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Tag: Biopics (11-20 of 82)

The nasty curveball of '42': Alan Tudyk puts an unexpected face on racism


Fans of Suburgatory and Firefly know actor Alan Tudyk as the actor with an open face and daft smile while the audiences that saw I, Robot remember the humanity he invested in a character of man-made machinery. This weekend, however, the audiences that sat down in the dark for the Jackie Robinson biopic 42 saw a startling new aspect of the 42-year-old actor’s craft. Playing Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman, who more than any other character in the film embodies the angry face and venomous voice of mid-century racism in America, Tudyk taunts Robinson (newcomer Chadwick Boseman) with a relentless geyser of vile and humiliating epithets.

“The way Brian saw this role and the reason he wanted me in the role [was] he didn’t want a straight-up villain,” says Tudyk, who has been good friends with writer/director Brian Helgeland since working together on the medieval adventure A Knights Tale. “He didn’t want the kind of the guy that everybody sees come on screen and the minute they see him they say, ‘Oh, I hate this guy.’ He wanted somebody that might be funny. If you read up on it and go back, the people who knew Ben Chapman really liked him, they thought he was a good guy. He wasn’t viewed as a villain. When he comes up out of the dugout and yells all these insults, there’s a lot of it that he’s doing to entertain his players and it has this schoolyard quality to it: ‘You doing a little dance for us, ‘Jangles? You can do it, can’t you? You can dance, you got rhythm.'” READ FULL STORY

Hollywood is now working on TWO Lance Armstrong movies. Which will grab the yellow jersey?

Lance Armstrong’s story has everything. Victory. Redemption. A Triumph of the Human Spirit. All-American Ambition Shading into Moral Decay. The Enticing Possibility That Matthew McConaughey Could Play Himself.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that two different studios are trying to translate Armstrong’s story to the big screen. In January, reports indicated that J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot was producing an Armstrong movie for Paramount. (Rumors abounded that Bradley Cooper was in the running for the lead role — rumors which Cooper denied.) Now, Deadline reports that Warner Bros. has acquired an untitled Armstrong project with a script by Scott Z. Burns, who seems well-suited to the material: He wrote The Informant!, a movie about a delusional man fooling investigators, and Side Effects, a movie about how drug use might be bad for you. The film would be directed by Jay Roach. (A source close to the production confirmed the Deadline report to EW.) READ FULL STORY

'jOBS' filmmakers respond to Steve Wozniak's complaints that first clip was inaccurate -- EXCLUSIVE

Well, that didn’t take long: Just a few hours after EW posted the first clip from jOBS — a Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher as the tech visionary and Josh Gad as his partner Steve Wozniak — Wozniak himself took to Gizmodo’s comment boards to deride the film as inaccurate. “Not close,” he wrote. “We never had such interaction and roles…I’m not even sure what it’s getting at…personalities are very wrong although mine is closer.”

Later, Wozniak would expand on his comment in two emails to Gizmodo, calling the scene “totally wrong.” He objected to the film’s styling — “I never looked like a professional” — as well as the way the clip seemed to credit Jobs with ideas Wozniak claims as his own: “The ideas of computers affecting society did not come from Jobs. They inspired me.” He concluded by poking fun at the Apple guru’s mercenary nature — “By the way, the Apple I was the 5th time I designed something just for fun that Steve found a way to turn into money.”

When asked for comment, jOBS publicist Amanda Lundberg responded with the following statement:


Casting Net: James Franco to direct and star in biopic 'Beautiful People.' Plus: Liam Neeson lands action pic, Paul Dano to play Beach Boys' Brian Wilson

James Franco is taking a break from his life of leisure and and media underexposure to star in and direct Beautiful People, a biopic about Jay Sebring, who built a hairstyling empire in the 1960s. He was also something of a famous international gadabout, including a romance with actress Sharon Tate, which eventually became platonic. Sebring was killed along with Tate in the infamous Manson Family murders, though it’s not clear if the screenplay by first-timer Lauren Wild includes that sad chapter of Sebring’s life. [Deadline]

