Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle UK premiere interviews

I got the opportunity to attend the UK premiere of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle where I interviewed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillen, Nick Jonas and filmmaker Jake Kasdan.

The film – which is a sequel to the hit Robin Williams’ 1995 classic – takes a twist on the original movie with the character being transported inside the game and becoming the avatars they have chosen to play with.

Here are my interviews with the cast and director of the hilarious new comedy.

Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black

The first film was such a beloved classic, how did it feel being part of the sequel?

DJ: It’s an honour. I don’t say that little, we all feel that way. The first one is a beloved title and we really wanted to make a movie that the world will hopefully enjoy and that we had a great time making it and you know, not to sound over earnest about it, but we truly mean this, is something that would make Robin proud. Robin influenced us tremendously and his family as well.

KV: Can’t say it better than that. Well spoke.

Was the relationship the same off-screen?

KV: You know, what you guys see is literally what it was. I mean, you’re looking at authenticity at its finest. We’re friends on camera and even bigger and better friends off camera. And when you have that chemistry, it just gives you every component to make the biggest and best movie you can possibly can and we all did that. It was a testament to all of the personalities involved.

How will the audience take seeing it on a big screen for the first time?

KV: You know, my take is I’m in it. So you know it’s going to be good, and Jack Black is in it. Movie dips a little when DJ hits the screen. Takes a little dip but me and Jack come back and it comes back up. Don’t think it’s going to go down too long

DJ: When I come on screen it’s a piss break. Anyone want anymore popcorn?

Jack, you play a 16-year-old girl, how did you get into character?

JB: It was like that. I got hypnotised. I told a hypnotist I have to be a16-year-old girl and he gave me a thing and just snap once and I was in.

Karen Gillen

What drew you to the film?

Because I am the biggest fan of the original ever. I’m gonna go ahead and say the number one fan so when I heard that they were making a sequel to it, I was first of all like ‘what are they going to do with my Jumanji?’ and then I read the script and learned it was going to be very special and then I just really wanted to be part of it.

You say you’re a big fan of the original, so am I, but does this film live up to the Robin Williams classic?

I think so. It’s hard to compare them. The original is so brilliant but this is a movie in its own right. I mean we pay homage to the original but this is a different concept so we’ve, you know, evolved it a little. So I can’t really out them head to head because I love them both so much.

Energetic character both in this movie and in Guardians of the Galaxy, what is your training schedule like?

When I was shooting this I was just training every second that I had. I was doing a lot of fight choreography and dance lessons basically so it was actually really intense but I’ve calmed down a little bit. Nebula might be a little less in shape these days.

How is Avengers going?

It’s amazing. It’s going to be the most epic, cinematic event of all time.

Nick Jonas

What drew you to the film?

A lot of things did. I was obviously a huge fan of the original. Robin Williams’ performance is brilliant. The film as a whole is one of my favourites so to be able to be part of something like this that has a legacy like that is something special. But when I read the script, I fell in love with all these characters and the use of the body swap in this way was really original and I knew they would nail. And this cast is just dynamite

The film is hilarious on screen but was it the same off camera?

It was just as funny off-screen, maybe sometimes funnier. We all had a great time together. You know, on top of getting all the work done and being professional we did have a lot of fun and did our best to make the environment for everybody on set really special.

Sophie Turner and your brother Joe have just got engaged how was the engagement party and how are they doing?

It was a lot of fun. I am really happy for them. Because they are happy and very much in love and it’s a beautiful thing for everyone.

Jake Kasdan

The film takes a different twist to the original, with the characters being taken into the jungle, what made you go down that route?

You know I thought that was a great idea. A way to shake up this thing that we love. The original movie is about the game coming out into our world and it felt like this was a great twist on it which is to go into the game but in this new context

You have a fantastic cast, what was it like working with them?

It was fantastic. It’s just a wonderful group we put together. They are all brilliant in the movie and they are all just a pleasure to work with and so you cannot ask for more than that.

And I imagine, once the cameras had stopped rolling it was just as funny?

It was a lot of fun. We were laughing all the time.

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Interviews: Cast and crew of the new movie Molly’s Game

I managed to speak with Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Molly Bloom and composer Daniel Pemberton in the Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut Molly’s Game.

The film tells the true story of Molly Bloom, a beautiful, young, Olympic-class skier who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested in the middle of the night by 17 FBI agents wielding automatic weapons.

Her players included Hollywood royalty, sports stars, business titans and finally, unbeknown to her, the Russian mob. Her only ally was her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey, who learned there was much more to Molly than the tabloids led people to believe.

