Steve Irwin's cameraman has spoken for the first time about the TV star's death, revealing the wildlife expert was stabbed hundreds of times by a stingray before he perished. The Australian TV personality died in September, 2006 at the age of 44 after being speared in the chest by a stingray as he swam above the creature in the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland.
Camera operator Justin Lyons has now spoken publicly about the horror for the first time, revealing he was so busy filming that he did not realise Irwin had been fatally injured.
He also recalls how the fearless nature lover told him, "I'm dying" as his life ebbed away.
Lyons, who was shooting a documentary with Irwin when the tragedy happened, tells Australia's Channel Ten they encountered an eight foot (2.4 metre)-wide stingray which struck out, apparently believing Irwin's shadow was a tiger shark.
Lyons says, "I had the camera on, I thought this is going to be a great shot, and all of a sudden it propped on its front and started stabbing wildly, hundreds of strikes in a few seconds.
"I panned with the camera as the stingray swam away and I didn't know it had caused any damage. It was only when I panned the camera back that I saw Steve... in a huge pool of blood that I realised something had gone wrong."
Lyons also recalled how he heard Irwin's final words as he helped the stricken star back onto their boat, adding, "He calmly looked up at me and said 'I'm dying' and that was the last thing he said."
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If anyone deserves a well-crafted and considerate biopic from Hollywood, it's Tupac Shakur. The rapper, whose life story has risen to the stuff of legend, is in serious need of his own film. Tupac was full of intelligence and dark charisma, and his passionate lyrics were sharp enough to cut through the thick fog of mid '90s competition as he brought a hard-edged originality to West Coast hip hop. He was a singularly interesting and multi-faceted figure, and it's almost sacrosanct that his story is depicted on film the right way. Now, director John Singleton has stepped up to the task. The filmmaker, who actually knew Shakur personally after directing him in the 1993 film Poetic Justice, is set to helm the long-awaited biopic. Singleton, who was originally linked to the project back in 2011, has inked a new deal to rewrite, produce, and direct the film. The task of bringing Tupac's story to the big screen is not one for the faint of heart, and there are several ways that such a touchy project could go seriously wrong. Since his death, Tupac has become nothing short of a mythic figure in the music world, and there's a load of pressure weighing on Singleton brining his story to the big screen just right. Here are the thing's that the director would need to focus on in order to create a great Tupac biopic.
His Early InfluencesTupac Amaru Shakur, whose name originates from a Peruvian revolutionary that fought for his freedom against Spanish rule, has an incredibly interesting childhood. While most biopics would do better to steer away from focusing on the entire life of their subjects Tupac's early life is actually quite fascinating and the story would actually flourish from spending at least a little time examining the rapper's beginnings. Tupac's parents, Afeni Shakur and Billy Garland, were both high ranking members of the Black Panther Party, and just a month before Tupac was born, his mother was acquitted of charges against the United States. Tupac's stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, spent time on the FBI's Most Wanted list, and was imprisoned for planning an armored truck robbery for the Black Liberation Army. His parents' controversial political affiliations and ideologies clearly trickled down into his music, and that influence is worth a mention, even if it's a quick one.
The MusicEven though his life outside of his lyrics almost threatened to overshadow his music, Tupac was primarily a musician when all was said and done. The man himself is a legend, but it was the music that burrowed its way into our hearts and minds. A big focus of the biopic needs to be dedicated to recreating the his music respectfully. We should get a glimpse at Tupac's creative method, and witness the genesis of his biggest hits, and most noteworthy songs. Singleton only needs to look towards 2005's Hustle and Flow to see how to really capture hip hop's creative process in a truly affecting way.
The East Coast/West Coast RivalryIt may be obvious to say, but a large portion of the film should focus on the deadly rivalry that brought Tupac's life to an end. The music feud that escalated from verbal jabs in song lyrics to real violence that spilled it's way onto the streets was hip hop's darkest hour, and should be given it's due reverence. Tupac's death, and the later death of his chief rival, The Notorious B.I.G., changed rap music and music in general forever. the complicated and intriguing story needs to be heavily examined.
