Tag: interviews

Keira Knightley: I Really Enjoy Action!

Keira Knightley: I Really Enjoy Action!

How do you deal with your new star status?

Keira Knightley: Well, so far I’ve been working so much that I haven’t realized how much my status had changed. Being on the set of the film is like being away, in a protective bubble, cut from the reality of the outside world. Very early, I learned not to read what’s written about you.

I don’t want to know what’s being written or spoken about me behind my back. I have accepted the status, the new found fame. It’s a little bit scary at times, especially when I have the paparazzi stalking to desperately take a picture of me. I never know the intentions of someone following me are. For the moment, I still don’t have a personal assistant or a publicist and it’s for the best. My mom handles the publicity requests and I love her.

Do you want to keep being the action girl on the screen?

Keira Knightley: Well, I have to admit I really enjoy action! You feel like an 11 year old on a playground. Even so, I have more fun when I do an intimate film on soccer with other girls. I just love to fight, jump and sweat on big action films. So yes, I see myself doing more action films. I’m open to any good stories and genres. In any case, our business is so volatile and unpredictable that for the moment I enjoy my success and don’t worry too much about tomorrow.

Keira Knightley: I Really Enjoy Action!

Does this sense of being grounded come from your education and your parents being in the entertainment business?

Keira Knightley: Sure, when you grow up in a showbiz family you have an early sense of the instability of that life and in a way you understand that it is necessary to put things in perspective and distance yourself from the business. You learn not to become too obsessive about your career because it doesn’t depend only on your focus and talent, but also on the perception that other people have of you.

I remember how my dad went on tour as a stage actor for months and then came back our family and could not get another job, and so he had to do some different type of work just to feed us. I think you need to be aware that in this business some days you’re first in the queue and you get a job and other days you’re last in the queue and you have to wait and be persistent. You are lucky if you’re a woman in your 30’s and still get a jobs. Really, it’s a tough and fragile life to be an actress.

For now you put your money into real estate?

Keira Knightley: Right, I just bought a cute little apartment in London. That’s the plan for now, to have my own place no matter what the future is made of!

What about Pirates of the Caribbean 2?

Keira Knightley: Well, I hope to be part of it, but for now I just finished a film called The Jacket, directed by John Maybury starring Adrien Brody. Also we are preparing to shoot another film called Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen’s novel) and Joe Wright will direct it. I keep busy, busy.

Keira Knightley: I Really Enjoy Action!

Between Bend It Like Beckham and King Arthur, you’ll be a role model for girls and women, but it’s a role model for everybody. Let’s face it. But do you think you’ll keep that in mind when you choose other parts?

Keira Knightley: No, I mean, yes. Bend It Like Beckham and Pirates of the Caribbean definitely have characters who are role models. I mean, they’re positive beings. I wouldn’t say Guinevere is particularly a role model, a part from being strong, and myself as a moviegoer, that’s what I like when I go and see films. I want to see strong women; I want to see pro-active women, who aren’t just the girls in the movies. That’s what interests me. As far as her being a role model, I really wouldn’t [consider]. She’s pretty cold and fights a lot. I really recommend that. As far as my role choices, I think you can only do what interests you. Next I’m playing an alcoholic waitress, so I don’t think she’s a particular role model either. But yeah, certainly strong women, they are very positive images.

Could you just talk a little bit about your film The Jacket?

Keira Knightley: The Jacket that comes out, I think, later this year/early next year. It’s with Adrien Brody, Kris Kristofferson and Jennifer Jason Leigh. It’s directed by John Maybury, who’s a really exciting British director. It’s a thinking man’s thriller. It should be really interesting. It’s very different from this, but it should be good.

How about getting into the character of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice? Were you one of the schoolgirls who went rushing home to see Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy?

Keira Knightley: Yes, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to play Elizabeth Bennet as it was to play Guinevere. Those are two female roles that if they come your way, you just can’t turn them down. With Pride and Prejudice, it’s fantastic to say that it is an adaptation of the book, so if I have any questions, I have the book to run to. It should be good. I haven’t started yet. I start as soon as I get back and it’s very exciting.

Keira Knightley: I Really Enjoy Action!

How dizzying is all this? I mean, not to say that you’re young, but you’re not even 20 years old yet and look at all that has happened to you in a couple of years.

