April 17, 2014
Image/RLJ Entertainment has provided Blackfilm.com with an exclusive clip from The Suspect, which will be released on DVD April 22, 2014.
Marking the directorial debut of acclaimed author Stuart Connelly, the film stars Mekhi Phifer, William Sadler, Sterling K. Brown, James McCaffery and Rebecca Creskoff.
A small town bank robbery leads to a brutal showdown between a sheriff and a mysterious stranger in this high stakes game of shifting identities and hidden motives, starring Mekhi Phifer (ER), William Sadler (The Shawshank Redemption) and Sterling K. Brown (Person of Interest). When the obvious suspect is apprehended not far from the crime scene, the police think that the case is solved, but they couldn’t be more wrong. The real crime hasn’t even happened yet. Before it’s over, two desperate men will be pushed over the line where innocent lives – and a lot of money – hang in the balance.
The Suspect features a score by Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld, and is produced by Mary Jo Barthmaier, Robyn K. Bennett, Scott Aronson and Connelly.
April 17, 2014
Michael B. Jordan, who captivated audiences with a breakout performance in Ryan Coogler’s critically acclaimed ‘Fruitvale Station,’ is set to star in Men Who Kill for 20th Century Fox, reports Deadline.
Written by T.J. Fixman, details of the CIA thriller are limited, only that it has the tone of “an international Bad Boys.” Fixman is best known for his writing work with Insomniac Games’ “Ratchet and Clank” series.
Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter are producing and Kenny Goodman will be exec producer, with Fox exec Mike Ireland overseeing.
Jordan, who was last seen in the romantic comedy That Awkward Moment, is also signed up to play Johnny Storm/ The Human Torch in Josh Trank’s The Fantastic Four and is slated to star in Coogler’s next film, a Rocky spinoff feature, Creed.
April 17, 2014
With five-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald (Porgy & Bess) currently captivating audiences on Broadway in her portrayal of legendary singer Billie Holliday in ‘Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,’ in time, audiences will hopefully get a chance to see the story of another legend on the Great White Way.
Actress Salli Richardson-Whitfield has recently started a Kickstarter campaign to get ‘A Lady Must Live,’ a play on legendary singer and actress Lena Horne, to Broadway.
For Richardson-Whitfield, who’s acted for over 20 years and is best known for her roles in A Low Down Dirty Shame, Biker Boyz, I Am Legend, Black Dynamite as well as a starring role in the TV series Eureka, playing Lena Horne will be a great challenge and accomplishment.
Richardson-Whitfield has been trying to get this project off the ground for a few years and even displayed her singing talent back in 2011 when she performed a few of Horne’s song at Halle Berry’s Jenesse Silver Rose Gala.
In speaking exclusively with Blackfilm.com, Richardson-Whitfield talks about her passion for the project, and her quest to play the legend on stage.
Where did the idea come from?
Salli Richardson-Whitfield: I have wanted to do it because it’s hard to get a play written that’s good. It’s like doing a script. When I first got the idea, I said, “Now, I have to find a playwright to do it.” I went to London for a sci-fi convention and saw this play there and my manager happen to know playwright Rikki Beadle Blair. He seemed to be the perfect guy for the play. We sat down and talked. He said yes, wanted to do some research, and came up with a wonderful idea. We were able to make a deal and gave him the time to write it. He finally had a great script and we wondered what our next step would be. Meanwhile, for the last year or so, and for who didn’t know, I used to sing when I was younger. I started in a musical but I hadn’t been singing a lot. I don’t when this (the play) would happen, but if I’m going to be Lena, then I’m going to have to know what it is to be a performer in clubs and stuff. I started going to a voice coach and learning her music and started performing in some clubs and just getting into her music. Once we do the show, I would have to sing every night and be ready for that. It’s really been a developing process and now we’re ready. We just need the money to put on the workshop, which is a different process than movies, to present it to the Broadway people.
SR-W: We, as Black people, have to bring our own stories to life. We have to make them happen. I grew up loving Lena as opposed to Dorothy (Dandridge), who everyone always talks about. As we all know as we get older in life, it’s much harder to live in this world, rather than passing away. Lena had to fight through so many struggles that people didn’t know; from having to leave her son, from being blackballed, from being put up on this pedestal as this beauty icon for Black people but at the same time being hated for being light-skinned. As if that’s the only reason she was up there; you represent us, but you don’t. She was also married to a white man and loving him but hating that he was white. She just had such a great story and we have to continue to do stories of our great leaders; and she was one of them. For me, I have always, always loved Lena Horne. There was no one better for me growing up.
