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Scarlett Johansson: ‘Trump is a megalomaniac’

Scarlett Johansson has been sharing her beliefs loudly and proudly this year. She put the boot into Ivanka Trump on ‘Saturday Night Live’ earlier this month with that spoof TV commercial for Complicit perfume. It was no different when I met Johansson back in January to talk about her new movie, the futuristic sci-fi epic ‘Ghost in the Shell’. We spoke just days before the inauguration of Donald Trump, and the conversation headed away from the movie, a remake of the 1990s Japanese manga and towards politics: she was furious and didn’t care who knew it. A week after we spoke, the actress took to the podium in Washington during the Women’s March, in defence of abortion and reproductive rights. Some actors worry about straying beyond the day job – not this one. You play a cyborg in ‘Ghost in the Shell’. Where do you even start playing a character that’s not human in any normal way?‘It felt restrictive. There’s nothing extra to her. She’s efficient. There’s no fumbling for the right thing to say. She doesn’t nervously fidget. She’s not exactly mechanical, but she’s driven, and as an actor you rely on physical nuances, vocal nuances, things that connect with an audience. You don’t want to give a performance that’s monotonous. But it has to stay true to what her experience is. It was challenging.’ Are you interested in how technology affects us more generally?‘I’m wary of it. I’m probably more wary than someone who isn’t in the public eye. I see the value of anonymity in a way tha

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By: Dave Calhoun

Emma Watson: ‘Belle is a Disney princess gone rogue’

'Beauty and the Beast' When Emma Watson went to see the first cut of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in London she took along two important women in her life – her mum and the activist Gloria Steinem, one of her feminist heroes. The 26-year-old star needed a thumbs up from Steinem that her Disney princess passed the feminism test – and she got it. That is typical Emma Watson. No slacker, like Hermione she’s a smart hard worker who believes that everything she does matters. She’d already turned down one Disney princess – Cinderella in the 2015 live-action movie. But Belle in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was different, a princess with feminist DNA: ‘At the centre was this heroine that I love for going against the grain, fiercely independent-minded,’ she says. ‘Belle does things her own way and I felt really connected to that. She’s a bit Disney princess gone rogue.’ It’s 10am at the beginning of a long day of interviews and Watson is brushing crumbs from her chocolate croissant off the table – friendly but focused. As a little girl, she watched the 1991 animated ‘Beauty and the Beast’ on repeat: ‘My parents told me that I put it on so many times they thought they’d go mad.’ Emma Watson in 'Beauty and the Beast' ‘Belle does things her own way’ That version was a breakthrough for Disney princesses, with Belle more interested in books than boys. For the director of the new adaptation, Bill Condon, the big question was where to go now. ‘How do we make this a twenty-first century feminist

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By: Cath Clarke

Martin Scorsese talks about his Oscar-nominated opus 'Silence'

Shortly after the release—and controversy—of his film The Last Temptation of Christ in 1988, Martin Scorsese travelled to Japan. As he rode a train through the country, he read Shūsaku Endō’s novel Silence, which follows two priests searching for their missing mentor in Japan in 1639, when Christianity was brutally repressed. The priests are captured by the shogunate and forced to choose between renouncing their faith or watching the executions of their fellow Catholics. 

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By: Brittany Martin
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La La Land’s writer-director Damien Chazelle on the year’s most euphoric movie

Like some gorgeously colored bird, La La Land—a full-on singing and dancing extravaganza—has swooped into the Academy Awards race, charming critics and audiences alike. It’s the long-cherished dream project of writer-director Damien Chazelle, 31, who, from as early as his Harvard days, began developing the romantic tale of a jazzbo pianist (Ryan Gosling) and a beaten-down actor (Emma Stone). With music by Justin Hurwitz and lyrics from the inspired team behind Broadway’s latest sensation, Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land is a love letter to musicals old and new. We spoke to Chazelle at the Lower East Side’s Metrograph; the next week, his film would win the top prize from the New York Film Critics Circle.   Aren’t musicals crazy? I love that about them.Exactly. There’s a certain confidence in musicals—an audacity or defiance or whatever you want to call it—that I think is really wonderful. It’s unfortunate that, since the ’60s, we as moviegoers have gotten more and more literal-minded, needing films to be a one-to-one reflection of the world we live in, as opposed to a reflection of what the world might feel like. And yet you’re infusing that liberation with tons of realism—especially the idea of artists making tough choices to pursue their dreams. You did that in Whiplash, too. Why is that a pet subject of yours?I think it was that old maxim of “Write what you know.” Whiplash started from suddenly thinking in my head, Maybe that time when I was a teenager drumming and had a re