Chastain plays the titular character Molly Bloom in the movie:

What was it about the script that drew you to the movie?

I really loved the character. First of all I really wanted to work with Aaron Sorkin then I loved the character of Molly Bloom, it’s a story of an underdog you know she really goes against the tide of what society expects from her, it’s a fusion that explores patriarchy that you see in her family, in her industry and in the government this idea of her trying to follow this rules that have been laid out by men and Aaron, man, he’s a political filmmaker and I’ve always wants to work with him.

How did you feel playing a non-fiction character?

I tried to hang out with Molly as much as I could, Molly was very invaluable to me in terms of the research. She was so accessible and I met with her and some players of the game and they took me to a game in New York. I loved the research of the film.

You have great chemistry with Idris in the film, how was it working with him?

How could anyone not have chemistry with Idris? He’s such a great actor I was so happy go see him play this role, there’s a lot of humour in this part and he just nails it.

Elba stars as Charlie Jaffey, Molly’s lawyer.

Was it difficult approaching this story knowing you were playing a real character?

No. I guess, you know, any approach to any story whether true or not from and actors point of view is to be able to at least own your character own your interpretation of the character, a lot of the time the directors don’t know exactly what they want to see when an actor walks in so as long as you, the actor, knows who you are and who your character is and that’s enough.

The film is Aaron’s directorial debut, how is he behind the camera?

Aaron is brilliant. He is a really nice guy and was very pragmatic. He was very open to suggestion. You know with Aaron’s work you don’t want to improvise, you want to say the words as they are written but you know sometimes you can’t help say something a different way which he is very good about and I didn’t think he would and he was.

Are you a poker player?

No. I didn’t know how to play before. I played a little Texas Holdum on my phone.

Daniel Pemberton: composer of the film.

How did you get involved in the movie?

I worked with Aaron before on Steve Jobs, the Danny Boyle film, that he scripted and we just met during awards stuff in the states and it turns out he was a big fan of what I did with that and he kindly invited me into doing this first directorial debut, obviously Molly’s Game.

You’ve mentioned it’s Aaron’s directorial debut, how was he as a director?

He’s really amazing and supportive and very warm and very encouraging and the thing that’s interesting is this is his first film and it feels like he has done 20 already. I mean it’s a great movie and he is a great director what was great is he had the confidence that some directors don’t have of allowing you to do what you want to do and he will reign it back sometimes or push you in a different direction but he will give you the space and faith to do what you want to do with music and as a composer that’s great. He comes from strength as a director I think. He was a very strong and confident director and it shows in the film, I think it’s a fantastic movie.

As the composer, what were you main inspirations for this score?

I wanted the score to feel like a very contemporary score I wanted it to feel like contemporary bands had written he score rather than a film composer so I kind of used my film composer tricks and tried not to use them in a conventional way I tried to write a lot of tracks as if they were bands. I was influenced by a number of modern bands and other contemporary acts and tried to write it as a film score.

Was that a challenge?

Every job is different. This one was different it was weirdly quite like… it was really enjoyable and Aaron was a really supportive collaborator.

The film is based on the book by Molly Bloom, when reading it did you have an idea for the music then?

I met Molly when we went to the Golden Globes for Steve Jobs and she was in our table and we got quite drunk and she is great fun. The film was quite different to the book and takes a whole new level that wasn’t in the book. There were deeper levels. And I was responding to Aaron’s vision.

Molly Bloom

A-listers who attended the game included the likes of Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire, was that when you knew the game was big?

Well they were there at the very first game. And because of the people sat at the table, not just the celebrities but the formidable people from the business world, from finance, from politics, I knew this was a room of people who had made it and this was an incredible network to try and leverage

How is it seeing your story on the big screen.

There just aren’t word. I cannot believe this is happening.

New Life: A deep, moving movie with some over the top acting

It’s always great to be pleasantly surprised by a film and that’s what happened when watching New Life, the new movie by Drew Waters.

Director: Drew Waters

Writer: Drew Waters, Erin Bethea

Starring: Jonathan Patrick Moore, Erin Bethea, James Marsters, Terry O’Quinn

Rating: PG

When I first started watching New Life, I was immediately concerned it was another romantic drama about the trials and tribulations of a couple who you root to end up together, but it was actually something different.

The film follows Benjamin Morton (Moore) whose life is changed forever when he meets the girl next door at the age of seven.

Ava (Bethea) was and always would be the girl of his dreams and when their relationship develops from a childhood friendship through to an adolescent attraction, the two must learn to come to terms with each other’s busy lives in order to stay together.