Keira Knightley: Yeah, it is amazing and all through my life, what I love doing is watching movies. I love reading books about movies. I love the escapism of film. I love stories. It is incredible to be in them as much as I am and to see them from the very first stitch in a costume to the end product.

That’s what I find really incredible and that’s what I’ve always wanted to spend my time doing. Luckily for me, at the moment I get to spend most of my time doing that. Acting is very much a profession that is you’re hot one minute and not the next. That is totally cool and for me, I think that’s what I find most fascinating and most exciting about it, it can be gone in a puff of smoke.

Has making movies lived up to your expectations? You’ve done everything from little movies to the big giants.

Keira Knightley: Yeah and I love it. I really do. I’m just fascinated in how they’re put together. It’s a fascinating medium. It’s absolutely incredible and to see somebody’s vision up on screen is amazing. To be able to act out somebody else’s ideas is fun as well. I totally love it.

Then along with that comes people like us getting very nosy about your personal life. Tatler announced that you’re the most desirable single woman in the UK.

Keira Knightley: For that month (laughs).

For the month of April. Is that a fair tradeoff when you realize that if you go out for a cup of coffee and somebody snaps a picture, It’s going to be in a paper or a tabloid, and suddenly you’re life is not your own anymore?

Keira Knightley: I have to say I am spending most of my time working, and on film sets it’s a very protective kind of bubble, which is fantastic, so I haven’t been overly aware of any of it. At the moment, what I want to do is make films, and therefore, all is good. When it isn’t, I’ll re-think and I’ll probably do something else. Who knows, but at the moment, it’s fine.

Because you work with different actors, do you pick up different acting styles and different techniques, or does everyone just go and do it?

Keira Knightley: No, I everybody has their own way of working, but it is fantastic to be able to work with people who really are at the top of their game and try and learn from them. I’m never quite sure how it happens, so you just think “Oh God, how did you do that? Can I mix something in, oh no I can’t, can I?” But yeah, it is fantastic to be able to see how all these great ones work.

I have a question about this upcoming film, Tulip Fever. What is that?

Keira Knightley: It didn’t happen. All the money fell out.

What’s your favorite CD that you’re currently listening to right now?

Keira Knightley: Jeff Buckley.

Why? What’s great about Jeff Buckley? And what’s the name of the record?

Keira Knightley: Oh my God, c’mon, have you not heard of Jeff Buckley? What’s the name of the album? He’s only done one and then he died. Jeff Buckley’s Grace is the most sensational album ever, I think one of the best. You can’t listen to it and not cry. Actually, Damien Rice’s album, O, is very good as well. If you see him live, he did a version of “Hallelujah.” Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” is just sensational and I saw him live in Glasgow and the tears were running down my face, so those two are completely fantastic.

Could we just get a little update on Pirates of the Caribbean 1 and 2? Are all the cast coming back for the sequel?

Keira Knightley: Honestly, I don’t know. You’ll have to ask Jerry. I think we all had a fantastic time on the first Pirates. Definitely, we will be up for doing the second one as well, so fingers crossed.

Related Link: View more Keira Knightley interviews

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Deepika Padukone’s fitness and weight loss secrets

Deepika Padukone's fitness and weight loss secrets

Envy of a million ladies and desire of a million men, she is the perfect epitome of beauty, good health and fitness. You long for a body that resembles her perfect, hour-glass figure, and wish you had a flawless, glowing skin she is gifted with. But then, as they say, fame doesn’t come cheap – so did she have her quota of rigor, sweat and days of grueling hard work, which have finally paid off with her bagging the title of being one of the most promising talents in Indian film industry. From being a sports enthusiast and a top notch model to a talent in Bollywood, Deepika Padukone has come a long way.

She has worked upon herself, upon her diet, weight and fitness, to now be in an enviable place where she can call the shots, make heads turn and keep the flab away. And all of this, with strict discipline that can only come from the love of being healthy and beautiful.

A 24 year old, who speaks of good health, wellness, beauty and fitness in one package, that’s Deepika Padukone for the uninitiated! So, what’s the mantra behind this lissome beauty?

Simple: “Make fitness your way of life”. And with this mantra in mind, we take you through what goes in the making of the ravishing Deepika Padukone!

Deepika Padukone's fitness and weight loss secrets

“Vow to remain active – Make it a ritual”

Deepika has promised herself to not let a day pass without having indulged in some form of activity, be it workout in the gym, yoga, free exercises in her garden or even playing badminton. And this in itself is enough to show how she has been able to maintain herself! Fitness has been a habit for Deepika, a daily ritual, that she just cannot ignore. And if you make it a habit to workout each day, you would never feel like you have actually worked out, it would seem like any other regular activity.

