Posts Tagged ‘ fantasy ’

Nicholas Hoult talks working with Bryan Singer, his interpretation of Jack, and his favorite fairy tale with a twist for JACK THE GIANT SLAYER

In theaters Friday, March 1st

In theaters Friday, March 1st

Nicholas Hoult may have started out as an awkward 11-year-old in “About a Boy,” but this Friday, he will be starring in his second leading man role of the year in “Jack the Giant Slayer.” In the past 11 years, Hoult has shed his metaphorical baby fat and landed himself yet another fantastical lead role in what seems to be a chain of spectacular projects for Hoult.

In this film, he stars as Jack, the “unlikely hero” who must defeat a race of angry giants and save Princess Isabelle, the feisty heroine he falls in love with. Along with Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, and Ian McShane, Hoult plays out this light-hearted but action-packed take on the classic fairy tale we have all grown up with.

In the interview below, he talks about his version of the fabled Jack, his favorite fairy tale with a twist, and what it’s like working with Bryan Singer again. You can watch the trailer and read his answers in our Fairy Tale Question Speed Round at the end of the interview. Enjoy!

Nicholas Hoult as Jack climbing the fabled giant beanstalk.

Nicholas Hoult as Jack climbing the infamous giant beanstalk.

AG: So you play Jack, the hero of the film. There have been several different versions of Jack over the years, so what makes your Jack different? What kind of man did you want him to be and what parts of yourself did you kind of insert into your interpretation of Jack?
NH: I wanted Jack to be an “every man” in many ways. He’s quite normal and a good guy, and he stands up for what he thinks is right. Things don’t always go his way. He makes silly mistakes, and he isn’t a hero from the start. That’s what I really liked about the story. It’s very much him growing and learning to become an unlikely hero and stepping up to the plate. I think that was what attracted me to the role. To be able to play a character that changes and grows over the film is interesting. The fact that Bryan Singer was directing was a massive plus. He is a great storyteller and really talented at bringing lots of different elements together in a film of this scale with the special effects and visual effects, with these giant characters and that whole world. To still keep quite a personal story within that of two young people, myself and Eleanor Tomlinson, who plays the princess, falling in love against the odds and then growing and creating their own destiny. I loved that.

AG: You mentioned that Jack is this sort of “every man” kind of hero.Was there anyone you looked up to like that growing up that you wanted to emulate in a “hero” sense?
NH: There’s kind of a little bit of a Star Wars vibe going on between myself and Ewan McGregor, where he’s kind of an “Obi Wan” to my character, someone he looks up to. Bryan watched “The Princess Bride” as kind of a model for this film. It’s romantic but light and very action-packed and huge in scale, but still quite funny and humorous in a very interesting world he’s created for it to be set in.

Hoult at the Los Angeles Premiere of  "Warm Bodies" at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on January 29, 2013 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

Hoult at the Los Angeles Premiere of “Warm Bodies” at ArcLight Cinemas Cinerama Dome on January 29, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

AG: Recently there has been this surge of fairy tales being re-told in Hollywood, from “Snow White & the Huntsman” to “Beastly” to “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.” What do you think it is about these stories that have people wanting to hear and see these new takes on them?
NH: I think it’s because they’re all classic stories from people’s childhoods that they really care about and love. It’s just interesting to see these new twists on them. Obviously, with special effects nowadays, we can create these marvelous worlds and these giant characters that are more realistic and fascinating to watch than they ever could have been in previous takes on these stories. I think it’s also just a fun family outing where parents can take their children along, and they can learn something about the story that maybe the kids haven’t seen or don’t know as well. Parents can re-live their childhood a little bit seeing it, and there’s something new and fresh in there.

AG: What fairy tale would you like to see re-vamped and made over? Which fairy tale would it be, and what would the new twist be?
NH: Strangely, one of my favorite films growing up was “Hook.” So that tale I thought was fantastic. I just think the writing in that film, and in this film as well, is really smart. I love the way they take the original tales and then twist them and make something new and entertaining.

