Based on a remarkable true story, ‘The Monuments Men’ is a drama focusing on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys – seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 – possibly hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements. From director George Clooney, the film stars Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett. The screenplay is by Clooney & Grant Heslov, based on the book by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter. ‘The Monuments Men’ is set for February 7th in the US and February 14th in the UK.
‘The Monuments Men’ marks your sixth collaboration with George Clooney, but your first major role with him in the director’s seat (Damon had a small part in ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’). How did you find working with him in that somewhat new capacity?
Matt Damon: He’s one of the best directors working today, without a doubt. I’ve worked with a lot of really great directors, and he belongs right on that list with all of those great ones. He really knows what he’s doing, and on top of that the set is a really fun place. You don’t have anyone melting down or going crazy (laughs), it’s a fun environment and everyone’s relaxed. He puts everyone in a position where they can do their best work, there’s nothing for anyone to be nervous about. It was a great place to come to work every morning.
In ‘RoboCop,’ the year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Overseas, their drones have been used by the military for years – and it’s meant billions for OmniCorp’s bottom line. Now OmniCorp wants to bring their controversial technology to the home front, and they see a golden opportunity to do it. When Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) – a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit – is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp sees its chance to build a part-man, part-robot police officer. OmniCorp envisions a RoboCop in every city and even more billions for their shareholders, but they never counted on one thing: there is still a man inside the machine pursuing justice.
’RoboCop’ is directed by José Padilha and stars Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael K. Williams, Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle, and Marianne Jean-Baptiste. The screenplay is by Joshua Zetumer, based on the 1987 motion picture written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner. The film which hits the big screen on February 7th in the UK and February 12th in the US.
A key relationship in the film is that between Alex Murphy and your character, Dr. Norton, the scientist who creates ‘RoboCop.’ It’s a complicated relationship and in some ways, for me, it’s very much like Dr. Frankenstein and the monster. It almost becomes a strange father-son relationship…
Gary Oldman: Their relationship is very complicated – it’s like a father and son at times. Alex is an experiment that Norton becomes emotionally attached to. And for someone as obsessive as Norton, he’s a challenge that can’t be overlooked. Every parent has the moment when they prove to be a disappointment to their child – and that’s what Alex experiences with Norton.
‘The LEGO Movie’ follows Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. Emmet (Chris Pratt) is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which he is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared. Scheduled for a February 7th release in the US and a February 14th bow in the UK, ’The LEGO Movie’ is directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) from their own original screenplay. The film features the voices of Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Cobie Smulders, and Morgan Freeman.
How was the experience of voicing Emmet in ‘The LEGO Movie,’ especially in regards to working with directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller….?
Chris Pratt: Phil and Chris did a great job of painting the picture of what’s happening around you, because you’re doing the voice but you want to understand the world that the character is living inside of. They were able to show me some of the art and some roughly cut scenes that they put together that were already animated. So I got a sense of where I was, and Chris and Phil were very thorough, so if I had any questions at all I could just ask them and they would be able to advise me because they’re in control of the movie down to the very finest detail – and they’re so passionate about the film. They always gave me a great sense of where my character was and the world around me and what it looked like and what I was experiencing. They were very helpful. I had a blast voicing Emmet, truly.
Based on the unforgettable memoir that exposed the inner workings of slavery in the 19th Century, comes ’12 Years A Slave,’ director Steve McQueen’s (Hunger, Shame) mesmerizing and incredibly moving account of New York family man Solomon Northup’s (Chiwetel Ejiofor) unexpected kidnapping, his dizzying journey into Louisiana’s slave plantations, and his unbreakable quest to get home to those he loves.
In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist will forever alter his life. Out now in the US and opening on January 10th in the UK, ’12 Years a Slave’ also stars Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o, Alfre Woodard, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ruth Negga, Adepero Oduye, Paul Giamatti, Garret Dillahunt, Sarah Paulson, Scoot McNairy, Dwight Henry, Quvenzhané Wallis, and Michael Kenneth Williams.
