Interview: Edgar Wright (“Baby Driver”)

Edgar Wright is back with a fresh take on the action/heist film, like only he can make!

I love that in this day and age of reboots, remakes, reimaginings, sequels, etc., Edgar has come up with something original! “It isn’t easy getting an original film made these days so I have to give credit to MRC and Tri star who financed this movie, because it’s so rare to get an original movie these days – especially in the summer. I think you get a lot around awards times, but I think this summer, there’s only a handful of original movies, so I feel very fortunate that I got to make it. I think you have to work harder to get it off the ground because you have no pre-existing awareness of what it is. It basically does not exist in anybody else’s mind until they see a trailer and you’ve read some reviews.”

In “Baby Driver” the music is just as important as the film itself, so what came first the songs or the scenes?

“The initial spark of the idea was from a song that I used to listen to a lot when I was 21. It’s the first song that’s in the movie, “Bell Bottoms” by The John Spencer Blues Explosion. I would just listen to that song all the time and I would visualise this car chase, and I wasn’t a director at the time but I could just visualise the scene and then I sort of thought, I have to come up with the film that goes with the scene. So then when I actually wrote the script, which I started doing 10 years ago, I wouldn’t write the scene until I had the right song.”

So why is now the right time to have made this film?

“As I said, the original idea goes back 21 years ago, I tried to write it 10 years ago, I finished writing it 6 years ago. I think it was just building up the confidence to do it. I mean, I don’t think it’s a movie I could have made 10 years ago. I feel like I have been building up in confidence to do this.”

Although Edgar wrote the film with songs in mind, he didn’t write parts with certain actors in mind. Well there was one person he always knew he was going to cast.

“The only person that I wrote it for in mind was Jon Hamm, because I knew him. I’ve known him for about nine years, and so I wrote the part of Buddy with Jon in mind. Everybody else, like obviously people like Ansel and Lily and Eisa, are younger, so they weren’t on the scene when I was first writing the thing. And then people like Kevin (Spacey) and Jamie (Foxx), if anything are bigger than I was imagining. They’re sort of, ‘Oh wow, I can’t believe I have these guys to do these parts. It’s amazing’.”

Edgar is of the belief that “the worst crime is to get kind of really complacent.” So does he not like to take the easy way out and just keep making the same reliable films?

“I don’t know. I think in terms of doing sequels and stuff, you know, the films take so long. So say you’ve been working on a zombie film for three years, the last thing I want to do for the next two years is doing another zombie film. So you just want to keep switching it up and doing different sorts of subject matters. That’s not to say that I would never do a sequel. But I think if you have the opportunity to keep doing different stuff, then you should take it.”

So what’s next for Edgar?  “Shadows” is listed as Edgar’s next project on IMDB, is this his next project? “Yeah, don’t believe everything you read on IMDB … It’s something that David Walliams (and I) wrote a draft for but I don’t know if that’s necessarily going to be something that I am working on.”

Whatever he is working on next, I can’t wait to see. In the meantime, we can all sit back and enjoy the thrill and joy that is Baby Driver. It is in cinemas now.

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Interview: Ansel Elgort & Lily James (“Baby Driver”)

Ansel Elgort stars at the “Baby Driver” in the film of the same name, from writer/director Edgar Wright.

I caught up with Ansel and, his co-star/love interest in the film, former Downton Abbey star, Lily James to chat about the film, working with big stars and Ansel finding his groove.

“Baby Driver” is such a fresh, fabulous, fun film so how did Lily and Ansel feel when they found out they were going to be a part of it?

“I was very very excited, because I already knew that Ansel, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey and Jon Hamm, it was pretty much all cast and also, it’s Edgar Wright and I’m a huge fan of his movies, so I was thrilled.” Lily said.

Ansel felt the same as his co-star, “I was pretty thrilled too. It took me a while to get it. I first read it in 2014 and I don’t think I got it until 2015 – about a year later. And I had met with Edgar a lot, and had auditioned with him a lot. And I loved this film from the first time that I had read it. When I first read it, the script had the music in the script too.  So it was an application on an ipad. So instead of reading a paper script, you read it digitally and you could listen to all of the music because the soundtrack was written in initially because the music is such an intricate part of the story telling”.