“Do what suits your body best”

Deepika believes in doing the activity that suits her body best, rather than going with the flow. “There is no point in doing what everyone else is doing, if it troubles your body” she affirms. zDeepika does not go by a compulsion to hit the gym, and neither does she indulge in weights if it’s a boring day. Depending upon her mood, time and situation, she takes to different activities including gymming, an hour at the badminton court, practising yoga or even shaking a leg at a dance studio.

Deepika’s fitness mantra combines of:

Gymming: “I go to the gym whenever I can. When I am travelling, I do make it a point to work out in the hotel gym”. For those looking at weight loss, here’s what she has to say, “just like me, you need to combine cardio with weight training, because then can you lose weight and tone up at the same time”.

Yoga: Deepika swears by yoga and makes it a point to practice it every evening. “I do yoga in the evenings”. Yoga helps in rejuvenating the mind and the body and makes for a great overall body workout.

Daily walks: “If I can’t go to the gym, I walk twice a day, half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening” confesses Deepika. And by the way, did you know walking is considered to be one of the best cardio exercises for a woman?

Dance: Now this is what sets the ravishing 23 year old apart from her contemporaries. When not in the mood for the gym, Deepika prefers shaking a leg to loud music! Jazz, Bharat Natyam, Kathak, you name it and she does it! “In my modeling days, this dance training gave me grace and poise; today, it helps to keep me fit” quips the talented actress.

Get up early, run and play: Deepika attributes her body’s flexibility and agility to “the days when I used to play badminton. I used to get up early and run for 40 minutes and do heavy weight training. It helps me now in terms of flexibility”.

Her diet:

She loves to: Deepika is a diehard foodie and loves to binge on Thai food and chocolate desserts. She does not believe in starvations and confessedly, “lives to eat”. But then just as she enjoys the pleasure of being a gourmet, so does she make it a point to not miss her workout sessions either! “Only diet or only exercise won’t help in overall body weight loss. You have to combine the two” she explains.

A balance of carbohydrates and proteins: She takes a balanced diet with carbs and proteins.

Eat smart: “If it’s a dosa, I have it minus the potato filling; if I am having eggs, I take only the white portion and if I have idlis I substitute coconut chutney with a pudina chutney”. Bottomline: Watch what you eat!

A rice lover: While you may fret at the sight of rice for fear of piling on calories, Deepika being a South Indian and a self confessed rice lover, has never had to shy away from the versatile grain for the fear of weight gain. “I guess my body is so used to rice, that it doesn’t react to it at all”.

Homemade food: “During shoots I eat regular homemade food with dal, two rotis, sabzi, raita, salad or sometimes it is non vegetarian food. But if it’s studio food then I stick to idlis and very light food”.

Breakfast – a must: Deepika has three main meals in a day, breakfast being the most important of them all. “I can’t do without breakfast. I have a huge breakfast – upma, idlis, dosa, parathas – whatever it is, I eat a lot of it.” Now you know why they say, breakfast like a king!

No rice at night: Deepika strictly makes it a point to avoid rice and non vegetarian food at night.

Dislike curd, but: Those who hate having curd, you’ve just got company. Deepika is not the one to like curds, but she compensates for it by having milk and cheese. Do you?

For the picture perfect, Personality – her skin, hair, looks

The first thing in the morning: As soon as she gets up early morning, which is not later than 7 am, is to “have a glass of water”. “Drink lots of water to keep your skin clear” advises Deepika, yes, that is the one thing that sure has contributed to the glow and suppleness of her skin.

Cleanse, tone and moisturize: Deepika’s daily skincare includes cleansing, toning and moisturizing. “Healthy skin needs mild cleansing, for which I use gentle soaps. I use mild products that do not strip my skin of essential proteins”.

Be regular with your hair: Get regular hair cuts, so as to keep the split ends away and condition your hair each time you wash them, so that they remain flowing, and silky.

Dare to experiment: While on one day you would spot her in Jeans and a simple white tee with a hair band, the next day it would have to be a pink flowing dress with a smart up-do and in short pants and sports shoes with a ponytail the next….so keep experimenting too! C’mon girls, let’s go the Deepika way!