What aspect of her life are you looking to explore? Will it be from childhood to death or a key period in her life?
SR-W: The play is based on research but also a made up day in her life. There is a reel of her Broadway show where she wasn’t with it and afterwards she wanted to rework the entire show. The playwright then says what if she wanted to rework the show and goes in her dressing room and all these ghosts from her past (her mother, her father, who wasn’t in her life much, her ex-husband). What if she had to deal with these ghosts in her past, and her pain and the anger in her life and she has these conversations with these and that is what helps her find where the real gut of her show should be. That’s where the play happens. It’s more in her later life when she was doing her one-woman show. I would say she was around 60 at that time. This is something where I would love to play her in a movie eventually, but Lena’s real home and the place she loved the most was being on Broadway. I felt like the perfect place to first tell her story.
Recently, some folks have seen the musical ‘Story Weather,’ which starred Leslie Uggams and she talked about bringing it to Broadway. Should that happen or not, will it be something different and be two different Lena Horne projects vying for a Broadway spot?
SR-W: This is completely different from that. Leslie’s show is more of a revue. She’s almost doing all the songs from her show. This is a play and a drama where there happens to be music in it. I don’t want to misspeak on what her show is, but I’m pretty sure she’s doing exactly what Lena did in her one-woman show, which really isn’t a play. That’s like a revue almost.
Lena’s family have been instrumental as far as approving anything on her life. We remember Janet Jackson being asked not do the project after the Super Bowl fiasco and Alicia Keys had been developing a project with Oprah Winfrey. Lena’s daughter Gail has been vocal in responding to those projects. There have been responses to biopic projects developed where the family haven’t been involved. We’ve seen it with Marvin Gaye’s family as well as Nina Simone’s family in which film projects were done without their consultation. Have you had a chance to speak with any of her family members?
SR-W: I have not and it’s something that I’m hoping to do. It’s not a film and it’s not based on research about her. I’m hoping as things get further, there’s nothing about the project that they wouldn’t love. I’m not expecting any problems and I think it will be a wonderful experience for everyone. There’s a difference between having singers play Lena and having an actress who’s a great singer play her. Lena was a woman full of drama and that’s the main part you have to get first.
Getting Black projects on Broadway is a challenge itself. Have you looked into producers who can be of help with influence?
SR-W: Not yet. Some of that is my manager’s doing, because he comes from that world. That’s how he started out. Right now, we’re doing the basic steps that need to be done and most shows start out this way. You get the money to do a workshop and maybe we get the money to do here in LA first, and then the theater house brings it to Broadway. There are all these different steps to get there. The one thing about Lena’s story is that Broadway, especially European audiences, always loved Lena. The Broadway crowd is an older crowd that goes. Her audience is there and waiting for it. It’s a better fit than other shows for that market.
Do you have a goal to when you want to go to Broadway?
SR-W: Well, I’m hoping that within the next year, the show is up. That may mean that we have to start here first. Getting to Broadway takes time and I’m hoping that within two years, this is on Broadway. God is leading me and he will take me through every step I need to be in.
Through Kickstarter, you’re asking for $40K, which is not a lot of money when you, as a veteran actress, can easily make that doing a pilot episode or a commercial.
SR-W: We’re going bare bones for the workshop. I’m just asking people to help me with my dream and with a story that I think we as a community, and not just Black people, will be proud of to see this woman’s story. She deserves, out of so many people who have been in this business for so many years, to her story done with dignity and intelligence. When you see some of the scenes from this play, you’re going to understand what kind of show we’re doing.
It’s funny, but if we were to go to some private investors, we might ask for more, but people don’t quite get theater. If I said I wanted to do a film, it would be easier, but people don’t understand the theater world. We just decided this is the way we wanted to do it without having someone give us money and telling us what they want and having some sort of control. It’s a way to keep the integrity of the project that we’re trying to do, at least in the beginning stages.
