Steven Spielberg directs Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis in ‘Lincoln,’ a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. Based on the best-selling book ‘Team of Rivals’ by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and adapted for the screen by Tony Kushner and Goodwin himself, ’Lincoln’ focuses on the life of the former President, focusing on the man’s rise to politics and his role in the Civil War.
Alongside Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, ‘Lincoln’ stars Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Todd Lincoln, John Hawkes as Robert Latham, David Strathairn as Secretary of State William Seward, Walton Goggins as Wells A. Hutchins, James Spader as WN Bilbo, Jared Harris as Ulysses S. Grant and Jackie Earle Haley as Alexander Stephens. David Oyelowo, Tim Blake Nelson, Hal Holbrook, Bruce McGill, Joseph Cross, David Costabile, Byron Jennings, Dakin Matthews, Boris McGiver, Gloria Reuben, Jeremy Strong, David Warshofsky and Lee Pace also star. The film has been nominated for twelve Academy Awards – the most nominations held by a film at today’s ceremony, including Best Picture, Best Director for Steven Spielberg and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis.
When you first start to consider to play a role like Abraham Lincoln, what makes you say “absolutely not” and then what makes you say “maybe”? Is there a process for you of learning about the man and satisfying yourself about certain questions you might have about who he is, or what makes him tick?
Daniel Day-Lewis: I think my first impulse was a very clear one. When Steven and I first met about 9 years-ago to talk about it, it was before Tony Kushner had re-written the script, or written an entirely different script. The script itself wasn’t appealing to me personality, which gave me one good excuse not to do it (laughs). I met with Steven, and that was more tricky because I felt this was certainly a man that I wanted to work with and spend time with, in the abstract sense I would have loved to work with him. But it seemed like such a preposterous idea to me, an outlandish idea to take on that man. So I fled (laughs).
Based on true events, Ben Affleck’s dramatic thriller ‘Argo’ chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis – the truth of which was unknown by the public for decades. On November 4, 1979, as the Iranian revolution reaches its boiling point, militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage. But, in the midst of the chaos, six Americans manage to slip away and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Knowing it is only a matter of time before the six are found out and likely killed, a CIA “exfiltration” specialist named Tony Mendez (Affleck) comes up with a risky plan to get them safely out of the country. Affleck directs the film and stars in it alongside Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Kerry Bishé, Kyle Chandler, Rory Cochrane, Christopher Denham, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Victor Garber, Zeljko Ivanek, Richard Kind, Scoot McNairy, Chris Messina, Michael Parks and Taylor Schilling. ‘Argo’ is up for seven nominations at tonight’s 85th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Alan Arkin).
With the locations on the film, what were you able to use, what weren’t you able to use, and were there any sort of “happy accidents”, in terms of where you shot?
Ben Affleck: It was one of those things where you needed a balance. I wanted historical accuracy, I was really interested in getting that and using research materials. But there is a point where you can become so fastidious about that, that you actually do yourself a disservice, because you start thinking about things like, “Did the guy smoke cigarettes?” It all of a sudden becomes about that, and you lose what’s at the root of what happened to these people, and what these people cared about – and what the audience is supposed to care about.
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 out now in the US and is set for a April 5th release in the UK. My interview with Dwayne Johnson for the film can be read here, while my Jon Bernthal interview can be read here.
For me, ‘Snitch’ delivers a message about mandatory minimum sentencing laws that needs to be heard….
Barry Pepper: Definitely. ‘Snitch’ focuses primarily on the snowball effect and the tragic fallout of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which were enacted in 1989. The idea was to try to catch traffickers, big time cartels – but unfortunately 90% of the time its caught low level drug offenders, non-violent drug offenders. It has had really unfortunate effects. Our story focuses on a true story, which was an episode of ‘Front Line.’ It asks the question, “What would you do? How far would you go to protect your child from one of these very unfortunate events?”
