Every once in a while a person just has to scream it loud, “I’m a journo and I’m proud!” The following is a sampling of celebrities I have interviewed, talked to, and photographed at New York City red carpet events,Q&A press events, and exclusive interviews. Oh, and as of today, my YouTube Channel stats are up to 1,089,950 minutes watched and 937,714 views. Not bad for a self-employed writer, eh?
Woody Allen, Moran Atias, Alec Baldwin, Roseanne Barr, Kim Basinger, Angela Bassett, Jamie Bell, Mayim Bialik, Prince Lorenzo Borghese, Kate Bosworth, Lorraine Bracco, Abigail Breslin, Jeff Bridges, Adam Brody, Albert Brooks, Zlatko Buric, Gerard Butler, Rose Byrne, Lizzy Caplan, Patricia Clarkson, Glenn Close, Laverne Cox, Billy Crudup, Penélope Cruz, Rory Culkin, Willem Dafoe, Paul Dalio, Rosario Dawson, Robert De Niro, Kirsten Dunst, Aaron Eckhart, Peter Facinelli, Michael Fassbender, Abel Ferrara, Ralph Fiennes, Isla Fisher, Ciaran Foy, James Franco, Antoine Fuqua, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Julia Garner, Paul Giamatti, Alex Gibney, Terry Gilliam, Domhnall Gleeson, Shep Gordon, Ryan Gosling, Maggie Grace, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Paul Haggis, Tom Hardy, Lucas Hedges, Katherine Heigl, Jonah Hill, Emile Hirsch, Katie Holmes, Gavin Hood, Vanessa Hudgens, Holly Hunter, Oscar Isaac, Allison Janney, Richard Jenkins, Felicity Jones, Jason Katims, Zoe Kazan, Catherine Keener, Jack Kesy, Sir Ben Kingsley, Luke Kirby, Kevin Kline, Steven Knight, Shia LaBeouf, Christine Lahti, Peter Landesman, Frank Langella, Jill Larson, Juliette Lewis, Liana Liberato, Ray Liotta, Justin Long, Kevin Macdonald, Dylan McDermott, Mads Mikkelsen, Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Erroll Morris, David Morse, Viggo Mortensen, Cillian Murphy, Kumail Nanjiani
Edward James Olmos, Elizabeth Olsen, Ellen Page, Josh Pais, Vanessa Paradis, Nate Parker, Aaron Paul, Bernadette Peters, Oliver Platt, Carrie Preston, Richard Pryor, Jr., Kathleen Quinlan, Daniel Radcliff, James Ransone, Jeremy Renner, Jason Ritter, Eric Roberts, Ray Romano, Paul Rudd, Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Peter Sarsgaard, John Sayles, Liev Schreiber, Adam Scott, Kristin Scott Thomas, Michael Shannon, Alia Shawkat, Alexander Skarsgard, Stellan Skarsgard, Christian Slater, Mira Sorvino, Paul Sorvino, Steven Spielberg, Kristen Stewart, Sir Patrick Stewart, Jerry Stiller, Juno Temple, Fred Thompson, Uma Thurman, Lily Tomlin, John Turturro, Sofia Vergara, Alicia Vikander, Sam Waterston, Naomi Watts, Forest Whitaker, Michael K. Williams, Patrick Wilson, Nicolas Winding Refn, Nat Wolff, Elijah Wood, Evan Rachel Wood, Bob Zappa
Kirsten Dunst is the topic for the cover article of Honeysuckle Magazine. This tribute piece is in the print issue titled “HERS.” We are celebrating women. Check out the fabulous design by Naomi Rosenblatt, Editor-in-Chief.
Hollywood has convinced so many women to fix their “imperfections.” Not Kirsten Dunst. When the actress showed up on the set of her first Spider-Man movie, she was told to get her crooked teeth straightened. Dunst refused. “I was like, ‘No, my teeth are cool!’” Now, at age 35, Dunst has once again delivered a fi rm “No” to a filmmaker’s request. She was asked to drop some pounds for her role as Miss Edwina in the new Southern gothic thriller, The Beguiled, but Dunst said (I’m paraphrasing here), “Nope, not gonna happen.”
Oh, the irony—it was her close friend and long-time collaborator, director Sofia Coppola, who asked Dunst to slim down. Yet it was also Coppola who advised a sixteen-year-old Dunst never to change her teeth during their first work project, 1999’s The Virgin Suicides. That was the film that some would argue really put Dunst on the Hollywood movies map. In 2006, Coppola also directed Dunst in Marie Antoinette.
The Beguiled is Dunst and Coppola’s third time making a film together. It is a remake of the 1971 movie starring Clint Eastwood, and both films are based on a novel by Thomas Cullinan. The scenes are lusty and tense, and loaded with director Coppola’s love of atmosphere and high drama. It’s a thriller that takes place in Virginia during the Civil War.
In the opener, young Miss Amy (Oona Laurence), is out picking mushrooms when she spots a Yankee soldier, Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell). He is suffering with a badly wounded leg. She feels sorry for him and helps him back to a plantation that used to be a boarding school for girls. During wartime, it has become a shelter for six women. Dunst’s character, Miss Edwina, is a school teacher. Miss Martha, the headmistress, is played by Nicole Kidman, who teeter-totters between seemingly very good and kind, and capable of dastardly deeds. Elle Fanning plays one of the students.
With six women living under duress, McBurney’s arrival creates quite a stir. He’s not a particularly good guy in that he manipulates the women and pits them against each other by using his seductive wiles. While the women tend to his wounds, a houseful of sexual electricity sizzles. I must say, it is so refreshing to see a female director’s decision to keep all of the women clothed, but turn the man into a bare sex object. There is humor amidst the intensity.
