empire-movie-news

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Phil Lord & Chris Miller Still Want To Re-Open Clone High
“We’re working on it…”

It may not have enjoyed the widest audience in the world, but to those who saw it, madcap MTV ‘toon Clone High is still a hilarious treat. Now, Lego Movie/Jump Street duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who co-created the show with Scrubs man Bill Lawrence, want to bring it back in some fashion.

Clone High, which ran for 13 amazing episodes back in 2002/2003, was set in a high school that also served as a mad military experiment designed to clone famous historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Gandhi, with the resulting school-age kids rounded up and sent for education. Sounds weird, was brilliant.

You have to imagine that with the combined clout of their Lego success and the encouraging early figures for 22 Jump Street, Lord and Miller could wrangle almost any project back into existence, with studios clamouring for their magical comedy touch. But as they’ve explained to Collider, it’s really not that easy, even if you have had a run of hit movies.

“We talk very regularly now with Bill every few months or so, we talk about ‘How are we going to get this back in whatever form we can?’” says Miller. “We get our lawyers to talk to each other, and business affairs people to talk to each other. It’s very complicated. It’s very hard because it’s at Viacom/MTV, we have a TV deal at Fox, he has a TV deal at Warner Bros.”

And it’s not just rights issues holding them back. While the trio isn’t sure whether the concept would be best served as a movie or a new TV series, there’s also the question of tone.

“It’s also a tricky thing because we basically made a PG-13 TV series, and if you’re gonna do a movie you wonder, ‘Am I gonna have to justify the budget that it’s gonna take by trying to broaden this to a family audience, and is that gonna kill what was fun about the original thing?’ Because there’s so much blood in the original series. And JFK sex jokes.”

Here’s hoping they manage to pull it off eventually – JFK sex jokes and all.

James White

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Simon Pegg Discusses Star Trek 3
‘It’s weird to take ownership…’

Out on the rounds for Kill Me Three Times, Simon Pegg is, naturally enough, fielding a lot of questions about Star Trek 3. As revealed back in January, he’s not only returning to the Enterprise as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, but has also stepped up to the plate to co-write the next instalment with Doug Jung (Confidence). “It’s terrifying!” he laughs.

“It was a difficult decision,” Pegg told Collider. “I hemmed and hawed about it, a little bit, because it felt like a big responsibility. I owe J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burke an awful amount. I love those guys. I want to do right by them, so I felt like I should man up and do it. It’s weird to walk into something and take ownership of it, in a way. Everything else that I’ve written has been mine, from the very germ of the first idea, or shared with Edgar (Wright) or Nick (Frost).

"But with this, I’m walking into a realm that doesn’t belong to me, and I have to treat it with a degree of respect. Obviously, I always treat things with respect, but I have to abide by certain rules and do right by the original series, and not be too postmodern with it and not be too aware of itself. I have to try to take on the spirit of the show, rather than fill it with stuff that people will just go, 'Oh, yeah, that’s from episode something or other.’ It’s more than that.”

Speaking to Den Of Geek, meanwhile, Pegg revealed that his draft has been entirely started from scratch: he hasn’t read the previous iteration of the screenplay by Roberto Orci, and nor did the studio want him to.

“We went back to the drawing board”, he says. “We had creative meetings with [director] Justin Lin, and there were things he wanted in there. I haven’t written like this before… You’re given a bunch of stuff… so Doug and I go, 'Okay, right, let’s try and get that into it’. So it’s an interesting process”.

“I had certain issues with Into Darkness,” he continues, candidly. “I really, really am very proud of Into Darkness, but I feel like it kind of wanted to embrace itself a little too much, rather than take off and do what Star Trek did, which is to go off into the depths of the galaxy. It was about referencing not only a previous film but also kind of hanging onto the coast of Earth a little bit. So for me it’s now about the spirit of adventure and exploration and also, in modern terms, just how would that be for people, to be away for that amount of time and that kind of stuff. We’re trying to evolve the story at the same time as not letting it go.”

Shooting on Star Trek 3, “come hell or high water” (not the subtitle), gets underway in the summer for a release  next year. Kill Me Three Times is out later this year.