After finally tying the knot and excitedly expecting a baby, tragedy strikes and strikes hard as their life takes a turn for the unexpected and their future is called into question.

During the opening of the film, the camera pans around a messy room with a voice over narration which is deep and philosophical which already sets the tone for the entire movie.

At some points the acting does seem over the top and a bit cheesy but it’s easy to move passed as the narrative progresses.

The film deals with a lot of tough subjects including long distance relationships, loss of a baby and loss of a loved one.

It details the way people move on after suffering a terrible loss in their lives. The narrative change completely threw me off guard and I actually found myself hooked as soon as the tragedy struck the family.

From starting off as a cheesy slightly boring movie, it does turn inot a heartwarming tale of grieve and with the help of friends and family, how to process and move on with your life aka a new life.

Australian actor Moore, who stars as the narrator and Ben, gave a touching performance as the leading man but there were times when it felt like his supposedly British accent was put on far too much which was slightly irritating.

Call me cynical but I prefer having English actors playing English character (and vice versa for American).

Bethea, who plays Ava, is somewhat irritating in her performance and her character – up until the tragedy – is quite dislikeable.

The film also stars Marsters – who is best known for palying Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer – and Lost star O’Quinn.

The other supporting actors do help the film progress and move the narrative forward but some of them are only there to help bring the movie to an end (French character Monique by Kelsey Formost – once again not French).

But despite some of the acting, I did enjoy the film and was quite reflective towards the end and makes you wonder how you would deal with grief and loss.

Would I recommend the film? Yes, everybody has experienced grief in their own way and although it may bring up some past memories, the film itself is well done and handles the tough topics very well.

As all movies need some sort of closure, New Life does give this but it seems it tries too hard at the end to wrap up all the loose ends, but nevertheless I did enjoy it – minus some of the problems with the acting.

The end line of the film ‘the most important thing is to life your live’ is a good lasting thought and was a great way of finishing the film.

New Life is available to watch on Digital Download now!

BFI London Film Festival: Interviews with Sally Porter, Timothy Spall and Cherry Jones from The Party

During the London Film Festival this year, I managed to speak with one of my favourite actors, Timothy Spall – best known for his role as Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter franchise.

His new film – helmed by Sally Porter – follows Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) who hosts an intimate gathering of friends in her London home to celebrate her political ascension.

After her acerbic best friend and others arrive, some with dramatic news to share, an announcement by Janet’s husband provokes a series of revelations.

As the sophisticated soiree starts to unravel, a night that began with champagne soon ends up with arguments, shouting and a pointed gun.

Here is what Spall, Porter and Jones had to say about the film.

Timothy Spall:

For people who don’t know what The Party is about, could you explain it?

Well the story of The Party is about a women who just made shadow health minister in the opposition party in a country very much like ours and very much like our opposition one but doesn’t say which persuasion the party is from, and she invites a host of friends to celebrate that fact. They are a group of very sophisticated people who have the moral high ground and understands the working of the world and know the best way of living our lives and because of many revelations mainly by my character who sits in more or less silence for 20 minutes and when he speaks the things he says that are absolutely life changing and cataclysmic and the whole thing begins to unravel and ends up in blood metaphorically and physically.

It’s a very funny film, what was it about the script that made you want to get involved?

When you get great writing where the comedy and tragic are all part of the same thing. When things are real and bad they can be blackly funny and this film is in the centre of that.

It has a great cast and director, how was that for you?

I’ve worked with Sally before and loved the experience and when she sent me the script and asked me to come and talk to her about it, I was delighted, absolutely delighted, I adore her she’s a fantastic and inclusive artist. Then when she started taking about the cast that she wanted appeared I thought my goodness this is a great bunch of people. Often they say don’t work with people who are you heroes but it was a great experience and we shot it very quickly and it had to be because Sally had worked very hard writing it but we had two weeks to film. The concentration was much focused and there was a high level of electricity in the room.

Sally Porter:

It’s a very dark but funny comedy, where did you get inspiration?

I really wanted to make a comedy wrapped around a tragedy so it had something melancholic and dark and serious at its core and what people could laugh at and feel energised despite they have been watching this very serious thing. It was technically a very interesting creative challenge. To do it in such a minimal barebones way, one setting all in real time with just a few rooms and a lot of complicated movements and to bring these subjects to life in that way in that form was actually was really enjoyable.

There is an incredible cast, did you know you wanted these actors when you set out writing the movie?

