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Screenwriter Steven Knight: Government surveillance and the world of 'Closed Circuit'

Screenwriter Steven Knight’s (Eastern Promises, Dirty Pretty Things) new film Closed Circuit explores the issue of government surveillance. The film seems ripped from today’s headlines and below Knight delves into the way he approached the story and how his personal stance on surveillance tactics is examined in the film. Closed Circuit, starring Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, and Julia Stiles is currently playing in theaters. Check out a gallery of exclusive stills from the new film above. 

I never set out to write a script that is ‘topical’. I write about what worries me and, hopefully, things worry me a little bit earlier than they do some other people, purely because I am a writer and it is my job to go out there and be worried by things.

I live in London and it’s a city with a lot of worries on its mind.

Dirty Pretty Things came about because I used to spend a lot of time in unlicensed mini cabs (more available than the licensed ones back then) and I spoke with a lot of drivers from all over the world (mostly Africa) who were doctors or lawyers etc and who were forced to make their living driving cabs. This was a time when London needed doctors… didn’t so much need cab drivers.

The stories the drivers told gave me an insight into a city that existed in parallel to the one I knew. It was precarious, dangerous, lawless. It worried me that I knew so little so I began to research. It was around this time that the whole issue of illegal migration became a hot topic and I suppose the movie rode a wave. (Eastern Promises came from the same period of research, since organised crime and desperate displaced people always have a habit of finding each other).

Closed Circuit came about as a result of a different worry.
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'Closed Circuit' trailer promises spies, intrigue, and Eric Bana

Closed-Circuit.jpg

For fans waiting on the return of Homeland or The Americans, the new trailer for the film Closed Circuit is sure to prove intriguing. The movie, directed by John Crowley (Intermission), stars Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall as attorneys and ex-loves who must defend a man accused of a bombing. But, as tends to happen, they soon discover nothing is as it seems and their client may be a terrorist. Or maybe he’s working for the U.K. government to help catch other terrorists? Fans will be able to get the full story when the movie, which also stars Julia Stiles and Jim Broadbent, opens August 28.

Check out the trailer below: READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Anne Hathaway may re-team with Christopher Nolan; Plus, Jim Carrey, 'Kung Fu Panda 3,' more

• Anne Hathaway has her Academy Award. The Hathahaters have moved on. She’s already lined up a Lynn Shelton indie. What’s her next move? A Christopher Nolan blockbuster “interstellar voyage to the furthest reaches of our scientific understanding” of course! The Les Miserables actress is in final talks to reunite with her Dark Knight Rises director for his highly anticipated and annoyingly secretive film Interstellar, based on the theories of theoretical physicist (and time travel enthusiast) Kip Thorne. Matthew McConaughey has signed on to play the male lead in the film, which has already set a November 7, 2014 release date. Despite Hathaway’s diverse resume of musicals, rom-coms, rom-drams, teen flicks, and comics, she hasn’t tackled the sci-fi world yet, making the possibility even more exciting. [Deadline]

Jim Carrey has decided to join the comedy Ricky Stanicky, after a reported year of negotiations. The title refers to the name of an invented scapegoat for a group of troublemaking friends. What started out as a teenage joke continues into adulthood, though, until their significant others insist on meeting him. Instead of coming clean, they hire someone to be Stanicky. Carrey’s Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls director Steve Oedekerk will helm the Summit Entertainment feature. According to the report, James Franco was originally attached to star, and Joaquin Phoenix was in consideration as well. [THR]

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Casting Net: Sean Penn eyeing thriller 'Prone Gunman.' Plus: John Hawkes, George Clooney, Ty Burrell

• Sean Penn is in talks to star in the action thriller Prone Gunman, based on the novel by the late French author Jean-Patrick Manchette about an international assassin who runs afoul of the organization that hires him after he says he wants out of the business. (Silly assassin; shadowy global organizations are never keen on quiet retirement.) Peter Travis adapted the screenplay; there is no director yet attached. [THR]

• John Hawkes, lately winning Oscar buzz for The Sessions, has signed on for Low Down, a biopic of jazz pianist Joe Albany. He replaces Mark Ruffalo, who had originally been attached to tell the story of Albany’s relationship with his young daughter Amy through the 1960s and 70s. That same daughter co-wrote the screenplay as an adult, with Topper Lilien (Where the Money IsDungeons & Dragons). Commercial director Jeff Preiss will make his directorial debut with the project. [Variety]

• George Clooney is in talks to star in Disney’s tightly guarded sci-fi project 1952, which Brad Bird is attached to direct. Damon Lindelof co-wrote the film with EW senior writer Jeff Jensen. [Variety]

• Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell will play a love interest for Bill Hader in the indie dramedy The Skeleton Twins, about grown siblings (Hader and Kristen Wiig) who reevaluate their lives after they both have a near-death experience on the same day. Luke Wilson plays Wiig’s husband. Director Craig Johnson (True Adolescents) cowrote the film with Mark Heyman (Black Swan). [Variety]

• Eric Bana is negotiating to star in the paranormal thriller Beware the Night, about a cop who investigates possessions — and not the drug kind. (Cue scary organ music.) Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) will direct from the script he penned with Paul Harris Boardman (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Urban Legends: Final Cut). Jerry Bruckheimer is producing. [TheWrapVariety]

