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Casting Net: William Hurt joins ensemble of Jesse Owens biopic 'Race'

• Oscar winner William Hurt has joined the ensemble of Race, the Jesse Owens biopic starring Stephan James (When the Game Stands Tall) as the legendary track and field star. Hurt will play the president of the Amateur Athletic Union Jeremiah Mahoney, who led efforts to boycott the 1936 Olympics in Berlin against Hitler. Emmy winner Stephen Hopkins (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) is directing the production currently filming in Montreal and on location at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. In addition to James, Hurt joins Jeremy Irons as future International Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage, Jason Sudeikis as OSU track coach Larry Snyder and Carice van Houten as German director Leni Riefenstahl. The film was written by Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel (Frankie and Alice) and will be released by Focus Features on April 8, 2016. [The Wrap]

• Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies) may end up being The Choice opposite Benjamin Walker in the adaptation of the 2007 Nicholas Sparks novel. Ross Katz (Adult Beginners) is directing the film about a small-town couple and the ups and downs of their decade-long relationship, which was adapted for the screen by Bryan Sipe. [THR]

• Mud star Jacob Lofland has landed a pivotal role in the sequel Maze Runner: Scorch Trials. Already in pre-production, Wes Ball will once again direct for Fox with returning stars Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario and Thomas Brodie-Sangster and newcomers to the franchise Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) and Rosa Salazar (Parenthood). Lofland will play Aris Jones, a character with a significant connection to the maze and the people who built it. [THR]

• Diane Kruger has been cast in two upcoming indie films. First, The Bridge actress will star in Maryland from French director Alice Winocour (Augustine) about a former soldier suffering from PTSD who is hired by a wealthy Lebanese businessman to protect his family while he’s away. Next, Kruger will reunite with her Frankie director Fabienne Berthaud for Sky, playing a woman reawaken on a solitary journey around the world. The film will mark the first English-language collaboration between the two women. [Deadline]

Nearly 100-year-old 'Sherlock Holmes' film found in France

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Sherlock Holmes has appeared on stage and on screen numerous times played by dozens of actors, and now, thanks to a recent discovery, fans of the world’s greatest detective will be able to view a lost but key piece of his on-screen history.

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The National chime in for new 'Theory of Everything' trailer

With the Best Actor Oscar race heating up, as this week’s New York Film Festival sheds the spotlight on Ben Affleck (Gone Girl), Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), Miles Teller (Whiplash), and Michael Keaton (Birdman), Focus Features debuted a new trailer for The Theory of Everything, perhaps as a gentle reminder that Eddie Redmayne was the talk of the town just a few weeks ago in Toronto.

His performance as British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking is a major career breakthrough for the dashing young actor best known for Les Miserables, and the role of Hawking, the brilliant mathematician whose disease cost him his voice and confined him to a wheelchair, is quintessential Oscar bait. The new trailer focuses on the man versus the crippling disease, with the help of his devoted first wife, Jane (Felicity Jones). Focus also splurged on the music, plugging in The National’s “Heavenfaced” to help inspire. READ FULL STORY

Ethan Hawke reflects on his career at NYFF celebration

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For Ethan Hawke, the past two years have resulted in a series of culminations. Last year, Before Midnight, which closed out his trilogy with Richard Linklater and Julie Delpy, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival; Boyhood, which he made with Linklater over 12 years, premiered there this year. And now he’s celebrating the completion of his documentary, Seymour: An Introduction, as it makes stops at various film festivals. So it makes sense that Hawke was prone to look backwards when feted at the New York Film Festival during its “An Evening With…” event. READ FULL STORY

Matthew McConaughey hasn't gone far enough in new 'Interstellar' trailer

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Though initial Interstellar trailers remained relatively earthbound, the latest clearly shows where Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and company are headed in Christopher Nolan’s latest. And it’s a place with some waves that look like mountains. “Everybody ready to say goodbye to our solar system?” McConaughey says.