AG: Looking at your body of work, you have been a part of several fantasy films like this film, “X-Men: First Class,” “Warm Bodies,” and “Clash of the Titans.” Are these kinds of projects just what you are drawn to or are you just sought out for these films? How has that worked out for you?
NH: I just try and look for interesting characters and directors to work with. At the moment, I enjoy watching these types of films, certainly, and going to the cinema to watch them, especially when it’s a big spectacle like this. It’s a real escapist thing to get to the cinema and just enjoy. It’s not been a conscious decision by me to aim for these sorts of films. I want to mix it up and try as many different things as possible.

AG: Having done these films, you are no stranger to working with CGI and visual effects. What has been the most challenging part of acting with that?
NH: This one was definitely the most challenging, because, obviously, before when I’ve done the special effects, it’s been landscapes that have been created and things like that. It’s never been to this extent where there are whole characters that aren’t there. We had Bill Nighy’s voice playing over loudspeaker, and we had kind of an idea of what they would be doing. They had already been motion-captured before the live shoot began. It’s tough to kind of imagine, though, what will be placed there. That was something that was most enjoyable about seeing this film, seeing what the visual effects team created. It’s really special and so exciting to see these giants and the land they live in. You’re watching it and thinking, “Wow, this is better than I ever could have imagined, and it’s so realistic.” It’s intriguing to watch, because it’s all in 3-D and pulls you right in. It’s a real adventure.



AG: What was it like working with Bryan Singer again?
NH: It was fantastic. Obviously I really liked him when he was working on X-Men [First Class]. He cares so much about film and is so talented in bringing so many elements together. We had fun on set. We’d laugh and joke about what we were doing. It was a very light atmosphere, but he was also very serious about crafting this movie and making a good character for me. I really enjoy working with him, and we’re going to be doing the next X-Men [Days of Future Past] film together as well. I’m looking forward to working with him again in a couple of months.

Fairy Tale Speed Round:
If you could choose, which fairy tale princess would you rescue? I genuinely wanted to rescue the princess from this film. Eleanor did such a fantastic job playing her, and I liked the fact that it wasn’t a typical princess where she wanted to get out and have an adventure. She wasn’t cooped up or in a tower somewhere. She was out fighting and being involved and growing herself.
Would you rather slay a dragon or reverse an evil curse?  I would definitely want to slay a dragon.
If you found a magic lamp, Aladdin-style, what would your first wish be? For more wishes!
Which fairy tale villain would you want to defeat? Oh, I think Captain Hook.
If you could be any fairy tale hero, besides Jack, who would you be? Pinocchio. Is he a hero? He’s a hero in my eyes.


STAR WARS: Spin-Offs?

Ever since Disney bought LucasFilms and it was announced they’d be making an Episode VII, the Star Wars purist in me has been ready to burst at the seams. Call me a traditionalist, but I really don’t like the sound of a Star Wars created by Disney. It’s not supposed to be tame, and there is not supposed to be anymore Jar Jar Binks. Don’t get me wrong, I loved him when Episode I first hit theaters, but I was also 11 years old. Explains a lot.

Anyway, all my movie news websites are now reporting that Lawrence Kasdan (Episode VI: Return of the Jedi) and Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes) are writing spin-offs rather than sequels. It was said that they would be in charge of Episodes VIII and IX, but now they may be spin-offs? I’ve got a little bit of faith, because Kasdan did write Episodes V and VI, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

I was already distraught about Disney wringing out as much money as they could from the Star Wars rag by tiring out a classic series, but now that there may be spin-offs, I’m not too sure how to feel. The Hollywood Reporter posted, and I quote, “Their scripts could turn into official ‘Episodes’ in the main Skywalker storyline, or they could form the basis for spinoffs focusing on side characters.”

It sounds like a Marvel move, aka The Avengers, and while that works for Marvel, I’m not too sure about Star Wars. I was sad when Episode III came out because I thought it was the last of Star Wars that I would ever see, but it ended on a good note. It ended complete and with dignity. Naturally I am opposed to change — just a personal thing — but I think it’s safe to say that Star Wars can easily be butchered for some big bucks.

