Nebraska-Bruce-Dern

Bruce Dern has seen it all in Hollywood. His TV work in the early ’60s positioned him to be right in the middle of the New Hollywood explosion that happened late in the decade. He’s in a mind-boggling array of great films, from Hang ‘Em High to They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, to The King of Marvin Gardens and The Driver — it’s impossible to reel off a quick summation of his career without feeling like you’ve left out five essentials.

Or maybe Dern has seen almost all of Hollywood. Dominating as the heavy, he’s never quite broken into lead status, and he’s never won an Oscar. (He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 1979, an Oscar year thick with great performances, for his role in Hal Ashby’s Coming Home. Christopher Walken won, for The Deer Hunter, even as Jon Voight and Jane Fonda won the Best Actor and Actress trophies for their own work in Coming Home.)

So Nebraska feels like a singular moment in Dern’s career. He’s directed in the film by Alexander Payne, one of the modern filmmakers who feels most creatively connected to the biggest years in Dern’s career. He’s got a lead role, and it’s one which forces him to look past his own natural tendency to unleash a torrent of conversation. As scripted by Bob Nelson, his character, Woody Grant, barely talks at all. Even as we wonder about his mental capacity, he’s fixed on a goal: claiming the million bucks a piece of junk mail tells him he’s won. Dern approaches the work with quiet intensity and a real vulnerability, bouncing off co-star Will Forte‘s own uncharacteristic straight man role. The result is unlike anything else you’ll see this year.

I spoke to Dern in Los Angeles, and we discussed acting challenges and risk-taking, Payne’s quiet direction, and the goal of becoming a character, rather than simply performing as one. There’s even some trivia about The Exorcist in here, for good measure. Read More »

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NEBRASKA

Sideways and The Descendants director Alexander Payne returns with Nebraska, a road trip movie about family and fantasy, starring Will Forte and Bruce Dern. The elder actor plays a man who thinks he’s won a million bucks, and is journeying from Montana to Nebraska to collect. Forte is his son, who ends up along for the ride trying to guide and protect his pop.

This first trailer is great; it shows off the film’s low-key black and white aesthetic and ambitions towards channeling the tone of ’70s film drama. It’s also funny and effective as it shows the fragile relationship between Dern and the rest of his family, and hints at the difficult balance between owning up to reality and keeping some dreams alive, no matter how unrealistic they may be. Check it out below. Read More »

The Terminator

Briefly: Paramount had altered a few release dates for some high-profile films. First up, Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska has shifted a week forward, from November 22 to November 15.

Then Alan Taylor‘s untitled fifth Terminator film has moved a few days later, from June 26 to July 1, 2015. That potentially puts it in direct competition with 20th Century Fox’s Independence Day 2, which Roland Emmerich suggested might get moved as well.

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Alexander Payne‘s new film Nebraska stars Bruce Dern as an aging alcoholic who believes he has won a huge prize, and road trips from Billings, Montana to Nebraska in an attempt to collect. His son, played by Will Forte, tags along to keep the old man on course, but the two end up detouring to the old guy’s small home town.

Nebraska has been in the works for a while, and will debut at Cannes later this month. Before that premiere, we’ve got the first official image from the film, and the stark black and white image suggests that Payne’s trip back to his home state isn’t going to be the most light-hearted journey possible.

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Briefly: One highly anticipated awards contender and another highly anticipated genre film have just been given release dates by Paramount Pictures. The awards contender is Alexander Payne‘s follow-up to The Descendants, Nebraska. Starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte as a father and son on a road trip, it’ll be released November 22.

The Michael Bay produced, Back to the Future II influenced found footage film Almanac has also been given a date. Directed by Dean Israelite and written by Andrew Stark and Jason Pagan, it’ll be out February 21, 2014. Read more about its mysterious, time-travelling plot here. [Deadline]

Alexander Payne doesn’t have a horse in this year’s Oscar race, but look for him to get back in the game next year. Producer Albert Berger revealed that Payne’s Nebraska is eyeing a November or December 2013 release date, because “You know his films do well at the Academy Awards.”

We won’t have to wait quite that long for a peek at the new film, however. The first photos from the set have just hit the web, showing the father-son duo played by Bruce Dern and Will Forte as they stroll around snowy Billings, Montana. Hit the jump to continue.

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Alexander Payne‘s never been one to just hire the biggest star he could get. Even George Clooney in The Descendants seemed like he’d been selected because he was the right fit for the role, not (just) because Payne was dazzled by Clooney’s A-list wattage, and Clooney was surrounded by an eclectic mix of comedians, newcomers, and TV stars.

For his next project Nebraska, Payne is taking a similarly interesting approach. Bruce Dern and Will Forte were confirmed as the leads a couple of months ago, and since then Bob Odenkirk and Stacy Keach have been added to the supporting cast as well. And now, for the villain of the piece, Payne has chosen Devin Ratray, best known as Buzz McCallister from the first two Home Alone films. Read more after the jump.

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Paramount has finally given the go-ahead to Alexander Payne to shoot Nebraska, the father/son road trip movie he has been working to cast and get into production since the release of The Descendants. While his last film was a relatively audience-friendly affair — for Payne at least — that had obvious appeal thanks to the presence of George Clooney, Nebraska is a slightly tougher sell, at least to the people who make financial decisions at studios.

Payne plans to shoot the script (by Bob Nelson and Phil Johnston) in black and white, with Bruce Dern and Will Forte now confirmed to appear as an aging alcoholic and his son, who are derailed while on what seems at first like a simple cross-country drive. Read More »

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