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.
In ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,’ a growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species. 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.
A formidable antagonist for the humans is Toby Kebbell’s Koba. The milky-eyed and scar-faced bonobo, introduced in ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes,’ Koba spent much of his younger life confined in laboratories, where he was subjected to experimentation in the name of science. In the decade following the apes’ liberation, Koba has evolved into a grizzled warrior who harbors a strong hatred of the human race, believing that the only good human is a dead human.
Caesar is compassionate and forbids his family of apes from killing innocent humans and those who don’t seek to harm them. Koba has a very different perspective, really because he’s spent most of his life in laboratories being neglected and abused. So he somewhat understandably holds a grudge against humans, he’s extremely vengeful…
Toby Kebbell: Yeah. Koba hates humans, and it’s warranted. He’s been abused, he doesn’t know the outside world, he doesn’t feel like an Ape. We discussed at the beginning that he couldn’t really quadruped, which is walking on all fours, and that’s something you learn in groupings of apes, it’s not an innate thing necessarily. And I think Koba and Caesar over these 15 years have really bonded in finding out what it really is to be an ape. So I think he holds that very true and very dear to himself: what it is to be an Ape… and humans disrupt that.
As humanity picks up the pieces, following the conclusion of ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon,’ Autobots and Decepticons have all but vanished from the face of the planet. However, a group of powerful, ingenious businessman and scientists attempt to learn from past Transformer incursions and push the boundaries of technology beyond what they can control – all while an ancient, powerful Transformer menace sets Earth in his crosshairs.
With help from a new cast of humans (led by Mark Wahlberg, Jack Reynor and Nicola Peltz), Optimus Prime and the Autobots rise to meet their most fearsome challenge yet. Set for a June 27th release in the US and a July 10th bow in the UK, Michael Bay’s ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’ also stars Li Bingbing, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Sophia Myles, T.J. Miller, Han Geng and Titus Welliver, while the voice cast includes John Goodman as Hound, Ken Watanabe as Drift, Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime, Frank Welker as Galvatron, John DiMaggio as Crosshairs, Mark Ryan as Lockdown, Robert Foxworth as Ratchet and Reno Wilson as Brains.
I know you first talked with Michael Bay about doing ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’ on the set of ‘Pain and Gain,’ but how did that conversation go? And what was it about Michael that made you want to feature in his next film… ?
Mark Wahlberg: Well, he was walking with me back to my car in the parking lot on ‘Pain and Gain’ and said, “Hey, how about doing another movie with me.” I said, “absolutely.” He said, “Well, we have this idea for a new Transformers movie.” I said, “I’m in.” So he said, “… do you want me to tell you the story?” I said, “You can, or I can wait for the script. But I’m in.” And I added, “The only thing is, I only want to make sure that like on ‘Pain and Gain’ you give me the freedom to kind of develop the character and make him my own.” And he said, “Absolutely, that’s why I want you.” So I was very excited, and I loved the fact that I was playing a dad with a teenage daughter, which is something I will be faced with in the near future – so it was good practice (laughs). I had such a great experience working with him on ‘Pain and Gain,’ and I love the way he works and I love everything about the experience. It was a no brainer for me.