There’s been a real absence of a serious treatment of slavery in cinema, an unflinching treatment. Was that one of the reasons it was so important for you to explore, and do you intend for the film to spark a conversation, especially with race?
Steve McQueen: Precisely because of that reason: the absence of a serious treatment of slavery in cinema. For me it was a no brainer. I just wanted to see it on film. I wanted to see that history on film. It was important. It was that obvious. And that’s it. I made this movie because I want to tell a story about slavery, a story that hasn’t been given a platform in cinema. It’s one thing to read about slavery but when you see it within a narrative, it does something different – and that’s what I wanted to do. Now, if that starts a conversation: wonderful, excellent… it will be about time. But for me this film is about how to survive. I don’t know what kind of conversation… I hope it goes beyond race, narrowing it down to race: yes, race is involved, but it’s not entirely about that.
Award-winning movie legends Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone star as old boxing rivals who come out of retirement for one final match. De Niro and Stallone play Billy “The Kid” McDonnen and Henry “Razor” Sharp, two local Pittsburgh fighters whose fierce rivalry put them in the national spotlight. Each had scored a victory against the other during their heyday, but in 1983, on the eve of their decisive third match, Razor suddenly announced his retirement, refusing to explain why but effectively delivering a knock-out punch to both their careers. Thirty years later, boxing promoter Dante Slate Jr., seeing big dollar signs, makes them an offer they can’t refuse: to re-enter the ring and settle the score once and for all. But they may not have to wait that long: on their first encounter in decades, their long-festering feud erupts into an unintentionally hilarious melee that instantly goes viral. The sudden social media frenzy transforms their local grudge match into a must-see HBO event. Now, if they can just survive the training, they may actually live to fight again. Alongside De Niro and Stallone, the likes of Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin, Kim Basinger and Jon Bernthal co-star. Directed by Peter Segal, ‘Grudge Match’ is out now in the US and is set for a January 24th bow in the UK.
Before you had this fantastic cast on-board, what was is it about this story that attracted you?
Peter Segal: What attracted me to this story was the idea of second chances. It’s about people who have gone through something and they have to cope. They have to come to terms with mistakes that they have made and relationships they’ve ruined. And that is really set against the backdrop of boxing, but it was never really for me solely about the fight. It’s not just about second chances in two fighter’s careers, but it’s more importantly about second chances in relationships that they left by the side of the road 30 years ago. I’ve always loved boxing, and I’ve always been attracted to second chance stories. But even more important than the fight is the second chances the characters are given to repair relationships they destroyed three decades earlier. In essence, the fight becomes a sort of metaphor for never giving up.
Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese directs the story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). From the American dream to corporate greed, Belfort goes from penny stocks and righteousness to IPOs and a life of corruption in the late 80s. Excess, success and affluence in his early twenties as founder of the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont warranted Belfort the title – “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Money, power, women, drugs and temptations were for the taking, and the threat of authority was irrelevant. For Jordan and his wolf pack, modesty was quickly deemed overrated and more was never enough.
Based on Jordan Belfort’s 1990 best-selling memoir of the same name, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ brings Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio together for their fifth feature collaboration. Alongside DiCaprio, the stellar cast for the film also includes Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin, Kyle Chandler, Jon Bernthal, Margot Robbie, Jon Favreau, Rob Reiner, Matthew McConaughey and Kenneth Choi. Out now in the US, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ opens on January 17th in the UK.
What was it about these characters and this story that particularly interested you? Throughout your work you seem to be fascinated by people and their environment…
Martin Scorsese: I am. What interested me was the level of the obsession, and his ability to throw away all restraint and ultimately keep pushing the edge further and further and further – how much further could he go? I think it’s interesting too, that with no restraint, the civility goes. And having that power… having that power I wondered if it’s a story about something that’s dark in all of us – if we had the ability to behave in certain ways and had absolute power, then what would happen? That’s something I’ve always been fascinated by, and I wanted to handle it in a way that’s as frank as possible, so that it’s not about making comments on him and his bad behavior, but actually putting the audience into the mindset of that behavior and that mentality and see where it goes.