It seems like confirmation that any future Star Wars films are going to be about the Skywalker clan, and that, you could say, was a given, but I guess I’m curious as to what else they could possibly extract from the original films. Here’s to seeing what’s next?

Alden Ehrenreich and Zoey Deutch talk Beautiful Creatures

In theaters February 13, 2013

In February of next year, the film adaptation of Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s best-selling novel, Beautiful Creatures, will hit theaters just in time for Valentine’s Day. It seems as though Hollywood just can’t get enough of young adult fantasy novel adaptations, i.e. Warm Bodies, City of Bones,  etc, so I suppose I’m excited to see what this one is all about.

In this fantasy film, Ethan Wate is a high-schooler in a small, conservative town called Gatlin in South Carolina, and he finds himself drawn to Lena, the mysterious new girl in town. When he finds out she’s a “caster” and that her family is involved in witchcraft and the supernatural, he and Lena must fight the dark side of her family and the intolerance of their small-town community.

Alden Ehrenreich plays Ethan, and Zoey Deutch plays his scorned ex-girlfriend, Emily. The two stars of the film spoke to The Reel Story about the novel and why they feel it is nothing like the fantastical films out in theaters lately.

Alden Ehrenreich: Ethan Wate in the film

AG: Can you tell the readers a little bit about your characters and whether there were any personal connections to these characters?
AE: I play Ethan Wate, and I’m this young guy in a small town whose mom died recently. I just can’t stand being in this town. I want to break out and live this life of adventure. Lena comes to town – she’s the new girl – and she kind of represents the sophistication and freedom I want to have in my own life. I pursue her and go after her, and then it turns out she’s a caster. We have to battle against the supernatural powers of her family and the prejudices of the town to stay together.
ZD: I play Emily Asher. My role in the story is really to show one of the aspects of why Ethan really despises his life so much and the people he’s surrounded by. I kind of represent the closed-minded, entitled, and selfish ideals of this small town. You see that when he breaks up with her, and she actually can’t fathom that it’s happening. It’s like she doesn’t even process it. She’s in denial. She’s so entitled, so she thinks, “Why would he want to break up with me?” It came from a deeper place, in my perspective, of being hurt and not understanding why she doesn’t have what he wants, liking him and him not liking her back and not having the right tools to deal with a broken heart. That’s where I could relate to her, because it’s painful when you get broken up with. You can’t really prepare for it, so I guess I could understand where she was coming from in that sense.
AE: I kind of really related to my character’s restlessness and ambitious sort of wanting more out of life than what had been given to him, wanting a more exciting life than what was laid out in front of him, and fighting for that life.

AG: Were either of you fans of the book beforehand, or did you read it after you got the script? What kind of preparation did you do for the film?
AE: I didn’t know about the book, but I started reading it once I got the part. I got the part a week before we started shooting, so I was really kind of cramming to get the accent down. It’s a very specific dialect in the film. I also had to figure out my character and how he felt about the other characters, and just really kind of saying, “What is this story about and how can my characterization of this person best tell that story?”
ZD: The audition process was kind of bizarre. It was very secretive. I didn’t get the script, and I didn’t get the scenes I had to audition with. I had to go in about 15 minutes before my audition and had to cold-read the scenes, which means you just read them as you see them. I got a call a couple of months later that Richard [LaGravenese] had seen my tape and that I was cast in the movie. At that point, of course, I read the script, and then I started doing research. I read the book, and I started breaking the character down, trying to understand her. In that sense, I wanted to understand her kind of religiously extreme ways, so I went to the specific house of worship that was written that she went to. I studied the accent, and I watched a lot of YouTube videos of people with South Carolinan accents.
AE: Logan Smith from Randall, South Carolina. That’s what I watched. He put his accent on YouTube, and I just watched him all the time.
ZD: I also wanted to change my look. It’s the first movie I’ve done, and it’s an amazing part, but she’s very mean. I didn’t want that to be people’s first impression of who I am, so I wanted to change my hair, I wanted to change my look, and I wanted to get fake nails, really look like this character and stay true to what was written in the book.

