empire-movie-news

What We Do In The Shadows sequel is called We’re Wolves

There was plenty of joyful swearwolving when we learned in August last year that What We Do In The Shadows co-directors Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi were planning a follow-up about the loony lycanthrope characters introduced in their vampire comedy. Now we know the film is tentatively titled We’re Wolves.

Previously called What We Do In The Moonlight, the new, even punnier title is still largely under wraps, but will focus on Rhys Darby’s Anton and his polite pack of lycanthropes who try their best to follow a strict code of behaviour, despite the temptation every full moon to turn into howling beasts.

Quite what they’ll be up to is locked in the minds of Clement and Waititi for now, and we’ll have to wait to see it as the latter will be slightly busy working on Thor: Ragnarok for Marvel, when he’s not promoting his latest comedy, Hunt For The Wilderpeople, which just premiered at Sundance and has a trailer online. He also has an idea for the story of a boy in the Hitler Youth during World War II, but that will likely be pushed back further by everything else he has going on. Still: more werewolves? We’re well up for that.

James White

Charlie Hunnam talks King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword

“He calls it fuck-dust. He liberally sprinkled fuck-dust on the film.” ‘Fuck-dust’ is, according to Charlie Hunnam, the term Guy Ritchie assigns to achieving just the right dose of magical realism.

For a boy who grew up “carving sticks into swords”, it was “a childhood dream come true to play King Arthur", (and for the seemingly unconventional choice of Guy Ritchie, no less) Hunnam affirmed to Empire. “[Ritchie’s] created a very rich, exciting world. I describe it to my friends as Lord Of The Rings meets Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. [It’s] an unlikely marriage of two things, but it works.” Maybe not such a leftfield choice of director after all.

As expected, the British director has a unique vision for the famous king. “We wanted to make an ignoble Arthur, at least at first,” Hunnam says. “We wanted him to feel contemporary, selfish, somewhat rough around the edges.”

The director also had a novel way of making sure Hunnam was the right Arthur for his film, pushing the actor so hard about being in shape that he snapped during the audition process. “I said, ‘You know what? Fucking stop the camera. I’m starting to lose my temper. I know those other pricks you’ve got reading for this role (namely Henry Cavill and Michael Fassbender). If you bring them in right now, I’ll fucking fight them both at once for the role, and we’ll see what’s up with the physicality.’ Guy said, ‘Fucking hell, alright – calm down, mate.’” Though we’d surely be foolish to bet against Supes and Magneto, it sounds like Hunnam is ready for the challenge.

King Arthur is released in cinemas on 24 March 2017.

- Emma Thrower

War On Everyone Review

Plot

Corrupt cops Terry Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård) and Bob Bolaño (Michael Peña) have a cushy lifestyle, framing hoodlums and stealing narcotics as they patrol their beat in Albuquerque. But when an evil British lord (Theo James) pings onto their radar, they find themselves in way, way over their heads.

Review

“It starts and ends with the script,” says one lowlife to another in War On Everyone, as they disapprovingly watch a low-grade porn flick. “If you ain’t got a good script, you ain’t got shit.” Fortunately, the person who wrote and directed this coal-dark crime comedy is John Michael McDonagh, the Irish auteur behind The Guard and Calvary. Both of those films are mordantly funny, unpredictable and set on the rain-moistened Emerald Isle. With his third feature, he has shifted locales to sun-baked New Mexico; but thankfully McDonagh’s delightful weirdness remains intact.

War On Everyone is a spin on maybe the most hackneyed genre of them all, the buddy-cop movie. The customary tropes are all in place: Terry and Bob ride around in their ice-blue Monte Carlo coupe bickering and stopping for cheeseburgers, reporting in sporadically to their grouchy superior (Paul Reiser). There’s a foot chase originating in a strip club and soundtracked by a Fun Lovin’ Criminals track, while another scene riffs on Beverly Hills Cop. But for every moment that seems derivative, there’s a winningly absurd scenario or inspired touch. Terry and Bob, whose names may or may not be a tribute to The Likely Lads, are introduced in hot pursuit of a mime. (“I’ve always wondered… if you hit a mime, does he make a sound?” ponders Terry, shortly before finding out.) There’s also a silly running joke involving our heroes’ ongoing feud with a SWAT team.