Recently, Dunst appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. After congratulating her on both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her role in the FX series, Fargo, Fallon urged Dunst to dish on her engagement to Fargo co-star Jesse Plemons. A blushing Dunst said that she really wanted to keep things private—especially because her fiancé and their families were watching. She confirmed the engagement and added that she was glad that she and Plemons had become really good friends first.
Fallon, continuing to press for more juicy deets, pointed out how amazing it was that by agreeing to work on that television show, Dunst met the guy she is going to marry. The actress threw her arms up in the air in mock exasperation and said, “Yes, that is amazing. I’ll name my kid Fargo Season 2.”
Her great sense of humor and quick smile are endearing and I feel lucky to have witnessed them up close when I interviewed Dunst myself on a few occasions related to her earlier movies. In 2014, I chatted with Dunst, alongside her sexy co-star Viggo Mortensen. That film, The Two Faces of January, opens with Colette (Dunst) and her husband, Chester MacFarland (Mortensen) looking very well-off, gorgeous and Great Gatsby-ish. We see them enjoying a carefree vacation in Greece, looking happy and in love. While sightseeing at the Acropolis, they meet Rydal (Oscar Isaac), a young American working as a tour guide. Rydal is dazzling gullible tourists right out of their dough, when suddenly he spots Colette and Chester. The opportunist first noticed Collette for her beauty, but then immediately sizes her up as another potential patsy. What Rydal doesn’t realize is that the slick and dangerous Chester had already been spying on the conman.
When I interviewed The Two Faces of January director and screenwriter, Hossein Amini, I asked him how he had chosen Dunst to play Collette. “I’d seen her in so many movies,” he said. “What I was really struck by is how smart she is. She has this extraordinary intuitive sense of a scene. She knows what’s going to work and what’s not. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up being a fantastic director. There’s an intelligence and sensitivity and almost telepathic understanding of the people she’s working with.”
Oh, how right Amini was! Dunst will be making her feature film directing debut in 2018 with The Bell Jar, an adaptation of the only novel by poet Sylvia Plath. Dakota Fanning will play the lead role of Esther Greenwood, the semi-autobiographical Plath character who descends into mental illness. Dunst and Nellie Kim co-wrote the screenplay. She has cast her fiancé Plemons to star opposite Fanning.
Dunst told me one of her reasons for doing that film was that she’d met Viggo before. Dunst shot him her signature dimpled smiled and said, “We were also both in On the Road, but we didn’t have any work together.” She mentioned that Mortensen also knew her then-boyfriend, On the Road co-star, Garrett Hedlund. She added that she’d also already known Isaac. “I immediately felt like I trust, and feel comfortable, with these people, which is very rare to happen.”
When I asked about challenges during the making of that film, Dunst said, “Sometimes for me, I felt like it was all about the boys. Sometimes Colette is objectified, since she’s the only female. But I wanted to be a part of this film because I loved the script so much, and Viggo was already attached.” She explained, “I wanted to make Colette as much of a character as I could. But it’s also about the guys, so that was probably the hardest thing for me—I wanted to make her as full as possible, when she could have easily just been a throw-away character.”
She added, “What’s interesting is that when I watch movies that are only about boys, and there aren’t any interesting female characters, I don’t really end up liking it that much.”
An earlier time I met with Dunst was in 2012, a year after she had finished Melancholia and really wanted to do a comedy. “I hadn’t done one in a while,” she said. “People don’t see you in that light unless you’re a comedic actress,” she said. “I didn’t want be pigeonholed in any type of mood, because I got a lot of scripts after Melancholia that were heady, weird, depressing. I’m like, I’m not gonna repeat this again. It’s boring for me and for everyone else, too.”
That’s how she decided on the edgy Bachelorette, which was released the following year. “I got this script, Lizzy [Caplan] was attached to and met Leslye [Headland, the director] and then I was like, this is hilarious and I would love to go completely opposite and be in this project.”
Due to the title of the movie, she mentioned the reality television show, The Bachelorette. “I like those TV shows,” said Dunst. “They’re just so ridiculous; everyone vying for a rose.” She laughed, flashing that awesome smile. “It’s so dramatic,” she said. “It’s just amazing trash television that you can watch with your mom and grandma on a Monday night!”
Dunst enjoyed her character in Bachelorette. “We look like a mess in the end of the movie,” she said. Isla Fisher chimed in, “We’re bad people doing bad things and, frankly, it’s not glossed over.” Dunst agreed and said, “I think that’s refreshing.”
Bachelorette won Official Selection at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and also starred Isla Fisher and Rebel Wilson. When I interviewed director Headland, she bounced right into a midtown Manhattan hotel room, talking fast with her blonde hair flying. She has a deep ballsy laugh yet also projects an endearing, almost childlike, vulnerability. Headlund said, “Meeting Kirsten was nerve-wracking. I remember driving to meet her and I’d smoked like 37 cigarettes and had like 18 shots of espresso. I just really wanted her to do this movie and I didn’t know what I should do to get her to say yes. Directors that I look up to—like Kubrick and Altman—have reputations of being manipulators but I’m so not like that. I’m such an open book. I thought I was going to really have to talk her into doing it.”
Much to Headlund’s delight, Dunst happily signed on. “It was a gift from God that Kirsten, who I was a huge fan of, liked the character,” said the director.
