In the Heart of the Sea (9)

Everyone knows the tale of Moby-Dick, but far fewer people know that it was inspired by a true story. And it’s that true story which serves as the basis of Ron Howard‘s new movie, In the Heart of the Sea. In 1820, a whaling ship called the Essex was destroyed after an encounter with a massive whale, leaving the crew — including captain George Pollard (played by Benjamin Walker in the movie), first mate Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth), and cabin boy Thomas Nickerson (Tom Holland) stranded thousands of miles off the coast of South America. Howard’s film chronicles the desperation and despair that followed.

Nearly two years ago, I and several other journalists embarked on our own, much more pleasant, and far less eventful journey across the ocean to the London set of In the Heart of the Sea. On set, however, it was difficult to tell we were in London, or for that matter the year 2015, at all — we walked right onto a detailed life-size replica of a busy street in 19th century Nantucket. The irony that we American journalists had had to travel 3,500 miles to visit a fake version of an island located just 300 miles from New York was not lost on us.  Read More »


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The Finest Hours

Jack RyanStar Trek, and now Wonder Woman star Chris Pine is no stranger to hero roles, but there’s something a little different about his next one. The Finest Hours stars Pine as real-life figure Bernie Webber, who on a bitterly cold winter day in 1952 led one of the greatest rescues in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard. And that’s without the aid of sci-fi gadgets, superpowered buddies, or a novelist’s imagination, mind you.

Webber is an old-fashioned kind of leading man in an old-fashioned kind of movie — one that, according to Pine, rejects modern cynicism in favor of simple, decent earnestness. The new Finest Hours trailer aims to highlight these men’s brave deeds, while keeping them grounded in a relatable sort of humanity. Check out the new Finest Hours trailer — and then read our on-set interviews with Pine and director Craig Gillespie — after the jump.
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Victor Frankenstein (1)

Cobble together a composite image based on stereotype ideas about child stars and you’d end up with something that is exactly the opposite of Daniel Radcliffe. The man who grew up in public as Harry Potter has followed that film series with a set of eccentric, sometimes adventurous jobs, playing Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings and a suspect young man in Horns. A tendency towards genre is the only tentative unifying factor.

Radcliffe’s latest film, Victor Frankenstein, is perhaps his most conventional post-Potter film yet, and even this one is hardly a typical studio picture. A revisionist vision of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein created almost explicitly as a meta-assembly of good ideas from other Frankenstein adaptations, the movie is really a two-hander that pairs Radcliffe with James McAvoy, who plays the egocentric Victor Frankenstein.

Speak to Radcliffe and you’ll enjoy the thoughts of a young man who is as passionate about his craft as he is aware of its unusual aspects. I visited the set of Victor Frankenstein at Shepperton Studios outside London over a year ago. Now, finally, we can present the talk I and a few other writers conducted with Radcliffe, in which he spoke about being tossed around by McAvoy, the relationship between Victor and Igor, and the rare but terrifying potential of being attacked by a lion on set. Read More »

Victor Frankenstein trailer

James McAvoy is stepping away from the science of mutant behavior to explore a more experimental form of early research in Victor Frankenstein. He plays the title character in the film, a new take on Mary Shelley‘s original novel and a pastiche of elements, in a way, inspired by other interpretations of the story, with the hopes of synthesizing a new whole. Appropriate, really.

McAvoy is a physical actor, one who literally likes to throw some weight around in scenes, and in Victor Frankenstein his prime partner in mad science is Daniel Radcliffe. The former Harry Potter plays Igor, if not exactly a version of Igor that looks like the one you probably have in mind, and the two sought to create a version of Frankenstein that has its own soul and personality.