Related Link: View Deepika Padukone exclusive

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Angelina Jolie opens up about ‘darker times’

Angelina Jolie opens up about 'darker times'

In a new TV interview, the star says she is lucky to be alive but hasn’t retired her wild ways.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that before Angelina Jolie became a mother of six and one of Hollywood’s highest-profile humanitarians, she was a troubled upstart living her life on the edge.

But Jolie herself hasn’t forgotten, and she’s telling “60 Minutes” that she’s fortunate to have made it out of her adolescence alive.
“I went through heavy, darker times and I survived them,” the 36-year-old Academy Award-winner said in an interview that airs this Sunday. “I didn’t die young, so I’m very lucky. There are other artists and people who didn’t survive certain things.”

When pressed on the subject, Jolie held back but said something sure to let curious imaginations run wild.

“[There’s] nothing I want to go into a lot of detail about, but people can imagine I did the most dangerous and the worst. For many reasons, I shouldn’t be here. You just think [of] those times when you came too close to too many dangerous things, too many chances taken, [going] too far.”

Before she settled down with Brad Pitt in 2005, Jolie had a reputation for dark behavior that her eccentric personality hardly refuted. The daughter of “Midnight Cowboy” actor Jon Voight, Jolie survived a troubled adolescence, to say the least: Before becoming a star in her own right, she often cut herself and admitted to experimenting with “just about every drug possible,” including heroin.

Having cleaned up a bit as she entered her twenties, Jolie still continued to raise eyebrows, whether it was wearing a vial of blood from her then-husband Billy Bob Thornton around her neck, kissing her brother on the lips in public, or talking about her briefly considered dream job of being a mortician.

Even now, as the mother of six, Jolie says she hasn’t completely abandoned her darker urges. “I’m still a bad girl, I still have that side of me… it’s just in its place now,” she said. “It belongs to Brad.”

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Kirsten Dunst rises out of “Melancholia”

Kirsten Dunst rises out of "Melancholia"

Kirsten Dunst steps out of her comfort zone and deep into a paralyzing depression in her latest film “Melancholia.”

Better known for light fare like “Spider-Man” and romantic comedies, Dunst plays the lead in the part science-fiction, part family drama from Danish director Lars von Trier, which opens in select U.S. cities on Friday.

The actress, 29, found herself challenged with intense emotional scenes and nudity while portraying Justine — a complex bride who deteriorates into a melancholic depression after getting married and immediately regretting it.

“It’s a very vulnerable part and there are very difficult scenes, but the environment was very comfortable,” said Dunst.

“Anything I had to do, which I may not have felt comfortable with in a different setting, felt protected so I could let loose and be open,” the actress added.

Complicated female characters and visually arresting images have become a trademark for von Trier, who cast Nicole Kidman in the 2003 thriller “Dogville” and Charlotte Gainsbourg in the 2009 supernatural movie “Antichrist”.

Dunst called von Trier “one of the great directors of our time.” He, in turn, drew a performance from Dunst that won her the best actress award at the Cannes film festival and is now earning talk of a possible first Oscar nomination.

It is the best critical acclaim Dunst has experienced since her performance as a 12-year-old in the 1994 drama “Interview With the Vampire” alongside Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

New York Times movie reviewer A.O. Scott said the actress “is remarkably effective at conveying both the acute anguish and the paralyzing hollowness of depression.”

“Melancholia” is an apocalyptic tale of sisters Justine (Dunst) and Claire (Gainsbourg) set against an epic backdrop, when Earth’s existence is threatened by the approach of the planet Melancholia. Alexander Skarsgard and Keifer Sutherland co-star.

The film is divided into two sections named after the sisters, and moves from light, celebratory scenes of Justine’s wedding to darker anxieties, accompanied by arresting cinematography and Richard Wagner’s dramatic operatic score of “Tristan and Isolde.”

Justine’s depression and mental decline make her reliant on the strength of her sister Claire. But as the mysterious planet Melancholia slowly edges its way on a collision course with Earth, Justine finds herself becoming stronger while her sister crumbles.

“I kind of envisioned it as Justine comes from this planet that’s going to hit Earth, and this is her mother Earth in some way,” Dunst said.

The actress believes the overall message of the film is a comforting one, despite its melancholic overtones.

“This film is very personal to everyone, but I think it’s very comforting for anyone who’s gone through any depression in their lives,” she said. “It’s exciting to experience a movie like that.”