Dunst is doing all right for herself, eh? This A-lister began her career as a three-year-old child fashion model for TV commercials. She signed on with Ford and Elite modeling agencies. At age six she was in her first feature film, New York Stories, where she appeared in Woody Allen’s section titled, Oedipus Wrecks. A year after that, she co-starred with Tom Hanks in 1990s Bonfire of the Vanities. Her biggest movie breakthrough came in 1994, when Dunst was 11 and played Claudia in Interview with the Vampire with Brad Pitt.
On September 15, you’ll be able to catch Dunst in A24’s arty and haunting thriller, Woodshock. She plays Theresa, an isolated, grief-stricken woman who becomes paranoid after taking a powerful, reality-twisting drug. The film is the directing debut for Los Angeles fashion designers and screenwriting sisters, Kate and Laura Mulleavy. Until its release, you can check out the movie’s psychedelic, trippy trailer.
“It’s kind of your job as an actress to define what kind of things you want to do, and the types of people you want to surround yourself with,” Dunst told me. “It’s really your taste and what you want because everything is out there. It’s just how you go about your own process and what’s true to who you are and what you want to put out in the world.”
For all of her strength, smarts, and success, we celebrate Kirsten Dunst as the woman with the HERS spirit for this issue of Honeysuckle Magazine.
Photo: Diane Russo — Written for Honeysuckle Magazine • HERS issue • PDF
Women Who Kill is a feature film written and directed by Ingrid Jungermann who also stars as main character Morgan, a commitment-phobe. While screening the film, I fell in love with Jungermann’s striking face. Angular and piercing it grabs you and becomes more and more intriguing via her black-as-soot humor and deadpan delivery. Her long, lean model build is perfect for a movie screen but it’s her wit and quirks that stand out most of all.
I was thrilled to land an exclusive interview with Jungermann. It was right after the July 4 holiday when she returned to her native NYC. Despite exhaustion—and directly due to my pleading—the rising star made time for the interview. It did not take any convincing for my editors to say she was perfect for this HER issue of Honeysuckle.
Women Who Kill debuted at Tribeca Film Festival in 2016 and received the jury award for Best Screenplay. Indiewire described it as the “Best Lesbian Horror-Comedy Ever.” I have to agree. The film racked up a slew of awards at film festivals: Best Screenplay at Outfest; and Weekend. It won Best Narrative Feature at Indie Street; Seattle TWIST Queer; Melbourne Queer; and Oslo Fusion International. It also received Honorable Mention for Outstanding First Feature at Frameline.
It is a love triangle between two ex-girlfriends, Morgan and Jean (Ann Carr), who still live and work together. They’re true crime podcasters with a show about female serial killers. The exes spend so much time together, it has impeded letting go of the relationship. The heat dial turns way up when Morgan meets beautiful new love interest, Simone (Sheila Vand). Soon the high drama kicks in when the podcasting lesbians obsessed with murders begin to fear that Simone may be one. Now, let’s get to the interview!
Dorri Olds: Want to tell if she is a murderer?
Ingrid Jungermann: I can’t. [Laughs]
What planted the seed for this story?
It’s funny, when I first watched the film at Tribeca, and throughout the whole finishing process, and then over the months of screening at festivals, I saw that the movie was clearly a personal film about my own struggles with relationships. It was my version of a romantic comedy in a twisted way. The new script that I’m working on right now is a romantic comedy, but it’s a satire about the genre.
It’s like a queer person’s first experience with love, especially with a religious background, which is not a positive experience because you’re working through feeling all these dark emotions, when you really should just be feeling the pure emotions.
What religion were you brought up with?
I’ve heard the followers are judgmental.
Yeah, exactly. I came out as soon as I left home at 17, when I went to college. That year I realized I was gay, or at least became more comfortable with it. I was probably one of the last people who realized I was gay. I don’t think it was a big surprise to many people. I grew up in Florida and there is no language for it. No allowance for the feelings. You walk around with a secret. I worked at Blockbuster Video and I remember seeing the queer section and that was one of the ways I could put language to how I was feeling, but I still didn’t realize at that time that I was gay.
Did you experience any self-loathing?
People in the arts can be more sensitive and are naturally gonna question things about themselves, where other people might not. Certainly, self-loathing was part of it. Internalizing some of those views, yeah. That’s something that takes many years to get at and hopefully unravel. Then you come out on the other side, understanding that self-loathing was really unfortunate. I feel we’re trained to be that way. It takes a long time to get out of that. Then years of therapy.
How do you feel about the vitriol in America right now thanks to Trump?
I definitely feel the hatred. He’s given people a free pass on that kind of language. The vitriolic language and darkness everybody is feeling is at an all-time high. We are experiencing a collective depression.
Anything new and exciting on the horizon?
Yes, I’m in development for my next feature with QC Entertainment, who worked with Blumhouse on Get Out.
Yeah. So, I’m writing this satirical romcom. It’s formulaic except it’s a commentary on formula. I like formula and structure and playing with the genre, and shaking it up and making a joke of itself.
Any nod to classic movies?
This was inspired by Tootsie. That idea of dressing up as someone you’re not. I’m also studying films from the 40s and 50s—going back to see how romantic comedies started and what they became. It’s fun.
Women Who Kill next screens in New York, July 26–August 1 at IFC (wwkmovie.com).
Academy Award-winner Holly Hunter (The Piano) continues to hit it big. With a career spanning 35 years, she remains an electrifying force. In our sadly still-patriarchal society, it is impressive to see any actress past 40 still landing the high-quality and sought-after parts. At 59, Hunter is holding her own in an industry that hands over longer shelf-life to male counterparts.
Hunter’s voice still has that sweet-Georgia-peach twang, even though she has long been a New York City resident. But her Big Apple attitude gets her to where she’s going.
