An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan (Lee Pace), a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits: Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a gun-toting raccoon; Groot (Vin Diesel), a tree-like humanoid; the deadly and enigmatic Gamora (Zoe Saldana); and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand–with the galaxy’s fate in the balance. From writer-director James Gunn, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ opens in the UK and Ireland on July 31st before opening in the US on August 1st. The likes of Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Djimon Hounsou, Benicio del Toro, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Josh Brolin, Ophelia Lovibond, Gregg Henry, Marama Corlett, Emmett J. Scanlan and Enzo Cilenti also star.
You’ve had plenty of otherworld experience, from playing Neytiri in ‘Avatar’ and Uhura in the ‘Star Trek’ film franchise. And in this film you play this deadly green-skinned assassin, and Thanos’ adopted daughter, who deep down has a lot more there than we are initially are lead to believe. What was it about her that really spoke to you… this character who’s the last remaining member of her species?
Zoe Saldana: I was very moved by her being an orphan, and being taken violently from her home and being subjected to a life of violence. Therefore she grows up to be this stealth assassin…. but actually she has a heart of gold and really just wants to break away and become free. She plays an important role in making the others see that they must do something collectively about stopping planets of people from dying at the hands of Ronan.
In ‘Hercules,’ Dwayne Johnson stars as the titular demigod renowned for his mighty deeds and valor. In this take on the myth, Hercules is a man struggling to live up to his own lore in a world of fearsome villainy. This version of Hercules is an icon who has vanquished lions and hellhounds, and is publicly feared and revered as a super-human champion; but deep within, he remains wounded by tragedy and uncertain of his legacy. Accompanied by five faithful companions, he travels the empire selling his services for gold and using his formidable reputation to intimidate his enemies. But when the benevolent ruler of neighboring Thrace and his daughter seek Hercules’ help to defeat a terrifying warlord, Hercules can no longer skate by on the folklore surrounding him. He must learn to embrace his own myth and become the hero people believe in. ‘Hercules’ will be distributed worldwide on July 25th and co-stars the likes of Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes, Peter Mullan, John Hurt, Aksel Hennie, Rebecca Ferguson, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Tobias Santelmann and Reece Ritchie. Brett Ratner directs.
I know you’ve wanted to play Hercules since you first broke into movies, almost 15 years ago. And I can imagine there may have been some false starts and times it looked like it wasn’t going to happen? Can you talk a little about the process of getting this film made and the take on the character you wanted to put forth…
Dwayne Johnson: Sure thing. ‘Hercules’ has been a passion project of mine for a very, very, very long time. When I first broke into Hollywood, it was one of the first properties that I asked about and I was curious about. I really wanted to make it, and that was almost 15 years ago. At that time I broke in making ‘The Mummy Returns,’ which then spawned ‘The Scorpion King’ – which was fairly close to ‘Hercules,’ in terms of tone. So we put ‘Hercules’ on the back-burner… and at that time, I didn’t have the ability to green-light anything (laughs). But I had been focused on making it one day. Plus growing up, I had always admired and had a great appreciation for individuals who were strong and who were able to accomplish things with their hands – and certainly Hercules is one of them. And actually ten years ago we actually started talking about it in terms of developing it and now we’re here. And with this film, we wanted to give audiences a Hercules they’ve never seen before. When we meet Hercules in this movie, he’s an exile suffering with regrets, fighting only for gold – he’s a mercenary. He has to overcome his demons and find his heart to become the man people want him to be.
In Luc Besson’s action-thriller ‘Lucy,’ Scarlett Johansson stars as the title character, a young woman who is forced to become a drug mule and is subsequently transformed into an ass-kicking machine when a highly-specialized drug enters her system. As Lucy races against the clock to survive, her new abilities allow her to see into the future, absorb information instantaneously, move objects with her mind and disregard pain and other emotions. Set for July 25th in the US and August 22nd in the UK, the likes of Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik and Analeigh Tipton co-star.
In the film, Lucy goes from the extremes of being extremely vulnerable to super-powered, when her exposure to an illicit substance inadvertently makes her acquire incredible skills. What was it like playing those opposites and the continual evolution…?
Scarlett Johansson: I really enjoyed that. Lucy, in my mind when we meet her, is just a girl who’s living in Taipei – who’s maybe doing a bit of modeling and odd jobs here and there. She’s a student and she’s been away from home for six months and she’s in a transient phase in her life when we find her. She’s kind of figuring out who she is, and she’s feeling like she should probably get her life on track. That’s kind of all we know about her when we find her. She’s kind of an unremarkable person to be honest (laughs).
Following 2013’s ‘The Purge,’ ‘The Purge: Anarchy’ follows an unlikely group of five citizens who, over the course of the night, find out just how far they will go to protect themselves and, ultimately, each other, as they fight to survive a night fraught with impossible decisions. The film, which opens from July 18th in the US and July 25th in the UK, sees the return of writer-director James DeMonaco. The likes of Frank Grillo, Michael K. Williams, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoe Soul and Keith Stanfield star in the horror-thriller.
You’d previously worked with writer-director James DeMonaco on the miniseries ‘The Kill Point.’ How did that initial conversation go when he wanted you to join ‘The Purge: Anarchy,’ this speculative thriller?
Frank Grillo: I remember that I was heading to LA for a trip, and James called me and said he was working on a sequel to ‘The Purge.’ He described it to me before I’d even read the screenplay, and it sounded like an old Western… something like ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales,’ which I love. I thought it was interesting and provocative, and after he sent me the script, I was sold. James is probably the nicest guy I’ve ever worked with, and the most compassionate. He really understands the world he’s created and he’s very collaborative if you have ideas. It’s such a nice experience working with James. I love the guy, I’d do anything for him.
In ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,’ Andy Serkis reprises his role as Caesar, the heroic and highly intelligent ape that led his fellow apes to freedom in ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes.’ 10 years later, we discover that Caesar oversees a Utopian kingdom of apes, having established a rich life for the simians in the years that followed their liberation. Now, he finds himself grappling with the challenges of maintaining his benevolent leadership in the face of renewed interaction with humans.
Opening on July 11th in the US and July 17th in the UK, the cast for ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is as follows. Humans: Jason Clarke as Malcolm, Gary Oldman as Dreyfus, Keri Russell as Ellie, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Malcolm’s son Alexander, Jocko Sims as Werner, Kirk Acevedo as Carver, Kevin Rankin as McVeigh, and Keir O’Donnell as Finney. Apes: Andy Serkis as Caesar, Toby Kebbell as Koba, Judy Greer as Cornelia, Terry Notary as Rocket, Karin Konoval as Maurice, Doc Shaw as Ash, and Nick Thurston as River, Caesar and Cornelia’s teenage son. Matt Reeves directs the film.
First off, were you surprised by the extent people connected to Caesar emotionally in the first movie, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’? And also, do you recall when it was decided that we’d meet him 10 years after the first movie and what questions you’d like to pose in this second chapter?
Andy Serkis: I was. I think people were surprised by how much they related to him as a character, and I think the conversations after were very much about how he would be a leader, because he’s leading the apes into a new dawn, a new civilization, a new era…. the story would focus on him as a leader. And I suppose then the question started to be about, “When do we want to drop into the story the next time around?” And the movie really means something, the emotional content of this film is huge and Matt Reeves has done such an extraordinary job of teasing that out of what is ostensibly a great big blockbuster movie. And it certainly has that, it has scale, it’s epic, it has this mythic journey, but at the same time it has this incredible tenderness and emotionality to it that is really important.