James White

Meet Quicksilver - Evan Peters Talks X-Men: Days Of Future Past
Get to know your new favourite mutant a little bit better…

So, who is Quicksilver?
He’s a mutant stuck in this time, I guess, in 1973. He’s not afraid of showing his powers. He’s so fast no-one can see him… I think it’s one of the coolest powers to have. It’s super cool to be able to do that – it gives him an attitude. He’s faster than hell. He’s the fastest guy on earth, so that gives him a certain cockiness. Everybody’s so slow to him. He’s a little impatient, and he’s a funny guy. A fun character.

You’re shooting American Horror Story right now – the scheduling was touch and go for you, wasn’t it?
Yeah, it was touch and go. They were trying to work out the scheduling for a while. It was very difficult for the people here and on the show.

Did you audition for the role?
Bryan called me and said there was a cool role in the film, and it was going to involve a lot of motion capture. It was one of the first offers I ever got. I thought, “I have to take this.” It’s a pretty good role and it’s X-Men. I love X-Men. The first couple of days have been stressful because I’m in these scenes with great actors. It’s been a great working experience. I’ve been learning a lot from how smart they are and how creative and coming up with new ways to do stuff on the day. There’s a lot of stuff that’s made up on the day.

Had you met any of the cast before?
I’ve met Michael [Fassbender]. He’s a cool dude, one of the coolest dudes I’ve ever met. Super nice. There’s a cool moment where we break him out of prison, and we first kinda meet and see it each other, there’s a cool “Do I know you?” moment. There’s some cool stuff thrown in there about him being my dad, but I don’t know it at the time and I don’t think he knows it either. But the fans will know that.

How much did you know about Quicksilver before you got the role?
Very little. I knew he was quick and that his hair was silver. (laughs) I didn’t know anything about him. I got a bunch of comic books, including X-Factor, and that had some really good stuff in there about him being impatient and wanting everyone to hurry the hell up. It’s cool the way they do it in the comic books with the blur. He’s so super-fast he has an arrogant air about him.

What’s different about your take on the character?
This Quicksilver is a bit of a klepto, a bit of a thief. He’s so fast no-one can catch him. He starts out stealing shit. His room is full of TVs and dog food and all sorts of stuff.

You’d think he could take over the world with that power.
He could. But that is his only power. In the comics, they’d find ways to defeat him. Theoretically, he should be king of the world. For him, when he moves so fast time for everyone else just stops.

And that’s what you’re filming today. The kitchen set today is really brightly lit. Is that uncomfortable for you?
We just got in there today. I didn’t know it was going to be so bright but the goggles helped a lot.

Bryan was saying that the goggles are there partially for that, and also so his eyes won’t explode.
He wouldn’t be able to keep his eyes open at Mach 5, or whatever he moves at.

It’s quite an interesting look that Peter has.

I showed up for the wardrobe fitting and he originally had some pretty colourful clothes. Bright, dorky clothes which were cool but they showed me me this punk rocker dude look and it fits the fact he’s a thief a little bit. He likes Pink Floyd and tries to slow himself down a little bit. He needs to try to chill out.

He wants to try listening to Floyd, then.
(Laughs) A little Dark Side Of The Moon should do it, with Wizard Of Oz on five different TVs.

Obviously, you’re not the only Quicksilver audiences are going to see.
I think it’s cool, man. I like both movies. It’s a cool thing. I don’t know what they’re going to do with it. This is a very original thing. I didn’t really find it in the comic books, they’ve created their own Quicksilver for the past. It’ll be cool to see Quicksilver develop.

In Avengers 2, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is playing Quicksilver. Does this mean everyone from Kick-Ass is going to have a go at some point?
(Laughs) Yeah, Nic Cage is going to play him as well.

When was the last time you saw Aaron? Because you weren’t in Kick-Ass 2.
I saw him at Comic-Con and we were real friendly. He was excited for me. I think it’s going to be a completely different kind of Quicksilver. He’ll be older and more mature, and hopefully will get recruited as an Avenger.

So, the big question, then. Who’d win in a race?
I don’t know. Probably Superman.

Tron 3 To Shoot This Autumn
Joseph Kosinski revs up his light cycles again

Well here’s a surprise. Given the lacklustre critical and box-office performance of Tron: Legacy, and the eerie silence in place of any news about a follow-up, you might have assumed that Disney had quietly put the project to bed. But almost two years since we last heard anything, it now turns out that Joesph Kosinski’s cameras will roll on the threequel in Vancouver this autumn.