It was a thrill to meet her recently at Manhattan’s Four Seasons hotel. She was there to talk about The Big Sick, the runaway hit she has a starring role in. The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20 to glowing reviews. It was picked up by Amazon Studios and Lionsgate and given a limited release on June 23. The critics are still raving. It opens nationwide on July 14.
Hunter plays Beth, a wife and mother, married to Terry (Ray Romano). Early in the film—not a spoiler, it’s in the trailer—the panicked couple rushes to the emergency room where doctors need to put their daughter Emily (Zoe Kazan) into a medically induced coma to save her life.
Labeling The Big Sick as a romcom is a tad misleading—not because it isn’t funny. It is. And the plot is about a romance, but, if we were gazing at a dating site, the box checked would be: “It’s complicated.” The story is based on the odd, real-life love affair between Pakistani-American comedian Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) and his now-wife, Emily V. Gordon, a former therapist. The couple co-wrote the script but went through many rewrites. It was really a group effort and took three long years until it was ready.
Just before speaking with Hunter, I had a private chat with The Big Sick’s handsome co-producer, Barry Mendel (Trainwreck, Munich, The Sixth Sense). I asked him what it was like working with Hunter.
“Uh, a little bit scary,” he said. I laughed and asked why. “Because she’s kind of like a very, very good bullshit detector. You really have to be on your game and ready to answer questions like ‘Why are we doing it this way?’ Or ‘Why is the story done that way?’ You have to get up to her level and when you do, it’s exhilarating!” He smiled, and then whispered, “But, it’s a scary proposition.” To clarify, I asked if he meant that she’d made suggested changes to the script. He nodded his head emphatically. “Yes,” he said. “A lot of suggestions. Many things in the movie came from her own experiences. She contributed a lot of herself to the movie.”
Hunter expressed a lot of respect for the producers, her co-stars, and especially for Gordon and Nanjiani. “It was interesting,” she said, “It’s a testament to the kind of overarching confidence that just manifests its way through the whole movie.” She explained that it began with the co-producers Mendel and Judd Apatow. Then she praised Nanjiani and Emily: “They did this, Kumail and Emily. I mean they walked through fire in some ways to put this down on paper. I would imagine it couldn’t have been an easy thing to accomplish. Then we come along and we’ve got all these ideas, you know, Barry and Judd, Zoe and Ray and I, had tons of ideas….Then there was this kind of open-armed process of accepting all those ideas. Seeing if they might fly.” She described an intense rehearsal period discussing ways to rework the script to make the scenes even richer.
“That’s not always received as openly as it was with this project,” Hunter said. “There was just this whole other act where it was like,” Throwing her arms up she said, “It was like ‘Come on, you guys, what’ve you got?’” Then she compared it to theater: “Like in a play, and working it into shape to fit it on stage.”
She described that what she loves is “to make a movie feel lived in, which I think is a very hard thing to do. With a lot of movies, you watch them and it’s pretty easy to feel like they’re fake. I think the things that we strived to do, and that because the acting was so good, we were able to [make it] feel lived in and real—like the wheels.”
You gotta just love the way this woman expresses herself.
The true story behind The Big Sick is when Nanjiani met Gordon ten years ago. He was a fledgling stand-up comic and she heckled him from the audience. They ended up spending the night together, intending it only as a one-night-stand. Complications ensued, however, when accidentally they fell in love. Nanjiani’s traditional Muslim parents wanted him to marry a Pakistani woman and being too chicken to oppose them, he broke up with Emily.
The high drama kicks in when Nanjiani finds out Emily is in the ER and realizes how strong his feelings for her really are and he rushes to be by her side. It is in the hospital’s waiting area where he awkwardly meets Emily’s folks for the first time.
Hunter is getting tons of awards buzz for her exquisite portrayal of an incredibly pissed-off mama bear. Beth can’t stand even looking at Nanjiani because she and her daughter are close and Emily had confided in her. Knowing that her daughter had been dumped in such an abrupt and cowardly way, makes Beth despise him. That scene comes across very realistically—if I had been Emily, my own mother’s loyalty would’ve made her behave in much the same way! I am not usually a big fan of romantic comedies; I’m drawn to darker fare like twisted psychological thrillers. But this is not a typical story, the acting is stellar and it is a very satisfying film.
Hunter and I also spoke about her upcoming HBO series with Alan Ball (Six Feet Under). “It’s called Here, Now,” she said. “I’ve done one episode so far.” She plays the lead, Audrey Black, who was a therapist before switching gears and joining the corporate world to make more money. Her husband Greg, played by Tim Robbins, is a philosophy professor who is questioning his life and purpose, sliding into depression. It’s a much-anticipated 10-episode series that revolves around this middle-aged couple who adopted children from Colombia, Somalia and Vietnam, then have their fourth kid while they’re in their forties. Audrey’s marriage is straining at the seams and one of their kids, begins seeing things that may—or may not—really be there.
She also spoke about her movie Strange Weather, which premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. Hunter had nothing but great things to say about writer-director Katherine Dieckmann.
The indie is a portrait of Darcy Baylor (Hunter), who is forced to deal with her son’s death many years after he had committed suicide. Hunter told Deadline Hollywood that her character, Darcy, “really uses revenge as the gasoline that she puts in her car to drive it.” Despite the heavy subject matter, Hunter has once again found a film with a lot of humor in what she referred to as “very unexpected places.”
