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).
‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is nominated for four Oscars at the 85th Academy Awards, in the categories Best Picture, Best Director (Benh Zeitlin), Best Adapted Screenplay (Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin) and Best Actress (Quvenzhané Wallis). At the age of 9, Wallis is the youngest ever nominee of the Academy Award for Best Actress.
In ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild,’ Hushpuppy (Wallis), an intrepid six-year-old girl, lives with her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), in The Bathtub, a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. Wink’s tough love prepares her for the unraveling of the universe; for a time when he’s no longer there to protect her. When Wink contracts a mysterious illness, nature flies out of whack – temperatures rise, and the ice caps melt, unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. With the waters rising, the aurochs coming, and Wink’s health fading, Hushpuppy goes in search of her lost mother.
How much does Hushpuppy differ from you? And do you think you two could be friends?
Quvenzhané Wallis: Definitely. But Hushpuppy doesn’t wear pants pretty much, and I love to wear pants in public (laughs). Also, I have a great father, but her father in ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is dying. Hushpuppy has more pets than me, I only have one. She has a lot more outside things that she can go to do, I have less things that I can go to do. She can complete whatever she wants to complete, I have to have permission to complete something, or to have adventures. I think we could be friends, she would have to wear pants though (laughs). And we both love seafood!
An ancient war is reignited when a young farmhand unwittingly opens a gateway between our world and a fearsome race of giants. Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing the young man, Jack (Nicholas Hoult), into the battle of his life to stop them. Fighting for a kingdom and its people, and the love of a brave princess (Eleanor Tomlinson), he comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend… and gets the chance to become a legend himself. Directed by Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men 2), ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ also stars Stanley Tucci as the deceitful Lord Roderick; Ian McShane as the besieged King Brahmwell; Bill Nighy as the giants’ leader, General Fallon; and Ewan McGregor as palace guard Elmont. The film opens in cinemas on March 1st in the US and March 22nd in the UK.
What was it about Princess Isabelle that appealed to you?
Eleanor Tomlinson: She’s different from other princesses you’ve seen in other fairy tales She’s got this side to her which… she was born into her royal family, she never really wanted it. She didn’t want that life of having servants do everything for her, she wants adventure, she wants to be able to go out and not be recognised. So what you expect from a princess, that very classic, well-behaved, postured princess… Isabelle doesn’t have that (laughs). I mean, she can have it when she’s being regal. There are some great moments in the movie where she’s wearing these elegant and beautiful dresses, but then there’s definitely the other side to her that’s kickass – she doesn’t take anything from anybody, you know? She wants her own adventure, and she goes off to find it. There’s that real modern twist on the story because she’s got that edgy side to her, which was great to experiment with. There’s this feisty side that we don’t normally see in princesses, there was so much to play with. It’s really exciting to find these different levels, and trying to make her fiery but not catty, trying to make her loveable but still fierce.