Local Vancouver newspaper Vancity Buzz got the scoop, which has since been backed up by Badass Digest. There are no story details so far, but Garrett Hedlund is confirmed as returning to the snug wetsuit.

Tron: Legacy, most felt, was visually stunning (apart from the awful CG youngified Jeff Bridges) but narratively not so cutting edge. It involved Sam Flynn (Hedlund), the son of Bridges’ game creator Kevin, entering a game world much evolved from Disney’s 1982 original, in search of his father. Olivia Wilde and Bruce Boxleitner co-starred, Michael Sheen made an eccentric cameo, and Daft Punk did the music.

It had nostalgia and novelty working in its favour, and still didn’t quite manage to set the world alight in the way its studio Disney probably hoped. With the element of surprise now departed, Tron 3 will have to work even harder to make an impact. What’s Kosinski got up his digital sleeve?

Tron 3 delivers on the promise of Tron: Legacy, particularly its final scenes,” Kosinski promised back in 2013 while doing the rounds with Oblivion. “There’s a big clue there as to where we’ll go with the next one. There are also some characters we establish at the beginning of Tron: Legacy who have a much larger role in Tron 3.”

That sounds, as we mused at the time, as if Cillian Murphy’s Edward Dillinger Jr. might have some more heavy lifting to do this time around. Although as we said earlier, only Hedlund is confirmed in the cast at this stage. Back in 2013, Kosinski was also promising IMAX, but again, those details aren’t yet forthcoming.

Expect a flurry of new information in the months to come then. Production on Tron 3 is currently scheduled to start on October 5.

Owen Williams

Fox Plans Jingle All The Way Sequel
Starring Larry The Cable Guy. Because you… asked for it?

Jingle All The Way. The very name divides people into those who cringe at the memory of the slapstick-happy Arnold Schwarzenegger Christmas comedy and those who have adopted it as a kitsch classic. The film was released in 1996, and someone has decided that what the world needs is an Arnie-free sequel featuring Larry The Cable Guy alongside WWE wrestler Santino Marella.

Don’t rush to your local cinema to begin queuing for this one all at once, however: it’s strictly being aimed at home entertainment audiences, under the deal between 20th Century Fox and the WWE company. It’s a collaboration that has brought us the likes of the Marine movies (and, indeed, The Marine 4, starring WWE’s Mike “The Miz” Mizanin is part of the announcement about the new Jingle).

What exactly the Jingle sequel will feature beyond its leading men remains to be seen. Will Marella (real name Anthony Carelli) take over Arnie’s role as stressed dad Howard Langston, who so memorably struggled to find the tough-to-buy Turbo Man doll for his son “Chamie” (Jake Lloyd)? Or will this be a completely original story of Christmas frustration and family bonding? We know you’re dying to find out. With Alex Zamm directing, this one will be out in time for, you guessed it: Easter. Sorry, Christmas. It’s set for Christmas.

- James White

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Avengers: Age Of Ultron Character Posters Fly In
Update: Nick Fury’s online, and he’s brought Black Widow and Thor

UPDATE: Mark Ruffalo got in on the action by Tweeting out the Hulk’s character poster. And here’s Samuel L. Jackson, who delivered Black Widow and Thor.  

With just two months to go until Avengers: Age Of Ultron arrives on these shores, the promotional campaign is kicking up into shock and awe levels. Yesterday brought the main one-sheet for the movie, but if that was a little crowded for your tastes, Robert Downey Jr. has slipped into his Mark 360 Twitter suit to deliver an Iron Man-centric image.

We firmly expect more images to arrive in the following days (and possibly weeks – this is a big cast), but of course it figures that Tony Stark would go first: he’s not going to let anyone steal his spotlight, no matter how well Chris Evans’ Captain America managed to get prominent placement on the main poster. Oh, and Downey also mentions some big announcement coming down the pipe – the next trailer, perhaps?

The plot, as you’ll likely know by now, finds malevolent machine intelligence Ultron (voiced and performed by James Spader along with a team of CG experts) posing a terrible threat to Stark, Cap, Banner and the rest – not only is it powerful enough to reduce large swathes of the world to rubble, it also helps sprout the lingering seeds of discontent between the Avengers themselves, which could well tear them apart from within.