To donate to Richardson-Whitfield’s Kickstarter campaign, click here
April 17, 2014
Netflix has released the trailer to Season 2 of its series, Orange Is the New Black, which premieres on June 6.
Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir ‘Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison,’ the series stars Laura Prepon, Jason Biggs, Taylor Schilling, Kate Mulgrew, Michael Harney, Michelle Hurst, Matt McGorry, Natasha Lyonne, Samira Wiley, Vicky Jeudy, Lolita Foster, Uzo Aduba, Adrienne C. Moore, Laverne Cox, Dascha Polanco, Danielle Brooks, and Pablo Schreiber.
Orange Is the New Black follows engaged Brooklynite Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), whose decade-old relationship with drug-runner Alex (Laura Prepon) results in her arrest and year-long detention in a federal penitentiary. To pay her debt to society, Piper must trade her comfortable New York life with fiance Larry (Jason Biggs) for an orange prison jumpsuit and a baffling prison culture where she is forced to question everything she believes and form unexpected new alliances with a group of eccentric and outspoken inmates.
April 17, 2014
Columbia Pictures has released the first poster for director Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer, starring Denzel Washington in a big screen version of the role Edward Woodward played on the ’80s CBS series.
Washington headlines as McCall, a former black ops commando who has faked his death to live a quiet life in Boston. When he comes out of his self-imposed retirement to rescue a young girl, Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), he finds himself face to face with ultra-violent Russian gangsters. As he serves vengeance against those who brutalize the helpless, McCall’s desire for justice is reawakened. If someone has a problem, the odds are stacked against them, and they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer.
Also starring in the film are Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman, Haley Bennett, and Marton Cskokas.
The Equalizer hits theaters on Sept. 26.
Release Date: May 2, 2104
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Director: Amma Asante
Screenwriter: Misan Sagay
Producer: Damian Jones
Executive producers: Steve Christian, Julie Goldstein, Steve Norris, Ivan Dunleavy, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Christopher Collins
Director of photography: Ben Smithard
Production designer: Simon Bowles
Costume designer: Anushia Nieradzik
Editors: Pia Di Ciaula, Victoria Boydell
Music: Rachel Portman
Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid, Sarah Gadon, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Tom Felton, James Norton, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson
The film is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral.
Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Wilkinson) and his wife (Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the color of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing.
Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar’s son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.
Clip – Now We Have Two Nieces
April 16, 2011
The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival starts today and runs from April 16 to April 27 at locations around New York City. For more information, go to www.tribecafilm.com/
The 2014 film selection includes feature films from 32 countries, including 55 World Premieres, 6 International Premieres, 12 North American Premieres, 9 U.S. Premieres and 5 New York Premieres.
The world premiere of doc “Time is Illmatic” will open the 2014 The Tribeca Film Festival. It follows the trajectory of rapper Nas’ 1994 debut album, “Illmatic”– considered one of the most revolutionary albums in hip-hop history. The premiere is set to take place on Wednesday, April 16. It will be followed by a special musical performance where Nas will perform the album from front to back.
Time Is Illmatic
Screenwriter: Erik Parker
Producer: Erik Parker, One9, Anthony Saleh
Multimedia artist One9′s documentary follows the trajectory of Nas’ 1994 landmark debut album, Illmatic, one of the most important and revolutionary albums in hip hop. Even 20 years after its release, Illmatic is widely recognized as a hip-hop benchmark that captured the sociopolitical outlook, enduring spirit and collective angst of a generation of young artists searching for their voice in America. Tracing Nas’s influences from the music of his jazz musician father, Olu Dara, to the burgeoning hip-hop scene in his native Queensbridge, Time is Illmatic describes the almost insurmountable obstacles he faced in creating his opus, providing an authentic and passionate account of Nas’s personal journey from a young street poet to a visionary MC.
Director: Keith Miller
Screenwriter: Keith Miller
Producer: Keith Miller, Daryl Freimark, Luisa Conlon
Cast: James ‘Primo’ Grant, John Diaz
After John’s absent father is struck by a stray bullet, Primo takes it upon himself to verse the young boy in the code of the streets—one founded on respect and upheld by fear. A member of the Bloods since the age of twelve—both in the film and in reality—the streets of Brooklyn are all Primo has ever known. While John questions whether or not to enter into this life, Primo must decide whether to leave it all behind as he vows to become a better husband and father. Set during those New York summer weeks where the stifling heat seems to encase everything, Five Star plunges into gang culture with searing intensity. Director Keith Miller observes the lives of these two men with a quiet yet pointed distance, carefully eschewing worn clichés through its unflinching focus. Distinctions between fiction and real life remain intentionally ambiguous, allowing the story of these two men to resonate beyond the streets, as they face the question of what it means to be a man.