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Michael Fassbender: ‘You have a time when you’re at your best. Then it’s downhill’

Assassin's Creed You might know the 39-year-old Irish-German actor Michael Fassbender from one of the staggering 26 movies he has made since his breakthrough with Steve McQueen’s IRA prison drama ‘Hunger’ in 2008. Or perhaps as Magneto in the ‘X-Men’ movies. Or as the Apple founder in ‘Steve Jobs’. Or as a vicious plantation owner in ‘12 Years a Slave’. You may have seen him opposite his girlfriend Alicia Vikander in this year’s major weepy ‘The Light Between Oceans’, or in last year’s rough and raw movie version of ‘Macbeth’.  Now, Fassbender is both producing and starring in ‘Assassin’s Creed’, an adaptation of the mega-selling computer game. He plays a character who tumbles through various time periods, from Inquisition-era Spain to twentieth-century California. As we talk about the film, it also becomes clear that the fact he’s also a producer on it is a massive deal to him. If it goes well, it could even mean we’ll see him acting less. He’s not disappearing, though. He’s already shot Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ sequel ‘Alien: Covenant’, which comes out next summer, as well as an adaptation of the Jo Nesbø novel ‘The Snowman’. So before he can slip into a back office for good, we’ve quizzed him on ‘Assassin’s Creed’ and got him thinking about life when he was a young actor in London, newly arrived from Ireland, broke and struggling to become the huge star he is now. Do you ever stop working? It looks like you've been making movies non-stop for almost a decade now.‘I

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By: Dave Calhoun

Q&A: Ryoo Seung-wan

What inspired you to make the film? I met real-life detectives while prepping for the film The Unjust and they had this implicit passion that appealed to me. They really believed that their jobs helped make the world a better place. On top of that, The Unjust and Berlin were both darker films, so I wanted to make my next movie a fun project. I wanted to re-live my childhood joy in obsessing over classic action flicks from the ‘80s, and wanted to create a film with that element.   What did you focus on the most for the movie? The Veteran is a story about veteran detectives who fight a losing game, and gain a bit of ground. I made Seo Do-cheol, a go-getter detective, the protagonist, and the film shows him pulling all the weight. I wanted the characters to be believable, more so than any of my past work, so I really honed in on the casting for this movie.   What are some of the critical differences between The Unjust and The Veteran? Think of The Veteran as the antonym of The Unjust. The Unjust exposes the dark side of corrupt cops and detectives, while The Veteran is the stories of people who believe they can change the world with their jobs, and try their best to do so. This is not an act done to become a hero; it is the offering of a shoulder to someone else because you feel strong enough. It is also the story of the veterans in the regional investigative unit who pursue good in the world.   Do you have any scenes straight from real life? The detectives in the nar

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By: Hye Won Kim
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Joseph Gordon-Levitt on finding his balance, playing Snowden and annoying his neighbors

He might not be an action star yet, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt sure can move. You’ve watched him defy gravity in Inception’s head-spinning hallways and emerge from the morose The Dark Knight Rises not only unscathed but in flight: a future Robin. He led a celebratory flash mob in 2009’s (500) Days of Summer and cut a rug with Scarlett Johansson in 2013’s sexy Don Jon, a comedy he wrote and directed. Maybe most memorably, the 34-year-old former child star has hosted Saturday Night Live twice, the first time showboating his way through Singin’ in the Rain’s “Make ’Em Laugh,” wall-runs and all, the second in a Magic Mike routine.Dancing is particularly important to Gordon-Levitt’s latest project, The Walk, the opener of this year’s New York Film Festival, about an immortal, real-life performance that captivated New York City and the world. On an early August morning in 1974, with President Nixon on the cusp of resigning, a mysterious lone figure stepped into the space between the then-recently completed Twin Towers, his balancing pole at perpendicular odds to an improbable stroll 1,368 feet above thrilled onlookers. After an illegal 45 minutes, French high-wire artist Philippe Petit was arrested (charges were dropped when he agreed to perform in Central Park), though not before creating an indelible image of NYC poise, in the process imbuing the buildings with a poetry that survived their demise.The story of the “coup,” as Petit called it, became 2008’s Oscar-winning documentary M

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By: Joshua Rothkopf

Daniel Craig interview: ‘My advice to the next James Bond? Don’t be shit!’