ParanoiaDuring the early to mid '90s, The East Coast/West Coast rivalry racheted up a couple dozen notches after Tupac was shot by unknown assailants at Quad studios, an attack that he believed to be orchestrated by Sean "P.Diddy" Combs, Biggie, and other members of Bad Boy Records. Because of this and other events, Tupac was incredibly paranoid in the last few years of his life, and these feelings seeped their way into the lyrics of his songs like "Hit em Up" and "Hail Mary." We should see that paranoia play out on screen in Tupac's depiction.
No SugarcoatingFor all his talents, Tupac Shakur was still only human at the end of the day. He was deeply flawed man and his brushes with trouble, including constant and pervasive legal issues, an alleged sexual assault, various physical altercations, and the mysterious shooting of a six-year-old, are all a part of his legend. In order to tell a truthful tale about Tupac's life, Singleton shouldn't gloss over the more unpleasant details. It would be doing him a disservice not to highlight the messier parts of his history.
Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
There is a certain level of enjoyment you are guaranteed when signing on for a movie that boasts a cast of George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, and Bill Murray. And that's the precise level of enjoyment you'll get from The Monuments Men — that bare minimum smirk factor inherent the idea that your favorite stars are getting to play together. In FDR-era army helmets, no less. But what we also get from the film is an aura of smug self-confidence from project captain Clooney, who seems all too ready to take for granted that we're perfectly satisfied peering into his backyard clubhouse.
So assured is the director/co-writer that we're happy to be in on the game that there doesn't seem to be any effort taken to refine the product for the benefit of a viewing audience. An introductory speech from art historian Frank Stokes (Clooney) sets up the premise straight away: the Nazis are stealing and destroying all of Europe's paintings and sculptures, and by gum we need to stop them! The concept doesn't complicate from there, save for a batting back and forth of the throughline question about whether the preservation of these pieces is "really worth it." Stokes rallies his own Ocean's Seven on a fine arts rescue mission, instigating an old fashioned go-get-'em-boys montage where we learn everything we need to know about the band mates in question: Damon has a wife, Goodman has gumption, Murray doesn't smile, Bob Balaban is uppity, and Jean Dujardin is French.
The closest thing to a character in The Monuments Men comes in the form of Hugh Bonneville, a recovering alcoholic whose motivation to take on the dangerous mission is planted in a festering desire to absolve himself of a lifetime of f**king up. When we're away from Bonneville, the weight disspears, as does most of the joy. Without identifiable characters, even master funnymen like Goodman, Murray, and Balaban don't have much to offer... especially since the movie's jokes feel like first draft placeholders born on a tired night.
Sony Pictures via Everett Collection
But wait a minute, is this even supposed to be a comedy? After all, it's about World War II. And no matter what Alexandre Desplat's impossibly merry score would have you believe (coupled with The Lego Movie, this opening weekend might be responsible for more musical jubilance than any other since the days of "Make 'Em Laugh!"), warfare, genocide, and desecration of international culture all make for some pretty heavy material. But The Monuments Men's drama is just as fatigued as its humor, clumsily piecing together a collection of mini missions wherein the stakes, somehow, never seem to jump. We're dragged through military bases, battered towns, and salt mines by Clooney and the gang — occasionally jumping over to France to watch Damon work his least effective magic in years on an uptight Cate Blanchett, who holds the key to the scruffy American's mission but doesn't quite trust him... until, for no apparent reason, she suddenly does. We never feel like any of these people matter, not even to each other, so we never really feel like their adventures do.
The Monuments Men doesn't have much of a challenge ahead of it. Its heroes are movie stars, its bad guys are Nazis, and its message is one that nobody's going to refute: art is important — a maxim it pounds home with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, through countless scenes of men staring in awe at the works of Michelangelo and Rembrandt. And in this easy endeavor, Clooney decides to coast. How could it possibly go wrong? Just grab hold of the fellas, toss 'em in the trenches, and let the laughs and danger write themselves. "This is what they came to see," Monuments Men insists. "Just us guys havin' a ball." But we never feel in on the game, and it isn't one that looks like that much fun anyhow.