Edgar Wright has said that he has had the idea for this film twenty years ago, when he heard a Bell Bottoms track. Lily said that Edgar told her that “really the reason it’s taken 20 years is because he has been waiting for Ansel to become a leading man, to play the part.”

Starring in a film written and directed by Edgar Wright and working alongside big names like Kevin Spacy, Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm is no doubt thrilling, but it is also, no doubt, a little nerve wracking. How did Lily and Ansel feel the night before their first day? Were they able to get any sleep?

Lily “felt excited and nervous but I think it’s really comforting to know that you are around these incredible, phenomenal actors because you know that they are going to support you and make you better”

Ansel reckons that he slept well. “Usually I don’t sleep well the night before my first day but I was so excited and I had so much confidence that this movie would be so great. Apparently if it is going well on set, then apparently it’s not going to be good.  Even though this was difficult because it was long hours and an ambitious shoot, it was pretty clear that we were doing something great.”

Like his character, “Baby”, Ansel is very passionate about music. He recently tweeted “Expect at least one single every month for the next year. This time I mean it.” Given how busy he is with his acting, how is he planning to make this happen?

I have so much music. I am making so many songs right now. I am just pumping them out and it feels so good, and it feels like I found my sound, I found my groove. I know who I am.”

He has so far kept to his word, releasing his latest single … on …

It’s a busy few days for Ansel, he has kept to his word, releasing “All I think About is You” on 22nd June, and as of today, as well as listening to his new music, you can also see him (and co-star Lily James) on the big screen, as Baby Driver is in cinemas now.

 

 

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Interview: Brendan Gleeson (“Hampstead”)

Brendan Gleeson stars alongside Diane Keaton, in the romantic comedy, inspired by actual events, “Hampstead”.

I always love sitting down for a chat with Brendan Gleeson. You are always guaranteed an interesting and fun chat.

This time around we spoke about his new film “Hampstead”, how he and Diane made their very different acting styles work, his real thoughts about fame/celebrity and lots more.

Brendan was attracted to this story because it “is full of heart and then I read the trial scene, and I said, ‘This is so bizarre, it must be true.'”

Diane Keaton plays Harry’s love interest, Emily. Both Brendan and Diane have two very different acting styles, so how did they make it work?

“It can be frustrating (the 2 very different styles), but the thing is, the way she works is genuine, and the way I work is genuine and you can always get around that. It’s where you have people playing games and not being entirely, either collaborative or truthful about what they’re doing, that’s when you have an issue.

I mean it is an interesting kind of a mix because I do kind of worry the thing, like a bone, before I go onto it and then that’s it and kind of jump in. Whereas with her, when she’s in there, it can go in any kind of direction. I like to be able to do that to but it’s kind of trying to make sure that it just doesn’t all become a free for all. But like, there’s elements of me that says, ‘Well, what are you being a control freak about, just let it go?’. And there are elements of her kind of saying, Well OK, that kind of works. So you couldn’t help but enjoy her. She’s a wonderful presence. You’re getting off camera, what you’re getting on camera, so there’s no competition with her, no game playing… so I remember at one point deciding to just enjoy it, what else could I do, but enjoy it. What else should you do – you’re crazy! You’re working with Dianne Keaton – enjoy it!”

Brendan got into acting for the art not the fame, so how does he feel about the press and how does he strike that balance in press junkets of giving away some of yourself, enough to keep things interesting, while not giving everything away?

“Generally the press over here, in Ireland, has acted pretty well. There are a few times when people tried to start doing toe-rag stuff, and I don’t think it was particularly popular and so the press has dealt well with us up to now.”