• Liam Neeson, action star extraordinaire, is set to star in Run All Night, about a mob hitman who finds himself having to protect his estranged family from his old boss. Things likely won’t end well for the old boss. Director Jaume Collet-Sera, who helmed Neeson’s Unknown and the upcoming Non-Stop, is in talks to take the reins of this project as well. Brad Ingelsby, who penned the upcoming Christian Bale thriller Out of the Fire, wrote the script. [Deadline]

• Paul Dano will star in Love & Mercy, playing the younger version of Brian Wilson in a impressionistic biopic that spans the majority of the troubled Beach Boys star’s life. (No actor has been cast yet to play the older Wilson.) Film producer Bil Pohlad (The Tree of LifeInto the Wild) will direct the film, from a script by Oren Moverman (RampartThe Messenger). [THR]

Read more:
Casting Net: Al Pacino and Brian De Palma to tell Penn State coach Joe Paterno’s story. Plus: Patrick Stewart, Carla Gugino, Dylan McDermott
Casting Net: Bradley Cooper attached to WWI thriller ‘Dark Invasion.’ Plus: Anne Hathaway, Jerry Lewis, Billy Campbell
Casting Net: Louis C.K. aiming to team up with director David O. Russell

'The Conjuring': First look at 'Insidious' director James Wan's new horror movie -- EXCLUSIVE

You could construct a pants mountain from the items of clothing director James Wan scared off cinema audiences with 2004’s franchise-spawning Saw and last year’s smash hit, Insidious. And Wan is hoping to further burnish that track record of terror next summer when his new film, The Conjuring, hits cinemas on July 19.


Aaron Sorkin's Steve Jobs script will be just three scenes, in real time

From the products he brought to the market to his famously abrasive management style, Steve Jobs was a singular figure in American life — heck, in global life. So it follows that any feature film about him should also stand out from the crowd.

That’s certainly the belief of A-list screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who was tapped earlier this year by Sony Pictures to adapt Walter Isaacson’s eponymous biography of the Apple Computer cofounder. During a Q&A session at The Daily Beast’s Hero Summit, Sorkin revealed on Thursday his unusual plan for bringing Jobs’ story to the big screen. Rather than take an audience through Jobs’ life with a standard series of well constructed scenes, Sorkin’s script will feature just three scenes, each roughly 30 minutes long, that unfold in real time. READ FULL STORY

Check out the trailer for animated Graham Chapman biopic 'A Liar's Autobiography' -- VIDEO

We haven’t heard much from Monty Python comedy team member Graham Chapman recently. Although, as directors Bill Jones and Ben Timlett point out in the production notes for their new animated Chapman biopic A Liar’s Autobiography, that’s mostly because the troubled funnyman has been dead since 1989.

Before his demise, however, Chapman recorded an audio version of his memoirs — also called A Liar’s Autobiography — and will thus be heard in the film alongside the freshly recorded voices of his fellow Pythons Terry Jones, John Cleese, Michael Palin, and Terry Gilliam.


Larger-than-life: Nina Simone film writer-director, others, on beauty, challenge of musician biopics


Even just watching YouTube videos of jazz-soul singer Nina Simone – playing her political hit Four Women in 1969, big heavy-metal hoop earrings dangling, or pounding out civil rights anthem Mississippi Goddam on the piano, in no makeup and a sparkling sleeveless gown, in 1988 – you feel the intensity of her eyes, the way her deep voice slinks up and down, always rooted.

How do you recreate or reinterpret that, the breath of a musician’s life, their art, as a biopic, on film?

“It’s a beautiful genre, if you do it right, and capture the essence of that person,” said Cynthia Mort, writer and director of an untitled biopic of Simone. The movie will star Avatar’s Zoe Saldana as the late, great singer and is set to start filming in mid October off the Los Angeles and Santa Barbara coasts to represent the south of France, where North Carolina native Simone settled in the early 1990s and passed away at age 70 in 2003.