Academy Awards Interview With Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz & Kerry Washington For ‘Django Unchained’
Set in the South two years before the Civil War, Quentin Tarantino’s ’Django Unchained’ stars Jamie Foxx as Django, a slave whose brutal history with his former owners lands him face-to-face with German-born bounty hunger Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Schultz is on the trail of the murderous Brittle brothers, and only Django can lead him to his bounty. The unorthodox Schultz acquires Django with a promise to free him upon the capture of the Brittles – dead or alive. Success leads Schultz to free Django, though the two men chose not to go their separate ways. Instead, Schultz seeks out the South’s most wanted criminals with Django by his side. Honing vital hunting skills, Django remains focused on one goal: finding and rescuing Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), the wife he lost to the slave trade long ago.
Django and Schultz’s search ultimately leads them to Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), the proprietor of ‘Candyland’, an infamous plantation. Exploring the compound under false pretences, Django and Schultz arouse the suspicion of Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), Candy’s trusted house-slave. Their moves are marked, and a treacherous organisation closes in on them. If Django and Schultz are to escape with Broomhilda, they are to choose between independence and solidarity, between sacrifice and survival. ‘Django Unchained’ is nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Chirstoph Waltz) and Best Original Screenplay (Quentin Tarantino).
The journey of this film to the big screen began over ten years ago, when you first thought of the film’s main character, Django. And although ‘Django Unchained’ takes place during slavery in the antebellum South, what made you think Django’s story might best be represented as a Western?
Quentin Tarantino: Yeah. The initial germ of the whole idea was a slave who becomes a bounty hunter and then goes after overseers that are hiding out on plantations. I just started writing, and Django presented himself to me. At the beginning he just was who he was – the sixth slave from the seventh on a chain gang line. But he just kept revealing himself to me more and more as I wrote. I’ve always wanted to do a Western. I like all kinds of Westerns, but since Spaghetti Westerns have always been my favourite, I thought that the day I do one, it would be in that Sergio Corbucci universe. Westerns represent grand, masterful depictions of good and evil – fitting for this particular story of one man’s struggle to infiltrate a notorious plantation in order to rescue his wife. It can’t be more nightmarish than it was in real life. It can’t be more surrealistic than it was in real life. It can’t be more outrageous than it was in real life. It’s unimaginable to think of the pain and the suffering that went on in this country, making it perfect for a Spaghetti Western interpretation. The reality fits into the biggest canvas that you could think of for this story.
Steven Spielberg directs two-time Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis in ‘Lincoln,’ a revealing drama that focuses on the 16th President’s tumultuous final months in office. Based on the best-selling book ‘Team of Rivals’ by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and adapted for the screen by Tony Kushner and Goodwin himself, ’Lincoln’ focuses on the life of the former President, focusing on the man’s rise to politics and his role in the Civil War.
Alongside Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, ‘Lincoln’ stars Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Todd Lincoln, John Hawkes as Robert Latham, David Strathairn as Secretary of State William Seward, Walton Goggins as Wells A. Hutchins, James Spader as WN Bilbo, Jared Harris as Ulysses S. Grant and Jackie Earle Haley as Alexander Stephens. David Oyelowo, Tim Blake Nelson, Hal Holbrook, Bruce McGill, Joseph Cross, David Costabile, Byron Jennings, Dakin Matthews, Boris McGiver, Gloria Reuben, Jeremy Strong, David Warshofsky and Lee Pace also star. The film has been nominated for twelve Academy Awards – the most nominations held by a film at this Sunday’s ceremony, including Best Picture, Best Director for Steven Spielberg and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis.
What was it about this particular segment of time in Abraham Lincoln’s life that made you compelled to explore it in this film?
Steven Spielberg: We chose to tell a little known story about one of the most important events in American history, which was the fight to pass the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery. To give that complicated story it’s due and to explore it, in as much detail as we felt it deserved, we counted on the audiences for ‘Lincoln’ to supply the now universal understanding that slavery was horrific. The same way we count on the audiences awareness of the horrors of the civil war itself, which visually only occupies a very small portion of our film.
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.