Dunst has more than 60 films under her belt in a career that has seen her transition from child actress to Hollywood star in movies such as “Crazy/Beautiful,” “Marie Antoinette” and the “Spider-Man” franchise.

“I could retire, and I’d be proud,” laughed the actress.

However, she isn’t quite ready to step away from the spotlight. She wants to portray iconic characters like Marlene Dietrich, or Blondie singer Debbie Harry.

“Blondie was going to happen at one point and I’d still like to do that. She was successful in her thirties, so that would be fun to play,” said Dunst, adding, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to put out an album, I’m going to stick to acting.”

The actress will next be seen in an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road”, and alongside British actor Jim Sturgess in sci-fi romance “Upside Down.”

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Carla Gugino, Emily Browning, and Abbie Cornish talk Sucker Punch

Carla Gugino, Emily Browning, and Abbie Cornish talk Sucker Punch

In Sucker Punch, a young woman we know only as Babydoll is locked away by her lecherous stepfather in an insane asylum, where she is scheduled to be lobotomized. Here, she finds other girls just as trapped and, together with them, plots an escape — both physically from the asylum and mentally from the hell that happens there. This latter escape, from the hell, carries Babydoll into her imagination where she finds herself and the other girls trapped in a brothel rather than an asylum.

When forced to dance for me, she retreats yet again into her fantasies, this time into a second dream world where she and her friends battle steam-powered zombie German soldiers in WWI, dragons and orcs, and even travel to a fantastic alien world. It’s, in short, as insane as the asylum where the girls find themselves.

Babydoll, in case writer-director Zack Snyder never noticed, is probably crazy, too, she would have to be. But that’s beside the point. Previously, I shared with you my interview with three of the actresses who play the young inmates: Vanessa Hudgens, Jena Malone, and Jamie Chung. Today, you get my interview with Babydoll herself (played by Emily Browning), her tough-as-nails cohort Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), and the psychiatrist in charge of the asylum (Carla Gugino).

Carla Gugino, Emily Browning, and Abbie Cornish talk Sucker Punch

Boys fantasize about big guns and being the action hero, and that’s a common fantasy for male actors, too. Did you dream of being the action heroine and how excited were you to shoot the big guns?

Emily Browning: Absolutely. But for me, I always liked the idea of making every genre of film possible. But I’d never read a particularly well-written action script, and I most certainly had never read a female character in an action script that was more than one-dimensional and interesting. The fact that this is not just one, cool, strong action female character, but five — six, even, with Carla — it was amazing to me and so cool. I’m hoping we can maybe start a trend or something. Not of girls with guns, but smart, cool, interesting girls… with guns [laughs].

Abbie Cornish: Yeah, it’s incredibly exciting. I’d wanted to do a film like this for a while. The idea of doing it was amazing. For me, I’ve always been interested in other people’s careers, particularly male careers. Someone asked me, if you could play one character in film, who would it be? And the only character that came to my mind was: I want to play the Godfather. Imagine that. How awesome would that be? Of course, there are a lot of roles for me that I’d like to explore. When you get to play a female role that explores some of these things, and you get to shoot guns, I loved it.

Carla, there are six women in this cast, but you’re technically the outsider amongst them. They all had action roles they had to train hard for and were, as inmates all, plotting an escape from an institution/brothel you were affiliated with. Does that mean you weren’t as close to the other girls on set, not being part of their little posse?

Carla Gugino, Emily Browning, and Abbie Cornish talk Sucker Punch

Carla Gugino: It was actually a really great ensemble cast. As much as they all trained together and were a team, there wasn’t any excluding of anyone. I think that’s something that Zack and [his wife and producer] Debbie [Snyder], having done Watchmen with them as well, do really well. It feels like you’re in a theater repertoire when you’re with them. You just end up with a group of people doing the best they can together.

Emily, there are three levels of reality in this movie — one being reality itself, and the other two being levels of dreams or fantasy that get increasingly stylized and extraordinary. How did you prepare your performance for each of these realities?

Emily Browning: For me, because the fantasy worlds were in Babydoll’s imagination, I felt it was important that my character remain pretty solid. So her personality doesn’t fluctuate between reality and the dream worlds.

What about you, Abbie?