“I don’t want to be famous, to be honest with you it’s a price that you have to pay. That you can’t go into a place and just melt into it. At times it can be lovely, particularly over in South Carolina, where I have been for the past five months. People were very generous about what they’d say, and they would move on. They would give you a little gift and they would move away. Whereas a lot of people actually want to take stuff from you and put you on their day, and fill up their day with your stuff, and that becomes a bit relentless. But it is nice to feel that you are making an impact with the work but I never agreed to giving people my life, and you know, I had the kids before I went into this thing, so they needed to be protected in that way too, in that they didn’t sign up to it.

And from our point of view, we’re very passionate about the work, and it is really about the work, and we are trying to get people to see the work, so we appreciate the fact that people are putting it out there. But I don’t think you have to sign up; you know the notion of celebrity, I think is very dull. Why do you want to know the way I brush my teeth. What’s wrong with you? Who cares? I think there’s this odd notion of celebrity and we try not to buy into it.”

Brendan has a very eclectic acting CV. Just this year he will be seen in,  “Live By Night”, “Hampstead”, David E Kelley’s upcoming, 10 part, TV series, “Mr Mercedes”, and Paddington 2! So how does he decide what he will say yes to?

“I kind of had a rule of thumb that I would do one thing a year that had an artistic side of worth, I didn’t want to be fluff the whole time. At the same time, when I started doing this, it became so clear, I remember the first time I went out onto a big film set. It was down in Temple Bar and it was “Far and Away”… just the enormity of the story telling  – the scale of it, I kind of remember saying to myself, I’m not going to allow myself to get so grim about it. I really am serious about it as an artistic pursuit, for want of a better term, but you’ve got to enjoy it! But it also has to have quality – “you have to treat the audience with respect but at the same time, if you can’t have a laugh, what are you doing in the industry?”

Brendan’s CV boasts over eighty films. Many of us have enjoyed a rake of his films but does Brendan sit and rewatch any of his own films?

“‘The General’ is one every so often that I would take out and look at because it was the first one and ‘Braveheart’ is one that comes on a lot, and I find it very hard not to watch ‘Braveheart’ because it’s such a well made film that if you get caught for 10 – 15 seconds, next thing you know, you are parking your bum on the side of the couch.

But there is a whole lot of work that has just disappeared and some of them would have been very heartfelt and you poured a lot into them. You kind of feel that film lasts, but actually, it doesn’t. There’s so much film now, there’s a lot of stuff that you may as well never have made it.”

So what’s next for Brendan? He has David E. Kelly’s 10 part TV series, ‘Mr Mercedes’. While he found the 5 month shoot challenging at time, he was glad he took the risk.

And is there something that he has yet to do but would love to?

” I don’t really have bucket lists to be honest with you but I haven’t worked with the Coen Bros. I may be doing it though. It’s a tiny little thing (shooting in August) but I don’t care, that was one thing (I always wanted to do) … they’re just so great, so hopefully this will come about.”

I really hope that comes about too. But while we are waiting to see that on the big screen, you can catch Brendan and Diane Keaton, in “Hampstead”, in Irish cinemas, from today.

 

 

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Interview: Jamie Foxx, Eiza Gonzalez & Jon Hamm (“Baby Driver”)

Jamie Foxx, Eiza Gonzalez and Jon Hamm are the “bad guys”, in Edgar Wright’s fabulous fun, original, action/heist/musical film, “Baby Driver.”

Jon Hamm  knew he was onto a winner from the beginning. “I felt like we were making something, from when I first read the script, what I liked about it was that it was original. You know, it’s not a sequel, it’s not a prequel, it’s not a reboot, it’s its own thing. And just to have that as a starting point was really nice. And then you add in the cast, you add in Edgar’s secret sauce that he adds into the stew and I was like, ‘OK, at the very end of the day, we’re going to make something unique.’ You’re ahead of the game there.”

Eiza Gonzalez plays Jon’s girlfriend, “Darling”. She was a massive Mad Men fan, so how did she feel when she was asked to come back for the final audition and she had to read with Mad Men’s “Don Draper”?

