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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Abrams says Star Wars script is done

Posted: 19 Jan 2014 10:30 PM PST

The filmmaker is now in talks with actor Jesse Plemons about possibly playing a role.

J.J. Abrams says the script for Star Wars Episode VII is complete, and confirms that he's talked with Breaking Bad actor Jesse Plemons about a role.

"We're working really hard and we've got our script and we're in deep prep," Abrams told TheWrap. "Full steam ahead, y'know."

Abrams spoke last weekend at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, where he's promoting his new NBC series, Believe. He confirmed that Plemons is among the actors he's speaking with, and expressed surprise about the reports of his talks with the actor.

"He is one of the actors that we've talked to, yeah," Abrams said. "But, you know. It's not often that I read about actors that I'm going to be meeting and that I get to read articles about actors who are going to come in. And so I get to see someone and say, 'Oh, I read that I'm going to see you.' It's usually agents talking to people about what's happening. It's a lot of noise."

(TheWrap reported earlier this month that Plemons was up for an Episode VII role, but the actor later downplayed the possibility as rumour.) Abrams was also asked about whether he'd like to shoot the new films in IMAX, and said he plans to shoot Episode VII on film.

"In the right situation I would," like to shoot in IMAX, he said. "The problem with IMAX is it's a very loud camera. It's a very unreliable camera. Only so much film can be in the camera. You can't really do intimate scenes with it. It's slow. They break down often. Having said that, they're working on digital versions of these and so there may be a version one day. But we're going to be shooting this next movie on film."

TheWrap asked Abrams him about the craziest Episode VII rumours he's heard.

"There've been so many of them," he said. "It's amazing to see how many there are. But it's sweet because it shows that there's an interest in this movie that we all obviously know is there. But it is an incredible thing to see how many crazy things get thrown out that people often then write commentaries about. How happy they are, how disappointed they are about something that is completely false. It's a lot of noise, frankly."

Not to add to the rumours, but Abrams is working on Believe with Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron. We asked if Abrams plans to direct the next Star Wars trilogy entirely on his own, or if he might bring in another director – Cuaron, for example.

He dodged the question as ably as the Millennium Falcon might swerve out of an asteroid's path.

"I'm just focusing on Episode VII right now," he said. — Reuters

Margot Robbie in talks to play Tarzan's Jane

Posted: 19 Jan 2014 10:30 PM PST

The Wolf Of Wall Street actress is also in the running to star in another film.

Hot off a star-making performance as Leonardo DiCaprio's wife in The Wolf Of Wall Street, Margot Robbie is in negotiations to play Jane in David Yates' Tarzan, TheWrap has learned. She is also in talks to replace Amanda Seyfried in Craig Zobel's Z For Zachariah. Representatives for both films did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Robbie plans to shoot Zachariah before taking on Warner Bros' big-budget remake of the classic Tarzan, which is slated to star Alexander Skarsgard, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L.Jackson, according to individuals with knowledge of her schedule.

Warner's go-to Harry Potter filmmaker Yates is directing the adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' series of novels about the King of the Jungle, with Skarsgard in the title role.

Jerry Weintraub and Alan Riche are producing, while Mike Richardson will executive produce with Yates. Warner Bros executive Jesse Ehrman will oversee the project on behalf of the studio, which plans to start production this summer. The studio is already high on Robbie, who stars opposite Will Smith in Warner's con artist movie Focus. Z For Zachariah is a psychological thriller that Nissar Modi adapted from Robert O'Brien's post-apocalyptic novel.

Michael Benaroya is fully financing the picture, which is expected to star Chris Pine and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Tobey Maguire and Matthew Plouffe will produce through their Material Pictures banner alongside Zik Zak Filmworks' Skuli Malmquist and Thor Sigurjonsson, as well as Palomar Pictures' Joni Sighvatsson.

Robbie is in negotiations to play a young woman who believes she's the only survivor after a devastating nuclear event, though she comes to learn she is not alone when two strangers wander onto her farm from the forest.

Zachariah was initially supposed to start filming in August 2013 before production was delayed until November, when Ejiofor was in the midst of an important Oscar campaign for 12 Years A Slave. That, in addition to several other factors, delayed production until early 2014.

That delay forced Seyfried to drop out of the project to film Fathers And Daughters with Russell Crowe, after which she'll star alongside Rebel Wilson in the Universal comedy, He's F-ing Perfect.

Robbie next co-stars alongside Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts and Kristin Scott Thomas in the Weinstein Company's romantic drama Suite Francaise. The stunning Australian actress got her start on the Aussie series Neighbours before landing the lead in the short-lived ABC series Pan Am. In addition to playing the "Duchess of Bay Ridge" in Martin Scorsese's Oscar-nominated Wolf Of Wall Street, Robbie recently appeared in Richard Curtis' About Time. — Reuters

Right on target

Posted: 19 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

Josh Brolin wants to show his more vulnerable side.