The bad-to-the-bones lead duo are joyously over-the-top: Terry, who has thrush and swigs bottles of beer at breakfast, is a lawman so excessively immoral he even outdoes Chief Wiggum from the famous ‘Bad Cops’ skit in The Simpsons, while Bob makes for a fine foil as the family-man partner who’s far from squeaky-clean himself. The stars are clearly having fun, too — this is redemption for Skarsgård after his bland-Tarzan misstep this summer. The villains they’re up against, meanwhile, are intentionally a lot less funny, but memorably peculiar. Theo James, best known for his role in the Divergent series, comes close to stealing the whole show as louche, Homer-literate aristocrat-scumbag James Mangan, not least because he dominates the best shot of the movie as a Steadicam prowls with him through his debauched mansion. Only a late reveal involving him is misjudged, so bleak that it threatens to tip over the whole movie.

There are other flaws: some scenes aren’t nearly as funny as they think they are (an exchange about Steven Soderbergh’s Out Of Sight starts and ends without scoring a laugh) and the plot itself fails to build up much in the way of suspense. But McDonagh — cutting with old-school line-wipes, cranking up the Glen Campbell — is clearly having a blast. The feeling’s contagious.

Verdict

A thinking person’s Bad Boys, this off-kilter indie crime comedy introduces two deliriously warped lawmen to the screen.

Nick De Semlyen ★★★★

Spectre’s Andrew Scott joins legal drama Denial

With Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson and Timothy Spall leading the cast, legal drama Denial is now shooting, but has found room for Spectre and Sherlock’s Andrew Scott.

Though we normally expect to find him as a wrong ‘un these days (he was one of the main antagonists, besides the title character’s ego in Victor Frankenstein too), Scott this time will be a solicitor named Anthony Julius.

Adapted by David Hare from Deborah E. Lipstadt’s book History On Trial: My Day In Court With A Holocaust Denier, the film will find Lipstadt (Weisz) fighting a legal battle for truth against David Irving (Wilkinson), who sued her for libel when she labelled him a holocaust denier. It was up to Lipstadt and her team to prove the vital legal truth that the Holocaust was a real event.

Mick Jackson is directing the film now in London with Caren Pistorious, Jack Lowden, Alex Jennings and Harriet Walter in the cast. While Scott won’t show up in the Victorian times Sherlock special on New Year’s Day (unless the gang is being really sneaky), but he will be seen in the new Swallows And Amazons and Alice Through The Looking Glass, the latter of which lands here on May 26.

James White.

See Matthew McConaughey, Taron Egerton and the rest of the Sing cast with their characters

Illumination Entertainment’s Sing promises to show off the performing talents of a diverse cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Taron Egerton, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson and more. The company has released a new set of images showing the actors with their various animal characters, and you can check them out in two groups lower down the page, except for McConaughey, who is ruling the roost above.

Sing finds McConaughey as Buster Moon, the dapper koala who oversees a theatre that was once a grand entertainment venue, but is now falling on hard times, with peeling paint and dodgy plumbing. In a last-ditch attempt to restore the venue to its former glory, he decides to stage the world’s greatest singing challenge, throwing the doors open to members of the public who think they have what it takes.

A group of lead contestants are soon winnowed down from the chaff that shows up: a mouse (Seth MacFarlane) a crooked sort with a smooth voice, a timid teenage elephant (singer Tori Kelly), a busy mother sow (Witherspoon), who juggles the demands of her 25 piglets with her singing ambitions, a young gorilla (Egerton) who is looking for a way out of his father’s criminal activities, a punk-rock porcupine with the pipes of Johansson and a posing pig named Gunther (Nick Kroll).