A few editors and I spoke to McAvoy on the film’s set back in March 2014; our conversation, about Victor and mad science and the art of pushing around other actors, is below.
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Victor Frankenstein

Victor Frankenstein has been just about everything a man can be in the course of many film incarnations: inventor, scientist, madman, lover, villain. He’s not someone we often think of as a friend, however, and so the new film Victor Frankenstein might be pretty weird simply for indulging that concept. James McAvoy plays Victor in the movie, which co-stars Daniel Radcliffe as Igor, and features Jessica Brown-Findlay as a former circus performer named Lorelei and Andrew Scott as a Scotland Yard inspector suspicious of Victor’s projects.

There is a monster in the film, but he’s a mysterious sort. On the film’s circus set during a March 2014 shoot, the filmmakers refused to reveal any details about his nature, or even the actor playing the creature. Surprisingly, those details remain hidden even in the last weeks leading up to the film’s November 25 release.

The relationship between Victor and Igor, however, which is a different thing than we’ve seen in films featuring the characters before, is on full display as the film rolls in a detailed circus tent set, complete down to the dirt floor and rank odor, built on a cavernous stage in England’s Shepperton Studios. Read More »


In August 2014, we learned that Bob Peterson was removed as director of The Good Dinosaur, and co-director Pete Sohn was appointed the sole director of the project. We’ve heard about just how much of the film has changed under the new direction, and the word “drastic” isn’t at all hyperbolic in this case. Perhaps that’s why my visit to Pixar to preview The Good Dinosaur felt very different from my past trips to Emeryville.

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The Night Before

It was a balmy September afternoon when I left my house to visit the Queens, New York set of Jonathan Levine‘s The Night Before, on the second to last day of a 35-day shoot. But when I got there, I was greeted with a scene that looked like Christmas on steroids, replete with colorful lights, harried shoppers, and of course, ugly sweaters.

Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie were prancing around a fake Manhattan toy store (don’t call it FAO Schwarz), performing Kanye West’s “Runaway” on an enormous Big-style keyboard. If you’ve seen the trailer for the film, you’re likely familiar with the scene, which has already “instant classic” written all over it.

In between takes, Levine, his cast, and more clued us in on their R-rated entry into the Christmas movie canon. Get the full report from our The Night Before set visit after the jump.  Read More »

Maze Runner Scorch Trials 1

The only thing weirder than the big mansion in the middle of downtown Albuquerque is the post-apocalyptic party going on inside. It’s December 16, 2014, and the Gertrude and Zachary Mansion at 2nd and Lead has been transformed to a very important location in The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Wes Ball’s follow-up to the 2014 hit The Maze Runner.

From top to bottom, the interior of the mansion has been transformed to the spot where Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) is separated from his fellow Gladers on their epic quest across the scorched Earth they discovered at the end of the last film. Here he’ll be drugged, endure (or enjoy) hallucinations, kiss a girl, and eventually be reunited with the group before meeting some incredibly important new characters.

On this day, number 36 of 55 shooting days, the temperature on The Scorch Trials set is near-freezing even as the location doubles for a super-hot environment in the film. Despite that, the camaraderie of all the cast members is particularly noticeable. Each seems incredibly excited to be continuing the story of James Dashner’s novels, and especially to be doing it together.

Below, read our full Maze Runner: Scorch Trials set visit report. Read More »

Maze Runner Scorch Trials Dylan O Brien 700

Part of the appeal of The Maze Runner franchise is the ensemble cast. The chemistry and relationships between all of the characters are what make a movie like The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials so exciting. That said, if we’re being honest, Dylan O’Brien is the star.

O’Brien is Thomas, the mysterious young man who showed up in the middle of the Maze in the first movie, lead the rest of the group out of it, and now will lead them into the Scorch come September 18. So what exactly does that mean? We asked the actor last December on the Albuquerque set of The Scorch Trials.

We talked about the pressures of a sequel, how The Maze Runner franchise compares to Divergent and The Hunger Games, the character’s interactions, what he’s proud of both in this movie and in the franchise, Mario Kart, the Legend of Zelda…and more kissing. Below, read our Dylan O’Brien Maze Runner Scorch Trials interview. Read More »