For anyone not familiar with Hunter’s background, her career has had an amazing trajectory since she began in the early 80s. Her first big hit was 1987’s Raising Arizona. She played an ex-cop named Ed, who was the love interest of Nicolas Cage’s character, an ex-con. When the two find out they’re not able to conceive a child, they steal a baby. The quirky comedy is the brilliant brainchild of the fabulous Coen brothers—hence, it is hilarious.
Also in 1987, Hunter had another huge hit with Broadcast News, another romantic comedy drama co-starring William Hurt and Albert Brooks. Hunter’s big Oscar win came in 1993 for The Piano when she played Ana, a mute woman in a steamy drama about love, music, and an arranged marriage. It is worth mentioning the other Academy Awards the film raked in: Anna Paquin won Best Supporting Actress as Ada’s daughter. The 11-year-old Paquin had beat out 5000 candidates and it was her first acting role. If you’ve never seen Paquin’s acceptance speech, check it out. It’s precious). The Piano also won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and writer-director Jane Campion became the first woman to ever win the Palme d’Or, the highest prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
So, yeah, for being strong, sassy, and awesome, we knew Holly Hunter had to be included in Honeysuckle’s “HER” issue.
The Big Sick is now playing in theaters nationwide. Comedy, Romance, Drama. Rated R. 119 min.
Strange Weather opens in theaters, VOD and digital platforms on July 28. Drama. Rated R. 92 min.
“We are thrilled to throw another stone at the glass ceiling of Hollywood, by hiring more women than men, while telling this darkly comic stereotype-breaking story about parenthood,” said Reiner.
(Christina Hendricks, Photo by Tony Duran)
When fearless conceptual artist Tina (Reiner) and her passive-aggressive feminist husband (Akinnagbe) invite her eight-month pregnant art school rival (Hendricks) and power-hungry, new money husband Don (Basche) to their loft in the Bronx for dinner, they surprise them with Tina’s new work-in-progress: a radical alternative to motherhood. But when Tina and Wayne’s, non-traditional surrogate Kiki (Camp) arrives in short shorts, the truth outs, and the patriarchy fights to hang on to its teeth.
Marianna Palka is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, actress and four time Sundance Film Festival alumnae. Her directorial debut, Good Dick, which she wrote and starred in with Jason Ritter, premiered in dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival. Palka is represented by United Agents UK.
(Alysia Reiner, Photo by Tito Trueba)
Alysia Reiner is an award-winning actress who moved into producing with last summer’s hit film Equity, in which she also starred. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2016 and was quickly snapped up by Sony Pictures Classics. In front of the camera, she won a SAG award playing “Fig” as part of the cast of Orange is the New Black, is in all 5 seasons, and also plays “Sunny” in Better Things on FX. She also just starred in Broad City, Odd Mom Out, and Younger. Reiner is represented by Abrams Artists Agency and Affirmative Entertainment.
Award winning, and six time Emmy Award nominated actress Christina Hendricks is best known for Mad Men and recently starred in The Neon Demon. She was just announced as a lead in the new NBC series Good Girls. Upcoming films include Candy Jar, for Netflix, with Helen Hunt, Crooked House, based on the Agatha Christie novel, opposite Glenn Close, and The Burning Woman opposite Sienna Miller, directed by Jake Scott and produced by Ridley Scott . Hendricks is represented by ICM Partners and LINK Entertainment.
(Anna Camp, Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)
Camp is one of the industry’s most exciting, scene-stealing talents on stage and screen. She can next be seen starring in the third installment of Universal’s hit film series “Pitch Perfect,” which releases December 22, 2017. She’s also had memorable performances in Woody Allen’s film “Cafe Society,” as well as in the Academy Award-nominated film “The Help.” On television, Camp recently starred in Amazon’s critically acclaimed 1970s newsroom drama, “Good Girls Revolt.” She also received rave reviews for her work in the recurring role of “Deirdre Robespierre” on Netflix’s hit comedy “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” created and produced by Tina Fey, and is widely known for playing the vampire-hating role of “Sarah Newlin” on HBO’s “True Blood,” for which she earned a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.” Camp is represented by UTA, Authentic Talent and Literary Management and Schreck, Rose Dapello, Adams, Berlin & Dunham.
Michele Ganeless was most recently President of Comedy Central. Under her leadership, zeitgeist-shifting shows including Broad City, Inside Amy Schumer, Key & Peele and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart fueled the growth of Comedy Central to the number one brand in comedy across all platforms. Ganeless left Comedy Central to concentrate on creating content for, by and about women.
Actor, director, producer David Alan Basche has worked across all platforms, from leads in series like The Exes, Lipstick Jungle and The Starter Wife, to feature films including Equity, The Adjustment Bureau, United 93 and the upcoming Sidney Hall. Basche is represented by Abrams Artists Agency and Industry Entertainment.
Gbenga Akinnagbe will be seen this fall in the series The Deuce with James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal and recently wrapped the Kathryn Bigelow film Detroit. He is represented by APA and Zero Gravity Management.
The answer is a big resounding YES.
The Big Sick is based on Nanjiani’s true story of his rocky romance that led to marriage. He co-wrote the script with his now-wife, Emily V. Gordon, who is played by the talented actor-playwright-screenwriter, Zoe Kazan. The co-producers are big names: Judd Apatow and two-time Academy Award-nominated Barry Mendel. Hunter shines as Emily’s mother, Beth, and Romano shows his acting chops as her father, Terry.
Technically, this film falls into the genre of romantic comedy but that label seems limited here. So many rom-coms bore us to tears with formulaic ho-hum-ness. This flick is not one of those. There are tears but they’re for the right reasons. It is a dramatic tale that explores everything from the ignorance behind the ridiculous fear of Muslims to being too chicken to stand up to family pressure.
