With Life of Pi,’ director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) creates a stunning movie event about a young man who survives a disaster at sea and is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an amazing and unexpected connection with another survivor… a fearsome Bengal tiger. Based on the book that has sold more than seven million copies and spent years on the bestseller lists, ‘Life of PI’ takes place over three continents, two oceans, many years, and a wide universe of imagination. Lee’s vision, coupled with stunning 3D visuals, has turned a novel long thought unfilmable into a thrillingly audacious mix of grand storytelling and powerful and provocative themes. ‘Life of Pi’ stars Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain, Rafe Spall and Gerard Depardieu. The film has earned eleven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Visual Effects, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
This is a deeply metaphorical and symbolic story. One of the things that struck me was how you used the water and sky, can you talk a little bit about that?
Ang Lee: The water is like a stage. In this movie I have to treat water and the sky as my backdrop, that’s my stage. So to me, water performs like a desert to test the strength of his faith, Pi’s faith. The lifeboat, the colour, the shape, the raft, the tiger, the boy – it’s all highly symbolic. But the water and sky was my stage. I like to see water as something that’s transparent and reflective, that represents the mood of Pi. And the emotion, underneath the water there’s a lot of life. So water, although it feels deserty because of how vast it is, it’s lively and moody. That’s how I treated it. The sky is heaven, it’s abstract… God, death, all of those abstract things. Sometimes they’re blurred, sometimes they’re separated by the horizon, sometimes they echo each other. With every scene, it depends on the purpose of the scene, I had a different rendition of water and sky. Hopefully, eventually I reached the internal picture of Pi’s journey in the story with those things.
Inspired by true events, ‘Snitch’ stars Dwayne Johnson as a father whose teenage son is wrongly accused of a drug distribution crime and is looking at a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years. Desperate and determined to rescue his son at all costs, he makes a deal with the U.S. Attorney to work as an undercover informant and infiltrate a drug cartel on a dangerous mission- risking everything, including his family and his own life. Alongside Dwayne Johnson, the impressive cast also includes the likes of Barry Pepper, Jon Bernthal, Michael K. Williams, Melina Kanakaredes, Nadine Velazquez, Rafi Gavron, David Harbour, Benjamin Bratt and Susan Sarandon. Directed by Ric Roman Waugh, ‘Snitch’ is pencilled in for a Febuary 22th release in the US and a April 5th release in the UK. My interview with Dwayne Johnson for the film can be read here. In ‘Snitch’ Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) plays Daniel, a guy trying to get his life in order for his family.
What was it about this story and these characters that resonated with you?
Jon Bernthal: There was so much. It’s based on a true story, which is great, I think that starts us off with a great amount of street-cred, you know? I was really excited to work with the director Ric and it’s a wonderful cast. And at its core, ‘Snitch’ really goes into a close examination of each of these characters in the story. The fact that I got to play a guy who comes from this chequered past, but is only about trying to provide a better life for his son and his family – and he has to make some really hard decisions to do it, that was a thrill for me. ‘Snitch,’ it’s about a father and the lengths he’ll go to to keep his son out of prison, to try to get his son out of prison. It’s an unbelievable action ride, but I think it’s a character based movie with a real social conscience. I really dug that.
Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three sons begin their winter vacation in Thailand, looking forward to a few days in tropical paradise. But on the morning of December 26th, as the family relaxes around the pool after their Christmas festivities the night before, a terrifying roar rises up from the center of the earth. As Maria freezes in fear, a huge wall of black water races across the hotel grounds toward her. Based on a true story, ‘The Impossible’ is the unforgettable account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time. But the true-life terror is tempered by the unexpected displays of compassion, courage and simple kindness that Maria and her family encounter during the darkest hours of their lives. Both epic and intimate, devastating and uplifting, ‘The Impossible’ is a journey to the core of the human heart. Marking the English-language debut of director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage), the film also stars Tom Holland, Oaklee Pendergast, Sönke Möhring, Geraldine Chaplin and Samuel Joslin. Naomi Watts is up for an Academy Award for Best Actress at Sunday’s ceremony.
I can imagine portraying a true story brings its own unique set of challenges, making it both easier and more difficult for you?
Naomi Watts: Definitely. It makes it easier and harder in different ways. Easier in that you’ve got a voice of truth that’s there to remind you how serious it was, and even if it’s not about something as serious as this, just having them give you ideas and references is really helpful. It also makes it a pressure because you feel, “Oh, they went through all of this, I really need to honour it with as much truth as what it felt like at the time.” And with what I’m doing in the film, it will never be the same as what they went through, but you want to get as close to it as you can.
‘Les Misérables’ is up for eight Academy Awards at Sunday’s ceremony, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Hugh Jackman), and Best Supporting Actress (Anne Hathaway). Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, ‘Les Misérables’ tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption – a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Hugh Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (Anne Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.
