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What does the latest British invasion say about the state of American acting?

Martin Luther King Jr., is a celebrated American icon. His wife, Coretta, was a beloved American public figure. President Lyndon Johnson was a colorful Texan, and Governor George Wallace was a good ol’ boy son of the South from Alabama.

In director Ava DuVernay’s Best Picture nominee about the 1965 Selma civil-rights march, however, they’re portrayed by David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson, and Tim Roth, respectively, who share at least one thing in common: They’re British.

Selma isn’t an exception—rather, the Brits seem to be everywhere lately. Last year’s Best Picture winner, 12 Years a Slave, about a 19th-century free black man tricked and trafficked into Southern bondage, starred multiple British actors, including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, and German-born, Irish-raised Michael Fassbender. (The biggest American star in the film, Brad Pitt, played a Canadian.)

12 Years was directed by a Brit—Steve McQueen—which could be one possible explanation for his film’s British-heavy cast. But the same can’t be said for several other high-profile recent and upcoming films. The American hero in Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, for example, is played by Jack O’Connell, an Englishman. David Fincher selected English actress Rosamund Pike as his Amazing Amy in Gone Girl. Fifty Shades‘ Christian Grey was initially going to be played by Charlie Hunnam, an Englishman; when he dropped out, he was quickly replaced by Jamie Dornan, an Irishman. “I went to see a movie,” says Richard Hicks, president of the Casting Society of America, “and four casting directors were sitting around talking about, ‘What’s up with all the Brits and Australian actors snagging all the leads?'” READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Octavia Spencer reteams with 'The Help' producer for 'Seacole'

Octavia Spencer is attached to star in Seacole, a period biopic about “a pioneering Jamaican doctress who battled prejudice to play a key role in the Crimean War, rivaling Florence Nightingale.” The film will reteam Spencer with producer of The Help, Brunson Green, and is set to be directed by Charlie Stratton (In Secret).  [The Hollywood Reporter]

Emma Roberts and Dave Franco will star in Nerve, Lionsgate’s adaptation of Jeanne Ryan‘s young adult novel. Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Catfish), will direct and the script was penned by Jessica Sharzer. The book told the story of a high school wallflower who attempts to broaden her horizons by joining a global online game of provocative truth or dare with an audience of “watchers” who vote and comment. “But as she becomes a sensation and advances higher and higher, the game evolves and soon she finds herself in a dangerous situation.” [The Hollywood Reporter]

Frank Grillo (The Purge: Anarchy) will star in Akiva Goldsman‘s horror-thriller, Stephanie. The film was first announced last summer, and its script was written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski. “Abandoned by her parents in their remote home, Stephanie survives on peanut butter and conversations with her toy turtle, while a dark supernatural force looms in the background. When her mother and father return to claim her, the malevolent power spins out of control with Stephanie at the center.” [The Wrap]

James Marsh (Man on a WireTheory of Everything) will direct a film based on the British fated amateur yachtsman Donald Crowhurst. Colin Firth stars in the story of Crowhurst’s attempt to win the first round of the Golden Globe Yacht Race in 1968. “Crowhurst faced a hugely daunting task, entering the Sunday Times Golden Globe Yacht Race, where sailors competed in round-the-world nonstop single-handed sail, despite never having sailed in a trimaran until several weeks before the race.”  [Variety]

 

Female-led 'Ghostbusters' reboot gets summer 2016 release date

Following Tuesday’s casting announcement in the female-led Ghostbusters reboot, the project has been given an official July 22, 2016, release date. READ FULL STORY

'Steve Jobs' (finally) finalizes its cast

The long stalled biopic Steve Jobs has begun principal photography after locking down its cast, Universal announced Tuesday. READ FULL STORY

Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' reboot

Director Paul Feig is teaming up with Bridesmaids stars Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy once again, this time for his upcoming female-led version of Ghostbusters—and Saturday Night Live stand-outs Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon are joining the party too.

The Hollywood Reporter initially reported the news that the four actresses will be starring in the reboot, and Feig followed up with a wordless tweet featuring a photo of Wiig, McCarthy, Jones, and McKinnon.  READ FULL STORY

Watch Tom Hardy in the first trailer for 'Child 44'

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The first official trailer for the upcoming film Child 44 was released today. READ FULL STORY

Sundance 2015: Irish actress Saoirse Ronan goes 'home' with 'Brooklyn'

The period drama Brooklyn, which premiered at Sundance Monday night to a standing ovation, takes place in 1952 and follows a young Irish woman’s coming of age; played by Saoirse Ronan, her heartstrings get pulled in several different directions at the same time. The period drama An Education, meanwhile, which debuted at the 2009 festival to critical hosannas, is set in 1961 and focuses on a bright young British woman (Carey Mulligan) longing to be accepted as an adult through her love affair with a beguiling older man.