“I loved this movie and I really wanted it and I really didn’t want to screw it. Nerves are tricky and they work in mysterious ways when you’re in a room, and obviously Jon, being a fan, that was a thing. But it was a lot of pressure. I just wanted to show that I was capable of doing what I could while earning a place and feeling like I could make Jon feel comfortable.”

We all assume that days of auditions are over for Jamie and Jon. How do they feel about the whole audition process?

Jamie is quite philosophical about it. “You know what, it depends. It’s like you love getting the part and you love, if you have to, work for a part. Like “Django”, I had to go and audition and meet and things like that. Nothing’s promised in this business. It does feel good to be called upon for what you do so that’s something that you work towards in your career – that you can say OK, I’ve worked enough, I’ve shown enough … so that’s what we all work towards but whatever it takes to get things going. I don’t think we’re ever arrogant in that point.”

Jon feels the same way. “I certainly don’t miss auditioning but the same point, I have no problem with, as Jamie said, coming in and working for it, I’ll show you what I can do, let’s go.”

I couldn’t let the guys go without finding out whether or not, like in the film, they have a killer song and if they believe in Hex songs.

Jon doesn’t have either, “I don’t know, it’s too hard for me to narrow it down to one anything, it’s too weird.”

As for Eiza, her go to killer song is anything by The Killers.

Jamie on the other hand is a true believer in Hex songs.  “When I’m playing pool and hear ‘Hotel California’, I always scratch or hit the 8 ball in. In college every time that song came on, I’d wait until it was over while I was playing pool. I was in the student centre and they would say, ‘hey what are you doing?’ and I would say, ‘I’m going to let this go.’ And when it was over I would get back in it. But every time, I would hit the eight ball in. We were playing for lunch and for food back then.”

“Baby Driver” is in Irish cinemas on June 28.

 

 

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Interview: Alex Kurtzman (“The Mummy”)

Alex Kurtzman directs the latest incarnation of the monster movie, “The Mummy”.

How did he feel taking on such an iconic film? “My first thought was excitement and my second thought was fear – just at the task of living up to the heritage of the monsters. I was a lifelong universal monsters fan – obsessed with them as a kid and I wanted to find a way to honour the heritage and tradition of monster movies, and “The Mummy” in particularly, but also bring something new and fresh to the table”.

A movie like this has a massive crew. “The crew was unbelievable. Everyone brought 100% of themselves and your job, as the director is to lead and inspire, and to listen, and to allow people who are much more talented that you are to do their jobs and that was my goal. You hire amazing people and let them do the work.

Is that the same approach with Hollywood Heavyweights Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe?  Did Alex give them direction or just stand back and let them do their thing?

“The honest answer is both. On the one hand we spent a lot of time in rehearsal and you’re talking about two brilliant actors who are really both interested in the same thing – which is getting to the root of the character they’re playing and figuring out how they’re doing it.

In that rehearsal period, what you’re doing is creating a trust that when we’re on set, and I ask them to do something, they feel comfortable enough to make themselves vulnerable and do for the camera what they both do so brilliantly..

But, because it is Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe – they’re unbelievably gifted, and sometimes my job was to go in and make adjustments, and sometimes my job was to sit back and just let them do it and not interrupt.”

It must however, be important to interrupt during the action scenes? “As chaotic as it looks on screen, you’d be amazed at how controlled and rigid every stunt is because you want to keep your actors (and crew) safe.”

However, the nerves are at a high when you only have one shot to get the stunt right. Alex said, “it’s very scary! You rig, and plan, and hope for the right weather, and then you leave it to faith and most of the time it works really well.

“The Mummy” is just the beginning of the Dark Universe stories. The next film is the Bride of Frankenstein, starring Javier Bardem as the Frankenstein’s monster and it will be directed by Bill Condon.

About this universe, Alex thinks “it’s going to continue an enduring tradition of these classic monster movies made by somebody who’s also a lover of those types of films, and understands what the monsters are really about in a profound way.