Director: Jesse Zwick
Screenwriter: Jesse Zwick
Cast: Maggie Grace, Max Greenfield, Jane Levy, Max Minghella, Nate Parker, Aubrey Plaza, Jason Ritter
Seven college friends, once close, find that they’ve drifted apart in their post-college years. But after hearing news that one of their cadre has suffered an emotional breakdown, the group reunite for a weekend away to cheer him up and relive the fun and simplicity of their college glory days. Yet, despite their best efforts to enjoy themselves, a tinderbox of old jealousies, unrequited love, and widening political differences leads to an explosion of drama that, coupled with the flammable combination of drugs, wine, and risotto, cannot be contained.
A Big Chill for our current social media moment, About Alex is a thoughtful, emotionally raw, and honest look at the changing nature of adult friendships, brought to life by a strong ensemble cast including Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield, Max Minghella, Jason Ritter, Nate Parker, Jane Levy, and Maggie Grace.
Alex of Venice
Director: Chris Messina
Screenwriter: Jessica Goldberg and Katie Nehra & Justin Shilton
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Don Johnson, Derek Luke, Katie Nehra, Chris Messina, Skylar Gaertner
In the directorial debut from Chris Messina, Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives a heartwarming performance as an environmental attorney who finds her workaholic regimen thrown into flux when her husband, George (Messina), asks for a break. For Alex, George has always been the one to take the reins at home. When his unexpected departure dawns as something more permanent, Alex finds herself caught balancing her family’s demands, her aging father, played memorably by Don Johnson, and her ambitious career, which she now struggles to maintain. Soon, Alex is forced to reevaluate her life and discover what she was always too preoccupied to notice. Messina’s assured direction, as accomplished as his own performance, creates an honest portrait of a woman facing unexpected vulnerability in order to find her own strength.
Director: Andrew Disney
Screenwriter: Bradley Jackson
Producer: Russell Wayne Groves, Andrew Lee, Bradley Jackson, David Ward, Red Sanders
Cast: Jake Lacy, Nikki Reed, Kate McKinnon, Jay Pharoah, Beck Bennett, Nick Kocher, Brian McElhaney
There comes a time in every fifth-year senior’s life when they must either accept the impending real world of jobs, marriage, and payment plans or to shirk that responsibility in favor of playing the most glorious intramural football game your school probably doesn’t really care to see. Once a freshman intramural champion, Caleb Fuller threw in the towel after his best friend and teammate Grant Rosenfalis paralyzed his (hint: see pun) on the game-winning play. Now back for redemption and exercise, the team reunites to face off against their archrivals, the insufferable reigning champion, the Titans.
In this full-throttle and hilarious sendup of inspirational sports movies, director Andrew Disney—along with a comedy-studded cast including Kate McKinnon, Jake Lacy, Jay Pharoah, and Beck Bennett—harnesses every cliché and overused trope to tell one of the greatest intramural sports movies of all time.
Director: Josef Wladyka
Screenwriter: Alan Blanco & Josef Wladyka
Producer: Elena Greenlee, Márcia Nunes
Executive Producer: Spike Lee, Mary Regency Boies, Marisa Polvino, Kate Cohen
Cast: Cristian Advincula, Jarlin Martinez, Manuel David Riascos, Hadder Blandon
Towing a submerged torpedo in the wake of their battered fishing boat, ‘Jacobo,’ a desperate fisherman and Delio, a naive kid, embark on a journey trafficking millions of dollars of cocaine up the Pacific coast of Colombia. While Jacobo is a seasoned trafficker, young Delio is unprepared for the grim reality. Shot entirely on location—in areas that bear the indelible scars of drug trafficking and guerrilla warfare—director Josef Kubota Wladyka establishes a sense of place with meticulous sensitivity, capturing the visceral paradox of incredible vibrancy yet devastating poverty which permeate this war-torn region. Refusing to glamorize the drug trade, Manos Sucias instead offers a rare glimpse of its devastating effects. Executive Produced by Spike Lee.