Back on heroic duty again are Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie). They’ll need all the resources at their disposal to tackle Ultron plus troublemaking powered twins Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).

Joss Whedon is back marshalling this one, and the film also features the likes of Don Cheadle, Andy Serkis, Paul Bettany, Hayley Atwell and Thomas Kretschmann. Avengers: Age Of Ultron will be out on April 23.

James White

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

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

Character Description Hammer 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 

Batman Vs. Superman’s Gal Gadot Defends Wonder Woman Casting
“Breasts… anyone can buy for 9000 shekels and everything is fine”

Fast & Furious veteran Gal Gadot was recently annouced as cinema’s first fully-fledged Amazonian extraordinaire, Princess Diana of Themyscira, but you might know the character best as Wonder Woman. She’ll be part of Zack Snyder’s DC superhero mash-up due out in 2015, tentatively called - by the internet, at any rate - Batman Vs. Superman, if only because we’ve been promised some Supes (Henry Cavill) on Bats (Ben Affleck) battles.

Speaking to an Israeli journalist (as picked up by Batman-news.com) in her native Hebrew, Gadot was keen to defend her casting, which has been causing some consternation amongst die-hard fans of the original comics. Here, translated, is what she had to say:

Where were you when you heard the news that you’d been cast as Wonder Woman?

“I was just on my way to shooting in Los Angeles. I landed in New York on a connection flight when my agent, Hadas Lichtenstein, called me. She says to me, ‘Wonder Woman!’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ ‘The role is yours! And it’s a secret and the news is not yet announced and you can’t tell anyone…’”

“I’m saying to her, ‘Are you serious?’ Then we both scream! Now I’m on a plane from Israel to New York and I can’t make loud noises, and so I lean on a window, bending down to my legs, and just try to understand it all.”

It’s been said that you’re too skinny for the part. Wonder Woman is large-breasted, is that going to change?

“Hmm. I represent the Wonder Woman of the new world. Breasts… anyone can buy for 9000 shekels and everything is fine. By the way, Wonder Woman is Amazonian, and historically accurate Amazonian women actually had only one breast. So, if I’d really go ‘by the book’, it’d be problematic.”

So you’re not going to gain a little weight and start eating carbs before filming begins?

“It’s the physical preparations that I’m starting now. A very serious training regimen – Kung Fu, kickboxing, swords, jujutsu… I’ll gain body mass.”

The rather blunt journalist didn’t really dance around the problem most fans have with Gadot in the role: her physique. Fortunately, the actress was more than willing to stand her ground, and asBatman Vs. Superman isn’t out until 2015 - and it’s not clear how big a part Gadot will have in proceedings - there’ll be a decent wait to see how things pan out.

Ali Plumb

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Spectre Opening Sequence Will Be ‘Biggest In Bond History’
Empire reports from Day Of The Dead in Mexico

The opening sequence of the 24th James Bond film Spectre, currently filming in Mexico City, is set during the national Day Of The Dead festival, as these new pictures demonstrate. It will, claims long-time Bond producer Michael G Wilson, be “the biggest opening sequence we’ve ever done, maybe the biggest sequence we’ve ever done”. Coming from a series which has previously sent its hero off a cliff on a motorbike to freefall into a crashing plane, that’s no mean feat. 

Speaking from behind the scenes on location, where Empire has spent the weekend watching the Bondian shenanigans unfold, Wilson went on to say that the traditionally explosive pre-title sequence wasn’t just going to be a massive on-screen event, but that it was also logistically huge. “The whole vision that Sam Mendes has come up with is very exciting and amazing,” he told us. “We’ve got 1500 extras in Day Of The Dead costumes and make up and we’ve occupied the centre of Mexico City for days. The only thing that’s come close to it was putting on the carnival in Rio in Moonraker, and I think this is a much bigger operation.”

The scene kicks off Spectre’s story in predictably thrilling fashion, with exploding buildings, a pulse-quickening foot chase through the Day Of The Dead parade and a fight inside a helicopter, which will then perform what promises to be one of the most spectacular stunts in Bond history. The newly-released stills above give a flavour of what to expect, including rooftop gun battles and the mysterious Estrella, played by the recently-cast Stephanie Sigman. Empire witnessed the scene being put together, and can testify that jaws will be dropped come Spectre’s October 23 release date.