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How Disney's legendary animator helped Maleficent steal 'Sleeping Beauty'

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When Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty first arrived in theaters in 1959, reviews were mixed, in part because the conceit of a wicked sorceress putting a beautiful princess to sleep seemed like such a blatant Snow White rip-off. But over time, Sleeping Beauty has carved out its own space, no doubt because of its mesmerizing villain, the elegantly evil Maleficent—a fact brought to cinematic fruition this year with Angelina Jolie’s live-action blockbuster. Maleficent wasn’t a hag, like the in-disguise apple-offering witch in Snow White, nor a prim harpy, like Cinderella’s stepmother. She was undoubtedly grotesque, with devilish horns, yellow eyes, and pale green skin… but also beautiful and alluring, especially with the unsettling patrician voice of Eleanor Audley.

Maleficent was drawn by Marc Davis, one of Disney’s original Nine Old Men, and his style is part of why the character was both frightening and seductive. He had been one of Walt Disney’s go-to animators for pretty girls, working on Cinderella, Alice, Tinker Bell, and even Beauty‘s Princess Aurora, and he instilled what could’ve been just another fire-breathing dragon-lady with enough mystery and subtext to make her the most interesting character in the animated film.

Davis’ achievement is examined in one of the extras on the new Sleeping Beauty Diamond Edition Blu-ray, out Oct. 7. In an exclusive clip from “Art of Evil: Generations Of Disney Villains,” old interviews with Davis, who died in 2000, and new tributes from current animators combine to celebrate the legacy of Maleficent and the man who created her. READ FULL STORY

J.K. Simmons toys with Miles Teller in 'Whiplash' clip

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When director Damien Chazelle was in high school in Princeton, N.J., he played drums in his school’s highly competitive jazz ensemble, which was led by an intense conductor who ruled with an iron fist.

“Drums had always been like a fun hobby for me, and for four years, when I was in that ensemble, it became just a source of constant dread and just terror and anxiety,” the 29-year-old director said last winter at the Sundance Film Festival, where his film Whiplash won top prizes. Practicing constantly, under mental if not physical duress, left scars that were still raw when Chazelle decided to write Whiplash. ”This was the most personal thing I’d ever written, and I put it in a drawer for awhile,” he said. ”I was almost embarrassed to show it because it seemed like exposing a part of myself that I didn’t really want exposed.”

The writer/director admits he still has nightmares—nightmares that audiences can understand after meeting J.K. Simmons’s music teacher in Whiplash. Mr. Holland he is not.

In this exclusive scene from the film, which opens in theaters Oct. 10 after recent screenings at the New York Film Festival, Miles Teller’s eager drum prodigy meets the school’s revered conductor, a man who can make or break his future. In a romantic-comedy, this scene might be termed the meet-cute. But in this tense drama, it immediately sets the unsettling tone for the clash of wills to follow.  READ FULL STORY

Sudeikis, Gad, Dinklage among star-studded 'Angry Birds' voice cast

Sony Pictures Entertainment announced the upcoming Angry Birds film’s cast today, and it includes more than a dozen well-known comic actors and actresses.

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See Ridley Scott's plagues in new 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' trailer

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When one thinks of Moses one typically thinks of… Coldplay, right?* Well, Coldplay is what you’ll get in the new trailer for Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings.

(Okay, yes, you may actually think of Coldplay, given that the band has a song called “Moses” and Chris Martin’s son is named Moses. “Moses” is not the song used in this trailer.)

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'Twilight Saga' returning with five short films on Facebook

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Just when you thought The Twilight Saga was over, it’s back with sparkly new skin.

Two years after the release of Breaking Dawn Part 2, Lions Gate announced on Tuesday that it’s teaming with Facebook to finance five short films that will be based on Twilight characters, according to The New York Times. A group of female panelists will choose from five aspiring female directors to direct the films, titled The Storytellers — New Creative Voices of ‘The Twilight Saga, which will premiere exclusively on the social network next year. READ FULL STORY

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