Director and Screenwriter: Bert Marcus
Producers: Bert Marcus, Mike Tyson, Grant Jolly
Cast: Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Bernard Hopkins, Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington, Ron Howard, Spike Lee, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent
From inner-city housing projects to the biggest stages in boxing, this insightful and provocative documentary charts the lives of some of America’s heaviest hitters, including Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Bernard Hopkins, as they seek to break out of poverty via one of the few outlets available. Director Bert Marcus skillfully weaves their personal histories and gripping footage from their biggest bouts to explore the meaning of the American dream in a society increasingly fragmented between rich and poor.
After the Movie: Stay for a conversation with former boxers Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, boxing promoter Lou DiBella and the film’s director Bert Marcus about life, rivalry, and conflict both inside and out of the ring.
Director: Zatella Beatty
Producer: Ted Faye, Zatella Beatty
Cast: Allen Iverson, Tom Brokaw, Larry Brown, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony
Iverson is the ultimate legacy of NBA legend Allen Iverson, who rose from a childhood of crushing poverty in Hampton, Virginia, to become an 11-time NBA All-Star and universally recognized icon of his sport. Off the court, his audacious rejection of conservative NBA convention and unapologetic embrace of hip hop culture sent shockwaves throughout the league and influenced an entire generation. Told largely in Iverson’s own words, the film charts the career highs and lows of one of the most distinctive and accomplished figures the sport of basketball has ever seen.
Keep On Keepin’ On
Director: Alan Hicks
Screenwriter: Alan Hicks, Davis Coombe
Producer: Quincy Jones, Paula DuPre’ Pesmen
Cast: Clark Terry, Justin Kauflin, Gwen Terry, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Phyllis Kauflin
In his melodic debut, Australian-director Alan Hicks spent four years following the charming and sometimes poignant mentorship between jazz-legend Clark Terry and blind piano prodigy, Justin Kaulflin, during a pivotal moment in each of their lives. At eighty-nine years old, ‘CT’ has played alongside Duke Ellington and Count Basie; his pupils include Miles Davis and Quincy Jones, but his most unlikely friendship is with Justin, a 23-year-old with uncanny talent but debilitating nerves. As Justin prepares for a competition that could jumpstart his budding career, CT’s failing health threatens his own. Beautifully nostalgic with a reverence for the importance of finding your own sound, Keep On Keepin’ On celebrates an iconic musician while introducing one of equal vibrancy. It is a mentoring tale as inspirational as its subjects.
Director: Kevin Gordon
Producer: Jhanvi Shriram, Ketaki Shriram
Cast: Michael Tubbs
Stockton, California, is considered one of the worst cities in the United States, riddled with financial crisis and crime rates rivaling Afghanistan. Where everyone else saw hopelessness, 22-year-old Michael Tubbs saw possibility. In 2012, Tubbs ran for City Council, building his campaign from the ground up. In Kevin Gordon’s passionate and inspirational documentary he sets out to beat a politician twice his age and bring his community back from bankruptcy.
Untitled James Brown Documentary
Director: Alex Gibney
Producer: Mick Jagger, Victoria Pearman, Blair Foster, Peter Afterman
Supervising Editor: Geeta Gandbhir
James Brown changed the face of American music. Soul Brother Number One, as he was known, pioneered the journey from rhythm and blues to funk. With unique cooperation of the Brown estate, this is a definitive documentary biography of the James Brown story and legend, 1933-1974.
Director: Orlando von Einsiedel
Screenwriter: Orlando von Einsiedel
Producer: Orlando von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara
Virunga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is Africa’s oldest national park, a UNESCO world heritage site, and a contested ground among insurgencies seeking to topple the government that see untold profits in the land. Among this ongoing power struggle, Virunga also happens to be the last natural habitat for the critically endangered mountain gorilla. The only thing standing in the way of the forces closing in around the gorillas: a handful of passionate park rangers and journalists fighting to secure the park’s borders and expose the corruption of its enemies. Filled with shocking footage, and anchored by the surprisingly deep and gentle characters of the gorillas themselves, Virunga is a galvanizing call to action around an ongoing political and environmental crisis in the Congo.
