Wednesday, November 3, 2010

“Ryan Kwanten talks new movie 'Red Hill,' 'True Blood,' (and why he can't talk 'True Blood') - Entertainment Weekly Online” plus 2 more

“Ryan Kwanten talks new movie 'Red Hill,' 'True Blood,' (and why he can't talk 'True Blood') - Entertainment Weekly Online” plus 2 more


Ryan Kwanten talks new movie 'Red Hill,' 'True Blood,' (and why he can't talk 'True Blood') - Entertainment Weekly Online

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 10:04 AM PDT

Red-Hill-Ryan-KwantenTrue Blood fans hoping to see more of Ryan Kwanten (with his native Australian accent and his shirt on), are in luck: This Friday, his new movie, the modern-day Western Red Hill, opens in New York, Los Angeles, and Austin, with additional markets to follow. Kwanten stars as a young police officer named Shane Cooper who relocates to the remote Aussie outpost Red Hill with his pregnant wife (Claire van der Boom) for a less stressful life. Cue Jimmy Conway (Tom E. Lewis), a convicted wife killer, escaping from prison on Shane's first day with one goal in mind: Swift revenge on those who put him away. There's a twist that Kwanten admits he didn't seem coming until late in the script: "I pride myself on picking those endings, and I did not pick it. I like to think that I'm remotely in the world of intelligent, so if I can make that mistake, I'm hoping other people could and it gets them actually thinking for a change at the end of a film, which would be nice." We caught up with Kwanten last week in New York, before news broke that he's set to star as Charles Manson in writer-director Scott Kosar's adaptation of the Ed Sanders' book The Family. (A rep for Kosar tells EW they're hoping to shoot in early July, after Kwanten wraps season 4 of True Blood, which begins production in early December.) We chatted with Kwanten about Red Hill, playing True Blood's Jason Stackhouse, and our burning question after reading his November 2010 Men's Heath cover story. (What alcohol does one drink to still perform well in a triathlon drunk?) 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Red Hill writer/director Patrick Hughes says he loves Westerns because there's no subtext to a bullet. There's right and there's wrong, and if you wronged someone, you're going to pay for it. Is that what drew you to the movie?
RYAN KWANTEN:
I'm a huge fan of the Western genre. At least half of my DVD collection is Westerns, everything from John Ford and Sergio Leone to Clint Eastwood. My favorite film of all time is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It's not the classic Western, but the chemistry between Redford and Newman, that story, the comedy, the drama, the tension, so many memorable scenes. Beyond that, I thought it was really interesting to see this character, my character, pitted as being the hero of the film, yet from the very first frame of the film, he had an abundance of flaws. He's forgotten his gun. He has to pick himself up off the floor every time he gets knocked down, and that to me was really unusual to have this so-called hero have all this fallibility to him. You're so used to the Clint Eastwood/John Wayne style where you feel like no matter how big the posse is that they're up against, they're gonna be okay. I never got that feeling with Shane. That was far more intriguing for me to play.

The character Jason Stackhouse has a certain dichotomy to him, as well. He's more brawn than brains, and yet, every now and then, he'll say something almost brilliant in its truth and simplicity. I'm always surprised, and yet, it's happened enough now that I shouldn't be. Do you have a favorite of those kind of moments?
I never cease to be amazed with the lines that they give me. In terms of a favorite, my favorite scene is probably the one at the end of season 2, when Jason and Andy are sitting in his pickup truck concocting a plan. Jason's trying to fire up Andy to go in and face the maenad, and Jason says, "This town might be full of crazy rednecks and dumbasses, but they're still Americans." And Andy says, "Yeah, and that used to mean something." And Jason looks at him and says, "And it still does." To me, that says a lot about who Jason is. He really is a patriotic American. He loves his country. That's a really special quality. As ignorant or dumb or naive as he may seem at times, there's a good person underneath it all.