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We start the show at Carlton’s risqué annual pool party. This is the first time she has had a party with the girls and her goal is to impress. Everyone is surprised with the naked girls painted silver and gold, but nobody seems offended. Lisa found the party and the gift bags distasteful, but she didn’t seem angry about it. The only person who actually got angry was Carlton, at Kyle. Carlton was showing off her new tattoo and Kyle’s first reaction was, “Is that the Jewish star?!”
Of course it pissed Carlton off because Kyle never respects her religion, which is Wiccan, in case you weren’t clear. But the girls pulled it together, Carlton noticed a necklace on Kyle and complimented it and than Kyle took it off and handed it right over. Carlton’s opinion of Kyle is momentarily changed.
Kim wasn’t at the party, she was at a convention for celebrities who have fans and can’t explain why. She takes this chance to thank her ‘fans’ for their help in getting and keeping her sober.
Yolanda’s daughter Gigi is preparing to leave for college and Yolanda is sad, she wants Gigi to leave with a positive memory of her life on the West coast. She invites the girls over to make paintings similar to the ones hanging in her kitchen, and at the last minute Lisa calls and cancels. This upsets Yolanda, she thinks that Lisa should have called the night before. It’s hard not to agree with Yolanda here. Even though we love Lisa, and she can usually do no wrong, she did throw a fit earlier this season when Carlton bailed on her dinner party last minute.
Joyce and Carlton arrive to Yolanda’s and they are about to carry the wine upstairs but the girls agree they’re not going to drink. Joyce makes an off-color remark about waiting for Brandi to arrive to bring up the bottle and Carlton immediately jumps in, correcting Joyce and telling her not to judge Brandi. Joyce backed down quickly when she realized neither of the girls were going to laugh behind their best friend's back. Go Carlton!
The girls walk up the stairs to Yolanda’s hill top terrace and when Brandi arrives they start painting. Carlton brings up the question of whether or not Kyle actually likes her, and Joyce tells her to go ahead and ask Kyle- who is missing because she has a guest spot on Days of Our Lives. Carlton brings up spells and Joyce makes the comment that spells only work on those people who believe in them.
Carltons’s reaction: Just wait ‘til you go home Joyce, and we’ll see what happens. And surprisingly enough, the following day we see Joyce tell Kim that her husband got violently ill. Not sick like a normal person would get sick, but sick like something was really wrong with him. Can we say, for the second time, go Carlton!
Carlton casts another spell on Joyce - she drinks herself into Brandi’s normal state of consciousness - FINALLY.
Kim marries one of her fans from her convention, he is also sober.
Lisa apologizes to Yolanda and all is right in the world of our two favorite housewives.
Justified opened with a really nice tribute to the late Elmore Leonard, the author behind the whole show. Timothy Olyphant, who plays Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens, Walton Goggins, who plays Boyd Crowder, and creator Graham Yost all spoke highly of him.
The episode opened with Givens on the stand for a possible settlement case for Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman). The main purpose of this scene was to once again gleefully show how stupid Crowe was. At one point, Givens pointed out "for the record, he thought he had four kidneys." The ultimate was when, after Crowe's lawyer threatened to have many other people talk about how rough Givens was in meting out justice and the defense decided to up the settlement to $300,000. Judge Mike Reardon (the always great Stephen Root) said, "In light of your situation, the state has decided to up it to 300." Crowe reared up and in righteous indignation, roared, "300? After all I have been through, I'm ONLY GETTING $300?!?!" In possibly the best deadpan voice ever, Reardon replied, "That's $300,000, you nitwit."
The scene shifted to Boyd in jail, talking to his fiancee, Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter) - she had been married to his brother - and saying that he would do whatever he would to free Ava, including threatening a judge's family. After parting ways, he went to a dope deal, only to find that Detroit was in free fall - they tried to stiff him, literally. He had to shoot three men, getting his ear badly wounded in the process. He called Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns) to tell him that the two of them were going to go to Detroit.