Filming will soon shift to Morocco and back to Pinewood, having already visited London, Rome and various delightful ski resorts in Austria. Our full Mexico set report will appear in a future issue, but until then why not have another squizz at the moody Spectre teaser trailer that was launched on Friday?

Reporter: Neil Alcock

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.

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.

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

Natalie Dormer Ventures Into The Forest
She’s set for the supernatural thriller

She’s already got a couple of films demanding her attention, but Natalie Dormer is lining up more work. She’s now signed on to the lead for supernatural thriller The Forest.

Set in the same location as Gus Van Sant’s new Matthew McConaughey-starring drama Sea Of Trees, The Forest finds a young American woman searching for her vanished twin sister in the Japanese forest of Aokigahara. It’s a place at the foot of Mount Fuji where people traditionally end their lives. But though she’s seeking answers, what she actually discovers is a forest full of angry souls of the dead who have perished there before. We’re guessing there will be running and screaming before the final credits roll.

Jason Zada is directing this one from a script currently undergoing work by Nick Acosta and Sarah Cornwell with Dark Knight trilogy writer and prolific producer David Goyer overseeing the project alongside Lava Bear Films.

As for Dormer, she’ll be part of the cast for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, which arrives on November 19. She’s also gearing up to make horror thriller Patient Zero and will be back on smaller screens for the new season of Game Of Thrones, due next April.

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

Screenwriter John Logan On Bond 24
“There’s resonance from Skyfall in the new movie”

Eon has a 2015 release date scheduled for its Skyfall follow-up. Expectations are high, following that gangbustering 007 hit, and writer John Logan is currently beavering away on a script, juggling his work on it with his new gothic Showtime horror Penny Dreadful (directed by Juan Antonio Bayona). When IGN caught up with him, he gave a few hints as to what we might expect.

“My goal is to write a great movie that’s appropriate, to build on what we did on Skyfall, but make it its own unique animal,” Logan said of Bond 24. “The themes, ideas and the characters from Skyfall can obviously continue on, because it is a franchise, and it is an ongoing story. So I think there’s resonance from Skyfall in the new movie.”

Interesting stuff, although whether this means more on Bond’s melancholy back story, more gunplay for Fiennes’s M or extra scaly shenanigans from those Komodo dragons, he wasn’t divulging. He is, however, promising plenty of the kind of old Bond nods that so thrilled fans in Skyfall.

“I grew up on the Bond movies,” Logan explained of his long-standing affection for the character. “The first one I saw was Diamonds Are Forever, when I was a kid. I just loved them to pieces. I love all the elements from the books - mostly from the novels; going back to Ian Fleming is where I started with Skyfall - and there’s certainly elements of the movies and the novels that we’ve brought into the new movie, as they did into Skyfall.”

And what of the Big Bad? Will Blofeld be back and nemesis-ing the heck out of 007? “You know, I think our villain’s appropriate to the story we’re telling,” the writer straight-batted.

Bond 24 gets its UK release on October 23, 2015, and makes its US bow on November 6, 2015. No news yet on an Australian date.

Phil de Semlyen

Kaya Scodelario May Set Sail For Pirates 5
She’s in early talks for Dead Men Tell No Tales

It may not be sailing into cinemas this year or even next, but Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales clearly has the wind in its sails and is gathering up cast members. The latest potential recruit – because she’s still at the “early talks” stage – is The Maze Runner’s Kaya Scodelario.

While almost nothing is concrete about the plot at this point, we do know that Kon-Tiki directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg are marshalling together a production that will include Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow (natch), Geoffrey Rush likely as Barbossa, Brenton Thwaites as a dashing British soldier and a murderous ghostly villain named Captain Brand. The likes of Javier Bardem and Christoph Waltz have been approached for that role, but there’s no confirmed casting yet. Orlando Bloom has also gone on record to say there have been discussions about him returning in some form.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is currently aiming for a July 6, 2017 release date. As for Scodelario, she’ll next be seen in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, set to arrive here on September 17.