I wrote the script first and without trying not to imagine any particular actor. One way of thinking about it. As soon as I finished it and there was a draft it felt to present to these actors. And after a read through with these actors they were all my first choice actors and I could see what they could do with it individually and together. And how they could interpret it and they responded very well to it and it went from there.

Stripped back, black and white, 71mins very limited film.

Sometimes when you set certain limits if gives you more freedom because you have to go deep because there’s nowhere to hide and you can’t procrastinate and you can’t think the film will be better with a car chase because you’re all in one place so this really makes you dive off the each into something. It makes you be more inventive. Have to do a very elaborate choreography and movement into the film.

Why did you decided to shoot in black and white?

Black and white is much more colourful from an emotional point of view. People can project their imaginary sense of realness onto what is a slightly abstracted image. The brain makes sense of it. Something happens in the brain that fills the details. And of course – a lot of my favourite films ever are in black and white and puts this film in that image.

It reminded me a bit like Carnage or Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, what was your inspiration?

There were a lot of inspirations but not least the screwball comedies or Some Like It Hot it is a complete different thing but black and white and fast, fast dialogue or Katherine Hepburn or Spencer Tracey. There’s a whole thread – Even the Ealing comedies. Comedy needs to move fast and be sharp and be harsh and then people will really laugh. Tragedy is always ridiculous. Our own suffering is kind of ridiculous.

Cherry Jones:

What drew you to the role?

Honestly, I’m feeling a little sheepish answering this because being American, the script and some of the humour in the script passed right over me. Honestly it was Sally Potter and this cast and it was London that made me want to do it. I had the opportunity to be here a month.

 

BFI London Film Festival: Interview with Angela Robinson

Here is some more from the fantastic BFI London Film Festival this year. I got the chance to meet and speak Angela Robinson who helmed the fantastic Professor Marston and the Wonder Women.

Angela spoke about how the film took four years to complete, her views on Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman movie, and whether her film sits in the DCEU or not.

The film tells the story of the creator of the iconic DC Comics character and how his relationship with his wife and his lover brought to life the sex icon we know and love today.

Could you tell me a bit about the story of Professor Marston and the Wonder Women?

It is about the man who created Wonder Woman who lead and extraordinary life and the two women in his life who inspired him to create the character of Wonder Woman. It’s an incredible story. There’s this love story at the heart of who Wonder Woman is and who she would become. Doctor Marston was a psychologist who worked with his wife Elizabeth Marston and together they were investigating and inventing the lie detector test. Then they met one of their students, Olive Burn, and the three of them formed a relationship and they all fell in love together and they lived together for many years and had kids together and through it all they ended up inspiring the Wonder Woman character so I was kind of blown away by the whole story. It was such a contemporary story. I was like these people are so ahead of their time and they are still ahead of their time even now.

The character of Wonder Woman is quite influential being a strong woman back in 1941, did that inspire you to make the movie?

100% she has these amazing routes and she is the only superhero who is created to stop war. Like a lot of superheroes are created for vengeance or to police things or to do other things. But she was really created by psychologists. Marston had all these documents with ideas about human behaviour and feminism and sexuality and he put them all into the Wonder Woman comic books and really wanted to save the world with his ideas and he had this notion that boys and men were inherently violent and anarchist and women are inherently loving and caring and the path to peace on the planet is if women ruled the world but he didn’t think that men would give up their power voluntarily so he wanted to figure out a way to make it exciting and pleasurable for men to love and respect their powerful women and he created Wonder Woman to this purpose to help bring peace to the planet.

In the film Marston uses a pseudonym while publishing the comics but it was his wife’s idea. Why didn’t she pen the stories?

He wanted to create a superhero and Elizabeth said well why don’t you make her a woman? I actually don’t know why she didn’t take it on. I think what part of the movie explores is a lot about their relationship but also their roles that men and women play and Elizabeth was also a psychologist and was one of three women who graduated in 1918 and she was a very accomplished woman but it was an uneven playing field so Dr Marston was allowed to do a lot more things with his career than ultimately Elizabeth was able to do or Olive Burn so the movie explores the injustice of that.

The film explores the S&M/bondage themes behind the iconic character, did you know about his desires before setting out making the film?