If you want to know how James Bond – sorry, I mean Daniel Craig – starts the day, I can tell you. Two double espressos with honey. Plus poached eggs on toast. With another double espresso to follow. So basically: caffeine, more caffeine and some more caffeine, with honey to soften the blow. Craig needs all the help he can get when we meet in July: just four days ago the 47-year-old finished an epic eight-month shoot for 'Spectre', which saw him hopping back and forth between Pinewood Studios near London and Mexico City, Morocco, the Austrian Alps and Rome. It’s the British actor’s fourth outing as Bond, and his second with the director Sam Mendes after the success of 'Skyfall' – which in 2012 took over $1,000 million globally. He thinks – thinks – Spectre is going to be a stylish, classic Bond movie, and Craig is not an actor who talks bullshit. He’s blunt. He’s thoughtful. He’s wary of being precious. But he’s also nervous. At one point a look of horror passes over his blue eyes. ‘God, hubris is a terrible thing in this business,’ he says, checking his enthusiasm. ‘I just pray the movie is going to be great.’ So, no pressure, then. Another double espresso, please… So you’ve just finished eight months of filming Spectre. Did it all end with a bang or a whimper?‘It’s always a whimper. I wish movies ended and we all high-fived each other and said, “Yeah! We did good work!” But they tend to peter out. We filmed in Morocco for the week before the very end and that felt like the

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By: Dave Calhoun

Saoirse Ronan on Brooklyn, her stage debut, why moms know best and returning to New York

“I’m away to America,” Saoirse Ronan tells us, hiding her character’s nervousness behind a wall of sheer moxie in Brooklyn, the most stirring film of 2015. Don’t fight us on this one: You’ve either already seen it and rocked a smile-cry for two hours, or you’re going to (and you’re in for a treat). A wrenchingly beautiful Irish immigrant drama, Brooklyn does double duty, re-creating the 1950s-era borough in all its melting-pot diversity (and Dodgers-loving Italian boyfriends), while also giving the 21-year-old Ronan the kind of role—romantically conflicted, blooming, courageously open—that transforms young stars into icons. Ronan, who was born in the Bronx to Irish parents and moved to the Emerald Isle when she was three years old, can’t really be compared to her peers—even the exceptional ones. She steals busy movies, like The Grand Budapest Hotel, with her classical, silent-era stillness. She possesses a lilting brogue that can win over even the most cynical cinephile. And with her Oscar nomination for Brooklyn—her second, the first being for a dazzling run, at age 13, in 2007’s Atonement—Ronan is the second-youngest performer in all of movie history who can call herself a two-time competitive veteran of Hollywood’s biggest night. Now the actor wants to change things up. “One of the things I am very conscious of is doing something different every time,” she tells me in a corner booth of Alphabet City’s Ace Bar, where she’s just played pool and darts like an after-work reg

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By: Hye Won Kim
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Carey Mulligan on being a bad-ass feminist and starring in ‘Suffragette’

What lesson did you learn from your mum?‘Compassion.’ And from your grandmother?‘Not to hit my brother.’ Was there a point at which you realised that being a girl meant you were treated differently from boys?‘Not really, but as a woman I’ve felt I’ve been treated differently from men.’ What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?‘Don’t sweat the small shit.’ Which women would you invite to your dream dinner party?‘My grandmother when she was young, Amy Poehler, Malala Yousafzai, Angelina Jolie, Queen Elizabeths I and II, Marion Cotillard, Patti Smith, Michelle Obama and Maid Marian.’ Who inspires you?‘The carers who work at the home in which my grandmother lives in Wales. And the War Child volunteers and workers in the field who risk their lives protecting children from conflict.’ ‘The suffragettes were bad-ass motherfuckers’   How would you like to be remembered?‘For being nice.’ What’s your biggest regret?‘I don’t have any regrets.’ What could you not live without?‘Avocados.’ Describe a suffragette in four words.‘Bad-ass motherfucker.’ If you were living in the 1910s, would you be brave enough to protest?‘I hope so.’ Are you a feminist?‘Yes.’ Who made you laugh most on the set of ‘Suffragette’?‘Helena Bonham Carter.’ What single thing would you change about the film industry to make it less sexist?‘Equal pay.’ What’s the most annoying question women get asked in interviews that men don’t get asked?‘Meryl Streep commented on this recently. Women are con

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By: Cath Clarke

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