Kumail and Emily lived through a strange route to romance. It began with what was intended as a one-night stand. Without meaning to, they fall for each other. Life throws in big obstacles, which creates the high drama and deliciously dark humor.
The movie begins with Pakistan-born Kumail struggling as a stand-up comedian who is playfully heckled by audience member Emily. The two hook up after the show and end up in bed. Kumail and Emily experience strong feelings for each other but Kumail’s Muslim parents have even stronger feelings about who he should—and shouldn’t—marry. Every time he goes for a meal at his parents’ home, they try to fix him up with Muslim women. Watch for scene stealer Kuhoo Verma who plays Zubeida, one of the eligible Pakistani bachelorettes Kumail’s mom invited to dinner.
When Emily suddenly falls ill with a mysterious sickness, Kumail realizes how much she matters to him. He rushes to the hospital where he awkwardly meets her parents for the first time during this medical crisis. For a third of the movie, Kazan’s character, Emily, is in a doctor-induced coma. In her absence, a fascinating and entertaining relationship is portrayed to perfection by Nanjiani, Hunter, and Romano.
Directed by Michael Showalter (“Hello My Name is Doris”) and also starring Anupam Kher, Shenaz Treasury, with David Alan Grier and Linda Edmond.
Look for my Holly Hunter feature article in Honeysuckle magazine’s issue, “HER.” In the meantime, here’s my short clip:
The Big Sick is now playing in theaters nationwide. Romance, Comedy, Drama. Rated R. 119 min.
My movie pick for this year’s Tribeca Film Festival: Hounds of Love ★★★★★
At the start of this thriller, we’re introduced to a quiet, picturesque suburb in Perth, Australia where women are disappearing. It’s 1987 in this chilling, unforgettable film where killing couple John (Stephen Curry) and Evelyn White (Emma Booth) are abducting young female victims. The characters are based on real-life husband and wife murderers David and Catherine Birnie who killed four women in the 1980s in their home in Perth. The press dubbed the crimes the Moorhouse murders after the Birnie’s address.
Much to its credit, the movie shows very little gore. Most of the violence goes on your head—much like in Psycho‘s shower scene where you hear the horrifying music, spot the knife, see a flash of Janet Leigh’s terrified scream. The rest comes from your own mind, filling in grotesque images of what must be happening. Hounds of Love uses slow motion snippets to brilliantly introduce us to the quaint little town. A carefully chosen and well-timed soundtrack merges with the slow-mo to create goose-bumpy fear. This is a shocking debut for writer-director Ben Young. It has the self-control and masterful storytelling you’d expect from a seasoned filmmaker.
Teenager Vicki Maloney (Ashleigh Cummings), 17, picks the wrong night to rebel against her mother. Emotionally distraught by her parent’s recent uncoupling, Vicki sneaks out to go to a party. She blames her mother Maggie (Susie Porter), an artistic free spirit, for blowing up their family unit. Vicki’s dad Trevor (Damian de Monemas) is a successful surgeon but Maggie felt smothered by him and chose a more bohemian lifestyle. Vicki is having a hard time adjusting despite her loving and supportive boyfriend (Harrison Gilbertson). She’s furious with her mom but pampered with gifts by her Dad, including an adorable puppy.
It’s easy to identify with Vicki in spite of, or because of, her broody moodiness as a teen. We watch helplessly as the serial killers lure Vicki into their car by offering to smoke a joint with her and bring her to a fun party. They look so normal and friendly. It’s not the tired device in a million B-movies where the soon-to-be imperiled character wonders who might be in a scary, dark dungeon of a basement and stupidly goes in alone to investigate. Ben Young’s writing is smart and believable. At Vicki’s age, I could’ve been easily swayed to hang with these peeps.
The acting is as superb as the script, cinematography (Michael McDermott), and soundtrack (Moody Blues, Cat Stevens, and a haunting score by Australian composer Dan Luscombe). It all fits together seamlessly to scare the bejeezus out of you. It also offers layered characters. Evelyn is a deeply disturbed woman who should’ve attended 12-step codependency meetings instead of worshipping John as her higher power. It’s reminiscent of girls like Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins who offered Charles Manson godlike worship and total submission.
Bound and gagged and secured to a bed in the White’s home, Vicki becomes their object to play with and taunt. Problems arise when John takes a special interest in this prisoner. Evelyn feels threatened by John’s obsessive fascination with their beautiful — and younger — captive. Vicki sees the manipulative hold John has on Evelyn and uses that to her advantage by appealing to the tiny, hidden piece of Evelyn that knows that John uses her. The females in the film are an intriguing contrast: weak, pathetic Evelyn versus strong, self-reliant, resourceful Vicki and her Mom.
After viewing multitudinous movies at Tribeca Film Festival, I cannot get this one out of my head, nor do I want to. It is that good.
Best Feature: Hounds of Love, The Overlook Film Festival
Best Actress: Ashleigh Cummings, Fedeora Award, Venice Film Festival
Best Actress: Emma Booth, Brussels International Film Festival
Best Director: Ben Young, Brussels International Film Festival
Video © Dorri Olds
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE STARS
Dorri Olds: Stephen, you were a really scary sociopath. And you’re a comedian, right?
Stephen Curry: Yeah. [Laughs]
DO: Are you one of those people that could get deep into character and then snap out of character on breaks?
Ashleigh Cummings and Emma Booth [in unison]: Yes!
