Mike Warren who lives in a dream-like beachfront home with other FBI officials, like hotshot agent Paul Briggs (Daniel Sunjata).
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"Other television work that I've done has been a lot of guest star stuff, so you're kind of the not-important person on the schedule when you're shooting as a guest star, but with this I'm working all the time. I love being at work everyday," Tveit said. The actor said that he was up for the "six month grind of non-stop" television shooting, thanks largely in part to his Broadway background. "Being on stage all the time I know you have to keep yourself in shape, so I just treated it the same way."
Tveit not only credited the USA network for making his transition to TV leading man an easy one ("When I found it was USA, I could instantly picture how they were gonna do it and it was going to look like and fully supported. They give their shows every opportunity to succeed," he said), but his castmates, including Sunjata, Vanessa Ferlito, Serinda Swan, Manny Montana, and Brandon Jay McLaren, who were all on hand for the SXSW premiere.
"It's a group of actors that, from day one, everyone was just ready to play ball with each other," Tveit said. "Telling this story is a very collaborative effort, our writers encourage us to bring our ideas and we have a lot of influence over our characters and the story that we're telling. In that same regard, there's a lot of improvisation and stuff is very free-flowing. It lifts the material off the page, because we all do really get along. I think the material can crackle when you have that kind of rapport."
But Broadway fanatics who want to see Tveit back on stage singing again (and there were quite a few in the crowd at SXSW, as the actor received the most questions from giddy audience members during the post-screening session), don't worry, so does he. During the Q&A, the actor said there'd be "no scripted singing in the season" on Graceland, but when Hollywood.com chatted with him, he said he'd still find an outlet for it.
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"I really, really wanna get back on stage. It's like an addiction you can't get anywhere else. That energy you have on stage, you can't find it anywhere else. I miss it, I miss singing," Tveit admitted. "[I'm] in the early stages of putting a concert to do in New York. I'll hopefully be diving in to that [when I get back], so hopefully that will satisfy my desire to sing, even if it's just for myself." Unlikely case.
Graceland premieres this summer on USA.
[Photo credit: USA]
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The story centers on the events surrounding the death of Canada's former ambassador to Moscow (1954-56), John Watkins, at the height of the Cold War in 1964. A close friend of former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, Watkins was suspected of being a communist spy by the CIA. Days after an interrogation, he was found dead.