I’ve always been a Wonder Woman fan and after I directed my first feature a friend of mine gave me a book on the history of Wonder Woman and there was a chapter in there which talked about the Marston’s and the creation of the lie detector test and that Marston had put all this bondage imagery into the early Wonder Woman comic books and at the time a lot of fans and family groups and watchdog groups really objected so part of the movie talks about the backlash of the Wonder Woman comic and comic books were this huge phenomenon they were like apps or something. They weren’t here and then they were and they had a lot of violence and racism in there and parents objected but it is a little known chapter of American history. I think it was actually a little more metaphorical. Ultimately he had theories on mental behaviour and he had a theory called DISC Theory and it was about you being in your happiest state when you submit to something. But it could be in any context it could be a general to a solider or a husband and wife. He said people are miserable when they have to comply when they have to do something they don’t have to do. So he used this bondage imagery as a metaphor for his theories but one of the things the film talks about is was it just his kinks or was he trying to insert his psychological theories so the film wrestles with that question.

You’ve got a great cast in the film including Luke Evans, how was it working with them?

They are amazing. They were so incredible and such a delight to work with and we didn’t have a lot of time to shoot the movie. We had about 25 days to shoot the whole thing which is not a lot. They came together and a lot of people had incredible chemistry in the movie. It’s really really wonderful to watch. The process was like me watching them fall in love with each other but they never met before doing the film. They had one table read and then they just kind of dived in but they were incredible to work with.

The film comes out at the perfect time following in the steps of the Patty Jenkins’ successful movie, was that your intention when you set out?

I’ve been working on this movie for about eight years so it took about four years to write during nights and weekends between jobs and another four years to be made so it’s kind of just a coincidental convergence that it’s coming out exactly on the heels of this huge phenomenon of the success of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman movie. But back last October when we were shooting it I didn’t even know if we would have distribution. I didn’t even know if anyone would see the film. So that part is a happy coincidence.

Why did it take you four years to write the script?

It took a lot of time to absorb all the information all of Marston’s theories and a lot of it had to do with figuring out the history of psychology and figuring out how the evolution of the lie detector test and how it worked in the times they are and the publishing world in the 1940s. And a lot of it was trying to figure out the context the characters were living in.

What did you think of the Wonder Woman film?

I loved it. I loved it so much. Patty Jenkins just did an incredible job. It was this really emotional thing watching it and I thought it was just me but I’ve talked to a lot of other people and they were like ‘I cried all the way through Wonder Woman’ and it was just extraordinary.

Is your film in the DCEU now?

I would definitely love to helm a big Hollywood Wonder Woman film. I think it’s a really interesting compliment to the whole DC universe and I actually just showed the film to Zack Snyder and Debbie Snyder who loved it and they had an incredible response to the film and Debbie was really moved by it and they are both supporting it. I was really really excited. We also showed the film toe Gloria Steinem who gave us a quote and that kind of blew me away because she is one of my heroes.

Interviews: Michael Ball and Alfie Boe

I could hardly contain my excitement when I got the chance to speak to Michael Ball and Alfie Boe after they broke a world record by visiting five stores across the UK on the release of their new album Together Again.

Now, just this summer I managed to see the two musical theatre stars at the Open Air Theatre in Scarborough and was one of the wettest concerts I have ever been too (review here) and I obviously had to tell them about it.

Here is what they had to say:

Why did you want to break this record?

(M) We wanted to sell as many records humanly possible.

(A) It’s a great day to do it on obviously because it’s the day of release today. The thing about me and Michael is we like to get out to the people and going out to see as many fans as possible and that’s what we did before in the old campaign. We went to see as many of the public as we possibly could. It’s about them, it’s not about us at the end of the day, it’s about them. Delivering a product all for our fans.

(M) When the record company proposed it, they said they have this idea and we were like yeah what are we going to do on the day? Sit around on release. No that sounds like great fun, and he has been.

Where did you start?

(M) We started in Blackpool. We saw the sunrise on Blackpool beach, went over Manchester, Sheffield to Nottingham, and helicopter to London and then to here on motorbikes.

How was the helicopter?

(M) It was awful. What an awful way to travel.

(A) I got to sit in front. It was just amazing seeing how it works, with all the controls and seeing how they communicate with air traffic control. It was pretty amazing.

(M) If you get a chance to do it do. Especially at night. Seeing London at night is amazing.

(A) See London coming to view is amazing.

Was this a Guinness World Record?

(A) No, for a Guinness World Record you have to have someone with you. But there was no room for them on the aircraft but it is an official world record.

Would you want to try and break your own record for the next album?

(A) We would do. On motorbikes. Do it on bikes. I would ride. Don’t feel right riding on the back of a motorbike I prefer to drive.

(M) That’s a really good idea. I will have a side car. I will go in a side car and watch TV. I’m a good passenger.

Will there be a new album?

(A) Of course

(M) I dunno. There will be. Not together of course but there will be. Let’s see how this one does. If no one buys it then there’s no point. This one is better than the last. The orchestration is just something really special. And now we know what we are doing.