The parallels between the two movies are striking. Both An Education, based on a memoir by Lynn Barber, and Brooklyn, based on the bestselling Colm Toíbín novel, were adapted for the screen by British novelist-turned-script whiz Nick Hornby (who received a best adapted screenplay Oscar nomination for his work on the earlier movie), which is perhaps one deciding factor in the films’ overall quality. And both showcase star-making performances by their leading ladies. In 2009, Mulligan was hailed as the belle of the fest for her work in An Education by no less a Sundance eminence than Harvey Weinstein (and the festival’s “It Girl” by EW).

Now, it is Ronan’s turn to blossom in the superheated Park City environs where she is appearing in two films named after places: Brooklyn and the kidnapping-aftermath drama Stockholm, Pennsylvania. In Brooklyn, the 20-year-old Irish actress is luminous as Eilis, a young émigré from the Emerald Isle who transplants to New York’s most populous borough, where she battles homesickness and culture shock but also finds romance with Italian-American plumber Tony (Emory Cohen, who gives a career-defining performance).

It’s all “started from the bottom now we’re here” progress until tragedy strikes back home, and Eilis returns to rural Ireland to discover just about everything that compelled her to leave has improved—in no small part due to the confidence and experience she has gained in the Big Apple. Offered a good job, cornered by family commitments and winning romantic attention from County Wexford’s most eligible bachelor, the character is suddenly conflicted: Will Eilis throw away the new life she’s built in Brooklyn and move back?

The elegant film marks a new career phase for Ronan, who landed an Academy Award nomination for her third film, Atonement, at age 12. After years of solid work in such movies as Hanna (kind of like a Bourne Identity reimagined for a teenage girl), The Lovely Bones, and The Grand Budapest Hotel (which features the actress sporting a birthmark in the shape of Mexico on her face) that indicated a certain seriousness of intent unusual in such a young performer, however, Brooklyn marks her onscreen arrival as an adult—with the sex scene to prove it. Watching Ronan fall in love with Cohen’s Tony is easily the most credible movie romance this jaded Sundance veteran has observed in nine years covering the festival; that’s a testament to director John Crowley’s finesse with his actors, but more to Ronan’s maturation as a performer.

After the screening at Park City’s Eccles Theater Monday, the actress—who was born in New York but moved to Ireland at age 3—was asked from the stage what it was like observing an audience seeing the film for the first time. “I didn’t actually watch this tonight,” Ronan said. “I couldn’t. It would have messed me up too much. I was very attached to it. It was very much about home for me. I listened in from the doorway and it sounded great!

“This is so grand and beautiful and still intimate and romantic,” she continued. “I’ve never had a film that I was involved with where it’s been in my heart for so long. So I hope that youse liked it.” Again, the crowd boomed with applause. They liked it, very much.

Let's take a closer look at the first 'Fantastic Four' teaser

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Considering that it’s scheduled to premiere this summer, there’s still a surprising dearth of information about 20th Century Fox’s upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. Even Tuesday morning’s trailer is rather tightlipped, with no hint of plot or dialogue to be found outside of a grand monologue about humanity’s thirst for knowledge—delivered by The Wire‘s Reg E. Cathey, who plays Dr. Franklin Storm in the film.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn here.

READ FULL STORY

John Legend and Common to perform at the Oscars

John Legend and Common will perform their nominated song “Glory” from Selma on the Oscars telecast. Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron tweeted out the news, as did Legend.

Last week, Legend told EW that an Oscars performance was likely to happen. “We’re thrilled that the song is nominated, and we know that we wrote a song for a movie that is really special and that is really meaningful to people and any opportunity we get to perform will hopefully inspire more people to see the film,” he said. Legend and Common will also perform their song at the Grammys.

Tyrese really, really wants to be the next Green Lantern

Tyrese Gibson, noted R&B singer/action movie star/entertainment polymath, like a lot of people, has an Instagram account. He uses it for a lot of things: goofy memes, inspirational messages, and cute pictures of puppies. But our Instagrams aren’t mere social media accounts; they’re the window to our souls—and deep down, Tyrese wants one thing more than anything else in the whole wide world:

He wants to be the next Green Lantern.

READ FULL STORY

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