James White

Constantine: Blu-ray release and interview with Matt Ryan

It may have only lasted one season, but the television version of Constantine certainly made an impression, as did actor Matt Ryan in the title role as the reluctant demon hunter and dabbler in the dark arts. In fact, so impressive was Ryan as John Constantine that he reprised the character in a fourth season episode of Arrow and will voice him in 2017’s animated Justice League Dark. All of which makes it even more exciting that Constantine: The Complete Series has been announced for Blu-ray on October 4th.

Developed for television by Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer, the series, based on the DC comic Hellblazer, co-stars Angelica Celaya as Zed, Charles Halford as Chas and Harold Perrineau as Manny. The complete series includes (naturally) all thirteen episodes, a trailer, on set report and a 2014 Comic-Con Q&A panel with the cast and creators.

In describing the power of the series, Ryan explains, “I think it’s the juxtaposition, the balance between it being a very dark and serious story, but then John being able to maneuver within that, and the humor and the wit being set against that. It’s those two things, I think, that make the show unique. You’ve got this central character who’s cracking the joke in the middle of something which is really fucking serious.”

When introduced on the series, Constantine is very much a loner and wants to keep it that way, though as things unfold he finds himself part of a core group of characters, a family, if you will, despite his best intentions.

“The interesting thing,” details Ryan, “is that in the back of his head he knows that somewhere along the line all of this is going to go to pot. It’s all going to go to shit, and it’s an inevitability, but it doesn’t stop a human being from having connections with other humans beings… and Angels. As the Rising Darkness he has to face is progressing, the burden on him is getting bigger and, suddenly, he’s accumulating these people who he has feelings for, and obviously they are feelings that have been buried deep down inside, but he is a human being at the end of the day. He’s going to feel something. If something bad happens to those people — and it does — it’ s a very interesting thing for him to be going through.”

Beginning October 4th with the Blu-ray and DVD release of Constantine, the audience will be right alongside Matt Ryan and John Constantine as they go through it all over again.

- Ed Gross

6

EMPIRE EXCLUSIVE: Ladies & Gentlemen… Meet Hammer Girl.
The Raid 2 attacks Aussie cinemas on March 28.

Character DescriptionHammer Girl is a ruthless hired assassin who’s especially gifted with claw hammers. Hammer Girl and her brother Baseball Bat Man, left behind a broken home and abusive father in search of greener pastures. That search yields death and destruction for anyone in their way.Weapon of Choice Claw Hammers 

Exclusive new trailer and poster for Oscar Isaac’s Mojave

Oscar Isaac had one hell of a 2015, enjoying scene-stealing roles in the likes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Ex Machina. 2016 promises to be just as fruitful, with appearances in X-Men: Apocalypse– and now, indie crime thriller Mojave. Empire has an exclusive new look at Mojave’s first trailer and poster.

Set in the Californian desert of the title, it sees Isaac on villainous duties, playing a mysterious drifter named Jack who comes up against depressive artist Thomas, played by Garrett Hedlund.

Mark Wahlberg and Walton Goggins also star in the film, which is being directed by William Monahan, best known for his screenwriting work on the likes of The Departed (for which he won an Oscar),Oblivion and The Gambler.

John Nugent

Dane Dehaan On For Two Lovers And A Bear

NOT a Paddington sequel

For our money one of the most watchable and unusual young actors about, Dane DeHaan has been mixing quirky indie films with bigger box-office fodder. For every ill-fated (in every sense) appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, there’s been a Kill Your Darlings and a Place Beyond The Pines, and now he’s dipping his toes back into indie waters with romance Two Lovers And A Bear.

The film will take him to the freezing climes of Canada’s Arctic and pair him up with Orphan Black lead Tatiana Maslany. They’ll play Roman and Lucy, a young couple battling the weather, their own emotional tumult and the sense of isolation that comes with living on the edge of the world. Either they’re really slow to announce casting or the bear is some kind of metaphor for their plight.

Directing this and making sure no-one forgets to wrap up warmly on set is Kim Nguyen (War Witch). The shot will take its cast and crew from Ontario and up to the unforgiving surrounds of Iqaluit in the far north of the country. TF1 has picked up distribution rights globally and will be looking for buyers at Cannes this May.