JOSH Brolin is a little tired of being thought of as a "man's man" type of actor. But he scaled Mt Shasta anyway.

The performer, who has embodied a swaggering masculinity in such movies as No Country For Old Men and True Grit, says that he's growing weary of the macho tag.

"It was fun at first and then it just got to be a little too much of ..." – he pauses as he contemplates the right word, then settles on an "rrrrr" caveman growl.

Still, Brolin, 45, can't seem to escape the archetype. To prepare for the part of an extreme mountain climber in a new adventure film called Everest, he's been scaling daunting peaks, first in Switzerland and then in Northern California.

And this holiday movie season finds Brolin once again exploring the sharp topography of two new masculine characters.

In Oldboy, Spike Lee's remake of the Chan-wook Park blood opera, Brolin stars as Joe Doucett, an unrepentant jerk inexplicably held captive by mysterious forces in a motel room for two decades.

Upon release, he seeks answers and revenge, while also looking for reconciliation with his now-grown daughter.

In Labor Day, Jason Reitman's ethereal adaptation of Joyce Maynard's novel, he stars as Frank Chambers, an escaped convict who forcefully takes refuge in the home of single mother Adele (Kate Winslet) and her adolescent son in their quiet suburban home one holiday weekend.

With their "man-cornered" premises, the films offer an actor twofer of sorts. Both suggest Brolin as desperate and tightly coiled, relying on keen animal instincts that, one senses, are as likely to get him into trouble as they are to get him out of it.

But the parts also offer different views into the male psyche. A tenderness rumbles beneath his Labor Day character as Frank develops a relationship with Winslet's depressed romantic.

Oldboy's Joe, on the other hand, is all grit and hard-boiled rage, the character's emotions volcanically bursting through even when he's trying to take the proper family-man course.

The differences were especially felt during the production, Brolin said.

Brolin in No Country For Old Men, the Oscar and box-office smash that drastically changed the actor's fortunes. - Filepic

Brolin in No Country For Old Men, the Oscar and box-office smash that drastically changed the actor's fortunes. – Filepic

Calling Oldboy "probably the hardest movie I ever had to shoot," Brolin notes that he lost more than 9kg in three weeks to play the part and also cites the role's intense physicality that, particularly in the captive sections of the film, had him alternating between states of manic anger and focused determination.

Labor Day required Brolin to ratchet down the intensity, at times maintaining a stillness he called "really uncomfortable" and even performing a scene that has him baking intimately with Adele in what serves as a kind of pie-themed equivalent of the sensuous potter's wheel moment in Ghost.

"I had an older woman come up to me at a screening the other day and say, 'Thank you for helping me restore my libido.' I think that may have been a first," he said and chuckled. (Incidentally, Brolin said he's not the baking maestro the movie suggests, though he can get busy with a mixing bowl if pressed.)

Oldboy, on the other hand, is unlikely to prompt a run to Victoria's Secret.

The movie possesses a dark baroque quality that will likely alienate some critics and even seems to have elicited a mixed reaction in Brolin.

"I do have opinions, but it's better to bite my tongue," he said when asked what he thought of the finished film. (The actor says he was more enamoured with Lee's earlier three-hour director's cut that was both quieter and filled with more character-centric moments.)

The roles mark the latest turn for an actor who has seen more peaks and valleys than some of the terrain he's recently been climbing.

After a breakout as a teenager in the treasure-hunting classic The Goonies nearly three decades ago, Brolin went into a career quiet period, bottoming out in the 1990s when he landed roles on short-lived TV shows so obscure that he says he considered giving up acting.

His fortunes changed drastically about six years ago when the Coen brothers cast him as the outlaw Llewelyn Moss in their Western manhunt tale No Country For Old Men. An Oscar and box-office smash, the movie prompted a resurgence that had Brolin landing juicy roles in the likes of W. and True Grit, though, befitting his erratic career, also yielded such no-shows as Jonah Hex and Gangster Squad.

Brolin said he feels on surer footing these days, though still finds himself facing unexpected challenges.

A few months ago, he was approached by a man, an apparent panhandler, who pulled out a knife and stabbed him. (His wound wasn't serious.) Though sounding almost like a larger-than-life tale from one of Brolin's movies, the experience shook him up, causing him to question his ability to read situations accurately.

In the meantime, he is offering his own kind of unpredictability on the screen.

In addition to Everest, from the Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur, and a new Sin City film, he's set to star in a more literary effort, Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice, playing the colourful detective Christian "Bigfoot" Bjornsen, as well as the father in the Sean Penn-directed survival tale Crazy For The Storm.

"These new ones are still manly roles. But there's also more vulnerability," Brolin said.

He added with a small laugh: "There's a trajectory here. A little bit of one, anyway." – Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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