I assume we'll be seeing that more of that in season 4, when Jason leads Crystal's kin in Hotshot. What can you tell me about season 4?
Nothin'. I pride myself on being one of the last to know [what'll happen next] because I almost feel like it hinders my performance to know too much, 'cause Jason very rarely knows what's happening in the next minute, let alone the next episode. So I like playing it with that kind of spontaneity… You're looking at me like I'm lying, but I'm honestly not. It's the absolute truth. It's why I stopped reading the [Charlaine Harris] books at book 2. I felt like it was getting in the way, I knew too much.

When will you actually read the first script?
A week before we start filming… You're just gonna have to wait, Mandi.

I'd love to see more scenes between Jason and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard), who I think can be amused by Jason's Rambo-ness.
There are so many characters on there that are unbelievably interesting. Jason is always sort of off doing his own thing in his own storyline. I very rarely get to see all those guys. I see them once a week at the table read. And at that table read, I'm always like, "What have you been doing? What have you been up to? What have you been shooting?" And they're the same with me … I would have liked to have had a scene with Denis O'Hare [who plays Russell]. I thought he was one of our best villains. I thought Jason and Russell would have been an interesting kind of predicament. Do you know what I mean?

Yeah. I don't know how he would have dealt with Jason.
He just would have been scratching his head. "These humans…" Jason is probably the worst of what Russell thinks humans represent — no brains, all that kind of thing. Jason would have looked at him like, "You're the king? You're what everyone looks up to?"

Okay, let's get to questions you can answer. I read in a 2009 Men's Health interview that you were on a bowling team. I've always wondered what your team name was, and what's your average.
I was the worst bowler on my team, but our team was actually pretty good… They'd be happy that I said that we were pretty good. Our team name was… god, we had to change it, because the first one was a little too racy for the league.

Excellent. What was it?
It was like Balls Deep or something. I think it's The Untouchables or something now, something innocuous.

You're no longer on the team?
It's easier for me to be in the league when I'm shooting True Blood, because I'm basically [in Los Angeles] for six months of the year. But when I'm not, I'm wherever a film dictates that I should be, so it's hard for me to give loyalty to the team.

Your current Men's Health cover story mentions that you've shown up drunk to compete in a triathlon before. New burning question: What alcohol should one drink before competing in a triathlon?
What's the fuel? I don't think there's a specific type of concoction. They always say "Never mix," but I think that's probably something you should do if you want to go and do something that involves as much pain as a triathlon could involve. It definitely numbs the pain while you're racing. So, no sleep. Lots of alcohol. And then just have your drunk friends on the side supporting you, pushing you through.

We've also read how when you first came to L.A., you convinced a hotel owner to let you stay three months, and you'd pay him at the end of that time. Is that a common story for young actors?
Are you saying I plagiarized that story? [Laughs] How did you find out? No! Stop the recorder!

No, I mean, I'm wondering if you have friends who did something similar. How did you think of that and make it work?
When you talk about life-changing moments, it was that moment when I was sitting up in the hotel room. The executive producer of the film that I was [in L.A.] to promote called me and said, "You might want to think about sticking around. Because we got a good response for the film." I said to her, with all honesty, " I don't have any money. I have just enough money to last through today, and I'm leaving today." And she said, "Well, are you gonna regret it if you leave?" And I said, "Well, I really don't have a choice. I've got no money." That's how we left the conversation. I sat on the edge of the bed wondering, "Am I gonna regret it? How can I make this work?" I came up with the ridiculous idea, I thought, of going to the manager, and then saying, "Can I speak to the owner, please?" He looked at me like I was crazy, which I probably was. I had a meeting with the owner and looked him firmly in the eyes. He saw something in my conviction that convinced him that I was trustworthy. And I've paid him back in more ways than one. He's now getting mentioned in a lot of interviews.

Would you like to name the hotel?
[Smiles] The Cadillac Hotel in Venice.