• The cast for the drama You’re Not You — starring Hilary Swank as a woman living with ALS (i.e. Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Emmy Rossum as the self-involved co-ed who is hired to care for her — has filled out its cast. Marcia Gay Harden, Loretta DevineJason Ritter, Ernie Hudson, Frances Fisher, Ali Larter, and Julian McMahon have all joined the cast, which also includes Josh DuhamelGeorge C. Wolfe (Nights in Rodanthe) is directing the script from Shana Feste (Country Strong) and Jordan Roberts (Around the Bend), adapted from the novel by Michelle Wildgen. [THR]

Read more:
Casting Net: James McAvoy in talks for WikiLeaks movie. Plus: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sara Canning
Casting Net: Rachel Weisz in talks for David Cronenberg’s ‘Map to the Stars.’ Plus: Alan Arkin, Wendi McClendon-Covey
Casting Net: Tim Robbins to star in, direct ‘Man Under’ with Michelle Pfeiffer. Plus: Benedict Cumberbatch, Gemma Arterton, Kristen Wiig

'Bachelorette' and the video-on-demand revolution: How digital distribution is changing indie cinema

When Bachelorette arrived at the Sundance Film Festival last January, the film’s producers were quite clear-eyed about its prospects. The dark comedy — about three hard-partying high school friends (Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, and Lizzy Caplan) and their evening of escalating debauchery before the wedding of another friend (Rebel Wilson) — was based on a years-old play by writer-director Leslye Headland. But just as the feature film adaptation was set to go before cameras last summer, Bridesmaids, which shares some pointed similarities, became a massive, zeitgeist-seizing sensation.

“When Bridesmaids hit, I knew, ‘Oh, now [Bachelorette] is going to look like a knock off,’” says producer Adam McKay, who with fellow producers Will Ferrell and Jessica Elbaum helped champion the film through their production company, Gary Sanchez Productions. So McKay turned his sights beyond U.S. theaters, to the European release (“I thought they’d enjoy the darkness of the movie”), home video, and cable. One thought that did not cross his mind? Video on demand. “No, no,” he says. “I wasn’t thinking VOD at all.”

Even after Bachelorette was snapped up by RADiUS, The Weinstein Company’s brand new label focused on alternative distribution, McKay remained skeptical at the plan to release the film on VOD a full month before its theatrical debut Sept. 7. “It just didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me,” he says with a chuckle. So you can imagine McKay’s surprise when, within 48 hours of its digital premiere, Bachelorette hit number one on the iTunes video-on-demand chart — the first time, it seems, that a film has hit that milestone before hitting movie theaters.

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Casting Net: Aaron Paul taking 'A Long Way Down.' Plus: Eric Bana, Christoph Waltz, Richard Dreyfuss

• Eric Bana will go to war with Mark WahlbergTaylor KitschEmile Hirsch, and Ben Foster in Lone Survivor, based on the memoir by real life Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell (played by Wahlberg in the film). The military thriller, adapted and directed by Peter Berg (BattleshipThe Kingdom), follows a mission in Afghanistan that goes very, very bad (hence the book’s title). Bana certainly knows from movies about military operations that go wrong: His first Hollywood film was 2001′s Black Hawk Down. [THR]

• Christoph Waltz has signed up for director Terry Gilliam‘s The Zero Theorem, which sounds like a quintessentially Terry Gilliam-y film: An oddball, reclusive computer genius named Qohen Leth seeks to discover the meaning of life while contending with a monolithic totalitarian government. [Deadline]

• Richard Dreyfuss has signed onto Cas & Dylan, actor Jason Priestley‘s directorial debut, about a man with a terminal illness who finds himself on the run with a younger woman (Tatiana Maslany, The Vow). Jessie Gabe(Being Erica) penned the script. [THR]

Read more:
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: Reese Witherspoon will be ‘The Beard.’ Plus: Julianne Hough, Jonathan Rhys Meyers

'Deadfall' trailer: Olivia Wilde and Eric Bana are siblings on the run

Besides a supporting role in last year’s Hanna, Eric Bana has been mostly absent from screens ever since the Great Bana Harvest of 2009, when Hollywood produced a bumper crop of Villain Bana (Star Trek), Ingrate Bana (Funny People), and Time-Hopping Romantic Bana (The Time Traveler’s Wife.) The upcoming thriller Deadfall looks to correct that Bana shortage. The Munich star and one-time Hulk plays one half of a sibling crime duo — alongside sister Olivia Wilde, Bana robs an Indian reservation casino, only to get trapped in a nasty winter storm right along the U.S./Canadian border. Wilde ingratiates herself with genial local boy Charlie Hunnam, whose parents are Kris Kristofferson and Sissy Spacek. Inevitably, Bana shows up with a shotgun, and things go very A Simple Plan. Watch the trailer: READ FULL STORY

Tribeca Film Festival: Eric Bana goes dark for 'Deadfall'

Sunday night, despite some pretty dismal rain in New York City, the stars of the new film, Deadfallbraved the elements to pose prettily on the red carpet.

But a few hours earlier Deadfall lead Eric Bana spoke to EW from the much drier (and more casual) quarters of the Chelsea Hotel about the new film, directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters) and co-starring Olivia Wilde, Charlie Hunnam, Kate Mara, Sissy Spacek, and Kris Kristofferson.

Bana plays a smooth-talking thief who, along with his sister (Wilde), is involved in a casino robbery gone wrong which forces them to flee into the snowy terrain near the Canadian boarder in whiteout conditions. They split up to better to reach Canada without detection, and through a series of twists and (violent) turns are destined to cross paths with a boxer just out of prison (Humnam) and his parents (Spacek and Kristofferson). READ FULL STORY

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