A quintessential Leonard scene happened next in Florida: Dilly Crowe (Jason Gray-Stanford) and Elvis Manuel Machado (Amaury Nolasco) paid a visit to a corrupt Coast Guard officer and Dilly wound up shooting him due to his making fun of his stutter. This was bad because the Coast Guard officer had been on the Federal watch list for taking bribes. This meant Art Mullen (Nick Searcy) wanted to send Givens to Florida to see the Crowes and also possibly see his baby daughter, since Winona (Natalie Zea), his estranged former wife, was also in Florida. Wanting no part of that, Givens sought a shortcut to stay in Kentucky and went to see Dewey at his new bar. He found him in a pool and after some back and forth with him and learning that Dewey had distanced himself from his clan, he shot the pool up on his way out just as a measure to keep tweaking Dewey.
Givens went to Florida and found that Machado was his target. He met a Florida task force and was driven around the area by Agent Sutter (David Koechner). Dilly met the senior Crowe, Darryl (Michael Rapaport). Darryl blew his top about hearing about the dead Coast Guard officer, since he knew that would spell trouble for his clan, since the Feds would come sniffing.
Boyd went to Detroit with Duffy to find out about his missing drug shipment, since he was going to need money to pay off whoever he needed to get Ava free. The two went to an abandoned building and had to climb 14 flights of stairs. What ensued was a truly surreal scene. They found Picker (John Kapelos), who he had had dealings with in the previous season. There was a bunch of severed mannequins and a man with a chainsaw in another room, torturing someone. Sammy Tonin (Max Perlich) was there too, but Picker soon disposed of him and the chainsaw guy (Boyd and Duffy were spattered with Tonin's blood, with both of them being too impossibly cool about it). It turned out he had aligned himself with the Canadian mob and was going to kill Boyd and Duffy as well, but Boyd turned the tables on him by hitting him with the briefcase. The three of them met the Canadian connections, played by Will Sasso and David Foley, continuing the show's tradition of bringing in comedic actors to play serious roles. The Canadians were backing out ("I thought all Canadians were supposed to be nice?" "Wrong Canadians."). This meant that they would have to find other avenues. Picker suggested Mexico.
In Florida, things didn't go well for Givens either. First he and Sutter met Jean-Baptiste (Edi Gathegi), who called Darryl right after he left. Darryl was then flying down the Everglades on an airboat, where he sent his sister, Wendy (Alicia Witt), a paralegal, to meet with the two law enforcement officers. He agreed to have them get Machado, so that he wouldn't violate his parole. Darryl went back to his place and told Machado his services were no longer needed and that he would meet him at a hotel with his last payment. Machado went with Wendy to go to the hotel. The tricky part was Dilly. In a cold-blooded move, Darryl had his brother Danny stab him, since Darryl figured that he would be too stupid if he had to talk to the Feds.
Machado, who figured he had been set up, tried to thwart the plan by taking Wendy at gunpoint, but the Crowe sister, while having gone legit, was still more than capable of thinking on her feet. She purposely got into an accident and fled the scene while Machado stumbled off. She called Givens, who was at the hotel finding that Machado wasn't there. She told him that Machado was fleeing to Cuba. Givens and Sutter found Machado on a motorized raft, trying to leave. When they told him he could either A) Bring the raft back and they arrest him or B) Try to swim to Cuba, Machado chose C) Get pumped full of lead by the two officers when he tried to draw on them.
Givens headed back to Kentucky after Sutter told him how hard it was to have to leave his kids when he saw them on his visitation days. Givens didn't even want to deal with that, electing to have a Skype conversation with Winona.
The episode closed with Boyd visiting the home of Lee Paxon (Sam Anderson), the man he most despised - a powerful man who he had humiliated last season, but who now had the upper hand. After Paxton wanted him to grovel and sneered that he wouldn't do that even to save his "white-trash" fiancee, Boyd caved his head in and then paid off Paxton's new Latvian wife to keep quiet. Boyd the Animal had resurfaced.