(A) If we were going to do another album it would be a Christmas album so we don’t have to tour it. Less time together, which will be good.

Interviews: Jim Broadbent, Simon Farnaby and Julie Walters from Paddington 2

I managed to get to attend the world premiere of Paddington 2 and got to speak to some of the cast behind the amazing sequel including Harry Potter stars Jim Broadbent and Dame Julie Walters!

Here’s what they had to say:

Jim Broadbent plays Mr Gruber in the hit movie franchise:

So, Paddington 2, did you have any reservations about returning?

How could you ever have stopped me returning? Great fun working on the first one and wonderfully successful film. It made me laugh and made it moving. Very easy decision to make and it was wonderful to return.

What is it about Paddington that makes him a national treasure?

He is lovely, he cares, he loves people. He’s not judgemental, he is a genuine warm character and people respond to it. And we all need some more of that in our lives.

How was it working with the CGI bear?

It didn’t seem like that really. You think Paddington is there. We have seen the first film, we know what he is like you can conjure him up in your mind. Usually with filming, you can’t see the person you’re talking to so it’s just more of that with Paddington. We know who he is, it’s easy to work with him.

Return for a third film?

Absolutely. I wouldn’t want anyone else to play Mr Gruber I tell you.

Dame Julie Walters stars as housekeeper Mrs Bird:

Any reservations about returning?

No reservations returning. Because it was a massive success people loved it, the critics loved it and the public loved it. So we wouldn’t want to be involved so definitely it was fab.

What is it about Paddington that everyone loves?

It’s his innocence and seeing the world through his eyes, the fact of the inclusiveness of it, kindness and goodness that comes out of it. We adore Paddington. We do. We all wish there was more of him in the world.

What is your dream role?

It’s about the project, there isn’t anything where I think I must play it. It’s about who is doing it and the project itself.

How’s Mamma Mia 2?

I’m still doing Mamma Mia 2, just about to finish that. Which has been fantastic fun. I love the singing and the dancing. It’s getting easier now. Pierce looks fabulous. Everybody looks fabulous.

Are you getting inspiration from Strictly?

Yeah I love it. They are all really good. Debbie McGee is fantastic. I don’t know.

When not working what do you watch on TV?

Soaps… Coronation Street. I love them all maybe not Hollyoaks, that’s a young persons show but yes it’s very good acting. But I was brought up on Corrie.

Simon Farnaby, co-writer:

So, Paddington 2, why did you want to co-write the sequel?

Paul King asked me basically. I wrote a bit of the first film and I think Paul Heyman and David had something to do it, and asked me to co-write. I think he didn’t want to be too lonely he wanted someone to share the agony with. It was a lot of fun but hard work as well.

What makes Paddington a national treasure?

I think he used to make me laugh a lot. I think it’s because he makes mistakes we all thinking and he makes us feel less bad about our own mistakes. He goes in and he is clumsy and makes mistakes for all of us on our behalf.

Fantastic cast, did you have Hugh Grant in mind when you wrote the film?

We did. He genuinely was. His name was on the script. We said it would be very funny if we got a very famous actor like Hugh Grant and if he had the sense of humour to play that character then it would be brilliant and thankfully he did. He was better than we expected.

Easy to get these celebrities to star in the movie? In the first one you had Nicole Kidman now Hugh Grant.

Yes it is, you can only ask and thankfully Hugh has children now, maybe if we asked him 20 years ago he would have said get lost but I think he’s got some kids and he wanted them to see it. I think that played a part in in. And it’s fun. The first film was quite well respected. There wasn’t too much fear involved.

Justice League: comedic one-liners failed to impress but overall visually good

As soon as the trailers for the highly anticipated were revealed, it was obviously the DC Extended Universe has taken a different direction and gone down a more comedic route.

Director: Zack Snyder/Joss Whedon

Writer: Chris Terrio

Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher

Certificate: 12A

Release date: November 17

Running time: 2hours

Following the success of Wonder Woman – which had the perfect combination of both comedy and action – the franchise seems to be lighter and full of comedy, rather than the stern, seriousness of previous films [Batman v Superman springs to mind].

But does it actually work? It some instances it does. There are time throughout ‘Justice League’ were I found myself chuckling along with the rest of the audience but it was only a slight chuckle.

The film follows Batman (Ben Affleck) who seeks the help of powerful meta humans around the world to join together to fight against a greater enemy and save the world.

Following the departure of Zac Snyder after the tragic suicide of his daughter Autumn, Avengers helmer Joss Whedon took over.