DeHaan, meanwhile, will next be seen playing James Dean in Anton Corbijn’s Life and then popping up with fellow young talents Alicia Vikander and Jack O’Connell in Justin Chadwick’s intriguing-looking period piece, Tulip Fever. His Two Lovers And A Bear co-star Maslany will be taking on the mantle of playing a young Helen Mirren in Woman In Gold next month.

- Phil de Semlyen

Duncan Jones’ Mute will be a Netflix release 

Duncan Jones’ new sci-fi noir Mute has been bubbling under since his debut, Moon. The release model has changed significantly since it was first conceived. According to Alexander Skarsgård, a guest on this week’s Empire Podcast, Mute will have a Netflix release with a day-and-date theatrical run.

“I think they’ll do what they did with Beasts Of No Nation,” he tells Empire, “where they do a theatrical simultaneously to a Netflix release.”

The film, which is currently shooting in Berlin, promises to bring a Blade Runner-like style to the VOD service. "I’ve just got back from Dublin where Duncan showed me all the renderings and the visuals of it,” adds Skarsgård, "and I’m very, very excited about it.”

Mute is set in a dystopian Berlin 30 years in the future. Skarsgård plays Leo Beiler, a mute bartender who has to track down his missing girlfriend. “It’s about a guy who was in an accident as a kid,” explains the actor. "He’s ex-Amish, so he lives a very monastic life: he doesn’t have a cellphone or anything like that. He’s left the [Amish] community but he still kinda follows the rules.”

Jones has promised a crossover with the Moon universe (or Mooniverse). So does Sam pop up in Mute? “Maybe,” teases Skarsgård. If you’re in Berlin, where the film’s shooting shortly, keep your eyes peeled for Sam Rockwell. Paul Rudd will definitely be there. He’s playing an American surgeon who may have a clue as to the missing lady’s whereabouts.

Phil De Semlyen

Domhnall Gleeson eyed to play Winnie the Pooh creator AA Milne

Whilst Winnie the Pooh has been a pop cultural icon for decades, less has been shown about his creator, AA Milne. My Week With Marilyn director Simon Curtis is looking to change all that, and has Domhnall Gleeson in talks to play Milne in Goodbye Christopher Robin.

The film will follow the relationship of Milne and his son Robin, who became the inspiration for Christopher Robin and whose toys provided the characters for Milne’s most famous work, including Pooh himself, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet. It wasn’t always the easiest time for the gather-son duo, but working on creating the residents of Hundred Acre Wood helped with that.

Gleeson himself is much in demand at the moment; currently back in the black coat as the sneering General Hux for Star Wars: Episode VIII, he’s looking to split time between that and playing one of the founders of National Lampoon magazine in Netflix-backed film A Futile And Stupid Gesture. After those are complete, he’s attached to work with his Frank director, Lenny Abrahamson, on the latter’s adaptation of Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger, and has drug trafficking drama Mena due to arrive on screens in January next year.

James White

First look at Andrew Scott in crime thriller Steel Country

Did you miss him? If so, good news. Andrew Scott is back in action in a new US-set crime thriller called Steel Country. 

Scott plays a small-town Pennsylvania trucker in the film. When a young boy is found dead in the western part of the state, the freight-hauler turns gumshoe to find out what happened. His quest soon tips ominously into obsession, though.

The movie, which has been shooting in Atlanta, has something of a British flavour. The King’s Speech producer Gareth Ellis-Unwin put the project together for his Bedlam Productions company, with Simon Fellows (Malice In Wonderland) behind the camera.

Co-starring with Scott are The Fall’s Branagh Waugh and Denise Gough (’71). Scott also has Holocaust courtroom drama Denial upcoming, along with a possible return to nemesis duties in Sherlock.

Phil De Semlyen

Andy Samberg’s on the wing in the new Storks trailer

We’ve had a couple of chances to take a look at new Warner Bros. animated adventure Storks, which features Andy Samberg voicing one of the titular birds. The new trailer adds a little bit more plot and a lot more jokes. Take a look below.