Follow: @EWMandiBierly

Read more:
'Red Hill' trailer: Ryan Kwanten is a real cop with his real accent
'True Blood': 10 Sexiest Hookups

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Ron Howard on 'The Dilemma's' gay joke: It stays in the movie - Los Angeles Times

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 06:30 PM PDT

Ron_howard Comics have been making gay jokes for years, but perhaps none of them has caused as much of a stir as the quip uttered by Vince Vaughn when he made fun of an electric car by saying, "It's gay," in the trailer for the upcoming Ron Howard comedy, "The Dilemma." Coming just as the media was full of stories about taunts and attacks on gay teens that drove some to suicide, the joke hit a raw nerve. After CNN's Anderson Cooper publicly took issue with the trailer's joke, saying "we've got to do something to make those words unacceptable 'cause those words are hurting kids," a full-blown controversy erupted. Universal Pictures pulled the trailer, substituting a new one scrubbed of any gay humor.

But that was three weeks ago, and this is now. Universal has confirmed to me that the joke is staying in the movie, which is slated for release in January. The decision is ultimately Howard's call, since he is a final-cut director, although my sources tell me that Howard sought advice from a variety of sources, not only from talent involved with the film but also from people at Universal and in the larger comedy community.

I've already staked out my own opinion on the issue in a column I wrote several weeks ago. I concluded that "comedy is a lot like free speech--sometimes you have to hold your nose to support it." In other words, I'm not sure that I'm all that comfortable with most of the gay jokes I've heard, but once you start trying to make value judgments about one joke over another, you're on a slippery slope to the arid wasteland of political correctness.

Howard recently asked if he could respond to a series of questions I'd raised when the news first broke about the controversy. He's provided answers to everything I initially wondered about, and even asked a few provocative questions of his own. He makes one particularly important point about an issue that was lost in all the hubbub, but applies to a lot of art that is viewed as offensive or controversial: Just because a character in a film says or does something wildly inappropriate doesn't necessarily mean that the filmmaker agrees with it.

He explains why the joke stays in the film, as well as offers his take on the difference between sensitivity and censorship. Here's what Howard has to say:

Patrick,

I've been reading your posts about THE DILEMMA with a lot of interest.
In the couple of weeks since you started covering the debate over our
joke, it seems a larger conversation made up of many questions about all
sorts of freedoms of expression has broken out: When's it okay to walk
off of a talk show if you disagree with the guest? Who is appropriate to
cast in a movie and who gets to decide that? Should news people be held
to a different standard in what they say? How risqué can a photo shoot
be for a men's magazine promoting an all-audience show? What role does
comedy play in both pointing out differences and unifying us through
laughter? 

They're all good questions and I'm certainly not the person who has
definitive answers to all of them. The debate about what is appropriate
in films and advertising has been going on since well before I started
in the business -- which is to say a very long time -- and will never
have a conclusion. But I do have some answers to the five questions you put
forth in your post. I suppose you're right that since our
movie about two friends trying to do right for each other has been caught up
in this larger debate, I'll have to face these questions as we start to
promote THE DILEMMA. I figured I'd address your questions here and maybe
answer them once and not from, as you said, "every reporter with a
functioning brain." So here we go.

So why was the joke in the movie? Our lead character of Ronny Valentine has
a mouth that sometimes gets him into trouble and he definitely flirts with
the line of what's okay to say. He tries to do what's right but sometimes
falls short. Who can't relate to that? I am drawn to films that have a
variety of characters with different points of view who clash, conflict and
learn to live with each other. THE DILEMMA is a story full of flawed
characters whose lives are complicated by the things they say to and hide
from each other. Ronny is far from perfect and he does and says some
outrageous things along the way.

Was it in the script or was it a Vince Vaughn ad lib? Vince is a brilliant
improvisational actor, but in this case It was always in the script. THE
DILEMMA is a comedy for grown-ups, not kids. It's true that the moment took
on extra significance in light of some events that surrounded the release of
the trailer and the studio made the decision to remove it from advertising,
which I think was appropriate. I believe in sensitivity but not censorship.
I feel that our film is taking additional heat as an emblem for many movies
and TV shows that preceded it that have even more provocative
characterizations and language. It is a slight moment in THE DILEMMA meant
to demonstrate an aspect of our lead character's personality, and we never
expected it to represent our intentions or the point of view of the movie or
those of us who made it.