As far as live, audience interactive TV goes, this is defintely an error that you want to avoid at all costs. On Wednesday night, Fox and The X Factor producers were forced to scrap the show's voting results due to a graphics mistake that caused the wrong voting numbers to appear during the East Coast broadcast. As a result, the 13 finalists will have to re-do their Motown themed performances in an hour-long re-vote episode that will air on Thurs. Nov. 7.
Fans of The X Factor quickly took to twitter once they realized that the numbers on the screen were scrambled. Simon Cowell later responded to the tweets in a surprisingly casual manner.
A lot of you noticed there were some problems with the voting numbers at the end of the show tonight...you were right!
— Simon Cowell (@SimonCowell) November 7, 2013
Mistakes happen. But now I have 24 hours to prepare my groups for tomorrow night. Let's hope they all deliver.
— Simon Cowell (@SimonCowell) November 7, 2013
Hopefully Cowell is right and the contestants performances will be even better. Voting will begin immediately after tonight's show, and the results will be revealed during next Wednesday's 80's themed episode.
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Ariana Grande, the 20-year-old pint-sized beauty with a powerhouse voice, debuted her first album, Yours Truly, at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 — causing grownups across the nation to scratch their heads. Who the heck is this little lady and where did she come from? Luckily for the olds, teenagers have known all about Ms. Grande for a long, long time (like, three years, at least). Here's what you need to know, in a nutshell, to get all caught up:
1. Grande made her professional acting debut in 2008 when she was cast in 13: The Musical on Broadway when she was 15 years old.
2. Grande first appeared on the Nickeleon show Victorious — which is about a performing arts high school — in 2010 as total airhead Cat Valentine. She had red hair and an annoying baby voice.
3. While the star of the show was Victoria Justice, it quickly became clear that Grande was the fan favorite. And pretty dang talented to boot.
4. As Victorious started to fizzle, Grande began to slowly release her original music. Her first single, "Put Your Hearts Up," was released in May of 2012 and is incredibly cutesy. When Grande is being herself she has auburn hair.
5. She prefers to dress like an ice capades star slash slutty '50s housewife whenever possible. See Exhibits A, B, and C.
6. Nickeleon caught on to the fact that Grande was one of its biggest assets (sorry, Vic) and decided to cancel Victorious and pair her with another Nick fan fave, iCarly's Jennette McCurdy, for their own show. Sam and Cat premiered on the network in the summer of 2013.
7. Grande collaborated with fellow up-and-comer Mac Miller, earning herself some street cred.
8. And The Wanted's Nathan Sykes, to push the romance envelope.
9. And that brings us to the part where Grande's fame skyrocketed and people older than 16 began to take notice. She released Yours Truly on September 30 and immediately critics began dubbing her a mini Mariah Carey (and they definitely weren't wrong). She performed at the MTV Video Music Awards pre-show:
And Jimmy Fallon:
And released her video for "Baby I" — in which she even looks like a mini Mariah.
And so, it would seem, Grande has successfully transitioned from squeaky clean teen star to a pop sensation on the rise without licking a single sledgehammer. Keep an eye on this one, she's going places (in spite of her penchant for tulle skirts).
More:Ariana Grande's 'The Way' Cracks Billboard's Top 10Katy Perry's 'Roar' Video Is So Ridiculous It's Good Miley Cyrus Is Still Trying to Get Our Attention in 'Wrecking Ball' Video
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From Our Partners:A Complete History Of Twerking (1993-2013) (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
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On the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 11, Prince Harry took part in a trade for the BGC Partners Charity Day at Canary Wharf in London — an event in memory of those who died during the attacks on the World Trade Center 12 years ago. Harry, realizing the gravitas associated with such an event, made the above face.
Way to go, Harry.
Now that we know that Harry is capable of finding the most appropriate, tactful reaction to any significant phone call that may come his way, we thought we'd test him out with the most heart-wrenching telephonic moments from pop culture — in GIFs, of course.