Mort, who co-wrote 2007 revenge thriller The Brave One, starring Jodie Foster, was already a longtime Simone fan. She spent the day with the singer as an assistant on a photo shoot in the mid ‘90s at an apartment Simone kept in Hollywood, then wrote a screenplay about Simone years after. Mary J. Blige was going to star in the movie, but had to drop out due to scheduling, said Mort.

Saldana, with her natural beauty and a musical side, was a great fit.


“I think it’s a big role for anybody. Nina Simone was large, in many ways. She’s iconic and brilliant and talented,” said Mort. “I find Zoe to be incredibly compelling. She has a lot of great qualities.”

The movie will focus on Simone’s later life, in the ‘90s, with flashbacks to her youth and the experience of moments such as the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

According to Mort, more than anything, the movie is a love story, a way to explore Simone’s life. Ray, starring Jamie Foxx in 2004 as Ray Charles, snagging him an Oscar, also explored his marriages and many love affairs, on top of his music. Love humanizes a character, even those as larger than life as musicians such as Simone, Charles, Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix.

British actor David Oyelowo has been touted as Simone’s love interest, cast as Simone’s manager-nurse Clifton Henderson. Simone’s own daughter, Lisa Celeste Stroud, who goes by the performance name Simone, has spoken out publicly, however, saying Henderson was gay and only in a business relationship with her mother.

Despite that, Mort calls Oyelowo’s character a “composite of people,” she said. “Without sounding ridiculous, the love story is between Nina and her journey, like most artists. The male nurse character is used to show some incredible moments in her life.”


With a biopic of wild rocker Joplin moving forward, to star Tony winner Nina Arianda and directed by Martha Marcy May Marlene director Sean Durkin, and All is by My Side, a John Ridley-directed biopic of Hendrix starring rapper-singer Andre Benjamin (aka Andre 3000), having just wrapped filming, there’s been a wealth of musician-centric biopics on the rise.

Movies such as 1980’s Coal Miner’s Daughter, starring Sissy Spacek as country crooner Loretta Lynn, and Clint Eastwood’s 1988 opus Bird, starring a young Forest Whitaker as drugged up jazz saxophone phenom Charlie Parker, show the best of what biopics can be: Creative, soulful explorations of real people.

“When a musical film works, there’s no better form of entertainment,” said Chicago co-producer Neil Meron, who will co-produce next year’s Academy Awards. “Every department has a chance to strut their stuff. It’s like unadulterated joy. It goes deep into you.”

For Mort’s biopic of Simone, there’s the balance of music and image. While the film about Joplin reportedly landed the rights to Joplin’s best known tunes, the Hendrix biopic didn’t, leaving Benjamin to cover songs Hendrix covered, by Muddy Waters, the Beatles and other artists.


“Getting the song rights is complicated,” said Mort. “With an artist like Nina, it’s scattered. We have secured the rights to a number of songs. We’ve also been in contact with Al Schackman, who was Nina’s guitarist. He’s incredibly supportive of the movie.”

There’s also the pressure of representing a musician not just to fans, but also to that artist’s family.

“Any creative decision is difficult. I’ve talked to her,” said Mort of being in touch with Simone’s daughter, who has spoken critically of the film. “It’s complicated. It’s her mother. I’m a mother and a daughter. I feel very strong about it in every way. I feel like we’re honoring her, Nina Simone.”

Then there’s the excitement and challenge of dressing Saldana in Simone’s signature bold style of jewelry and dresses, which Mort called “unreal.” French costume designer Magali Guidasci (Zombieland) has been brought in.

“The costumes are going to be insane and fantastic,” said Mort. “It’s a big part of the music, also because it’s original. What Nina wore is not what anyone else could wear.”

Costume designer Jim Lapidus, who designed glitzy, snazzy creations for Liberace and Elton John, worked on 24, and supervised on the 1989 Jerry Lee Lewis biopic Great Balls of Fire!, noted the need to visually inspire an actor or actress taking on a musical icon.

“When I worked on the Jerry Lee Lewis story, I found a top in a thrift store identical to one his wife actually wore, from the early ‘50s,” he said. “A lot of times people don’t get into the character until they get into the clothes.”