When The Garden Was Eden
Director: Michael Rapaport
Producer: Jason Bergh, Michael Rapaport
Cast: Willis Reed, Phil Jackson, Cazzie Russell, Marv Albert, Earl Monroe, and Walt Frazier
Actor tried-and-true New Yorker Michael Rapaport delivers an unabashed love letter to the Knicks with this fast-moving tribute to the team’s glory days, based on Harvey Araton’s best-selling book from 2012, When the Garden Was Eden. In the late ’60s, basketball was the city’s forgotten sport. Enter an unlikely band of scrappy team players, many of them future hall-of-famers, who would transform the team into one of the NBA’s most dazzling squads.
Featuring interviews with Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Earl Monroe, Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, Phil Jackson, Red Holzman, Dave DeBusschere, Jerry Lucas, and many more stars from the Knicks’ championship years, When the Garden Was Eden is a snapshot of a colorful and volatile era in New York history and a testament to the breathless energy that defines the city and its sporting heroes.
April 16, 2014
Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman return to theaters this weekend in the science fiction drama, Transcendence. Depp stars as Will Castor, a scientist on the verge of a breakthrough in artificial intelligence. He’s fatally wounded by an anti-technology terrorist group led by Kate Mara. Will’s wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), and best friend (Paul Bettany) decide to upload his consciousness into the computer system. The result is a being that seems like Will, but begins to grow exponentially. Amassing extraordinary power and terrifying Evelyn with its abilities.
Transcendence is the feature film directorial debut of Wally Pfister, a famed cinematographer that worked primarily with Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception). Transcendence is also the first screenplay from writer Jack Paglen. Warner Brothers invited BlackFilm to a press conference with the cast and filmmakers a few weeks ago. It was a lighthearted affair where everyone seemed to really enjoy each others company and the experience making this film. Check out below some excerpts from Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara, Director Wally Pfister, and Screenwriter Jack Paglen.
When Will becomes an image on the computer screen, did you feel a little bit like Max Headroom?
Johnny Depp: I did feel a little bit like Max Headroom. (laughs) I guess the worst part is that I liked it. I liked being in my little dark room. They were on the other side and we couldn’t talk. We couldn’t find each other sometimes. It’s all done between video tape and sound.
Johnny Depp: I essentially think that this film is about a man, chosen by God, to grow a long beard, with a few insects, a couple of animals, know that the rest of the world will be slaughtered. But the animals will come to him and fall asleep. (laughs)
That’s another movie…Noah?
Johnny Depp: Oh…yeah. Oh…No…ahh! I was in that one as well. I played Russell Crowe. That beard was a bitch too. (laughs)
Your character seems to age backwards once he’s in the computer.
Johnny Depp: That’s Benjamin Button…I was in that too as Brad Pitt.
What are your thoughts on artificial intelligence?
Johnny Depp: Well, I have no intelligence. I’m looking forward to gaining something, artificial, superficial, super duper, like some of the names of these Chinese TV shows; Super Happy Fun Hour Cowboy Time. I did that. (laughs) I thought there was something very beautiful to Wally’s [Pfister] idea. The disintegration of the character, then to slowly watch him grow out. It was well researched by Wally, the progression. Once he’s inside PIN, he can become anything. One of the things that I hope comes across is that he got brighter, chippier, a younger version of Will. He became the will that Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) wanted to see.
Can you talk about your recent trip to China promoting the film?
Johnny Depp: Yes, Super Happy Fun Hour Cowboy Time! It was an amazing experience on a cultural level. Constant information, something new, something different, everywhere you looked. I found a real warmth, the people were very sweet, very welcoming. It was quite a turnout that we had. A lot of strange things went down that I’d rather not talk about ever again in my life. (laughs) Transcendence comes out to four Chinese characters. They had these boys, quadruplets, with those characters shaved in their heads and then they brought them out on stage with me. I’m pretty shy. I tend to run when those things happen. Little boys with their heads shaved in the name of a film. That scares me a little. I was book ended by these incredible hairdos. Scientists would have to figure out how they did it. Yes, China was a great success. (laughs)
Watching the film, the idea of Frankenstein came up. Your character gets to be Dr. Frankenstein and the monster as well. Did you or the filmmakers get any inspiration from that?