When Rick Grimes discovered he was talking to his dead wife, Harry was all:Via
As Sam Baldwin sought solace following a broken heart, Harry just:Via
It was the last night of Casey Becker's life and Harry was just like:Via
Harry definitely knows who A is...Via
And Harry knows that Peggy is no Pizza House.Via
When Captain Kirk gets really, really, angry, Harry is all: Via
Harry ain't Jesse, Mr. White!Via
Colin Farrell is hostage in a phone booth, waxing poetic on the perils of trust, and Harry just:Via
Harry's fairly certain Alexis has the wrong number. Via
And he won't take s**t from nobody — not even Regina George. Via
More:13 Pieces of Advice for the Royal Baby from Uncle HarryThe 8 Hottest Photos from Prince Harry's American TourPrince Harry's Buff Bod Inspires These Awesome GIFs
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From Our Partners:A Complete History Of Twerking (1993-2013) (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
Kendrick Lamar has defended his decision to brand himself the 'King of New York' in a new song after it prompted derision from hip-hop heavyweights Jay Z and Sean 'Diddy' Combs. The rapper made the controversial statement on Big Sean's single Control, but it prompted a withering response from Combs on Twitter.com along with negative comments from Lupe Fiasco and Cassidy.
Now Lamar has spoken out to address the issue, insisting the lyric has been taken out of context.
He tells Los Angeles radio station Power 106, "I think it's a case of maybe I should dumb down my lyrics just a little bit... The irony of that line is that the people who actually understood it and got it were the actual kings of New York, you know, me sitting down with them this past week, and them understanding, it's not actually about being the king of whatever coast, it's about leaving a mark as great as Biggie (Notorious B.I.G.), as great as Pac (Tupac Shakur)."
Lamar also insists he's happy to stoke up from friendly competition with his rival rappers, telling New York's Hot 97, "A lot of people think it's about talent, that's where they get it wrong. I'm saying I'm the most hungry. I respect the legends in the game, I respect the people that done it before me, the people that lost their lives over this. Because of what they laid down, I'm gonna try to go harder, breathe it and live it, that's the point of the whole verse."
Destin Cretton captivated festival audiences with his short film Short Term 12 in 2008; now, five years later, he has expanded his film school thesis into a full-length feature. The result is at once heartrending, tender, and strikingly funny — just like, you guessed it, life. And that's the beauty of Cretton's film: its rawness, its honesty, its truth.
Hollywood.com spoke with Cretton about his personal experiences working at a foster care facility much like the film's Short Term 12 as well as finding the perfect cast — which includes Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Keith Stanfield, and Kaitlyn Dever — to bring this intensely personal story to life.
Note: This interview contains plot spoilers for Short Term 12.Go see the movie — immediately — and then come back and read this.
Hollywood.com: I loved the movie, as I am sure you are hearing a lot today, and other days.Destin Cretton: It would be great if someone started off by saying, "I hated the movie. Here are some questions."
There is a movie I saw recently — thank God I wasn't doing the junket, because it would have started out like that! But I just wanted to start at the beginning. I was at the BAM Q&A, where you said that this movie kind of sprung from your personal experiences. I'd love to hear about that, and then your process of turning those experiences into this movie.It was my first job out of college. I stumbled into this because I couldn't get a job anywhere else. I had a friend who was working at this place, doing overnights. He said they were hiring. I didn't know what I was getting into until I was in it. I didn't realize how intense it was going to be. How scary it was going to be. I was terrified for the first month. I was very similar to that novice Nate character in the movie — so naïve, so idealistic. In an unhealthy way. I quickly — well, not quickly — realized that the way that I was thinking about it was so wrong. That even though I did have good intentions, there was a part of me that felt like I was the savior, I was the one who was going to help, I was "above" these kids. That was my biggest lesson that I learned while working there. All humans are the same.
Working there was like holding a mirror up to myself, and seeing so many things about me that I had to deal with, and I had to work on, that I was struggling with. That showed me how similar I was to all these kids. Once I was at that place, my relationships with them became very real — once they saw that I was looking at them with equal human respect. Those questions and those things that I was dealing with stuck with me. That experience stuck with me. Still, it is imprinted with me. It stuck with me all the way through film school. Those four years later, when I did my thesis film — which was the short version of Short Term 12 — that was the first time that I tried to organize some of those thoughts into a cohesive story.