(L-R) Viola Davis, Alice Englert, Alden Ehrenreich

AG: This story revolves around witchcraft and the supernatural, something Hollywood has been kind of obsessed with as of late, so what makes this movie or this story different from what we’re seeing out there right now?
AE: I think it’s typical, because I totally understand that people want to compare it to those, because yes, it is a trilogy, it is a movie based on a book series, and yes, it has supernatural elements. I guess I just have to keep reiterating that it doesn’t really share any of the same qualities as those out right now. It’s not a love triangle. From a guy’s perspective, yes it does appeal to same audience as those kinds of franchises, but it also appeals to adults. There’s Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons. There’s also stuff for a younger audience. For guys, there are crazy explosions and fun things like that. There’s also romance for girls, and a sense of humor, too. Universally, I think there’s something for everybody.

AG: What do you think it is about the story that is so relatable that it created such a following that it was made into a movie?
AE: I think it’s because it’s a story that everyone can relate to, a certain kind of restlessness, of wanting to find that person who makes you feel comfortable in your own skin, and of wanting to better the scenario or circumstances you were put into, wanting to find something more out of life. Also, I think the reason it appeals to young people is that there is this constant interplay of this world outside that they don’t understand and how that world is affecting them but they don’t quite understand it yet. I think that, in a way, is metaphoric for young people entering into the real adult world and don’t fully understand that that world is affecting them before they can wrap their minds around it. The story is these two people trying to figure out what this world is so they can make it in that world. First, they have to understand what the rules of that world are.

Zoey Deutch: Emily Asher in the film

AG: What was your greatest motivation for taking part in this film?
AE: When I read the script, I knew within the first three pages that I wanted to do the movie. The character that I get to play was so beautifully written, and it was such a real person. That’s what I really love about this movie, that it’s got all these fantastical elements and all this crazy stuff going on, but all those things are rooted in real people, their emotions, and what they actually feel. Real people are flawed and imperfect. It’s not about an idealized love story. Two people in a relationship fight with each other and get scared and worried about things and get angry with each other and frustrated, so to me, that’s what was so beautiful about it. Also, when I met Richard, he said, “I want to do this movie with wit and with humor and that can laugh at itself.” I think that, especially in a genre movie like this, the thing that I think you miss out on a lot of times in a genre movie, is that they take the story that they’re telling too seriously, especially fantastical stories. So a little bit of this movie is able to laugh at itself and have humor and irony in it.

AG: All right, well if you all have any last words for the readers about the film, go right on ahead!
AE: I just think it’s a really moving, exhilarating film that takes you into another world and can teach you a little bit about your own.
ZD: I don’t really have anything else to say besides that. That was put beautifully!

Peter Ramsey talks Rise of the Guardians

This holiday season, Dreamworks is releasing a movie I will now be watching every Christmas. Rise of the Guardians follows Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Sandman, and Jack Frost as they battle against the Boogeyman, known as Pitch, who wants to rid the world of these Guardians and spread fear in children across the globe.

In this film, Santa Claus is known as North, a Russian Cossack with tattoos voiced by Alec Baldwin. Isla Fisher voices the half-human, half-hummingbird Tooth Fairy, Hugh Jackman voices the very Australian Easter Bunny, Chris Pine voices Jack Frost, and Jude Law voices Pitch. These voices and the re-imagination of beloved childhood heroes make this film one you can enjoy watching with your kids, nieces or nephews, or kids you babysit.

Dreamworks has brought us some pretty fun animated features like Shrek, Madagascar, and Despicable Me, and Rise of the Guardians is a great addition to their résumé. Peter Ramsey makes his directorial debut with this film after working as a storyboard artist for several other films including Godzilla, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Shark Tale. He spoke with me about his journey from storyboard artist to director as well as what it was like finding the right voices for this new take on classic characters.