Mort adds that the biopic genre is still ripe for newness. She herself wrote a screenplay about Janis Joplin that didn’t pan out.

“The genre needs some reinvention,” she said. “There are worthy stories, because they are great beings. I’m not saying I’m the one to do it. … For example, I think a Janis Joplin movie should be told. I hope the new movie works. Is it about the rise of this girl who left high school? About a girl who loves rock and roll? A lot of these stories should be told.”

Read more:
OutKast’s Andre 3000 to play lead role in Jimi Hendrix biopic

Casting Net: Robert Pattinson to play Lawrence of Arabia. Plus: Tobey Maguire, Dermot Mulroney, Robin Wright

Robert Pattinson will play T.E. Lawrence — i.e. Lawrence of Arabia — in Queen of the Desert, a biopic of English writer and explorer Gertrude Bell (Naomi Watts), who worked with Lawrence to help establish the nation states of Jordan and Iraq after World War I. Director Werner Herzog also penned the screenplay, so it’s sure to be a lighthearted laugh riot. [Variety]

• Tobey Maguire is attached to produce and star in Z for Zachariah, an adaptation of the Robert C. O’Brien novel about a young woman who, thanks to the unique weather patterns of the small, self-contained valley where she lives, believes she is the sole survivor of a nuclear apocalypse. Maguire will play the scientist who comes upon the woman’s home. Craig Zobel (Compliance) is set to direct from a script by Nissar Modi. [Variety]

Dermot Mulroney is the latest actor to sign on to the star-studded feature film version of Tracy Letts‘ Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County. He’ll play Steve, the too-slick-for-his-own-good fiancé to Juliette Lewis‘ Karen, the youngest daughter of Weston family doyenne Violet (Meryl Streep). Julia RobertsChris CooperAbigail Breslin, and Margo Martindale round out the rest of the highly dysfunctional family. John Wells (The Company Men) is directing from Wells’ screenplay. [Deadline]

• Robin Wright is negotiating to join Philip Seymour Hoffman and Rachel McAdams in A Most Wanted Man, based on the John le Carré spy novel about a Chechnian Muslim who finds himself embroiled in the War on Terror when he sneaks into Germany. Anton Corbijn (The American) is directing; Andrew Bovell (Edge of DarknessLantana) penned the script. [Variety]

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Casting Net: Aaron Paul taking ‘A Long Way Down.’ Plus: Eric Bana, Christoph Waltz, Richard Dreyfuss
Casting Net: Steve Carell will help Will Ferrell ‘Swear to God.’ Plus: Heather Graham’s back for ‘The Hangover Part III’
Casting Net: Shia LaBeouf courting Lars von Trier’s ‘Nymphomaniac.’ Plus: Ryan Reynolds, Malin Akerman, Kim Basinger

Casting Net: Steve Carell will help Will Ferrell 'Swear to God.' Plus: Heather Graham's back for 'The Hangover Part III'

• Heather Graham will reprise the role of Jade, the stripper with a heart of gold, in The Hangover Part III. The character did not appear in the 2011 sequel, but it appears she’s due for a reunion with her one-time husband Stu (Ed Helms). Bradley CooperZach GalifianakisJustin Bartha, Helms, and director Todd Phillips are all returning for the threequel. [Variety]

Saoirse Ronan (Hanna) is attached for the eponymous role in Mary Queen of Scots, about the tumultuous life of the half-sister to Queen Elizabeth I. Appropriately, the screenplay was written by Michael Hirst, who penned Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age — both of which earned star Cate Blanchett an Oscar nod for Best Actress. No director is yet attached. [Deadline]

Read more:
Casting Net: Shia LaBeouf courting Lars von Trier’s ‘Nymphomaniac.’ Plus: Ryan Reynolds, Malin Akerman, Kim Basinger
Casting Net: Reese Witherspoon will be ‘The Beard.’ Plus: Julianne Hough, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Casting Net: Jennifer Lawrence may go to ‘Ends of the Earth.’ Plus: Mickey Rourke, Kevin Costner, and a ‘Catching Fire’ baddie

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