My hope is that with the Dark Universe, there will be a continuity and through line and continuum between these monsters, but that each director that comes in to direct a movie will be able to put their imprint on the film.

“The Mummy” is in cinemas now

 

 

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Interview: Annabelle Wallis (THE MUMMY)

Annabelle Wallis co-stars alongside Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe and Sofia Boutella in “The Mummy”.

Working with Tom Cruise can be a daunting experience, when does it go from “I’m working with Tom Cruise!” to “this is a normal day at work?” Annabelle felt that “it takes a moment definitely. There’s something so exciting and exhilarating about working with someone that you’ve watched your whole life and has inspired you to do what you do – so it definitely took a few months to get used to working across from him.”

There are big stunts in this film, Annabelle was “really excited about trying my hand at action and who better to do it with than Tom Cruise … it was an amazing experience.”

Annabelle has an impressive CV and has known from a young age that acting is what she wanted to do. However she didn’t want to tell everyone about her dream “It wasn’t so much about the people who were going to employ me, it’s the other people that I watched discourage my friends, or tell kids in my class that without a degree in law or banking or something, that you wouldn’t be able to survive in this world and I thought that was wrong. So, I didn’t want to tell them what I wanted so that they couldn’t have the chance to tell me that I couldn’t. I didn’t need anyone to do that so I just thought, I’m going to keep that quiet and do it for myself because I don’t really care what other people think. I’m going to go forth and do it. I didn’t need any discouraging”.

Things really changed for Annabelle’s career when she was cast in “Peaky Blinders.” “It’s such an honour to be considered for any movie when you’ve just worked so hard to work. The weight that comes now is about the choices you make moving forward and making sure you make smart ones – and ones that honour yourself and women. So, it’s an exciting time not but now is also the time I have to really screw my head on tight and make some good choices to stay around.”

I’m sure Annabelle will be around for a long time but right now you can catch her in Irish cinemas, in “The Mummy”.

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Interview: Jake Johnson & Courtney B Vance (THE MUMMY)

Jake Johnson and Courtney B Vance feature alongside Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Sofia Boutella and Annabelle Wallis in the latest incarnation of “The Mummy”.

I got to sit down with the lads and find out how they feel to be a part of an iconic franchise. Johnson responded, “Our job is a really weird one, where we’re dependant on someone giving us a shot. We sit on the sidelines until someone makes the call and whatever that call is – whether it’s a small indie with the right group, or a movie like this, you get excited and jump in.”

This isn’t just any movie though, it’s one starring one of the biggest movie stars in the world, Tom Cruise, so how long does it take before working with Tom Cruise becomes normal? “I don’t think you ever get used to it” said Vance.

“When you’re going to work, you’re thinking, I’m about to do that scene with Tom Cruise, but when you see him, he’s really present and normal, so very quickly you’d forget he’s Tom Cruise. Until you meet somebody who sees him and then you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, this is Tom Cruise’.

It’s a well known fact that Cruise likes to do his own stunts and expects everyone around him to the same. So how did Jake feel about that? What’s the reality of having to do the stunts? “It’s hard. He’s not faking it. One of the reasons I wanted to do the movie was because I’d heard all of this with Tom. That he does all that and I didn’t know if it was a PR thing … and it’s not, he really does it. He puts his body through a lot because it makes for a better movie.”

“It was a unique experience”, continues Johnson, “in that it was intense. I will say, I would never do any stunts in any movie besides a Tom Cruise movie … because there’s something about doing it with him and there’s a purity as to why he does it … and there’s also, you know you’re going to be OK”.

As well as starring in this film, audiences will know the lads for their television work. Johnson for his portrayal of Nick Miller on “New Girl” and Vance for his spot on depiction of Johnny Cochrane in “The People vs OJ Simpson”.

So what’s it like to play such memorable characters? Vance feels that “everybody knows who you are so it’s both a blessing and a curse.”

Johnson sees it as a blessing. “I feel really honoured – excited that I was part of a show that meant something to people.”

You can see Johnson and Vance in The Mummy, in Irish cinemas, now.

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