And it’s clear throughout the film that he definitely added some of his own Whedonians in the movie.

Obviously the credit goes to the comedic-relief of Barry Allen aka The Flash (Ezra Miller). Whether it was through his one liners or facial expressions, he really made the film seem more Marvel than DC.

Besides Miller, the other actors just fell in between the cracks. You have Ben Affleck who tries to bring humour to the Caped Crusader Batman and also it was “smileable” comedy, it didn’t work for his character.

Batman is supposed to be the stern, quiet hero in the corner who doesn’t really interact with others and I found it was a little forced.

Next Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was, of course stunning, and subsequently the main hero the villain Steppenwolf is constantly fighting.

I personally believe, following the success of her own film, both Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon forced her to have a bigger role for two reasons. The sex appeal and the success of the standalone movie.

It’s hard to fault Gadot though. She is a stunning actress and Wonder Woman was and is a fantastic character.

One thing about the film that concerned me was the scene underwater between Jason Momoa aka Aquaman and Amber Heard.

Without giving too much away, it made me very cautious about the standalone movie based around the Atlantians – plus he looks nothing like his comic book counterpart and it seems he was also cast primarily for the sex appeal.

Ray Fisher’s portrayal of Cyborg was quite interesting. He brought to life the struggle between man and machine, but half the time he sounded like a moody teenager.

Although it may seem like I am slating the film, I will happily admit it was quite enjoyable – albeit there were times it felt like a lot of talking but that’s what happens in all superhero movies.

I thoroughly enjoyed the backstory about the war between the CGI villain Steppenwolf and the Atlantians, Amazonians and humans.

What I particularly liked about it was it referenced other characters that haven’t been introduced yet, including the Green Lantern – who already has a film in the pipeline.

Any fan of the DC Extended Universe should definitely go see the film and from the applause at the cinema, it seemed everyone enjoyed it.

I just cannot stop thinking that the whole franchise has been rushed to keep up the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it is such a shame.

Nevertheless, I highly doubt this film will end the DCEU and there has already been a list released showing the upcoming films.

Although Affleck has admitted he is trying to find a “cool way” to leave the franchise, it leaves doors open as to who could possibly replace him.

Justice League did try and I will say I enjoyed it but maybe now Whedon is on board, the DCEU may have some hope at last.

BFI London Film Festival: Interview with Guillermo del Toro on new film Shape of Water

So the London Film Festival has been finished for two weeks now! Finally getting round to posting various interviews from across the two weeks!

During the festival, I managed to speak to one of my favourite filmmakers of all time, the amazing Guillermo del Toro about his latest sci-fi/romance Shape of Water.

I also spoke to Alexandre Desplat – the awardwinning composer – as well as actor Richard Jenkins and producer J Miles Dale.

Here is what they had to say:

del Toro:

What was your inspiration for the movie?

For me as a kid at aged 6 I watched ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ and I always hoped they would get together but that was impossible. So it has taken 57 years to remedy that.

Fantastic story why did you decide to make Sally Hawkins mute?

Sally is beautiful, magical, and powerful all in her own style. The two lead characters don’t speak because love is not about words but about emotion and identifying an essence with the other and I thought it would be more powerful if they don’t tell each other I love you and how was your day? But instead it was a real connection. The only way to talk about love would be through singing and there’s a beautiful sequence in the movie which is a musical number where she gets to sing and all these things are related and I think that everything has been planned. Took 3 years to write the screenplay. It was a very difficult movie to deliver.

What message do you hope the film will send to people?

It is a film about acceptance and tolerance. We have shown the film to many audiences and it has been received with uniformed goodwill and it seems to be an antidote for all the crazy hate and fear we see in the world these days.

Richard Jenkins:

What drew you to this movie?

The script was good that’s what drew me too it, I loved it immediately, I knew what we were shooting but didn’t know until I saw it then I was like ‘what? Really? It’s that good.

And working with del Toro how was that?

It was pretty great. He is like nobody else, he has his own way of working and understanding cinema in the way that not many people do. He knows what he has a vision of the movie. Fit in with that world.

You play a homosexual character in the film and it isn’t your first time play one, how was it revisiting it?

I played a gay man in Flirting With Disaster. It was interesting you know, just look at it like a man who is gay, it’s who he was and is but in 1962 it was not legal to be gay. He had to live a secret life. He is a very lonely man.

The film is about diversity and acceptance, do you think the themes are still relevant to today?

Absolutely it’s why he made the movie.

Alexandre Desplat:

Where did you get inspiration for the score for The Shape of Water?