The short premiered at Sundance, and I won the Jury Prize, and took it around to festivals. The continued, repeated surprise of that experience was how many people were connecting to this world who knew nothing about it. And that was, I think, when I started to realize how universal these situations and emotions and themes that are wrapped up in this world are. And that was kind of an inspiration for writing it as a longer piece.
And how did you decide what to pursue further in the feature versus the short?A lot of it had to do with [the fact that] I just don’t like repeating myself. Just because it's boring. I don't want to do the same thing again. Mainly for my own entertainment, I guess, I change things. The most obvious change between the short and the feature is that the main character is a male supervisor in the short and a female in the feature. That one change just trickled through everything. Even scenes that are really similar to the short became brand new scenes. And the challenge of writing from a female perspective was terrifying enough to keep my interest. [Laughs] It felt like a brand new story at that point.
And you obviously gathered this incredibly talented cast together. Was it a relief to find everyone and find out they were awesome?I can't even tell you what kind of a relief it was. And I can't tell you how stressed out I was during the casting process. I knew from the beginning that the movie lives and dies with whoever we get. If we get the wrong people, the film wouldn't work. I was so stressed on some of these roles. Thank God we had [these actors]. Brie [Larson] was the first piece of the puzzle. And then John [Gallagher Jr.] came on. They both came on fairly quickly, which was a big relief. But then going through all of the other kids… Oh, it was so stressful. It wasn't like we had a ton of resources or we had a lot of time for casting. We did not, for any of these roles, have an A-B-C option. It wasn't like, "Oh, they're all pretty good!" It was just nobody, nobody, nobody, and then the perfect person comes in. And our schedules! It was like, if we don't figure out how to work her into our schedule, I'm screwed! And it was like that for most of the kid roles.
The kids were all fantastic.I know. I'm so proud of them.
I was surprised to look up Brie's age after the movie and see how young she was. The fact that she plays a teenager in The Spectacular Now — in which she is a contemporary of Kaitlyn [Dever]'s — is so crazy to me. Was it ever a concern that she would be too young for the role?There was definitely a concern before I met her. [Laughs] I had seen her in some interviews, and she is extremely mature. What is she, 23 now? So, interviews gave me hope. But she is so good at playing drastically different characters. And all of them have been teenagers, I think. All of them, right?
I think so. I don't know what she plays in Don Jon, but mostly teenagers.Mostly teenagers. And she's so good at it. So, that was definitely a wonder of mine until I Skyped with her and saw how smart she is. And thoughtful and introspective. Her insight into this character… I was immediately so excited to see what she would do.
Brie was telling me about the envelope of icebreaker conversations that you made for her and John before their first dinner. What inspired you to do that?I don't know. I did it for my previous film, where we also had to quickly create a family with three actresses and an actor, a brother and three sisters. And I did the same thing — I sent them on a hike with an envelope. It's just very specific topics to talk about, all related to the emotions or the themes of the movie they're doing together. It worked there a lot. Some of it is things they should really be talking about and that are really into the theme. Some of it is just the act of answering a vulnerable question in front of somebody. It creates trust and intimacy. Honestly, it's like, "I hope this works!" It takes really good actors to run with it and make it work, so I'm glad that they did. [Laughs]
No, it's a great idea! There are two things that are really interesting about this movie to me. The first is that, though most of the characters have happy endings it doesn't feel cheesy. Were you worried about giving everyone a happy ending?Yeah. It kind of depends on your definition of "happy." I do think that for this particular movie — I mean, the short film doesn't end happy, so I'm not like, "Every movie has to have a happy ending!" — for this particular story, it was important for me, personally, to end on the upswing. I think the theme of the movie is very apparent that it is not going to stay in the upswing. The movie is about the ups and downs of life. And that love is more than a feeling. And that love is not fleeting — love is walking through shit with somebody. I also, personally, believe that happiness is as much a reality as darkness and tragedy. In this world, working at that place, I had some of the saddest, most tragic moments with people there, and I also had some of the happiest, most blissful and hopeful moments there. I wanted to portray both as honestly as I could. The moments of bliss in this movie, I think those characters deserve them. I've got to give them this. I think that anybody can see that we're not saying that they're going to live a perfect life from here on out. I do think that there is so much hope in the human ability to choose to try. I think that's what the happy ending is for all these characters — they are choosing to try, and choosing to keep moving forward and survive. You know that they are going to continue going through shit and happy moments until they die.