Did you think it wasn't offensive? I don't strip my films of everything
that I might personally find inappropriate. Comedy or drama, I'm always
trying to make choices that stir the audience in all kinds of ways. This
Ronny Valentine character can be offensive and inappropriate at times and
those traits are fundamental to his personality and the way our story works.

Will comedy be neutered if everyone gets to complain about every
potentially offensive joke in every comedy that's made? Anybody can
complain about anything in our country. It's what I love about this place.
I defend the right for some people to express offense at a joke as
strongly as I do the right for that joke to be in a film. But if
storytellers, comedians, actors and artists are strong armed into making
creative changes, it will endanger comedy as both entertainment and a
provoker of thought.

And what do you have against electric cars anyway? Nothing! We have a
couple of them in our family including the one I primarily and happily
drive. Guess what that makes me in the eyes of our lead character? But
then again, I don't agree with everything Ronny Valentine says and does
in this comedy any more than Vince Vaughn, the screenwriter or any
member of the audience should for that matter.

Photo: Ron Howard at an Academy luncheon in 2009 honoring its Oscar nominees. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

 

 

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How do you keep audience engaged when movie plot is already well known? - Kansas City Star

Posted: 03 Nov 2010 12:01 AM PDT

By CHRISTOPHER BORRELLI

Chicago Tribune

Early on in "127 Hours," around hour 10 or so, James Franco, who has fallen into a canyon and stands awkwardly trapped with one arm beneath a boulder, pulls out a cheap pocket tool, a multiuse thingamajig with a particularly dull knife. He pokes tentatively at his right arm with the rounded edge. He never breaks the skin, though. Not yet, he doesn't. The audience recoils anyway. Which, in an odd way, feels reminiscent of the opening moments in "Secretariat": We hear Diane Lane's smooth, crisp voice reading from the Book of Job as we watch a magnificent animal being loaded into a starting gate, its ears twitching, its nostrils flaring. Which itself recalls, to a degree, a very different moment, early in "The Social Network": Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg sits with his lawyer across a table from his best friend and lawyer. Nobody is smiling.

How do these scenes connect? Each hints at a future.

Then there's "Fair Game," opening Friday, which, in a nutshell, is the Valerie-Plame-Joe-Wilson-leaked- CIA-spy-identity tale. Director Doug Liman makes a curious decision: Rather than telegraph many details of the outcome, an outcome we knew we would get before entering the theater, he takes the "All the President's Men" route and simply offers the story, piece by piece. Relatively speaking, compared with "Social Network," "127 Hours" or "Secretariat," "Fair Game" seems to play out in real time.

And raises a question: How do movies based on real events wrestle with a preordained ending?

- "Fair Game" (Nov. 5)

What's the story? Plame-gate. The White House, in retaliation for a New York Times editorial written by Plame's husband that dismisses claims that Iraq was trying to buy uranium (which led to the "smoking gun in the shape of a mushroom cloud" thing), the White House leaks Valerie Plame's identity: CIA operative.

Are the details well known? The details of the scandal, of course. Beyond that, not really.

How does the film handle the audience's awareness of its inevitable ending? Doug Liman said the decision was made early on to do a lot of original reporting about Plame and "focus on the part of Valerie's story that wasn't known, the part that was still classified, and that became the bulk of the story. People forget, but she swore an oath, so when all this stuff happened, she could not talk about things. She could not say what she was doing on a day-to-day basis." He said he started with the outcome, then worked backward. "In terms of suspense, we shifted that to other crises, like the question of whether or not these Iraqi scientists will get out of the country. What we didn't want was a film full of things that everyone knows. I took that lesson from watching 'Green Zone' and Matt Damon running around going 'Where are the WMDs?' You're in the audience thinking, 'Yeah, there are no WMDs!' I think that was in the back of mind, as an example of what not to do."

Is there ever a feeling that we'll get something other than the ending we're expecting? No, but then there are no winks at that ending either.

- "The Social Network" (now playing)

What's the story? Mark Zuckerberg creates Facebook. Or does he? Either way, the result is many lost friends and litigious Harvard classmates.

Are the details well known? Yes, the vague outline.

