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‘Wonder Woman’ star Gal Gadot: ‘Feminism is about freedom’

Elizabeth Weinberg/The New York Times/Redux/Eyevine ‘Where are you calling from? Are you English? Is it raining? I miss London so much.’ I’m on the phone to the Israeli actress Gal Gadot (pronounced Gah-dote), who’s at home in LA, technically still on maternity leave after giving birth to her second daughter in March – in true superheroine style she filmed reshoots for ‘Wonder Woman’ while five months pregnant. It turns out that Gadot spent nearly two years living in London to play the thigh-baring goddess, first in ‘Batman v Superman’ then ‘Wonder Woman’ – the first superhero movie in a decade with a woman headlining. She grew up near Tel Aviv, and dreamt of becoming a lawyer, before entering Miss Israel. A career in modelling followed, interrupted to serve her mandatory two years in the Israeli army, which means she knows her way around a fight scene. What are you missing most about London?‘Everything! I miss the parks, the people, the restaurants, the accent. Everything other than the weather.’ You nearly quit acting a couple of years ago. Why?‘Being an actress is tough. The amount of rejection you get can be exhausting. It was literally right before I auditioned for “Wonder Woman”.’ Gal Gadot in ‘Wonder Woman’ ‘There is a misconception about what feminism is’ That turned out well. Is it right that you didn’t know what film you were going up for?‘Exactly. It was all very secretive. But without ever knowing it, I think Wonder Woman was my dream role. I grew up w

Movies

Anne Hathaway: ‘No one thought “Colossal” was a brilliant career move!’

Rex Features In her bizarre new comedy ‘Colossal’ Anne Hathaway plays Gloria, an alcoholic writer who develops a psychic bond with a Godzilla-like monster on the other side of the world. The stage is set for a smart social satire tackling everything from toxic masculinity to consequence-free online culture. So what drove this successful movie star to take a gamble on such an oddball project? What was it about ‘Colossal’ that spoke to you?‘I liked the alchemy of grounded and absurd, dark and silly. It reminded me of some of my favourite aspects of life! And my character Gloria, I felt like I knew her, I felt like I’d been her at certain moments.’ She’s more nuanced than your average Hollywood heroine…‘I liked that her thoughtlessness, her self-destruction and self-absorption didn’t necessarily make her a bad person. Lately I’ve been interested in getting out of the binary of good and bad, letting things be a little harder to pin down, a little more uncomfortable. Since starting to explore that, many parts of my life have become much more interesting!’ Did people advise you against making a film so wilfully strange?‘No one looked at this and said “oh, what a brilliant career move”! But everyone understood that I was doing it for me. When you put forward ideas that don’t fit the mould, that lean away from the formula, there’s a tendency to assume audiences won’t understand them. But people are willing to go with it if you have a good entry point.’ Anne Hathaway in ‘Co

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Movies, Drama

Pearl Mackie talks fame, diversity and ‘Doctor Who’

‘I’m not allowed to give that much away, actually,’ says Pearl Mackie, grinning. ‘There are still so many things I can’t say. But it’s such a relief to be allowed to talk about it at all.’ Last year, the 29-year-old Londoner was plucked from the West End stage, where she was starring in ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, and given free run of the Tardis in ‘Doctor Who’. We meet just a week before her debut appearance as Bill Potts – the first gay ‘Doctor Who’ companion – airs on BBC One. Mackie is fairly new to the TV business: her only other credit is daytime soap ‘Doctors’. But she’s clearly having the time of her life. She gushes about the Soho hotel room we’re in – the wallpaper is ‘incredible’, the chairs ‘amazing’, our hour together ‘really fun’. We’re running late and somewhere upstairs her lunch is getting cold, but she’s in no rush. Mackie was born and bred in Brixton, and still lives there near her mum. ‘She sometimes reads lines with me,’ she tells me. ‘I’ve wanted to be an actress for as long as I can remember, from when I could talk, really. But I never thought I’d get a role as big as this.’ How was your first day on the new job?‘The sheer scale of “Doctor Who” is immense. After we’d rehearsed all the crew came in and they just kept coming through the door. I was like, “How am I going to remember all these people’s names?” It was very nerve-wracking.’ There’s a lot you can’t talk about. Are you good at keeping secrets?‘No! I’m absolutely dr

Movies

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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Movies

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

Movies

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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Movies

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

Movies

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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Movies

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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Photograph: Maarten de Boer
Movies

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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