Abbie Cornish: I was fascinated by that for a long time and asked Zack a lot of questions about it. It was something where I decided it was all the same character, but, in different worlds, you could look at her from different angles. For me, I kind of put a lot of trust in the fact that, when you actually see her in the dream worlds, what that’s like, and then who she is at the bookend of the film, that would be enough to say who this girl really is in real life. The burlesque stuff was just a hyper-realization of that character, [for example]. Who she is is carried with her into that world and the action world — where she’s looking after [her sister] Rocket (Malone). Where’s Rocket? Is she safe? There’s really a heavy load that she’s carrying because of that. Those action scenes weren’t the most fun for her. Other characters had smiles on their faces, so excited to escape [into the fantasy action]. But for Sweet Pea, it’s frightening, there’s so much to stay on top of. It’s interesting to figure all that stuff out.

Emily, I think a lot of guys are going to love the Sailor Moon get-up Zack had you wear. Were you a Sailor Moon fan beforehand and thus got the reference, or did it just strike you as some pervy way to dress up the action heroine?

Emily Browning: Sailor Moon was my favorite cartoon of all time, and I’m still kind of obsessed with it. I own all the DVDs and watch it at home. I think I was obsessed with that culture as a kid, like Hello Kitty and Dragon Ball Z.

Carla, Zack Snyder is kind of a singular talent. Having already worked with him on Watchmen, how did you react when he told you he had you in mind for a part in Sucker Punch? Is that an instant “yes,” or do you ask questions first?

Carla Gugino: Of course [as an actress], you have to feel like you can connect with a character. But there’s no doubt, Zack’s a visionary. I would rather go to work for someone who has a strong vision of the story they want to tell and the world they want to create and want to include you in that. I find that incredibly exciting.

Sucker Punch feels like a movie, but also like a video game; then there’s the musical element and editing style that makes it feel like a music video. Of course, the heavy anime references, too, right?

Carla Gugino: It seems like, as the world is getting smaller, all these things are melding. People are watching movies on the Internet and on Apple TV. [The way video games become more cinematic]. In every way, these things are melding, and I love how [Zack] has taken from all these different mediums and turned it into something that could only happen in cinema.

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Vera Farmiga talks her feature Higher Ground

Vera Farmiga talks her feature Higher Ground

What made you want to direct this script?

The thing that hitched me to directing it was its tricky tone. As the script evolved, it became a genre-defying film—a story of self-discovery, a romance, a dark comedy, a tender account of female friendship, and even a musical exploring the complex themes of faith and doubt.

I was attached to the project as an actress with honestly no intention of directing. After three years of script development with Tim Metcalf and an intense year of reshaping and rewrites with Carolyn S. Briggs and my husband Renn Hawkey, my heart was invested in a new and profound way. I’d never been a part of script evolution before. In the process, my own psyche, perceptions, and in particular, sense of humor entered the equation. Carolyn and I aimed to insert as much comedy and lightness into Corinne’s journey as we could, with tact and diplomacy—not poking fun of the characters, but allowing them to have fun. Mixing spirituality and humor was going to be a tall, delicate order.

Carolyn was the real life model for Corinne. She believed I understood the spirit of the film, the complexities of the character’s struggles and search. With her validation and plea, I knew I should direct.

Vera Farmiga talks her feature Higher Ground

How did the subject matter allow you to explore or challenge some of your own thoughts on religion and faith?

This film explores a notion I’ve experienced my whole life—that the spiritual life is hard to master. Great faith requires great striving. Whether we call it religion or faith, we all battle for a balanced, integrated soul. The protagonist in my film is searching for an authentic faith. The film examines her struggles within all the love relationships in her life—with her parents, her children, her friends, her community, and in her marriage, her relationship to God, and her relationship to self. The examination proves just how porous and murky a spiritual path can be at times. It embraces the gray of black-and-white religion.

It can’t be that easy to just jump in and start directing without experience—have you been learning on the job as an actor?

I’ve had the great fortune of working with the finest directors, both heavyweight champions of cinema and rookies. They’ve all rubbed off on me in one positive way or another; in particular, Debra Granik [Down to the Bone, 2004] and Anthony Minghella [Breaking and Entering, 2006]. From them I learned the importance of kind and affectionate leadership. Even the not-so-great experiences, being directed (and limited) by the occasional egotistical know-it-all, have been helpful.

Honestly, it was pretty easy to jump in and take control. I think most anybody with vision, ideas, taste, awareness, instinct, and the will, can direct. I don’t think an extensive film education or film history is compulsory. I had rock stars for department heads to bolster my vision; Michael McDonough, director of photography; Sharon Lomofsky, production designer; and Amela Baksic, costumes. With their creative contributions came certitude that I could direct without experience.