Johnny Depp: I didn’t. I wish I had because it would have been a brilliant thing to say. I’ll probably say that the rest of the day, but to you people I will admit that I never gave it any thought at all. But in an hour and a half, it will be the whole basis for my performance. Thanks for that.
Wally Pfister: I think there were some comparisons made. It wasn’t a part of my thought when making the film. But I will throw that to Jack [Paglen, screenwriter]. Was that something in your mind when crafting the screenplay…
Jack Paglen: Yes, Frankenstein, as an archetype, absolutely was there. There are many stories like that. I was aware and re-read many of them.
This is your first screenplay. How does it feel right now?
Jack Paglen: Unbelievably cool!
And Wally, this is your first directorial effort. How does this make you feel?
Wally Pfister: Unbelievably cool! (laughs) It’s thrilling, just look at this. Pinch me.
Johnny, do you consider Will to be a bad guy? And your next film to shoot is Black Mass, the story of Whitey Bulger. Who’s definitely a bad guy. What can you tell us about that?
Johnny Depp: When we were doing the film, we made sure to make sure that everything we were doing came together in the right order. Is Will losing it? You can make an analogy to a security guard, who three weeks prior was mowing lawns for a living. Then the second he puts that uniform on, the badge, boing, he’s the man. I imagine all of us have felt the wrath of the overzealous security guy. Is there something lying dormant that’s waiting to be pumped up with that kind of power? Does it reveal him? Does it change him? Don’t know. When Will is growing within the computer, does he see it. Does any bad person believe they are doing bad things? Historically, everyone thinks they have a decent cause. A few were off by quite a lot. Will is dedicated to the cause. But that power, essentially he’s God, he can do anything he wants. I think Will becomes like Che Guevara, he gets too far into it.
Johnny Depp: As for Whitey, and I find it difficult calling him Whitey, I’m going to do a film called Black Mass where I play James ‘Whitey’ Bulger. The reasons to play it are obvious to me. He’s a fascinating character. I don’t think it’s like anything I’ve done before. I’m very excited to slide into that skin for a little bit.
Kate [Mara], what is your take on this technology?
Kate Mara: Shit (laughs). Well, I’ve been without my phone for the past three hours and I’ve been sitting here thinking about it. I didn’t think that I would so reliant on technology, but I understand, a little bit, where Bree’s ideas come from. I fall somewhere in between.
And Rebecca [Hall], what’s your take on technology? This is what your character believes in.
Rebecca Hall: It’s interesting what the film brings up. Technology will be the thing that gets us out of a lot of problems. It’s probably our greatest hope in regards to the environment and disease. But equally will bring us problems that we have no perception or imagination of what they could possibly be at this point. It’s complicated, but whether we like it or, we are becoming more integrated with technology.
Johnny, Will goes too far in his love for Evelyn. Do you have any similar stories that affected you?
Johnny Depp: Yes (laughs). So many things come to mind. I could come up with a forty-five minute doozey for you. But we’d all go to jail. I’ve done horrible things in my life. Things go wrong with me and technology all the time. I’m not familiar with it. And I’m too old school a brain, dumb, to figure it out. Anything I have to attack with my thumbs for any period of time makes me feel stupid.
Is there a line or limit to how far one should go for love?
Rebecca Hall: There is a line. And if I were in Evelyn’s shoes, I hope I would think about the moral ramification about maintaining my husband in cyberspace. But those decisions come from places of grief, so who knows?
Johnny Depp: Wally has spoken to the higher ups, the scientists, the scholars, a great bit of this technology is actually happening. The technology to upload a human consciousness is probably not that far away to be honest.
Rebecca Hall: Yes, it probably will happen whether we think there are lines or not. It’s not if it’s going to happen but when.
Johnny Depp: Agreed, it’s very close.
Paul [Bettany], what is your opinion on this technology?
Paul Bettany: I spoke to a professor at Caltech. He was gratifyingly called Christoph Koch. A brilliant man, when I walked into the room, he was gratifyingly looking at a human brain while listening to Wagner. (laughs) I’m a blonde actor, not a science guy, trying to make unreal things seem real. What is the truth of this? How farfetched is this? He said, thirty years. But, you’re talking about immortality. He said yes. It is a terrifying thought that scientists are unified in the opinion that we are on a collision course with technology and the next stage of our evolution will involve machinery.