From the film, from what is on screen. It’s all there just have to watch it and try to find a way through. Directing music for a film is just like trying to capture the essence and soul of the film and out it into music. It’s not all about music. The camera never stops moving.

How was it working with Guillermo del Toro?

He approached me many years ago and he showed it to me and we started. It’s very special. Not many films that I knew have that balance between love and emotion and empathy, so much beauty. It’s incredible.

Does the genre of a movie influence the scores?

Try not to go too much into the genre because it’s been done before you. But of course when the villain does something or bit more action. Did try to be more imaginative. Tried to keep the sound of the instruments out of monster music. Tried to get very organic. If you listen very carefully it sounds like you’re listening to music like you’re underwater.

J Miles Dale:

Why did you want to get involved in this movie?

Anything del Toro does you should always want to be involved. He’s got an incredibly unique voice and vision, that much further along in his filmmaking and humour. He told me this story and I’m in. It’s even better than the way he pitched it. It’s a very unique film, very challenging and for those of us who like a challenge it was a great experience.

How was it working with del Toro again?

This is our third project working together, I produced ‘Mama’ with him, so we knew each other pretty well. I knew how his process works and how he is so you just don’t want to let him down you just want to give what he asks for and top it with a little extra on top. He is very articulate with what he wants. Just want to keep up.

Sci-fi romance never been done before, sceptical at first?

I thought it was original. No doubts whatever he wants to do will work whether it’s the ‘Phonebook’ or this movie, so I was just interested to hear more and develop it. ¾ years in the process. It was a pleasure all the way.

How was it working with Sally Hawkins and the rest of the cast?

Incredible cast from top to bottom, got an all-star team who brought each other coming up. It was a pleasure to see them working every day. To see Richard Jenkins to give you everything different each day and Michael Shannon playing the villain or Sally doing every little thing with her eyes because she can’t speak. It was an absolute privilege.

BFI London Film Festival interviews: Armie Hammer, Luca Gaudagnino and Timothee Chalamet

I managed to speak with director Luca Gaudagnino and the two leading stars of his latest movie Call Me By Your Name, Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet, during the 61st London Film Festival.

The film – which is based on a book of the same name – follows 17-year-old Elio Perlman (Chalamet) who is spending the days with his family at their villa in Italy.

Here he meets Oliver (Hammer) – a doctoral student who is working as an intern for his father.

During their summer together, the two discover their desires awaken which will change their lives forever.

Here is what the cast and director had to say about the movie.

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Luca Gaudagnino

What was it about Call Me By Your Name which made you want to turn the book into a film?

The movie wanted to be move before I was a director. It’s about the possibility to make this movie. It’s a beautiful story about two people who fall in love with each other.

How was it working with Armie Hammer and the rest of the cast?

It was beautiful. They were soft and caring and loving.

You’re remaking the classic ‘Suspiria’, Tilda Swinton referred to it as not a remake but a cover?

I like what Tilda said referring to Suspiria. It’s not a remake, it’s not a cover, it’s something very personal. It is more like a homage to the kid I was when I was first saw it. It’s a homage to myself.

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Armie Hammer

Originally you want to turn down this role, looking back are you glad you didn’t?

Yes my hindsight is really 20/20. It was definitely the right move. This film is just a love story. It’s about two people who just open themselves up to each other.

Your relationship with Tim was amazing on scene, how was it working with him?

Tim, we hated each other. No we got along really well. That was maybe part of the genius but we really got on and made each other feel really comfortable around each other.

You have starred in a number of LGBT movies, would you say you are the leading man to play these roles?

No one has ever said that. I wouldn’t be offended. Someone has got to do them.

Timothee Chalamet

You’ve starred in a number of Hollywood movies, and this is completely different what was that like for you?

It was fantastic. We were shooting for 2.5 months in Italy. Who would say no to that?

And your onscreen relationship with Armie Hammer was brilliant, how was it working with him?

It was great, I grew up with ‘The Social Network’ and was great working with him and having the opportunity to star alongside him. I wanted to star in the movie when I was 17 and it happened when I was 20. I was salivating at the opportunity to work with Luca as well.

This is a love story, is that why you wanted to be part of it?

The book is similar to ‘Perks of Being A Wallflower’ and blends a lot of emotion and themes but it was more sexually graphic. But it is very formulaic and I am just very thankful to be part of the movie.

You’ve starred in some great films alongside some great directors, what draws you to a project?

I am so grateful for all the opportunities I have done and will do. It is the director who draws me to the project. It could be challenging or unlikable but if it’s a certain director, I will do the film.