Stephen: Yeah, well that’s the thing, that’s what I usually do but it was a lot harder on this because of how involved we became and how intrinsically we were working together to make this piece. To see the performances that were coming out of Ashleigh and Emma, it was increasingly harder to pull ourselves away. We were in that reality and the realization, and acceptance, that this stuff happens to real people is a really, really horrible thought. That was one of the reasons we had to tell this story. And we wanted to do it in as respectful a manner as possible. And that meant committing 100 percent to it.
Ashleigh: Stephen was amazing. He’d bring us out of it at lunchtime by playing his ukulele.
Emma: He was amazing! He used to write improvised songs for us with a ukulele, which we have on tape.
Ashleigh: We do.
Stephen: You’ve got that on tape?
Emma: Yeah, I do. Stephen is actually unbelievably hilarious and brilliant. Just having him there with that energy and humor, was great.
Ashleigh: Yeah, it was dark. It was almost suffocating the amount of grief and the location was a very claustrophobic place to work.
Emma: Because that’s all we could afford. [Laughs] And we were going through this crazy heatwave in Australia.
Stephen: Yeah, we were confined to this small space and it was about 110 degrees—crazy hot. And the material itself was so claustrophobic as well.
Emma: We needed a location like that. It was perfect for it. But it was 30 crew members in there as well.
DO: Did you work on back stories for your characters? Emma, can you tell me how you became so demented?
Emma: [Laughs] I don’t know, do you got three hours? I don’t even know where to start. I think it started from a very young age. And this love story that started between John and Evelyn’s dependency on each other from 13 years of age.
Stephen: Yeah, that’s what it is. I think he was a slightly older kid. He might have been 17 or 18 and he found this Evelyn, this metaphor of a bird with a broken wing, that he took under his wing and from that moment on provided Evelyn with the supposed love that she needed. But it was all only an affectation because he’s a sociopath.
DO: When did Evelyn have her two kids taken away to go live with their father?
Emma: She basically just left them for John. He kept manipulating her saying, “We’ll get the kids soon.” Although Evelyn and John met at thirteen, it was a kind of on and off relationship. So, Evelyn is just holding onto the hope that she’s gonna get the kids back. She’s trying to just appease John the whole time. He’s so obsessed, and she’s so reliant on John that she’d do anything for him. She gave up everything. What she ended up with was a devastating existence.
DO: Ashleigh, your character’s mother had an incredible instinct where she could just feel you. Then there was that scene—a great nod to Silence of the Lambs.
Stephen: Oh yeah. Absolutely.
DO: Did Ben Young do that as dark humor?
Stephen: I don’t know if it was necessarily dark humor but Ben has said many times that film is one of his favorites and he wanted to pay homage to it. But we don’t want to give too much away!
DO: Ashleigh, in one scene your character’s boyfriend doesn’t walk towards you. It was while you’re hugging your mom. Did he do that out of respect, to give your characters a private moment, or was he just too freaked out?
Ashleigh: A little bit of both. I’m not sure if you see it, but when we were shooting, the dad collapses and the boyfriend stays to comfort him. But also, I think it was out of respect.
DO: A boyfriend can have this weird macho feeling that he should have protected his girlfriend. Was it partly that?
Ashleigh: Maybe. That’s a question for Harrison. He’s a brilliant actor. He’s a very thoughtful and sensitive person and might have built all that into it.
DO: Stephen, was there a back story for John’s parents—to show how you become such an evil, no empathy kind of guy?
Stephen: I did a lot of study on sociopaths. Ben and I agreed that John received their love but any kind of “love” that he had received was an affectation. That’s all he ever knew. So, that fed his desire for power and control and a need to assume a hierarchy because he never received it as a child.
DO: I imagined John’s upbringing like Charles Manson’s, whose mother had him when she was a 16-year-old prostitute. Or like serial killer Henry Lee Lucas; his prostitute mother had sex with her “johns” in front of Lucas. Was John’s story similar, which might help explain why he hated women so much?
Stephen: Certainly, John felt like he never had control over his life. He saw anything that happened to him as a slight. He thought life was unfair and that no child should have to go through what he did. Thereby, even his sense of order, his need for control, emotionally and physically, and his OCD, made him need everything to be “right.” He even orchestrated it so Evelyn was doing the scouting and kidnapping for him. She is creating this order that he is orchestrating. He sees it as “allowing” Evelyn to be his slave.
DO: Emma, what was it like for you when you got off work and went back to your life?
Emma: Stephen would snap Ashleigh and me out of that stuff. There’s so much love between us that we’d just hug goodbye afterwards. There was an exhaustion, though, from bringing up that much emotional stuff all day. I’d go home and just stare at the wall and my husband would be like, “Hello? Are you there?” I’d be like, “Darling, please don’t talk to me.” I’d just sit there so tired but so wired.
Ashleigh: Yes, it tired and wired simultaneously.
Emma: It was bizarre but I wasn’t tortured.
Ashleigh: I was.
DO: I would’ve been.
Emma: What does that say about me? [Laughs]
Ashleigh: For me it was because I was playing the victim. Just knowing that there were other girls who had been in that situation. We were telling this story and I could feel them telling theirs, and fighting for their rights. I don’t know how to stop that kind of pain and torture. That was awful and I had to very consciously consider the notion of creation in the face of such devastation. That was the only thing that kind of got me through. I’d get very apocalyptic with my thoughts, quickly. I was like, “Look at all this pain in the world,” and it just expanded to a bigger picture thing.
DO: Wow, great answer. Now, about the title, “Hounds of Love,” was that because Emma was in love even though it was a very sick love? Was she a hound of love? Or was it because John was feeding the victims to their hound? Or was it a reference to the beginning of the film, when Ashleigh is struggling with her parent’s divorce and her father gives her a puppy as a way to express love?