AG: Congratulations on your directorial debut! What has the transition from storyboard artist to director been like?
PR: Oh, thank you. I got to work with a lot of great directors on a lot of great movies, but I always had ambitions to be a director myself. For me, being a story board artist was kind of my film school. So for me, it was always leading up to the moment when I would be able to actually work on a project like this as a director. It was one of those dreams that comes true.

AG: I understand how a live-action film director works, but can you explain to me how you go about directing an animated film like this?
PR: Sure. I usually tell people that it’s very similar to what a live-action director does, but because we build everything in an animated film from the ground up – the backgrounds, the characters, everything – including the performances, the job gets split up into a few different parts. When you’re directing a character animation, first you have to direct the actors who are doing the voice performances. You have to direct them like they were any other actor. It’s just that they’re not on a set, and they don’t have other actors to work with. You have to paint a little more of the picture for them, because it’s just you and them in a recording booth. After you’ve directed the actors’ voices, then you have to direct the animators that are actually going to move the characters and give them expressions, rhythm, and all those sorts of things. I have to work with them as well to get the physical part of the performance done. So it’s the same thing live-action directors do, just split up into different parts.

Director Peter Ramsey

AG: Going back to those character voices, I thought each one of these voices was perfect for the characters.
PR: Oh, thanks so much.
AG: Yeah, it was great. How did you go about picking these voices, and what was it like working with them?
PR: You know, we had spent a lot of time trying to get the personalities of the characters down, and as we were doing that, we started thinking, “What kind of actors kind of match these personas? Who would I believe as each one of these characters?” What we would end up doing is we would make lists, pick our absolute favorites, and we would take pieces of dialogue that they had done in other movies and play them against images of the characters. Sometimes we had animation tests, and we would play some Alec Baldwin dialogue or some Isla Fischer dialogue along with the image to see how they felt. When they felt really right, we knew we were on to something. Luckily, our first choices were pretty much the people we ended up with in the movie, so that was great.

AG: These characters are just so re-imagined. Like, I never would have dreamed the Tooth Fairy was part Hummingbird, that the Easter Bunny was so manly, or that Santa was Russian, and in most Christmas films I’ve seen, Jack Frost is the bad guy. So which of these characters was your favorite to re-create?
PR: Oh, wow. It’s funny, because people always ask me who my favorite is. I think they all just have such great things about them, and I’m proud of the fact that they all have really good moments in the movie. I think Jack’s story, with the emotion of it, we really wanted a character that was going to take the audience through the story and give them somebody to root for and have an emotional connection to. I think his story about not being seen and being isolated and having to be believed in is kind of something everybody can relate to. Any time you get some territory like that to explore in a story, you’re really lucky. So we felt that we had a good character for our Jack Frost to be like, “Hey, wait a minute. You’ve seen him in other places, but this is the real guy, and he’s got a real story.”

AG: These characters are also a little darker and edgier, so how did you get to that point, where you keep the kids interested without scaring them too much?
PR: Right. I don’t know that the characters themselves are any darker or edgier. I think what we did was say, “They have a real mission in the world, and their mission is to fight against fear.” The fear and the darkness that we show is a real thing in kids’ lives. Kids do get afraid. I think they connect with it a little more, or hopefully they will, because we’re not pretending that stuff doesn’t exist. They know every day that there are things they are scared of, and I think for them to know that there’s somebody out there looking out for them and on their side, and it’s not just anyone – it’s Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy – who are helping them is pretty cool.