How does the film handle the audience's awareness of its inevitable ending? By being upfront. By framing Facebook's birth as a business thriller by way of a character sketch - a thriller less reliant on traditional Grisham-esque tension than an ever-present chance of betrayal and, perversely, a different kind of cliffhanger: How many friends will Zuckerberg be left with? The first moments are a hint, focusing on Zuckerberg's mean-spirited reaction to a breakup (suggesting there was little sociability left to lose). Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director David Fincher tinker with time, switching between Zuckerberg working on Facebook and the cold legalities that followed; Jesse Eisenberg's motor-mouth delivery feels like an act of foreshadowing, so glib and devoid of niceties that you just know harsh ramifications will be inevitable. They also tinker with the details, to great effect: "I dramatized the fact that there were conflicting stories," Sorkin told New York magazine - leaving the audience not with just an expected outcome but an argumentative one.

Is there ever a feeling that we'll get something other than the ending we're expecting? If you really wondered, you must be on Friendster.

- "127 Hours" (Friday)

What's the story? In 2003, Aron Ralston, a young but experienced climber, fell into a canyon in Utah and was trapped beneath a boulder for more than five days with little water. He cut off his right arm to escape (and later wrote a memoir).

Are the details well known? Somewhat. (And if you're not aware of Ralston's story, the film's marketing plays up its true-life angle.)

How does the film handle the audience's awareness of its inevitable ending? The title screen, "127 Hours,' doesn't come up until the moment Ralston is trapped. Which creates a clock in your head. Also, there's a lot of foreshadowing - a dripping faucet, a last-minute grab of a second bottle of Gatorade - some of it subtle, some not so much. Christian Colson, who produced the film (and "Slumdog Millionaire") with director Danny Boyle, said they always thought that "if you could keep the audience constantly within the present tense, then you make the audience forget a bit. The guy's name is on the opening credits, so you look for other things to distract. We had this thing called storytelling by amplification, where tiny incidents carry disproportionate weight to how they would in a traditional story." The sun rising, for instance. Franco's attempt to reclaim a knife. The suspense is there; it's just not focused on his arm. "And if you read the book, we also had the benefit of information gathered in the three years that passed since the book."

Is there ever a feeling that we'll get something other than the ending we're expecting? Frequently. Or at least, the feeling that perhaps it didn't play out exactly as you heard. "We tried to embed that in our approach," Colson said. The outlook is grim for a long while; even a quick moment early on when Franco tumbles from his bike, then laughs and takes a picture of himself on the ground feels as fatalistic as it is breezy. By forgetting the survival elements of the story for a while (and focusing on his life), the audience is now never quite sure when the climatic moment of release will happen."

-"Secretariat" (now playing)

What's the story? In 1973, 3-year old Secretariat wins the first Triple Crown in 25 years, setting records that remain unbroken.

Are the details well known? Yes. (And our collective awareness of the history of uplifting sports movie does it no favors.)

How does the film handle the audience's awareness of its inevitable ending? In two ways: No. 1, by shifting the story's focus to Diane Lane's Denver housewife, who inherits a fledgling horse, then lets her family relationships suffer (Indeed, the Preakness is mainly watched on a television with the family, lending a slightly unpredictable air to the outcome); No. 2, with races so involving the traditional mechanics of suspense simply take over. Director Randall Wallace, who also made "We Were Soldiers" and wrote "Braveheart," said he doesn't believe in "intellectualizing a situation or stepping outside of a moment and considering it from a distance but drawing the audience in by making it as much a primary experience as possible. I don't want them to watch Secretariat. I want them to be him. You don't want them in a space where they're intellectualizing and thinking, 'Yeah, I know what's going to happen.'" He also gives nearly every character (including the horse) a moment alone: "My father once said to me, 'People will remember almost nothing of what you say and only slightly more of what you do, but all their lives they will remember the way you made them feel.' I believe that applies here."

Is there ever a feeling that we'll get something other than the ending we're expecting? The first scene quotes biblical prophesy. So, uh, no.

Christopher Borrelli: cborrelli@tribune.com

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