Definitely. I was also very impressed by the fact that there were a few times in the movie where I felt like there was the potential for it to take one step too far into melodrama.Yeah, there's a lot of those moments.
But you resisted them every time! Which was incredible. The one that stands out in my mind is when Grace goes to Jayden's dad's house with the baseball bat — that could have gone very poorly. And then, obviously, Marcus could have not survived his suicide attempt. I was relieved and very happy that it resisted that. Were you ever tempted to go into that super heavy territory?Yeah, there's always the temptation.
Not that what you have isn't heavy...It is! But there's always the temptation to do too much. To think that an audience needs more. They need more intense music, or they need more explanation, or they need more tears — more of an obvious emotional thing. That's a huge temptation. That was a lesson that we constantly [learned] as we were showing the film to friends and then test audiences, rooms full of strangers, which we got to do through the editing process. We learned and relearned how smart audiences are. Any of them. Audiences that you wouldn't expect to be smart are so smart. Collectively. Their brains just unite and they understand subtlety. Even audiences that aren't used to watching indie films. We were constantly seeing that they don't need that music cue, they don't need that explanation. We just kept stripping things away. Which is the type of movie that I like to watch. There are still some things that we should have stripped away! [Laughs]
I don't know, I thought it was great. A theme that a coworker of mine noticed — that I didn't notice, but that I think is awesome — was how much sea life and ocean imagery is in the movie, what with the octopus story, Marcus' fish, and the aquarium. Was that conscious? Were you trying to build a motif with that?It kind of just happened. Maybe it was something I was weirdly obsessed with at the time. [Laughs] It kind of naturally came out, maybe a little too much. We pulled back on it. But I wasn't like, "This is going to be the symbol of our movie!" But there is a lot of natural connection to the idea… there are so many connections that I still see. We weren't consciously trying to create metaphors, but there are a lot of emotional connections between the idea of drowning and being surrounded by water. Depending on how you look at it, it can feel suffocating and horrible, or it can feel weightless and free. And also, the idea of being in a wide-open ocean and being in a tiny aquarium. I think all those themes are connected to themes in the movie.
I like it, and I thought it was subtle. And another thing that shows up again and again is the artistic expression that kids are using as an outlet. The music, Jayden's drawing, the bracelet that Grace makes. I'm wondering how you feel about artistic expression as an outlet.Thank you for asking that question! I think it's incredibly important. For anybody, I think it's incredibly important. Whether you think you're good at art or not, I think it's important to stay connected to who you were when you didn't care if you were good or not. You would just do it because, I think, it's a good thing for us to do. I've never met a kid who doesn't like to explore with their hands or explore creatively. For people who aren't good with words, or aren't so great talking out their feelings — and I know exactly what that feels like — I think art can be a way to do that. I've found it with a lot of the kids that I've worked with, that was a way that they chose to communicate. If you weren't picking up on that, then you'd miss a lot of what they were trying to say. But I think that's something that is… unfortunately, because so many people tend to see art as something for "artists" — I think everyone should be called artists or there shouldn't be that title — it can unfortunately be seen as an intimidating thing to do, or something for kids. But I think it's really healthy. It's as healthy as exercise and eating fruits. That's actually something that we're going to be encouraging through our website and our Tumblr. We're connecting with other organizations that are specifically targeting kids in the foster care system, but also just people, teens who would like to have a place to share personal art things that they're working on. A little gallery where you can show some of things where you can have positive interaction and encouragement. That's really important to me.
Short Term 12 opens in limited release Friday, Aug. 23, and nationwide Aug. 30.
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