James White.

Joaquin Phoenix Wanted For Batman-Superman
He’s being courted for a role

While we do at least have some confirmed news tidbits about Warner Bros.’ big planned Batman / Superman film, what we do know in terms of casting – Cavill, Affleck, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman – is far outweighed by the rumours floating about. Add one more to the “possible” pile, as Variety reports that Joaquin Phoenix is being seriously considered for a role in the movie.

Though it’s still unclear which part he could theoretically end up as, current speculation points to Lex Luthor, the iconic Superman baddie whose name has been linked with the likes of Bryan Cranston in the past.

Of course, given that it’s very early days on the overtures and the fact that Phoenix doesn’t exactly make a habit of cropping up in blockbuster fare these days, any discussion of character is moot until he actually signs a contract, assuming he gets to that point.

Still, given the positive attention he’s been getting for Spike Jonze’s techno-romance Her and his current popularity, it makes sense the studio might want him. Whether it will get him is another matter.

In related news, Argo writer Chris Terrio is now taking a fresh crack at the script, so we hope he’s finished by the time Zack Snyder starts official production on the film early next year for a planned July 17, 2015 release over here.

James White

First Look At John Michael McDonagh’s War On Everyone
And Theo James joins the Calvary follow-up

Any day John Michael McDonagh gets to work on a film set is a good day in our book so it’s a thrill to share a first look at the Calvary and The Guard man’s latest project, War On Everyone, as he cranks the cameras in New Mexico.

No word yet on how this one will compare tonally with the balance of the comedic and the melancholy in his previous work. It’s billed as a black action-comedy that sees Michael Peña and Alexander Skarsgård’s bent cops (pictured above) looking to blackmail and generally stitch up all the felons they cross paths with. Unluckily for them, they run up against someone who’s even more dangerous and unscrupulous than they are. “Or is he?”, asks the synopsis intriguingly.

McDonagh has also been doing a spot of HR on the film, signing up Divergent’s Theo James for an unspecified role. “It gives me great pleasure to declare War on Everyone with my fellow combatants, Michael Peña and Alexander Skarsgård,” says the writer/director. “We look forward to the battles ahead, and we will go on with a spirit that fears nothing. That’s Homer, by the way.”

Also aboard are Tessa Thompson, Caleb Landry Jones, Paul Reiser, Spectre’s Stephanie Sigman and McDonagh’s old The Guard cohort David Wilmot. No Brendan Gleeson, alas, but you can’t have it all.

Distribution deals already in place and the shoot underway in Albuquerque.

Phil de Semlyen

Terry Jones’ Sci-fi Comedy Absolutely Anything Wraps
Did someone order Simon Pegg and a talking dog?

They’ve taken their sweet time about it, but finally the fates have conspired to bring us a Terry Jones movie about a schoolteacher (Simon Pegg) who is given godlike powers by aliens (the rest of the Monty Python team) and has a dog who can talk (Robin Williams). The film’s name is Absolutely Anything, and it’s just wrapped, releasing the image above to celebrate.

Here’s how Jones sets up the story (as originally seen in our extended interview with him before the shoot began):

“It’s about a man called Neil, a teacher in a sink secondary school, who gets given magic powers by aliens. And he doesn’t know he’s got them in the beginning, so though he can make anything happen, he doesn’t realise until, well, his colleague says, ‘What would you do if you could do anything?’ and Neil responds with, 'I’d make an alien spaceship hit class 4C and vaporise them.’

"Then there’s an explosion in the school, and they run to 4C’s classroom, open the door and there’s a vast hole in the ground.

"He turns the TV on when he gets home, and starts watching with his dog Dennis. He’s still saying to himself, 'It can’t be true…’ To make his day worse, it turns out Dennis has done a couple of poos on the floor. Neil says, 'I wouldn’t be clearing up this mess, if I could do anything. I’d say: "Dog mess, clear yourself up.”’ And the dog mess quivers, then goes up on two little fat legs and jumps into the loo.“

Featuring an all-star cast - Kate Beckinsale as Neil’s love interest, Eddie Izzard as Neil’s headteacher - and working from a script by Jones himself and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles veteran Gavin Scott, Absolutely Anything is aiming for a springtime 2015 release.

Ali Plumb