Storks is set at a time when the birds, led by Hunter (Kelsey Grammer) have left the baby-delivering business behind and switched to handling packages for an Amazon-style mega-corp called Cornerstore.com. But when a family’s request for a new addition unexpectedly shows up to be dispatched, Junior (Samberg) and human Tulip (Katie Crown) decide they’re going to make sure the infant girl makes it to her parents, with Tulip, long considered an orphan, hoping it might also find her own family in the process.

Of course, it’s against company policy, so the unlikely pair is soon being chased down by others, including an unusually silly wolf pack (led by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele). This is one group of feral canines that apparently shares some abilities with the Wonder Twins…

With Jennifer Aniston and Ty Burrell also in the voice cast and Nicholas Stoller writing and directing alongside Pixar veteran Doug Sweetland, Storks will flap into Aussie cinemas in October.

- James White

James Horner 1953-2015
Oscar-winning composer dies aged 61

James Horner, the award-winning composer responsible for the music of Titanic, Avatar, Apollo 13, Field Of Dreams, several Star Trek movies and many more, has died in California at the age of 61.

Horner was born in Los Angeles in 1953, the son of Harry, a production designer. But the younger Horner’s passion was music, and he spent his formative years in London, attending the Royal College of Music before returning home to study for his bachelor’s degree in music at USC and post-graduate honours at UCLA.

He began his career working on short films for the American Film Institute and on low-budget films, breaking in with the likes of Lewis Teague’s The Lady In Red and Barbara Peeters’ Humanoids From The Deep. Roger Corman hired him to write music for Battle Beyond The Stars and he worked with a young Oliver Stone on The Hand. Nicholas Meyer worked with him on Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, and he even appeared briefly as a member of the Enterprise’s crew. Horner continued to be a genre favourite, but could never be pigeonholed, working on many types of films and TV shows, forging fruitful connections with the likes of James Cameron, for whom he would work on Aliens, Titanic (for which he not only won two Oscars, but saw the film’s score album become the biggest-selling of all time) and Avatar. He had been lined up to work on the film’s sequels.

Among his other scores? Courage Under Fire, The Perfect Storm, Braveheart, Willow, Cocoon, and, more recently, The Amazing Spider-Man and boxing drama Southpaw, which will be in our cinemas on July 24. “Brilliant Composer James Horner, friend & collaborator on 7 movies has tragically died in a plane crash. My heart aches for his loved ones,” Ron Howard, another frequent collaborator, wrote on Twitter.

An avid pilot, he was at the controls of his plane when it crashed in the Los Padres National Forest in southern California on Monday night. “We have lost an amazing person with a huge heart and unbelievable talent,” his assistant Sylvia Patrycja wrote on Facebook on Monday. “He died doing what he loved. Thank you for all your support and love and see you down the road.”

James White

Idris Elba In Talks For Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur Film
He could be Bedivere

Despite relatively brief screen time, Idris Elba certainly made an impact donning armour and wielding a sword in the Thor films. So the idea of him going the chainmail route for Guy Ritchie’s planned new take on King Arthur has plenty of appeal. Good news, then, that he’s in talks for the film.

In what is currently being called Knights Of The Round Table: King Arthur (what is it with Warner Bros. and chunky titles at the moment?), Elba is wanted to play not Arthur himself, but a version of Bedivere, who is credited in many of the interpretations of Arthurian legend as a noble and loyal member of the King’s knights. In Ritchie’s take – which features a script by Edge Of Tomorrow producer Joby Harold – he’s apparently an older, wiser warrior and a right-hand man to Arthur’s father who makes it his mission to train the young man for his true destiny. It’ll represent a RocknRolla reunion for Ritchie and the actor. 

Ritchie is still putting the pieces together on this one, and is currently on the lookout for an Arthur and the rest of the main characters. And nothing is really known about how the film (or films, given that this appears to be another embryonic franchise) will deal with each part of the saga. The director may not have a locked in cast yet, but he has a US release date, as Warners wants this on screen on July 22 2016.