The Sandman fighting Pitch’s nightmares

AG: Another aspect of the film that I loved were these Guardians’ headquarters. How were these places chosen and designed? They’re so accessible. Not like when I was young. I thought… I don’t even know what I thought, I just knew they weren’t here on Earth.
PR: That was a big thing we wanted to do, was say, “All these guys, they are right here in the world with us, and they do all their work. We just don’t see them, because we’re asleep.” They do everything at night, and they actually live right here on Earth. If you somehow are lucky enough, you can stumble upon where they live. So it was all part of this idea that if we’re saying they are really real, let’s make it as real as we can and say they’re here. That was one of the really fun things about the movie, the design of the North Pole and the Tooth Fairy’s world that we put a lot of work into, and even Pitch’s lair under the ground. We really worked hard to say, “What can we say with each one of these locations about these characters? How can we make it so that, the Tooth Fairy’s palace, only she would live there?” North would never build a place like that for himself, but for the Tooth Fairy flying around with all of her little mini-fairies, that works perfectly for her.  That was kind of the other element of it.

AG: I understand these books are a series, and only five out of 13 have been released, I believe.
PR: I think that’s right.
AG: So are there any plans for a sequel?
PR: (laughs) Well, we’re going to have to see how much people like it! That’s the only reason sequels ever get made, for whether or not people want more. After the movie comes out, if people want more, hopefully we’ll be able to give it to them.

AG: What is your favorite Christmas film, memory, or tradition?
PR: Oh, wow. Let’s see. My favorite Christmas film is probably… Oh, man, that’s a hard one. I really loved, when I was growing up, Miracle on 34th Street, which is also Santa Claus in a really real world. I always loved that movie, and It’s a Wonderful Life. I still love that movie today. I like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I’ll always love that one. Oh, and I have to mention Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s not a movie, but it’s not Christmas without A Charlie Brown Christmas.

AG: Do you have any last words for the readers here in Houston about yourself or about the film? Anything I haven’t touched on?
PR: Just that I’m really proud of [this film.] I had a wonderful time making it. It was my first movie as a director, and I couldn’t have asked for more of a dream experience with the people I’ve gotten to work with. The really amazing thing, to me, about it is that everyone who worked on the movie – and there were hundreds of people – everyone felt like they were working on something special and gave it their all. It really does come straight from the heart. If your readers should know anything, they should know that we really made this movie for them to love and enjoy, and it just comes straight from the heart.

AG: Well, thank you so much for your time, and congratulations on your directorial debut. I loved it; it’s a great film.
PR: Thanks so much. It means a lot to hear that. I really appreciate it.



Breaking Dawn Part 2: New Official Images

Now that you’re able to watch the full-length trailer over and over again (you know you have), new official images have also been released in order to get a better look at the new characters being introduced in this last chapter of the saga.

The second half of the book (the part the movie is based on), is mostly about how the Volturi find out about Edward and Bella’s half-human, half-vampire baby, Renesmee, and wish to dispose of her. They are convinced she will not be able to control her blood-lust like an immortal child, a child who has been turned into a vampire. Edward and Bella, who is now a vampire herself, travel the world to gather support from other vampire families to show the Volturi that Renesmee is not a threat.

Below are the images of Renesmee as well as other vampire families and enemies we will get to know in Breaking Dawn Part 2.

(L-R) Kellan Lutz as Emmett and Kristen Stewart as Bella arm-wrestling now that Bella has the strength of a vampire

(L-R) TRACEY HEGGINS and JUDITH SHEKONI as two of the Amazon sisters

(L-R) CASEY LaBOW and MyANNA BURING as two of the Denali clan from Alaska

(L-R) CHRISTIAN CAMARGO and MIA MAESTRO as Eleazar and Carmen of the Denali clan in Alaska

KRISTEN STEWART and MACKENZIE FOY as Bella and her daughter Renesmee

(L-R) TAYLOR LAUTNER and MACKENZIE FOY as werewolf Jacob Black and Renesmee

(L-R) DAKOTA FANNING and CAMERON BRIGHT, members of the Volturi



The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 Full Trailer

The highly anticipated full trailer for the conclusion of the film adaptations of the Twilight book series, Breaking Dawn Part 2, was released this morning. We finally get a good look at Kristen Stewart as the vampire Bella and catch a glimpse of Renesmee, Bella and Edward’s half-human, half-vampire daughter. I’ve also posted some pictures from Entertain Weekly debuting Mackenzie Foy as Renesmee. Enjoy!