Christoph Waltz is a lot like what you might expect Christoph Waltz to be like in person: Forever charming, even when he doesn’t agree with what you are saying. And Waltz always has a lot to say, which comes from an interesting perspective as an actor who, after years in German cinema, now owns two Academy Awards. Waltz has an equally interesting approach to characters—he doesn’t see characters as “good” or “bad”; and he certainly doesn’t let himself think about the fact that in his latest film, Tim Burton’s ‘Big Eyes,’ he’s playing a real person—but whatever Waltz is doing, it appears to be working.
While standing in the hallway of New York’s Waldorf Astoria, Emily Blunt approached me, assertively, and said, “We’ve met before.” This happens from time to time before interviews, even from people I’ve never met, but it’s usually with an I hope I’m right question uptick at the end. This seemed different. I responded, “We have, Comic-Con two years ago. There’s no way you remember that.” Chit chat continued and, it was at this point, that a publicist approached us and asked that we not conduct an interview in the hallway, so we were led into a hotel conference room with a big round table. Even in a desolate room like this one, Blunt has the ability to be on and funny when nothing funny should ever happen in a room like this.
A few months ago, the Internet celebrated the 25th anniversary of Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’ as the Internet is wont to do: retrospectives, lists about things we may or may not have known about ‘Batman,’ embeddable clips from Prince’s ‘Batdance.’ So it’s kind of fitting that both the director of ‘Batman,’ Tim Burton, and its star, Michael Keaton, currently have movies out that are considered respective departures. Burton, for dropping his signature style to make the Margaret Keane biopic, ‘Big Eyes,’ and Keaton for playing off his own persona as Batman in ‘Birdman’—a movie Burton has yet to see, but that fact doesn’t stop Burton from saying many wonderful things about Keaton.
Rupert Wyatt admits he was at one point attached to direct the sequel, ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,’ but he and the studio couldn’t come to an agreement on the story. What was Wyatt’s version of the sequel? Wyatt claims he’s never told anyone before, but, ahead, he reveals what his intentions were for the sequel, including a tie-in with the original 1968 movie.
Rumors are flying that even though Christoph Waltz’s character is technically named Franz Oberhauser in the next James Bond installment, ‘Spectre,’ he’s actually playing Bond’s arch-nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The now two-time Oscar winner, Waltz, is currently promoting his Golden Globe nominated turn in Tim Burton’s ‘Big Eyes.’
Tracey Ullman is starring in Disney’s adaptation of ‘Into the Woods’ as Jack’s Mother, (a play she has admired since her son played the role of Jack in middle school). ‘Into the Woods’ is the story of a baker (James Cordon; the new host of ‘The Late Late Show’ who was in the running against rumored names like Amy Schumer, who Ullman greatly admires) and his wife (Emily Blunt) who make a deal with a Witch (Meryl Streep) in an effort to have a child. Ullman admits her film options are limited because she wishes there were more roles for “women in their mid-50s”, which is (a) accurate and (b) infuriating that this is true. Ahead, Ullman shares her experiences of being in a music video with Paul McCartney (twice) and her opinions on the state of women in comedy today. (Spoiler alert: She thinks it’s ridiculous.)
When you meet Bobby Cannavale in person, he’s very friendly, but you quickly get the sense that he doesn’t put up with nonsense. Not that Cannavale doesn’t have a sense of humor—he uses this humor to great effect in the upcoming ‘Annie’ remake; playing a political strategist named Guy who is in charge of William Stacks’ (Jamie Foxx) New York City mayoral campaign; spoiler alert: they meet a little girl named Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis)—it’s more that he doesn’t really like to do the things that actors have to do when they are not acting … like putting up with someone like me while I ask him questions. (For the record: He is correct.)
Before interviewing Lee Pace—who returns to Middle-earth as the Elvenking, Thranduil, in the upcoming ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’—I conducted a completely scientific poll (it was not scientific at all, I randomly asked my friends), asking “Where do you think Lee Pace is from?” Of the seven people I asked, only one knew that Pace was born in the United States. (This particular person guessed Nebraska, the correct answer is Oklahoma and/or Texas.) What’s most remarkable about this is just how shocked people look when they find out that Pace went to high school in Houston. (Honestly, this all seems like a compliment. An “actor from England” seems to have more prestige than “an actor from Houston.”)
Damien Chazelle’s film, ‘Whiplash’—the story of a future jazz prodigy (Miles Teller) and his manipulative, sadistic conductor (J.K. Simmons, who seems to be the odds-on favorite to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor) has had quite the journey this year. It premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival and wound up taking home the top prize. After, it steadily built momentum from word of mouth on the festival circuit and now, having been in release for two months, it still seems to be operating on a word of mouth system. (I still get text messages from friends back in the Midwest asking, “Should I see ‘Whiplash’? I keep hearing it’s good.”)
‘Wild,’ which stars another actor, Reese Witherspoon, who is seeking a reclamation of sorts after a high-profile arrest and spending the last few years in rom-com hell. Witherspoon already has an Oscar for her performance in ‘Walk the Line,’ but, other than that added twist, we are hearing the exact same things about a Vallée movie that we did last year.