James White

First teaser for Netflix’s Lemony Snicket series

Looking to succeed in adapting Daniel Handler’s Lemony Snicket tomes where Paramount faltered back in 2004, Netflix has now announced that A Series Of Unfortunate Events will premiere on Friday 13 January next year. The news was delivered by the teaser, which you can find below.

Snicket’s first book kicks off the tragic tale of the Baudelaire orphans – Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and Sunny – whose evil guardian Count Olaf will stop at nothing to get his hands on their inheritance. The siblings must outsmart Olaf at every turn, foiling his many devious plans and disguises, in order to discover clues to their parents’ mysterious death.

Neil Patrick Harris is giving it his best scheming panto villain as Olaf (you can hear him chuckling in the distance in the teaser) and Patrick Warburton is Snicket, our suitably dour guide to the dreadful events. Eight episodes are initially on the way thanks to show-runner Mark Hudis and producer Barry Sonnenfeld and we’ve high hopes for this version.

James White

First trailer for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny

Once subtitled The Green Legend, the long-awaited sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is finally ready to leap on to our screens. The first trailer for what is now called Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword Of Destiny is online and can be viewed below.

Adapted from the fifth book of Wang Du Lu’s Crane-Iron pentalogy, Silver Vase, Iron Knight by writer John Fusco, the movie’s plot has been kept largely quiet, though Michelle Yeoh’s Yu Shu-Lien returns, and the story involves redemption, sacrifice and the fight to keep an ancient, powerful sword out of the grubby hands of a warlord.

With fight choreographing legend Woo-Ping Yuen in the director’s chair, Yeoh is joined for this one by Donnie Yen as Silent Wolf, Harry Shum Jr as Tiefang, Jason Scott Lee as Hades Dai, Juju Chan as Silver Dart Shi, Chris Pang as Flying Blade, Darryl Quon as Turtle Ma, Roger Yuan as Iron Crow and Shuya Chang as Jen Yu. Netflix is backing this one, and will have it ready for streaming from February 26. There is still a plan to release it in cinemas, and though details weren’t given, we’d imagine it’ll either be day and date or close to the small screen launch.

James White.

Jay Baruchel Talks How To Train Your Dragon 2
From The Human Centipede to the origin of ‘Useless reptile’

Jay Baruchel is an immensely engaging human being. Smart as a whip and with a mouth that can spit words quicker than a Hookfang can blast flame, he is a journalist’s dream interview: funny and not afraid of the odd swear or two. Here, in an interview that ran in part in issue 160 of Empire back in February, the voice of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III talks about everything from the word “bud” to what the original version of the first How To Train Your Dragon was going to be like before the new directors, Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, came in and changed almost everything…

How was the original How To Train Your Dragon first pitched to you when it was that initial incarnation?
Oh, holy Moses. Going back six years or maybe more. It was a lot lighter and a bit sillier. It did have any of the gravity or nuance that the movie eventually had. I don’t have a ton of memories of what it was like back then, but it wasn’t half the epic that it became.

And back then Toothless was very small, and Hiccup didn’t fly him?
That’s right. The whole thing was just a bit goofier in a lot of ways. I don’t want to be disparaging, because I was interested in it in the first place. That being said, I guess in its first incarnation it would have been diversion, at best. Then once [co-directors] Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois got involved, it became a proper movie.

Would it be fair to say you stumbled into this? You signed on for one thing and it evolved into this epic…
[Laughs] No, it’s pretty awesome. I am very, very aware of that fact. I’m so absolutely psyched. To be honest, if you want to get real macro about it, every gig is something of a crapshoot. Some you have a better idea of what it could be going in, others you’re just winging it. The chances of any movie succeeding are about the same in my experience. Although by “succeeding” I don’t necessarily mean financially, I just mean them being… good. But yeah, I signed up for something that I thought would be kind of fun, something I hadn’t done before, and I ended up getting to be a part of this pretty massive flick that means a great deal to a lot of people.

In the very beginning, I would never have imagined that it could be somebody’s favourite movie. That’s not to say that I thought it would be bad. It’s just… that kind of impact just wasn’t even a possibility, and then it came out, and went off like an atom bomb.