‘Les Misérables’ is the motion-picture adaptation of the beloved global stage sensation – itself an interpretation of Victor Hugo’s epic novel – seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries and in 21 languages around the globe and still breaking box-office records everywhere in its 27th year. Helmed by Academy Award-winning director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), the film also stars Amanda Seyfried as Cosette, Samantha Barks as Eponine, Aaron Tveit as Enjolras, Eddie Redmayne as Marius, Sacha Baron Cohen as Monsieur Thenardierto, and Helena Bonham Carter as Madame Thénardier.
For me, Jean Valjean is very much an archetypal redemptive hero. How do you yourself look at your character? He’s a man who goes through a huge amount of conflict in this story?
Hugh Jackman: Jean Valjean is one of those, he’s a very humble man who constantly feels like he’s falling short. And here, the journey of his life, the journey of this story is actually about acceptance of himself, acceptance of the world that he’s in. And also finding love. Everyone in this musical is fighting a battle. Sometimes that’s within themselves, sometimes that’s in their life, with their circumstances. But there’s difficulties for everybody. And for me, in all the things I’ve done, I’ve never had a role that required more of me in a concentrated period. It requires everything I’ve done. All of the things I’ve done leading up to this, whether it’s the stage work or the film work, it all came together for this role and for this movie. It was the most demanding thing I’ve ever done, physically, emotionally, vocally – but it’s also probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
‘Silver Linings Playbook’ is up for eight Academy Awards at this Sunday ceremony, including Best Picture and Best Director for David O. Russell, in addition to achieving the rare feat of being nominated in all four acting categories: Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro), and Best Supporting Actress (Jacki Weaver). Adapted from the best-selling novel by Matthew Quick, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ is a touching, one-of-a-kind comedy about love and second chances. Pat Peoples (Bradley Cooper) is a man always trying to look on the bright side of life – the title of the story takes it’s name from the expression that “every cloud has a silver lining.” Released from the hospital after losing his wife to another man, Pat believes this age-old adage is just the ticket to trying to win her back and get his life on track. Trying to remain resolutely undiscouraged, Pat moves back in with his parents and devotes himself entirely to becoming the man his wife always wanted him to be. But it’s an uphill battle. Until Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a beautiful young woman whose life also has not turned out the way she wanted. Together, the couple will try and navigate through their lives and stay true to who they are.
Speaking to Bradley about ‘Silver Linings Playbook,’ he was telling me that much of the story and character dynamics came from the actors working with David O. Russell and each other on set, exploring different avenues….
Jennifer Lawrence: Yeah. It was like a blossoming, growing organism. It’s beautiful. Reading the script, I really loved my character, then working with David she slowly started evolving. And then finally watching the film, I knew that it would be funny, but I didn’t realise it would be as heartwarming – that was something that David did completely on his own. It was this lovely, heartwarming beast and I’d always seen it as sarcastic and a dark comedy kind of thing. I just think that it’s a beautiful love story that we really haven’t seen, and every scene in the film while we were filming, it just felt so different – it came alive as we were making it. I mean, it’s beautifully written, but I would have never have guessed that ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ would end up like it did, it’s not what I read.
‘The Croods’ is a 3D comedy adventure that follows the world’s first modern family as they embark on a journey of a lifetime when the cave that has always been their home is destroyed. Traveling across a spectacular landscape, the Croods are rocked by generational clashes and seismic shifts as they discover an incredible new world filled with fantastic creatures – and their outlook is changed forever. In the film, Emma Stone voices Eep, the families rebellious teenager who’s trying to drag her family kicking and screaming into the future. Her nagging feeling that there might be more to life outside the family cave is confirmed when the Croods embark on their journey. Written and directed by two-time Academy Award nominee Chris Sanders (How to Train Your Dragon, Lilo & Stitch) and Kirk DeMicco (Space Chimps), ‘The Croods’ also features the voices of Ryan Reynolds, Nicolas Cage, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman and Clark Duke. Look out for the film from March 22nd.
After all of your work on this film voicing your character Eep, how was it for you watching it back for the first time with all of the animation finished?
Emma Stone: That was incredible, it was amazing. I think ‘The Croods’ has elements of all of all of my favourite movies, which is that it’s not just funny and it’s not just heartbreaking, it takes you on a journey throughout the entire film. I cried watching it (laughs), and I laughed, and I just went along for the ride and enjoyed myself the entire time. Throughout recording it you come in and you’re doing different things on different days, and then when you see how everything plays out in the end you realise that the messages – which there are many in the film – stick with you after the fact, but you’re not sitting there watching it thinking about the “themes”, you’re sitting there enjoying this family. I loved that. It’s different than any other animated movie that I’ve seen, in a sense that it feels so true to life the whole entire time – even though we are in the Stone Age (laughs).