Wally Pfister: Continuing on this, one of the questions I asked in my research, was that if you upload a human’s conscious into a computer; will it have emotions, a soul? Overwhelmingly they said yes. If you’re taking every neuron, every synapse for those neurons, transferring from this hard drive to another, in theory it should contain those. One of the things I found the most fascinating is that there is interpretation. Whoever is doing the upload, the programming, will have an effect on how that information goes to the machine. That gives the gray area that this film discusses. That’s what we’re hoping to do in this movie is to create ambiguity. Is this machine malevolent or benevolent?
Johnny Depp: As Rebecca was saying earlier, if this technology existed, and her character Evelyn is given that split second moment. We are all capable of answering that question for ourselves for the person we love. Would you be married to a hard drive.
Rebecca Hall: Yes, how much are you willing to do before you lose the human. Is integrating with machines the next step?
Johnny Depp: And then you have the question of technology becoming obsolete. Maybe Will Castor in fifteen years time is in some weird room in Vegas and people are plugging quarters into him. Who still has a mini disc or laser disc player? It’s obsolete.
Morgan [Freeman], do have input on this discussion?
Morgan Freeman: The question for me is the chemistry of life. It seems not be considered in this whole equation. When you look in the eyes of a beautiful woman and fall in love, what happens if you’re uploaded? You no longer have the chemistry of life. What do you have? If anyone can answer that one for me.
Wally Pfister: Exactly, it can lead to desperation. Evelyn is desperate to have some part of her husband, who’s dying, remain. That’s what driver her. But then there becomes a point of desperation with Will in the machine. He’s doing whatever he can to connect to her. But we don’t know if this machine is really sentient or not. He measures her hormones, which is an attempt to reach her, but to us and the audience, that’s frightening. That’s what we really have to think about here. Is this machine sentient or not?
April 15, 2014
20th Century Fox has the final trailer to X-Men: Days of Future Past, which hits theaters on May 23, 2014.
Directed by Bryan Singer, the film stars James McAvoy (Professor X), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Sir Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Sir Ian McKellen (Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), Halle Berry (Storm), Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Anna Paquin (Rogue), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Omar Sy (Bishop), Evan Peters (Quicksilver), and Peter Dinklage (Bolivar Trask).
The film is based on the comic book storyline “Days of Future Past,” which ran in Uncanny X-Men #141 and 142 back in 1981 during Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s run and introduced the idea of an alternate future for Marvel’s mutants that grew out of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants killing an important senator, leading to a future where all mutants are hunted by Sentinels.
20 minute Q&A about the film with Jackman, Fassbender and McAvoy
Opening Battle Scene
New TV Spot (as of March 31)
Featurette – Sending Logan Back In Time
Featurette – UK Trains
Featurette – All Star Team
Featurette – Bryan’s Passion
Featurette – Set Tour Mansion
Featurette – Cerebro Set Tour
BTS Colossus ad featuring Daniel Cudmore
Featurette – Magnetto
Featurette – Outfits
Featurette – We’re In This Together
Featurette – Time To Make A Choice
Featurette – Join The Team
April 15, 2014
Jaden Smith and Liev Schreiber are set to star in The Good Lord Bird, a big-screen adaptation of the 2013 National Book Award winner by James McBride (Miracle At St. Anna, Red Hook Summer).
Deadline reports that the story centers on “Henry “Onion” Shackleford (Smith), a young slave who links up with radical abolitionist John Brown (Schreiber) in 1856 Kansas and travels the nation with Brown’s motley crew of freedom fighters. Story is told with a satirical bent through the eyes of Onion, who wears a dress and is at first mistaken for a girl, as he bears witness to Brown’s historic campaign and encounters the likes of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman en route to the bloody Harper’s Ferry raid that helped spark the Civil War.”
McBride will also produce the film with Schreiber and Brian Taylor. Smith, who teamed with his dad Will Smith in last year’s sci-fi ‘After Earth,’ recently signed on to do the sequel Karate Kid 2 with Jackie Chan. Schreiber was recently Schreiber nominated for a Golden Globe nominee for his leading role on Showtime’s Ray Donovan. He was last on the big screen in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, playing President Lyndon B. Johnson. He also starred in the indie sci-fi thriller The Last Days on Mars.