Okay, well, not the first weekend but the second weekend it caught fire, and everybody started to connect to it. Then I had this wonderful realisation about movies that I dug when I was a kid… that experience is like nothing I like I have now. When you’re into something when you’re a child you just love it – you connect to it in such a pure, impactful way. And what you’re really passionate about when you’re little, it often steers you towards what’ll eventually be your life, your career. When I saw the way that How To Train Your Dragon connected with people, it blew me away. I had a small hand in making something that a lot of kids would dig and mean something to them… All this to say, I’m a lucky motherfucker.

When you see fans, do they recognise you? And how do they talk to you? Obviously, you’re not Hiccup, but people must want you to be. Yeah, the little ones want me to be Hiccup, anyway. I’ve left a few voicemails and may have recorded a few videos for kids of people that I know. No, it’s weird, there seem to be two ways that I get recognised – one is that it’s either kids see me (or people, period, see me) and they’re like “Oh, it’s that fucking guy from all those things.”

But what’s happened in the last couple of years that’s even weirder is that people that won’t even be looking at me and they’ll know “who I am”. I’ll just be out in public and I’ll ask “Where’s the washroom?” or “Can I get a Big Mac with large fries and a coke?” and then I’ll see people turn towards me from my periphery.

For better or worse, my voice is… distinct if nothing else. [Laughs] All the same, there aren’t that many people out there who sound as nasal and Canadian as I do, I suppose. So, yeah, it’s been kinda weird. The most awkward, though, is when I’m with friends of mine, friends who have kids who have seen and loved the movie, and the parents will ask them “Hey, do you recognise this voice?” And the kid is just like “What the hell? What? What do you mean? Why would I recognise…?” And then they’re like “Say something!” So I’m say, er, “How’s it going? Pass the pickles.” I don’t know what I’m supposed to say, y’know. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I’m just like “Why are you asking?” And then the kid is just on the spot, devoid of answers, asking “Why’s everyone staring at me?” Nobody wins in those situations.

And there’s no Hiccup catchphrase to help…
No, I know! The closest thing I have is “Thanks for nothing, you useless reptile”, which usually seems to make a few bells go off.

External image

How To Train Your Dragon 2: Hiccup and Toothless in full flight

When the project got reimagined by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, how did they explain their new take?
There were omelettes involved… I mean, it was over a breakfast, when they told me these things. Okay, it wasn’t an omelette, but it was definitely something good and eggy. Anyway, I think they just started talking about the different angles they wanted: the coming-of-age aspects, making it more Star Wars-y, all that Joseph Campbell-y stuff they wanted to put into it. How they saw that it could be really cute and funny, and still be this big adventure. It was like the movie went from being in 4:3 to widescreen.

Once the first film was a success and the franchise evolved into a trilogy, how did Dean expand upon this original pitch?
We had talked, years before the first one even came out, because there’s a whole bunch of books. I think the series goes on for a bit. There was always talk that there was more of this world and Hiccup’s life to be explored. But when he first starting telling me about How To Train Your Dragon 2, it was clear that – and being a filmmaker myself I knew this already, and I need to put this in quotations – the sequel would be “the darkest” one of the series. And when I say “the darkest”, there are no decapitations, or necrophilia, there’s nothing fucking awful. No-one’s mouths are being sewn to strangers’ anuses. But, all the same, it’s the second act, and so it’s a bit more complicated.

It’s just that the answers aren’t as easy, and we have to amp everything up. So, in every way that the first one succeeded, the second one has to succeed more. The basement of this one has to be as good as the first one, ideally better. The best thing about the first movie was that it’s fun, it’s really charming and incredibly compelling, but also unexpectedly heavy at parts. And so all those same things are the essence of the second one, but amped up. The stakes are higher. We knew that we were doing our Empire Strikes Back.