What was the most challenging part of the process as a director?

Most challenging was self-editing. Editing is not a part of the filmmaking process I’ve ever been privy to as an actress. Editing yourself is like an irksome coin toss. You’ve got to strip yourself of super ego and operate from the id. (Maybe I’ve got my Freud mixed up.) It’s just hard to trade a beauty shot for the performance with truth and a brightly lit zit.

Did also being the director affect the way you performed on camera in any way?

I sincerely don’t think so. Normally I rely heavily on my director to massage me out of my actor comfort zones. I relied instead on my scene partners, my script supervisor, my focus puller, and my husband/producer for feedback. We didn’t always have time for playback and review, so I went by the affirmation or sheepishness of their gaze. I never moved on without their thumbs up. But I’d like to think that most often my instinct and bullshit meter told me when to cut and print.

It sounds like a tight crew in every sense of the word. It required herculean effort on the part of my producers to meet the budget. We started off with 58 shooting locations that, by production, were reduced to 38. There were 21 live music performances. Lots of principle actors, lots of extras, many non-actors. Different eras which required frequent costume and hair changes. Animals. Children. Bus crashes. Epic stuff, for minimal funds.

I sacrificed things like actor creature comforts in exchange for sufficient and capable crew. My crew was nonpareil. I worked them like mules. My own 5-month pregnancy was a good damper for complaints. No matter how bad the crew ever had it, they knew I had it worse.

My husband, as creative producer and music director, was the jewel in my crown. I feel supremely and equally yoked to the guy. I value his opinion and perspective above any; he was my resounding sounding board. He has extraordinary diplomacy, savoir faire, and charm that make him an excellent producer and communicator with actors. If anybody had a problem with anything, I’d sic Renn on them and he’d cajole them out of their misery.

This film goes to unusual places in American culture and psyche—it’s not mainstream storytelling. Have any other filmmakers or artists especially influenced you?

I would say key influences in general would be Jon Cassavetes for his realism, Luis Buñuel for his surrealism, Debra Granik for her honesty, precision and non-bias, Ingmar Bergman for heartache, and Pedro Almodóvar for his themes of passion, desire, family and identity. The Apostle (1997) is my number one reference film for this project. Robert Duvall’s performance and direction was a case study for me.

Related Link: Read the Full Production Notes for Higher Ground

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Chris Pine talks Star Trek shooting days

Chris Pine talks Star Trek shooting days

Although James T. Kirk is destined to become the kind of starship captain that legends are made of, as “Star Trek” begins, he is a brooding Iowa teenager full of smarts, charm and a mile-wide rebellious streak that can lead him astray. Kirk must first overcome what one character describes as “an instinct to leap before looking.” Yet, when he spies the gleaming U.S.S. Enterprise under construction in a well-guarded hangar, something in his heart is stirred and Kirk is struck with the ambition to attend Starfleet and try to make it to the top entirely on his own terms.

This view of Kirk as a raw, unformed young man searching for his future before he is ready to take on the responsibility of becoming a great leader is one that has never been seen on screen before. “We had the idea that Kirk would be almost a rebel without a cause when we first meet him. He’s a renegade, a nonconformist, a go-by-the-gut kind of guy, but he’s basically lost. It’s only when he sees the Enterprise that he’s inspired by a sense of purpose that alters his path,” says Abrams.

To find a young actor who could play the role that William Shatner made so unforgettable, yet establish his own take on the character, the filmmakers embarked on their own epic quest. It was only when they were nearing the end of their search that Chris Pine auditioned for them, and took them by surprise. Pine’s roles in a number of romantic comedies and in the action film “Smokin’ Aces” had established him as a young star to watch, but no one anticipated he would be such an intuitive match up for Kirk’s intensity, humor and individualism.

Sums up J.J. Abrams: “Chris has the wit, sharpness and athleticism of Kirk, but, equally important, he can be a complete goof and very vulnerable. Most of all, he was game for anything, always engaged and present in the role. He made Kirk very real, which was everything we wanted.”

Pine was, in turn, impressed by Abrams. “The energy surrounding him and this project was just palpable,” he says. “I couldn’t wait to be part of it.”