Emma: It’s from the Kate Bush song.
Ashleigh: It’s about predators and prey, and the reference of the dog.
Stephen: And it’s a reference of the hound bought as a substitute for Evelyn’s children.
DO: Right, and those lyrics could be about Vicki: running in the night…afraid of what might be. Hiding in the dark, in the street. Totally interesting analyzing that song, and the psychology in the movie. I could talk to you guys all day long about this movie. It was my favorite at Tribeca Film Festival this year.
Emma: We love that.
DO: So many other would’ve overacted and none of you did. It could’ve really been ruined by that.
Emma: We were so careful.
Ashleigh: And Ben was amazing in orchestrating that and we kept talking about it.
Emma: For Stephen’s character, I don’t think there could be a more perfect person to play it. There’s so much power in silence. There were times when he actually took that to extremes. He just did nothing and it was terrifying.
Stephen: I’d forgotten a lot of that stuff. [Laughs]
Ashleigh: It’s so hard to do nothing.
Emma: It is! But that’s everything and it takes balls. You’re like, “Am I doing enough? Giving enough?”
Stephen: Clearly you gave it your all. Superb performances. What’s it been like to get all these awards and all this attention?
Stephen: Kind of surreal.
Ashleigh: So flattering.
Hounds of Love is now playing in select theaters and available online. Crime, Drama, Suspense, Thriller. 108 minutes.
Hounds of Love
song lyrics by Kate Bush
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
It’s in the trees
When I was a child
Running in the night
Afraid of what might be
Hiding in the dark
Hiding in the street
And of what was following me
Now hounds of love are hunting
I’ve always been a coward
And I don’t know what’s good for me
Here I go
It’s coming for me through the trees
Help me someone
Help me please
Take my shoes off
And throw them in the lake
And I’ll be
Two steps on the water
I found a fox
Caught by dogs
He let me take him in my hands
His little heart
It beats so fast
And I’m ashamed of running away
From nothing real
I just can’t deal with this
But I’m still afraid to be there
Among your hounds of love
And feel your arms surround me
I’ve always been a coward
And never know what’s good for me
Oh here I go
Don’t let me go
Hold me down
It’s coming for me through the trees
Help me darling
Help me please
Take my shoes off
And throw them in the lake
And I’ll be
Two steps on the water
I don’t know what’s good for me
I don’t know what’s good for me
I need your love love love love love yeah
Take your shoes off
And throw them in the lake
Do you know what I really need?
Do you know what I really need?
I need love love love love love yeah
Surge, cinema’s first out gay superhero, rocks it with his new star-studded movie, Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel directed by Antonio Lexerot and Vincent J. Roth.
Surge is back with over 50 stars. Laugh at zany antics from Big City to Las Vegas, enjoy familiar celebrities, and learn how intolerance can make you evil.
Watch the Trailer:
Vincent J. Roth, the film’s producer, describes the movie as fun entertainment with a clear message.
“As a filmmaker, I am compelled to present our genuinely groundbreaking characters and the fun world we created to a mainstream audience.”
The movie’s inspirational tagline, “Make a Difference Where You Can,” is the moral of the story. But to get there, evil and skullduggery must be dealt with heroically and hilariously.
In the Beginning
It has been over 10 years since cinema’s first gay out superhero movie, Surge of Power: The Stuff of Heroes, premiered. Fans have long awaited the sequel of this campy movie with a message. The sequel is an homage to superhero movies and an irreverent send-up of the genre. Surge of Power: Revenge of the Sequel has been well received by mainstream audiences. Viewers young and old have been laughing and cheering during its initial screenings. Fans love the cameo appearances of favorite actors and characters. The inside jokes add to the sublime movie experience—with special treats for the attentive sci-fi geek.
In the Sequel
Surge’s nemesis, Metal Master, struggles with his estranged parents (Linda Blair and Gil Gerard) and is tempted to continue a life of crime by Augur (Eric Roberts), arch enemy of Omen (Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols and Robert Picardo), the sage superhero from the first Surge of Power movie. A host of other recognizable stars help Surge deliver the message that good triumphs over evil. Amid the laughs, Blair and Gerard are the heart of the movie, poignantly portraying Metal Master’s parents. They struggle with their homophobia and have to face the negative effects it has had on their family—including their son-turned-supervillain.
What Reviewers are Saying
“A leap forward for superhero films.”
“A positive role model in the LGBTQ community.”
“A film everyone can enjoy.”
“A Must See!”
In this story, we see Surge travel from his Big City home to Las Vegas in an effort to stop his nemesis, Metal Master from destroying Hoover Dam while on a quest for mysterious crystals for Augur. Surge enlists local friends and even Vegas headliner, Frank Marino to help find his way, which results in the inevitable battle. The skirmish forces Augur to emerge from the shadows, causing Omen to join in the struggle. Their epic confrontation awakens The Council, a league of retired supervillains. To battle this new threat Omen must call on her vigilant team. Find out what happens next with cinema’s first out gay superhero when legendary heroes and villains clash in this comical, star-studded movie!
The seventh screening of the Surge of Power sequel will take place on Saturday, May 20 from at 2:00 to 4:00 pm as a featured event at Joss Whedon’s sci-fi convention, WhedonCon, at Warner Center Marriott, 21850 Oxnard St., Woodland Hills, CA 91367 in the Screening Room. Other screenings and more information may be found on the movie’s website, Surge of Power screenings.
Comedy. 90 min. Los Angeles premiere.