Dean DeBlois has mentioned that there was idea originally that Hiccup would be facing off against his mother towards the end of the second film, before he realised you can’t really have a kid fight his mum.
Yeah, no, no, um. If it was a Dogme 95 movie or something, then potentially. But not with this particular franchise, no! [Laughs]

What is it like when you’re being directed in the sound booth?
Well, what’s awesome is that over the years that I’ve gotten to know Dean we’ve obviously developed something of a shorthand. Actually, we’d be pretty fucked if we hadn’t by this point.

So I kind of know what he wants and can push back on some stuff. I mean, obviously he knows these movies better than anyone, but I also wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t take ownership of my character. Which is what he wants. So in the moments when I feel it’s not exactly the way it should be, or could be, then he allows me to chime in with that stuff. It all depends on what the scene requires. It sounds really hokey and company line-ish to say this, but the truth is that we’re all just serving this story. So whatever the story requires we work backwards from that.

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How To Train Your Dragon 2

With Dean being a writer-director, do you have much opportunity to put in lines of your own or put twists on his words?
Oh god, yeah. That’s one of the coolest things. Unfortunately, much to the chagrin of whoever hires me, that’s part of the deal. Whether or not they choose to use any of it – the shit that I spool out, I mean – is completely up to them. But I’ll be ad-libbing pretty much regardless. I just can’t help it, I have a real big mouth.

Throughout the first one and this one I was always encouraged, if I had my own way of saying things or my own ideas, to chime in with them. It was neat-slash-weird seeing your ad-libs in a massive movie, where people had to take the time to animate the mouths to say to say this stupid spiel. It’s just cool. It’s just really crazy and cool.

Was “reptile” one of yours?
Er… fuck. That’s a good question. It might have been, it actually might have been. You know, yeah, I think that one might be.

Are you behind “bud”?
Oh, god, of course, yeah. That’s just like the Canadian version of “man” or “dude”. That a great example of one of my hooserisms working their way into the movie.

Do you have a similar level of influence in the TV show?
I mean, in terms of how Hiccup reacts and the way he communicates, yes, definitely. They’ve been really cool about that. I was Hiccup before there was a TV show. And to everybody who was involved in that show’s credit, I was always viewed as an attribute, as a benefit to the show.

So I wasn’t ever sitting there fucking holding my arms going “You know, guys, Hiccup wouldn’t do that…” Once or twice that would come up, but I would tell them why “No, I can’t say this, because this is not how he communicates. This is the guy that we’ve created. This is the guy we’ve cracked.” So as a result there hasn’t been too much of a distinction, and that way the TV show connects to the movie in a very good way. We’ve allowed it to have a certain kind of continuity because they were cool enough to just let me be Hiccup.

Have you been given notes on what might happen in the third film?
Yeah, sort of. It’s an ongoing conversation over the better part of the last six years. I have inklings, I kinda know where it’s meant to go. I know where the books end up, I know some of the mile markers, I know what the end results will be. How we go about getting there though, that’s all the fun part to look forward to, once Dean is done creating.

WORDS: Ali Plumb

Exclusive New Poster For Lance Armstrong Thriller The Program
Ben Foster prepares to get with the peloton

The rise and subsequent decline and fall of Lance Armstrong always had a cinematic quality. An American archetype of Shane-like proportions, he was a cancer survivor, champion cyclist, Dodgeball cameo-er and, at a push, could even pull off yellow. Then it all went up in a puff of smoke. Stephen Frears’ new movie The Program will explore all of those elements (apart from maybe the Dodgeball bit), with Ben Foster playing this compelling figure.

Adapted from sports journalist David Walsh’s book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit Of Lance Armstrong, the film will follow the cyclist’s meteoric rise, battles with cancer and equally fast fall once it was proved that he had been using performance-enhancing drugs during his successful years.

Frears has Chris O’Dowd playing Walsh, with Ben Foster as Armstrong. From the looks of the trailer, it’s a dramatic retelling of Armstrong’s Tour de France years and then what happened when the truth came out. The rabbit hole proved to be far deeper than anyone suspected.

With Lee Pace, Jesse Plemons, Guillaume Canet, Dustin Hoffman and Bryan Greenberg also in the cast, The Program is set to hit Australia on November 19.

- Phil de Semlyen