From the beginning, Pine understood that he would have to forge his own individual path and take only a dash of inspiration from what Shatner had done to transform the character into a global icon. “Mr. Shatner created a character who was an action hero and a ladies’ man and he did it with an incredible amount of humor. What I really love about this film is that you get the chance to see why and how he became the man he was,” Pine says. “It was incredibly overwhelming to step into Mr. Shatner’s shoes and the whole canon of `Trek’ film and television history. We all agreed it would be a mistake to try to recreate what he did. The challenge was to make it my own.”

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Channing Tatum discusses Step Up

Channing Tatum discusses Step Up

Hot off of starring roles in Coach Carter and She’s the Man, Channing Tatum gets the chance to show off his dance skills in Step Up co-starring Jenna Dewan.

A free-style street dancer with no formal training, Tatum was chosen for the role because of his natural talent. Producer Erik Feig says that Tatum moves “like water” while Step Up producer Adam Shankman claims Tatum is “one of the best natural street dancers” he’s ever seen.

A Rookie Among Trained Dancers: Channing Tatum found the experience of working around trained dancers to be a little nervewracking. “You know, they are so many different levels of it. For example, I had to learn how to count music. I didn’t know how to count music at all.

And [choreographer] Jamal Sims kind of found a way in for me. He’d like to make sounds. He would make sounds like [demonstrating a human beat box] and I remembered what I would do for those things. And once you start getting it into your body and into your mind…

It’s two things learning something: your body has to learn something and your mind has to learn something. You’ve got to connect the two sometimes and one of them always remembers it more than the other. Just getting them to work together is like the big key. Then aside from that, you learn it in like a closed environment, like in a dance studio by yourself, where it’s just you and Jamal.

Channing Tatum discusses Step Up

Then they throw you out in front of people, and you’re like [nervously], ‘You all are going to be here while I’m doing this?’” It’s kind of like, ‘Whoa.’ It’s different than going and dancing in a club. Even in a circle in a club, I don’t even like to do [that] because it’s really strange. I don’t know, it’s strange. It is. It’s weird. You go to stand in a circle and you watch people dance. I don’t know, that’s nervewracking to me.

It kind of makes me pinch myself every day that I did a dancing movie. I haven’t even seen the whole thing, so I don’t know if I will be able to watch it all the way [at the premiere]. I’ll just be like sinking into my chair more and more and more, knowing that the final dance number’s coming. But yeah, it was an amazing experience. I don’t know if that answers your whole question or not. I go off on tangents – I apologize.”

Channing Tatum on His Dance Partner, Jenna Dewan: “I don’t know how I would have done it without her, to be honest with you. I was nervous with the partnering, but I actually got the partnering better than some of the other stuff. You know, it’s easy for a guy to be a partner, especially if he’s working with someone that knows what they’re doing like she does. I don’t know how much partnering she had done, but I don’t know how we would have done it without her.

We were auditioning other actors that didn’t know how to dance and it just would have never worked. It would have never worked in a million years because they’d have had to get a dance double, and it just would have been fake and unbelievable. She walked in and gave an amazing read, but then after she danced, it was over. They just closed the door and there were like, ‘All right, cool. So we got our Nora now.’

It was a hard process to find Nora. Tyler’s a little easier to find, because you can kind of find an actor that – I don’t know, in my mind but maybe it wasn’t for them, I don’t really know – knows how to dance or freestyle a little bit. But as far as like an actor that has done professional, technical stuff that you have to learn from six and on up, that was a huge, huge thing. She had to do some of the most technical stuff in the movie. Tyler’s stuff, he takes the technical thing, he kind of makes it his own so it was whatever I was comfortable doing. I could manipulate mine. Hers had to be dead-on.”

Tatum continued, “I learned so much from her. Dancers, apparently, I found out, make it work. I want to make a T-shirt: ‘Make it work,’ because I was falling on my face every five minutes or just forgetting it. The day of she was just like, ‘You just got to make it work. You just got to plunder through it, and whether it’s good or bad, you just get it done.’ You want to make it as good as possible, that’s why you work so hard. But I was nervous.”

Relating to His Character in Step Up: Asked what his friends and family are going to think about this role, Tatum said, “They’re going to say that it’s like a movie about Chan’s life, sort of thing. Like they were like, ‘You couldn’t have got a better role for yourself.’ But I wasn’t a foster kid, was the only thing. (Laughing) But a lot of my friends are going to clown me because they’re going to see me in tights. But for the most part, I think I’m making everybody pretty proud.

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